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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
James Stevens

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[This information is from pp. 97-98, 101 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.]

James Stevens, of Greenville, N. Y., a leading insurance agent of this section of Greene County, was born on the farm where he now lives, in a house near his present dwelling-place. His family is an old one in the town, having been first represented here by his great-grandfather, Reuben Stevens, who came from Stamford, Conn., took up a tract of land, and became one of the pioneer settlers of this region.

Reuben's son Samuel, grandfather of James Stevens, was born in Stamford. After coming here he engaged in farming. He died of typhus fever when only thirty-two years of age, this being in 1813. His wife, whose maiden name was Sally Jones, was a native of Stamford. She bore him three children, all of whom are deceased. Left a widow while yet a young woman, she married a second time and lived to be eighty-four years of age. In religion she was a zealous Baptist.

Mr. Stevens's parents were Orrin C. and Mary A. (Smith) Stevens, the father a native of Greenville. Orrin C. Stevens worked at carpentering while a young man, but subsequently he carried on the farm where his son now lives. He owned a hundred and sixty acres, and was a successful farmer. He was warmly interested in all public affairs, and held various town offices, including among others that of Supervisor. For some time he was a Justice of the Peace. In politics he was an old-time Democrat. For years he was a trustee in the Presbyterian church, and one of its most active and influential members. Valuable service was rendered by him as one of the Sons of Temperance. He lived to the age of eighty-three years. His wife, Mrs. Mary A. Stevens, who died in 1884, after a useful life covering three-quarters of a century, was born on a farm in West Springfield, being one of a family of six children. Her parents were Daniel and Sarah (Day) Smith. Of her seven children, three are deceased. One of them, a son Samuel, was Captain of Company A of the Thirty-seventh Wisconsin Volunteers in the Civil War, and lost his life in 1864, during the attack on Petersburg. The living children are: James, the subject of this sketch; Daniel, who is a physician and druggist in Nebraska; Anna, who is the wife of D. H. Smith, a dentist of Holyoke, Mass.; and Orrin C., second, who is retired from business and resides in Middleburg.

James Stevens grew up on the farm where he now resides. His education was received in the common schools, and at Greenville Academy. Throughout his active life he has devoted more or less time to agricultural pursuits, and for forty years he also did a large amount of land surveying. He has lived in the house which is now his home since 1883, when he removed here and took charge of his present farm of one hundred and thirteen acres. He carries on general farming. In 1880 he began the insurance business, being elected that year secretary and treasurer of the village fire insurance company. This office he has since held, and in the intervening years he has had the satisfaction of seeing the company constantly increase until now it carries over two million dollars insurance. In the same year Mr. Stevens received his appointment as general agent of four other fire insurance companies, and in 1893 he organized the Greene County Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of which he has since been secretary, treasurer, and general agent. This company, which does a general insurance business at sixty per cent. of stock rates, now has out over two thousand, one hundred and fifty policies in fire, representing two million, two hundred and ninety-two thousand, six hundred and seventy dollars. Its total receipts for the year 1898 were twelve thousand, five hundred dollars, and the amount of money in the treasury on December 11, 1898, was thirteen thousand, four hundred and forty-two dollars, and twenty-six cents. The agents of the company operate in Greene, Albany, Columbia, Delaware, and Schoharie Counties.

Mr. Stevens was married in 1866 to Elizabeth Sherrill, who was born in Greenville, daughter of Ezra Sherrill, a well-known farmer of this place. She is the mother of two children — Lucena and Orrin C., third. Lucena married Theodore Coonley, a farmer of this place. Orrin C., third, who is engaged in insurance in Greenville, married Arcia Cook, and has one child, James C.

Politically, Mr. Stevens is a Democrat. He has held the office of Supervisor, and from January, 1889, to April, 1893, he was Deputy County Clerk. For five years he was clerk of the Board of Supervisors. Shortly after being first elected to the office of Town Clerk, he was chosen Second Lieutenant in Company A of the Twentieth Regiment of State militia, and went South, serving for a time in the Union army. For many years he was a member of John W. Watson Post, G. A. R., of Catskill, and held the office of Adjutant in the post; but he subsequently joined the C. Swaine Evans Post, No. 580, of South Westerlo.

Mr. Stevens is a Mason, having joined the organization in March, 1858, in Cascade Lodge, F. & A. M., of Oak Hill. In 1864 he was a charter member of James M. Austin Lodge, No. 557, of Greenville. Of this he was first Senior Deacon, for five years he was Junior Warden and Secretary, and for two years Master. He was formerly connected with the Coxsackie Royal Arch Chapter, No. 85; and upon the organization of the Greenville Chapter, No. 283, he became a charter member of that body. He has held the offices of Scribe and King. He is also a charter member of Zeus Lodge, No. 360, of the Greenville Knights of Pythias, was formerly Chancellor, and is at the present time Master of Exchequer. Mr. Stevens is a liberal supporter of the Presbyterian church, of which his family are members.

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