The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 15

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam



One of the younger members of the legal profession in Kingston is William August Kaercher, who graduated from the Brooklyn Law School in 1921. He has been practicing in Kingston since 1925, and since July, 1927, has been a partner of William D. Cunningham, located in the Opera House Block. Mr. Kaercher was a candidate for the office of surrogate of Ulster County in 1926, but though he made a good showing his youth prevented his securing the election. He is an able attorney and a man who has already made himself favorably known among his professional associates, and among a large number of the residents of Kingston whoa re not of the legal profession.

The branch of the Kaercher family to which Mr. Kaercher belongs was founded in this county by Wilhelm Frederick Kaercher, who was a German revolutionists. Being forced to flee from his native land and t o leave his home, which was neat Stuttgart, Germany, he first went to Italy and joined the army there. In 1832 he came to this country and settled in New York State, where he engaged in business as a butcher. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War

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he tried to enlist, or rather did enlist, in the Union Army, and served until discovery of the fact that he had a crippled arm caused his discharge. August John Kaercher, father of William August Kaercher, was born in Sayville, Long Island, December 6, 1861, son of Wilhelm Frederick Kaercher, mentioned above, and died April 4, 1925. In 1919 he removed to Ulster County, New York, where he took over a farm and a bungalow colony at Wawarsing. He married Amelia Klein, who was born in Prussia, in 1878, daughter of Karl and Maria (Allinger) Klein. She came to this country with her parents about 1880m, and settled with them in New York. Her father was a cooper by trade, and had served, at the age of sixteen, in the German Artillery, during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

William August Kaercher, son of August John and Amelia (Klein) Kaercher, was born in Long Island City, New York, July 29, 1900. He attended the public schools of Farmingdale, Long Island, graduating from the high school there in 1917, and later began legal study in the New York Law School. He changed after a time and matriculated in the Brooklyn Law School, where he completed his course with graduation in 1 921, receiving at that time the degree of Bachelor of Laws. In November, 1925, in association with Judge James Jenkins, corporation counsel, whom he served as assistant, but who is now deceased, he began his legal career in Kingston. In July, 1927, he became a partner of Hon. William D. Cunningham, former Judge of the Court of Claims, and who had also served as district attorney of Ulster county, and that association has been continued to the present time. They have their offices in the Opera House block, and are well known in Kingston and vicinity. Politically, Mr. Kaercher gives his support to the Democratic party, and in 1926, as has already been stated, he was nominated for the office of surrogate of Ulster County, receiving a generous support, even though he was considered too young for the office. Mr. Kaercher is fond of hunting and fishing and of athletics, and is one of the well-known and popular young men of Kingston. He is laying the foundation of what promises to be a very successful legal career.


What is more interesting than to observe the varying reactions of people to life? To many individuals, perhaps to most, life brings, as they view it, more of sorrow than of joy, more of failure than of success, more of disappointment than of realization; then there are others to whom life is a great adventure or series of adventures; misfortune dismays them not, but spurs them, rather, to greater and more intelligent endeavor; when other are sad they are watching for the rainbow-radiance born of the storm. It is with the story of one of this latter small class, that the following paragraphs deal, Dr. W. Sohier Bryant, well-known ear, nose and throat specialist of New York City. Dr. Bryant has had an abundant life, full of experiences, rough and smooth, dark and bright; and through them al he as passed with the zest of an explorer. And now, approaching the end of the Psalmist's allotment of three-score years and ten, the doctor's attitude toward life is mellow, tolerant, inspiring, instructive. His experiences have been broad and varied; so have been his interests which, besides his major interest in his professional study and work, have included natural history, genealogy, and authorship--all time and energy consuming hobbies. Such is the doctor's capacity and apparently inexhaustible energy that while doing most creditable work in these avocations, he has won an enviable reputation as a specialist in that most exacting of professions, medicine.

Dr. Bryant is a Yankee born and bred. His immigrant ancestor on the paternal side was that William Bryant who was a taverner in Boston before 1683. The family came originally from Bampton, Devonshire, England,, but William Bryant came to Massachusetts from the Barbadoes of which he was a native.

