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Hon. Peter Couchman


Peter Couchman was born in the town of Broome, July 28, 1833, and traces his ancestry back to Germany. His great-grandfather came to this country about the year 1780, and settled in Duchess county. Philip Couchman, his father, lived in Canada a number of years, and was living there at the outbreak of the war between England and the United States in 1812. He was a Whig in politics, and would have probably remained so had he not become disgusted with the actions of the Whigs who lived as neighbors to him while in Canada; and expressed their sympathies for Great Britain while the Democrats were espousing the cause of their country. He left the party then and there.

The subject of our sketch is the son of Philip Couchman and Zilpha Winans, of Albany county; he is the youngest of a family of ten children, eight of whom are now living. Mr. Couchman lived at home until his father's death in 1857. He attended the district schools of his native town; and in 1862 was united in marraige to Mary Bloodgood, of Conesville. He first entered the political field as a candidate for Supervisor of the town of Conesville, in 1865, when he was elected by a handsome majority. As a proof of his popularity we need only say that he was re-elected for eight consecutive terms; and again he came before the people in 1871 as candidate for Member of Assembly, when he was elected, running far ahead of his ticket; he was re-elected the following year. Being a Democrat, in a Legislature largely Republican, the heavy committee work naturally fell to the party in power. During his first term he served on the Committee of Internal Affairs of Towns and Counties, and on Committee on Expenditures of the House. During his second term he served on the committee on Agriculture and the committee on Charitable and Religious institutions. Mr. Coachman rendered good service to the people of his County in securing for them a deed to the lower Stone Fort in Schoharie, a relic of the dark and bloody days that are connected with the history of the County. It had been purchased by the State, years ago for an arsenal. Adjutant-General Rathbone recommended the sale of all the State arsenals, this one among the number, but through the exertion and influence of Mr. Couchman it was deeded to Schoharie, free of cost. The building was used as a fort and church, and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The old building is an object of great interest, and is held more than dear by the descendants of the glorious old patriots that took shelter within its walls.

In 1880 Mr. Coachman was repeatedly urged by many of the reliable Democrats to accept of the nomination for Congress from his district, which comprised Ulster, Green and Schoharie counties. The nomination would have been equivalent to an election, as the district was strongly Democratic, yet Mr. Coachman refused the proposed honor, much against the wishes of his friends, owing to the fact that he perceived a growing feeling in the district against electing a Schoharie man to the office. The wisdom of his course became apparent, when, as the result of the election, the one who was nominated from Schoharie county was badly beaten, and owed his defeat to this one reason.

Of Mr. Coachman's brothers, John W. served in the Legislature of 1860; three brothers are ministers, Mill and John are Methodists, and Philip is a minister of the Christian Church. In connection with Mr. Couchman's public career we must mention the fact that the handsome and commodious court-house at Schoharie was built while he was in the Board of Supervisors, and we simply write the truth when we say that but for the position taken by him and one or two of his associates, instead of the fine structure we now see, there would have been something decidedly inferior.

Mr. Couchman is a farmer, and makes his business as such a sort of profession. A large part of his time at home is devoted to his library and the news of the day. His probity, ability, and geniality, have secured to him the confidence and esteem of the people of his district in a marked degree. Quickness of discernment, readiness of action and undoubted integrity are among his most decided characteristics. He has been a Democratic wheel-horse in his town for years, and is well versed in general politics.

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