These biographies and family sketches are copied exactly as found. Undoubtedly there will be minor variations found in later research.
Bishop Whipple. Right Reverend Henry Benjamin Whipple, D.D., L.L.D., Bishop of Minnesota, is a native of Jefferson County. He was born in Adams, February 15, 1822. His father was John H. Whipple, for many years a prominent merchant of Adams, His mother was Elizabeth Wager, a daughter of Hon. Henry Wager, of Westernville, Oneida county, New York. His brothers and sisters were Rev. George Brayton Whipple, Captain John Whipple, Mrs. Z. Hill, Mrs. H. Salisbury and Francis Ransom Whipple. His grandfather Benjamin Whipple, served in the Revolutionary War and was a prisoner on the British ship Jersey.
In writing about his early life, Bishop Whipple has said: "My father designed me for a profession, but when ready for college, my health failed me, and the doctor said the only hope of saving my life was to put me in active business. My father was very anxious that should be carefully trained in mathematics, and as my uncle was professor of mathematics at Oberlin, I was sent to him. The other schools I attended were all Presbyterian schools. My dear wife was a communicant of the Episcopal Church when we were married, and I shall always feel that it was her blessed example, her quiet faith and loving service, which made me, when I had four children, give up a brilliant offer to engage in business in Chicago and become a candidate for Holy Orders in this church."
After leaving Oberlin, Mr. Whipple engaged in business with his father, and at the same time took an active part in political affairs, and was rapidly rising to distinction as a politician. It was remarked of him at that time by Thurlow Weed (who was the shrewdest politician in New York State), that Mr. Whipple was the ablest political manager of any young man then on the stage, and gave promise of taking the very first rank in political life. Circumstances, however, occurred to turn his ambition towards the ministry, and with characteristic energy he immediately entered on the work of preparation.
He studied theology under the Reverend W.D. Wilson, D.D. He was ordained deacon August 17, 1849, and priest, July 16, 1850, by Bishop DeLancey. His first parish was at Rome, New York, which he made one of the most flourishing in the diocese. In 1857 he received an earnest appeal to come to Chicago from a devoted churchman, Mr. Albert E. Neeley. He went without a church, without friends, without assistance, but with a burning zeal in his Master's cause, and an energy of purpose that knew no such word as failure. He rented a hall and went into the streets, the alleys, the by-ways of the city, and gathered in the perishing souls. He rapidly built up a free church, and in two years it was in a very flourishing condition.
During the summer of 1859 he was elected the first Bishop of Minnesota, and on October 13th, same year, was consecrated in St James Church, Richmond, Va. He at once set out for his new field, and decided on Faribault, Minnesota, as his residence. He has steadfastly worked to promote the spiritual welfare of all within his great diocese.
He has devoted his energies in and out of season in the interest of the Indians, and his success in their improvement and evangelization has been something wonderful. He is a recognized authority everywhere on all questions relating to the Indian problem. Among the Indians he is known as "Straight Tongue," or "The Father Who Don't Lie." Not long since an Indian chief was standing on a street corner in Minneapolis, when he said to a bystander, as he saw the Bishop pass on the other side of the street, "There goes a man who never lied to an Indian." For years Bishop Whipple struggled against the iniquitous system carried out by agents of the Government among the Indians. His letters to Presidents of the United States, public officials and memorials to Congress have been both dignified and statesmanlike. He has been a member of several important Indian Commissions sent out by the Government to make treaties, and on more than one occasion, through his influence with the red man, prevented an outbreak. He has to-day in his diocese seven native Indian clergymen, nine churches and one hospital. One of these churches, the Indians requested, should be named St. Cornelia, in memory of the Bishop's wife, and so to-day it stands on the Western prairie as a monument to Mrs. Whipple, one of the best friends these poor people ever had. The Bishop has also been instrumental in securing lands in severalty for the Indians.
A few years ago the Bishop preached in the Chapel of Cornell University. Hon. Andrew D. White, then president, paid him the following tribute: "Take the sermons we had last Sunday, the two discourses preached by the great apostle to the Indians - discourses not only noble in themselves, but preached in such a way that you felt that behind the sermon there stood a man - a very great man - a man who has made his mark on the history of this country; a man to whose honor statues will be erected; a man who has stood between the helpless Indian and the wild greed of the whole Northwest; a man who has a fought scoundrelism and lust and avarice in low places and in high; who has pursued it to the National Capital, and driven it hence; who has taken hold of Governors of States and Presidents of the United States, and has told them; "'f you don't cut loose from these things, I will denounce you to the world,' and he has done it. It was something to sit in the presence of such a man - and his closing words in the afternoon regarding the future of the country and your own part in it - who can forget them? Certainly none of us ever will. There is no man who heard them who was not strengthened by them."
Bishop Whipple has founded and built at Faribault, a beautiful cathedral, the Seabury Divinity School, St. Mary's Hall for young ladies, and Shattuck Military School for young men; also the Breck School for farmer's sons, at Wilder, Minn. All of the institutions have large and substantial buildings with ample grounds, and all are in a flourishing condition.
The citizens of Faribault, on the 25th. anniversary of Bishop Whipple's consecration, honored him by giving him a reception which continued three days, and invited many people from abroad as their guests. At this celebration, the clergy of his diocese presented him with a handsome Bishop's pastoral staff. The Pioneer Press, of St. Paul, Minn,. editorially referring to this celebration, said, that it was not confined to the City of Schools nor to the Protestant Episcopal Church, but the entire Northwest felt an interest in paying him honor, and concluded by saying: "The full measure of the results to grow from what Bishop Whipple has begun with such unerring foresight and such wise practical wisdom, can only be appreciated by posterity. But his venerable figure is prominent among the pioneers and those who wrought valiantly the beginnings of both material and spiritual progress in Minnesota; and the tribute in which those assembled at Faribault, in common with the people of that beautiful city, have united to do him honor, is eminently fitting and deserved. His name will stand not only on the records of the church, but in the memories and upon the historic pages of this great commonwealth of the Northwest."
A writer has said of him: "He stands to-day one of the most remarkable men of America. In the homes of the rich and cultured, among scientists, scholars and savants, he is at home. In the cabin of the slave, the wigwam of the Indian, or the degraded homes of vice and poverty, he is in touch with their infirmities, and leads with a silken cord, the vile, brutal and dangerous characters that infest the slums of great cities. The power of his presence is marvelous."
Bishop Whipple is a natural orator. In action he is a disciple of the Demosthenian school of eloquence. His gestures are sufficiently frequent for effect, graceful, appropriate and well timed. There is something in the tone, inflections and volume of his voice, as he reads the beautiful service of the church, or opens his discourse, that convinces there is heart, soul and intellect there.
Bishop Whipple has visited Europe several times. At the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he preached the opening sermon at the Lambeth Conference, in 1888, in Westminster Abbey, and the same year delivered the annual sermon at the University of Cambridge, England. He received the degree of D.D. from Hobart College, and also from Durham University, England; also the degree of L.L.D., from Cambridge University, England, with much ceremony. On December 7, 1890, he was presented to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle, in a special audience, and received from her a large picture of herself with her autograph, also a copy of Her Majesty's book.
The Bishop has been for 20 years a member of the Peabody Board of Trustees for educational work in the south.
On June 6, 1894, the 35th anniversary of Bishop Whipple's consecration was celebrated in St. Paul's Church, St. Paul, Minn., by the Diocesan Convention. The Daily Globe, of St. Paul, in giving an account of it, said: "The celebration of the 35th anniversary of the elevation of the Rt. Rev. H.B.Whipple, of Faribault, to the Episcopate, occurred last night at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The church was packed to the doors and many people were unable to gain admission. The good and venerable Bishop seemed to be hale and hearty, and participated in the exercises by delivering an able address fitted to the occasion, and suitable for a great man of God, who is rounding up a completed life in a great work. Bishop M.N.Gilbert, the Coadjutor of the diocese, directed the exercises and opened them with a terse address suited to the occasion.
There were a number of Indians present, two of whom were in the convention of 1859 that elected Bishop Whipple. For the first 10 years of the Bishop's work, there was a rapid growth in the rural districts. In the first three years of his service, the Bishop traveled 27,000 miles by wagon, in the discharge of his duties. He slept in frontier taverns and preached in bar-rooms, cabins, log school houses and Indian villages. At the Indian massacre of 1862, at St. Peter, he bound up the wounds of the injured. During the Civil War, he held services on the battle fields in the camps of Generals Meade and McClellan.
In 1879, the close of 20 years' work showed that Bishop Whipple had consecrated 58 churches and confirmed 6,969 persons, and delivered 5,000 sermons and addresses. He did much to encourage immigration, and in 1882, it was said that 10,000 immigrants passed through St. Paul in a single week. He established schools and did a great work among the Indians, as well as building up the church, until there are now 103 clergymen in the diocese.
One of the lay delegates, Hon. Isaac Atwater, in closing his speech at this convention, said: "Bishop Whipple's name has become a household word in the United States, and is as well known in England as the Archbishop of Canterbury's, and he is recognized as the greatest American who has held a seat in the House of Bishops." The magnitude of his educational and benevolent work was also alluded to.
On October 5, 1842, Bishop Whipple married Cornelia Wright, the eldest daughter of Hon. Benjamin Wright, for many years surrogate of Jefferson County. She died in 1890 in Faribault, Minnesota, honored and beloved by all classes for her benevolent and charitable work.
Bishop and Mrs. Whipple have had six children: Mrs. Charles A. Farnum, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Mrs. F.M.Rose of Faribault, Minn.; Mrs. H.A.Scandrett of Faribault, Minn.;Maj. Charles H. Whipple of the United States Army,; Mrs. F.W.Jackson of Cleveland, Ohio, and John Hall Whipple.
