Cyrus Edson (1820 - 1856)

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Cyrus Edson's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Chester, Hunterdon, VT, USA
Death: Died in Troy, NY, USA
Cause of death: decapitated in the explosion of a steam-boiler at his whiskey distillery
Occupation: Whiskey Distiller
Managed by: Michael Reid Delahunt, art teacher & lexicographer
Last Updated:

About Cyrus Edson

Cyrus Edson was born October 14, 1820, and died May 15, 1856, at 35 years, the operator of a whiskey distillery in Albany, NY, at the time of his death. He was buried in Albany Rural Cemetery, in Troy, NY.

According to Julia Manierre Mann’s genealogy at the Newberry Library, Chicago, Cyrus Edson was descended from the Pilgrims. It may be through this connection that Julia claimed descent from a passenger on the Mayflower.

An article telling of Cyrus Edson’s death in an accident appeared on the front page of the New York Times, May 16, 1856:

Explosion of a Steam-Boller, and Loss Life.

ALBANY, Thursday, May 15 [1856]

   A steam-boiler in EDSON'S distillery, in this city, exploded this morning, instantly killing CYRUS EDSON, one of the firm, Mr. HENDERSON, the engineer, and Mr. DONOVAN, the fireman. One or two other employees were badly injured. The boiler was new, and the engineer was engaged in testing it when the explosion occurred. The bodies were horribly mutilated, Mr. EDSON'S head being completely torn from his body and so much disfigured that he could be recognized only by his pocket-handkerchief and finger-rings. Mr. HENDERSON’s head and legs were torn from the trunk. Mr. EDSON leaves a wife and three children. He was highly respected. The Board of Trade adjourned immediately on the announcement of his death. Mr. HENDERSON, the engineer, also leaves a wife and three children. DONOVAN, the fireman, was a single man, but an aged father and several sisters depended on him for support. DANIEL BOYLE had an arm broken. He barely escaped drowning, having been blown into the river by the explosion. FELIX MCCAFFERTY was badly scalded. The cause of the accident is attributed to the inexperience of the engineer.

One of Cyrus Edson's descendants is the American folksinger and liberal activist, Pete Seeger (1919-). A biography of Seeger, "The Protest Singer," by Alec Wilkinson, 2009 reports the story of Cyrus's decapitation. Seeger (p 30) quotes Mary Edson saying to her husband on the morning before the accident, "'Please don't go to work today, I've dreamed something terrible is going to happen.' [Cyrus replied], 'Of course I have to go to work, I have things to do. I can't not go because you had a vision.' Around the middle of the morning she hears a boom, an an hour later workmen brought his hand to her door with his wedding ring on it, the only piece they could find. He'd been blown up testing a boiler. After that the family thought she had second sight."

There is an oval portrait of Cyrus Edson, 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, painted on ivory (seen here). It is one of a pair of portraits of husband and wife, Cyrus and Mary Davidson Edson. These are in the collection of Cyrus and Mary's great-great granddaughter Suzanne Foote Hanks, Milwaukee. Suzanne received them from her mother Mary Jane, who inherited them from her father, George Manierre III, a grandson. This is one of the digital photos Suzie made of the portraits in 2008.

Troy, New York, is located six miles above Albany, the state capital. Both cities are situated on the Hudson River. Albany had a population of about 50,000 in 1850.

One of Cyrus Edson’s brothers was Franklin (born April 5, 1832, Chester, Vermont - September 24, 1904, New York City), who was the Mayor of New York from 1883 to 1884. He was present at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 24, 1883. Franklin Edson was a member of Saint James Church Fordham in the Bronx. He appointed the commission responsible for the selection and location of public lands for parks in the Bronx, which came to include Van Cortlandt, Bronx, Pelham Bay, Crotoan, Claremont and St. Mary's Parks, and the Mosholu, Bronx and Pelham, and Crotona Parkways. As a congressman (1891) he served as secretary to the committee on the Erie Canal.

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Cyrus Edson's Timeline

1820
October 14, 1820
Chester, Hunterdon, VT, USA
1846
October 22, 1846
Age 26
Troy,Rensselaer Co.,NY
1847
December 17, 1847
Age 27
Albany, NY, USA
1850
February 15, 1850
Age 29
Albany, NY, USA
1851
August 29, 1851
Age 30
Albany, New York, United States
1856
May 15, 1856
Age 35
Troy, NY, USA
????
Menands, NY, USA