This 1921 ancestrial work includes over 100 families back to the 14th century.
Bibliographic Information: Powers, William H., Powers-Banks Ancestry. Ames Iowa: John Leslie Powers, 1921
PREPARED BY THEIR SON WM. H. POWERS, AMES IOWA
TRACED IN ALL LINES TO THE
REMOTEST DATE OBTAINABLE
CHARLES POWERS 1819-1871
AND HIS WIFE
LYDIA ANN BANKS 1829-1919
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF MOTHER
WHOSE NINETIETH BIRTHDAY
THIS VOLUME WAS DESIGNED TO CELEBRATE
[This transcription is only of the POWERS line.There are many more lines in this book.]
THE POWERS LINE
Of Peter Powers, presumably the immigrant ancestor, not many specific facts have come to light. When his grandson James died in 1868 it was declared in a New York paper, the Examiner, that his grandfather was from Dublin: "His grandfather was an Irish Gentleman, liberally educated in the city of Dublin, and studied his profession of Medicine and Surgery in the same city. He afterwards emigrated to this country, with his wife and three children--two sons and a daughter--and followed his profession successfully before the Revolution." As this note was published to correct the mistake of a speaker at a meeting of the bar on the occasion of the death of James Powers, namely that James was born in humble life, the statements were doubtless authorized by some member of the family of James Powers. The copy of the item has been supplied for the present purpose by the granddaughter of James Powers, Mrs. C. P. Burr.
Of family record all that remains--these also furnished by Mrs. Burr--is that Dr. Peter Powers died 28 March, 1782, aged seventy-three years, his widow Mary, 22 January, 1787, aged eighty-three years. This record is from a Bible, not very old, as the writing is that of Caroline, the daughter of James Powers. The tombstones tell the same story; Doctor Peter Powers died 1782, age seventy-three. His wife Mary died 1787, age eighty-three.1
Peter Powers is listed among the land company of seventy who under a grant from Massachusetts2 took up a township of land in the Upper Green River Valley, now a part of New York, before 1760. In this region he was buried, in the Spencertown churchyard. Of his family, aside from William his son, there is no family record. Among the witnesses to the
1 Copied from the stone in Spencertown by Kathryn Allan.
2 More details concerning this grant will be found under the Deanes. See p. 61.
will of William Powers are Anne Savage and Peter Savage; James Savage, after his wife Rhoda, is the first named of the executors. Inasmuch as family letters refer to Uncle Savage, it is a fair inference that Anne was daughter to Peter Powers, wife to James Savage, and mother to Peter, named for his grandfather. A letter written by Rhoda, daughter to William Powers, of date 1801, mentions the death of Cousin Peter by drowning--perhaps this Peter Savage. There is mention of a John Powers in such connection as to imply relationship; perhaps he is a nephew of Peter and cousin of William. These particulars about the names and number of Peter's children receive significance in connection with the next fact.
On the church register of Stonington, Conn., is recorded under date of 6 July, 1740: Married by Ebenezer Rosseter, Peter Powers and Mary Allworth. On 26 April, 1741, was baptized Mary, daughter to Peter Powers; on 22 October, 1742, was baptized Anne; on 13 May, 1744, a son Richard; on 15 December, 1745, a son William. Now Mary Allworth was undoubtedly an Irish girl.1 William Powers named his second son Richard. Add the other coincidences in name and there can be little doubt that this Peter of Stonington and the Peter of Upper Green River are the same: a wife Mary, a daughter Anne, a son William. Furthermore, the members of the land company were said to have come from Connecticut; the leader of the company, John Deane, lived before 1750 in Windham and Groton, just a few miles from Stonington.
There are some discrepancies in the accounts, but none that are insurmountable. The item published at the death of James Powers allots Peter three children; the Stonington record names four; Mary may have died in infancy. The newspaper item says that the children were born in Ireland; this is very likely a mistake. More of difficulty attends the date of William's birth; more of this later. In spite of the discrepancies it seems certain that the Peter of Stonington and the Peter of Upper Green River are one and the same.2
1 More concerning the Allworths will be found on page 92.
2 This is all that can with certainty be learned about Peter Powers.
The records of Trinity College, Dublin, do not show his name. His
training may have been had in some hospital or under some physician
Peter's son William, according to the Stonington church record, was baptized 15 December, 1745. He died, according to the Bible referred to in the account of his father, 8 April, 1796, aged 49; born therefore in 1747. Here is a difficulty hard to get over. Either the two Williams are different persons, or one privately. When he came to America, or whether he came alone, can only be conjectured. There are other Powerses in southeastern Connecticut; the Rev. Peter Powers of the tribe of Walter was at Norwich in 1757. Prominent in New London was Joseph Powers, who, like Peter, was probably an Irishman. His will is not recorded and a full list of his children cannot be made out; it is more likely that Peter was no nearer than a nephew if he were of any relationship. What became of Peter between the last record in Stonington, 1745, and his appearance in New York about 1757, is indicated below:
According to information furnished by the town clerks of Waterbury, Woodbury, and Middlebury, Peter Powers was resident in that vicinity previous to his "squatting" in Upper Green River. Woodbury records show that he acquired land 25 January, 1751, 2 and 20 August, 1753; sold land 24 March, 1755, at which latter date his residence was given as Waterbury.
