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Oil painting on canvas. Portrait of Philetus Sawyer in dark suit with white shirt and cravat standing by the desk and chair that he had used in Philetus Sawyer was born in Rutland County, Vermont on September 22, 1816. His father was a farmer and blacksmith, but did not prosper. When Philetus was a year old his father moved the family to Crown Pointe in Essex County, New York where Philetus would spend his childhood. During this time it was a legal practice that a father was entitled to the services of his minor children, so at the age of 14 Philetus was hired out by his father to work at a neighbor's farm for $6.00 a month. At the age of 17 Philetus was able to arrange with his father to purchase the right to be the master of his own time and labor. Philetus would prosper on his own and in 1841 would married Melvina M. Hadley. In 1847 he came to the Wisconsin Territory with his wife, two sons and two thousand dollars he had saved while working 10 years as a millhand. After two years of unsuccessful farming, the Sawyers moved to Oshkosh where Philetus accepted a position running a sawmill. Within a few years he had not only mastered the business, but had purchased it. His prosperity grew rapidly. Philetus was elected assessor, alderman and mayor of Oshkosh; he served 10 years as a U.S. Congressman (1865-1875), followed by 12 years in the U.S. Senate (1881-1893). Philetus Sawyer died on March 29, 1900 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery.
Portrait of Philetus Sawyer -PIONEERS AND IMMIGRANTS -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum

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Last modified on: December 12, 2009