Biography of Burleigh Folsom Spaulding of Fargo North Dakota

Burleigh Folsom Spaulding, born in 1853, overcame significant challenges on his path to becoming an associate justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court. He worked tirelessly from a young age, supporting himself through various jobs while pursuing an education. After being admitted to the bar, he arrived in Fargo in 1880, where he embarked on his legal career. Active in the Republican party, Spaulding served as a congressman and played a key role in various committees and legislative initiatives. In 1907, he was appointed as a judge on the North Dakota Supreme Court, a position he fulfilled with distinction. Alongside his professional accomplishments, he enjoyed a loving family life with his wife, Alida Baker, and their five children.

Burleigh Folsom Spaulding, an associate justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, had a remarkable journey to his esteemed position. Born in 1853 in Craftesbury, Vt., he worked tirelessly to attain an education, laboring on a farm and working in a country store to support himself. He attended Lyndon Literary Institute and Norwich University, paying his way through teaching and other odd jobs. After being admitted to the bar in Vermont, he arrived in Fargo, North Dakota in 1880 and began his legal career. Throughout his life, Judge Spaulding remained an active member of the Republican party and served in various capacities, including as a congressman. In 1907, he was appointed as a judge on the North Dakota Supreme Court, a position he fulfilled with great distinction. Beyond his professional achievements, he was also involved in numerous organizations and had a loving family with his wife, Alida Baker, and their five children.

Burleigh Folsom Spaulding, associate justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, was born December 3, 1853, in Craftesbury, Vt. His parents were Benjamin Pendell Spaulding and Ann (Polsom) Spaulding. His father was a Methodist clergyman in Vermont and New Hampshire and died in Fargo in 1906. The subject of the sketch is a descendant of the eighth generation from Edward Spaulding, who migrated from England to Jamestown in 1619, and thence to Massachusetts in 1630; and is also a descendant of the eighth generation from John Folsom, who came from England to Massachusetts in 1638.

Judge Spaulding received his education in the common schools, Lyndon Literary Institute, Lyndon, Vt., and Norwich University, Norwich, Vt., graduating from there in 1887. He left home when eleven years of age and worked on a farm for his board, clothes and three months school per year until sixteen years. For the next four years he worked in a country store, going to school for three months each winter and working nights and mornings. He had decided in the meantime to get an education and attended the Lyndon institute and later Norwich University, paying his way by teaching, working on a farm, and canvassing for books during vacation. He was principal of Albany Academy in 1877-8, and then read law in Montpelier, Vt., paying his expenses by serving as a clerk in the legislature, by canvassing and in other ways. He was admitted to the bar in Vermont in March, 1880, and on March 31, 1880, arrived in Fargo, North Dakota, where he has resided ever since. In May, 1880, he entered into a law partnership with S. G. Roberts. In 1881 C. F. Templeton, now Judge Templeton, succeeded Mr. Roberts and continued in partnership with Mr. Spaulding until 1877, when Judge Templeton was appointed to the bench. The firm has since been successively Newman, Spaulding & Phelps, Newman & Spaulding, Newman, Spaulding & Stambaugh, and last Spaulding & Stambaugh.

Judge Spaulding has always been an active member of the Republican party, and was chairman of the Republican state central committee in 1892-4. He was largely instrumental in organizing the Republican Good Government League of North Dakota and served as its chairman until appointed to the supreme bench in 1907.

Mr. Spaulding served the people of Cass county as superintendent of schools in 1882-4, but declined a renomination. He was a member of the constitutional convention in 1889. He was nominated by the Republicans and elected in 1898 to the fifty-sixth congress. In 1900 he was tendered a renomination if he would support a certain slate being made up. He declined to accept the terms and the nomination went to Mr. Marshall. In 1900 he was again nominated and elected to the fifty-eighth congress. In 1902 a combination was effected which resulted in the nomination of Mr. Gronna to succeed him. While in congress Mr. Spaulding served on the committees on banking and currency, war claims and territories. One term he was chairman of the sub-committee having in charge revision of the laws relating to Alaska, and of several other important sub-committees. He was also a member of the sub-committee which drafted the statehood bill. He secured the adoption of an amendment to the aportionment bill giving North Dakota two representatives instead of one. He was instrumental in securing a reduction of the tariff rate between Porto Rico and this country to fifteen per cent of the Dingley rate. He passed the bill in the house opening the Fort Buford reservation to settlement, adding half a million acres to the available farming land of the state. This was said to be the most important bill any new member secured during the fifty-sixth congress.

On February 1, 1907, he was appointed judge of the supreme court without solicitation on his part, and is filling this high office with distinguished credit to himself and the commonwealth.

Judge Spaulding was one of the organizers and is still a director of the Merchants National Bank of Fargo. He is a thirty-third degree Scottish Rite Mason, a noble of the A. A. O. M. Shrine, and is a member of the Elks and the University and Commercial Clubs of Fargo and the University Club of Washington. He was married November 25, 1880, to Miss Alida Baker, daughter of David and Emily Cutler Baker. Five children have been born to them: Deane Baker, Frances Folsom, Roscoe Conklin, Burleigh Mason and Carlton Cutler Spaulding.


C.F. Cooper & Company, History of the Red River Valley, Past And Present: Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns And Villages of the Valley From the Time of Their First Settlement And Formation, volumes 1-2; Grand Forks: Herald printing company, 1909.

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