Horace Edwin Hayden.

Genealogical and family history of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania; (Volume 2) online

. (page 41 of 130)
Online LibraryHorace Edwin HaydenGenealogical and family history of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania; (Volume 2) → online text (page 41 of 130)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


became a member of the firm of Beadle & Steell,
which established and conducted an extensive
grocery business on Lackawanna avenue, on the
ground now occupied by the old Grand Central
Hotel. Later the business was removed to the
corner of Penn avenue and Center street, and
was there carried on until a few years ago. when
the general store firm of J. H. Steell & Company
was organized, with offices in the Traders' Bank
building in Scranton. This corporation, with
Mr. Steell as manager, operated six stores at one
time, located at various commanding points in the
anthracite region, and the success attending the
enterprise is altogether to be credited to his wise
foresight and excellent managerial ability. He
also was actively concerned in various other large
commercial and industrial ventures. He had
early become interested in the Hillside Coal and
Iron Company, and it was his connection there-
with that led him into the large mercantile under-
taking of the Steell Store Company. He was
one of the most extensive lumber operators in the
Lackawanna Valley, connected with two of the
largest corporations in that trade. He was presi-
dent of the Allegheny Lumber Company, operat-
ing plants at Bellhaven, North Carolina, which
were the very extensive dressing mills formerly
owned and operated by the Bellhaven Lumber
Company, one of the most important of its class
in that great pine-producing region. j\lr. Steell
was among the incorporators of the Lackawanna
Lumber Company of Scranton, of which he was




i-ii ^>t^'.5.b.KAI,'L.h"r'(V VOFlK,




^ft^



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



'95



president, and his colleagues cheerfully conceded
the fact that the prosperity attending that enter-
prise was due in the largest degree to his energy,
intelligence, sagacity and wise judgment. At all
times extraordinarily industrious, he was equally
resolute and determined, and he quailed before
no opposition or obstacle, but resolutely pursued
his purposes to entire success. He was promi-
nently identified with many of Scranton's most
important enterprises, which to name would in-
clude nearly all upon which rests the commercial
and industrial fame of the city. If one among
them be singled out, it may be the Traders' Bank,
in which he was a director, and where, among his
business colleagues, he numbered some of his
most trusted and closely attached personal
friends. Essentially a man of affairs, he held
association with but few fraternal or social bodies,
such relationship being restricted to the Scranton
Club and the Country Club. He was tenderly de-
voted to his home and family, and could rarely be
drawn away to aught in which his wife and chil-
•dren were not privileged to participate with him.
In his extreme youth, when a lad of only fifteen,
he gallantly responded to the call of his country
and as a volunteer carried his musket, acquitting
himself with soldierlike courage and fidelity.

i\Ir. Steell died March 9, 1900, in his fifty-
fourth year, survived by a devoted and sorely
stricken family, comprising the wife of his youth
and their four daughters : Nellie, Leila, Kath-
•erine and Ruth. The sad event brought a deep
sense of personal loss to all with whom the de-
ceased had been in any way associated, and their
feelings of regret and of sympathy for the
afflicted family found expression in various fer-
vent and touching forms. The directors of the
Traders' Bank referred to him as one of their
most esteemed members, and one w'hose vacant
place was not to be easily filled, and continued:
"He was a man of excellent judgment, honest,
upright, warm-hearted, and ever more willing to
give than to receive. Many business institutions
of the city will miss his wise and timely counsel."
The directors of the Allegheny Lumber Company
placed upon its records and before the public
equally fervent tribute : "In the loss of our pres-
ident we part with one who has been energetic,
intelligent, and has shown great sagacitv and
good business judgment as the chief officer and
manager of the afl:"airs of this company. The
business community also mourns the 'loss of one
who has largely helped to mould and shape manv
successful business enterprises of this flourishing
'citv." The same bodv, at the same time and in



the same manner, touched a responsive cord in
every heart in the community, by its touching
phrasing of the personal worth of the friend
whom they mourned :

"His private life was without blemish, and at
the time of his death he enjoyed the confidence
and respect of his business associates, neighbors
and closest friends. We desire to express to the
bereaved family our sorrow in the loss of a be-
loved husband and father, and commend them to
Him who is the Father of the fatherless and the
widow's God. Life is, as Prospero says :
" 'such stuff

As dreams are made of.

