History of Westchester County, New York, Volume 2 (Biographical) – Jürgen Beck (Hrsg.)
Long before this work, here in an edition containing three volumes, two of them of biographical nature, was first published, the authors cherished the hope that it could be a genuine narrative history of the county and wanted to be personally instrumental in achieving so important a result. Their attention was especially directed to the matter by their observations during their connection with the schools, from which they became convinced of the extremely elementary character of the general knowledge of this county’s history, even in relation to the Revolution, whereof, indeed, anything like a well-coordinated understanding is most exceptional among the people, and quite incapable of being taught to the young because of the unsuitability for that purpose of all books heretofore published that bear on the subject. In formulating the plan for the present work they had fundamentally in view a lucid continuous narrative, thorough in its treatment of the outlines of the subject and reasonably attentive to local details without extending to minuteness. These lines have been followed throughout. This is volume two out of three, containing the first part of the biographies of hundreds of important persons.
History of Westchester County, New York, Volume 2 (Biographical)
Excerpt from the text:
DYKMAN, JUDGE J. O.
For more than thirty years Judge Dykman has been a resident of White Plains, Westchester county, New York, and he has a warm place in the hearts of the people of this place, while for integrity and justice he enjoys a reputation that extends beyond the bounds of the state.
Judge Dykman is a native of the Empire state. He was born in the town of Patterson, Putnam county, New York, and is a descendant of one of the early settlers of that county, his great-grandfather, Joseph Dykman, having settled in what is now the town of Southeast, Putnam county, in colonial days, where he became well known and influential; he was a captain in the Continental army in the Revolutionary war.
The youthful days of the subject of our sketch were spent in a manner similar to those of other farmer boys, — in attending school in winter and working on the farm in summer. By the time he reached manhood he had obtained a fair education, enough to enable him to teach a common school, and for some time he was engaged in teaching. Choosing the law for his profession, he entered upon its study in the office of the Hon. William Nelson, then a distinguished lawyer of Peekskill, Westchester county, under whose able instructions he was diligent in study and made rapid advancement. Being duly admitted to the bar, he engaged in the practice of his profession in his native county, at Cold Spring, and shortly afterward was honored, with official position there, first being elected to the office of school commissioner and subsequently to that of district attorney of the county.
Since the spring of 1866 Judge Dykman has been a resident of White Plains. Two years after locating here, in the fall of 1868, he was elected, by a handsome majority, district attorney of Westchester county, a responsible position which he filled with marked ability, particularly distinguishing himself by the successful manner in which he conducted the famous Buckhout murder trial. In the fall of 1875 he was again honored with official position, this time being elected to the high office of justice of the supreme court of the state of New York for the second judicial district.
He was nominated and supported as the regular candidate of the Republican party and at the election received a majority exceeding ten thousand, his support at the polls coming alike from Democrats and Republicans.
Judge Dykman’s career on the bench has shown that the confidence of the people was not misplaced. Sound judgment, discretion, kindness, absolute fairness and impartiality, and a wide and deep knowledge of the law, are among his chief characteristics. Simple in habits, and modest and polite in manner, he has a happy way of ingratiating himself with all with whom he comes in contact, and those who know him best esteem him most highly. He is in many ways an illustration of what may be accomplished in this country of ours, with its republican institutions, where all positions are within the grasp of those who desire to obtain them. Without the aid of wealth or influence, and through his own energy and perseverance, he has ;gained the high position he adorns. On neither his public nor private character does there rest a stain.
Judge Dykman has had a long and happy married life, and is the father of two sons, both lawyers, — William N. and Henry T. Mrs. Dykman was formerly Miss Emily L. Trowbridge, of Peekskill, a descendant of one of the New Haven families of that name. In her character is found a noble -example of the devoted, loving wife and mother and benevolent Christian woman. Of their sons we further record that William N. married Miss Belle Annan and is a resident of Brooklyn, where he is successfully engaged in the practice of law. Henry T. married Miss Ella B. Cline, of Dutchess county, and is located at White Plains, where he has acquired a large clientage and good practice.
Politically the Judge is a Democrat in the broadest sense of the term, and his religious creed is that of the Protestant Episcopal church, of which he is a consistent member.
MASTERTON, Sr., ALEXANDER
We of this end-of-the-century period, representing the most electrical progress in all lines of material activity, are too prone to not give due heed to those elemental values which touch upon the deeper essence of being. We cannot afford to hold in light esteem those who have wrought nobly in the past, nor fail to accord honor to those who have given a heritage of worthy thoughts and worthy deeds, and have aided in laying fast the foundations of the greatest republic the world has ever known. He to whose life history we now turn attention was known and honored as one of the representative citizens of Westchester county and as a successful business man of our national metropolis. By his quiet, earnest, useful life and by his example the world was enriched, for the fructifying influences of a noble character expand in constantly widening angle as the years fall into the abyss of time.
Alexander Masterton was a distinct man — distinct in his individuality, in the inflexibility of his principles and in his labors as a man among men. He was born in the picturesque burg of Forfar, in the beautiful vale of Strathmore, Scotland, in the year 1797, coming of stanch Scottish stock and inheriting the sturdy independence and sterling virtues of that hardy race, in the land of “brown heath and shaggy wood.” His educational advantages were limited in extent, but his alert and vigorous, mentality enabled him to effectively supplement his early training through the discipline and associations of his active and successful business life.
