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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 106 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 106 of 192)
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his own was the first interment in that cemetery. He
died May 26, 1851 ; his wife survived until March, 1876.
Of their family four children survive: Mrs. L. M. Little,
of Erie; Mrs. Frank Milligan, of Chicago, and Ches-
ter A. and William Brewster, of Erie. William Brew-
ster was educated in the public schools and at Erie
Academy, graduating from the latter institution in
1835. His first business association was as clerk in
Canal Collector Colt's office, where he was employed
for two years. He was then engaged as one of the
engineering corps in the laying out and construction
of the Erie and the North East R. R., continuing in
that service until the completion of the road, January
10, 1852. For the following six years he was paying
teller and bookkeeper in W. C. Curry's bank at Erie.


From 1868 to 1861, he was in the employ of the whole-
salegrocery firm of Gray & Farrar. He was then for two
years clerk under John W. Douglass, collector of in-
ternal revenue at Erie, leaving this to re-enter the
banking business with the Second National Bank, suc-
cessor to the private banking business of W. C. Curry.
In September, 1866, he severed hisconnection with the
bank to go to Iowa as cashier and bookkeeper for the
late William L. Scott and J. & J. Ca^ey, who had large
contracts for the extension of the Chicago and Rock
Island R. R. to Council Bluffs. Returning to Erie on
account of ill-health, Mr. Brewster was, during 1868,
secretary and treasurer of the Erie Water Works, and
was thereafter in the employ of William L. Scott as
confidential clerk and cashier until Mr. Scott's de-
cease, since which time he has occupied the same re-
lationship to Mr. Scott's estate. On August 1, 1870,
Mr. Brewester was made secretary and treasurer of
the Erie and Pittsburg R. R. Company, which he still
holds. He was married October 10, 1871, to Mary,
daughter of the late Richard Swan, of Fairview town-
ship. Mr. and Mrs. Brewster reside at 156 East Fifth
street (where Mr. Brewster was born), and are mem-
bers of the Park Presbyterian Church.

The Colton Family. — Eli Colton was among the
earliest settlers of Erie county. He lived a long life
and left a large family. He came from Granby,
Conn., to Elk Creek township in 1798. Then his
nearest neighbor was three miles distant. During the
first winter he lived alone in a cabin or shanty. He
married Elizabeth Deitz, who was of German descent,
and came from Maryland. They had fifteen children,
nearly all of whom lived to the meridian or advanced
years of life. The influence of the family was ex-
tended. Among them were Eli, who lived to advanced
years in Elk Creek township, and Fidelia, who married
Ebenezer Matthews, both of whom reside in Elk
Creek township. Their son Henry resides in Erie,
and another son, Mark D., is in Elk Creek. Of the
original family, George W., the eleventh child, was
born in Elk Creek Decembers, 1819. He was reared on
the farm, received a good English education, and fol-
lowed farming until nearly 30 years old. He spent some
time in the West, but returned to Elk Creek township.
He was appointed clerk to the county commissioners,
came to Erie in 1863, and served as such until 1863,
when he was elected prothonotary of Erie county.
After serving three years he went to Washington and
served as a clerk in the House of Representatives un-
til 1868. He then became secretary and treasurer of
the Dime Bank, which he helped organize. He con-
tinued this service until about 1876, when he entered
the State treasurer's office at Harrisburg, from which,
in 1878, he was transferred to the office of secretary of
the commonwealth, where he remained until 1883.
He was then appointed government superintendent of
construction of the United States public buildings at
Erie, and so continued until 1886, and retired with
Arthur's administration. Mr. Colton was married in
1862 to Mrs. Adelia Benedict. She died February 8,
1878. In December, 1889, Mr. Colton married Mrs.
Mary Hoster, who died in July, 1894. Since then Mr.
Colton resides with friends in the old family home, on
West Fourth street, in Erie.

