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Samuel Fenton Cary
IN the largest and best sense of the term, the late Samuel
Fenton Cary was distinctively one of the notable men
of his day and generation, and as such his life record
is entitled to a conspicuous place in the annals of the
State of Ohio. It falls to the lot of few to win a reputation in more than one field of endeavor, but he was distinguished as a legal light, an army officer, a public official, a temperance advocate and an orator. As a citizen Mr. Cary was public-spirited and enterprising to an unwonted degree; as a friend and neighbor, he combined the qualities of head and heart that won confidence and commanded respect; as an attorney, who had a comprehensive grasp upon the philosophy of jurisprudence and brought honor and dignity to the public positions he filled with such distinguished success, he was easily the peer of his professional brethren at the Ohio bar, and as a servant of the people in high places of honor he had no superiors.
Mr. Cary was born in the city of Cincinnati, February 18, 1814, and there he always maintained his home. He was a son of William and Rebecca (Fenton) Cary, and a grandson of Dr. Samuel Cary, who was graduated from Yale University with the class of 1755, and who resided in New Hampshire. Rebecca Fenton was a daughter of Roswell Fenton, a soldier in the Revolutionary War. She reached the unusual age of ninety-eight years. She was a native of New York, and removed from that State to the present site of Cincinnati, Ohio, in the year 1807, when this section of the United States was the domain of wild Indian tribes. William Cary, who came in 1802 to that city, moved on April 9, 1814, to a log cabin at what is now the intersection of Hamilton Avenue and the North Bend road, Cincinnati, with his wife, to whom he was married in 1808, and three sons, Freeman G., Woodward, and Samuel F. The father had erected this cabin the previous winter, and the family continued to reside there two years, then a brick house was built, which was considered at that early period the finest residence in Hamilton County, outside of Cincinnati. When William Cary located there he found a wild, trackless wilderness. He entered a tract of four hundred and ninety-one acres, which now comprise College Hill, a well-known section of the great city of Cincinnati. This has always been considered a very healthful spot, rising high above the surrounding country. When Wm. Cary settled there it was a hard day's drive with a good team to the little town of Cincinnati, and return. He was a typical pioneer, brave, courageous, far-seeing, hospitable, honest, and hard-working, and he succeeded in developing a fine estate, which he literally carved out of the wilderness. His death occurred March 28, 1862, and his wife died February 18, 1889, on the seventy-fifth birthday of her son, General Cary.
Samuel F. Cary grew to manhood in his native vicinity in the midst of a rude pioneer environment, in a period when opportunities for higher education and culture were lacking, but being ambitious he forged to the front by his own efforts and was a fine example of the successful self-made man. He first attended the Cincinnati public schools, later entering Miami University, from which institution he was graduated in 1835. He had been reading law during spare moments for some time, and later became a student in the Cincinnati Law School, from which he was graduated in 1837. He was immediately admitted to practice, and was successful from the start. He not only ranked among the leaders of the bar of his home city, but was regarded as one of the ablest lawyers in Ohio. His State-wide reputation was such as to cause the members of the legislature, in 1840, to elect him to the important position of judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio. However, he declined the honor, preferring to remain with his large practice.
At the age of twenty-two years Mr. Cary became very active in his support of Gen. William Henry Harrison for President of the United States. He made a number of convincing speeches in behalf of the distinguished Indian fighter, who continued an ardent admirer of the General and his work the rest of his life. The last public address of General Cary was made at the unveiling of the monument to President Harrison, the elder, in Cincinnati, in 1895. Mr. Cary was chief of staff of three Ohio governors, and was paymaster general of Ohio during the Mexican War, having been appointed to this position by Governor Barclay with the rank of general. At the outbreak of the Civil War Mr. Cary was influential in Republican politics, and was an ardent Union man. Oliver P. Morton, the famous war governor, of Indiana, on one occasion said that General Cary had created more patriotism for the North and had been instrumental in recruiting more troops for the Federal armies than any ten men in the United States, through his effective speeches. Mr. Cary was provost marshal of the city of Cincinnati when an attack was expected on that city by Gen. Kirby Smith, the Confederate leader, but the general was so well prepared for defense that had the attack been made it would doubtless have failed.
After the close of the war between the States, Mr. Cary was appointed collector of internal revenue by President Andrew Johnson, following the death of Abraham Lincoln. He maintained headquarters in Cincinnati, but had a wide territory to oversee while discharging the duties of this important office. He did not agree with President Johnson's re-construction policy and consequently resigned his office. He became a candidate for Congress on an independent ticket against both old parties, but won in a splendid campaign. He made a brilliant record while at the national capital, becoming one of the most popular and influential men in Congress. His efforts in behalf of an eight-hour labor law were especially commended. He was the only Republican in the House of Representatives who voted against the impeachment of President Johnson.
In 1876 Mr. Cary was a candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Greenback ticket, with Peter Cooper for President. In 1875 he was a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio on the ticket with Governor William Allen, who was a candidate for re-election. In the ensuing election Rutherford B. Hayes, the opponent of Governor Allen, won by a small majority. No doubt his election to the gubernatorial chair of the great Buckeye commonwealth made Mr. Hayes the choice for the presidency later.
In 1870 Mr. Cary went to England where he spent ten months delivering temperance lectures, and speeches on the rights of labor. He was an earnest advocate of temperance and the protection of the wage-earner. He was popular in Great Britain as well as in America, and on one occasion addressed an audience of 34,234 people in Crystal Place Hall, London. Admission was by tickets. Notwithstanding the vast crowd all were able to hear Mr. Cary because of his powerful and wonderful voice—the voice of the born orator, such as Cicero and Demosthenes. He was very active as a speaker and worker during fifteen presidential campaigns.
General Cary was a man of robust constitution, possessing enormous strength. His large size, commanding presence and classical features attracted attention in whatever crowd he mingled. The observer could readily see that he was born to leadership, that he was a man among men. He was a vigorous and independent thinker, always had the courage of his convictions, and his exceptional ability was universally admitted. He was always welcomed in the circles of the leading men of the nation, counting among his close friends such great statesmen as Gen. William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, and many others. Even in his boyhood his companions were future mighty spirits of their generation, and in his graduating class at Miami University in 1835 we find such eminent characters as Beecher, Dennison, and Schenk. He remained a profound student all his life, was exceptionally well informed on current topics, and not being content with excelling in oratory made himself a versatile and forceful writer. For a number of years he contributed articles on finance to the Cincinnati Enquirer and edited several temperance magazines. He was the author of the Cary memorials, a genealogical record of the Cary family. He took great pride in his family tree and in ancestral records in general. He lived in one home for a period of fifty-four years prior to his death, which occurred September 29, 19009 in his eighty-seventh year, after a long, useful, industrious, and honorable career, fraught with much good to humanity, and of which his descendants may well be proud. Personally, he was of unassuming nature, kind, gentle, a model home man. He took just pride in being a Son of the American Revolution. His character was above reproach. He lived his religion, and was active in church affairs.
General Cary was twice married, first to Marie Allen, (deceased). To this union two children were born: Ella W. (deceased) was the wife of Edward Sayre; and Martha (deceased) was the wife of Charles Huber. His second marriage was to Lida Stilwell, a daughter of Jacob and Eliza (McCullough) Stilwell. This union also resulted in the birth of three children—Olive died in infancy;
Samuel Fenton Cary, who married Nellie Goodrich (deceased), was the father of one child, Ethelywn, who married John Cocke, now captain in the United States Cavalry, and the father of one child, Nancy Cocke, three years old; Jessie Cary, youngest child, is unmarried and is living in Cincinnati.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds