DAVID CURTIS STODDARD
The first of the Stoddard family in America was John Stoddard, who appears on record as a landowner in Westfield, Conn., as early as June 18, 1645. Two years before this he had married Mary, daughter of Nathaniel Foote. Their descendants became conspicuous in the civil and commercial life of New England, and for generations were acknowledged leaders in the affairs of their communities. From them descended Aaron Stoddard, the great-grandfather of David C. who was born July 15, 1739. He enlisted in Capt. Bezaleel Beebe’s company from Litchfield, Conn. And served in the Revolutionary war until his death on January 12, 1777. His only son, David Stoddard, was born in Litchfield, November 13, 1773, was married in 1793 to Dorcas Kent, and in 1803 moved to De Ruyter (now Otselic) Chenango county, N. Y., where he engaged in farming and also in buying and driving cattle. Dorcas, the wife of David, died in Otselic October 11, 1830, while his death occurred in Groton, N. Y., and May 5, 1848. Their son, David D. Stoddard, was born in Litchfield, Conn., October 1, 1795, and was married in Otselic, N. Y., on October 19, 1826, to Mary Salome Warner, who was born in Ballston Springs, N. Y., on August 15, 1795. David D. Stoddard was originally a Whig in politics, but very early became an active abolitionist, and in 1840 cast the only vote of that party in his town. In November, 1859, he moved to Mazeppa, Minn., where he died June 1, 1870. His wife died there in 1878. Their children were William Harmon born September 12, 1824, deceased; Albion born February 14, 1826, of South Shore, S. Dak.; Eliza Ann born October 29, 1827, died in 1892; Salome Jane born July 13, 1829, of Mazeppa, Minn; David Curtis, the subject of this sketch; Lyman born January 19, 1833, killed in the army December 28, 1862; Mary Caroline (Mrs. Charles Duncan) Born October 17, 1834, deceased; Emily born June 8, 1838, died January 7, 1854; and Charlotte born August 18, 1843, died August 21, 1849.
David Curtis Stoddard was born August 3, 1831, in the town of Otselie, Chanango county, N. Y., upon a farm his father had subdued from the primeval forest, and which was surrounded in part by the same unbroken wilderness. It was a rough, hilly, stony county- hard to clear of timber and hard to cultivate afterwards- producing not bountifully in the best seasons, and very scantily often, with long cold and severe winters in which was consumed all the product of the summer. Educational facilities were very scant in quantity and quality; the school house was half built and poorly furnished; seats were made of slabs or planks, unplanned and without backs; the stove or fireplace was supplied with wood, green and just cut and hauled from the forest; which the fire refused to feed upon, but the well-seasoned and oft used rod of the master often supplied the heat the fire should have made. It was under these circumstances that he received what education this school could give; but when grown to a young man he added to this three or four terms at select or private schools, with two terms in an academy, so that at nineteen years of age he commenced the teaching of these district schools in the winters. These advantages only resulted in fairly perfecting him in the common branches of learning without the benefit of a higher culture. Books were scarce, and but for the little district library just before established, would have been few indeed, as those hardworking men and women had to struggle for bread and could spare nothing for books. What books could be reached he thoroughly read and they have been great advantage to him, but he has always felt the want of an early education, and the want of books of general information at that time in his life.
In early manhood he became a Whig in feelings and at majority cast his first vote for General Scott in the presidential election of 1852, and at each election sustained it by his vote until its disappearance in the Republican party, which he has supported an sustained till the present time. In January, 1853, he commenced to study law in the office of Hon. Sidney T. Holmes, the county judge of Madison county, and finished his studies and was admitted to the bar at Utica, N. Y., in January, 1853, commencing at once the practice of law at that city, which he continued until September, 1861.