Robert Cochran (deceased), son of John and
Sarah (Lattimore) Cochran, was born at Milton, North-

umberland county. Pa., August 10, 1798, and removed
with his father's family to Erie, in 1809, and lived the
greater part of his life in Erie and its immediate vi-
cinity. In his youth he was employed as a clerk in
the land office of the State, when the seat of govern-
ment was at Lancaster, and, on its removal to Harris-
burg, he continued in that position, his father being
the head of that office under the administration of
Governor Snyder. He was thus early in life brought
in contact with the leading men of the State, and in
after life received from them proofs of their appre-
ciation of his capacity and fidelity in public position,
by having conferred on him important posts of honor
and profit. He was postmaster at Erie twelve years,
being appointed through the friendship and influence
of President Buchanan, who, living in the same city
with him in his youth, was an early observer of his fit-
ness for public position. Mr. Cochran was a man of
decided and honest character, and never encountered
meanness and dishonesty without denouncing them in
terms consistent with his own honorable impulses; he
was a man of more than ordinary clearness of mind
and business capacity, and in the various positions held
by him— the postoffice at Erie, and the several local
offices of his neighborhood— he always proved himself
a capable and accommodating officer. He married
Eliza Justice, a native of New Jersey, October 20, 1822,
and had nine children: Sarah and Rebecca, twins;
Mary, Matilda, Martha, Eliza, John, Harriet and Hen-
rietta; of these Eliza and Matilda are now deceased.
Rebecca married Dr. A. Thayer, and had three chil-
dren: Frank, Hattie and Jessie (deceased). Martha
married Edwin Willis (deceased); has two children:
John C. and Edwin B., who married Miss Minnie Wel-
den, of Battle Creek, Mich., and has two children:
Jessie Thayer and Vera. Mrs. Cochran died April 19,
1863, and he died December 9, 1869. The Hon. John
Cochran was associate judge of Erie county, and built
and operated some of the first mills erected in the
county; he had, besides Robert, one other son, George
Cochran, who was born February 4, 1792, and died on
the Erie homestead when about 36 years of age.

Alvin Thayer, M. D., physician and surgeon,
Erie, Pa., office and residence 204 West Twenty-sixth
street, was born in Erie October 1, 1824, and is a son
of Albert and Almira (Glazier) Thayer, the former
born at Bellows Falls, Vt., in 1791, and the latter in
Vermont in 1807. Albert Thayer received a common
school education in his native place, and studied med-
icine under his father and grandfather, who were both
prominent physicians. He came to Erie in 1812, and
took up the practice of his chosen profession. He was
elected sheriff in 1824, serving three years, when he
again took up the practice of medicine and followed it
until his death, September 26, 1848. His wife depart-
ed this life March 9, 1868. To them were born six
children: Plarry, who became a physician and prac-
ticed with his brother Albert, in Erie; Albert (father of
Alvin Thayer); Zeph, a physician, practiced in Girard,
Erie county, until his death; Alvin, also a physician,
practiced at Girard; John was educated for a physi-
cian, but locating in Crawford county, followed farm-
ing until his death, and one daughter. Dr. Alvin
Thayer, Erie's oldest and best known physician, re-
ceived a good common school education and studied
medicine for six years under his father. He attended
lectures at New Orleans, and in 1840 began the prac-



tice of his chosen profession, which he has since followed
with marked success. He was married June 5, 1852,
to Rebecca, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Coch-
ran. Their children are: Frank, studying medicine
with his father; Hattie, and Jessie (deceased), wife of
William Rix. Dr. Thayer can trace his family gene-
alogy back to 1540. In Scotland one of his ancestors
was physician to Mary, Queen of Scots; several were
generals in the American array, and many of the fam-
ily connections are professional men holding eminent
positions. The doctor has occupied the position on
the L. S. & M. S. R. R. ten years; was acting surgeon
of the 145th Reg., P. V. I., and volunteered as an inde-
pendent at the battle of Antietam. He is a member
of the State Medical Society, of the United States
Association. He is a member of the Masonic order,
and in politics is a Democrat.