George S. Godard, state librarian, sends the following excerpts:
Crimes and misdemeanors, iv:220:
14 May 1754. Dr. Peter Powers of Waterbury testifieth that he has been acquainted with Benjamin King of Woodbury three years past and some short time after he was bound by Jonathan Atwater of New Haven he said King came to me in said Woodbury and showed me his wrist and complained that it was hurt by said Atwaters binding of him and I never heard him complain any thing about any difficulty in his wrist till then & at the same time I told I did believe it came by a sprain or a hurt.
Autograph of Peter Powers on a petition for formation of new society called Middlebury and taken from parts of Waterbury, Woodbury, and Southbury, dated May, 1757. (See page 10.)
The name of Dr. Peter Powers appears in the history of Woodbury as living within the limits of present Woodbury.
In that vicinity then he practiced his profession and owned property in the years intervening between his departure from Stonington and his removal to Spencertown.
In the campaign of 1757 a Peter Powers is recorded for eighteen days' service at the relief of Fort William Henry in "Col. B. Halls Redgement." Some of the officers are from Waterbury.
Peter's wife's family migrated in part to Connecticut, in part to Amenia, New York. There also is a family of Powerses but clearly of Dutch descent, Pauer.
I append what I have gathered at much cost concerning Joseph and other Powerses of the New London region. Joseph is said to have come from Kingston, Rhode Island. In North Kingston is recorded,
of the dates is wrong, or one has been incorrectly copied. Of course the Peter Powers of Stonington may be another person from the Peter Powers of Green River. I do not think so. If not, the William who was baptized 15 December, 1745, probably died in infancy and to a younger son was given his name, this younger son not being recorded in the Stonington register. Such a repetition of names is common enough. Again, the date 1745 may be incorrectly copied. That William Powers's age was forty-nine at the time of his death seems to be certain: for it is so 30 October, 1738, the marriage of Ichabod Powers and Meribah; Ichabod appears later in New London, a son of Joseph. On the South Kingston records, 12 April, 1750, is the marriage of William Powers of Warwick and Sarah Bill. Concerning Joseph much that can be learned comes from the Hempstead Diary, with the writer of which, Joshua Hempstead, Powers seems to have been intimate. Hempstead records his appointment for seven years in charge of the ferry, 1734. The first notice however is from the land records: James Rogers sold to Joseph Powers of Kingston, Rhode Island, twenty acres in the Great Neck, 16 July, 1726. There are various records of land transactions showing that Joseph was a large landholder. Joseph Powers's wife, Abigail, died 20 May, 1754, ae. 71. Hempstead writes: "28 December, 1756, Old Mr. Powers & the widow Want published. Sunday, Feb. ye 1 in the evening I went over to Isaac Kellows & married old Mr. Powers & the widow Want." On his tombstone is recorded: "In memory of Mr. Joseph Powers who died November the 13th day Anno Domini 1761 in the 82 yr of his age." He was therefore born about 1679 and was of the generation older than Peter. He had a daughter Lydia (see land record, 17 December, 1735), also a son Samuel (land record 3 May, 1750). He kept slaves; "one Girll by the name of Marrooh" is given to his daughter Lydia; Hempstead, 1746, mentions the death of his black boy Frank Poveddo. Such facts show that his position was much the same as that of Peter Powers; Peter's son William had six slaves in 1790. A Michael Powers also appears in Hempstead's Diary: Wednesday 22 Jan. 1755 "I rid out to the widow Susanna Foxes and married Michael Powers (an old Countryman) & Hannah Fox Datr of Benjamin Fox Decd." It is not clear what relation existed between Michael and Joseph. Michael may belong to another family. Joseph's children were Ichabod, Samuel, Lydia. Samuel lost a child 19 April, 1754, and his wife in child-bed 4 April. A Mary Powers (perhaps another family) was married to Wm. Satterly (clearly Irish) 1 December, 1736.
On 10 September, 1758, James Powers and Bathsheba Smith were married, at New London. On 2 November, 1766, Joseph Waterman (significant in view of the "Uncle Waterman" of one of the letters) and Bathsheba Powers were married at New London. Not any of these belong to the family of the Reverend Peter Powers.
given in the Examiner item appearing at the time of the death of his son James; it is so recorded in the family Bible of his granddaughter; it is so recorded on his tombstone in the Spencertown burying-ground: "Hon. Wm. Powers died April 8, MDCCXCVI in XLIX yr. of his age." On the stone are Masonic emblems.
The next mention of William Powers is as trustee of the church in Spencertown--next I call it though not dated. The church at Spencertown (Presbyterian) in the Upper Green River Valley, was started in 1769, the first meeting-house being built in 1771; incorporated 10 May, 1803, as St. Peter's Church. According to the history of Columbia County, Colonel Matthew Scott and William Powers, Esq., were among the first recorded trustees. This may have been later than the marriage of William, which marriage by the way connected him with Colonel Scott, of whom we shall have further mention. At any rate the marriage probably took place in the Spencertown church; it is recorded in the book of New York marriages under date 16 June, 1775, the day before Bunker Hill; the Bible record makes the date 13 June. His bride was Rhoda Deane. The marriage must have been in every way a very fortunate one; but for the present, back to the chronology of facts.
