THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   THOMAS ENSIGN, born October 27, 1812. This worthy citizen of the town of Nelson is one of the oldest and most respected in the place. His parents, Isaiah and Eunice (Vining) Ensign, were natives of Connecticut, and went with their children to the town of Nelson in 1824. Madison County at that time was nearly all a virgin forest. Farmers moving there had to make the journey by ox-team through a country in which bears, wolves, and panthers claimed the right of way; and almost the first work of the settler would be to build his stockade, or pen, to enclose his family and his cattle from these midnight prowlers.
   There were ten children born to Mr. and Mrs. Ensign, but the subject of our sketch is the only one at present living. The father died on his farm at the age of eighty-seven years, and his wife when she was forty years old. They were Presbyterians in religion, and he was a Whig in politics. Isaac Ensign, father of Isaiah and grandfather of Thomas, was a native of Connecticut, was a blacksmith by trade, and died at the age of sixty-six. His wife was ninety-six years old when she died. They had a family of nine children, all of whom have passed into the higher life beyond.
   After our subject had grown to manhood, he remained on the farm, assisting his father until his union in marriage with Miss Laura Bailey, July 4, 1838. She was born in the town of Nelson, May 15, 1815, daughter of James and Betsey Bailey, natives of Saratoga County, where her grandfather, Enoc Bailey, was among the first settlers. He and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. They died in the town of Nelson, when they were quite aged. Mrs. Ensign's father was also a prominent man of his day. He owned a fine tract of land, where he carried on general farming and a large industry in honey, having an extensive colony of bees. Of his family of four children, two are still living: David, who lives in Michigan; Sophia, widow of Sumner Williams, residing at Nelson Flats. Another daughter, Polly, died at the age of twenty-three. Mr. Bailey died in Nelson at the age of sixty-nine, and Mrs. Bailey at the age of seventy-seven.
   Thomas Ensign was twenty-six years old when he bought his first tract of land, which consisted of twenty acres. By diligence and thrift he has added to it, until he now owns a farm of two hundred and twenty acres. He has been a good, practical farmer, and for many years has ranked among the leading men of his town.
   Having the misfortune to lose all but one of their children by death, some of them at a very early age, Mr. and Mrs. Ensign bore their affliction with Christian resignation, seeing, with the eyes of divine faith, that these little ones had gone to the Blessed One who had said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." The names of the departed children were as follows: James H., aged eight years; Albert E., four years; Anson M., one year; Cornelia, two years; Amelia, aged twenty-five. Until quite recently Mr. and Mrs. Ensign, both members of the Methodist Episcopal church, enjoyed in their beautiful home the delights of a serene old age as the reward of well-spent lives. Mr. Ensign has of late been bereft of his cherished companion, his wife having died November 20 of the present year, 1893, aged seventy years and six months.
   Mr. Ensign is an ardent and venerable supporter of the Republican party. His son, George Henry, the surviving member of his family, born March 2, 1852, who with a wife and three children resides on the home farm, makes a specialty of breeding Holstein cattle, having one of the finest herds in Madison County. In June last twenty cows averaged thirty-five pounds of butter a day, or one and three-fourths pounds for each cow. They produced six thousand pounds of butter during the season. The largest yield of milk was eight hundred and eighty pounds in a day, or forty-four pounds from each cow.

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