Bois of men form Richford, NY
FROM OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE
A MEMORIAL HISOTRY OF TIOGA COUNTY
EDITED BY: LEROY W. KINGMAN
W. A. FERGUSSON & CO. ELMIRA, N. Y., 189?
ELIJAH POWELL, M. D., one of the most noted early physicians of Tioga county, and one of its best educated and influential citizens, was born at Pharsalia, Chenango county, October 3, 1800. After he was graduated from Hamilton college, he studied medicine and surgery and in 1823 established his residence and practice in Richford. His tireless devotion to his patients and his skillful treatment of recondite cases soon gave him eminence in his profession, and he successfully maintained a high reputation and a large practice for nearly half-a-century. He married first, Lydia Wells, who died childless. His second wife was Jane Anderson, who survived him, dying February 4, 1884. Thejr children were: Elizabeth J. (Mrs. C. D. Rich), born December 12, 1834; Captain William H., born October 14, 1836; Lydia E., born September 8, 1838, married, first, James Pumpelly Lovejoy, Esq., of Owego. Their surviving children are Lydia Mary and Anna Frederica, wife of Robert W. Eastman, M. D., of New York city. (Mrs. Lovejoy married, second, her present husband, Mr. Silas Fordham); Helen Louise, born March 29, 1840, married Rev. J. S. Hanna of Chicago, Ill., and died April 1, 1890; Mary A. (Mrs. Junius Rogers), born February 7, 1842, now resides in Groton, N. Y.; Lieutenant Sanford M. (deceased); Susan C. (deceased). Dr. Powell took active interest in public affairs and especially in education throughout his life. In 1844 he was elected the first county superintendent of schools of this county and in 1854 was elected county commissioner of schools. While holding these offices, eight years, he made his home in Owego removing to Richford again at the close of his official life. He largely aided the development of the village of Richford, and erected some of its finest business blocks and residences. With strong convictions of his own he was tolerant of those of others and he numbered the leading citizens of the county among his personal friends. His nature was kind and sympathetic,his generosity broad and unsectarian and his actions were ever dominated by unswerving christian principle. Although peculiarly modest and unassuming, the influence of his life and character was far-reaching for good. His death occurred January 12, 1876, and the funeral services were impressively conducted by the Masonic fraternity, of which he had been a "worthy brother" for many years.
CHAUNCEY LEROY RICH, son of Ezekiel and Caroline (Slosson) Rich, was born in the town of Newark Valley, January 29, 1815. His family moved to Richford in April, 1821, the town taking its name from his father. He was educated at Richford, and later employed as clerk in the store of J. W. Robbins, formerly of Lenox, Mass. In 1845 he purchased the store, and in connection with his business he associated himself with every public and private enterprise that was for the welfare of his town. He was postmaster nearly twenty years, serving in that capacity through both democratic and republican administrations. He was elected supervisor of his town several times. In 1868 and 1869 he took a very active part in the construction of the Southern Central railroad and devoted the greater part of his time to that enterprise. In 1872 he left the mercantile business and became treasurer of the Southern Central railroad and continued in that position for sixteen years, until the road was leased by the Lehigh Valley company. Mr. Rich was again appointed postmaster at Richford by President Cleveland and held office until August, 1897. Mr. Rich was first married July 4, 1836, with Eunice Deming of Great Barrington, Mass., a daughter of Abram and Lovisä Deming, later residents of Richford. Three children were born to them: Chauncey Derning Rich, now living in Auburn this state; George Leroy Rich and Edward Harris Rich, both now bankers of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Mrs. Rich died December 27, 1866. Mr. Rich was married the second time June 6, 1868, with Jane Morenus, daughter of John and Winifred Morenus of Richford, where she was born in 1851. Four children were born to them: Frederic Lee, born March 1, 1869, died August 1, 1883; Frances Augusta, born August 7, 1872, married June 3, 1896, with Joseph Leonard McEntee of Albany, N. Y.; Winifred, born February. 28, 1879, at present attending school in Auburn; Lucile Frederika, born March 12, 1889. Mr. Rich owns much real estate in the village of Richford and lives in a pretty home in the central portion.
