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Williams County, Ohio
History & Genealogy




Source #3
Commemorative Biographical Records
Northwestern Ohio

including the counties of
Defiance, Henry, Williams & Fulton.
Published at Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co.


     This deceased gentleman was for twenty years a leading citizen of Bryan, Williams county, and few men have played as influential a part in the development of varied interests of that locality as was sustained by him.  Possessing a keen and sagacious mind, with a wide knowledge of men and affairs, his advice and co-operation were sought in every important measure and undertaking, whether financial, political, or a social, and he was always found ready to promote the best interests of the community.  His unexpected death on June 22, 1895, caused sincere grief among all classes, and on the day of his funeral the entire business of the town was suspended during the solemn services which which consigned his mortal remains to earth.  Words can give but an imperfect idea of the personality of such a man, but the following brief memoir will serve to preserve for future generations a slight record of his achievements.
     Mr. Eaton was born July 26, 1847, near Ridgeway, Lenawee county, Michigan.  On the paternal side he was of English descent, while on the maternal side he was of French lineage, the line being traced to an ancestor who came to America about 1636.  From the latter date the family records have been carefully kept, and show that in every generation descendants of this pioneer have been prominent as politicians, statesmen, financiers, merchants, and in the professions, while members of the family served as soldiers in the Revolution, in the war of 1812, and in the Civil war.  The name is variously spelled, one branch of the family being known as Heaton.  James Eaton, the grandfather of our subject, was born Feb. 12, 1771, at Tunbridge, Orange county, Vermont, and married Mary Brockelbank, a lady of Scotch descent.  Their son, Christopher Columbus Eaton, our subject's father was born November 3, 1810, and was married Dec. 24, 1835 to Eleanor Lamberson, who was born August 25, 1817.
     Mr. Eaton's boyhood was spent upon his father's farm at Ridgeway, Michigan, and, like most farmers' sons, he had ample opportunity to gain a practical knowledge of agricultural work.  His remarkable ability as a manager was manifested at an early age, resulting in the farm being placed entirely in his charge, and his well-directed efforts enabled him to speedily pay off a long-standing mortgage.  After leaving home he studied for a time in the State Agricultural College at Lansing, Michigan, teaching between terms in order to pay his way.  In 1870, at the end of the junior year, he left school, and going to Colorado, he entered one hundred and sixty acres of government land, where he applied his skill and knowledge of agricultural science so effectually that, with equal advantages, he made that pay much better than other farms in the same locality.  In connection with his farm work he became a professional surveyor and carried on a real estate business, having an office in Greeley, Colorado.  During this time he also read law, and, although he was never admitted to the Bar his knowledge of the legal principals bearing upon general business procedure was of inestimable value to him throughout his subsequent career.
     On Nov. 5, 1873, he was married at Tecumseh, Michigan, to Mrs. Harriet Morrison, née Wilber, and in 1875 he made his permanent home at Bryan, Williams county.  His strong personality and capacity for leadership quickly brought him into prominence.  In 1878 he was elected cashier of the First National Bank of that city, and so ably did he perform the duties of this responsible post that he was later chosen to the office of vice-president, and then to the presidency of the institution, a position which he was holding at the time of his death.  Under his management the bank enjoyed great prosperity, his judgment being equal to all emergencies.  While he was scrupulously exact in his business dealings he was always urbane and courteous, his affability being especially noticeable in social and domestic circles.  His home life was ideal, and in that beloved retreat from business cares he was ever a loyally devoted husband and a kind and indulgent father, his chief happiness being found in ministering to the comfort and pleasure of his family.
     Politically he was an ardent Republican, and in 1877 he was appointed postmaster at Bryan in recognition of his influence.  He was frequently chosen to represent his fellow-workers in the conventions of the party, serving as a delegate in the National Convention of 1892, and his death occurred at Cleveland, Ohio, while he was attending an important session of the National Republican League.  On Wednesday, June 19, 1895, while talking with others of the pleasure which he anticipated in listening to the speeches about to be made in the convention, he was suddenly stricken and cerebral hemorrhage, and, his wife and stepdaughter, Miss Olive L. Morrison, being summoned by telegraph, arrived in time to converse with him and to be present at his bedside on Saturday, the 22d, when the brave and loyal spirit departed to the home above.  His only son, Oscar Seaborn Eaton, survives him, and resides with his widowed mother at the homestead in Bryan.
Source: Commemorative Biographical Records of Northwestern Ohio including the counties of Defiance, Henry, Williams & Fulton.  Published at Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co. 1899  - Page 99
  HON. LAFAYETTE G. ELY.   In the western part of Franklin township, Fulton county, is the excellent farm and elegant home of the Hon. Lafayette G. Ely, a man well known throughout this county and northwestern Ohio, as a successful farmer, a thorough-going business man, a trusted public servant, and a man of strict integrity and moral worth.
