THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   SUMNER GILL, one of the most prominent citizens of Madison County, was born in the town of Stockbridge, December 13, 1824. His father, Lawson Gill, was a native of the town of Smithfield, and was a son of John Gill, one of the pioneers of that town, who, after settling there, followed farming the rest of his life. Lawson Gill was reared upon his father's farm in Smithfield, and after his marriage resided a few years in Stockbridge, removing thence to St. Lawrence County. Not long afterward he went to Canada, and lived in the Queen's dominions four years. Returning to New York, he engaged in farming in St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties until about 1841, when he again came to Madison County, remaining until about 1848, removing then to Black Hawk County, Iowa, where he followed the occupation of farming until 1852. In that year, accompanied by his wife and five children, he started for California, making the entire journey over-land, his wife, however, dying en route, and being buried on the plains. He spent his last years in Alturas, Cal. The maiden name of his wife was Asenath Saunders. She was a native of New England, and was a daughter of Aaron Saunders, who was also a native of New England, and emigrated thence to Madison County in the early days, becoming a pioneer of the town of Smithfield, where he bought a tract of timber land, and improved a farm, upon which he lived the rest of his life, dying when about seventy-eight years of age. Lawson Gill and his wife reared eight children,--Sumner, John, Mary J., Sophia, Aaron, Cynthia E., Samantha, and Franklin.
   When his parents removed from Madison County to St. Lawrence County, Sumner Gill was very young. Pioneer conditions and methods still prevailed. There were neither railroads nor canals in the State; and the people were obliged to haul their surplus products to Albany, one hundred miles distant. He was sixteen years old when his parents returned to Madison County; and he continued to reside with them until they went to Iowa, as above narrated, when he began life for himself without indebtedness and without money. After working by the month on the farm for about ten years, he bought a farm in the town of Smithfield, then known as the Wood farm. At the time of his marriage he settled on the farm owned by his father-in-law, and after four years bought a farm in Canastota, upon which he lived four years. Then, selling this farm, he bought his father-in-law's farm, and became one of the most successful farmers and one of the most extensive hop-growers in Madison County. Continuing actively engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1892, he then sold his farm, and removed to Morrisville, where he has since lived a retired life, in dignity, in comfort, and in peace.
   Mr. Gill married in February, 1851, Laverna Brigham, who was born in the town of Smithfield, March 3,1829, and is a daughter of Philander W. Brigham. Her father, born in the same town, was a son of Caleb Wright Brigham, who emigrated from Jaffrey, N .H., his native place, to the State of New York, lived for a time in Oneida County, then became one of the early pioneers of the town of Smithfield, where, securing a tract of timbered land, he improved a farm, upon which he lived until his death. The maiden name of his wife was Martha Blanchard. She was born in Rhode Island, and died on the home farm in Smithfield. The father of Mrs. Gill was reared to agricultural pursuits, engaged in farming in Smithfield until 1865, when he sold his farm and removed to Niagara County, where he still resides, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years. His wife, Eunice Gray, was born in Madison County, and a daughter of Justice Gray and his wife, Lucy Seakins, both natives of New England and pioneers of Smithfield. Mrs. Gray died in that town. Mr. Gray died in the northern part of the State. Mr. and Mrs. Brigham were long very prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal church, Mr. Brigham being a class-leader for many years. In early life, while residing in Madison County, he took a leading part in local affairs. A strong Democrat, he frequently voiced in public his sentiments on both political and religious questions. He is a man whose influence has been felt wherever he has lived.
   Mr. and Mrs. Sumner Gill are the parents of five children,--Franklin B., L. Nora, Edgar D., Eunice A., and Florence G. Mrs. Gill is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and Mr. Gill is a Democrat in political belief. From this brief narrative of an active and successful life it is evident that the subject of this sketch is peculiarly a self-made man. Starting with nothing but his determined purpose and his willing hands, he has, by industry, good management, and judicious economy, accumulated a handsome competency for his declining years. He has always been a loyal and patriotic citizen, cheerfully taking his part in local public affairs, and enjoying satisfaction in the independence and prosperity of his country. In his time he has been an extensive traveller, having visited the States of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, and the Territory of Utah. He possesses to an extended degree the confidence and esteem of his fellow-men, of which he has shown himself in every way worthy.

1999- MadisonCountyNewYork.com All rights reserved.