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Pages 384-385

(Portrait & Residence)

Francis C. Sessions, merchant and banker was born in South Wilbraham, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1820. His grandfather Robert Sessions, was a clerk in Boston in 1773, and was one of the "forty or fifty" men whose exploit at the celebrated Boston Tea Party is thus described by Bancroft:

"On an instant a shout was heard at the porch [porch of the Old South church]: the war whoop resounded; a body of me, forty or fifty in number, disguised as Indians, passed by the door, and, encouraged by Samuel Adams, Hancock, and others, repaired to Griffin's wharf, * * * took possession of three tea ships, and in about three hours, three hundred and forty chests of tea, being the whole quantity that had been imported, were turned into the bay, without the least injury to other property."
His ancestor, an officer, in the revolutionary war, was subsequently called to fill important official positions. He married Mary Ruggles (whose brother, Benjamin, was United States senator from Ohio, during three terms--eighteen years--being first elected in 1815), and died at the age of eighty-five. Darius Sessions, another of his ancestors, was governor of Rhode Island at the beginning of the Revolution. The historian, Bancroft, says of him:
"In the burning of the "Gaspe" (an affair like the "Boston Tea Party") Darius Sessions and Stephen Hopkins were the two pillars on which the liberty of Rhode Island depended."
The father of Francis C. Sessions Francis Sessions, was born in South Wilbraham, Massachusetts; married Sophronia Metcalf, of Lebanon, Connecticut, and died at the age of thirty. His widow lived to be eighty years old and was a woman of remarkable physical and mental vigor, which she retained to the last.

Francis C. Sessions' father died when he was about two years old, and, when old enough to work on the farm, received from his uncle, Robert, with whom he lived, his first wages, the amount received being twelve dollars for four months' work. He worked on the farm summers and attended common-school winters, until he commenced preparing for college, and attended, in succession, the academies of Suffield, Westfield, Wilbraham, and Monson. The failure of his health preventing him from entering college, as he had intended doing, he visited Ohio, in the fall of 1840, and the following year accepted a clerkship in a store in Columbus. In 1843, he entered into a copartnership, under the form of Ellis, Sessions & Co., in the dry goods business. Purchasing the interest of his partners, after two years, he continued the business on his own account, until 1856, when he disposed of his store and engaged in the wool trade. In 1869 he became one of the proprietors, and the president, of the Commercial bank. Throughout the whole term of the late civil war, Mr. Sessions spent a large part of his time in the service of the sanitary commission. He made the memorable trip to Fort Donelson, and, to quote from the records of the commission concerning him, "went to Pittsburgh Landing, immediately after the battle, where he was connected with the great work accomplished in the care of the sick and wounded during the spring and early summer of 1862. He went with Dr. Smith to Murfreesboro, upon the occasion of the battle of Stone River; visited Virginia during the second campaign in that State, as well as most other important points in our field of operations, always as an earnest, hard-working, good Samaritan." The report of the commission further records that "the establishment and success of the Columbus [Soldiers'] Home are, in a large degree, due to the efforts of Mr. F. C. Sessions, a member of the Columbus branch of the sanitary commission, a gentleman who was one of the earliest volunteers in the cause of humanity called out by the war, and who, during, its entire continuance, by his labors on battle-fields, in camps and hospitals, while he sacrificed his personal interests and his health, won for himself the admiration and respect of all who knew him." His name frequently appears on the records of the work of the Sanitary commission at the West, in which, though unpaid, he was a most earnest and faithful worker. Throughout the existence of the Home at Columbus, Mr. Sessions gave it his constant supervision, and was, in fact, its outside superintendent and manager. Mr. Sessions has held many benevolent and educational trusts; has been a trustee of Marietta and Oberlin colleges, of Wilberforce university, of the Columbus Medical college and Home for the Friendless and of the Ohio institution for the blind. The erection of the magnificent new blind asylum was interested to Henry C. Noble and himself. He has contributed not a little to the growth of Columbus in the building of business blocks and numerous houses. He has, at different times, acted as director and president of manufacturing enterprises.

He was one of the original members of the Third Presbyterian church, and subsequently of the First Congregational church of Columbus, in which he has been an officer from the first. He has contributed very largely of his labor and treasure to the prosperity of both. He was for many years an enthusiastic and successful superintendent of the Sunday-school of the latter church, and long acted as a trustee of its ecclesiastical society. The truth of the scriptural declaration, "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth," has been vindicated in his history; for while he has constantly practiced the most munificent liberality, he has accumulated a large fortune.

Mr. Sessions married, August 19, 1847, Mary Johnson, daughter of Orange Johnson, of Worthington.


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