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Judge Ashley Delos Baker of Gloversville

Source: Leader-Republican, Friday, January 20, 1928

A. D. L. Baker,
Leading Banker and Former Judge of Fulton County, Dies at Age of 84

Judge Baker, Resident for 60 Years, Was Elected county Judge at 34, Then Became First Elected Mayor of Gloversville and Then President of Fulton County National Bank--Practiced Law Three Score Years and Had Big Part in City’s Development

Hon. Ashley DeLos Baker, aged 84, former judge of Fulton County, first mayor of the City of Gloversville, for years president of the Fulton County National bank, and a leading citizen for over sixty years, died at his home, 83 Washington Street, at 12:20 this morning. Death ended a serious illness of only two weeks, although he had been in poor health since just before Christmas.

Active Despite His Age Until Two Weeks Ago

Judge Baker, as he was popularly known, had a host of friends in all corners of the county who did not know of his serious illness and to them his death comes as a distinct shock. Despite his eighty-four years, he was a vigorous, active, business man until about two weeks ago and daily made his trip to the Fulton County bank, which he serve as chair-

Deceased Held Many Positions of Trust and Responsibility During His 60 Years In City

Judge Baker always had enjoyed wonderful health, he loved his life’s work, he was loyal to the trust placed in him and he steadfastly remained at his business post, giving his best to those whom he and his organization served.

Judge Baker had in his life held various positions of public trust and always he has served faithfully and efficiently. He had a large part in the development of the city and his place in community life will be hard to fill.

Born in Oswego County

Ashley Delos Baker was the youngest child of Samuel Porter and Mary (Atherton) Baker. He was born in the town of West Monroe, Oswego County, July 28, 1843, and educated in Whitestone Seminary and Mexico Academy. He read law under his brothers, William H. Baker of Constantia, Oswego County, and S. Park Baker of Youngstown, Niagara County. After a course in the Albany Law School, he gained admittance to the bar at general term of Albany County Court, in the Fall of 1866.  In the Spring of the following year, the young lawyer came to Gloversville, where he opened an office for the practice of law.

After a few months, hew formed a partnership with Hiram S. Parkhurst, who later removed to Chicago. This firm of Baker & Parkhurst continued until 1884. It gained within a comparatively short time, recognition as one of the best law firms in the county. The untiring devotion to the interests of clients, the rugged honesty and splendid judgment exercised by the firm in the interests of its clientele, helped materially, in laying the firm foundation upon which the late Judge Baker built so admirable a life, that up to his death, and perhaps for many years to come, it will form the touchstone of ambition for many an ambitious and energetic young man.

Judge at Thirty-four

At the age of thirty-four, Judge Baker, then an attorney at law, by his admirable business and professional standards and by his deep and learned thought in matters of law, had become such a prominent figure that the citizens of Fulton county could not but recognize his talents. As a result, in the Fall of 1877, he was elected judge of Fulton County and serve the full term of six years with distinction and courage, meting out justice in accordance with the highest standards set by illustrious predecessors. On retiring from the bench, Judge Baker resumed his private practice in this city. He was, by that time, one of the city’s foremost men and recognized as such by people in all walks of life.

After a few years’ practice alone, he formed a partnership with Attorney Frank Burton and the firm became known as Baker & Burton in 1886. Later, Judge Baker admitted his son A. J. Baker, and the firm became known as Baker, Burton, and Baker.

First Elected Mayor

Judge Baker was not permitted to remain in private practice very long, however, for Gloversville, whose rise has been due largely to men of Mr. Baker’s calibre, needed his services. The village had reached city status in 1890 and one of the men who worked hard and faithfully to secure a city charter was Hon. A. D. L. Baker.

When questions of who should become the first mayor of the newly created city of Gloversville came up for discussion, the name of Ashley De Los Baker was brought to the foreground, immediately, and little time was lost in securing Mr. Baker’s consent to head the first Republican municipal ticket. As a result, he was chosen the city’s first executive head, in the spring of 1890, against little opposition.

As he had done previously on the bench, so Judge Baker did in the mayor’s chair. He gave the city the best that was in him and this best was such that his administration has never been surpassed for efficiency, honesty, ability and character.

When his term as mayor expired, Judge Baker again took up his law practice. About this time, his son, A. J. Baker, withdrew from the firm to engage in manufacturing as a member of P. P. Argersinger & Company, leather dealers, of Johnstown. The law firm then continued under the name of Baker & Burton until 1910, when W. B. Baker a relative of Judge Baker and former district attorney of Oswego county, was admitted. The firm then resumed its name of Baker-Burton and Baker, and so continued until June, 1922, when the two senior members, Judge Baker and Frank Burton, withdrew from active practice and the remaining member William B. Baker, took into the firm [   ] Attorney Wesley H. Maider, naming the firm Baker & Maider.

Attorney W. B. Baker died suddenly in June 1924, and since that time Judge Baker and Attorney Burton have continued their associations with the office.

