Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 103 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 103 of 192)
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held in his F.ast Sixth street residence. There his son,
William G., who (since the death of the Hon. James
Hoskinson) is the oldest native resident of Erie, was
born. He learned the carpenter's trade, married
Catherine Bowers, settled in Erie and actively engaged
in the business of house building. They were the
parents of six children: Richard H., born October
14, 1836, who was for some time clerk in the Erie post-
office and a county commissioner of Erie county from
1875-78. He was mercantile appraiser, collector of
customs of the port of Erie for four years under Presi-
dent Cleveland, and held many township offices in
Mill Creek. He was one of the leading Democrats in
Erie county. Mr. Arbuckle was married January 6,
1869, to J. Antoinette, daughter of the late John and
Charlotte Burton, of Mill Creek, who had six children:
Jennie H., John Burton, Katie, Eliza (deceased),
Charlotte, Barnes, William Irwin and Richard Cranch.
Of these, John Burton has served a term as city school
director in Erie, and is married to Miss Lillian Gross

Kelsey; William Irwin is married to a daughter of
Mr. Frederick Clemens. George W., an elocutionist,
who resides in the West. Mary E., wife of J. W.
Humphrey, of New York; Louisa E., wife of J. K.
Hallock, an attorney of Erie, has four children: by
her first marriage, Robert H. Porter, by her second
marriage, Ruth, Keys and Louisa Hallock; Frank P.,
superintendent of the American District Telegraph
Company, Denver, Colo., and also register of the land
office in Colorado under President Cleveland's first
administration, and is receiver of the land office under
the present administration. Another of the pioneers
was William Arbuckle, who came to Erie county and
settled in Fairview township early in the century. He
came with his wife from Lancaster county, and resided
in Fairview from that time until about the year 1831
or '32, when he removed to a farm adjacent to the
southeast line of Erie city. He was an elder of the
Presbyterian Church at Fairview for twenty-five years,
and thirty-one years in Erie. He died in 1863, in his
72d year. It was said of him, by one who knew him
well; " He was my beau-ideal of an elder. " He was
so sedate and bore himself with so much dignity, so
simple-hearted, kind and humble, you could not help
but love him. I knew him from childhood, but my
earliest recollections was that his hair was white as
snow. He was rather below middle height, with a calm,
sweet face, blue eyes and extremely nervous in his
manner. He had four children: Pressly Arbuckle,
long conspicuous and one of the most respected
citizens of Erie; he was an elder of the First Presby-
terian Church, of which his father had been elder a
generation before. He married Rachel Evans, of
Mill Creek, who died in 1859. Pressly and Rachel
Arbuckle had seven children: Two sons died in
infancy; Julia, wife of William Himrod, of Erie;
Nancy (deceased), William, who married Miss Farrar;
Susan E. (deceased) and Kate, who survives. William
M. Arbuckle married Martha Lyman. Of their
children William M. and Charles are deceased, also
Mrs. Jarecki; while Misses Martha and Delia survive.
William M. Arbuckle died in 1874, having been for
many years clerk of the poor directors. He was one
of the originators of the Home for the Friendless.
Joseph Arbuckle married Miss McCoy of Franklin
county, Pennsylvania, who afterwards died. He later
married again. He died some years ago. Mrs. James
Scott was also a daughter of Wm. Arbuckle and died
young. Joseph and Catherine (Guy) Arbuckle, natives
of Maryland, came to Fairview in 1800. They had a
family of five children; of these J. G. Arbuckle was
born October 12, 1807, in Erie, Pa. He was married
January 28, 183i8, to Emily, daughter of Spencer
Shattuck. They had five children: S. S., Mary A.,
wife of George McCreary (they have three children
and reside near Battle Creek, Mich.); Margaret M.,
wife of R. Pilkington, of Bradford, Pa. (they have two
children) and J. P. William Arbuckle came to Erie
county in 1802, when ten years of age. He was
married September 28, 1820, to Annis Shattuck. They
had seven children: Caroline, wife of W. T. Davison
(now deceased), who lived in Springfield township,
and had thirteen children; Sophronia, wife of J. H.
Allen, has two children; Berkley (deceased), Alrene
(deceased), Joseph, in Dakota; William S., married
Anna Throne (now deceased), resides in Erie with his
two children; Cornelius S. (deceased) and B. P., who
was married November 4, 1868, to Barbara Mains;



they had five children, Eleanor (deceased), Jennie
M., wife of Charles M. Manley; William E., Charles
E. and Ada (deceased).

