HISTORY OF ILION'S LAW PROFESSION
VILLAGE OF ILION
HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y.
The following is taken from "Ilion 1852-1952." We thank the Mayor and other officials of Ilion for
granting us permission to provide this information to our visitors.
Ilion's attorneys have played extremely active and vital roles in the
development of the village during the past century. I. E. L. Hamilton
had the distinctioin of being Ilion's first practicing attorney and he
and John A. Rasbach, Sr., were the two attorneys who served on the
committee to effect Ilion's incorporation. At the time of the
incorporation, Hamilton was listed as being 36 years old and having "a family of
five and one servant." He was postmaster in Buchanan's administration.
In the January 15th, 1857 of the Ilion Independent he advertised an
"office two doors east of the Ilion Bank."
Rasbach, a graduate of Fairfield Academy, taught school at Herkimer
for several years, and later studied law, being admitted to the bar in
1841 at the age of 36. While in Herkimer he served as postmaster under
Presidents Van Buren, Tyler and Polk. Just before Ilion's
incorporation, and at a time when Ilion had only one mail a week, he moved to Ilion.
He was one of the organizers and a director of the Ilion Bank for a
time its cashier. Rasbach was prominently connected with the
establishment of the depot at Ilion, was one of the committee on the construction
of the Union School building, and one of the original stockholders of
the Remington Agricultural Works. For eight years he was Justice of the
Newspaper notices in 1880 indicated that Attorney Thomas Richardson
had an office "over the Bank" and that James Conklin had opened a law
office in the "Bank Building", after having been associated with
Richardson for several months. Local newspapers of April 2nd, 1800, indicated
that Attorney Reuben Wright was clerk of Canal Superintendent Osgood.
That of Februrary 13th, 1891 announced: "A. D. Richardson becomes his
father's law partner". May 5th, 1893 Frank S. Hoefler was admitted to the Bar.
Clinton A. Moon, a graduate of Union College, went to Herkimer in 1860
and later was elected District Attorney. In 1864 he came to Ilion and
entered into partnership with Thomas Richardson. The Herkimer Democrat
of May 1st, 1867 carried the following item: "C. A. Moon, Esq. of Ilion
has determined to leave that village and the labors of his profession
and will take possession of a good farm in the Town of Russia. He will
take with him the best wishes of many warm friends".
The October 21st, 1868 edition of the Herkimer Democrat announced:
"Thomas Richardson, Esq. has gone to Europe on a business trip of two or
The Ilion Citizen of February 14th, 1890 stated that James Conklin,
Ilion Democrat, had been elected Supervisor of the Town of German Flatts.
The edition of October 2nd, 1891 announced: "James Conklin has been
nominated for Assembly. A handsome compliment (but little hope of
election)". In the May 13th, 1892 edition of the Herkimer Democrat the editor
stated: "James Conklin and John F. Thomas are not Democrats any
longer". They had backed Grover Cleveland in his campaign for the presidency.
In 1890 Conklin was voted the most popular supervisor by the Board of
Supervisors and received a gold-headed cane as a token of their esteem.
Other newspaper items of the time outlined the activities of Ilion attorneys:
"Mr. Richardson, a lawyer residing about a half a mile west of Ilion,
is engaged in constructing an extensive and beautiful trout pond to
cost about $1500. It will be a great improvement to his already handsome
premises". (October 14th, 1868.)
"Arleigh D. Rochardson, graduate of Yale, District Attorney".
(November 9th, 1894). "Spent $200.15 in running for office." (November 23rd, 1894).
"A. D. Richardson appointed receiver of Daniel Green & Sons." (April 5th, 1898).
"John Meehan graduates from Syracuse University College of Law". (June 14th, 1906).
"Attorney Frank A. Schmidt has opened an office in the Merry Block on Otsego St". (August 23rd, 1906).
Three of Ilion's most prominent attorneys, who played important roiles
in Ilion's developments, but who have died within the last seven years
are Arleigh D. Richardson, Frank A. Schmidt and Ralph A. Peters. Mr.
Richardson, a partner in the practice of law with his father Thomas
Richardson, was at one time District Attorney and for many years served
Ilion as Village Attorney, and President of the School, Water and
Cemetary Boards. Mr. Richardson died in 1945.
Frank A. Schmidt was also District Attorney and later Town Attorney.
