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,
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
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.