People > Peter Upton

Peter Upton

Peter Upton was born in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, October 1, 1816. He came to Jaffrey October 9, 1837, at the age of twenty-one, and for seventy years he was one of the most prominent and influential business men of the town. He was first a clerk in the store of Hiram Duncan, now owned by Fred L. Cournoyer. In business, civic, and social affairs, he was himself so intimately involved in every movement for its industrial or social betterment that for seventy years he may be treated as a part of the town.

Mr. Duncan dying, he became owner of the business, to which he admitted Charles H. Powers, a most promising young man, as partner, and in 1847 his brother, Ebenezer Upton, became a member of the firm. In 1845 he helped obtain the post office at Factory Village, the name of which was then changed to East Jaffrey. In 1851 the store was sold to E. Upton & Company, with Charles H. Powers as a partner, and the same year the Monadnock Bank was established with John Conant as president and Peter Upton treasurer. This was a successful venture (see Banks), and was succeeded by the Monadnock National Bank, of which Peter Upton was chosen treasurer, both these institutions having had their quarters at his house. In 1869 the Monadnock Savings Bank was incorporated by Act of Legislature obtained by Mr. Upton. It was advertised to open for business January 1, 1870, but before that date a change in management was caused by the resignation of F. W. Bailey to accept a partnership in the law firm of Wheeler and Faulkner at Keene. His place was filled by the election of Mr. Upton, and the location of the office changed from the factory Counting Room to the Banking Rooms of the Monadnock Bank in his house.

From 1844, when Alonzo Bascom bought the cotton mills, the growth of the village was greatly accelerated, Mr. Upton seconding every movement that promised its improvement. In 1851 he was foremost in planning the new brick schoolhouse and hall building that is still in use not only for schools but as the principal place of social entertainment for the townspeople and for town meetings. In 1859 he planned and supervised the erection of the Granite State Hotel in the Village Square, which, until it was burned in 1875, was the pride of the village. Three brick Bank buildings were built during his administration and largely under his supervision. It is said in the former History of Jaffrey that the building of the Monadnock Railroad in 1870-71 was due to his efforts and those of Dr. Oscar H. Bradley, perhaps more than to any other two men interested in the enterprise, and during its continuance as an independent company both men served as directors.

A remarkable fact in Mr. Upton's long business career was his good health. Though not a man of rugged physique, it was said that in 43 years of unbroken service he had never missed a full day from business on account of illness. During the early days of his banking he appears to have been treasurer, secretary, office boy and clerk, and the work was done methodically and with rare accuracy. And yet Mr. Upton was the most moderate of men. He took time to weigh and consider, and consequently there were few errors of judgment or execution to correct. In person he was fastidious to an extreme degree, and never Goldilocks bestowed more care upon her sunny tresses than Mr. Upton upon his curly graying hair. He never wore overalls or soiled his hands with manual labor, and yet there was no harder working man in town than he. He never forgot the dignity appropriate to his position; he was a banker at all hours, and on all occasions. To summarize his excellences of person and character, he was our gentleman of the old school, one of a genus.

Mr. Upton's life was so completely occupied with the demands of his business that he found few opportunities for public service beyond those of a counselor on important town affairs in the discussions on town meeting days in which he often shared. He served as town treasurer in 1865, and as representative to the State Legislature for three terms, 1848, 1849, and 1850. In 1884 he received his crowning political honor by his election to the Council of Governor Moody Currier for the years 1885 and 1886.

Anniversary Invitation
Invitation to the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Peter and Sarah Upton.

At ninety his work was done. The three-cornered lot in the cemetery was monumented and ready. But the twilight was long and peaceful as it faded slowly into night. There was time to sit and listen to the voices of the past as the windows slowly darkened. There was silent company to while away with him the lonely hours. The village of which he had been so much a part, still in vigorous youth as he sank into the drowse of age, was much in his waking thought. All that he had seen or done or enjoyed passed through his mind in daily review. There was one great sorrow—his only son, Hiram, a young man of great promise, had preceded him into the unknown. At last on July 24, 1910, in the ninety-fourth year of his age, honored by all, he fell asleep.

Peter Upton

Peter Upton

Name: Peter Upton
Born: October 1, 1816
Place of Birth: Tyngsborough, MA
Died: July 24, 1910
Place of Death: Unknown
Occupation: Banker
Place of Burial Unknown