John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 7) online

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Mr. Woodward: — -The death of such a man in
the full ripeness of his career — immaturity
passed, but no decay begun — is a great loss.
The community in which he lived knows that
he was an unselfish and diligent citizen, who
was always at work for the public good when
called upon to serve them in a representative
capacity. His clients knew that he was a wise
and prudent lawyer, learned and honorable, who
could never tread in paths that were not straight
and clean, and open. The bench and the bar
knew him as an exemplary and distinguished



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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



member of a noble profession, which needs such
men to keep its standard high. And we all
know and will remember him as a Christian
gentleman, with whom we are glad to have been
associated and whose character and influence
have bettered the world in which he lived.



Such earnest expressions of appreci-
ation of a man, given by his closest col-
leagues, leave little more to be said.

Mr. Dickson's antecedents were Scotch,
his ancestry tracing to David Dickson,
born 1583, one of the regents of the Uni-
versity of Glasgow. The Dicksons were
one of the border clans, one of the
mottoes being Fortes fortuna jiivat (For-
tune favors the brave), another Cuho scd
euro (I sleep but watch). The family was
known as the "famous Dicksons," and are
of frequent mention in Scotch records.
The clan is descended from the Keiths,
Earls Marshall, one of the most powerful
families of Scotland when, with the ex-
ception of the royal family, the title of
Earl was the highest in the kingdom.
The Keith family had so many posses-
sions that it was at one time said that
they could journey from the north to the
south of Scotland and sleep every night
in one of their own castles.
, John Dickson, grandson of David Dick-
son, the regent, was bom about 1673,
married Jane Dodd, and settled in Ire-
land, in County Down. His eldest son,
James Dickson, had a son, Alexander,
born in 1776, who married Sarah McKee,
and by her had ten children. By a second
wife, Margaret Harding, he had six chil-
dren. In June, 1837, this Alexander Dick-
son came to the United States, bringing
his family and settling at Schagticoke,
Rensselaer county. New York. In 1837
he moved to Lansingburg, New York,
and there died April 2, 1871, aged ninety-
five years. Hugh Sheridan, seventh child
of Alexander Dickson and his first wife,
Sarah McKee, was born in 1813. He mar-

2339



ried Sarah Margaret Stoever, who bore
him four children : Elizabeth, married
Reverend Samuel T. Lowrie ; Ellen, mar-
ried Colonel W. P. Wilson ; Frederick
Stoever, author of "Dickson's Blackstone",
"Dickson's Commentaries", "Dickson's
Kent", and an analysis of "Kent's Com-
mentaries" ; and Allan Hamilton.

Allan Hamilton, son of Hugh Sheridan
and Sarah Margaret (Stoever) Dickson,
was born in Utica, New York, November
14, 1851, died in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsyl-
vania, January 21, 1893. He prepared for
college at Wyer's Preparatory School in
West Chester, Pennsylvania, and entered
Yale University in 1868, but in the first
half of his sophomore year was compelled
to leave the university on account of poor
health. After a season of travel in Mexico
he returned home, and in 1871 reentered
Yale, finishing his sophomore studies. He
then went abroad, studied German at
Heidelberg, and attended university lec-
tures at Berlin. He also toured Switzer-
land and Italy, returning to the United
States and Wilkes-Barre in 1872. In Janu-
ary, 1873, he began the study of law
under the direction of Henry M. Hoyt, of
the Luzerne county bar, having previ-
ously registered as a law student with
Wayne MacVeagh in West Chester. On
September 14, 1874, he was admitted to
the Luzerne county bar, and from that
date was actively and prominently identi-
fied with that bar. He was duly ad-
mitted to the Superior and Supreme
Courts of the State and to the Federal
Courts of the district, conducting a large
practice in all. He boldly attacked cor-
ruption in public aflfairs, and became the
open foe of the "powers that prey". He
won enviable standing at the bar, and
was held in high esteem not less for his
great personal worth than for his ability
as a lawyer and advocate. He was a
member of the bar associations of the



ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



district, and of various social, philan-
thropic and political organizations. No
man had warmer, truer friends, and no
man ever more truly benefited the com-
munity in which he lived.

