|Birth: ||Apr. 30, 1810|
New Castle County
|Death: ||Nov. 20, 1890|
New Castle County
"Andrew Eliason is a retired farmer of St. George's Hundred. His grandparents, Andrew and Lydia Eliason, came to this country from England, before the War of the Revolution, and settled in Delaware. Seven children were born to them, viz,: Susannah, Joshua, William, Dorington, Rachel, Andrew and Esther. William, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born October 7, 1780. He was married four times,-first to a Miss Bunker, who died soon after her marriage without leaving issue; second to Ann Evans, by whom he had three children, viz: Joshua, Mary Ann and Andrew, the subject of this sketch; third to Sarah Douglass, the mother of John D. and James J. Eliason, and fourth to Ann Williams, the mother of his youngest child, Charles T. Eliason. He was a quiet, industrious farmer, respected and beloved by all who knew him. He died suddenly January 7, 1827, at the early age of forty-six. In the latter part of his life he had incurred heavy losses in consequence of having become surety for his friends, and upon his death his administrator, under the then existing laws, sold all his property, including even his personal effects for the payment of the same. Packed in an old leather-covered trunk, his wardrobe was offered at public sale, and Andrew , then a lad of sixteen years, became the purchaser. This trunk is still in his possession, a cherished memento of a revered father and of the disastrous period in which he closed a life of honorable endeavor. This time of hardship and trial, which attended the close of the father's life, was the beginning of a career of signal prosperity for the son. Andrew Eliason, the subject of this sketch, was born April 30, 1010, in St. George's Hundred, not far from Mt. Pleasant. His mother, Ann Evans, died while he was an infant. Left a penniless orphan at the early age of sixteen, and thrown at once upon his own resourcess, with no liberal educational advantages, and nothing to rely upon but himself, his prosperous and useful life is a living illustration of what courage and self-reliance can accomplish, when joined with integrity and honesty of purpose. Andrew's early life was spent on the farm where he now lives. Before his father's death he worked on the farm and helped attend to the stock in the winter. Very little attention seems to have been paid to his education at this period, for he has often been heard to remark that until after his father's death he had hardly seen the inside of a school-house. After the death of his father in 1827, Andrew found a good friend in Mr. James T. Bird, by whom he was employed to drive teams upon the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, then in course of completion. He went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Bird, who were to him indeed a foster mother and father. At the expiration of the two years Mr. Bird found his services so valuable that he employed him to manage and take charge of his farm, from which he then removed. By carefully saving his money the young farmer and manager was able, by March 1, 1833, to purchase the stock and farming implements belonging to his employer, and continued on as the tenant. On the 21st of the same month he was married to Miss Lydia Ann Cann, daughter of William Cann, of Glasgow, Pencader Hundred. This proved to be one of the wisest steps of his life, for in her he gained a prudent, faithful, self-denying companion and helper, to whose assistance and counsel not a little of his success in life is due. In 1838 Mr. Eliason purchased, of his two half-brothers, John D. and James J. Eliason, the heirs of their mother, Sarah Douglass, the farm on which he now lives, and on which he has lived continuously since he purchased it. He has been, all his life, engaged in farming, to the practical details of which he has given the closest attention. Every step of his life shows evidence of sound judgement and strong common sense. Commencing life as a driver of teams on the canal, he has advanced steadily forward, and, by the exercise of the sterling virtues of industry and frugality, has become the owner of four unencumbered farms, embracing nearly nine hundred acres, in St. George's and Pencader Hundreds. The old dwelling, purchased with his farm in 1838, and to which he took his young family, was exchanged in 1856 for the commodious mansion in which he now makes his home. In politics Mr. Eliason was a strong Democrat until the opening of the Civil War, his last vote for a Democratic President being cast for John C. Breckinridge. During the war he was a pronounced Union man, and since that time he has been an ardent Republican and sincere advocate of a protective tariff. He has been three times elected a member of the House of Representatives of the State of Delaware-First in 1864, again in 1866 and again in 1880. While there he was distinguished for his sound views of the real needs of the people and his good judgement