Pioneer Families - RISDON
Early history of the town of Hopkinton :
history of East Village (Nicholville) and vicinity,
diaries of Elisha Risdon and Artemas Kent,
soldiers of the Civil War,
genealogical record of sixty of the pioneer families
Carlton E. Sanford
Boston: Bartlett Press, 1903
[Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger]
IN this chapter is given the genealogical records of many of the pioneers of the town, of all that I have been able to gather sufficient data and information to make a fairly full record. The preparation of these records has required much time, labor, correspondence, persistence and patience. Had I had in the beginning a full comprehension of the tedious labor required, I now feel sure I should not have undertaken it. That there are some errors in dates and possibly a few in names I am quite satisfied, since considerable of my information came from elderly people who wrote feebly and indistinctly. I think it will be readily understood, if the reader will bear in mind that it is in continuous order; that the first, second, third and fourth generations are each carried slightly to the right, and that each generation always has the same indentation.
ELISHA RISDON b. March 15, 1782, Dorset, Vt.; d. October 19, 1851; m. Amanda Post, August 4, 1811; b. April 12, 1792; d. February 10, 1845. He was the son of Onesimus and Sarah (Wheeler) Risdon, and the second of a family of thirteen children. His father was born February 18, 1760, at ----, and he and his two brothers, John and Daniel, were soldiers in the War of the Revolution. The records in the adjutant general's office at Montpelier, Vt., show that Onesimus served as a private from July 21 to December 3, 1777, in Captain John Warner's company in Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Herrick's regiment of Rangers; also from March 2 to May 2, 1778, in Captain Isaac Clarke's company, raised by order of General de Lafayette; also as a private from October 1 to November 24, 1778, in Captain Joseph Briggs's company; also as a private from October 12, 1780, for seven days in Captain John Starke's company in Colonel Ira Allen's regiment, and also for five days in Captain Nathaniel Smith's company in the same regiment in October and November of the same year. He was at Ticonderoga with Schuyler and also in the battle of Bennington and in other skirmishes. He drew a pension for a while but lost it through the dishonesty of Vermont officials. (See diary, March 19, 1848.)
Onesimus with his twelve children left Dorset, Vt., for the then west, settling at Richmond, Ontario County, N.Y., where he did a blacksmith business. His last child, Polly, was born there July 19, 1801. All his children, or nearly all, married and settled at first in that locality. Robust as young men and women, somehow quite a number of them died in early life, as Mr. Risdon states in one of his letters. Elisha went back to Dorset in 1801 to futher attend school in the Dorset Academy, as we learn from his letters. Onesimus, becoming again unsettled, started west once more, settling in Sandusky, Ohio, where his wife died about 1820, and is buried. He soon returned to his old home, spending the last twenty years of his life in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Charlotte Pratt, wife of George Pratt of Livonia Centre, N.Y., where he died March 1, 1848, and is buried.
In preparing this work the only descendants of Onesimus of whom I have learned (aside from those of Elisha) are Charlotte M. Coy and Edwin R. Coy of Livonia Centre, N.Y.; Rev. S. W. Pratt and family of Campbell, N.Y., grandchildren of Charlotte Risdon Pratt, and Mr. Justus F. Coy of Independence, Iowa, grandson of Olive Risdon Reed, and Mrs. Frances (Risdon) Reed of Santa Barbara, Cal., and Charles Risdon of Los Angeles, children of Simus Risdon, who was a son of Onesimus, Jr., born January 6, 1784, at Rupert, Vt. Simus died at Santa Barbara, November 30, 1899, at the great age of ninety-one years and seven months.
Elisha left Rupert, Vt., January 31, 1804, for Hopkinton, being induced thereto by the proffer of large wages by a gentleman whose name he does not give. The settlement of the town was then not quite a year old, and there were then only a very few settlers here and there in the woods. He worked for and lived more or less in the home of Roswell Hopkins for three years.