J. P. Arbttckle, farmer, postoffice Erie, son of
James G. and Emily (Shattuck) Arbuckle. The father,
James G., was born in 1807 in the township in which
he spent his life, and died in 1889. The mother was
a descendant from one of the early families. She died
in 1890, at the age of 77 years and 6 months. They
were the parents of five children: Spencer S. (de-
ceased), Catherine (deceased), Mary A. (deceased),
formerly the wife of George McCreary; Margaret M.,
the wife of Robert Pilkington, the latter deceased, and
John P. Robert Pilkington died in 1891, from injuries
received in an accident. His age was 45 years. His
widow, and two children, Mary E. and Ralph Arbuckle
Pilkington, survive. James Arbuckle, grandfather of
J. P., was a native of Cecil county, Maryland, born in
1768, and settled in Mill Creek township, about the
year 1800, and died October 14, 1826, on the farm now
owned and occupied by J. P. He married Catherine
Guy, also a native of Maryland, who was bom Novem-
ber 23, 1768, and died in 1861. It was near the same
spot now occupied by the commodious residence of
J. P., that these pioneers of the Arbuckle family built
their log hut and made their first start in the dense
wilderness of the northwest. This particular location
is one of the chosen places where a picturesque
view of Erie and Presque Isle Bay are a delight. To
Joseph and Catherine Arbuckle were born nine chil-
dren: William, Richard, Elizabeth, Margaret, Mary,
Joseph P., of Kingston, DeKalb county. 111.; John P.,
James G. and Mary A. J. P. Arbuckle was educated
in the public schools, and is not only a thorough-going
farmer, but a man of affairs, public spirited in aiding
various local enterprises in a commendable way. Mr.
Arbuckle is a worthy member of the F. & A. M., and
A. O. U. W.

Harrison F. Watson, president of the company

which bears his name, is one of Erie's most active and
successful business men. He was born near Mercer,
Mercer county. Pa., December 5, 1863, and is a son of
Robert W. and Amanda (Painter) Watson, who passed
the last few years of their life in Erie. In early life
his father was engaged in agricultural pursuits, but
later removed to New Castle, Pa., where for a number
of years he was engaged in various kinds of business.
The family consisted of five sons and one daughter,
three of whom are living: William J., of Califor-
nia; Harrison F., and Edward, who resides in Michi-
gan. Mr. H. F. Watson received his early education
in the public schools of New Castle, and completed it
under private instruction in Pittsburg. In 1874 he
came to Erie and engaged in the distillation and man-
ufacture of coal-tar products. Three years later he
began the manufacture of paper, the mill being located
in Fairview township. This mill was operated until
1883, when it was destroyed by fire and was not rebuilt.
In 1881 a paper mill was built in Erie and began opera-
tions in conjunction with the distillery and chemical
works which had been located in Erie from the first.
Additional and new department buildings have been
added from time to time to meet the rapid increase of
business, until now the plant occupies a frontage on
East Sixteenth street of the entire square between
French and Holland streets, and 230 feet deep. The

buildings, which are all connected, are substantial
brick structures, and range from one to three stories
in height. This gigantic institution runs day and
night, gives employment to over 400 men, has a daily
consumption of 200 tons of coal and a daily output of
an equal weight of paper and chemicals. One of the
most unique features of this mammoth concern is the
wonderful extent to which it facilitates its own wants.
A twelve-inch main brings water directly from the bay;
automatic sprinklers are distributed throughout all the
buildings and two large fire pumps are capable of sup-
plying "eight streams in case of fire. A blacksmith
shop and a machine shop, supplied with a steam ham-
mer and other improved machinery, and in which
skilled craftsmen are employed, do all the repairing
and job work of machinery. Even the printing, which
is no small item, is done by the institution's own print-
ing office, while 132 retorts furnish the necessary gas
and kindred products. The Erie Dock and Transfer
Company, of which Mr. Watson is president, was or-
ganized in 1894, and to a great extent co-operates
with the paper company. The plans of this company
include twenty barges, which will ply upon the water
communications of Erie, and will handle nearly all of
the in and much of the out-freight of the H. F. Wat-
son Paper Company. The products of the paper com-
pany include all kinds of building, roofing and lining
papers and materials, waterproof sheathings and as-
bestos fire-proof papers; also all kinds of asbestos
steam pipe and boiler packings and coverings. The
territory over which they operate includes the United
States and Canada. Branch offices and distributing
depots have been established in New York, Chicago
and Nashville. Both the capacity and range of terri-
tory are greater than any other institution of its kind
in the world. The superiority of these products has
not only been thoroughly established at home, but it
has stood the test of competition of the local manu-
factories in various parts of the country. The H. F.
Watson Company was incorporated in 1891, with H.
F. Watson, president; J. Avery Tracy, vice-president
(now deceased); R. W. Potter, secretary; George B.
Russell, assistant secretary, and J. H. Armstrong,
treasurer. With the exception of Mr. Tracy, the offi-
cers are still the same. The capital stock, at first
$750,000, was increased to Sl,250,000 in 1894. It is an
injustice to none to say that the unprecedented and
unparalleled success of the great institution has been
largely due to the keen business sagacity and untiring
energy of the gentleman whose name forms the sub-
ject of this sketch. Mr. Watson was married October
25, 1877, to Miss Carrie T., daughter of Mr. J. Avery
Tracy, whose sketch appears in this work. This happy
union has been blessed with one child. Miss Winne-
fred T. Watson. In politics Mr. Watson is a Republi-
can, and has rendered much valuable service to the party
of his choice, but he has never been desirous or will-
ing to enter politics as a seeker of public office. He is
a member of the American Society of Mechanical En-
gineers and of the various social clubs and societies of

