from the book
Russia Union Church, 110th Anniversary, 1820-1930
The family profiles below come from the small book "Russia Union Church, 110th Anniversary, 1820 - 1930." Jane Dieffenbacher, Fairfield Town Historian, will be transcribing the family profiles from the second half of this rare book over the course of the summer. The small Town of Russia is on the western half of Herkimer County and borders the Towns of Deerfield, Trenton and Remson in neighboring Oneida County and the Towns of Ohio, Newport and Norway within Herkimer County.
In the middle of the book is this notation. "The foregoing pages constitute the history of the Russia Union Church as far as can be ascertained. The history of some of the families connected with it have been compiled. Time and space will not permit to complete the family sketches in this booklet. To those who have graciously furnished material in any way we are grateful. Printed books, family Bibles, written records, documents, letters, papers and clippings have been used as sources of information by the author, Rev. Roger F. Williams."
The oldest generation of this family to reside in Russia was Asa Sperry, the son of Jonathan and Mehitable Sperry of New Haven, Conn. This Sperry family resided in that part of New Haven, now known as Woodbridge, Conn. Asa Sperry was born Mar. 22, 1737, in New Haven, Conn., and died May 14, 1822, in Russia. His first wife was Sarah Johnson and his second was Esther Tuttle, the daughter of Nathaniel and Abigail (Ingham) Tuttle, whom he married Nov. 20, 1766. She died Apr. 10, 1819, aged 71, in Russia. The children of Asa Sperry, all born in Woodbridge, Conn., were:
By his first wife:
- Leverett, born Aug. 1, 1762.
By his second wife:
- Asa, born Feb. 22, 1769.
- Sally, born Apr. 11, 1770.
- Esther, born Nov. 17, 1772.
- Lucina, born Oct. 29, 1779.
- Roger, born June 17, 1782.
- Rhoda, born Apr. 27, 1785.
- Enos, born 1790.
John Sperry, son of Asa and Esther (Tuttle) Sperry, was born Nov. 27, 1767; married Nov. 24, 1788, in Mt. Carmel, Conn., Amy Dickerman, born Mar. 26, 1769, at Mt. Carmel, Conn.; died Jan. 29, 1852, in Russia, N.Y., the daughter of Enos and Lois (Alling) Dickerman. He died Dec. 4, 1829, in Russia. He was prominent in town affairs, a farmer, and pew holder in the Russia Union Church. He was affiliated with the Presbyterians. The children of John and Amy (Dickerman) Sperry were:
- Clarissa, born Sept. 15, 1789, in New Haven, Conn.; married Dec. 25, 1805, in Russia, Daniel Swezey, the son of Daniel and Sara (Beal) Swezey, born Dec. 25, 1778, in Middle Island, N.Y.; died Nov. 2, 1847, at Harmony, N.Y. They resided at Harmony, Chautauqua County, N.Y. Their children were Maria, Darius A., Leonard B., Burton, Elmina, Julia Ann, John, Louisa, Emeline, Fanny, Sarah, Frederick, Lebbens D., Samuel N.
- Elitha, born June 16, 1791; married Nathaniel R. Reed.
- Eneas, born Apr. 15, 1793; married Thankful Ames.
- John, born Feb. 19, 1795; died Oct. 30, 1814, at Sacketts Harbor, N.Y. He was a soldier in the War of 1812.
- Louis A., born Jan. 18, 1797; died Apr. 1, 1876. Married Thomas Bamber.
- Pitkin, born Nov. 12, 1798; married Cecilla Taylor of Russia. They resided in Trenton, N.Y. Their children were Harriett, Palmer, Jane.
- Esther, born June 6, 1801; died Apr. 9, 1892, at Lockport, N.Y.
Married David Hatch Sweet.
- Leverett, born Apr. 21, 1803; died Sept. 26, 1877. Married Oct. 9, 1832, Marilla Noble. Their children were Levi, Leonard, Emily.
- Emeline, born Mar. 24, 1806; married David Hatch Sweet. (?)
- Ximenia, born Mar. 2, 1809, in Russia, N.Y.; died Feb. 4, 1853.
Married Luke Noble of Remsen, N.Y. Their children were Harriett, Levi, Lyman, Reuben.
- A child died at birth.
- Lucinda, born June 24, 1814; married James N. Dewitter
Accumulating $200 he started with two of his brothers on foot for the Far West about 1802. They intended to settle near Herkimer but the land was too high there so they followed the West Canada Creek up twenty miles and located on farms in the town of Russia. Father bought 50 acres for $400, paid $200 and gave a mortgage for the balance. Father built a log house and covered it with hemlock bark and enlarged it as the family increased.
