F.D. Gallup Mansion 1902

photo credit:  photo detail from Carl & Mary Jane Defilippi Collection

see Potter Residence 2002

Click here to return to The Smethport Historic Registry

Ernest Gurdon Potter

As a practicing member of the McKean County bar, Ernest Gurdon Potter, of Smethport, member of the law firm of Gallup, Potter and Gallup, has done much for the better of his community. He is also engaged in business as an oil and gas producer and has other business interests.

Mr. Potter was born July 20, 1893, in Elk County, Pennsylvania, son of Frank and Harriet (Fowler) Potter .His father, a native of Massachusetts, is now deceased. He lived for many years in  Kane, Pennsylvania, and was a drilling constructor. The mother, born in Fredonia, New York.

Public schools provided Ernest Gurdon Potter's early education in Kane, and he had a year of postgraduate study at Kane High School, then attended Bucknell University, at Lewisburg, and was graduated in 1915 from Dickinson Law School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as a Bachelor of Laws. Admitted to the McKean County bar on July 8, 1915, he began the practice of his profession in March 1916, in the office of Fred D. Gallup, in Smethport. His work was of a general nature, covering all phases of the profession, and he continued it until April 27, 1917, when the entry of the United States into the World War changed his plans and he entered military service. After the war, in May 1919, he resumed his association with Mr. Gallup, the two men establishing the law partnership of Gallup and Potter. This firm so remained until, at the admittance of Mr. Gallup's son to the organization, the name became Gallup, Potter and Gallup. Mr. Potter was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on January 30, 1922 and to the Supreme Court of the United States an April 25, 1927.

In addition to many other activities in his profession, Mr. Potter is a member of the McKean county Bar Association, the Pennsylvania State Bar association, and the American Bar association. He also has extensive business interests, notable as an oil producer, as noted above. He is a director of the Smethport Water Company and trust officer of the Hamlin Bank and Trust Company.  A republican in politics, Mr. Potter is a local chairman of his party. He served as district attorney from 1920 to 1927 and again in 134 and 1935, He belongs to the Smethport Country Club, Pennhills Country club and the Smethport Rotary Club (of which he is the past president). In the Free and Accepted Masons he is affiliated with Smethport Lodge, of which he is a Past Master, and is also a member of Coudersport Consistory of Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite and Zem Zem Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. In the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks he belongs to Bradford Lodge. Mr. Potter is treasurer of the vestry of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Smethport.

Mr. Potter's enlistment in the United States Army came on April 27, 1917, when he was assigned to the First Officer's Training Camp Meade, Maryland, and Camp McClelland, Alabama, after he went to Camp Hancock, Camp Jackson, and Camp Wadsworth. On August 16, 1918, he was sent to France with the 53d Pioneer Infantry Regiment. After a winter of service there, he returned to the United States on April 29, 1919, and was honorably discharged May 2 that year with the rank of first lieutenant. For two years he continued in the Army Reserve Corps. He became the first commander of the Bucktail Post, No. 138, of the American Legion, and is a past correspondent of the "40 and 8."

Ernest G. Potter married, July 6, 1918, Marion Gallup. They became parents of the following children: Gurdon G. Potter, born April 29, 1919, graduated from Smethport High School and, in the class of 1941, from Allegheny College, Meadville.  2 William F Potter, born December 15 1925, a junior at Smethport High School at the time of writing.  3. John Franklin Potter, born June 221, 1929, a student in the local schools.  4. Elizabeth Anne Potter, born June 22, 1934, also a student in Smethport.

credit: History of Northwestern Pennsylvania Volume 3 Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. New York

W.F. Potter Will Become New District Attorney

"I don't think there is a single slot machine in McKean County nor do I believe that we have any so-called criminal Element. Our county is in good shape and you might even say we are one step ahead of the Common Wealth's Attorney General who has let it be known that if counties don't clean themselves up, his office will step in to do the job for them. And I certainly intend to do all I an to keep that way."

So stated the new voice of "The People" speaking to the people of the county-a strapping, six-foot plus a lawyer who cut his first teeth while his Dad was McKean county's district attorney.

William Frederick Potter, 38, was born on Dec. 15, 1925, in Bradford Hospital, an event which called his father to be late for the scheduled session of the court at Smethport.

"Naturally I was disappointed back in 1959," he said. " but as it was, things turned out for the best. My campaigning then afforded me the opportunity to get to know a lot of people I have not have known otherwise. So, had I not run then, I would not have had the advantage I did in' 63."

Son of Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Potter, long-time Smethport family, he is married to the former Anne H. Digel. There are five children - Susan, 11:Carol Jan, 9; William Scott, 8; Harriet Anne, 6, and Amanda Lee, not quit six months old.

After graduation from Smethport High School, Mr. Potter attended Staunton Military Academy and then served with the U.S. Army seeing action in the South Pacific. He was discharged in 1946 as a "Buck Sergeant" and continued his education. Upon graduation from Allegheny College in 1950, his formal education was interrupted for another stint of duty-this time with the U.S. Air Force.

In 1955, he received his law degree from Dickenson School of Law in Carlisle and after the six-month preceptorship, entered his father's law firm in Smethport.

Mr. Potter does not anticipate any startling changes in the district attorney's office. He will retain County Detective Gurdon  H. Foley; ha some pretty positive ideas about juveniles:

" I don't think the juveniles offender should be protected simply because he is a juvenile. I think a firm hand should be used and they should not be allowed "to get away with murder."

There is a brimming portfolio of work waiting for the new district attorney. As he himself said: "There are great many things the D.A. handles that the ordinary citizen is not aware of." These include the multiple cases involving motor vehicle violations, juveniles that the court must take jurisdiction over and non-supported cases both from out of state and within the county.

Until a short time ago, there was little or no compensation for these services but he doesn't feel the time was wasted. "I know things that I will do, now that I am on the opposite side of the court room, that I would not have known if I did not have this experience in representing defendants."

And finally he told us: " The district attorney takes an oath to uphold and defend both the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth and to see that the laws are enforced in all prosecution and enforcement, he is 'the people.'"

photo credit:  Lester Jordan, Jr. 2002
return to historic Potter Residence

photo credit:  Lester Jordan, Jr. 2002
return to historic Potter Residence

Back to Green Street

walk over to Gallup Residence go to view from roof of school walk to the side of the Potter residence