And our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.' "

CORNELIUS COMEGYS, of Scranton, a
lawyer of excellent professional standing, and
whose public spirited effort has contributed in
large degree to the advancement of the intellect-
ual and material interests of the city of Scranton,
is descended from ancestors who came from Lex-
mont, Holland, in the early colonial days.

The emigrant, whose christian name is borne
by Air. Comegys, settled in Kent county, Mary-
land, in 1670. By his wife Willamenti he had
two sons, Cornelius and William, from whom
have descended all of the name in the country.
The great-grandfather of Mr. Comegys was an
ensign at Braddock's defeat in the French and
Indian war, and during the Revolution was a
member of Captain Dean's company in the
Maryland line, in the battles of Brandywine and
White Plains. He lived in Queen Anne county,
Maryland.

Cornelius Comegys, grandfather of Cornelius
Comegys, was a man of large affairs — a mer-
chant, ship owner, and large land holder. He
was twice married. John Boon, maternal great-
grandfather of Mr. Comegys, was the first state
senator elected from that section of the eastern
shore of Maryland. "Marblehead," the old home-
stead and family seat of the Boon family, erected
by Senator Boon shortly after the Revolution, a
handsome structure in the old colonial style,
stood on a large estate, and was the scene of
much of the famous hospitality of the "Eastern
Shore."

Dr. Henrv C. Comegys was born April 7,
1833, in Greensboro, Maryland, son of Cornelius
and Eleanor J\I. Comegys. At the age of sixteen,
after attending the schools of his native village,
he entered Dickinson College, at Carlisle, Penn-
sylvania, where he completed his literary educa-
tion. After reading medicine for a year under



196



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



the preceptorship of Dr. Goldsborough, of
Greensboro, he entered the medical department of
the University of Alaryland, and graduated in
1854, at the age of twenty-one years. Locating
in his native town, he there built up a large and
profitable practice. He entered largely into the
life of the community, and was a leading spirit
in the educational affairs, serving as one of the
three school commissioners in Caroline county.
During the Civil war he served a year in the
United States medical corps, as assistant surgeon
in the Hamon General Hospital at Point Lookout,
Marvland. In 1881 he took up his residence in
Scranton, Pennsylvania, where .he continued in
the active practice of his profession until within
one week of his death, which occurred Novem-
ber 29, 1904, after a highly useful professional
career covering the unusual period of a full half
century. He was a pension examining surgeon
during President Cleveland's first administration,
and was a leading member of the County Medical
Society. His entire life was upright, clean and
honorable, respected and esteemed by all, and
held in peculiar regard by his intimates, in appre-
ciation of all those traits of character which
stamped him as a citizen of the noblest type. In
1858 he married Miss Helen A. Boon, daughter
of John Boon, and a native of Maryland. His
widow yet survives, with their two children : Cor-
nelius and Mary G, the last named residing at
home with her mother.

Conelius Comegys, only son of Dr. Henry C.
and Helen A. (Boon) Comegys, is a native of
his ancestral state, Maryland, born at the old
family seat, Greensboro, October 25, 1858. He
began his education in the public schools, and at
the age of fourteen entered St. John's College,
Annapolis, from which he graduated with the
class of 1877, ^t '^he age of nineteen. After a
three years' course of law studies under the pre-
ceptorship of Edward Ridgely, of Dover, Dela-
ware, he was admitted to the bar in April, 1882.
at Denton, Maryland. After a few months spent
in travel in quest of a desirable location, Mr.
Comegys located in Scranton, Pennsylvania,
where he was admitted to the bar at the October
term of court in 1883. Shortly after entering
upon the practice of his profession he was se-
lected bv the district attorney, Edwards, as assist-
ant district attorney, a position which he filled
with conspicuous ability for a period of five years,
when the exactions of a large and constantly in-
creasing private practice made it expedient for
him to resign. He has since devoted himself en-
tirely to his profession, in which he has attained



a position of acknowledged prominence. Witl>
ample equipment and mental faculties of a high
order, he is recognized as the peer of any of the
brilliant array ot lawyers who grace the bar of
the Wyoming Valley. While thus devoted to his
profession, Mr. Comegys has at the same time
always been an important factor in the affairs of
the community, into which he has ever entered
with the keen interest which marks the public
spirited citizen who has at heart a pride in the
city which is his home, and a personal regard for
his fellows, yet bearing himself with becoming
modesty and lack of unseemly self-assertion. A
Democrat in politics, he holds an influential place
in the councils of his party, and exercises a potent
influence before the people in the discussion of
political principles and policies. He is moderate
in his partisanship, and conservative in his views,
and in his address he is logically persuasive, en-
tirely free from passion and that overly aggres-
sive form of speech which breeds antagonism in-
stead of compelling the intelligent attention of the
auditor. His name has been frequently men-
tioned in connection with congressional and other
political nominations, but he has persistently de-
clined all such overtures, preferring to devote
himself to the profession which he regards with a
genuine enthusiasm.

