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Biography of Atherton, Cornelius

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Cornelius Atherton came in from Pennsylvania in 1803 or ‘4. He was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1736, and was the fourth in descent from Gen. Humphrey Atherton of Boston, from whom all the Athertons in America are descended. He married Mary Delano and with her removed to Amenia, Dutchess Co., N. Y., in 1763. He was a blacksmith by trade, and having discovered the process of converting iron into American steel, in 1772 he entered into a contract with the Messrs. Reed, merchants of that place, to superintend the erection of steel works, to be constructed by them, and to instruct their workmen in the art. The works were erected and were in successful operation during the war of the Revolution. From Amenia he returned to Cambridge, where he superintended an armory belonging to John and Samuel Adams and John Hancock, which was burned by the British soldiers during the Revolutionary war. Thence, in 1775 or ‘6, he removed to Plymouth, Luzerne Co., Pa., where he worked at his trade. He was drafted at the time of the Wyoming massacre, but his place was filled by his eldest son, Jabez, who volunteered to become his substitute, and was accepted and mustered in. The youthful patriot fell in that sanguinary engagement and his name heads the list on the Wyoming monument. Atherton’s wife, by whom he had seven children, died soon after the Wyoming massacre. He afterwards re-married and had seven children by his second wife. After his removal to Afton he continued to work at his trade till his death, December 4, 1809. Humphrey, his oldest son by his second wife, was a miller. He married a widow lady named Wicks, but had no children, and died in Afton, December 11, 1849, aged 62. Charles, his second son, was a blacksmith. He married a lady named Bramhall, with whom, a few years after, he removed to Friendship, Allegany Co., where he worked at his trade several years, till the death of his wife, when he sold his property and went with a friend to Emporium, Cameron Co., Pa., where he died May 13, 1869, aged 76. He had no children. Hiram, the third son, married Miss Lovina Sisson, of Plymouth, and followed his trade of wagon-maker a few years in Afton and subsequently for several years in Norwich, from whence he removed to Greene, and engaged in the cabinet business, which he pursued till his death, March 19, 1870, aged 73. They had five children, all of whom are dead, except one daughter, who is living with her mother in Norwich. William, the fourth son, was a shoemaker. He married Miss Jane E. Hamlin, by whom he had two children, both of whom died in infancy. They finally removed to Paterson, N. J., where both died, he August 2, 1879, aged 77. Cornelius, the youngest son, is still living in Afton. He has one son who is a telegraph operator on the Baltimore & Ohio R. R.

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