In a history of the legal profession of Oneida county, Josiah Perry is deserving of more than passing notice, for
his work has been an exemplification of comprehensive understanding of legal principles, combined with a high standard
of professional service. He now devotes his attention to general practice and enjoys a large and distinctively
representative clientage. He was born March 22, 1851, in Remsen, Oneida county, New York, and was the eldest of
five Sons of the Rev. Owen F. and Jane (Powell) Perry. His father was born in the North of Wales and in 1847 came
to America, devoting his life thereafter to the work of the ministry, remaining about forty years as pastor of
the Baptist church at Bardwell, near Remsen. He married a daughter of John and Nancy Powell, who were early residents
of the town of Trenton, Oneida county, and were descended from Connecticut stock. In the family of Rev, and Mrs.
Owen F. Perry were five sons: Josiah; Newton, who died in Kansas in 1887; George Powell, a minister of the Baptist
church; Lincoln, a merchant of Bloomville, New York; and John O., of Utica.
The experiences of farm life fell to the lot of Josiah Perry in his boyhood days and his educational opportunities
were those offered by the district schools. He afterward attended Fairfield Seminary for one term and later entered
the State Normal School at Cortland and afterward the Madison (flow Colgate) University. He devoted a brief period
to teaching after the completion of his own education and his interest in law led him to determine to make this
practice his life work and with this end in view he became a student in the office of Risley, Stoddard & Matteson.
Since his admission to the bar at the June term of court in Utica in 1878, he has continuously engaged in practice
in this city and in 1881 became junior member of the law firm of Risley, Brown, Quinn & Perry, thus continuing
until the appointment of the second partner to the position of state dairy commissioner. About the same time Mr.
Quinn removed to New York and Mr. Risley and Mr. Perry continued as partners under the firm style of Risley &
Perry until February, 1892. Since that time Mr. Perry has practiced alone and has given ample proof of the ability
that has gained for him a large clientele and made him very successful in the conduct of many important cases which
have been entrusted to him. In 1892 and 1893 he ifiled the position of corporation counsel and in 1908 he entered
upon a two years' term as corporation counsel for the city, filling the office under a second class City charter.
He has done other important public service, having been a member of the court house commission, while as chairman
of its site committee he did all of the work of acquiring the site, which necessitated the purchase of twenty seven
different pieces of property. He is regarded as one of the strongest advocates practicing at the Utica bar and
is as well a wise and safe counselor. His defense of the Chinaman, Fong Yon, charged with murder in the first degree,
made him celebrated as a skilled criminal lawyer and his reputation has been widened by the conduct of many other
Mr. Perry has been married twice. In November, 1878, he wedded Miss Ella Williams, who was a daughter of Hugh Williams,
of Utica, and died in 1883, leaving one child, Edith Perry, who is now a graduate of Smith College and also of
the State Normal School at Albany, New York. For his second wife Mr. Perry chose Miss Nellie Gaylord, whom he wedded
in Rome, New York, in 1888. She is a daughter of ex Sheriff Lewis Gaylord, of Rome, and by this marriage there
is one son, J. Gaylord Perry, who was born August 4, 1895.
Mr. Perry holds membership in Faxton Lodge, F. & A. M., Skenandoali Lodge, I. O. O. F., Imperial Council of
the Royal Arcanum and the Arcanum Club. He is likewise prominent in the Cymrygyddion Society, an organization for
the promotion of Welsh literature and music, which conducts the famous Eisteddfod held at Utica every New Year's
day. His political allegiance is always given to the republican party and his opinions have long carried weight
in its councils.
The bent of Mr. Perry's active mind makes him take a lively pleasure in the study of the science of government.
Although he has held but few political offices, and those for but a short time, he has been a more active and efficient
politician than many who have devoted their undivided time to public affairs and who have obtained far greater
distinction in that field than has ever fallen to him. A vigilant and attentive observer of men and measures, he
had discussed from the platform most of the great public questions which have been agitated during his day and
his clear reasoning has won the support of many.
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Oneida County, NY
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