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Elkins, Orison Nelson

MILITARY SERVICE

Age: 0, credited to Troy, VT
Unit(s): State
Service: COL, staff of wartime Governor J. Gregory Smith

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations

VITALS

Birth: 02/07/1838, Troy, VT
Death: 02/26/1887

Burial: North Troy Cemetery, Troy, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Heidi McColgan
Findagrave Memorial #: 174001200

MORE INFORMATION

Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Unknown
Portrait?: Unknown
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None

DESCENDANTS

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BURIAL:

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Tombstone

Tombstone

North Troy Cemetery, Troy, VT

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Orion N. Elkins

NEWS & CITIZEN: MARCH 3, 1887

Colonel O.N. Elkins, widely known in this part of the state, died at his residence at North Troy, Wednesday morning, aged 49. He was a member of Governor Smith's staff during the war, a member of the legislature in 1872 and 1873, and was largely instrumental in building the Missisquoi & Clyde River railway, being secretary and treasurer of the company several years. He was a member of the State, district and county Republican committees, was post master at North Troy for 24 years, and held nearly every town office within the gift of the people. Col. Elkin' death is a state loss. Politically he was a true and devoted Republican-socially kind-hearted and genial. As a business man conscientious and square in the fullest sense of the word, and in all relations of life a true gentleman.

Submitted by Deanna French.

Biography

Orion Nelson Elkins, son of Jonathan and Jane (Rolfe) Elkins, was born February 7, 1838, in Troy, Vermont.

"He attended the common schools of the town, and afterwards entered the Fairfax institute of Fairfax, Vermont. He acquired a love for literature which he always retained. When sixteen years of age he became a clerk in the store of a prominent merchant of Fairfield. Two years later he went to Kansas with his father. They settled in a small town on the Missouri river, a short distance from Kansas City, and the young man entered upon his former occupation of clerk.

It was in 1856, the crucial period when the bitter controversy between the north and south incident to the question of slavery had assumed alarming proportions. It was the time when the admission of Kansas into the Union as a free state was being discussed in Congress. Those were stirring times, and political feeling ran high. Young Elkins, aroused by the apparent evils of a system of slavery which his northern training had led him to abhor, found what was before little more than a sentiment now fast becoming welded into a fixed principle, and, acting upon his conviction, he took a bold stand against every form of slavery and opposed it by every means in his power, even aiding in the escape of slaves from Missouri.

He returned to Vermont before the conflict was over, and in 1861, in partnership with his father, established a general mercantile business in North Troy. He made himself thoroughly familiar with the details of his business, and, while he built up an establishment that attracted customers even from a distance, and thus by wise and far-seeing management laid the foundation for a successful mercantile career, he at the same time established a reputation for honesty of purpose and fair dealing, for business integrity as well as for business ability. For some years he was in partnership with his father, who afterwards retired. Colonel Elkins was then associated for a short time with John Wheeler, and subsequently with George Braley, of Oregon. In 1878 Colonel Elkins became sole proprietor of the business, which he continued until 1883, when he sold it to Lewis & Company. After this he gave his attention to the development of various business enterprises with which he was connected, and in 1884, he purchased the "Creek Mill, " in Potton, Quebec, which largely claimed his attention during his later years.

In the same year in which he entered upon business (1861) he was appointed postmaster of the village of North Troy, and retained the position until 1885, when his removal was caused by a change of administration. An examination of his accounts showed the same accuracy and efficiency that had characterized his business methods. His service had been eminently satisfactory to the community and to the postoffice department, and only the application of political rules was responsible for the termination of his official position.

