THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   ELI NEAR, whose beautiful farm of one hundred and forty acres is the admiration of all who visit this part of the country, was born about a quarter of a mile from his present home in the year 1821. His father, Jasper Near, was born in 1791 at Mohawk Flats. He met his death suddenly at the Lenox grist-mill, October 31, 1853, by falling from his horse and breaking his neck. The family trace their ancestry to some of the earliest pioneers of the country. John Near, who was born in 1746, was a soldier in the Revolution. In one encounter he narrowly escaped death from the Indians, who were pursuing him from an ambush. Discovering his danger, he was running very hard, when a savage threw his tomahawk after him, and the weapon, striking close to his backbone, cut off three of his ribs. Being a strong man and fleet runner, he was, however, able to make his escape. He died about 1831 in Ellisburg, N.Y. He was the father of four sons and four daughters, of whom Jasper was one of the first born.
   The mother of our subject was Betsey E. Yerton, of the Mohawk Flats; and she bore him three sons and five daughters, as follows: Catherine, wife of Eli Watson, who died at the age of seventy-four, leaving one daughter; Louisa, who died at the age of sixty-seven, leaving one daughter; Mary, wife of Orpheus Borrows, now of Cleveland, Ohio, and mother of two daughters: Eli, of our sketch; Margaret, widow of George Clark; Timothy, who died when sixty-two years of age, leaving three sons; Delia, who died when about forty-five years of age, leaving a son and daughter. The latter's husband, Henry Dunton, died on the overland trip to California. Their son went to the war, and was wounded in the head, which partially deranged him; and he disappeared mysteriously about twenty years ago. The eighth child, Jasper, Jr., was accidentally killed in St. Louis, Mo., at the age of forty-five years. The maternal grandfather of our subject, Peter Yerton, settled early in the century on the spot where his grandson's home now stands. He built his modest house there; and, when in 1877 Eli Near erected his beautiful home, he preserved a part of it, and made it a portion of his fine, large, and commodious residence. He could not bear to sacrifice the sacred old relic, with all its tender and primitive associations. 
   Our subject was brought up on the farm, and received but a limited common-school education, though his brothers and sisters had better opportunities, having been educated at Cazenovia, three sisters and his two brothers becoming teachers. They were Christian people in the Methodist Episcopal church (of which the parents were earnest and zealous members), with the exception of Jasper, Jr., who was a Universalist preacher. Eli Near married for his first wife Miss Maria Huyck, of Clockville, in 1844. She died eighteen months later, leaving an infant son, Charles A. Near, now a farmer in Dakota, and also a Deputy Sheriff, who is so keen and alert that, when he pursues a prisoner, he generally secures him. He has a wife, five daughters, and two sons. The second wife of Mr. Near was Mrs. Francy Julia Perry. She received an excellent education at the best seminaries in the State. She was married to George Perry, of Skaneateles, but at the age of twenty-seven was left a widow with three daughters, namely: Sarah A., who married Charles A. Near, the son of her stepfather; Laura, who is the wife of Franklin Cooper of Buffalo, N. Y ., and mother of three sons and one daughter; and Georgianna, wife of John F. Wilson, of Penn Yan, N. Y. By his second marriage Mr. Near became the father of two daughters and one son: Francis M., wife of Roselle Webster, of Clockville; Seth H., unmarried and living at home; Lida, wife of Stephen DeVoe, a druggist of Syracuse. They have all had good educations, and hold excellent positions in society.
   Mr. Near is a Democrat in principle, but believes in voting for the best man for the office, irrespective of party. He is engaged in general farming, keeps about thirteen horses, and is noted for his excellent stock. He formerly kept a large dairy, but at present only has cows enough for his own use. He and his wife heartily enjoy their beautiful home, which is situated on an eminence overlooking the Oneida Valley and the village, taking in the most charming view of the picturesque landscape for many miles around them. Both are held in the highest regard by their neighbors.
   Charles A. Near, of whom we have already written, was a soldier in the Civil War. He enlisted from Canastota in Company G, One Hundred and Fifty-seventh New York Volunteer Infantry, going into the service a private, and returning at the close of the war with the rank of Captain. At Honey Hill he was wounded by a ball that ploughed its way across his temple. It was a close call for his life; but he had the wound dressed, and immediately returned to the field. He was recklessly brave, as was evinced on the Gettysburg battlefield, when his Captain, Harrison Frank, was shot down. Although the Confederates were right upon him, he stayed by his Captain until he breathed his last. He was captured by the enemy, and all his valuables taken from him. When they tried to take a Masonic ring from his finger which Captain Frank had given him, he told them they would get it when he was dead, and not before; and some of them, recognizing the Masonic emblem, let him go.

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