Mr. Dickson married, November 12,
1874, Kate Swetland Pettibone, born Sep-
tember 27, 185 1, daughter of Payne (2)
and Caroline M. (Swetland) Pettibone,
her father a leading banker, business man,
railroad official, and churchman. Mrs.
Dickson is a descendant of John Petti-
bone, of French ancestry, who came from
England in 1650 and who settled at
Windsor, Connecticut. The Wyoming
Valley settler was Noah Pettibone, bom
April 16, 1714, who settled in the valley
in 1769. He married, in 1745, Huldah
Williams. His son, Oliver, was in Forty
Fort at the time of the massacre, left the
valley soon afterward, but returned in
1788 and bought land adjoining his
father's. He married, in Dutchess county,
New York, Martha, daughter of Dr. Bar-
nabas Payne, who bore him thirteen chil-
dren, eleven of whom married and reared
families. His son, Payne (i) Pettibone,
married Sarah, daughter of Joseph and
Mary (Lee) Tuttle, of the Morris county.
New Jersey, Tuttle family. Payne (2)
Pettibone, son of Payne (i) and Sarah
(Tuttle) Pettibone, was born December
23, 1813, died March 21, 1888. He be-
came one of the leading business men of
the Wyoming Valley, and was one of the
foremost laymen of the Methodist Epis-
copal church. He married, October 3,
1837, Caroline M., daughter of William
Swetland, banker of Pittston and exten-
sive land owner and coal operator. He
was a son of Belding and Sally (Gay)
Swetland, and a grandson of Luke Swet-
land, a Revolutionary soldier, and the
first of the Swetlands to settle in the
Wyoming Valley.

Children of Allan Hamilton and Kate



Swetland (Pettibone) Dickson: Caro
Pettibone, died in childhood ; Dorothy
Ellen, married Major Frank Darte ; Hugh
Sheridan, died in childhood. Mrs. Dick-
son survives her husband, a resident of
Wilkes-Barre, a lady of culture and
fortune.



MINER, Charles A. and Sidney R.,
Men of Affairs, Fnlilic Benefactors.



When in 1858 the Wyoming Historical
and Geological Society was formed for
the purpose of preserving historical data,
sites, and records, Charles Abbott Miner
was one of the charter members. During
the forty-five years of his life member-
ship he filled the offices of vice-president,
president, and trustee, his interest and
services materially promoting the wel-
fare and usefulness of the Society. In
1892 his son, Sidney Roby Miner, was
elected a member of the Society and two
years later was elected recording secre-
tary, an office he held until his death
twenty years later. Through legacies
left by them, father and son are enrolled
upon the list of benefactors, and both,
through their pens, left valuable contri-
butions to the literature of the Wyoming
Valley.

This interest in the preservation of his-
tory by her two noble sons was not the
only or greatest benefit the Wyoming
Valley received from them. Their lives
were lives of usefulness and honor, the
father a merchant, miller and public offi-
cial ; the son a lawyer, orator and writer.
Both were eminent in their spheres, both
were men of sterling character and worth,
and both are lovingly remembered.

The Miner ancestry is traced from
early New England settlers, among whom
stand preeminent Thomas Miner (1630),
a captain in King Philip's War ; John
Ross, of Ipswich, Massachusetts (1635);
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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



and George Abbott, of Andover, Massa-
chusetts (1635). In England the family
has been traced to the thirteenth century,
to Henry Miner, who died in 1359, a rec-
ord of whose services to his king, his
coat-of-arms, etc., is preserved in family
archives. In the tenth generation of the
family in England, Thomas Miner, in
1630, cam,e to America, landing at Salem,
Massachusetts. Five American genera-
tions — Thomas, the founder; his son,
Clement (i) ; his son. Clement (2) ; his
son, Hugh ; and his son. Ensign Seth
Miner, resided in New England, the sons
of Ensign Seth being the pioneers of this
branch in the Wyoming Valley. Ensign
Seth Miner, born in New London, Con-
necticut, 1742, died January 15, 1822, and
is buried in the old graveyard at Doyles-
town, Pennsylvania. He was a member
of the Susquehanna Land Company, and
as such had a claim to land in Pennsyl-
vania so long in dispute between Penn-
sylvania and Connecticut. His son
Charles was deputized to go to the Wyo-
ming Valley to look after his father's in-
terests, and later he induced his brother
Asher to join him. This Asher Miner
was the grandfather of Charles A., and
the great-grandfather of Sidney R. Miner.
Asher Miner, born in Norwich, Con-
necticut, March 3, 1778, was of the sixth
generation of his family in America. He
was a printer, and after coming to the
Wyoming Valley worked at his trade on
the newspapers of his day and founded
the "Luzerne County Federalist," issu-
ing the first number January 5, 1801. He
later sold his interest in "The Federalist"
to his brother Charles, and moved to
Doylestown. There he founded and
issued first, July 7, 1804, the "Pennsyl-
vania Correspondent and Farmers Adver-
tiser," later known as the "Bucks County
Intelligencer." He succeeded in estab-
lishing this enterprise upon a profitable



