(Dec. 20, 1821-May 23, 1882). Born in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Horatio Cooley Newcomb moved with his widowed mother from Cortland, New York to Vernon, Indiana in 1833 where her brother, William Avery Bullock, had opened the first law office in Jennings County. Young Newcomb studied law under his uncle’s direction, passing the bar in December 1844. He married Eliza Peabody in 1845. The couple had seven children. Newcomb moved to Indianapolis in December 1846 to form a partnership with Ovid Butler, Eliza’s uncle and a prominent lawyer.

Newcomb rapidly became a leader of the local bar. He won election as mayor in April 1849 at age 27; he remains the youngest mayor in the city’s history. Reelected in April 1851, he resigned six months later to devote more time to his law practice.

For a man “never known to seek office” (the accepted pretense of the day), Newcomb’s subsequent career was filled with elective and appointive offices as well as other responsible posts: Indiana House of Representatives (1855, 1865, 1867) and Senate (1861); city councilman (1853, 1854) and president, Indianapolis board of aldermen (1877, 1878); president, state sinking fund (1861-1863); director, City Hospital (1870, 1871); Marion County Superior Court judge (1871-1876); and state Supreme Court commissioner (1881, 1882). He also served as political editor of the Indiana Journal from 1864 to 1868. Newcomb declined appointment as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1874 and failed at election to the state Supreme Court two years later.

Revised February 2021

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