Logan County, OH
Samuel H. Elbert was born in Logan county, Ohio, in 1833. His father, a physician of prominence in his profession, removed in 1840 to the then Territory of Iowa where young Elbert passed his boyhood on his father’s farm. Having made the best of the advantages offered by the pioneer schools in Iowa, he entered the Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware in 1848 and was graduated with honors there in 1854. He then studied law at Dayton, O., and was admitted to the bar in the autumn of 1856. In the spring of 1857 he located at Plattsmouth, Neb., engaged in the practice of his profession, and became identified with the political affairs of the Territory.
In 1860, Judge Elbert was a delegate from Nebraska Territory in the national Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency; a choice he most earnestly advocated. Taking an active part in the campaign of that year, he was elected to the upper branch of the Nebraska Territorial Legislature, where he served with characteristic ability. In 1862 President Lincoln appointed him Secretary of Colorado Territory to succeed Lewis L. Weld. He arrived in Denver in April of that year and at once entered upon his duties.
During the remainder of his life Judge Elbert was very prominently identified with the political and other affairs of Colorado. While Secretary of the Territory he was, by virtue of his office, frequently the Acting Governor; and, as elsewhere related, was Acting Governor in the winter of 1864-65, when the Indians were so gravely menacing Denver, and has executive charge of the improvised military preparations for the city’s defense. An ardent supporter of the government during the civil war, he was a delegate from Colorado in the National convention at Baltimore that re-nominated President Lincoln. In 1865 he took Colorado’s admission to the Union, and in the election of Governor Evans and Jerome B. Chaffee as Senators from the prospective new State. His service as Secretary of the Territory terminated in May, 1866, and he then formed a law partnership with the late John Q. Charles and began practice of his profession in Denver. In 1869, he was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature, and became a leader in that body.
In the spring of 1873, Judge Elbert was appointed Governor of Colorado Territory, his term extending from April in that year to July, 1874. Than Judge Elbert, no man more sincere in his efforts to give the Territory a capable and good government ever occupied the executive chair.
Upon Colorado’s admission to the Union in 1876, Judge Elbert was one of the three Justices elected to constitute the State’s first Supreme court, and under the provisions of the constitution his term was the one for the six years ending in 1883. In January, 1880, under the constitutional provision, he became the Chief Justice of the court and so served until the close of his term. In 1885 he was again elected a Justice of the Supreme court, for a term of nine years, but owing to the pressure of his private affairs for attention, he resigned in September, 1888. Judge Elbert’s record as an able, conscientious and distinguished Judge has not been surpassed by that of any of the profound men who have served in the highest Court of our State. During his term as Chief Justice of Ohio Wesleyan University conferred upon his the degree of LL.D.; having previously bestowed the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts.
The foregoing is but the briefest outline of Judge Elbert’s active life of great and conscientious usefulness to his fellow-men. He devoted its closing years to the affairs of his estate and to extended travel, but his health became much impaired. In the autumn of 1899 he went to Galveston, Tex., expecting to remain there through the ensuring winter. His unexpected death occurred in that city November 27, 1899, and he was buried in our Riverside cemetery on December 3rd.
In June, 1865, Judge Elbert married Josephine, daughter of Governor John Evans. She and their only child, a son, died in 1868, and he did not again marry.