Biography of Josiah Edwards Dwight

Josiah Edwards Dwight, a member of the noted old New England family to which President Timothy Dwight of Yale College belonged, is one of the leading Concord, N.H. Born in Belchertown, Mass., May 17, 1839, son of Harrison D. and Sophia (Cook) Dwight, he traces his lineage through his mother, also, back to the early days of the New England colonies.

On the paternal side his first ancestor to settle in this country was John Dwight, who came from Dedham, England, in 1634, and located in the part of Massachusetts afterward named Dedham. He was the second man of wealth in the settlement, and with eighteen others owned the land comprising later the town of Dedham and about nine surrounding towns. His daughter Mary was the first white child born in the town of Dedham. John Dwight’s son Timothy, from whom the subject of this sketch is directly descended, was born in Dedham, England, in 1629. He inherited the estate and virtues of his father, and was one of the prominent men of his day. A sturdy soldier, he was cornet of a troop in his younger days, and was afterward commander of a company of foot, and is commonly alluded to as Captain Timothy Dwight. His title was no empty honor, for he was engaged in ten expeditions against the Indians; and in 1660 he was one of two agents appointed to treat with the Indians, which they did with satisfactory results. He was for ten years Town Clerk of Dedham, twenty-five years Selectman, and two years Representative to the General Court. Captain Dwight is said to have “taught” in the Second Church in Boston previous to the settlement of its second minister, Increase Mather. He was married six times, and was the father of fourteen children. He died in 1717.

Captain Timothy Dwight’s son Nathaniel, who was known as Justice Nathaniel Dwight, was born in Dedham, November 20, 1666, and removed from Dedham to Northampton, Mass., in 1695. He, too, was a man of affairs, a trader, farmer, and surveyor of land on a large scale. A Justice of the Peace for a great many years, he was called upon to transact much important business. Justice Nathaniel Dwight was a very religious man. He died while on a business trip to West Springfield, Mass., in 1711; and his grave is the oldest in that city. The next in line is Captain Nathaniel Dwight, Jr., who was born in Northampton, Mass., in 1712, and was a brother of President Timothy Dwight of Yale College. He was a farmer and surveyor, and was one of the first settlers in Belchertown, Mass., where he located in 1734, and acted for some time as agent for Mr. Belcher, for whom the place was named. Prominent in all civil and religious affairs, he was county surveyor and a member of the church in Northampton of which Jonathan Edwards was pastor. Captain Nathaniel Dwight, Jr., was an earnest, practical, straightforward man, always ready for whatever duty called. He died in 1784.

His son, Captain Justus Dwight, who was born in Belchertown in 1739, was a farmer, and was town surveyor of Belchertown for a number of years. Politically a conservative, or a Tory, he believed that the independence of the colonies would eventually be consummated, but that they were premature in their uprising; and, paying a substitute who was anxious to fight, he calmly awaited the outcome of the Revolution. Justus Dwight, too, was a deeply religious man. He died in 1824. His son Nathaniel, grandfather of Josiah E. Dwight, was born in Belchertown in 1772. He was “a man of great good sense, great kindness of heart, and of unbending integrity, one of the most conscientiously honest men, a sincere, humble, consistent Christian. The distinguished name of Dwight has been honored as borne by this estimable man.”

Harrison D. Dwight, son of the third Nathaniel, was born in Belchertown in 1806. In his early manhood he was engaged in the manufacture of shotguns and rifles; and he was subsequently in the lumber and wood business, also following the pursuit of agriculture. Known and highly respected in Belchertown and the neighboring towns, he was often urged to accept public office, but invariably declined. He died in 1878. His wife, Sophia, was a daughter of David W. and Salome (Cady) Cook and a native of Hadley, Mass. David W. Cook, who was born in Hadley, July 26, 1779, traced his descent from Captain Aaron Cook, of Hadley, son of Aaron, of Northampton, Mass., through Moses, Aaron, and William. David W. Cook died in Belchertown in 1869. He was married November 23, 1799, to Salome Cady, who was born in Shutesbury, Mass., January 1, 1779, daughter of Jeremiah and Hannah (Warner) Cady.