CALVIN J. ROBINSON, son of Zelotus and Abigail (Sawyer) Robinson, was born November 14, 1819, at Jenksville, Tioga county, N. Y. He was educated in the common schools. When seventeen years old he entered the law office of Sweet & Davis, in Owego, and was with them two years, and then returned to carry on farming with his father a few years. He was commissioned by Governor Marcy in 1838 second lieutenant in the Owego company of the state militia. In 1847 he married Amanda Moore. They had twelve children, five of the boys and one girl now living. In 1847 also he settled in Richford, and a few years later was elected justice of the peace, and held the office a second time, and at the expiration thereof he commenced practicing law. He has since followed that business, and has tried one side of nearly every suit that has been tried in town during four decades, besides acting as attorney in suits tried in each of the adjoining counties, and has held the office of notary public continuously since 1858. He has also kept a hardware store and engaged in farming and woolgrowing. Politically he was a whig, but at the close of that following he became identified with the democrats. His wife is a near kin of Dr. Eliphalet Nott, the late distinguished president of Union college, and also of the former prominent U. S. senator, Lyman Trumbull recently deceased.
GRANT W. BARNES, son of Guy C. and Mary (Nichols) Barnes, was born in Virgil, N. Y., November 4, 1824, and when thirteen years old he was crippled for life by having a leg cut off by a threshing machine. He came to Richford January 21, 1841, where he was a clerk for two years in the hotel kept by his brother, Miles R. Barnes. Samuel Cobb then purchased the hotel and Grant clerked for him a few years and also learned the harness-makers' trade. In 1846 he married Betsey Brown, who died in 1854. In 1856 he married Mary, daughter of Julius Smith, and has two children, Arba P. and Flora B., wife of Frederick Witter. Since 1856 Mr. Barnes has been manufacturing harness in Richford and probably has been in that business for a longer term of years than any other man in the United States. He was county superin tendent of the poor nine years; town clerk several years, and while in this office, in 1855, had the first republican tickets of the town printed. He was the "father" of the republicau party in Richford.
HOTCHKISS S. FINCH, son of Elam and Hannah (Reynolds) Finch was born May 12, 1831, at Windham, Greene county, N. Y. Ten years later the family moved to Tioga county. Mr. Finch lived on a farm three miles north of Richford until 1863, and then moved to Lisle, Broonie county, N. Y., and enga.ged in the milling and lumber business. In 1866 he returned to Richford and has been there ever since. In 1869 he built a steam saw mill in connection with his nephew, Clarence W. Finch, and continues its operation at the present time. In 1875 he engaged in the mercantile business also and has continued a merchant almost continuously since. In 1873 Mr. Finch was elected supervisor for the town of Richford on the republican ticket and served eleven years. It is a fact that during his continuance in that office the taxes were lower than ever before. Mr. Finch has been for years prominently identified with his political party, and was appointed by Governor Black in February, 1897, one of the managers of the Soldiers and Sailors Home, and is iiow in office. He is a member and has been trustee and deacon of the Congregational church of Richford. March 2, 1853, Mr. Finch married Charlotte Esther Ketchum of Lisle, Broome county, a daughter of Robert J. and Eliza Ketchurn. They have one child, Charles Robert, born November 22, 1866, and who married Katie Hull of Owego in August, 1885.
GEORGE MORTIMER GEER, son of Ichabod H. and Ann Eliza (Jessup) Geer, was born in Somers, Westchester county, N. Y., June 28, 1837. Two years later the family moved to New York city and remained until 1859, when they came to Richford having previously spent two years in the town. November 23, 1870, Mr. Geer and Laura E., daughter of Ezra S. and Catherine Barden, were married. They have two children: Jessup B., born November 4, 1871, now living in Richford, and Catherine, born May 20, 1873, and living at home. At the outbreak of the civil war Mr. Geer was a member of the New York State Militia, 37th regiment, and went on defense 'duty at Fort Wadsworth. He afterwards participated in what was called the Pennsylvania invasion with his regiment. He served one year on the U. S. receiving ship, Vermont, and was detailed as clerk. He was mustered out at the end of the year and returned to lRichford. Mr. Geer is now adjutant of Belden Post, G. A. R, No. 342, of Richford, and has held that office two years. Mr. G-eer was elected supervisor for his town on the republican ticket for five consecutive years and in 1889 was elected sheriff of Tioga county. He is a member of Friendship lodge F. & A. M., and of the Malta Commandery of Binghamton.
