John Wesley Gaylord

From the Biographical Review, Volume XXXIII, located at the Durham Center Museum.
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


John Wesley Gaylord, a representative citizen of Conesville, N. Y., was bone in this town on April 4, 1840, son of George and Fannie (Humphrey) Gaylord. On the paternal side he is of Huguenot descent. His emigrant ancestors on leaving France settled first in England, whence some of the family found their way to this country. His great-grandfather Gaylord served as an Ensign in the Continental army during the Revolutionary War. He was a man of considerable property.

John Gaylord, son of Ensign Gaylord, was but a young boy at the time his father died; and he was bound out to a Captain Langdon, of Litchfield, Conn. He ran away, however, at about the age of eighteen, having received none of his inheritance, and with one Allen Griffin came to Conesville, journeying by way of Catskill, guided by marked trees. He settled on the Sotts patent, now known as the Van Dyke farm, and built a log house to live in. After remaining there a few years, he removed to a farm on the stage road between Gilboa and Cairo, in Manor Kill village. Subsequently he settled on the farm where his grandson, John Wesley Gaylord, now resides. He became the largest land-owner of his time, owning from four to five hundred acres. When he arrived here he had only fifty dollars in his pocket. He married Sabrina Atwood, returning to Connecticut for that purpose. She bore him three sons—Hiram, Henry and George. To each of these he gave a handsome property upon his coming of age. He then himself started afresh, and in time accumulated as much as he had at first, so that during his life he owned between eight hundred and a thousand acres. Politically, he was a Democrat, and the leading member of this party hereabouts. In religious faith he was a Methodist. He helped to build the Methodist church here, and was always one of its most liberal supporters. He died at the age of seventy-eight, and his wife died later, at about the same age. His son Hiram became a wealthy merchant of New York City. Henry, who removed to Catskill in 1868, became a wealthy dealer in live stock and wool, and later in real estate. He died at Catskill in January, 1898, in the eighty-eighth year of his age. He had travelled extensively. The fine bell on the church at Manor Kill was presented by him some four years ago at a cost of four hundred dollars.

George Gaylord, father of John W., was born on April 28, 1815, in Conesville, and resided here all his life, dying in 1878. He kept a hostelry for drovers, the largest in the State, furnishing accommodations one night for fifteen hundred cattle. Drovers came here from different States, and it is said that one paid him ninety dollars for three tons of hay to feed his drove for a single night. He was famed far and wide for his hospitality and for his sunny and genial temper. Himself an expert judge of cattle, he bought and sold many head. He owned a farm of six hundred acres, upon which he raised annually from fifty to seventy-five tons of hay. During war time he kept three hundred sheep, and forty or fifty head of cattle. Like his father, he was a strong Democrat; but he was no office-seeker. He was married on December 31, 1838. Both he and his wife were active and devoted members of the Methodist church, and gave it generous financial support. The latter, who was born on August 21, 1818, died in 1868. She was the mother of four children, namely: John W.; Woodford, who was born on June 9, 1846; and Ogden, who was born on June 13, 1849. George E., who was for many years engaged in the cattle business, is one of the largest land-owners here. He is an influential man, a political leader, and has twice been Supervisor of the town. Ogden is in the meat business at Gilboa. Woodford is the well known ex-Sheriff.

John Wesley Gaylord was educated in the district schools, at Charlotteville High School and Ashland Academy, being a student in the last-named institution in 1860, when it was burned. After his marriage he settled on a farm of his own, where he lived for ten years. He then came back to take charge of the homestead farm. Here he now owns some five hundred acres. He was formerly engaged to some extent in dairying and in growing hay. From youth also he has been interested in buying and selling cattle, being an expert judge of stock. In 1868 he went on the road in this business, but after some years gave it up, only to start again in 1880 in company with his brother George. The latter retired from the partnership in 1891, and Mr. J. W. Gaylord has since continued alone. In his early life he taught school for a time, but finally decided that business was much more congenial to him. As a cattle dealer, he has travelled into Canada and throughout this State, principally in Dutchess, Columbia, Green, Schoharie, Otesgo, Montgomery, Jefferson and Delaware Counties. He also went into Connecticut on some of his trips. He was usually absent from home three or four weeks at a time. Like his father, he is noted among all who know him for this genial hospitality. He is popular in his own town; and it is said that, if he takes a subscription paper among the people for any purpose whatever, he is sure to fill it with names. No family in the community has done more for the church of the town than the Gaylord family. Mr. John W. Gaylord in this respect has not been behind his father and grandfather in generosity and in the support of every good movement in politics his is a Democrat.

At twenty-three Mr. Gaylord was united in marriage with Mary K. Porter, daughter of a Scotch family. Mrs. Gaylord died on December 17, 1897, having been the mother of three children. Of these, John H. died in infancy; and George Porter died on December 14, 1889, at the age of twenty-three. Fannie M., the only daughter, resides with her father. She attended the Albany Normal School, and subsequently taught school until her marriage with Coral E. Richtmyer. She has one child, Mabel G. George Porter Gaylord was a young many of great promise. In his youth he attended a select school in Broome Centre, and then took a course in the Albany Business College. He was nearly qualified to take his degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of the City of New York when he became ill. He was naturally a devoted student, and his close confinement to his books had undermined his health. He was a Mason of Gilboa Lodge, and remarkably well informed on Masonic history for one of his age.


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