The significance of the family patronymic is interesting. It is from the Gaelic diminutive bri, meaning dignity, honor; and in this form conveys the idea of nobly descended, relative to that to which it is annexed. The English family is traced to Sir Guy DeBriant, seated in the Castle of Hereford, in the reign of Edward III. Dr. Bryant has traced out about all his lines of ancestry in this country and has carried about half of them well back in England., On his mothers side, the doctor traces through her male lineage to Charlemagne through the ancient Counts de Vermandois.

W. Sohier Bryant was born in Boston, Massachusetts, may 15, 1861, son of Henry Bryant, M. D., and Elizabeth Brier (Sohier) Bryant. W. Sohier Bryant's paternal grandfather was John Bryant, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts. At the age of twelve or fifteen he

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walked to Boston, where he secured work in a bookstore on Cornhill. He was a natural trader and was possessed of the old Puritan virtues, industry, thrift and sobriety. Shrewd and keen, he prospered in business. When he got a little older he sailed as supercargo on merchantmen sailing to foreign ports, and on that capacity he mastered every detail of foreign trade as it was then carried on. Later he organized the firm of Bryant and Sturgis, whose ships sailed and traded in the Seven Seas. At the time of his death, John Bryant was the wealthiest citizen Boston had ever had.

He believed that every man should be equipped to hold his own in the battle of life; and so, his son, Henry Bryant, took up the study of medicine, that profession being inline with his natural bent. He graduated from Harvard Medical School about 1843, and then went to France for post-graduate Study. He became a distinguished physician and naturalist. During the Civil War he served as a surgeon in the Union Army, thus carrying on the family tradition of patriotism established by his forebears, who had taken part in the wars fought to protect the young colonies and who had later fought to protect and maintain the Union. Dr. E. Sohier Bryant's great-grandfather, after being disabled for active service while fighting in the Revolutionary Army, went to work in the Springfield arsenal. Dr. Henry Bryant was one of the only two surgeons in the Civil War who had had any previous experience in army medicine. Earlier in life he had served in the French army in Algiers. At the beginning of the Civil War he enlisted in the 20th Massachusetts volunteer Infantry, but later was put in charge of a brigade. He was injured at the second battle of Bull run and so was put in charge of Clifton Hospital in Washington. He also planned and organized and commanded Lincoln Hospital. He resigned from the army in 1864 and died two years later. About the time he left the Army he sent his family to Paris. In the earlier years of his practice, Dr. Henry Bryant wrote a number of brochures on medical and surgical subjects; and it has been said that the one on hernia has not been bettered, probably, in the many years that have elapsed since it was written.

Dr. W. Sohier Bryant early education was received in private schools in Boston and France, and under private tutors, Dean Briggs, still living, and professor J. W. White, now deceased. He prepared for college at the famous St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and thenceforth matriculated in Harvard University, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, master of Arts and Doctor of Medicine, the first in 1`884 and the last in 1887. No doubt the atmosphere in which he was reared had much to do with his choice of profession. Reared in a home of wealth and culture, there seemed to be little probability of his ever having to look to his profession as a means of maintenance. Like his father, Dr. Bryant was intently interested in zoology, especially in the study of birds. In college he took all the natural history courses permitted, and during the earlier years of his medical practice he gave considerable attention to this hobby. Dr. Bryant believes that these studies contributed greatly to the knowledge and skill he acquired in his profession. Surgery appealed strongly to him, and after a short time in general practice, he took up otology as a specialty. For ten years he was identified with the Massachusetts Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary, where he advanced to the post of senior assistant aural surgeon. He also served as aural surgeon at the Boston Dispensary and as assistant in anatomy and otology at Harvard Medical School. Later Dr. Bryant enlarged his practice to include larnygology and rhinology, together with treatment of the ear. There came a time when reverses in the family fortune made is necessary for Dr. Bryant to depend upon his professional activities for his livelihood. He removed to new York City in 1903 and quickly won recognition among the ablest specialists in his line. He became instructor in otology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and continued in that position a short time. He was also clinical assistant in the department of otology, Vanderbilt Clinic, for several years. He was assistant surgeon at St. Bartholomew's Clinic for a number of years. Later he became clinical instructor and attending surgeon in the otological department of Cornell University medical School and remained in that connection several years. About that time he was physician in the class of nose, throat and ear diseases in the Presbyterian Hospital, and was adjunct professor in the department of diseases of the ear in the New York Post Graduate Medical School and Hospital. The last hospital with which he was connected was the New York Eye and Ear Hospital. Just before the World War Dr. Bryant resigned from all his hospital connections owing to the exacting demands made upon his time and strength by his large private practice.

