Biography of Judge Henry H. Booth

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Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

The subject of this memoir, from all that can be gathered from his associates in life, stood far up the scale in all that pertains to true manhood, and among the many self-made men who have lived and died in the county of Allegan. no one is more justly entitled to a prominent place in these biographical sketches than Judge Booth. Yet, perhaps, no one among them all cared less or strove less fbr what men commonly call success in life, or fame and fortune, than he, and, perhaps, no one among them, laying aside mere selfish considerations, cared more or strove more than he for what he thought to be the best good of his fellow-men. In his character there seemed to be a strange mingling of manly sternness and womanly tenderness; kind and gentle almost to a fault, yet, when he thought the occasion required, he could rebuke with severity. In his life and aims be was more the philanthropist than the philosopher. His motives were not always quite understood by those with whom he had daily intercourse, yet they knew that he was always purely good at heart and true, and if what he said and did did not always meet with their approval, yet he always commanded their highest esteem.

Judge Booth was born in Dorset, Bennington Co., Vt., April 3, 1803. His father, Zachary Booth, was a saddler by occupation, and reared a family of three children, the judge being the only son. But little is known of his boyhood days. He was early taught to rely upon his own resources, and received a common-school education. He acquired the trade of a cabinet-maker, and at the age of twenty-one he removed with his parents and sisters to Weedsport, N. Y., where he followed his trade, maintaining the family. Here he became an earnest worker for the church, and in those early days of temperance reform he became an earnest advocate of the cause, frequently delivering temperance lectures.

In October, 1836, he emigrated to Allegan County with his family. He first engaged in the produce business, in which he remained one year, buying his stock in the country and hauling it to Aliegan himself. The following year he was deputy county clerk, and so well did he discharge the duties of the office that he was elected for the succeeding term, and was again re-elected. Upon the expiration of the term he was called to fill the office of county judge, and it is stated that during his term of office, which extended over several years, not an appeal was taken from his decision. As a jurist he manifested clearness of perception, sound common sense, and indefatigable perseverance, and had he received a legal education he would no doubt have obtained celebrity as a lawyer. Previous to the expiration of his judgeship he was appointed agent of the Boston Company, in whose employ he remained up to within seventeen months of his death, which occurred June
22, 1867.

One very marked feature in the life of Judge Booth was the deep interest he took in educational matters. He was ever ready to assist others to obtain through competent teachers what he secured only by labor and privation. In 1856 he built the Pine Grove Seminary wholly at his own expense and purely as a benevolent enterprise. He employed the most experieflced teachers, the school soon obtained an enviable reputation, and up to the time of his failing health he exercised a watchful care over its interests.

In social life he was noted for his hospitality and good nature. He possessed in a rare degree that quality of bearing and manner, united with a comeliness of person and a fine presence, which not only favorably impressed the stranger, but endeared him to those who enjoyed his society. He was genial, patient, and forbearing, and was actuated by those higher motives which are always recognized and felt when systematically and constantly exercised, as they were during his long life. Edward Buck, of Boston, who had an intimate acquaintance with him, says, He was a valuable man in any community, a man of great energy and sympathy, and in business matters prompt and active. He will long be remembered for his genial faith in the Christian religion; he became a member of the Congregational Church at the time of its organization, and was an earnest and devoted supporter of it during his life. in his domestic relations his life furnishes a bright example of all that adorns the character of a devoted husband and a warm-hearted, faithful friend. As an energetic, enterprising, and useful citizen he had no superiors and few equals. Oct. 30, 1836, he was married at East Bloomfield, N. Y., to Miss Ruth Elizabeth, daughter of Anson Munson, Esq., one of the prominent citizens and pioneers of that place. Her portrait, so full of character, may be seen on another page. She is a woman of rare personal excellence, of a deeply religious nature. She was one of the first members of the Congregational Church of Allegan, and closely identified with its various charitable and religious enterprises, and a worthy counterpart of her husband in all the salient points of his character.


From:
History of Allegan and Berry Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Their Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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