AMONG the eminent men in Maine who have won success by. their own efforts, stands
prominently the Hon. John J. Perry, of Portland. His father was Rev. Dan Perry, a native of Rehoboth, Mass., a
pioneer preacher in the M. B. Church, who, during eight years’ active service, commencing in 1802, had a “Parish”
extending from the Penobscot River in Maine to the Green Mountains in Vermont. His mother was Folly CaIdwell, a
most excellent woman, and daughter of John Caidwell, of Hebron, the ancestor of the “Caldwell Family,” somewhat
noted in the religious and literary world.
Hon. John J. Perry was born in Portsmouth, N. H., August 2d, 1811. His parents removed to Hebron (now Oxford) the
next year and settled on a farm. Mr. Perry obtained his education at the common town schools, and at the Maine
Wesleyan Seminary at Kent’s Hill, where he was a student about three years, working five hours a day on the Seminary
farm for his board. Among his fellow students were Ex. U. S. Senator, David H. Armstrong, of Missouri; Bishop Davis
W. Clark; Ex-President Joseph Cummings, late of the North Western Univeisity; Dr. Charles Collins, Ex-President
of Dickinson College, Pa.; Dr. Thomas Sewell, a distinguished Surgeon and Physician, late of Wathington, D. C.,
and Timothy O. Howe, Ex-Postmaster-General of the United States.
After leaving school, Mr. Perry, to help his father, worked on the farm in the summer season about two years, in
the winter be taught school. He was then engaged in mercantile persuits between two and three years. Not finding
this business suited to his taste, he left it and commenced the study of law. His pecuniary means being limited,
he was fortunate in having a friend who furnished him with the necessary text books to complete his studies. At
the May Term of the Supreme Judicial Court, held at Paris in 1844, on motion of the late Judge Stephen Emery, he
was admitted to the Bar, opened an office in Oxford, where for over thirty years he had a large country practice.
In 1875 he removed to Portland, where he has since been engaged in the practice of his profession. For twelve successive
years Mr. Perry was editor of the Oxford Democrat, published at Paris, and for more than forty years has been extensively
connected with the newspaper press, both in and out of the State, as correspondent.
Mr. Perry has been much in public life. He was on the Military Staff of the late Gov. John Fairfield; was Major-General
of the 6th Division of the Maine Militia, seven years; was a member of the Maine House of Representatives in 1840,
1842, 1843, and 1872; member of the Maine Senate in 1866 and 1867; Clerk of the House in 1854; member of the Executive
Counsel in 1866 and 1867; member of the 34th and 36th Congress; member of the “Peace Congress” in 1861, and for
seven years has been one of the Trustees of the Reform School. For over thirty years he has been a Trustee of the
Maine Wesleyan Seminary and Female College, and for fifteen yearsTreasurer of the Institution. In politics, Mr.
Perry was always a Democrat up to the time of the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise, when he left the party, and
with the exception of the late Anson P. Morrill, did more to inaugurate and organize the Republican party than
any other man in the State. He has ever since acted with this party. While in Congress, Mr. Perry made several
very able speeches, which gave him a national reputation as a public speaker. As campaign documents they were extensively
circulated and read all over the country. In 1863, public sentiment in the Republican party, in the old Second
District, almost unanimously pointed to Mr. Perry as the nominee of the party for the 38th Congress, and he could
have been nominated without opposition, but he declined to be a candidate and Hon. Sidney Perham was elected.
For over sixty years Mr. Perry has been a regular communicant in the Methodist Episcopal Church; fifty years a
Sunday School teacher; held nearly all the various offices in that church, and is now a trustee in the Chestnut
Street M. E. Church, of which he is a member. In 1876, was a Lay Delegate to the Methodist General Conference at
Baltimore. While residing in Oxford village in 1860 and 1861, Mr. Perry (with the exception of $200 contributed
by another) erected and furnished the M. E. Church in that village, paid all the bills out of his own pocket, sold
about half the pews and gave the church the benefit of those that remained. He was always, while there, a very
liberal supporter of the gospel in that church. He also contributed largely to the erection of the spacious vestry
in rear of the church.
Mr. Perry’s family relations have always been very pleasant. In 1844 he married Miss Sarah Adams Allen, a most
estimable lady, daughter of the late Ambrose Allen, Esq., of South Berwick, to whose counsel and advice, for almost
half a century, he is greatly indebted for his success in life. They have had two children, Edwin Augustus, long
connected with the Boston Herald and other newspapers, four years in London as correspondent of the Herald, and
now connected with the New York Press; and Mary Constantia, a finely educated, cultured, amiable young lady, greatly
devoted to her parents, who died in May, 1891, greatly lamented by her relatives and friends. Mr. Perry, for a
man of his advanced age, is vigorous and active, visiting his office and attending to business with all the regularity
of a young man.