Of late years, the Bishop's age and delicate health has made it necessary for him to spend his winters in a mild climate. He has an attractive cottage at Lake Maitland, Orange county, the winter park region of Florida, where he spends the winter months. Here he has built a church in memory of two of his children, and while in Maitland, he is the parish priest. The colored people in the vicinity claim much of his time, and he goes gladly to their churches to preach. They show a loving appreciation of his ministry. Florida being the resort of so many suffering invalids, the Bishop has found there abundant work to do for the Master, and has been to many weary, lonely souls, a friend in need, and a guide to "the peace that passeth understanding."
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Although brief biographical sketches of Mrs. Cornelia Whipple, wife of the Bishop of Minnesota, have from time to time appeared and although she was widely known, both in and out of the church, it seems fitting that her name should also appear in the history of her native town and village. Perhaps no person recalls more vividly her girlhood, her early married life and her sweet motherly ways when the little ones came to brighten their home, than the writer of this sketch.
She was born in Adams, Jefferson county, November 10, 1816. In her childhood she attended the schools of her native village and finished her education at Mrs. Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary. Subsequently she taught in South Carolina, returning in the early part of 1842, and the same year married Henry B. Whipple, who was then a merchant at Adams. She was a lady of culture and great amiability, and the social life of the little village was in those days largely indebted to her. She early became a communicant of the Episcopal Church, and through her influence her husband was induced to abandon tempting business offers and devote himself to the interests of the church. From her early girlhood she seemed eminently qualified for the place she was destined to occupy, and most nobly did she meet the trials and privations incident to her Western life.Her kind interest in the red man, the confidence she inspired in them and their appreciation was often expressed in their own peculiar way. A beautiful tribute to her goodness to them was paid by the Indian chief "Good Thunder," when, at the laying of the corner stone of their church at "Birch Coolie," he asked that the church might be named "St. Cornelia."
During the later years of her life she spent several winters in Florida, and here she became the warm friend of the colored people. Wherever she went she seemed instinctively to be recognized as a friend of the poor, the sick and the needy. It was on one of these southern trips that Mrs. Whipple met with a railroad accident, which, a few months afterwards, terminated her earthly existence. On the last night of her stay in her southern home, we are told, a number of these colored friends asked the privilege of singing their last good-bye beneath her window, and here, in the melodious strains peculiar to their race, they sang "The Sweet Bye and Bye" and "Shall We Meet Over There." This was their last farewell. They never saw her more. The attractive home erected for the reception of the newly wedded pair in 1842, still remains unchanged. "The little church stands near," round which hallowed memories cluster. Mrs. Whipple died at her home in Faribault, Minn., July 16, 1890. Of her it can be truthfully said:
"None knew her but to love her,
None named her but to praise."
JAMES M. CLEVELAND
The history of the town of Adams and of Jefferson County would not be complete, nor should it be written, without prominent mention of James M. Cleveland, and old and nearly life-long resident of Adams. Me. Cleveland was born in 1820, from a family early identified in the history of New England, and is a direct descendant of Moses Cleveland, who came from Suffolk County, England, in 1635, and settled in Woburn, Mass., as appears by the custom-house lists and militia rolls at that date; and from said Moses Cleveland can be directly traced, as descendants, all persons bearing the Cleveland name in the Northern States. Mr. Cleveland was educated for and commenced life as a farmer, and up to 1851 was successful in his vocation, and by industry and foresight paying for and owning a fine property in the town of Adams. He was always a thinking man, not only devising schemes for his own advancement, but for the benefit of the agricultural community in which he lived. He was a prominent and valuable member of the Agricultural Societies of Jefferson County, and was always looked up to as a man of excellent judgment. In 1851 he conceived the idea and established at Adams the business of growing peas, beans, and other seeds for seed purposes for the domestic and foreign markets. This was the first business of the kind ever established in Northern New York, and proved of incalculable value to the farmers of his town and of Jefferson County, whose lands were so well adapted to the cultivation of such products, and furnished them a fine income from their farms, as hundreds can testify who have paid for homes out of this industry alone. Mr. Cleveland conducted this business from 1851 to 1877, when the business was removed to Cape Vincent and subsequently to new York City. As long as Mr. Cleveland was interested in the business it was one of the finest enterprises in the State, and from which he retired with a competency. The farmers of this county will for years to come gratefully remember Mr. Cleveland for the advantages he furnished them, and the fair dealing which characterized his transactions with them. Few men, and certainly no other man in this section of the country, have been endowed with the love of the beautiful and taste for adornment of nature in an equal degree with Mr. Cleveland. His house and grounds where he resides are arranged with the finest idea of symmetry, and a veritable paradise of flowers greets the eye of the visitor in their season, and his neighbors and friends delight in viewing his collections and asking his advice in laying out and beautifying their homes. The people of the village of Adams have fully appreciated this quality on the streets and improvements of different kinds affecting the public.
Mr. Cleveland has always borne an enviable reputation for honesty, integrity and charity. He has been foremost in the advancement of all the interests which pertain to the best advantage of this village and the community in which he lives. All of the religious societies of Adams have in time of need met with liberal donations from him, and the cause of education has received substantial tokens of his liberality from the competence which he enjoys. The poor and needy have have cause in every instance to thank him for kindly remembrance in their adversity, and on all occasions speak of him in terms of praise. In rounding out a life full of business activity, Mr. Cleveland can rest assured that he is and will be gratefully remembered by his fellow citizens.
In politics Mr. Cleveland has always been a Democrat, and though not in any sense a politician, has always stood well in the councils of his party. In 1880 he was nominated for Member of Assembly for the First Assembly District of Jefferson County; and though the district was hopelessly Republican, he made a very successful canvass and led his ticket throughout the district, showing in an eminent degree his personal popularity. Through the general public attest to his worth, yet it is in his own village that he is most appreciated. Ten times have the citizens of Adams elected him to the presidency of the village, and each time by majorities that have made his election almost unanimous; showing their appreciation of his judgment and conservative actions in controlling their municipal affairs.
Mr. Cleveland is a man of culture and information, which has been acquired by contact with men and affairs, augmented by wide experience in travel and research. At various times in his life, on business and pleasure, he has visited nearly all the cities of note in his own country, and traveled through the South and on the Pacific coast, visiting all the places of interest, thus acquiring an enexhaustible store of knowledge upon topics concerned with his country, which it is a pleasure to hear him recount, enjoyed by his neighbors and friends.
JOSEPH LANGFORD GREENE
Mr. Greene was born in Rensselar county, New York, February 8, 1808. He was a grandson of Joseph and Phobe (Langford) Greene who removed to Warwick, R.I., in 1769, and settled in the town of Berlin, being the third family to settle in that town. Mr. Greene's parents. Thomas and Hannah (Rix) Greene, both died in 1812, leaving a family of four young children - - three boys and a girl - - of whom Joseph was the youngest. This little family of orphans was divided among their uncles and raised, under the guardianship of Mr. Thomas Rix, a brother of Joseph's mother, of whose prudence and good management it is sufficient to say, that when Joseph attained his majority, Mr. Rix paid to each of the three brothers $3,000, as his share of his father's modest estate. With this little patrimony, reinforced by a fair education and industrious habits, each of the brothers became prominent and successful farmers. Joseph and Russell Sage were fellow clerks in a grocery and provision store in Troy, between 1825 and 1830. This service, however, did not quite suit Mr. Greene; the sanding of sugar and the watering of whiskey, which were practiced in those days by the direction of their employer, did not exactly accord with the old fashioned ideas of honesty which had been impressed upon his mind by his faithful guardian, and he gave up his position. His chum, Russell, however, continued "in Trade" and prospered. It was but a step from watering whiskey to watering stocks, which Mr. Sage seems to have followed with such phenomenal success that his wealth is now counted by the millions.
A single incident, which occurred in the winter of 1825-6 will serve to show of what material Mr. Greene was made. He was then 18 years old.
It was the custom, in those early days, for the back-country farmers to market their surplus produce in the winter, Troy, 24 miles away, was the market. It was too expensive to spend a night in the city. For this reason, the farmer would leave his home in the night, reach the city early the next morning, sell his load of produce, purchase his supple of groceries, do errands for his neighbors, and return to his home at a late hour the next night.. On on occasion Mr. Greene left his home at midnight, with the usual load, on a home-made sleigh, with its shoes of flattened hard-wood saplings, fastened to the runners with wooden pins. As was the custom, an axe, an auger and other simple tools were carried , in order that in case of an accident on the road, necessary repairs could be made. The night was bitter cold. About 2 o'clock in the morning, on the top of Grafton mountain, one of the sleigh shoes, having worn nearly through, broke, and a portion of it became detached, so that further progress was impracticable. The young man unhitched and secured his team, went to work and unloaded his sleigh, turned it up, cleared away the wreck, shouldered his axe, went into the woods, cut a sapling, brought it out to the road, prepared it, and secured it to his bare-footed sleigh runner, reloaded his produce, and went on his way to market. What would a boy of 18 years do, under like circumstances, in this year of grace 1894 ?
Here, at least, is a lesson for those of our younger men who complain that there is no longer an opportunity for a young man to make his way in the world.
In 1831 Mr. Greene married Susannah, youngest daughter of David Maxson, of Petersburgh, Rensselaer county, and soon after, with an older brother, purchased a fine farm in Brunswick, six miles distant from Troy. In the spring of 1835 Mr. Greene, having sold to his brother his interest in the Brunswick farm, removed to the town of Adams, where he had previously purchased the Francis McKee farm, on the State road, about one and three-quarter miles easterly from Adams village.. Here Mr. Greene's life-work was mainly done. His farm was enlarged from time to time by the purchase of adjacent property; the land was cleared of stones and weeds; new buildings and fences were constructed, and by systematic and thorough methods in farming, it became one of the most productive and valuable farms in the town. Mr. Greene was uniformly successful as a farmer; he was always among the first to adopt new and improved labor-saving machinery. He was industrious, frugal in his habits, temperate in all things, and was a man of excellent judgment. It is, therefore, needless to say that he was able to accumulate a handsome property.
