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Portrait and biographical record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York. Containing portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the counties. Together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States online

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Online LibraryChapman Publishing CompanyPortrait and biographical record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York. Containing portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the counties. Together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States → online text (page 8 of 58)
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his administration. He served the nation well
and faithfully until the close of his administra-
tion, March 4, 1885, and was a popular candidate
before his party for a second term. His name
was ably presented before the convention at Chi-
cago, and was received with great favor, and
doubtless but for the personal popularity of one
of the opposing candidates, he would have been
selected as the standard-bearer of his party for
another campaign. He retired to private life, car-
rying with him the best wishes of the American
people, whom he had served in a manner satisfac-
tory to them and with credit to himself. One
year later he was called to his final rest.



(Stephen grover cl,evei.and, the

/\ twenty -second President of the United States,
VlJ/ was born in 1837, in the obscure town of
Caldwell, Essex Countj^, N. J., and in a little
two-and-a-half-story white house, which is still
standing to characteristically mark the humble
birthplace of one of America's great men, in
striking contrast with the Old World, where all
men high in office must be high in origin and
born in the cradle of wealth. When the subject
of this sketch was three years of age, his father,
who was a Presbyterian minister with a large
family and a small salary, moved, by way of the
Hudson River and Erie Canal, to Fayetteville, N.
Y. , in search of an increased income and a larger
field of work. Fayetteville was then the most
straggling of country villages, about five miles
from Pompey Hill, where Governor Seymour
was born.

At the last-mentioned place young Grover com-
menced going to school in the good, old-fashioned
way, and presumably distinguished himself after
the manner of all village boys — in doing the
things he ought not to do. Such is the dis-
tinguishing trait of all geniuses and independent
thinkers. When he arrived at the age of four-
teen years, he had outgrown the capacity of the
village school, and expressed a most emphatic de-
sire to be sent to an academy. To this his fa-
ther decidedly objected. Academies in those
days cost money; besides, his father wanted him
to bgcome self-supporting by the quickest pos-
sible means, and this at that time in Fayetteville
seemed to be a position in a country store, where
his father and the large family on his hands had

considerable influence. Grover was to be paid
$50 for his services the first year, and if he proved
trustworthy he was to receive $100 the second
year. Here the lad commenced his career as
salesman, and in two years he had earned so good
a reputation for trustworthiness that his employ-
ers desired to retain him for an indefinite length
of time.

But instead of remaining with this firm in
Fayetteville, he went with the family in their re-
moval to Clinton, where he had an opportunity
of attending a High School. Here he industri-
ously pursued his studies until the family re-
moved with him to a point on Black River known
as the "Holland Patent," a village of five or six
hundred people, fifteen miles north of Utica, N. Y.
At this place his father died, after preaching but
three Sundays. This event broke up the family,
and Grover set out for New York City to accept,
at a small salary, the position of under- teacher
in an asylum for the blind. He taught faithfully
for two years, and although he obtained a good
reputation in this capacity, he concluded that
teaching was not his calling in life, and, revers-
ing the traditional order, he left the city to seek
his fortune, instead of going to the city. He first
thought of Cleveland, Ohio, as there was some
charm in that name for him; but before proceed-
ing to that place he went to Buffalo to ask advice
of his uncle, I^ewis F. Allan, a noted stock-
breeder of that place. The latter did not speak
enthusiastically. "What is it you want to do,
my boy?" he asked. "Well, sir, I want to study
law," was the reply "Good gracious!" remarked
the old gentleman; "do you, indeed? Whatever



put that into your head? How much money
have you got?" "Well, sir, to tell the truth, I
haven't got any."

