Biography of Cyrus Washburn Wicker
WICKER, CYRUS WASHBURN, son of Lemuel and Sally (Haskell) Wicker, was born in Hardwick, Mass., on the 12th day of August, 1814, and was brought by his parents to Orwell, Vt, when he was two years of age. His grandfather, William Wicker, came with them and with them settled on the shore of Lake Champlain, just south of Mount Independence, farming in early life, until partially disabled by an injury to his hip, after which he pursued the calling of a shoemaker. His extraction was a mixture of English and Scotch. He died April, 1813, aged eighty-four years – having survived his wife but a short time. It is probable that he was a native of Hardwick. He was the father of six sons and four daughters. Lemuel Wicker was born in Hardwick in 1783, and was therefore thirty-three years of age when he accompanied his father to Orwell, Vt. He was a farmer and blacksmith. The mother of the subject of this sketch was the second wife of Lemuel Wicker, and was the daughter of George Haskell, a farmer of Hardwick, who died on the 25th of May, 1837, aged seventy-six years, just two months and eight days after the death of his wife, Comfort, who was about the same age as he. Lemuel Wicker, the fourth child of six boys and four girls, died in Orwell, Vt., on the 20th day of July, 1825, leaving his wife, who followed him on the 22d day of July, 1831, aged forty-one.
Cyrus W. Wicker was the eldest of the five children of Lemuel Wicker. He had three sisters – Mary, Abigail, and Eliza, of whom the last named was the widow of the late Colonel Clark Callender, of Shoreham, Vt. He also has one brother, Charles, who is now living in New Haven, Vt. He also has one half-brother, who was the son of his mother by her second husband, George H. Rowley, who is now a resident of Essex county, N. Y.
The early life of Mr. Wicker was more eventful than that of most boys in New England. He received a common school education in Orwell, Vt.; but after the death of his father, when he was but eleven years of age, he was compelled by circumstances to take care of himself. His mother hired him out to work on a farm in the vicinity, in which occupation he remained about two years. He then passed two summers on the Champlain Canal, then but recently opened, and was in that brief period promoted from the towpath to the helm. About 1829 he went to Cornwall, Vt., to live with his uncle, Benjamin F. Haskell, a prominent merchant of that town. Here he remained until 1835, dividing his time between the studies of the school-room, where he completed his education, and the duties of his position as clerk in his uncle’s store, where he received a very good business education. Immediately upon his obtaining his majority he went to his native town in Massachusetts on a visit, after which he repaired to the home of another uncle, Bela B. Haskell (who at the present writing is still living), at Waldoboro, Maine. Mr. Wicker came to Ferrisburgh, Vt., in March, 1836, in pursuance of the advice of a friend of his uncle at Cornwall, Vt., and in the following May, in company with said uncle, opened a store on the hill just east of the bridge, at North Ferrisburgh, Vt., as a branch of the store at Cornwall. In a few years he severed his connection with his uncle and built a store opposite the grist-mill, which he occupied continuously until 1849 (excepting a short time after 1844), when he sold out to a Union Mercantile Company, which soon afterwards gladly sold back to him. From about 1840 to 1843 he was a member of the firm of Sholes, Wicker & Co., his partners being Orrin Sholes and his brother Charles H. Wicker. In 1849 Mr. Wicker removed his business to the west side of the river into the same building now occupied by Joseph L. St. Peters. Here be continued his trade until the spring of 1877, when he sold out to the present occupant of the building, who had for the eight preceding years been in his employment as a clerk. Thus Mr. Wicker achieved more than ordinary success; beginning his business in a very small way, which gradually increased from year to year. Mr. Wicker first occupied his present dwelling house in 1838. It was erected by Rowland T. Robinson, and afterwards occupied by John Van Vliet and others.
Mr. Wicker’s political opinions have never been of that dubious character which cannot be named, or which are not known; but he has rather been outspoken in his views at all times. Before the last war he was an uncompromising antislavery man, and a member of the Free Soil party, and since the organization of the Republican party has ever been identified with it in interest.
The confidence of his townsmen in his ability and honesty is attested by the fact that at different times they have bestowed upon him nearly all of the offices within their gift. He represented Ferrisburgh, Vt., in the Legislature in 1857 and 1858; has been for many years trustee of the United States Deposit Fund for support of public schools, and among still other offices has held the position of justice of the peace for nearly forty years. Among the county offices which have fallen to his lot are the positions of county commissioner, which he held for several years, and of assistant judge of the County Court, which he held in 1881 and 1882.
His religious preference is Congregational, and he has been a member of that denomination nearly all of his lifetime. There is no church of this creed in this part of the town, however, and therefore, when a Wesleyan Methodist Church yeas organized here a number of years ago, he allied himself with it for a time.
On the 10th of October, 1838, Mr. Wicker married Maria D. Halladay, a daughter of Theodore and Delight Halladay, of Shoreham, Vt. They subsequently moved to Middlebury, where he died March 30, 1857, aged seventy-four years, and his wife August 20, 1853, aged sixty-nine years. Mrs. Wicker was the seventh of eleven children (six sons and five daughters), and was born on the 28th day of July, 1817. Her grandfather was Azariah Halladay, the first of the family to come to Vermont; was born in Hartford, Conn., and died in Shoreham, Vt., on the 11th day of February, 1831, in the eightieth year of his age. Mr. and Mrs. Wicker have had a family of three sons, viz.: Henry C. (now traffic manager of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad at Chicago – he is forty seven years of age); Cassius Milton (commissioner of the Chicago Freight Bureau, composed of merchants, manufacturers, and Board of Trade, in Chicago – forty-two years old); and Lemuel Theodore, who was born in 1850, and died when but three years of age. Besides the two sons who have reflected great credit upon their parents by their unusual success, Mr. and Mrs. Wicker have a parent’s interest in Charles S. Lavake, a nephew, who came from Ohio to live with them in 1862, when he was fourteen years of age, and remained with them until February, 1869 ; he was one of the founders of the house of Sullivan, Drew & Co., in New York city, but is now a member of the firm of James G. Johnson &. Co., wholesale milliners in New York city.