According to the item in the Examiner William Powers also practiced medicine: "His son William, the father of Mr. P. [that is, James Powers], practiced medicine during the war, and at its close gave up his practice and became a successful merchant--was an extensive landholder, one of the leading men of Columbia, a member of the legislature, when it held its sessions in the city of New York, and for some years after its removal to Albany."1
1 William Powers was present at the tenth session of the New York legislature, meeting in New York City, from 12 January to 21 April, 1787. Two of his colleagues from Albany County were John Lansing jr., and John Livingston. In the next session, the eleventh, meeting at Poughkeepsie, he represented, with John Livingston, the new Columbia County; he was present from 9 January to 29 March, 1788. The journals record his activities but there was nothing distinctive. His most distinguished colleagues in the house, not from Albany County, were Alexander Hamilton and Robt. C. Livingston.
In the fifteenth session, 5 January to 12 April, 1792, he was a senator; so also in the sixteenth and seventeenth sessions. Among his associate senators were John Livingston, Philip Livingston, Isaac Roosevelt,
According to the military lists in New York in the Revolution, William Powers was enlisted in the Seventeenth Regiment of Albany County (Columbia was until 1787 a part of Albany) with land bounty rights. Among his associates were many of his neighbors of Canaan and the Green River. There is no other record of his military service. One little fact, tantalizingly suggestive, shows that he was in good repute in those troublous times. Under date of 19 May, 1778, he becomes surety for the good behavior of John Powers and David Wyng, accused of treason. "David Wyng & J. Powers brought before the Board and having inquired into their Offenses and nothing appearing against them (save that of going to the enemy) they were permitted to go at large on entering in Recognizance for good Behavior & monthly Appearance." So the record as published in the volume of New York Conspiracies. The bail exacted was 200œ.1
Peter Schuyler, Peter Van Ness, and Stephen Van Rensselaer. William Powers was counted a Federalist and the votes show that he supported the measures of Alexander Hamilton. There seems to be no evidence whether he was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1788. It is not improbable that his retirement from the legislature
after 1787 was due to his activities as a Federalist; for his county seems at the time to have been strongly for Clinton and Burr and opposed to Hamilton.
1 There was still another Tory Powers. In the third volume of the fifth series of American Archives, p. 570, is a letter from Col. Wm. Whiting to Mr. Barclay, chairman (probably of the Albany committee), dated 24 October, 1776: "I am informed . . . that John Savage and Richard Power were at home since our regiment marched, and it is highly probable, in my views and others, that they determine to wrest the Tories [these were captives to be sent from Hartford to Albany] out of the hands of the guard, unless it be a strong one, which I pray it may be, at least until they have passed thru the land of Moabites." Substantially the same, with the name Powers, is given under date of 21 October, in volume ii of the same Archives.
Now this Colonel Whiting was of Columbia County and to his regiment belonged the Canaan men, including the Deanes, the Savages, and the Watermans. Doubtless Richard was well known to him.
The Calendar of Historical Documents of the Revolutionary Period gives additional information, vol. ii, p. 526: "Information of Augustus Odel who saith--that this morning about ten o'clock he was in the woods Ten miles south of Albany--that he came upon one showers (?Powers) who asked which way this informant was travelling who
Once at least his name is on record as a surgeon; by inference also he had before this held a commission for military service. The document is found among the Governor Clinton Papers, vol. iii, 625, iv, 240:
Associated Exempts of Albany Co., Claverack District.
We the subscribers under the age of 55 years who have held civil or military commissions, and have not been reappointed to our respective Ranks of Office; or being between the ages of 50 and 55 [William Powers was 33]--Do hereby Severally engage that were will Respectively on all occasions obey the orders of our Respective Commanding officers, and will in case of Invasion or Incursion of the Enemy or Insurrection march to Repell the Enemy &c. &c.
Witness our hand this--1778. Signed Jonathan Dean, July 28, 1778. William Powers, Surgeon, August 10, 1778. Samuel Dean, Aug. 12, 1778. Matthew Scott, Aug. 12, 1778. Samuel Dean[e] was, on petition appointed ensign of said Company answered he could hardly tell, but by dropping a few words of Tory Talk, this informant soon discovered saidshowers to be a tory, then told said showers he wanted to get with John Savage. Said showers said John Savage was gone, that he went away day before yesterday with two men, to the northward to join the regulars." This information is dated 29 October, 1776, a week later than the letter of Colonel Whiting.
The information of Stephen Kitchener is also given: "On Friday last he saw one Simeon Warner who informed him that John Savage had with him about five hundred men and that they had disarmed one Collo--. of the militia and taken some guns and other warlike stores from him. Sworn before John Beebe, Chairman of the Commission of King's Dist. in Albany." John Savage was taken and imprisoned in Kingston jail; according to list of prisoners in Ulster County gaol, he sent a petition, 11 June, 1777, to the Hon. Council of Safety, "to be allowed to return to his distressed wife and helpless children." He had also applied to receive the benefit of General Washington's proclamation.
Doubtless this Richard Powers is brother to William, eldest son to Doctor Peter. Doubtless John Savage is a connection by marriage. Apparently Richard escaped capture; very likely he succeeded in doing what "showers" says Savage had done, joined the regulars. Perhaps he continued to reside in Canada after the war was over. Perhaps it was through his influence that William's sons, Henry, Richard, William, and Peter, about 1800 went to Shefford, Canada. R. R. Bachand, a notary of Waterloo (near Shefford), writes, 20 February, 1919: "A Richard Powers, who lived in Waterloo and in Frost Village died about twenty years ago in St. Hyacinthe. They left no relations about here but an adopted girl."
See Appendix, p. 283.
of Associate Exempts. This Samuel Dean[e] is probably the same as the executor of William Powers's will and was a half-brother to Rhoda Deane.