For many years he served Ilion as a member of the Water Board. He was
also President of the Ilion National Bank and trustee of the Masonic
Many attorneys received their "seasoning" in his office including
Justin Doyle, one of Texas' leading legal authorities, Fred Reese, who
later became a Pennsylvania District Attorney, Circuit Judge and Professor
of Law at Dickinson College, present Herkimer County Judge and
Surrogate Carl W. Peterson, Francis A. Moore, prominent Herkimer attorney,
William J. Bresniham, a deputy attorney general for New York State,
District Attorney Albert W. Schneider and Village Attorney George H. Getman.
Mr. Schmidt died in 1951.
Mr.Peters, who died in 1950, came to Ilion as Attorney for the
Remington Cash Register. Later he opened up a private law office in Ilion,
and served for a number of years as Village Attorney, Attorney for Board
of Education, and Herkimer County Transfer Tax Attorney. He was also
once the Democratic candidate for the Senate.
Ilion's Present Practicing Attorneys
PAUL N. CARTER - A. B., M. A., L. L. B. West Virginia University;
graduate law studies at Columbia and Harvard Universities; admitted West
Virginia Bar 1941, New York Bar 1943: formerly associated with General
Counsel's Office of Federal Reserve Bank and legal adviser for
International Refugee Organization.
JAMES B. CURTIS - a native Ilionite; A. B. Notre Dame University,
1941; L. L. B. Albany Law School 1948; present Police Justice, Village of
Ilion; member of Herkimer County and New York State Bar Associations.
ROGER A. FORTUNA - graduate Ilion High School, Niagra University,
Georgetown University School of Law; Captain, Judge Advocate General's
Department; formerly member General Litigation Branch, War Contractors
Defense Branch and Chief, Financial Litigation Branch, War Department.
GEORGE H. GETMAN - partner Schneider and Getman: A. B. and L. L. B.
Cornell University: admitted to Bar in 1948; Town of German Flatts
Attorney 1950; Attorney for Board of Education and for Village of Ilion 1950
to date; 1943-1946 Japanese Military Intelligence Branch, United States
JAMES GILCHRIST - born Taberg, N. Y.; graduate Madison Union School,
Clinton Grammar School; alumnis of Hamilton College; studied law in
offices of Sayles & Searle, Rome, C. D. Thomas, Herkimer, and Arleigh D.
Richardson, Ilion; admitted to Bar in 1905.
NELLIE GILCHRIST - lifelong Ilion resident; graduate of Ilion High
School, Albany Law School; admitted to New York State Bar 1923; for many
years Herkimer County's only woman lawyer.
NORMAN L. HESS - associated with firm of Schneider & Getman; B. A.
Colgate university. L. L. B. Cornell Law School.; admitted to Bar 1951;
Herkimer County Bar Association; U. S. Naval Air Corps 1943-1945.
HENRY H. KENT - L. L. B. New York University Law School; admitted to
Bar 1916, U. S. District Court 1920; practiced in Frankfort 1919-1928;
Ilion from 1928; Deputy County Clerk 1920-1923; Frankfort Village
Attorney 1923-1925; Town of German Flatts 1948-1949.
THOMAS A. MORRIS - admitted to New York State Bar 1940; Captain
Military Police Corps World War II; Police Justice Village of Ilion
1948-1952; Herkimer County and New York State Bar Associations.
FRED J. O'DONNELL - B. A. and L. L. B. Cornell University; admitted to
Bar 1923; Village of Ilion Attorney 1943-1946; present Attorney for
Town of German Flatts; Herkimer County and New York State Bar
MARY J. PANTARITES - associated with attorney Fred J. O'Donnell; B. S.
Keuka College; L. L. B. University of Colorado; admitted to Bar 1950;
Herkimer County and New York State Bar Associations.
GROVER W. RADLEY - associated with Attorney Henry H. Kent; B. A.
Colgate University; M. A. Syracuse University; L. L. B. Harvard Law School;
Herkimer County and New York State Bar Associations.
ALBERT W. SCHNEIDER - partner Schneider & Getman: attended University
of Michigan and Albany Law School (L. L. B.); admitted to Bar 1934;
Village Attorney 1938-1943; 1946-1948; District Attorney 1949 to date;
Captain, United States Army, Judge Advocate General's Department,