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Biography of Abraham Stites

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Abraham Stites was a son of Dr. John Stites, and was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, during the Revolutionary war, and with his mother was removed into a cellar to avoid danger resulting from a sharp engagement then going on between the British soldiers and the rebels of that day. A singular coincidence in the life of Mr. Stites is that he died in February, 1864, in Hopkinsville, during a skirmish here between the Confederate and Federal troops. He, with a large family connection of the Ganos and Stiteses, removed from New Jersey to the Ohio Valley in 1808, carrying their goods on horseback across the mountains to Pittsburgh, and thence by flat-boats to Cincinnati; his father’s family settled near Georgetown, Kentucky. Mr. Stites had been educated for a lawyer, and licensed as such by Chancellor Kent. He commenced practice at Georgetown, and soon after married Miss Ann Johnson, daughter of Col. Henry Johnson, a Revolutionary soldier. In 1818 he removed to Hopkinsville, where he resided until his death.

Mr. Stites was a man of fine education, and devoted to belles letters and literary pursuits. He was a good lawyer – an excellent counselor – but seldom, after becoming a county official, made any charge for legal advice. He was the confidant of many of the wealthiest men of the county, but was so opposed to litigation, that on all occasions, when he could do so consistently, he would use his efforts to conciliate rather than draw his friends into the meshes of the law. He was brought up, as it were, in the office of Johnson, the compiler of ” Johnson’s New York Reports,” and aided in their preparation. He was public-spirited, and gave liberally to aid all public enterprises, and especially such as were designed to promote the cause of education.

In 1824 Mr. Stites was appointed Clerk of the’ Christian County Court, an office he held until 1851, when the present constitution went into effect, making all county offices elective. In that year he was elected by the people to the same place, and was the only one of the old officers of the county under the appointive system elected. He was defeated for the office in 1854, and retired to private life. For over thirty years he was Master in Chancery, and his reports in complicated cases furnish evidence of his capacity as a lawyer. As a clerk, he was accurate and attentive in the discharge of his official duties, and earned and retained the confidence of all who had business relations with him. As an evidence of the estimation in which he was held as a public officer, the following resolution was adopted by the court September 5, 1854, and on motion of Robert McKee was ordered to be spread upon the records:

“Resolved, That Abraham Stites, former Clerk of this court, is entitled to the respectful regards of all the citizens of this county for his faithful discharge of the duties of Clerk of the county for over thirty years past duties with which he was familiarly acquainted, and which he discharged with promptitude to himself and to the satisfaction of all having business in his office.”

Mr. Stites raised a large family of children, some of whom have be-come prominent in public life, and all of whom sought to follow his in-junction to render themselves useful members of society. Judge Henry J. Stites, his son, is Judge of the Common Pleas Court at Louisville, and one of the eminent jurists of the State.

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