Source: News-Journal, August 16,
1973, Centennial Section
Judge Comstock Helped
Develop Liberty Mills
Probably one of the most interesting
and enterprising of the early settlers to arrive in this
area was John Comstock.
His father served in the Rhode Island
State Legislature. When John was two the family moved to
New York. His father faced financial ruin some time
later and the family scattered.
John was bound out to service but ran
away to Lockport, New York. There he completed is
education and attended a high school. When he landed in
Ohio in 1822 he had only three shillings.
He was employed as a teacher at a
salary of $8 per month and "board round". He taught in
the vicinity until 1828, having married several years
He was better known as Judge Comstock
and histories of the county abound in stories dealing
with the gentleman who is credited with the founding of
He arrived in Liberty Mills in 1836
with his wife, six children and a hired hand. He bought
80 acres of land west of Liberty Mills at a cost of $10
The family arrived in the area via a
wagon filled with household goods pulled by a yoke of
In 1837 Comstock erected a double
hewed log cabin and purchased an additional 40 acres and
laid part of it off in town lots. He then became
involved in various enterprises including a hog market,
tannery, store, saw mill, grist mill, woolen mill,
distillery and even operated a detective agency.
He was interested in public highways
and played a major role in building a plank road between
Huntington and Liberty Mills.
He served the county in the state
legislature in 1858-59 and was a leader in bringing the
first herd of Shorthorn cattle to the county.
In agricultural matters, Judge
Comstock was a pioneer. His livestock was the best
anywhere, and he was one of the organizers of the county
fair. In time he was recognized as one of the finest
cattle breeders in the whole country. He had done much
work on improvement of cattle.
Comstock started the first
subscription school in 1838-39 with the first classes
held in private homes. In 1850 a second plank road
connected Liberty Mills with Lagro. This later became
known as the Mail Trace Road.
Judge Comstock led Liberty Mills to
become a major rival to North Manchester for business
and settlement. However area residents at the time
indicated he pretty much kept control of the town to
himself which eventually hindered its growth.
Those not able to compete with
Comstock's business enterprises were economically forced
to leave the town and settle elsewhere.
There were seven children in the
Comstock family. Three of the four sons died before
their father, two of them having entered the ministry.
The mother died about a year before her husband, in
1878. Judge Comstock died Sept. 30, 1879.
Source: Newsletterof the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
Volume XXII Number 2 May 2005
The Honorable John Comstock
T. B.Helm in his 1884 History of Wabash County begins
his biography of John Comstock saying "The History of
Chester Township and of Wabash County would be
incomplete without a sketch of the life of the late Hon.
John Comstock, who in some respects was the most
remarkable man ever having resided here."
The Comstocks immigrated from Austria. John's father,
John, was one of three brothers who came to the New
World when their lives were threatened in Austria.
John's mother was Hope Fisk. John was born in Rhode
Island on February 21, 1802 on the Comstock Homestead.
He had three brothers, Thomas, William and Ichabod, and
two sisters, Ann and Mercy. The father moved to New York
and invested in a cotton factory but was conned by his
partners, left holding the bag and became bankrupt.
Following a series of losses and the death of his wife,
he eventually bound out his three younger sons.
When John was sixteen years old he first came to
realize that he had been bound out and he left his
master at once and went to Lockport, New York. He got
work chopping (trees) at $5 an acre, boarding one mile
from his work. He got his own breakfast, took his lunch
and missed only one day his first winter. In the summer
he worked as a farm laborer, chopped the following
winter. Although he was able to save some funds, his
health declined, and he decided that his only option was
to prepare to be a teacher. He arranged to care for some
stock in exchange for his board and began to attend
school both summer and winter. He walked two miles to
and from school and studied during lunch and into the
night. He gained admission to high school but there his
health weakened again and he spent three months as an
invalid. He tried to work again without much success and
decided to gather what funds he had and go West.