As a neighbor, he was always a lender, and rarely, if ever, a borrower. The worthy poor found in him a steadfast friend and ready helper.
In 1871, his youngest son having died, leaving him alone, he leased his farm. purchased a fine property in, and removed to, Adams village.
In March 1876, Mrs. Greene died. About two years later he married Mrs. E.E.McAlpin of Columbia county.
On April 6, 1886, Mr. Greene died, aged 78 years. He is survived by his late wife and two sons, David Maxson Greene and Albert Sivillian Greene, who own and manage the property left by their father.
In politics, Mr. Greene was always a Democrat. He was supervisor of his town and president of the village. His chief ambition was to be known as a successful farmer, a good citizen and an honorable man, and his ambition was amply gratified.
ALBERT SIVILLIAN GREENE
The subject of this sketch was born August 3, 1838, on the farm of his father, Joseph Langford Greene, 1 3/4 miles east of Adams village. He attended the school district at what was known as the Fox schoolhouse, until he was 13 years of age, when he was transferred to a private school, known as the Adams Seminary. At 17 he decided to take a course in civil engineering at the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute. About Dec. 1, 1855, he passed his examination, commenced his studies and continued them until his graduation with honors, in June, 1859.
In December, 1859, he applied to the Navy Department for permission to be examined for his fitness for appointment to the engineer corps of the navy. In January following he was examined and was specially commended, and on February 17, 1860, received his appointment as a third assistant engineer in the U.S.Navy. He continued in the service, going through the grades of second and first assistant, and the two grades of chief engineer, that of relative rank of lieutenant commander, in which latter he was serving when retired, on August 9, 1893, having been in continuous active service for 33 1/2 years.
As a boy, he was noted for his studious habits, rarely missing a recitation at school until his final graduation, except for a couple of weeks, when sickness prevented his attendance.
When a boy, he manifested a decided taste for mechanical pursuits, building all his own wagons, sleds, traps, etc. As he grew older, he spent much of his time, when not in school, in a machine shop, where he built a complete steam engine; so that when he entered the navy he was not only a theoretical , but also a practical engineer. During his course at the Polytechnic Institute, visits were frequently made to the larger shops and manufactories about the city, and extensive notes and drawings were made; in fact this formed a part of the course in which Mr. Greene was intensely interested.
In his first examination for promotion in the navy, from third to second assistant, he was placed at the head of his class (all promotions at that time depending on a competitive examination); but some time later, owing to much dissatisfaction in the class, a commission was ordered to re-arrange the positions of the officers, and he was placed No. 6 in the class; on his next promotion, he passed through the same experience, being placed at the head of his class on his examination, and later being put down to No. 7 by a commission. At the next examination, however, he was again placed at the head of his class, which position he held until his retirement. In the course of his duty in the navy, he visited all parts of the world where ships of war go, excepting only the East India station.
On his admission to the service, he was detailed for, and later ordered to, the first ship fitting out for the Mediterranean squadron, which was the U.S.S. Susquehanna; but an emergency occurring which required the presence of a man-of-war in the Gulf of Mexico, the ship was ordered there for about four months previous to going to the Mediterranean.
Leaving Vera Cruz, the ship went by way of Key West and the Madeira Islands, direct to Gibraltar, arriving there early in December, 1860. It was here that Mr. Greene first heard of the election of Abraham Lincoln as President. From Gibraltar the ship proceeded directly to the Italian coast, to Spezzia, which is now the great Italian dock-yard, but at that time was an American naval station. Here the ship was quarantined for about three weeks, owing to the illness of one of her officers. After being released from quarantine, the ship sailed along the Italian coast, visiting Genoa, Leghorn, Naples, then Messina, Sicily, where a quantity of supplies for the Christians in Palestine were taken on board, and the ship sailed for Beirut, Syria, where the supplies were delivered to the agents. While the ship was in port, Chief Engineer Greene was one of a party of 12 officers and 50 men, to make a journey to Jerusalem, but owing to severe floods and bad weather, was unsuccessful in reaching their destination, but did make a landing at the Bay of Acre, at a place called Haifa, at the foot of Mt. Carmel, and visited Nazareth, Mount Tabor, the Sea of Galilee, Canal of Galilee, and all the adjacent points of interest. From this point he proceeded to Alexandria, Egypt, where he visited Cairo, the Pyramids and Suez on the Red Sea. From Alexandria they proceeded along the Barbary coast and to Valette, Malta, and after short stay, sailed to Messina, Sicily, reaching there early in March 1861. During the stay in this port, he witnessed the closing battle of the Neapolitan War, in which Garibaldi took such a prominent part - the last struggle for a united Italy independent of the Pope - the bombardment of the citadel by the Sardinian fleet, and by the Sardinian batteries, south and west of the city, and he has now in his possession a fragment of a ten inch shell which exploded at his feet while he was witnessing the battle.
After the capture of the citadel by the Sardinians, the Susquehanna sailed along the Italian coast to Naples and to Genoa, where news was received of the outbreak of the rebellion and the firing on Sumter. On receipt of this news, it was expected that the ship would be ordered home, although the cruise was scarcely begun, and she sailed at once for Leghorn, where orders were received directing the ship to return to the United States, also preliminary orders to deliver the same to the two other ships of the squadron. To accomplish this, it was necessary for the ship to visit Naples, Messina, Malta and the City of Cagliara, on the island of Sardinia, from which point she sailed directly to Cadiz, Spain, where coal was procured for the home voyage. The Susquehanna arrived off Sandy Hook early in June 1861, and every pilot-boat communicated with brought conflicting orders. Finally, after laying off and on for a day, decisive orders were received to proceed to Boston. On arriving in Boston, the Captain, the late G.R.Hollins, and several other officers put aside their uniforms, and, without awaiting any reply to their resignation, which they had sent in, went over the side, and were next heard of in the Confederate service.
The ship having been refitted by an increase in her armament, etc., was ordered for blockading duty on the North Atlantic station; but when off the port of Hampton Roads, had the misfortune to break her paddle shaft, which, of course, disabled her; the wheel of the broken shaft was secured in the wheelhouse, the engine adjusted, and she proceeded into that port with one wheel and one engine, and remained there two weeks, until ordered to return to Philadelphia for a new shaft.
While these repairs were being made, Mr. Greene was detached and ordered as an assistant in the office of the Engineer-in-Chief in the Navy Department in Washington, D.C., the president of the board that examined him having, in the meantime, been appointed Engineer-in-Chief. Mr. Greene remained in this office, employed on the design of the machinery of war ships, and on the trials of a large variety of such machinery of every class of design, and on experimental duty, until December, 1868, when he was ordered to the South Pacific Station, on board the United States steamer Nyack, and visited all the ports of the west coast from Juan Fernandes to Panama andf the Gallapagos Islands.
It was during this cruise that the well remembered earthquake of August, 1868, occurred, and his ship was the first to make the port of Arica, Peru, immediately after that city was destroyed, when every vessel in the harbor was wrecked or swept on shore. His ship remained in this port for about two months, with steam up and everything ready to put to sea at a moment's warning. Earthquake shocks were felt at frequent intervals, and three or four of heavy force were felt nearly every day. Just before leaving this port the ship was coaled from the wreck of the U.S.S. Wateree, which was as upright as though afloat, three-quarters of a mile inland and about four miles away from the landing. The coal was brought to the landing on mules' backs, and taken on board in the ships' boats. Sufficient coal was taken on board for five days' steaming. In this earthquake, which was felt along the entire west coast of America, both North and South, the greatest force seemed to be concentrated at Arica, a city of 30,000 inhabitants, which was entirely destroyed, not a single building left standing. The custom-house, a massive structure of granite, was swept away like a paper house; the railway embankment, with tracks, cars, and locomotives, were all swept out to sea as if they were without weight. This condition extended over a distance along the shore of about five miles, and two locomotives were carried out to sea a distance of a thousand yards and were left standing upright on the bottom where they could be plainly seen from the ship's boats when they were being pulled ashore. Many lives were lost by falling walls and by drowning. The wife of an Americal Naval officer, Mrs. M.L. Johnson, was killed by a falling wall. All the officers and crew serving aboard the U.S.S. Fredonia, except three who were on shore at the time, were drowned. Two little American girls, whose father and mother (named Dyer) were both drowned, were brought home by a bother officer, and were left at Watertown, New York.
In 1869 and 1870, while attached to the U.S.S. Nyack, chief engineer Greene participated in the Panama survey for the Isthmus Canal, and here contracted the Isthmus fever. He returned home by way of Marquisas and the Sandwich Islands, reaching San Francisco in March, 1871.
After this cruise, he remained on shore for nearly a year, when he was ordered to the U.S.S. Mahopac. After six weeks he was detached from the Mahopac and remained on waiting orders for two months, when he was ordered to the U.S.S. Nantasket, then serving in the West Indies. He served on this ship for three months, visiting various ports of the West India Islands, when the ship returned home and he was detached and placed on "waiting orders" for three months, after which he was ordered to the U.S.S. Nipsic, serving in the West Indies; he visited many ports among the Islands during the ten or eleven months of the cruise, when the ship, being unfit for further service, was ordered home and put out of commission. When he joined the Nipsic she had been lying in port for six months, without once moving her anchor, because she was unable to do any steaming, owing to her worn-out machinery. Three days after Chief Engineer Greene joined her she got under way, and steamed almost constantly for ten months.
After being detached from the Nipsic, he was ordered to duty on the Examining Board at Washington, of which Commodore W.E. LeRoy was president; he served on this board three months when he was detached with the highest commendation from Commodore LeRoy, and ordered to superintend government work being constructed at the Washington Iron Works, Newburg, New York, which duty continued for about a year.
