Oswego County's: Guide To Government

Isaac B. Mitchell

42nd District (Jefferson and Oswego counties)

Isaac B. Mitchell, Republican, first elected to the Senate March 28, 1939, is a farmer, residing on the farm near LaFargeville where his great grandfather located when he came into the north country around 1800. He is the son of the late Hiram B. and Minnie Beardsley Mitchell whose families were among the early pioneers of northern Jefferson County.

In 1908 he married Miss Florence Staley of Watertown, N. Y. They have one son, H. B. Mitchell, and one daughter, Mrs. MaryMills, both of LaFargeville, N. Y.
Committee assignments-Internal Affairs, chairman: Affairs of Cities; Agriculture; Finance; Highways and Parkways; Public Education.

Isaac B. Mitchell Edward M. Anderson Peter Teufis (Rep.Dem.A.L.P.)

Jefferson................18,405 5,385 286
Oswego................18,492 6,615 551

Totals...................36,89712,000 837

Perley Pitcher

Life Sketch of Senator Pitcher

Watertown Daily Times
February 21, 1939

Senator Perley A. Pitcher, 62 of 1033 State Street enjoyed one of the highest political honors accorded a Watertown resident in many years. Acceding to the position of majority leader in the State Senate at the beginning of the 1939 Session by return of republicans to control in that house as a result of the last election, he had been the 37th district's representative in the senate for more than 14 years.

During those years he had served upon most of the outstandingly important committees. This year he began his eighth consecutive term in the most important role of majority leader. When his close friend and Senate teammate, the former Senator George F. Fearon of Syracuse, retired in 1936 as minority leader, Senator Pitcher stepped into his shoes.

In 1937 he was elected to represent this senatorial district consisting of Jefferson and Oswego Counties, as delegate to the long drawn out 1938 constitutional convention and was republican floor leader of that body.

From the beginning of his senatorial career on January 1, 1925, until his death late Monday afternoon in his Albany room he had headed a wide range of committees. He had been chairman of the important Judiciary Committee and had had a similar place on the Codes Committee. He had headed the Public Health Committee and sponsored numerous bills for the improvement of health conditions in the State. He had been chairman of the Reorganization Committee, of the Civil Service Committee, and of the Committee on Commerce and Navigation. He had been a member of the Conservation Committee and the Committee on Canals.

To Northern New York he had given his service with the objective of bettering the conditions and the lives of the Upstate people as well as those of other sections of the State. In August 1930, he was chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee to investigate realty assessments.

In 1930 he obtained the passage of the Pitcher Bill appropriating $50,000 for the investigation of the source and character of milk and cream coming into the State from outside sources. And again in 1932 he was appointed chairman of the Joint Legislative Milk Committee to investigate the milk industry in New York State.

Other important work was in connection with legislation necessary to make the Thousand Islands International Bridge a possibility. In 1927, he sponsored legislation granting the late W. Gilbert Freeman and J. Harry Arthur the right to build a private toll bridge over the same route occupied by the bridge completed last August. However Governor Alfred E. Smith vetoed the measure. When committees were appointed for the bridge dedication, he was named chairman of the American General Committee, but declined.

Later Senator Pitcher gave his efforts to legislation enabling the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority to construct the bridge that now exists.

In 1927, he sponsored a bill giving the City of Watertown the right to develop its own waterpower. He opposed State censorship. In 1925 one of his first bills had been giving local courts jurisdiction over drunken driving cases, relieving the upper courts of that congestion. He also at that time favored the Wales - Jenks bill providing for enforcement of the prohibition law, and in 1929 came out for local option. He supported Governor Smith's grade crossing program, favored the Sargent water storage and the reforestation study bills.

In 1929, he was on the committee for revision of the civil practice act and the same year offered a bill facilitating the sewage problem in villages. In 1935 he was a member of the important joint reapportionment committee.


Senator Pitcher first announced his candidacy for the Senate on July 25th 1924, when Senator Willard S. Augsbury, Antwerp, who was completing his first term in the upper house declined because of the condition of his health to be a candidate for re-election. Mr. Pitcher was nominated and subsequently elected.

Thus, be became the fifth from Jefferson County to go to the State Senate since the turn of the century. The others were the late Senator Elon R. Brown, who became Majority Leader, Senator George H. Cobb, who became Majority Leader and Lt. Governor, the late Senator Fred B. Pitcher, and Senator Augsbury.

The 14 years that Senator Pitcher spent in the Senate brought him under 3 Governors, Alfred E. Smith, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Governor Herbert H. Lehman.

In recognition of his position and his service he was accorded a testimonial dinner by republicans of Jefferson and Oswego Counties at the Woodruff hotel in this City last May 26.

His modesty and dislike for display caused him to prohibit more than a line or two in the Legislative Red Book printed annually in Albany. In none of these books since he first entered the Senate will there be found more than the fact that he represented the 37th senatorial district comprising Jefferson and Oswego Counties, that he was a lawyer and resided in the City of watertown.

