Biography of Hon. Stukely Ellsworth

HON. STUKELY ELLSWORTH. – This eminent lawyer of our state was born at Stockton, Chautauqua county, New York, December 18, 1826. Among his distinguished ancestors were Oliver Ellsworth, the third chief justice of the supreme court of the United States; Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke Seminary, and Mary Franklin, a sister of Benjamin Franklin. Colonel E.E. Ellsworth is also supposed to have belonged to the same family.

Mr. Ellsworth received his academical education in Chautauqua county, and graduated at Yale College in 1847. He studied law at Buffalo, New York, nearly three years, and was admitted to practice before the supreme court of the United States at Washington in 1855. He settled the same year at Eugene City, Oregon, feeling a greater attraction for building up a new state than in seeking high position in the older communities. He was married in 1856, at Salem, to Miss Mary Stevens, of Coldwater, Michigan, a daughter of General J.H. Stevens, now of North Powder, Oregon, who was also one of the first pioneers of the state. Mr. Ellsworth engaged steadily in the practice of his profession, giving but little attention to politics, although frequently urged by his friends to do so. His only candidacy for office at the hands of any political party during his residence in Oregon was for the office of judge of the supreme court of the state in 1866; but, while he received more than five hundred votes from the party of his opponent, he was defeated by the incumbent, Honorable, Geo. H. Williams, ex-attorney general of the United States, who was also in nomination. In 1872 he moved from Eugene City to La Grande, hoping by a change of climate to benefit the health of his wife who had become a confirmed invalid, and received from him the most careful attention and consideration at all times.

He was a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Oregon, and was chosen by them as grand representative to the grand lodge of the United States in 1875. At this time he revisited his native state after an absence of twenty years. The allurements of place and position had but little attraction for him, and could not induce him to enter the active arena of politics. Notwithstanding this, he took a quiet and unostentatious, but nevertheless effective, part in advancing many matters of public interest, and assisted the progress of his beloved state in many important affairs. About the year 1870 the state and coast were greatly interested in railroad mattes; and, in common with his fellow citizens generally, Mr. Ellsworth gave time, money and influence to these projects. In that year he was one of the board of directors of the Oregon & California Railroad. Some years alter, in helping to locate the State University at Eugene, he took a very active part. As a lawyer, he stood in the front rank of the legal fraternity on this coast, and possessed the enviable reputation of being “a peacemaker rather than a promoter of litigation.”

His death occurred at La Grande January 28, 1876, after a very brief illness. Ten years later he was followed by his wife. There are four children surviving, of whom three reside in this state; while one, a daughter, makes her home in Montana. These are all persons of character and of value to their respective communities.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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