The Crane Family. —In 1797 Abiather Crane, a
young surveyor from Connecticut, came to Conneaut
township. The next year he and his brother, Elihu,
located near the present site of Lexington. Both
brothers were soldiers in the Revolutionary war. In
the spring of 1790, Elihu Crane removed to Elk Creek
and located, where a large connection of the name
still have their homes. They and the Poraroys are in-
termarried. In 1809, Abiather Crane and his wife,
Ruth (McClelland) Crane, removed to Mill Creek
township and purchased a number of outlots between
Fifth and Tenth streets, and property on Ninth street,
in Erie. This property is now valuable, and included
in the city of Erie. Mr. Crane resided with his family
on East Sixth street. There he cleared and cultivated
a number of acres of land, and also made brick. He
had twelve children, all of whom reached their major-
ity. He died in August, 1826, leaving a large family,
and some unsettled business, which caused much well-
located land to be sacrificed in the settlement of his
estate. He had six sons and six daughters: Abiather,
who married Margaret Ewing, settled on his father's
estate, and died about twenty years ago, leaving one
son (George W., who is in business in Erie); Amos B.,
who died about 1852, unmarried; Henry H., who died
unmarried in 1874. He also resided on his father's
estate; James M., married Miss Priscilla Roberts and
died in 1852, leaving a family, among whom are Mrs.
A. H. Williams and Mrs. Williams, wife of Joseph H.
Williams, president of the Erie School Board; Mr.
Joseph M. Crane also resides on the estate; Orville,
who married Miss Eliza Arkenburg, a native of New
York State, had his home on the estate until his death,
September 5, 1858. He left five children. His son,
Charles, who served in the war, and died in 1863; Joseph
P., and Frank M., being active and influential citizens of
Erie, and Mary and Martha, all of whom reside on the
old estate; and William A., the only surviving one of
Abiather's children, resides in Michigan. Of the
daughters, Eliza married James Love, a farmer of
Mill Creek, and died in 1848, leaving two children;
William W., who became one of the most influential
and wealthy citizens of Mill Creek, and died in 1893;
Eliza M., wife of Henry Caughey, of Mill Creek, who
survives; Olivia, who died in 1867, unmarried, and
Clavinda, who died in 1888, unmarried; Mrs. Harriet
Chancellor, wife of Robert Chancellor, died about
fifteen years since; Mrs. Orvaline, wife of Capt. John
H. Millar, who died in 1864, also a resident upon the
estate, left children; Eliza O., Mrs. Elsey, John, Will-

iam, and Evaline, wife of George Hope, who died
many years since, and also had a home on the estate.
He left three children, of whom George was killed
before Atlanta, under Sherman. The fact of twelve
sightly and desirable places of residence having been
made from the residence of the estate of Abiather
Crane, indicated the care with which his location was
made, and his foresightedness as to values. That an
important part of the estate is still in the possession of
the descendants of the original purchaser, and that it
has so remained for nearly a century, indicates a
tenacity of purpose on the part of his descendants in
keeping with the enterprise of their ancestor, who,
almost a century ago, made his first location in the
wilds of Conneaut township, and afterwards in what
has become part of Erie city. Col. Abiather Crane
was one of the first Board of County Commissioners
of Erie county, and with the first judge, John Vincent,
as one of his colleagues. They purchased the county
property upon which the court house and jail now
stand. He was an enterprising man. His service in
the Revolution was followed by service in the military
establishment of Connecticut. He was afterwards a
justice of the peace in Erie county, and colonel of the
17th Reg. of Pa. Militia. His commission as a military
officer, both in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, are in
the possession of his descendants. Mr. Crane died
in 1852.