It was said of him that when he was choosen in 1937 to succeed Senator Fearon as Minority Leader in the Senate, he insisted upon discussing policies with the other party Senators instead of using his power in an arbitrary manner as he might have done.

Among his extra-legal activities, of which he had a few, was his service in the New York National Guard or State Militia. He was still a young law clerk when he enlisted January 23rd, 1895 in the old Company C. of the 39th Separate Company, Fourth Battalion, New York State National Guard. On March 6th, 1898, he was promoted to the office of corporal and served until honorably discharged January 22nd, 1899, at the end of his enlistment.

Town of Brownville Native

Perley A. Pitcher's career started upon a farm in the town of Brownville. There he was born January 27th, 1877, son of the late John P. and Mary Root Pitcher.

He resided with his parents in the town of Brownville until he was about 2 years old when they removed to a farm in the Town of Pamelia. There they remained and he went to the district school until he was about 10, when his parents moved to this city. His father engaged in the flour and feed business until his death in 1912. His mother died December 15th, 1926 and about 3 years ago his sister, Miss Minnie B. Pitcher, local school teacher, died.

After his family had taken up residence in this city, Perley Pitcher attended the local schools including the High School, from which he was graduated in 1994. After that, he filed his law clerkship in the office of Judge Joseph A. McConnell and then entered the Albany Law School, from which he was graduated in 1898. On July 6th of the same year he was admitted to practice and shortly afterward formed a law partnership with Judge McConnell under the firm name of McConnell & Pitcher.

Never a trial lawyer, Senator Pitcher's practice was of the type denoted as "office practice," consisting mainly of preparation of abstracts, transfers, certificates of incorporation, handling of legal affairs of private corporations and the like. It was a practice that rarely required his attendance in court and never assuming to be a trial lawyer, Senator Pitcher usually employed counsel versed in that type of practice when he had cases requiring trial.

While his first public service was as abstract clerk in the County Clerk's Office, his next was s a member of the local board of health. He was appointed a health commissioner by the late Mayor Charles D. Bingham at the beginning of 1904 and attended his first meeting January 4th, 1904. The late Dr. O.O. Stowell was President of the Board and the late Dr. E.S. Willard was health officer. Serving on this body slightly over four years, he resigned February 3rd, 1908, during the administration of the late Mayor Francis M. Hugo, who appointed Attorney Harold L. Hooker to succeed him.

The late Dr. E.A. Chapman, County Clerk, appointed young Pitcher deputy county clerk January 1st , 1903, and when Eli B. Johnson , Chaumont, succeeded Dr. Chapman as County Clerk, Attorney Pitcher remained as deputy until mid 1911 when the county election boards were set up on a bi-partisan basis and he, for the republicans and attorney A. Raymond Cornwall for the Democrats became the first Jefferson County Election Commissioners.

During a short service in this office he gave up the post of deputy county clerk, although he continued to perform duties under County Clerk Johnson.

Always Senator Pitcher was an ardent republican and from the time of his admission to the bar, always, he had been a county committeeman. Slightly more than 30 years ago, he was elected chairman of the republican city committee and held that office for a time.


In November, 1912, he was nominated for the office of County Clerk to succeed Mr. Johnson who was not again a candidate. Elected by a substantial majority, he went into office January 1st, 1913, and at the end of a three-year term was re-elected by a heavy majority, leading the rest of the republican ticket by about 1,500 votes.

On February 19th, 1913, he was elected a trustee of the Jefferson County savings Bank and march 15th, 1916, he was chosen attorney for that institution to succeed Attorney Sam Child, who retired. At the same time the late Judge Henry Purcell became President of the bank to succeed the late William H. Hathaway. On November 21st, 1935, Senator Pitcher was elected Vice President of the Bank but continued to hold his office as attorney for the institution to the time of his death.

It was on February 1, 1920, that he decided to resign as County Clerk and devote himself to his law practice, which specialized in abstracting real estate titles. At the same time he formed a partnership with the late Attorney Francis E. Cullen under the firm name of Purcell Cullen & Pitcher. This firm, which also included Attorney Francis K. Purcell, was dissolved in May, 1928. At that time it became Purcell, Cullen and Purcell, Senator Pitcher establishing himself in practice by himself in his own suite on the top floor of the Woolworth Building. There he continued to remain until his death.

In April, 1901, he was married to Mrs. Luella Northrup Cox, Albany, Mrs. Pitcher survives him.

Besides his party affiliations he had been a member of Watertown Lodge, No. 496, Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, and was one of its past exalted rules. He was also for years a member of the Black River Valley Club. A year ago this month he was re-elected a director of the Agriculture Insurance Company. He was named to the Board a few years ago.

The first years of his service had been with the late Assemblyman Jasper W. Cornaire: for one term with Assemblyman Aldred E. Emerson and for the past few years with Assemblyman Russell Wright.

Particularly was he friendly with Assemblyman Cornaire and the loyalty of his friendship was evidenced in his attentions to assembly Cornaire during the many months of his serious illness that preceded his death about two years ago.