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Below is a family biography included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1898.  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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SARAH R. STURTEVANT, the respected widow of the late James Watts Sturtevant, is a resident of Cortland, who occupies an enviable place in the hearts and minds of all who know her. Mrs. Sturtevant, whose maiden name was Sarah R. Freer, was a daughter of John A. and Rachel (De Puy) Freer, and wedded her husband, Mr. Sturtevant, Nov. 24, 1834.

Mr. Sturtevant was in life one of the foremost business men of Cortland. He was known far and wide for his industry, his probity, and his extreme usefulness in the community. He was born in the year 1811 at Sangerfield, Madison County, N. Y., and was a son of James Sturtevant, a progressive farmer, who passed most of his life in Madison County, N. Y. James Watts, the son, was of a family of nine children, who were by name: Thomas G.; Justin; Orran; Abigail; Polly; James W.; Willard; Betsey; and Demas. James Watts Sturtevant received a good common school education, and his first business venture was to start a traveling store, selling dry goods, notions, etc., from a wagon. He did very well in this undertaking, and was able at the age of twenty-two with partners to open a general store of considerable size at Homer. The firm style was Sturtevant, Stebbins & Co., and this firm was somewhat connected with the large house of Kellogg & Co. of Utica, N. Y.; in 1842 they went to Auburn, where they continued business as Sturtevant & Stebbins for three years. Mr. Sturtevant then sold his interest, and in the fall of 1845 he repaired to Cortland, where he entered into co-partnership with E. H. Doud under the style of J. W. Sturtevant and Co. They purchased the old Pomeroy stand, and there conducted a most successful business until 1861. The firm then by the accession of Emmett A. Fish became Sturtevant, Doud & Co., and as such attained a wide reputation as one of the most progressive houses in the region. Eight years the firm continued thus, then Mr. C. P. Walrad succeeded to Mr. Doud’s interests, and the name was changed to Sturtevant, Fish & Co. Mr. Sturtevant finally retired in 1871, and made this the close of his extremely active, and at the same time highly remunerative career.

Mr. Sturtevant still continued to be a citizen of the most useful kind, however, and every movement for the legitimate betterment of conditions had his hearty support. He did much on his own accord to improve and beautify his chosen town. On Tompkins Street he erected the handsome residence in which the subject of this sketch now lives. In this undertaking his exceeding care for details is made manifest. Not only is the home fitted with every modern convenience, but its surroundings, the lawns, trees, flowers and all were personally superintended and arranged by him. Mr. Sturtevant was suddenly called from this life August 7, 1873, at the age of sixty-three. The immediate cause of his demise was heart failure. His loss was most keenly felt, not only by his sorrowing wife, but also by a vast circle of friends, whom his genial ways, his strict uprightness, and his broad and liberal manner of viewing the affairs of life, had drawn to him. To those of the older residents who still have a distinct remembrance of this prominent citizen of Cortland County, whose position in the business circles of Cortland was hardly second to any, Mr. Sturtevant’s portrait on a preceding page will recall still more vividly his many virtues and characteristic traits.

Mrs. Sturtevant, as has been stated before, was a daughter of John A. Freer. He came from Ulster County, N. Y., in 1802, and on November 1st located at Homer, where he was among the earliest pioneers. He cleared a large farm, and by his wife, Rachel De Puy, had a family of ten children, of whom eight became adults. The latter were: Maria; Anthony; Joseph D. (2); Jane; Catherine R.; John J.; Sarah R.; and Stephen D. Joseph D. (1) and Elias died in infancy. John A. Freer died in 1826, and his wife lived until 1852. To Mr. and Mrs. Sturtevant but one child came. He was named James Freer Sturtevant, and many fond hopes were built up in him, but they were shattered by his death, at the age of four years and three months. Mrs. Sturtevant is living now in her beautiful home, and is devoting most of her time to caring for others, and helping the needy. She keeps the memory of her husband green, and does many good works which he, were he only alive, would appreciate and approve with all the warmth of his nature.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published in 1898. 

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

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

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