After a long consultation, his uncle offered him
a place temporarily as assistant herd-keeper, at
$50 a year, while he could look around. One
day soon afterward he boldly walked into the of-
fice of Rogers, Bowen & Rogers, of Buffalo, and
told them what he wanted. A number of young
men were already engaged in the office, but Gro-
ver's persistency won, and he was finally per-
mitted to come as an ofiice boy and have the use
of the law library, receiving as wages the sum of
$3 or $4 a week. Out of this he had to pay for his
board and washing. The walk to and from his
uncle's was a long and rugged one; and although
the first winter was a memorably severe one, his
shoes were out of repair, and as for his overcoat he
had none; yet he was, nevertheless, prompt and
regular. On the first day of his service there, his
senior employer threw down a copy of Black-
stone before him, with a bang that made the dust
fly, saying "That's where they all begin." A
titter ran around the little circle of clerks and
students, as they thought that was enough to
scare young Grover out of his plans; but in due
time he mastered that cumbersome volume.
Then, as ever afterward, however, Mr. Cleve-
land exhibited a talent for executiveness rather
than for chasing principles through all their
metaphysical possibilities. "Let us quit talking
and go and do it, ' ' was practically his motto.

The first public office to which Mr. Cleveland
was elected was that of Sheriff of Erie County,
N. Y., in which Buffalo is situated; and in such
capacity it fell to his duty to inflict capital punish-
ment upon two criminals. In 1881 he was
elected Mayor of the City of Buffalo, on the
Democratic ticket, with especial reference to bring-
ing about certain reforms in the administration
of the municipal affairs of that city. In this of-
fice, as well as in that of Sheriff, his performance
of duty has generally been considered fair, with
possibly a few exceptions, which were ferreted
out and magnified during his Presidential cam-
paign. As a specimen of his plain language in
a veto message, we quote from one vetoing an

iniquitous street-cleaning contract: "This is a
time for plain speech, and my objection to your
action shall be plainly stated. I regard it as the
culmination of a most bare-faced, impudent and
shameless scheme to betray the interests of the
people and to worse than squander the people's
money." The New York Sun afterward very
highly commended Mr. Cleveland's administra-
tion as Mayor of Buffalo, and thereupon recom-
mended him for Governor of the Empire State.
To the latter office he was elected in 1882, and
his administration of the affairs of State was
generally satisfactory. The mistakes he made,
if any, were made very public throughout the na-
tion after he was nominated for President of the
United States. For this high office he was
nominated July 11, 1884, by the National Demo-
cratic Convention at Chicago, when other com-
petitors were Thomas F. Bayard, Roswell P.
Flower, Thomas A. Hendricks, Benjamin F.
Butler, Allen G. Thurman, etc.; and he was
elected by the people, by a majority of about a
thousand, over the brilliant and long- tried Re-
publican statesman, James G. Blaine. President
Cleveland resigned his office as Governor of New
York in January, 1885, in order to prepare for
his duties as the Chief Executive of the United
States, in which capacity his term commenced at
noon on the 4th of March, 1885.

The silver question precipitated a controversy
between those who were in favor of the continu-
ance of silver coinage and those who were op-
posed, Mr. Cleveland answering for the latter,
even before his inauguration.

On June 2, 1886, President Cleveland married
Frances, daughter of his deceased friend and part-
ner, Oscar Folsom, of the Buffalo Bar. Their
union has been blessed by the birth of two daugh-
ters. In the campaign of 1888, President Cleve-
land was renominated by his party, but the
Republican candidate. Gen. Benjamin Harrison,
was victorious. In the nominations of 1892
these two candidates for the highest position in
the gift of the people were again pitted against
each other, and in the ensuing election President
Cleveland was victorious by an overwhelming



QENJAMIN HARRISON, the twenty-third
IC\ President, is the descendant of one of the
C^ historical families of this country. The first
known head of the family was Maj.-Gen. Harrison,
one of Oliver Cromwell's trusted followers and
fighters. In the zenith of Cromwell' s power it be-
came the duty of this Harrison to participate in
the trial of Charles I., and afterward to sign the
death warrant of the king. He subsequently
paid for this with his life, being hung October 13,
1660. His descendants came to America, and
the next of the family that appears in history is
Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia, great-grandfa-
ther of the subject of this sketch, and after whom
he was named. Benjamin Harrison was a mem-
ber of the Continental Congress during the years
1774, 1775 and 1776, and was one of the original
signers of the Declaration of Independence. He
was three times elected Governor of Virginia.

