HONORED AND RESPECTED.
Mr. Daniel C. Risdon’s Life a Particularly Busy One, and Though Many Difficulties Obstructed His Early Pathway, He Overcame Them All by Industrious Effort and Superior Ability.
Although the gentleman whose likeness appears in the MIRROR this week as been a resident of Mount Tabor for many years, he spent his boyhood and early manhood days in Danby, and has late years resided so close to our borders, in the adjoining village of “Brooklyn,” that he is quite as well know to the residents of this village as any who have long made it their abiding place.
Mr. Daniel C. Risdon, Sr., was born, in the town of Pawlet, February 14, 1830, and is the last one living of the twelve children of Alva and Diana Buxton Risdon, both of whom lived to be over ninety years old. His great grandfathers were patriotic pioneers, and both served in the Revolutionary war. His mother was of Irish and his father of Scotch descent.
When about four years old Mr. Risdon’s parents moved from Pawlet to Darby and resided in a house near the present residence of Mr. C. G. Herrick, then occupied by the latter’s father, the late William Herrick, and owned by S. & N. J. Smith, the location being a short distance from Danby Four Corners.
In those days, Mr. Risdon tells us, it was no easy task for a poor man with a large family to “keep the wolf from the door,” as it was customary for nearly every man to have his rum daily, and there were no less than four places where it was sold by the glass or gallon —which added much to the misery of being poor.
Mr. Risdon’s trials with the world commenced when he was nine years old, at which time he was placed out to work for his board at Mr. John Bromley’s, who then lived on what is now the town farm. He did not stay there long, however, as his mother —who was the mainstay of the family —thought he was being worked too hard for a boy of his age and took him home with the belief that she could make him earn a part of his board by winding yarn on the quills, with a quill-wheel, nights and mornings, before and after school. He followed this occupation most of the time till eleven years old, and then went to work for his board and clothes for Mr. Edward Herrick, with whom he remained for three years, during which time, he tells us, he was well fed but poorly clad.
Mr. Risdon then went to Middletown and entered the employ of Mr. Jacob Burnham at $8 per month, and for whom he worked at the same rate for two seasons, at farming, and attending the district school two winters. During these two years most of his wages were handed over to his father.
Mr. Risdon’s next move brought him to Danby again, where he worked one season of eight months for Mr. Azariah Hilliard, Jr., at $10 per month, the same year attending school at the old brick school house, south of the Corners, through the winter. The next spring he hired out to Mr. Ira Cochran of East Dorset for one year at $12 per month, which was at that time the highest market price for farm hands. Mr. Cochran finding Mr. Risdon very handy with tools, utilized his services in the building of a mill at the forks of Mad Tom, on the notch road to Peru; and he was afterwards employed on the Barrows hotel and steam mill for sawing marble at that place.
To Mr. Risdon also belongs the distinction of having run the first circular saw that was put to use in this state for sawing boards and timber. The mill in which lie operated this saw was fitted up by Mr. Marcus Manley, who was a business partner of Mr. Ira Cochran at that time. It being the year before the railroad was built through the valley—then known as the , Western Vermont railroad—the mill was operated a large part of the time in the sawing of 25,000 birch ties for use, in constructing the road in its vicinity.
On May 15, 1852, Mr. Risdon was married to Mary A. Jacobs, daughter of Josephus and Vienna Barstow Jacobs of East Dorset—and thus Mr. and Mrs. Risdon passed the golden anniversary of their marriage last May. In the fall of the same year Mr. Risdon moved to South Dorset and was employed there two years at carpenter work and wagon making, after which he returned to East Dorset and was employed in the same business by various people till 1859, when he entered the employ of Wheeler, Walker & Co., taking charge of the stave, heading and planing department of their mill at North Dorset.
Mr. Risdon remained in the North Dorset mill till 1863, but in the mean-time had built him a house at East Dorset, into which he moved in the fall of 1863. In the following fall he was drafted into the army, but through the kindness and sympathy of friends was enabled to furnish a substitute. In May 1865, he removed to Danby and took up his abode in the house now occupied by Mrs. Amarilla Griffith, where he remained till January of the following year, when his two oldest children (both girls) died, and he and Mrs. Risdon gave up their home and went to board with Mr. Marcellus Baker at what is now called “Brooklyn,” in Mount Tabor, where he worked in the saw mill operated by Mr. Baker, and where the sawing was done for Mr. Joel Wheeler until a disagreement arose between these gentlemen, when the latter made arrangements with Mr. L. D. Pember to put in a circular saw mill, which was done with Mr. Risdon’s assistance, the latter furnishing the saw and main belt upon an agreement that he should receive two-third of the money received for sawing.
Mr. Risdon continued to operate the mill on the terms above mentioned till Mr. Wheeler sold out his interest to H. W. Lincoln, who had previously purchased the interest of Mr. Baker. Mr. Risdon then made arrangements with Mr. Lincoln to operate his mill in connection with the Pember mill, and for a time kept the Lincoln mill running night and day and employing thirteen men for the two mills. He then operated a mill in Rootville two seasons, finishing there about the first of July, 1870, after which he entered the employ of Mr. S. L. Griffith and worked for him, on the mountain and at the depot, for fifteen years.
After leaving Mr. Griffith’s employ, Mr. Risdon worked at carpenter work and anything that came handy till 1892, when he and son William purchased the old Pember mill from Mr. J. C. Griffith, and they have since operated it under the firm name of D. C. & W. I. Risdon. Their business has largely been custom sawing, although they have for the past two or three years been engaged in getting off the timber from a tract of the Herrick land lying at the foot of the mountain some distance to the north of the mill.
In 1882 Mr. Risdon represented the town of Mount Tabor in the state legislature, the most complimentary honor within the gift of his townsmen. He has also held the responsible office of town clerk for a number of years, and has held all the other elective town offices. In 1891, when the town of Mount Tabor issued their new four per cent bonds, Mr. Risdon was required to affix his signature to them in the official capacity of treasurer of the town.
Besides the two daughters who died in early childhood, which we have previously referred to, Mr. and Mrs. Risdon have raised a family of four boys—all grown to manhood and all endowed with more than ordinary ability. One son, Mr. Daniel C. Risdon, Jr., is the well-known and popular manager of the store of S. L. Griffith & Co., in this village. Another one, Mr. George C. Risdon, resides in “Brooklyn,” near his father’s pleasant home, and is successfully engaged in various occupations, readily turning his hand to anything that promises to be remunerative. Mr. William I. Risdon is successfully engaged in business with his father, as we have before mentioned, and has also developed marked musical ability, being an expert pianist and organist; he is unmarried, and resides with his parents. Mr. John J. Risdon, as many of our readers know, is the very capable assistant to the editor of the MIRROR, and is possessed of a wide range of resourceful accomplishments besides being of an artistic turn of mind, an expert amateur photographer and skillful in the art of drawing; he also is unmarried and makes it his home with his parents.
Mr. Risdon tells us that up to a few years ago he had experienced but little sickness during his lifetime, but on the occasion of his first real sickness at that time was confined to the house and his bed most of the time for nine weeks; but thanks to Dr. E. 0. Whipple’s skill, he recovered, and has been in very good health ever since, for a man who has reached his time of life and spent so many years in particularly fatiguing forms of occupation. As we have shown in the first part of this sketch, Mr. Risdon comes from a long-lived and hardy race on both branches of his ancestral tree, and it is but reasonable to hope that his days of activity among us are yet many more. He has truly been a good citizen, an industrious citizen and an honor to the communities in which he has resided, gain-ing the respect of all and the friendship of many.