Yates County, New York

Biographies & Family Trees

from History Books  pg 487-524

or Contributed by others



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Jephthah EARL Sr.

from History of Yates Co., by L. C. Aldrich,  Pub. 1892   Pg 499

EARL, Jephthah Sr., was from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he married in 1779, Bridget ARTHUR, he being twenty-two and she being fifteen years old.  They settled soon after on two hundred acres, bought of Charles WILLIAMSON, about two miles south west of Geneva, in the town of Seneca, NY.  He paid four dollars per acre for his land.  He worked for Samuel LATTA, sometimes for four dollars per month, to raise money to make payments.  Their family numbered thirteen, ten of whom reached adult age: Jesse, Clarry, Zeruah, Susan, Fanny and Stephen (twins), Jephthah, Arthur, Matilda and Laura.  

In 1821 Jephthah EARL Sr., purchased the mill property and sixty acres of land at Bellona, which he put in charge of his son, Jesse.  They afterwards purchased a farm known as the Lynn lot, where they removed and remained till 1836, when Jesse sold his interest to his brother, Jephthah. 

Jephthah Jr., the subject of this sketch, was born June 26, 1806, in Seneca, Ontario County, NY and came to Bellona when he was about seventeen years of age, and worked on the mill property with his brother Jesse, of which they became joint owners by gift of their father.  In 1827 he became sole owner, by purchase of his brother.  He remained at Bellona until 1830, when he sold the property there and purchased a farm on the west side of Seneca Lake.  These premises were but little improved and there was only a log house and frame barn.  This barn was one of the oldest, if not the first, built in the town.  He erected a distillery and run it on an extensive scale for several years, and also built a storehouse at Kashong Landing, and established a grain market, which proved a great benefit to the community.  His brother Arthur, was for several years associated with him.  They frequently purchased seventy-five thousand bushels of grain in one season, and they were regarded as dealers of probity and responsibility. 

In politics Mr. EARL was a lifelong Democrat, but he never had any aspiration for public office.  He married Eliza HUTCHINSON, October 21, 1829.  Their children were seven in all, of whom three survive: George W., Edwin L. and Katy A.  Mr. EARL was a man of good judgment, a kind neighbor, and a man very much respected by all who knew him.  He died September 30, 1891.  


Samuel Stewart ELLSWORTH Sr.

  from History of Yates Co., by L. C. Aldrich,  Pub. 1892   Pg 505 - 508

ELLSWORTH, Samuel Stewart, was born at Pownal, Vt., October 13, 1790 and came to this county in the year 1819.  His father, Capt. Wanton ELLSWORTH, was a Rhode Island man, and his mother, Sabra STEWART, was a Connecticut woman.  He was first associated with the brothers Stewart, Samuel and George, as clerk, but very soon purchased their stock in trade and became their successor in Penn Yan, they removed to Bethel, Ontario County. 

It was in January 1820 that �Samuel S. ELLSWORTH�, became known and identified as a business man in the village of Penn Yan, and from that time until his death no man was more generally known or more widely recognized as a leading spirit in all that related to the advancement of the general interests and prosperity of the village or the county than he; and in thus presenting him, it may be inferred that there was something in the man that rendered him at once conspicuous, familiarly associated with and universally known to a very wide circle of acquaintances and equally as wide circle of friends. 

Briefly he may be said to have possessed the native elements of a gentleman and by self-culture to have qualified himself to fill that sphere in the true sense of the term; eschewing all semblance of both pedantry and aristocracy he was equally accessible to the peasant and to the scholar, and especially was he open to the approach of those who needed the uplifting hand of a friend in time of need.  He was an early student and always an ardent lover of books, devoting as much of his time to them as his engrossed and busy life would permit.  As a businessman he was active and ready, judging men accurately and adapting himself to their demands, and always so deported himself as to establish confidence and command respect.  No one who became acquainted with him feared to trust and never was that confidence disappointed.  His kindness and geniality were proverbial, and although often led into imprudence in aid of others by trusting too hopefully, yet in his own business affairs, that were under his personal care and direction, it seldom occurred that he was not fully sustained in the judgment he had formed. 