After the Revolution William Powers was occupied with business and public affairs. His home was in Canaan, but apparently in that part which in 1796 became Chatham. On the town records of Canaan he is mentioned as supervisor in 1784, 1785, 1786, 1789, and 1790; as overseer of the poor in 1788, 1789, 1790. There are two items of account: In May or June, 1786 (not entirely legible), "By Do of Esqr Powers By comm. of excise 1-10-0." On 5 April, 1788, "Due Wm. Powers for keeping Nathan Gale 10 weeks 4-0-0." In these years also according to the Examiner item, he was in the legislature in New York; for the legislature met in New York until 1788, then for two years in Poughkeepsie, after that in Albany. He was in the fifteenth session of the legislature a senator from the eastern district, which included Columbia County, from 5 January to 12 April, 1792. He was a member of the Council of Appointment from the eastern district 14 January, 1792, and also 6 January, 1795, a year before his death. He was associated with Hamilton and Clinton and Schuyler and Jay and perhaps Burr. He may have been in the Constitutional Convention of 1788. He may have been present at the inauguration of Washington as President. Party spirit in New York ran high; the Federalists in general were in the lead in New York and to that party William Powers adhered. Philip Schuyler was a United States senator from 1789 to 1791, to be succeeded by Aaron Burr. The other United States senator was Rufus King, a Federalist. Clinton had been governor; in 1792 the popular choice leaned to John Jay, but through irregularites in counting the votes, the decision was given to Clinton. In 1795 he declined to be a candidate and John Jay was chosen. William Powers must have been in the thick of the contested election of 1792.
How much property William Powers had and how obtained is not certain. Doubtless he inherited at least two hundred acres from his father; doubtless too he acquired considerable from his father-in-law. He may have received several hundred acres as bounty land, though of this there is no evidence. The state bounty consisted of 500 acres for every private; the continental
bounty of 100 acres to each private. Samuel Deane, Power's brother-in-law and executor of his will, is on record as receiving 600 acres, 6 July, 1790. By purchase, according to his will dated 13 January, 1794, he held an estate in Great Barrington across the line in Massachusetts. "Conveyed by mortgage and deed," according to the will, he had an estate in Green River, but this was evidently still claimed by his brother-in-law, Gaius Deane. He had been in business with a man by the name of Root; at the time of the will the firm had become Powers and Cade.1 In 1790 the census listed his family as consisting of twenty persons, six of whom were slaves; this is the largest household in the town and the largest number of slaves. His associates were men of property also. Colonel Scott of Hillsdale had four slaves, the largest number in that town; William Garner, another executor of his will, in Hudson, had one slave. James Savage had one slave.
Of the disposition of William Powers, his affections, relations to his family, little is known, nothing except by inference. A prompt, decisive man, I should judge; resentful and masterful. If of a Celtic strength in his emotions (he appears to have been pure Irish, though probably remotely of Anglo-Norman blood) he was not the gay but the melancholy Celt. The tone of the passage in the will concerning Gaius Deane is not pleasant: "In case the Lands and Buildings conveyed to me by mortgage and Deed, by Gaius Dean, lying and being in Green River in the town of Hilsdale, shall be established as my proper Estate that then I give and bequeath unto my two said Daughters an additional sum of twenty-five pounds each . . . Item, Being sensible of the justice of my right to the Estate I hold of Gaius Dean of Green River aforesaid I order that in case any controversy shall arise respecting the same, I then request and direct that my Executors shall make every legal defence, and charge my whole Estate with the legal expense attending the same." Here is certainly an animus not friendly. Gaius Deane was a man of some importance, let us hope of probity, at least the only ground for suspecting anything irregular in the man is that he was in 1787 removed from the
1 Most likely Cady; Elizabeth Cady belonged in this neighborhood.
captaincy to which in the preceding year he had been appointed. Yet William Powers knew his brother-in-law better than we.
His language concerning his wife is at least a little curious in its insistence upon her widowhood, which by the way she maintained only about two years. "To my beloved Wife, I give and devise the income and produce of one equal third of my whole Estate, To hold during her widowhood, provided that she do not claim anything in right of her dower. Item, It is my will that my said Wife during her widowhood be supported . . . out of the income and produce of my whole Estate . . . Lastly, I appoint my beloved Wife Rhoda my Executrix, during her widowhood." It is as if he would have forbidden a second marriage if he could. This feeling doubtless arose from a very jealous sense of the dignity of the name of Powers: one who had once worn it should not contaminate it by adding another. His son James undoubtedly had this feeling, in him so strong that he would not allow his mother's name of Kellogg to appear on her tombstone.
His intellectual interests were keen. What his own education had been we do not know; perhaps largely derived from his father. Had he lived he would undoubtedly have provided for his children the education fitted to their aptitudes. In his will "It is my will," he writes, "that my children be educated and supported out of the income and produce of my whole Estate." More specifically: "Whereas I have it in contemplation to give a liberal Education to one or more of my five Sons, namely, Richard, William, Peter, John, and James1--It is my will and I do order that it shall be left discretionary with my wife, and in case of her death, with my executors, or the majority of them to send such of my said Children as she or they shall think proper, to such a place as she or they shall think proper to obtain such their education on condition that the expense thereof shall be paid out of his or their share, or shares, or proportion of the Estate."
