William H. Hollister, Jr.
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

WILLIAM H. HOLLISTER, JR.—Now in the middle of his eighth decade of life (1923), William H. Hollister, Jr., reviews a life of professional activity which began in the city of Troy as a law student in September, 1871, more than half a century ago. To the professional labors of that period Mr. Hollister has added a great deal of service as a citizen, and a retrospective view of his life reveals the fact that a great deal of his time has been devoted to interests not at all professional nor from which he could derive a fee or reward save the deep satisfaction that comes from unselfish work done for a fellow-man. He is the oldest trustee, in point of years of service, of that venerable and useful institution, the Troy Orphan Asylum, and for nearly half a century has been in the service of great philanthropy. So, too, the Second Presbyterian Church counts him as one of the oldest members of its Session, and he is a charter member of the Young Men's Christian Association and a long-time official. He was one of the organizers of the Silver Bay Association; with one exception, is the oldest in years of service of any practicing attorney at the Rensselaer county bar; and is the dean of all Williams College men in Troy or in the county.

(I) William H. Hollister, Jr., traces descent from Lieutenant John Hollister, who was an Englishman by birth, and came to Massachusetts, where he was admitted a freeman in 1643; was a deputy in 1644 ! and in 1645 represented Wethersfield, Connecticut, in the General Court. He was known as "Lieutenant," and his will, dated April 3, 1665, was probated the following June 2nd. His wife, Joanna Treat, daughter of Richard and Joanna Treat, survived him until April, 1694. Her father was one of the early settlers of Wethersfield, and the father of Richard Treat, governor of Connecticut.

(II) John (2) Hollister, son of John and Joanna (Treat) Hollister, was one of the original proprietors of Glastonbury, Connecticut, where he died November 24, 171 1. He married Sarah Goodrich, who died in Glastonbury in 1700, daughter of William and Sarah (Marvin) Goodrich. They were the parents of ten children, the second a son, Deacon Thomas, of further mention.

(III) Deacon Thomas Hollister, son of John (2) and Sarah (Goodrich) Hollister, was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and there died, October 12, 1741. He married Dorothy Hills, of Glastonbury, and they were the parents of thirteen children, the eldest a son, Josiah, of further mention.

(IV) Josiah Hollister, son of Deacon Thomas and Dorothy (Hills) Hollister, was born, lived and died in Glastonbury, Connecticut, his death occurring January 3, 1749. He married, January 18, 1718, Martha Miller, daughter of William Miller, and they were the parents of five children, the third a son, Samuel, of further mention.

(V) Samuel Hollister, son of Josiah and Martha (Miller) Hollister, was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut, November 7, 1723, and died in Sharon, Connecticut, February 18, 1771. He married (first) Jemima Phelps, who died in Sharon, October 27, 1764. He married (second)January 1, 1766, Mrs. Mary Chamberlain, who survived him, and married (second) Jonathan Sprague. By his first marriage there were eight children, and by his second wife a daughter, also a son, Timothy, of further mention.

(VI) Timothy Hollister, only son of Samuel and Mary (Chamberlain) Hollister, was born in Sharon, Connecticut, September 26, 1768, died in Coxsackie, Greene County. New York, in July, 1837. He married, April 27, 1800, Althea Cornwell, and the same year moved to Greene County, where he engaged in farming. Mrs. Hollister, born February 9, 1782, survived her husband thirty-seven years, dying May 8, 1874. They were the parents of eleven children, eight of whom married and reared families, among them William Henry, of further mention. There were fifty grandchildren in the family of Timothy and Althea (Cornwell) Hollister.

(VII) William Henry Hollister, fourth son and fifth child of Timothy and Althea (Cornwell) Hollister, was born in Coxsackie, Greene County, New York, August 25, 1809, and died there September 6, 1895. He was a farmer, and a man highly esteemed. He married, in September, 1833, Judith Ann Lampman, born September 15, 181 1, died February 18, 1877, and they were the parents of four sons: 1. John Isaac, born July 2, 1834; married, in 1861, Annie Holme, of Hannibal, Missouri, and now lives in Pasadena, California. 2. Timothy James, born May 26, 1837; married Adelaide Backus, of Coxsackie, New York; died at Coxsackie, in February, 1897. 3. Martin Luther, born August 2, 1839, a lawyer, practicing first in Hannibal, Missouri, where he was circuit attorney from 1868 to 1870, then practiced two years in St. Louis, Missouri, and since 1872 has practiced law continuously in New York City, and at one time was fire marshal of the city. He married, in 1871, Emily Clute, of Coxsackie. 4. William Henry, Jr., of whom further.

(VIII) William Henry Hollister, Jr., youngest son of William Henry and Judith Ann (Lampman) Hollister, was born in Coxsackie, Greene County, New York. He attended the district schools and Coxsackie Academy, prepared further at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, and at Hudson River Institute, Claverack, New York, then, in the fall of 1866, entered Williams College. At Williams he became a member of the editorial staff of the "Williams Quarterly," the college magazine, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa honors. He was graduated Bachelor of Arts, class of 1870, and it is a striking fact as well as a fine comment on his loyalty to alma mater that in the more than half-century which has since elapsed he has returned to every commencement day at Williams save two, once in 1893, and once in 1909, both absences caused by his being in the far West.