In this department of life�s duties he often exhibited a courage and leadership calculated to deter the selfish timid, while it enlisted others more cosmopolitan in spirit, form the confidence his integrity, successes and energy inspired and his name was always found associated with every noteworthy enterprise started for public benefit or private gain in those early days when it required united effort to overcome the obstacles of the time; hence he was found connected with such men as the late John MAGEE, Joseph FELLOWS and Constant COOK of Bath, W. W. MC CAY, Am. M. ADSIT of Hammondsport, and others of marked character for enterprise in all the early state routes leading form and through Penn Yan, the building and running the first steamboat on the Crooked Lake, known as the �Keuka� and was also largely interested in and connected with the produce trade and transportation on the canal.  Associated with Spencer BOOTH under the firm of Ellsworth & Booth, they were the originators of Branchport, where the conducted a large mercantile and produce business connected with lumbering and farming, for many years. 

With people, Judge ELLSWORTH was eminently popular, and was often called to fill places of public duty and trust.  In 1824 and but a few years after his advent to the town he was elected supervisor of Milo, and selected for three years thereafter.  After the organization of this county in 1824 (March 31, 1828( he was appointed first judge, a station which he filled for five years.  In 1829 he was demanded by his party friends to stand as their candidate for the Assembly, and was elected by a close vote, it is true, but this raised his party from an almost hopeless minority to a working majority and for future successes. 

In this council of the State his character for business tact and energy, with that of political integrity, had preceded him, and he was placed in positions of great responsibility and labor, and was at once made chairman of the celebrated committee of nine, know in the history of the times as the �Grinding Committee�, which he discharged with marked ability and fairness, winning credit and confidence from both political parties, where his less confident supporters had predicted failure. 

In 1844 he was elected to represent the district then composed of Tompkins, Chemung and Yates in Congress by a telling majority.  It was in this session of 1845-46 that the great heat of the Texas Administration question was at its height, and which engrossed the best minds of the statement of those days, as to the propriety of extending the area of slavery by the acquisition of free territory.  IT was a meeting for consultation of friends of annexation without slavery that the fruitful mind of Judge ELLSWORTH modestly suggested that attaching of the Jeffersonian ordinance of 1784 to the resolution of acceptance of annexation as a measure that would render it acceptable to the North, by thus forever prohibiting slavery therein.  The paternity of this measure has been claimed by others, but the Hon. Horace MANN was the authority for this version.  The idea was at once entertained as both forcible and practical, and the more ambitious David WILMONT, of Pennsylvania, introduced the amendment, which has since born the name of the �Wilmont Proviso.�  It was with general satisfaction that Judge ELLSWORTH discharged his duties as Member of Congress, and he made himself there so widely known and respected that it gave to his opinions and influence great weight in the other years of his life in the councils of both the nation and the State. 

His political affinities were always with the Democracy, yet his independence impelled him to uphold the right even where strict party allegiance might otherwise lead. 

Stewart ELLSWORTH,� although popular and, as has been show, politically successful, was not in the more common acceptation of the term a politician; not tat he was insensible to the flattery of the confidence of the people, or the true honor of position; but such was the construction of his mind that he shrank instinctively from the bold competition of the heartless place hunter and scorned to wear honors that he felt were only the result of arty fealty and discipline.  In brief, his true sphere was that of the businessman, the social circle and pre-eminently so within the domestic circle and family group; always eschewing the hotel as a home, he established and maintained his household long before he married, and the graceful hospitalities of which were known and appreciated throughout a wide range of acquaintances.   

