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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Levi M. Defandorf

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[This information is from pp. 395-397 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Levi M. Defandorf, a skilful farmer,and dairyman of Seward, Schoharie County, owner and occupant of a fine farm lying about a mile and a half from Hyndsville village, is a representative of one of the oldest families in this part of the State of New York. He was born on this farm on April 26, 1831, son of John and Elizabeth (Petrie) Defandorf. His first progenitor in this country, his great-grandfather, came from Germany.

Jacob Defandorf, father of John, bought a large tract of heavily timbered land in Seward, N. Y., which included the larger part of the homestead of his grandson, Levi M., and the adjoining estate of one hundred and seventy acres. In common with his neighbors, who were few and were settled far apart, he suffered the hardships of pioneer life, but with true German habits of industry and perseverance worked steadily; and the end of each year saw more land cleared and larger crops harvested. He died, probably in the log cabin which he reared on coming to the wilderness, at the age of fifty years, leaving a widow, Mrs. Susan Defandorf, and six children. Mrs. Defandorf was born at Frey's Bush, Montgomery County, and died in Seward at the age of fourscore and four years.

John Defandorf remained beneath the parental roof until ready to establish a home of his own, when he purchased a portion of the parental estate. Here he was successfully employed in general agricultural pursuits until his death, at the age of sixty-four years. After he had made the last payment on his property, he began making needed improvements. The present dwelling-house was erected by him. A man of intelligence, he was greatly interested in all things pertaining to the welfare of the town, but was never an aspirant for official honors. He married Elizabeth Petrie, one of the seven children of John Handrake Petrie, a well-known farmer of Carlisle, Schoharie County. Four children were born of their union, and two of them are living, namely: Julia Ann, wife of Austin France, of Seward Valley; and Levi M. The parents were consistent members of the Methodist church.

Levi M. Defandorf attended the district school when it was in session during his boyhood and youth, and in the same period was so well trained at home that he became as familiar with the work of the farm as he was with his books. On attaining his majority, he bought one hundred and thirty-two acres of the old Defandorf homestead; and, having since added to it nineteen acres by purchase, he has a large farm, and one of the best in line of improvements and appointments of any in the vicinity. He devotes his time to general farming, raising grain and hops to a considerable extent, but making a specialty of stock-raising and dairying. From his herd of twenty or more grade Holstein and Jersey cows, he makes butter, the greater part of which he ships to his son, who is engaged in the grocery business in Troy, N. Y., and some to the markets in Ohio and in Washington, D. C. He has always taken a great interest in the establishment of permanent town, county, and State agricultural associations; and as an exhibitor at fairs, held under the auspices of these organizations, Mr. Defandorf has on several occasions taken the first premium on stock. The credit of establishing the products of his dairy as among the best in the market, he gladly gives to his deceased wife, who was an expert buttermaker.

Mr. Defandorf married, April 25, 1850, Miss Lucinda R. Sexton, daughter of Austin Sexton. Her father was formerly engaged in farming in this part of Schoharie County, but afterward removed to Oriskany Falls, N. Y., where he operated a grist-mill and where he spent his remaining days. Mr. and Mrs. Defandorf reared five children; namely, Mary E., Clark B., Jason F., John A., and Daniel A. Mary is the wife of Dr. Adam Myers, of Buskirk, Rensselaer County, and has two children — Victor and Ralph. Clark B., deceased, married Susan Ostrander, who bore him three children — Jessie, Arthur, and Lucinda. Jason F. Defandorf was graduated with high honors from the Cazenovia Academy, afterward spent three years at the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., and still later attended the Law School in Washington, D. C., where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and has since been employed by the government in the post-office and in the War and Treasury Departments in that city. He married Miss Hattie Holmes, and has four children — Elizabeth P., James, John Levi, and Marion. John A. Defandorf was for one year clerk in a store at Cobleskill, then was several years a clerk in Troy, and subsequently went into business for himself with his cousin, Charles H. Sexton, at Troy. He married Emma Smith, and they have one child, Clark. Daniel A., the youngest son, completed his education at the Cobleskill High School, and subsequently taught school several terms in Seward and Sharon. He assists his father in the care of the home farm, and is also a local preacher in the Methodist church. He married Carrie Vroman, daughter of Barney Vroman.

After forty-seven years of happy wedded life, Mrs. Lucinda R. Defandorf passed to the brighter world beyond, her death occurring June 6, 1897. She was a woman of exemplary character and great personal worth, in every way deserving the high respect universally accorded her. She was a faithful member of the Methodist church, of which Mr. Defandorf is one of the oldest members now living, and in which he has held all the offices, having been a trustee and steward for years, a class leader for a quarter of a century, and for fifteen years superintendent of the Sunday-school, in which his wife, Lucinda, was a teacher. Both assisted in every work indorsed by the church, and their hospitable home was ever open to receive the ministers of that denomination.

On January 25, 1898, Mr. Defandorf married Mrs. Catherine M. Somers, daughter of Joseph France, a farmer of Seward, N. Y. Three children were born to the present Mrs. Defandorf and her former husband, Peter N. Somers — Howard S., Ernest F., and Arthur L., deceased.

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