Biography of Benjamin Lyman Culver

Benjamin Lyman Culver, late a retired resident of Pembroke, Merrimack County, N.H., who died December 6, 1896, was born in Norwich, Vt., August 10, 1830, son of the Rev. Lyman and Fanny (Hovey) Culver. The Culver family is of French origin, and is said to have been founded in America by Benjamin L. Culver’s great-grandfather, John Culver, who, it is thought, emigrated from Paris, France. He settled in Connecticut, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits for the rest of his life.

His son, James Culver, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in Connecticut; and in early life he settled in Vermont. He served in the French and Indian War. The active period of his life was spent in tilling the soil. He married; and he and his wife, who both lived to a good old age, reared a family of eight children. The parents were members of the Methodist Episcopal church and noted for their religious zeal. Two of their sons became ministers, and the Rev. David Culver preached in Pembroke in 1824.

Lyman Culver, Benjamin L. Culver’s father, was born in Willington, Conn.; and at the age of seven years he accompanied his parents to Norwich, Vt. His boyhood and youth were passed upon a farm, and his leisure hours were devoted to study. He was practically a self-educated man; and at the age of twenty-two, having fitted himself for the ministry, he became a Methodist preacher. Two years later he espoused the Calvinist Baptist faith, which he earnestly adhered to for the rest of his life; and he preached in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts for fifty years. He was one of the most estimable and devout Baptist clergymen of his day, and was sincerely loved by a large number of friends and acquaintances in different parts of New England. The Rev. Lyman Culver died in Harrisville, now Chesham, N.H., at the age of seventy-nine years. His wife, formerly Fanny Hovey, was a daughter of Edmund Hovey, of Craftsbury, Vt. She became the mother of eleven children, two of whom are now living, namely: Betsey Hovey, who married Zophar Willard, of Harrisville, N.H., and whose only daughter, Addie E., is the wife of Frank S. Harris, Troy, N.H.; and Sarepta S., who married Charles J. Smith, of Chesham, N.H., and has three children-Herman P., Flora A., and Charles M. A daughter named Caroline Arvilla, who died a few weeks ago, in June, 1897, was the wife of John H. Emmons, of Danbury, N.H., and had two children-Carrie F. and Retta E. Another daughter, Fannie Bell, is also deceased; and a son Levi died on his plantation at Taylor, Tex. The mother, Mrs. Fanny H. Culver, died at the age of seventy-six years.

Benjamin Lyman Culver was educated in the public schools in his native State, attending both common and high schools, and resided with his parents until he was sixteen years old. He then went to Boston; and, after living in that city two years, he went to Manchester, N.H., where he learned the art of photography. He applied himself thereafter to his calling in various parts of New England, till in 1865 he settled in Pembroke, where he conducted the business of a photographic studio some sixteen years. He finally relinquished photography, which he had followed successfully for thirty years; and for two years he was here engaged in the millinery and fancy-goods trade. Having acquired sufficient means with which to pass the rest of his life in rest and recreation, he in 1882 retired from active business pursuits, and spent his time leisurely at his pleasant home in the village of Suncook until his decease at the date above mentioned.

On January 24, 1856, Mr. Culver was united in marriage with Miranda G. Knowlton, daughter of Ariel P. and Abigail (Lee) Knowlton. Her father was a native of Hopkinton, N.H.; and her mother was born in Manchester, Mass. Mrs. Culver is of English ancestry; and her paternal grandparents were Daniel H. and Mary (Stocker) Knowlton, of Hopkinton. Daniel H. Knowlton was a blacksmith and a farmer. He supported the Whig party in politics, and in his religious views was a Congregationalist. He lived to be seventy-one years old, and his wife to be over seventy. Mrs. Culver’s mother was a daughter of Amos Lee, and a grand-daughter of Edward Lee, of Manchester, Mass., a seafaring man, who for many years was engaged in foreign trade. He was noted for his piety and religious zeal. He died at the age of over seventy years. Ariel P. Knowlton, Mrs. Culver’s father, was a boot and shoe manufacturer of Hopkinton. He was originally a Whig, but later a Republican, and was very conservative in his political views. He was deeply interested in educational matters, and served upon the School Committee for many years. He died at the age of seventy-one years, and his wife lived to be seventy-five. They were members of the Congregational church.

No children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Culver. Mr. Culver always supported the Republican party, but took no active part in political affairs beyond casting his vote. He was connected with the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. Culver was highly respected by his fellow-citizens. His life was an extremely busy one, and he died lamented by all. Mrs. Culver is a member of the Congregational church.


Biographical Review Publishing Company. Biographical Review; containing life sketches of leading citizens of Merrimack and Sullivan counties, N. H. Boston. Biographical Review Publishing Company. 1897.

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