In 1834 he married Mrs. Elizabeth C. VOSBURGH, of Penn Yan, who died January 16, 1873 and was long a prominent and valued member of the Presbyterian Church of that village.  Her maiden name was Elizabeth C. HENRY, a daughter of Dr. Robert R. HENRY, a surgeon in the army of the Revolution, and a citizen of New Jersey.  Her mother was Mary HILLIARD, who died in Penn Yan, November 19, 1843, aged eighty-four years.  All who knew Mrs. ELLSWORTH cheerfully testify to her peculiar fitness to be the wife of such a man as was her husband.  She was a good woman and widely beloved. 

Judge ELLSWORTH died at his residence in Penn Yan, June 4, 1863, aged seventy-three years, full of years and works, missed and mourned by all who knew him.


Samuel Stewart ELLSWORTH Jr.

 from History of Yates Co., by L. C. Aldrich,  Pub. 1892   Pg 508 - 510

ELLSWORTH, Samuel Stewart Jr., was born in the village of Penn Yan, December 25, 1839, and was the son of Judge Samuel ELLSWORTH and Elizabeth VOSBURGH, nee HENRY.  Stewart ELLSWORTH, as he is sometimes called, prepared for college in the public and select schools of Penn Yan.  He entered Hamilton College in January 1857, and was graduated with the class of �60, receiving he degree in course of Master of Arts in 1863.  He read lad and was prepared for examination, but never entered the legal profession, as his attention abut that time was directed to the care of his father�s estate and business, the latter having died in 1863.  In this and other recent trusts, Mr. ELLSWORTH established and confirmed a fine record.  At this time too, the war was in progress, and our subject became actively engaged in politics.  He was a Douglass or War Democrat, and gave an earnest support to the Union cause.  He has on more than one occasion shown himself to be a ready, eloquent speaker and graceful critic.  In 1865, �68, �70 and �74, he was a delegate to the Democratic State Convention.  Also, in 1872 he was a delegate to the National Convention of the same party at Baltimore that placed Horace GREELEY in nomination for the presidency.   

But while (General) ELLSWORTH had been an active participant in local, State and national politics for about twenty-five years, he has seldom been the candidate of his party for political preferment.  In 1870 he was the Democratic candidate for the Assembly, and made a remarkable run, his party being in a hopeless minority.  His office holdings have been limited to two terms as supervisor of the town of Milo, during the years 1882 and 1883.  for three years also, 1875, �76, �77 he served as member of the Board of Education of Penn Yan, but this office has been considered rather non-political than otherwise.  But his familiarity with local and general politics has brought General ELLSWORTH into acquaintance and association with public men and measures, and has placed him high in the councils of his party, and in many desirable positions in connection with public corporations and institutions.  In 1869 he was elected president of the Sodus Point and Southern Railroad Company.  In 1872 he was likewise chosen president of the Wilkes-Barre and Seneca Lake Coal Company.  In 1875 and �76 he served as Quartermaster-General of the state on General TILDEN�s staff from which position he acquired the title of General, by which he is commonly known.  In 1870 he was elected trustee of Hamilton College, a position he still holds.  From 1868 to 1880 he was one of the board of managers of the Fall Brook Coal Company.  In 1891 he was elected president of the Lake Keuka Ice Company.  In 1890 he was made a member of the American Institute of Christian Philosophy.  He was the first patron of the famous �Ellsworth Hose Company�, named after him, formed October 26, 1871 and composed of the best young men in the village and which won the State competitive prize at Cortland, August 24, 1888.  He is now one of the active trustees of the John MAGEE estate (Fall Brook Coal Company).  He was engaged in 1867 and for four years in a large grain, malting and forwarding business with F. DAVIS Jr., at Watkins.  The local firm of S. S. Ellsworth & Company, coal dealers, was formed in 1890, but he General�s connection with that business dates back to 1884. 