After about a year of this duty he was detached and ordered to the U.S.S. Benicia, then to Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, but as she was under orders to proceed to San Francisco, Cal., he was directed to delay reporting until her arrival. This ship cruised on the Pacific coast from Puget Sound to Mexico, Central America, and Panama for a year, when all her officers and crew were transferred to the U.S.S. Lackawanna, and continued the cruise for a year and a half additional, at which time Chief Engineer Greene was detached and ordered as a member of the examining board for the examination of engineer officers for promotion. He remained on this board for about four years, when he was detached and ordered to the U.S.S. Quinnebaug, then serving in the European squadron. He visited all the principal ports in Europe, the Mediterranean Islands, the Barbara coast and the west coast of Africa, and the Egyptian Coast, also the Cape de Verde, the Canary and the Madeira Islands.
During this cruise in 1882, he was at Alexandria, Egypt, at the time of the English attack upon the Egyptians, and witnessed the bombardment of the city, as well as many skirmishes with the Egyptians, in which the English were defeated. The fleet, assembled for the attack on the Egyptian forts, was probably the strongest known to modern times.
After the ending of the Egyptian war, his ship returned to Italy, by way of Smyrna, Constantinople and the Grecian Islands, and finally made an eight months' cruise on the West coast of Africa, returning by way of England, reaching Leghorn, Italy, where extensive repairs were decided upon. While these were being made, Chief Engineer Greene was invalided home.
After a few months he reported himself ready for duty, and was ordered as a member of the examining board for the promotion of engineer officers and continued on this duty for 2 1/2 years, when he was detached, and received various orders for a year.
He made several trials of novel machinery, including a trial of Mr. John M. Forbes' steam yacht Shearwater; trials of two Herreshoff steamers, named Our Mary and The Lily; he also made a trial of a patented system for the burning of crude petroleum for the production of steam in locomotive boilers, and in 1888 was ordered to the U.S.S. Mohican, on the North Pacific Station. This ship was undergoing repairs when an emergency occurred, requiring the immediate presence of a war-ship at Samoa, when all the officers of the Mohican were transferred to the U.S.S. Vandalia, which sailed at once for Samoa, stopping on the way at the Sandwich Islands for coal, and reached Samoa on the 20th of February, 1889. On the 15th of March, the great Samoan hurricane commenced, and on the next day, Chief Engineer Greene was, with others, swept overboard by the seas, (the ship having struck the rocks) and barely reached the shore alive. He was one of the first officers swept over overboard, and had a life-and-death struggle in the water for more than three hours, when he finally reached the shore on a plank, in a completely exhausted condition physically, but with all his mental faculties as clear as ever. It was to this latter fact that he attributes his escape with his life, as he understood every move he made and had a reason for each action. No other person had such a serious experience at the time, or escaped after so long and desperate a struggle in the terrific seas he had to contend with. Several other officers were swept overboard from about the same place and near the same time as himself, including one who was an acknowledged athlete and and expert swimmer, but he was drowned before he could swim 15 yards. Forty-three persons were drowned from the ship Vandalia, which number included the captain, the paymaster and the marine officer.
After the storm, an officer was dispatched to Aukland, New Zealand to charter a steamer to bring the wrecked people home. After considerable difficulty they found a comfortable one, the "Rockton," of about 1,500 tons, and on June 1, about 600 of those wrecked took passage in her, and in 21 days reached San Francisco. Many of the people, especially the officers, had but a scant supply of clothing, and that only such as could be procured in a tropical island, where the natives are always scantily clad, and they suffered more or less when coming into a cold climate off San Francisco. As soon as the ship arrived, it was necessary to procure suitable clothing, and time was allowed for that purpose. The officers were led to believe, by dispatches received, that it was the intention of the Navy Department to order all the officers home at once, but other councils prevailed, and only two of the Vandalia's officers received such orders. Chief Engineer Greene was among those detained at San Francisco, or rather at the navy yard at Mare Island, but he was ordered home five months later. After a short time to visit his family, he was ordered as a member of a board to investigate the Thompson system of electric welding. After the completion of that duty he was ordered to Chicago as inspector of steel shafting for the Monadnock, which was completed late in June, 1890. At the request of Hon. John W. Noble, Secretary of the Interior, Chief Engineer Greene was ordered to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to superintend the erection of the government hot water works there. He was employed eleven months on this duty, when he was ordered to the League Island Navy Yard, where he remained about a year, during which time he was doing inspection duty at Erie, Pa., for over three months, serving on the examining board and a variety of other duties until September, 1892, when he was ordered to the U.S.S. Charleston, in California. He immediately joined his ship and made the cruise around the Horn to Hampton Roads, Virginia, February, 1893, and took part in the naval review and celebration of that Spring.
Chief Engineer Greene is a firm believer in law and order, alike for all, for those high in authority as well as subordinates, and in the course of his service has succeeded in having several branches of law and of wrong to himself and associates corrected, and still hoped, though on the retired list, to have other corrections made, where the plainest of laws are persistently ignored. He is a member of the military order of the Loyal Legion, and of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was retired after an examination by a board of naval surgeons, who decided that he was incapacitated for active duty from causes incident to the service; and recommended his retirement on three-quarters' pay. His home is in Adams, where he usually spends his summers, but the severity of the winter causes him to seek a more southern latitude during that season.
DAVID MAXSON GREENE,
eldest son of Joseph Langford and Susanna (Maxson) Greene, was born in Brunswick, Rensselaer county, N. Y., July 8, 1832. His paternal ancestor was Surgeon John Greene, a purchaser with Roger Williams, at Providence, R. I. In 1643 John Greene, with 11 others, purchased from the Indian chief Miantonomy, of the Narragansetts, about 60 square miles of land on the west of Narragansett Bay, constituting the present towns of Warwick and Coventry. The purchase price was "three hundred and sixty fathoms of wampumpeage."
His maternal ancestor, Rev. John Maxson, who was born in 1638-39, at the site of the city of Newport, was the first white child born on Rhode Island.
In the spring of 1835, the parents of D. M. Greene removed from Brunswick to Adams, Jefferson county, and purchased the Francis McKee farm, located on the State road about 1 3/4 miles east of the village of Adams.
Here D. M. Greene grew up, working on the farm and attending school at the old Fox school-house and at Adams Seminary. In October, 1850, he entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, N. Y., where he was graduated a civil engineer, August 29, 1851; having, by reason of previous preparation and hard work, completed the course of three years in a single year. At the beginning of the year the class numbered 24 members; of these four only were graduated. He returned to the Institute as an instructor, in October of that year.
In the following March he was appointed chairman on the enlargement of the Erie canal, and was stationed at Utica, Rome and Oriskany, on the eastern division of the canals. His first promotion (to rodman) came after 17 days' service. Soon after, he was advanced to the position of assistant leveller, which position he held until the autumn of 1853, when, owing to a suspension of the enlargement, he resigned and went to Ohio, where he was employed as division engineer on what is now the Wheeling & Lake Erie R. R. Here he participated in the completion of the location of that road, and, on Christmas morning, 1853, he drove the last stake, in the Ohio river, opposite the city of Wheeling.
In the spring of 1854, work having been suspended here, he removed to Cherubusco, Whiteley county, Indiana, where he had charge of a division of 20 miles of what is now a portion of the Wabash R. R. In August of that year, work having been suspended, he returned to Adams, where, in the following January, he married Maria N., the second daughter of the late Judge Calvin Skinner. In September, 1855, he returned to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as professor of Geodesy and Topographical Drawing.
In February, 1856, he was sent to West Point, where, as a private pupil of the late General Thomas H. Neill, he completed a course in topographical engineering.
In the early spring of 1861, having been appointed an engineer in the United States Navy, he resigned his professorship at Troy, and entered the government service. At this time he was offered the position of chief topographical engineer to the government of Peru at a large salary, and for a period of five years. Under the circumstances, he preferred to serve his own country at a much smaller rate of compensation. Attached to the U. S. frigate Susquehanna, he participated in the naval attack upon and capture of the forts at Hatteras Inlet and at Port Royal, and in the naval attack upon the batteries at Sewall's Point, opposite Fortress Monroe. This latter attack was interrupted by the appearance of the Confederate ram Merrimac, which forced the retirement of all the vessels engaged, and which, a few days later, was blown up by its own officers.
Aside from the engagements referred to, the Susquehanna was engaged in blockade duty on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, from Chesapeake Bay to Mobile.
In September, 1862, he was detached, in the Gulf of Mexico, and ordered to report to the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy for duty, asassistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy, and as instructor in steam engineering at the Naval Academy, then located at Newport, R. I., being the first engineer officer ever ordered to duty at the Naval Academy.
He remained at the Academy until June, 1865, when, at his own request, he was detached, and was subsequently ordered to the Bureau of Engineering, of the Navy Department, at Washington, as assistant to the Chief of the Bureau. Here he remained until May, 1868, when, at the solicitation of the late Senator Ira Harris, he was granted leave of absence for six months, to engage as principal assistant engineer in charge of investigation in connection with plans for the extension of the Albany city waterworks.
In February, 1869, he was detailed as engineer in charge of the U. S. sloop Narragansett, which was being fitted out for a cruise in the West Indies.
In June, of that year, the yellow fever having broken out among the officers and crew of the Narragansett, D. M. Greene being one of the victims--the ship was ordered to proceed to Portsmouth, N. H., where the officers and crew were removed to a hospital on the Isle of Shoals, and after a detention of two weeks in quarantine, were detached. In September, of that year, he was detailed as engineer in charge of the port admiral's steamer Frolic, in New York Harbor. He reported for duty, and at the same time tendered his resignation--having tired of the service.
While on duty in Washington, he was appointed, by the Secretary of the Treasury, a member of a government commission which was charged with the examination and test of various devices, intended to secure the collection of the revenues on distilled spirits.
Immediately after resigning, he proceeded to Troy, N. Y., where he resumed the general practice of his profession of engineering.
