Bio of Judge Nathan Cleaves
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

JUDGE NATHAN CLEAVES was born in Bridgton, Me., January 9, 1835, being the son of Thomas and Sophia (Bradstreet) Cleaves. He died at his residence in Portland, Me., on Monday morning, September 5, 1892. His boyhood days were spent at Bridgton and in Portland. He fitted for college at the Portland Academy and entered Bowdoin in 1854, graduating in 1858. Among his classmates were Gen. Francis Fessenden of Portland, Gen. J. P. Cilley of Rockland, Hon. E. B. Nealley of Bangor, Gen. Ellis Spear of Washington, D. C., and the Rev. Frank Sewall. Selecting the law as his profession, he studied with Hon. Joseph Howard and Hon. Sewall C. Strout and was admitted to the Bar in Cumberland County, at the April term, 1861, of the Supreme Judicial Court. He opened an office in Bowdoinham, Me., and subsequently removed to Portland, forming a law partnership with the Hon. L. D. M. Sweat, then a member of Congress from the Portland District. This relation continued until July, 1864, when he formed a partnership with the late Hon. Joseph Howard under the firm name of Howard & Cleaves. This partnership continued until the decease of Judge Howard, when the law firm of Nathan & Henry B. Cleaves was formed, to which firm subsequently Stephen C. Perry was admitted as a member. Nathan Cleaves married, in May, 1865, Caroline, the accomplished daughter of Judge Howard. Mrs. Cleaves died at Augusta, in February, 1875, while her husband was there as a Representative to the Legislature from the City of Portland.

In politics Judge Cleaves was a Democrat, loyal to his party, but "lie subordinated his political conduct to his manhood." He was a man of very great personal popularity and was many times honored with public office, being City Solicitor of Portland in 1869, Representative to the State Legislature in 1871 and in 1875, Judge of the Probate Court from 1876 to 1880, Surveyor of the Port of Portland for four years, and has frequently been a delegate to conventions, both State and National. At the State Convention of the Democratic party, in 1892, he was unanimously selected as a delegate-at-large to the Chicago Convention that nominated Cleveland and Stevenson, being chairman of the Maine delegation.

Judge Cleaves was connected with very many business enterprises and corporations. He was President of the Ellsworth Water Company, a Director in the Cumberland National Bank of Portland, the First National Bank of Bar Harbor, the Westbrook Trust Company, and other leading business and financial corporations of the State. He was a prominent member of the Masonic Fraternity, the Odd Fellows, Ex-President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a member and officer of many charitable organizations, the treasuries of which have many times felt ihe benefit of his quiet but effective generosity. He was a faithful and devoted member of St. Luke's Parish and for many years one of its vestrymen.

Judge Cleaves was in active practice for a period of more than thirty years. He attained great prominence in the profession he loved so much, and always enjoyed the confidence, respect, and esteem of the Bench and the Bar, and of the entire community.

Memorial exercises were held by the Cumberland Bar Association before the Supreme Judicial Court, and the following appropriate resolution was adopted and placed on the records of the Court:

Resolved, That the members of the Cumberland Bar have heard, with a deep sense of personal grief and loss, the news of the sudden illness and death of their distinguished associate member, Hon. Nathan Cleaves, at the very summit of his professional career; that his contemporaries at the Bar during their lives will cherish the memory of his unvarying courtesy, his dignity of professional bearing and demeanor, his pure life and character, his eminent legal attainments, his fine training and capacity in all matters pertaining to his profession, his exceptionally good forensic judgment, tact, and skill, and the rare and excellent traits and qualities of his mind and heart; and, cherishing this memory of him ourselves, we write also this brief memorial of him, that they who come after us in the profession, to a late posterity, may remember him as one of the models and ornaments of his own times.

"It is seldom that the Bar has been so affected as by the death of Nathan Cleaves. For a long time he had been one with us, one of us; he was standing by our side, in our very midst,-we looked up and he was none. The good man, whose life had become knit with ours by long memories and all fond associations, at the meridian of his intellectual faculties, in the robes of his profession and in the midst of its heaviest responsibilities and obligations, lay dead at his post. He who had labored without rest to bring the best fruitage of life to its harvest had fallen in his place when the boughs hung heaviest, when his work needed him most; had paused and was still amid the ripe wealth of autumn. The sickle still gleamed in the harvest field, fallen from the reaper's hand. In the sunlight rustled still the ripened and ripening grain, which no hand now shall ever gather into sheaves. All was as it had been, but his work was done. All was as before, but another companionship, prized and held dear, the charm of one old friendship more, had disappeared from our lives."

The words of eulogy bestowed upon the life and character of Nathan Cleaves by the Court and his brethren at the Bar were a just and merited tribute to an honorable and noble life. The funeral services were held at St. Luke's Cathedral, where Judge Cleaves had been a constant attendant for many years, and were most impressive.


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