WILLIAM GEORGE CROSBY was a son of Judge William Crosby, an eminent lawyer, who resided in Belfast, Me., from
1802 until his death, fifty years after. His mother was Sally, daughter of Benjamin Davis, whose long and useful
life closed in 1877, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. Both parents were natives of Billerica, Mass.,
descendants of early settlers of that town.
After completing his preparatory studies at Belfast Academy he entered Bowdoin College, where he was graduated
in 1823, a few days before he was eighteen years old, being the first person born in Belfast who received a college
education. The roll of his contemporaries contains the names of Franklin Pierce, William Pitt Fessenden, Henry
W. Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Chief Justice Appleton, Prof. William Smyth, Professor Stowe, Sargent S. Prentiss,
John S. C. Abbott, and others who have acquired more than local distinction. Mr. Crosby's commencement part was
a poem on "The Enthusiasm of Genius." The whispering pines of Brunswick seem to have infused a taste
for poetry in many of the young men assembled there, and with him continued after he left the scene of inspiration.
He frequently contributed poetical pieces for the newspapers, many of which have been reprinted in more permanent
After completing a course of legal studies with his father he practiced law in Boston for two years. In 1828 he
returned to Belfast and became permanently established there.
Mr. Crosby was married, in 1831, to Miss Ann M., daughter of Capt. Robert Patterson, a son of one of the first
settlers of Belfast. Their children who survived infancy were Ann M., married Richard Chenery; Sarah F., married
John Hitchcock, of Boston; William, who resides in Belfast; George, who died February 17, 1878, aged thirty-eight;
Horace, who is in business at McKeesport, Pa., and Frederick, who was killed by an accident at Syracuse, N. Y.,
August 21, 1878, aged thirty.
In politics Mr. Crosby was a Whig, and believed that party to be the purest and most patriotic of any organization
that existed in our country. He was the Whig candidate for Congress in his district in 1838, an honor which he
declined in 1840. During the latter year he participated actively in the presidential campaign, and night after
night his voice was effectively heard in behalf of "Harrison and Reform." He was a delegate to the National
Convention in 1844, which nominated Henry Clay, and was one of his most ardent supporters. Two years later, although
the State was in the hands of his political opponents, he was chosen Secretary of the Board of Education, a department
which had just been established, with a view to remedy existing defects in our common-school system. To the duties
of this position he zealously devoted himself for three years, and to his recommendations we are indebted for many
of the best features of our schools.
In 1850 Mr. Crosby received the nomination of his party for Governor, and in 1852 received a second nomination,
and, although Belfast was then a strong Democratic town, his fellow-citizens honored him by a majority of over
two hundred. The agitation of the Maine Law and Free-Soil element had divided the Democratic party, and there was
no choice by the people. After a protracted contest in the Legislature he was elected Governor, and his election
was repeated by the Legislature of next year. His administration was practical and acceptable, and his various
appointments to office were judicious and satisfactory After the disruption of the Whig party, in 1856, Governor
Crosby acted with the Democrats, although taking no prominent position in the political arena.
In most of the educational, literary, and charitable undertakings of the day he took a prominent part. He was long
a member of the Unitarian Church, and a constant attendant upon public worship. He always cherished a warm interest
for his Alma Mater, and for several years was connected with the government of that institution; in 1870 he received
from it the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He was a member of the Maine Historical Society from 1846 to the
time of his death, and an active Free Mason for nearly forty years, and twice Master of his Lodge.
In his profession his name was synonymous with probity, integrity, and uniform fairness. He appeared at the Bar
rather as the defender of oppressed truth and justice, than as the indiscriminate agent of any person who might
require the services of eminent legal talent.
The cultivation of his grounds and the ripening of their fruits were always to him sources of untiring recreation.
He had an ardent love for nature in all her aspects. He loved the woods, the streams, the lakes, and their associations
with a longing that nothing could satisfy save a visit to his congenial haunts. As he loved the woods, so he loved
all things which made their homes therein, and there was no sweeter music than the low plash of the waves on the
beach at his camp door.
In the home of his birth, youth, and manhood; in his library, among those mute companions which in joy and in sorrow,
in health and in sickness, had ever been a pleasure and a comfort, and surrounded by sorrowing friends, his calm
and well-rounded life passed painlessly away. Governor Crosby was seventh in descent from Simon Crosby and his
wife Ann, who came from Lancashire, England, in the Susan .and Ellen, in 1635, and settled in Cambridge, Mass.
He was born September to, 1805, and died March 21, 1881.