Daniel Kellogg Leitch was born in Skaneateles on September 28, 1834, the son of George Leitch and Catharine (Kellogg) Leitch, and the grandson of Daniel Kellogg, attorney and financier. He did not spend much of his childhood here, attending first Aaron Skinner’s boarding school for boys in New Haven, Connecticut, then Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, followed by Union College in Schenectady and Albany Law School, graduating in 1860. He practiced law in Auburn for a year, but then “was called home to assist his mother in financial affairs.”
Managing the Kellogg money was a full-time job for the descendants of Daniel Kellogg. He had died in 1836, and left a fortune estimated in the “several hundreds of thousands of dollars,” held in trust for his wife and seven children. To give you an idea of its value: $100,000 in 1836 would be the equivalent of $2 million today. And Daniel Kellogg left “several hundreds.” Also, the estate of Daniel Kellogg’s brother-in-law, David Hyde, in trust for Hyde’s daughter, Chloe, was interwoven with the Kellogg trust.
D. Kellogg Leitch’s father, George, was the original executor and had active charge of the estate. By 1848, he had borrowed heavily from the Kellogg estate, and the Kellogg estate had borrowed from the Hyde estate. George Leitch, to compensate Chloe Hyde, conveyed to her two properties in Syracuse that he valued at $47,000. However, the properties were actually worth much less and, surprise, mortgaged by George Leitch for at least half their value. In short, when George died in 1855, he had pretty much made a dog’s breakfast of the estate and its accounting. Hence, it is no surprise that Catherine Leitch called her son home in 1861 to assist in her financial affairs.
Catherine died in December of that year, but D. Kellogg Leitch did not return to the practice of law. He served as Justice of the Peace for one year, and then retired, spending his time almost wholly indoors, citing his “failing health.” At his home on East Academy Street, his wife Lavinia, who he married in 1867, saw to his needs, with the help of a servant and a handyman/gardener.
D. Kellogg Leitch spent his time in reading, and receiving the occasional visitor. He became known as an excellent source of free, trustworthy legal advice, for businessmen and poor men alike. Such was his knowledge of his library that when a question was raised, he could point to a book on the shelf, give the page number, and say, “You will find your answer there.”
He was also known to be generous to those in need, and especially for anyone who had lost an animal. When the First Presbyterian church was in need of funds, D. Kellogg Leitch could be relied upon to advance the necessary sum. He could also be counted on to host Sunday School picnics, of churches both Catholic and Protestant, on “his grounds.”
He was generous with the village as well. On July 27, 1871, the Skaneateles Press reported:
“We understand that D. Kellogg Leitch, Esq., has given a strip of land, twelve feet wide, running along the east side of John Street from Genesee to Elizabeth, upon condition that the corporation will grade the same to a level with the traveled street, and set out trees and make other necessary improvements. The addition will give the street a width of 51 feet and 6 inches. In consequence of Mr. Leitch’s liberality, the name of the street will be changed to Leitch Avenue.”
In 1883, D. Kellogg Leitch became the executor of the Kellogg trust and served in that capacity until his death, at the age of 51, in 1891. He was remembered as a scholar and a gentleman, by a street named in his honor, and his monument in Lake View Cemetery.
* * *
Frederick R. Spencer’s portrait of Daniel Kellogg, which hung in Kellogg Leitch’s home on Academy Street, was given to the Onondaga Historical Association by Leitch’s widow in 1908.
Charles Loring Elliott’s “very competent” copy of Spencer’s portrait (shown above) was done in 1837 for the Bank of Auburn, and is today in the collection of the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn.
Lavinia Leitch also made a donation in her husband’s memory toward the stained glass windows of the First Presbyterian church.
The photograph of Daniel Kellogg Leitch at the beginning of this piece is from Past and Present of Syracuse and Onondaga County, New York (1908) by The Rev. William M. Beauchamp.
For a glimpse into the thicket of the Kellogg finances, I would recommend “Kellogg v. Kellogg” in Reports of Cases Decided in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York (1916) on Google Books.
The present residents of Leitch’s home on Academy Street found some of his books in a crawl space, behind a trap door, and thoughtfully passed them on to the Skaneateles Historical Society. Below, Leitch’s signature on the flyleaf of Things as They Are in America (1854) by W. Chambers: