Biography of Sherman Nathaniel Aspinwall
Hastings, Dakota County, MN Biographies

Sherman Nathaniel Aspinwall, proprietor of the Foster house, is of English-Scotch descent, born in Cayuga county, New York, April 3d, 1882. His father, Edson Aspinwall, was a merchant of Auburn. While living in Auburn young Aspinwall was sent to the Auburn academy, then in charge of Professor Hopkinson. During this time his father and grandfather owned three stores and a large steam grist mill. The family moved from Auburn toalarge farm in Wells, Bradford county, Pennsylvania, since known as Aspinwall's corners. Here Sherman opened a small store while yet a boy. In 1844 he went to Troy to work in the store of Pomeroy Brothers, who Were relatives. He next went to Towanda, the county seat, where he was for a time employed in one of the county offices. After a short time he went into a store, of which he soon had controL His father being appointed superintendent of the North Branch canal, rented his farm, removed his family to Towanda, where he soon after died, and Sherman, who was then but eighteen years of age, took care of the family. He removed to Elmira, where he began work for Henry S. Wells, railroad and canal contractor, as book-keeper and cashier. Wells, On account of some difficulty in which he became involved, sold the contract to build eighteen miles of the Great Western railway, between Chatham. Canada, and Detroit, to Hollenbeck and AspinwalL The firm cleared $85,000 each by this contract and their work gave such satisfaction that the engineers of the road urged them to remain with the company as contractors. However, they returned to Elmira, and Wells having heavy contracts in New Jersey, wished to secure their services. They visited the work, but did not enter his employ, Aspinwall wishing to go to Chicago. But tempted by promises made by Wells, they took two sections of heavy work under him and by the operation lost money. Aspinwall then went to Detroit, in 1855, and for one year had charge of a store at Mount Clemens. On account of the malaria of the country he left and went to Chicago and there began his experience as a hotel keeper. Rented a large stone house opposite the old Dearborn hotel, which he run two years, when failing health again compelled him to change. After a year's rest at Corpus Christi he recovered his health. Next went to New York and was employed in the wholesale hardware house of Churchill, Rogers and Wetanore. When the war broke out he at once enlisted in the Fiftyninth New York, in May, 1861, and in July following, was mustered into service as second lieutenant of Company A. Served two years, and was in the Peninsular campaign. He was sick with typhoid fever, but getting somewhat better again entered active service against Magruder. Being greatly weakened by sickness he was soon exhausted by his efforts, and carried to the hospital at Fortress Monroe, where for a number of weeks he was very low, suffering from a relapse. His wife was unable to find him until he was removed to Hampton seminary. When taken sick his weight was one hundred and sixty pounds, but when be recovered it was only ninety. His rank at this time was first lieutenant, but he was promoted to captain, and was offered a commission of major. After he left the service, he opened a hardware store in Troy, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1864, and did a business of $12,000 the first year, and afterwards of $60,000. In addition to his business in Troy, he built a block of stores in Towanda, and kept one of them himself, doing a total business of from $80,000 to $110,000. His winters were passed in the south, where he bought a plantation of four hundred acres, at Aiken South Carolina, besides a steammill and one thousand acres of timber in the same state. He left his business in the north in charge of a son of a friend, who neglected it, and his partner speculated in the firm name and lost quite heavily. Aspinwall then went to St. Louis and speculated in stock; then went to Jacksonville, Illinois, and run a hotel for a couple of years. In 1875, he came to Minnesota, bought property in Minneapolis. and dealt in fine stock. This he traded for the Foster house in 1877, taking possession in March, 1878. Married at Towanda, Pennsylvania, in 1854, Sarah H. Myer of that place. Their children are Mrs. Dr. Pratt, of Minneapolis, Sallie, Virginia. Mrs. B. J. Parker. Their only son Lloyd, born December 26th, 1872, was drowned in the Mississippi river, June 3d, 1881.

The History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings.
By J. Fletcher Williams.
North Star Publishing Company.
Minneapolis. 1881.

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