Hutchinson, Benjamin

Written for the Signal

    Benjamin T. Hutchinson was born at Middle Island, March 2,1808.  In the course of his childhood and youth he enjoyed the usual facilities for education which the time and place afforded.  At the about the age of seventeen he went to New York and engaged as clerk in the employ of Mr. Charles Swezey, who kept a grocery store there at that time.  After occupying this position about four years, and having finished the years of his minority, he embarked in business for himself, in partnership with one Mr. Gifford.  This arrangement continued for about two years.  It was then dissolved, and Mr. Hutchinson returned to Long Island.  He now turned his attention to teaching school, and for about four years, commencing with 1831, he taught in the district schools at Moriches, Coram, and Middle Island.  About this time he had a desire to return to the employments of mercantile life, and made arrangements to start a store at Greenport, which was then just commencing its days of prosperity.  However, at the earnedt solicitation of his father and friends, he abandoned that plan, and in its stead opened a store in Middle Island.  At this time he received the appointment as post master, (1835) which office he held, with the exception of  a year or two, up to the time of his death.  During the years 1835 to 1838, inclusive, he held the office of Inspector of Schools for the town of Brookhaven.  He was married, December 9,1835, to Louis D. Young, of New York.   She died on April 21, 1837.  Again he was married May 16, 1840 to Minerva Overton, who survives him.  By his first wife he had one son, and by his second wife five sons and two daughters, all but one of whom (George H.) are living.

    He was elected to the office of Town Clerk in 1848, and has been retained in that office up to the present time, with the exception of his three years, service as County Clerk.  He took office in the latter capacity in January, 1850.  At this time he closed up his store, and gave his attention to the business growing out of his official positions.  He was elected to the office of Town Collector in 1863, and again in1866.  He has occupied many other positions of honor and trust, which we have not space here to mention.  In them all he has acquitted himself creditably and honorably.  He died September 25, 1877.

    Mr. Hutchinson was a man of rare qualities.  A mental organism so active, so penetrating, and so untiring as that which he possessed is seldom found.  Had the title of  his fortune directed him into some channel which might lead to wider fields of action, he would have stood favorably in comparison with the foremost men of his day.    Always ready to render a friendly service whenever called upon, and honorable in all his conduct toward his fellow men, he was a kind and obliging neighbor and friend at all times more ready to bestow favors than to ask them.

    Possessing an inashantible store of information on a wide range of subjects, and a remarkably active mind, he was never at a loss for ideas nor for words with which to instruct or entertain those with whom he met.  He believed in the efficacy of friendly jokes and laughter in stimulating the physical organism to healthy action.  Although his disposition strongly inclined him to look upon the dark shades of the pictures of life, there was running beneath the surface of his nature a vein of humor which frequently would break forth in sparkling dashes in the midst of the darkest hours of every day life.  So he used to say it was better to "cheer along" through the gloomy paths of life.

    Mr. Hutchinson, as a political man, belonged to a class of men who are rapidly passing from the stage of action-men who valued the principles which actuated our immortal forefathers, and whose ambition was to promote the welfare of the people and their government, rather than the aggrandizement
and pecuniary gain of themselves or of their own particular friends.  He was no political trickster.  He would not stoop to the cunning arts and devices which are so often practiced for the furtherance of personal ends, in political circles large or small. His political opponents, he treated with an unusual degree of charity, respect, and fairness, not disposed to criticize their acts with that harshness which we commonly hear from opposing partisans.  His voice was never louder than when he deprecated and bewailed the corruption which he saw within the lines of the political party in which he was counted, or when he censured the low-handed dealings of his leaders.  He often expressed the sentiment that he valued and respected an open opponent infinitely more than he did a double-dealing ally.

    As a public servant he seems to have moved in the sphere for which he was specially fitted.  He never seemed to be so well pleased as when he engaged in some service in behalf of the public or of some individual.  Thousands of those who have called upon him will remember the smile of satisfaction with
which he used to express the pleasure it afforded him to perform the "kindness of life."  Besides being ever ready to confer personal favors, and to give advice whenever sought, as well as to labor for the interests of the community in his own neighborhood, or to be the advocate of the weak and oppressed, and all of this with little or no regard to the matter of remuneration, he was untiring and earnest in his devotion to the interests of his town.  As its clerk he never confined his labors to the simple performance of such duties as the law may detail to that office, but was continually bestowing labor, in all matters with which he came in contact, wherever the public interest called him.

    For more than a quarter of a century the clerk of Brookhaven town, he had gained a remarkable familiarity with his records and its history, as well as with all points of law pertaining to the town government, in all its departments.  Such familiarity had he gained in these matters that he was prepared for almost any question that might arise, and frequently, when not being able to make immediate reference to any book or record on a subject which might have been brought up suddenly, he would reply, "I have it here," at the same time laying his hand upon his broad full forehead.  He was the able and persevering counsel of the town in any disputes or litigations into which it might be forced, and his able advice and intelligent action and untiring watchfulness have saved many thousands of dollars to the town.  In all the official boards of the town his counsel was sought, and generally obtained.  To use an inelegant but forcible expression, he was the "brains" of nearly all those boards.

    Living until his age had nearly reached the allotted years of man, he had improved the time given him, and was called away just when his years seemed full and his life complete.  Like the weary laborer, who at the close of day lays aside his implements and goes home to rest, so he, having filled the hours of his day full of usefulness, has laid aside the implements of his lifework and gone home to his rest.  May that rest be as sweet as his labors been faithful.

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