Judge John Sanderson

Judge John Sanderson, Jr.

Judge John Sanderson Jr. the second youngest child of John Sanderson and Margaret Whitfield, was born on 21 Jan 1834 in Athens, Greene, New York. He was educated in the Academy in 1840 in Hudson, Columbia, New York. He started college in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and Brown University Providence, Rhode Island in 1849–1853. During this time Brown University was presided over by Francis Wayland, D.D., one of the most eminent of American educators. John studied law with Hon. Ira Harris about 1853–1855 in Albany, with John C. Newkirk and afterwards Judge Darius Peck about 1854–1855 in Hudson, Columbia, New York. He graduated from Albany Law School in 1855. While in college, he took a high stand as a scholar, as was awarded prizes in Latin, in English Literature, and in Metaphysics. In eloquence at the bar he is surpassed by but few of his legal brethren. For a short time he had a law office in the city of Hudson, but in 1857 he moved to New York, where he remained for six years and then returned to Athens to practice his profession.

John fell in love with Josephine “Addie”, daughter of Daniel W. Gantley and Maria Hosmer, whom he married November 2nd 1859 at Athens Trinity Episcopal Church. Witnesses to the marriage were D.W. Gantley and Jacob Bedell. Addie was born 23 May 1837. This union was terminated by her untimely death in 29 May 1868 at the age of 31. His present family consists of his two daughters:

  • Mabel Josephine Sanderson was born in Aug 1860 in New York. She was baptized as an adult on 5 Mar 1876 in Athens, Greene, New York. She married Dr. Elmore Edgar Elliott MD, son of Robert Elliott and Mary A. Caldwell. Elmore was a physician in Catskill, Greene, New York in 1896. They had 2 sons.
  • Adelaide Louise “Louise/Addie” Sanderson was born on 14 Jan 1866 in Athens, Greene, New York. She was baptized on 5 Mar 1866 in Athens. We believe for a time she lived with her Aunt Eliza Van Schaick in Milwaukee. Perhaps just summers there or she was educated in Milwaukee with her cousins. Adelaide Louise married Calvin Henry Morse. They had 2 children, one son and one daughter.

Judge John Sanderson died at the home of his daughter Mrs. Dr. E.E. Elliot, M.D. in Catskill, NY on 21 May 1902 at the age of 68. The story was reported that he died sitting his his chair. He was buried next to his wife Addie in the Athens Rural Cemetery.

Mr. Sanderson’s life was been one of constant devotion to his business, and he took a very high stand among the legal fraternity. His character may be summed up in a few words. He is utterly incapable of fighting craft and chicanery with weapons of their own kind, but in a fair, honorable and manly contest, John Sanderson is a foreman worthy of his opponent’s steel.


In 1872 Mr. Sanderson was a candidate for the State Senate, having for a competitor Dr. Scoresby of Ulster county. He was defeated by a small majority of nine votes; a result, which in consideration of the general political complexion of the district, is evidence of a wonderful popularity.

In 1882 he was nominated by the Republican party for county judge of Greene county. To enter into a contest for the office against so popular a candidate as Judge Mattice, and in a county overwhelmingly democratic, seemed a hopeless task. But, to the astonishment of his friends as well as his foes, he was defeated by the small number of 22 votes.

Some of John Sanderson’s Important Cases

Among the important cases that have been conducted by him, may be mentioned, The People vs. Hallenbeck, in which a young man of inferior mental capacity was indicted for arson. He conducted the case for the defense. After a protracted trial the prisoner was acquitted. As attorney for the trustees, he has managed in a most able manner for the defense, the suit of Power vs. The Village of Athens, a contest involving the validity of a ferry franchise, which is now pending in the Court of Appeals.

The case of Rebecca J. Van Loan vs. Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, involves very important principals of law. The plaintiff was nonsuited at the Circuit. An appeal was taken to the general term of the Supreme Court and from thence to the highest tribunal of the State, where Mr. Sanderson, as attorney for the plaintiff, was successful in recovering judgment for his client. This case may be found reported in Vol. 90, N.Y. Reports.

The case of VanSlyke vs. VanLoan, in which he was again successful, led to the establishment of a very important rule in regard to the order in which mortgaged lands should be sold.

[1] Dear Old Greene County by Gallt, published in 1915.
Full References available upon request.

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