Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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William Thomas Elmer, late a judge of the Superior Court, was born in Rome, New York, on November 6th, 1835, and died at his home in Middletown in this State, November 11th, 1907. He was one of six children of Lebbeus E. Elmer, a successful merchant and man of affairs, who was prominent in the social, religious and political life of his town.
Beginning his education in public schools of Rome, Judge Elmer later entered Wesleyan University at Middletown, graduating in 1857. He pursued his study of the law in the University Law School of Albany, New York, and in the office of Wells & Strong in Hartford, and was admitted to the bar in that city in 1860. After a brief time in the practice of his profession in Suffield, Connecticut, he opened an office in Middletown where he soon obtained a large clientage.
On May 21st, 1862, Judge Elmer married Catherine L. Camp, and of four children born of this marriage, three are now living: Charlotte M., wife of Rev. J. Eldred Brown, rector of Trinity Church, Norwich, Connecticut; Annie A., wife of Dr. Howard H. Hawxhurst, a practicing physician of Washington, D.C., and Avery T., a lawyer located at Middletown.
The capabilities of Judge Elmer were early recognized and he was, during his whole life in Middletown, called to serve his fellow citizens in many capacities.
While yet a young man he became a member of the Republican State Central Committee. In 1862 he was elected judge of probate; in 1863 Assistant Clerk of the House of Representatives; in 1864 he was made Clerk; in 1865 Clerk of the Senate; in 1873 Senator from his district; in 1876 Mayor of Middletown, having previously served as Alderman; in 1895 he was a member of the House and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. For many years he was a well-known figure at the State conventions of his party, with a recognized position as a forceful and eloquent leader.
He was a member of St. John's Lodge, F. & A. M. of Middletown. For many consecutive years he was a member of the board of education, holding for several terms the position of president of the board. He was Judge of the City Court of Middletown, and had also acted as City Attorney.
Judge Elmer was first appointed State's Attorney for Middlesex County in 1863 and he served his State in that capacity by successive appointments (save for eight years) till 1895, when he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court, occupying that office till his retirement by age limit at seventy.
Judge Elmer's qualities of heart and mind marked him for success. Endowed with a fine and manly presence and a brilliant mind, he had moreover an unassailable integrity; a nice sense of justice, never overridden by misdirected zeal; a vivid imagination; a quick, almost an intuitive, judgment; and a heart full of sympathy; yet he was seldom deceived by sham or pretence, and it was not well with the evil-doer who presumed upon him. He had a keen sense of humor and a wit which scintillated and sparkled, to the edification and entertainment, but never to the real hurt, of those within its sphere of action. He had the love of a host of friends and the respect of all who knew him.