Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    The prosperity of every community depends in large measure upon its merchants, and their enterprise and progressiveness are all important factor which contributes to the development and prosperity of the localities which they represent. One of the wide- awake and practical merchants of West Milton is Henry M. Lair. He was born in Darke county, Ohio, on the farm where Gordontown now stands, the place having been named in honor of his grandfather, Phillip Gordon, the date of his birth being April 13, 1844, and his parents were David and Sarah (Gordon) Lair. The Lair family was founded in America by William Lair, who was born in France and was brought to America when two years of age, the voyage being made about 1752. The mother took up her abode near Trenton, New Jersey, and there William Lair was reared as a carpenter, which pursuit he followed in connection with farming. He served in the Revolutionary war and lived to be seventy-eight years of age. In politics he was a stanch Whig, inflexible in his support of the principles of the party. He married Ann Boss, who was born in New Jersey, although her parents were natives of France. She had a brother who was killed in the Revolutionary war. She died at the age of fifty-seven years, leaving two children, David, and a daughter who died at the age of twenty-two.

    David Lair, the father of our subject, was born August 28, 1809, reared in New Jersey, and after his marriage emigrated westward to Darke county in 1839. He laid out the town of Gordontown when the railroad was built, and for many years followed carpentering and coopering, being thus engaged until about 1870. He then gave his attention exclusively to farming pursuits until 1885, when he came to West Milton, where he has since made his home with his sons. Although he is now ninety-one years of age he is a hale and hearty old man, taking an active interest in public affairs. He served as captain of militia in the early days and has always been stalwart and earnest in support of his political belief. In early life he voted in the Whig party, afterward became a Know-Nothing, and on the organization of the Republican party joined its ranks. On the 2d of October, 1831, David Lair was married to Sarah Gordon, who was born in Hunterdon county, New Jersey, and died in West Milton, Ohio, June 21 , 1894, at the age of eighty-one years, seven months and two days. She had twelve children, of whom three sons and four daughters are yet living. Her great-grandfather Gordon was a native of Scotland and was the founder of the family in America. Her paternal grandfather, Mr. Harden, came from Germany.

    Henry M. Lair, whose name introduces this sketch, spent his boyhood days in Gordontown until seventeen years of age, when he came to West Milton and learned the shoemaker's trade, following that pursuit until the 19th of September, 1861. On that date he responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting as a member of Company E, Forty-eighth Ohio Infantry, with which he served for one year. He was wounded by a gunshot in the right thigh at the battle of Shiloh. In February, 1864, he enlisted in Company L, Eighth Ohio Cavalry, and served until August, 1865, when he received an honorable discharge at Clarksburg, West Virginia. He took part in the engagements at Liberty and Beverly, West Virginia, and was taken prisoner in the Shenandoah valley, being incarcerated for thirteen days, after which it required ten days to get back to the Union lines. On the 11th of January, 1865, the whole command was captured at Beverly and taken to Richmond, where, on the 15th of February, they were paroled, and at Philippi, West Virginia, were reorganized.

    Mr. Lair was ever a loyal and faithful soldier, true to the old flag and the cause it represented. At the close of the war he returned home with an honorable military record and embarked in business at West Milton, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Daniel Coffman. They began the manufacture and sale of shoes until the spring of 1881, when Mr. Lair became sole proprietor and has since carried on the business alone. He still works at the bench, doing repair work, and carries a good stock of ready-made shoes, receiving a liberal patronage from the public.

    Mr. Lair was married to Miss Annie Yount, daughter of Elem Yount, who is still living. Nine children were born to them, but three of the number died in childhood. Those still living are Theodocia, wife of John Willoughby, a carriage-maker of West Milton; Byron H., proprietor of a shoe store in Bellefontaine, Ohio; Mary F., at home; Frank, who is clerking for his brother in Bellefontaine; and Howard K. and Margaret, who are still with their parents.

    Mr. Lair votes with the Republican party and is most earnest in his advocacy of its principles. Socially he is connected with Stillwater Lodge, No. 165, I. O. O. F., and is a charter member of Duncan Post, No. 477, G. A. R., of which he has served as commander. Both he and his wife hold membership in the Christian church, of which he is serving as trustee. He now owns a nice home in West Milton and enjoys the regard of his fellow men, for his life has been an honorable and upright one, true to every duty of citizenship in times of peace and in times of war.

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