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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Henry J. Cookinham

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 42-45 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of Henry J. Cookinham

Portrait: Henry J. Cookinham

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Henry J. Cookinham, son of John D. and Diantha L. Cookinham, was born at Prospect, Oneida county, New York, October 1, 1843; was educated in Prospect Academy, Whitestown Seminary, and in the law department of Hamilton College. He completed his studies in the office of United States Senator Roscoe Conkling at Utica, was admitted to the bar in 1867, and immediately formed a partnership with Arthur M. Beardsley, for the practice of his profession in Utica. In 1873 he was elected special surrogate of Oneida county. The following year Francis M. Burdick was admitted into the partnership and remained a partner until he retired to become professor in Cornell University, and afterward Dean of Columbia University Law School in New York city.

In 1879 Mr. Cookinham was elected member of the New York Assembly and served on several important committees in that body. The same year he formed a law partnership in Utica with James S. Sherman and John G. Gibson. Mr. Sherman afterward became vice president of the United States, and Mr. Gibson mayor of the city of Utica. The firm was Cookinham, Sherman & Gibson. In the fall of 1884 Mr. Cookinham was nominated by the republicans for the office of representative in congress, in the Oneida-Lewis district, but was defeated, owing to a division in the republican party.

James G. Blaine was the republican candidate for president of the United States. His nomination had been opposed by ex-Senator Roscoe Conkling, who also opposed his election. Mr. Conkling for several years had been the controlling factor in New York republican politics and this opposition caused the defeat of republican candidates generally in the state.

Mr. Cookinham was one of the organizers of the Bisby Club, the first hunting and fishing club ever organized in the Adirondack mountains; has been an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman and an ardent advocate of the conservation of forests and wild life. When a member of the state legislature, with James W. Husted and Warren F. Weston, two other members of the legislature, he procured the passage of the act providing for the appointment of the first game protector in the state of New York.

In 1894 Mr. Cookinham was a delegate in the New York State Constitutional convention and a member of the committees on judiciary, suffrage and privileges and elections. He was one of the leading members in that convention, which consisted of some of the most eminent men in the state, such as Joseph H. Choate, Elihu Root, DeLancy Nichol, Jesse Johnson and Judge Charles Truax. Upon adjournment of the convention, Mr. Cookinham was appointed chairman of a committee to draft an explanation of the proposed changes which the convention had made in the constitution. The proposed new constitution was adopted by the people and is still the constitution of the state of New York. Mr. Cookinham was also appointed by a special statute a member of a commission to erect a new courthouse in Oneida county, and for three years served as chairman of that commission. He has been a director and counsel for many large corporations and has been counsel in the settlement of many large estates. He has also been retained to try many important lawsuits in the federal courts and also in many of the state courts, besides the state of New York. Among these states are Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Mississippi and others. He has also been retained to argue important cases in the supreme court of the United States.

Mr. Cookinham has published a number of volumes, among which are: "A Memorial Volume of James A. Garfield", "Recollections of Oneida County Bar"; a "History of Oneida County"; "Memorial Address on President Ulysses S. Grant"; and "History of the Bar of Oneida County". He has traveled extensively, throughout the United States and in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Mr. Cookinham is president of the Real Estate Exchange of Utica; a director of the Fort Schuyler Motors Corporation, and of several other corporations; is a member of the American Bar Association, one of the executive committee of the New York State Bar Association; a member of the Sons of the Revolution and the Oneida Historical Society, and for several years was president of that society.

Mr. Cookinham married the daughter of General R. U. Sherman, who was also the sister of James S. Sherman, vice president of the United States. Mr. Cookinham has six children: One daughter and five sons. Two of the sons are lawyers, two are civil engineers, and one is a mechanical engineer.

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