Genealogical and Family History
of the

Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.

New York

[Please see Index page for full citation.]

[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]

[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]


This family, in every generation in America, has contributed its full share of brilliant and highly distinguished personages. They have been found answering political, legal, medical and religious callings, to a marked degree. They have also furnished illustrious patriots, who forsook their own interests that their country might be defenced and preserved. The first of the name who settled in America was John Fessenden, who came from Canterbury, England, and located in 1636 at Cambridge, Mass., where he was made a freeman in 1641. Both he and his wife Jane were members of the church. He died Dec. 21, 1666, without issue, and this fact was the means of bringing others of the name to this country.
From the earliest settlement of New England this family has been noted for its respectability. Up to 1828 it has furnished fifteen college graduates, four of whom were ministers.

(I) Nicholas Fessenden, the kinsman of John above mentioned, came to this country with his sister Hannah in 1674, to take charge of the estate left by John Fessenden. Nicholas was the progenitor of the family which has been so conspicuously represented in the commonwealth of Maine. One of his sons, bearing the same name, was graduated from Harvard College in 1701, and died eighteen years later, at the age of thirty-eight years. Hannah, the sister of Nicholas, married John, son of Henry Sewall and a brother of Chief Justice Sewall.
Nicholas Fessenden married Margaret Cheeny, and resided at Cambridge, where they had fourteen children, elven of whom grew to maturity.
Jane (died young), Hannah (died young), John, Nicholas, Thomas (died young), Thomas, Margaret, Jane, Mary, William, Joseph, Benjamin, Hannah and Eleazer.

(II) William (1), son of Nicholas Fessenden, was born in 1693, was a carpenter, and resided in Cambridge, where he died May 26, 1756. He was married, Oct. 11, 1716, to Martha Wyeth, and they were parents of seven children. He married (second) Jan. 4, 1728, Martha Brown, who bore him four children.
Ruth, William, Martha, Margaret, Benjamin (died young), Benjamin, Nicholas, Peter, John, Hannah and Thomas.

(III) William (2), son of William (1) and Martha (Wyeth) Fessenden, was born Dec. 7, 1718, and graduated from Harvard in 1737. He was a noted teacher and was licensed to preach but not ordained. He died at the age of forty years, June 17, 1758.
He was married, March 31, 1740, to Mary Palmer, who died at Topsfield, Maine, March 22, 1773, and they were the parents of nine children, of whom only three grew up, namely:
William, Mary and Ebenezer.

(IV) Rev. William (3), son of William (2) and Mary (Palmer) Fessenden, was born in 1746-47, in Cambridge, and graduated from Harvard College in 1768. He settled in Fryeburg, maine, as the first minister of the first church there, being ordained Oct. 11, 1775. He possessed many rare and noble virtues. Souther said of him, "Dignified in bearing, gentle in spirit, hospitable to a fault, fearless and uncompromising in maintaining right, yet eminently courteous, he left his heirs that good name 'rather to be chosen than riches.'" He died March 5, 1805.
He married (first), Sarah Reed, of Cambridge, who died about a year later. For his (second) wife he maraied Sarah Clement, of Dunbarton, New Hampshire.
Children of 2d wife:
Sarah, William, Caleb, Ebenezer, Mary, Elizabeth, Clement and Joseph Palmer.
The last named was a clergyman of Kennebunkport, Maine. The two eldest sons died unmarried. The third has one male descendant now living at Fryeburg.

