John Schuyler Crosby

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J. S. Crosby
John Schuyler Crosby.jpg
5th Governor of Montana Territory
In office
January 15, 1883 – November 11, 1884
Appointed by Chester A. Arthur
Preceded by Benjamin F. Potts
Succeeded by B. Platt Carpenter
Personal details
Born (1839-09-19)September 19, 1839
Albany, New York
Died August 8, 1914(1914-08-08) (aged 74)
Newport, Rhode Island
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Harriet Van Rensselaer

John Schuyler Crosby (September 19, 1839 – August 8, 1914) was an American military officer who served as United States Consul in Florence, Italy and as the fifth Governor of Montana Territory.


Early life and military service[edit]

Crosby was born to Clarkson F. Crosby and Angelica (Schuyler) Crosby in Albany, New York on September 19, 1839.[1] He attended City University of New York, but left school before graduation to take a tour of South America, Pacific Islands, East Indies, and China.[2] He was a lineal descendant of General and U.S. Senator from New York State Philip Schuyler and the great grandson of William Floyd, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.[3]

At the beginning to the American Civil War he joined the Union Army and, having previous experience with the New York State Militia, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the First Artillery.[4] His initial service was with the Army of the Potomac and he earned promotion to First Lieutenant in August 1861.[3] In 1862, Crosby was transferred to the Department of the Gulf and following the battles of Fort Bisland, Irish Bend and Vermillion Bayou was brevetted a Captain for gallantry.[4] From 1863 till 1865 he served as assistant adjutant general under General Banks. During the Red River Campaign, Crosby earned a letter of thanks from President Abraham Lincoln for carrying dispatches through enemy territory to Admiral Farragut.[2] Following the capture of Mobile, Alabama, Crosby transferred to become assistant inspector general under General Philip Sheridan.[3]

Crosby married Harriet Van Rensselaer, youngest daughter of Stephen Van Rensselaer, on June 26, 1863.,[1][3] who was the last patroon of Rensselaerwyck, a general[5] and the son of Stephen Van Rensselaer III. The marriage produced two children: Stephen and Angelica.[1] Following the war, Crosby remained on Sheridan's staff as aide-de-camp and Adjutant General. In this capacity he served along the Rio Grande during the French occupation of Mexico and during Sheridan's and Custer's campaigns during the Indian Wars. During his military service he was brevetted four times for gallantry.[2] Crosby resigned from the army on January 1, 1871 as a brevet Lieutenant Colonel.[1][4]


After leaving the military, Crosby went to work as a civil engineer building breakwaters and lighthouses.[4] During this time he help found the Westchester Polo Club and, in 1875, won an international pigeon-shooting contest.[3] On July 20, 1876, Crosby was with Vice-Commodore William T. Garner of the New York Yacht Club on the Mohawk when a sudden squall overturned the yacht.[6] He was later presented a medal for his heroic efforts to save lives during the event.[2][7]

Crosby was appointed Consul for the United States delegation in Florence, Italy by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1876. While at this posting, he assisted the local government in the capture and prosecution of a group of forgers.[3] For his assistance, on June 29, 1881, Crosby was awarded the Order of the Crown of Italy.[1]


Crosby was nominated to become Governor of Montana Territory by President Chester A. Arthur.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 4, 1882 and took office on January 15, 1883.[8][9]

Upon his arrival, Crosby indicated his commitment to the territory by making over US$20,000 of investments within Montana. Despite this level of dedication, the Republican governor still managed to antagonize the territory's Democratic majority through liberal use of his veto power. The most important example of his veto use was through the blocking of a bill authorizing the establishment of a system of cattle inspections and a cattle commission. Despite the veto, Crosby did take steps to halt cattle with Texas fever from being imported into the territory. Other activities pursued by the governor were a strong anti-crime policy, opposition to polygamy, and an effort to reduce lands held by Native Americans.[1] He also played an important role in blocking cattle interests from gaining control of Yellowstone.[4]

Crosby was an avid big game hunter. In this capacity, while governor, he organized one of the largest big game hunts in U.S. history, including dignitaries such as President Arthur, Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, Senator George Graham Vest, and Daniel G. Rollins in the hunting party.[3] Crosby submitted his resignation on November 11, 1884 in order to become First Assistant Postmaster General.[1]

Later life[edit]

Crosby held the position of First Assistant Postmaster General until March 1886. After leaving that post he moved to New York City where, from 1889 till 1891 he was the city's school commissioner.[4] After completing his school job, Crosby traveled extensively until 1897. He was also active in the Grand Army of the Republic, Loyal Legion, Sons of the Revolution, and a variety of Washington D.C. and New York City social clubs.[2]

During his final years, Crosby suffered from declining health. On January 20, 1913, while he was in his sick bed, one of his servants suddenly became crazed and he was forced to fight off and subdue the knife wielding valet.[10] Crosby died in Newport, Rhode Island on August 8, 1914.[3] He is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, Albany County, New York USA.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McMullin, Thomas A.; Walker, David (1984). Biographical Directory of American Territorial Governors. Westport, CT: Meckler Publishing. pp. 216–7. ISBN 0-930466-11-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Rossiter; Brown, John Howard (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans. Boston: The Biographical Society. p. 65. OCLC 6182270. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Col. JS Crosby Dies in 75th Year". New York Times. August 9, 1914. p. 15. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f James T. White & Company (1901). The National cyclopaedia of American biography. vol XI. New York: J.T. White Co. p. 80. OCLC 17692533. 
  5. ^ COL. J. S. CROSBY DIES IN 75TH YEAR; Veteran of Civil and Indian Wars Never Recovered from Attack of Insane Servant. NOTED BIG GAME HUNTER Governor of Montana from 1882 to 1884 ;- Received a Life-Saving Medal from Congress. Special to The New York Times. (); August 09, 1914, , Section , Page 15
  6. ^ "A Disaster in the Bay". New York Times. July 21, 1876. p. 1. 
  7. ^ "Notes From the Capital". New York Times. June 13, 1877. p. 5. 
  8. ^ "Nominations and Confirmations". New York Times. August 4, 1882. 
  9. ^ Bancroft, Hubert Howe (1890). The works of Hubert Howe Bancroft. San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft & Co. p. 688. OCLC 2539133. 
  10. ^ "Col. John S. Crosby Attacked by Valet". New York Times. January 21, 1913. p. 1. 
  11. ^ "John Schuyler Crosby". Find A Grave. Retrieved 26 August 2012.