George Mortimer Tibbits
George Mortimer Tibbits

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

GEORGE MORTIMER TIBBITS was born at Lansingburgh, Dec. 5, 1796, and died in Troy, Friday, July 19, 1878, at five o'clock in the morning. He was the eldest child of George and Sarah Noyes Tibbits. About the middle of the year 1797 and when he was about six months old, his parents removed to Troy. He was taught the rudiments of learning at such schools as the village of Troy then afforded, until sent to Lenox, in Berkshire Co., Mass., where he received the instructions of a Mr. Gleason, and by him was lined tor college. Having admitted to Union college, he was graduated thence in 1817. Among his classmates were his cousin, Benjamin Tibbits, of Albany, Joel B. Nott, of Guilderland, Charles F. Ingalls, of Greenwich, and Daniel Gardner, of Troy. All of these gentlemen are now dead.

From early childhood Mr. Tibbits bad been in feeble health. For the purpose of gaining strength he had adusted himself to pedestrianism. After graduating, with the object in view of improving his constitution, he went abroad, and was absent a year. He confined his foreign observations on this occasion mainly to Scotland, which country he explored with much thoroughness, performing most of his journeys on foot. He came back in perfect health, and, as previous to the age of twenty-one had rarely known a well day, so onward from that age until in his seventy-ninth year, he very rarely experienced a day of illness. On his return he pursued the study of the law for a season in the office of the late Hon. John P. Cushman, of Troy. But he was unable to endure the confinement study. He had found that health for him was to be much in the open air, and to pursuits of that nature he afterwards devoted his life.

He soon after purchased the Pfister farm, at Hoosick, which farm had formerly belonged to a loyalist, and which was confiscated during the Revolutionary war. On May 31, 1824, he married Miss Sarah Bleecker, the eldest daughter of John Rutger Bleecker, of Albany, and the niece of Blandina Dudley, who was the wife of Hon. Chas. Edward Dudley, at one time a United States senator from this State. After his marriage he removed to Hoosick, and resided there in the old farm house, which is still standing, until the brick dwelling, which he was then constructing, was completed. This latter building was remodeled in 1860, and is now a freestone mansion, striking both in design and in appearance. His residence in this city was built in the year 1847, and from the time of his marriage until his death his time was passed partly in Hoosick and partly in Troy.

In the summer of 1866, Mr. Tibbits went abroad for the second time, with several members of his family, and was absent for nearly two years. On this occasion he traveled leisurely through Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and other countries of Europe, gratifying his taste for the beautiful in art by visiting the principal repositories of works of that character, and occasionally emphasizing the taste by the purchase of a specimen of the genius of some skilled master. It was on his return from this tour, in 1868, that he presented to the Troy Young Men's Association the beautiful bronze statue of Lincoln which adorns their rooms. This was modeled and cast by F. Miller, Jr. at Munich, in 1868, and is a reduced copy of the statue cast for the city of Chicago.

As the village of Troy grew to he the city of Troy, did Mr. Tibbits from a youth grow to manhood. The village became a city in 1816. In the following year Mr. Tibbits attained to his majority, and from that time forward, with a jealous regard for the good name of the city did he strive for its welfare and prosperity. He was in no sense a public man, and it is believed that he never held an official position. But he was ever ready to aid in inaugurating any good work and in aiding beneficent enterprises. He took a deep interest in the building of the present City Hall, favoring its erection as a needed measure, and laid its corner-stone on Nov. 15, 1875.

The town of Troy was established in 1791. Mr. Tibbits was brought here as a young infant ill 1797. From the establishment of the town to the present time is eighty-eight years. Of that period, eighty-one years were passed by him in the town, village, and city of Troy.

Mr. Tibbits in appearance was manly, erect, and lean. His bearing was always that of a man who. while he respected others, respected also himself. He was very fond of riding, and until within a few years he would occasionally start off on a stretch of from ten to fifteen miles in the early morning, bestriding his horse with the ease and grace of a young and athletic man.

Always coveting exercise in the open air, the personal attention which he gave to his landed estate in Hoosick afforded him ample opportunity for such exercise, and he was often employed in various kinds of labor incident to the protection and care of his farms. He was also interested in building, to an extent unequaled probably by any other citizen of Troy, and during his long life many stores and dwellings were erected under his care.

