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JOSEPH W. GOTT, a prominent lawyer of Orange County for many years, was born May 25, 1814, in the town of Austerlitz, Columbia Co., N.Y. His father, Storey Gott, was a well-known and lifelong resident of that locality.
Mr. Gott passed much of his boyhood at Red Rock, Columbia Co., and in 1834 entered Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. That institution of learning was then under the admirable care of Dr. Eliphalet Nott. He was one of the founders of that large and well-known secret fraternity, now represented in most of the leading colleges, known as "Psi Upsilon." He graduated honorably in 1837.
In the same year he came to Goshen to reside, and assumed the position of principal of Farmers’ Hall Academy, which he held for two years. He then turned his attention to the study of law, and pursued his studies with the firm of Van Duzer & Sharpe, and in 1842 was admitted to practice. From that time until his death, in 1869, he was in constant practice of his profession in the community in which he had taken up his residence, and became thoroughly identified with this locality.
Not long after his admission to the bar he held the position of postmaster at Goshen for several years. In 1849 he held the office of county clerk of Orange County by appointment. In the earlier part of his professional career he was also, for some years, one of the proprietors and editors of the Goshen Democrat and Whig.
He was a communicant and vestryman of St. James’ Protestant Episcopal Church for many years.
He was married, Jan. 27, 1847, to Charlotte Van Duzer, daughter of the Hon. Isaac R. Van Duzer, now deceased, a prominent lawyer and ex-member of the Legislature. For many years he was a partner of the late Judge Samuel J. Wilkin.
In 1858, his health having suffered severely from too intense application to the demands of a large business, he made a trip to Europe, but found there only temporary relief from the bronchial trouble with which he was afflicted. His life was much prolonged by his temperate habits and rigid observance of the laws of health. He literally died in the harness, attending to his professional occupations until shortly before his death, which happened Jan. 6, 1869.
Mr. Gott was not, in one sense of the word, a public man. He was not ostentatious in his life, nor did he aspire to political preferment. But he was probably as well known in the line of his profession as any of his contemporaries in this county. He had several opportunities to form very profitable professional connections in New York City and elsewhere, but preferred to continue where he had begun his professional career.
He was a steadfast Whig until the formation of the Republican party, and then an earnest adherent to the latter while he lived. He was a strong personal friend of Secretary W.H. Seward.
He was of an eminently literary turn of mind, and owned and made practical use of a large and well selected library.
The true lesson of Mr. Gott’s life and professional success is contained in the following extract from the resolutions passed by the bar of his county, Jan. 13, 1869, and now entered upon the record of the court minutes:
"Resolved, That the earnestness and assiduity with which our deceased friend labored to protect and secure the rights and interests of those whom he served entitled him to the public confidence he so largely enjoyed, and that his distinguished success was achieved, not by unprofessional artifice, but by the devotion of his laborious life to high professional duty.
"Resolved, That the career of the deceased has closed with no stain of professional dishonor resting upon it, proving that no sacrifice of fairness, truth, and integrity is necessarily involved in the exercise of great professional zeal and the attainment of an exalted professional reputation."
Mr. Gott left two children,—a daughter, Annie, and a son and namesake, Joseph W., the latter of whom graduated at Yale College in 1873, and Columbia Law School in 1875, and has been engaged in the practice of law in Goshen since 1875.