Avery Washburn, of Topeka, Kan., one of the oldest living pioneers of the capital city and the grandson of Nathan Washburn, a Revolutionary patriot, was born in Tolland county, Connecticut, Oct. 23, 1818. His parents were John E. and Lovina (Avery) Washburn, both of whom were also natives of Connecticut, the former having been born in 1787, the son of Nathan and Annah (Elithorpe) Washburn, natives of Connecticut. The Washburns were among the first settlers of Connecticut and while Nathan and his son, John E., were reared to agricultural pursuits, yet representatives of the family were conspicuous in the trades and professions of that day. John E. Washburn was the fourth in a family of seven children, of whom six were girls. He learned the molder's trade in his youth and combined that trade with farming all of his life. He enlisted to serve under the Stars and Stripes in the war of 1812, but was recalled before he reached the front, owing to the cessation of hostilities. He and his wife continued to reside in Connecticut until their respective deaths.
Avery Washburn, the subject of this review, was reared on the farm and secured about three months' schooling each year in his youth. At the age of nineteen, or in 1838, he bade farewell to his boyhood home and went to Cattaraugus county, New York, where he was engaged in farm work and became acquainted with his future wife and helpmate, Miss Castorn Gordon. On Nov. 9, 1841, he and Miss Gordon were united in marriage, and from that happy day in the little town of Rushford, N. Y., to the present time, a period of seventy years, these honored pioneers have traveled life's course together. Castorn Gordon is also descended from Revolutionary ancestry and is the daughter of William and Martha (Geary) Gordon. The former, a native of New Hampshire, was the son of James Gordon, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, who came to America during the Revolution as a soldier under General Burgoyne. When Burgoyne was defeated at Saratoga and his army made prisoners of war, many of the prisoners sought service with the Americans, James Gordon, the grandfather of Mrs. Washburn, being among them. He was made aide-de-camp to General Washington, under whom he fought with great distinction and bravery until the close of the war in 1781. After the war he went to New Hampshire, where he married a Miss Tarbell and resided in that state until after the birth of William, the father of Mrs. Washburn. He then removed to Cavendish, Vt., where he resided until 1812, when he removed to Rushford, Allegany county, New York, and there he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives, the former dying in 1845 and the latter in 1835. His sons were Thomas, James T., William, John and Wilson, all of whom located at Rushford, N. Y., except Thomas, who remained on the old homestead in Vermont. The Gordons and the Gearys were the first pioneers in Allegany county, New York, and Nancy Geary, a aunt of Mrs. Washburn, carried fire in a kettle all the way from Vermont to their home at Rushford, N. Y., as matches were unknown in that day. William Gordon, the father of Mrs. Washburn, was the first of the Gordons to locate in western New York, and settled at Rushford in 1809, where he married Martha Geary, the daughter of Enos Geary, a Revolutionary patriot.
Mr. and Mrs. Washburn began housekeeping in Rushford, N. Y., and continued to reside there until their removal to Topeka, Kan., in 1869. However, in 1857 Mr. Washburn visited the village of Topeka and purchased for $1,150 a squatter's claim to 160 acres of land located in what is now the western part of Topeka, but he soon returned to his home in New York and engaged in the woolen manufacturing business until ill health compelled him to seek employment in the open air. He then came to Topeka with his family. He moved into a shack which stood near the site of his present residence, and proceeded to improve his farm. He still owns eighty acres of his original purchase which, owing to the city's rapid growth, is practically surrounded by suburban homes. He and his wife have but one child, Frank M. Washburn, born in Rushford, N. Y., April 8, 1859. He was reared and educated in Topeka, and on May 8, 1884, was united in marriage to Miss Ella Townsend of Topeka. They have five children, all of whom were born in Topeka. They are: George A., born March 1, 1889; Ellwood G., born July 8, 1893; Frances; born April 8, 1898; Mary Castorn, born Sept. 11, 1904; and Helen Lovina, born April 26, 1907. Politically Mr. Washburn was formerly a Whig, but later aided in forming the Republican party and has advocated its principles ever since. He and his wife are members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Topeka and are numbered among its pioneer workers. They have always been liberal contributors to the church and to worthy charities. They are spending the closing years of their long and honorable lives in their pleasant home at 1127 Washburn avenue. On Nov. 9, 1911, they celebrated their seventieth marriage anniversary at their Topeka home, when many of their friends visited and extended congratulations on their remarkably long wedded life.Pages 1485-1487 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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