William Powers had six sons and two daughters.2 The eldest,
1 Perhaps Henry was already married. He had separate provision made for him; the other boys shared alike.
2 An infant James is buried near the grave of William Powers. Perhaps his youngest son bore the name of an earlier child
Henry, born 18 March, 1776, went to Canada, though he was in Plattsburg early in the century. His life in Canada was unfortunate. Nothing is known of his family.1 The second, Richard, born 17 July, 1777, also appears to have gone to Canada, though later he perhaps settled in Vermont; nothing is known of him. The third son, William, born 29 September, 1779, married young and went to Canada. About 1825 he went to Green County, Ohio, and settled in or near Xenia; his descendants are still living there.2 The fifth son, John, born 24 December, 1783, settled in Catskill, where and in New York he was a merchant. His daughter married a Jordan and had a son, but the family is now extinct. Of the sixth son, James, a fuller account will be given on another page. Rhoda was born 21 January, 1788. She was a precocious, sensitive child; according to the report of her brother Peter she was unfortunate in love, died young, unmarried, and insane. A sampler of her working is in the possession of Mrs. C. P. Burr. Mary, born 30 September, 1793, became a woman of unusual charm and loveliness of character; "A very remarkable woman" according to the words of one who as a child knew her well. She married John Day 2 October, 1817, and lived in Catskill; the family is extinct.3
Peter, the fourth son, was born 3 January, 1782, and died in Perrysburg, Ohio, in August, 1861; he is buried in the Peck-Powers lot, but the stone is unmarked by name or date. In spite of his father's careful interest, perhaps because after his father's early death his wishes were not carried out, more likely because of a born ineptitude, his education was neglected to such an extent that he remained to the end an atrocious speller, none worse except Josh Billings. Yet he had an ambition to become a school teacher. A letter of Rhoda's, written in June, 1801, addresses him as Peter Powers, M.D.; is this a hint
1 Mrs. Drew of Chatham (21 March, 1919) sends this tombstone inscription from Spencertown: "Wm. Henry Powers, son of Henry and Elizabeth Powers, born Sept. 7, 1799, died Feb. 19, 1800."
2 Repeated attempts to get into communication with the Green County Powerses have resulted only in a letter from James Powers who thinks he is a descendant of William.
3 Children, Maria, Cornelia, James. Maria (Day) Younglove lived in Cleveland.
that he tried to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather? There appears to be no other evidence.1 He was then only nineteen; the title is likely to be a mild joke on the part of his lively little sister. He appears to have remained in and about home until the time of his marriage, perhaps even after that. There was however one short trip to his brothers in Canada. He thought of becoming a farmer, but John advised against it on the ground that his "constitution was too feeble." He was married to Altana Davis about 1805; a letter dated 27 August, 1806, from his brother John, speaks of his wife. Another letter from John shows that he was in Salisbury, near Herkimer, in Montgomery County, New York, 4 January, 1817. He was there at least more than a year, probably in the dairy business, though there is nothing certain about it. John, under date 13 April, 1818, dissuades him from going to Canada, where presumably some of his family still were. The letter makes mention of Richard for the last time, in connection with a deed from "Uncle Dean." On 18 November, 1825, he is addressed by James in Canaan. The letter relates to the building of a kitchen, presumably on the old home estate; perhaps his mother was still living there.2 Some time in the thirties he went to Ohio, whither also his half-brother, John Kellogg, and several of the relatives of his wife went. They lived in and about Lorain and Grafton. Here John Kellogg's daughter Mary married a son of John Brown of Ossawatomie. Here his wife Altana died in 1841; she is buried in Litchfield. A letter to his son Charles, 24 April, 1844, shows that with his youngest daughter, Lucy, he was making his home with his son Henry. Apparently Henry's wife, Jane, died that spring. There was friction, probably worse. Lucy left Henry's for nephew Frisbie's. Ultimately, perhaps that same year, she went to Woodville to keep house for Charles, her father going to live with George in Perrysburg. Lucy married and died shortly after; Charles was married in 1847 and the father divided his time between the homes of Charles in Woodville and of George in Perrysburg. Thus his last years were spent in quiet and comfort. Apparently his was not a
1 An elderly lady who knew him is said to have referred to him as Doctor Powers.
2 Colonel Kellogg appears to have died in 1826
temper meant for the strenuous life. In his old age he pottered about the sheds and barns and worked in the shop with plane and saw when he felt disposed. He spent much time with his Bible. He was so deaf that talking to him was a great effort. His disposition was severe and tended to melancholy so that he did not take kindly to children, or at least was unable to make himself at home with them--unfortunate, as both houses were full of children. A bundle of letters from his brothers and sisters, chiefly written between 1800 and 1808, were found among his belongings. They show that whatever may have been his defects as a business man, and doubtless these defects were total, he still possessed a power of sympathy that invited confidence. No matter what their troubles or losses, the brothers still write to Peter; even when they are at outs with one another, he is a go-between. He was very tall, about six feet three, and dignified.
Peter Powers had eight children, six sons1 and two daughters, though the name of one daughter who died young is unknown. His eldest son, James, a cripple, was born 10 August, 1806, and died in Wood County, Ohio, about 1870. He was married to Jane (???) and left one son, Peter, living in Gibsonburg.
George was born 17 July, 1809, and died 15 September, 1872, in Perrysburg, Ohio. He married Augusta (born January 1, 1814), sister of Doctor Peck. The children:
Emily A., born 30 March, 1841; married William Dunipace.