basis, and for twenty-one years remained
its proprietor and publisher. He was
postmaster of Doylestown for several
years, having the postoffice in his print-
ing house, and also there engaged in
merchandising. He resigned as post-
master in 1821, sold his newspaper in
1824, and moved to West Chester, Penn-
sylvania, there joining his brother Charles
in publishing the "Village Record." In
1834 the brothers sold "The Record" and
returned to Wilkes-Barre, where Asher
Miner died March 14, 1841. He married.
May 19, 1800, Mary Wright, who bore
him thirteen children.

Robert, the third child of Asher and
Mary (Wright) Miner, was born at
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, August 17,
1805, died December 10, 1842. He began
working in the mill owned by his father
at the age of fourteen years, and for a
number of years taught school in Plains
township. After his marriage he again
took charge of the mill owned by his
father at Wrightsville (Miner's Mills),
operated it until it was destroyed by fire
in 1826, and then rebuilt it. In 1833 he
bought the "Wyoming Herald ;" in 1837
merged it with the "Wyoming Repub-
lican," then being published at Kingston,
but, in 1836 entered the employ of the
newly created Hazleton Coal Company
as clerk. Later he became secretary of
the company, also acting as treasurer,
and in 1840 he engaged in the mining and
shipping of coal as a member of the firm
of Pardee, Miner & Company. He mar-
ried Eliza, daughter of Stephen and Abi-
gail (Searle) Abbott, who bore him three
children.

Charles Abbott Miner, eldest son of
Robert and Eliza (Abbott) Miner, was
born in Plains township, Luzerne county,
Pennsylvania, August 30, 1830, died in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and was
there buried July 27, 1903. After com-



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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



pleting an academic education at Wilkes-
Barre and West Chester he entered the
business with which his father and grand-
father had been connected, and in turn
passed it to his son, Asher. All his
active business life was devoted to the
milling business, and until his retirement
he operated the mill at Miner's Mills,
built by his father on the site of the old
mill built by Thomas Wright, owned by
his grandfather, where flour was made in
1795. He was the first president of the
Pennsylvania State Millers' Association,
and one of the leading men of the milling
industry. In 1890 he prepared and read
a most interesting, valuable paper before
the Wyoming Historical and Geological
Society, entitled "The Early Grist Mills
of Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania."

While his milling interests were of
paramount importance, Mr. Miner was
closely identified with many Wilkes-
Barre activities of note. For twenty-five
years he was a director of the Wyoming
National Bank, ranking as vice-president
at the time of his death, and for fifteen
years he was president of the Coalville
(Ashley) Street Railway Company. He
was president of the board of directors
of theWilkes-Barre City Hospital from its
organization, was at one time president of
the Luzerne County Agricultural Society,
and president of the board of trustees of
Wilkes-Barre Academy (later the Harry
Hillman Academy), an institution in
which he had deep concern, as he had in
all educational matters. For many years
he furnished the Miner Prizes for decla-
mation at the Academy, and was ever
zealous in securing better educational ad-
vantages for young men and women. Mr.
Miner was a veteran of the Civil War,
enlisting in Company K, Thirtieth Regi-
ment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry,
and was honorably discharged, ranking
as sergeant, July 26, 1863. He was a Re-



publican in politics, serving his party as
representative from Wilkes-Barre in the
Pennsylvania Legislature from 1875 until
1880. His dignified and able service in
the House was endorsed by his district,
and in 1881 he was the nom.inee of his
party for State Senator, but was defeated
at the polls by his Democratic opponent,
Eckley B. Coxe. In 1877 he had served
by appointment as a member of the Sec-
ond Geologic Survey of Pennsylvania.

Mr.Miner was a charter member of the
Wyoming Historical and Geological So-
ciety, organized in 1858, and for forty-
five years was intimately in touch with
the Society and its work. He was chosen
president in 1881, was vice-president,
1887-1890, and a trustee, 1887 to 1903. He
was a life member of the Society and a
benefactor, using his means and his
talents to aid the Society in its purposes.
A man's contemporaries are the best
judges of the value of his life to the com-
munity, and the following extract from
the "Wilkes-Barre Leader," published on
the day of his funeral, July 2j, 1903, faith-
fully reflects the sentiments of his city :

