Date: May 10,1902
Ex-Judge John R. Reid
Babylon, L. I., May 10-Ex-Judge John R. Reid died this morning after an illness of several months at his home here in Crescent, in his 66th year. The funeral will take place next Tuesday afternoon at 1 o'clock. He leaves a widow who was Miss Davis of Poughkeepsie and two children, Miss M. Loreign Reid and Willard Placide Reid, the latter a well known member of the bar.
John Robert Reid was born at Middle Island in Brookhaven Town, on February 8, 1836, and was the son of James and Alma H. Reid. James Reid was a native of Londonderry, Ireland, and can of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His wife was a descendant of the famous Tuthill and Hutchinson families, the early members of which were among the passengers on the Mayflower. To this admixture of Scotch-Irish and Puritan blood is no doubt largely due Judge Reid's success in life. He early evinced a sturdiness of character and quickness of perception that left no room for doubt as to his ability to make his way in the world. Until he was 15 years of age he acquired only such education as was obtainable at the district school and by reading the few books possessed by his parents. He determined to study law and in order to obtain money with which to support himself while studying taught school for several years. After reading for a year in the office of one of the then leading members of the Suffolk County bar, he matriculated at the Poughkeepsie Law School, from which he graduated about the time he attained his majority he began the practice of his profession in Babylon in the early fifties and has ever since had an office here in addition to one in New York.
He soon built up an extensive practice and became known as a lawyer of much ability-effective as a pleader and a safe counselor.
Soon after beginning the practice of law here, Judge Reid purchased a controlling interest in the Suffolk Democrat, then published at Huntington, and removed the plant to Babylon. He edited the paper with marked ability and made it a journal of much influence. During Judge Reid's ownership the mechanical and business management of the Democrat devolved upon Henry Livingston, who, in 1869, established the Signal here, the Democrat having in the interim been sold to a syndicate of North Side capitalists who removed the outfit to Huntington, whence it had come to Babylon.
In 1870 the young lawyer was elected county Judge and surrogate of his native county and discharged the exacting duties of the office with honor to himself and satisfaction to the citizens and the bar. When his term expired he declined to be a candidate for a renomination, although urged to be such.
After his retirement from the county bench Judge Reid resumed the practice of law, and continued it until his death. He became more than locally famous as an attorney in criminal cases. For more than forty years Judge Reid was a member of the County or Supreme Courts was held at which he was not present, and at the nearly every session he was the attorney for some prisoner or igant.
Throughout his life Judge Reid was a staunch friend of the public schools, and in the village of Babylon labored long and effectively in the cause of education. He served as trustee of the old common school for many years, was instrumental in securing the creation of the union free school district and served for a long period as president of the board of education. No gathering of teachers was regarded as complete without his presence and in such assemblages he always took an active part.
He was active in the work of securing the location of the State Normal School at Jamaica and served from the beginning as a member of the local board of managers and for several years and at his death was president.
Judge Reid was not only a close student of the law, but also of literature, ancient and modern, and possessed one of the most extensive and well chosen private libraries in the country-comprising many thousand volumes, in which were included a number of rare single volumes. His law library was also very extensive. He delivered a number of lectures, "The Philosophy of Laughter," "Masks," "Life's Guiding Star" and several others. He was also a great lover of music, and was an accomplishes violinist. He owned several very valuable instruments.
He was a member and past noble grand of Sampawams Lodge No. 104, I. O. O. F., and was for a long time active in Masonic circles and was formerly a member of the Lotus Club of Manhattan.
Few men in Suffolk County were more widely known than the deceased. He was cosmopolitan in his tastes and delighted to mingle with all classes of men. he was always active in politics and was a prominent figure at Democratic conventions-town, county, district and state-and in 1880 was a delegate to the National Convention.
In 1857 Judge Reid, then a law student, was married to Miss Angle Davis of Poughkeepsie, who survives him.