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Biography of Colonel Abial Rolfe

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Colonel Abial Rolfe, a prominent resident of Penacook, was born March 29, 1823, on the estate where he now resides, son of Henry and Deborah (Carter) Rolfe. His grandfather, Nathaniel Rolfe, came here from Haverhill, Mass., when there were but few settlers in this section. Nathaniel converted a tract of wild land into a good farm, built a frame house, and carried on farming and lumbering throughout the rest of his life. His son Henry grew up on the farm, receiving his education in the Concord schools. When old enough to engage in business for himself, Henry followed the same occupations that had been pursued by his father. In connection with the lumber business he controlled a water-power, and did considerable sawing. He was a very influential man in the town, took an interest in public affairs, and was a strong Whig. In the command of a militia company, he was an exacting and painstaking drill-master. He died at the age of seventy years. His wife, Deborah, a native West Concord, was the mother of seven girls and four boys; namely, Judith N., Jane C., Rhoda C., Phœbe W., Deborah, Lydia, Martha, Nathaniel, Timothy, Henry, and Abial.

Colonel Rolfe was educated in the private school at Hopkinton, under the famous John Ballard, and at the institutes in Pembroke and Salisbury. After compieting his studies he taught school for four terms, acquiring a high reputation as a disciplinarian, and successfully managing a school which several preceding masters had failed to control. Since that time Colonel Rolfe has retained a warm interest in public education. After giving up school teaching, he was engaged in the manufacture of doors, sashes, and blinds, for a period of fifteen years. In 1855 he was first elected to the School Board of Concord, on which he continued to serve for over thirty years. In 1856 and 1857 he was sent to represent the town in the State legislature, and in 1860 was appointed on Governor Goodwin’s staff, where he served for two years, and received his title of Colonel. In 1882 he was elected Ward Assessor, which office he filled for eight years with entire impartiality. Colonel Rolfe is now a bank messenger in Penacook, and also transacts some business in insurance.

Colonel Rolfe’s connection with banking and insurance has led him to become interested in the various methods of computing interest. Recognizing the need of uniformity in this particular, he has formulated a simple and practical rule, which he hopes to have legalized as the court rule by the legislature. It provides for computing the annual interest, which is the legal interest in this State, on interest-bearing notes covered by partial payments, at different rates of per cent., and when there are odd months and days. The method of doing this is published in a pamphlet copyrighted by the author, in the belief that it meets a long-felt want.

Colonel Rolfe married Sarah Elizabeth Call, who, born in West Boscawen, now Webster, died in 1881. A daughter, Lizzie E., who was for twenty-two years a teacher in the schools of Penacook, survives her. Colonel Rolfe is a veteran fireman, having been connected with the pioneer engine company of Penacook for thirty years. He was manager for many years of the old Merrimack County Agricultural Society. The Colonel is an esteemed member of Horace Chase Lodge, No. 72, F. & A. M., of Penacook; and of Contoocook Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In politics he is a Republican, and he cast his first Presidential vote for Henry Clay in 1844. His religious belief is the Congregational.


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