Scott made the rank of Brigadier General, was a lawyer, held high public office, and was a ingenious businessman
As Brigadier General Jason Curl made history yesterday, a reader shared this story of another famous Brigadier General from Allegany County. Rufus Scott, was born in Friendship NY, graduated from an early incarnation of Alfred University, and became a celebrated solider in the Union Army during the Civil War.
After his military career, Scott made Wellsville his home and lived a life a public service and successful industry. The Allegany County Historical Society has this full biography of Scott on their website, AlleganyHistory.org:
“Rufus Scott spent his early years after the manner of thousands of other farmer boys. Attending the district school summer and winter until he was old enough to work on the farm, he afterward received the benefit of winter sessions only. ‘That he made good use of these restricted opportunities is proved by the fact that at the age of sixteen he was engaged to teach in the school where he had so easily outstripped his mates.
Brief periods of attendance at Alfred University and Friendship Academy, where he was both student and assistant teacher, were laying solid foundations for a thorough education, when Mr. Scott heard the call for volunteers at the opening of the Civil War. It will be remembered that President Lincoln’s proclamation calling for 75,000 men was issued April 15, 1861. Early in May the name of Rufus Scott of Friendship was enrolled on the list of the 23d New York infantry for a possible period of two years. Probably he had but faint premonition of the awful struggle that was to take place in that time, and did not dream that further service still would be required. Beginning as a private, he was promoted and commissioned major in the 130th New York volunteer infantry on August 22, 1862. The regiment was transferred to cavalry in 1863, and named the 19th New York volunteer cavalry, and later the 1st New York dragoons. Major Scott was successively promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, brevet colonel, and brigadier general, and was in active field service during the whole of the war. He was wounded six times in battle – four times in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864. At the close of the war he was appointed captain of cavalry in the regular army, but declined the appointment. It is an interesting coincidence that Mr. Scott’s funeral occurred on October 19, the anniversary of the battle of Cedar Creek, where he had command of his regiment.
After his honorable discharge, Mr. Scott took up his residence in Belmont, N. Y., and began the study of law. He was admitted to the bar in 1866, and practiced in Belmont until 1883, when he moved to Wellsville, where he lived and practiced until his death.
From the year when, before his majority, he took the stump for Lincoln in Allegany county, Mr. Scott was an enthusiastic Republican. He was much sought as a speaker in the campaigns of New York and Pennsylvania until he determined to abandon active politics. He held the office of supervisor four times, and that of district attorney twice, and was never defeated. Other public offices were tendered to him, but he declined to accept them.
In 1881, on account of impaired health, and as a relief from constant professional work, Mr. Scott turned to oil operations. The Allegany oil field had then just been discovered, and his investments there met with uniformly good success. Opening anew the abandoned Waugh and Porter field, he developed it into a valuable property. He became one of the projectors of the Producers’ Oil Co., Limited, and the policy of the company was largely shaped by him. The same may be said of the kindred organization, the Pure Oil Co. He was vice president of the Producers’ Protective Association, and a member of its executive board. The “shut in movement” greatly interested him, and through its agency he saw between three and four million dollars of profits equitably and satisfactorily divided between capital and labor.
About twelve years ago Mr. Scott turned his attention to a languishing industry – the production of carbon black from natural gas. Assuming charge of the works at Allentown, N. Y., and Ludlow, Penn., he helped develop what has come to be regarded as an unrivaled carbon black, which commands its own market without competition. This product is known as the “Peerless Carbon Black.”
Mr. Scott was interested in all that pertained to the welfare of his neighborhood, and of Wellsville particularly. He often contributed editorials to the local papers, as well as letters over his own signature on topics of current interest. He was a member of the local social organizations, and was associated with the Episcopal church.
PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY— Rufus Scott was born at Friendship, N.Y.., October 8, 1838; was educated at Alfred University Friendship Academy; enlisted in the Union army in 1861, and served throughout the war; married Mary M. Axtell of Friendship November 12, 1864, was admitted to the bar in 1866; was district attorney of Allegany county, 1869-74; was a member of the Allegany County board of supervisors, 1861-62 and 1876-79; practiced law at Belmont, N.Y., 1866-83, and at Wellsville, from 1883 until his death October 16, 1896.”