My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  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.

* * * *

REV. WILLIAM B. OLIN, a prominent and successful resident of the town of Junius, Seneca County, is the possessor of a fine farm in this town, which he operates in addition to doing contracting and building, and it has been his privilege to erect some of the best dwellings in this town.

Mr. Olin was born in the town of Sennett, Cayuga County, N. Y., November 20, 1836. His parents were Jonathan P. and Eliza H. (Merrill) Olin, the father born in the town of Linklaen, Chenango County, this state, and the mother near Rutland, Vt. Early in life Jonathan Olin served an apprenticeship at the carpenter’s trade, and followed that trade for a half-century, working in the counties of Chenango, Madison, Cortland, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Wayne. For several years he also resided in both Madison and Cortland Counties. He was fairly well-to-do, and by his honorable and upright methods of transacting business won hosts of friends.

The parental family included six sons and six daughters, of whom nine grew to mature years, and eight reared families of their own. Of this household three are living. The father was first a Whig in politics, but later became a strong anti-slavery man and a Republican. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and contributed liberally toward its support.

The subject of this sketch was a small boy when his parents went to Chenango County, and when in his fourth year he was taken by them to Madison Connty, where he made his home for the succeeding eight years. The next six years of his life were spent in Cortland County. He was naturally gifted in the use of tools, and when a lad of ten years was of great assistance to his father in his work. During the winter months he attended school, and while living in Cortland County had the opportunity of carrying on his studies in a splendid school. At the age of nineteen he began to teach in the winter, and worked at his trade in the summer, and in this manner obtained a good income. When in his eleventh year he commenced to make his own way in the world, and first went to live with Calvin Severance, of Cortland County, a most estimable gentleman and a farmer, and while there was converted and joined the Baptist Church.

May 3, 1856, Mr. Olin was married, in the above county, to Miss Margaret Sleeth, whose birth occurred in Paterson, N. J., August 18, 1833, and who is the daughter of Samuel and Margaret Sleeth, well-to-do residents of that locality. In November of that same year our subject came to Seneca County, and, renting a home in the town of Junius, began working at his trade. Having no income aside from what he could make at this business, he applied himself very closely, and shortly afterward became well known to the people of the community.

In i860 Mr. Olin purchased three acres of land, on which he erected a house, and gave considerable attention to cultivating his land. He found farming to be a very profitable business, and from time to time was enabled to add to his possessions, until now he is the owner of a fine tract of land, embracing some eighty acres.

To Mr. and Mrs. Olin there have been granted five children. Alice, born August 24, 1859, married Adin Thom, and is also living on a farm in the town of Junius. Hattie M., born May 15, 1862, is now Mrs. Charles Gridley. She is a finely educated lady, first attending the schools of Waterloo, after which she was graduated from the high school at Syracuse. The course there was supplemented by attendance at the State Normal at Cortland, after which she began to teach, following this profession for several years prior to her marriage. William B. was born July 25, 1864, and after completing his education in the schools of Waterloo, began learning the carpenter’s trade with his father. He was married, when twenty-four years of age, to Miss Lena Royston, of Leslie, Mich., and two years later moved to Omaha, Neb., where he is carrying on a good business as a general merchant. John S., who was born April 28, 1867, was also educated in Waterloo Academy; he is still at home, assisting his father in contracting and building. Jennie M., born March 25, 1874, married Horatio Augustus Serven, of the town of Junius, and they are now living in Border City, Seneca County, where Mr. Serven is a merchant.

Mr. Olin is a strong supporter of Republican principles, and voted for Lincoln in 1860. He has been the incumbent of the office of Justice of the Peace for several years, and although he has decided several difficult questions, he has never had a case appealed. Upon first entering the church, he became a great worker, but hesitated at entering the ministry, as he felt that his education was not sufficient. He became identified with the Young Men’s Christian Association, of which he was made President, and aided in organizing the society in the town of Junius. For many years he was Deacon, Clerk and Trustee of the Baptist Church, and in 1886 was granted a license to preach. He was ordained in the town of Clarksville, Allegany County, N. Y., where he performed his first pastoral work. After abandoning regular work as a minister, he was engaged as an Evangelist by the New York Baptist Missionary Society, and met with a good degree of success in this field of labor.

* * * *

This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

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

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

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.