In 1805 he purchased the betterments in and to one hundred and fifteen acres on the south side of the Potsdam road, about a mile west of the village of Asahel Wright, a brother of Caleb. When not employed by Mr. Hopkins or engaged in hunting, he worked at clearing this tract. In September, 1807, he went to his father's at Richmond, N.Y., where he remained two years, returning late in the summer of 1809. In the fall after his return he made the hunting trip to Cookham of which he has given us a vivid and interesting account.
Joseph Armstrong had prior to this bought the present Truman Post farm and a narrow strip of land of Mr. Hopkins lying along the east side of Mr. Risdon's lot to enable him to get to the Potsdam road. A log cabin was built on this strip close to the road by Mr. Armstrong. Slight relics of the potato cellar and of the old stone fireplace and chimney may still be seen just over the fence in Mr. Hopkins's pasture. In 1808 Reuben Post purchased the farm and this strip and cabin of Mr. Armstrong. At this time he was living in a cabin on the Chittenden store corner. Truman E. Post tells me that his grandfather built the small frame house now dressed over and used by him as a tenant house in 1809 or 1810. Artemus Kent boarded with Mr. Post in summer of 1810 while clearing his farm across the road from Mr. Post's farm, and with Mr. Risdon in summer of 1812. It is pretty certain that Mr. Post lived in the log house on the Chittenden store corner until he had his small frame house over on the Turnpike ready for occupancy, which is the understanding of his grandson, Truman E.
Mr. Risdon married Amanda, the daughter of Reuben Post, in August, 1811, and moved into the cabin on the Potsdam road, where he lived till 1825 and where his three children were born, when he purchased the betterments of his brother-in-law, Samuel B. Abbott, in a tract on the south side of the Turnpike at the junction of the "Sanford road" with it, where he lived till his death in 1851. No one living, so far as I learn, can recall his living at any other place. A Mr. Rockwell had taken up this tract, as I learn from an old map, prior to Mr. Abbott and built a log house. Harriet Adsit, daughter of Mr. Abbott, born in 1822, so writes me. No one living can remember this log cabin on the Turnpike or ever hearing of it. In a letter written by Mr. Risdon in 1831 to his father, he speaks of having recently built a small frame house, which confirms Mrs. Adsit's recollection, and proves to a moral certainty that his first house on the Turnpike was a log one.
Mr. Risdon, as I learn from many people who knew him and well remember him, was a most worthy citizen and exemplary man. He was town clerk from 1813 to 1833 and town sealer for many years. He was naturally a reader and student and possessed a bright, discriminating mind. As a writer he was easy, clear, graceful and interesting, which his writings show even in these days of culture. The tribute paid by him to his wife on her death is a prose ode in graceful diction, feeling and tenderness, and the letters to Eliphalet Brush can hardly be improved. But a small per cent of the college men of today can surpass this man of the log cabin and forest in ease, grace and diction in composition.
He early took up surveying as we learn from Mr. Hopkins's old account book, no doubt learning the rudiments of that art from Roswell Hopkins and his son Benjamin, who seemed to understand it more or less. A little later he became sub or local agent for William Short, the proprietor of the Short Tract and also for Mr. Lenox. His old arithmetic, now held and prized by his granddaughter, Mrs. Susan Capell, is a curiosity. It was written with a pen in 1803, just a hundred years ago. It has coarse paper covers with an example under each heading or subject, with very little explanation. The lad of to-day would be disgusted and throw it aside. The bounds of many of the farms of Hopkinton were run and established by him.
He stood about six feet in height, rather slim of build, well proportioned, brown or darker hair, cleanly shaven, clear complexion, somewhat ruddy, quiet, modest and reserved. In figure, complexion, way and bearing his daughter Clarinda greatly resembled him.
His health was poor for many years, and for the last eight or ten years of his life he was, most of the time, confined to his bed.
The diary which he wrote and kept, it is plain to gather, was never intended for publication. Such a thought never entered his head. Had he had that in mind what a history and story of those early times would he have given us. However, as it is, he did, without intending it, give us many facts, dates of death and other events which are nowhere else told, and quite a picture of the early days in Hopkinton, for which I am sure all are deeply grateful. Had three children: