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Mortimer Dormer Leggett is Born

Today in Masonic History Mortimer Dormer Leggett is born in 1821.

Mortimer Dormer Leggett was a Civil War General.

Leggett was born on April 19th, 1821 in Ithaca, New York. At the age of 15 his family moved to Geauga County, Ohio. After helping his father establish a farm in the wilderness, Leggett studied medicine and then the law. Eventually setting up a private practice in Akron, Ohio.

To help supplement his income from his legal practice, Leggett taught school in Warren, Ohio. There he helped to establish the foundation of what we now know as the grade-school system. In 1855  he was a professor of pleading and practice in the Ohio College of Law. He held the position until 1858. In 1858 he became the superintendent of schools in Zanesville, Ohio.

When the American Civil War broke out, Leggett joined the Union Army, serving first on the staff of his friend Major General George B. McClellan. Leggett helped to raise the 78th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and was commissioned as colonel in the unit. He led the unit in several Civil War battles. In 1862 he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers and participated in the Vicksburg campaign. During the Campaign he was wounded and forced to recuperate for some time. When he returned he was given command of the 3rd Division of the XVII Corps during the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman's March to the Sea. He was brevetted, field promoted, to major general of volunteers in 1864, receiving his full commission later the same year.

After the war, Leggett returned to Zanesville for a brief time before being appointed as United States Commissioner of Patents in 1871. He served in the position for 10 years. After resigning, he once again returned to Ohio and to private practice.

In 1884, Leggett started a successful company which later become part of General Electric.

On a tragic note, Leggett's son, Mortimer M. Leggett, was killed in 1873 during the initiation ceremony into Cornell chapter of the Kappa Alpha Society. Leggett's son was blindfolded and walking across a train trestl with other initiates, he tripped and hit his head. The younger Leggett has the unfortunate distinction of being the first known individual to die during a college fraternity initiation ceremony.

Leggett passed away on January 6th, 1896.

Leggett was a member of Amity Lodge No. 5 in Zanesville, Ohio. He was also a member of Cyprus Commandery No. 10, Knights Templar.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.