Walter and Loren Sessions – Bicentennial Biography No. 192

Walter Sessions (1820 – 1896)

The Sessions family was a successful and celebrated family from Panama.

Walter Sessions was born in Brandon, Vermont on Oct. 4, 1820. Seven years later, his brother Loren Sessions was born, on Oct. 12, 1827. In about 1835, their family moved to the Clymer area. Both boys attended school in the area and then went on to study at the Westfield Academy. Walter would then go on to Hamilton College and the Maynard Knox Law School, while Loren studied at the Albany Normal School.

Walter Sessions taught school before moving to Panama and read law under the honorable Abner Lewis. He was admitted to the state bar in 1849 and began to practice law in the village.

Walter was elected to the New York Assembly and served one term from 1853 to 1854. He also served in the New York State Senate from 1860-1861 and also from 1866-1867. From 1870-72 he was the Town of Harmony Supervisor and also served in the 42nd, 43rd and 49th U.S. Congress.

Walter Session’s daughter, Edith Sessions Tupper, was a published novelist and Broadway playwright. She was born in 1855 and educated in Fredonia, Buffalo and Vassar College. From 1888 to 1926 she penned over 40 novels, short stories and plays.

In 1893, Walter was appointed commissioner of the State of New York to the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago. He retired in Panama but continued to practice law in an office in Jamestown until his death on May 27, 1896 at the age of 76.

Loren Sessions taught school for a time after college, then read law in his brother’s law office in Panama. He became a member of the Chautauqua County Bar in 1853. He also was responsible for masterminding his older brother’s political fortunes.

In 1877, he accepted the nomination for State Senator and was elected for two consecutive two-year terms.  He was also Town Supervisor of Harmony for 23 years, serving 17 of those years as chairman of the county board of supervisors. Loren Sessions died in 1897 at the age of 70.

Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit or contact your local historical society.

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