In 1889 Mr. Comegys married Miss Sarah J.
Bevan, daughter of Thomas D. Bevan, of Scran-
ton. Of this marriage have been born four chil-
dren : Margaret Bevan, Cornelius Breck, Helen
Augusta, and Jessie. The family attend the
Presbyterian Church.

ARETUS HEERMANS WINTON, son of
the late W. W. Winton and his wife Catherine,
was born November 17, 1838, at Scranton, Penn-
sylvania. He received his preparation for col-
lege at Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, Pennsyl-
vania, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachu-
setts, and Williston Seminary, East Hampton,
Massachusetts. He was graduated at Mount
Washington College, the valedictorian of his
class. After graduation he read law with David
R. Randall, Esquire, and pn August 22, i860,
was admitted to practice in the several courts of
Luzerne county, and in due time to the supreme
court of Pennsylvania, and the various courts of
the United States. He became an accurate
shorthand reporter, but declined the appointment
oi court reporter when tendered to him by the
Honorable John N. Conyngham. His system-
atic business habits, and arrangement and care of
papers and dockets, won the admiration of clients



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



197



and fellow attorneys, and he devised the present
admirable arrangement of keeping the dockets,
issue-lists, etc., in the prothonotaries' offices at
Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. He prepared and
published the Luzerne Legal Journal, now con-
tinued under the name of the Liiserne Legal
Register, and was long connected with the Seran-
ton Laze Times, the legal official organ of the
courts of the county of Lackawanna. Imme-
diately after his admission to the bar he entered
into a business partnership with Honorable Gar-
rick M. Harding, late president judge of Luzerne
county ; and in the first three months of his law
practice he was engaged in the famous Corwin
murder trial, and in his maiden speech in this case
he at once gained renown as a talented, gifted and
powerful debater and orator. Since then he has
been engaged in very many of the most prominent
criminal and civil cases, where he was associated
with or opposed to many of the criminal lawyers,
judges and statesmen of Pennsylvania.

In 1866 he remoA'cd from Wilkes-Barre to
Scranton, and at once took rank among the fore-
most pleaders at that bar. He conducted the
prosecution and secured the conviction of the
Carbondale Bank robbers, who, being well dis-
:guis';d, on January 14, 1875. entered the First
Kational Bank of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, at
noon, and after gagging the cashier, succeeded
in escaping with many thousand dollars. In con-
nection with detective Robert Pinkerton, as coun-
sel for the bank, Mr. Winton went to work with
■scarcely the shadow of a clue to begin with, and
•eventually enmeshed all the robbers and their
accomplices in the net of the law, and recovered
most of the stolen funds. On December 12,
1874, four young men from Binghamton arrived
in Scranton and began to buy all the oil barrels
that could be obtained from all the leading mer-
chants of Scranton and all the adjacent villages.
In many cases they paid far more than the market
value of the barrels, claiming they had immediate
use for them for an oil refinery in Binghamton.
Their peculiar haste, however, aroused suspic-
ions, and, upon investigation, it was discovered
that there was a sharp law in Pennsylvania fixing
a penalty of three hundred dollars for selling any
"barrel without removing the brand of the inspec-
tor. In the present case many of the barrels had
T)een sold without the removal oi the brand in
question. A'erv shortly these enterprising young
men from another state began to teach the Penn-
sylvanians their own state law. Several suits
were brought against the sellers of the barrels,
and many thousands of dollars were involved.
The m.erchants were greatly concerned by this