Caroline A., born 30 September, 1842; married John Wilkison. Children: Mary A., born 19 May, 1869; Lucy P., born 12
1 Henry Powers died in 1861 and was buried in Webster, Wood County, Ohio. He married (1) Jane Wilson; children: John; George, married Mary Deran, children, Lillian and Elva; Harry, married Marie Palmer, children, Edward, George, Frank, twins Carrie and Clarence, Laura, Harry; Mary, married Fred Aply, no children. He married (2) Marian Sheldon; children: Sarah Ann, married James Walker, children, Helen and Jacob; Charles, married Nancy (???), children, Maude, May, and two boys; Albert, married Sina Miller, children, Louis, Ruth, Minerva, Altana, Mary; Dwight, died infancy; Frank, married Susan Daly, children, Blanche, Claude, Mabel, Hoytsville, Ohio; Ruth, died age 8; twins: Altana, born 23 July, 1860, married 21 April, 1880, Frank Stephens, 206 South Clinton Street, Albion, Michigan, children, Mabel Janet, died 6 January, 1918, Maude Marian, died 27 October, 1885, Pearl Anna; Roxanna, died in 1865. All the children are dead except Altana.
August, 1874; John E., born 25 November, 1877; Fred F., born December, 1883.
Charles A., born 2 July, 1844; married Sarah Alcorn. Children: Augusta, born 9 February, 1878; Geo. A., born 11 February, 1882; Lucy E., born 22 March, 1884.
Erasmus Darwin, born 7 March, 1847. Children: Geo. A., born 26 October, 1881; Hiram J., born 2 September, 1885; Laura (Mrs. Ralph Ricks), born 9 November, 1888.
Lucy E., born 8 April, 1849; married Wm. H. Day. Child: Mary, born May, 1885.
All of the children of George Powers are dead.
William Powers was born 8 December, 1812; married 9 July, 1839, Maria Nevins; died 25 June, 1879. Maria died 23 July, 1897. Children:
Frank, born 3 May, 1840; killed in the Civil War, 27 May, 1864.
Alice, born 29 April, 1843; married Dr. J. D. Greenamyer 3 April, 1878; died 10 February, 1914.
Mary, born 29 April, 1843; married L. R. Smith; died 25 May, 1897; Mr. Smith died April, 1916. Children: Iva, married 17 July, 1901, Chas. Jewell, Winnetka, Illinois; Winifred, lives at Riverside, California.
Lucy was married to Henry Kaley and died in Woodville, 6 July, 1848, ae. twenty-three years, five months, two days; their child was buried with her.
John Powers was born 24 November, 1826, married to Emeline Cook 11 February, 1852, died Perrysburg, 29 October, 1886. Emeline Cook was born near Mansfield, Ohio, 6 August, 1831, and died at Urbana 17 March, 1906. Children: Two boys died young; Eva Augusta, born 17 November, 1857, married John H. Williams, 6 October, 1883; children: Harold R., born 5 July, 1884, married 1912, is a lawyer at Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kenneth Powers, born 25 August, 1887, captain Battery F, 150th First Indiana Field Artillery, in France; before that, professor of mathematics at Indiana University; Dorothy Louise, born 5 January, 1891, married Victor H. Schleicher, lives in Belleville, New Jersey; Evelyn, born 19 July, 1895, junior at Ohio State University. John and Emeline (Cook) had a son, Jesse Cook, born 14 February, 1865, died 8 March, 1905.
Charles Powers was born 3 June, 1819, probably in Chatham,
perhaps in Canaan, New York. There is no record of his education except that when a lad he went to Catskill, lived with his uncle John, did chores for his board, and went to school. This could not have continued very long; for he never became a scholar. About 1837 he went to Perrysburg, Ohio, where his brother George, eleven years his elder, had opened a store. For a time he served as an apprentice to a cabinet maker and attained some considerable skill, as is shown by a dresser of his make now owned by George, grandson of Charles's brother George. About 1839 he went to Woodville, sixteen miles east of Perrysburg on the Northwestern Ohio Pike, a thoroughfare from Fort Croghan at Fremont to Fort Meigs on the Maumee at Perrysburg, a two hundred foot canal, as it were, through the forest, without a bend. Here he opened a little store for general merchandise, helped by his brother George and his uncle John in establishing business relations. From the beginning he prospered. He bought what the farmers had to sell and shipped hams and eggs and other truck by way of boat from Perrysburg. His brother George helped him in marketing these products. He also bought wood ashes and made lye and potash. He also engaged the women to make socks and pants and other articles which he sold for them. His brother John was for a time with him, and his sister Lucy. Finally, after an acquaintance of several years, he married Lydia Ann Banks, the daughter of a widow who lived a mile up the river at the Old Mill. By this time his business prosperity was such that he was enabled to return for a visit to New York State and married his bride at the home of her grandmother in Friendship, New York, in October, 1847. He went to housekeeping in a cottage in the village, but, a good opportunity offering, he bought a farm of two hundred acres a mile west of Woodville on the Pike and stretching to the river. Here he built a large substantial house, considered in that region very handsome; to this he went to live in 1855. Later, he bought another farm north of town, but never lived upon it. He drove back and forth daily to his business in the village. His prosperity continued without check until, in 1869, chiefly that his children might have the advantage of better schools, he sold his estate and moved to Perrysburg. Even at the time of the sale he had doubts of its wisdom; before the moving was complete he was
deeply regretful and was never content afterwards. He bought a shoe-store in Toledo but kept it only a short time. He bought a grist-mill in Sylvania, about twenty miles west of Toledo. But the business did not prosper; he was discontented and worried. Finally, on a hot day in July, after a fifteen mile drive, a few miles from Sylvania he was overcome with the heat; his son George, who accompanied him, took the lines, hastened to Sylvania for help; but all was too late; he had spoken only a few words: "Sell it, that is what did it," he said as they drove past the mill. Although he lived until by train and by boat they had returned to Perrysburg, and still retained consciousness to such an extent as to call out "Boots, boots," when he was laid on the bed with his boots on, yet he was unable to talk connectedly and after twenty hours died 26 July, 1871.