Among his fellow-men and associates, in his social, political and business relations, Stewart ELLSWORTH is a popular central figure.  In all matters pertaining to the welfare of his native village and locality he is public spirited and generous; and it may truthfully be said that no worthy enterprise or charity ever appealed to him in vain.  He is a member and strong supporter of the Presbyterian Church, its conservatism and policy.  But it is in the social relation, in the unrestricted flow of familiar conversation, that he most pleasing traits of his character are exhibited.  His devotion to friends, his general presence, his well trained mind, his generous literary taste, finely cultivate, together with his remarkable memory, combine to make him one of the most interesting of companions.  

On the 12th day of December, 1866, Samuel Stewart ELLSWORTH was married to Heber Parker, only daughter of the late Hon. John MAGEE of Watkins, NY.  Of this marriage two children were born: Duncan Stewart ELLSWORTH and John Magee ELLSWORTH, both students in Yale University.  The former was born February 19, 1870, and the latter May 17, 1874.  Heber Parker ELLSWORTH died in Paris, France, April 16, 1880.  From the local press at the time of her untimely departure we copy the following: 

Mrs. ELLSWORTH was a most estimable woman, and her death is a sad loss to her family and her large circle of friends. In Penn Yan, where she resided for a number of years, it can very truly be said, �None knew her but to love her, none named her but to praise.:  She was liberal to a fault, bestowing out of her abundance to every worthy and charitable cause; she was looked upon by the poor as a �friend, indeed�.  We tender hour heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved family, and especially to her husband, to whom her death is a great blow.  There is a day when �parting is no more� and to this should he turn for comfort and consolation.  Mrs. ELLSWORTH was one of the loveliest of women, in person and character, winning to herself without effort the esteem and friendship of all with whom she came in contact.� 

Mr. ELLSWORTH�s twin brother, Henry, died April 9, 1840, and a sister Mary Elizabeth, of sainted memory, died August 8, 1848, at the age of eleven years. 

�In the midst of life cometh death,� and when on May 6, 1892, it became known that Stewart ELLSWORTH had passed away at 2 o�clock on the morning of that day, a universal thought went forth that Penn Yan had sustained a loss that could not be replaced, that each and every one of her citizens would ever afterwards miss the smiling countenance, the genial presence of whom they all loved and respected.  



Portrait and Biographical Album of Hillsdale county, MI.  Chapman brothers, 1888.
p. 806-809 
contributed by Susan Austin