He reached Bristol, Ohio, with three shillings in his
pocket and bought the few things required for teaching
school. His first job he received $8 a month and board
around the district. He taught both summers and winters
for three years and then took a school which was
considered the most unmanageable in the area. After some
discipline with a birch sprout it became quite a
pleasant school and he was there three years until 1828.
On New Year's Day, 1826 he married Miss Salena Newhouse
of Wayne County, Ohio. Also, the same winter, he bought
a quarter section of land near his school house, erected
a cabin and began clearing the land. In the spring, to
his neighbors surprise, he planting five acres of
potatoes. In the fall he sold the potatoes at 50 cents a
bushel to the contractors working on the canal and had
enough money to make the next payment on his land.
Soon he bought the second quarter section of land and
paid for it with the products of it. He went into the
business of digging wells working with a nephew. There
was little money in circulation and their payment was
often in young stock. John's wife took on the care of
his share of the animals. In 1835, with John Newhouse,
he attended some land sales at Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and
purchased 80 acres just west of present day Liberty
Mills paying $10 an acre. When he returned home, his
wife said that if he was going to move West they should
move right away. Since his farm was in good condition,
he was able to find a buyer at $45 per acre and in the
spring of 1836 they made sale, loaded a big wagon with
their household goods, requiring two yoke of oxen, his
wife drove the single wagon carrying the family. The
hired man drove the six cows which supplied them milk
for the trip. They were twenty seven days on the trip,
making only four or five miles a day crossing the black
They reached the banks of the Eel River on June 26,
1836 and found that the cabin they thought was on their
land was not and was occupied. There was an unfinished
cabin on their land and they threw brush to make a
temporary roof, put up a blanket for a door and
contrived some beds, made a fire on the ground near a
corner and moved in. Next they planted some potatoes and
had a good crop in the fall
They lived in Pottawatomie Indian territory and one
experience in 1836 was rather tense. John was about two
miles away making marsh hay when a group of Indian
warriors in war paint and somewhat drunk came galloping
along. One leader came into the cabin and, seeing
bottles of medicine on the shelf, demanded some. Mrs.
Comstock refused. He swung his tomahawk over her head
and threatened to kill her. She said she would call
"white man" and went to the door calling John. He left,
mounted his pony and rode away. These men were on their
way to a burial of one of their group killed on the way
home from Ft. Wayne after receiving their annuity money.
The next year the Comstocks built a double hewed-log
cabin with porch between and used one cabin for storage.
John also bought forty acres of land, taking a portion
of it to lay out in lots for the town of Liberty Mills.
Another project during the winter months was to drive
out two droves of hogs from further east and sell them
to settlers around the area. In the spring of 1938, he
with a young nephew drove out a herd of cattle and sold
them in the area - even as far as Michigan City. Since
the nearest grist mill was then at Waterford requiring a
long journey over a blazed trail he soon considered
developing his own mill race. He built a sawmill first,
in the winter of 1837-38 and a grist mill the following
winter. Just as he finished the sawmill, it burned to
the ground, but he quickly built another. The grist mill
was convenient and superior to most and many settlers
brought their grain. As late as 1852 settlers sixty
miles away were coming to the Comstock mill.
In 1839 he set up a tannery. Demand grew rapidly and
by 1844 he had sixty vats with his brother, Ichabod, in
In 1841 he had a carding machine in operation in a
building below the bridge. Later that same year he built
a distillery and this was the only enterprise which he
came to regret. The original plan was a wise one. Large
amounts of corn and rye were used in the distilling
process and he planned to use the waste from the process
to feed his hogs and cattle. The products of the
distillery, however, were not so positive . One rather
amusing story is told of one distillery employee who
often drank until the morning he came in to find a very
dead rat floating in the brew and never drank spirits
from that day on. The final blow to John was when his
own sons refused to have anything to do with the
distillery business. John later called it a dammed
business, shut it down and refused to sell the building.
It stood until it fell down.
Another unsuccessful venture was sheep raising. He
brought a large flock of sheep from the East but they
were quickly threatened by wolves. He had to have
someone herd them during the day and enclose them in a
12-foot fence at night. So he sold the sheep in small
lots to anyone who would buy them. In 1848 he rebuilt
the sawmill, putting in a turbine wheel.
