According to family-based resources, John Woodworth was born in November 1768. He is said to have been the son of Schodack residents Robert and Rachel Fitch Woodworth. Of New England ancestry, we seek more definitive information on his origins and path to Albany.
By the era of the American Revolution, his Connecticut-born parents had relocated to the East Manor where his father served as an officer in the Albany County militia. Later, Robert Woodworth would be elected from Rensselaer County to offices at the state and local levels.
During the 1780s, young John is said to have been prepared for legal training by John Lovett in Albany. Subsequently, he was sent to Yale graduating in 1788. He is said to have studied for the bar in the Albany law office of John Lansing, Jr. - whose daughter married Woodworth's brother-in-law. Woodworth later tells us that he was admitted to practice in 1791.
He then established his own practice in the "new village of Troy" becoming county surrogate in 1793 and post master about that time as well. He serving there until entering the State Assembly in 1803 and then the Senate in 1804. He appears to have held the office of New York State Attorney General throughout much of this period.
Although holding statewide offices at least since 1804, traditional sources reiterate that he relocated to Albany in 1806.
In January 1808, he was identified as among those worthies invited to the funeral of an Albany personage.
Beginning in 1810, his household was configured on the Albany city census. At that time, two men, three young women, and a slave were living in his home which, beginning with the first edition in 1813, was listed as a the residence of a Counselor at 90 North Pearl Street. His name appeared in "all capitals" which identified him as a leading resident.
In July 1810, he married Albany native Catherine Westerlo at the Albany Dutch church. The marriage produced at least four children. By 1811, he was identified as a member and then an elder and trustee of the First Presbyterian Church.
In 1853, Joel Munsell published Reminiscences of Troy: from its settlement in 1790, to 1807 . . . , an aged John Woodworth's rambling, digressive, and personal (but nonetheless interesting) memoir of his teens and some later years, political winds and such, and even much of interest on the founders of the city of Troy. This work seems to describe some of his time with Lovett (whom he greatly admired) and just afterwards. Woodworth's observations also are the source of substantial lore on the then contemporary Albany scene.
At this point, we have not actively pursued Woodworth's subsequent and substantial career. That story belongs more appropriately to the next phase of Albany history.
John Woodworth died in Albany in June 1858. He had lived for more than eighty years.
Sources: The life of John Woodworth is CAP biography number 6939. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Wikipedia article; NOTES: 53121. In addition to the sources cited and linked to above, a sweep of Internet-based resources performed in early 2014 reveals substantial/overwhelming and tragically repetitive materials for further biographical study of an Albany resident especially during the 1800s.
first posted 9/30/13