Theodore N. Perry

Contributed by Arlene Maher, from "A Twentieth Century History of Berrien County, Michigan, Page 670/671, by Judge Orville W. Coolidge, Lewis Publishing Co., 1906

Note: Theodore is the brother to Nicholas Perry.

Theodore N. Perry, living on section 14, Hagar township, has kept pace with the uniform progress made by horticulturists of this great fruit belt of Michigan and is today the owner of a valuable and productive fruit farm, his specialty being peaches and pears. He is one of the worthy citizens that the Empire state has furnished to Michigan, his birth having occurred in Athens, Green county, New York, June 11, 1844. He is a son of Peter Perry and a representative of one of the old families of New York. His ancestors received a land grant, thus becoming owners of several thousand acres and they were among the early Knickerbockers who resided in the eastern section of the Empire state. The family in its successive generations has stood for progress and development along business lines and in citizenship and its record for loyalty is also commendable. The paternal great-grandfather was killed in the Revolutionary war and the grandfather, Nicholas Perry, served as a soldier in the war of 1812. Having arrived at years of maturity Peter Perry, married Hannah Brandow, also of Athens, New York, and a representative of one of the old families. His death occurred in Athens from cholera in 1849. He left a widow with six children dependent upon her for support. She reared her family near Athens and Catskill and to the best of her ability provided for her children.

After he was ten years of age Theodore N. Perry lived with various families and did many tasks which were assigned to him in order to thus pay for his board and clothing. He was a young man of but seventeen when he responded to the country's call for troops. His patriotic spirit of his ancestors he offered his services to the government, joining Company I, Forty-fourth New York Volunteer Infantry on the 14th day of September, 1861. He served under Colonel, afterward General, J. C. Rice, who was subsequently killed in an engagement. The regiment was attached to the Army of the Potomac and the first engagement in which Mr. Perry participated was the siege of Yorktown. His first battle was at Hanover Court House and he participated altogether in seventeen battles. He continued with the Army of the Potomac and on the expiration of his term of service veteranized in the same command. He was several times hit with spent balls and was wounded at Spottsylvania Courthouse on the 13th day of May, 1864, by a musket ball, which incapacitated him for further duty for a time, so that he was in the hospital and at home for six weeks. On a certain charge his command was driven back and captured but in three hours was re-captured by General Stoneman's guard. During the latter part of the war he guarded rebel prisoners at City Point and in the vicinity of Washington until honorably discharged on the 4th of September, 1865, after about four years active service. He had become sergeant and much of the time acted as first sergeant. He was a faithful soldier, never faltering in the performance of any duty and his valor and loyalty were unquestioned.

When hostilities had ceased and his aid was no longer required Mr. Perry came at once to the middle west, arriving in Chicago, Illinois, in 1865. The next fall he removed to Berrien county, Michigan, and entered the employ of A. J. Knisely, for whom he worked for a year, cutting cord wood for use in Mr. Knisely's brickyard in Chicago. When his labors, economy and enterprise had brought him some capital, Mr. Perry in 1869 purchased his present farm, which was then all covered with heavy timber. It is situated one mile from Lake Michigan and he sold the best saw timber from his place. His idea was to get at the soil and transform the land into productive fields. He has lived at his present location continuously since 1869 and built his home in 1872. Later he added another tract of land, which he has also cleared, thus bringing sixty acres under cultivation. He has also cleared land for others and found it a profitable source of income. For a long period he has engaged in fruit farming, making a specialty of peaches and pears and his is an ideal location for raising fruit. He has kept up with the times, making a study of fruit culture and his opinions are largely regarded as authority upon questions connected with the cultivation and improvement of peaches and pears. He now has about one thousand pear trees upon his place. His farm has required his constant time and attention and his labors have been rewarded with good crops.

On the 10th of February, 1870, Mr. Perry was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Bacon, a native of New York, who was married, however, in Hagar township, Berrien county. They have two children: Amy A., the wife of Harry F. Anderson, of Chicago; and William, who married Julia Damon, who is represented elsewhere in this work.

Mr. Perry exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the Democracy and always attends the conventions of his party. He is always sent as a delegate, being thus honored for thirty years. Though his party is in minority in this township he has been continuously the incumbent in the office of justice of the peace for a quarter of a century, being elected at each successive election, although the township has a normal Republican majority of about sixty, his elections indicating his personal popularity, his capability in office and the confidence reposed in him by his fellowmen. Fraternally he is a Mason, belonging to the lodge at Coloma and was a charter member of George H. Thomas Post, G. A. R. He is active in Riverside Grange, in which he has served as master and has also been delegate to the State Grange. At all times and under all circumstances he is as loyal to his country and her welfare as when he followed the stars and stripes upon the battlefields of the south.

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