Following our usual custom of telling our present day citizens about some of our former prominent residents, we give herewith a sketch of Jason Sexton, about whom we spoke last week.
Jason Sexton was born September 21, 1834, at Sharon, N. Y., coming to Montgomery county in the spring of 1876, when he took charge of the extensive farming operations of William M. Singerly, whose farms of over 600 acres [later the Ralph Beaver Strassburger farm, now Normandy Farms] were under Mr. Sexton’s management for a quarter of a century.
Before moving to North Wales he lived on the turnpike [Sumneytown Pike] near Spring House. In addition to the work of managing the stock and dairy farms, Mr. Sexton took an active part in the affairs of the township and was instrumental in the establishment of a graded school system for Lower Gwynedd and also the Union Sunday School at Springhouse, of which he was Superintendent for many years.
As an Agriculturalist Sexton achieved an enviable reputation among farmers and stockmen. He was one of the first in this section to advocate the feeding of ensilage. With the consent of Mr. Singerly, the first silo in this county was built, and the method of feeding as carried on at the Singerly farms [today Normandy Farms] was adopted by dairymen in all parts of the country. The fattening of cattle was one of his specialties and it was on the home farm that he succeeded in raising a steer that weighed 2400 pounds and which was exhibited at a number of fairs.
In 1862 Mr. Sexton enlisted in as a Private in the 44th Regiment, New York Volunteers. In September 1864 he was commissioned a lieutenant in the 175th New York Volunteers. He served with General Phil Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley and in January 1865, his company became a part of General Sherman’s command at Savannah, Georgia, and participated in Sherman’s march to the sea. He remained with this command until the close of the war.
Mr. Sexton was one of the original members of Ellsworth’s Avengers, a company of New York State Volunteers recruited to avenge the death of Colonel Ellsworth who was shot early in the war. The company was afterwards called the Ellsworth Zouaves and when mustered into service became known as the 44th Regiment.
In politics Mr. Sexton was an ardent Republican, his first vote having been cast for John C. Fremont for President in 1856. He served several terms as School Director in Lower Gwynedd Township. In 1897 he was elected to the State Legislature, by the largest vote ever cast (up to that time) for any candidate in this district, receiving a majority of 6812 votes. He took his seat in the Assembly on the 5th Anniversary of the day his father took his seat in the New York Legislature. Sexton was reelected in 1899 by a nearly 2000 vote majority.
As a member of the State Board of Agriculture Mr. Sexton enjoyed a large acquaintance, among the farmers of this county and also in the state. For years he was in charge of the Farmers Institutes in Montgomery county and took great pleasure in this work. He was also connected with the Grangers. In religious life Mr. Sexton was a member of the Methodist Church, serving on the board of the trustees at the time of his death. For a number of years Mr. Sexton had been connected with the State Highway Department and was in charge of some important work for the state in various counties. The sudden death of Mr. Sexton on Memorial Day 1910 removed from North Wales one of its most respected and energetic citizens.
This post is sourced from a column entitled Early North Wales: Its History and Its People penned by long-time North Wales resident historian Leon T. Lewis. The article appeared in its original form in the June 2, 1959 issue of the North Penn Reporter.