John Johnson Foote

John Johnson Foote was born at Hamilton, N. Y.. February 11. 1816: he married September 24, 1839, Mary, daughter of Hon. Amos and Mary (Owen) Crocker, of Hamilton, N. Y. She was born May 12, 1819, and died January 8, 1908.

He was a prominent man in Central New York, and during the Civil War was very active in the raising and organization of regiments in that portion of the State. He was the first Central New Yorker to subscribe for Government bonds, and in every way an ardent patriot. He served as State Senator in 1858-59; was Auditor of the New York City Postoffice under Postmaster Thomas L. James ; and was Acting Postmaster during Mr. James' absence in Europe. Mr. Foote's system of rules and regulations for the reorganization and reformation of that office have since been adopted by the United States Postoffice Department in the large postoffices in the country.

On Saturday night, April 15, 1905, just before the midnight hour, John J. Foote gave heed to the final summons, and folding his weary arms in token of his submission, passed to the Great Beyond. Long had his death been expected, for a well spent life had left its mark upon the forces which for years had been the admiration of men. Eighty-nine years had been his life allotment, while into it had been crowded more of the important things which are included in the making of the history of a nation than ordinarily falls to the lot of man.

The long and noble ancestry back of this man, fruitful in deeds accomplished, good impressions made upon the public life, and in assisting the settlement of questions which have greatly affected the history of our country, could not help but accurately foreshadow the life so closed. From 1633 the line is unbroken and is closely identified with the stirring and import­ant events of both England and America. This man's family and himself have become promi­ nent figures in the national life of two continents. John J. Foote began life with the history of a good name. He could proudly point to men whose record was one of fidelity, the maintenance of great principles, and who, in the crisis of the nation's history, were willing to give their all to maintain the nation's integrity and welfare.

His educational training was thorough, and though be did not pursue a full classical course, later in life he received his degree from Madison, (now Colgate) University. In his early career he took an active part in politics as a member of the Whig party, and by reason of his personal popularity and political sagacity was many times elected to various local offices, even when his party was largely in the minority. He counted as his friends the leaders of the Republican party, and was prominently identified with such men as Thurlow Weed, Roscoe Conkliug and Henry Clay.

When the war broke out, he gained additional prominence by doing all in his power to suppress the rebellion. When Fort Sumter was fired upon, he was called into a conference in New York City with Thurlow Weed, Governor Morgan, General Wool and others to consider the situation, and devise means for putting New York on a war-footing. The meeting NC as held on Saturday night, and the Legislature was to adjourn on the following Monday. It was imperative for the proposed adjournment to be postponed, and Mr. Foote was delegated to go to Albany for that purpose.

The four years of national turmoil furnishes many records of the toil and labor of Mr. Foote in behalf of the Union cause. In 1865, his health having become seriously impaired, he sold out his business in Hamilton, and removed with his family to Belvidere, III.. where he settled on a large farm, giving attention mainly to agricultural pursuits. Shortly after Mr. James was made Postmaster in New York by President Grant,

Mr. Foote was tendered the important office of Auditor, a position which had been new ly created. He accepted the position with the understanding that, as soon as he had systematized the financial affairs of the postoffice, he should be allowed to retire. The task proved much greater than he had expected and occupied the next three years. His work there has passed into the history of the department. Under his administration, abuses were corrected, the rights of the Government preserved, and a system adopted for use which, for years afterward, placed that office at the very head of the Postal Department. More than once was he called upon to settle questions which involved the maintenance of his integrity and the preserving of those principles which had so distinguished his past life.

To his superiors he would answer, "Very well, I have sworn to enforce these rules, and I shall do so. It is in your power to change the rules, but it is not in your power to otherwise change my obligations." Upon his return to Belvidere, Ill., lie turned his attention again to private affairs, becoming interested in the various municipal, banking and other enterprises, and proved a skilled and able financier. Only in minor offices did he again enter politics, and then only because he was Practically the unanimous choice of his fellow citizens.

As already stated, Mr. Foote's death occurred April 15, 1905, being survived by his wife and three children. The funeral services were held on Wednesday afternoon, April 19, 1905, from the residence, on Lincoln Avenue, where he had lived many years. Rev. Dr. Pierce had charge of the service, assisted by the Rev. B. L. Brittin, of the Presbyterian Church. Interment was made in the family lot in the Belvidere cemetery.

Mr. Foote's children were: Mary Annette, born in Hamilton, N. Y., graduated from Hamilton Female Seminary and Troy Female Seminary, and married at Hamilton, N. Y., September 21, 1863 ; Hon. Enos Clark, graduate of Colgate University, and a prominent lawyer of St. Louis, Mo.; John Crocker, whose sketch is given on a preceding section ; and Harriet, born in Hamilton, N. Y., was educated at Ingham University, Troy, N. Y., and Mary's Institute, St Louis, Mo., is a woman of great executive ability, engaged prominently in Presbyterian Church work— married David D. Sabin of Belvidere, Ill., and is one of the leaders in Belvidere social matters and public affairs in which ladies take a part. The death of the widow, Mrs. Mary (Crocker) Foote, occurred at the Linocln Avenue residence January 8, 1908, surrounded by her devoted children and grandchildren, her taking away being felt as a great loss, not only by her family and many intimate friends. but by many others less endowed by wealth, for whom, in her quiet way, she had done so many acts of kindness.

 

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