HON. DAMEL P. WITTER, son of Asa and Delia (Torry) Witter, was born in Richford, July 2, 1852. He received only a common school education and has always resided on the old homestead. For several years he was president of the Richford dairymen's association, was many rears a member of the Tioga county dairymen's association and is a life member of the state dairymen's associatipn. He was twelve years a director of the Northern Tioga agricultural society and one year its president. Mr. Witter has made a scientific study of the preparation of food for cattle, has spoken before the state association several times and received numerous letters from residents of other states for information on that subject. He was elected assessor on the republican ticket in 1884, being endorsed by both democrats and prohibitionists. He was supervisor three years and a most useful and influential member of that body. He was nominated for member of assembly in 1895 by acclamation and at the polls received 2,004 majority. He served on the legislative committees of excise, insurance and internal affairs. He was nominated for the same office in 1896 by acclamation and at election received 2,062 majority. In 1897 he served on the committee on excise and was chairman of the committee of internal affairs. March 1st, 1876 Mr. Witter married Sarah, daughter of W. F. Belden. They have two children, Grace and DeBert. The family are all members of the Congregational church. Mr. Witter was for twelve years superintendent of its Sunday school and Mrs. Witter has been teacher of the primary department fourteen years. She has also been pro minent in W. C. T. U. work in both town and county.
ASA WITTER, son of Daniel P. was born in 1798 in Windham. Conn., and died February 1st, 1884 in Richford. He learned the shoemakers trade, and September 1st, 1823 came to Speedsville, worked one year at his trade and then located in Berkshire. Here he labored several years at shoemaking, then purchased a farm which he cultivated in connection with his work on the bench. His parents resided in Homer for several years then came to live with him, and ended their days in his home. On April 1st, 1827 Asa married Louisa Collins. They had nine children, of whom George B., Louisa and Frances A. are now living. Mrs. Witter died December 22, 1848. August 8, 1849 he married his second wife, Delia Torry, daughter of Samuel Torry. April 1st, 1852 they moved to the homestead in Richford. Of their five children are living Sarah, wife of George M. Smith, Daniel P. and Frederick W. Both Asa Witter and his wife were members of the M. E. church in Berkshire. He was both trustee and steward over fifty years and held every position in the church and Sunday school. His son John was in the 5th New York cavalry and was killed at Harper's Ferry, August. 25, 1864. His son Ralph enlisted in the Union army from New Jersey and survived the war until October 16, 1887, when he died at Owego. His son George enlisted from Ohio, serving in the regiment with ex-President R. B. Hayes and President Wm. McKinley. He lives at Waverly, a physical wreck from an injury in the army.
FRANKLIN BLISS, son of Hiram and Anna (Ross) Bliss, was born November 7, 1843, in the town of Berkshire. He received a cornmon school education and September 25, 1861, enlisted in company E, 76th New York regiment as a musician and served three years, then enlisted in company B, 7th Veteran Reserve Corps, and served until the close of the war, when he was honorably discharged with the record of a longer term of service than that of any other man from Tioga county. He is a member of Belden Post, No. 842, G. A. R. After the war Mr. Bliss resided in the west nine years, then lived two years at Hartford Mills, and in 1876, came to Richford and bought a feed mill, which he has since conducted. He has been commander of the local G. A. R. post and was eleêted justice of the peace in 1895. In 1865 Mr. Bliss married Mary Jewett, of Richford. Their three children are Bert, Lydia, widow of Fred Whitlock, and Walter (deceased). Hiram Bliss, born in Berkshire county, Mass., November 7, 1802, came to Cortland county about 1824. Removing to Berkshire about 1840, he built a grist mill and a sash and blind factory at Ra.wson Hollow and conducted both of these enterprises until his death. He was an unswerving republican and a most useful citizen.
