SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER
JOHN VAN RENSSELAER, ESQ.
Portrait of John Van Rensselaer
John Van Rensselaer was born in the town of Greenfield, Saratoga County, N.Y., December 25, 1846. He is a self-made man, and one of the rising attorneys of this county. He came to Saratoga Springs with his parents when a child, and received his early education at the common schools. At the age of thirteen he began a course of self-education with a view to the legal profession. Such was the eagerness of his mind for knowledge that he locked himself up in a garret and studied day and night, consulting books and authors, and where his own efforts failed him, he appealed for the solution of his difficulties to older and wiser men of his acquaintance. Thus he made his way to the acquisition of knowledge, and this habit of study he has kept up through all his professional practice.
At the age of sixteen he began the study of law in the office of Hon. J. C. Hulbert, of Saratoga Springs, and completed his course with L.B. Pike, Esq., of that village. In 1867 he was admitted to practice in all the courts of the State, and immediately thereafter admitted to the courts of the United States. In 1869 and 1870 he practiced law in the city of New York, where he acquired the reputation of a brilliant and successful advocate. By overwork his health failed, and he was obliged to retire from active duties. He sought rest and recuperation of his wasted energies in rusticating, hunting, and fishing, - meantime studying and reading books relating to his profession. After spending a year or so in this mode of life, with strength and vigor restored, he resumed his practice at Saratoga Springs, and has continued it actively, laboriously, and successfully ever since. As a young attorney he stands second to none in this portion of the State, his abilities as an orator and the command he has of the facts of his causes being of a high order. He is frequently employed by other attorneys to sum up their causes in court, and before a jury he is especially effective, particularly in criminal cases, being retained to defend nearly every criminal case in the county.
In the fall of 1877 he was brought forward as a candidate for district attorney; but at the county convention he declined the nomination, regarding the acceptance and responsibilities of the office as an interference with his professional practice.
In 1867 he married Mary F. Groesbeck, of Milton, Saratoga County.
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