Biography of Hon. Augustine M. Sinnott

The gentleman whose name appears above was born on Staten Island, New York, July 17, 1858, the eldest son of Philip Sinnott. deceased, and Katharine E., nee Breen, both of whom were born in historic Wexford, Ireland, and emigrated from their native home to the Empire state of America, New York, when very young, where the father followed the trade of carpenter and builder.

Young Augustine attended the public schools of his home district, where he achieved particular distinction as a scholar, and subsequently graduated at the New York high school and pursued a course of study in the College of the City of New York. His portrait and biography appeared in Frank Leslie’s Boys’ and Girls’ Weekly, in his fifteenth year, as the distinguished scholar of the Staten Island public schools, after a prize contest. The island, now known as Richmond borough, Greater New York, at that time had a population of forty thousand. After teaching in district schools in Illinois for two years he came to Colorado, in 1881, and entered the service of the South Park Railway, where he held a clerkship, and later was in the train service, until the summer of 1883, when he returned to his native island, in New York bay, and in the ensuing September led Miss Ella O’Brien, a native daughter of Staten Island, to the hymeneal altar. Deciding to make Idaho their future home, the young couple arrived in the territory a few weeks after their wedding, and shortly afterward located at Glenn’s Ferry, an old established post on the “overland trail,” then a small flag-station on the Oregon Short Line Railway, consisting of a ferry, blacksmith shop and a few railroad buildings, but which afterward became a division terminal, in which event shops, round-house and other buildings were erected by the company, wherein a large force of labor is now employed.

Coming here in 1883, Mr. Sinnott entered the railway service and continued in the track and machinery departments as a locomotive fireman and clerk until 1890, when he was elected probate judge and ex-officio County school superintendent of Elmore County, which had been organized by statute in February, 1889, with Rocky Bar for the County seat. This was not Judge Sinnott’s first political achievement, however, for in 1884 he had been elected justice of the peace for Glenn’s Ferry, and re-elected in 1886 and 1888. In June 1889, upon the call of Governor Stevenson for the Idaho state constitutional convention, held at Boise City in July and August following, he was elected on the Republican and Labor ticket as a representative to that body from El-more County, where he received the credit of the masses of his County for extraordinarily efficient service. Being the secretary of the committee on labor in that body, all articles in the labor section of the Idaho state constitution were pre-pared by him. The Elmore Bulletin, the leading Democratic newspaper of his County, spoke of him as “one who feared not the party lash, was unswayed by railroad influence and did his duty well.” ‘

As County judge, in every suit tried before him, including some important labor suits, when appeal was taken to the higher court his decision was sustained. He was the presiding magistrate in the examination in the Kensler-Freel murder trial, one of the greatest sensations in the criminal history of Idaho.

In 1891 he was admitted to the bar, after studying three years, under adverse circumstances. Taking charge of the County school superintendent’s office, he found the records of the office and the school system of the County to be a disorganized mass, and out of the chaos laid the foundation of a system that has since made the schools of Elmore County second to none in the state. In the fall of 1898 he was elected to the office of County attorney of his County, on the silver ticket, which position he now holds.

In Ireland, for many generations, the Sinnott family were conspicuously active in Irish affairs, both in peace and in war, taking part with the Irish insurgents. In the year 1644 Sir David Sinnott, with his Celtic and Norman forces, held the beleaguered city of Wexford against Cromwell and his Covenanter soldiery. In the rebellion of 1798 they were among the local leaders in Wexford against the British government, and lost all they had in the struggle for freedom. Judge Sinnott’s father “wore the blue” in the dark days of 1863, and physical incapacity alone prevented the son from being accepted and doing likewise in this last war. He has been a member of the Idaho state assembly of the Knights of Labor, and is still an active worker in labor’s cause.

Five children, of whom four are living, bless his marriage union: two daughters, Alice and Katharine, aged thirteen and twelve years respectively, and two sons, Philip and Thomas, nine and six years of age. The family resides at Mountain Home.


Surnames:
Sinnott,

Topics:
Biography,

Collection:
Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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