Biography of James A. Bissell

Bissell, James A., represents one of the oldest pioneer families in Genesee county. His grandfather, Aaron Bissell, settled in the town in 1807, where he took up a tract of 275 acres from the original holders in what was known as the Triangular Tract and for which he paid the cash. He was known to have had the most ready money of any of the early pioneers. He was a native of the town of Hebron, Tolland county, Conn., born in 1779; he was a cooper by trade, and when twenty-one years of age his father, Levi Bissell, a Revolutionary soldier, gave him a suit of clothes and a pair of shoes and he started out to battle for himself. He worked eight years at East Haddam, on the Connecticut river, on a contract making sugar and molassas barrels for the New Orleans and Cuba trade. At this he saved $800 (the money he had to purchase his land with), and in the spring of 1806 he, with his brothers Levi and Alexander, came west. Levi and Alexander took out articles of agreement for 800 acres and Aaron for 160, in what is now the town of Sweden, Monroe county. Returning to Connecticut that winter they made a transfer of the land to a man named Reed, who settled it a short time after. The brothers again came west and Aaron settled in Bergen, erected log buildings, cleared his farm and became a successful farmer, and an influential man in the early politics and affairs of his town, and for many years was a member of the board of supervisors; in politics he was a Democrat. When the war of 1812 came on he arranged for his family and started for the front, getting as far as Le Roy, when he met a man who offered to go as his substitute; he hired him and returned home to his family. His wife was Lucinda Austin, who was the first woman school teacher in the town of Bergen north of the village. Her father, Capt James Austin, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. She died when forty-six; Aaron lived to be past eighty-two. They reared three sons and three daughters. Aaron Mann, the youngest son, was born in Bergen in 1817, became a farmer and spent his entire life on the homestead, a part of which he owned. In politics he was a firm Democrat. His wife was Avis, daughter of John Mitchell of Rochester, and their children were James A., Emily L., Frances A., Fred M., William A. and George A. He died in 1862; his wife survives him and resides with her youngest son-a good generous woman, a kind neighbor, but of a retiring disposition. James A. Bissell was born in Bergen on the homestead in January, 1846, received his education in the district schools, Prof. Throop's select school and Prof. Hamilton's private school in Bergen. His father died when he was seventeen and he was therefore early thrown into much responsibility on the farm. He remained at home and faithfully attended to the work and the affairs of the farm for several years. When about twenty.two years of age he began for himself, following farming to the present time. He later purchased a part of the estate farm from the heirs. He now resides on his farm near the village of Bergen. Mr. Bissell is influential in political affairs of his town, a firm and consistent Democrat and a strong advocate of what he considers the righteous principles of bi-metalism, and while firmly declining many of the proffered nominations for many town offices, he has filled the office of justice of the peace two terms of four years each, and has frequently represented his district as a delegate in the county and assembly conventions. He is a man of progressive thought, well informed and of good judgment. He is a member of the order of the Knights of the Maccabees, in which he has served in various official capacities. In 1880 he married Loretta E. Rightmeyer of Bergen; they have one daughter, Avis M. Mr. Bissell is one of the oldest members of the Bergen Cornet Band, at one time was leader of the band and has been a member of it for thirtyfive years.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Genesee County, New York
Edited by: F. W. Beers
J.W. Vose & Co., Publishers, Syracuse, N. Y. 1890



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