In 1818 eight year old Marvin Older arrived with
his family. His story is perhaps best told by his obituary which is quoted from The
Chronicle, the local newspaper, for the week ending Friday, March 12, 1897. It should be
noted, however, that the editor of the paper at that time took much of this from a book
titled The History of Cattaraugus County. This is made even more interesting by the fact
that many of the biographical sketches which appear in that volume were the work of Marvin
Older who wielded a mighty pen!
"The death of Marvin Older occurred at his late home on Pine Street
last Monday morning. The cause of his death was principally due to his
old age. Deceased was well known throughout this section. He had lived in
this place longer than any other person.
In 1886 Mr. & Mrs. Older celebrated their golden wedding and the
deceased often referred to that occasion with pleasure. He is survived
by his widow age 81 and three daughters.
Marvin Older was born at Middletown, Delaware County, N. Y. August
22, 1810. We can do no better in placing before our readers the events
of his life than by publishing excerpts from an autobiography written
some 15 years ago and in which he interestingly tells of the many
incidents of his long career as a resident of Franklinville - a resident
who has seen the town pass from the primitive log cabin period of 75
years ago to the progressive town of today.
'In 1815 when I was five years of age, my parents, with their
family, removed to Onondaga County,
where they remained three years. There nothing pertinent to this narrative transpired,
save that I invariably stood at the head of my class in the district school from the fact
that there were two in the class, and one of them at least was lamentably underwitted.
On the 16th of July, 1818, at the age of eight years I, with a
number of other kindred household appendages, was unloaded from an emigrant wagon by the
side of a welling spring in the midst of an unbroken forest and growing herbage on the
northeast corner of lot 25, township 5, range 4 of the Holland Land Company's Purchase.
This location was then in the original town of Ischua which at that
comprised nearly the entire north half of Cattaraugus County. It is now
within the limits of the town of Farmersville, one and a half miles northeast of the
village of Franklinville and is known by the ungeographical name of Older Hill. Here, with
one school house in the whole county, the struggle for intellectual manhood commenced.
Deprived of the privilege of attending school, home study became a
passion as well as a necessity, and many an obscure problem has yielded
up its secrets to the mysterious tracery of a piece of chalk upon the head of a newly
finished potash barrel.
My father was a cooper and to the old shop with its conspicuous
fireplace and piles of illuminating fagots, I look back with pride as an
institution of learning where intellectual genius was developed that,
feeble though they might be, are scarcely outreached by the boundaries
of American civilization.
Though I did not "o'er books consume the midnight oil",
yet the glow from the old fireplace has illuminated many a page, the contents of which are
ineffaceably engraven upon my memory. By no means would I have the reader suppose that I
was always a nice boy, but that where artful mischief lay concealed I was generally near
by, the whip and ferule generally reaching another, when if blundering
justice had not been blind she should have awarded the prize to me. But
through my forbearance I bore the loss without a murmur and was never
mean enough to taunt the recipient with receiving awards that properly
belonged to me.
From the age of 13 to 15 years I attended the district school in
the old log school house which stood a short distance north of the
village of Franklinville, two months to Miss Lizzie Moore (since then
Mrs. Smith of Hinsdale) and subsequently eleven and a half days to
Eleazer Perkins, and thus rounded off as an accomplished scholar of the
period. I entered the list in the strife for eminence in the capacity of
a country pedagogue. In the autumn of 1828 at the age of eighteen years
I entered upon the responsible duties of a teacher and at intervals both
summer and winter followed the profession through a period of forty
years, having taught in all what is equal to a period of fifteen years
without recess or vacation.
On the 17th day of July, 1836 I was married to Dianthia T.
of East Bloomfield, Ontario Co., who was
born in the town of Sullivan,
Madison Co., February 23, 1816. By this
marriage have been born four sons and six daughters, the eldest of whom (a son) died in
Of the other sons Robert E. Older and William
M. Older served in
the Army during the war of the rebellion, the former of whom was killed
near Petersburg, Va. June 18, 1864 and the latter was wounded and
captured in the valley of the Shenandoah and died of starvation in the
prison pen in Andersonville, Ga. August 22, 1864. The remaining son Wallace M. Older died
at Franklinville December 24, 1878. Of the six daughters, five are or have been teachers
of good repute and all are respectable, married and comfortably situated in life.
On the 24th day of October, 1861 I enlisted in the cavalry service
of the country and was assigned to Company I of the 6th New York
Volunteer Cavalry. After a brief period of camp drill at Staten
Island, N. Y. the regiment was sent to the front early in the summer of
1862 and successively followed the fortunes of Gen. Pleasonton, Sherman,
Averill, Custer, and Sheridan, and each individual was a personal actor
in the great drama performed by the Army of the Potomac.
Soon after the organization of the regiment I was detailed on extra
duty as clerk in the quartermaster's and commissary's departments in the
field, later being detailed as in the ordinance department and for
merit was promoted to the first rank in the office, and the order of
detail was made permanent by the indorsement of the Secretary of War, in
which position I remained until the close of the term of my enlistment,
when I returned to my family a poor battered time worn veteran of the
My life has been one of varied experiences. I have held official
positions and have carried the hod; I have been at the head of literary
associations, and have delved in the sewer; have sat in polite circles
and drank poor whiskey in the lowest grog shops; I have written
high toned moral articles for the public press and lampooned vice in
ribald verse. In fact my life has been one of inconsistencies;
intellectually a fair success; pecuniarily a total failure. Whiskey and
tobacco have been my masters, but of late years I have chewed the latter
and eschewed the former. I have written epitaphs for the dead and
biographies for the living at the imminent risk of sacrificing my self
repect for veracity or respect of others as a popular author."