Pitkin Sperry was a farmer and a Methodist Episcopalian. He settled in the town of Clayton, Jefferson County, N.Y., where they both died and were buried in the Clayton
Center Cemetery. Their names are on a monument in Russia-Gravesville
Cemetery. Pitkin and Lucy (Sanford) Sperry had children:
- Laura, born Aug. 7, 1802; died Feb. 17, 1864.
- Aurella, born June 6, 1805; died Aug. 2, 1900. Married _____ Read. A son, George S. Read. They resided in Taunton, Mass.
- Sibyl, born Apr. 18, 1808; died July 12, 1892. Married _____ Judson.
- Aner, born Feb. 5, 1812; died July 1, 1907. He was born in Russia.
The education that he had he picked up after he was 16 years of age. In 1828 he went to work for John Graves in Russia. In the winter he worked for his board. In the summer he received $7.00 per month. Graves had a 40-cow dairy and made cheese. Pitkin Sperry took his son's wages. This continued until Aner was 21 years of age. During this time he was in the Russia Singing School of 80 scholars. Three choristers were appointed to lead the singing in the Russia Union Church. He was one of them. He was in this period a member of an Artillery Company for General Training called the "Russian Blues." Aner Sperry did not like farming and left Russia Apr. 4, 1833, for New Haven, Conn., with $30 in his pocket. He did not find work there and with $1.75 in
his pocket he set out for Hartford, Conn., on foot. There he was employed eight years in the Retreat for the Insane. Then he was in the livery business for 18 years. For 20 years he was engaged in the settlement of assigned and deceased estates. He settled 177. When he was 94 he said that his losses in life had been $40,000 and he had given away $50,000 and had plenty left. He believed in doing good with his money. Among his gifts were money to beautify the Russia-Gravesville Cemetery; an endowment there; Herkimer Hospital; Old Ladies' Home in Mohawk; Russia Union Church, and many other interests. Aner Sperry with Alexis L. Johnson of East Schuyler and William Smith of Arlington Heights, Mass., made up a trio of grand old men, all past 90 years of age, who contributed to the columns of the Herkimer Citizen and brought fame to that
paper. Aner Sperry attributed his longevity, 95 years, to the fact that he did not drink, smoked only two years, worked hard all the time and took care of himself, never went to any extreme or bound himself to any hard and fast rules. He broke a habit that was growing on him and kept his will power. He died in Hartford, Conn. His wife, Nancy B. Miller, was born June 26, 1818; died Aug. 31, 1883.
Aner Sperry wrote Mrs. John Lanning two letters, dealing with reminiscences of pioneer times in Russia. Excerpts from those letters follow. The first is dated Apr. 15, 1906:
"I remember seeing you when you were young at your home. I knew your father and both of his wives. When I visited Russia I always called on Abner Moon. He was a very bright man and a good leader."
"Newey Moon (Mrs. Renewed, wife of John Prindle) was my first school teacher. Your grandfather, Benager (Benajah) Moon, was a great friend of mine. I remember that Oliver Barker was at work for him and a shower came up and Mr. Barker was killed by lightning."
The second letter is dated Apr. 30, 1906:
"The first thing that I (Aner Sperry) remember was the old cow cropping the grass in the dooryard and I took hold of her tail and she objected to it and a scar on my head is the proof of her objection."
"The house where I was born consisted of 110 logs. The back of the chimney was made of cobble stones stuck together with clay and that afforded the light except a small hole on the side with a board slide over it. All of the cash paid out was twelve cents for one pound of nails for the two doors. And, as the family increased an addition was made to it."
"A trout brook crossed the farm and I had a fish basket which I filled with trout nearly every day. I spent considerable time in that brook. We had hens, ducks, and geese. When mother picked the ganders they would fight, and she drew a stocking over their heads. Father drew the hay into the barn on a sled and one of the girls was on the load and as they had to cross the road and cattle ran in the road I was placed at the bars. We had about 50 apple trees and I can give the names of nearly all of them."
"We lived on the Beecher Hollow Road. It ran from Russia Corners to the Creek Road. Deacon Johnson (Isaiah Johnson) lived on the corner of the Creek Road. Some winters it was not broke out until spring. I remember one spring the road was broke out about the tenth of April and we got to the foot of the road near the corners and I was sent up to Esq. Frink's (Adam Frink) store for a jug of rum. As Deacon Johnson was the oldest man there it was handed to him first and he sampled it and said it is proper good."
