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Biography of Rev. Joshua Leonard (1769 to 1848)
Re-union of the Sons and Daughters of the Old Town of Pompey,
Held at Pompey Hill, June 29, 1871
published by Courier Printing Co. Syracuse, NY
Daniel H. Weiskotten
Click Here to Return to the Cazenovia/Fenner/Nelson Biography Page
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From: (Pompey Reunion Committee) 1875 Re-union of the Sons and Daughters of the Old Town of Pompey, Held at Pompey Hill, June 29, 1871. Courier Printing Co. Syracuse, NY

pages 329 to 332

compiled by Luther R. Marsh

        Rev. Joshua Leonard was a conspicuous feature in the early history of his town (Pompey, Onondaga County, NY); he came of English stock; through the unvaluable (sic) records published by the by the New England Historical-Genealogical Society of Boston, we are enabled to trace his ancestry.  Rev. Peres Fobes, L.L.D., pastor of the Congregational Church of Raynham, Mass., furnished, some seventy years ago, an account of the Leonard family, which is believed to be the first family genealogy of any considerable extent printed in New England; and in 1851, William R. dean, a member of the Society, brought the memoir down two generations later.  From these records, it appears that the progenitor of Rev. Joshua Leonard was James Leonard, who, with his brother Henry, son of Thomas <:330> Leonard, came from Pontypool, in the maritime English County of Monmouthshire, bordering on South Wales; a region rich in collieries and blazing with furnaces, penetrated with the fertile vales of the Usk and the Wye - the scene of important historical events; where Owen Glendower was defeated, and where, long after, Cromwell triumphed.  The  brothers, James and Henry Leonard, came to Taunton, Mass., in 1652, and James established there the first ironworks in the United States, and died, 1691, aged seventy-three years.  The manufacture of iron seems to have been an inheritance of the Leonards - not only before they came, but afterwards; both in New Jersey, where Henry settled and established that business - followed there by successive generations and in Massachusetts, where, at Lynn, Braintree, Rowley village, and Taunton, and at a later date at Canton, they set up their mills; so that it came to be said that, " where you can find Iron Works, there you will find a Leonard."
        "They were probably interested in most, if not all of the iron works established in this country within the first century after its settlement, and it is a remarkable fact," says Mr. Dean in 1851, "that the iron manufacture has continued successively, and generally very successfully, in the hands of the Leonards or their descendants, down to the present day.  Their old forge, though it has been many times remodeled, has been in constant use for nearly two hundred years, and is now in the full tide of successful operation."
        "James and his sons," says the same authority, "often treated with the Indians, and were on such terms of friendship with them, that when the war broke out, King Philip gave strict orders to his men never to hurt the Leonards.  Philip resided winter at Mount Hope; but his summer residence was at Raynham, about a mile from the forge."
        Tradition says he was buried there under the front porch of the old Leonard mansion - a mansion which sheltered <:331> the heads of six generations of the name - the brick used in its construction having been brought from England.
        James Leonard, (son of above James,) and his son James, were both Captains, and each lived to be more than eighty years old.  Stephen Leonard was  son of the latter, and was a justice of the Peace, and a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.  His oldest son, Major Zepheniah Leonard born March 18th, 1704, of Taunton died on the same day his wife, 23d April, 1776; he in his sixty-third she in his sixty-second year, and were both buried in the same grave; the inscription on the monument is historical.
        He was a man of enterprise aud energy possessing great native dignity of character, and filled with honor the distinguished station in society which he attained.  In 1761 he was appointed a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, which office he held until his death.  Their oldest son Captain Joshua Leonard, was born January 9th 1724 and died 27th November, 1816, aged 92 years.
        His oldest son was the Rev. Joshua Leonard (of the sixth generation from the progenitor James) the subject of this notice, who was born June 25th, 1769.  He graduated qt Brown University; 1788; was first settled in Ellington, Conn., whence, about the year 1797 or 1798 [1799] he went to Cazenovia, Madison county, N.Y., then in its infancy, stationing himself on the rim of civilization as it advanced westward across the continent.  At this place on the 17th of May, 1799, he formed a Presbyterian Church - the first one there, consisting of only nine members; he continued the pastor of this church about fourteen years, when, on account of impaired health, he resigned his charge the church then numbering 127 members.  In a theological book published by him at Cazenovia in 1834, "The Unity of God," he says "I was the first pastor who settled in this wide region of country; my church was a single, independent, Congregational Church; I was a single, independent, Congregational Minister.  From Cazenovia to the Pacific Ocean, there was not one Congregational or Presbyterian pastor; not one in <:332> this State to the north or south of me; not one to the east, nearer than Mr.[Rev. Eliphalet] Steele, of Paris, in Oneida county."  On leaving the Cazenovia church, be moved to Pompey, and, in 1814, became preceptor of the Pompey Academy; occupying that position for eight years.  Under his administration that Institution flourished, and had a wide influence.
        He still continued to accept the frequent invitations to fill the neighboring pulpits.  He was a man of sterling integrity, untiring industry, of a fetterless independence and boldness, of very extensive reading, large and accurate acquirements, and a singular power of condensed expression.
        As, robed in a long flowing morning gown, with high hose and knee-buckles, staff in hand, he used to take his rapid morning walks through the village, he left an impression of dignity and goodness on the minds of the youth so vivid, that it has yet scarcely been dimmed by the half century intervening.
        He died at Auburn, at his daughter's, Mrs. Helen L. Williams [Mrs. John Williams], December 18th, 1848, aged 75 with faculties unimpaired, retaining his undiminished interest in all the literary and scientific progress of the day; Mrs. Leonard having died at Lincklaen, Chenango county, nineteen years previous.  Of their nine children, six survive, and reside at Chicago, Ill. the youngest of whom is sixty three years old; longevity being one of their characteristics, as if some of the iron of their manufacture had entered into their composition; a sister still surviving, at Raynham of the age of ninety-nine.