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The Dwinelles: Cazenovia residents with far-reaching impact

From the Madison County Historian

A bust of Justin Dwinelle was created in his honor. Justin was an acclaimed lawyer, member of the United States House of Representatives and was appointed as the Madison County District Attorney in 1838.

A bust of Justin Dwinelle was created in his honor. Justin was an acclaimed lawyer, member of the United States House of Representatives and was appointed as the Madison County District Attorney in 1838.

The Dwinelle family of Cazenovia had an impact on not only Madison County but throughout the United States as well. From the day patriarch Justin arrived around 1811 his family set the bar incredibly high for their social and political awareness.

Justin Dwinell (sometimes spelled Dwinelle) was born on Oct. 28, 1785 in Shaftsbury, Vermont. He attended local schools and enrolled at Williams College before entering Yale, where he graduated in 1808. Upon his graduation, Dwinell began studying law in the law office of John Dickenson in Troy.

He passed the bar in Aug. of 1811, and packed up his belongings and moved east to Cazenovia. He married Louisa Whipple, of Nelson, on Sept. 12, 1813.

The couple had nine children, seven of whom reached adulthood. The couple had five sons (three lawyers and two doctors) and two daughters.

Justin practiced law until 1821 when he was elected to a term in the New York Assembly. After the completion of his term he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1823 serving one term. While serving in the House of Representatives, Dwinell was appointed the First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1823 holding that position for five years. Among the cases Justin heard was the famous Abram Antone case (Antone was found guilty of murder and is the last person hung in Madison County).

He would return to work as a trial lawyer until he was appointed the County District Attorney in 1838. He would hold the position until 1845. Justin died in Cazenovia on Sept. 17, 1850 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Cazenovia.

While Justin made his mark in Madison County, three of his sons impacted communities outside of New York. John was born in Cazenovia on Sept. 9, 1816. He attended law school and moved to California and practiced law. John served as a state assemblyman and was responsible for the law that created the University of California in 1868, serving on the first Board of Regents. Dwinelle Hall at UC Berkeley bears his name. John also was elected as the mayor of Oakland in 1864. He died in a boating accident in 1881 and is buried in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, Calif.

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