In 1870 he was appointed engineer to the State Commission which had been created by the Legislature, and charged with the test of such devices as might be presented for the substitution of steam for animal power on the canals of the State. A prize of $100,000 was offered for the best device which, in the opinion of the commission, should be an effective and economical substitute for animal power, as applied to the propulsion of canal-boats.
In January, 1874, he was appointed division engineer of the eastern division of the State canals, and in July of that year was made deputy State engineer, and filled this position until January, 1878, when he resumed his practice in Troy.
In September, 1878, he was appointed director of and professor of geodesy, etc., in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy. This position he occupied during a period of 13 years, and resigned in June, 1891. During all of this period he had been actively engaged in the practice of his profession, and was consulting engineer to the board of county commissioners of Berkshire county, Mass.
After severing his connection with the Polytechnic Institute, he was at once made the consulting engineer of the Arnold Print Works, at North Adams, Mass., which position as well as his connection with the Berkshire County Commission, he still retains. He also acts as general consulting engineer.
He has been for many years a director of the Troy City National Bank; also of the Citizens Steamboat Company; a director of the Glens Falls Brick and Terra Cotta Company, and a director and vice-president of the McDonald Stone Company, of Watervliet, N. Y.
He is a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States; of the Sons of the American Revolution; of the United Service Club of New York city; of the American Society of Civil Engineers; of the American Society of Naval Engineers; of the American Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers; and a Fellow of the Geographical Society.
He is chairman of the Committee of Public Safety, of Troy, N. Y., an organization which sprang into existence in March, 1894, after the brutal murder of Robert Ross at the polls, on March 6. This committee has for its object the conviction and punishment of offenders against the election laws, and especially of those who participated in the murder of Ross. Already the murderer of young Ross has been convicted and sentenced, as has also the assailant of the brother of Robert Ross. And the end is not yet. The committee consists of 100 picked citizens, and D. M. Greene was elected, unanimously, as their chairman.
HON. HARRISON FULLER
was the son of William Fuller, who, with his father, Samuel Fuller, emigrated from Vermont in 1830. William settled on the farm where his son now lives, about two miles east of Adams Centre, on what is known as the Old State Road. He became a thrifty farmer, owning a goodly number of acres, and accumulated a comfortable fortune for those days. In early life he married a sister of the late Henry Keep, and four children were born to them. Two girls died, one at five and one at twelve. Harrison, the subject of our sketch, was an only son, and first saw the light on the farm where he now lives in 1845. By the will of Mr. Keep, Mrs. Fuller inherited a munificent legacy, which shows the high estimation in which she was held by her brother, and indicates also the strong ties of kindred that existed between the brother and sister. Toiling, like all farmers' wives, to assist her husband in gaining a competence, she proved herself equally capable in maintaining the even tenor of her way when she became the possessor of a large fortune. The son, Harrison, must have inherited to a large extent his mother's good sense, for when he became an inheritor of her wealth, instead of seeking a home in a large city, and living in what might be termed "magnificence," he still remains on the paternal farm, living a life devoted to his farming pursuits, ready at all times to give aid to such improvements as in his judgement will bring the largest amount of good to the people of his native town and county.
Mr. Fuller was educated at the public schools, and later at the Union Academy of Belleville. In 1865 he married Miss Ella Snelll, who is eminently fitted to preside over his home, which is more than an ordinary one. A glance at his beautiful residence, nestled down amid the shade of ancestral trees, whose age is double that of the owner, reveals a home where, without the slightest ostentation, one finds every appointment that can be brought to a country house to render it an abode of peace and domestic happiness; and, while plenty reigns, thrift and frugality also abide.
By untiring industry and wise investments, Mr. Fuller had added farm to farm, until 1,400 acres of rich and productive land adjoining his residence are his. One hundred and fifty cows roam over his pastures, whose milk is daily carried to a neighboring cheese factory, while his fertile and well-cultivated fields and meadows furnish sustenance through the long winter months incident to this climate, for his large amount of stock. Mr. Fuller also owns a farm in the town of Orleans, constituting him one of the largest holders of cultivated lands in the county of Jefferson.
Mr. and Mrs. Fuller have one daughter, Miss Nannie, 13 years of age, whose pleasant manners and winning ways lend an added attraction to their home. Mr. Fuller has one sister living, Mrs. John A. D. Snell, who resides at Adams Centre, and who, with her brother, shared the legacy bequeathed to their mother.
Mr. and Mrs. Fuller are known for their hospitality; their eminent social qualities render them favorites among their friends.
Mr. Fuller is vice-president of the Farmers' National Bank Adams, and a director of the Watertown National Bank. He has always been an active and leading Republican in his town, and prominent in the management of the Republican politics of the county, but never held office until January, 1892, when he took his seat in the Assembly of the State, having been elected the preceding November. This position he has held three successive terms, the duties of which he discharged in a most creditable manner and to the entire satisfaction of his constituency. During his first term the most important measure he introduced was a bill providing for the compulsory education of children, which had the support of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and of the chief educators of the State. This bill was also largely applauded by the people, and the beneficent result of this action is well known. He also introduced a bill making the repairing of armories a State charge, thus relieving the counties where armories are located from a large expense. He introduced local bills providing for the restoration of water diverted from Black river for canal purposes, and making an appropriation for carrying out this object; also a bill to regulate the speed of the Watertown street railway.
In the session of 1893, Mr. Fuller introduced bills making an appropriation for the construction of a bridge over Black river, a bill declaring Black river a public highway, and a bill enlarging the scope of investments of savings banks.
In the session of 1894 he was chairman of the Committee on Banks, a member of the Committee of Ways and Means, and of that on Trade and Manufactures. He introduced bills regulating the fees of medical examiners, establishing a fish hatchery at Clayton, to tax the capital of foreign corporations doing business in this State, concerning mortgages, and in relation to the water power of Black river. Mr. Fuller's re-election in 1894 completed his fourth term in the Assembly. J. A. C.
Among the many successful farmers of Jefferson county, perhaps none are better known and more highly respected than Royal Fuller. Being a man of indomitable perseverance, and believing that "where there's a will there's a way," he has seldom failed to accomplish whatever he planned to do.
He came of good old New England stock, and at the age of 11 years removed with his father, Samuel Fuller, from Vermont, in 1830. He remained at the paternal home until December, 1847, when he married Miss Sally Fuller, a lady bearing his own name, remotely, however, if in any way connected with her husband's family.
With this estimable lady Mr. Fuller spent many happy years. Toiling together upon the farm where Mr. Fuller still resides, they accumulated, by thrift and industry, large possessions. Mr. Fuller is enabled to look upon a well-earned heritage, where he can sit beneath his "own vine and fig tree," and enjoy the good of his labors.
This beautiful farm lies about two miles east of Adams Centre, and embraces 400 acres of fertile, well-cultivated land. Fifty cows, with other valuable stock, graze upon its hills, and its valleys are well watered. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Fuller, but only one grew to manhood, Mr. Millard Fuller, who, with his wife and young daughter, reside upon an adjoining farm.
Mrs. Fuller died in 1889, and a few years later he married Mrs. Cordelia Sawyer, widow of Orman Sawyer, a lady highly valued by her acquaintances for her many desirable traits of character, and for rendering her husband's home one of genial hospitality.
For three years Mr. Fuller acted as president of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society, and for six years was one of the town assessors. He was also supervisor of the town of Adams three years.
From the date of its organization, in 1868, Mr. Fuller was president of the Adams State Road Cemetery Association, which lies midway between the old State road and Adams Centre, a description of which has been given elsewhere. In reference to this cemetery, in the addition of land and its various improvements, lies one of the many instances where Mr. Fuller displayed that remarkable perseverance which has characterized his entire life.
About 1866 it was found necessary to enlarge the grounds then occupied, and the owner of adjacent land refused absolutely to sell at any price, although a large sum was offered. Mr. Fuller, however, did not abandon the idea of enlarging the grounds, and he drafted a bill empowering the Association to increase its boundaries, and L. J. Bigelow, then a representative of the first Assembly district, introduced it in the Assembly, but it failed to pass.
Again, when Hon. Jay Dimick was a member, the same bill was introduced, and again it failed. While the Hon. Norris Winslow was Senator, he introduced the same bill, which passed both houses, but was vetoed by the Governor for the alleged reason that it was a local bill. It was then changed to one of general application, was re-introduced and passed both houses, and was signed by the Governor.
After several years of determined perseverance, he was enabled to make amicable terms with his neighbor, securing the desired land.
Many other cemetery associations in this State, similarly situated, are indebted to Mr. Fuller for the passage of this bill, relieving them from like embarrassments. In politics Mr. Fuller was originally a Whig, and reverts with pride to having cast his first vote for William Henry Harrison in 1840. Since the formation of the Republican party, he has been an active member and a consistent representative of that organization. J. A. C.
JOHN R. VAN WORMER
was born in Adams, Jefferson county, N. Y., March 14, 1849. He was educated in the schools of his native town and in the larger school of worldly experience. At 16 years of age he learned telegraphy. For many years he worked at the business and travelled extensively. He was studious, industrious and ambitious. When Hon. George B. Sloan was speaker of the Assembly of this State, Mr. Van Wormer was his private secretary. In January, 1878 he became private secretary to Hon. Roscoe Conkling, and clerk of the Committee on Commerce of the United States Senate, of which Mr. Conkling was chairman. Later, Mr. Van Wormer became intimately associated with Hon. Thomas L. James, in the management of the New York postoffice. In 1881, when Mr. James became Postmaster-General in President Garfield's cabinet, Mr. Van Wormer became his private secretary, and was chief clerk of the Postoffice Department throughout Mr. James' tenure of office. During the investigation of the "Star Route" frauds and the reorganization of the postal service which ensued, Mr. Van Wormer, as the executive officer of the department, developed business capacity, fertility of resources, judgement of men and things, courage of conviction and capacity for work, which commanded generous and general recognition, and which have characterized his career since he left the department. In 1882 he became connected with the newly-organized Lincoln Bank in New York city. For many years he has been secretary and general manager of the Lincoln Safe Deposit and Warehouse Company, and prominently connected with numerous enterprises, public and private. In 1892 and 1893 he was secretary of the Union League Club.