upon all public measures. The above is well illustrated by a little incident of the session of 1868: A prominent member of the House came in one morning just as the ayes and nays were being called upon an improtant bill. As he entered the room he heard his name called, and not knowing what the bill under consideration was, he quickly turned to Mr. Eliason, who was standing near, with the question: "How did you vote, Andrew? You are always right." Being told "aye", he, without hesitation, cried out: "Mr. Speaker, I vote 'Aye'." In the session of 1867 Mr. Eliason originated and introduced into the House of Representatives the first bill securing property rights to married woman in Delaware (see House Journal 1867, p. 353)., and to his efforts its chiefly due the credit of so moulding public opinion as to secure the final passage of the act. On its introduction the bill met with considerable opposition, particularly in the Senate. It was urged that if the old fiction that husband and wife were one person in law were destroyed, and the common law right of the husband to the property of the wife were invaded, it would produce such discord in the family that it would thenceforth be impossible for husband and wife to live together. Against this Mr. Eliason pleaded the hardship and injustice of a law that took from feeble woman all rights of property upon marriage , and so often gave it to a worthless or improvident husband. Upon his motion three hundred copies of the bill were ordered to be printed. These, by his direction, were distributed all over the State. The bill finally passed the House, but was killed in the Senate. The distribution of the copies of the bill throughout the State, however, created such a public sentiment in its favor that at the next session of the Legislature the bill became a law. To his efforts while in the Legislature are also in great measure due the passage of the law that prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquors in Delaware on election day- one of the best laws on the statute-books. Mr. Eliason is a man of strong religious convictions, having ben, from early manhood, a staunch Presbyterian. He has been a member of the board of trustees of the Forest Presbyterian Church of Middletown from its organization, in 1850, and is the only living link connecting the present Presbyterian Church organization at Middletown with the old Forest Curch congregation. He was elected a trustee of the old Forest Church in 1840, and is the only surviving member of the board of trustees then chosen. He is one of the directors of the People's National Bank of Middletown, and has been since its organization. He is a man of quiet demeanor, modest and approachable. In person tall and erect, though past three-score and ten years. He has eight children and has lived to see seventeen grandchildren. His children are Mrs. Mary A. Sanborn, widow of the late Dr. Albert H. Sanborn, of Leipsic, Delaware; Mrs. Sallie E. Houston, wife of William H. Houston, Esq., a retired farmer of Middletown, Delaware; Mrs. Lydia R. Rothwell, wife of John M. Rothwell, a farmer near Middletown; Mrs. Catherine Naudain, wife of George W. W. Naudain, a merchant of Middletown; Andrew S. Eliason, a farmer near Summit Bridge, Delaware; James T. and Lewis E. Eliason, lumber and coal merchants, at New Castle, Delaware; and John Franklin Eliason, who is a dealer in merchandise at Mount Pleasant, Delaware, and takes an active oversight of his father's home farm. Of the grandchildren, two young men have reached their majority and are in business. One, Andrew E. Sanborn Esq., is an attorney at Wilmington, associated with Levi C. Bird, Esq., a son of Mr. Eliason's early patron and employer. The other, William Rothwell, is in the employ of James T. Eliason & Brother, at New Castle, Delaware. In his home circle Mr. Eliason is seen at his best, for there the virtues of his private character most conspicuously shine. Blest still with the companionship of the wife of his youth, (with whom he has recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his marriage), he has lived to see his large family grow up, successfully start in business, marry, and settle within a radius of fifteen miles from his hearthside. Viewing with complacency the mountains of difficulty over which he has successfully climbed, he, in quiet retirement, on his own broad acres, is now enjoying the peaceful fruits of a virtuous and well-spent life. His character may be summed up in a few words, as one of the best types of a self made man, with the courage of his convictions, of the strictest integrity and honesty of purpose, a good citizen, a faithful friend, and an affectionate husband and father."
From: Vol. Two. "History of Delaware, 1609-1888", by Thomas J. Scharf. Chapt. 'L' St. George's Hundred; pp. 981-1015.
Forest Presbyterian Church Cemetery
New Castle County
Created by: James Harrison Turner
Record added: Oct 19, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60311431