Biography of Hon. Francis D. Culkin
Oswego County, NY Biographies





Hon. Francis D. Culkin - The lifework of Francis D. Culkin, of Oswego, has been a record of high achievement in the legal profession, and as a member of Congress from the 32nd District of New York, he has also attained much prominence. He was born in Oswego, Nov. 10, 1874, the son of Anthony and Bridget (Dugan) Culkin.

In his election to Congress on Nov. 6, 1928, Francis D. Culkin stepped down from the bench of Oswego County, leaving behind him a splendid record and entering upon an important career in Washington. After the sudden death of Congressman "Thad" Sweet, Mr. Culkin was elected for the short term to succeed him, and was again reelected for the full two year term, which will expire in 1931. One of his immediate predecessors in Congress, besides the late Mr. Sweet, was the equally fine and able public servant, Luther W. Mott, who is deceased. The three were closely linked for many years in their profession. Judge Culkin managed the first campaign of Luther Mott for Congress, and they continued as steadfast friends to the end. He also considered "Thad" Sweet as one of his closest friends and confidants.

Congressman Culkin is familiar with the people of the district and possesses unusual knowledge of the problems of this important industrial and agricultural section of New York State, which consists of the counties of Jefferson, Lewis, Madison and Oswego. He did not seek the nomination to Congress but was drafted by reason of his generally conceded fitness for the place. He came forward though with an unanimous vote of the Republican county committee of Oswego County and a demand that he agree to carry on where the two loyal sons of Oswego County had left off through death.

Congressman Caulking had a most interesting and progressive career off and on the bench. He received his early education at St. Andrew's College in Rochester, and while taking extension work at the University of Rochester he also studied law. He began his career as a newspaper reporter in Rochester, and all of these activities were laid aside for service in the Spanish-American War. He enlisted as a private in Company D, Third New York National Guard, and remained in the service until the close of the war. His commission as captain in the National Guard was signed by Col. Theodore Roosevelt, who issued it when governor of the State of New York.

After the war, Mr. Culkin continued his law studies and was admitted to the New York State bar in 1902, entering upon a professional and public career crowded with advents and successes. First it was city attorney of Oswego from 1906 until 1910, and then followed election as district attorney in 1911. He served the people for four terms as district attorney and made an enviable record. As a prosecutor he was vigorous and fearless, and early the people of Oswego recognized his forceful personality.

In 1921 Mr Culkin was appointed county judge of Oswego County by Gov. Nathan L. Miller, and later was elected to the full term in office. On the bench his work was always constructive, impartial and humane. His practice was fair at all times, giving the first offender another chance under proper conditions. He has gone further and followed the practice of going to the extent of procuring employment and seeing that the offender was properly financed, so that he might have a fair start. Where the law breaker became a second offender or violated his probation, severe sentence was meted out.

Another sidelight on the career of Congressman Culkin is furnished by his activities in the children's court, which attracted wide attention. In this court he grouped about him volunteer social workers, psychiatrists, and other child experts, and since 1922 this court has been an efficient organization for the care and protection of childhood. It has been the boast of Oswego County that no child went hungry or was denied its opportunity in life. Mr. Culkin also applied the educational law of New York State to handicapped children, urging at all times that this type of child should be protected and conserved, as well as given an equal standing with the epileptic and defective. In this particular respect, Oswego County leads throughout the State.

At all times Congressman Culkin has been one of the leaders of the legal profession, and has handled many important and difficult litigations successfully.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Congressman Culkin while in public life was his success in securing an appropriation from the Congress of the United States amounting to $3,568,000 for the improvement and building up of Oswego Harbor. In spite of the heavy odds against him, he waged a long, hard fight which finally culminated in success. The eastern breakwater, 2,200 feet in length, and the western, 2,700 feet long, to protect the harbor is an assured thing. Mr. Culkin went to Congress with the expressed intent of having this harbor made available for lake going boats. His efforts in the halls of Congress and in the Committee room have brought about this wonderful development so vital to the people of his native city and the adjacent territory.

During the summer of 1931 Mr. Culkin made a trip to Europe, accompanied by his family, and studied the harbors of numerous important cities. His reason for this particular study was because he is a member of the rivers and harbors committee of the House, and he was desirous of being fully informed on the subject of harbor design, construction and equipment.

On June 30, 1914, Judge Culkin was united in marriage with Miss Louise Hosmer, of Oswego, and they are the parents of two children, Francis Hosmer and Josephine Louise.

Mr. Culkin is a trustee of Oswego City Hospital and Oswego City Library. He is a Republican, a member of the Catholic Church, and belongs to the Rotary Club, Oswego Country Club, Oswego Yacht Club, Elks Lodge, and Spanish-American War veterans

Congressman Culkin stands for appropriate and adequate laws for the relief of agriculture and labor, and likewise for a protective tariff and non interference with legitimate business by the federal government. He also stands for the continuance of the present restriction on immigration, and for the conservation and control of the natural resources of the nation. He believes the title of the natural resources should be forever vested in the people and used for their benefits. He stands also for appropriate recognition of the veterans of all wars.

From:

The North Country
A History, Embracing
Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis
and Franklin Counties, New York.
By: Harry F. Landon
Historical Publishing Company
Indianopolis, Indiana 1932


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