William Oliver was
an identical twin to his brother Dr. Andrew Oliver, so perhaps one picture
will do for both. See the portrait of Andrew on his own page.
They were born
in 1791 in Londonderry, N.H., and William came directly to Penn Yan from the family
home in Springfield, Otsego County, where their father had gone to accept
a job as pastor of the Associate Reform Church there. William's arrival is said to have been
in 1818, at the same time as Dr. John Hatmaker of Milo; this is the year the first deed to
his property at 158 Main Street was made. Though apparently he
only bought the land to become eligible as a freeholder for public office,
he probably built the house soon afterwards. It is known to have been there after about 1825.
He began the study
of law in Springfield, under the direction of Judge Morse in Cherry Valley
and was admitted to the bar about 1812. He arrived in Penn Yan a year after
his brother and gained a solid reputation.
He was Yates County's
first First Judge, appointed in 1823. He served until 1828 and then from
1838 until 1844, presiding over the Court of Common Pleas, at first in Asa
Cole's tavern at the Main and Head Street crossroads, and later in both
the first Court House (built in 1824 and burned in 1834) and the second
one (built in 1835 and still standing today). He also served 4 years in
the State Senate, beginning in 1836, and was chosen President of the Senate
(Lieutenant Governor) in 1838, and then served two years in Congress, 1841-1843.
In 1833 he helped start
the Yates County Bank, (the first time local citizens could bank in their
own town; in those days all paper money was printed by local banks), and
he was cashier when the bank failed in 1857 at the height of the Panic of
that year. No one ever held him responsible for the bank's failure, but
he felt it quite keenly and made a new residence outside Penn Yan, on a
farm on what is now called Oliver Road in the town of Torrey.
William Oliver married
first to Eleanor Young (back in Otsego County, in 1811) and had three children: