by Matthew Urtz
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Madison County Courthouse featured a number of courthouse paintings of prominent judges and attorneys that practiced in the county. During a renovation of the present courthouse in the 1960s the portraits were removed from public view and memory. Recovered portraits are being repaired when possible for permanent display after the future courthouse renovations are completed; however, all will be displayed as part of our 2016 Archives Day this fall. Over the course of the next few months, we will feature articles on each of the judges whose images will be displayed. Today we will speak about Judge Thomas Barlow.
Thomas Barlow was born March 14, 1805 in the town of Duanesburgh in Schenectady County. He moved to Canastota in September of 1831 to marry his first wife Cornelia G. Rowe, and later would take a second wife Charlotte Spriggs also in Canastota. Barlow started his first law practice here and would remain in Canastota for the better part of his life.
Barlow studied law with the Honorable Arphaxed Loomis and E.P. Hulburt of Little Falls, Selleck Boughton of Rochester, Aaron Hackley of Herkimer and G.B Judd of Frankport. Barlow received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Hamilton College in 1851.
In July of 1831 he was admitted as an attorney to the Supreme Court and in July 1834 he was given the degree of Counselor of that court. In January 1835 he was admitted solicitor and counselor of the Court of Chancery. In the fall of 1842 Barlow was appointed Superintendent of the schools of Madison County. From February of 1843 until January 1848 Barlow was the First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Madison County. He served as a State Senator as well from 1844-1848.
Barlow’s civic work went far beyond the boundaries of Canastota. In 1841 Barlow was made a corresponding member of the New York Historical Society, out of New York City. In July 1853 he was elected a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, less than a year later he was elected a corresponding member of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin as well. In April of 1854 Barlow was named a corresponding member of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences. Barlow was also elected a like member of the Buffalo Society of National Sciences in 1862. He enjoyed natural history so much that he formed his own exhibit gathering, mounting and displaying birds, small animals and insects, later donating parts of the collection Hamilton College and Canastota Academy. He lectured occasionally to societies and universities about natural history and his passion entomology.
Barlow has an interesting place in Madison County history as well. After the 1873 fire in Canastota destroyed many local documents, Barlow contributed much of the history from his era and before from his personal records. The book History of Chenango & Madison County from 1880 goes so far as to say the book would not have been as detailed without the information that Barlow gave them.
Archives Day 2016 will be on October 11th from 10 am to 4 pm at the Madison County Office Building #4. Besides the portraits, court cases, notes and other items from the men in the paintings will be on display. For more information about Madison County history my contact me via phone is 315-366-2453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to like Madison County, NY History on Facebook and visit our website www.madisoncounty.ny.gov/historian/home. Matthew Urtz is the Madison County Historian.
Editor’s note: Matthew Urtz is Madison County historian. He can be reached at 315.366.2453 or email email@example.com. Like “Madison County, NY History” on Facebook and visit madisoncountynyhistory.com. Works Cited: “Death of Judge Barlow.” The Canastota Bee. 19 September, 1896. Tompkins, Brownell Fitch. 1806-1906 Biographical Sketches of the Madison County Bench and Bar. Madison County Historical Society. 1911.