THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   EDWIN KNICKERBOCKER, a resident of Morrisville, has for many years been a representative citizen of Madison County. Agriculture, the first and most necessary occupation of man, long received his attention; and education, the mainspring of civilization, the force that sets in motion and regulates the complicated machinery of human action in all its various spheres of labor and lines of development, has ever found in him a friend and champion. Mr. Knickerbocker was born in the town of Eaton, Madison County, January 5, 1824, and is a son of Harley Knickerbocker, a native of Connecticut. John Knickerbocker, the father of Harley, was born in the suburbs of New York City, of ancestry which, several generations previously, came from Holland. The father of John Knickerbocker fought on the side of the colonists in the Revolutionary War, and in the cause of freedom surrendered his life. Soon after his death his son John went to live with an uncle in Connecticut, residing in that State until 1804, when he emigrated to the State of New York, making the journey with a team. Settling in what is now the town of Eaton, he purchased a tract of land covered with timber, near Leland's Pond, built a log house, and began the hard and serious labor of clearing a farm. At that early day there were neither railroads nor canals, even in New York State, which was one of the first States in the Union to give attention to internal improvements; nor were there any kind of manufactures except those rude and simple ones carried on in the domestic circle. For many years after settling in this new country he was obliged to travel one hundred miles to Albany to find a market for his surplus products, and a place where he could purchase such supplies as were needed in the household and upon the farm. A full week was required to make the round trip, and upon his return he was accustomed to bring back with him various kinds of supplies required by the merchants in their stores. With the assistance of his sons, he cleared about one hundred and fifty acres of his land, and continued to reside upon his first purchase for a number of years; after which he sold his possessions, and made his home with his son Henry at Cincinnatus, Cortland County. He lived to the remarkable age of one hundred years. The maiden name of his wife was Lydia Jackson.
   Harley Knickerbocker, the father of our subject, was eight years old when the family removed to this State. He was reared upon his father's farm, and was first married, in Potter County, Pennsylvania, to a Miss Stannard, who was born in the Keystone State. After their union they settled on a farm in Potter County, where, after a married life of less than two years, she died, leaving one daughter, Cordelia, who grew to womanhood, married, and reared quite a large family, she herself dying in Chicago, Ill. Soon after the death of his first wife Mr. Knickerbocker removed to Madison County, and later (in the town of Eaton) was married for the second time. Purchasing a portion of the old homestead near Leland's Pond, he moved into the frame house already erected thereon, and began the life of a farmer on his own account, possessing better advantages than his father had formerly enjoyed, one of which , was a market, at Utica, only thirty miles distant. After residing a few years on this farm, he sold it, and bought another near the present site of Morrisville Station, upon which he lived for nearly sixty years, and then retired to the village of Morrisville, where he died at the age of eighty-seven. The maiden name of his second wife was Henrietta French. She was born in Rhode Island, and was a daughter of Abel and Mary (Wilson) French, and died on the farm at the age of seventy-two. She reared seven children; namely, Julia A., Edwin, Maria, Jeanette, Sophia, Susan, and Jackson J.
   Edwin Knickerbocker, the second child and the subject of this sketch, received his early education in the district schools, and later attended the academies of Morrisville and Hamilton. He began teaching school at the age of twenty, which avocation he followed a portion of each year for nine successive years. In 1852 he purchased a farm two miles north of Morrisville, upon which he resided until 1867, and then removed to the village of Morrisville, where ht: has since lived. He was married in 1852 to Mrs. Mary T. Stafford, nee Curtis, a native of Nelson, Madison County, her birth occurring March 20, 1829. She was reared under the parental roof-tree, and with kinsmen until her marriage. Her father, Ransom Curtis, died in Chittenango while yet in the prime of life, being about forty years of age, and when his daughter, Mary T., was but fourteen. Mr. Curtis was born in Nelson, Madison County, in 1803, and was a son of Jonathan Curtis, a native of Connecticut, and of New England stock, who, after his marriage to a Connecticut lady, Miss Johanna Wilkinson, emigrated after the most primitive style to Madison County; New York, and settled on a farm in the town of Nelson. This was in the latter years of the last century or about the beginning of the present. Some years later, while yet in the prime of life, Johanna Thankful Curtis died, leaving a family. Some time after the death of his first wife Jonathan Curtis was again married, to a Mrs. Newell, who survived him several years, and died in Waterville, N. Y., at the home of a son, Ebenezer Newell, after having attained to a good old age. Mr. Curtis died in the town of Nelson, when quite old. He was the father of five children, of whom Ransom was the third in order of birth. The latter grew to manhood in Nelson, and became a farmer, in middle life removing to the village of Chittenango, where he died in 1843, being only forty years of age. He was a Whig in politics, and in religion a member of the old-school Baptist church, his father before him being a deacon in that church. Ransom Curtis was married in the town of Nelson to Miss Aurelia Billings. She was born, reared, and spent her married life in Nelson and Chittenango, and after the death of her husband spent some years with her daughter, Mrs. Knickerbocker, of this notice, dying in 1862. She was born in 1803, and was the daughter of Lemuel and Priscilla (Locke) Billings, pioneers of Madison County. Like her husband, she was a member of the Baptist church, and a devoted Christian woman. Of her five children, Mrs. Knickerbocker, the wife of our subject, is the only survivor.
   Mr. and Mrs. Knickerbocker have one son living, Curtis E., who graduated from Cazenovia Academy in 1887, and from Princeton College in the class of 1891. He is at present engaged as assistant chief civil engineer on the Northern Division of the New York, Oswego & Western Railroad, with headquarters at Norwich, N.Y. On November 16, 1893, in New York City, he was united in marriage with Miss Jennie E. Wilkinson, a young lady of intelligence and varied accomplishments, who grew to maidenhood and was educated in the place of her birth, Middletown, N.Y.
   In politics Mr. Edwin Knickerbocker was in early life a Democrat, then became a Free-soil Democrat, and upon the organization of the Republican party became a Republican, to which party's principles he has ever since been loyal. The publishers take pleasure in presenting to their readers a fine steel portrait of Mr. Knickerbocker, as a true representative of a fine type of self-made men, whose noble example of industry, self-reliance, and persevering application to duty is worthy of imitation by coming generations.

1999- MadisonCountyNewYork.com All rights reserved.