Mr. Van Wormer has been an active Republican, and a believer in the doctrine of protection to American industries, since 1871. He has been a prominent and effective speaker for the Republican party.
HON. CALVIN SKINNER,
eldest son of Levi and Polly (Chapin) Skinner, was born at Vernon Centre, Oneida county, New York, January 22, 1801. His early education was acquired at Fairfield Academy, Fairfield, New York. He entered Hamilton College in the fall of 1819, and was graduated in August, 1823. He pursued the study of law at Utica, N. Y., under the instruction of Greene C. Bronson, who afterwards was Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Mr. Skinner was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court at Albany, in February, 1826, and settled at Adams, N. Y., the same year. He was married to Miss Mary Bronson, daughter of Deacon David and Nancy (Dunham) Bronson, at Vernon Centre, N. Y., March 9, 1826. He was appointed commissioner of deeds in November, 1827, and held the office ten years; in 1829 he was appointed examiner in Chancery, holding this office 16 years; also held the office of master in Chancery 10 years. In 1845 he was appointed first judge of Jefferson county, continuing in this office until the extinction of the old Court of Common Pleas, being the last judge appointed by the Governor. For two years he officiated as surrogate. Judge Skinner was a judicious and able lawyer, a wise counsellor, and, as a judge, he brought to the discharge of his duties a mind strengthened by thorough study and a wide experience, and maintained on the bench a character pure and unsullied, commanding, by the intelligence and unswerving impartiality of his judicial action, the confidence and respect of his colleagues and of the community in general. He was always deeply interested in the village of Adams--being its president, and for several years a trustee.
During the pastorate of the Rev. W. W. Ninde, Judge Skinner identified himself with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and remained a devoted member. While on a business trip in the West he became ill, and died at Chicago, Illinois, March 31, 1859, and his funeral occurred April 5, 1859, at the Methodist Episcopal Church at Adams, N. Y., Bishop W. X. Ninde, then pastor of the church at Adams, officiating.
Judge Skinner is well remembered by the author of this History as a most industrious and conscientious lawyer and public officer. As a citizen he had no superior.
An ancient marble monument in Rural cemetery, Adams village, bears the following inscription:
"Edward Salisbury, a native of Rhode Island, moved to Western, Oneida county, New York, in 1793, and to Adams in 1802. He was the father of twelve children: Nicholas, Edward, Duty, Enon, Smith, Lodowick, Alexander, D'Estaing, Levina, Sarah, Charlotte and Abigail.
"He was a first lieutenant in the French and Indian war, serving from 1755 to 1758. Was in several battles, and at Ticonderoga, a severe engagement, his brother was killed by his side and several balls pierced his own clothes. He was in the battle on the Plains of Abraham, when Wolfe fell. He served in the Revolutionary war, and died March, 1829, aged 104 years, and in full possession of all his faculties."
Other centenarians are buried in the cemeteries here, but none showing so rare an American record as that of Lieut. Salisbury. Smith Salisbury, a son of the former, spent his entire life in Adams. In 1813 he married Miss Catherine Caulkins, of Lorraine, who still survives him at the advanced age of 98 years. He was one of the patriotic citizens who helped to carry the cable overland to Sackets Harbor during the war of 1812.
Charlotte Salisbury married Mr. David Smith, whose ability as a business man was early demonstrated in the new settlement which first bore the name of Smith's Mills.
D'Estaing Salisbury, the youngest son of this large family, married Miss Elizabeth Adams, of Amherst, Mass., soon after they moved to Adams, Jefferson county. In the midst of a prosperous business his health failed him, and he died the 11th of February, 1813, in his 34th year. He left four children. Caroline Salisbury, the eldest, became the wife of Mason Curtiss, who was at one time a prominent citizen of Adams. Lorinda married the Rev. John Covert, who was associated with the Rev. James R. Boyd, of Sackets Harbor, in the Black River Literary and Religious Institute, at Watertown. Mrs. Covert was a remarkable student, and of great assistance to her husband in after life.
Hiram Salisbury was for many years a successful merchant in Adams. He was a man of irreproachable character, industrious and enterprising. He married Miss Sarah, the eldest daughter of John H. Whipple. Later in life they removed to Blairstown, Iowa. In 1885 Mrs. Salisbury died very suddenly of heart failure, and two years later Mr. Salisbury followed her, leaving a daughter without parents, brothers or sisters. Her uncle, Bishop Whipple, was deeply interested in her welfare, and other friends as well. The family enjoyed much social prominence, and were regarded with affection and respect by all who knew them.
Lucinda, the youngest daughter, now in her 83rd year (1894), resides in Detroit, and is the sole survivor of her family. She married Henry Smith, son of Jesse Smith, whose biography appears elsewhere in this History. She was the mother of six children, three of whom are still living: Milo A. Smith, of Denver, Col., and two in Detroit, Jesse Merrick Smith and Mrs. Millard T. Conklin.
A branch of the Salisbury family resided for many years in Theresa; others found their homes in more distant lands, while yet a few remain in this vicinity, among them the wife of Rev. Dr. Osgood Herrick, Mrs. Henry Brimmer, Mrs. Norton, Mrs. Fred. W. Streeter, all of Watertown, and Mrs. Dr. Manville, of Adams. There were also two highly respected citizens who bore the name of their ancestor, Edward Salisbury. They were cousins. The eldest was at one time a representative in the Legislature of New York. The other was a man of fine presence, and often seen in command of military companies. He was the father of Mrs. Albert Earl, now of Lansing, Michigan. Both were valuable citizens. The genealogy of the Salisbury family might form a long and interesting chapter in the history of Adams, did space permit.
THOMAS P. SAUNDERS.
Perhaps no resident now living, has done more to promote the growth and interest of Adams than Thomas P. Saunders. He was the son of Isaac and Matilda (Wells) Saunders, who were born in Rhode Island. His ancestors were English, some of whom settled in Schenectady and others in Rhode Island. The original name is Saunders, although other descendants of the same family spell the name Sanders.
Thomas P. was born in Petersburg, Rensselaer county, N. Y., in 1821, and removed with his parents to the town of Adams at the age of 13, where his father purchased a farm a mile below the village. He was one of a family of seven sons and two daughters. During his boyhood he attended the public schools, and afterwards received an academic education at Belleville Union Academy. At the age of 21 he entered the law office of William C. Thompson at Adams village. In 1850 he was admitted to practice, and the same year married Lorana D., only daughter of Andrew Blackstone. During all these years Mr. Saunders has practiced his profession, at the same time he has given a large share of attention to the erection of public and private buildings, which have increased the growth and prosperity of Adams, adding greatly to its beauty and wealth.
Every public enterprise has always found a ready helper and sympathizer in Mr. Saunders; every improvement that could benefit the laboring classes has had his hearty cooperation. The business blocks and private dwellings erected by Mr. Saunders, have cost over $150,000--a much larger amount than has ever been expended by any one individual in Adams for such purposes. He was active in securing the incorporation of the village in 1852, and besides often being one of its trustees, has been elected ten times its president, oftentimes without opposition. During the terms of his presidency, the electric light plant and the waterworks were established. The village has 12 miles of concrete sidewalks, much of which was laid during his administration.
In 1890, through his efforts, the boundaries of the village were enlarged, adding 100 to its population. Adams is one of the cleanest and most beautiful villages in Jefferson county, and might be classed with "Sweet Auburn--loveliest village of the plain." Notwithstanding its improvements the village has never been in debt, Mr. Saunders, with others of its citizens, always insisting on paying for every improvement as soon as completed.
In 1864 Mr. Saunders purchased a large tract of timbered land in Redfield, Oswego county, on which he erected a saw mill, which has furnished a large amount of the lumber used in his buildings.
Although it cannot be truthfully said of Mr. Saunders that he was ever an office-seeker, he was nominated and elected by the Democrats to the office of special county judge, being the first incumbent after the office was created. Under President Polk's administration, Mr. Saunder's held the office of village postmaster. At one time during an unfortunate division in his party, he was nominated by a portion of them for the office of surrogate, but to avoid unpleasantness he withdrew his name. While Mr. Saunders has held responsible positions in the Democratic party as State and local committeeman, he has never asked his party friends for place or position.
Mr. and Mrs. Saunders have no children, but Rena Louise, the motherless daughter of Dr. W. G. Saunders, is theirs by adoption. Mr. and Mrs. Saunders are renowned for their hospitality. They have resided on Church street since their marriage in 1850, and their home is among the beautiful residences that adorn its entire length.
MISS MARRIETTA HOLLEY,
the subject of this sketch was born three miles south of Adams village. Her father, John M. Holley, was a farmer residing on the road leading from Adams to Pierrepont Manor and Marietta was the youngest of a family of six children. She received the rudiments of an English education at a neighboring school, and later, with the exception of teachers in music and French, she pursued her studies at home.
Endowed with quick perception, ready wit, and being a close observer, with an ability to describe whatever she saw or imagined, she has been able to place before her readers some of the most amusing and mirth-provoking books that have ever been given to the public. They have attained a wide reputation, and their humorous character has seldom been equaled and never surpassed, while underneath her wit, pathos and satire, one discovers a principle and a motive, coupled with an earnest desire to improve and benefit mankind.
The difficulties she has encountered in attaining her present position, have been heroically overcome, and her success is truly wonderful when it is taken into consideration that she has been entirely unaided save by her own efforts.
