Biography of George E. Seney
Lucas County, OH Biographies

George E. Seney, prominently and widely known not only as a lawyer engaged in active practice but also as an educator and contributor to the literature of his profession, his writings being widely read and strongly endorsed by leading attorneys throughout the country, has practiced continuously in Toledo since 1901. He was born in this city September 22, 1879, and is a son of Judge Joshua R. Seney. He is descended from Norman-French ancestry and a family who through various generations has been identified With the legal profession. His great great grandfather, John Seney, was a member of the bar, practicing for many years and also serving for an extended period as a member of the general assembly of Maryland, acting as chairman of the judiciary committee. He was likewise made a member of the Maryland convention which ratified the federal constitution of 1787 and of the electoral college which unanimously chose George Washington for the first president of the United States. He had served during the Revolutionary war as captain of a company of Maryland troops and after nearly seven years of active defense of the Americn cause was mustered out with the rank of colonel.

Joshua Seney the great grandfather of George E. Seney, completed a course in the literary department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1773, being graduated with the B. A. degree, his diploma being signed by Benjamin Rush, professor of chemistry, who was later one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; Dr. Morgan, the first surgeon general of the United States army; and Dr. Shippen, a distinguished scholar, lawyer and judge. Like his father Joshua Seney won for himself a place of distinction in connection with colonial affairs and with the young nation after American independence had been won. He was a contemporary of his father in the Maryland legislature and for four years was a member of the continental congress, where he was a colleague of his former professor, Benjamin Rush. He became chief justice of Maryland and was a member of the First United States congress following the establishment of government and also served in the Second congress from March 4, 1789, until May 1, 1792, when he resigned to return to the bench. In the same year as a presidential elector he voted for Washington and Adams. In 1798 he was again elected to congress but did not live to take the seat. He died October 20, 1798, and a monument marks the spot of his last resting place in Queen Annes county, Maryland, the following inscription being copied therefrom:


who was born near the spot which now contains his ashes, March 4, 1756, and died October 20, 1798.

From the commencement of the American Revolution at various periods in his life he filled with ability some of the highest stations and discharged with integrity some of the most important duties to which his native state could appoint him; preserving through the whole a character both private and public untainted by a single vice. In 1776 a whig. a democrat in 1798, he zealously and increasingly maintained the liberties of his country and died as he lived, an honest man and a Christian.

The wife of Joshua Seney was a daughter of Commodore James Nicholson, who at one period of the Revolution had command of the navy. He was a. son of Sir Francis Nicholson, royal governor of New York and also of Maryland.

Joshua Seney, Jr., the grandfather of George E Seney, was born in New York in 1793 and was graduated from Columbia College and the University Law School. He was a subordinate officer in the navy in the War of 1812 and he served as private secretary to Albert Gallatin, who was secretary of the treasury under President Jefferson. For ten years he engaged in law practice at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, as a partner of Mr. Gallyatin, who was his uncle by marriage, and then removed to Tiffin, Ohio. He was elected clerk of the supreme court and was appointed United States district judge for Pennsylvania by President Jackson, but resigned that office to resume the private practice of law. In 1840 he was one of the presidential electors; he passed away in 1854. His wife, Anna Ebert, born in Philadelphia, in 1803, died in Tiffin, Ohio, in 1878. Her ancestors were among the early Dutch settlers of Philadelphia and her father, George Ebbert. was a merchant of that city, associated in business with his father. Mrs. Seney was graduated from Brownsville Female College and soon afterward met her husband at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, at a ball given for General Lafayette, their marriage occurring after a short courtship. They had a family of three sons, who became prominent lawyers and jurists of Ohio, these being: George E., who married Anna Walker, a granddaughter of Josiah Hedges, who was the founder of Tiffin. Ohio; Joshua Robert, who married Julia Rice, and they had a son, George E., the subject of this review; and Henry W., who married Mary Allen; he passed away in 1911, leaving a son and a daughter, Allen J. and Elma Seney Richards.

