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Biography - HIRAM D. OLMSTEAD

Hiram D. Olmstead, more familiarly known among a wide circle of friends as Deacon Olmstead, is a retired farmer of Ottawa, LaSalle county, Illinois. He was born in the town of Catherine, Tioga county. New York, December 9, 1822, and is a son of David and Esther (Clinton) Olmstead. The father was born in the year 1800, in the state of Connecticut, and the mother two years later, in the state of Massachusetts. She was a relative of the celebrated Governor DeWitt Clinton, of New York. In October, 1832, David Olmstead and his family started on their long journey from New York to this county. The trip was made by wagon and was necessarily slow and tedious. Arriving here they took up a claim some four miles northeast of Marseilles. This land was afterward offered for sale by the government, the squatter having the first right to purchase. Mr. Olmstead bought the one hundred and sixty acres upon which he had settled and set about its improvement. Here he lived during the remainder of his life, adding to the original purchase until he had acquired three hundred and twenty acres of land. He was a man of courage and great force of character, making him a fearless defender of right. He was an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal church and died on his farm in 1855, deeply mourned by all who knew him. His wife had crossed the river of Death three years previously to the removal of the family to this state. His father was one of the first settlers in LaSalle county. He was a good friend of Sibbony, the noted Indian chief.

Hiram D. Olmstead was but ten years old when he came to this county. He attended school during the winter months until he was nineteen years of age. The school-house was a rude affair of logs, with benches taking the place of the comfortable desk and seat of our modern civilization, and it was surprising what swift progress they made. When nineteen years of age he began to operate for himself, working on a farm by the month for three years. In 1844 he was married to Mrs. Elnor A. Harding, the widowed daughter of James Howland, of New York state. She owned a farm and upon it they moved after their marriage and lived for upward of thirty years, and here the four children of Mr. and Mrs. Olmstead were born and grew up. They are as follows: Charles H., a farmer in Dayton township; Smith H., deceased, whose widow resides on the homestead; Judson H., now of Kansas; and Almira, wife of A. H. Fuller, of Ottawa.

Mr. Olmstead added to his occupation as farmer that of raising fine hogs, his pigs growing into popular favor and being shipped to all parts of the state for breeding purposes and invariably commanding good prices. In 1876 the family moved to Ottawa and rented the farm to the son, Smith H. They have made their home in the city since; and here, on March 23, 1896, Mrs. Olmstead passed to her reward after rounding out eighty-one years of usefulness. She was a woman of strong sympathies, a devoted wife and mother and an untiring worker in the vineyard of the Master. She had for years been an earnest laborer in the Baptist church, in which organization her husband has been a deacon for forty years. Mr. Olmstead is a stalwart Republican and was trustee of Freedom township for a number of years. He is now in his seventy-seventh year and is a fine example of well-preserved manhood, being hale and hearty, a fact which is no doubt largely attributable to his total abstinence from tobacco and liquors of all kinds.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 132-133.

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