Judge Baker’s interests extended much further than his connections with the legal profession. He had at all times during his life in Gloversville been identified prominently with the Republican party and with in a few years after his advent here, he had become one of the party’s leading members, wielding great influence in the councils of the party. From the earliest time of his political activity, he has been a real figure in these circles.

Judge Baker not only was one of the leading jurists and Republican councillors in the county, but he was also in the forefront of the city’s bankers. In 1879 he became a director, and in 1894 vice president, and in 1901 was chosen president of the Fulton County National Bank, succeeding John McNab, one of the founders of the bank, and under his able guidance it flourished as one of the best banking institutions in this part of the state.

Chairman Since 1923

During the latter part of his life, Judge Baker, although continuing actively as president of the bank up to 1923, when he became chairman of its Board of Directors, left the guidance of its affairs largely to other executives, devoting himself only to the bank’s most important problems.

Judge Baker is also largely responsible for the creation of sentiment for and the foundation of the local Y. M. C. A. When on March 2, 1882, twelve of the city’s young men met in the office of Churchill & Getman, on Main street, to take into consideration the question of organizing a local Y. M. C. A. they found in Judge Baker a powerful proponent. Several more meetings followed within a short time and on Tuesday, March 14, of that year, a meeting was held in the lecture room of the First Presbyterian Church, at which time a constitution and by-laws were adopted. A committee was appointed to nominate the institutions first officers. Its report named Judge Baker for president, but before a voted could be taken, he positively refused to accept the nomination. The name of John L Getman was substituted, with the result that the latter was chosen. However Judge Baker continued his interest in the new institution and as a member of the Board of Directors served the new organization well. He continued is interest in the Y. M. C. A. to his death and was a member of the Board of Trustees.

Saved Library in 1888

One of the brightest pages in the history of Judge Baker’s life is that on which is recorded his work in behalf of the establishment of the Gloversville Free Public Library in 1880. To Judge Baker, Seymour Sexton and Frederick Steele belongs the credit of saving the library in 1888 when it was in serious financial difficulties. It was as direct consequence of their efforts that the use of library books was made free in the same year.

For several years prior to that, events had been tending toward such a culmination. But even though librarians here had advocated the plan, it remained for the three men to secure the desired goal. The result was that the circulation of the library was greatly increased and period of prosperity began for the institution that has endured to this day. He was an active director of the library at his death.

Active Church Man

In fraternal circles, Judge Baker also played a leading part. He was a member of Gloversville Lodge, 429, F. & A. M., and served as trustee of the lodge in 1892. He was also a member of Johnstown Council, No. 72, Royal and Select Masters, Johnstown Chapter, No. 78, Royal Arch Masons and Holy Cross Commandery, No. 51 Knights Templars.

He was deacon of the First Congregational Church and a member of the Eccentric Club, as well as a member of the Gloversville Bar Association whose first president he was. He served as a Sunday School teacher from his earliest years to his death.

He was one of the earliest directors of the F. J. & G. Railroad, serving from 1870 to the reorganization period in 1893. He was also its most active attorney from 1870 to 1901 and since then has been one of its chief counsel. He was a director of the old horse-drawn railway, which plied between Gloversville and Johnstown.

On several occasions he was the choice of the Fulton County Bar Association for the Supreme Court but declined the proffered honors. Many prominent attorneys, including the late Supreme Court Justice Edgar A. Spencer, received their legal education in his office.

Thrice Married

Judge Baker first married Alice Judson, who died March 11, 1875. He married a second time in 1876, choosing for his wife Marion L. Judson, a sister of his first wife. The second Mrs. Baker died in 1902. Three years later Judge Baker married Dorothy Ingerson, who survives him.

Besides his widow he is survived by the following children, the issue of the second marriage: Alanson J. Baker, Mrs. Christopher F. Chaffe of Rochester and Mrs. Grosvenor W. Heacock of Ilion, also several grandchildren.

The funeral will be held at the late home, 83 Washington street, Monday afternoon at 3. the Rev. A. P. Manwell, pastor, of the Congregational church of, which Mr. Baker was a member, will officiate. Burial will be in Prospect Hill cemetery.

City Hall’s Flag at Half Mast for Baker

The flag on the city hall was placed at half mast today in memory of Hon. A. D. L. Baker, judge, banker and lawyer, who died at his home at midnight.

Judge Baker was the first elected mayor of Gloversville, succeeding John Hanson, village president who became mayor for a brief period after the city charter was granted in 1890 and before a general election was held at which Mr. Baker was elected.

The above was generously typed by Laura Stewart.  Laura has transcribed quite a few of Fulton's pages (most recently, Kingsborough Cemetery) and has a deep interest of the history and area of Johnstown.  She is searching for information on NOLAN families, who worked and resided in Johnstown. Their main occupations were as masons and construction workers; in fact, they built several of the brick houses in Johnstown.

Copyright ©2000 James F. Morrison, Gloversville Archives, Laura Stewart, Jeanette Shiel
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