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The origin of names is various; many are taken from trades or professions; many are mere nicknames. Probably the best are from places where families resided, and where they possessed property. It seems that the Hassards, or Hazards, took theirs from the places in which they first settled in England. The manor of Haroldesore, in the parish of Ingleborne, in the county of Devon, is in old deeds called the manor of Hardiswardshore, otherwise Hardwardshore, otherwise Hasworth, otherwise Hazard, in Lyons, Magna, Britannia, Devonshire. The family of Hassard, Hazard, or Hassart, is of Norman extraction, and is of considerable antiquity. At the time of the Conquest they were living on the borders of Switzerland, and distinguished by the ancient but long extinct title of the Duke De Charante. Two bearing this title visited the Holy Land as crusaders. The family emigrated to England in the twelfth century, and thence branched out in Wales and Ireland. In the latter country they took an active part in the sieges — of Enniskillen and Londonderry. From the Hazards of Ireland were derived the Rhode Island stock of Hazards, from which is descended the subject of this sketch. The first of the name to settle in Rhode Island was Thomas Hassard, or Hazard, who came directly from England or Wales about the year 1639, settled near Acquidneck, and was one of the committee of three to lay out the town of Newport. His descendants became in time extensive land owners in the State.
Robert Hazard, the grandfather of Rufus, of whom we are writing, was one of the three brothers, the other two being Thomas, who went to New York city, where he now has prominent descendants, and Rowland, who died in Poughkeepsie, after accumulating a handsome property there, who were born in Rhode Island and went away to seek their fortunes. He came to Ferrisburgh, Vt., about the year 1800, and soon after purchased the mill property at North Ferrisburgh, Vt., and but for an unfortunate turn of affairs, for which he was in no way responsible, he would undoubtedly have achieved more than a competence. He died at North Ferrisburgh about 1836, aged more than eighty years. He was remarkable for his good sense, thorough honesty, and an unfortunate faith in the honesty of all others. He was well read, and especially excellent in the abundance of his historical information. His wife, Sarah Fish, who came with him from Rhode Island, survived him a year or two. She had the name of being one of the best housekeepers in the neighborhood. The family have, from time immemorial, connected themselves with the Society of Friends; and the descendants have not in this regard departed from the traditions of their ancestors.
Thomas Hazard, father of Rufus, was the eldest of nine children, and was born at South Kingston, R. I., about 1780. In 1804, or 1805, he married Lydia, a daughter of Wing Rogers, of Ferrisburgh, Vt., by whom he had a family of five children. Lydia Hazard died in the fall of 1836. Her husband died in November, 1840. Their children were born as follows: Robert, on the 5th of January, 1806; Rufus, June 15, 1808; Seneca, July 6, 1810; Mary, June 23, 1815; and Dennis, May, 17, 1819.
Rufus, Seneca, and Dennis are the only ones of the children who are now living; the first two in Ferrisburgh, Vt., and the last in Charlotte, Vt.
Rufus Hazard was given such an education as he could obtain from the district school of his native town, and advanced farther in most of his studies than the average pupil, by reason of his studious habits and keen mathematical turn of mind. He remained under his father’s roof until he was about twenty-two years of age. His father, not being a good manager, had permitted a heavy mortgage to settle upon the homestead, which the three sons, Robert, Rufus, and Seneca, deemed it important to remove. They accordingly, in 1835, seven years after its foreclosure, and after effecting laborious but profitable improvements in stocking and managing the property, succeeded in redeeming it from the mortgage, though the first year after they undertook it they were obliged to borrow money to pay the interest which had accumulated on the loan. In 1840 Rufus Hazard erected a good, substantial house and buildings on the place, and subjected the farm to other improvements, and remained there until 1867, in the spring of which year, owing to his wife’s failing health, he sold the entire property to Isaac Mosher and Benjamin F. Field, and removed to the house in which he now resides, and which was originally built by Robert B. Hazard, his uncle. Since coming to this part of the town, and for some time before, the principal business of his life has been the settlement of estates of descendants. Among the estates which he has thus settled were the mill property of George Hagan, about 1860; the estate of Joel Batty; and the estates of David Hazard, Thurston Chase, and Joseph Rogers.
In politics Mr. Hazard was originally a Whig, and left that party only upon its dissolution and the organization of the Republican party, of which he is now a member. He has held a number of the town offices, but has preferred the life of a quiet citizen to the more ambitious and stirring career of an habitual office-seeker. So far back as 1847 and 1848 he was one of the selectmen of the town.
As has been stated, the Hazards have been active members of the Society of Friends from an immemorial past, and in former years Rufus Hazard was one of the main pillars of the society in Ferrisburgh, Vt., relinquishing his active connection at last with it only upon the urgent demands for rest made by his failing health.
He has been married twice; first, on the 12th of June, 1835, to Sarah Allen, of Greenfield, Saratoga county, N. Y., whose religious preferences accorded perfectly with her husband’s. She died on the 6th of May, 1868. Mr. Hazard was married again on the 17th of May, 1869, to Ruth, a daughter of Dr. William Carey, an eminent physician of Saratoga county, and a minister in the Society of Friends. She was brought up in the same quarterly meeting as his first wife. Mr. Hazard has no children of his own, but he adopted and cared for a niece of his first wife, now Esther, wife of Thomas R. Nooan, of Addison, Vt. She left his house for that of her husband on the 14th of February, 1860.