College when fifteen years old, and was graduated from that institution in 1834. Having studied law with William H. Seward in Auburn, he was admitted to the bar in 1837, and practiced with John Jay, and after his death with Hamilton Fish. His tastes, however, drew him toward the physical sciences. While in college, he had yielded to them, and became assistant to the Professors of Chemistry and Metaphysics in preparing their class lectures, and had made pieces of apparatus with his own hands for them; and having found the scattered parts of an old telescope in the lumber-room of the college laboratory, he had reconstructed the missing pieces and put the whole in order. His own means, to which was afterward added the fortune brought by his wife, made the transition from a life of professional work to one of travel and study and amateur experiment an easy one. During a residence of several years in Europe, he studied optics under Prof. Amici, a famous adept in that science, and acquired knowledge which he was destined to put to most fruitful use in after-years.
After his return home he built upon the lawn of his home at Eleventh Street and Second Avenue, New York, an observatory which has been called the finest and best-equipped private astronomical observatory in the country. It had a transit instrument, and a refracting telescope with an object-glass eleven and a half inches in diameter, made by Fitz, with a second glass for photographing, corrected by his own new methods and finished by himself; the seeing lens, when photographs were to be taken, being unscrewed from the tube and the photographing lens being put in its place. A similar instrument was constructed under his direction for Dr. Gould and taken by him to the Argentine Republic, where it is still in use, a portion that was broken during the voyage having been replaced under Mr. Rutherfurd's directions.
For use in his own observatory, in place of this instrument, Mr. Rutherfurd made with his own hands an equatorial telescope having an object-glass of thirteen inches aperture. In order to employ it for photography without being compelled to take out the seeing object-glass, he constructed a third lens, which, being placed outside of the ordinary object-glass, converted the telescope into a photographing instrument. The visual focus of this telescope was of fifteen feet two inches distance, and its photographic focus of thirteen feet. In this construction he took account of the effect of temperature on the length of the galvanized iron tube. He devised and constructed a measuring machine for measuring the star-plates, arranged to determine the position-angle and distance of every star on a plate from a central star; and with this had measures made on many of the star-plates, among them the