Bio of Rufus Deering
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

RUFUS DEERING, one of Portland's oldest and most honorable merchants, was born in Scarborough, Me., April 16, 1818, the seventh son of Isaac and Sarah Sawyer Deering, his mother being fourth in descent from James Sawyer, of Gloucester, Cape Ann, who died in 1701. Both parents were devout Methodists, and their children received early instruction in religious truth. This son began to "pay his own way" when fourteen years old, by making and selling molasses candy, at that time almost the only known form of confectionery in country places. He had, however, a higher aim than that of merely earning his own livelihood. He longed for the ownership of books and for the knowledge to be got from them. So we find him when fifteen years old, working in Jackson, Me., at five dollars a month, and spending the first four dollars of the five for books. During the winter he preferred to work his board for the sake of the "schooling." When seventeen years old he "hired out" at fifty dollars for the year, and three months' "schooling," seeking food for the mind as well as for the body. The next year he went to West Buxton to be near his mother, and accomplished the journey from Brooks, Me., mostly on foot; one morning walking ten miles before breakfast. Here he learned the carpenters' trade from his brother Thomas, also working at book-keeping and teaching the district school.

Mr. Joseph Hobson, a relative, having married in Limerick and gone into business there, Mr. Deering assisted him as clerk for nearly two years. This stock of goods being removed to Buxton and business being dull, Mr. Deering, with two other young men, in March, 1840, started for Georgia, where wages were twenty-six dollars a month, more than double those of a carpenter in Maine. He and his friends, James Haley and Stephen Hobson, walked to Portland, there taking the steamer for Boston and then taking passage on a sailing vessel for Darien, Ga. From Darien they went by stage forty miles to Beaufort, on the Satilla River, ten miles from the Florida line. Their work here was in the saw mills and among the pines, getting the logs in from the river and loading the lumber into vessels after it was sawed. This was a year of great hardship. Toward its close the fever came and both of Mr. Deering's companions died, and ten others from the North. During the floods much of the country was covered with water to the depth of three feet. So discouraging was the outlook and so unhealthful the climate, Mr. Deering returned to West Buxton, in 1841, and bought an interest in Joseph Hobson's store, where he continued in trade and farming for ten years.

The remembrance of one face in Limerick had brightened the dreariness of his Georgia life; it was that of Miss Deborha Eastman, the daughter of Ezra and Mercy Eastman. Her father was a descendant in the sixth generation of Roger Eastman, who came from Wales in the ship Confidence, and settled in Salisbury, Mass., in 1630. Of the same line came Abigail Eastman, mother of Daniel Webster. In 1843 these two were married, and joined the Free Baptist Church in Buxton, becoming valued and helpful members.

In 1853 the subject of this sketch engaged in lumbering in Milan, N. H., and the next year be moved to Portland, opening a retail lumber business on Commercial Street, at the foot of High, and during the first ten years doing his own book-keeping at home in the evenings. His business enlarging rapidly after the great fire of 1866, and his eldest son, Henry W. having died, he formed a co-partnership, during 1870, with three young men who had been employed by him, M. W. Ripley, M. P. Jordan, and A. Legrow, the latter withdrawing after a few This partnership enabled Mr. Deering to give his time more largely to benevolent and church work, in which he had always been active. Mrs. Deering died February 3, 1885, and he afterwards married Mrs. Abby T. Thissell, in June, 1886, who is now living. He has now been Treasurer of the Free Baptist Parish of Portland for twenty-five years; Treasurer of the State F. B. Missionary Society, now the Maine F. B. Association, for twentytwo years; and President of the F. B. Home Missionary Society for three years. He has been a Trustee of Bates College nearly ten years, much of the time acting on the executive board; he has also been a Trustee of Storer College at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, for five years. As President of the Ocean Park Association, for nine years, he has done much to bring about its present financial prosperity.

Casting one of the first votes in his town with the Abolition party, he was for many years a conscientious, earnest Republican. He is now an active worker in the Prohibition party.

The business and position of the lumber firm, of which he has been the head for nearly forty years, has steadily advanced, until its facilities now in the way of mills, drying kilns, and storage, are unsurpassed in this State. Since tile death of his son-in-law and junior partner, the firm has been re-organized as a corporation, having a capital of $100,000, and is called the Rufus Deering Company.


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