Penn People

Irving Knott Baxter

1876 - 1957

Penn Connection

  • LL.B. 1901
  • Member of track team 1898, 1899, and 1901
  • Member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity
  • Member of Penn Chess Club

Irving Knott Baxter was born in Utica, New York, on March 25, 1876, and was educated in public schools there before graduating from the Utica Free Academy in 1895.

While attending college at Trinity University in Hartford, Connecticut, Baxter set a new world record at the New England Championship for high jump and also won the 1897 national high jumping championship. He then entered the University of Pennsylvania Law School; during his years as a Penn law student, Baxter was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, the Penn Chess Club, and the Penn track team.

While still in law school, Baxter competed in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, France. He took home three silver and two gold medals, winning both the high jump and pole vault competitions and placing second in the standing high jump, the standing triple jump, and the standing long jump. When he retired from competitive track and field a few years later, Baxter had the distinction of having never lost a high jumping contest.

In 1903, after graduating from law school, Baxter was admitted to the State Bar of New York and worked at the firm of Nash and Jones on Wall Street. Later that year he returned to Utica to open an office and was soon after chosen to be the special city judge on the Democratic ticket. In 1921, Baxter was appointed U.S. Commissioner of the Northern District of New York. After resigning four years later to focus on his law practice, he concentrated on defending violators of the Volstead Act. As a lifelong member of the Democratic Party, he was a member of the Utica Democratic Club, the Utica Commandery. He served in World War I as a private in the Second Training Company and later the Coast Guard. Mr. Baxter died in a Utica Hospital after a long illness on June 13, 1957.