I have followed his business life to the end; for he was essentially the business man. Yet he was a man interested in everything that concerned the community with which he was brought into touch. It is no exaggeration to call him the best known man in his community. He was a staunch Democrat, remaining so even after the test of the war. His political activity brought him into contact with the chief men of his county and the neighboring counties, including such a man as Henry Paine of Cleveland. He was chosen to the legislature of Ohio in 1858 and served the two following sessions. The most noteworthy acquaintance he made in Columbus was that of James A. Garfield.
His general merchandise store brought him into acquaintance with every farmer for miles about the village. To replenish his stock he made a number of visits to New York; traveling salesmen were not then at hand seeking the buyer. The influence which his business gave was enlarged by the readiness with which he fixed his active intelligence on practical problems; his advice was sought by friends and neighbors.
He superintended himself the large farm on which he lived and had a general oversight of another on which he had a tenant. He gave personal attention to his stock--he kept a good many sheep--to his garden, his fruit, and his flowers. He was active in promotion of rural life through agricultural and horticultural societies, through fairs and exhibits.
He lived in generous country fashion with a hospitality always ready for friend or relative. His father for fifteen years made his home with him during much of the time. His wife's mother for even a longer period was an inmate of his home. All his relatives, especially his nephews and nieces, counted it a chief delight to visit Uncle Charles. His affections were strong and settled, his temper irritable and subject to tempests. He was kindly and generous. Possessed of a keen mind, he gave it exercise with good books and periodicals. From the beginning he was a subscriber to Harper's Weekly and Monthly, he also took Graham's Magazine for years.
He was of medium height, portly in build, weighing about two hundred pounds. His right eye was defective; indeed by 1860 he had lost the use of it. His hair was a dark brown, early turning gray. His eyes were blue, his features strong rather than regular. Physically he was probably like his mother's family; in ability he bore close resemblance to William Powers.
His defective eyesight and three small children were the principal reasons that kept him from service at the front during the Civil War. But he was active in work at home. He was one of the commissioners sent by the governor to look after the Ohio troops after the battle of Shiloh; to take hospital and other supplies to the sick and wounded, and to bring back home those who were likely to be incapacitated for some time. (See Appendix p. 283.)
Respecting his public life, it was written of him at his death: "His fine social qualities and good business habits secured for him more than the usual amount of influence accorded to members of that body [the legislature] and none of his democratic associates was more popular with republicans than Mr. Powers."1
"He was at Columbus when the war was in progress, and to the extent of his ability he looked after the wants of the sick and wounded soldiers."2 Unable to go to the war himself because of his defective health and also because of his opportunities for greater usefulness at home, he had nevertheless secured the services of a substitute.
1 A Toledo paper.
2 Perrysbury Journal.
It is pleasant to close with other characterizations appearing in the public prints at the time of his death.
"Few men enjoyed a larger circle of devoted friends than did Mr. Powers. He possessed the elements of character to a large degree which secure strong personal friendships and his sudden death, occurring in the prime of life, will be mourned by a large circle of relatives and friends."1
"His social feelings were the strongest of all, and these he gratified irrespective of business or politics. Courteous toward all, he was bitter toward none, and died as we think leaving no feuds behind, but troops of personal friends who mourn his decease and with the tears of relatives mingle their own. In his religious opinions he was a Presbyterian by education; while in practice he made no public profession, yet he sought religious training for his family; at one time he was trustee of a church in Woodville, built in the interests of the Methodists, Evangelicals, Lutherans, and Presbyterians, and built largely with his money and by his energy. These things it is pleasant to recall. It is hard to bury the friend and brother, the husband and father, and hard to have him thus suddenly taken away. But it is pleasant to recall the facts connected with a generous social nature; pleasant to connect his name with things which are calculated to make men happier and better."2
James, the youngest of the six sons of William and Rhoda Powers, was the most successful, at least in a worldly way. Such early letters as have been preserved certainly show him somewhat precocious and perhaps give promise of the man of affairs. His brother John can write an evangelical exhortation to piety worthy of a John Newton, sister Rhoda at thirteen expresses her sisterly solicitude in a style really Johnsonese. But James is brief and writes always with a specific purpose. At the age of fifteen, while he was studying at Kinderhook--perhaps even at that age apprentice to a lawyer--he writes to Peter about the purchase of a grammar, about which subject he knows more than his elder brother. In 1802 he gives advice respecting the disposition of the estate. His legal education was probably given to him in accordance with his father's
1 Toledo Blade.
2 Perrysburg Journal.
will. The letters would lead one to infer that his training was completed in 1804; for in July of that year he gives a two and a half page letter to the discussion of the legal aspects of putting through a road near the estate. A letter of the preceding month shows that although the family had been left in comfortable circumstances and still owned much land, yet ready money was not always at hand. The letter shows more of feeling than any other from his pen. It is written from Hudson, 19 June, 1804: "I have heard," he writes, "a few days since from my Mother who remains in the same way as she has for this year back happening to be enveloped more than usual in the cloud of spleen. . . Rhodas Bonnet is finished and I have not one cent to pay for it. The attending the court in Claverack dreened my pocket entirely dry. Borrow it for me if you can, and I will be able to return it soon." Another letter of the following month serves to confirm the sense of his precocious development in business sense; it relates to Mary's attending school and living with Mr. Van Nys. It would appear that James, though only a stripling and with five elder brothers, was more or less guardian to the still younger girls.
