Biography of John H. Townsend
FROM: History of Livingston County, New York
By James H. Smith
Assisted by Hume H. Cole
Published By D. Mason & Co. 1881


The subject of this memoir deserves especial mention from the pen of the historian as being one of the few hardy pioneers who lived to see the ushering in of the year 1880.

John H. Townsend was the son of Gideon and Freelove (Haynes) Townsend, and was born in Putnam county, October 25th, 1793. November 22, 1818, he was married to Betsey Barnum, and in 1822 moved to this county bringing all his worldly effects on one wagon drawn by an ox team, and settled on what is now the State road and of which he was one of the founders and builders. During the first winters he spent there he walked to Hunt's, a distance of four miles, and chopped wood at 2s. 6d. per cord, the cold being so severe at times that he was obliged to bury his dinner in the snow to prevent its freezing. He "articled" for 85 acres of land and made additions to it until he had 275 acres. In 1830 he overworked in the harvest-field, bringing upon himself a sickness from which he never recovered. He was an invalid for fifty years and though suffering great pain at times, his indomitable nerve and happy disposition showed itself in his greatest trials. He died September 4, 1880.

After the death of his first wife he married Mary VanDeventer, November 7, 1824, by whom he had three children as follows :-John V., Peter H., and Gideon. She died March 4th, 1881, surviving her husband only six months. He served in the war of 1812, and was drawing a pension at the time of his death.

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