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Full text of "A short biographical sketch of Ellis Baker Usher of Hollis, Maine"

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1593372 



REYNOLDS HISTORICAL 
GENEALOGY COLLECTION 



ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 



3 1833 01267 3197 



A SHORT_ 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 



OF 



ELLIS BAKER USHER 



OF HOLL1S, MAINE 



BY HIS GRANDSON 



ELLIS BAKER USHER 



OF LA CROSSE. WIS. 



PRIVATELY PRINTED 
1V02 



1593372 



ELLIS BAKER USHER. 

Ellis Baker Usher of Hollis, York county, Maine, 
was a man of high character, of large business affairs, 
for his day, of prominence in his community and 
throughout the state. He died when I was too young 
to recollect him, but an incident in my own experience 
will illustrate his character and the impression he made 
upon those with whom he came in business contact, 
and the estimate that it conveys is in harmony with 
everything I have ever heard of him, from his family 
or from others who knew him. 

I was riding upon a railway train, some years ago, 
in Wisconsin, and presented a pass to the conductor. 
He looked at the name and remarked: "I once knew 
a man of that name, away back in the state of Maine. 
He was a big lumberman." 

I replied: "He was probably the man for whom I 
was named." 

The conductor, whose name was Kilgore, went on 
with his work until he had collected his fares, then 
returned to me. I had known him for some years, but 
he had never before connected me with Maine, He 
sat down with the earnest exclamation: "Ellis B. 



Usher's word was as good as his bond!" and proceeded 
to tell me how he and his father and brother had put 
in logs for Grandfather, on the upper waters of the 
Saco, in New Hampshire. 

One of my early recollections is of being told by 
my mother that, when it was reported to him that 
I had been named after him, he remarked, dryly: "I 
don't know about having all the fools in the country 
named after me and George ^ T ashington." There 
were already one or two namesakes in the family, 
and "Ellis B." had been popular along the Saco, 
among a number of families in no way related to him, 
so his jest was not without the serious aspect to give 
it point. 

The father of Ellis B. Usher, Abijah Usher, was a 
man of prominence in Medford, Mass., where Ellis 
was born. He was a revolutionary soldier, having 
enlisted at sixteen at Merrimack, X. H., serving in 
Capt. Barron's Company in the expedition against 
Canada, that took Ticonderoga the second time. He 
was, later, several times a member of the Massa- 
chusetts General Court, and a captain of militia, 
in Medford; a man of blameless life and character. 
But I am of opinion that it was to his mother that my 
Grandfather owed much of his force and energy. 

She was the daughter of Joseph Weld, of Roxbury, 
Mass., a family of ministers and school-masters long 



noted in that community, whose descendants of the 
name are still conspicuous. Her mother was Mary 
Ruggles, another well known Roxbury name. For 
a second husband she married Samuel Sumner, of Ash- 
ford, Conn. 

It cost me no little search and labor to discover 
where my Grandfather got his name — "Ellis Baker." 
His mother, Mary Weld, had a brother, Joseph, who 
settled in Troy, N. Y. His wife, Lois Baker, was the 
daughter of Lieut. John Baker of Roxbury, Mass., and 
the sister of Capt. Ellis Baker. Both were revolu- 
tionary soldiers, and their names are to be found in the 
published rolls of Massachusetts. 

My grand-father, his brother, Col. Abijah Usher, and 
his sister, Mary Ruggles Usher, who married John 
Lane and was the mother of the late Hon. M. D. L. 
Lane, of Portland, Me., were all conspicuous, among the 
members of our branch of the Usher family, for ability 
and force, and it may, I think, be fairly attributed, in 
large measure, to Mary Weld. 

I am not to be understood as in any way detracting 
from the standing or abilities of the Usher blood, in 
making this statement. All of the Ushers who have 
attained to any considerable prominence or distinction 
in recent generations, belong, I believe, to our branch 
of the family, and are the descendants of Robert Usher 
of Stamford and New Haven, who was the brother of 



Hezekiah, the first book-seller in Boston. From Rob- 
ert was descended Judge John Palmer Usher, who was 
a member of Lincoln's first cabinet, and Col. Roland G. 
Usher of Medford, a cousin of my Grandfather, and 
long a prominent man in the politics and public life of 
Massachusetts. 