All that was mortal of Hon. Charles A. Miner
was this afternoon consigned to its last resting
place. In the death of Mr. Miner Wilkes-
Barre has indeed sustained a severe loss. A
public-spirited, philanthropic citizen, he was
ever ready to help in advancing the welfare of
the city and its inhabitants. His personal side
was particularly lovable to all who knew him
and his business integrity was a strong example
to many of the younger business men of the
community. The deeds of Mr. Miner will live
in this city for many a long day. After all,
they are the most lasting tributes to a citizen's
memory. But it would not be amiss to erect
in the public square or on the river common, or
some such appropriate spot — the property of the
people — a monument to Mr. Mmer's memory,
something for boys and girls of coming genera-
tions to look up to and to inspire in them the
same noble traits and characteristics which
made Charles A. Miner one of the best citizens
V/ilkes-Barre ever had.



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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



Resolutions of similar purport were
passed by the governing boards of the
Wyoming National Bank, St. Stephen's
Protestant Episcopal Church, Wilkes-
Barre City Hospital, Conyngham Post
No. 97, Grand Army of the Republic, and
the State Millers' Association. The pri-
vate outpouring of grief was manifested
through hundreds of letters, coming from
near and far, to members of the family.

Mr. Miner married, January 19, 1853,
Eliza Ross Atherton, born in Wyoming
borough (now), March 10, 1831, daughter
of Elisha and Caroline Ann (Ross) Ather-
ton. Mrs. Miner is a descendant of James
(i) Atherton, who settled in Wyoming
in 1762, married Elizabeth Borden, and
left a son, James (2) Atherton. James
(2) married Lydia Washburn, who bore
him thirteen children. One of these chil-
dren, the sixth, Elisha, born in Wyoming,
May 7, 1786, died April 2, 1853. He mar-
ried, February 3, 1828, Caroline Ann,
daughter of General William and Eliza-
beth (Sterling) Ross, who were married
October 10, 1790. Eliza Ross, daughter
of Elisha and Caroline Ann (Ross) Ather-
ton, married Charles Abbott Miner. Chil-
dren : Elizabeth, born in 1853, died No-
vember 22, 1902, a gentle. Christian lady,
greatly beloved; Robert, died young;
William Ross, died young; Asher, mar-
ried Hetty M. Lonsdale, he is a leading
business man, and prominent citizen ;
Sidney Roby, of further mention ; Charles
Howard, M. D., University of Pennsyl-
vania, 1893, Bachelor of Arts, Princeton
University, 1890, married Grace Lea Shoe-
maker.

Sidney Roby Miner, son of Charles Ab-
bott and Eliza Ross (Atherton) Miner,
was born in Wilkes-Barre, July 28, 1864,
died there June 14, 1913. He prepared at
Harry Hillman Academy, whence he was
graduated, class of 1884, then entered
Harvard University in the fall, graduat-



ing Bachelor of Arts, class of 1888.
Choosing the profession of law, he stud-
ied in the University of Pennsylvania
Law Department, 1889-1890, and on June
16, 1890, was admitted to the Luzerne
county bar. He at once began practice
in Wilkes-Barre and so continued until
his death. He was a director of the
Miner-Hillard Milling Company until his
death, but his tastes were literary and
professional.

Baptized January 3, 1869, and con-
firmed March 30, 1890, in St. Stephen's
Episcopal Church, by Right' Rev. Nelson
S. Rulison, D. D., he became a member
of the vestry in 1904, serving until his
death, and for ten years he represented
the parish in the conventions of the Dio-
cese of Central Pennsylvania and the Dio-
cese of Bethlehem, an earnest, devout
churchman.

His fraternal and club associations
were numerous. He was a Master Ma-
son of Land Mark Lodge, No. 442, Free
and Accepted Masons ; a companion of
Shekinah Chapter, No. 182, Royal Arch
Masons ; a sir knight of Dieu le Veut
Commandery, Knights Templar ; and a
noble of Irem Temple, Ancient Arabic
Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. His
clubs were the Wyoming Valley Country,
Westmoreland, North Mountain, and
Harvard, of New York. He was also a
member of the Pennsylvania Society,
Sons of the Revolution, from 1893 until
his death, holding membership through
right of descent from Revolutionary an-
cestors — Ensign Seth Miner, Sergeant
William Searle, private James Atherton,
private John Abbott, private Constant
Searle, and private (later General) Wil-
liam Ross.