matter and at once retained ]\Ir. Winton to repre-
sent their interests in the proceedings. j\Ir.
Winton immediately had the young men arrested
on a criminal charge, and prosecuted the case
with such vigor, that the young men were glad
to settle, withdraw their suits for penalties, and
escape without further punishment. They had
their expensive oil barrels in their possession to
recompense them, but have never again attempted
to operate such a "corner." Another famous
case was that in which Mr. Winton appeared in
the defense of F. A. Beamish. This was a Free
Press libel suit, and was caused by the publication
of an article entitled the "School Board Muddle."
Judge Alfred Hand prosecuted the suit, and Mr.
\\'inton had for his opponents Attorney-General
H. W. Palmer and other distinguished counsel,
but Mr. Winton conquered all difficulties easily,
and On IMay 27, 1875, secured for his client a ver-
dict of acquittal. In the well-known case of the
State against F. S. Pauli, Mr. Winton made the
closing argument for the commonwealth : in this
case he had for his opponent that eloquent law-
yer of Philadelphia, Mr. Daniel Dougherty. In
many more important causes I\Ir. Winton took a
leading part, either for the prosecution or the
defense. The court rules of Luzerne county had
. received many amendments, and were by reason
of this in a somewhat disordered condition. On
January 4, 1878. the court appointed a committee
"for the' revision of these laws. "Mr. Winton was
the chairman of this committee and soon reported
a new set of rules which he submitted to the com-
mittee, who were unanimous in their approval of
the same. They were adopted almost in their
entirety by the court, and still form the basis for
the rules of the court of Lackawanna county.

Mr. Winton was a very popular speaker and
was often called upon for an address upon all
sorts of occasions. The same day that witnessed
his triumph in the case of the State against F. S.
Pauli had been selected for the opening of the
armory of the Scranton City Guards. ]\Ir. Win-
ton had been requested to make the presentation
speech on behalf of the citizens of Scranton. On
May 30, 1878, he was chosen to make the Decor-
ation Day address before the Veteran Association
at the Academy of Music. He has on several oc-
casions, at the reciuest of the lady managers of
the Home for the Friendless, delivered addresses
at their large assemblies and on their excursions.
He has been of great assistance to the Father
IMatthew Society, not only bv delivering ad-
dresses, but also bv his recitations, as he was an
exceedingly fine elocutionist. The Robert Burns
Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, owe



198



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



him a debt of gratitude for his oratorical efforts
in their behalf at several anniversary festivals.

Long before the birth of Mr. Winton there
had been a struggle for the division of Luzerne
county. This matter occupied a good deal of his
time up to 1878, when with all the eloquence of
which he was master he came to the front as an
advocate of the new county, and gave substantial
pecuniary aid as well, also writing editorials in
iDchalf of the measure until success crowned his
efforts on August 17, 1878, and Lackawanna
county became an established fact. October 24,
1877, was a gala dav in the history of Scranton.
The City Guard and the First Regiment of the
State Militia were reviewed and inspected by
Governor J. F. Hartranft and his staff. The
prominent citizens of Scranton tendered a colla-
tion at noon in the Lackawanna Valley House.
]\Iany prominent national and state officers were
present, and many speeches were made, but that
of Mr. Winton was conceded to excel them all.
The Scranton Republican, the next day, said:
"Mr. Winton's effort was replete with eloquence,
beauty, wit and fun, and he was greeted with
long applause."

Some years ago his father became interested
in the tracts of coal land on which is now situated
the village of Winton, and this tract was after-
wards incorporated and given the name of Win-
ton in his honor. The only public office ;\Ir.
Winton ever held was that of director of the poor
of the city of Scranton, and he held this office for
ten years, being secretary of the board for the
greater part of that time. His systematic habits
of business and clear judgment were of the great-
est benefit to the city in that position. When the
Law and Library .\ssociation was organized Mr.
Winton was made the treasurer and held that
position up to the time of his death. He was also
treasurer of the Coeur de Lion Commandery of
Scranton for many years.

On May 9, 1865, Mr. Winton married Miss
Alice M. Collings, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsyl-
vania, daughter of the late Hon. Samuel P. Col-
lings, a former United States consul at Tangier,
and a granddaughter of Hon. Andrew Beau-
mont, of Wilkes-Barre, member of congress in
1837. Mr. and Mrs. Winton had two daughters :
Katharine, wife of Dr. G. D. Murray, of Scran-
ton : and Elsbeth.

