Rev. Thos, Jefferson Bissell, M.A., Ph.D., D.D., was born in Hartwick, N. Y., July 23, 1834. He was an only son whose father, a man of great energy, had lost by fire in former years three distilleries in succession. Under a sister's influence the boy, when eight years old, signed a temperance pledge, and at fourteen joined the Cadets of Temperance. At. eighteen he graduated as valedictorian from the Delaware Literary Institute, Franklin, N. Y., and at twenty-one with honor from the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., a classmate of Bishop W. X. Ninde, and for one year a seatmate with Hon. David J. Brewer, now a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Having served for one year as principal of the grammar school, Sandwich, Mass., he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856 in which he has occupied a leading position, taking important appointments, serving ten years as a presiding elder, and a member of the general conference of 1884. In 1891 his alma mater conferred upon him the degree of doctor of divinity.
He was at first a Republican, his political activity commencing with the Fremont. campaign. Disgusted after the war with the apathy of that party on the temperance question, in 1867 the anti-Sabbath Shultz resolution passed by the N. Y. State convention drove him into revolt and thenceforward he became an intense Third Party man, writing, speaking, and working, early and late, for the Prohibition cause.
He was for three years a member, and one year a chairman of the N. Y. State Prohibition Executive Committee; for four years a member of the National Committee; chairman of the N. Y. State delegation to the Pittsburg convention; twice a candidate on the State ticket; several times chairman of State Temperance and Prohibition conventions; long connected with the New York Temperance Society and for several years one of its vice-presidents, a co-worker with Gerrit Smith, Gough, Fisk, Finch, and Burdick.
He has also won the honorable distinction of being acknowledged by Frances Willard (in "Glimpses of Fifty Years") as the providential agent who invited and secured the delivery of her first political temperance address.
At present he is a pastor in the city of Rochester, N. Y.
-- An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895)