Charles Russell Ingalls
Charles Russell Ingalls

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

CHARLES RUSSELL INGALLS was born at Greenwich, Washington Co., State of New York, on Sept. 14, 1819. He read law in the office of his father, Judge Charles F. Ingalls; was admitted to practice as an attorney of the Supreme Court, and as solicitor of the Court of Chancery, in the year 1844, and in 1847 was admitted as counselor of said courts. In 1853 he represented the First Assembly District of Washington County in the Assembly. He practiced law in Greenwich, in connection with his father and brother, until 1860, when he formed a law partnership with the Hon. David L. Seymour, and removed to the city of Troy. That relation continued until Jan. 1, 1864, when he entered upon the duties of justice of the Supreme Court of said State, to which position he had been elected the previous autumn. On the 1st of January, 1870, as justice of the Supreme Court, he became a member of the Court of Appeals of the State, and remained in that court until its reorganization. In 1871, his judicial term of eight years as justice of the Supreme Court being about to expire, he was nominated for the same position for the term of fourteen years, by both the Democratic and Republican conventions, and was elected without opposition. In 1877 he was designated by Governor Robinson as a member of the General Term of the Supreme Court of the First Department, consisting of the city of New York, in which capacity he is now acting.

His paternal ancestors emigrated to this country from Lincolnshire, England, and were settled as farmers in Massachusetts as early as 1629. The precise period of their arrival in this country has not been ascertained. In the war of the Revolution four of his great-uncles were in the Continental army, of whom one was killed in the battle of Bunker Hill. His grandfather, Charles Ingalls, after graduating at Dartmouth College, went to Salem, Washington Co., State of New York, and became the principal of the academy in that village. There he remained until 1802, when, having in the mean time studied law, he removed to Greenwich, in the same county, where he established a law-office, the first opened at that place, and there practiced his profession successfully until his death, which occurred in 1812. Two sons survived him, - Charles F. Ingalls, the father of the subject of this sketch, and Thomas R. Ingalls. The former commenced the practice of the law in Greenwich, in the year 1818, and continued it until within a few years prior to his death, which occurred in 1870. He was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, district attorney of said county, and was elected a member of Assembly from that county in the year 1853. He was a thorough and able lawyer, a respected citizen, a kind friend, and honest man. Thomas R. Ingalls graduated at the military academy at West Point in 1820, and after remaining in the army some years, serving as an officer in various capacities, he became president of Jefferson College in Louisiana, and occupied that position until 1840, when he resigned, and, after traveling in Europe two years, returned to this country, and made his home with his brother at Greenwich, where he remained, devoting his time to study, until his death in 1864. He was an accomplished scholar and a Christian gentleman.

The mother of Charles R. Ingalls, whose maiden name was Mary Rogers, was the daughter of Nathan Rogers, who was one of the earliest settlers of Greenwich, and who was an intelligent, enterprising, and influential citizen. Thomas Ingalls, the only brother of C. R. Ingalls, graduated at Trinity College, Hartford, Conn., in the year 1852. He subsequently studied law in the office of his father and brother, and having been admitted to practice in the Supreme Court, became their partner, and continued the practice of his profession until his death, in 1872. He left surviving him his widow, Julia A. Ingalls, who is the daughter of Seneca Gifford, of Easton, Washington Co. He was a gentleman of culture, of acknowledged legal ability, and was respected and beloved by all who knew him. Judge Ingalls, the subject of this sketch, has one sister, Mary Ingalls, who resides at the homestead in Greenwich, which has been occupied by the family for fifty years. Judge Ingalls married, in 1846, Miss Mary E. Mosher, the daughter of Dr. Charles R. Mosher, of Easton, Washington Co., N. Y. She died in 1848. In 1852 he married Mrs. Lorinda Stevens, of the city of Troy, who died in 1872. In 1834, Judge Ingalls united with the Reform (Dutch) Church at Greenwich, which his two grandfathers were instrumental in establishing, and of which his father, mother, sister, and brother were also members. After he removed to Troy he united with the Second Street Presbyterian Church, and is now one of its ruling elders.

Such are some of the main points in the life of this distinguished citizen, and in the history of the honored family to which he belongs. Brought up in the very atmosphere of the law, he imbibed in youth a love for its study, and became in early manhood its careful practitioner in the courts, applying its varied principles with discretion, and developing with ease and skill the legal results which he desired to reach. In the preparation of his cases for trial his fidelity to his clients was always manifested by a careful collation of the testimony, and was further evinced in a thorough acquaintance with points both minute and prominent, and in the arrangement, in logical sequence, of the circumstances involved. The same system was also evinced in his arguments before the court, and his briefs were models of concise completeness. Although, as a lawyer, he was always thoroughly interested on behalf of his client, yet he did not sink his capacity for judgment in that partisanship which is too apt to blind the advocate to the fact that there are always two sides to every question. And so it happened that, when the good sense of the people places him on the bench of the Supreme Court of the State, he brought to the discharge of his duties a mind whose wide experience in many a legal conflict had left it furnished with manifold and varied information, but still in a condition of unprejudiced fidelity to the force of facts and reason. Thus, for nearly sixteen years, has he maintained on the bench a character pure, upright, and unsullied in every particular, commanding for himself the universal admiration and love of the members of the bar for the intelligence and unswerving impartiality of his judicial action, and the respect and confidence of his colleagues for the untiring assiduity and exhaustive study which are apparent in the results which he reaches, and in the concise opinions which he expresses.

As a citizen, his interest in the welfare of the community is pronounced, and he is always earnest and efficient in caring for the sick and destitute, in forwarding measures best adapted for the relief of the poor, in organizing plans for the extension to all of the system of the free reading of books and newspapers gathered in public repositories, and in originating and carrying on to successful completion undertakings which are commended to the sympathy of man by their intention to exalt humanity. His religion is of that nature which, while it thinketh no evil, is still vitalized by his endeavors to render his own life effective not only as a life of principle but as an example for others. Of a cheerful disposition, courteous in demeanor, sharing with equanimity the burdens and trials of others, and never failing to distinguish the varied acts of his daily life by manifestations of the law of kindness, he emphasizes, with pronounced force, in his own career, the character of a Christian gentleman.

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