Mr. Winton died February 2, 1896. His
health had been impaired for several years but
his death was a sudden one. Probably no lawyer
at the Lackawanna bar was more sincerely ad-
mired for his native abilities than Aretus Heer-
mans Winton. He was a man of rare intellec-



tual attainments, a close student, and one of those
cheery genial natures that command deep friend-
ships and effect the closest ties between man and
man. His death was sincerely deplored by all
who knew him. The Lackawanna Bar Associa-
tion held a special meeting to take action upon
the death of Mr. Winton. ]\Ir. Edward paid a
glowing tribute to. the mental powers and orator-
ical talents of the deceased. Hon. John P. Kelly
referred to the brilliancy of Mr. Winton's mind,
the clearness of his intellect and his knowledge
of the law. S. B. Price spoke of his manly traits
and paid a tribute to Mr. Winton as a friend. A
committee was appointed to draw up a set of
resolutions to be published in all the daily papers,
and a copy of which was to be engrossed and
presented to the family of the deceased. As a
public servant in behalf of the poor, Mr. Winton
showed the goodness of his heart ; as a political
speaker he had few ecjuals ; and in his social rela-
tions he stood pre-eminent as one of the most
amiable, genial and hospitable of men.

SAM SYKES, who was identified with a line
of enterprise which has important bearing upon
the well being and general attractiveness of every
community, having been a member of the well
known and substantial firm of S. Sykes& Sons,
which holds prestige among the leading contrac-
tors and builders of the Lackawanna A'alley, hav-
ing its headquarters in the city of Scranton and
controlling a business of wide scope and import-
ance. For thirty years the head of this firm was
actively engaged in business, and during this long
period it was his good fortune and his just desert
to retain the unqualified confidence of the public,
both as a business man and as a citizen, while he
and his firm have had to do with the erection of
many fine buildings in Lackawanna and adjoining
counties.

Mr. Sykes was born in Yorkshire, England,
August 30, 1846, being a son of Joseph and Pris-
cilla (Kidd) S}kes, both of whom passed their
entire lives in England and both of whom at-
tained to advanced age. They had five children,
of whom three came to America, William, Sarah
and Sam. Sam Sykes secured his educational
training in the schools of his native land and
there continued to reside until 1865, when at the
age of nineteen years he set forth for the hos-
pitable shores of America, feeling assured of here
finding better opportunities for individual ac-
complishment and success. He located in Ches-
ter, Pennsylvania, where he served an apprentice-
ship at the stone-cutter's trade under the direc-
tion of his older brother, William, who had come



THE WYOMING AND LACKAWANNA VALLEYS.



199



to this country several years previously. In 1867
he came to Scranton with his brother, and here
worked at his trade under the latter's supervision
for several years. He then initiated his independ-
ent career by turning his attention to the manu-
facturing of monuments and tombstones, in
which line he continued operations for four years.
At the expiration of this time he entered into a
co-partnership with Patrick ^luldoon, under the
firm name of Sykes & Aluldoon, and they con-
tinued the monument business and also expanded
the enterprise to include the execution of heavy
masonry, including flagging, curbing, etc. The
partnership was dissolved at the end of ten years
of successful operation, and Mr. Sykes then en-
gaged in general contracting, establishing his
office and headquarters at iioi Washington ave-
nue, where he remained for eight years. He
erected some of the finest buildings in the city of
Scranton, among which may be noted school
houses Xos. 25 and 35, the Asbury ^Methodist
Episcopal church. In February, 1894, he admit-
ted to partnership his sons John K. and Harry
R., and when he died, a few months later, the
sons assumed active control and management of
the business, in which their mother still retains
her interest, and they have ably upheld the high
reputation gained by their honored father and
have proven to be worthy successors of one who
stood as one of the reliable and representative
business men of this section of the state. They
are progressive young men, and in the handling
of all contracts manifest the utmost fidelity so
that the}- retain the confidence of those with
whom they have dealings and further the prece-
dence of the firm with which they have been iden-
tified for more than a decade.

Mr. Sykes was summoned into eternal rest
September 5, 1894, and in his death Scranton
lost one of its most popular and honored business
men and loyal citizens. He was thoroughly prac-
tical in his chosen field of endeavor, possessed
marked executive abilitv and so directed his ef-
forts as to accumulate a competency by worthy



Online LibraryHorace Edwin HaydenGenealogical and family history of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania; (Volume 2) → online text (page 41 of 130)