Biography of William D. Brennan
Franklin County, NY Biographies





William D. Brennan, born at Gloucester, Ont., December 29, 1839, came to Malone in 1851, and began life here as a water carrier for a gang of men who were completing work on the newly built railroad. Afterward he accepted employment of whatever sort he could get, always of a menial sort until his cheerful alacrity and quick intelligence had attracted attention, and brought him better opportunities. He worked his way through Franklin Academy, and was a student at Middlebury College when his patriotic impulses took him into the army. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the 142d regiment, was promoted to a captaincy, and later was brevetted major. There was no braver man in the army. At the battle of Chapin's Farm in 1864 he lost a leg. Upon the conclusion of his arm service he became professor of mathematics in the academy at Potsdam, and pursued the study of law while teaching. He was admitted to the bar in 1866, and located at Malone, gaining an excellent rank at the bar, building up a large practice, and commanding the respect and confidence of his clients and of the community generally. Major Brennan was county treasurer for nine years from 1867, and in 1878 was elected to the Assembly, followed by two reelections. He was a hard working, conscientious representative, and in his third term was chairman of the committee on ways and means, a distinction up to that time enjoyed by no other Franklin county member since Mr. Wheeler's incumbency of the same assignment thirty years before. At the time of this appointment Mr. Wheeler was a canthdate for United States Senator, with Major Brennan in charge of his canvass, while the Speaker was for Mr. Platt, and desired an early caucus, which the friends of Mr. Wheeler generally felt was prejudicial to his interests. However, Major Brennan signed the call for the caucus, and was severely criticised therefor. This criticism manifestly weighed upon him, and, added to the fact that he had not been well for some months, broke him down. Melanchoha developed, he had, to relinquish his work at Albany early in February, and returned, to Malone to recuperate. March 7, 1881, he started for a ride to and through Duane, and committed suicide by taking strychnia. Major Brennan held strong convictions on all questions, and for a dozen years was one of the most effective and popular campaign speakers in the county, was always deeply interested in all matters affecting Malone and the county, and personal!y was esteemed by everybody.

From:
Historical Sketches of Franklin County
and its several towns.
By: Frederick J. Seaver Malone, New York.
J. B. Lyon Company, Printers Albany, NY 1918.


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