(V) General Samuel, fourth son of Rev. William (3) and Sarah (Clement) Fessenden, was born July 16, 1784, in Fryeburg, and became one of the most conspicuous sons of Maine. He was very studious as a boy, and was accustomed to study by the likght of the forest fire, where he assisted his father in making maple sugar. He graduated from Harvard [trans note; Harvard struck out in ink and Dartmouth written in] College, was admitted to the bar in 1809 and began the practice of law in Gloucester, Maine. Thence he removed to Windham, Maine, where he practiced for a short time, and settled at Portland, same state, in 1822. He was a representative to the general court in 1814-19, and senator in 1818. After fifty years of successful practice of his profession, he retired to private life. A ripe scholar, and eminent jurist, he was distinguished as a statesman. He was among those who initiated the movement in maine for the organization of the Republican party, to whom, in conjunction with the Hon. H. H. Boody, is due the credit for the development of this movement of his native state. While many were ready to join them, they were not assisted by some of the leading men of Maine. Among the reluctant ones was the Hon. William Pitt Fessenden, son of General Fessenden. The movement, however, was successful, and the organization of the Republican party was perfected early in 1855.
General Fessenden was married in 1813 to Deborah Chandler, of New Gloucester, and every one of their children became distinguished in their various professions. Four of the sons became lawyers, two entered the medical profession and one the ministry. Three of his sons were in congress in 1864; viz.:
William Pitt, mentioned below;
Samuel C. Fessenden, a graduate of Bowdoin College, and a minister;
Thomas A. D. Fessenden, a graduate of Bowdoin College, and an eminent member of the bar in Androscoggin county.
Philip was lost at sea when ninetten years old.
Oliver G. graduated from Dartmouth College, and practiced law in Portland, Maine.
Hewitt C. was a graduate of the same insitution, and practiced medicine at Eastport, Maine.
Daniel W., also a graduate of Dartmouth, was the sixteenth clerk of the supreme court of Maine.
Charles S. D., a graduate of Bowdoin College, was a surgeon in the U. S. marine corps.
Joseph P., a graduate of the same institution, was a physician, and at one time mayor of Lewiston, Maine, but later removed to Salem, Mass.
The younger daughter of the family, Ellen, was born April 21, 1823, at Portland, and was married June 16, 1862, to Dr. John Dunlap Lincoln, of Berwick. She was noted for her writings both prose and poetry.

Children of Gen. Fessenden:
William Pitt, Samuel Clement, Phillip Chandler, Oliver Griswold, Hewitt Chandler, Daniel Webster, Deborah Sarah, Thomas Amory Deblois, Charles Stewart Davies, John Palmer and Ellen Elizabeth Longfellow.
The elder daughter died before two years of age.

(VI) William Pitt, eldest son of General Samuel Fessenden, was born Oct. 16, 1806, at Boscawen, New Hampshire, and entered Bowdoin College before he was seventeen years of age, graduating in 1827. He studied law under the instruction of his father, and was admitted to the bar in 1827. He practiced first at Brigdton, for one years at Bangor, and then settled in Portland. He early became active and conspicuous in political movements, and refused the nomination to congress in 1831 and again in 1838. In 1832 he was sent to the legislature, and won a reputation as a debater, though the youngest member of that body. He served again in 1840 and was made chairman of the house committee to revise the statutes of the state. In the autumn of that year he was elected to congress on the Whig ticket and served one term, during which he moved the repeal of the rule excluding anti-slavery petitions, and was also an able debater on various important measures. At the expiration of his term he devoted himself diligently to his law practice until 1845-46, when he again served in the legislature. In the meantime he had acquired a national reputation as a lawyer and an active anti-slavery Whig. In 1849 he prosecuted before the U. S. supreme court the appeal which gained the reversal of a decision previously made by Judge Story, and in this trial his reputation was much enhanced. He was again in the state legislature in 1853-54, and at this session was elected to the U. S. senate by the Whigs and Anti-slavery Democrats. One week after he took his seat, in Feb., 1854, he made a stirring speech on the Kansas-Nebrasks bill and immediately took the front rank in the senate. He was everywhere regarded as the ablest opponent of the pro-slavery plans of the Democratic party. Very soon after this he allied himself with the organization of the Republican party in Maine, and through the balance of his life was one of its foremost workers. While ardent in his partnership, he was ever a patriot, pursuing a disinterested and manly course, and was beloved by the nation for his clean public record and the purity of his personal character. His speeches on the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, 1856, the proposed Lecompton constitution for Kansas in 1858, and his criticisms upon the decision of the supreme court in the famous Dred Scott case were each pronounced to be among the ablest discussions of those matters. He was again elected to the senate in 1859 and was a member of the peace congress in 1861. Upon the resignation of Salmon P. Chase in 1864, Senator Fessenden at first declined to become his successor, but was compelled by the universal demand to forego his personal preference and take charge of the treasury. Such was the confidence reposed in him by the people that the quotation of premium on gold fell in a short time from $2.80 to $2.25. One of his first measures was to declare that no issues of currency would be made. He was the author of the plan for issuing government bonds at 7 3-10 per cent interest, popularly known as "7.30 bonds." These were issued in denominations as low as $50, in order that people of small means might invest in them. The result was a substantial advancement of the national credit. Mr. Fessenden also prepared a measure authorizing consolidation of the bond loans at 4 1-2 per cent. Charles Sumner said of him, "in the financial field, he was all that our best generals were in the armies," and his services to the country in these times of trial were invaluable. Having established a financial system and restored credit to the nation, he resigned his seat in the cabinet, March 3, 1865, again to take a seat in the senate, to which he had been elected in that year. He was made chairman of the finance committee of the senate and of the committee of reconstruction, and wrote out the report of the latter body, which was universally approved. This led the way to the constitutional amendments, and other measures which established the position of the south and its relation to the nation forever. The thing which added most, perhaps, to the luster of his fame was his opposition to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, although it brought him much execration at the time. The widsom and foresight of his course was plainly seen, after the prejudice of passion had evanporated, and it was clear that Senator Fessenden and those who acted with him in this matter had saved the country from a great crisis. His last speech was made in 1869 on the bill to strengthen public credit. He strongly opposed the proposition of paying bonds in greenbacks and urged that they be paid in gold. Senator Fessenden was particularly noted for his swiftness in retort. He was one of the delegates to the Whig convention which nominated Harrison in 1840, Tyler in 1848, and Scott in 1852. For many years he was regent of the Smithsonian Institution. His alma mater conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws in 1858, and he was similarly honored by Harvard in 1864.
He was married, in 1832, to Ellen, youngest daughter of James Deering, the great merchant of Portland. She died in 1856.
James Deering, William Howard, Francis, Samuel and Mary E. D.
The daughter died at the age of five years.
All the sons were brave defenders of the Union cause in the civil war. The youngest son was mortally wounded Sept. 1, 1862, at Centerfield, Virginia. He was unmarried.
The first son reached the rank of brigadier-general, as did the third son, who lost a limb in the civil war.