Another person claimed a royalty was due and the case
went to the U.S. Court at Indianapolis. John supplied
proof that the wheel was put in before the plaintiff
took out his patent and the case went in his favor. In
1849-50 he built a new and much improved grist mill and
moved a carding machine into the former building as well
as some improved textile machines which operated until
1866 when the building was destroyed by fire.
John Comstock regularly took leadership in the effort
to built more and better roads. He tried several times
to organize a group to build a plank road connecting La
Gro and Liberty Mills, with a fork to North Manchester
but couldn't seem to get cooperation. Next, he tried to
get some from Huntington to cooperate to build from that
town to Liberty Mills. Finally, in 1851 he got an
agreement. At that time La Gro was handling more grain
than either Wabash or Huntington. The road was completed
in 1854. Later, in 1871, he was a leader in building the
Eel River Valley Railroad.
At about 1851 a gang of organized horse thieves,
robbers and counterfeiters who were troubling the
country from Ohio to Illinois and who plotted to
intercept John Comstock when he was carrying money for
his payroll or others who had considerable money on
their persons at times. In fact, the Comstock store was
robbed one night of goods valued at about $1000 but no
one knew about it because they thought the secret might
make it easier to catch the thieves. Meantime, John
Comstock, Thorn brothers (businessmen) and John's
son-in-law, John J. Shaubert and his three sons set up a
detective force to track the thieves. In less than one
year this group had the names of about 200 of the crime
ring, some of whom were local persons. Charges sent two
horse thieves to State prison, plus a neighbor's son for
the store robbery, a minister for planning the burglary
and a counterfeiter. In addition, one forfeited his bond
and another had a fatal accident just before his trial.
Several men in the community settled their affairs and
left the area. Persons traveling alone on roads breathed
easier for quite a period of time.
Judge Comstock (as he was commonly called) was very
active in organizing the Wabash County Fair which opened
first in 1852. The Comstocks always exhibited their
livestock. John bought cattle from the finest herds to
improve his own herd. He bought Shorthorns in Kentucky,
New York State and the Province of Quebec until his own
herd was the best in the area. Then his annual sales
brought large crowds and enabled many in this State to
improve their herd. His estate sale included fifty-one
cattle which sold for nearly $5000 total.
At one time, Judge Comstock owned 1600 acres of land
but he sold it bit by bit as buyers were willing to meet
his high prices until about 600 acres were left. In 1869
he sold his mills and the water power in order to spent
more time with his fine livestock. For the last ten
years this was his only business and it gave him more
pleasure than any other. He took an active part in every
political campaign. He held several political positions
during his lifetime. He left a position as township
Judge when he moved to Indiana. Here he became
Postmaster, was appointed Commissioner for Northern
Wabash County, then Probate Judge 1846-1852, to the
State Legislature 1858-1859 and during the War of the
Rebellion he loaned money to the State to kept the
government going and arm and equip the soldiers of the
The Comstocks had seven children. Anna married John
J. Shaubert and they moved to Minnesota. Sarah married
William Ross who died in 1862; and then married Robert
Cason who died in 1880. Thomas married Miss Elizabeth
Thorn in 1852, became a Methodist minister and died in
1872. William married Miss Elizabeth Place in 1858,
entered the ministry but his health failed and he
retired to a farm where he died of consumption in 1875.
Henry married Miss Melissa Bender and lived on a farm
just south of Liberty Mills. Jane married James Best and
lived on a farm east of Liberty Mills. John, Jr. died of
pleurisy in 1846. The Comstock family had for several
generations been Quakers. In the spring of 1842 Judge
Comstock and his wife joined the Methodist Episcopal
church and were members until 1846 when the Conference
of that church declared against the manufacture and sale
of "ardent spirits". After he sold all the equipment
from the distillery and refused to sell it he later
rejoined that church. Meantime, his wife died in 1878.