She was extremely fond of music, and gave lessons on the piano for several years; fond also of painting and literature, but she wisely chose the latter as her life work. She is widely known as Josiah Allen's Wife, and under this signature her writings have found a warm welcome with all classes, and in nearly every civilized country of the globe. Large numbers of her last book were taken to Africa, and she has recently received from Japan words of warm appreciation and praise. Her books have been translated into other languages, and the foreign press has been fully as appreciative as the American.
Her father died several years ago, and she has abundantly proven her filial love by caring for her aged and widowed mother, and her love for the old homestead by still remaining in it and making it her home during a part of every year. Her books bring her a comfortable income.
In place of the little red house of her childhood, stands a beautiful residence of modern architecture, filled with a collection of articles both rich and rare. Valuable paintings adorn its walls, and a variety of musical instruments resound to her touch, among them a piano, organ and phonograph--the latter produces the finest modern music, both vocal and instrumental, and she also uses it in connection with a typewriter in her work. These are rare evidences of her success in life, and she has won them all by her literary works.
The open fireplace, the soft antique rugs, all add a charm to the interior of this lovely home. Among other attractions are found the life-like pictures of many of our most talented writers, many of whom are among her intimate friends. Her place is known as "Bonnie View," and the road leading by it as "Garden Road," a name given by the poet, Will Carleton, who, with his wife, are warm friends of Miss Holley.
Seven acres are included in the grounds about her residence, a portion of which lies on either side of Garden Road. A large, closely clipped, velvety lawn, studded with shade trees, with clinging vines and flowering shrubs, surround her dwelling--while an adjacent woodland of ancient forest trees add to its rural beauty.
Passing through a garden of flowers on the opposite side of the road, a long gravel walk, tree bordered, leads to natural springs whose waters have been used to form fish ponds, where speckled trout may be seen playing in the clear waters; miniature waterfalls, a summer house beneath the shade of evergreens, rustic seats and other attractions, too numerous to mention, evince the taste of their owner.
Although Miss Holley is a busy woman, and her time is necessarily precious, she excels in hospitality, and her ability to place her guests at ease is remarkable; few, if any, leave her home without a desire to return at some future day.
An admirable trait in her character is the entire absence of anything approaching egotism or ostentation, and a visitor cannot fail to be impressed with her apparent self-forgetfulness in her efforts to make her guests happy.
A maiden sister resides with her, and a little girl of eight summers, who needed a home, finds a warm shelter beneath her roof. Miss Holley'y first book was published in 1873. Its title is "My Opinions and Betsy Babbett's." Her later works are as follows: Samantha at the Centennial, My Wayward Pardner, The Mormon Wife (illustrated poem), Miss Richard's Boy, Samantha at Saratoga, Sweet Cicely, Poems, Samantha Among the Brethren, Samantha Amongst the Colored Folks, Samantha at the World's Fair. J. A. C.
WILLIAM WESTWOOD WRIGHT.
In 1801 David Wright emigrated rom Deerfield, Mass., to what was then an almost unbroken wilderness, known later as the town of Adams. In 1807 he married Miss Anna Williams, the second daughter of David Williams, a Revolutionary soldier, who, after the close of the war, came from Vermont and settled in Rome, Oneida county. On April 28, 1813, William Westwood Wright, the subject of this sketch, was born in Adams village. He was one of a family of four children, and an only son. During the early years of his life he attended the public schools, and later became one of the first students on the opening of the Academy at Belleville, N. Y., where he remained the next two years. On leaving school he became a clerk in the hardware store of Norris M. Woodruff, of Watertown, in whose employ he remained three years. During these years he resided in the family of Mr. Woodruff, and an attachment between Mr. Wright and the family of his employer was formed, which lasted through life.
From Mr. Woodruff's business thrift and habits of perseverance in overcoming obstacles, Mr. Wright earned many useful lessons, which characterized his after life. In 1833 Mr. Wright's family removed to Rome, Oneida county, and William W. found employment in the hardware establishment of James Sayre, of Utica. Here, also, he remained three years, having been particularly successful thus far in life in giving the highest satisfaction to his employers. On leaving Mr. Sayre, Mr. Wright commenced his career as a contractor of public works, in which business he continued through a period of 50 years. His first contract was on the enlargement of the Erie canal between Troy and Albany. After a successful completion of this contract in 1841, his reputation as a contractor was established, and a part of the public work both on the canals and railroads in New York State, has been under his supervision.
At the completion of his first contract, Mr. Wright purchased a farm in Adams, which now constitutes the entire portion of the north side of Church street, and his father's family returned from Rome to reside again in Adams.
In 1838 Mr. Wright became acquainted with Mary Louise, youngest daughter of John Ryker, of New York city, whom he often met at the home of Col. David Hamilton, who resided upon what was known as the Troy road. The acquaintance ripened into an attachment, and in September, 1839, they were married at the home of the bride in New York city. Mr. Ryker, the father of Mrs. Wright, was born in New York in 1779. He belonged to one of the old Knickerbocker families, and resided in New York until his death in 1835, four years previous to his daughter's marriage.
Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wright, two of whom died in childhood, and five still survive him. After successfully completing several contracts, among which was that of the Breakneck channel, opposite Newburgh, on the Hudson, Mr. Wright purchased a home on Patroon street, Albany, now known as Myrtle avenue, where he resided several years, but subsequently having become interested in large contracts in the interior and western portion of the State, he removed to Geneva, where he spent the remaining years of his life.
In political life Mr. Wright was widely known throughout the State. He was a lifelong Democrat, and was ever found true to his principles and firm in his conviction, frequently representing his county in State conventions and his congressional district in national conventions. his counsel was often sought by the prominent leaders of his party, and his advice followed.
In 1861 he was elected canal commissioner, and again in 1869, performing the duties of that high office ith integrity and to the satisfaction of his constituency. Soon after the expiration of his second official term, Mr. Wright gave his attention to the business of dredging, in company with his eldest son, A. R. Wright.
In 1881 the Eastern Dredging Company was organized, with W. W. Wright as president, which position he held until a few weeks previous to his death, June 12, 1889, when he resigned, and his son, A. R. Wright, of Portland, was his successor. The company was for many years largely engaged executing government contracts in the Kennebec river and harbors of the New England coast.
In 1887 Mr. Wright was appointed a member of the Board of Control of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station, at Geneva. We quote from the minutes and resolutions of the Board of Control, passed June 25, 1889:
"Perhaps no citizen of the State of New York, in his day, was better known and more highly esteemed than he.
"Born 76 years ago in Adams, Jefferson county, N. Y., he early in life became a firm friend of his namesake and neighbor, Silas Wright. The friendship was mutual, and cordially reciprocated by the great senator.
"Of the statesmen whose confidence our colleague enjoyed, may be named Michael and John T. Hoffman, Horatio Seymour and Charles J. Folger.
"We who have been associated with him as a member of this Board of Control, know full well how wise were his suggestions and how well he did the work confided to him, as chairman of our executive committee."
Mr. Wright was an exceedingly genial man, and his society was much sought after. His ready conversational powers, his wit and humor, rendered him a most pleasing companion, and his presence was ever welcome to people of all stations in life. His ready sympathy for the afflicted, the generous impulse of his heart, all served to call forth the words so often expressed by many a toil-worn man--"I have lost my best friend."
Filial love was among the prominent traits in his character, and although he was ever known as the busiest of busy men, his aged parents were never for a day forgotten, and an oft-repeated message of affection or a timely gift gladdened their hearts, and cheered them in their declining years.
His attachment to the friends of his early days, those born in his native town, who grew to manhood by his side, among whom were Bishop Henry B. Whipple, the late R. B. Doxtater, and others of his boyhood, were referred to in his latest hours with an undying affection.
He was extremely fond of reminiscences, and having a most retentive memory, coupled with large descriptive powers and close observation, he was enabled to give to the press from time to time most interesting bits of history of the long ago. Indeed, had his writings been compiled, they would have made a most charming volume.
His father having emigrated from Deerfield, Mass., he took a deep interest in Memorial Hall at that place, which was dedicated in 1880. By invitation, Mr. Wright delivered an address before the Association, at its annual meeting in February, 1886, which was greatly appreciated by the large and highly interested audience present. He also caused to be hung upon its walls the portraits of his father and his father's family, consisting of three brothers and two sisters.
Mr. Wright's family still occupy the handsome residence known as Northlawn, at Geneva, which embraces ive acres of smoothly shaven lawn, shade trees of every variety adapted to the climate, together with commodious buildings. This house was the pride of its owner, and his memory is so identified with it that few would care to see others enjoying that which his hands had helped to render so attractive.
In her early life, his eldest daughter became the wife of Col. John S. Platner, who faced many a battle of shot and shell, and, for laurels won in his country's cause, was breveted a brigadier general. But a disease contracted during his service, cut short his earthly existence, and in less than a month from the time of his marriage, his earthly career was ended, and true to his memory she still remains his widow.
A. R. Wright resides in Portland, where he still conducts the business in which his father was interested. Mrs. Wright has a daughter and two sons, who still reside at the paternal home. Mr. Wright's youngest sister, Mrs. E. J. Clark, of Watertown, still survives him, being the sole remaining member of the family. J. A. C.
Mrs. Clarke, in giving the above sketch of her distinguished brother, has refrained, through a motive which all will understand, from awarding very high praise to Mr. Wright. The author of the History remembers no man whom it was a greater pleasure to know than William Westwood Wright. He was a product of those earlier days in Jefferson county--the era of her ablest men--when those "bold men, their names remembered or forgotten, had first explored, through perils manifold, the shores of this new land; who levelled forests, cleared fields, made paths by land and water and planted commonwealths;" an era when those early ones began to see growing into manhood their sons, who inherited the faith, the zeal, the industry--even the restlessness of their sires. From such environments and heredity young Wright sprang, and proved himself fit to stand with the ablest men in the State. He was a man of many excellencies--an industrious man, progressive even to the verge of hazard--rounded out in all the attributes of gentleness and companionship--a wholesome character, from whom you could always learn something--a man of high standard in morals, in politics, in business. In his fidelity to his native county he was remarkable. Every Jefferson county man he met was as a brother. In his eyes Jefferson county's fame was the fairest, her sons the ablest, her daughters the most beautiful. I never saw this loyalty in a mean man nor in an ignorant one. To him travel was only a means for drawing comparisons between other lands and his own native county, where his kindred lay buried; where he was himself born--where all his earliest ambitions had their inception and first development. Looked upon in any light, he was an estimable personality--one whom it is a delight to remember. He best honored himself when he honored his native county--for it showed him a worthy son, and she remembers him among those other faithful ones, who, in other lands, amid other environment, have "justified the honors they have gained."
