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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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WILLIAM W. ORCUTT, who is a prominent agriculturist of the town of Cummington, was born in the house where he now resides on March 17, 1834, son of John and Hannah (Richards) Orcutt, and grandson of Nathan and Eunice (Whitmarsh) Orcutt.

Nathan Orcutt was a native of Abington, Mass. He came to this district, then almost a wilderness, in 1794, and purchased two hundred and twenty-five acres of land. This tract constitutes the farm now owned by William W. Orcutt. Grandfather Orcutt proceeded at once to clear the land and erect the necessary buildings. Later on he built a house, which in its day was one of the best in the town. As fast as he cleared his land he increased his stock of cattle, and in time became one of the largest stock-raisers in that vicinity. He sold his cattle in Boston, to which he drove them four times a year. These trips were made through an almost unsettled country, over a distance of one hundred and fifty miles. He served in the Revolutionary War as Lieutenant. In politics he was a Whig, while his religious belief was that of the Congregational church. His death occurred in 1820, at the age of sixty-five years. His wife, Eunice, died in 1818, fifty-eight years old. They reared five children: Sally, Joseph, Nathan, John, and Hulda.

John Orcutt, the youngest son of his parents, was born in the house first erected on the site of the one now occupied by his son. He worked with his father until manhood, and then he went into business as a wool buyer, purchasing largely throughout the surrounding towns. When at his father’s death the farm was divided among the three sons, he received the homestead for his share. Besides his wool buying he dealt quite extensively in fat cattle and sheep, and made a specialty of raising and matching oxen, for which he often received fancy prices. He was considered one of the best judges of live stock in that locality. He bought the old academy in the village of Cummington, which he used as a storehouse for his wool; and later on he purchased one hundred and fifty acres of land adjoining his homestead. His death occurred in 1871, when he was eighty-one years of age. His wife, Hannah Richards before marriage, a daughter of Nehemiah and Hannah Richards, bore him five children: Clarinda, Mary A., Lysander, Vesta, and William W. He was a Whig in politics until the formation of the Republican party, of which thereafter he became a firm supporter. He took much interest in public affairs, but declined to serve in office. He was also interested in church work, and contributed largely toward the erection of the Congregational church.

William W. Orcutt after attending the district school in his native town went to the seminary at Deerfield and to the Ashfield and Shelburne Falls Academies. At eighteen years of age he began teaching, and this during the winter season continued to be his employment for ten years. His summers were spent in farming. He conducted a select school in the village of Cummington for some time. At his father’s death he gave up teaching and took charge of the old homestead, which he still owns, together with two hundred and fifty acres of land. He keeps a dairy of twenty cows, the cream from which he disposes of to the Cummington Creamery. He has also dealt in cattle to some extent, and raised some fine horses. His farm shows him to be a progressive agriculturist, one who believes that improvements pay.

On December 2, 1857, he was joined in marriage with Miss Mary Sprague, a daughter of Eli and Mary (Reed) Sprague, the former of whom was engaged in the tanning business in Ashfield, Mass. They had six children. Of the number two have died, namely: Charles, when four years old; and Fred A., at the age of twenty-three years. Those living are: Elliott, born January 22, 1860, residing in Denver, Col., who married Miss Carrie Macomber, and has five children — Mabel, Mary, John, Vesta, and Brown; Willie M., born October 5, 1863, now in California, where he is engaged prospecting; Arthur, born July 5, 1875, living at home; and John, born May 1, 1877, also at home.

Mr. Orcutt is a stanch Republican. In 1887 he was sent as a Representative to the legislature from the Second Hampshire District. For twenty years he has served as Moderator of his town, and as member of the School Committee for fifteen years. He is also active in church work, and for several years has acted as a teacher in the Sunday-school of the Congregational church. Mr. Orcutt is well known and highly esteemed, not alone in his own town, but wherever his business or social interests have called him.

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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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