The following data is extracted from Keene, Cheshire County, New Hampshire History.
John Symonds was born in Hancock, N. H., May 18, 1816, and spent his boyhood in that town. In 1836 he commenced work as an apprentice with Elijah Reed, at his tannery in Hancock, and was employed there and at other places till 1841, when he began the tanning business himself, at South Antrim. But before his tannery was well under way it was destroyed by fire. He lost everything and was left $500.00 in debt. He then went to Salem, where he worked at his trade for a time. In 1848 he removed to Marlow, N. H., when he again established himself in business, and soon built up a thriving industry, which added much to the wealth and prosperity of the town. He was frequently chosen to positions of trust, having been selectman and tax collector of the town, a deputy sheriff of the county and county commissioner while residing in Marlow. In 1859 he purchased the Wilson tannery in East Sullivan, which he kept in active operation for thirteen years. He held public positions here, and during the war accumulated a handsome property. In 1872 he came to Keene, purchased the Nims farm in West Keene, and with A. M. Bigelow & Co., extensive tanners of Boston, built the Cheshire tannery, the most extensive one in the state, in such manner as Mr. Symondss experience taught him was most convenient. It has a capacity of 1,800 sides a week, consumes 2,500 cords of bark a year, and gives employment to from thirty to forty men. The business has done much to build up the west part of the town. Mr. Symonds also built a handsome residence near the tannery, and resided there till his death, which occurred March 28, 1885. He was an active, enterprising and successful business man, and a generous and public spirited citizen. He was active and successful in his efforts to secure the erection of a handsome new school-house in district No. so, one of the best district school buildings in the state, and when completed he donated a bell for its use. Mr. Symonds was a staunch Republican, but refused public honors in Keene, except in one instance, when he represented his ward in the legislature. He was buried with Masonic honors by the Knights of Hugh de Payens Commandery, of which he was a member, and was the recipient of many touching testimonials of affection and esteem from his townsmen and employees. About the time Mr. Symonds first engaged in business for himself be was married to Caroline E. Robbins, of Nelson, whom he leaves a widow without children.
Source: Keene, Cheshire County, New Hampshire History