Clinton, Spencer - Erie County

SPENCER CLINTON, the elder surviving son of George William Clinton, and the brother of George Clinton, was born in Buffalo June 29th, 1839. He was educated in public and private schools in Buffalo, Albany and Brockport. Early inclined toward the legal profession, Mr. Clinton began reading law in the office of Solomon G. Haven, afterward pursuing his studies with William Dorsheimer. In October, 1860, Mr. Clinton was admitted to the bar, he then being twenty-one years of age. For the next two years he practiced law in New York City, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Henry L. Clinton. A few years after his adniission to practice, Mr. Clinton was appointed Assistant United States District Attorney under his former instructor Mr. Dorsheimer. In this office the young lawyer served with marked ability from 1866 to 1868. In the latter year Mr. Clinton formed a law partnership with Charles D. Marshall, the firm being styled Marshall & Clinton. Later Robert P. Wilson was admitted, the firm becoming Marshall, Clinton & Wilson. It continued to be so designated till 1893, when Adolph Rebadow was made a junior partner and the firm name was changed to Marshall, Clinton & Rebadow. Both in its. original personnel and as subsequently enlarged, the association attained a distinguished success, being held one of the strongest combinations of legal talent in Western New York.

The well-known connection of Mr. Clinton with the Buffalo Savings Bank began in 1866. September 6, 1892, he was elected a director of the bank. In 1898 he became its president, a post he still holds. Upon his election Mr. Clinton retired from the active practice of law. Three years previous to his election as president of the bank, Mr. Clinton was appointed chairman of the building committee for the new bank. The old structure, occupied many years, was at Broadway and Washington street. The new building was begun in 1898 and was finished and occupied March 11, 1901. It is a superb edifice, made of granite, and admirably lighted and equipped. Its cost was $583,000. It is one of the finest bank buildings in the world. Financier and lawyer, Mr. Clinton's business relations are very extensive. He is a director of the Third National Bank. As executor of two large estates, he represents the Bennett and C. J. Wells elevators in the Western Elevating Association,

Mr. Clinton's absorption in business has caused him to avoid public office. But he has, from time to time, been active in Democratic politics. In 1887 he was the Democratic nominee for State Senator, and the National Democratic State convention held in Brooklyn in 1896 nominated him by acclaim for Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals. The only civil office Mr. Clinton has ever held is his present one of attorney for the Grade Crossing Commission. Before the Grade Crossing Commission was constituted, Mr. Clinton, in association with the late B. B. Adam, worked Jiard to get the bill constituting it througli the Legislature. The first Act, of 1888, did not give the commissioners power enough to compel the abolition of grade crossings, and Mr. Clinton was of great service in bringing about the Acts of 1890 and 1892, which were passed to invest the commission with authority to carry out its plans. Mr. Clinton was chosen attorney for the commission on its organization in 1888, and has ever since continued to conduct for it a vast amount of difficult work, including the drawing of contracts, the furnishing of legal advice and the management of critical and delicate negotiations with the railroads. To the commission and the public, these services are of very great value.

Mr. Clinton enjoys a high social position. He is a leading member of the Buffalo Club, and in 1885 was its president. He is a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

In 1870 Mr. Clinton married Sarah Riley, daughter of William A. Riley and Frances A. Stillman of Berlin, Conn., members of old New England families. The children of this union are De Witt Clinton, Dr. Marshall Clinton, Anne, who is Mrs. Urquhart Wilcox, of Buffalo, and Nathalie, who is married to Dr. Thew Wright, and Ethel, who is the wife of Dr. N. G. Russell. In 1895 Mr. Clinton married again, his bride being Cora Caldwell of North East, Pa. The children are Spencer Clinton, and Catherine Clinton.

SOURCE:  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I