Gen. William Henry Harrison, the son of the
distinguished patriot of the Revolution, after a
successful career as a soldier during the War of
1812, and with a clean record as Governor of the
Northwestern Territory, was elected President of
the United States in 1840. His career was cut
short by death within one month after his in-

President Harrison was bom at North Bend,

Hamilton County, Ohio, August 20, 1833. His
life up to the time of his graduation from Miami
University, at Oxford, Ohio, was the uneventful
one of a country lad of a family of small means.
His father was able to give him a good education,
and nothing more. He became engaged while at
college to the daughter of Dr. Scott, Principal of
a female school at Oxford. After graduating, he
determined to enter upon the study of law. He
went to Cincinnati and there read law for two
years. At the expiration of that time young Har-
rison received the only inheritance of his life — his
aunt, dying, left him a lot valued at $800. He
regarded this legacy as a fortune, and decided to
get married at once, take this money and go to
some Eastern town and begin the practice of law.
He sold his lot, and, with the money in his pocket,
he started out with his young wife to fight for a
place in the world. He decided to go to Indian-
apolis, which was even at that time a town of
promise. He met with slight encouragement at
first, making scarcely anything the first year.
He worked diligently, applying himself closely to
his calling, built up an extensive practice and
took a leading rank in the legal profession.

In i860, Mr. Harrison was nominated for the
position of Supreme Court Reporter, and then be-
gan his experience as a stump speaker. He can-



vassed the State thoroughly, and was elected by
a handsome majority. In 1862 he raised the
Seventeenth Indiana Infantry, and was chosen its
Colonel. His regiment was composed of the raw-
est material, but Col. Harrison employed all his
time at first in mastering military tactics and drill-
ing his men, and when he came to move toward
the East with Sherman, his regiment was one of
the best drilled and organized in the army. At
Resaca he especially distinguished himself, and
for his bravery at Peachtree Creek he was made
a Brigadier- General, Gen. Hooker speaking of
him in the most complimentary terms.

During the absence of Gen. Harrison in the
field, the Supreme Court declared the ofSce of
Supreme Court Reporter vacant, and another
person was elected to the position. From the
time of leaving Indiana with his regiment until
the fall of 1864 he had taken no leave of absence,
but having been nominated that year for the same
ofiice, he got a thirty-day leave of absence, and
during that time made a brilliant canvass of the
State, and was elected for another term. He then
started to rejoin Sherman, but on the way was
stricken down with scarlet fever, and after a most
trying attack made his way to the front in time to
participate in the closing incidents of the war.

In 1868 Gen. Harrison declined a re-election
as Reporter, and resumed the practice of law. In
1876 he was a candidate for Governor. Although
defeated, the brilliant campaign he made won for
him a national reputation, and he was much sought
after, especially in the East, to make speeches.
In 1880, as usual, he took an active part in the
campaign, and was elected to the United States
Senate. Here he served for six years, and was
known as one of the ablest men, best lawyers and
strongest debaters in that body. With the ex-
piration of his senatorial term he returned to the
practice of his profession, becoming the head of
one of the strongest firms in the State.

The political campaign of 1888 was one of the
most memorable in the history of our country.
The convention which assembled in Chicago in
June and named Mr. Harrison as the chief stand-
ard-bearer of the Republican party was great in
every particular, and on this account, and the at-

titude it assumed upon the vital questions of the
day, chief among which was the tariff, awoke a
deep interest in the campaign throughout the
nation. Shortly after the nomination, delegations
began to visit Mr. Harrison at Indianapolis, his
home. This movement became popular, and from
all sections of the country societies, clubs and
delegations journeyed thither to pay their re-
spects to the distinguished statesman.

Mr. Harrison spoke daily all through the sum-
mer and autumn to these visiting delegations,
and so varied, masterly, and eloquent were his
speeches that they at once placed him in the fore-
most rank of American orators and statesmen.
Elected by a handsome majority, he served his
country faithfully and well, and in 1892 was nom-
inated for re-election; but the people demanded a
change and he was defeated by his predecessor
in ofiice, Grover Cleveland.

