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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Ambrose P. Fitz-James

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 39-40 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Ambrose P. Fitz-James, corporation counsel for the city of Amsterdam, comes of a race that has furnished to the legal profession many eminent men and has inherited the keenness of wit, the oratorical powers and the strong mentality of his Gaelic ancestors. For nearly a quarter of a century he has practiced in Amsterdam, his native city, and his well developed powers have carried him far beyond the ranks of mediocrity, placing him with the talented attorneys of Montgomery county. He was born July 13, 1876, a son of Michael J. and Bridget (Carey) Fitz-James, both of whom were natives of Ireland. His father came to Amsterdam in 1862, when sixteen years of age, and in August of that year enlisted in the Thirty-second Regiment of New York Volunteers. He was afterward transferred to the One Hundred and Twenty-first Regiment of New York Infantry and participated in many notable engagements. He lost his right hand in the battle of the Wilderness and proved his loyalty and devotion to the Union by gallant service in the Civil war, never faltering in the performance of duty. After receiving his honorable discharge Mr. Fitz-James returned to Amsterdam and remained a resident of the city until his death, which occurred on the 6th of August, 1917.

His son, Ambrose P. Fitz-James, completed a course in St. Mary's Institute of Amsterdam and afterward matriculated in Union College at Schenectady, New York, being a member of the class of 1898. He read law for a time in the office of White & Ferguson of Amsterdam, and then entered the Albany Law School, from which he graduated in 1899. He was admitted to the bar on the 6th of July of that year and upon his return to Amsterdam he became associated with the firm of White & Ferguson, remaining with them until April 1, 1900. He then opened his present office at No. 43 East Main street and has since practiced independently with the exception of two years. He was joined by W. Arthur Kline in 1904 in forming the firm of Fitz-James & Kline, and in 1905 the partnership was discontinued. Mr. Fitz-James has a comprehensive understanding of the principles of jurisprudence and his arguments are lucid, cogent and always to the point. He wins a large percentage of his cases and an extensive clientele indicates his professional prestige. In 1913 he received public recognition of his legal acumen in his selection for the office of corporation counsel of the city of Amsterdam, which he filled in 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, and on January 1, 1924, entered upon another term. He has a high conception of the duties of the position and has made an exceptional record as a public servant, the worth of his work being uniformly conceded.

On July 26, 1905, Mr. Fitz-James was married to Miss Margaret M. Fleig, a daughter of Robert and Anna Fleig of Amsterdam. Mr. and Mrs. Fitz-James became the parents of four children, but all are deceased except Robert Fitz-James, the youngest, who was born January 30, 1922. The others were: Mary, who was born September 23, 1906, and died February 23, 1908; Edmund, who was born May 14, 1909, and died March 14, 1920; and Margaret, who was born July 25, 1914, and died October 5, 1915.

Mr. Fitz-James is a republican in his political views and an earnest worker in behalf of the party. He takes a keen interest in public affairs and in 1903 was a candidate for the office of city recorder, but the election was won by Robert Lee Reynolds, his democratic opponent. He afterward became a member of the common council, in which he represented the seventh ward in 1907 and 1908, lending the weight of his influence to every measure destined to prove of benefit to the city. He is one of the valued members of the Amsterdam Board of Trade and his fraternal relations are with the Sons of Veterans, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Columbus, and the Knights of the Maccabees. Mr. Fitz-James belongs to the Alumni Association of Union College and his professional connections are with, the Amsterdam City and Montgomery County Bar Associations. He is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and conforms his conduct to high standards in every relation of life.

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