Abijah Usher, my great-grandfather, was not a suc- 
cessful business man. His hrst wife, Mary Weld, died 
when Ellis, his brother Abijah, and his sister, Mary 
Ruggles, were quite young, and their grandmother, 
Mrs. Sumner, had somewhat to do with their early 
training, Mary, especially, having lived with her. 

When Ellis was twelve years old, in 1797, his father 
gave him and his younger brother, Abijah, a horse, and 
they started out, two small boys, for the wilderness 
from which the township of Hollis, York county, 
Maine, was subsequently made. Presumably the 
boys were directed in their journey to the township of 
Buxton, on the opposite side of the Saco river from 
Hollis, because their uncle, Zachariah Usher, lived 
there. Zachariah was married there in 1792 and was a 
tavern keeper as earl}' as 1793, and licensed to sell liquor. 
In those days it was evidence of a man's good stand- 
ing in the community to be a licensed retailer of liquors. 

Ellis went to work for the Rev. Paul Coffin, the first 
Congregational minister in that section, and later 
worked for Col. Isaac Lane, who conducted a store 



and saw mill, for five dollars a month, from which 
meager salary he is believed to have aided his father 
and relatives. 

It is related of him, at this time, that on a Sunday 
morning some of Col. Lane's men, having in mind the 
fact that Ellis's clothes were hardly suited to such ser- 
vice, derisively asked him if he was going to church. 
The boy's eyes snapped and he said, quietly, "I shall 
see the day when I can afford to give clothes to all of 
you." 

About 1804, when he was nineteen and had been at 
work but seven years, Ellis bought for his father a small 
farm in Hollis, near Bonny Eagle. Later he bought 
an interest in a saw mill and kept a store. He was 
prospering, until a freshet swept away all he had and 
$5,000 worth of logs for which he was owing, leaving 
him penniless and in debt. But he always said that 
this misfortune was a blessing in disguise, for the freshet 
left his mill-site on an island and created a pond inside 
it that forever after furnished secure storage for logs. 
He was in no way disheartened by this disaster but 
rebuilt, on credit, and soon recovered himself, finan- 
cially. 

A secret of his success was his reputation for strict 
integrity. He used to say to his children that he never 
borrowed money unless he could foresee that he had 
at least three ways of repaying it. 



During the financial crash of 1837 he became embar- 
rassed. It was difficult for him, as it was for everyone 
else, to manage his own business. For several years 
previous to this crash what was then known as the 
"Eastern Land Speculation" had been going on. It 
was an excitement over the purchase of pine lands in 
Eastern and North-eastern Maine. With others Ellis B. 
Usher was heavily interested. He was on over $80,000 
of paper as endorser for men who were dealing in 
these lands. He was obliged to call his creditors 
together and ask for time. They gave him five years 
and he paid every dollar within the limit. 

For many years before his death he was the largest 
mill owner and lumberman on the Saco, and when he 
died, on May 21, 1855, he left an estate valued at 
$100,000 or thereabout. His operations were of very 
large magnitude for his time and in the present day he 
would have been one of the many millionaires, for he 
was careful and methodical, as well as broad-gauged in 
his methods. 

Necessarily the education of Ellis was very meagre, 
but he had a taste for books and absorbed knowledge. 
His penmanship, his style of expression, and his exact- 
itude in the use of words, are illustrated in his letters 
and business papers. The taste for books and the 
ability for fluent speaking and easy writing that was 
manifested among his children, was an inheritance 
from him. 



He was liberal and hospitable, and his large brick 
house, a capacious dwelling of eighteen rooms, was 
always full of guests. It was the "stopping place" for 
men with whom he had business, and was a home to 
which much of the best society of the region constantly 
gravitated. When the "Brick House," as it has always 
been known in the family, was opened, there was a 
great party given in honor of the event, which was 
attended by people from Portland, Saco, and all the 
region around. 

Ellis B. Usher's first wife, to whom he was married 
on Nov. 12, 1812, was Rebecca Randall, daughter of 
Capt. Benj. Randall of Cape Elizabeth, whose mother 
was the second wife of Col. Isaac Lane. The only 
living issue of this union is Mrs. Sarah Ellen Bacon, 
wife of Dr. Elbridge Bacon, of Hollis, now in her 
eighty-fifth year. His second wife was Hannah 
Lane, daughter of Col. Isaac Lane and Ruth Merrill, 
who was born Jan. 1, 1795, and died Aug. 22, 1889. 
They were married Nov. 26, 1820. 

