A paper read by C.A. Hammond, Esq.
at the annual Hammond picnic
held at Marathon, August 31, 1877
Cortland, N.Y.

We have assembled to keep alive the memory of our common ancestor, Dea. John Hammond, who came to this town from Suffolk county, L.I., in April 1813. He was then 47 years of age, and had quite a large family consisting of ten children, one of whom was married and remained on Long Island.

At that early day the emigrant came, not by cars in a few hours' time but by sailing vessel on the Hudson river to Catskill, thence by ox-team and several days toilsome journey through the woods and over the primitive roads to Marathon. He came in company with an old friend, Dea. Gerhard, who had already purchased a farm with a house on it, near the spot on which our ancestor settled.

The farm on which we are now assembled was his first residence, but he afterwards removed to the farm now occupied as a residence by one of his youngest sons, Samuel Hammond, 1 ½ miles above Marathon Village. On this farm he lived until his death, Feb'y 2, 1843. He was widely known and universally esteemed for his sterling integrity, his practical good sense, and his devoted self-denying christian spirit. Although his official position was only that of a Deacon in the Baptist church, he was regarded with much of the veneration and respect which is bestowed on a worthy Minister of the Gospel. I well remember that when, as a boy, I attended the old Baptist church at Freetown Corners, Dea. Hammond, when occasionally present, used to be often called upon by the pastor at the close of the sermon to make the closing prayer, which he did, with a simple fervor, fluency, zeal and capacity which interested and edified all who heard him. He was a downright good man, in the true sense of the word. Not simply pious and Godly, but a good and true man in all the relations of his life. He loved his fellow men whom he had seen, as well as his God whom he had not seen, and aimed in all his dealings with others to do as he would be done by. He was no fawning office-seeker, ready to change his opinions to suit the popular currents, but he held his opinions conscientiously and earnestly, and would have yielded up his life sooner than his integrity and uprightness. His habits were simple and wholesome. Through not what is called now-a-days a tetotaler, as few in those early days were, he was always temperate in all things, never giving loose rein to any of his appetites, in passion, but making them obey what he deemed to be the voice of reason, conscience and God.

His devoted christian wife was every way worthy of him. From the time when, before she was fifteen, she became his true and loving wife, until seventy-six years later, she died on the old farm at Marathon, she was the same honest-hearted, clear-headed, noble, christian woman. My recollections of her are uniformly pleasant, as undoubtedly those of most of us are, as she died so recently most of us remember her. Her favorite books were the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress and her quotations from both were copious and generally correct. She cared comparatively little for religious forms, but she appreciated and was possess by the true religious spirit of love to God and love to Humanity. May we, their descendants, long remember and emulate the solid virtues of such progenitors.

Dea. John Hammond lived to a good old age, seventy-seven, and had the medical skill of the present day been at hand, perhaps he might have lived much longer. His honored wife lived to be ninety-one, and many of their offspring have attained advanced age.

Lengths of days is spoken of in the Bible as one of the rewards of a righteous life, and there is a natural connection between longevity and virtue. As passion, vice and crime tend to shorten, so do temperance, virtue and honesty tend to lengthen human life.

These worthy ancestors of ours were the parents of fourteen children, six of whom are now living.

JOHN lives in Michigan, at the advanced age of eighty-six, and retains his faculties of mind and body to a remarkable degree, and spends much of his time in reading the Bible without glasses. His descendants, living and dead, number seventy, viz: ten children, thirty-one grand-children, and twenty-nine great-grand-children, nearly all of whom are living.

CALVIN lives in Marathon, aged eighty, still retaining to a remarkable degree, considerable vigor of body and mind, taking an interest in public affairs, healthy, temperate, honest and sensible, a worthy son of a noble sire. He has three living children, and six living grand-children; one child and four grand-children having died.

SILAS, aged seventy-eight, lives in Freetown and is still full of vigor and activity, mental and bodily, having been for many years actively engaged in the benevolent and reformatory movements, as well as having been in the early part of his life an active and successful man of business. He has three children and three grand-childred now living, have lost four grand-children by death.