Ho«. Joseph McCarter, president of the Second
National Bank of Erie, was born in Franklin county,
New York, March 20, 1829, and is a son of Joseph and
Isabella McCarter, natives of New York, and of Irish
descent. At tbe age of ten years he began clerking in
a store in Erie, which he followed until 1852; when he
engaged in the grocery business, which he conducted
with success for eight years. In 1860 he entered into
partnership with Mr. W. J. F. Liddell in what is now
the Erie City Iron Works, which was sold to Messrs.
Selden & Bliss in 1865. In the same year he built the
Erie Car Works, which were very successfully operated
for two years, and then sold to the Erie & Pittsburg
Railroad Company. Associated with Henry C. Shan-
non, Orange Noble and Wm. S. Brown, he, in 1867,
erected the Erie City Elevator, another institution
which has been of great value to the city, and which
two years later was purchased by the Pennsylvania
Railroad Company. In 1870 he became vice-president
and general manager of the Second National Bank,
and eleven years later was elected to the presidency.
In 1873 Mr. McCarter purchased an interest in the
Stearns Manufacturing Company, assuming its general
management until 1881, at the latter date disposing of
his interest therein and since that time he has devoted
his time to the banking interests. Both before and
since his identification with the bank, Mr. McCarter's
business methods, and the dispatch and success with
which he manipulates extensive and intricate trans-
actions, have been of a character to mark him as
belonging to the front rank of financiers. He was
married April 15, 1857, to Miss Eliza J. Moorhead, by
whom he has two children, Cora, wife of Lieut. John
M. Bowyer of the United States navy, and William J.,
secretary of the Colby Piano Company. In politics
Mr. McCarter identifies himself with the Democratic
party, and although not an aspirant for political posi-
tion, has served his city acceptably as a member of its
councils and as mayor in 1881-82. With the best in-



terests of the community always at heart, and with a
keen insight of financial affairs, no better authority
can be had upon the great questions which affect the
commercial interests of the country.

The Teel Family.— John Teel, first, was a
native of Connecticut. He was the progenitor of all
of that name in Erie. Mr. Teel came to Erie among
the first settlers and died there early in the century, at
the age of 97. His son, John Teel, the second, was
born near Hartford, Conn., March 31, 1779, came to
Erie in 1796, and located about the year 1798 at the
southwest corner of Ninth and Peach streets, where
he built a commodious house, which continued to be
be his home for life. It is still occupied by members
of the family. He married Esther, sister of George
and John Moore, the former of whom was a noted man
in Erie, having been a member of the Assembly of
Pennsylvania and filled other positions. He removed
to Illinois about the year 1836, where he died. Mr.
Teel served awhile in the war of 1812. He owned
considerable property, embracing the entire front on
Peach between Ninth and Tenth streets, and several
well-located outlots. He had a large family, among
whom were John Teel, third (who died two or three
years since); Alexander Teel (deceased); Mrs. J. W.
Bates, recently deceased; Mrs. Peter J. Breece; Mrs.
Perry Oliver; Ann, who died unmarried in 1838;
Norman, who resides in McKeen township, and Silas
E., who married Miss Julia Uavison, and for some
years was in the office of collector of tolls for the Erie
canal, and died about thirty years since. Of Silas's
children were: Silas E., jr. (deceased); Emma, wife of
Benjamin Whitman, and Esther, who married H. H.
Whitacre, of Wellsville, O. Mrs. Esther (Moore)
Teel died many years since. John Teel, second, died
April 21, 1872, aged 93 years, having spent a
serene old age in the midst of a community among
whom he had resided 76 years, during which time he
gained a reputation for honesty and integrity, and
became well known as a skillful and successful
builder. The widows of John Teel, third, and of Silas
E. Teel still reside in Erie.