While still an undergraduate in Harvard, Dr.

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Bryant joined the First Corps Independent Cadets, known as the 101st Engineers; and was connected with them for different terms over a long period of years. Later, he went into the Second Brigade, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, as a non-commissioned member of the staff of hospital steward General Peaches.

The doctor was active in both the Spanish-American and World Wars as would be expected of one with his patriotic ancestral background. In the former war he enlisted in the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery as assistant surgeon, with the rank of first lieutenant. Later President McKinley gave him one of the last three commissions awarded as major and brigade surgeon. That was in 1898. He then went to Florida to the 7th Army Corps and was stationed with them there and in Cuba until the following may, part of the time as acting chief surgeon. He then served for two years as surgeon of Light Battery A, Massachusetts National Guard.

Many influences conspired to urge Dr. Bryant into the last war. Beside his own desires born of a love of adventure as well as patriotism, members of his family by ties of blood and alliance of marriage were enthusiastic propagandists, and the doctor had always had a warm feeling for everything French; for he could never forget his happy school days in Paris as a boy, discovered that, notwithstanding his Anglo-Saxon lineage running back for hundreds of years, his tastes and psychology were more akin to those of the French people. The only regret Dr. Bryant has in connection with his World War experiences is that he did not sooner begin active participation in it. Many of his earlier efforts to enlist were thwarted. He wanted especially to go into the French service; but their government regulations made that impossible. Finally, through an English friend residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Bryant was enabled to go as a "civil medical practitioner" in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was eager to get to the continent; but the English had had so many unpleasant experiences with American doctors who had turned out to be German spies that he kept for some time in England. The head of the English royal Medical Corps said he "did no want any more queer Americans going on to the continent." He was assigned to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hants, as resident physician and surgeon in charge, and at the same time held the post of otolaryngologist in the British Red Cross Hospital at that point. He was there about five months, al the while trying to find a way to et to France. finally, he succeeded in getting to France through the aid of the French Red Cross, as otolaryngologist, with the rank of medicine major du premier class, de Senta de Farme, medecin traitent volumtere benevol, at the otolaryngol center of the 5th French Army region, auxiliary hospital No. 49, Orleans, Loiret. All the while he wore the uniform of an American major. There he remained until he was put inactive service with the American forces about January 1, 1918. He had been a member of the Officers' Reserve Corps in America from the time it was organized. He joined the American Expeditionary Forces as major and was promoted before long to lieutenant-colonel. He was assigned to the militarized American Red Cross Hospital No. 3 in Paris, which was occupying the hunting lodge of the Dukes of Chevreuse. That hospital was owned and financed by Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, who insisted upon everything being of the best. She employed the best cook she could find in Paris. In addition to all his other responsibilities it devolved upon Dr. Bryant personally to do the marketing for the hospital.

An old classmate was head of the Red Cross in Italy, and he was eager to have Dr. Bryant associated with him. So the necessary formalities were finally complied with and Dr. Bryant went to Italy in 1918 as director the medical affairs of the American Red Cross in that country. He was stationed for a time as representative of the medical forces for the American Red Cross in Bologna and the Amelia District. He left there in May, 1919, and after a month with the red Cross in Paris, he came home and received his discharge in June, having been promoted to the rank of colonel. He is now a colonel in the Officers' Reserve Corps, United States Army. He was decorated as an Officer in the Order of the Crown of Italy; also by the French with Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Since his return from the war, Dr. Bryant has engaged in private practice, now largely as a consulting otolaryngologist.

