It is evident from English records that the Easton family was one of considerable importance and standing in the old country. They are mentioned in Burke's "General Armory," and arms and crest given. Fanbaum in his "Crests of Great Britain," gives two crests, while long pedigrees have been traced, showing the Eastons or Estons to descend from Adeliza, sister of William the Conqueror.
The Lewis county, New York, family descend from Joseph Easton.
(I) Joseph Easton, founder, was born in England about 1602, and came to the United States prior to March 4, 1634. On that date the colonial records of Massachusetts show that he took the oath as freeman. He settled first at Newtowne (Cambridge), Mass., where he owned land. May 31, 1636, the colony, conposed of persons attached to the religious principles of Rev. Thomas Hooker, that had arrived from England under his leadership, Sept. 4, 1633, started on their exodus to Connecticut, where the previous year a delegation had been sent to procure a location and purchase lands from the Indians.
Joseph Easton was one of that colony that left Mass. (and may have been one of the origianl colony leaving England), and settled the town of Hartford, Connecticut. He was one of the original proprietors of that town, where he died Aug. 19, 1688.
He held office there of deacon of the first church, the highest honor that the colonists could then confer. He is named in the records of Hartford as holding the town offices of fence viewer, surveyor of highways and constable. It is not known whom he married. Historians have said it was Hannah, daughter of James Ensign, but William Starr Easton, the historian of the family, will not agree with them.
Following an almost invariable custom of naming the first or second child for the father or mother, it is almost certain that her first name was Mary or Sarah. Children: John, Joseph (see forward), Mary, Sarah.
(II) Joseph (2), son of Deacon Joseph Easton, founder, was born (it is believed) in Hartford, Connecticut, about 1648, as in Oct. 1669 he is recorded in the town records as a freeman, which implies a voter.
March 5, 1674, he was chosen a grand juror, and in April, 1691, a deacon of the First Church. He was possessed of considerable land and money, which he disposed of by will, Feb. 8, 1690, proved in court, March 3, 1712. He died Dec. 30, 1711.
He married Hannah, daughter of James and Hannah Ensign, who were of the original colony, and one of the proprietors of Hartford. Children: Joseph (see forward), James, Hannah, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Timothy and Thankful.
(III) Joseph (3), son of Deacon Joseph (2) and Hannah (Ensign) Easton, was born in Hartford, Conn., about 1669, died in East Hartford, 1735. In 1699 he was a deputy to the general court of Connecticut, and appointed one of a committee of three to prepare a revision of the laws. He was a land owner and resided in that part of the town known as East Hartford. He married, 1694, Sarah, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Meakins) Spencer, and grand-daughter of William and Agnes Spencer, first settlers of Hartford. Samuel Spencer, her father, was a representative to the general court of Massachusetts, lieutenant of militia and one of the founders of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. Children: Timothy, Joseph (4), Sarah, Samuel, Elijah (see forward), and Lemuel.
(IV) Elijah, son of Joseph (3) and Sarah (Spencer) Easton, was born in East Hartford, Conn., 1706, died in Suffield, Conn. Jan. 24, 1756. He married, June 19, 1735 , Elizabeth, born Feb. 1, 1713, died July 24, 1761, daughter of Captain Joseph and Sarah (Taylor) Winchell, of Suffield, Conn. He died while his children were minors and the court appointed Elizabeth, his widow, guardian, under a bond of 100lbs. Children: Elijah (2) (see forward), Bildad, Ahimaz, Joseph, Elizabeth, Mary, Elizabeth(2), and Silence.
(V) Elijah (2), eldest child of Elijah (1) and Elizabeth (Winchell) Easton, was born in Suffield, Conn., July 14, 1736. Elijah Easton served in Captain John Harmon's eighth company, Colonel Erastus Wolcott's regiment, called out by General Washington, which formed part of the detachment before Boston, Jan. to March, 1776.
He removed near the close of the revolution to Wilmington, Vermont. He married, Sept. 12, 1757, Abigail, born in Suffield, Conn., April 15, 1736, died at Bainbridge, New York, 1830, daughter of Ebenezer Noble. Children: Elijah (3) (see forward), Abigail, Iris, Anna, Oliver, Joel and Polly. The family left New England and settled in different parts of New York state.