Because of his various businesses, Judge Comstock
always employed a sizeable group of workers. For about
twenty years many local farmers worked at harvest time
to buy winter clothes. He was known to pay fair cash
wages. It was said that a needy person was never turned
away. So when he became ill there were many expressions
of dismay. In the spring of 1879 he suffered a slight
stroke but he recovered quickly and seemed to be in good
health. However, in September, he complained one day of
a pain in his shoulder, had liniment rubbed on it,
walked about the farm and visited with his daughter,
Anna, who was there. At 4 p.m. while sitting in his
chair, talking, his heart failed and his lost
consciousness. His family was called and he died in the
arms of his grandson, Harry Comstock.
John Comstock was buried on October 3, 1879 in the
Greenwood cemetery, carved from his own land; a
beautiful hill just west of Liberty Mills between the
grave of his wife and his youngest son. Others of the
family now lie around them, though it is believed that
some stones commemorate persons not actually buried
there. The Comstock Homestead stands just east of
Highway 13 as one approaches Liberty Mills. John
Comstock's significance for the growth of Liberty Mills
cannot be questioned. But, as years went by his complete
control of the area led some to leave Liberty Mills and
move to North Manchester. So while Liberty Mills was the
leading town in the early years, as time went on and the
price of land in North Manchester was cheaper,
Manchester took the lead. When the railroad built a
station at North Manchester it was the final step in the
growth of that town and the decline of Liberty Mills.
Judge Comstock deserves a great deal of respect for many
benefits giving by his ideas and his work for the whole
area. To quote one historian, "He was a very useful
member of the community,"
Judge John Comstock, in Weesner,
History of Wabash
In some respects the personality of Hon. John Comstock,
originally identified with the development of Liberty
Mills, was one of the broadest and strongest of any
which has conserved the well-being of Wabash County.
We therefore here take the occasion to dwell upon it in
detail the main facts of the narrative which draw
pictures of so many early phases of pioneer life in the
Wabash Valley being taken from the “History of Wabash
County” published in 1884, to which we are much indebted
for the other information concerning these times.
The European origin of the Comstock family was Austrian.
In the United States various members planted themselves
as stanch New Englanders, and the special branch from
which John Comstock budded was early rutted in Rhode
Island. He was born in that state, at Greenwich,
February 21, 1802. His father, also John, served
in the Rhode Island Legislature, and was evidently a man
of consequence in the little state. When John, Jr.
was two years of age, the family moved to Dutchess
County, N.Y., where the father invested heavily in a
cotton factory. He was ruined by the rascality of
partners, his wife died and his large family of children
was scattered. The three younger sons were bound
out to service, but John, Jr., ran away from his master
and located in the town of Lockport, New York.
The youth was now sixteen, weighed 160 pounds and was
eager to pit himself against the world. His legal
freedom having been obtained, he chopped wood, did
chores around the farm, milked the cow, ate frozen
lunches, went around thinly clad, fiercely economized,
and while he saved money, nearly ruined his health.
Then he commenced to fight for an education with the
same dogged persistency. He returned to Dutchess
County and, while attending school as a preparatory step
toward teaching, acted as an all-around man for one
Deacon Whiting. Having mastered the common
branches, he attended a high school at some distance
from home. But incessant study, coupled with
intense physical work brought him low- almost to the
status of an invalid in body and mind. But his
vitality was naturally so great that he finally
recovered sufficiently to venture upon a Western trip.
In the fall of 1822 John Comstock started afoot from
Lockport, New York, and when he reached Bristol, Ohio,
had three shillings in his pocket. This capital he
laid out in the purchase of a penknife and other
essentials for teaching school, and was at once employed
at a salary of $8 per month and “board ‘round.” He
taught in that vicinity until 1828, having married two
But John Comstock was an instinctive landsman, and in
the winter of 1825-26 bought a quarter section of land
adjoining the one on which stood the schoolhouse wherein
he taught. Erecting a cabin, he next commenced to
clear his land. He chopped away morning, noon and
night, when not teaching, married his wife on New Year’s
Day of 1826, raised a good crop of potatoes, bought more
land, and so on. In the spring of 1831, in company
with his brother William, he opened a store at Bristol,
and from that time on, his career was outside the walls
of a schoolhouse.