GEORGE R. FITZSIMMONS, son of one of the earliest pioneers of Hillsdale County, is located on the old homestead on section 26, Reading Township, and operates 240 acres of good land. He was born at this place, Aug. 23, 1849, and is the son of the well-known John Fitzsimmons, who came to Michigan with his father's family in March, 1837. John Fitzsimmons was born in Dundee, Yates Co., N. Y., Sept. 5, 1818. He was the son of George Fitzsimmons, who was also a native of the Empire State, and was nineteen years of age when the family came to Michigan; the grandfather, George, had already purchased a quarter-section of wild land which is now included in the present farm, and John came to this section, accompanied by his father. Later, the mother with the remainder of the family, set out with ox-teams, taking with them their earthly effects, and came via the Canada route, the mother engineering the train successfully, and in due time joining her husband and son, on the 2d of June, 1837. A little log house had been provided for their reception. This was completed April 19 of that same year. John had the honor of cutting down the first tree on the farm, while at the same time his father felled another, and the stump of the first stood to show the first mark of their axes in this county until a few years ago. The log cabin, a few years later, was substituted by something of more modern style, but a board from it is still preserved by our subject, as one of the old relics of his grandfather's house. George Fitzsimmons continued a resident here until his death, which took place Oct. 10, 1870, after he had arrived at the advanced age of eighty years. Grandfather Fitzsimmons had been a hard-working man, and became owner of 560 acres of land, most of which he brought to a productive condition, and eighty of which now lie within the limits of Reading Village. Upon it stands the depot of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, and also the sash, door and blind factory built by the citizens of the town. Later, he and his son John, gave the sum of $2,300, besides the right of way, as an inducement for the railroad to pass through this place. George Fitzsimmons was prominent in township affairs, represented Reading Township in the County Board of Supervisors for a number of years, and officiated as Justice of the Peace sixteen consecutive years. He was elected to represent the county in the State Legislature, and subsequently was a Senator. He was a lifelong Democrat, politically, and possessed all the elements of an honest man and a good citizen. In his death the county lost one of its best men. The paternal grandmother of our subject, whose maiden name was Lydia Raplee, died upon the same day that Zach Chandler died, and was past eighty years of age. She was a remarkable woman in many respects, as her journey from New York to Michigan through a wild, unsettled country and alone, save for her children, fairly indicates. She was familiarly and affectionately known as "Aunt Lydia" throughout this section, and was a favorite among both old and young. Both she and her husband were members of the Regular Baptist Church, and contributed largely to its establishment and maintenance in Reading. The church edifice is one of the largest in this part of the county, and is really an imposing structure, and stands as a fitting monument to the liberality and piety of George Fitzsimmons and his estimable wife. John Fitzsimmons, the father of our subject, inherited largely of the qualities of both parents, being healthy both in body and mind, and growing up thus amid the influence of pure home surroundings, became well fitted for the responsible duties which fell to his lot in life. He was twice married, his first wife being Rachel, the daughter of Roswell Merryman, their wedding taking place in Hillsdale County. Of this union there was one child, who died young in years. Mrs. Rachel Fitzsimmons departed hence, over forty years ago. His second wife, Charlotte A. Merryman, by name, was a sister of the first, and became the mother of four children, three of whom survive, namely: George R., of our sketch; John F.; and a daughter, Georgia, now Mrs. Burch, of Reading. During his entire residence in this county,  John Fitzsimmons was prominently identified with its various interests, and especially with those of his own township. Being a Democrat in politics, and his party in the minority, he held public office but seldom, aside from those within the gift of his fellow-townsmen. His personal popularity, however, was great, and was particularly manifested upon one occasion when he was the candidate for the Legislature at a special election to fill a vacancy, and with the exception of three, received every vote polled in his township, and in the county, with a Republican majority of 2,800, was beaten by only twenty-three. One man boasted of having worked his way five or six miles on a hand-car to cast his vote for 'so good a man as John Fitzsimmons." It was in the service of his community that the health of Mr. Fitzsimmons first began to fail, and the disease contracted which ultimately resulted in his death, which took place Feb. 8, 1887, when in the sixty-ninth year of his age. In his efforts at securing and building tie railroad through this place. he was subjected to exposure night and day frequently, and at times deprived of his natural rest, and he gave fully as freely of his substance as he did his time and services in building up his adopted county. He was identified with every enterprise for advancing the interests of Reading Township, contributing toward the building of every church and other public building erected in the village of Reading, which in fact is indebted to him for its very existence, and it is a singular fact that while he worked so arduously for the interests of the community, no one ever attributed to him a selfish motive. So great was the confidence of the community in the integrity