On account of his eloquence as a speaker and
his power as a debater. Gen. Harrison was called
upon at an early age to take part in the dis-
cussion of the great questions that then began to
agitate the country. He was an uncompromising
anti-slavery man, and was matched against some
of the most eminent Democratic speakers of his
State. No man who felt the touch of his blade
desired to be pitted with him again. With all
his eloquence as an orator he never spoke for ora-
torical effect, but his words always went like bul-
lets to the mark. He is purely American in his
ideas, and is a splendid type of the American
statesman. Gifted with quick perception, a logi-
cal mind and a ready tongue, he is one of the
most distinguished impromptu speakers in the
nation. Many of these speeches sparkled with the
rarest eloquence and contained arguments of great
weight, and many of his terse statements have
already become aphorisms. Original in thought,
precise in logic, terse in statement, yet withal
faultless in eloquence, he is recognized as the
sound statesman and brilliant orator of the day.
During the last days of his administration Presi-
dent Harrison suffered an irreparable loss in the
death of his devoted wife, Caroline (Scott) Har-
rison, a lady of many womanly charms and vir-
tues. They were the parents of two children.




'he time has arrived when it becomes the duty of the people of this county to perpetuate the

names of their pioneers, to furnish a record of their early settlement, and relate the story of

their progress. The civilization of our day, the enlightenment of the age, and the duty that
men of the present time owe to their ancestors, to themselves and to their posterity, demand that a
record of their lives and deeds should be made. In biographical history is found a power to instruct
man by precedent, to enliven the mental faculties, and to waft down the river of time a safe
vessel in which the names and actions of the people who contributed to raise this country from its
primitive state may be preserved. Surely and rapidly the great and aged men, who in their prime
entered the wilderness and claimed the virgin soil as their heritage, are passing to their graves.
The number remaining who can relate the incidents of the first days of settlement is becoming small
indeed, so that an actual necessity exists for the collection and preservation of events without delay,
before all the early settlers are cut down by the scj'the of Time.

To be forgotten has been the great dread of mankind from remotest ages. All will be forgotten
soon enough, in spite of their best works and the most earnest efforts of their friends to preserve the
memory of their lives. The means employed to prevent oblivion and to perpetuate their memory
have been in proportion to the amount of intelligence they possessed. The pyramids of Egypt were
built to perpetuate the names and deeds of their great rulers. The exhumations made by the
archaeologists of Egypt from buried Memphis indicate a desire of those people to perpetuate the
memory of their achievements. The erection of the great obelisks was for the same purpose.
Coming down to a later period, we find the Greeks and Romans erecting mausoleums and
monuments, and carving out statues to chronicle their great achievements and carry them down the
ages. It is also evident that the Mound-builders, in piling up their great mounds of earth, had but
this idea — to leave something to show that they had lived. All these works, though many of them
costly in the extreme, give but a faint idea of the lives and character of those whose memory they
were intended to perpetuate, and scarcely anything of the masses of the people that then lived. The
great pyramids and some of the obelisks remain objects only of curiosity; the mausoleums,
monuments and statues are crumbling into dust.

It was left to modern ages to establish an intelligent, undecaying, immutable method of
perpetuating a full history — immutable in that it is almost unlimited in extent and perpetual in its
action; and this is through the art of printing.

To the present generation, however, we are indebted for the introduction of the admirable
system of local biography. By this system every man, though he has not achieved what the world
calls greatness, has the means to perpetuate his life, his history, through the coming ages.

The scythe of Time cuts down all; nothing of the physical man is left. The monument which
his children or friends may erect to his memory in the cemetery will crumble into dust and pass
away; but his life, his achievements, the work he has accomplished, which otherwise would be
forgotten, is perpetuated by a record of this kind.

To preserve the lineaments of our companions we engrave their portraits; for the same reason
we collect the attainable facts of their history. Nor do we think it necessary, as we speak only
truth of them, to wait until they are dead, or until those who know them are gone; to do this we
are ashamed only to publish to the world the history of those whose lives are unworthy of public




HON. DAVID H. EVANS. In the town of
Tyre, Seneca County, are many wealthy
agriculturi.sts who have done much toward
advancing its interests and are progressive in
everything. Among this number we make prom-
inent mention of Mr. Evans, who was born in the
same house wherein he now lives, December 7,
1837. His parents were John G. and Mary
(Hess) Evans, the former of whom was born in
Worcestershire, England, September i, 1793. He
was in his ninth year when the journey was made
to America with his parents. John Evans, the
grandfather, was a carpenter in limited circum-
stances, and made his home in Peterboro, Madi-
son County, N. Y., where his death occurred.