ORVILLE CHESTER BROWN, better known in the history of Kansas by the name given above, was a Northern New York boy, having been born at Litchfield, in Herkimer county, February 25, 1811. He received the usual education afforded in the common schools of those days, followed by brief terms at the Oneida Institute in Whitestown, Oneida county. When a mere lad he was among the first in his neighborhood to sign a temperance pledge, and that pledge was never broken. The writer does not introduce this remark as an indication of Mr. Brown's morality or of his faithfulness to the cause of temperance, but as showing his strict fidelity to any rule of life when once adopted. To this peculiarity may be traced his adhesion to the Kansas cause.
His father's family, at quite an early age, looked upon him as their greatest dependance. At 17 he worked the small place belonging to his father, raising what he could, and putting in all his spare time doing any work obtainable from the neighboring farmers; in winters sometimes making the peculiar fan-shaped heavy baskets used by the furnacemen at the Paris iron foundry, in Oneida county, then an important establishment. He was an only son, but he had several sisters. His mother walked with a crutch from her eighth year, yet she raised a numerous progeny. They were an unusual family, even for those days of early struggles for existence, when marked characters were developed, and the young so early taught to bear the yoke of service. Young Orville proved equal to every task put upon him, though there were weeks when the family had no meat, and not much flour--green corn and early potatoes standing between them and starvation or beggary.
It is not strange that a child of active mind, brought up under such conditions, and a toiler almost from the cradle, should have advanced ideas of freedom and personal liberty. After various pursuits, principally in merchandise, he went along as others did, turning his energies to the best possible advantage; not forgetting to take several voyages at sea, fishing for cod on New Foundland, and then a more extended journey, in which he visited Napoleon's tomb at Elba; teaching school at times, then a trusted clerk in some large establishment. He at last opened a dry goods establishment at Belleville, Jefferson county. His sentiments upon the subject of chattel slavery were early intensified when he was clerk in a Utica dry goods store. There was held there a convention to organize a State Anti-Slavery Society, and the delegates were driven out of the Bleecker Street Church by a mob. Gerritt Smith, who was present, promptly invited the whole assemblage to share his hospitality at Peterboro, and to that place the convention adjourned. Young Brown took a deep interest in that matter, and went to Peterboro with the delegates, though then a scarcely a voter. Thenceforward he was a devoted and resolute Abolitionist, and the quality of his devotion was soon to be tested in Kansas, upon which fruitful land the slave-power had cast their devouring eyes, and were ready to take any risk in order to make it a slave State.
The year 1840 found him at Belleville, where he continued until 1848, removing finally to New York city, where he remained as a salesman until 1854. That was the year he decided to emigrate to Kansas. He had now several children, one of whom, Spencer Kellog Brown, born in Belleville, August 17, 1842, was destined to fill an important niche among the heroes of history. "Dulcet et propria pro patria mori" (It is sweet and holy to die for one's country), was yet to be his song, as it was the song of Nathan Hale.
Reaching Kansas with his family, Brown found, in a prospecting tour, a spot where the Osage river joined the Potawatomie, leaving a wedged-shaped piece of land. This spot he at once named "Osawatomie," and there he stuck his pre-emption stake. He went to work and founded the town, being its first president, and the little village prospered remarkably. The place being settled by Northern and Eastern people, quickly became an object of special hatred to the Missourians, who were well organized and supplied with arms and money, boastfully declaring their ability to wipe out any free-soil town in the State. They did not hesitate to make the country around Osawatomie a favorite camping ground, and one night a party of them were set upon there by free-State men, and over a score were killed in their sleep--a barbarity they had often practiced upon others.
This attack was bitterly resented, and in June, 1856, a pro-slavery gang attacked the town of Osawatomie, completely sacking it, Brown being only too glad to escape with his life. His wealth and business career were at once dissipated, and as his boldness of speech and determined opposition to the encroachments of slavery had made him a marked man, he was forced to leave the State rather than live in constant dread of assassination. He returned East with his family, and has been for many years a resident of Adams.
No name is more indelibly connected with Kansas and the cause of freedom, than "Osawatomie" Brown's. He was dreaded by the Missourians more than any other man, for he was a good fighter, ever vigilant, and of undoubted courage. So that Jefferson county has not only contributed statesmen, inventors, scholars and soldiers to the cause of civilization, but also a leading Kansas free-State fighter. In his noble son, Jefferson county has also contributed one of the martyrs to the "strife engendering" cause of freedom.
SPENCER KELLOGG BROWN,
the eldest son of Osawatomie, was an officer under Porter during the attempts to open the Mississippi to the Gulf. Young Brown was in command of a small force that had been ordered to destroy a certain ferry somewhere in the parish of Baton Rouge, when he was set upon by a strong guerilla band and captured. He was sent to various prisons in the South, but was finally taken to Richmond, Va., and hung after 14 months' imprisonment, upon the false charge of being a spy. By what process the Confederates reached such a monstrous conclusion, the writer cannot state; but the matter caused much comment at the time in all the newspapers of the North. It is probable that his fate was precipitated by the hatred the pro-slavery men felt for his father, but his official murder may have been deliberately planned as revenge, for the Federal government hung one or two of the Southern desperadoes who infested the North, intent on arson or pillage.
But viewed in any light, young Brown's death was uncalled for by anything he had done. He was in uniform when captured, commanding a war-like party, and obeying the commands of his superior. His death was only one of the many horrible crimes perpetrated by the insane men who were attempting to carry on a government under the name of the Southern Confederacy.
JESSE SMITH OF SMITHVILLE.
Among the many men of prominence in the early history of Jefferson county, was Jesse Smith. His adventurous spirit led to large operations not only in Smithville, Sackets Harbor, Cape Vincent and Clayton, but over the great lakes and down the St. Lawrence river to Montreal and Quebec.
He was born in Massachusetts, February 25, 1784. His parents moved to Nelson, N. H., when he was two years old. Little is known of his early life. It is traditional that his father was in the battle of Lexington, and that he was known as Captain Ezra Smith. Jesse went to Jefferson county, N. Y., in 1804, and settled first in Rodman when the country was new, and began life by clearing land and making potash.
He married Miss Polly Felt, February 12, 1806, and then went to Smithville, the village taking his name. He was the father of ten children, four sons and six daughters, three of the latter dying in infancy. But one of this large family is now living (1894), Mrs. Eliza A. Brownell, of Peru, Indiana. An early record of his life speaks of him as "one of the most energetic and active business men who have lived in the county, and from small beginnings arose to affluence, and controlled a business which, for extent and importance, has had few parallels." In 1828 Mr. Smith was the Presidential Elector from Jefferson county, the counties then voting separately, instead of the whole State upon one ballot as now.
While living in Smithville he engaged in milling, merchandise and other minor operations incident to pioneer life, and gradually became interested in the commerce of the lakes. About 1828 he entered the hewn-timber business for the Montreal and Quebec markets, and took into partnership Mr. Eldridge G. Merick. They collected the timber from Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron, and transported it by vessels across the lakes to Clayton, N. Y. There it was made into rafts, where were propelled by sails down the river, scarcely running faster than the current would have taken them. These rafts were divided into sections; a large one composed of from 20 to 30 sections. At the rapids extra men were taken on, often requiring from 200 to 300, with a pilot for each section.
The business of ship-building began at Clayton in 1832, by Smith and Merick. From two to four vessels were built annually, making a total of from 60-70, and included most of the splendid steamers of the Ontario and St. Lawrence Steamboat Company's line. The first vessels built were the Jesse Smith and Horatio Gates.
Mr. Smith was a man of remarkable tact in all his business relations. A little anecdote is told of him, showing this trait: He was travelling at one time with a large amount of money in a common carpet bag, and where he stopped for the night he found a rough lot of men playing cards, drinking and carousing generally. He took in the situation at once, and carelessly dropped his bag in a corner, and, with his characteristic shrewdness, slept upon it during the night as a tired man would, though with one eye open, well knowing his life would have been of little account had these men known the contents of his pillow.
During the war of 1812, Mr. Smith was associated with Col. Elisha Camp and others of Sackets Harbor, in the comissary department, and did excellent service. General Brady and Commodore Woolsey were the commanding officers at that time.
Mr. Smith left Jefferson county in 1836, and located in Newark, Ohio. About 1838 he erected a stone building near his home. The lower part was used for merchandising, and the next year he opened the upper rooms for banking, under the firm name of Jesse Smith & Sons. Here he did a very successful business until the great financial crisis of 1847, when, through the failure of others, he was obliged to succumb. This was a severe blow to him, as his great business career, from small beginnings, had been his pride thus far through life. He called his creditors together and said to them if they would give him time no one should lose a dollar. He kept his word, paid them all and had a balance left sufficient for all the necessary demands of life.
Mr. Smith and Hon. E. G. Merick remained life-long friends, each ready to help the other in any emergency.
About 1858 he removed to Peru, Indiana, where he died January 7, 1867, respected by all who knew him as an honest, high-toned man; one who had filled a wide space in business life, and had come through without a blemish upon his reputation. In this respect he resembled Mr. Merick, who also left a name entirely unsullied.
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