David R. Straw, of Guilford, the secretary of the Piscataquis Woollen Company and a son of David R. and Caroline A. (Ayer) Straw, was born in this town, May 16, 1836. Both the grandfather, Gideon Straw, a farmer and one of the early settlers of Newfield, York County, and his wife, Mary, died in Newfield at an advanced age. They reared two sons and five daughters. David R. Straw, Sr., the eldest son, was born in Newfield, November 7, 1795. Largely self-educated, he graduated from Brown University, and in 1830 began to practice law in Sangerville, this county. About 1833 he moved to Guilford, and was in active practice here for many years. A capable lawyer, he was also a successful business man. He was a Democrat in politics, but took no active part in public life, refusing offices of trust proffered him. On religious subjects his views were liberal. He died in Guilford, August 31, 1876. His wife, who was born in Norway, Oxford County, August 12, 1813, is living with her son, the subject of this biography. She had thirteen children, of whom Martha K., Daniel, Ellen M., Frederick H., Nahum O’Neil Straw, and two infants are deceased. The rest are: Agnes M., the wife of Eliphalet W. Bennett, of Guilford; William O., residing in Ubet, Montana; Gideon M., residing in Guilford; Caroline A., the wife of George E. Clark, of Algona, Iowa; and Henry, residing in Garner, Iowa.
Having studied at Foxcroft (Me.) Academy, Gilmanton (N.H.) Academy, and Phillips Academy at Andover, Mass., the present David R. Straw graduated from Bowdoin College in 1859. After this he read law with his father, and was admitted to the Piscataquis County bar in 1862. He was subsequently associated in practice with his father until the death of the latter. At present, while not in active practice, he does some professional work. He was largely instrumental in making the Piscataquis Woollen Mills what they are to-day, and was one of the incorporators of the concern. This enterprise was started in 1882, with thirty-five hands; and in 1892 the plant was enlarged. The mills now give employment to one hundred and twenty-five hands. Mr. Straw is also actively engaged in the insurance business with Otis Martin as partner.
On June 16, 1873, Mr. Straw was married to Ellen L., daughter of Abner Downing. She was born in Norway, Maine, November 23, 1845. Mr. and Mrs. Straw have had the following children: Alice B., born March 9, 1877, who died February 20, 1884; Grace M., born September 25, 1880; and Harold D., born April 7, 1882. They also have an adopted child, Doris W., who was born August 12, 1893. Mr. Straw has been Town Clerk and Treasurer for a number of years, and he served on the Board of Selectmen one year. He is a member of Mount Kineo Lodge, F. & A. M., of Guilford; of Good Cheer Lodge, I.O.O.F., of the same place; and of the fraternity of Knights Templar. The family residence, one of the handsomest in the locality, was built under his own supervision. It stands on elevated ground, and commands a beautiful view. Both Mr. and Mrs. Straw are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Source: Biographical review: containing life sketches of leading citizens of Somerset, Piscataquis, Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties, Maine. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1898.