JOHN TERWILLIGER was born on February 24,1827, in Albany County, eldest son of George and Nancy (Coughtry) Terwilliger, both natives of that county, as was also his paternal grandfather, Simon Terwilliger, who served as a teamster in the Revolutionary War. While Albany County was the home of the veteran during
the greater part of his life, he died, at the age of seventy-nine years, in Onondaga County. His wife, whose maiden name was Jane Coon,
died when she was seventy-five years old, having reared eight children. George Terwilliger was a carpenter, and also a farmer. He moved in 1834 to the town of Cicero, Onondaga County, where he bought a farm, on which he lived for forty years. He died in Madison County at the age of eighty-six years, his wife at the age of sixty-
five. Eight children had been born to them, six sons and two daughters, of whom five are now living: John, the subject of the present sketch, a resident of Sullivan; Elizabeth (Mrs. George Town) and Jane (Mrs. John Edgerton), residing in Michigan; James, who died in the late war at Andersonville Prison in 1864; Henry, who died in 1869, leaving a wife and one child; William, living in Indiana; Richard, who died in the service during the Civil War; Stanley, residing at
Manlius Station, Onondaga County. The father was a Republican in politics, and the family were Presbyterian in religion.
John Terwilliger left Albany County when he was about seven years of age, moving with his father to Onondaga County. In this sparsely settled section of the country the district school was a log cabin, with its puncheon floor and rough benches--a striking contrast to the elegant buildings which are now erected for the youthful scholar. He
had to trudge many miles to acquire the simple rudiments of learning, and marvellous were the adventures of the urchins who were "treed by a bear" or scared by an Indian as they journeyed through the woods. Simple and frugal were the manners and customs of those days. The mother was cook, nurse, weaver, and tailor for the family; and our
subject was eighteen years of age before ever he wore a suit of "store clothes." When he
was twenty-five years of age, he started out to work for himself; and, as salt-making was the principal industry of Onondaga County, he
became a cooper, and was a long while employed in the making of salt-barrels.
The first piece of land bought by him was a tract of twenty-five acres in the town of Cicero, which he sold shortly afterward, and in 1866 purchased the farm of one hundred and forty acres which he now owns and occupies. He has increased this to one hundred and sixty-five acres, on which he raises wheat, oats, corn, and hay. He gives a great deal
of attention to stock-raising, and in his dairy work, prefers Holstein cattle. Mr. Terwilliger's buildings stand on the spot mentioned in Mrs. Hammond's "History of Madison County" as the site of the palisade enclosure where in 1780 a band of Tories and Indians who had come from Canada on a marauding expedition left a guard to protect their boats filled with stores, which they had moored in the creek near by, while they went on, and, under command of Johnson, Butler and Brant, burned Schoharie. Captain Vrooman, acting under the orders of General Van Rensselaer, hastening to this old fort with a small body of men, captured the guards and sank the boats, but was himself, with his prisoners, surprised
and taken by a detachment of Butler's rangers, and marched off to Canada.
The marriage of John Terwilliger and Miss Margaret Morrison took place in 1853. She was born in the town of Cicero, Onondaga County, N.Y., January
29, 1836. Her parents, Archibald and Sarah (Conway) Morrison, are natives of Washington County, the father having been born in 1811 and the mother in 1817. Their only child is Mrs.
Terwilliger. Mr. Morrison is a carpenter, and has always followed the trade. He is an ardent Republican, and has never missed an election.
Mr. and Mrs. Terwilliger have two children. Sarah, who resides at home, was born in 1858. Arthur, born in 1854, is married, and with his wife and only son, named John Howard, resides on a part of the home farm.
Mr. Terwilliger is a strong Republican in his political ideas, and unflinchingly supports his party in every election campaign. He has been Commissioner of Highways and Collector in the town of Manlius, and is a stirring, active worker in the district. In the Masonic Order he is a member of Sullivan Lodge, No. 148, F. & A. M. He is a prominent and deservedly esteemed citizen of his county. By reason of his many years in this region he is fully conversant with its history, and, having keen observation and a fine memory, is a delightful mine of information to those wishing to learn of the days that are gone. He and his wife, in their upright and Christian lives, are a beautiful example to the generation around them; and the earnest wish of their fellow-citizens is that they may be spared long in the land.
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