Dr. Bryant's professional, fraternal and social affiliation have been many and varied. At Harvard he became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Psi fraternities. He is member of Holland Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; a Knight Templar; hold the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite, and is a member of Mecca Temple, ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. His clubs are the University, Harvard, Century Association, all of New York City; and the Hasty Pud-

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ding of Cambridge, and the Porcellian Club at Harvard. While at resident of Boston he was member of the Boston Society for Medical Improvement, the Boylston Medical Society, the Boston Society of Medical Scientists, and the Boston Medical Library Association. He was a delegate to the International congress of Arts and Sciences in 1904; and to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth International Otological congresses; and to the third, fourth, fifth and sixth Pan-American Medical congresses; and to the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventieth International Medical congresses; and to the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth congresses of American Physicians and Surgeons. He has been identified with the Massachusetts Medical Society; New York Physician' Mutual Aid Society; Medical Association of Greater City of New York; Manhattan Medical Association; Medico-Surgical Society; Society of Medical Jurisprudence; American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society; member and ex-president of the Harvard Medical Society of New York; American Medical Association; American Otological Society; Harvard Medical Alumni Association; Association of Military Surgeons of the United States; New York Otological Society; New York Academy of Medicine; New York State Medical Association and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; Boston Society of Natural History; New York Genealogical and Biological Society; New England Historic-Genealogical Society; Military Order of Foreign Wars; Spanish War Veterans; Sons of the Revolution; Society of American Wars; Huguenot Society of America; Society of Colonial Wars; St. Nicholas Society; Mayflower Society; Loyal legion; Massachusetts Society of Cincinnati.

And all this record has been made in the face of a handicap that would be completely discouraging to a less determined and aggressive personality. All his life he has been afflicted with a peculiar visual defect that is now receiving considerable attention from the medical profession--the inability to visualize words and phrases at a glance. Yet Dr. Bryant has kept himself fully abreast, as his successful achievements attest, of all developments in his specialty. For three years after leaving Boston he did abstracting for other physicians, has done an immense amount of genealogical research, and is the author of the following technical treatises: "Anatomy and Physiology of the ear and Tests for Hearing," in Burnett's "system diseases of the Ear, Nose and Throat;" Section on the Ear in Knight and Bryant's "Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear;" also of more than three hundred and ten published papers dealing with anatomical and otolaryngological subjects.

In 1887, At Orange, New Jersey, Dr. W. Sohier Bryant married Martha Lyman Cox, daughter of James Sitgreaves Cox, of Philadelphia. The Cox family also traces its ancestry back to an early time in American colonial history. Mrs. Bryant graduated from smith college with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Six children were born from this union, of whom five grew to maturity: 1. Mary, married F. S. Blanchard, and has three children. 2. Elizabeth, a Bachelor of Arts of Bryn Mawr, is engaged in social work. 3. Alice, deceased, held a Bachelor's degree from Radcliffe and also attended Bryn Mawr. She married Lawrence K. Frank, and left three children. 4. Julia, is a Bachelor of Arts of Vassar college and is a vocal and instrumental musician. 5. The youngest child is Gladys.

As would be expected of a mind so active as Dr. Bryant's, he has given much thought to the problems that have engaged the philosophers and theologians during all the ages; nor is he in the least disturbed by the interjections of the scientists in more recent years. He can not se that science deals in any way with the spiritual life of man; so as a scientist he is a fatalist, or mechanist; man is part of the cosmos, where order reigns and where very event is an effect and in turn a cause. But, having an emotional temperament, the doctor says he can not ignore the spiritual phase of human nature and its experiences which science neither touches nor explains. And he does not believe that there is necessarily any conflict between science and revealed religion; for they occupy different fields and operate in widely separate realms--they are "two roads for thought which, like parallel lines, never meet."


As merchant, cashier, expert bookkeeper and accountant, and city executive, Henry John Snook played an important part of the life of Watertown and in the other communities which he served in his different capacities. In the course of a busy and useful career, Mr. Snook acquired a wide circle of friends, all of whom learned to respect and trust him, and at the same time admired his sterling qualities of character, while his more intimate acquaintances felt that it was a real privilege to be permitted the friendship of such a man. His death caused great sorrow, for it

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was, as was generally recognized in Watertown and the neighboring regions of new York, a distinct loss to the inhabitants of this section.

