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Fillmore, Millard - Erie County

MILLARD FILLMORE. Buffalo has given the United States two Presidents. The first of these illustrious citizens to attain the office was Millard Fillmore.

Mr. Fillmore was born in Locke, Cayuga County, N. Y., January 7, 1800, being the second child and eldest son of Nathaniel Fillmore and Phoebe Millard. His father was born in Bennington, Vt., and his mother was a native of Pittsfield, Mass. His parents were among the pioneer settlers of the so-called Military Tract, and removed from Locke to Sempronius, Cayuga County. Nathaniel Fillmore was a farmer who cleared his land and built his own home, and like not a few other distinguished Americans, Millard Fillmore was reared in a log house. Till he was fifteen years old young Fillmore worked on his father's farm and attended the district schools. As a lad he was apprenticed to Benjamin Hungerford, a carder and cloth-dresser of Sparta, N. Y., and in 1815 was re-apprenticed to the same business with Zaccheus Cheney and Alvin Kellogg of Newhope, N. Y. While in their employ Mr. Fillmore began a system of self -education, reading every standard work to which he had access. When eighteen years old he taught school for a term in the town of Scott. In 1818 he visited Western New York and later attended school at Canandaigua. Meantime he had become ambitious to study law, and returning to Cayuga County, he entered the law-office of Judge Walter Wood, at Martville. In 1821 he went to Aurora, Erie County, taught a winter school at East Aurora and obtained some practice in justice's courts. In the spring of 1822 he came to Buffalo and taught a district school, and the same year became a student in the law office of Asa Rice and Joseph Clary. In the spring of 1823 he was admitted to practice in the Court of Common Pleas, and opening an office at East Aurora he practiced there till 1830. In 1827 he was admitted attorney of the Supreme Court, and became counselor in 1829. In May, 1830, he removed to Buffalo where he formed a law partnership with Joseph Clary. He acquired a large and successful practice, which was continued till 1848, when his duties in public life obliged him to relinquish his professional pursuits.

Mr. Fillmore was elected to the Assembly in 1828 and was twice re-elected. In 1832 he was elected to Congress and was re-elected for three successive terms, declining a fifth nomination. In 1843 the Whig National Convention at Philadelphia nominated Mr. Fillmore for Vice-President. He was elected, and by the death of General Taylor, July 9, 1850, succeeded him as President of the United States. He attained the presidency at a critical period in national affairs, and administered its duties with great ability and unswerving conscientiousness. However others might differ from him in matters of party principle or governmental policy, no fair-minded man questioned his purity of motive or his sterling patriotism.

In 1856, Mr. Fillmore was nominated for the Presidency by the National American Convention, but the party which chose him for its leader was in the decline of its power and the Democrats carried the country. At the close of the campaign Mr. Fillmore retired from public life. The rest of his days he passed in Buffalo in the pursuits of a scholar and the activities of the citizen. He died March 8, 1874.

Mr. Fillmore was married twice, his first wife being Abigail Power, of Moravia, N. Y., whom he wedded February 5, 1826. She died in 185-3, and February 10, 1858, Mr. Fillmore married Mrs. Caroline C. McIntosh.

SOURCE:  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I