Rilan E. Caswell


Rilan E. Caswell


Brief Sketch of a Busy, Frugal Life.—A Marble Worker of Well-known Ability, Also an Inventor.

The subject of this sketch, Mr. Rilan E. Caswell, and whose portrait occupies the place of honor on the first page of the MIRROR this week, was born in the town of Tinmouth, October 31, 1830, and was the only child of Josiah, Jr., and Electa (Clark) Caswell, both of whom were born in Middletown in the year 1801. The father died August 1, 1882, and the mother, July 6, 1890.

R. E. Caswell was born very near or within the shadow of the first marble mill erected in Vermont. The building was commenced in 1823 or 1824. Upon referring to Josiah Caswell’s old account book it appears that October 9, 1825, he was sawing marble by the foot, and he continued to run the mill for six years.

On Halloween, 1830, the subject of this sketch made his appearance in the family. The first term of school which he attended was in the sixth year of his age, and most of the time thereafter until he was fifteen years old he was in school.

In 1845 Mr. Caswell and his parents went to Woodville, Jefferson county, New York, visiting friends and relatives, and where they remained until June of the following year. Then returning to Vermont, resumed work on the quarry, getting out marble which was sold mostly in the block to Aruna Hyde of Castleton. In 1848, he worked for Nathan Weller six months, most of the time in the marble business.

In the fall of 1848, after completing his work with Mr. Weller, Mr. Caswell went to Shushan, N. Y., to serve an apprenticeship—or, rather, to complete his education in the different branches of marble work. In the spring of 1857 he commenced work for Thomas Nichols of Danby as a journeyman marble cutter. At that time it was not thought granite could be used for monumental purposes. After working through the season for Mr. Nichols, he went to Woodville, N. Y., and from there to Watertown, N. Y., where he worked on marble for awhile, finally getting sick—and also homesick—gave up his situation there and came back to old Vermont—the best place on God’s footstool, he says. Then he went into partnership with Thomas Nichols in the retail marble business.

On the 12th day of January, 1854, Mr. Caswell married Miss Elizabeth Baxter of Tinmouth and lived in the old house just north of the Scottsville school house until October, 1856. One daughter, Dimmis, was born there. In the spring of 1856 he bought the Isaac Phillips place and moved there in the fall of that year and has resided there ever since. A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Caswell, March 18, 1872, who lived but six months. In January, 1883, Mr. Caswell bought the Williard Baker farm, just west of Danby Borough, and owns it at the present time.

Mr. Caswell has for years carried on the manufacture of headstones and monumental work in a shop just across the road from his residence, but has now practically retired from that business, having done but little of it in the past few years. He also possesses marked mechanical ability and inventive perception, and has patented a very meritorious sap spout, which has met with quite a large sale during the past few years.