PERRY WILLARD, a man of upward of threescore years and ten, who has worked diligently at several trades, and has now for some years successfully managed a farm in Canastota, where he lives, was born near Paris Hill, Oneida County, in 1819. The recital of changes that he has observed during his long and useful life, if made with strict and literal fidelity, would read like a fairy tale. Mr. Willard was born in the same year that the first steamship crossed the Atlantic Ocean, before the Erie Canal was constructed, and ten years before the first trip of the first locomotive in the United States--the Stourbridge Lion, at Honesdale, Pa., August 8, 1829. He was twenty-five years old when Professor Morse successfully established telegraphic communication between Baltimore and Washington in 1844--the first telegraph line in the United States, if not in the world.
Anson Willard, father of Perry, a native of the same county, was born about
1784, and died when seventy years of age. The father of Anson Willard was Lewis Willard, a farmer by occupation, and prosperous, who died in Madison County, near South Bay, Oneida Lake, in 1828, when seventy years of age. Anson Willard, who was the only child of his parents, married Lucretia Baker, of Oneida County, by whom he had seven sons and three daughters, all of whom grew to mature years; and all married except two of the daughters. Those of this family who are still living are as follows: Jane, widow of John Palmer, of Kansas; Dubartus, a farmer of Kansas; and the subject of this sketch, who is the eldest of the three. Anson Willard died in Wisconsin about the
year 1854. His widow survived him until 1886, retaining her mental faculties to a remarkable degree, dying at the home of her daughter in Kansas, at the age of ninety-one. She and her husband were of the "plain people," estimable, useful citizens, and were consistent members of the Universalist church.
Perry Willard was reared on the home farm until he reached his fifteenth year, when he was bound out to a Mr. Knowles, of Chittenango, to learn the trade of carding and dressing cloth and the manufacture of lead pipe, serving an apprenticeship of five years. At the end of this period he became engaged in a large cloth manufactory, remaining there five years. Being a natural mechanical genius, very handy with tools, he has done a great deal of carpenter work, one of his last jobs being the erection of his own fine farm residence, which he built in 1889 and 1890. The farm on which he now lives he purchased in 1881, paying therefor fifty dollars per acre. His principal crop on this farm is hay, of which he cuts annually from seventy-five to one hundred tons, the yield averaging two tons per acre, though some acres yield as high as three tons. He also raises from two to four acres of onions, his rich, reclaimed swamp lands being especially well adapted to this vegetable and to celery. Of onions he has raised in one year as many as one thousand two hundred bushels; and he has recently built a house, eighteen by thirty-two feet in size, in which to cure his onions, the house having a capacity of two thousand bushels. Mr. Willard is as thorough and neat a farmer as is often seen, though on account of his age he is now practically retired. The butter made on his farm is sold directly to the consumers.
Mr. and Mrs. Willard have one child, a daughter, Fidelia, Mrs. David Bender. She and her husband and their two sons, Willard, sixteen years of age, and Freddie, fourteen, live at the parental home, and now take the principal charge of the farm, the boys working on the farm in summer and attending
school in the winter. Mrs. Willard is a daughter of Stephen and Marmora Root Herrick, the former of Dutchess County, and the latter of Delaware County. Mrs. Herrick died in 1877, aged sixty-three years, her husband having died in 1871, at the age of ninety-one years. Mrs. Willard has three brothers living, namely: Alanson Herrick, a farmer of the town of Lenox, aged eighty; Henry, of Canaseraga, who served his country three years during the Civil War, is now seventy-four years old, and has two daughters and one son; and Dennison, a mechanic, who has one daughter. Mr. Willard built his present fine barns--one thirty by seventy-two feet in size, the other thirty by fifty-six himself. In politics Mr. Willard is a Republican, and in religion a member of the Universalist church. He has always been an active, hard-working man, honest and upright in his dealings with his fellow-men, and is passing the declining years of his long and useful life in the consciousness of having been true to all his obligations, so far as has lain in his power, which is as much as any man need wish to say when his life is drawing near its close.
MadisonCountyNewYork.com All rights