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Genealogical and family history of southern New York and the Hudson River Valley : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (Volume 2) online

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April 25, 1739, died April 6, 1740; Avis, born
1741, baptized March 29, 1741, married, De-
cember 24, 1761, Joshua Dwelley; Joseph,
mentioned below; Japhet, born August 22,
1745, died June 19, 1750; Sarah, bom April 19,
1749, married, January 13, 1774, Oliver Pool.
He married (second), November 2, 1755,
Mercy Prior, who died July 20, 1766. Chil-
dren of Joseph and Mercy Ramsdell were:
Mercy, born April 28, 1757. married, Novem-
ber 4, 1778, Ralph Estes; Lydia, born 1759.
baptized August 26, 1759, married, November
6, 1 791, Samuel Whitcomb.

(V) Joseph (3), fourth son of Joseph
(2) and Mary (Homer) Ramsdell, was
born July 3, 1743, in Hanover Massa-
chusetts, died August 5. 18 17, in that town.
He bought or received a grant of land
in Western (now Warren), where two of
his sons settled in 1880. He was a
soldier of the revolution in Captain Amos
Turner's company. Colonel John Cushing's
regiment (the Second Plymouth) in 1776.
He married (first) in Pembroke, February 1.
1770, Elizabeth Barker, born February 5,
1743, in Hanover, daughter of Robert and
Hannah Barker, died June 19. 1786. He mar-
ried (second). May 17, 1787, Elizabeth Ellis,
born July i, 1752, in Hanover, daughter of
Mordecai and Sarah (Otis) Ellis, died Octo-
ber 20, i8n. Children, all of first marriage:
Mary, born Julv 20. 1771. married, Julv 20,
1789, Nathaniel' Ellis ; Priscilla, born March



SOUTHERx\ NEW YORK



183



18, 1773, died July 24, 1774; Joseph, men-
tioned below; Priscilla, born July 7, 1776, died
October 17, 1777; Barker, baptized June 13,
1779; Homer, born 1781.

(VI) Joseph (4), eldest son of Joseph (3)
and Elizabeth (Barker) Ramsdell, was born
September 10, 1775, in Hanover, Massachu-
setts, settled in Warren about 1800, where he
died August 5, 181 7. He married, in Han-
over, February 3, 1800, Ruth Stockbridge,
born November 8, 1777, recorded in Warren,
daughter of William and Ruth ( Bailey )
Stockbridge, of Hanover, a descendant of John
Stockbridge, who was among the passengers
on the ship "'Blessing," which came from Eng-
land to Massachusetts in 1635. His son,
Charles Stockbridge, born in England in 1634
was a wheelwright, resided in Boston, and
died in 1683 in Scituate, Massachusetts. His
wife, Abigail, afterward married Amos Tur-
ner. Her son, Joseph Stockbridge, born June
28, 1672, died 1773, married Mary Turner.
David, son of Joseph and Mary Stockbridge,
born 1713, in Hanover, died 1788, married
(second) Jane Reed, and they were the par-
ents of William Stockbridge, born December
20, 1752, died 1831. He married, October 9,
1774. Ruth, daughter of John Bailey, and they
were the parents of Ruth Stockbridge, who
became the wife of Joseph (4) Ramsdell.
Their children recorded in Hanover were :
Joseph, born October 21, 1800; Mary, October
16, 1803; Homer, mentioned below. They had
no children recorded in Warren.

(VH) Homer, second son of Joseph (4)
and Ruth (Stockbridge) Ramsdell, was born
August 12, 1 8 10, his descendants say in War-
ren, Massachusetts, but no record of his birth
appears in that town. He died at Newburg,
New York, February 13, 1894. He received
an academic education, and as a youth went
to New York City, where he became clerk in
a dry goods store. In 1832 he became head
of the firm of Ramsdell & Brown, of that city,
being only twenty-two years of age when he
established a large business, dealing in silks,
laces, fancy and white goods. While on his
vacation in June, 1834. making a tour on the
Erie canal, he met his future wife, daughter
of Thomas Powell. He continued in business
in New York imtil 1840. when inducements
were offered to him to remove to Newburg.
there to superintend the many interests of Mr.
Powell. In 1844 Mr. Ramsdell became a mem-



