Colby, Stoddard Benham
Age: 0, credited to Derby, VTVITALS
Birth: 02/03/1816, Derby, VTADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Died in Haverhill, NH
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and other veterans who may be buried there.
STODDARD BENHAM COLBY.
BY HON. T. P. REDFIELD.
Stoddard Colby was the second son of Capt. Nehemiah Colby, born at Derby, Orleans County, Jan. 1816.
In 1829, he began fitting for college in the office of the late Judge Redfield, who had then commenced the practice of the law, in the little village of Derby Center, in which Capt. Colby was the chief citizen and actor.
Stoddard was an easy and ready scholar, and acquired language, especially, and its use, with great facility. Judge Redfield, fresh from college attainment, undulled by professional labors, was to young Colby a thorough teacher in the Greek and Latin languages. Colby entered the freshman class of Dartmouth College in the fall of 1832, and, in due course, graduated in the summer of 1836. He was among the few best scholars in the class: was, without question, elected one of the Phi Beta Kappa members from his class, which comprise the best recitation scholars, not exceeding one-third of the whole number in the class. He was a good recitation scholar in all departments; but his special gifts were in the languages; and as a ready writer and debater, he was among the best. After his graduation, he studied law in the office of the late Senator Upham, at Montpelier, and was admitted to the bar in Orleans County, at the December term, 1838, and entered upon the practice of his profession at his old home in Derby Center. He was elected representative from the town of Derby in the year 1841, on the democratic ticket, although a large majority of the voters of Derby were, at that time, Whigs; which shows that personally, Ira Colby was highly esteemed by the citizens of his native town.
He practiced his profession at Derby with all the success in business that could be expected in the limited sphere in which he necessarily moved in that place. The first case he argued in the County Court was in behalf of his uncle, Dr. Moses F. Colby-, in the famous suit, Nelson v. Colby, for malpractice as a surgeon in treating the fracture of the neck of the thigh bone of the plaintiff's wife. The theory of the plaintiff's case was that Dr. Colby had needlessly confined his patient in splints, till her health gave way, and she became insane, in consequence of the treatment, when, in fact, there had been no fracture. The surgeons of the plaintiff claimed that such a fracture could seldom be united, by a bony union, in persons of the patient's age; and if so, with shortened limb. And imperfect motion, and that in Mrs. Nelson's case there was no shortening of the limb; "and perfect symmetry of motion."
Mattocks, Cushman, Bell, and the late Judge Smalley, giants in those days, were all engaged, and took part in the trial, and young Colby opened the argument to the jury, in the defence. By the argument he established a reputation as a good advocate, which followed and adhered to him for more than 20 years of his professional practice in this State. He always used choice and beautiful language ; was facile in illustration, and in figures of speech, and ever ready in wit and sarcasm. His client after three jury trials was cast in that first suit; and while the suit was pending on exceptions, and petition for new trial in the Supreme court, Mrs. Nelson died, and it was hen ascertained that the limb had been fractured, and the fragments had united in perfect union; and the plaintiff dis-continued his case from the docket.
Mr. Colby removed to Montpelier in 1846, and soon after formed a law partnership with the late Lucius B. Peck. The law firm of Peck & Colby was then a leading firm in the important legal business of the State, and continued so till 1863, when it was dissolved, and Mr. Colby was made Register of the Treasury, and removed to Washington. He continued to hold the position in the Treasury until his death. In the fall of 1867. He died at Haverhill, N. H., and with burial in the beautiful cemetery on the highlands. near Haverhill Corners.
Mr. Colby was twice married. His first wife was Miss Harriet E. Proctor, the eldest sister of Gov. Proctor. She perished on the ill-fated steamer, Henry Clay, which was burned on the Hudson River. He afterwards married Miss Ellen Hunt, who survives him. By the first marriage he had four children, two of whom survive ; and a by the second marriage two children.
He will be remembered by his intimate friends and acquaintances for his genial wit and fertile resource in conversation, and the rich-garnered treasury of story and anecdote.
But his reputation as a public man must rest, mainly, upon the character won in the varied and various tilts in the legal tournament, during the practice of a quarter of a century at the bar of Vermont. In that tournament, he was conceded to be one of the most brilliant advocates at the bar of his native State. He had no evil habit-no tarnish upon his good name; was for many years a consistent member of the Protestant Episcopal church; and died, seemingly, before his work was finished, at the age of 52.