Oswego County's: Guide To Government

Benjamin Doolittle

Doolittle, Benjamin, was born in Madison County, December 29, 1825, a son of Francis W., who died in that county aged thirty-seven, and of Olive Lee, his wife who died aged seventy-eight. The grandfather, Joel Doolittle, was born in New England and died in Onondaga County aged sixty. His father was a soldier (major) in the Revolutionary war. Benjamin Doolittle came to Oswego at the age of twenty-one, and engaged in the general commission business with his uncle, with whom he next took an interest in a retail store. He afterwards began the manufacture of barrels, and later was in the hardware business. He then bought the Empire Mills, which he still conducts.

He is a Mason, an Odd Fellow, and a member of the Episcopal Church. He has served as president of the Board of Education, as member of the Normal School Board, as alderman, mayor, etc., and has been police commissioner for twenty-four years. He was elected assemblyman in 1868, and then State senator.

Mr. Doolittle married Susan Hitchcock, of Madison county, in 1849, and she died February 8, 1852. September 20 of that year he married Laura J. Mayer, of Madison county, adopted daughter of Hon. George B. Rowe, and by her he had these children: Catharine A., born July 20, 1853; George L., born February 15, 1856; Fanny L., born April 1, 1858 (died in infancy). Mrs. Laura Doolittle died May 14, 1858, and March 23, 1859, he married Roxy, daughter of Harry Wilcox of Onondaga county, and their children are: Henry W., born August 11, 1860; Laura J., born September 10, 1861; Lizzie W., born October 14, 1864; Annie H., born August 21, 1866; Sylvester B., born December 26, 1867, and Florence M., born July 5, 1870. Of his children, Catharine, Fanny, Henry and Sylvester are deceased.

Sylvester Doolittle, an uncle of our subject, was born in Whitestown, Oneida county, January 11, 1800, and died October 11,1881. He built and commanded the first loaded canal boat that ever reached Albany from Rochester. He was also the discoverer of the Deep Rock Spring, whose water has a world-wide reputation, and he built the Doolittle House over this spring. Mr. Doolittle was also the first man to introduce screw propellors on the great lakes, and the contract between him and Ericsson is still in existence, authorizing him to build and operate five vessels.

Landmarks of Oswego County 1895 p. 115

Benjamin Doolittle was born in Lenox, Madison County, New York, in the month of December, 1825. He attended the common schools, and there acquired an education that well qualified him for a business career, and without waiting for a college course stepped out into the broad arena of active life.

In 1847 he came to Oswego, and three years thereafter engaged in the hardware business, which he successfully managed until 18C3, when he purchased the Empire mills and elevator in the city of Oswego, and has since given his personal attention to that business. Mr. Doolittle has always manifested an interest in public matters, and the people have shown their appreciation of his services by electing him to various positions of influence and responsibility. Upon the organization of the Republican Party he espoused its cause, and has since labored to advance the interest and usefulness of that grand organization.

In 1858 he was chosen a member of the board of education of Oswego, and in the discharge of his duties so commended himself to his fellow-citizens that he was continued in the board for nine years, and in 1866 was president of the board. He was chosen a member of the common council of Oswego in 18G7, and held that position two years. In 1869 he represented the first district of Oswego County in the Assembly, and served on the important committees on railroads and printing. He was a member of the board of police commissioners of Oswego from 1870 to 1874, and during the last two years was president of the board. He was elected mayor of the city in 1874, and in 1875 was elected State Senator from the twenty-first district, defeating two opponents, Isaac G. Jenkins (Liberal Republican) and Joseph Crawford (Prohibitionist), by a plurality of two thousand and sixteen votes. At the previous election Charles Kellogg, the Republican candidate, was elected by one thousand four hundred and forty-three majority.

Senator Doolittle's record in the legislature is a credit to himself, and the twenty-first district may justly consider itself fortunate in being represented by so faithful and efficient member.