Page images
PDF
EPUB

sojourn on earth he made for himself a name and character for uprightness and charity towards his fellowman that will long live in the memory of those who knew him.

THOMAS L. MOORE.

MAJOR THOMAS C. ELDER.

To our graves we walk,
In the thick footprints of departed men.

On November 20, 1904, at his home in Staunton, Virginia, after a long, useful and honorable career, surrounded by his family and friends, trusted and beloved by all who knew him, Major Thomas Claybrook Elder, a former President of this Association, and a lawyer in the front rank of his profession, peacefully closed a life of faithful service, and passed on to those rewards which are prepared for just men made perfect.

Major Elder was born on April 16, 1834, in Lunenburg County, Virginia. After being graduated from RandolphMacon College, and studying law at the University of Virginia, he was admitted to the Bar in Lunenburg County, when scarcely twenty-one years of age, and there began the practice of his chosen profession, which he was destined to honor and adorn by his character and abilities.

After being at the bar only a few months, he was elected Commonwealth's Attorney of his native county, a position which he filled for several years with the same thoroughness and scrupulous integrity which characterized all of his professional life.

About 1859, he moved to Petersburg and there formed a partnership with Roger A. Pryor, who afterwards became a General in the Confederate Army and, later, a distinguished Judge of New York City; this partnership continued until broken up by the Civil War. In 1862, Major Elder, although of such frail physique and delicate health that he was not liable for military service, enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private soldier and served throughout the war with courage and fidelity, rising to the rank of Major; he served most of the time with Generals Finnegan and Perry, of the Florida Brigade, and surrendered at Appomattox with the remnant of Lee's army

[graphic][merged small]

In 1856, Major Elder married Miss Anna F. May (daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Henry May, of Lunenburg County), whom he survived less than two years. About 1868, Major Elder moved with his family to Staunton, where he resided and practiced his profession continuously until his death.

From 1873 until he refused re-election in 1880, Major Elder was Commonwealth's Attorney, and City Attorney, for Staunton, a position which has never been filled with more credit or ability by any incumbent, either before or since. When he first moved to Staunton, he formed a partnership with Mr. Orlando Smith, under the firm name of Smith & Elder, and after the death of Mr. Smith, some twenty-five years ago, was associated with the late Mr. William J. Nelson for a number of years as Elder & Nelson. About 1890, Major Elder, with his oldest son, Fitzhugh, established the well known law firm of Elder & Elder, which continued until his death. This, in brief outline, covers the period of Major Elder's professional life.

Major Elder was one of the most prominent lay members of the Episcopal Church in Virginia. For many years he was a Vestryman, and Junior Warden, of Trinity Church in Staunton. He was a member of the Board of Trustees, and President of the local board, of the Virginia Female Institute. For a number of years he annually represented his church as a delegate in the Diocesan Council; and, in 1901, he was sent as a delegate from Virginia to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church at San Francisco.

As a man, Major Elder was a notable model of many and great virtues. He was a devout and consistent Christian; possessed of an integrity over which the shadow of suspicion had never passed; full of patience, forbearance and charity, and with an unpretentious, yet unconquerable fortitude, which no buffet of unfriendly fortune could overcome or impair.

As a lawyer, Major Elder was one of the most distinguished members of his profession in the State, in recognition of which he was unanimously elected President of this Association for the year 1901-1902, the address delivered by him at the conclusion of his service in that office being a most notable paper. There was scarcely any branch of law practice in which his

« PreviousContinue »