- Alan Lessoff
Sawyer, Philetus (22 September 1816–29 March 1900), lumber merchant and U.S. senator, was born in Whiting, Vermont, the son of Ephraim Sawyer, a farmer and blacksmith, and Mary Parks. When Philetus was an infant, his family migrated across Lake Champlain to Crown Point, New York. The fifth of ten children in a struggling family, Sawyer acquired such cursory schooling that political opponents later gibed him unmercifully for his awkward writing and speaking. As a teenager, he worked in a Crown Point sawmill, which he then rented and operated on his own before he turned twenty-one. In 1841 Sawyer married Melvina Hadley, a neighbor. Three of the couple’s five children survived to adulthood....