Biography of A. G. Olmsted
Potter County, PA Biographies

A. G. OLMSTED, Coudersport, the president judge of the Forty eighth Judicial District, was born September 3, 1827, at Masonville, Delaware Co., N. Y., and is a son of Daniel and Lucy A. (Scofield) Olmsted, both natives of Delaware county, N. Y. At the age of nine years he moved with his parents to Ulysses, Potter Co., Penn., where he lived until he was twenty years of age. During this time he was employed upon his father's farm, attending the district school during the winter, and this, with the exception of a short experience at the Coudersport Academy, was the extent of his school advantages. He must have made good use of these meager opportunities, however, for in conversation he is found to be well informed upon any topic His rhetoric is almost faultless, his vocabulary exceptionally large, and his choice of words most happy; which acquirements, together with his impressive and pleasant manner of address, make him a most successful advocate and interesting speaker. Mr. Olmsted commenced the study of law with Hon. John S. Mann, and was admitted to the bar January 12, 1850, Hon. Isaac Benson, Carlton B. Curtis and Jas. Lowery comprising his examining committee. In those days Messrs. Curtis, Lowery, S. P. Johnston and others used to travel what was called the "circuit," generally on horseback, through Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford and other counties. Before he was eligible to the office, at the general election of 1850 Mr. Olmsted was elected district attorney of the county, and served his term with credit. The office could not have been very lucrative, however, for (the Judge himself being the authority for the statement) he only received ninety dollars from his profession for the first three years after his admission to the bar. He very soon, however, became the leading lawyer of his county, his practice widening out into McKean and Cameron, and into even more remote counties, so that, when he left his office for the bench, he enjoyed a pleasant and extensive practice. In his own county he was identified with nearly every important case on the calendar, which alone must have afforded a nice income. In 1862 he was elected assemblyman, representing Tioga and Potter counties, then an assembly district having two members. In this capacity he served three successive terms, in the last of which he was chosen speaker of the house. On account of ill health, however, he was compelled to abandon public life, and was an invalid for a year or more. In 1868 he was elected to the State senate, in which he took a very active part, and during his term was the author of many of our most carefully drawn acts, the "Attachment Act" of 1869 being an instance of his skillful legislation. Upon retiring from the senate, he was appointed president judge of the district, comprising Montgomery and Bucks counties, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of the resident judge. He was there offered an election, if he would move into the district, but this he declined, and returned to his practice. In 1874 he was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, but, that being an "off year," he was defeated. From this time forward the Judge insisted that he was out of politics "shelved," as he styled it. In 1882, however, his popularity asserted itself, and he was elected additional law judge for the Fourth Judicial District, but this district having been divided, he is now president judge of the Forty eighth District, comprising McKean and Potter counties. Judge Olmsted has been very fortunate in his rulings, and during the comparatively short time he has sat upon the bench in this county he, has kept attorneys and litigants busy, holding unprecedented sessions of courts in order to dispose of the business which was four or five years behind. In court he is a very patientlistener, quick to act and rule, and most persistent in urging business. Being possessed of natural executive ability, his courts are very decorous and orderly. He has a system of routine which is strictly adhered to, and the wheels of justice undbr his direction run very smoothly. In his younger days, it is said, the Judge was very diffident, and in spite of his most active public life this character has remained with him to such an extent that he appears, to those who know him but little, of a cold and repelling disposition, though this is a mistaken idea. He does not generally seek acquaintance, but when called upon at his chambers or at his house he is found most entertaining and courteous. On account of his economy in early life, the Judge has acquired a habit of business which some would call closeness, but there is none of that element in his nature. In his own town (Coudersport) he is at the head of every public movement; his time, money, and business ability being always given toward improvements for the public good. For several years the Judge had been trying to secure the building of a railroad to Coudersport, but at last, becoming convinced that there was no other method, he headed the enterprise himself, organized a company and constructed the Coudersport & Port Allegany Railroad, which has proved a good investment, and a great boon to both borough and county. He also organized the Citizens' Water Company, of which he is president, and was also instrumental in the erection of the Soldiers' Monument, an honor to the builders and an ornament to the borough. In all his business enterprises, which have been quite extensive, Judge Olmsted has been singularly fortunate. His business interests are extensive enough now to occupy any ordinary man's mind, but he has never allowed them to interfere with his professional duties, nor are they ever likely to weaken aught of his energies as a judge. He has just passed his sixty second year, but having always been temperate in his habits, he is a well preserved man. The Judge married, May 8, 1860, Miss Ellen, daughter of David and M. A. Ross, natives: of New Hampshire, sister of Hon. Sobieski Ross. at that time a member of congress from this district, and they have two children: Ellen and Robert.


From:
History of the Counties of
McKean, Elk, Cameron and Potter, Pennsylvania
J. H. Beers & Co. Publishers
Chicago, Ill. 1890


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