He early became interested in stock-raising, and before the day herd-books, fancy breeding, and county fairs, was engaged in the importation of a celebrated breed of cattle known as the Teeswater Durham, especially valuable for the dairy. Strains of the blood of this stock are still found in the county. He was also a strong advocate of a protective tariff, the development of the resources of the country, and the encouragemenl of home manufactures. Influenced by these considerations, about the year 1830 he imported a number of Saxony sheep, and originated one of the largest flocks of sheep of that breed in the county. He was always interested in wool growing and in the improvement of the fleece of sheep, and of its fineness and strength.

Although inclined to gratify a taste for pictures, statuary, antique furniture, and old books, and to surround himself with the evidences of refinement and culture, yet he could not endure waste in any form. He was a sincere advocate for the proper use of everything, and nothing more thoroughly aroused and angered him than wasteful and ridiculous excess.

His patriotism was of the kind that trusts not to words alone, but believes in the efficiency of deeds as well. When the Rebellion burst like a whirlwind over the North, and his son, William B. Tibbits, expressed his determination to give his aid in support of the Union as a volunteer, his father not only gave his consent, but aided him pecuniarily and otherwise in raising his company. Later still, when the Griswold Cavalry was organized, of which Gen. Tibbits was the colonel, his father contributed most liberally in procuring enlistments for that regiment in the most speedy and efficient manner. His enthusiasm for the cause of the Union knew no pause, and not until the Rebellion was subdued did be cease his efforts for its suppression.

In giving he was guided by conclusions reached from examinations and observations made by himself. His benefactions were as unexpected as they were welcome. It was thus, unheralded, that be once gave the sum of ten thousand dollars to the Troy Orphan Asylum; and the present of a dwelling and the appurtenant land to a most worthy servant of Christ, who a few years ago passed to his reward, is another instance of a worthy gift quietly yet generously be- stowed. At his country home, on one occasion, his kindness to an old man, whom but few respected, on account of his bad habits, led to the reformation of this recipient of Mr. Tibbits' bounty, and redeemed for a better service the close and the hereafter of a life much of which had been ill-spent.

If there was one characteristic more than another that was prominent in Mr. Tibbits' life, it was his hatred of all shams and pretense. Directness in any matter with which he was connected was especially to his liking, and in the presentation of any subject to him, he was always desirous that his interlocutor should come to the point at once. He was a stern and an uncompromising foe to gossip, and to the dissemination of scandal or of rumors affecting character or life. He never took up an evil report against any one, and was averse to listening to the details respecting the short-comings of others.

To him the life of home was the only earthly life worth living, and either with his family, or amid his books, were passed his happiest hours. He was particularly fond of the French language, and until his mental faculties began to fail him he read almost daily some of the literature of that nation. He entered the communion of the Episcopal church when a young man, and was always scrupulous in the observances of religious worship. He maintained until his last illness the order of family prayer in his household, and was regular in his attendance thereon whenever the time appointed for the service had come. In the latter part of his life he favored the movement known as the Reformed Episcopal church, which was promulgated by the Rev. Dr. Cummins, and, owing to his evangelical ideas, he readily found fellowship and communion with any body of Christians who loved and revered the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.

His devotional nature found further expansion in the stone church which he erected at Hoosick, and which is in the pastoral care of his son, the Rev. John B. Tibbits. In fact, so entirely was he penetrated with the importance of public worship, that he often expressed a belief that great good might, be accomplished if a building could be provided devoted to the public service of God and the diffusion of religions knowledge irrespective of any particular creed or form of worship, and open at all proper times for the attendance of the people.

His father, the Hon. George Tibbits, died on Thursday, July 19, 1849, at eleven o'clock in the morning. But twenty-nine years later, on July 19, 1878, and only a few hours earlier, was terminated the earthly career of the son. The morning was always to him the most beautiful portion of the day. He not only spoke its praises, but enjoyed the reality of its freshness and renewal in the actual experience of a lifetime. In its quiet hours he found a recreation and refreshment which he gathered from no other part of the day. And so, as if in consonance with this love of his nature, the divine messenger came to him and announced his release just as the glorious "rose of dawn" was flushing behind the eastern hills, and on the wings of the morning his spirit floated away to its eternal rest.

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