Dorsey W. Maxham


Dorsey W. Maxham


Career of Mr. Dorsey W. Maxham of South Wallingford Marked by Honesty, Industrious and Persistent Effort and Crowned with Success and the Respect of His Acquaintances.

It gives us much pleasure to this week present to our readers the portrait of one of the out-of-town members of the “Boys’ Club,” who was among those who participated in the delightful outing of the “Club” last June, when they were the guests of Mr. S. L. Griffith at Lake Griffith, as related in the first issue of the MIRROR.

Mr. Dorsey W. Maxham was born July 15, 1826, in South Wallingford, in that part of the town familiarly known as the “West Hill,” on a farm owned by Isaac Wilbur. His parents were Robert and Thirza (Warner) Maxham, the former dying in 1893, aged 91; his mother in 1835, aged 32. His father married, for a second time, Mary Gorton, who died in 1884. Robert Maxham, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Bridgewater, but came to Wallingford with his parents —David and Adelaide (Doty) Maxham —when thirteen years of age, and lived there the remainder of his lifetime, with the exception of eight months residence hi Danby. He was one of a family of ten children.

Mr. Dorsey W. Maxham was the second of three children born to his parents, the other two having long been dead—Nancy, who was born December 5, 1824, died in 1851, and George M., who was born September 15, 1828, died in 1843.

In the fall of 1828, Mr. Maxham’s , father built a house south of the village and carried on the business of blacksmithing in the old. brick shop for seven years. In April, 1839, Mr. Maxham, then a lad of twelve years, accompanied his father to northern New York, where his parents then resided, and where he remained till February of the next year, his father assisting his grandfather with the spring’s work before returning home. He particularly remembers the fact that his father brought back with him some very fine pine boards, which were used in the building of the Union church at South Wallingford, which was erected that summer by Albert. Mathewson of Danby.

The next spring his father went to northern New York and brought Dorsey back with him, engaging his service to Anna Button for six months at four dollars per month—particularly good pay for a fourteen-year old boy. The first of April of the next, year his father moved onto the Polly Conkwright place, afterwards owned by Joseph Doty; and Dorsey then being fifteen years old, did most of the work on the place while his father lived there. The next April they moved into a house known as the Sweet place, then owned by Bradford Andrus, for whom Dorsey worked for a part of the time that summer, and resided there till the fall of 1843. That summer his father having purchased the house in which Dorsey was born of Mr. Andrus, they took it down and put it up again in the south village. Here the family took up their residence and Dorsey attended school that winter.

In the summer of 1844 Dorsey was employed by Lapham, Vail & Co., who were then doing an extensive business in the mercantile line, as well as in iron work and operating a gristmill and a sawmill. He attended school the following whiter and worked for the same firm again the next summer. In October of that year he started for northern New York to again visit his grandparents, going by the way of Whitehall and thence through the lake by steamer to Plattsburgh, the fare on the latter being twenty-five cents. The lake was very rough that day, and Mr. Maxham says he was so sick in consequence that he did not at all enjoy the trip, so left the boat at noon and started for Dickinson on foot. The distance was sixty miles, but he arrived there the next night, very tired and sore. After remaining with his grandparents a week or two, he went to Potsdam and Canton and came back through the woods some fifty miles to Clintonville, Keeseville, and Port Kent, where he took a steamer to Shoreham, continuing his journey by foot to West Haven. Staying there, overnight he started for home the next day, which was the second of December, and traversed the distance of forty miles in a hard snow storm.

In the spring of 1846 he again entered the employ of Lapham, Vail & Co., driving team, most of the time drawing coal, ore and iron to different points about the country. The larger part of their goods were hauled from Troy, N. Y., and he worked for them till July 17, 1847, which was his twenty-first birthday, then being re-engaged by them at $12 per month. In July and August, 1848, Mr. Maxham worked twelve days each for Stephen Cook and Joseph Doty, at one dollar per day; but the following September he went on a visiting trip with some companions and spent most of the money he had earned at haying during the summer.

