Portrait from the "Successful Vermonters".
September is upon us and following the write-up on oddly named Oregonian MacBeth A. Milne we journey to Vermont to examine the life of Paphro Ditus Pike, a man whose first and middle names hearkens back to the name Epaphroditus (see the July 2012 article for comparison). Paphro D. Pike was a veteran of the Civil War and for a number of years following his service engaged in manufacturing in both Stowe, Vermont and Brooklyn, New York. Pike warrants inclusion here on the site due to his service in both houses of the Vermont legislature.
The son of William and Nancy (Hitchcock) Pike, Paphro Ditus Pike was born in Morristown, Vermont on December 1, 1835. Pike's early schooling commenced in Morristown and he later attended the Johnstown Academy, whereafter he taught school for a short period. Pike later took employment in several local mill-works, and while still young man had become the proprietor of a sawmill. He married in 1860 to Abigail Towne (1841-1925), to whom he was wed for over five decades. The couples lengthy union would see the births of three sons, Arba Adolphus (1861-1951), Lewis A. and Fred Morrison. It should be noted that strange names and political service would continue in the Pike family with Arba Adolphus Pike, who, like his father, attained prominence in manufacturing and business in Lamoille County. Arba A. Pike would represent Stowe in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1896-98.
In 1862 Pike put his business interests on hold to serve the Union war effort, enlisting in Co. D. of the 11th Reg., Vermont Infantry. Pike would later be deployed to defend Washington, D.C. with that regiment and continued to serve with it through the "last grand advance on Richmond", having attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant at the time of his discharge. Following his return to Vermont, he resumed milling and carpentry and in 1871 began a new business endeavor, the manufacturing of butter tubs. Pike continued along this route for fourteen years, during which time he also held several political offices in Stowe, including stints as school director, town supervisor, town lister and justice of the peace.
In 1879 Paphro Pike won election to the Vermont State House of Representatives and during the 1880-81 term sat on the committee on manufactures. In 1885 he left Vermont for a four-year residency in Brooklyn, New York, where he was employed by the Hatter's Fur Cutting Company. In 1889 Pike returned to Stowe and after repurchasing the mill he had sold four years previously joined with his son Arba in the firm of Pike and Son, which manufactured butter tubs, round boxes, and veneer packages. Pike's work in these trades saw him be awarded three patents related to manufacturing, including one for a
"Machine for cutting veneer packages from steamed logs, at the same time imparting a finish to them."
Paphro Ditus Pike.
Through the 1890s and into the early 20th century Pike's manufacturing concerns continued to expand, and in addition to employing between fifteen to twenty workers could boast of manufacturing over seventy thousand butter tubs and nearly a quarter of a million round butter packages.
In 1899 Paphro D. Pike was returned to public office, winning election to the Vermont Senate from Lamoille County. Serving in the session of 1900-01, Pike sat on the committees on temperance, military affairs and general and manufactures. During his term, Pike also gifted four acres of land to the town of Stowe that would become known as Palisades Park. Following his Senate term, Pike continued with his business interests in Stowe and died at his home there of paralytic shock on August 22, 1917, at age 82. He was survived by his wife Abigail, who, following her death in 1925, was interred alongside her husband at the Riverbank Cemetery in Stowe.
Pike's name is misspelled in his August 1917 obituary from the Burlington Weekly Free Press.