My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

MARCUS M. CASS. Among the old and prominent families of Schuyler, influential in the course of early events in the county, is that of which Marcus M. Cass, of Watkins, is the oldest living representative. The first in this part of the state to bear the name was a Revolutionary soldier, who came from Massachusetts. His son Josiah married Miss Eunice, daughter of John French and Keziah Bull, of Otsego County. He fought at Lundy’s Lane, and died about 1826, the father of six children. The eldest of these was Cynthia Ann, who, about 1840, became the wife of Dr. Samuel Watkins; and the youngest was Marcus M., the only one of his generation now alive.

Dr. Watkins, in whose honor this village was named, was born on Long Island in 1772, and came into possession, as heir to his brother John, of a large part of the so-called “Watkins & Flint Purchase” of three hundred and twenty-five thousand acres of land around the head of Seneca Lake. Here he came to live in 1828, laying out the village and erecting many of its notable buildings. Early in the ‘40s he married Cynthia Ann Cass, and at his death, in 1851, left to her the bulk of his estate, then one of the most considerable in western New York.

Mrs. Watkins was a woman of remarkable ability and force of character, upon whom had devolved for years the management of the Doctor’s property interests. She changed the name of the village to Watkins, gave it a public park, endowed its academy, and was foremost in all its charities and business enterprises. Subsequently she married her cousin, Judge George G. Freer, and shortly thereafter dying childless, willed her estate to her relatives.

Marcus M. Cass was born in the town of Hector in 1824. He received advantages of travel and education unusual at that day, passing some years at the then celebrated Ithaca Academy, and later attending college. Afterward he began the study of law in the office of the distinguished Joshua Spencer, at Utica, and subsequently at Rochester with the well known Selah Matthews. For a time he practiced law at Buffalo with the late Norton A. Halbert, of New York City, but, returning to Watkins in 1856, he married Sarah A., daughter of Stephen Hurd, a son of Gen. Edward Hurd, who was a Revolutionary veteran of Sandgate, Bennington County, Vt.

Of the seven children of this union, Marcus M., Jr., the eldest, was educated at Cook Academy, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the Columbia Law School. He is a lawyer, late Assistant Secretary of the State Constitutional Convention, and is associate editor of the Watkins Express. The daughters are Mrs. George L. Meddick, of Elmira; Mrs. John M. Roe, of Watkins; and Mrs. Albert H. Olmsted, of Rochester. The remaining children, John I., Schuyler C. and W. H. Seward Cass, reside at Watkins.

The subject of this sketch is a gentleman of fine natural abilities, scholarly tastes, a life-long Republican, and a forcible and polished speaker in days when he interested himself in politics. He never held or aspired to office, though serving his party on the Republican State Committee, and as a delegate to the national convention which placed President Lincoln for the second time in nomination. He is a man of conceded high character and integrity, is the owner of Havana Glen and other property sufficient for his modest wants, and of late, in failing health, is passing his closing years of life quietly at his home in Watkins.

* * * *

This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

View additional Schuyler County, New York family biographies here: Schuyler County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Schuyler County, New York here: Schuyler County, New York Map

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.