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ANDREW BACKUS,
Pages 587-588

(Portrait)

living, son of Simon Backus, was born in Middleborough, Plymouth county, Massachusetts, October 3, 1790, in and old homestead that formerly belonged to his grandfather, Rev. Isaac Backus, the Baptist minister and historian. He was a descendant of Stephen Backus, who came from Norwich, England, about 1635, and lived in Saybrook. Afterwards, in 1660, he moved to Norwich, Connecticut, with his three sons. They were among the first settlers of that place, and he was the first whit man that died in Norwich. Hannah Alden, the mother of Andrew Backus, was fifth in lineal descent from John Alden, one of the Mayflower pilgrims that landed at Plymouth, December, 1620. Mr. Backus lived with his father, working on the farm and attending school, until he went to Taunton to learn the cabinet trade with William and Henry Washburn. At the age of twenty-one, having finished his trade, he remained some time as a journeyman. While living in Raynham, Massachusetts, he was enrolled as a soldier in the war of 1812, under Captain Chase. The company was stationed at Fair haven. When discharged, he went to Middleborough to live, and was drafted and enrolled as a corporal under Captain Greenleaf Pratt, who joined the remainder of the command at Plymouth beach, September 21, 1814. Mr. Backus received an honorable discharge, also a deed from the government of one hundred and sixty acres of land in Plymouth county, Iowa; further recognition of his services was given him in the form of a pension, by act of congress. He is the oldest (continuous) citizen of Columbus, and voted at the October election of 1879, in his ninetieth year. He has added some in building up the city, having built several business and dwelling houses. He came from a long-lived stock, had a strong constitution, and these, together with regular and temperate habits, have given him almost perfect health and freedom from sickness. He rarely knew, by experience, what sickness was, until late years. His brother, Joseph Backus, in his eighty-first year, lives in Middleborough, Massachusetts, on the old homestead of his father and grandfather.

May 25, 1815, he decided to go to Columbus, Ohio, then a great undertaking, and a long, tedious journey, full of hardship and exposure, taking several weeks to make the trip. At Chenango Point he remained several months. At Franklin, Pennsylvania, he saw the Indians spreading blankets on the river, gathering floating oil, which they sold as a cure for rheumatism. At Pittsburg [Sic.] he took passage on a flat-boat down the Ohio river, to the mouth of the Muskingum; there took passage on a boat to Zanesville, and thence by wagon to Columbus, through forests and over almost impassable mud and corduroy roads, arriving in Columbus the twenty-fifth of October. He immediately made arrangements for the manufacture of furniture, being the first to begin the cabinet trade in Columbus. His shop was on High, north of Mound Street, now the third house north of Mound, on the west side of the street.

May 10, 1817, Mr. Backus started, on horseback, for Middleborough, Massachusetts. He rode as far as Catskill, and then sold his horse and took the boat to Providence. The trip, which took him fifty-four days to complete, was for the purpose of marrying Miss Bathsheba King, daughter of John King, of Raynham, Massachusetts. The happy couple were united, August 24, 1817, and remained at Raynham and Middleborough, visiting with their friends, until September 14th, when they bade good-bye to kindred, and set out to try their fortunes on the frontier. They traveled with their own team, in a covered wagon well filled with neccessary articles for housekeeping, and were sixty-two days, journeying towards the setting sun, before arriving in Columbus, Ohio. The time occupied gives some faint idea of the rough, uneven roads through the dense forests, with mud up to the hubs, often having to obtain help to pry the wagon out. They arrived, November 16, 1817, with thankful hearts, rejoicing to be at rest in their new home. The mail carrier, who came once a week, on horseback, was eagerly looked for, as he brought tidings from loved ones at home.

In April, 1831, there was a revival of religion, and fifty persons united with the First Presbyterian church, including Mr. Backus. Mrs. Backus united with the same church some years previous. He then took and active interest in the church, and taught a class in the Sabbath-school. The cholera came in July 1833, and about one-third of the citizens fled from the terrible scourge.. But this thought impressed him--"The path of duty is alone the path of safety," and he remained and did what he could for those needing his services. The board of health reported two hundred deaths that summer, from all causes.

The following extract is from the Ohio State Journal, 1866:
"The manufacture of furniture and cabinet ware is one of our best developed branches of trade. This is now represented by three powerful firms, whose sales aggregate in amount nearly, or quite, three hundred thousand dollars per annum. It is curious, in this connection, to trace the rise and progress of this business, now so much a specialty, and a retrospective glance will be interesting, as well as instructive. Mr. Andrew Backus, the pioneer in the manufacture of furniture in Columbus, Ohio, moved to this city in 1816, and soon after established himself in this business on High, near Mound streets. Columbus was then a village of about seven hundred inhabitants, and a majority of the buildings clustered on Front street. The great event of the season was the assembling of the legislature, for the first time, in the new State house, on the corner of High and State streets, and quite a energetic effort was made to burn the stumps in High street, so that it might be presentable in time for the coming session. Mr. Backus, with his employes, worked in the old shop some seven years, when he moved into more commodious buildings, erected by him in the rear of where the Backus buildings now are, on the east side of High, near Town street. In 1838 he built the brick store-room adjoining, on the north of his dwelling, and occupied by his sons, Orrin and Lafayette Backus, as a family grocery store, and, in 1848, built the three-story brick business block adjoining his residence on the south. Mr. Backus carried on the business some forty years, and retired, leaving an extensive trade to his successors."

Mrs. Bathsheba Backus, his wife, the eighth child of John King, was born in Raynham, Bristol county, Massachusetts, April 26, 1794, and died January, 25, 1879, at Columbus, Ohio. She was a descendant of Captain Philip King, one of the first settlers of Raynham. He came from England, where he had been contending for religious liberty, to this wilderness. The place was then not far from the ravages of the Indian war. Being a favorite with the Indians (with whom he traded extensively), he was never molested, as all his dealings with them were strictly honest. He died, and was borne to his grave, in the cemetery near Neck of Land, Taunton, attended with military honors. Mrs. Backus had a liberal education, and resided at her father's until after her marriage--August 24, 1817--with Andrew Backus. Se emigrated with her husband to Columbus, in their own conveyance, with her marriage outfit to begin housekeeping. She experienced the trials and deprivations incident to a frontier life. At an early day she united with Dr. Hoge's church, and, as a teacher and laborer in the Sabbath-school, she had few superiors. For many years previous to her death she was an invalid, and confined much of the time in the house. Three of her five children survive her. She was buried in Green Law cemetery, near Columbus. Her sister, Mrs. Hannah King Davis, died, December, 1879, in her ninety-ninth year, in New York city.

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