G. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) Ridlon.

History of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 online

. (page 83 of 103)
Online LibraryG. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) RidlonHistory of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 → online text (page 83 of 103)
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of Buxton, whose records see.

Robert Ridlon 4 (3), fourth son of James 8 (1), was born in Little Falls
Plantation, so called (now Hollis), Me., Aug. 8, 1791 ; married Nov. 7,
1813, Sally, daughter of Ichabod and Dolly Cozens* (orCousens), of Ken-
nebunk, or Lyman, in the same County (she was born July 14, 1790), and
settled on his father's homestead-farm, where he remained the rest of his
days. He was surveyor of lumber in 1812-14; juror at Portland Court
in 1812, 1832, and 1837. Filled several town offices. He was moderate,
grave, considerate, prudent, judicious, honest, kind, and courteous ; a deep
thinker, careful manager, shrewd financier, ardent politician (Jackson Dem-
ocrat), Universalist in sentiment, a peacemaker by practice, and a good
neighbor, townsman, husband, and father. He and his good wife lived
together over fifty years, and no unkind word ever passed between them.
He was an excellent farmer and stock-raiser. He had great pride in keep-
ing a pair of fat oxen, — the fattest in town. He kept his buildings and
fences in good repair, and was very neat and precise about all his farm-
work. Mr. Ridlon owned fine timber-lands, and could not bear to cut
down a growing tree. His farm was one of the best in town and kept in
a highly productive condition. He seldom went from home, was always
busy, and never employed others to do what he could do himself. In
personal appearance he resembled his brother Joseph ; he was consider-
ably stoop-shouldered, of medium height and build, had a high, bald crown,
projecting forehead deeply furrowed, deep-set eyes, almost hidden by
wrinkles at the temple-corners, long outstanding brows, large nose,
broad mouth and chin, short neck, and when in health had a florid face.
In his prime his hair was dark brown and inclined to curl at the ends.
He accumulated a handsome estate, and was considered an independent
farmer. His wife died Feb. 8, 1865. He died in the family of his grand-
daughter, Mrs. Maria (Sawyer) Whitehouse, whom he had brought up,

* The family of Cozens (or Cousens) is descended from John Cozens, of Casco
(now Portland), Me., who was born in England in 159(3, and died in York, Me., in
ltj.v.i. Descendants settled in Lyman, Kennebuuk, Hollis, Alfred, and Cornish, Me.
Joseph Cousens lived in Cornish, but moved to Kennebunk; he was a Revolu-
tionary soldier. Ebenezer, a cousin of the preceding, who was of Lyman, married
Sarah Cousens, a kinswoman, and had issue. Either Joseph or Ebenezer was a
brother of Ichabod, father of Sally, wife of Robert Ridlon, and of Hannah, wife
of James Redlon, the father of Robert, and a sister of the latter became the wife
of Robert Cousens, of Lyman, a collateral kinsman.



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BIDLOJVS OF HOLLIS, MAINE. 631

in his old home, June 29, 1869, and was buried with his relatives in the
"Ridlon Burying-ground," near his own farm. His mind was impaired
during his last days, but he received the tenderest care and rewarded his
attendant with a handsome property. He was called "Deacon Ridlon"
by his neighbors, in consequence of his serious deportment when a young
man. He had issue two children, of whom hereafter.

Dea. Nicholas Ridlon 4 (1), fifth son of James 3 (1), was born in the
town called Phillipsburgh (now Hollis), Me., Nov. 29, 1793; married
March 20, 1819, Hannah, daughter of William Hancock, of Buxton, and
settled on a past of the farm owned by his grandfather Cousens, adjoining
that of his brother Robert ; now owned by the grandsons of his brother
Joseph. Mr. Ridlon built a good house and barn here, and made himself
a valuable farm; but became discontented and removed to Steep Falls in
Limington, in the autumn of 1840, and worked in the saw-mills there.
He subsequently removed to Raymond (now Casco), and settled on the
farm, where he died July 7, 1869, aged 75. His widow died Nov. 8, 1879,
in Casco, but was taken to Hollis and interred by the side of her husband
on the 11th of November. A few relatives gathered around her remains
in the "Old Ridlon Burying-ground," only a few rods from where she
and her husband commenced life together, and prayer was offered at the
grave by the author of this book. She was 79 years old. Mr. Ridlon
embraced religion in early life and was chosen deacon of the Freewill
Baptist Church, of which he was long a consistent and devoted member.
His farm in Casco was hard and rocky, but produced abundant harvests.
He erected a fine stand of farm-buildings and made himself and family a
comfortable home. He was a very hard-working man, and by good
management and close economy acquired considerable property ; but by
home misunderstanding with a man who went to live with him in old age,
he was drawn into litigation and encumbered his estate. Deacon Ridlon
was of medium height, not broad nor heavy; his hair was soft, and as
white as snow, in advanced years; his eyes were blue, and his complexion
fair; his features were regular and of delicate mould; and his general
appearance resembled the Cozens family more than the Ridlons. He was
a quiet, peaceful man ; honest, and respected by all who knew him. He
had issue six children.

