Biography of John P. Ellis
Bristol County, MA Biographies

Ellis, John P., son of Thaddeus and Rosanna (Preston) Ellis, was born at Harwich on Cape Cod, May 18, 1826. His father was a prominent farmer of Harwich for many years. John P. was the oldest of a large family and was early obliged to contribute his share to its support, so that his schooling was limited to about three months of the year. When only nine years old he went to sea as cook in a fishing vessel and relates how the sailors having lost the "56 weights" would place him on the other side of the beam when they weighed the fish, as he only weighed fiftyseven pounds. He became mate and then a captain while yet a mere boy in years. When he reached his eighteenth year he removed to Fairhaven and began an apprenticeship with J. B. Morse, under whom he learned the blacksmith's trade. In February, 1849, he joined a company of Nantucket men, organized by Capt. Francis B. Folger, and sailed for California in the bark "Russell" from New Bedford, the voyage requiring four months and twenty two days. Arriving in San Francisco he was offered a mate's berth at $250 per month on a ship bound for Portland, Ore., to bring a cargo of lumber to San Francisco for building purposes, and upon his return engaged for a time in unloading ships. He finally reached the mines and being fairly successful he returned after five months to San Francisco and engaged in the hotel business. His hotel was rather a crude structure which he called the "Fairhaven House," and at that time it was the only temperance hotel in the city. He was fairly successful, but owing to bad health decided to sell out and make a voyage to Panama; he shipped as a passenger, hut when the ship was only seven days out cholera broke out among the crew with the result that the mate and several seamen died, and he being a sailor was obliged to perform the duties of mate. Upon reaching Panama he decided to go home and upon his return to Fairhaven engaged in the livery business, which he continued for four ycars and then sold out and engaged in his old trade of blacksmithing until 1868. He then began in the milk, wood and grocery business, in which he still continues. Mr. Ellis is a firm advocate of total abstinence and has voted the Prohibition ticket for several years. He has also lectured to some extent on the subject in nearly all the towns. He married Charity E., daughter of Thomas Sanford of Fall River, in 1851, and ten children have been born to them, eight of whom survive: Susan, wife of Charles Lamb; Rosanna, wife of Francis Carleton; Ellen, wife of Benjamin Tripp; Lloyd N. P., Edward M., Thomas S., Florence, wife of Alfred M. Gifford; and Bessie W., wife of Charles H. Gifford.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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