William Maxwell Evarts purchased the John P. Skinner home (as it was then known) for $5,000. It became part of a three-home residential compound of the Evarts family that grew over the years to include a number of homes and over a thousand acres--sometimes referred to as Evarts Estate. It also began almost two hundred years of ownership by the Evarts family line. Evarts converted a portion of his property into Paradise Park, and the nearby Pulk Hole Brook and Marsh into Runnemede Lake.
The Evarts family became well known in local, state and world affairs and maintained social ties with the various personages in Cornish NH and Windsor VT. William Maxwell Evarts would commute back to Windsor, Vermont from New York City on weekends.
He was born in Boston on the 6th of February 1818. He graduated at Yale in 1837 and was a member of the highly secretive Skull & Bones society. William Maxwell Evarts began his illustrious law career at the law offices of Horace Everett at Windsor in 1837. He was admitted to the bar in New York in 1841, and soon took high rank in his profession through his New York City law firm of Evarts, Southmoyd and Choate. He was the first president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Evarts married Helen Minerva Bingham Wardner in 1843, and they had 12 children between 1845 and 1862, all of whom were born in New York City.
In 1860 he was chairman of the New York delegation to the Republican National Convention. In 1861 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States senatorship from New York. He was chief counsel for President Andrew Johnson during Johnson's impeachment trial, and from July 1868 until March 1869 he was Attorney General of the United States. In 1872 he was counsel for the United States in the "Alabama" arbitration. During President Rutherford B. Hayes's administration (1877-81) he was Secretary of State; and from 1885 to 1891 he was U.S. Senator from New York. As an orator Senator Evarts stood in the foremost rank, and some of his best speeches were published.
He died in New York on the 28th of February 1901. His funeral took place on Friday March 2nd and was widely covered in the press. The Supreme Court listened to memorial speeches instead of normal arguments and then the justices made memorial statements before taking a special adjournment. Pall bearers at his funeral included J.P. Morgan. His body was taken by train from Grand Central Station to Windsor Vermont, leaving at noon on Saturday March 3rd. He is buried in Windsor, Vermont.
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