Hannah Ridlon 4 (2), third daughter of James 8 (1), was born in the
town of Phillipsburgh (now Hollis), Me., Feb. 8, 1796; was married July
7, 1816, to Robert Cozens, of Lyman, who was her cousin, and settled
with her husband in his native town. She had issue, and a son is said to
closely resemble her brother, Magnus Ridlon, of whom hereafter. I have
no record of her death.

MagnilS Ridlon 4 (6), sixth son of James 3 (1), was born in Phillips-
burgh (now Hollis), Me., May 12,1798; married Feb. 5, 1819, Betsey
Sanborn, of Standish, Cumberland County, and lived for several years
with his brother Robert on the old homestead-farm of his father. He
subsequently built the house since owned, and for many years occupied,
by the widow and children of James-Hopkinson Ridlon, near Bonnie
Eagle Village, and now only a few rods from the Advent Meeting-house.
He afterwards removed to Norway, Oxford County, and settled on a farm
there, where he made his home till the death of his wife ; he then returned
to Hollis, and spent the most of his remaining days with his brothers,
Joseph and Robert, working on their farms in summer, and repairing and
building implements for farm use in winter. Like nearly all the Ridlon



632 HIDL0N8 OF HOLLIS, MAINE.

family, Uncle Magnus was a natural mechanic, and, without serving an
apprenticeship, could frame buildings, build wheels, carts, and sleds, and
make ploughs and yokes. In personal appearance he resembled his brother
Robert most ; he was, however, a larger man. He was about six feet
in height, broad-shouldered, round, and compactly built, and in advanced
life inclined to corpulency. He stooped considerably, and had a lame
ankle, caused by cutting of the tendons when young. His hair and
beard were nearly black, his head bald, crown and forehead high and
broad, his brows long, heavy, and outstanding, his eyes dark, small, and
deep-set, his features coarse, and his face covered with very deep wrinkles,
especially at the temples. He was moderate, quiet, and kind-hearted ;
loved children, and was constant in attendance upon divine service.
Though naturally sedate and slow of speech, he sometimes became con-
versational and jovial. Every one loved " Uncle Magnus," for he was so
kind toward all, so useful and inoffensive, that he was always a welcome
guest among his relatives. Had issue three- children, of whom hereafter.
He died at his brother Robert's, but was carried to Norway and buried by
the side of his wife. I have not found the date of his death.

Priscilla Ridloil 4 (1), fourth daughter of James 8 (1), was born in
Phillipsburgh (now Hollis), Me., Sept. 23, 1801, and died at her brother
Robert's, when young and unmarried.



Polly Ridloil 4 (2), eldest daughter of Thomas 3 (1), was born in Pep-
perellborough (now Saco), Me., Nov. 15, 1779; was married Aug. 23,
1804, to Samuel Ridlon, her cousin, and lived a while in a house between
the present dwellings of Stephen Higgins and Thomas C. Sawyer. She
lived some years in Wayne, Kennebec County, but subsequently returned
to Hollis, and lived in a house that stood on the same spot where John
Sawyer built his new buildings. After her husband was drowned she
went to live with her son John, near her brother Thomas, and continued
there until her death, which occurred April 25, 1874, in her ninety-fifth
year. "Aunt Polly" was a good, quiet, gentle-spirited woman. She had
a large family.

