Biography of John Rathbone Ramsey of Bergen County

John Rathbone Ramsey is one of the leading lawyers of Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey, and, in November, 1895, was elected to the office of County Clerk by a majority of 961, being the first Republican ever elected to that position in that county. He is the son of John P. Ramsey, a farmer, and Martha Rathbone, his wife, and a descendant on his father’s side of Samuel Ramsey, a native of Scotland, who with his son, John Ramsey, came to America in 1772, and settled at New Scotland, Albany County, New York. The son John, born in 1757, married Margaret Connolly, and settled at New Scotland, where he enlisted and served in the Continental Army against the British in the war for independence.

Peter Ramsey, said to have been another son of Samuel, and to have followed his father and brother to America, had two sons, Peter P. and William P. Ramsey, both of whom settled in the Ramapo district of Bergen County. Peter P. married Jane Reyerson, and William P. married Hannah _______. The inscriptions on their tombstones show the following facts: Peter P. Ramsey, born July 18, 1770, died March 30, 1854; Jane Reyerson, his wife, died January 28, 1825. William P. Ramsey, born December 25, 1774, died July 19, 1863; Hannah, his wife, born January 29, 1775, died August 5, 1849. These were the first of the name in the county, and were undoubtedly the ancestors of all the Ramseys in Bergen County, including the subject of this sketch. On is mother’s side John R. Ramsey’s ancestors were of English descent.

Mr. Ramsey was born in Wycoff, Bergen County, New Jersey, on the 25th of April, 1862, and spent much of his early life–from 1872 to 1879–with his maternal grandfather, John V. Rathbone, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where he received a private school education. In 189 he returned to New Jersey and entered the law office of the late George H. Coffey, of Hackensack. He subsequently continued his law studies with the firm of Campbell & De Baun, also of Hackensack, and was admitted to the New Jersey bar as an attorney in November, 1883, and as a counselor in February, 1887. For nearly twelve years following his admission he was actively and successfully engaged in the practice of law in Hackensack, displaying marked ability as a counselor and advocate, and gaining an extensive clientage.

Mr. Ramsey has always been an active, ardent, and consistent Republican, and for many years has been a power in the councils of his party. He was the Republican candidate for the office of County Clerk, of Bergen County, in 1896, but was defeated by a very small majority, although he ran ahead of the rest of the Republican ticket by several hundred votes. In November, 1895, he was again the Republican candidate for that office and was elected by a majority of 961, for a term of five years from November 18, 1895, being the first Republican elected to this office with marked ability and satisfaction, and has displayed the same energy which characterized his career at the bar. He is a member of Fidelity Lodge, No. 113, Free and Accepted Masons, of Ridgewood, New Jersey, of Wortendyke Lodge, No. 175, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and of various social organizations and clubs.

He was married, January 26, 1898, to Mary Evelyn Thompson, of Clarksburg, West Virginia. She died very suddenly April 27, 1898.

Source: Harvey, Cornelius Burnham, Editor; Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey, New York: The New Jersey Genealogical Publishing Company, 1900.

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