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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Claude B. Mayham

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 512-513 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Claude B. Mayham, attorney at law of Schoharie, is a representative of a family whose name has become a synonym for legal eminence in this section of the state. He is the son of the late Judge Stephen L. Mayham, whose career was one of the longest and most distinguished in the annals of the Schoharie county bar. Judge Mayham was born in Blenheim, Schoharie county, and in early manhood taught school in Ithaca where he studied law with Love & Freer, prominent lawyers of their time. He was admitted to the bar in 1847 and started to practice in North Blenheim, Schoharie county, later moving to Schoharie. His first public position was that of county supervisor, to which he was elected as a young man. Subsequently he was made district attorney for Schoharie county, member of the state assembly from this district, and member of the United States congress, representing Schoharie and Albany counties for three terms and Schoharie, Greene and Ulster counties for another term. At the conclusion of his service in Washington the people of the county honored Stephen Mayham by electing him county judge and surrogate of Schoharie county. He had served on this bench for three years when he was elected justice of the supreme court of New York for the third district and was presiding judge of the general term in the third department. After ten years of able work on the supreme court bench Judge Mayham reached the age limit determined by law and was forced to retire. The years had rested lightly upon his shoulders, however, and the Judge, released from the burden of his judicial cares, at once plunged into private practice in partnership with his son, Claude B. Mayham, in this city. He continued active in his chosen profession until his death on March 3, 1908, at the advanced age of eighty-one. Judge Mayham was an able and a conscientious judge and a lawyer of extraordinary brilliance. His memory will long be cherished as that of one who lent dignity to the court, honor to his profession and distinction to his community. Stephen L. Mayham married Julia A. Martin, a native of the town of Blenheim, Schoharie county, and a granddaughter of General Freegift Patchin, whose fame as an officer in the Revolution has come down to posterity. Mrs. Mayham passed away on May 27, 1895.

Claude B. Mayham, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen L. Mayham, was born in Schoharie, February 15, 1869, and has lived here practically all of his life. As a child he attended the public schools and graduated from the Schoharie Academy, now known as the high school, at the early age of fifteen. He prepared for college under the direction of private tutors and entering Columbia University, New York city, obtained the A. B. and LL. B. degrees in 1891. Prior to his graduation from Columbia he had passed his examinations and obtained admission to practice before the bar of New York, so immediately after leaving college he was able to join his brother, Don Mayham, in his legal practice in Schoharie. The brother died in 1895 and upon the father's retirement from the bench in 1896 a partnership was formed between Mr. Mayham and his father which was continued until the Judge's death in 1908. Since then Mr. Mayham has practiced alone, continuing the work of a law office that has been in his family for more than sixty years. The building in which he is located is one of the old landmarks of the city, having stood for a hundred and fourteen years. Mr. Mayham has an exceptionally large and complete law library, one of the best in this section, which affords him unusual facilities for study and legal research. For like those of his family who have gone before him, Mr. Mayham is a man of scholarly tastes and a thoroughgoing student of his profession. His powers as an attorney have been widely recognized and in addition to an important private practice he has been called upon to serve in various public capacities where legal learning was the chief qualification demanded of the officeholder. He was three times chosen district attorney for this county for terms of three years each and in addition held this office for one year by appointment. In this position he proved himself an able prosecutor and a faithful servant of the public interests. Perhaps the highest public honor that has been conferred upon him is his position as commissioner of appraisal for the New York city water supply system in the Gilboa reservoir construction project, which he has held for the past four years. At present he is chairman of the commission. The responsibilities resting with this commission are very great; so important in fact, that only men of the first rank and ability can be intrusted with the work of performing its duties. In order to secure the services of the men best qualified for the work of the commission an honorarium has been attached to the post of commissioner that makes it worth the while of the leading men in the profession to take some valuable time from their private practice to devote to this public work, thus Mr. Mayham enjoys the association with coworkers on the commission selected from the best talent in the state.

In January, 1904, Mr. Mayham was married to Miss Nelle Schaeffer, daughter of Willard and Laura (Clark) Schaeffer, natives of Schoharie, where the father is engaged in the mercantile business. Mr. and Mrs. Mayham have one child; Willard B., born November, 1908, who is now attending the local high school. Mrs. Mayham traces her descent from one of the old Revolutionary families and is a charter member of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in whose patriotic work she is much interested.

As a young man Mr. Mayham was prominent in athletic activities, excelling in several lines of sport. At college he was an oarsman, captain and pitcher of the baseball team and went out for track work as well. Later he pitched for the New York Athletic Club in the Amateur Athletic Union's championship contests, in which he made such a good record that he was offered a position as a pitcher in professional baseball with the National League. Out of deference to his parents' objections, the young man refused to sign the contract offered him and turned to the more serious problems of a legal career. Mr. Mayham's extra-curriculum activities in college were not confined to the athletic field, however. He belonged to the Columbia University Chapter of the Delta Upsilon fraternity and was the baritone soloist in the College Glee Club of eighty-six members. Since then he has become a Mason, being past senior deacon of the local lodge, and he has joined the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks Lodge, No. 49, of Albany. His political affiliations are with the democratic party and religiously he is identified with the Dutch Reformed church of Schoharie, in which he holds the office of deacon. In connection with his professional work Mr. Mayham holds membership in the State Bar Association, the Schoharie County Bar Association and the Bar Association of the City of New York, through whose meetings and other activities he keeps in touch with the work that is being done by his colleagues in the professional field.

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