Henry Richard Dusenbury
(May 5, 1801 - June 1860)
Henry Dusenbury, son of John and Ruth (Sands) Dusenbury, was born in Hancock, Delaware
County, May 5, 1801.  In 1815, his father with his family moved to Windsor, Broome County.  
Henry was soon employed by his father as a clerk, and early conducted mercantile and lumbering
business on his own account.  In 1828, he went to Deposit and remained there, engaged in the same
lines until 1834, when he came to Portville.  Here, he became the senior member of the firm of
“Dusenbury, Wheeler, May & Co.,” formed to conduct lumbering on the upper Allegany.  This firm
purchased at first a tract of 1,500 acres on Dodge creek (Portville) with a saw-mill containing three
upright saws.  Mr. Dusenbury came to look after its operations.  The important duties and
responsibilities devolving on him were discharged with rare acumen, and, during his business life of
many years, he ever manifested his capability to safely and prosperously conduct important affairs.  

This company began operations in lumbering with this mill, established a store, ran their lumber to
market down the Allegany and Ohio rivers, bought extensive tracts of timber lands in and about
Portville and in Pennsylvania, built modern mills of great capacity, and has contributed to the
prosperity of this section to the present by annually giving employment to a large number of men in
their lumbering operations, tanneries, oil fields, etc.  In inaugurating and conducting these enterprises,
Mr. Dusenbury was a potent factor.  No detail of the business escaped his attention, no contracts
were made that were not fulfilled to the letter, and none of this company’s paper was ever protested.  
Mr. Dusenbury was endowed with penetration, sagacity, and integrity.  He was methodical, accurate,
prompt, and reliable.  His word was as good as a bond.  He took time to investigate and decide every
enterprise, but when a project was decided upon he pushed it to completion with energy and zeal.

Mr. Dusenbury was an old-time Whig and joined the Republican party at its organization.  He was a
firm believer in and an ardent advocate of the distinguishing principle of the old Whig party:
“Protection to American industries.”  He was a diligent reader, well informed in political history, and
was an able and dangerous opponent in political discussions.  He represented the town of Portville six
years on the Board of Supervisors of Cattaraugus county and his party in numerous conventions.  

In 1827, Mr. Dusenbury married Miss Caroline Butler, an estimable Christian lady, a kind friend,
devoted wife, and an affectionate and faithful mother.  Mrs. Dusenbury survived her husband, dying
in February, 1871.  Their children were Catherine (who married Alan Sheldon, at one time a
wholesale merchant in company with Hon. Zach Chandler and now a banker in Detroit, Mich.);
Elizabeth (the wife of Rev. J. H. Vincent, D. D., a distinguished bishop of the Methodist Episcopal
church; their son George is the present business manager of the Chatauqua Assembly); Henry (died
at the age of twenty-two years); John E. (see his biography); William A. (born in 1838, married Miss
Helen Truesdell, of Belfast, N. Y. and died in August, 1890; his widow and three sons survive him;  
he was a man of good business abilities, careful, economical, and successful; he was a merchant
with his brothers, but later removed to Pennsylvania, conducted their mills at Tionesta, and engaged
in large lumbering operations); Edgar G. (born in October, 1841, was in mercantile business with his
brothers, and is now giving his attention to the large tannery at Portville – the Portville Tanning
Company;  he is an efficient business man, and possesses great firmness and executive ability; he is
also an earnest and working Christian and an elder of the Presbyterian church); and Caroline (resides
in Buffalo).

In 1831, Mr. Dusenbury united with the Presbyterian church of Deposit and was a consistent
Christian through life.  When he came to Portville, there was practically no Sabbath, and intoxicating
liquors were used freely in conducting business.  Mr. Dusenbury and Mr. Wheeler from the first had
the understanding that their company was to do business on Christian principles.  They took their
stand as Christian men not to break the Sabbath themselves and not to furnish rum in getting their
lumber to market if it had to rot on the banks of the river.  Mr. Dusenbury was not a bigoted
sectarian, but recognized all genuine Christians as his brothers in Christ.  He was instrumental with
others in organizing the Presbyterian church of Olean in 1838 and was one of its elders and regular
attendants until 1849, when he, with Wm. F. Wheeler, by their means and influence effected the
establishment of the Presbyterian church at Portville, which he generously supported and guided with
his counsel as an officiating elder to the close of his life.  He was very charitable and contributed
liberally to various benevolent objects regularly each year.  He died in June, 1860.

(From the Lyman, Horton, & Co's (Limited) Historical Gazetteer and Biographical Memorial of
Cattaraugus County, N. Y.
, ed. by Wm. Adams, 1893, pp. 1009-1010)
The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770

www.portvillehistory.org