Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waterman Ellsworth (1797-1849)

   In keeping with the local history theme established with the previous article on Sextus Hungerford, today's profile centers on the Hon. Waterman Ellsworth, a resident of the town of Stockton, New York who served a term in the New York State Assembly. While his name may not be as odd as the man who preceded him here, Ellsworth is an unjustly forgotten Chautauqua County resident who should be remembered not only for his service in the state government, but as a pioneer physician and man of affairs in the village of Stockton. 
   I first discovered Ellsworth's name while doing research on Sextus H. Hungerford, who's article was published few days ago. While perusing Andrew Young's 1875 work History of Chautauqua County I noticed the odd name of Waterman Ellsworth listed among the names of men who had previously served in the state assembly. Intrigued, I managed to find a small biography on him in said book that mentioned his legislative service as well as his burial location in the Stockton Cemetery! Earlier today I managed to make a visit to the small cemetery to get some photos of his gravesite, which will be posted at the end of this article!
  Waterman Ellsworth was born in the town of Hartwick, Otsego County, New York on December 14, 1797. In an interesting historical connection, Waterman's father was none other than Stukely Stafford Ellsworth (1769-1837), a resident of Otsego County who served as a New York State Senator from 1825-1828. Before his Senate tenure, Stukely Ellsworth married and eventually had five children, of whom Waterman was the youngest. The History of Chautauqua County also mentions that Stukely and the rest of the Ellsworth family were related to quite a number of eminent Americans, including Oliver Ellsworth, (who served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1796-1800) and William Wolcott Ellsworth (1791-1868), a Governor of Connecticut. 
  Waterman Ellsworth resided in Otsego County until the early 1820s, when he removed to Stockton (which was then called Delanti). After purchasing some land and establishing a home, Ellsworth married on February 26, 1826, to Ms. Rosina Lyon, who also came from a notable family. Rosina was born in Massachusetts in 1799 and was the younger sister of Mary Lyon (1797-1849), a prominent pioneer in women's education as well as the founder of what is now Mt. Holyoke College! It is unknown when Rosina first arrived in Stockton, but research has indicated that both she and her brother Aaron were both Stockton/Delanti residents by the time of Waterman Ellsworth's arrival. 
  Waterman and Rosina Lyons Ellsworth were married for only six years, with Rosina dying at age 32 on August 18, 1832. During their short union, four children were born to the couple and are listed by order of birth: Stukely Stafford (born in 1826), Hazelius (born 1828), Franklin (born 1830) and Henry Martyn (born May 1832).

     Mary Lyon (founder of Mt. Holyoke College), whose sister Rosina married Waterman Ellsworth.

   In addition to his notable familial connections, Waterman Ellsworth was truly a pioneer citizen in the Stockton community. He was one of the first physicians to settle in the Delanti/Stockton area and in 1830 was named as the first postmaster of Delanti/Stockton. He was later elected to the position of town supervisor for three terms, serving in the years 1827, 1831 and 1832. At some point during the late 1830s, Ellsworth married Sarah Smith Pierce, a Vermont resident who had removed to Delanti/Stockton some years previously. Three children were born to Ellsworth and his new wife, including Rosina Julina (who died two months after her birth), Rosina Manerva (died at age 2 months) and Clay Waterman Pierpont (born in 1845). Sarah Pierce Ellsworth outlived Waterman by a number of years and later relocated to Oregon in 1881 to live with her son Clay.
  Waterman Ellsworth's public profile received a significant boost in November 1838 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly, representing Chautauqua County. He took his seat at the beginning of the 62nd session of the assembly on January 1, 1839, and served until sessions end on May 6 of that year. It is unknown what committees he served on during his legislative tenure, but it is known that he served alongside fellow Chautauquans Abner Lewis (1801-1879, from Panama) and Timothy Judson (1801-1872, from Fredonia) who also won assembly seats in the November 1838 election.
  Waterman Ellsworth died at his home in Stockton on January 6, 1849, a few days after his 51st birthday. Young's History of Chautauqua County makes note that a "plain, but substantial monument in the burying ground at Delanti marks the resting place of his remains; and all the early settlers of Stockton, and many others scattered over this wide country hold him in grateful remembrance." Sadly, no pictures of Waterman Ellsworth or his wife Rosina are known to exist, but I think the photos of his gravesite below more than makeup for the lack of a portrait!

  As mentioned in this article's introduction, I made a visit to Ellsworth's gravesite in the Stockton Cemetery earlier today and after some searching discovered its location towards the front corner of the cemetery. Both Waterman and Rosina's stones are (aside from some algae spots) in remarkable condition, with the writing on both stones being perfectly legible.

  Although his stone doesn't list his date of birth, Waterman Ellsworth was born in December 1797 in Hartwick, New York. I had initially expressed hope that his oddly named father (the New York state senator) would be buried here as well, but sadly this wasn't the case. As it turns out, Stukely Stafford Ellsworth is buried in somewhere in Otsego County, although his exact burial location in the county remains uncertain.

  Rosina Ellsworth's stone (which is 180 years old, don't forget!) is on the right in the above picture. It is truly amazing that the harsh Western New York weather conditions over the past century haven't wreaked more damage on them! Also in the picture is the Strangest Names In American Political History book, which has made a visit to all of the grave sites posted here thus far!
 So there you have it! Even more obscure Chautauqua County history that you may not have known about! I still find it quite amazing that this interestingly named man with a very interesting life story is buried in the tiny village of Stockton, and hopefully, this small article will make Waterman Ellsworth a little more familiar to current Chautauqua residents!

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