Born in Trowbridge, near Bristol, England, on September 23, 1853, Mr. Snook was a son of John and Mary (Mayell) Snook, both of whom were natives of England. They came to the United States while he was still a child, and settled in Massachusetts, where they lived for a short time until they removed to Seneca Falls, new York, and subsequently to Dexter, New York. While Henry John Snood was still very young, the father was employed in the Dexter woolen Mill for a number of years. both his parents continue to reside in Dexter until their deaths many years ago. Henry John Snook received his early education there in the village schools, and later went to the Utica Business College, from which he was graduated. He was then employed in the store of Bushnell and Schwartz, in Watertown, dealers in clothing and men's furnishings. In the Taggart Building, where he remained for several years. At length Jerome Bushnell extended the business throughout northern New York State, establishing branch stores in different towns and communities. These stores were placed in charge of Mr. Snook, who, on various occasions was situated at Sackett's Harbor, where he directed the Sackett's Harbor branch store of the firm. Later he was employed at the "Great Wardrobe," a men's furnishings store conducted by Wiggins and Goodale in the Public Square, but upon the death of Mr. Wiggins, Mr. Snook and Ferdinand P. King bought the interest of Edward Goodale in this store, which they conducted together for several years under the firm name of Snook and King. They also established a men's furnishings store in the Flower Building, on Arsenal Street, hey conducted along with their other place of business. In the panic of 1893, however, the store in the Flower Building was closed because of chaotic financial conditions; so that, from then onward, they ran the "Great Wardrobe," along, until about 1899, when Mr. King bought Mr. Snook's interest. Mr. Snook was then employed by the company that had charge of construction of the Black river Canal, now in the capacity of cashier. In 1901 he took a similar position with the St. Regis Paper company, at Deferiet, for which he had charge of the office and directed the financial department. this work he continued for more than thirteen years; during the last few years he worked in the home office in Watertown, accomplishing his duties with the success that was characteristic of all his efforts.

Then, in December, 1914, he was appointed city treasurer by Mayor Breen. He had already served for two terms as alderman, and was an expert bookkeeper and accountant. In the first two months of the administration of Mr. Walts, who preceded him in the city's financial department, Mr. Snook assisted him in the work of the office, effecting remarkable savings and economies in the city government. Mr. Snook himself had not long been in office before the salary was increased six hundred dollars a year. Accuracy and care for details were ever characteristic of his period of service. Knowing the system of financial organization thoroughly and possessing much information concerning the city's status financially, Mr. Snook was useful in all municipal affairs pertaining to systematic regulation of income and expenditures; and, combining his knowledge with continuously courteous treatment of the public and all who sought information in his offices, he acquired a large number of loyal friends among the city's taxpayers.

Mr. Snook, in addition to his private and public work, took an active interest in the affairs of the town. He was a member of the First Presbyterian church for many years, although before that time he was a communicant of the Anglican church. In his political views he was a Republican. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, in which order he was affiliated with the Watertown Lodge, the Watertown Chapter, No. 59, of Royal Arch Masons, and other bodies; while he also held memberships in the Lincoln League, in which he was always active, in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he was identified with Corona Lodge, No 705. He was a member of the Independent Order of Foresters, in which his affiliation was with the Watertown Court, No. 465, of which he was treasurer for the State, and he belonged to the Royal Arcanum. His favorite hobby was perhaps flower cultivation; and the beautiful and rare plant that he raised were a great joy to him. He was also fond of music, and liked nothing better than to attend the performance of the Lincoln Concert Band, who se concert he attended in Washington Street on the night when he died.

Henry J. Snook, on September 5, 1881, married Kate Dakin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James B. Dakin, of Dexter, formerly of Concord , Massachusetts. She was a member of a family of Revolutionary stock. Mr. and Mrs.

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Snook had one child, Mildred D. Snook, who now lives at home. Both Mrs. Snook and her daughter are members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The death of Henry J. Snook occurred on July 8, 1919, and the grief that it caused in Watertown was widespread. Few men had been more widely or more favorably known than he, and it was only appropriate that the flag on the City Hall should have been displayed upon that occasion at half-mast in respect to him, while the bell in the tower of the building tolled throughout the funeral procession. Mr. Snook's contribution to his city and his community was an important one, and the influence that he shed upon others wherever he was known was a fortunate and beneficent one. He will long be remembered as one of Watertown's most valuable and best-loved citizens.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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