David Hanson Buffum

David Hanson Buffum was born in the town of North Berwick, county of York, and state of Maine, on the tenth day of November, 1820. He was the oldest child and only son of Timothy and Anna (Austin) Buffum. His mother was a native of Dover,—a daughter of Nathaniel Austin. His father—who manufactured furniture and carriages to a limited extent—died when the subject of this notice was but six years of age, leaving also two sisters still younger. Subsequently his mother was united in marriage with William Hussey, and at her death, fifteen years afterward, two children were left as the result of this marriage. Still later Mr. Hussey was united in marriage with Mary J. Hanson, and, at his death, in 1870, two children remained as the result of this union. This presented the rather singular and unusual occurrence, that three children by one marriage and two children by another were half-brothers and half-sisters to two children by a third union, and yet were in no way related to each other.

The care of the fatherless six-years-old boy and of the two little sisters still younger was too much for the very slender resources of the widowed mother. The family was broken up, and the "child David" was taken into the family of his father's brother. The next eleven years of his childhood and boyhood were spent with this uncle. He was a country merchant who "kept everything," as the old-time merchants of fifty years ago all did. The boy was taught to work in the store, "to do the chores," and was sent to the district school as opportunity afforded,—which generally consisted of two terms of eight or ten weeks each per year. The Quaker uncle was a kind but sturdy master, and habits of temperance, thrift, untiring energy, steady perseverance, and a love of buying and selling were ingrained into the very bones of the boy. Leaving his uncle when seventeen years old, he made his home with his step-father for two years, during which time he attended two terms at an academy, and taught a country school "to pay his way." At nineteen years of age, in the autumn of 1839, with few dollars and much courage, he commenced as a clerk with two brothers in a general store at Great Falls, in Strafford county, of which place he has since been a citizen. His salary was eight dollars per month and board, for the first six months. At twenty-one he bought out one of his employers, at twenty-three he sold out to the other and erected a brick block which contained three stores, one of which he occupied as a merchant in general merchandise, always keeping abreast of the times, until called to a new business.

The legislature of 1846 granted the charter of the Great Falls Bank, the first in the town, and its originators had got together the one hundred thousand dollars of capital stock by such efforts of labor and persuasion as would astonish the railroad builders and bankers of these days. The directors, December 5, 1846, selected Mr. Buffum as its cashier, which position he held until April 20, 1863. On the 5th of August, 1857, he was elected treasurer of the Somersworth Savings Bank, which position he held for ten years. While he filled these positions, both of which he resigned in order to give his exclusive attention to manufacturing, he had become interested, by way of investments, in real estate, shipping, and manufacturing.

In 1857, Mr. Buffum, in company with John H. Burleigh, organized the Newichawanick Woolen Company at South Berwick, Me., an enterprise at first unprofitable, but which proved to be a financial success. In 1862 he organized the Great Falls Woolen Company with a capital of fifty thousand dollars, which, from fortunate earnings in the next few years, was increased to one hundred thousand dollars; and he has since been treasurer and general manager of it excepting for a period of six years, when he was compelled to withdraw from the active management by reason of impaired health, occasioned by too close application to business, three years of which time he spent in travel.

For twenty years Mr. Buffum has been engaged in the manufacture of woolen fabrics, gradually extending his operations, until, at this writing, he is owner of a felt-mill at Milton, N. H., a partner in the wool-pulling establishment of L. R. Hersom & Co., in Berwick, Me., treasurer and manager of the Great Falls Woolen Company, and treasurer and director of the Newichawanick Woolen Company at South Berwick, Me.; he has also been a director of the Great Falls Manufacturing Company since 1877. He has been connected with the Great Falls Bank, both state and national, from its commencement, as cashier, director, and president, which latter position he now holds; and, with the exception of the first two years, has been connected with the Somersworth Savings Bank as treasurer, trustee, and vice-president.

In local affairs, Mr. Buffum has taken an active and leading part. The same nervous, physical energy which made him the first player in the game of ball in his youth afforded just the qualities needed in the fire department, in which he was always among the foremost, and for many years at the head. He was chosen town clerk in 1843-44, moderator in 1848 and 1857, and selectman in 1846 and 1871-72.

In political affairs, Mr. Buffum has acted with the Whigs and Republicans. In 1861-62 he was chosen representative to the legislature, serving the first year as a member of the committee on banks, and the second year as chairman of the committee on the reform school. In 1877 he was elected to the senate from district number five, and served as a member of the committees on judiciary, finance, banks, and state institutions. In 1878 he was re-elected to the senate, and chosen its president. He was the last president of the senate of twelve members. Of the sixty-two presidents of that body, he was the only one from district number five, or from Strafford county as now constituted. In 1880 he was elected as a delegate-at-large to the Republican national convention at Chicago.

In his domestic relations, Mr. Buffum was happily connected, and his home reflected the results of a successful business career. He was married, January 26, 1853, to Charlotte E. Stickney, daughter of Alexander H. Stickney, one of the old-time citizens of Great Falls. The issue of this union was three sons and a daughter. The wife and mother died March 8, 1868, and the daughter, May 23, 1877. Two of the sons, Edgar Stickney and Harry Austin, are graduates, and the third, David Hanson Jr., is now an undergraduate, of Yale College. Of the two little sisters left fatherless with him, one is the widow of the late Hon. John H. Burleigh, of South Berwick, Me., and the other is the wife of Isaac P. Evans, an oil-manufacturer, of Richmond, Ind. The half-brother is Timothy B. Hussey, plow-manufacturer, of North Berwick, Me., and the half-sister has presided over his household since the death of his wife.

Mr. Buffum received his youthful impressions and early religious training among the Society of Friends, whose tenets have exercised a marked influence upon his career. At Great Falls he has been a regular attendant at the Congregational church, to which he has been a liberal contributor. The many trusts committed to his care fairly prove the esteem and respect in which he has been held by his neighbors and townsmen.