Biography of Gen.William Nash

NASH, GEN. WILLIAM, is a descendant in the sixth generation from Thomas Nash, who with his wife and five children emigrated from Lancashire, England, in the ship Hector, which landed at Boston July 26, 1637. He was by occupation a gunsmith. He died in New Haven, Conn., May 12, 1658. The youngest of his five children, Timothy Nash, was born in England, or at Leyden, in Holland, in 1626; married Rebekah Stone in 1657; in 1660 moved to Hartford, Conn., and thence a few years thereafter to Hadley, Mass., which town he represented in the General Court of Massachusetts in 1690, ’91, and ’95. He died March 13, 1699, aged seventy-three years. His wife, Rebekah, died in March or April, 1709. They left twelve children, of whom John Nash, known as Lieutenant John, was the sixth. He was born in Hadley August 21, 1667, and spent his life in that town; was a blacksmith by trade and an extensive land holder. He married, March 29, 1689, Hannah Porter, who died May 26 of the same year. He married, November 27, 1691, Elizabeth Kellogg. John Nash was much employed in town business; was representative to the General Court of Massachusetts for the town of Hadley seven sessions, from 1707 to 1731. He died October 7, 1743, his wife July 4, 1750. Of their eleven children Samuel was the ninth, born in Hadley January 29, 1709; married Margaret Merrill January 24, 1734. Samuel Nash settled as a blacksmith first at Farmington, Conn.; but he eventually settled in Goshen, Conn., where he spent the remainder of his days and died at an advanced age. He also filled many of the town offices; was justice of the peace twenty-six years, and was a representative in the Legislature from 1757 to 1775. There is no record of the death of his first wife, the mother of all of his children; but it is known he married (2) a Widow Dickinson, great-grandmother to Senator Daniel S. Dickinson, of New York. Of his eleven children, William was the fifth. He was born in Farmington, Conn., February, 1743; married Susan Phelps, of Simsbury, Conn. He resided in Goshen until after the death of his father, when he removed and settled in New Haven, Vt. He died in New Haven August 2, 1821. His wife died April 19, 1819.

William and Susan Nash had ten children, two sons and eight daughters. The sons were David P. and William, jr.

William Nash, jr., or General William Nash, as he afterward became known, was born in Norfolk, Conn., August 2, 1788, and came with his father and settled in New Haven when he was twelve years of age. His brother, David P., had already settled in that town in the year 1796. General William became associated with his brother in commercial life. In his business relations he was successful, and soon became known as a man of great sagacity and unquestioned integrity. Never having enjoyed superior advantages to acquire an extensive education, he nevertheless embraced those within his reach. His mind was naturally acute and inquisitive. In all matters vital to the happiness of his adopted town or county he took a deep and absorbing interest. Nor did he confine himself to this comparatively small field. He was an intelligent observer of all matters which affected the prosperity of State and nation, and his influence was always found on the side of justice and humanity. He was frequently honored, by his townsmen, to many of its most important offices, the duties of which he faithfully discharged. He represented the town in the Legislature during the sessions of 1825, ’26, ’36, and ’49, and was State senator from the county in 1846-47. He was delegate to the National Whig Convention in 1852, that nominated General Scott for the presidency. He was active in securing in 1832 a charter for the bank at Middlebury, and upon its organization was elected director and president, which position he held for fourteen years, the term of its charter. Upon the re-chartering of the bank he was again elected president, but resigned, choosing to act as one of its directors only, which place he held until the failure of his health, when he resigned, and the vacancy was filled by the election of his son, William Phelps Nash, esq. General Nash was for more than twenty years a member of the corporation of Middlebury College, to the funds of which he was liberal in his contributions. For many years he was vice-president of the Vermont State Bible Society, and contributed liberally to its support. He also gave largely to the funds of the Home and Foreign Missions. He was an active and influential member of the county and State temperance societies, and aided materially in the formation of that public sentiment which resulted in the passage of the prohibitory law of the State, and to the very last was an earnest supporter of the law and a firm advocate of its rigid enforcement. With all the excellent qualities which characterized his life, the religious phase of it was its unquestioned crowning glory. The general was an active member of the New Haven Congregational Church for more than forty years. Free from ostentation and show, he labored to show forth to the world the power of true Christianity, in a well-regulated life and conversation. He was always ready to respond to the wants of the needy and destitute. Food for the hungry and clothes for the naked were his unostentatious gifts to many who remained in ignorance of the source from whence the needed help had come. His quiet, unobtrusive manner and gentle demeanor always won to him the hearts of the young and caused a genial influence to surround him in the presence of his peers in age and experience. General Nash married, September 25, 1788, Mary P. Wright, of Weybridge, Vt. He died at his residence in New Haven December 15, 1871. His wife died April 27, 1880. They had a family of ten sons: William Phelps, born November 6, 1817, owns and occupies the homestead; Charles Dennis, born April 19, 1819, banker and treasurer of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wis.; Fordyce Theron, born July 9, 1820, died July 18, 1869; Edwin Wallace, born February 27, 1823, died May 14, 1828; James Jewett, born April 27, 1824, died May 17, 1846; Jonathan, born July 31, 1821, a graduate of Middlebury College, merchant in Janesville, Wis.; Joseph R., born. April 16, 1826, died April 9, 1878; Wallace, born June 24, 1828, died May, 1876; Noah Preserved, born July 21, 1830, a farmer in Wisconsin; Dorastus Wright, born April 17,1833, farmer in New Haven.


Addison County VT,

Smith, H. P. History of Addison County Vermont: With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers. Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & co., 1886.

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