After the death of his father, John G., then a
lad of fourteen j^ears, was compelled to assist in
supporting the family. He was the eldest but
one, and besides his mother the household in-
cluded five children. He obtained work in a
glass factory in Peterboro, and there became a
boss blower, receiving good pay for his services,
and remaining thus employed until thirty years
of age. In Peterboro he was married to his
first wife. Miss Mary Mooney, by whom he be-
came the father of ten children, of whom only
one is now living. This lady died in the above
village, and Mr. Evans was then united in mar-
riage with the mother of our subject, who was a
native of Albany County, N. Y. Their union

was blessed by the birth of one son, the original
of this sketch.

About the year 1823 John G. Evans abandoned
the business of a glass blower, and, purchasing
a farm in Madison County, lived there until 1837.
That year he came to Seneca County and became
the proprietor of a tract of two hundred and thir-
ty-five acres, on which our subject now makes
his home. This he improved in the best pos-
sible manner, and here he made his home during
the remainder of his life. He was a true-blue
Republican after the organization of the party,
and on that ticket was elected Justice of the
Peace, holding the office for four years. He be-
came identified with the Methodist Episcopal
Church in Peterboro, and continued a member
of that denomination until his decease, or for a
period of forty -five years. He was liberal in his
contributions to the support of church work,
and was Class- Leader for some time. Although
possessing only an ordinary education, he was a
great reader and deep thinker. He lived to be
eighty-four years of age, dying July 15, 1877.
His good wife preceded him to the better land,
passing away November 19, 1875, and they were
laid side by side in Evans' Cemetery, near our
subject's home.

David H., of this sketch, was a very bright
and apt pupil during his school days, and made
rapid progress in his studies. When seventeen



years of age lie entered Ft. Plain Seminary, in
Montgomery County, taking a course of two
years and pursuing the higher branches. After
completing his education hebgan teaching school,
receiving $i per day for his first term. He was
gradually given a larger sum, until he earned $3
per day, which was considered very good pay for
that period. He taught, however, only during
the winter season, spending his summers in help-
ing in the farm work.

Mr. Evans was married, February 25, 1864, to
Miss Catherine Wurts, then a resident of the
town of Savannah, Wayne County, N. Y., al-
though her birth occurred in Tompkins County.
She was taken to Wayne County when a babe
of two years by her parents, Mathuselum and
Catherine (Du Bois) Wurts. By her union with
our subject there were born five children, of
whom we give the following history: Clara B.
married Kent Whipple, a manufacturer of brass
fixtures of Hamilton, Canada. Mary W. is a
graduate of the Brockport Normal School, and
is at present engaged in teaching at Yonkers,
N. Y. Edwin G. spent two years in attendance
at Ft. Plain Seminary, but is now at home. Ber-
tha B. , a graduate of the Geneseo Normal School,
is a music teacher of great talent. Maude died
when six years of age. The mother of this family
departed this life December 21, 1885, and was
buried in Evans' Cemetery. March 9, 1893, Mr.
Evans was married to Mrs. Catherine (Stephens)
Ransom, of Cayuga County.

Following in the footsteps of his honored fa-
ther, our subject is a Republican in politics, and
cast his first Presidential vote for Lincoln in
i860. He was elected Constable in 1863, and
the following )^ear was the successful candidate
for the office of Collector. In 1866 he became
Justice of the Peace, and two years later was
made Supervisor. He entered upon the duties of
this office before the expiration of his term as
Justice of the Peace, and it is worthy of interest to
note that he was the first man but one elected Su-
pervisor in the town of Tyre for a period of twenty
years. He did not become a candidate in 1869,
but was elected again in 1870, and for six con-
secutive years held the office.

In the fall of 1877 Mr. Evans was nominated
for the Assembly on the Republican ticket, but
by only seventy-seven votes was defeated by Died-
rich Willers, who had been Secretary of State.

Online LibraryChapman Publishing CompanyPortrait and biographical record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York. Containing portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the counties. Together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States → online text (page 8 of 58)