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Hon. John B. Booth 1792-1869


Posted By: Cheryl Locher Moonen (email)
Date: 2/10/2016 at 13:34:49

Herald, Friday, Feb. 20, 1869

Sketch of His Professional Life
And Public Services.
A Career of Over Half a Century at the Bar
The Hon. John B. Booth died at his residence in Bellevue, Jackson County, on Thursday last, Feb. 18th, in the 77th year of his age.

Judge Booth was born in Hamptonburg, Orange County, New York, on the 1st day of June 1792. Having received an academic education at Montgomery Academy, he entered the office of Jonas Story, at Newburg, with whom he prosecuted his legal studies till his admission to the bar, which occurred shortly after he arrived at his majority. Immediately after his admission he opened an office at Goshen, and by his energy and industry took rank with the ablest members of the bar of his native county. He was for several years one of the judges of the common pleas, and in 1820 was appointed by Gov. Throop Surrogate of Osage County, and was twice reappointed by Gov. Marcy, thus holding this lucrative office until 1841.

In 1851 Judge Booth removed to Iowa, and located at Bellevue, where he continued to reside until his death. In 1854 he was appointed by Gov. Hempstead district judge of the 7th district, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Judge Leffingwell, which office he held one year and then resigned, resuming the practice of law, which he continued until his death, having thus been engaged at the bar, or upon the bench, for fifty-six years.

Judge Booth was interested in the Erie railroad from the time of its inception until its completion was an assured fact, and was for many years one of its most active directors.

Like most other men of his day he served in the army of 1812, and when afterward received his bounty land warrant he located in Grundy County, in this state, and held the land until his death.

The bar of Orange County, with whom nearly forty years of his professional life was passed, was a very able one. When he was admitted the late Hon. John Duer, already well advanced in his distinguished career, was its leader, and among those who were regular attendants upon its circuits were Aaron Burr, the elder Emott and Chielf Justice Oakley. In his first trial Judge Booth encountered John Duer, before the able was tyrannical Chief Justice Ambrose Spencer. The late Judge Betts, Judge McKissock, Wilken, Wisner, the brilliant Isaac R. VanDuzee, and Judge John W. Brown, who had just closed his long and brilliant term of service on the bench of the supreme court of New York, were the friends and rivals of his middle life, the last of whom alone survives. His certificate of admission to the bar of the Supreme Court bears the signature of Chief Justice Spencer, and that of his admission as Solicitor in Equity, the signature of Chancellor Kent.

Few men have passed a more active life. Though not a brilliant man he was a careful student and close reasoner, and entered into his cases with zeal that never flagged. The preparation of his cases was careful, thorough, earnest and conscientious, and the records of the court where he practiced are the best evidence of his success.

The Judge was always a firm and consistent Democrat. A member of the Albany Regency, when the Albany Regency was a power in the land, a personal friend of Dix, Flagg, and the elder Van Buren, there were a few men who understood more thoroughly the working of the political machinery in the Empire State in the days when principals amounted to something and before money became omnipotent in political caucuses and representative halls. He was one of the delegates from Iowa to the Philadelphia convention of 1866, which was the last political movement he took part in.

He was for many years an elder in the Presbyterian church of Bellevue, (old school), a church found mainly through his instrumentality, and was for some years a trustee of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Chicago.

Jude Booth married Miss Harriett Houston, of Waikhill, New York, and on the 30th day of December, 1867, the venerable pair celebrated their golden wedding surrounded by all of their living descendants. They looked as if they might see many more years of wedded life, but on the 8th of April last Mrs. Booth, after a short and painful illness, passed away, and now her husband, after an illness as short and painful, has rejoined her in the land beyond the River. A man of great vitality, his hold on life had been very strong, but after his wife’s death his hold on earth seemed to relax, and setting his house in order and winding up as far as possible his extended business, he calmly waited the summons to go home, and with eye undimmed, and his natural force but little abated, with mind clear and a faith unclouded, he entered into rest.

A man forward in every public enterprise, temperate in all things, a model of industry and regularity, quaint and peculiar in his manner; a man of earnest convictions and bold and outspoken in his opinions, he has gone to his reward, and none either in the church or the community where he resided will soon take his place.


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