The Barr Family. — In the settlement of Erie
county there were some families whose names became
strongly identified with its early development; in that
gloomy period it needed great fortitude and powers of
endurance; these were a necessary part of the make-up
of the generations whose energy and tenacity planted



civilization in an inhospitable wilderness. Some of
these remarkable men, soldiers in the Revolution, in
their associations with the patriots of 1776, had im-
bibed their spirit and been taught by them how to en-
dure suffering for their country; others still had come
from across the sea, especially from the North of Ire-
land, that historic land, where the very atmosphere
seemed imbued with the patriotic and irrepressible
love of liberty and hatred of oppression, which drove
James II from his throne and welcomed the Prince of
Orange. The Barr family represented all of these
qualities. The family, as it came to Pennsylvania,
were alive to all these kindred impulses. It was their
lot to have their part, with others, first in the settle-
ment of Lancaster county. They were a constituent
part of that wave of immigration which helped to im-
press so strongly the Scotch-Irish characteristics upon
the province of Pennsylvania. The family of James
Barr embraces so many of the active and prominent
settlers of Erie county, and they endured so much in
their efforts to found their new home in the wilderness,
that the sketch of this typical pioneer has been selected
for narration. Truly can it be said of him and of his
associates, in speaking of the settlement of this lake
shore: "All of which I saw, part of which I was."
James Barr, sr., came from the North of Ireland to
America in 1763. He married Elizabeth Kirk, of
Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. In 1803, they re-
moved from Mifflin to Erie county, and settled on a
farm, which he purchased, near the mouth of Twenty-
Mile creek, where he resided until 1813, when, his
wife's health being poor, they removed to Harbor
Creek, and remained with their son James until their
respective deaths, hers in 1813, and his May 14, 1823,
aged 86 years. He was an elder in the Associated Re-
formed Church, in Mifflin county, of which Rev. Mr.
Logan was pastor, and June 19, 1816, he was installed
an elder in the Rev. Robert Reid's church, of the same
denomination, at Erie. They had ten children, eight
daughters and two sons. The first six daughters were
married in Mifflin county, the last two died unmar-
ried. The following is the record: Sarah, born 1772,
married Wm. Wilson, who removed to Erie county
and owned and occupied the tract three-fourths of a
mile east of Harbor Creek Station, now owned by
W. W. Davison's heirs, C. F. Kendrick and others.
She was the great-grandmother of Mrs. W. S. Brown,
James M. Sherwin, and many others here and in the
West. Rebecca, born 1774, married Isaac Larimer,
who moved from Mifflin county to Ohio. His last son,
Isaac, died in California in 1893. Mary, born May 23,
1779, married Andrew Lowry. She was the grand-
mother of the wife of Wm. C. Culbertson, ex-congress-
man, and many others here and West. Elizabeth,
married George Lowry. She was the grandmother of
Mrs. Kate (Fleming) Morris and various others in the
West. Anne, married Morrow Lowry. She was the
mother of the late Hon. Morrow B. Lowry, and numer-
ous others in Pennsylvania and the West. Jeanette
L., married Robert Lowry, and afterwards James
Malick. She was the grandmother of the late Maj.
H. B. Fleming and Mrs. David Caldwell and numer-
ous others. The two remaining daughters died un-
married. James Barr, born in Mifflin county, Febru-
ary 8, 1782, removed to Erie county in 1803, and set-
tled, with his father, at the mouth of Twenty-Mile
creek. He married Polly R. Kelley, April 14, 1812.
(She was the daughter of John Kelley, who was born in

Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in 1769, and served in
the Revolutionary army with Washington at Valley
Forge.) After his marriage he moved to his tract of
400 acres, which he owned in Harbor Creek, about
three-fourths of a mile east of the present railroad sta-
tion, and now divided into several farms. He re-
moved from Harbor Creek to Mill Creek about April
1, 1830, to his (Reserve) tract. No. 28, upon which he
died April 9, 1835. He left six daughters and two sons
living, and one son was born in September, after his
death. His widow survived him, and lived on the
same farm until March 30, 1880. He was a captain in
Col. Philip's regiment of militia, and served in the war
of 1812-14. He encamped at Erie, in defense of the
harbor, and was a volunteer captain with Gen. Harri-
son in his Western campaign. His children are:
Elizabeth Ann, intermarried with Conrad Brown;
Matthew R., intermarried with Laura Wright; Louisa
A., intermarried with Richard S. McCreary; George
W., intermarried with Julia A. Wilder; Harriet M.,
intermarried with Luther Wright; Mary K., intermar-
ried with N. Bond; Martha R.,intermarried with Jonah C.
Munn; Ellen C, died at the age of 18; James M., died
at the age of 20. Samuel Barr, the youngest of James
Barr's son's children, traveled quite extensively (for
that period) when he was young, teaching school in
various places, and married Elizabeth Harper, of
Meadville. He resided on Reserve tract No. 27,
which he inherited from his father. He built a school-
house on the northeast corner of tract No. 28, and kept
a neighborhood school, of which he was sole director,
trustee and teacher. His methods were old-fashioned,
but thorough. He died in 1846, leaving a widow, six
daughters and three sons. His children are all but

Hoti. Matthew R. Barr was born in Harbor
Creek, December 26, 1817. In 18.30 his father removed
to Mill Creek, where he resided until his death, when
Matthew was 17 years of age. He never attended
school (except for a three months' term in the winter)
since he was eight years old. He attended school one
winter after his father's death. The next winter he
taught a school in one of the rooms of the homestead.
He subsequently taught several district schools in the
winter and worked on the farm during the remainder
of the year. He was married March 31, 1842, and
continued to work on the farm and to teach. At the
spring election, 1845, he was chosen constable of
Mill Creek by his friends, without his consent. They
gave as a reason that he must have some business to
give a chance for exercise, and to take him from the
farm, or he would die of consumjjtion. He served
three years and declined re-election. In June, 1848,
he commenced service as superintendent at the
foundry of Lester, Sennett & Chester, and in 1861,
purchased, in connection with Conrad Brown, the in-
terest of Mr. Lester therein. The firm name was
changed to Sennett & Co. He was a member of the
various firms under the names of Sennett & Co., Sen-
nett, Barr & Co.; Sennett & Johnson; Barr, Johnson
& Co., until 1872. He then sold his interest in the
business part of the enterprise and retired for the
purpose of building the Pennsylvania R. R. from
Cambridge to Erie, "for which part of the work he had
a contract. He spent about §30,000 in prosecuting
this work; but the company abandoned the undertak-
ing, made him an " estimate," and paid him only a



