Biography of Perley Oscar Folsom

PERLEY OSCAR FOLSOM, active in business and politics at Cushman, Massachusetts, in the town of Amherst, was born in Marshfield, Vermont, March 28, 1882. The name he bears appears first in history in the first half of the fourteenth century. John Foulsham, of Foulsham, was prior of a Carmelite Monastery in Warwick, England. He was a prominent ecclesiastic; and his brother, Richard Foulsham, was even more prominent. The word foule (fowl) signified bird, and the country seat of Foulsham probably took its name from its being the home (ham) of many foules (birds).

(I) The first traceable ancestor of the immigrant, John Foulsham, is Roger Foulsham, of Necton, County of Norfolk, England, whose will is dated 1534.

(II) William Foulsham, son of Roger Foulsham, married Agnes Smith, alias Foulsham, of Besthorpe.

(III) Adam Foulsham, son of William and Agnes (Smith) Foulsham, owned lands in Besthorpe, Wymondham (Windham), Bunwell, Hingham and Hockford.

(IV) Adam Foulsham, son of Adam and Emma Foulsham, baptized in 1560, resided in Hingham and owned lands in Besthorpe. He died in 1630.

(V) Adam Foulsham, son of Adam and Grace Foulsham, known as Adam of Hingham, died in 1627. His will, made in that year, named three sons, John, Adam and Peter. His wife’s name was Agnes.

(VI) John Foulsham, son of Adam and Agnes Foulsham, was baptized in Hingham in 1615. He was the first John Foulsham to come to America, and from him all the Folsoms in America are descended with the exception of one family found in South Carolina. The ship “Diligent,” of Ipswich, England, John Martin, master, set sail from the mouth of the Thames on April 26, 1638, for Massachusetts Bay. She carried one hundred and thirty-three persons, among them John Foulsham, or Folsom, of Hingham, twenty-three years old, his young wife, and their two servants. His wife’s parents, Edward and Mary (Clark) Gilman, of Hingham, three younger brothers, Edward not quite twenty-one, John and Moses, two younger sisters, Sarah and Lydia, who married Daniel Cushing in 1645, and three servants were fellow passengers. The Rev. Robert Peck, rector of the parish, with his family, were also on board. Trouble in religious matters appears to have been the immediate cause of their migration. Twelve of the families were from old Hingham, and all had embarked for the purpose of joining the colony in Hingham, Massachusetts, to which destination they proceeded upon landing in Boston on August 10, 1638. John Foulsham received a grant of land in 1638, and soon built himself a house. This house, or another built soon after, was taken down in 1875. John Foulsham dwelt in Hingham for twelve or fifteen years, and was chosen one of the “seven or nine men chosen to order the prudential affairs of the town” in 1645. He and Captain Joshua Hubbard were given “Liberty of the two rivers, Rocky Meadow and Bound Brook Rivers, so far as the town hath property, to build and maintain a saw mill or mills.” In trouble arising from the selection of a captain for the militia of Hingham, John Foulsham took a leading part in opposition to the Governor, and was fined with ninety others one hundred and fifty-five and one-half pounds, of which his share was twenty pounds, but he appears to have been exempted from the payment About 1650 he removed to Exeter, New Hampshire, where his father-inlaw had gone soon after 1647. He lived on the west’ side of the river, where the first settlements were made, but three of his sons lived in the east part of the town. His sons and grandsons owned much property on what was Rocky Hill. He-was engaged as surveyor in running the lines between Exeter and Dover. The first authentic mention of his name in Exeter occurs in 1655. The name of “Goodman Folsom” appears in. 1658 in the list of selectmen. He obtained a grant of land in 1660, and his sons all obtained similar grants in 1661. In 1662, he was a juryman, and in July, 1665, one of a committee representing Dover, Portsmouth, Exeter and Hampton to consult on certain political grievances. In his last years he became involved unfortunately in pecuniary troubles, but his sons assisted him in retaining a home for himself and his wife, who lived ten years after his death in 168x. Their seven children were: Samuel, John, Nathaniel, Israel, Peter, Mary and Ephraim.

Jonathan Folsom, grandfather of Perley Oscar Folsom, was born in Canada, in 1819, and died in Vermont in 1894. His parents lived and died in Canada. Jonathan’s early home was in Stanstead Plains, Canada. He came to Vermont when eighteen years of age, and located in the northern part of the State. His two brothers followed him to Vermont and located in Wheelock and Greensboro, where one of them died. The other brother was killed in the Civil War. Before the days of railroads Jonathan Folsom did teaming between Montpelier and West Burke, Vermont. He turned to farming as soon as changed conditions made it imperative. He married Sophronia Young, born in Croyden, New Hampshire, in 1817, died in Vermont in 1896, aged seventy-nine years. They were the parents of six children: Roxanna, Arvilla, who married Martin Chandler; Harlow, Joan, who married a Mr. Clark; Dennis Orville, George.

Dennis Orville Folsom, father of Perley Oscar Folsom, was born September 25, 1856, in Marshfield, Vermont, where he is living at the present time. He has been identified with railroading all his life. He was section foreman on the Montpelier & Wells River Railroad for many years, and was foreman of the Montpelier yards for years. For some thirty-seven years altogether he has been engaged in railroading. He married, May 17, 1878, Laura Bailey, of Peacham, Vermont, born February 25, 1862, at Green Bay, Peacham, Vermont, the daughter of Charles and Laura (Huntington) Bailey. Their children are: Perley Oscar, Grace, who died in 1898; Lyla, who married Frank Blondin, and Harley, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Perley Oscar Folsom was educated in the schools of Montpelier, Vermont, and attended the Montpelier Seminary. Finishing his education he worked in a grocery store for two years. Afterwards he learned the trade of electrician, and followed electrical work for five or six years. He afterwards took up railroading, which he followed to the exclusion of all else ever since. He was associated with the Boston & Maine Railroad for a time, and was assigned to office work, first in Woodsville, New Hampshire; and afterwards in Concord, New Hampshire. He came to Cushman, Massachusetts, in 1914, with the Central Vermont Railroad. He is station agent and ticket agent, telegraph operator, postmaster, and justice of the peace. He also sells stoves, ranges and automobiles, acting as agent for the Haines car in the neighborhood. He is a member of Pacific Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, of Amherst; Royal Arch Masons; and Greenfield Lodge of Perfection. He is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason; a member of Melha Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Springfield, and a member of its Arab Patrol. He is also a member of Mount Gardner Lodge, Knights of Pythias, of Woodsville, New Hampshire; of the Railroad Telegraphers’ Association; of the New England Association of Railway Veterans, of Boston, Massachusetts; of the Gage Club; of the board of trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Cushman.

Mr. Folsom married, June 30, 1916, Ethel King, of Cushman, Massachusetts, daughter of Henry W. and Ellen (Perrin) King.


Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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