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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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HOLLIS BENJAMIN DeWITT, whose portrait* accompanies this brief biography, is a prosperous and progressive farmer of Granby, Mass., owning a valuable farm of fifty-three acres in this town and another in South Hadley, besides being the proprietor of a livery stable in the village. A man of good practical ability, energetic and stirring from his youth, he visited different States, and engaged in various employments before settling down as a tiller of the soil in Hampshire County. He is a son of Benjamin DeWitt, and was born in Granby, August 26, 1829. His paternal grandfather, Joseph DeWitt, who was a native of Belchertown, there married Lovisa Montague, and afterward settled on land in Granby, where both spent their remaining days. They reared five children — Joseph, Benjamin, Harry, Clarissa, and Lucy — none of whom are now living.

Benjamin DeWitt followed the occupation to which he was bred, buying and improving a tract of wild land in Granby, on which he and his wife passed their years of wedlock. He was prominent in military circles, being Colonel of a company of cavalry in the State militia. Colonel DeWitt married Mary, better known as Polly, Eastman, the daughter of Captain Joseph and Hannah (Lyman) Eastman, her father being a well-to-do farmer of this town. Mrs. Polly Eastman departed this life on May 30, 1854, survived by her husband, who died October 15, 1855. They were the parents of ten children, a brief record of whom is here given: Mary Ann, born September 8, 1822, died November 15, 1827; Hannah E., born December 7, 1824, is the widow of the late Caleb S. Bliss, and resides with her children in Washington, D.C.; Helen M., born March 22, 1827, married Addison S. Dickinson, of Granby, both being deceased; Hollis Benjamin; Mary Ann, born March 3, 1832, the widow of the late William H. Hayward, of Hadley, lives in Washington, D.C.; Clinton, who married Octavia Otie, was born August 6, 1834, and is a resident of Lynchburg, Va.; Sarah Jane, born September 9, 1836, is the widow of Norman S. Stanner, and resides in Washington, D.C.; Louisa, born March 13, 1840, died January 2, 1865; Martha E., born December 10, 1843, died December 8, 1845; and William D., born July 12, 1846, died September 30, 1870.

Hollis B. DeWitt, who, with his brothers and sisters, was well educated at the district and select schools, remained at home until eighteen years of age, there acquiring a practical knowledge of agriculture in its different branches. Desirous of perfecting himself in some trade, he went then to Chicopee, where he worked as a tinsmith for five years, going thence to Lynchburg, Va., and there continuing similarly engaged three years. In 1852 Mr. DeWitt returned North, and for the next six months worked in Williamsburg, N.Y., whence he proceeded to Iowa, there spending some time in Independence and Waverly, subsequently going to Chickasaw County, where he entered four hundred acres of land. This he soon sold, and in 1854, coming back to the place of his birth, during that summer assisted on the home farm. The following six months Mr. DeWitt worked at his trade in Westfield; and then on the death of his father he returned to the old homestead, south-west of the village of Granby, and for a year took charge of the property. After another trip West, Mr. DeWitt settled down to farming, buying the old home farm in 1858, and carrying it on for two years. In 1860 he disposed of that property, and bought a farm in South Hadley, known as the Hatfield farm, managing that successfully until 1865, when he sold out at an advance. In 1865 Mr. DeWitt purchased twenty-five acres of his present estate; and to his original purchase he has since added until his farm contains fifty-three fertile acres, on which he has made valuable improvements.

On the 8th of April, 1857, while residing on the old home farm, Mr. DeWitt was united in marriage with Ellen E. Montague, a native of Granby, born November 27, 1833. Her parents were Giles and Elvira (Edwards) Montague, the former of whom was a lifelong resident of Granby, while the latter was born and reared in Northampton. Mr. Montague was a farmer by occupation, and after the death of his wife spent his time with his daughter Ellen, Mrs. DeWitt. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt: Benjamin, who now manages the farm, married Mary E. Stacey, and they have three children — Ellen Stacey, William Hollis, and Giles Rollin; Ellen Elvira, their other child, died in infancy. In politics Mr. DeWitt affiliates with the Republican party, and for five years served as Tax Collector. He is identified, socially, with the Masons, belonging to Mount Holyoke Lodge, A. F. & A. M. Religiously, both he and his estimable wife are faithful members of the Congregational church of South Hadley.

*Editor's note: Portrait was included in the original printed book.

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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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