     All this is said of him by many persons whose acquaintance with Mr. Ely is of long standing.  The father and mother of our subject were natives of Pennsylvania, but at the time of their marriage were residents of Morrow county, Ohio, (then Knox county), and our subject was born in that part of Knox county which afterward became a part of Morrow county.  In his father's family were eleven children, of these Lafayette Gilbert Ely was the eldest, he being born on the 3d day of April, 1834.  Of these children but seven grew to manhood and womanhood.  George Ely was the youngest of those that reached man's estate.  He enlisted in the service of his country, was a non-commissioned officer in Company C, of the One Hundredth Ohio Infantry, and was killed at Atlanta, Georgia, during Sherman's memorable campaign.
     GEORGE ELY, senior, the father of Lafayette G., was the son of Asher Ely, who was of the fifth generation from Joshua Ely, one of the Puritans of New Jersey, and who died at an advanced age in 1704.  Asher Ely was born in New Jersey in 1788, and with his parents moved to Pennsylvania in 1795.  He was a soldier in the war of 1812-15.  In 1826 he moved to Knox county (now Morrow), Ohio, where George Ely was married, and where our subject was born.  In the year 1835 the father, George Ely, and his wife, Elizabeth (Folck) Ely, and their first born, Lafayette G., then one year old, became residents of Williams county, Ohio and were among the very earliest pioneers of that locality.  Mr. Ely (George) was prominent in the improvement and development of that county.  He assisted in the organization of Brady township, voting at the first election held therein; and to him belongs much of the credit of its early improvement and development.  George Ely, at the age of seventy-eight years, died upon the farm that he hewed out of the wilderness, and a little later his wife followed, both being highly esteemed by all who knew them.
     The life of Lafayette G. Ely, up to the age of twenty-three, was spent upon his father's farm, and in attending school.  After he was eighteen he worked upon the farm during the farming season, and taught school in the winters.  The early education of this family was by no means neglected, and while their father was unable to provide each with a home, when they reached man's estate he saw to it that the means and ability of earning a home was furnished, in teaching them industry, frugality and economy.  This is well shown in the life and success of our subject.
     On the 12th day of November, 1857, Lafayette G. Ely was united in marriage with Sarah S. Masters, the eldest daughter of the Hon. Ezekiel Masters, of Franklin township, and in the same year this young couple, with little financial means, but full of hope and energy, became residents of that township.
     From that time Mr. Ely has continually resided in Fulton county, and his association with its civil and political growth is so well known as to require but brief mention in these pages, and in the township of his residence there lives no man who does not enjoy his acquaintance.  His beginning here was necessarily small, for his means were limited; but the visitor at his present home is at once struck, not only with the attractiveness of its surroundings, the large and comfortable dwelling and out-buildings, but with the evidence of thrift and prosperity that everywhere around him prevail.
     His farm is known as one of the best and most productive of the county, and now consists of about two hundred acres.  From his farm can be seen the home of his boyhood days.  The noble and devoted wife of Mr. Ely shared with her husband in the toil and economy that made this comfortable home; she bore him four children, all of whom are now living, and have married and settled within a few miles of their fathers home.  The family were two sons and two daughters, and upon their marriage they were each quite liberally provided for, in a financial way, by their father.
     After a congenial and most pleasant married life of nearly thirty years, Mrs. Sarah Ely, the wife and mother, on the 16th day of May, 1885, answered the Master's call.  She was a most loving and devoted wife and mother, an excellent neighbor, and a faithful worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which from her childhood she was a member, and in the teachings of which she had carefully reared her children.  For nearly two years Mr. Ely lived a widower.  He was again married, on the 30th of December, 1886, this time to Mrs. Mary H. Wood, a most worthy lady and a prominent teacher in the schools of Fremont, Ohio.
     Lafayette G. Ely has been a resident and successful farmer of Franklin township for upward of forty years, and while in the main he has been devoted to agricultural life, he has found time to participate in the events of the political world to some extent, and although he cannot be classed with the politician and office-seeker, he has taken deep interest in the civil and political welfare of his county and State.  In the earlier days of his residence in the county he held several offices of his township.  In 1859 he was elected justice of the peace, which office he filled for twelve successive years.
     In 1871 he was elected auditor of his county, and twice re-elected holding this important and responsible office six years.  Each renomination was by acclamation, and each re-election by increased majorities, the last being much the largest, which indicated his popularity as a public servant.  During the six years that he was the fiscal officer of the county he maintained a temporary domicile, at the county seat, but other than this he has resided upon his farm.  In 1891 Mr. Ely was elected Representative in the General Assembly of Ohio from his county, and re-elected in 1893, filling this position four years.  During the four years he was a member of the Finance committee of the House, the most important and responsible committee of the Assembly.  He also served upon various other committees.  He was the author of a special interest in all legislation pertaining to the agricultural interests of the State, so much so that in this particular he was recognized as one of the leaders.
     Just prior to the election of Mr. Ely to the Legislature, he had served two years as a member of the State Board of Agriculture, and at the close of his term in the Legislature he was again elected a member of the State Board of Agriculture.  He is serving his fifth year upon this board, and is now its vice-president.  His term will expire in 1900.