ber of the firm of Thomas Powell & Com-
pany, and was largely the administrator of
Mr. Powell's affairs both before and after his
death in 1856. Mr. Ramsdell continued the
enterprises in which they were both interested
and extended them, or widened their scope, as
conditions changed. On February i, 1865, he
purchased the dock property and barge of B.
Carpenter & Company and consolidated the
business of that firm with that of Homer
Ramsdell & Company. In 1845 ^^^ New York
& Erie railroad, having defaulted in paying its
dividends, a sale of foreclosure seemed inevi-
table. Then Newburg came to the rescue and
Mr. Ramsdell, for services rendered in pro-
curing subscriptions, was made a member of
the board of directors. In 1854 he brought to
bear influences which induced the Erie rail-
road to build a branch to the city of Newburg.
He subscribed heavily to the stock, and
through his instrumentality all the money
needed for construction was advanced. With
the exception of a brief interval he continued
to be a director of that company until 1884.
He was an active advocate of the plan to
change the gauge from broad to the present
standard gauge. Had the policy of the rail-
road been guided by his judgment, the cost
at that time would probably not have exceeded
seventy-five thousand, and when it was ulti-
mately made thirty years later, it cost nearly
seven millions. He was among those who bol-
stered the credit of the company by large pur-
chases of stock at public sales ; encouraged the
contractors, and secured the final completion
of the line to Dunkirk. In 1853 he was elected
president of the company, a difficult position,
which called for large financial and executive
ability, and those who trusted in him were
not disappointed. It was his influence that
secured a proper terminal for the railroad at
Jersey City. He purchased this property tor
about a million dollars, solely on his own ac-
count, taking title and keeping the negotiations
unknown from all, save three personal friends
in the board of directors, until the negotia-
tions were completed. It was through his in-
fluence that the restrictions on terminals for
the road within the state was removed, and a
connection by way of Paterson with Jersey
City made. Previously the road had sufTercd
many hardships in winter because of the fcol-
ish restrictions made by state pride that hotli
termini should be within the state. The ice



1 84



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



at Piermont made winter operation a difficult
and unprotitable matter. Another idea origi-
nated by iMr. Ramsdell was the construction
of the Hawley branch of the Erie in Pennsyl-
vania, connecting with the railroads of the
Pennsylvania Coal Company, and adding im-
mensely to the volume of business on the
Erie line. He was also influential in promot-
ing the construction of the short cut of the
Erie between Vail's Gate on the Newburg
branch and Arden on the main line. He re-
signed the presidency of the Erie in 1857, and
was made receiver of the road in 1876. Dur-
ing all his activities on the part of the com-
pany he never accepted any fee, commission
or other reward for the large sums of money
which he advanced, or for his endorsement or
other financial assistance beyond the legal rate
of interest. He originated the plan of car
trusts by which the equipment of the road was
several times increased, when the road was
in urgent need of rolling stock. In 1886 he
])laced upon the Hudson two fast steamers,
the "Newburg" and the "Homer Ramsdell,"
affording express freight accommodations be-
tween his home city and New York, having
previously by purchase and consolidation
added other neighboring lines, embracing not
only those of Newburg, but also Poughkeepsie
an(l Fishkill, in Dutchess county, and High-
land, in Ulster county.

For a number of years, beginning in i86o,
he was president of the Washington Iron
Works Company of Newburg, whose pay roll
in 1865 amounted to seven hundred thousand
dollars per year. Mr. Ramsdell was vice-
president and director of a company formed
in 1844 which erected the Newburg Steam
Mills, giving employment to hundreds of ]ieo-
ple. He was a member of the first board of
directors of the Newburg Gas Light Com-
l>any, organized in 185 1, and was president of
a company formed in 1850, which built and
operated the Newburg and EUenville plank
road. With many other interests of the town
he was actively identified and contributed to
every elevating movement of his day. From
1841 to 1851 he was a member of the board
of village trustees, and again from 1861 to
i86;. In t86i he was president of the village.
Originally a Whig in politics, on the dissolu-
tion of that narfy he became a Democrat. In
religion he affiliated with the Episcop.Tl church,
and for many years was senior warden of St.