portion -of what he had expended. During his resi-
dence in Erie he was a member of the common coun-
cil, 1856-56, select council, 1856 (resigned), member of
the school board several years, trustee of the Erie
Academy twelve years, and water commissioner five
years. He returned to the farm in 1877. He was
afterwards United States collector of customs, 1880-83.
He resigned and was appointed Indian Inspector,
1883-4. ' He resigned and was appointed special agent
United States land office, with headquarters at New
Orleans, 1884-86. He then resigned and returned to
his farm. His children are: Louise, married to H. S.
Seaman, Cleveland, O.; Pressly J., married to Lavin-
nia Saunders, Omaha, Neb.; George H., married Mary
S. Briggs, Erie; Ellen M., married Capt. J. C. Hilton,
Erie; Lester J., married Eliza Thayer, Chicago, 111.;
Laura H., married H. E. McCandless, Anderson, Ind.
He has twenty grandchildren and one great-grandson.
This sketch of James Barr's family mentions many
other persons, who have in their day and generation
borne an honorable and important part in the settle-
ment, development, or defense of their country or
State. Merely an outline has been given. Did space
permit, mention might be made of the careers of the
Barrs, Lowrys, Wilsons, Culbertsons, Flemings, Sher-
wins. Browns, Munns, and many others, lineally or
collaterally connected with this pioneer. Yet it has
seemed proper to mention one incident, as connected
with a turning point in Erie's greatest improvement,
where the very life of a great public work was at
stake. The item has been rescued from oblivion by
the writer, and is now mentioned as a further instance
of the power of a casting vote, and another case of an
unnamed hero; it is given with the retrospective
glance of the writer, at the vital connection then ex-
isting between the building of the Philadelphia & Erie
R. R. (its life then trembling in the balance) and the
advance or blight of the city of Erie. In 1856, after
very much of doubt, delay, and despondency, and
nineteen years after the charter had been secured for the
railroad, while yet without money or powerful backers,
the contract for fifty-six miles from Erie, eastward,
had been let to a party of eleven gentlemen. S. V.
Merrick, being the president of the board, came to
Erie, and, after looking over the ground, he asked the
contractors to go to work (in a very moderate way), so
as to aid the company in getting some legislation they
needed. The contract was divided by the contractors
into eleven sub-divisions: J. W. Ryan had the first, M.
R. Barr had the second, 'and Wilson King the third.
Work was commenced, J. W. Ryan and King sub-let-
ting theirs. Mr. Barr hired men and did the work
himself. In that way, they did considerable work.
The company had no money, but gave estimates, and
the contractors sent their own notes to Philadelphia to
Mr. Merrick, and he had them discounted, by placing
Erie city and county bonds as collaterals. The con-
tractors received the proceeds with which they paid
their men, and also the engineer's salaries; the com-
pany failed to get legislation. Mr. Merrick was dis-
couraged, and wrote the Erie contractors to stop work.
He said this "enterprise is a stench in the nostrils of
Philadelphians. I will sell enough of Erie city and
Erie county bonds to take up your notes, and pay you
for the work not yet estimated, and then I will close
the offices and bid farewell to the Sunbury and Erie
R. R." A meeting of the contracting company was
called, the situation discussed, and various projects

suggested "to put backbone into Mr. Merrick." None,
however, would be possible, if the work stopped. This
was a vital point. Some one suggested that it would
be unfair for those who were doing no work to decide
the question of continuing, and that it ought to be
left to King, Ryan and Barr. This was agreed to.
The three retired for consultation. King said: " Ryan,
you and I have sub-let our work, and while we must
stand behind our sub-contractors, and not let them
fall, yet it is not like standing in the front. Barr is
doing his own work, and he must meet the risk in per-
son. Suppose we allow him to decide this question."
Ryan said: "That is right." Mr. Barr then said: "I
engaged in this enterprise to help to build the Sun-
bury and Erie R. R., and not with the expectation of
making much money, or of getting through without
meeting some difficulties, and if the possible success
or certain failure depends on me, my decision is, as
long as I can buy a pound of meat and a bushel of
potatoes to feed my men, the work will go on." This
turned the scale, and a committee was appointed to go
to Philadelphia, and the project of land subscriptions
along the line of the road was started and boomed.
The "next winter legislation was obtained, and the line
from Erie to Philadelphia has been a fact for thirty
years. Had Mr. Barr's answer been different, the con-
struction of that road, with all the opposition of pow-
erful rivals to prevent its resuscitation (had it been
allowed to be abandoned then) would have been post-
poned for years.

Conrad J. Brown, County Treasurer, Erie, Pa.,
was born in Erie, May 6, 1849, and is a son of Conrad
and Elizabeth A. (Barr) Brown, natives of Erie, Pa.
To them were born eight children: Washington,
killed in the battle of Fredericksburg in the late war;
Mary L. (deceased), Catherine U., Mrs. J. B. Cessna,
of Hastings, Neb.; Elizabeth A. (deceased), Conrad J.,
Mathew M., Martha E., Mrs. J. M. Wright and Hattie
(deceased). Conrad J. Brown received his early edu-
cation in the public schools of Erie and the Kingsville
Academy, at Kingsville, O. He has since followed
farming. In 1874 he was elected to the common coun-
cil, serving three years, and, in 1880, was elected to the
select council,serving two years, and was again elected
in 1886, serving till 1887, when he resigned to accept
the position of water commissioner, and creditably held
said office till January 1, 1896, when he retired to qual-

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 103 of 192)