(VII) James Deering (1), eldest child of William Pitt and Ellen (Deering) Fessenden, was born Sept. 28, 1833, in Westbrook, and died in Portland, Nov. 18, 1882. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1852, studied law in the office of his father, and was admitted to the bar. He began the practice of law in Portland, but soon abandoned this to enter the army in defense of his country. He was made captain of the Second National Sharpshooters, Nov. 2, 1861, and was appointed on the staff of General David Hunter, in the department of South Carolina, in 1862-63. He participated in the attack on Fort McAllister in 1862, and in the movement of the army along the Edisto river and the attack on Charlestown. He was assigned to the organization and command of the first regiment of colored troops in 1862, but the government decided not to employ colored troops at that time, and he did not go into this service. Before the close of the year, however, he was promoted to colonel, and in Sept/. 1863, was ordered to report to General Hooker. He participated in the campaigns of Lookout Mountain and of Mission Ridge, and capture of Atlanta in 1863. He was promoted Aug. 8, in the last named year, to brigadier-general and joined General Sheridan in October, being present at the battle of Cedar Creek. In 1865 he was brevetted major-general of volunteers, on duty in South Carolina. At the close of the war he returned to his native state, and in 1868 was appointed register in bankruptcy for the first district of Maine. He represented Portland in the state legislature in 1872-74, and continued in active life up to a short time before his decease, in his fiftieth year.
He was married, Nov. 5, 1856, to Frances Cushing Greely, of Topsham, Maine, who survied him.
James Deering and Harry Merrill, both now (1908) residing in the city of New York.

(VIII) James Deering (2), elder son of James (1) Deering and Frances C. (Greely) Fessenden, was born April 14, 1858, in Portland, and attended the public schools of his native city, including the high school. He fitted for college at Phillips Exeter Academy, graduating in 1876, after which he entered Harvard College, and graduated with the degree of A. B. in 1880. After two years attendance at Columbia Law School in New York city, 1881-83, he was admitted to the bar in the last named year. Immediately thereafter he began the practice of law in New York, where he has since been actively engaged in his profession. He is a member of the Harvard and Metropolitan clubs and the Maine Society of New York.
He was married, June 30, 1902, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Rose L. Nunez.

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