EDGAR F. BELDEN, son of William F. and Miranda (Finch) Belden, was born July 15, 1846. He was educated at Brookside Seminary and Dryden academy. He married, December 31, 1867, Eliza Patch, daughter of William J. They had four children: Arthur E., who was educated at Cortland Normal school; William P., who was graduated from Cornell law school in 1894, and is in legal practice at Grand Rapids, Mich.; Clarence F.; Alice M. Mr. Belden was clerk in a store for ten years, and has since been engaged in dairying and farming. He built "Brookside" creamery in 1893. He is a prohibitionist in political faith, and a representative of one of the best elements of citizenship. His family is connected with the Congregational church, of which Mr. Belden is a deacon. William Belden came to Richford from Lenox, Mass., in 1818, and purchased one hundred acres of land in Richford, which he cleared of its original forest. He was fairly well educated, taught school, and held the office of justice of the peace for seven years. He married Phebe Wright. They had five children: Fannie M., William F., Carlos, Charles F. and Anna Phidelia. William Belden died April 2, 1859, and his wife May 18, 1855. William F. Belden was born June 1, 1813 and was five years old when his father came to Richford. He married Miranda L., daughter of Elath Finch, and had a family of seven children: Eugene C., Edgar F., Oscar E., Arthur, Sarah M., Esther C. and Frances H. Mr. Belden wa.s both justice of the peace and justice of sessions, and also a deacon of the Congregational church. He died March 26, 1895. His widow resides with her son Edgar F. Mr. Belden was captain of a rifle company in the state militia. Eugene C. Belden, son of William F., was born June 24, 1844. He enlisted and was a sergeant of company G. 137th New York regiment, was killed at Peach Tree creek, July 20, 1864, and was buried at the government cemetery at Marietta, Ga..
CLINTON CLEVELAND was a native of the town of Maine in Broome county, where he was born in 1825. He married Rachel Herrick in 1849 and came to Richford in 1868 and engaged in lumbering. For nearly twenty years, until his death on January 10, 1887, he set an example of a truly christian life before the community, and he filled acceptably the deaconship of the Congregational church. His children were Sidney (died when sixteen) and Belle (Mrs. J. W. Allen). Mrs. Cleveland resides with her daughter.
J. W. ALLEN, son of Jefemiah and Pauline (Johnson) Allen, was born in November, 1851, in Geneva, N. Y. He received a good common school education and when eighteen became a teacher, working however at the carpenters' trade for three years. Marrying Belle Cleveland, daughter of Clinton Cleveland. in 1872, he made his home in Richford and engaged in the lumber business. He has ever since been an important factor in the business, political, and social life of the town, and still is an operator in lumber in Lycoming county, Pa. He was a member of the firm of Smith, Allen & Finch, which opened a general store in Richford in 1888, and in 1891 built the paper-cutter factory, which five years later he sold. He is now the successor in merchandising to H. S. Finch, recently buying him out. Republican in politics Mr. Allen is an active partisan. He is a member of the county cornmittee, and was supervisor of Richford in 1894-'95-'96-'97. The family attends the Congregational church. He has three children, Herrick C., Vera I. and Ross J. Allen.
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, the Standard Oil king, was in early life a resident of this county. About 1840 his father purchased a pine lot in Richford, built a saw mill, and here his family resided for some years. Later Mrs. Rockefeller and the children resided tfiree miles east of Owego village, Mr. Rockefeller living in Cleveland, Ohio, whither the family followed him about 1854. While living in. Richford Mr. Rockefeller was often absent from town for long periods of time, presumably attending to special medical practice for the treatment of cancers, and his first act on returning from these journeys would be to pay the village merchant his bill for the supplies furnished his family during his absence. Several families of the name, and relatives, now live in the town. John D. Rockefeller was horn in Moravia, N. Y. on July 8, 1839. He was a pupil of Owego academy under Principal William Smythe. When nineteen years old he engaged in the produce business for himself in Cleveland, was successful, saved his profits, and in a few years bought a share in an oil refinery. From that time his prosperity was rapid. He was an organizer of the Standard Oil company, in which he is a chief owner, and he is now believed to be the wealthiest man in the world, with his wealth increasing at the rate of $20,000,000 annually. His recent munificent gift of $1,000,000 to the University of Chicago does him credit.
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