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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 before.

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 Liberty Mills.

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 per acre.

The family arrived in the area via a wagon filled with household goods pulled by a yoke of oxen.

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 swamp.

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 charge.

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 State.

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 County, 144-151.

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 years before.

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 duties.

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 success.
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 United States.

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.