Judge Franklin Jay Parmenter
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.

JUDGE FRANKLIN JAY PARMENTERA life of profound significance to the people of Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, was that of Judge Franklin Jay Parmenter, who, during the latter half of the nineteenth century, was a force for progress in the profession of the law, and gave his talents and energies to constructive endeavor along many branches of civic, patriotic and social activity. A writer of no mean ability, he left fugitive contributions of permanent literary value to the generations to follow, and but for the countless exactions of a useful and busy life, the world of letters would have been far more deeply enriched by his facile pen. He lived a full and beautiful life, giving much and receiving in return the sincere affection of those who knew him best, and the esteem and confidence of all.

The Parmenter family is of French origin, dating back in direct line to Jehan Parmentier, who was born in Dieppe, France, in 1494. Fearless and filled with the spirit of adventure, he became one of the most famous navigators of his day, and has come down in history as the first known discovered of the Island of Sumatra, which he reached in the year 1530. He was also an author of note, and his works were published in Paris, France, in 1531. The celebrated artist, Jacques Parmentier, was a direct descendant of the discoverer. Robert Parmenter, the founder of the American line, was also a direct descendant of Jehan Parmentier. Robert Parmenter was born in England in 1621, and crossed the Atlantic to the New World in 1648, settling in the little community of pioneers at Braintree, Massachusetts, with his wife, Leah. Joseph Parmenter, eldest son of these parents, was born October 20, 1655, and died at the advanced age of eighty-two years. Benjamin Parmenter, son of Joseph, was born September 6, 1682, and about 1716 migrated to Newport, Rhode Island. Prior to that date a number of years, he married Hannah Bigelow, of Weston, Massachusetts. Their eldest son, Benjamin (2), was born December 16, 1712. John Newton Parmenter was the next in line, and his son, Azel Fiske Parmenter, who was born in 1786, was the father of the subject of this sketch. He came to New York State in 1810, and although a graduate physician, he never practiced his profession, but became a noted educator of his day, and many prominent men from different sections of New York State gained the impetus to a worthy life from his influence in the school room. He married, in 1820, Lavina Ray, daughter of Roswell Ray, of Northumberland, New York. To this gifted woman of lofty aspirations, whose spirit governed a frail body and whose ambition for her sons secured them their educational opportunities, these sons attributed a large share of their success. The father died in 1858, the mother in 1848.

Franklin Jay Parmenter, son of Azel F. and Lavina (Ray) Parmenter, was born in Pittstown, New York, August 28, 1829. His early education was acquired in the public schools of his birthplace, and he later spent two years at the Hoosick Falls Academy, teaching school to finance his education. In 1848 he entered the Troy Conference Academy, at Poultney, Vermont, where he completed his classical education. Inspired by his mother to choose a professional career, his further progress partook of the nature of a memorial. In 1849 he came to Troy to take up the study of law, which he carried forward as he had opportunity, teaching in Brunswick for a time, then, in the spring of 1850, opening a select school in the city of Troy. Giving up his teaching with the close of the following year, he devoted his attention to the preparation for his chosen profession with the result that he was admitted to the bar May 4, 1852. Taking up his practice in the city of Troy, Mr. Parmenter soon gained a foothold in his chosen field of endeavor, and his influence for civic and moral advance was one of the formative forces of that period in Rensselaer County. He contributed much to the city, the State and the nation. In i860 he was appointed police judge of the city of Troy, in which capacity he was active until the year 1864, inclusive. When the 169th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, "Troy's Own," was recruited, he gave largely towards the defraying of the expenses connected with its preparations for entering the struggle, and his eloquent oratory did much for the work of promoting and maintaining enthusiasm in the cause of Liberty and Union. It was toward the close of this decade of Judge Parmenter's usefulness, in the war period and the years of reconstruction immediately succeeding, that Union College conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts. Possessing a brilliant mind, it was not only in oratory that Judge Parmenter was distinguished. His facile pen gave the world gems of prose and verse, not the least noteworthy being his "Welcome to Dickens," published in "Harper's Magazine" at the time of the visit of the famous novelist to this country. This poem was copied widely in the press of Great Britain, and received flattering comment everywhere. His poem on "Troy's Centennial" was also cordially received, and on June 16, 1886, he was elected poet of the Troy Conference Academy. The later years of Judge Parmenter's life were devoted to his profession and to the many benevolences which were his delight, and he was active nearly up to the time of his death, which occurred March 27, 1912. The passing of this man of men brought a sense of loss to the people of Troy which will not be effaced in a single generation. It is peculiarly fitting that in a work of this nature his memory should find permanent honor, for in the hearts of the people his name is still cherished.

Judge Parmenter married, in 1872, Lorenda Silliman, daughter of the late Captain Robert D. Silliman, who is also now deceased. Their son, the Hon. Frank Silliman Parmenter, is to-day one of the foremost citizens of Troy, and a review of his life follows.

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