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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WALTER H. THAYER, an extensive and eminently successful hardware manufacturer of Williamsburg, Mass., was born there on September 5, 1862, son of William E. and Harriet E. (Dickinson) Thayer.

William E. Thayer’s birth took place in Peru, Berkshire County, on October 11, 1816. His parents were Eliphalet and Mary (Sears) Thayer, the former of whom was a son of Oliver Thayer, and was born in Braintree, Mass., in 1776. When Eliphalet was a child his parents moved to the northern part of the town of Williamsburg, where they purchased a farm, which is now owned by A. W. Alexander. The son also followed the life of an agriculturist. He married Miss Mary Sears, a descendant of one of the first families of Ashfield; and both lived to a good age. His death occurred in 1840, when sixty-four years of age. Seven of the ten children born to them grew to maturity, and were: Marietta, Rhoda, Ezra, Williston, Louisa, Roland, and William E. At the age of twelve years William E. Thayer came from Peru to Williamsburg to work as a clerk in the store of his brothers, Ezra and Williston Thayer. Later on he travelled for about five years selling clocks, after which he entered into partnership with his brother Ezra in the manufacture of steel pens, to which they afterward added the manufacture of hardware, kitchen utensils, and furniture. In 1856 they separated, he taking the hardware branch of the business to the old stand that had previously been used as a button and buckle manufactory, and which, with its water-power, he had purchased of D. W. Graves. Five years later he took down the old buildings and erected the present structures, together with tenement-houses and other necessary buildings. The factory gives employment to twenty-five men, and its products won for its proprietor a reputation throughout the New England and the Western States of a first-class manufacturer. In addition to his factory he conducted a large general store, which received a large share of the patronage of the surrounding country. About 1842 he bought the fine brick house on Main Street built by his brother Ezra. In his political relations he was a Republican; and he served most acceptably as a Selectman of the town. He contributed largely toward the support of the Congregational church, and was in all walks of life a man whom to know was to respect. On October 20, 1840, he was joined in marriage with Miss Maria H. Dickinson, of Saybrook, Conn. Three of the five children born to them grew to maturity; namely, Frederick W., Alice M., and George D. Their mother died on August 14, 1859. On December 25, 1860, Mr. Thayer was again married, this time to Miss Harriet E. Dickinson, of Saybrook, Conn., a daughter of Captain John Dickinson, who followed the sea in his early life, but spent his last years on a farm. Three children were the fruit of this second marriage; namely, Walter H., Edith E., and H. Winifred. The latter is the wife of E. C. Clark, who is engaged in the insurance and real estate business at Northampton and Holyoke, Mass. Mr. Thayer died in 1893, and his widow now occupies the old homestead.

Walter H. Thayer received a good practical education in the schools of Williamsburg and at the academies of Easthampton, Mass., and Cheshire, Conn. He also took a business course at the Bryant & Stratton Business College in Manchester, N. H., where he graduated in 1881. He then went into his father’s store as a general assistant, and travelled as a representative of the manufacturing department of the business a portion of the time. At his father’s death he took full charge of the factory, put in new machinery, and made various other improvements. He has met with much success; and, though a young man, he ranks among the leading business men and manufacturers of the State.

Mr. Thayer casts his vote with the Republican party. He is connected with several fraternal organizations, among which may be mentioned the Hampshire Lodge, A. F & A. M., the Northampton Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and the Northampton Commandery of Knights Templars. He is also a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In his religious views he is liberal.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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