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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William John Gardinier

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 123-124 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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William John Gardinier, a prominent attorney and well known citizen of Herkimer, was born in the town of Danube, Herkimer county, December 17, 1870, the son of William H. and Ellen (Devendorf) Gardinier, both of whom were natives of that place. His father, a retired farmer, is now living in Herkimer at the advanced age of seventy-nine, his birth having occurred on July 5, 1845. The family is descended from some German immigrants who came to America from the Palatinate in colonial times and were well established in this state before the Revolutionary war. There is considerable evidence that the Martin Gardinier who fought in the Revolution was the great-great-grandfather of William J. Gardinier of this review. Martin Gardinier, great-great-grandfather of our subject, lived in Montgomery county, New York, and had, besides John, hereinafter mentioned, and other children, two sons, Jacob and Samuel. The relationship of this family to Captain Jacob Gardinier and Lieutenant Samuel Gardinier of Montgomery county, who fought so valiantly at Oriskany, is evidently very close but is not yet definitely established. Captain Jacob Gardinier had a son named Martin Gardinier. John Gardinier, Sr., son of Martin Gardinier and great-grandfather of William J. Gardinier, came to Danube, Herkimer county, from Stone Arabia, New York, with his son, John Gardinier, Jr., grandfather of our subject, about 1808. Martin Van Buren Gardinier, an uncle of William J. Gardinier, served in the Union navy during the Civil war. Through his mother William J. Gardinier is descended from the Walraths and the Devendorfs, two prominent New York families, the latter of German origin. Ellen (Devendorf) Gardinier, who was born May 3, 1848, and died on December 23, 1870, shortly after her son was born, was the daughter of Levenus and Margaret (Walrath) Devendorf and the sister of Judge I. R. Devendorf, whose biography appears elsewhere in this work. A full account of the family history of the Walraths and Devendorfs, both of whom trace direct descent from Revolutionary war soldiers, is given in connection with the review of Judge Devendorf's career.

William J. Gardinier obtained his early education in the country schools of Danube, following which he attended the Little Falls Academy, where he graduated in the class of 1889. The following four years were spent at Cornell University of Ithaca, New York, which granted him the Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1893. That the young man stood exceptionally high in his classes is evidenced by the fact that he was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, an honorary college fraternity whose members are selected because of their exceptional intellectual accomplishments. After thus completing his general education with flying colors, Mr. Gardinier took up the study of law in the office of Devendorf & Smith, the senior partner in the firm being his uncle, Judge I. R. Devendorf. Two years later he passed his examinations and was admitted to the bar. Mr. Gardinier practiced law alone until October 1, 1923, when he took his son, D. Elton Gardinier, into his office as a partner under the firm name of Gardinier & Gardinier. In the nearly three decades that he has been practicing Mr. Gardinier has built up an excellent general practice and stands high both with his colleagues and with the laity. He is attorney for the Herkimer Co-Operative Savings & Loan Association, of which he is a director, and from time to time has been retained as counsel by many of the important business firms in Herkimer and the county.

Mr. Gardinier served in the Spanish-American war with the rank of corporal. He was a member of the regular militia at the time the United States declared war on Spain and immediately volunteered for service at the front. He is now a member and past commander of Camp No. 51 of the United Spanish War Veterans of Herkimer. For two years, from 1899 to 1901, Mr. Gardinier served as corporation counsel for the village of Herkimer. He is a republican in political affiliations and for eight years continuously acted as inspector of election in his district. For the past quarter of a century he has been clerk of the Universalist church of Herkimer, while in Masonic circles he is past master of Herkimer Lodge, No. 423, F. & A. M. One of this busy lawyer's hobbies is apiology and he derives much pleasure from watching his bees at their work of storing up honey and rearing the young of their colonies. All forms of nature and outdoor life have a charm for him and he enjoys getting away from civilization occasionally for a few days of hunting or fishing.

Mr. Gardinier was married to Miss Minnie Moore Lee, on the 19th of October, 1896. The thirteenth child in the family of fourteen born to Addison and Olive (Hammond) Lee, she was born October 19, 1879, in Jefferson county, New York. Her father, who was a distant relative of General Robert E. Lee, was quite a musician and his talent seems to have been inherited by many of his children and grandchildren. Mrs. Gardinier is very active in the club and civic life of Herkimer. She is a member of Myrtle Chapter, No. 148, Order of Eastern Star, past district grand matron of that order, and an officer of the White Shrine in Utica. As president of the Ladies' Aid Society and a trustee, she is a valued member of the Universalist church, while for two years she was secretary of the Herkimer Home Aid Society. She is also a member and one of the board of directors of the Neighborhood House Association and belongs to the Stitchery Club of Herkimer. Like her husband, Mrs. Gardinier is much interested in republican politics and has been a leader in the women's branch of the party as a member of the Republican Women's Council for the Seventh District.

Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Gardinier: Mildred May, the eldest, was born May 12, 1898, and was educated in the Herkimer high school. She is a talented musician and an accomplished pianist. On the 16th of June, 1921, she was married to Bernard A. Rasbach, son of Alonzo Rasbach of Herkimer, who is now associated with the Standard Furniture Company of Herkimer. Douglas Elton Gardinier, who was born September 8, 1900, graduated from the local high school in 1918 and obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from Cornell University, his father's Alma Mater, in 1923. The following fall he became associated with his father in the practice of law in Herkimer and is also a justice of the peace. He enlisted in the United States army during the World war, entered the Students' Army Training Corps and served until after the armistice was signed. Russell Martin Gardinier was born February 9, 1905, and graduated from the Herkimer high school in 1923, following which he entered Cornell University. He is gifted with unusual musical ability, plays the clarinet and saxophone and is a member of the Cornell band and orchestra. The youngest child, Eileen, was born June 16, 1911, and is now in the last grade of the Herkimer public schools.

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