In 1835, with his brother-in-law, John Newhouse, Judge
Comstock attended the land sales at Fort Wayne, when,
aside from other tracts at less figures, he bought the
fractional eighty acres just west of the site of Liberty
Mills, paying for the same, “in the green woods,” $10
per acre. Next, with the enthusiastic cooperation
of his wife, he sold all his Ohio properties and in the
spring of 1836 loaded his big wagon with household
goods. To this he hitched two yoke of oxen.
His faithful young mare, Kate, he hitched to a single
covered wagon, into which he loaded his wife and six
children. Mrs. Comstock, with a six-month babe in
her arms, drove the family rig, while the future judge
managed the big wagon and the oxen. A hired man
was also of the party; he drove the six cows, and did
such work as clearing out roads, lifting the vehicles
out of the mud, foraging for fuel, and other camp
Twenty-seven days were consumed on the trip, as the
party was only able to make four or five miles per day
while passing across the Black Swamp. They reached
the west bank of Eel River on June 26, 1836, but upon
their arrival were disappointed to find that the house
Mr. Comstock had expected to occupy was located upon the
land of another and already occupied. Thereupon he
pitched his tent beside an unfinished cabin already
eight logs in height, and, with the help of four men,
soon shaped it to accommodate the family. They
threw brush over the one corner for covering and
chimney. A portion of the floor was laid with
puncheons. Bedsteads or bunks were fixed in the
corners of the room. For the inner post to each, a
stout sapling was driven into a large hole made in the
floor, while in lieu of the other posts holes were bored
into the logs of the wall, poles being used for bed and
side rails. For a window an aperture was made
through the logs at the side, and a blanket was hung for
the door. Fire was then kindled upon the ground in
the corner beneath the brush opening, and the family
moved in. A patch of potatoes was next planted,
which yielded a heavy crop in the fall.
In August of the same year, while Mr. Comstock was two
miles distant from home making marsh hay, some drunken
Indians of the Pottawatomie tribe, in war-paint and
heads decorated with feathers, came galloping along on
their ponies, causing the woods to ring with their
savage yells. Indian Bill, of this party, stopped
at the cabin, dismounted and entered, when casting
around and seeing some bottles of medicine upon a shelf,
he demanded to Mrs. Comstock some “goodentosh.”
Being refused he drew his knife and brandished his
tomahawk over her head, swearing he would kill her if
she did not give him “goodentosh.” Then she coolly
told him that unless he behaved she would call “white
man,” and went to the door calling loudly for John.
This had the desired effect, for although John was two
miles distant Indian Bill mounted his pony and was soon
lost in the woods. These Indians were on their way
to the burial of one of their tribe who had been killed
in an affray about two and a half miles northeast of
Liberty Mills while they were returning from an annuity
payment at Fort Wayne.
The following year (1837) Mr. Comstock erected a
double-hewed log cabin, with porch between, the north
end being used as a store room. During the same
year he bought the forty acres of Mr. McBride, a portion
of which he laid off into town lots. Then came his
venture into the live stock business.
He first bought a drove of hogs which he sold to
“neighbors” ranging as far away as thirty miles; the
second drove he sold in Michigan City. This was
all in 1837. In the following year he and his
nephew, Christopher Watkins, bought and drove out a herd
of cows and heifers, and after supplying his neighbors
found a market for the balance at Michigan City.
Mr. Comstock built his first saw mill in the winter of
1837-38, but it had hardly been completed before it was
burned to the ground. But it was quickly rebuilt
and in the following winter he erected a grist mill.
His tannery, under the supervision of a Mr. Collins, was
put in operation in 1839, and in that year he also moved
his store into town. In the spring of 1841 he
started his carding machine, or woolen mill, its
location being about five rods below the present river
bridge. In the fall of the same year he erected a
distillery. Quantities of corn and rye were used
in this factory, and a large number of cattle and hogs
were fattened from the slops.
