William Shattuck                                

 

enn Yan always seems to have been full of lawyers, even before it became the county seat. William Shattuck was the earliest, and said to have been one of the best, though a little later in life he became involved in the same land speculation in Pennsylvania that broke Cornelius Masten.

His house and his office stood about where the hospital does now, north of Head Street and up on "Quality Hill." His partner was John Willey, who was described by Richard H. Williams as a man who "possessed the art and cheek of making imagination appear facts, and facts imagination." Shattuck, who was a Quaker and spoke "plain speech" was quoted as saying to potential clients, "If thy matter be honest thou mayst consult with me; if not, thou must confer with my partner Willey."

Williams further states that Shattuck was a very industrious and active man who was married several times. He left Penn Yan in about 1826 and went to Prattsburg and afterwards to Pennsylvania, where he offered 50,000 acres for sale in three townships in Warren County at $1 an acre. Williams says of this venture, "It was thought by our people to be out of the world then, but is valuable now. Some of our citizens bought of these lands, went to Warren, engaged in lumbering, and prospered."

Shattuck was born at Guilford, Vt., in 1784. With his father, he emigrated from Vermont to Seneca County in 1793; then a new country. However, he got what education was then available, studied law and was admitted. He was the first lawyer to open an office in Penn Yan, and practiced there 12 years.

He volunteered (despite his Quaker upbringing) for the War of 1812 and fought under Harrison in Canada. He was brevetted quartermaster of all the American forces there, was appointed master in chancery and captain of an artillery company. He was offered a Colonel's commission, but turned it down.

At the age of 37, in 1821, he again became serious about his religion, and relinquished the practice of law, his military career and Freemasonry on account of religious scruples. Soon afterward he went to Pennsylvania, and then in 1842 moved again, this time to Randolph in Cattaraugus County, where he spent the rest of his long life.

He was a contributor to various temerance and abolitionist newspapers, and in fact published in 1843 a small book entitled Antidote for infidelity, superstition, sectarian bigotry, violence and oppression. He remained very active in the reform movements of the time, married (as Williams said) three times and according to his obituary in the Randolph Weekly Messenger, left "a numerous family that mourn his loss." He died there on 14 March 1871, aged 87.


Shattuck was associated with, among others:

Land plots:

  His plot on the west side
 Israel Brown's lot

Sites:

327 Main Street

History:

  The turn of the century