Obed Edson was born February 18, 1832 in Sinclairville. His father was the Hon. John M. Edson – a native of Madison county who came with the family of Samuel Sinclair to settle Sinclairville in 1810.
Edson obtained a good education at the common schools in Sinclairville and at the Fredonia Academy. In 1851 he commenced the study of law at Sinclairville, and in 1853 attended the Albany Law University. He was admitted to the bar April 8, 1853 and returned to Sinclairville to practice law.
Edson also had experience as a surveyor and a civil engineer also, having assisted in the survey of several railroads in New York and Pennsylvania.
At the age of 22, Edson was elected for two years as Superintendent of the Common Schools and in 1856 was chosen Justice of the Peace. He also served as Justice of Sessions of the county and town Supervisor of Charlotte. In 1874 he was elected to the New York State Assembly, despite being a democrat in a heavily-favored republican district.
As a member of the state legislature, he worked diligently on writing a law allowing for the establishment of incorporated community libraries outside of large cities. Under his act, many libraries were created throughout New York State.
Obed Edson also devoted considerable and invaluable attention to local historical research, including the history of the Chautauqua Region prior to being settled in the early 19th century. He contributed to several local history books, including Young’s “History of Chautauqua County, N.Y.” and “Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County.” Edson died Nov. 22, 1919 at the age of 87.
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 www.McClurgMuseum.org or contact your local historical society.