About this time Mr. Comstock brought from the East a
large flock of sheep, but the wolves were so plentiful
he was obliged to watch them day and night, although
enclosed in a yard protected by a twelve-foot picket
fence. As he found the project on a large scale
unprofitable, he sold out his flock.
The tanning business proved so profitable that in 1844
Mr. Comstock enlarged his plant to sixty vats and took
one of his brothers (Ichabod) into the business.
In 1849-50 he built his new grist mill of four run of
buhrs. He then moved his carding machine into his
old mill building, to which he added another carding
machine, as well as one for dressing and fulling cloth,
and this was continued in successful operation until
destroyed by fire in 1866.
In the opening and construction of public highways, Mr.
Comstock was always foremost. Requiring himself a
large amount of transportation, he repeatedly tried to
organize a joint-stock plank road company to connect La
Gro with Liberty Mills, the same to fork four and a
quarter miles south of the last named place and run to
North Manchester. But in this he failed for want
of co-operation. He then made a proposition to the
leading citizens of Huntington looking to the building
of a plank road from that town to Liberty Mills.
This proposition being accepted in 1851, the road was
completed in 1854. At that time, La Gro was
handling more grain than either Wabash or Huntington.
In 1852 he held the position of vice president of the
Eel River Valley Railroad, but withdrew from all
connection with the enterprise and publicly exposed the
corruption practiced by some of its managers.
Nearly twenty years later (1871) he became a director of
the latter enterprise, which was completed.
In 1851 there existed an organization of horse thieves,
burglars and counterfeiters, extending from Ohio across
Northern Indiana into the Mormon district of Illinois.
Members of this gang plotted at various times to
intercept Mr. Comstock, William Thorne and other
prosperous business men who traveled lonely routes with
large sums of money on their persons. Although Mr.
Comstock escaped personal molestation, his store was
finally robbed of $1,000 worth of goods, and he and his
friends and relatives decided to act. Their first
step was to organize a private detective service, the
members of which were Mr. Comstock, William and Isaac
Thorne, John J. Shaubert (Mr. Comstock’s son-in-law) and
his three sons, Thomas, Henry and William Shaubert.
In less than one year this self-constituted detective
committee learned the names of more than two hundred of
that band of evildoers, several of whom were well known
characters living in this vicinity. In a short
time the Wabash County force sent to state’s prison a
neighbor’s son for breaking into Mr. Comstock’s store, a
professed minister who planned the burglary, two
horse thieves and a counterfeiter. Two other noted
characters barely escaped prison walls-the one by
forfeiting his bond, the other by a fatal accident just
before the time set for his trial. After a few
other arrests had been made, quite a number of men of
former good repute in the community settled their
affairs and left hurriedly for parts unknown. The
Comstock-Thorne-Shaubert Detective Agency was a great
At one time Judge Comstock (as he was usually known) was
the owner of more than 1,600 acres of land, but sold
from time to time until only 600 remained. In
July, 1869, he sold his mills and water-power privileges
to C. T. Banks & Company, giving thereafter increased
attention to his live stock interests.
In politics a whig, up to the organization of the
republican party, he was ever earnest and active in
support of the party of his choice, and transferred his
faithful allegiance to the latter body. In
politics, as in all other affairs in which he
participated, Judge Comstock’s natural leadership came
promptly to the surface. In April, 1834, while
residing in Wayne County, Ohio, he was elected a justice
of the peace in a township which was largely democratic.
This position he resigned at leaving the state, and for
several years after coming to Indiana served as
postmaster. In June, 1846, he was appointed
commissioner for the Northern District of Wabash County
to fill out the unexpired term of William Johnson.
In the fall of that year he was elected probate judge,
serving thus until the office was abolished in August,
1852, thus acquiring the legitimate title of judge.