Thomas Ridloil 4 (2), eldest son of Thomas 3 (1), was born in Pepper-
ellborough (now Saco), Me., Aug. 6, 1780 ; married Polly, daughter of
Joshua and Sussie (Boston) Decker,* of Buxton, Aug. 22, 1804, and had

* The Deckers are of Dutch or German extraction, but the New England
branches are descended from John Decker, a scion of an English family, who came
to Exeter, Mass., as early as 1672, but subsequently settled in Kittery and York,
Me., where he brought up a large family, one of whom had sons Joshua, John, aud
David. Joshua Decker settled in Gorham and removed to Buxton, Cumberland
County, Me. He married Sussie, daughter of John Boston, or Baston, of York,
and by her had eleven children, of whom one was Joseph Decker, the celebratetd
singularly pious, and eccentric traveling preacher, known in western Maine as the
" Massachusetts Prophet," who started for Jerusalem to assist in rebuilding the
walls of the Holy City, but died in Spain of small-pox. Another son was Isaac
Decker, a mariner by profession, who lived many years in Gardiner, Me., whose
daughter. Mary 1). Welcome, is the well-known contributor to the Portland Tran-
'scrijii, a woman of scholarly tastes and great information, who has devoted her
talents for fche enlightenment and elevation of humanity. Stephen Decker, an-
other son of Joshua, settled on the Kennebec River, in Clinton, Me., and became an
extensive land-owner and farmer there, with whom his parents lived in old age, and
whose son, Isaac Decker, now resides on the homestead in Clinton. Among the
other children of Joshua were Thomas, Amos, David. Joshua, and Samuel, and two
daughters, — Betsey, who was married to a Mr. Russell, and Sussie, who was the




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BIDLONS OF HOLLIS, MAINE. 633

issue four children, of whom hereafter. He was carried from Saco in his
father's arms when but six weeks old, and passed his early days in a new
clearing. He worked on his father's farm till grown to manhood, and
then, having purchased land of his father, he built him a house on the
hill about a half mile from the Saco River; into this house he moved with
his young wife the day after their marriage, and made it his home all his
days, having slept out of it but two nights for about seventy years. Mr.
Ridlon was of nervous, impulsive temperament, and possessed a will as
inflexible as iron. In all his purposes and views he was positive, de-
termined, and persistent ; never would yield to an obstacle, but with his
wonderful courage and resolution encountered and surmounted every-
thing that stood in the way of the execution of his plans. His composi-
tion seemed destitute of the element of fear. In his prejudices and
preferences he was strong and unchangeable ; he was raised to stormy
passion with small provocation, and would as soon become calm and gentle
as a summer morning. His words were few and full of meaning ; when
he had expressed an opinion, or gave his answer, none who knew the man
ever made an attempt to change his mind. He was frank and outspoken,
and his word was regarded as good as law ; those who knew him reposed
implicit confidence in his promises. Quick to resent an insult, he would
as readily forgive when a proper confession or acknowledgment was made.
He was possessed of quick perception and sound judgment ; his advice was
sought by many. No man knew better how to attend to his own business.
He was naturally retiring and reserved in his habits, and strangers judged
him cold and reticent; when he became better acquainted he was social,
genial, and conversational. He embraced religion late in life, and be-
came a devoted Christian ; he maintained a consistent walk, and was
literally a man of prayer.. He was acknowledged by all who knew him
to be a good man ; it is not known that he had an enemy in the world.
In his business management he was very careful, and demanded a clear
statement and definite understanding of all with whom he had dealing.
His papers, now in my possession, attest the extreme care with which he
kept his accounts, and his promptitude in making his payments for land,
cattle, and help. Whatever he undertook was done with alacrity ; noth-
ing was allowed to drag on his hands. His motto was " one thing at a
time." He had been employed in running many of the town lines, and
had placed so many landmarks that he was looked to as the best authority
in the establishment of boundaries. His experience in working lumber
made him a valuable attendant for parties who went to view trees, and
he was frequently called upon to accompany timber-buyers on their explor-
ing tours, and when his judgment was followed the purchaser never
regretted it. He was a good neighbor, cheerfully adapting his circum-
stances to the comfort and interest of others, though at a sacrifice of time

wife of her cousin, a Mr. Boston. Joshua Decker, 2d, settled in La Grange, Me.,
and became the father of a most remarkable family of children, noted for their
great size and gigantic physical powers. The son Samuel early settled in the Brit-
ish Provinces, and but little is known of his posterity. One of the other three
settled at Boothbay, Me., and left descendants there. The other descendants of
this branch are in Standish, Casco, and Hollis, Me., aud three children of Joseph,
the "Massachusetts Prophet," Daniel, Joseph, and Rachel (whose maternal grand-
mother, Rachel Field, was a daughter of Matthias Redlon, 1st), are now living, ad-
vanced in years. Other branches descended from John Decker, the flrst ancestor,
are living in eastern Maine, among them, Dr. Decker of Fort Fairfield, a very
erudite and able man. In the West many spell the name Decker. -