George's church. He Wcx= a leading spirit in
the construction of the Church of the Good
.Sliepherd. As his years advanced he resigned
the details of his business to his sons, but
continued to take an interest in affairs until
failing eyesight made his visits to his office
less frequent. His last days were spent
quietly. The important news of the day was
read to him and he kept largely in touch with
passing events. A stroke of paralysis four
days before his death brought the end. He
was a central figure in the business and social
life of Newburg for many years and was
eminent among the business men of the state,
a leader in every line of finance and commerce
to which he turned his attention. In appear-
ance he was handsome and commanding, with
elegant manners and rare diplomacy. "As
courteous as Homer Ramsdell" was a standard
often laid before the youths of the community.
With great foresight Mr. Ramsdell saw far
into the future and made men do his will when
unconscious of his purpose. A man of de-
tail, he laid his plans like a general. Though
possessed of wealth, he preferred a life of
business activity to one of ease, and delighted
in liaiulling large affairs. \Vith great breadth
of intellect, he could grasp large matters and
see every detail and understand what related
to them. He planned the construction of the
Erie railroad to Jersey City when other men
of the time considered Piermont as its neces-
sary terminus. To the interests of the com-
munity he a])])lied the same foresight and wide
knowledge of affairs which guided the manage-
men of his own interests. It is said of him
liy a writer in the Newburg Daily Neics that
"The man has never lived who has done so
nuich for Newburg as Homer Ramsdell." The
same writer says : "With all his courtesy, gen-
erosity and friendliness, he was a man of iron
will, of firm determination and strict business
jM-inciples. The man who did not deal hon-
estly with him was made to feel that his vel-
vet glove covered a hand of steel. His cool-
ness under trying circumstances, his rare
diplomacy when he found himself matched
against strong men who were trying to out-
general him have been often the subject of
remark. Jim Fisk once said that Homer
Ramsdell could carry more eggs in his arms
without breaking any than any other man he
knew. A homely expression, but it expresses
the idea aright."



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



185



He married, June 16, 1835, Frances Eliz-
aljeth, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Lud-
low) Powell, of Newburg (see Powell V)-
Children: i. Mary L. Powell, died in her
sixth year. 2. Frances Josephine, mentioned
below. 3. Thomas Powell, born May 13, 1840,
died December 5, 189 — , in Newburg. 4. James
A. Powell, mentioned below. 5. Henry Powell,
mentioned below. 6. Homer Stockbridge, born
December 14, 1851 ; married Maud Cabell
Clarkson and has four children. 7. Lelia
Rains, born July 8, 1856.

(Vni) Frances Josephine, eldest surviving
daughter of Homer and Frances E. (Powell)
Ramsdell. was born May 21, 1838, in New-
burg, and became the wife of Major George
W. Rains of the Fourth United States Artil-
lery (see Rains).

( VHl ) James A. Powell, second son of
Homer and Frances Elizabeth ( Powell )
Ramsdell, was born March 9, 1842, in New-
burg, where he has always resided. He at-
tended school until 1857, when at the age of
fifteen years he began working in his father's
warehouse and is now one of the three trus-
tees of the Ramsdell estate in Newburg. He
married Fannie, daughter of John J. Van
Ostrand, of Brooklyn, New York.

(VHI) Henry Powell, third son of Homer
and Frances Elizabeth (Powell) Ramsdell,
was born May 3, 1844, in Newburg. He was
educated in private schools and Mt. Pleasant
Military Academy, at Ossining, New York. On
leaving school he entered the employ of the
Washington Iron W'orks at Newburg as a
clerk. Soon after this he became a soldier
in the civil war. When Colonel A. Van Horn
Ellis was gpthering the One Hundred and
Twenty-fourth Regiment New York Volun-
teers, Henry P. Ramsdell recruited a company,
afterwards known as Company C, with which
he went out as second lieutenant. He was
subsequently promoted successively to first
lieutenant and captain, and at the end of two
years' service resigned on accoimt of ill health
(see history of One Hundred and Twenty-
fourth New York \'olunteer Regiment). Re-
turning to Newburg he resumed connection
with the Washington Iron Works and went to
Titusville, Pennsylvania, as a salesman in its
employ. In 1868 he became a clerk in the
wholesale grocery house of Garbutte. Gri?o-5
K- Company, in New York City, where he
continued about two years. In February, 1870.