At the early age of seventeen years Mr. Masterton bade adieu to the beautiful hills and vales of his native land, severed the cherished ties which bound him to his home, and set forth to seek his fortunes in the New World. He embarked on a sailing vessel bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he arrived in due course of time. In his native land he had learned the stonecutter’s trade, and the proficiency of the Scottish masons is proverbial. Thus it was not strange that the young man soon found use for his services. He remained in Halifax until he had earned sufficient money to repay to a friend the amount which he had borrowed to defray his expenses for the ocean voyage. He then came to New York, and when he arrived in the metropolis his entire financial reinforcement was represented in one solitary half-crown. But he had to his credit an ample fortune in the way of good health, willing hands and a stout heart; and he did not fear to put his faith to the test. He secured employment at his trade, and such was his mechanical ability, his industry and his absolute integrity that upon attaining his majority he was enabled to engage in business upon his own responsibility, — an enterprise which developed into one of .the most important in the line of contracting and building in New York city. He formed a partnership with a friend, under the firm name of Masterton & Smith, and this association was continued until the death of Mr. Smith, in 1854, — thus covering the long period of thirty-six years. The partnership was one of most perfect confidence and mutual esteem, and the firm gained marked prestige in their line of endeavor. After the death of his honored associate Mr. Masterton formed other relations in a business way, but he gradually withdrew from active connection with business, by reason of impaired health, thereupon retiring to his beautiful country home, where his last days were spent. The firm of which he was a member was not only one of the oldest in the city, but one of the oldest in the country, and many prominent public buildings and private residences were erected by the concern. Among the former may be mentioned the old Exchange, in Wall street, the old United States Bank, which later became the assay office; the custom house of New York; the city hall at New Orleans; and the general post-office at Washington. With his partner he had large interests in the granite and marble quarries near Tuckahoe, Westchester county.
In the year 1836 Mr. Masterton came to Westchester county and purchased a tract of land near Bronxville’ on the White Plains road, and here he erected a substantial residence and made many other improvements. This became his permanent home, and he became closely identified with all that touched the progress and welfare of the community, so ordering his life as to gain and retain the confidence and esteem of all with whom he came in contact.
He died in the sixty-third year of his age, passing away in January, 1859. As delineating his character, we refer with pleasure to, and quote from, the address delivered by his pastor. Rev. Washington Roosevelt, on the occasion of his funeral, January 19, 1859: “Mr. Masterton was a man of strong attachment. He never forgot a friend. Only a few days before his death he charged his sons not to forget an old friend in Scotland, to whom for many years he had made a yearly remittance. His liberality, although unobtrusive, was proverbial, and not a few could arise and call him blessed. His integrity and uprightness, no less than his generosity, were universally known and appreciated. In his family relations a kinder husband or more affectionate parent was not to be found. His children not only highly respected, but ardently loved him. They sought his counsel and clung around him to the very end, and when he breathed his last their breaking hearts attested that they began to realize their orphanage. But notwithstanding all these estimable traits of character, our departed friend was not self-righteous. So far from this, he placed no dependence upon any amiable traits he might have possessed, or any works of generosity or liberality he may have performed. He felt himself a sinner, and needing with all others the mercy of God in Christ. “
Mr. Masterton was married, in New York, to Miss Euphenius Morrison,, a native of that city and a daughter of William and Jean Morrison. They became the parents of seven sons and one daughter, two of whom died in early life. Those who lived to attain years of maturity were as follows: William James and Robert Morgan, both of whom are now deceased; Alexander, Jr., concerning whose life a memoir is given in appending paragraphs; Mary M., who became the wife of Elias Dusenbury and now resides on the old homestead; Joseph Tucker, who is now deceased; and John, who married and resides at Mount Vernon, New York. The devoted wife and mother survived her husband by only one year, her death occurring January 24, 1860. She was a woman of deep piety and noble character, being a devout member of the Reformed church at Bronxville, with which the family have been, identified from the time of its organization.
True biography has a nobler purpose than mere fulsome eulogy. The historic spirit faithful to the record, the discerning judgment unmoved by prejudice and uncolored by enthusiasm are as essential in giving the life of the individual as in writing the history of a people. Indeed, the ingenuousness of the former picture is even more vital, because the individual is the national unit, and if the unit be justly estimated the complex organism will become correspondingly intelligible. To the most careful study are the life, character and services of the late Alexander Masterton pre-eminently entitled. His entire life was an example of exalted integrity, honor and kindly virtues, and though his death, pitiable and untimely, came as the result of the cowardly assassin’s bullet, making him a martyr to his generous spirit and abiding kindness, yet he was called in the plenitude of his powers, with his labors well rounded and symmetrical, and with an earthly record whose final page could well be turned down with the Master’s word of commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In these thoughts there must remain to those upon whom the shadow rests most deeply a measure of compensation, for the veil was lifted to gain the new glory of a pure and noble life when death sets its seal upon his mortal lips.
Alexander Masterton, one of the able financiers of the national metropolis and one of the most honored citizens of Bronxville, Westchester county. New York, met his death on the 3rd of May, 1899. He was a native of the city of New York, where he was born on the 4th of September, 1825, a son of Alexander and Euphenius (Morrison) Masterton, to whom individual reference has been made in preceding paragraphs. His early boyhood years were passed in New York city, in whose schools, and in those of Westchester county, his educational discipline was secured. Of alert mentality, self-reliant and imbued with the highest principles, it was but natural that the young man should give clear definition to his plans for a future career and that he should succeed in finding opportunity for advancing himself in connection with the practical activities of life. At the age of eighteen years he gave inception to his business career by accepting a position in a banking institution in New York city, and it is interesting to revert to the fact that with this all-important branch of industrial economics he continued to be consecutively identified throughout the course of his long, useful and honorable life.