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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Hon. William Ross Lee

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 86-87 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The Hon. William Ross Lee, member of the legal firm of Rudd, Judson & Lee and former district attorney for Utica, is one of that city's native sons, and was born on the 20th of March, 1875. He is the younger of the two sons of the late Lewis M. Lee and his wife, Mary (Ross) Lee. Lewis M. Lee was a traveling salesman by occupation. Born in Frankfort, Herkimer county, New York, November 10, 1841, he was the son of Wallace Lee and grandson of George Lee of that place. His death occurred in Gouverneur in 1919. Mrs. Lee, who survives him and enjoys vigorous health in spite of her advancing years, now makes her home in Gouverneur, St. Lawrence county. She was born in Scotland and was brought to the United States when she was about five years old. She settled with her parents, David and Margaret (Cameron) Ross, in New York Mills, a suburb of Utica, where she grew to young womanhood and was married to Lewis M. Lee in 1872. Five children were born to this union: H. Walter, a lawyer of Albany; William Ross, of this review; Mrs. Marion Band of Boston, Massachusetts; Mrs. Bessie Green of Gouverneur; and Mrs. Archibald Wager of Watertown, New York.

William Ross Lee spent much of his boyhood in Gouverneur, where he attended high school, graduating therefrom in 1893. Later he entered Hamilton College, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1900, and the following spring he was awarded the Master of Arts degree by his Alma Mater. Very early in his career he displayed the intellectual acumen that has been a distinguishing feature of his work as an attorney. In high school he was awarded a scholarship prize and in college he was elected to the fellowship of Phi Beta Kappa, a fraternity whose members are chosen for their high scholastic standing and personality. The four years after leaving Hamilton College were spent in the law department of Cornell University, from which he graduated with the Bachelor of Laws degree in 1905. Thus equipped with unusually thorough general and special training, the young man sought admission to the bar of New York state and began to practice in Utica the same year. Much of the time Mr. Lee has been engaged in the practice of his chosen profession has been consumed with work of a public nature. His first position was that of assistant corporation counsel for the corporation of Utica, which he held for two years. One year he acted as attorney to the sheriff of Oneida county, and for twelve years he was in the office of the district attorney here. The first six years of his experience in this connection was as assistant to the district attorney and his work in this office was so valuable that he was chosen to succeed his chief and held the position for another six years. He retired from office on the 1st of January, 1923, in order to devote his time to private practice as a member of the firm of Rudd, Judson & Lee.

In 1908, on the 18th of November, Mr. Lee was united in marriage to Miss Mary D. Pringle, who was born in Adrian, Michigan. Politically Mr. Lee is affiliated with the republican party and he belongs to the Republican Club of Utica, of which he is now the president. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Presbyterian church. In the Masonic order he has attained to the thirty-second degree and is likewise connected with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Maccabees. Bacon Post, G. A. R., of Utica, claims this distinguished lawyer as one of its honorary members. Mr. Lee is interested in all that pertains to the advancement and welfare of his city. His support of the forces that make for good government and social development, both as a private citizen and as an officeholder, has earned him his enviable position as one of the substantial and leading citizens of Utica.

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