After the first battle of Bull Run and the call for 500,000 volunteers immediately thereafter, although knowing nothing of military matters, like thousands of other young men in those stirring times, he resolved to do what was in his power to aid his country to put down that cruel rebellion against the best government the world had then seen. He associated with George Klinck and John S. Hunt (son of Hon. Wart Hunt) to recruit and have mustered into service an artillery company, which was done in the short time of two weeks, and on the organization the company, was chosen and then commissioned second lieutenant of said company, which formed Co. E of the 2nd N. Y. H. A. Vols., and was soon afterwards commissioned first lieutenant in place of Hunt. Early in the next November this regiment was at the front and formed part of the garrison of the chain of forts defending Washington from the south side of the Potomac River, where it remained (Except taking part in the battle of Second Bull Run) drilling, making forts and perfecting itself as a regiment until May, 1864, when it had 2,000 men in its twelve companies of first-class officers and soldiers, it was ordered to join General Grant in that celebrated campaign against Richmond; and the dead bodies of these brave men were left upon every battlefield from the Wilderness to Appomattox Court House. ON arriving at the front the regiment was attached to and formed a part of the First Brigade (commanded by Gen. Nelson A. Miles, now commander-in-chief of the U.S. A) First Division (commanded by Gen. Francis C. Barlow) Second Corps (commanded by Gen Winfield Scott Hancock), all then and ever since celebrated as brave and superior officers. He served with this company and regiment, participating in all its battles, long marches and hardships until his discharge in October 1864, by reason of expiration of term of service, and during his whole service in the army was not obliged to go to a hospital. In August 1864, he received a commission as captain in the regiment, but his health being temporarily impaired by the hardships of that summer, he declined to muster under it and was honorable discharged after three years of service. Returning to his family and home his health improved rapidly and with strength came the desire to return to the army. He could not content himself with business, and in December, received a commission from the secretary of war as first lieutenant in the 1st Regt U. S. Vet. Vols (Hancock’s Corps) he again entered the service and was stationed at Utica to recruit veteran soldiers who had served at least two years and were physically sound; and during the following winter recruited 150 veterans who were mustered into the service and formed part of the 20,000 veterans which General Hancock was authorized by the war department to raise throughout the country and to command in the field. Early in March he was ordered to join his regiment, then serving in the Shenandoah Valley, and on arriving immediately took part in an expedition against General Mosby, the celebrated guerrilla of the Blue Mountains of Virginia, and here he heard the last hostile bullet in a short skirmish with this brave and daring leader. After the surrender of Lee his regiment was sent to the Wilderness to collect the bones of the unburied dead of that fierce struggle and bury them, mark the graves of the dead there and at Spotsylvania Court House, and then returning to Washington was the guard inside the prison at the execution of Mrs. Surrat, Harold and others for the assassination of the lamented Lincoln. In July he was ordered to Baltimore and promoted to be captain of Co. C. of the same regiment. He was in command of Fort Federal Hill and Camp Distribution in that city, and was honorable discharged at the muster out of service of his company and regiment in February, 1865.
Returning to Utica, after long and valiant service in the army, Mr. Stoddard resumed the practice of law and in 1871, formed a copartnership with Edwin H. Risley, which continued until 1884. Since then he has practiced his profession alone. Having been elected in the fall of 1871 he qualified and entered upon his duties as district attorney of Oneida county on January 1, 1872, and served in that capacity for a term of three years. Among the many important trials which he conducted as prosecuting officer was that of Josephine A. McCarthy for shooting and killing Henry H. Hall, of Ogdensburg, while riding in a Genesee street car in Utica. This was one of the most celebrated cases in the criminal annals of the State and lasted three weeks, and out of it grew the indictment, trial and conviction for libel of the editor of the Daily Bee for printing an attack upon the presiding judge. In 1878 Mr. Stoddard was candidate for surrogate on the Republican ticket, but owing to an organized effort to carry the office to Rome he was defeated by Stephen Van Dreaser by a very small majority. After this he retired permanently from politics and devoted his attention wholly to his profession, in which he has won brilliant achievements and a wide reputation.
Mr. Stoddard is a member of Utica Lodge No. 47, F. & A. M. and Oneida Chapter No. 57, R. A. M., and a charter member of Yah-nun-dah-sis Lodge of Perfection Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. He is also a charter member of Post Bacon, No. 53, G. A. R., and has served as its quartermaster and commander two terms each. For a time he was judge advocate-general on the staff of General Barnum, Department Commander State of New York. He has always taken a lively interest in public affairs, and in the progress and prosperity of the city of Utica, where he occupies a prominent place both as citizen and lawyer.
July 13, 1859, Mr. Stoddard was married to Miss Sarah B., daughter of Leonard Gibbs, of Utica. She was born in Boston, Mass., in 1833. Their children are David Curtis Jr. born March 6, 1862, and George Lyman born May 26, 1869, both of Utica.