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Ruel Whitcomb, a resident of New London, Merrimack County, for nearly fifty years, was born December 20, 1822, in Newport, N.H., which was also the birthplace of his parents, Parmenas and Rua (Hurd) Whitcomb. His mother was a daughter of Samuel Hurd, a pioneer settler of Newport. His father’s father, Benjamin Whitcomb, removed from Henniker, this county, to Newport at an early period of its settlement.
Parmenas Whitcomb was a farmer and lumberman, and helped build a saw mill in his native town, living in Newport until his death, at the age of eighty-five years. His first wife died at the age of sixty-seven years, leaving four children, namely: Ruel; Sarah Ann, who was the wife of the late James Emerson; Lydia, who married Willard Morse, of Minneapolis, Minn.; and Parmenas, of Hanover, N.H., a printer at Dartmouth College. The father subsequently married Mrs. Orpha Metcalf, who died a few years later, leaving no children.
Ruel Whitcomb remained with his parents until seventeen years old, when he went to Croydon to learn the blacksmith’s trade. He served an apprenticeship of three years with Dennison Humphrey, his father taking his wages. Having mastered the trade, he followed it for two years as a journeyman, and then entered a scythe shop in Newport, working there for Larned & Sibley two years. In 1849 Mr. Whitcomb came to New London, obtaining a situation in the scythe factory at Scytheville. The plant had then been established but a few years, and was controlled by Phillips, Messer & Colby. He took a position as temperer, and remained there in that capacity forty years, during which period the business increased so that the force of men employed was enlarged from twenty-four to fifty. In the meantime there were various changes in the firm; and at the disbandment of the organization in 1889, all of the original members of the company having died, his employers were N. T. Greenwood & Sons. The village, which was once quite thriving, is now almost deserted; and the post-office, in which he served during President Cleveland’s first administration as Postmaster, had its name changed in January, 1896, to Elkins. Mr. Whitcomb has always been a stanch Democrat, much interested in his party; and he has attended the various local conventions since a young man.
Mr. Whitcomb was married October 31, 1841, to Miss Samantha R. Crosby, of Croydon. She died some eighteen years later, leaving one son, Edwin Ruel, of Elkins. He married Nellie Dill, of Gardiner, Me.; and they have one child, Brainard Edwin Whitcomb. On January 7, 1869, Mr. Whitcomb was married to Miss Lucy A. Woodbury, daughter of Judge John and Nancy (Wells) Woodbury, of Wilmot Flat. Judge Woodbury was a carpenter by occupation, and was one of the leading Democrats of his town. He served in the State legislature four years. Mr. and Mrs. Whitcomb have one child, a daughter-Bernette S., who is an accomplished musician, having taken a thorough course of study in music, which she now teaches with much success. Mr. Whitcomb and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Wilmot.