During the Civil war period, while he did not enter the ranks, his heart was in the Union cause, and he was active in looking after the interests of the wives and children of those who were in the thick of the iight, and instrumental in furnishing a large part of the supplies that were needed, showing a large-hearted patriotism and enthusiasm that were contageous. In 1863 he was appointed on the staff of Governor Gregory as aide, with the rank of colonel. While serving in this capacity he accompanied the governor on several visits to the national capital and to the seat of war in Virginia, and was instrumental in providing for the necessities of the Vermont troops, and rendered specially useful services in having proper provision made for the sick and wounded. He also aided efficiently in organizing home guards for the protection of the northern frontier of his state against raiding forces of the rebel government. He afterwards paid an enduring tribute to the patriot soldier of North Troy in his compilation of the list, which was published, with biographical sketches of some of the most conspicuous, in the Vermont Historical Magazine.

Colonel Elkins was ever interested in public affairs, and was first to encourage all public improvements, and always willing to aid in any undertaking which would advance the general prosperity of the community. Evidence of this exists to-day in the splendid lighting, roads and side-walks of the village. He was deeply interested in education, and gave valued service as a member of the school board and as secretary of the board of trustees of the Alissisquoi Academy. He favored the modern methods of instruction and recognized the necessity of physical as well as intellectual culture. He was one of the original projectors of the Missisquoi and Clyde Rivers Railroad Company, chartered by the legislature of Vermont in 1869, and afterwards controlled by the trustees of the South Eastern Railroad Company, which made Troy a noted shipping point for lumber and farm produce, and which also brought business of various kinds to the village.

Nor was his efforts confined to his own community, in which he had occupied nearly every official position. In 1872 he was elected to the legislature. Averse to prominence, he seldom engaged in debate, but he rendered excellent service as a member of various important committees which formulated much salutary legislation —those on ways and means, on railroads and corporations, and of the joint committee on the reform school, and in the last named he was chairman of the contingent from the lower house.

Colonel Elkins was a member of the Republican party, and exerted a strong political influence, but never allowed party spirit to control his actions at the expense of principle. He believed thoroughly in the tenets of his party and was enthusiastic in promulgating them. For this reason he gained the good will of both adherents and opponents. He was a member of the Republican county committee for a number of years, also of the town committee, and was often prominent in the Republican county conventions. He was a delegate to the state convention several times, and was esteemed as a valuable member.

In religion he was a member of the Protestant Episcopal church and was one of the founders of St. Augustine's church, of which he was a loyal supporters. He was a lay reader in the church, and on occasion conducted services in most reverential spirit. While firmly established in his own religious belief, he had a deep respect for the opinions of those who differed from him, and never allowed himself to become bigoted or intolerant. His personal traits were those which mark the model Christian gentleman. He showed the greatest respect and affection for his parents, giving them his greatest care and attention during their later years, and the suffering and distressed were ever the objects of his commiseration and bounty.

Colonel Elkins was married February 26, 1879, to Mrs. Mary Loraine (Porter) Chamberlain, at Lowell, Massachusetts. Her parents were Eleazor and Mary A. (Culver) Porter. Her father was a native of New Hampshire, and was educated in Vermont, where he lived the life of a farmer. He was a man of excellent character and a staunch Republican. His wife was also born in New Hampshire, her father, John Culver, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and was granted a pension for three years' actual service as private in the Connecticut troops, and his service for a portion of the time was under Captain Harmon and Colonel Durkee. A grandfather of Mrs. Culver, named Jenks, was granted a coat of arms for distinguished services in the early colonial days. Mary L. Porter was born at North Troy, Vermont, where, August 20, 1873, she was married to Dr. E. Chamberlain, of La Crosse, Wisconsin. April 1, 1875, a son came to gladden their home. December 3, 1876, Dr. Chamberlain died, and his widow went to Lowell, Massachusetts, to live. She was married to Colonel Elkins, as before related. Their home life was particularly happy, and they were held in affection by a host of friends who knew them for their excellent disposition and abundant hospitality.

Eight years from the time of his marriage Colonel Elkins died, February 26, 1887, after an illness of one month.

Hiram Carleton, Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, (Lewis Publishing Co., New York, 1903), ii:605-607

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