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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ISAAC W. FERO is a pioneer of Schuyler County and is one of its leading citizens. He was born in Montgomery County, N. Y., August 28, 1817, and is a son of Cornelius and Alida (Vandevere) Fero, the former a native of Watervleit, Rensselaer County, and the latter of Montgomery County. Peter Fero, the grandfather of our subject, was also a native of New York State. The father was born September 14, 1789, grew to manhood in his native county, and later removed to Montgomery County, where he formed the acquaintance of Alida Vandevere. She was born July 29, 1789, and was a daughter of Garritt and Rachael (Connover) Vandevere. Her nephew, Dr. Albert Vandevere, of Albany, is one of the most noted physicians of this state.

In March, 1827, Cornelius Fero moved with his family to Schuyler County and located in what is now the town of Orange, one and a-half miles west of the present village of Beaver Dams. At that time this county was part of Steuben County, and the whole country in this vicinity was a vast wilderness, not a tree having been cleared from the land on which he located. Here he built a log house in the woods and commenced to clear his farm. At this time our subject was about ten years of age, and, notwithstanding his youth, it was his lot to assist his father in clearing the land and paying for the farm. When he arrived here his father had but $71, which he retained for future use, purchasing the farm on time and paying for it as he could. He made a success in life and acquired a good property. His character was spotless and he enjoyed the esteem of all. Both parents died on the old homestead, the father October 3, 1861, and the mother March 31, 1869, and their remains were interred in the family cemetery on the farm. In politics Cornelius Fero was a Jacksonian Democrat.

A boy of but ten years when the family arrived here, and there being but one family in the vicinity, it may well be understood that our subject’s lot was a hard one. Until about seventeen he attended two summer and the winter terms of school, the district school being between one and two miles from his home. He toiled early and late with his father, and remained under the parental roof until after attaining his majority, so that he might assist his father in clearing the farm, not only of the heavy growth of timber, but of all incumbrances.

On the 9th of January, 1842, Mr. Fero was united in marriage with Miss Tryphena Knowlton, a daughter of Chester Knowlton, of Steuben County, who, like the father of our subject, located in the wilderness in an early day. By this union there were three children. Alida L. married James Moore, who died in November, 1890, leaving her with a family of seven children, three of whom still reside with her on a farm near Beaver Dams. Esther S. married Milton Olmsted, and lives in Steuben County, where her husband is engaged in farming; she is the mother of two children. Robia married William F. Hall, and the family resides on a farm adjoining the village of Beaver Dams.

After his marriage Mr. Fero removed with his young wife to his father’s house, and there remained three years, when he built a new house on a part of the old farm, which was their home for a number of years. During this time he took charge of the home place, and in the mean time was saving his earnings, with which he purchased a farm of one hundred acres in the same town. At his father’s death he inherited the home place, to which he then moved, living with his mother until 1888. The wife of our subject, who died June 17, 1883, was a woman greatly loved, and her death was mourned by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. On the 8th of February, 1888, Mr. Fero married Mrs. Rhoda (Weller) Phelps, widow of Wallace Phelps, who was accidentally killed at the railroad crossing near Beaver Dams in 1879. Her father was an early settler in the town of Veteran, Chemung County. Mrs. Fero had two narrow escapes from death. When she was a babe six months old, as her parents were returning home from Havana, a storm came up, blowing a large tree down across the wagon and killing her mother. The latter, seeing the tree falling, threw the child from her arms, thus saving her life. At the time of the accident in which her first husband was killed, the wagon was entirely demolished and she was thrown upon an embankment, breaking her collar bone. By her first husband Mrs. Fero had four children, two of whom were married at the time of their father’s death, and two were at home. Celestia married Charles Stevens, and the family resides at Beaver Dams; Henry W., who married Parthena Rood, is a farmer in the town of Dix; Asa C. married Catharine Caslin, and resides in Hector; Nettie married Charles Sayler, but is now deceased.

Since his last marriage our subject has made his home in the village of Beaver Dams, where his wife had been living. While now living in retirement, he can look back to a life well spent. When he first came to the county there were few roads laid out, and where the village now stands the ground was all covered with timber. He saw the first burial in the Beaver Dams Cemetery, that of Miss Eunice Wheeler, a daughter of William Wheeler, who was for many years a Class-leader in the old building which until recently was used for the Methodist Episcopal parsonage, and which was the first frame dwelling erected in the village. The cemetery was on a hemlock knoll, in the midst of brush and tangles. For a time he attended one of the first schoolhouses erected in the town of Orange. It was built of hewn chestnut logs, and in that early day it was considered a fine building.

In the pioneer days Mr. Fero was appointed Orderly Sergeant of a company of militia, and was afterward commissioned Ensign. Later he was commissioned Captain in the company, which office he retained for years, or until the militia was disbanded. He still has in his possession his old commission. Until recently he has taken an active interest in the affairs of life, and has indeed been successful. In politics he was for years a Democrat, but lately has voted with the Prohibition party, believing it his duty to do all in his power to destroy the liquor traffic. While he has often been requested to accept local office, he has invariably declined, as he felt that he had no time to devote to politics, although he served twelve years as Assessor of the town of Orange.

Mr. Fero has been very methodical and systematic in his business transactions, and for over thirty years has kept a diary and an exact account of all receipts and expenses. He has always taken an interest in church affairs, though never connected with any denomination by membership. His first wife was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and his present wife of the Methodist Episcopal Church. No appeal for church funds has ever been made to him in vain. He gave the Methodist Episcopal Church a handsome Bible after the first one had been worn out, and when the church was repaired he donated one window. He was on the committee to repair the church, as well as on one for the building of the parsonage. For ten years he has been a Director of the Farmers’ Reliance Fire Insurance Company, acting as its local agent. He still owns one hundred acres of land, the greater part of which is under cultivation. He has lived to see his children all comfortably situated in life, and has given each of them a good common-school education.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

View additional Schuyler County, New York family biographies here: Schuyler County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Schuyler County, New York here: Schuyler County, New York Map

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