Joshua Robert Seney, father of George E. Seney of this review, after attending the public schools of Ohio continued his education in Antioch College. He afterward matriculated in Union College at Schenectady, News York, where he was graduated with honors in languages out of a class of one hundred and fifty. He was master of seven languages and his high scholarly attainments entitled him to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity. Following his graduation from Union College in 1860 he volunteered his services at the outbreak of the Civil war, entering the service as a private and though still young he was commissioned a major, but on account of ill health the government refused his enlistment. Afterward, however, he organized the One Hundred and First Regiment of Ohio Infantry and saw some service in the capacity of sutler. He then read law with Judge Pillars of. Tiffin, Ohio, and after being admitted to the bar he began practice. in Toledo. There he formed a law partnership with Hon. R. C. Lemon, this association being maintained until Mr. Seney was elected judge of the common pleas court of Lucas county, Ohio. Although only twenty nine years of age at the time of his election to the bench, youth was no impediment to one who possessed a judicial temperament and had all the training and endowments necessary for a judicial career. He made a most. enviable record as a judge, was careful, painstaking and just and would never sacrifice the ideals of justice because of technical restrictions. It is said that he was the first judge in the state and one of the first in the nation to permit a negro to sit on a jury and at another time he declared that a clerkship is not an office within the meaning of the constitution and that women are eligible to fill it. The supreme court sustained this decision, which was responsible for throwing open the doors to women employed in clerical capacities in state, county and city offices. Ill health brought a cessation of his activities as a judge and lawyer and for ten years prior to his death he was practically an invalid. Aside from his work on the bench the honors and emoluments of office had little attraction for him, his one aim being to excel in his profession. He was noted as a great trial lawyer, his arguments being logical, eloquent and forceful and it is doubtful if he was ever excelled in cross examination. Politically he was a democrat and he was one of the three young attorneys who laid the foundation for the splendid law library at Toledo. Judge Seney was married to Miss Julia Rice, a daughter of Clark H. Rice, and a sister of the late General Americus V. Rice. She attended the public schools at Kalida, Ohio, and completed a four years collegiate course at Vermilion Institute. She was a brilliant woman of high cultural and social attainments and was widely known for her charitable and benevolent work Mrs. Seney passed away in Toledo, Ohio, on the 30th of April, 1915.

Their son, George E. Seney. acquired his early education in the public schools of Toledo, continued his studies in the Toledo Manual Training School and afterward pursued his literary course in the University of Michigan, the Ohio State University and Toledo University, receiving from these institutions the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts. His law course was also pursued in the Ohio University, which conferred upon him the LL. B. degree in 1901. For about three years he was a trustee of the Toledo University and lecturer in the Toledo College on constitutional law for two years. He is the author of many special articles which have appeared in magazines and newspapers and his writings have always attracted wide attention. He enjoys high rank as an educator and as a writer in the legal field and his success in a professional way affords the best evidence of his capability in this line. He is a strong advocate with the jury and concise in his appeals before the court. In no profession is there a career more open to talent than in that of the law and in no field of endeavor is there demanded a more careful preparation, a more thorough appreciation of the absolute ethics of life, or of the underlying principles which form the basis of all human rights and privileges. Unflagging application and intuitive wisdom, combined with the determination fully to utilize the needs at hand, are the concomitants which insure personal success and prestige in this great profession, which stands as a stern conservator of justice, and it is one into which none could enter without a recognition of the obstacles to be overcome and the battles to be won, for success does not come to the call of every person who enters a competitive grade but comes only as the direct result of capacity and unmistakable ability. Possessing all the requisite qualities of the able lawyer, Mr. Seney has, therefore, made continuous advancement in his chosen calling. Aside from this he is known in business circles as a director of the Crambaugh Kuehn Company, the Gould Realty Company and as president of the Feno Realty Company. His operations in real estate are widely and resultantly directed.

During the World war Mr. Seney was president of the Anthony Wayne Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. He took an active part in all Liberty bond drives and War Stamps campaigns and also in promoting the Red Cross and other civilian activities. He was a member of the Naval Reserve and in days of peace as in days of war he loyally supports all those forces that have to do with the progress and prosperity of the community and the advancement of high standards of citizenship. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons as a Knight Templar and in the Scottish Rite he has taken the thirty second degree. He is well known in professional circles, having served for two years as secretary of the Toledo Bar Association and as vice president of the Toledo Lawyers Club and retaining his membership in these he is also connected with the Ohio Bar and the American Bar associations.

Mr. Seney was united in marriage to Miss Adah Kuhlthau, a daughter of Charles E. Kuhlthau of Delaware, Ohio. She is a gradate of Ursuline Convent and later attended the Ohio Wesleyan and Toledo universities and is an accomplished musician and poet, her work along this line calling forth merited praise and admiration. Mr. and Mrs. Seney are parents of two children, Julia Rice and George E., Jr.

Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio
BY: John M. Killits, A.M., LL.D.
S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago and Toledo

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