His connection with the Wyoming
Historical and Geological Society began
with his admission as a member in 1892,
and continued without interruption until



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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



his death. In 1894 he was elected record-
ing secretary, and for nearly twenty years
he held that office. He inherited the his-
toric tastes and interests of his father,
which led him at times to preserve for
the Society the printed result of his re-
search. His historical paper on Colonel
Isaac Barre, published by the Society in
Volume VI. of their Proceedings, is an
exhaustive sketch of that distinguished
officer and friend of the colonies. He
also delivered an address before the Wyo-
ming Commemorative Association (of
which he was a member) on July 3, 1894,
entitled "Who Was Queen Esther?" that
was published by the Association. He
was a life member of the Society, and
after his death, having left a legacy of
two thousand dollars to the Society, was
placed on the list of benefactors.

Mr. Miner married, June 25, 1909,
Lydia Atherton Stites, daughter of Rev.
Winfield Scott and Lydia (Atherton)
Stites, of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, who
survives him.

The following beautiful tribute to Sid-
ney R. Miner is from the pen of his friend
and law partner. Colonel Franck C. Darte,
and in it he most faithfully portrays the
character of his dead friend :

Mr. Miner belonged to the conservatively
minded, generously endowed, high-thinking men
of the community. Never physically vigorous
in a comparative sense, he was rather inclined
to the quieter ways and the more studious walks
of life, though, as opportunity presented, both
in his own way, and in his attitude otherwise,
he showed a large sympathy with those diver-
sions which in one guise or another bring peo-
ple into the free communion with nature in her
visible forms. He was one of the charter mem-
bers of the North Mountain Club, and it had
been among his chiefest delights for years to
enjoy the winter or the summer rambles in this
mountain region where giant old trees, dash-
ing brooks, and deep mountain chasms refreshed
the spirit of the visitor.

Even before his college days, through his
course at Harvard, and in after life, he has



shown delight in the reading of solid books, and
his mind was familiar with and exulted sym-
pathetically in the great thoughts of great men.

His friendships were wide in scope and they
were rare in quality and this was very largely
because he himself was a friend — constant, loyal
and thoughtful. Many instances there are that
it were possible to quote, that showed a keen
sympathetic interest both in the joys and the
sorrows of those he numbered as intimates and
acquaintances. And this was always of comfort
to those who had learned in many ways that his
loyalty was a part of himself and always to be
depended upon. He was one of those rare
natures that added to friendships riches, and
that never lost friends — for he had the enduring
qualities that held them. This is not to say
that he was without strong opinions. But he
engaged in argument rather for the sake of the
truth to be developed than for mere argument's
sake, and he respected the views of others, even
when holding fast his own.

The high intellectual appeal, the appeal of
duty, of conscience, of the development of the
wholesome and the uplifting in individual and
in community — these were some of the indices
of his character. He was a valuable member of
several social, fraternal, and charitable organiza-
tions and though his enthusiasm was of the
quieter sort as far as outward signs go, it was
enduring and constant. He had much to do
with organizing the Harvard men of this vicin-
ity, and more generally, in varied interests, his
services found recognition in the many official
parts he was called upon to play.

Moreover there was great wholesomeness and
a fine fibre in his personal relations. He could
be ranked as instinctively on the right, the
high-minded side of a proposition, and this
characteristic is perhaps growing a little more
rare in an age when there are so many vagaries
as to thought and action even among reasonable
men. As indicated, he had come to large sym-
pathy and to considerable participation in sev-
eral of the important avenues of good in the
community.

To these high qualities, as a citizen and a
man, Mr. Miner added an integrity and sym-
metry of character in his profession that was
universally recognized. The thing never seemed,
in choosing between the worthy and the oppo-
site, to be a matter of turning aside temptation.
With such as he there never seemed to be any
temptation. What seemed to him right had
become as facile as second nature.

In his death, which considering years and



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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY



averages, is untimely and marked with some
particularly sad features, the whole community
will recognize the loss of a cultivated, loyal,
high-minded citizen, lawyer, churchman, and
friend. He had many of the most excellent
traits of a distinguished ancestry, and there will
be widespread regret that he could not have
been spared for many years of illuminating per-
sonal example, and of valued services in the
many places that had known and profited by
his interest, activity and companionship.



REYNOLDS, Benjamin,

Financier, Man of Affairs.

Benjamin Reynolds came from a fam-
ily distinguished in the annals of the
Wyoming Valley. His father, Judge Wil-
liam Champion Reynolds, was one of the
strong public and business men of his
day, and the father of four sons — Colonel
George Murray Reynolds, Charles Den-
nison Reynolds, Sheldon Reynolds and
Benjamin Reynolds — all leaders and men
of prominence.

Each generation of the family, from
William Reynolds who came with his
sons to the Valley in 1769, has furnished