Publius Virgilius Rogers

Portrait of Publius Virgilius Rogers.

Subject: Publius Virgilius Rogers
Date of Birth: December 30, 1824
Date of Death: July 2, 1895
Artist: Benoni Irwin
Location: Buttrick Hall, Trustee Room

Sitter: Publius Virgilius Rogers was born in Antwerp, Jefferson County, NY on December 30, 1824. Rogers went to preparatory school at Watertown Institute, before matriculating in the sophomore class at Hamilton College. He graduated at the top of his class in 1846. Rogers was known for being well-balanced and mature.

After graduation, Rogers worked at the law office of Skinner and Brown before becoming the first cashier at the Watertown Bank and Loan Company. He was appointed cashier of the Fort Stanwix Bank in Rome, NY in 1850 and then moved on to a cashier role at the Bank of Utica in 1853. Due to his highly successful financial planning and management, in 1876 Rogers was elected to succeed Benjamin N. Huntington as the president of the bank under its new name, the First National Bank of Utica. As president he was lauded for his integrity and watchfulness. He served in his presidential role up until his death in 1895, his son, Charles B. Rogers ‘87 succeeded him in the presidency.

Additionally, Rogers concurrently served in various other corporate administrative positions in Utica. In 1872 he was elected Treasurer and Director of the Utica Water Works Company. He was also the director for the Mohawk Valley Company, the Utica Water Mill, the Skenandoah Cotton Company, and the Willowall Bleaching Company. Rogers also had many philanthropic positions. In 1889 he was elected as the Director of the Board at the Utica State Hospital, a mental health facility, and acted as Vice President of the Utica Home for the Homeless.

Rogers served as a trustee of Hamilton College (1869-1895) and as the Treasurer of the College (1880-1887). He remained loyal to the College throughout his life and made his last appearance at Hamilton at the Eighty-Third Commencement ceremony. Rogers passed away on July 2, 1895.

Artist: Benoni Irwin (1840-1896) was a Canadian-born artist. He trained at the National Academy of Design in New York City and then trained in Paris with the famous French portraitist Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran. His works were featured in exhibitions all throughout the United States and in 1889, Irwin was elected as an Associate Academician at the National Academy of Design.

The Portrait at Hamilton: Rogers presented the portrait to the Hamilton College Portrait Collection in September of 1892. There was no information found on where the portrait originally hung, but in 1967, the portrait was placed in the Trustee Room in Buttrick Hall.

“Benoni Irwin.” Benoni Irwin – Artist, Fine Art Prices, Auction Records for Benoni Irwin, accessed May 12, 2019,

Hamilton College Alumni Review 3 (1938): 41-42.

Laird, Louis K.L., ed. Hamilton Literary Monthly 30, no. 1 (October 1895). Google Books.

Portrait Collection. Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art. Hamilton College. Clinton, NY.