October 1, 1848, he again entered the employ of Lapham, Vail & Co., agreeing to work two years at $14 per month. He drove team most of the first year in their employ, drawing logs in the winter time. He then went to work at the forge, making iron, and followed that employment till the firm stopped business in 1850. He then worked at haying and in the marble quarry at Danby until October 15, 1850. He then worked one month for Wilder Proctor, who kept the hotel, for $13, and in December entered the employ of Amasa Ban-croft of Danby and drove team for him two and a half months for $12.

March 15, 1851, a week after leaving the employ of Mr. Bancroft, Mr. Maxham entered the employ of Graves & Root of Bennington, peddling tin at $13 per month, and followed that occupation till November 20 of the same year. At that time the rails were being laid on the Western Vermont Railroad, and Mr. Maxham found employment in drawing railroad iron. He worked at this till the rails were laid as far as Manchester. February 24, 1852, he engaged his services to Smith & Harrington of Waterloo; N. Y., at $16 per month for nine months. He took one of their carts at North Wallingford and went to North Pownal. The first day of March he started from there for Waterloo, which point he reached in three weeks. He then peddled over most of the country within a radius of fifty miles of Waterloo, and made one trip of 150 miles into Cattaraugus County, where some of his relatives resided.

Settling up and closing his engagement with Smith & Harrington, Mr. Maxham started for home December 14 and arrived in South Wallingford on the 16th. After taking a trip to the north part of the state to visit relatives, he returned home and helped his father get out one hundred cords of wood for Calvin Bruce, which was drawn to the railroad for seventy-five cents per cord. In April he went to work for Gen. Robinson Hall in his sawmill on the mountain, remaining till the middle of June, and then working a month with Seth Aldrich, building a barn for Anson Warner; he then worked for Mr. I Hall in haying and in the mill till the water froze up. He then drove team for Nathan Holden, drawing cord wood from the mountain most of the time.

On March 25, 1854, Mr. Maxham was married to Prutis Helen, daughter of Seth and Phila Aldrich, and after a three weeks’ wedding trip to the north part of the state, again went to work for Gen. Hall in the mountain mill, working at haying and on the road when the water was too low for the  null to run, and worked at odd jobs till March, 1855, when he bought the Carpenter Tifft farm. At the same time his father moved onto the N. B Holden place, and Dorsey and wife lived with him, and together they carried on both farms, drawing wood and logs in the winter, and in the spring with his father took the Lapham & Vail mills to run for two years, the latter running the grist mill and he the saw mill.

In the spring of 1857 Mr. Maxham repaired the old house and moved into it. He continued to do his farm work, run the mill and draw logs in the winter for several years, and in the winter of 1864 drew elm logs from Manchester and lumber from the mountain in Mount Tabor for L. D.. Pember. In February, 1866, he moved onto the Jacob Fuller farm, but moved back to his own farm in October of the same year. Since the last date above given, Mr. Maxham’s principal occupation has been farming, and ho says there has been little that is worthy of note to break the usual monotony of the life of the average farmer.

The foregoing part of this sketch was gleaned from a detailed record of Mr. Maxham’s life, which he has written out and keeps for future reference, while for the past thirty-six years, he tells us, he has kept a diary. He has thirty-six diaries, each one full and very complete, and from which we could undoubtedly glean much that would be interesting to our readers, if we had the necessary space to print it.

Mr. Maxham’s estimable wife died September 7, 1894, aged sixty-one years, and the fruits of their union are three sons—George M., born in 1856; Charles B., born in 1859, and Dexter A., born in 1867. The latter is married and resides on the farm with his father. Charles is also married, and now lives in Rutland. George resides on a farm near South Wallingford.

It is very apparent from this sketch that Mr. Maxham has been a hard-work, industrious man from boyhood, but aside from rheumatic troubles is still enjoying very good health. He has always received the respect of his neighbors, and is esteemed by a large circle of friends, who hope this jolly, good-natured gentleman will remain with them for many years yet to come.