In 1858-59 Judge Comstock served his county as
representative in the state legislature. During
the dark earlier days of the Civil war he gave evidence
of his loyalty in many ways, being among those
well-to-do patriots who turned over to the Government,
at the solicitation of Oliver P. Morton, the war
governor, all his available private fortune in support
of the Union, in order to add to the fund necessary to
carry on the state government and to arm and equip its
soldiers for the field. At that state of the war,
there was no assurance that any money loaned to state or
nation would ever be returned, as the results of the
conflict were extremely doubtful.
Judge Comstock was a pioneer in agricultural matters in
Wabash County, and did more than any other man to
improve its stock of fine cattle. He was one of
the organizers of the Wabash County Fair, filling for
several years the office of director, and from its first
session in 1852-then located between the Wabash River
and the canal-he largely patronized this institution by
exhibitions of his fine stock. About 1843 he
bought of Jacob Stevens, living four miles north of
Liberty Mills, five head of thoroughbred short-horns.
But they proved frail, short-lived creatures and for a
time disappointed his hopes of improving his herd.
The summer of 1854 was very dry, cutting short the
pasturage, when he drove 120 head of native steers to
Toledo, thence shipping them by rail to New York City.
He there sold them at $27 per head, paying out of that
sum a commission of $2 per head for selling. He
said: “I could have stood this better, had I not seen a
Dutchman in one corner of the stock-yard surrounded by
Jews, who were trying to buy his old barren short-horn
cow for less than $90, which they finally paid him.”
This was one of the first steps in the establishment of
the meat trade of the “West,” which for a generation has
been planted in the Mississippi Valley, instead of in
the Valley of the Wabash.
Soon after his return from the East, Judge Comstock
bought a number of short-horns in the southern part of
Indiana, and a cow each from Hon. James D. Conner of
Wabash and Judge Stuart of Logansport. He
afterward added to his stock from such herds as those of
Jerry Duncan, J. A. Goff, Van Meter, George W. Bedford
and William Warfield, of Kentucky; Ira S. Adams, of New
York, and M. H. Cochran, of Compton, Canada. He
not only aided the people of his own county and state in
the improvement of their stock, but helped to enrich the
blood of many herds throughout the Union. In time
he became one of the leading dealers of fine cattle in
the country, and his annual sales were largely attended
by buyers of blooded cattle from all sections of the
By reason of his large and varied interest, Judge
Comstock was compelled to employ a large number of
laborers. From about 1840 to 1860 (especially up
to 1850) many farmers each fall come in to husk corn and
do other work by which to obtain winter outfits for
themselves and families. To Judge Comstock this
class never applied in vain. Indeed, the needy of
both town and country, when desiring work from him at
any season of the year, were given employment at fair
cash wages. No one has probably ever lived in the
county who has been helpful to so many of its people in
so many ways as Judge Comstock. When the
energetic, helpful, kindly and generous citizen was
therefore first stricken with paralysis, in the spring
of 1879, it seemed like an impending misfortune which
would overshadow hundreds of homes. It was
inconceivable that any one could take his place, either
as a guarantor of the necessities of life or as a good
and trusty friend.
Judge Comstock rallied from the slight paralytic stroke
of the spring and seemed to enjoy better health during
the coming summer than for several previous years.
But on the morning of September 30, 1879, he complained
of a pain in his shoulder, at the same time objecting to
the application of any liniment, fearing that the
trouble might be thereby driven to his heart.
Finally, however, he allowed it to be applied, was quite
cheerful during the day, walked out among his stock,
read his Bible and talked freely with his daughter Anna
who was then visiting him. At 4 o’clock, while
sitting in his old arm chair conversing, his premonition
of the morning was verified and the pains of the earlier
day clutched his heart. In a moment he was
unconscious, and he expired while being borne to a
settee in the arms of his daughter Sarah and his
grandson, Harry Comstock. On the 3d of October his
honored remains were laid in Greenwood Cemetery-a
beautiful plat of ground taken from his own estate west
of Liberty Mills-his wife lying upon one side and his
son John on the other.
There were seven children in the Comstock family. Three
of the four sons died before their father, two of them
having entered the ministry. The mother died about a
year before her husband, on August 18, 1878.