Biography of Joseph D. Billings
Orleans County, NY Biographies





Billings, Joseph Drake, is the grandson of Joseph, who was born in Somers, Conn., and lived and died in Smyrna, Chenango county, about 1842, aged seventy six. His son, father of our subject, was born in Smyrna in 1795, and died in Gaines, December 10, 1866. He owned about 500 acres of land and built a saw mill at Marsh creek, which he conducted many years. He was also identified with all the leading events of his town, and was a prominent man in the local politics, as well as being one of the projectors of the Universalist church at Fair Haven. He married Charlotte Drake, born in Ovid in 1800, and died in 1873. Of their eight children six survive: Joseph D., born in Gaines, February 20, 1822; Myron, born March 15, 1824; D. Clinton, born in 1827; Clara, born in 1829; Helen, born in 183k; Harlow, born in 1833; Henry, born in 1836, died in 1858; and William, born in Gaines in 1840. Our subject was educated in the district schools, and finished at Gaines Academy. He is a well read man, and owns a valuable library. He has a farm of 155 acres, and has taken a prominent part in local affairs, having served as supervisor four terms, and represented his county in the Assembly at Albany two terms (1877-78), as a Republican, serving on the Committees of Expenditures and Agriculture the first term, and the second on the Committees of Railroad and Agriculture. December 1, 1845, he married Melinda Shaw, who was born September 17, 1821, in Providence, N. Y., a daughter of Stephen Shaw, and they have had three children: George N., born December 7, 1846, who married Grace Bedell, of Albion, and has one child, Harlow. He is now cashier and part proprietor of the Deiphos Bank, at Delphos, Kan. He enlisted in Company C, of the Eighth Heavy Artillery, in 1862, and served till the close of the war. The second child of our subject was Oora May, born February 12, 1859; who married H. W. Lattin, of Albion, and has one child, Jay D. Mrs. Lattin graduated in April, 1894, from the Buffalo Medical College, and has graduated from Boston School of Oratory. The third child of our subject is Lottie, born May 21, 1861, who married Charles Stilson, of Barre, Orleans county, and has one son, Charles B., now attending school at Rochester. Mrs. Stilson died in Carlton, December 3, 1884. The following article may not be Out of place in this connection, referring as it does to the wife of our subject's oldest child, George N. At the time of Lincoln's nomination for the presidency, Grace Bedell, then a child of twelve, had given her by her father (a zealous worker for the Lincoln party) a picture of the future president. The little girl viewed the likeness with a critic's eye, and decided that Mr. Lincoln would look better with whiskers, and with the consent of her parents she wrote him a nice little letter, expressing her childish views, and asked him to answer her through his own little daughter, if he had not time to write her himself. Mr. Lincoln replied as follows: "Springfield, Ill., September 19, 1860. Miss Grace Bedell: - My dear little miss, your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have three sons, one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it piece of silly affection (affectation), if I should begin it now. Your very sincere well wisher, A. Lincoln." Mr. Lincoln later decided to accept the advice of his young friend and cultivate whiskers, and while en route to Washington to take his seat in the official chair, he stopped at Westfield, made a speech from the platform of his car, when he alluded to this incident, saw and kissed hisyoung friend, and said: "Grace, you see I let these whiskers grow for you."

From:
Landmarks of Orleans County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Isaac C. Signor
Assisted by: H. P. Smith and others
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1894


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