RUFUS DEERING, one of Portland's oldest and most honorable merchants, was born
in Scarborough, Me., April 16, 1818, the seventh son of Isaac and Sarah Sawyer Deering, his mother being fourth
in descent from James Sawyer, of Gloucester, Cape Ann, who died in 1701. Both parents were devout Methodists, and
their children received early instruction in religious truth. This son began to "pay his own way" when
fourteen years old, by making and selling molasses candy, at that time almost the only known form of confectionery
in country places. He had, however, a higher aim than that of merely earning his own livelihood. He longed for
the ownership of books and for the knowledge to be got from them. So we find him when fifteen years old, working
in Jackson, Me., at five dollars a month, and spending the first four dollars of the five for books. During the
winter he preferred to work his board for the sake of the "schooling." When seventeen years old he "hired
out" at fifty dollars for the year, and three months' "schooling," seeking food for the mind as
well as for the body. The next year he went to West Buxton to be near his mother, and accomplished the journey
from Brooks, Me., mostly on foot; one morning walking ten miles before breakfast. Here he learned the carpenters'
trade from his brother Thomas, also working at book-keeping and teaching the district school.
Mr. Joseph Hobson, a relative, having married in Limerick and gone into business there, Mr. Deering assisted him
as clerk for nearly two years. This stock of goods being removed to Buxton and business being dull, Mr. Deering,
with two other young men, in March, 1840, started for Georgia, where wages were twenty-six dollars a month, more
than double those of a carpenter in Maine. He and his friends, James Haley and Stephen Hobson, walked to Portland,
there taking the steamer for Boston and then taking passage on a sailing vessel for Darien, Ga. From Darien they
went by stage forty miles to Beaufort, on the Satilla River, ten miles from the Florida line. Their work here was
in the saw mills and among the pines, getting the logs in from the river and loading the lumber into vessels after
it was sawed. This was a year of great hardship. Toward its close the fever came and both of Mr. Deering's companions
died, and ten others from the North. During the floods much of the country was covered with water to the depth
of three feet. So discouraging was the outlook and so unhealthful the climate, Mr. Deering returned to West Buxton,
in 1841, and bought an interest in Joseph Hobson's store, where he continued in trade and farming for ten years.
The remembrance of one face in Limerick had brightened the dreariness of his Georgia life; it was that of Miss
Deborha Eastman, the daughter of Ezra and Mercy Eastman. Her father was a descendant in the sixth generation of
Roger Eastman, who came from Wales in the ship Confidence, and settled in Salisbury, Mass., in 1630. Of the same
line came Abigail Eastman, mother of Daniel Webster. In 1843 these two were married, and joined the Free Baptist
Church in Buxton, becoming valued and helpful members.
In 1853 the subject of this sketch engaged in lumbering in Milan, N. H., and the next year be moved to Portland,
opening a retail lumber business on Commercial Street, at the foot of High, and during the first ten years doing
his own book-keeping at home in the evenings. His business enlarging rapidly after the great fire of 1866, and
his eldest son, Henry W. having died, he formed a co-partnership, during 1870, with three young men who had been
employed by him, M. W. Ripley, M. P. Jordan, and A. Legrow, the latter withdrawing after a few This partnership
enabled Mr. Deering to give his time more largely to benevolent and church work, in which he had always been active.
Mrs. Deering died February 3, 1885, and he afterwards married Mrs. Abby T. Thissell, in June, 1886, who is now
living. He has now been Treasurer of the Free Baptist Parish of Portland for twenty-five years; Treasurer of the
State F. B. Missionary Society, now the Maine F. B. Association, for twentytwo years; and President of the F. B.
Home Missionary Society for three years. He has been a Trustee of Bates College nearly ten years, much of the time
acting on the executive board; he has also been a Trustee of Storer College at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, for
five years. As President of the Ocean Park Association, for nine years, he has done much to bring about its present
Casting one of the first votes in his town with the Abolition party, he was for many years a conscientious, earnest
Republican. He is now an active worker in the Prohibition party.
The business and position of the lumber firm, of which he has been the head for nearly forty years, has steadily
advanced, until its facilities now in the way of mills, drying kilns, and storage, are unsurpassed in this State.
Since tile death of his son-in-law and junior partner, the firm has been re-organized as a corporation, having
a capital of $100,000, and is called the Rufus Deering Company.