Jeremiah Cady, Mrs. Sophia Cook Dwight’s maternal grandfather, was born in Killingly, Conn., July 17, 1752. He was descended from Nicholas Cady, an immigrant, who settled in Watertown, Mass., about 1645. Nicholas Cady had a son Joseph, who was known as Captain Joseph Cady; and Captain Joseph’s son Stephen’s son Samuel was Jeremiah Cady’s father. Jeremiah Cady was an active member of the celebrated Boston Tea Party of December, 1773. A record of his service as a Revolutionary soldier, enlisting from Shutesbury, Mass., is contained in the archives at the State House, Boston, as follows: “Jeremiah Cady, private in Captain Reuben Dickenson’s Company, Colonel Woodbridge’s regiment, enlisted May 15, 1775, served two months, one day.” From Shutesbury he was on muster-roll, August 1, 1775 (see vol. xiv. p. 84, at State House). Jeremiah Cady’s autograph signature is appended to a receipt for pay at Charlestown, July 27, 1775 (see vol. xxxv. p. 104). Jeremiah Cady, private, reported on roll of Captain Dickenson’s company, September 28, 1775, as from Shutesbury (vol. liv. p. 165). “Jeremiah Cady of Captain Noah Dickenson’s company, Colonel Elisha Porter’s regiment, enlisted August 18, 1777, discharged August 21, 1777, served four days in Hampshire County regiment, marched in alarm to New Providence” (vol. xviii. pp. 182 and 192). “Jeremiah Cady, private in Captain Joel Steven’s company, Colonel David Rassier’s regiment, enlisted October 12, 1781, discharged October 25, 1781. Roll dated at Pittsfield; served at Stillwater ” (vol. xxvi. p. 288, Field and Staff Rolls). Mr. Cady died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Salome Cook, June 1, 1848, aged ninety-five years, ten months, fourteen days. He was married in Amherst, Mass., November 12, 1772, to Hannah, daughter of Aaron and Ruth (Selden) Warner, of Amherst, Mass. Mrs. Cady was born June 30, 1754, and died about 1829.

Josiah Edwards Dwight received a good education, attending the public schools of Belchertown and the academy at Amherst, Mass. In 1855 he obtained employment as a clerk in the dry-goods house of E. H. Sanford at Worcester, Mass.; and after eight years of faithful service he in 1863 purchased an interest in the business, the firm becoming E. H. Sanford & Co. In 1865 he disposed of his share to Mr. Sanford, and removing to Concord, N.H., became associated with J. R. Hill, manufacturer of saddlery goods and harness, Mr. George H. Emery becoming a member of the firm at the same time. These three gentlemen conducted a flourishing business under the firm name of J. R. Hill & Co. until 1885, when Mr. Hill died. In 1888 a Mr. Dwight was made treasurer of the company, his present position. J. R. Hill & Co. are the manufacturers of the celebrated Concord harness. Much of the energy and ability of his ancestors has been transmitted to Mr. Dwight, with the integrity that is a distinguishing mark of his family; and he has the entire confidence of all with whom he has dealings. He is a director of the Eagle and Phoenix Hotel Company, director and vicepresident of the Hill Associates; and president of the Rumford Building and Loan Association. A stanch Republican, he has been elected to public office, and has faithfully discharged his duties. He was a member of the Concord Common Council two years, 1887 and 1888, a member of the Board of Aldermen in 1889 and 1890, in 1895 was appointed by Governor Busiel police commissioner of Concord to fill out the unexpired term of the Hon. Stillman Humphrey, deceased; and in 1897 he was reappointed for the full term of six years by Governor Ramsdell.

Mr. Dwight was married December 25, 1862, to Lucy J., daughter of James R. Hill, and has two children-Mabel S. and Harrison H. His daughter is the wife of Charles F. Conn, treasurer of the Boston Terminal Company of Boston, Mass. Mr. Dwight is an Odd Fellow, belonging to Rumford Lodge, No. 46, I. O. O. F., and is at present a member of the lodge board of trustees. He is a member of the South 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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