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Hon. John Colmey was born in Stillwater, Saratoga county, New York, August 2, 1858, and when three years of age removed with his parents to Victor, Ontario county, New York. During his early years he assisted his father in the cultivation of the home farm, attending the district school winters. Possessed of an active mind and a strong determination to better his condition, at fifteen years of age he left the farm and obtained in the village of Victor a place where he could do chores for his board and attend the village school. By close application Mr. Colmey was able to graduate from the Victor high school in the year 1878 and at once commenced his legal studies in the offices of Henry O. Chesebro and E. M. Morse in Canandaigua, New York. Two years later he passed the necessary examination, and was admitted to practice law in October, 1880. Mr. Colmey had now (1910) achieved the success for which he had been striving so long and in the face of numerous obstacles which had rendered the pathway unusually rugged and difficult to travel. The price he paid for this success was a heavy one, that of impaired health, and for a period of two years he was compelled to seek outdoor employment. In the fall of the year 1882 he had so far regained his health as to be able to open a law office in Victor, where he successfully practiced law for the next six years.
In the spring of the year 1882, he was elected a justice of the peace of the town of Victor. So efficient were his services in this office that when he was named for re-election in 1886, there was no opposing candidate nominated. During the years 1886 and 1887 he was elected justice of sessions, and in 1888 he was elected to represent the town of Victor in the board of supervisors, succeeding himself the following year, the term at that time being for one year only. He removed to Canandaigua in 1888, associated himself in a partnership with Hon. Maynard N. Vlement, which continued in force until Governor Flower, in 1892, appointed Mr. Colmey surrogate, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Oliver Armstrong. Mr. Colmey served one year and then declined renomination for the office, which was tendered him. He resumed the practice of law, this time independently, and has so continued to the present time (1911). His practice is a large and lucrative one, he has been entrusted with the conduct of numerous important cases and the higher courts have given him many favorable decisions. as well as the lower ones. He is considered one of the ablest attorneys in that section of the state of New York. During the years 1890 and 1891 he served as village attorney of the village of Canandaigua, and two years later was appointed by Comptroller Campbell as corporation tax commissioner, with headquarters at Buffalo. This very important office carried with it the responsibility of collecting a large amount of back corporation tax throughout central and western New York, and Mr. Colmey held it for one year, when he retired. Upon his retirement he was highly complimented by Comptroller Roberts, a member of the Republican party, for the efficient manner in which the duties of the office had been discharged while under his control. In 1904 Mr. Colmey was appointed by General Cunneen one of three commissioners to inspect and report upon the constitutionality of all legislative bills, thus enabling him to study in a most thorough and practical manner legislative methods. Mr. Colmey has always taken an active interest in political affairs. For twelve years he was chairman of the Democratic county committee of Ontario county and has often represented his party at county and state conventions.
While a staunch supporter of the principles of the Democratic party, Mr. Colmey is exceedingly liberal-minded in all his opinions, and in numerous cases this has been evinced by the fact of the support given him by the Republican papers in his campaigns for state senator and member of congress. As a public speaker he has achieved an enviable reputation. His remarks are clear and convincing, and judiciously interspersed with humorous anecdotes which never fail to leave his audience in a cheerful and contented frame of mind. As a judge his decisions have invariably been rendered with the utmost intelligence and conscientiousness, and few men have studied more closely the public questions of the hour. Mr. Colmey is a loving husband and a devoted father, holding firmly the idea that haply homes make a happy and prosperous country.