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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
George M. Weaver

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 162-165 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]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 George M. Weaver

Portrait: George M. Weaver

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George M. Weaver, who enjoys the distinction of descent from the first settlers of Oneida county, has been an active representative of the legal profession in Utica during the past six decades, and is highly esteemed both as a lawyer and as a citizen. He is the son of Jacob George and Caroline Matilda (Wells) Weaver, and was born on August 5, 1840, at the family homestead in Deerfield, now Utica, New York. His great-grandfather, George J. Weaver, or John George, as he was sometimes called, came up the Mohawk river in 1773 with Mark Demouth and Christian Real and their families, settling on the north side of the river at the ford or Indian Crossing of the Mohawk trail. Their nearest neighbors were about eight miles to the east in Herkimer county. The settlement was broken up and the buildings burned in 1775 by a band of Indians coming down from the north. The settlers' lives were saved through the warning of a friendly Indian, who in his wanderings had sometimes slept on the floor in front of Mr. Weaver's fireplace and had received his breakfast. A hasty midnight flight took them to the little stockade at Stone Arabia. They entered the army which was forming under General Herkimer and took part in the battle of Oriskany. George J. Weaver was enrolled as a lieutenant, and his young son, George Michael Weaver, fourteen years of age, as a private and drummer boy. At the close of the war and the return of quiet life in 1784 the three families returned to their settlement. The Weavers are still represented there by their descendants.

The present Mr. Weaver's father, Jacob George, was the son of the drummer boy, George Michael Weaver. He died at the homestead in Deerfield in 1886. He was somewhat prominent politically as a member of the board of supervisors for many years. He, with John Stryker of Rome and "King" David Moulton of Marcy, were said to have formed a triumvirate to control local county matters.

The present George M. Weaver was educated at the Utica Academy and at Hamilton College, where he graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1860. Following the advice of Horace Greeley to "go west, young man", he at once went — not quite west but to Missouri in the southwest, settled chiefly by people of southern birth and forming one of the slave states. He was teaching and studying law when the Civil war broke out, and recognizing his duty as a citizen of that state, he enlisted in the Missouri State Guard of the Confederate army, and served through the early part of the war, participating especially in the battles of Fort Scott and Lexington. His first engagement was in eastern Missouri, near the Mississippi river, where General (then Colonel) Grant had crossed from Illinois. The two forces were about equal in numbers, each composed of raw, inexperienced farmers, and after a short engagement encamped not far from each other for the night. During the evening the officers of the southern force, realizing that they had no artillery, while the Illinois men were said to have a good battery, concluded to retreat. The Union forces at the same time came to the same conclusion on their part, and the two armies ran away from each other. General Grant in his memoirs refers to this and says it taught him a lesson never to run away until he first ascertained whether the enemy were already running.

At the close of the war Mr. Weaver taught at the Boonville Collegiate Institute and read law and finally was admitted to the bar. Many of the older lawyers had been killed or had removed and a good opening was before him. Among other clients he was retained by Governor Claiborne F. Jackson's son William, who was in jail indicted for treason. Another case which he had was a little unusual. A Union man had shot a southern man and had been arrested, indicted and was on trial for murder. When the case was called the district attorney, who was a carpetbagger, lay intoxicated on a seat in the courthouse and failed to respond to any calls. The court thereupon appointed Mr. Weaver and another young lawyer to prosecute the case for the people and adjourned the court to the following morning to enable them to get ready. At the trial the guilt of the prisoner was clearly shown, but feeling ran very high between the northern and southern people and it was impossible to secure a conviction. The most that could be hoped for was to prevent an acquittal. This was finally secured through a jury equally divided between the two sides of the recent war. Before another trial could be had the carpetbag legislature passed an amendment to the constitution prohibiting anyone who had taken any part in the rebellion from practicing law, teaching school, or preaching the gospel. Mr. Weaver concluded that he was no longer wanted in Missouri and came back to his old home in Utica, where he was cordially welcomed. He was offered a clerkship in the office of John F. Seymour, brother of Governor Horatio Seymour, succeeded two months later by a partnership with Willard Crafts, formerly a partner of the elder Judge Samuel A. Beardsley, and in 1867, upon Mr. Crafts' death, was admitted to partnership with his old friend, Mr. Seymour, under the firm name of Seymour & Weaver, which association continued throughout Mr. Seymour's life and was always a constant source of help, of wise inspiration and great satisfaction. Since this time, covering nearly a third of a century, Mr. Weaver has practiced independently mostly in equity cases and in the management of estates. He has a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence and is well known for the precision of his briefs, the logic of his arguments, and the success with which he has handled cases of a somewhat difficult nature.

During the war the federal congress, like the Missouri legislature, had passed a disabling act requiring all applicants for admission to the national bar to swear that they had never participated in the rebellion. This act had been declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. As Mr. Weaver's firm was doing considerable business in these courts, it became necessary that he should be admitted to practice in them. Citing this decision, he applied for admission and the district court at Buffalo ordered that he be admitted without taking the oath, and that no such oath be required thereafter.

Mr. Weaver was married on November 22, 1868, to Miss Anna Barnett Cope, daughter of Colonel Charles Cope, deceased, of Boonville, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Weaver had three living children; George M. Weaver, Jr.; Helen Seymour, the wife of Admiral Benjamin F. Hutchison of the United States navy; and Gertrude Constance.

Mr. Weaver has always been a democrat and was at one time active in local politics, receiving successively his party's nomination as city attorney, now known as corporation counsel; recorder, now city judge; and delegate to the State Constitutional convention in 1914. These nominations show his political activity and prominence, but they always came from the minority party and he was always defeated at the polls. He is still living and still practicing his profession and managing the estates left in his hands as executor and trustee. He is a member of the Camp of Confederate Veterans of New York, and of the Victoria Institute, a philosophical and archaeological society of London, England.

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