Biography of The Orvis Family 
Town of Mexico,  Oswego Co., NY

Many thanks and appreciation to Esther Rancier for contributing this information! 

Oliver Orvis, born in Halifax, VT, married Patty Stebbins who was born 2 February 1755 in South Winchester, NH.  Patty was the daughter of Josiah and Mary (Howe) Stebbins of Northfield, MA.  They removed to Mexico, NY by 1820 where they joined the new Presbyterian church. 

Their son, Eliphas Orvis, married Patty Savage on 17 October 1820 in Mexico.  Patty, born Mexico in 1801, was the daughter of Joel and Abigail (Smith) Savage and granddaughter of Polycarpus and Dorothy (Skinner) Smith.  They had one son, Stebbins Roderick Orvis, born  16 May 1822.  He wed Mary Jane Allen on 17 December 1846.  They had six children, of whom only four survived into the twentieth century.

The 1880 census showed Stebbins R. Orvis, carpenter, age 58, born NY with both parents born NY living with wife, Mary J., age 54, born VT with both parents born in MA.  Their children were given as: Sumner C., age 24, born NY; Julia L., age 19, born NY; Mary G., age 14, born NY.  In another household Roderick Orvis resided.  He was a cutter in a clothing store, age 32, born NY, living with wife, Delia, age 30, born TN.  This couple’s children were given as Giles, age 10, born NY; Isabel, age 8, born NY; Allan, age 7, born NY; and Vincent, age 2, born NY. 

 Stebbins’ skills as a carpenter were employed building many of the houses in Mexico.   But the area where he achieved his lasting fame lay with his lyrical tenor singing voice.  Every record about Stebbins mentions his natural talent.  He conducted the Methodist choir for 24 years.  Orvis was the first to introduce anthems to the church service.  During the Civil War he led patriotic songs at the rallies.  Son, Roderick also possessed a fine voice and sang in the choir also.  Later in life, Roderick switched from the Methodist Church to Presbyterian where he was the Superintendent of the Sunday School by 1903.

Stebbins’ wife, Mary Jane, was noted for her wit and warm heart.  She became a life member of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the M. E. church.  She was a vice-president of the Women’s Christian
Temperance Union suggesting that no hard drinks were consumed by the Orvis family.  When the Union members posed for a photograph which appeared in “Grip’s”, she was included.  The photograph is on page 9 of that publication.  She and her husband were also pictured on page 43.

Stebbins died 22 April 1890.  He left behind son, Roderick, living in Mexico.  Sumner C., who as an adult called himself Charles S., resided in Hamilton, Madison Co., NY.  While daughter, Julia became  Mrs. Frank W. Rosebrooke of Hoosick Falls on 24 October 1888 and Mary, wed D. A. Fradenburgh of Altmar.

 As the older members of this family group passed away the younger ones moved further west.  No Orvis descendants of Stebbins remained in Mexico.  The 1910 US census showed Roderick’s son, Vincent C., age 32, living in Sodus, Wayne Co., NY.  In 1920, Charles S., son of Stebbins, age 62, was living on Payne St., Hamilton with his wife, Ada B., age 38.  He was a wood merchant.  The location of anyone else is unknown.

 Sources: “Grip’s” Historical Souvenir of Mexico, NY.  Syracuse, 1903; 
Orvis Family Genealogy Forum.  Available [online] . [8 October 2002]; 
Oswego County, NY Genealogical and Historical Resource Site.  Available [online] . [8 October 2002]; 
Simpson, Elizabeth M. Mexico; Mother of Towns. Buffalo, 1949; 
U.S. Census for Oswego Co., NY, 1880, 1910 & 1920.;  World Connect Project.  Available [online] . [8 October 2002].

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