ZOPHAR D. lives in Michigan, aged seventy three, and is now in quite comfortable health, having been the father of fourteen children, and the grand-father of eighteen grand-children, nearly all of whom are now living. He is a good man and a worthy citizen, having been chosen by his neighbors to fill some responsible position.

SAMUEL lives on the old homestead in Marathon, where both of his parents spent their last days, and you all know him to be a good citizen, and an honored and honorable member of society. He has had five children, three of whom, and one grand-child are still living.

JOSEPH lives in Kansas, a good and true man from his youth up, and has six children and five grand children.

Of those who have departed this life, LUCRETIA and OLIVER died in infancy. NOAH was killed by being accidentally thrown from a wagon on September, 1856, aged 48. He had resided in Michigan many years and was a reputable citizen. From him descended seven children, twenty-eight grand-children, and six great-grand-children. PHOEBE died November 15, 1862, aged 52, having spend her life mostly in Marathon, a faithful daughter, and affectionate sister, a loving wife, a fond mother, leaving one daughter, who has had two children ELECTA died at Marathon March 14, 1866, aged 60, having also nobly filled all the relations of daughter, sister, wife and mother, and leaving four children and eight grand-children. SALLY, who had always lived on Long Island, died there July 8th, 1872, aged 78. She, too, was a worthy daughter of such parents, and had nine children, twenty-five grand-children and thirteen great-grand-children. George W. died at Marathon July 27, 1874, aged 62. He had eight children and five grand-children, and left behind him an honored name. LUTHER died at McGrawville, N.Y., January 12, 1876. He had twelve children and twenty two grand-children, and was also an honest, industrious man, and a useful citizen.

To Recapitulate: - Dea. John Hammond was father of fourteen children, grand-father of eighty three grand-children, great-grand-father of one hundred and sixty three great grand-children, and great-great-grandfather of forty-eight great great-grand-children. Making in all descended from him in the direct line, three hundred and eight persons.

His character and individuality have been, of course, in a greater or less degree stamped upon all these human beings. If he can look down upon us from the bright abodes of the blest, with what varied emotions must he behold our toils and struggles, our conflicts with temptation, our victories or defeats! Let us live continually as under his serene and fatherly eye! Let us be thankful for whatever we have been able to accomplish in the way of forming good and pure characters, and developing strong and efficient bodies and minds. :"Better is he that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh a city." Let us be thankful, too, for whatever we have been able to do in the way of aiding our fellow men in the great conflict of life; for whatever we have been able to do in resisting popular and powerful wrongs, and in championing the cause of the oppressed and the outraged.

The World and God have a right to expect more of us, their posterity, on account of the virtues of our ancestors. If we fall from the heights on which we are placed by that ancestry, far greater will be our shame than if we had sprung from a degenerate race. As our noble ancestor hewed away the primitive forests which covered the soil when he came to Marathon, let us hew away the growths of ages of ignorance, superstition and sensuality, and prepare the soil of public sentiment for the growths of wisdom and purity. As he pioneered the way physically to better conditions, let us pioneer the way morally to higher planes of thought and life.

It is said that no descendant of Dea. John Hammond has ever been a drunkard. Let all his living descendants swear eternal hostility to the vice of intemperance and to the infamous system of licensing the sale of intoxicating poisons.

Our ancestor was a deeply religious man. Let us, though differing in respect to dogmas and forms all be permeated and vitalized by that high purpose to make the world the better for our having lived in it, which is the soul of all true religion.

Since our last annual gathering one of the youngest of our members, one of the brightest and best, full of youth, and hope, and promise, the hope and pride of his parents and friends, has gone, suddenly and without warning, from all that he held dear on earth, and from all who loved him, like the morning star "that goes not down behind the darkened west, nor hides itself, obscured by clouds, but melts away into the light of heaven."

Who shall next be called? Let us be also ready.

That when at length our summons come to join the innumerable caravan that go to take their station in the silent halls of shade,
We go not like the galley slave, scourged to his dungeon,
But sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust,
Approach our grave as one that wraps the drapery of his couch about him
And lies down to pleasant dreams.

Story provided by,
Maxine Buckman
March, 2000

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