I have always enjoyed reading tombstones in Granby Cemetery. Each stone has a short biography of the person buried there. Usually, there is just a birth date and a date of death. One large tomb stone has more. One side reads MALTBIE and the other side reads “William Mills Maltbie, Chief Justice, 1930-1950 Connecticut Supreme Court.”
William Mills Maltbie was born March 10, 1880 and lived his whole life in Granby. His early education was in Granby and he graduated from Hartford Public schools in 1897. He graduated from Yale University in 1901 and four years later graduated from Yale Law School. In 1905, he passed the bar exam and started working at his father’s law firm in Hartford. As many did at that time, he rode his horse to the Tariffville train station and took the train to work.
A few of Maltbie’s accomplishments are included in Who’s Who in America: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable American Men and Women of the United States. The entry reads: “Maltbie, William Mills, Judge. …House of Representatives 1913, Assistant Attorney, Hartford County, 1914-17. Judge Superior Court of Connecticut 1917-1925. Associate Justice Supreme Court of Errors, 1930 Chief Justice Supreme Court of Errors, Member State Library Commission of Connecticut, Trustee of Hartford Seminary Foundation. Author: Index Digest Connecticut Reports Volume 64 to 81 (with Henry Townsend) in 1908. 1924 wrote volumes 64 to 97.” (Volume 19, page 1580).
What Maltbie achieved by 1937 would be a lifetime of achievements for many ordinary citizens. After 1937, he continued to be involved with more projects. For 17 years, he served as president of the Connecticut Prison Association, then president of the Greater Hartford Federation of Churches, chairman of the State Judicial Council, served on the Board of Education for the Blind, and served on the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
When Maltbie became Chief Justice at age 50, he was the youngest and served the longest—20 years until mandatory retirement age of 70. During his tenure, he was involved with 3,685 cases, wrote the majority opinion in 824 cases and wrote 33 dissents. He also gave the oath of office to eight governors. After retirement, he served as a State Referee and served as a one-man grand jury twice, in 1951 and 1954.
The founders of Salmon Brook Historical Society greatly appreciated this man. He helped with the legal work as the society become incorporated in 1959. Judge Maltbie had tremendous energy and took great pride as a jurist and his involvement of helping others. Want to know more about Judge William Maltbie or Granby history? Join the Salmon Brook Historical Society and help us celebrate our 75th Anniversary. Call: 860-653-9713 or visit salmonbrookhistoricalsociety.com