Abigail married John Grant. Iris married John Tyrell, of Manchester, Vermont. Anna married Simeon Crane, a soldier of the revolution. Oliver settled in Bainbridge, Chenango county, New York. Joel settled in Delhi, Delaware county, New York. Polly married Enoch Wilson of Bennington, Vermont.
(VI) Elijah (3), son of Elijah (2) and Abigail (Noble) Easton, was born in Suffield, Conn., Jan. 16, 1758. He was of Wilmington, Vermont, where he was proprietor's clerk and a leading man of the town. He was a soldier of the revolution with the same compnay and regiment as his father. In 1777 Elijah Easton reenlisted for three years, was taken sick at Mud Fort in November of that year, and transferred to the hospital at Trenton, New Jersey. At that time the hospital was removed seventy miles, the wagoners employed to transport the invalids ran off with the wagons, leaving him to make his way on foot. He afterward petitioned the general assembly for relief and the sum of 30lb was granted him.
He married, in November, 1793, Hannah, daughter of Captain Josiah and Persis (Matthews) Locke (see Locke). Children: 1. Candace, born July 23, 1798, at Sherburne, N.Y., married at Litchfield, N.Y. April 16, 1826, her cousin, Elam Locke, who died June 20, 1827. 2. Charity, July 24, 1801, died Nov. 16. 1824. 3. Harvey, Oct. 14, 1803, died May 3, 1881, in Postville, Iowa; he was a farmer of Martinsburg, Lewis county, N.Y., and supervisor of the town in 1845. He married Maria Hume, and had: 4. William Lyman (see forward). 5. Fanny, June 8, 1808, married in Warren, N.Y., Dr. Francis B. Etheridge, a practicing physician of St. Johnsville, N.Y., died in Hastings, Minnesota. 6. Charles L., Oct. 26, 1810, died March 2, 1886, married (first) Sophronia Starkweather; (second) Clarissa Locke; he was a practicing physician of Sherburne, New York.
(VII) William Lyman, son of Elijah (3) and Hannah (Locke) Easton, was born in Hancock, Berkshire county, Mass., March 13, 1806, died in Lowville, New York, March 7, 1865. Shortly after his father died the family removed to Cedarville, Herkimer county. At the age of fourteen he went to Little Falls, N.Y., where he apprenciced himself to a printer, in the office of the Little Falls Courier. He completed his trade, and on Oct. 10, 1825, at Lowville, New York, he began his publication of the Black River Gazette, politically an Independent newspaper, which he successfully conducted for some years, and disposed of to Joseph Farr. Relinquishing editorial work, he enaged in mercantile affairs, and until his death was an active partner in the firm of DeWitt C. West & Company, one of the most extensive houses in Northern New York.
He was not only successful in this relation, but in various other enterprises. He was one of the incorporatior of the Bank of Lowville, in 1839, for eighteen years was a director, and held successively the positions of cashier, vice-president and president. In 1855, on account of failing health, he went to Decorah, Iowa, believing the change of climate would be beneficial, but concluded not to locate there at that time. However, he established the banking house of Easton, Cooley & Company, which business he later place in charge of his son, James. H. Easton, under the firm name of William L. Easton & Son, and which afterwards became the First National Bank of Decorah.
In politics he was a Whig, and a power in the political world, albeit never a seeker after official distinction. In 1840 Governor Seward appointed him surrogate of Lewis county, N.Y., which position he filled with great ability for four years. In 1852 he was a delegate to the last national convention ever held by the Whig party, which nominated, at Baltimore, General Winfield Scott for president, and passed away to be replaced by the young and vigorous Republican party under the leadership of Fremont, and then of the immortal Lincoln. Mr. Easton was one of the presidential electors on the Scott ticket.
He was deeply interested in education, and for more than twenty years served as trustee of the Lowville Academy. He lent efficient aid to every local or public enterprise, and was one of the warmest friends of the Black River canal.
Never forgetting his early struggles in the establishment of the Gazette, he ever evinced the warmest interest in the press of the county, and often aided their local and editorial departments with meritorious contributions and sound disinterested counsel. In all his business relations he dealt fairly and liberally with all, and was strictly prompt in fulfilling all his obligations. He rarely failed in an undertaking, and in political contests won the admiration of his opponents for his daring and well executed plans. He was in every way a valuable member of the community, and died deeply regretted.