634 BIDLONS OF HO L LIS, MAINE.

and money. In personal appearance he resembled his father in many-
respects, although not as large a man. He was more than six feet in
height, very broad across the shoulders and nips, and when walking car-
ried his feet far apart. He was raw-boned and muscular; his weight was
never more than one hundred and eighty pounds. His arms were un-
usually long, and when walking his hands reached his knees. The cords
of his wrists were like ropes, and few men were his equal in strength.
His neck was short and large, his jaws square and wide, his cheek-bones
high, his forehead narrow and receding, his crown high and of peculiar
form; his old doctor once said "Uncle Tom's head is shaped like the top
of Mount Washington." He was very bald from early life ; his hair in
his prime was jet-black and somewhat curly ; his beard was worn on the
sides of his face, sometimes quite long; his brows were very long and
thick, and hung out over his eyes with a peculiar curve ; his eyes were
gray and deep-set, and his complexion very ruddy. The expression of his
face was always calm and determined. Exposure to pure air, living on
plain, nutritious food, and an acquaintance with healthful exercises when
young, invested him with a vigorous constitution, and fitted him to endure
almost any exertion unwearied and unimpaired. Daring, full of hope and
physical vitality, he drove on through heat and cold, storms or calms, fre-
quently exposed to danger, passing almost within the jaws of death and
coming out without serious harm.

He was at Saco with his father when a boy, and started to return
to Hollis (then Phillipsburgh), about dark, both being mounted on one
beast. The road then ran through an almost unbroken wilderness,
and as they left the settlement and entered the woods, his father said,
"Now, Thomas, you must hold on, or the wolves will get you." Sure
enough, before they reached Salmon Falls they heard the distant howl of
a wolf. " That means us," said the father. Presently another howl echoed
through the deep, gloomy forest, but much nearer than the first. The
horse became excited, and increased speed. Soon there was another pro-
longed howl, and in a moment it was answered to by others in various
directions. They gave their horse the reins and let the strong beast take
its own course. In a few minutes a pack of howling, hungry wolves were
gathering around them, their eyeballs, in the darkness, shining like coals
of fire. The lad clung to his father's coat ; the horse was urged forward,
and away they flew like the " wings of the wind." The number of wolves
increased as they followed on, and their howls became almost deafening.
Thus the race for life kept up until the father and son safely entered the
clearing of his neighbors, when the lights and barking of dogs turned the
wolves back in disappointment and "supperless to bed." It was a narrow
escape; had the horse stumbled and the boy lost his hold, he would have
been torn in pieces in a moment. Thomas never forgot that night-ride
from Saco, and till old age always became much excited when relating
the adventure.

He was once hunting for his cows, and failing to find them as the dark-
ness came on, he turned his steps homeward ; as he approached his field he
heard a noise near his feet like the mewing of a kitten, and stooping down
he found two young wild-cats coiled up at the roots of a large tree. He
quickly seized them, buttoned his heavy coat around them, and ran for
his house; he had not gone far, however, before he heard the angry screams
of the mother-cat, and knew she had missed her babies. On he ran with
all his speed, but the young cats continued to cry, and in a minute the old one



BIDLONS OF HOLLIS, MAINE. 635

sprang upon his back, cutting his coat in slits with her claws. Thomas
would not relinquish his prize, but ran forward. The enraged cat con-
tinued to follow him and to spring upon his back, till his dog, taking the
scent, came out to meet him, and then, to use Mr. Ridlon's words, he
"shifted the responsibility," and left the cat and dog to fight the battle
between themselves. He succeeded in taking his wild kittens to the
house, and in a few days afterwards sent them to Portland by "'Squire
Vaughan," and sold them. This adventure shows the character of the
man, and in narrating the circumstances he always manifested a degree
of pride in his achievement.

Mr. Ridlon worked on the Saco River driving logs when a young man,
and saw many narrow escapes from death while thus employed. There
were two men of herculean build in their crew, known as the "Rankin
brothers," and these claimed the championship for strength ; but the
test came, and they lost their prestige. On a set of falls they had con-
structed a rude dam, connected with a sluiceway, through which they ran
their logs; this had a gate at the upper end, which was raised by a lever
put through a mortise in its head-post. Moving up and down as it did,
through rough slides, and with a heavy pressure of water upon it from
above, it demanded a powerful man to raise this gate. The Rankin broth-
ers both did their best, but failed to move it ; Robert Sawyer, a large
and strong man, then took his lever and lifted till he burst the button
from his shirt-collar, but could not start the heavy planking. It now came
Mr. Ridlon's turn, and stepping upon the bulwarks he put his hand-spike
through the mortise, adjusted the other end upon his brawny shoulder,
and springing quickly, raised the gate the first time.

