Marcus Morton Treadwell (known as "M. M. Treadwell"), a resident of Hawley at the turn of the 19th Century, served as Wayne County District Attorney.
By Peter Becker
HAWLEY - Marcus Morton Treadwell (known as "M. M. Treadwell"), a resident of Hawley at the turn of the 19th Century, served as Wayne County District Attorney.
Commemorative Biographies of Northeastern Pennsylvania, published in 1900, consistently described its contributed subjects in the most glowing terms. It says of Treadwell, "[He] is one of the ablest lawyers practicing at the Wayne County Bar, having that mental grasp that enables him to quickly discover the points in a case. A man of sound judgement, he manages his cases with masterly skill and tact, is a logical reasoner, and has a ready command of English."
A native of Ipswitch, Massachusetts, he was born September 17, 1842 to Nathaniel and Emaline C. (Jewett) Treadwell. His paternal grandfather Nathaniel Treadwell was a sea captain, commanding a vessel in the War of 1812. Captured by the British, he was never heard from again.
••• Enlisted in Civil War
Until the age of 13, Marcus attended public schools in Ipswitch, and then worked in his father's boot and shoe factory until his father died in 1857 at the age of 37. He then found work in the post office in Boston until the War of the Rebellion broke out.
Marcus enlisted, and became a private on the 12th Massachusetts V. I. under command of Col. Fletcher Webster. Treadwell served three years, and was mustered out with the rank of quartermaster sergeant. After receiving his discharge he joined General Grant's army, and remained in the service until the war was ended.
He then worked as a bookkeeper until 1869 and was working for the Erie Railroad a short time. He moved from Boston to Hawley in 1869 to work for the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC), as bookkeeper and weigh-master.
••• Elegant home
Treadwell was married to Josephine ("Josie") Barker in July 1875. Rev. Wright C. Galpin, the Presbyterian minister, officiated. The church was then located on Prospect Street, not far from their home. He remained a member of the church, which in 1890, moved to Church Street.
His wife's father was Levi Barker, a wealthy canal boat builder in Hawley. Her father constructed over 600 canal boats in his boat yard in the general area of where the Hawley Senior Center is today and the south end of Bingham Park. Boats were launched in the basin on the north end. The Delaware & Hudson Canal went through the basin.
The Barkers owned a number of elegant homes in Hawley and it is not clear where they actually resided, although it may have been the large home on Hudson Street next to the store Barker owned overlooking the canal basin. The store is today a large, distinctive home with four two-story pillars, near where Park Place joins Hudson Street.
They also owned an elegant and imposing house, with four fluted pillars, at 501 Prospect Street. Josephine Barker Treadwell owned this house after the death of her parents Levi and Eliza. The Treadwells are believed to have lived there. The biography published in 1900 boasts that it is "the finest home in Wayne County." The writer penned that hospitality reigned supreme in the household, where their many friends received a hearty welcome. "Their library is one of the best and largest to be found in the county," the author noted.
A 1906 street directory, however, lists M.M. Treadwell's residence on the east side of First Street, which is now Hudson Street.
Treadwell took charge of his father-in-law's store in 1876, and remained in the business until 1889. Levi Barker died that year; Eliza lived until 1898.
••• Became a lawyer
While running the store, Treadwell was studying to be a lawyer. He read law with E. Richardson, and on December 5, 1883 he was admitted as an attorney. He had an office in Hawley, although the location has not been identified. A rare photo of Main Avenue Hawley, apparently taken in the 1880's or 1890's shows a law office sharing first floor space with Richard Teeter's furniture store building, near the intersection with Church Street.
In addition to his celebrated personal library, Treadwell was said to have one of the best law libraries in the county.
The 1893 election season found Treadwell on the Republican ballot, running for district attorney against incumbent Charles A. McCarty, a Democrat. Treadwell won.
D.A. Treadwell held office for two terms of three years each, and afterwards returned to private practice. Election returns for November 1896 have been found. County-wide, Treadwell received 3,340 votes, and his Democratic opponent Frank M. Monaghan, 2,483 votes. In Hawley. Treadwell gained 233 votes, and Monaghan, 121.
The 1896 race for U.S. President, by the way, saw Wayne County back William McKinley, a Republican, 3,709 votes, to Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who received 2,407 (McKinley won nationally).
Another Hawley resident serving during Treadwell's first term was Richard W. Murphy, Wayne County Sheriff.
An item in the April 17, 1897 Scranton Tribune tells of Treadwell offering "well chosen words of welcome" to members' families at Hawley Lodge No. 305 Free and Accepted Masons. A banquet serving 115 was well received. He joined the Masons in 1878.
During the time Treadwell was district attorney, Wayne County and the surrounding region was undergoing considerable change. The Delaware & Hudson Canal closed down in November 1898, a long anticipated outcome as steam railroads quickly left the slow canal boats behind.
Although the canal and gravity railroad were finished, putting many out of work, Hawley was a bustling mill town, with much anticipation over talks of a grand new lake for hydroelectric power. In the spring of 1897, Hawley businesses, churches and lodges were being illuminated with electric lights, and private homes were soon to be canvassed, powered by a plant just above the Silk Mill on the falls.
Lawrence M. Atkinson, another attorney from Hawley, won the election for Wayne County District Attorney in 1899, serving from 1900 to 1903. Atkinson was born in Hawley in 1874. He served one term.
Treadwell also served as school director in Hawley.
An intriguing page one story in the April 7, 1902 edition of the Scranton Tribune reports that Treadwell was "missing." The headline declared, "Not Heard From for a Week"; subhead, "Lawyer M.M. Treadwell of Hawley, Pa., was last seen en route for New York."
The Associated Press reporter penned that Treadwell, a leading Hawley attorney and former district attorney, had been missing "since last Friday" when he left home with a sum of money in his pocket and boarded the train at Hawley for New York.
"Mrs. Treadwell has not the slightest knowledge of her whereabouts, and is distracted by her absence. Friends are under the impression that he met with foul play. Treadwell is the son-in-law of the late Levi Barker, a millionaire boat-builder at Hawley. He possessed considerable wealth at one time also."
Unfortunately further word of Treadwell's trip has not been found, but we know he returned, and continued his law practice here.
Marcus Treadwell died March 30, 1906. The Honesdale Citizen newspaper said his death came as a surprise in the community, as he was not known to be ailing more than usual.
The December 15, 1909 Citizen reported a transfer of real estate from his widow, Josephine (Barker) Treadwell of Hawley to Victor A. and Minnie B. Decker, of Hawley.
Mrs. Treadwell, who was born in 1842, died in 1928. Both her husband and she were laid to rest in the Eddy (Walnut Grove) Cemetery in Hawley.
His biography further lauded Marcus M. Treadwell as "a pleasant, genial and polished gentleman, of high social qualities, and has made a host of warm friends and acquaintances in his adopted county."