Hannah Lane was a remarkable woman. She lived 
to great age and retained her faculties until the last. 
She came from a long line of sturdy pioneers and was 
related on both sides to some of the most noted of 
New England's early settlers. Her father, who com- 
manded the 33d U. S. Infantry regiment in the war of 
1812, was a private in his father's company in the revo- 



1593372 



lution, and back of her grandfather, for four genera- 
tions, the Lanes had been captains in the colonial wars. 
Her grandfather, Lieut. Merrill, fought at Bunker Hill, 
and a long line of Coffin, Woodman, Davis, Davidson, 
Hutchinson, Pike and other well known names are to 
be found among her progenitors. 

She had breakfasted with President Monroe and met, 
with her father, the Marquis de La Fayette, when he 
last visited this country. She told me, with pride, how 
Gen. La Fayette greeted her father as "compatriot." 

Illustrative of my Grandfather's character, Grand- 
mother used to relate how, on a certain occasion, 
Grandfather was preaching economy to her, and she, 
pointing to the side-board, said: "When that goes out 
of this house you can preach economy to me. That 
costs enough to clothe my children." Grandfather 
said no more but left the room with his head bowed, 
thoughtfully. Within a week the sideboard was 
emptied and it was never replenished. When it is 
considered that it was the rule and not the exception 
of the da}-, to have a well-stocked sideboard, this inci- 
dent has significance. 

The public services of Ellis B. Usher were few. 
They were confined, so far as I am aware, to early 
service as town clerk of Hollis, to one term in the Maine 
state senate to which he declined re-election, and to his 
service in the constitutional convention of Maine. He 



was in the senate in 1823-4. The reports of the pro- 
ceedings and debates of the constitutional convention 
of 1819-20 show that he was one of a very distinguished 
delegation from York county and that he took an active 
part in the proceedings, which was exceptional for a 
plain business man, as York county had such men as 
Judge Ether Shepley, Judge Thatcher, and John 
Holmes, all lawyers and public men of note, among its 
delegates. 

As a husband and father Ellis B. Usher was kind, 
indulgent and generous. He was deeply beloved by 
all of his children and he left to them and to their 
descendants, forever, that best of legacies, a good 
name. I have written and printed this brief sketch to 
help preserve, in the breasts of his kindred, the respect 
which is his due. 



//-/& 



ELLIS B. USHER'S LINE. 

1. Robert Usher of Stamford, Coon. Admitted freeman at New Haven, 

July 1, 1644. Constable 1662, Representative to General Court 1665 and 
1667, Selectman 1663. 

Married, May 13, 1659, Elizabeth, widow of Jeremy Jagger. He died Oct. 
1669. They had— 

2. Robert, of Dunstable, N. H., who married Jan. 23, 1694, Sarah, daughter 

of John Blanchard, and had — (other issue), 

3. John, born May 31, 1696, of Dunstable and Merrimack, N. H., died Aug. 

1766. Ensign fourth company, sixth regiment, N. H. militia in 1741 
selectman in 1742-3. One of the original owners of Wilton, N. H. Also 
one of the original owners of what is now Gilsum, N. H. Married Han- 
nah Blanchard, and had— (other issue), 

4. Robert, of Merrimack, N. H., and Medford, Mass., born April 9, 1730, died 

Oct. 13, 1793. Married Sarah Stearns, of Bedford, Ma6s., who died Feb. 
4, 1794, aged 59, and had — (other issue), 

5. Abijah, of Medford, Mass., and Hollis, Me., born Feb. 15, 1757 ; died 1836. 

Enlisted Jnly la, 1776, in Capt. Wm, Barron's company, Col. Isaac Toy- 
man's regiment. He was mustered at Amherst, N. H., July 16, 1776. This 
regiment was raised for the expedition to Canada and was at the second 
taking of Ticonderoga. See N. H. War Bolls and Documents, pp 
335-6, Vol. 1, p. 62, Vol. 4. Selectman 1805-8-10. Representative to Gen- 
eral Court of Massachusetts, 1809-10-21. Married, 1st, Mary Weld, daugh- 
ter of Joseph Weld and Mary Buggies, of Roxbury, Mass , and had — 
(other issue), 

