JOSEPH J. BURTON, a veteran agriculturist of Madison County, one of the best authorities for its history, was born July 7,
1814, in the town of Nelson, son of Charles and Patience (Freeborn) Burton. In 1793,
one hundred years ago, Charles Burton and wife left their native State, Rhode Island, and came to what is now the town of Nelson, Madison County, N.Y. He secured a tract of one hundred acres of wild land, which he soon increased to one hundred and seventy acres. To this, the original homestead, he added another farm of two hundred and fifty acres, now occupied by his son Joseph. When the father and mother first arrived in this county, much of it was primeval forest, and timber of centuries of growth felt for the first time the keen edge of the woodman's axe. The wild denizens of these woods were the only inhabitants; and there is a tradition in the family that one of the sons, David by name, was chased by a savage bear, and only saved himself by. creeping into a hollow log, where he remained until rescued by his father.
Charles Burton became one of the leading men of his town, being one of the first to keep a dairy and to set out a hop-yard. He was also a dealer in sheep, having as many as six hundred head at a time, and raised other valuable stock. He was ably assisted in his work by his wife, who was a typical pioneer woman, and bore her full share in the hardships and active toils incidental to the life of these early settlers. They had ten children, of whom the subject of this sketch is the only one now living. Their names were Freeborn F., David, Calvin, Joseph J., Phebe, Alma, Olive, Electa, Nancy, and Jane. The father was drafted, and served his country as a soldier in the War of 1812. He was a Democrat in politics. He died at the age of sixty-six years, and the mother at the age of seventy-nine.
Joseph, fourth son of this pioneer family, was reared in the vicinity of the town of Nelson; and his educational advantages were limited to the district schools. He remained at home, assisting in the management of the farm and taking a part in the business therewith connected, until the death of his parents. He married in 1845 Miss Betsey Sharder, who was born in Cicero, Oswego County, N.Y., daughter of John and Nancy Sharder. At the time of his marriage he moved to the farm he still owns and occupies. By purchases of land he has added to his home about three hundred acres. Besides doing general farming, he has been one of the largest breeders of live stock in the town of Nelson, raising for the last three years nearly four hundred head of sheep. In connection with this he runs a dairy, preferring Durham cows. By well-directed industry he has built up a most successful business, and in conducting it is now ably assisted by his son.
To Mr. and Mrs. Burton were born six children: Ellen, living at home; Emma, Mary Jane, Amanda, Charles, David, all married. The mother died in 1873, at the age of fifty-three. She was a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Mr. Burton in his political opinions agrees with the Democratic party, with which he casts his vote. This gentleman is one of the substantial, well-to-do citizens of the county, and has long been prominently identified with the development of the town of Nelson. He is now enjoying the fruits of his early begun and long continued labors, and spending his life in ease, holding an honorable position in the community.
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