James Powers was educated in the Kinderhook Academy by the Rev. David B. Worden, later consul-general in France. Among his schoolmates and associates were Martin Van Buren, John C. Spencer, Benjamin F. Butler, and Daniel Cady,1 so said the New York Evening Post after his death. He studied law with Elisha Williams at Hudson and was admitted to the bar in 1804. In partnership with John Adams and later with Caleb Day, he early became a leader of the Greene County bar. As receiver of the Bank of Columbus, although he was a friend of the president of the bank, he conducted with sagacity and fidelity his delicate and very difficult task. In 1816 and again in 1822 he represented his county in the Assembly. In 1835 he was elected to the State Senate where he served four years.
When he spoke it was earnestly and to the point and what he said never failed to command attention and respect. His integrity gave him a commanding influence. It was during his term that two senators were driven from the senate and almost from society for voting for
1 Father of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; his father was Eleazer, neighbor to Wm. Powers; perhaps his partner.
a bill in which they had some slight personal interest. In 1845 Governor Silas Wright, desiring a man of Mr. Powers's character to aid in the management of the State prisons, persuaded him to accept the position of Inspector, which he did, being associated in that office with his friend John Bigelow, subsequently one of the editors of this paper, and afterwards minister to France. In 1846 he was elected by a very large majority to the convention to revise the Constitution, and was a valuable and influential member of that body. This we believe was the last public service in which he engaged. Through all the trying incidents of a long life he has left a record without a single stain. He may almost be said to have been a worshiper of truth and justice, and such was his firmness that no fear of consequences could even induce him to violate either. During the time of Jackson, Van Buren, and Wright, he was the devoted and personal friend of each of them.1
For the practice of law he had established himself in the village of Catskill. He married Nancy Day, a cousin of the husband of his sister Mary. His wife died in 1826. Three daughters were born to them, Emily and Caroline dying unmarried after their father's death, Frances marrying Nelson Beardsley.2
James Powers established his home in a large and very comfortable brick house on Main Street, where his children were born and his daughter Frances married. It was furnished handsomely in mahogany. Shortly after the marriage of his daughter in 1836, he was persuaded to give up the old house, as his daughters spent the winters in Albany. For many years he had owned a large tract of land overlooking the Hudson and had amused himself in the culture of choice fruits. In a small, oddly arranged, oddly built cottage lived a Frenchman and his wife as caretakers. Several summers were spent here by the family, well cared for by the French couple. About 1839 he built for himself what may in comparison be called a mansion, near at hand. The situation is a lordly one, nothing finer on
1 New York Evening Post, Bryant's paper; did Bigelow himself write the tribute? See quotations from Bigelow's Retrospections, Appendix, p. 284.
2 Emily, born 13 September, 1809; died 1 January, 1893. Caroline, born 17 September, 1811; died 20 July, 1896. Frances, born 6 March, 1815; died 16 July, 1854; married 18 May, 1836; seven daughters.
the river. The estate is now and always has been beautiful with shrubs, trees, and flowers, though the old trees have disappeared. After his retirement from the law, he occupied himself fully on this estate. His fruits commanded high prices in the New York markets, but nevertheless were not a source of profit. He also interested himself in making wine, and even after his death his daughters still found great pleasure making gifts of the choice wines to invalids and very dear friends. For a number of years his sister Mary and her husband occupied the cottage. After his death, the daughters preferred its freedom from care to the larger house. Recently it has been renovated for the summer use of Mrs. Burr's grandson; for the estate still remains, in the fifth generation, in the possession of the family. Tradition says that the cottage antedates the Revolution. The thickness of its walls and overhanging beams and the wroughtiron hinges two feet in length would indicate great age.
Though, as has been said, somewhat eccentric in conduct, though acquaintances found him "reserved, at times even distant and unapproachable," it is pleasant to know that he was devotedly attached to his family and that they returned the affection. "He was the most indulgent of grandparents," writes Mrs. Burr, who has furnished much of the information concerning him, "and was never happier than when he could gather around him his six granddaughters."
From old time friends in Catskill one gets the impression that Miss Emily and Miss Caroline, who administered the household after the death of their mother, dispensed a beautiful and generous hospitality. Miss Becker of the public library said that her abiding impression of the old ladies is of coming from their house with childish arms burdened with flowers, "flowers rather more profuse, not less than now." Their sweetness found a task laid out for them in tempering the rather arbitrary and severe manners of their father. One friend tells of the old gentleman's Betsy Trotwood-like pride in his lawn--a pride that could as ill tolerate disorder as could Miss Betsey the donkeys of Dover. The daughters used quietly to caution guests against any even innocent act that might seem vandalism to the father. Shortly after the father's death the sisters made a trip to relatives in the
West--a beautiful visit long remembered, yes, even yet talked of. These sisters must have possessed some of the charm that had been their Aunt Mary's, whose letters still show her worthy of the praise of a friend, "A lovely and remarkable woman."