he engaged w^ith George W. Severns, a paper
manufacturer, of Salisbury Mills, New York,
which concern failed in April following. Mr.
Ramsdell then purchased this paper mill prop-
erty and conducted business under the name
of the Arlington Paper Company until Febru-
ary I, 1912, when he sold out to the Holdcn
interests and retired from active life. He is
a member of the City and Powellton clubs of
Newburg; of the Union League, Arkwright,
Athletic and City Lunch clubs of New York
City. He is also affiliated with the order of
Free Masons and the Benevolent and Pro-
tective Order of Elks, and the Elks' Club of
Newburg. He is an Episcopalian. He mar-
ried Adele Livingston Voorhees and has one
daughter.

(The Powell Line.)

This name is of Welsh origin and was
originally Ap Howell, being gradually con-
tracted to Powell. The early seat of the fam-
ily was in Brechonshire, South Wales, where
is now the town of Breconshire. It has been
largely represented in the professions, but
most of its bearers have been engaged in agri-
culture. A\'herever found, people of this name
are noted for their industry, thrift and kind,
obliging dispositions. It was brought to this
country by a Quaker family, which has been
conspicuous on Long Island from a very early
period. Happily the English system of keep-
ing records obtained to a large extent among
the English immigrants on Long Island, so
that something can be learned about this fam-
ily.

(I) Thomas Powell was born in \\ ales.
Great Britain, October, 1641, died at West-
bury, Long Island, December 28, 1721. He
was one of the purchasers and patentees of
Huntington, Long Island, in 1664, and was a
man of means and prominence. He purchased,
August 18, 1695, from "Mawmee, alias Sere-
wanus, William Chepy and all ye rest of ye
Indian proprietors" for and in consideration
of one hundred and forty pounds, the tract
of land on which the village of Rethpage is
now situated. Patents were issued for these
purchases by Governor Dongan to Thomas
Powell in 1664 and 1695. The latter pur-
chase became the family seat. Thomas (2)
settling thereon the same year. Huntington
records show that he was frequently elected
to fill important positions in the township, the
first of which appears to have been in 1663.



i86



SOUTHERX XEW YORK



when at the age of twenty-two years he was
made recorder, which office he held for about
twenty years ; in 1667 he was made constable.
"Every constable shall have a stafif six feet
long with the king's arms on it, as a badge
of his authority." He was appointed sur-
veyor in 1679, to lay out land in the East Rid-
ing and overseer in 1672. He was again
chosen constable in 1682, but refused to serve,
being "scrupulous of swearing as the law
directs." The constable had to sw^ear to levy
and collect the church rates. After the year
K)S8. at which time he was surveyor, he was
more engaged with appointments in Friends'
Meetings than public business. He attended
the monthly meetings which were held alter-
nately at Jericho and Westbury. The last
mention of his name on the records was in
this wise: "28-12 mo. 1721 died Thomas
Powell Senr.. being well respected as a worthy
Friend, and died in Unity with Friends."

His first wife was unknown. Children: i.
Thomas, mentioned below. 2. Abigail, born
April 18. 1668, died February 9, 1757; mar-
ried Richard Willits, March 15, 1690, at
Huntington, Long Island. 3. Elizabeth, mar-
ried, June 9, 1691, at Bethpage, Samuel Titus;
siie died September 2. 1704. 4. John, mar-
ried, October, 1704, Margaret Hallock ; he

died 1738. 5. Jonas, married Anna .

f). Caleb, married Sarah ; he died in 1741.

7. Wait, died 1750. 8. Elisha. married

Rebecca ; he died 1734. Thomas

Powell married (second) Elizabeth Phillips,
of Jericho. Long Island, February 9, 1690 (at
F.flmuiui Titus' in Westbury). Children: Q-.
Hannah, born May 28. 1691 ; married. 1712. at
Hetlipage. William \\'illis. 10. Phoebe, born
( )itolit.T . i'»)3.



Online LibraryCuyler ReynoldsGenealogical and family history of southern New York and the Hudson River Valley : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 95)