Biography of Dennis O'Brien


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HON. DENNIS O’BRIEN was born in Ogdensburg, March 13, 1837, and the events of his life have become a subject of public history. Though the positions he has held, and now holds, entitle him to a prominent place in the records of the State, yet in the history of his adopted county, where the germ of his future success was developed, it is proper that a brief sketch of his life, character and ability should be recorded. He was favored by nature with a strong physical constitution and equable temperament, which properly directed imparted great intellectual strength. Thus endowed he early entered upon the realities of life with a determination to succeed.

He studied law at Ogdensburg, and was admitted to the bar in May, 1861; in November of that year he moved to Watertown, where he has since resided. From that time his business and reputation in his pro. fession gradually increased; from 1869 he was an alderman in the city for some four years and afterwards was elected mayor. His judicious management of these offices won the respect and confidence of the substantial portion of the city’s population, and his success in his profesion gave him a high local reputation throughout the county. In 1880 he succeeded the late James F. Starbuck, as a member of the State Democratic committee. This gave him an opportunity of extending his reputation for ability and fidelity beyond the bounds of his county and generally over the State, and he improved it. For four years he held this position, and in November, 1883, was elected attorney-general and re-elected in November, 1885, his term of office terminating January 1, 1888.

His administration as the State’s attorney for this great commonwealth established the fullest confidence in his thorough capability and integrity with all Parties throughout the State. In 1889 he remained at home during which time it became evident that public opinion was tending towards his nomination by the Democratic party for judge of the Court of Appeals. This seems to have been conceded on account of his exalted, though comparatively brief public service. When the State convention met he was nominated with remarkable unanimity; the nomination was ratified by the people at the election by a large majority. On January 1, 1890, he took his seat in that court for the constitutional term of fourteen years and by reason of the many changes that have recently taken place in the membership of the court he is now next to the senior member in years of service. Of his influence in the court and the manner in which he has discharged the duties of his high office we need not speak. His success as a judge is so well known to the people and bar of the State, that it requires no words of commendation.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Jefferson County, New York
Edited by: Edgar C. Emerson
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1898

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