6. Ellis Baker, born Nov. 7, 1785, died May 21, 1855. The subject of this 

sketch married, 1st, Nov. 12, 1812, Rebecca Randall, step-daughter of 
Col. Isaac Lane, and had — 

I. Henry E., b. Feb. 14, 1814; d. April 27, 1827. 

II. Benjamin Jones Randall, b. Dec. 25, 1815 ; d. Dec. 23, 1816. 

III. Sarah Ellen Randall, b. Oct- 20, 1S17 ; m. 1st, Horace Sand; 2nd, 
Dr. Elbridge Bacon, of Portland and Hollis, Me. Both living. Issue — 
He married 2nd, Nov. 26, 1820, Hannah, daughter of Col. Isaac Lane; 
born Jan. 1, 1795; died Aug. 22, 1889, and had— 



IV. Rebecca Randall, b. Aug. 31, 1S21. 

V. Martha Hooper, b. May 1, 1623; d. Feb. 27, 1S93; m. Dr. Joseph Q. 
Osgood, Sept. 27, 1848. No issue. 

VI. Isaac Lane — 

VII. Jane Maria Lane, b. Dec. 1, 1S2S ; d. Aug. 5, 1832. 

VIII. Hannah Lane, b. Sept. 1, 1831 ; d. Aug. 21, 1832. 

IX. Mary, b. July 21, 1833 ; d. Aug. 8, 1833. 

X. Jane Maria Bradley, b. Oct. 12, 1836; married June 17, 1867, Judge 
Nathan Webb. Issue. 

7. Isaac Lane, of Hollis, Me., and La Crosse, Wis., b. May 12, 1825; d. Nov. 

7, 1689. Was Sheriff of La Crosse county in 1863-4 ; Deputy Collector of 
United States Internal Revenue, 1867-9; Colonel on Staff of Governor 
Randall, 1860. Married June 13, 1851, at Hartford, Conn., Susannah 
Coffin Woodman, b. May 20, 1854; d. Jan. 9, 18S0, and had— 

I. Ellis Baker, b. June 21, 1552. 

II. Herman, b. Oct. 7, 1S53, in Buxton, Me., d. in 1S54, in Muecatine, 
Iowa. 

III. Jane Maria, b. Jan. 3, 1858, in Onalaska, Wis. Married, in Hollis, 
Me., Dec. 22, 1597, Algernon S. Dyer. Issue, a eon, b. Feb. 23, 1900, at 
Saco, Me., d. Feb. 27, 1900. 

IV. Leila Woodman, b. Ang. 26, 1859. 

V. Susannah, b. Jan. 14. 1863. 

VI. Ellen Bacon, b. June 14, 1866. 

8. Ellis Baker, of Baxton, Me., and La Crosse, Wis., b. June 21, 1852. Mar- 

ried Nov. 27, 18S8, Anna Myers Bliss, daughter of Henry I. Blies, of Hart- 
ford, Conn., and La Crosse, Wis., and Harriet Homes Partridge, daugh- 
ter of Samuel D. Partridge, of Hatfield, Mass., and Brooklyn, N. Y., and 
had- 
I. Dorothy Bliss, born March 16, 1392. 



Please paste this slip in the booklet upon Hannah Lane Usher, 
published by me in 1903. ' Ellis B. Usher, 1136 Wells Bldg.. Mil- 
waukee, Wis. 



CORRECTIONS. 

On page 5. Third line from the bottom, John Gorham. 
Nathaniel's brother, was Paul Coffin's chum. 

On page 21. Col, Isaac Lane's grave had a stone over it. 
In September, 1911, a boulder, bearing a bronze tablet, was 
placed over the graves of Captain Daniel and "Molly" Lane. 
by some of their descendants. 

On page 21. Captain Daniel was born in Broad Bay. 
now Waldoborough. "Waterboro" was taken from the 
Lane genealogy by the Revs. Chapman and Fitts. which is 
verv unreliable as to the Buxton Lanes. 



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