He married, Feb. 5, 1828, Emeline, born March 2, 1810, in Lowville, N.Y., daughter of James and Lucy (Ward) Henry. Children: 1. Candace, born Sept. 12, 1829, died Aug. 7, 1847. 2. Emily H., July 22, 1831; married Nov. 11, 1852, DeWitt C. West, who died Aug. 27, 1880; a son, DeWitt Clinton West (2d) born April 7, 1864. 3. James Henry, Nov. 28, 1833, died Jan. 11, 1908. 4. William Locke, died in childhood. 5. Mary, died in infancy. 6. Charles, died in infancy. 7. Charles Locke, born June 10, 1840, died Sept. 12, 1905. 8. Mary E., Sept. 16, 1842; married, Sept. 3, 1868, Leroy Crawford, and has a daughter, Anna E. Crawford, born Jan. 9, 1870. 9. Ellen, April 25, 1844; married W. D. Rulison, of Carthage, N.Y., who died May 26, 1891; children: Locke Devine, Frederick Shaw and Emma Grace Rulison, all deceased. 10. Fannie, died in infancy. 11. William Lyman, May 3, 1847; married Sept. 24, 1874, Louise Manville, at Watertown, N.Y. 12. Amelia C., Nov. 4, 1848, died May 13, 1894; married, Feb. 24, 1870, Isaac W. Norcross. 13, Frederick S., of whom further.
(VIII) Frederick Shaw, youngest child of William Lyman and Emeline (Henry) Easton, was born in Lowville, New York, Dec. 28, 1851. He was educated at Lowville Academy and Dr. Reed's school for boys at Geneva, N.Y. At the age of seventeen he entered business life as an employee of D. C. West & Company, the leading mercantile house of the county, remaining until 1873, when he became a member of the firm of Waters & Easton, their successors. In 1879 the Black River National Bank was organized as the reult of his efforts, and he came its first cashier. He discharged the duties of this position most creditably until June 1904, when he was called to the presidency to succeed Charles P. Leonard, decased.
A deep student of the laws governing finance and financial operations, careful and conservative in method, he made the history of the bank phenomenal. Never a cloud has arisen in the financial sky of this institution under his management, which has covered the entire period of its existence. Thoroughly trusted as a man, and implicitly believed in as a safe and sane financier, the depositors of the bank, covering all sections of northern New York, have that feeling of perfect confidence that is the most precious asset of a financial institution.
On the death of Hon. DeWitt Clinton West, in 1880, Mr. Easton settled his large estate, and his masterly management and fine business qualities were never better exhibited than in his handling of that important trust.
Always a Democrat, he would never allow his name to be used as a candidate until 1884, when he was persuaded to permit his name to be presented to the Democratic state convention as a presidential elector, and in the succeeding electoral college he cast the vote of New York for Cleveland and Hendricks, the first successful candidates of the party for president and vice-president since James Buchanan, in 1856. He cast his first presidential vote for Samuel J. Tilden, and during the dark days of defeat he remained loyal to his principles, supporting each succeeding candidate with all the vigor and enthusiasm of his nature. In the Greeley campaign he was one of the msot active workers in the county, although lacking a few weeks of legal age. He succeeded Hon. DeWitt C. West on the board of railroad commissioners of the town of Lowville, and so skillfully and faithfully did he guard public interests that when $100,000 of the stock of the Utica & Black River Railroad Company was placed in his hands to dispose of, the town bonds issued to take the railroad stock were not only fully paid, but $30,000 surplus turned back into the treasury for the benefit of the taxpayers. He was a director of the Utica & Black River Railroad Company from 1880 until the New York Central and Hudson River roads assumed control.
He was actively engaged in the construction of the Lowville and Beaver River Railroad, and has been a director and treasurer of the company from its organization. He is one of the leaders in the social life of his town. He was one of the founders of the Lowville Club, and a governor for nine years. At his beautiful home he entertains with graceful hospitality, and many of the noted men of the state, including governors and senators, have graced his board. He is an attendant of Trinity Episcopal Church, and has been a vestryman for many years. There is no interest or feature of the town that he is not ready to advance.
Mr. Easton married, Oct. 6, 1880, Anna S. House, of Houseville, New York. Children: 1. Grace Helen, born Dec. 31, 1881, married May 27, 1905, Frank G. Scofield. 2. Frederick Shaw, Aug. 29, 1883, married, Oct. 18, 1905, Linda May Hoopes; one child, William Locke, born Dec. 13, 1906.
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