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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
F. Walter Bliss

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 561-562 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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F. Walter Bliss, county attorney for Schoharie county and a practicing lawyer of Middleburg, is one of the younger men in the county to have attained an important position in the legal profession. He was born in the town of Gilboa, Schoharie county, on the 27th of April, 1892, and through his father is descended from one of the old Colonial families of this section. The Blisses came to America from England about the year 1660, played an honorable part in the upbuilding of the colony and bore arms against the mother country at the time of the Revolutionary war. Franklin W. Bliss, father of F. Walter Bliss, was born in the town of Gilboa and is a merchant in Middleburg where he is well known as one of the leading business men. He has been actively interested in public affairs and served for some time as county clerk for Schoharie county. Mr. Bliss's mother was Alberta Becker before her marriage to F. W. Bliss and she, too, was born in the town of Gilboa.

F. Walter Bliss obtained his education in the public schools of Middleburg and Poughkeepsie and graduated from the high school in the latter place in 1908. Entering Cornell University he took a general arts and science course there, leading to the A. B. degree, which he received in 1913. He went to the Albany Law School after leaving Cornell and after two years of further study was granted his LL. B. degree. For about two years after leaving school the young lawyer remained in Albany, where he was connected with the law firm of Fitzsimmons & Archibald, whose office is one that is well known in the state capital. His experience there brought him into intimate touch with the practical aspects of the legal profession and gave him an insight into the way important cases are conducted that has since been of value to him in his private practice. Mr. Bliss "hung out his shingle" in Middleburg in 1917, but was not permitted to devote himself to advancing himself in the profession for long. The United States entered the World war in the spring of that year and it was not long before the man-power of the country was being drawn upon heavily. Being of military age and physically fit Mr. Bliss was among the first to respond to the call to arms. He entered the army in August, 1917, as first lieutenant in the infantry, but later was transferred to the air service, where he was also ranked as first lieutenant and assigned to flying duty. Shortly after the signing of the armistice Lieutenant Bliss was honorably discharged from the army, on December 16, 1918, and after an absence of a year and a half returned to Middleburg to resume his law practice. His progress in his chosen line of work has commended him to lawyers and laymen, alike, and he has been successful in building up a good clientele. At present, in addition to caring for his own practice Mr. Bliss is serving as county attorney of Schoharie county. In this capacity he has displayed a knowledge of the law that reflects his ability as a student and a forcefulness that marks him as a strong pleader and effective prosecutor. There is no question in the minds of his friends and associates that Mr. Bliss has ahead of him a future of unusual promise.

Mr. Bliss was married to Miss Margaret Schaeffer, daughter of William L. and Martha (Borst) Schaeffer, on June 20, 1918. Both Mr. and Mrs. Schaeffer were born in Schoharie county, where they always lived. Mr. Schaeffer was an agriculturist all of his life and worked a fine farm near Schoharie that has been in the possession of his family since the year 1711. Upon his death in 1908 the title to this property went to his wife who still makes her home on the old family homestead. Mrs. Schaeffer comes from an old Revolutionary family and both she and her daughter, Mrs. Bliss, are members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mr. and Mrs. Bliss have two children: Janet Schaeffer, born November 20, 1919; and Margaret Ellen, born February 16, 1922.

As one of the World war veterans in Middleburg, Mr. Bliss has been active in the local post of the American Legion, of which he is past commander, and is now commander of the county organization. He is a prominent Mason, his affiliations being with Middleburg Lodge, No. 663, A. F. and A. M., in which he is master; the Buffalo Consistory, in which he has attained the thirty-second degree; and Cyprus Temple of the Mystic Shrine, at Albany. He is also identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. A democrat in his political views, he has been quite active in local affairs. He was formerly chief of the Middleburg fire department and is now county attorney. As a member of one of its oldest families Mr. Bliss has taken quite a keen interest in the history of the Mohawk valley and through his membership in the Mohawk Valley Historical Society lent his support to the movement to preserve the old landmarks and traditions for the future generations. Mr. Bliss belongs to the Dutch Reformed church of Middleburg, is a member of its consistory and holds the office of deacon. In connection with his professional work he maintains a membership in the Schoharie County Bar Association, through which he comes into touch with the leading lawyers of this section.

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