NORTON A. BLISS, a prominent and influential agriculturist of Madison County, thoroughly identified with its business and industrial interests, is a valuable resident of the town of Smithfield, which is the place of his nativity, 1843 having been the year of his birth. The Bliss family, as far as we can trace back the ancestry, were of New England origin. Ephraim Bliss, grandfather of our subject, was born in Massachusetts, and there grew to maturity and married. He subsequently came to Madison County, and, buying a tract of land lying in Smithfield, began to clear a farm.
The soil was unbroken and heavily timbered. Wild game was abundant, and formed a large part of the subsistence of the family. Indians were numerous, and made frequent calls at the log cabin in which the family dwelt. He improved a good farm, and died on the old homestead, at the age of sixty-three years. To him and his wife were born five children, three boys and two girls, all of whom are now deceased.
Lyman Bliss, son of Ephraim and father of Norton, was a native of Smithfield, having been born and reared on the old home farm, where his death afterward took place. He assisted his father in tilling the soil and improving the farm, watching the rapid development of this part of the country from a sparsely inhabited forest to a populous and growing town. He was a practical and progressive farmer; and, after becoming owner of the old homestead, he added more land by purchase, until he was the possessor of three hundred acres. He was very successful in raising sheep, owning sometimes three hundred head of merinos, and realized large profits from the sales of wool. He also carried on general farming on an extensive scale. He married Anna Chaffee, who, like himself, was a prominent member of the Presbyterian church. Both are now dead, he having passed away at the age of seventy-three years, and she when sixty-eight years old. They reared a family of nine children, seven sons and two daughters, six of whom are now living. Joseph lives in Smithfield. Dr. Lyman is a physician in Michigan. Aaron lives in Saginaw, Mich. Marcia married Silas W. Tyler, of Saginaw, Mich. Norton A. lives in Smithfield. The Bliss Brothers, of Michigan, are well known. They have made a fortune in the lumber business, and are numbered among the influential and prominent citizens of that State. Three of the sons served in the army during the late Civil War: Leuman, now deceased, was Chaplain; Dr. Lyman served as Surgeon; and Aaron entered the Tenth New York Cavalry as First Lieutenant, and was afterward promoted to the rank of Captain. He has recently presented to the soldiers of Madison County a handsome monument, which is located in Peterboro, and was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies July 4, 1893. Mr. Lyman Bliss was a Republican, and was for many years Captain of the State militia.
Norton A. Bliss, the subject of our sketch, was the youngest child born to his parents. He was reared to agricultural pursuits, and received his education in the district schools of his native town and in the Peterboro Academy. He remained at home, assisting his father in the labors of the farm, until he was one-and-twenty years of age. At that time he began life in earnest, purchasing a farm of ninety-five acres, on which he soon after settled with his bride, to whom he was married January 27, 1863, and who became the mother of two children, a son and a daughter. The maiden name of Mrs. Bliss was Sally M. Brown. She was born in Stockbridge, being a daughter of Philander M. and Cordelia (Haxton) Brown, both of whom are now deceased. Mr. Bliss managed this farm profitably for a number of years, and in 1877 sold it and bought the one he now owns and occupies. This farm consists of two hundred acres, which he has improved and cultivated industriously for many years; and it is now a valuable and productive estate. In addition to general agriculture, our subject is an extensive stock-raiser, and has a fine dairy of twenty-five cows of the Holstein breed, which are exceptionally well cared for. Everything about the place is indicative of the enterprise and excellent management of the proprietor, the buildings being substantial and convenient, the machinery being kept in good repair; and it is hardly necessary to add that Norton A. Bliss is a thorough-going business man, prospering in all he undertakes. Politically, he is a wide-awake Republican. He has served as a member of the Board of Excise. His only son, Eli J., born June 18, 1866, now carries on the home farm. The daughter, Mary W., born October 29, 1869, is the wife of John Warner, of Lenox.
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