Biography of Russell J. Bliss
Madison County, NY Biographies





Bliss, Russell Joseph, was born in Smithfield, May 28, 1863, a son of Joseph Huntington, son of Lyman, who was born in Smithfield in 1802, a son of Ephraim Bliss, who was one of the party of ventursome pioneers who came to Smithfield in 1799 and 1800. Ephraim Bliss, like nearly all the early settlers, cleared some land and made farming his occupation. The land he then cleared is now, after one century of occupancy, still owned in the Bliss family. In 1801 Ephraim Bliss went to Massachusetts and brought back a bride. Lyman. the eldest son, was born in 1802. Upon reaching manhood Lyman married Ann Chaffee of Smithfield and purchased the homestead; to them were born seven sons and two daughters, who reached maturity and married. Lyman Bliss was commissioned by Governor Clinton captain in State militia; he died in 1875. His wife died in 1876. Joseph H., the fourth child, was born April 8, 1831, educated in the local schools and Peterboro Academy. He taught school a few terms then married and purchased a farm in Smithfield. To them were born two children, one now living, a daughter. In 1857 he married for his second wife, Clarissa M. Brown of Stockbridge. N. Y., a great granddaughter of Keziah Cushman Brown of Vermont, who, while her husband was away serving in the American army under Gen. Stark in 1777, was visited by a foraging party from Col. Baum's Hessian regiment and threatened with execution by the bayonet unless she disclosed the hiding place of stores and ammunition known to have been saved by her husband. She refused, though the bayonet pricked her chest. Her bravery so won the admiration of the officer of the party that he ordered them to molest her no further. By this second marriage Mr. Bliss had four children, three now living; the oldest, Russell Joseph, graduated from Cornell University in 1885 with the degree of Ph. B. For two years following he read law in an office in Saginaw, Mich. After taking one year of lectures at the law school of Columbia University, he was admitted in 1888 to the Michigan bar. The year 1889 was spent in traveling and studying natural resources of Pacific coast States. In 1890-91 he practiced his profession in Chicago, Ill., after which he returned to his native town and has since been associated with his father in caring for their large farms, making the breeding of Jersey cattle their leading industry. The farm occupied by them was once the site of the first glass factory in the State. The building with its massive timbers is yet preserved and with suitable alterations is serving as the main barn of the farm. This building is supposed to have been erected about 1806. The late John R. Berry often told Mr. Bliss that, when a small boy, he was allowed to attend the "raising" of this massive frame. The work occupied a week and called together large numbers of persons from this and neighboring settlements, who made merry as was the custom in those days at such "bees," with plenty of whiskey and games of skill and strength. Joseph Bliss has long been one of the trustees of the Evans Endowment, given for the maintenance of Evans Academy. In 1895 Russell Bliss married Agnes Alden Hamilton of Kenwood, N. Y.

FROM:
Our County and it's people
A Descriptive and Biographical Record of
Madison County, New York
Edited by: John E. Smith
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1890


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