of John Fitzsimmons, that at the erection of the Colby Factory he was constituted one of f our comprising the building committee, from its inception until its completion. From the laying of the first State road to Hillsdale, on which he took a contract; the first plank road organization, the securing of the railroad through Reading, the erection of all public buildings, he was always the trusted, useful, active citizen, one of the first to be consulted in the inauguration of any new project, and whose judgment was uniformly held in respect. He was several times President of the County Agricultural Society, and at the darkest hour of its existence lie and Col. Holloway were the two men who put their shoulders to the wheel and brought it to success. In making the journey from New York to this county, John Fitzsimmons, with his father, came on foot from Rose to Fairport, Ohio, thence by boat to Detroit, and thence, via Jonesville, to the spot where is now the Fitzsimmons homestead, and spent their first night with the family of John Mickle, near by. The next morning they made their way to their new location by aid of trees marked by the Government survey, and selected as a building site the knoll a little to the southwest of the four corners, one mile east of what is now Reading Village, and commenced clearing a place to put up a log house. Here Mr. Fitzsimmons elected to stay, and here commenced the career which was so honorable, and the close of which was so deeply mourned by the entire community. Notwithstanding the day of his funeral was very stormy, the air full of rain, and the roads in some places almost impassable, a large concourse of people gathered to pay the last tribute of respect to him who had been their friend in such a marked manner. The large house and its adjoining buildings were filled with people, and the funeral rites were taken part in by Eureka Commandery, A. F. & A. M., with which the deceased brother had been connected for many years as a member of Reading Lodge No. 117. The Knights Templar had charge of the funeral. An address was delivered by Rev. G. M. Adams, of the Baptist Church, with which Mr. Fitzsimmons had been identified since early manhood. He was created a Royal Arch Mason, Nov. 27, 1863, and a Knight Templar, June 17, 1864. Mrs. Fitzsimmons only survived her husband one year, a month and two days, her decease taking place March 10, 1888. She was born in Clinton County, N. Y., March 15, 1828, and came to Michigan with her father's family in 1839, they settling first in Fayette Township, and thence removing to Reading the following year. She was one of a family of eleven children, four of whom survive her, namely: Edwin L. and Julia C. Merryman, Mrs. Cornelia Thompson, and Mrs. Mary Merryman, all of Reading. She was married to John Fitzsimmons in 1848, and as a pioneer wife and mother, was the fit companion of such a man as her husband. Mrs. Fitzsimmons spent Sunday, March 4, with her son, John F., in her usual health. On Thursday following she was poorly, but went about her work as usual, preserving her old-time habits of industry. Friday morning she remarked to her daughter she would not get up to breakfast, but did not wish a physician sent for. A physician was called, however, without her knowledge, although no one believed her to be in a dangerous condition. She did not rise as she expected, and before 10 o'clock the same day it was evident that she was stricken with death.  Her son, J. F., was telegraphed for, and all the children were with her at the time of her death, which occurred at 12:45, just twelve hours after she was believed to be in danger. Thus within the short space of little over one year had passed away two people, whose history had been closely interwoven with that of Reading Township, and for whom the entire community mourned. George R. Fitzsimmons was reared in Reading Township, and completed his education at Hillsdale College, after an attendance there for four years. He has always been fond of agriculture, in which he excels, both in general farming and stock-raising. He made his home with his parents until his marriage, and took for his wife one of the most estimable young ladies of Reading Township. Miss Clara B. Stone, to whom he was married Oct. 27, 1873. He brought his bride to the old homestead, and they are now the parents of six children, namely: Carrie C., Maude C., Mabel V., Grace R., Hazel B. and Eva F. They are a bright and intelligent little group, and pursuing their studies in the Reading schools. Mrs. Clara B. Fitzsimmons was born in Burlington, Vt., July 29, 1854; her education was completed when she was eighteen years of age, at Waterbury, Vt., and before that time she was deprived of the care of her father by death. He was a native of Vermont, and died in 1869. The mother lives in Burlington, Vt. John F. Fitzsimmons, the brother of our subject, was graduated, like the latter, from Hillsdale College, and subsequently took a course in the law department of Michigan State University, at Ann Arbor. Having in view the practice of law, he was admitted to the bar, and practiced until failing health compelled him to retire. He married Miss Lizzie Gilmore, of Hillsdale, and is now engaged in the agricultural implement trade at Hillsdale, and is also a successful farmer. They have one child, a son, Clare G. Orville.   G. Burch, the husband of Georgia A., the sister of our subject, operates a part of the homestead. Mrs. B. completed her education in Hillsdale College, from which she was graduated with honors in the class of '72. She is the mother of one child, a daughter, Lora A. The sons of John Fitzsimmons, politically, have followed in the footsteps of their honored father, being solid in Democratic principles.

Source: Portrait and biographical album of Hillsdale county, Mich., containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States. Chicago.


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