Of his professional activities, Mr. Hollister wrote in answer to the request made at the Semi- Centennial reunion that each member prepare a record of some of the events, happenings and accomplishments of his life for publication in the class report:

Having in mind the study and practice of the law, and desiring as well to be earning something during my preparation, and thinking I might accomplish this in some government position at Washington, where there was an excellent law school, I made application for a clerkship in the census office. The taking of the 9th Federal Census was then in operation. Our dear old Professor Perry, who was a close friend of General Francis A. Walker, the superintendent of the census, endorsed my application, which resulted in my taking one of the earliest examinations under the Civil Service and the subsequent appointment to a clerkship in that office. Three weeks from my graduation I was on the job and remained in Washington until June, 1871, when I resigned. The opportunities in Washington for combining government work with professional study not being what I had expected, in September I took up the study of law at Troy in the office of General E. F. Bullard, and in September, 1874, I was admitted to the bar at Binghamton after examination at the General Term of the Supreme Court. I became a partner of General BuUard's and so continued for about five years. Later, I became a partner of Nelson Davenport, which partnership lasted for twenty-two years, under the name of Davenport & Hollister. From the time of my admission to the bar I have been continuously in practice for forty-six years in Troy, and with a single exception I am now the longest in service of any practicing attorney in this city. I am also in time of residence the dean of the Williams men in this city and county. The forty-seven years that Mr. Hollister has been in practice in Troy, New York, have now lengthened to forty-nine. 1874-1923. He is one of the strong men of the Rensselaer County bar and held by his contemporaries in the highest esteem. He has been engaged as counsel in some of the notable legislation of that half-century, and to him has fallen many ofthe rewards of his profession.

In 1896 Mr. Hollister aided in founding and organizing the Troy Record Company to publish a new daily paper, Republican in politics, but independent in all matters affecting the public welfare. The Troy "Record" thus founded has become influential and prosperous, having thelargest published circulation of any paper in Troy. Mr. Hollister was the first president of the company, his term of service covering the first seven years of the "Record's" life. He was succeeded by another Williams' man, H. S. Ludlow, and still another Williams' graduate, Dwight Marvin, '01, who is now the "Record's" editor-in-chief and has been for several years. The present Young Men's Christian Association of Troy was organized in 1895, Mr. Hollister being a charter member, and until 1921 was associated with the organization as a director, being during that entire period chairman of the department of educational work. During that time he was a delegate to nearly all the International and State conventions of the association, and in 1900 was chosen president of the Biennial State convention, held at Kingston, New York. In 1901, by request, he prepared and delivered an address before the Congregational Club of Boston, on the "History and Work of the Young Men's Christian Association in America." About the year 1902 Mr. Hollister, with others, organized the Silver Bay Association for Christian Conferences and Training, he being a member of the executive board, later treasurer and chairman. That association has become international in its scope of inspirational and educational work along the special lines of the Young Men's Christian Association, Young Women's Christian Association, and missionary activities, and annually draws thousands of persons with serious educational and religious purposes to its grounds on beautiful Lake George for the summer privileges of the conferences.

In speaking of his church, Mr. Hollister wrote concerning his church life:

I was born and reared in the Old Reformed Dutch Church—now the Reformed church in America. On coming to Troy my church relations were transferred to the Second Presbyterian Church, and so continue. This church has shown me many tokens of its kindly feeling by placing me in its highest official boards. For over thirty-three years I was a trustee and president of the board, and for thirty-nine years have been a member of the Session, nearly twenty-five of which I have served as clerk. Three times the Presbytery of Troy has made me a commissioner to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church, United States of America, to wit: 1886, at Minneapolis; 1909, at Denver; and 1914, at Chicago; and for eight years I was a delegate to the Synod of New York.

In 1875 Mr. Hollister was elected a member of the board of trustees of the Troy Orphan Asylum, and for nineteen years he served as secretary of the board. He yet retains his connection as trustee after forty-eight years of efficient, devoted service to one of Troy's most venerable institutions. In 1901 he was elected by the alumni of Williams College to the board of trustees of the college and during most of his term he was secretary of the board. In 1908 he was chosen president of the Williams College Alumni Association of Northern New York. In 1916 he was elected president of the capital district Conference of Charities and Correction at Albany, that district comprising most of the counties of Northern and Eastern New York. Mr. Hollister is a Republican in politics, but has never held a political office. He was, however, a member of the Troy board of school commissioners, a non-partisan body (so called) of twelve members, that being the one exception to a lifelong practice not to seek nor accept public office. Yet, as the foregoing pages show, he is keenly alive to his responsibilities as a citizen. Another civic service he performed was in 1889; under an act of the Legislature of New York, Mr. Hollister was named one of three commissioners to locate a public market in Troy, and he was made president of the commission.

Although the bar association knows him and his literary work well,Mr. Hollister's only published work is "The First Nine Decades," a historical sketch of the Second Presbyterian Church of Troy, prepared and published by order of the Session of the church and read before the congregation in October, 1916.

Mr. Hollister married, October 16, 1878, Julia Frances Hillman, daughter of Joseph Hillman, of Troy, and they are the parents of a son, Rev. Joseph Hillman Hollister, born in Troy, March 22, 1882. He graduated from Williams College, class of 1904, then became a student of divinity, and since 1910 has been pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Mt. Vernon, New York. In 1918, under "leave of absence" from his church, he served with the American Expeditionary Forces for six months, as Young Men's Christian Association secretary, stationed at Dunkirk, France. Rev. Joseph Hillman Hollister married Katherine Lawder, of Mount Vernon, and they are the parents of two children:Jane, and Mary Frances, representatives of the tenth generation of Hollisters in New England and New York.

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