John E. French, one of the leading men of affairs of Bradford, Merrimack County, was born in this town. February 27, 1843. He is a son of Daniel French, and the grandson of Offin French, an early settler of Bradford.
Offin French was born in South Hampton, N.H., in 1761; and when but a boy he entered Paskey Pressy, one of the brave soldiers who enlisted from Warner; and after the war was over he came to Bradford, N.H., and, continuing the acquaintance formed on the battlefield, met, wooed, and won as his wife, Susannah, a daughter of Mr. Pressy. After marriage the young couple settled on a farm one-half mile east of Bradford Centre; and here were born and reared their children, thirteen in number. Offin French lived to the age of threescore years and ten; and his wife, who was born some years later than he, died within the remembrance of her grandson, John E., at the age of eighty-seven years.
Daniel French came into possession of the old homestead, and cared for his parents in their declining years. He afterward settled on a place a third of a mile north-east of Bradford, where he farmed for twenty-eight years, removing then to the village, in which he lived until his death in 1867, aged threescore and ten years. His wife survived him, dying in 1876, aged seventy-six years. Her maiden name was Abigail Cressy. She was born in Bradford, and was a daughter of John Cressy, whose father was a soldier in the French and Indian War, and also in the Revolution, probably serving from Bradford. Daniel and Abigail (Cressy) French were the parents of five children, namely: Mary Jane, widow of J. P. Marshall, living at Hawk’s Park, Fla.; Ira C., for some years a merchant in Bradford, subsequently engaged in the same line of business in Lansingburg, N.Y., where he died at the age of fifty-seven years; Sabria A., the widow of Frederick Cheney, living in this town; Christina P., the wife of Thomas Little, of Peterboro, N.H.; and John E., the direct subject of this biography.
John E. French lived on the home farm until fifteen years of age, when he came to the village, where he learned the tinner’s trade. While serving his apprenticeship of three years, he was given three months’ schooling each year, and at the end of the time received two hundred and ten dollars in cash. He followed his trade four years here and in Sutton, and was then engaged in mercantile business in Bradford for seven years, keeping a store well stocked with a general line of hardware, and running eight or ten pedlers’ carts. Disposing of his entire stock, he then embarked in the lumber business, buying, in partnership with George W. Tucker, of this place, large tracts of land, often including whole farms, for the sake of the timber, which they manufactured into lumber of all kinds. For ten years Mr. French has been engaged to some extent in settling estates, the last three years of the time making that business a specialty, and in the meantime he has had the guardianship of several minors, insane persons, and others debarred for special reasons from looking after their own interests. He is one of the Directors of the Citizens’ National Bank of Newport, N.H., and has a large interest in a sheep ranch in Wyoming. As a loyal and faithful citizen he takes an active interest in public affairs. He has held the office of Selectman; and in 1879 he was a Representative to the State legislature, serving while there on the Mining Committee. He is a sound Democrat, influential in political circles, attending all the county and State conventions, and was one of the ninety that walked out of the State Convention in 1896. He has been a member of the State Committee three terms.
Mr. French was married September 15, 1873, to Miss Emma F. Day, who was born in Orford, N.H., but was reared and educated in Concord. He was made a Mason in St. Peter’s Lodge, F. & A. M., of this town, one of the oldest lodges in the country, and is a member of Woods Chapter, R. A. M., of Henniker, in which he has served in various official capacities. Mr. French is a noted sportsman, and has shot more foxes than any other man in Merrimack County. He is a good marksman, very successful in duck and partridge shooting, and an expert at trout and salmon fishing.