Mr. Ridlon was a natural mechanic, and delighted to work with tools.
He constructed nearly all implements used on his farm, erected his own
buildings, mended his own shoes, manufactm-ed his own knives, and the
axe-handles he made were known far and wide for more than fifty years ;
these last were all of one pattern of his own invention, and would sell to
the backwoodsmen when no others would be used. He whittled all his
axe-handles by hand, and I can see just how he looked as he sat before his
bright, open fire, the long winter evenings, his bald crown shining with the
reflections of light, while with his broad "scythe-knife" he dressed the
rough-hewed piece of oak into symmetry and beauty of finish. He never
harnessed a horse (though an expert in the saddle), never saw the cars,
was never out of his native State, never called a physician but once till
his last sickness, used tobacco until nearly eighty years of age, and then left
it alone, invariably arose at four o'clock in the morning, lived with his
congenial wife in the same house sixty-six years, and died in September,
1874, aged 94 years and 1 month. His wife died three years previously;
they were buried in Moderation Village Cemetery, in his son's lot. The
last days of this godly and venerable pair were spent in the family of the
author of this book.

Judith Ridlon 4 (2), second daughter of Thomas 3 (1), was born in
Phillipsburgh (now Hollis), Me., Sept. 15, 1783, and never married. She
was the first white child born in her town, and lived to see it changed
from a wilderness to a garden of broad and fertile farms. "Aunt Judy"
lived a very useful life; was a "ministering angel" among the sick aud
suffering, until, by reason of age and infirmity, she became a subject of
others' care and attention. Probably no person has lived contemporary
with her who has watched by as many sick and dying persons. At one



636 BIDLOXS OF HO L LIS, MAINE.

time a dreadfully fatal contagion swept through the town, and it was found
difficult to secure nurses ; during this scourge " Aunt Judy " went from
house to house, and ministered to the afflicted, but she was not touched
by the fever herself. She lived with a maiden-sister many years in her
father's house, and at one time was possessed of considerable property ;
she owned land, timber, and good buildings, and had money to loan to
her relatives; but, alas ! the selfishness and meanness of those who had
been dependent on her for a shelter for their heads and money to pay
their bills, robbed her of her house and real estate ; and, while she held
their notes for money, they would have thrown her body upon the town
for burial, had not the proper authorities forced them to provide for her
funeral expenses. Such base ingratitude was too much to be endured by
the real friends of this unselfish and worthy woman, and I wish to leave
this enduring record as a warning against a repetition of such disgrace-
ful conduct in the future. Miss Ridlon had no palate, and could not ar-
ticulate distinctly, and this impediment of speech may have been a bar-
rier to her matrimonial prospects in early life. She had the "old-fashioned
consumption" when young, and her relatives used to shake their heads,
and say, " Aunt Judy cannot stand it long, she's dreadful slim " ; and still
she lived on, and saw nearly all of her generation go down to their graves;
the robust and sprightly passed her one by one on their "journey to the
tomb," and still "Aunt Judy," with the same hollow cough and "old-
fashioned consumption " (by that time) lingered upon this earthly shore,
and handed the early traditions of her family down to the rising gener-
ations. She was comfortable, and retained her faculties well (except her
sight), till a few days before her death. She passed quietly away, in Jan-
uary, 1880, aged 97 years. I have her portrait.

Martha Bidloil 4 (1), third daughter of Thomas 3 (1), was born in
Phillipsburgh (now Hollis), Me., Oct. 17, 1785; was married Dec. 31,
1810, to John Mills,* of Waterborough, and lived many years in Eaton,
X. H. Mr. Mills was a great axeman, and went to Georgia to cut and
hew ship-timber, when his health failed, and he made his way to the hos-
pital at New Orleans, La., where he died June 3, 1849. Mrs. Mills died
March 16, 1859, aged 74 years. She was quite tall, and resembled her
sister Judith in features of face ; her hair was white, the last time I saw
her. "Aunt Martha" was an excellent Christian woman. She left a
large family, and two sons were ministers of the gospel.

Jane Kidloil 4 (1), fourth daughter of Thomas 3 (1), was born in Phil-
lipsburgh (now Hollis), Me., Feb. 4, 1787, and died when a young wo-
man, unmarried.

Eunice Ridlon 4 (1), fifth daughter of Thomas 3 (1), was born in Phil-



Online LibraryG. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) RidlonHistory of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 → online text (page 83 of 103)