Biography of Samuel Southworth

There are some men who take possession of the public heart and hold it after they have passed away, not by flashes of genius or brilliant services, but by kindness and the force of personal character, and by steady and persistent good conduct in all the situations and under all the trials of life. They are in sympathy with all that is pure and useful and good in the community in which they reside, and the community on its part cheerfully responds by extending to them respectful admiration and sincere affection. Such a man was Samuel Southworth. In many respects he was a model as a business man, not alone for the rectitude of his methods, and the truth and honor which formed the foundation of all his dealings, but because of the keen insight he possessed into all matters of business even remotely connected with his enterprises.

Samuel Southworth was the son of Dr. Samuel Southworth, a physician of note in his day, who was a native of Vermont and located in Geneva, Ontario county, New York, in the year 1825. Samuel jr was born in that town, October 11, 1828, and died there October 28, 1909. His early days were spent like those of the majority of boys in a semi-rural section, in attending the district school and the academical and high schools. He was of tender age when he commenced his business career, his first position being as a general helper in a store. At the age of sixteen years he started out on a sperm-whaling expedition, and this was extended over a period of three years. Upon his return to Geneva he secured a position as clerk in the postoffice. which was then located on the site of the present Nestor Hotel. His appointment was made under Postmaster Barilla Slossom, and he held the position six years, which took him into the administration of S. H. Parker. By this time he commenced to tire of the confinement of indoor labor and resigning in 1853, he succeeded S. B. Dutcher as agent at Stanley, of the Canandaigua-Elmira railroad, which was largely patronized at that time. In the spring of 1855 Mr. Southworth returned to Geneva to assume the duties of clerk in the Bank of Geneva, which was the predecessor of the Geneva National Bank. William E. Sill was president of the bank at, the time, and W. T. Scott cashier. The office was located at the head of Seneca street in a building to the north of the residence of Mr. Southworth. His faithful attention to the details of his work and the precision with which he carried out the minutest details of the manifold duties entrusted to his care, had the inevitable result of raising him from one position to another until as cashier he served successively under Presidents William T. Scott and S. H. Ver Plank, and when the bank was reorganized under the new national banking laws. and became known as the Geneva National Bank in 1865, Mr. Southworth was retained in his old position. He continued to hold this until his resignation in July, 1868, when he decided to engage in the insurance, real estate and pension business in association with Colonel John S. Platner. Upon the death of Colonel Platner the following December, Mr. Southworth became the sole proprietor and manager of the business thus organized, and shortly afterward added banking to its other features. At first the work of securing pensions was the most important item of the business, but this gradually gave place to the banking interests. The real estate and insurance enterprises remained fixtures of the concern throughout the connection of Mr. Southworth with this business. In t906 he admitted as a partner in the insurance branch of the business, John W. Mellen, who had previously been a cleric in the office, and this left Mr. Southworth with more time to attend to the other interests. In addition to these numerous demands upon his time Mr. Southworth had nevertheless paid considerable attention and taken an active interest in public affairs. Although unassuming and modest in his disposition, he took a lively interest in all matters that pertained to the welfare of the community in which he resided, and was ever ready to bear his due share of any burden which had to be borne. His political allegiance was given to the Democratic party, and he was elected to the office of supervisor of the town of Seneca prior to its separation from the town of Geneva. When the charter of the village of Geneva was amended making the presidency of the village an elective office, Mr. Southworth was the first man to be elected to fill the office, and served from April, 1871, until April, 1873. It was during his administration, October it, 1872, that the town of Geneva was set off from that of Seneca. He was appointed a member of the cemetery commission in 1879, and February 1 of that year he was elected treasurer of the commission to succeed Z. T. Case, and he held this office until his death. As a member of the board of education he served from 1888 to 1890. During the greater part of his life Mr. Southworth was a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal church, and an active member of Trinity Parish. For many years he served as vestryman and treasurer of the parish, and upon the death of James P. Mellen, in 1905, became junior warden of the church. He was a member of Ark Lodge, No. 33. Free and Accepted Masons, for more than fifty years, being initiated in 1854, and was not only the oldest mason of the local lodge, but one of the oldest in the state of New York.

Mr. Southworth was married in 1851 to Annesley Louise Evans, who died in 1899, and they had two children, also deceased. At the time of his death he was living with his adopted daughter. Lillian P, . C. Southworth, at their home at No. 346 Main street.



Ontario County NY,

Milliken, Charles F. The History of Ontario County, New York, and Its People Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York. 1911.

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