"I would pick blackberries and lug a twelve-quart pail full to the Corners (Russia) and generally get two cents a quart, but sometimes could not sell them and Esq. Frink would take them and give me a yard of cotton cloth."
- Alanson K., born Feb. 28, 1814; died June 29, 1891. He had children: Annie, Lucy D., Pitkin H. and Neddie. Pitkin H. resided in Marinette, Wis.
- Nancy Ann, born July 1, 1816; died Aug. 10, 1854. Married Henry Bills, son of Jeremiah and Lovina (Bunce) Bills. They had Emily and Wealthy.
- Lucy B., born May 23, 1822; died Nov. 12, 1891. Married _____ Loveland. Their son is George H. of Syracuse, N.Y.
- Frederick S., born June 9, 1825; died Nov. 29, 1917. Married Sarah G. Moon (1836-1889). Was in Civil War.
Stephen Sperry, the son of Asa and Esther (Tuttle) Sperry, was born Sept. 24, 1777, in Woodbridge, Conn. Married Fanny Bradley, born Mar. 18, 1780; died June 3, 1840, the daughter of Philo and Rhoda (Wattles) Bradley. Stephen Sperry was a farmer and of the Methodist Episcopal faith. From Russia he moved, about 1818, to Genesee County, N.Y., and thence to the town of Clayton, Jefferson County, N.Y. He and his wife are buried at Clayton Center, N.Y. Stephen and Fanny (Bradley) Sperry had children:
- Rhoda, born 1798; died Dec. 30, 1860, in Russia. She was a member of the Russia Methodist Episcopal Church.
- Merit, died Jan. 22, 1857, in Clayton. His children were Grace, wife of Sylvester Walrath; Ann, wife of Albert J. Sawyer; Hart M., E. Lucreta, Rhoda, Charles B., Schuyler and Delevan.
- Grace, born Mar. 1804; died Dec. 12, 1842. Married Solon Hubbard, born Sept. 1803; died Oct. 16, 1879. They resided in Russia.
- Minerva, married Wallace Enos.
- Polly, married _____ Higgins. Resided in Canda West.
- Jane, married _____ Kilburn.
- Adaline, married _____ Griswold.
- Ann, born Apr. 30, 1813, in Russia; died May 29, 1892, in Poland. Married Nov. 16, 1834, Elijah Seavey, born Aug. 7, 1812; died May 23, 1895. Their lives were spent in the town of Russia. Ann Seavey was baptized into the fellowship of the Russia Baptist Church by Elder John Carpenter in 1841. In 1860 she became a member of the Russia Methodist Episcopal Class then formed. They had two children, Jerome L. and George K.
- 10. Sophronia.
- 11. Pamelia.
- 12. Amanda, born Dec. 5, 1818; died May 16, 1910. Married June 17, 1844, Giles A. Russell, born 1821; died 1903. About 1828 she came to Gravesville from Clayton, N.Y., to reside with her sister, Mrs. Solon Hubbard. In 1860 she experienced religion and became a member of the Russia Methodist Episcopal Church. She was noted for her lovable qualities and activity in church work. Their children were Sarah, John, Solon, Fannie, Helen, William B., Wallace D.
Nehemiah Sperry was a third cousin of the above Stephen Sperry, and a son of Simeon and Patience (Smith) Sperry. He was born Sept. 5, 1780, in Woodbridge, Conn. Married 1802, Sybil Sanford, born July 27, 1782, in Woodbridge, Conn; died Oct. 13, 1862, in Sherman, N.Y., the daughter of Stephen and Sybil (White) Sanford. Nehemiah Sperry removed to Russia in 1810 and from there to Sherman, N.Y., in 1834. He was an original shareholder in the Russia Union Church and affiliated with the Presbyterian denomination. He served in the militia at the battle of Sacketts Harbor in the War of 1812. Hewas an ardent Abolitionist. Nehemiah Sperry died July 11, 1860, at Sherman,
N.Y. The children of Nehemiah and Sybil (Sanford) Sperry were:
- Leonard (1802-1893), married, 1st, Sally Briggs; 2nd, Mrs. Eunice Crane.
- Merit, born Apr. 5, 1806; died Aug. 18, 1863; married Beulah Bunce.
- Mary, born Apr. 23, 1808; married Silas Woodin.
- Beede, born Apr. 9, 1810; died Oct. 5, 1860; married, 1st, David Richardson; 2nd, David Moore.
- Lewis (1813-1854); married Emeline Sperry.
- Henry W. (1815-1885); married Harriet Williams.
Continue on to Part 7.
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