Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Samuel Finley Jones, a member of the Hartford County bar, died in Hartford where he resided, on the 28th day of September, 1891, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. The following appreciative notice of him appeared in the Hartford Times: -
Mr. Jones came from an old and prominent family of Marlborough, Conn., his grandfather and father being extensive landholders. Here he was born in August, 1826. He had the advantages of a good education, and attended Wesleyan University. He was a special favorite of his grandfather, for whom he was named, and by his will came into possession of considerable property. His grandfather's connection with the old State Bank in the adjacent town of Colchester led to the young man taking a position there early in life. The bank became involved in difficulties, ending in Mr. Jones's withdrawal. About this time he bought the summer hotel at Orient Point, L. I., as a speculation. While there he met the late Governor Hubbard, who suggested to him that he come to Hartford and study for the bar. He removed to this city in 1849, studied in Governor Hubbard's office, and in 1851 was admitted to the bar of Hartford County. When he entered upon the practice of his profession his abilities were so marked, especially in pleading before a jury, that he acquired a high reputation for a young man and soon built up a large and paying business. His practice for years was of a general character, but later drifted to a large extent to criminal law, in which he was eminently successful.
He represented Hartford in the General Assembly in the years 1873 and 1874. He was chairman of the judiciary committee and made a fine record as a legislator.
For many years past Mr. Jones had devoted his attention almost solely to his law practice, which was large and profitable. He was retained in all the great criminal cases, and with men whose chances were desperate his services came to be regarded as absolutely indispensable. He handled scores of famous causes of this character, and while he preferred, as his intimate friends knew, a wholly different class of work, criminal practice of the most profitable kind so rushed in upon him that for years past he had had little opportunity to exhibit his talents in other lines. Frequently he was called to famous cases out of town. One of the most notable of these was the Jennie Cramer murder case at New Haven, which was on trial for ten weeks, and, previous to that, the four months' trial of Hayden, the Methodist minister, for the murder of Mary Stannard. He was for years the chosen counsel of New York criminals who were captured while operating or preparing to operate, in Connecticut. Whenever any one of them got into trouble, the first thought of their pals and backers in New York was to rush to Hartford and secure the services of Mr. Jones.
While giving them his best services in a professional way, in accordance with the old legal theory that every man is innocent until he is proven guilty, his friends knew that he had a strong contempt for such people. Personally he had no sort of sympathy with them, but he did his best for them in a professional way. In his own dealings he was strictly honorable and straightforward. His word was his bond, and in all transactions with him his professional brethren held him in the highest esteem. While apparently blunt and gruff, especially in his later years, he had a kindly, sympathetic heart, and hundreds have reason to remember his help and sympathy in their hours of need. He was a rare good judge of human nature; few keener. In this characteristic was his strength with juries. He studied the men before him, and knew how to reach them.
For a year past his friends had noticed that he was failing. His age and a busy life were beginning to tell upon him. His nervous system was weakening, and the effects were noticeable in many ways. He sought relief in lightening the burdens of his practice and seeking rest and recreation in a quiet way. Within a few months a spinal difficulty set in, and altogether his system was ill-fated to withstand the depressing effects of a severe attack of dysentery which set in about eight weeks ago, while at his summer cottage at Twin Lakes. His condition became so serious that a council of physicians was held, and it was his own desire as well as their judgment that he should be removed to his home in Hartford. He was brought in a special car, attended by relatives and a physician. He bore the journey well, but continued to fail, and died a few weeks later.
Mr. Jones leaves a wife, who was Miss Lucy M. Wilcox, of Hartford, a son Samuel F., Jr., and three daughters, Mrs. James M. Plimpton, of this city, Mrs. William R. Crane, of New York, and Mrs. E. F. Meeker, of Bridgeport.