Biography courteously provided by Joyce Riedinger, Delaware County Coordinator.
SILAS M. OLMSTED, a practical and progressive agriculturist of the town of Masonville, was born within its precincts, the date of his birth being August 8, 1843. His parents, John and Delilah (Tallman) Olmsted, were both natives of Greene County, New York, his father having been born February 21, 1811, and his mother October 13, 1822. His grandfather, Moses Olmsted, was a pioneer of Greene County, and prominent among its early settlers. He was an enterprising man, full of life and activity, and was engaged as a contractor of public works, as a successful hotel-keeper, and as a prosperous farmer. He belonged to a loyal and patriotic family, and one of his brothers served in the Revolutionary War. Both he and his wife, whose maiden name was Cornelia Pitcher died in Greene County. They had a family of eight children, three of whom are now living, the family record being as follows: Frederick, deceased; Wilbur, deceased; John who resides in Bainbridge, Chenango County; William, deceased; Dorr, who lives in Greene County; Lany, deceased; Adaline, deceased; Emeline, the widow of Daniel Linon [Lennon], residing in Greene County. Jedediah Tallman, his maternal grandfather, was born in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and died before 1830. But little of his life record has been preserved. His wife, Melinda Trip, was born in 1800, and died in Greene County in the seventies. She was the mother of five children, four of whom are living, namely: Ursula, widow of Ezekiel Palen, residing in Rome, Ga.; Delilah, wife of John Olmsted, in Bainbridge, Chenango County; Armida, deceased; Jeannette, widow of Lewis Hunt, in Quaker Street, Schenectady; Elijah, in Greene County.
John Olmsted was reared and educated in Greene County, in early life turning his attention to agricultural pursuits. He made his first purchase of land in Delaware County, coming to Masonville in 1841, crossing the intervening country with teams, and bringing with him his family and all their worldly possessions. Buying the land now owned and occupied by Jonas Finch, which was at that time heavily timbered, he erected a frame house that is still standing, and resided there for many years. He cleared much of the land, and, buying other tracts, was at one time the possessor of a farm of three hundred and forty acres. He was well known as one of the leading farmers of his locality, and during his residence in Masonville, was numbered among its influential citizens. He served his fellow-townsmen in various official capacities, having been Assessor three terms, Road Commissioner, and the incumbent of several minor offices. In 1867 he and his wife moved to Bainbridge, where he bought the valuable farm of one hundred and forty acres, on which he still lives, and carries on general farming. Although advanced in years, he and his wife are still vigorous both mentally and physically, and happy in the enjoyment of good health. Politically, he is a firm Republican, and religious matters is liberal. Of the fourteen children born of their union nine are now living, as follows: Theodore and Silas M., both farmers in Masonville; Levi, a farmer in Sanford, Broome County; Adelbert H., a civil engineer, in Bloomfield, N.J.; Jonathan, living with his parents in Bainbridge; Armida who married Samuel Smith, living in Bainbridge; Arcella, the wife of Charles Osborne, living in Milford, Ostego County; Rueyette, wife of Elmer Ford, residing in Batavia, N.Y.; and Josephine, the wife of Eugene Brightman, living in the village of Sidney. The names of the deceased are: Jeannette, who died at the age of sixteen years; Walter, who died at the age of five years; Elizabeth, who died when an infant; Adaline, who died at the age of twenty- five years; and Harriet, who died when an infant.
Silas M. Olmsted obtained his early knowledge of book lore in the district schools of Masonville, and on the home farm early became initiated into the mysteries of agriculture, and remained at home, assisting in the management of the farm, until September 1, 1864, when he enlisted in the service of his country, as a private in Company B, One Hundred and Forty-fourth New York Volunteer Militia, under the command of Captain M. W. Marvin, his term of enlistment being for one year, or until the close of the war. With his company Mr. Olmsted participated in several skirmishes and battles, among other being the Battles at James Island and Honey Hill. While at the front he contracted a disease from which he has never fully recovered. On June 25, 1865, he received his honorable discharge, at Hilton Head, S.C. Returning to Delaware County, he resumed his former occupation in the place of his nativity, and subsequently bought one hundred acres of land in the town of Sidney, where he pursued farming until 1873. He then disposed of his property there, and bought the farm of one hundred and ten acres on which he now resides, caring on mixed husbandry with excellent pecuniary results. He has a choice dairy of fourteen cows, mostly native cattle. He thoroughly understands his work, and is acknowledged to be one of the most able and successful agriculturists in his locality.
On May 15, 1867, Mr. Olmsted was united in marriage with Emma L. Sikes, a native of Connecticut, where she was born January 4, 1846. Her parents, Thomas and Pamelia (Barnes) Sikes, both natives of the same State, removing to Delaware County in 1850, settled on a farm in Masonville, on which the father still lives. Mrs. Sikes departed this life in 1882. She bore her husband eight children, five of whom are living, namely: Henry W., of Pittsfield, Mass.; Mrs. Olmsted; Sila, the wife of Rufus Randall, of Masonville; John, a farmer, of Masonville; Celestia, the wife of Nelson Wilcox, of Masonville. The names of the deceased are as follows: Julia, who died at the age of twenty-three years; Ellen, who died at the age of eleven years; and an infant. Mrs. Sikes was an esteemed member of the Methodist Episcopal church, while Mr. Sikes is liberal in his religious views. Politically, he is a straight Democrat.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Olmsted has been blessed by the birth of eight children. the following being their record: Ida, born April 4, 1868, is the wife of Frank Wright, of Oneonta. Walter J., born January 24, 1871, resides at home. Blanche, born January 31, 1875, married George Reynolds, and resides at home. Janette, born January 11, 1880, lives at home. Clara died at the age of six years, Leah died when ten months old, Iva died when a week old, and John died when two and one-half years of age.
Mrs. Olmsted, a sincere and Christian woman, is a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal church; and Mr. Olmsted is quite liberal in his views of religion. In politics he affiliates with the Republican party, supporting its principles by voice and vote. Socially, he is a member of Masonville Lodge, No. 180, Grand Army of the Republic, of which he is Past Commander.