Cooperstown, Otsego, NY
The subject of this sketch was born in New London, Conn., Feb. 20, 1792. He was reared upon a farm. His father, Jared Comstock, was a representative man in his town, and held the office of justice of the peace for many years, and was deacon of the Congregational church for more than thirty years. Young Jared received such educational advantages as the common schools afforded. When he was twenty-one years of age, he decided to seek a home farther west. In the fall of 1813 he went to Sherburne, Chenango Co., N. Y., where he was prevailed upon to teach he village school. He had previously taught three terms in his native town.
In April, 1814, he came to Otsego County, and settled in the town of Butternuts, where he has since resided. The first few years of his life here were spent as clerk in Bennett's store. He then purchased the clothing works of Nathaniel B. Bennett, and engaged in carding and cloth making. He followed this business for twenty-seven years. Since that time he has lived a retired life, devoting a portion of his time to agricultural pursuits.
Feb. 9, 1829, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Shaw. They were not blessed with children. Mr. and Mrs. Comstock enjoyed life together for thirty-five years. She died June 24, 1864, mourned by a large circle of friends, who had learned to love her for her many Christian virtues, and her memory is fondly cherished by r widowed husband. She was a member of the Congregational church of Butternuts, and an active member of the Ladies Sewing society, which was instituted to aid in supporting the home of the Friendless at New York. Mr. Comstock united with the Congregational church in Janaury, 1817, and has ever since taken an active interest in the case of his Master. He was instrumental in organizing the first Sunday-school in Butternuts, and drafted the articles of agreement for the same. Miss Williams and himself were the first teachers. He has been clerk of the church twenty-five years, and has done much to foster church and educational interests. He can truly say that life has been a success with him. He has been a constant subscriber of the New York Evangelist since its first publication, nearly fifty years.
He has lived in his present residence since January, 1829, which was built by himself. Mr. Comstock has been a Republican since the organization of the party.
To such men belong the honor of our fine church edifices, the establishment of schools, and the present state of society.
Oliver Judd was a lineal descendant of Deacon Thomas Judd, who came from England in 1633, settled at Cambridge, Mass., removed to Hartford, Conn., in 1638, and to Farmington in 1644.
He was born in New Britain, Conn., June 9, 1782. In early life he learned the trade of a blacksmith, in company with Elihu Burritt, serving a seven years' apprenticeship to an uncle. In march, 1804, he married, and, with others, came directly here, where he resided until his death, which occurred Nov. 24, 1859. In addition to iron work, he engaged in the manufacture of sleigh bells, and of brass work generally; was interested, with others, in making clocks, jewelry, and saddlery. During the war of 1812 he manufactured largely harness and saddlery trimmings. In 1823 he established an iron foundry, which is still carried on by his son. elected a magistrate in 1816, he held the office for twenty-one years, declining longer service on account of other engagements. In 1816, and again 1825, he was a representative in the State Legislature from this county. Was postmaster during the administration of John Quincy Adams.
On the opening of the Erie canal and subsequent building of a railroad through the Mohawk valley, he was untiring in his efforts to secure better communications with those thoroughfares. Numerous explorations and surveys were made looking to the building of a railroad; but the grades and work were found to be too heavy to be practicable. A plank road was built leading to both Canajoharie and Fort Plain.
The records of school district No. 3, and the Cherry valley academy, attest his activity in educational matters.
Undemonstrative and retiring, making no pretensions or professions, his whole life was one of upright ness and integrity. Singularly correct in his judgments and decisions, his opinions were highly valued and continually sought in matters of both a public and private character.
In his office of magistrate he was notorious as a -peacemaker, constantly adjusting difference with a trial. In so doing he often innocently thwarted the ambitious schemes of a troop of your lawyers, to say nothing of older ones, with which the locality abounded.
On the question of the use of strong drink he early took a stand resulting in a life of perfect sobriety.
When first elected justice of the peace, it was the custom to hold courts for trials at a public-house, where, of course, the fashion of the day called for a great deal of social drinking, in which lawyers and magistrates naturally took part.
Being satisfied that the social drinking habits of the people lay at the foundation of intemperance, he declared that he would neither treat nor be treated. He also abolished among his own workmen the social sprees then so prevalent in all manufactorie. This trait shows itself at the present day in his descendants, who are among he most active in the temperance cause. His public spirit and patriotism also appear to have descended.
Of eight children old enough and qualified to enter the army at the breaking out of the late rebellion, six went into the service as volunteers. Two of them were killed.
The positive, independent characteristics of his mind showed themselves in his religious views.
Growing up under New England orthodox regimes, and having established decided opinions in regard to the character and beatitudes of his heavenly father, his thoughtful mind discerned what to him seemed glaring inconsistencies with those opinions in some of the so-called essential doctrines of the church societies o the day. He became, and continued for the last fifty years of his life, decidedly Unitarian in sentiment, esteeming churches and creeds, forms and ceremonies, faiths and professions of value only as they contributed to righteousness of character. Notwithstanding this he gave his constant attendance and support to the Presbyterian church in this place; and on the occasion of their building a new house of worship, in 1827, was one of three selected for their building committee. (The History of Otsego, NY, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)
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Transcribed by Holice B. Young
Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young
December 24, 1999