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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York published by John M. Gresham & Co. in 1891.  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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HENRY SEVERANCE, of Dunkirk, author of “John Bull in America,” and a forthcoming work entitled “Chautauqua,” was born in the town of Cazenovia, Madison county, New York, January 30, 1808, and is a son of Elihu and Triphena (Gunn) Severance. The Severance family is of French descent, and came from France to New England about the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, or a little later, say 1635. Elihu Severance was a native of Montague, Massachusetts, where he married Triphena Gunn and in 1799 removed to Madison county, in which he died on March 7, 1834, aged sixty and a half years. He cleared out a farm in the woods, was an unassuming man and served his town for a number of years as supervisor. His widow survived him twenty years, and passed away in 1854, when in the seventy-ninth year of her age.

Henry Severance grew to manhood in his native county, and attended the limited schools which a new country could only afford. Leaving school he served an apprenticeship at wool carding and cloth dressing, and in 1835 came to Dunkirk during the boom of the New York, Lake Erie and Western railroad. In a short time he went back to Madison county, but in 1851 returned to Dunkirk, where he has resided ever since, and followed the trade of carpenter, excepting eight years that he served as keeper of the Dunkirk light-house.

May 23, 1833, he married Helen J., daughter of Alford and Mary Wooley, of Madison county. Mr. and Mrs. Severance have two children: Harriet, wife of E. M. Lucas; and Emma H., principal of the Intermediate department of School No. 2, of Dunkirk.

He is a Republican, and was three times elected justice of the peace, twice in Cazenovia and once in Dunkirk, which last office he resigned after holding the office for a short time. He also served as corporal in the New York militia. Mr. Severance has devoted a portion of his leisure time to literary pursuits, and has written and published an interesting and instructive book entitled “John Bull in America,” and has in press his forthcoming work of “Chautauqua,” which is intended to give the world at large an adequate idea of the resources and advantages of this county which is now so largely attracting public attention. In an epic poem, published in 1891, he tells in verse the story of the races past and gone who dwelt in Chautauqua county, narrates present facts and indulges in speculations for the future that are acceptable to Chautauquans.

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This family biography is one of 658 biographies included in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York published in 1891. 

View additional Chautauqua County, New York family biographies here: Chautauqua County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Chautauqua County, New York here: Chautauqua County, New York Map

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