     From the time that Mr. Ely chose farming for his principal occupation he has always manifested a lively interest in agriculture, and for forty years he has been a member of the Agricultural Society of his county; and has been a member of the County Board of Agriculture for the past twenty years, is its president at this time and has been for fifteen successive years.  He has always labored to elevate the standard of agriculture, and sought to instill into the minds of the farmers and their families a true and commendable pride and love for their occupation and calling, and to his earnest, faithful and conscientious endeavor in this direction may be ascribed no small share of credit for the high standard to which agricultural education and development have attained in Fulton county.
     When about eighteen years of age Mr. Ely connected himself with the Methodist Episcopal Church, to the faith of which he has constantly adhered, although he is no strict sectarian, as his contributions to many worthy causes outside his own society will fully attest.  All share his bounty and enjoy the benefits of his liberality and generosity, no worthy charity ever appealing to him in vain.  Mr. Ely has likewise always been a friend to the young people around him, and shown a deep interest in their education and welfare, and his library, one of the largest and most complete in the county, has always been open to the free use of his numerous warm friends among the young people.
     Mr. Ely is one of those persons who feel strongly attached to their children, and he manifests a constant and deep interest in their financial, social and moral welfare, feeling himself, however, amply rewarded for all his labor of love in their behalf in the full consciousness and realization of their appreciation and return of love and obedience as shown in their lives and their close and constant attention to his welfare and happiness.
Source: Commemorative Biographical Records of Northwestern Ohio including the counties of Defiance, Henry, Williams & Fulton.  Published at Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co. 1899  - Page  44
  OREN ELBRIDGE ENSIGN.  Fortunate is he who has back of him an ancestry honorable and distinguished, and happy is he if his lines of life are cast in harmony therewith.  Our subject is blessed in this respect, for he springs from a prominent family, which was early founded in Ohio.  His paternal grandfather, William Ensign, was a native of Massachusetts, served in the Revolutionary War, and died in Madison, Lake county, Ohio, at an advanced age.
     Oren Ensign, our subject's father, was born in 1785, in Pittsfield, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, where he grew to manhood, but at a very early day in the history of this State he became a resident of Lake county, Ohio where he married Nancy Pepoon, who is born in Hartford, Connecticut, about 1795, a daughter of Lewis Peopoon, who served with distinction as a captain in the Revolutionary war.  After his marriage, Oren Ensign, Sr., located on a farm near Painesville, in Lake county, Ohio, where he continued to live until his removal to Farmer township, Defiance county, about 1836.  His death occurred there in the autumn of 1857, and several years afterward his widow went to Wisconsin to live with her eldest son, dying in Beloit, that State, at the age of seventy-five years.  Our subject is the youngest in the family, the others being William O., who also died in Beloit, Wisconsin, during the early '70's, when about sixty-five years of age; Henry A., a physician, who died in Nevada, Missouri, at the age of sixty; Dwight P., who died in Farmer township, Defiance county, Ohio, at the age of sixty-nine; and Francis E., a prominent attorney and judge living in Idaho.
     Mr. Ensign, whose name introduces this sketch, was born in Painesville, Lake county, Ohio, November 29, 1831, and was five years old when taken by his parents to their new home in Farmer township, Defiance county, where he grew to manhood.  During early life he successfully engaged in teaching school in Farmer township for eight winters, and was similarly employed for one winter in Center township, Williams county.  He had received a good common-school education, and also attended the Academy in Painesville for six months.
     For two years (in 1854 and 1855) he was employed as foreman on the Air Line railroad (the L. S. & M. S.), and for one year was freight agent at Edgerton, Williams county.  After leaving the employ of the railroad he purchased the farm of one hundred and eighty acres in Section 36, Center township, Williams county, where he now lives, a portion of which had been bequeathed to him by his father.  Since 1857 he has devoted his attention to agricultural pursuits, and has met with a well-deserved success in his undertakings.
     On April 9, 1857, in Toledo, Ohio, Mr. Ensign married Miss Clarissa L. Dunkle, a native of New York, born near Canadaigua, June 13, 1839.  She is a daughter of Charles and Minerva (Coller) Dunkle, the latter of whom died in Center township, Williams county, Ohio, late in the '50's.  Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Ensign, namely:  Marvin A., who died at the age of two and a half years; Albert E., who was only twenty-four days old at the time of his death; Clara E., who is now the wife of Matus R. Scott, of Center township, Williams county; and Adda R., wife of John Woods, of Center township, Williams county.
     In politics Mr. Ensign is an ardent Republican; is an earnest Christian gentleman, a faithful member of the United Brethren Church, and takes an active part in all Church work, having filled many important places of trust in the Church.  Over his life record there falls no shadow of wrong, his public service was most exemplary, and his private life has been marked by the utmost fidelity to duty.  Prior to his leaving the L. S. & M. S. R. R. service, his father gave him a farm in Center township, Williams county, with the understanding that he (our subject) should pay to the other heirs a specified sum of money.
Source: Commemorative Biographical Records of Northwestern Ohio including the counties of Defiance, Henry, Williams & Fulton.  Published at Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co. 1899  - Page 357





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