Edward CraHch, physician and surgeon, office
and residence 109 West Ninth street, Erie, Pa., whose
earliest known ancestor was Richard Cranch, known
as a rigid Puritan and lived at Dartmouth, county De-
von, England, about 1610. He was a woolen manufac-
turer, as was his son Andrew and his grandson John. His
great-grandson, Richard Cranch, came to America in
1746, locating in Salem, Mass., as a watchmaker, later
becoming postmaster, judge and colonial senator. He
was born tn Kingsbridge, county Devon, England,
October 26, 1726. He married Mary, daughter of the
Rev. Wm. Smith. This union was blessed with one
son, William, born in Weymouth, Mass., July 17, 1769.
This son was educated to the law in the office of
Thomas Dawes, of Boston, and went to Washington,
D. C, in 1794. He was appointed associate justice of
the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, by his
uncle. President John Adams, served five years, and
at the unanimous request of the Washington bar, was
made chief justice of the same court by Thomas Jef-
ferson, which office he held until his death, September
1, 1855. He married Nancy, daughter of William
Greenleaf, of Boston, who was sheriff of Boston during
the Revolutionary war, and who first read the Declara-

tion of Independence in that city. To this union were
born thirteen children, the seventh of whom was John,
born February 2, 1807, at Washington, D. C. He was
educated in Columbian University, D. C, graduating
in 1826, in the third class graduated from that institu-
tion. He then went abroad and studied art in Paris,
Rome and Florence for four years; returning,
he located in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he resided
and followed his vocation for eleven years. He
painted potraits of many celebrated men of his time.
He married April 15, 1845, Charlotte, daughter of
Charles H. Appleton, of Baltimore, Md., and removed
to Boston, where three children were born, Hannah,
who married Thomas F. Moses, president of the
Urbanna University, Urbana, Ohio; Richard, died in
infancy, and John, died in infancy. The family moved
to New York city, where he became a member of the
National Academy of Design, with his studio in
the Old University Building. Here Edward Cranch
was born October 16, 1851. Three years later the
family removed to Washington, D. C. The father
died January 6, 1891, in Urbana, Ohio, where the
mother now resides. The well-known poet and artist,
Christopher P. Cranch, was an uncle of the doctor's,
and died in Cambridge, Mass., in 1893. Dr. Cranch
studied for two years, 1866-68, with his brother-in-law,
Dr. T. F. Moses, in Hamilton county, Ohio, and later
received a classical education in Washington, D. C,
graduating from Columbian University in 1871, at the
head of his class with the degree of Ph. B., and from
the medical department of the Georgetown Univer-
sity in 1873, taking first honors as valedictorian; he
was also a regular graduate of the New York Homoe-
pathic College in 1875. The doctor, commencing the
study of medicine in 1871, the same year enlisted in
the United States army, and was at once appointed
hospital steward, serving in the surgeon-general's
office three years; he was then for one year deputy
superintendent and resident physician in the New
York Homcepathic Surgical Hospital, now known as
the Hahnemann Hospital. In that city he practiced
till 1875, when he came to Erie, where he has since
resided. In 1875, Dr. Cranch was married in Wash-
ington, D. C, to Rouette F., daughter of Prof. J. W.
Hunt, of that city. She was born near Boston,
Mass., and is of English descent. By this union
are seven children; Charles E., Arthur G., Raymond
G., Walter A., Eliot G., Edith R., and Eugene T.
Dr. and Mrs. Cranch are members of the New
Church (Swedenborgian). In politics he is a Re-
publican. He is a member of the American In-
stitute of Homoeopathy. He is also a member of the
Pennsylvania board of medical examiners, appointed
by the governor; is a member of the Erie County
Homoeopathic Medical Society,and belongs to the State
Homoeopathic Medical Society. In September, 1895, he
was elected on the advisory board of Dunham Medical
College, Chicago. The doctor was one of the orignal
members of the International Hahnemannian Associa-
tion and is an honorary member of the Post Graduate
School of Philadelphia. For years he has made a special
study of materia medica, and many of his papers are
recorded in the transactions of the various societies.
In a local way he does some work as a lecturer on
hygiene and physical culture in the Erie Business
University. Dr. Cranch has attained distinction in his
school of medicine and commands a fine professional
business, and is especially interested in the expected


\i^z^^^^^^^^T-r ^ ^rt>eJ^



Homeopathic Hospital in Erie. He is examining sur-
geon for the Commercial Travelers' Mutual Accident
Association of Utica, N. Y. He and Mrs. Cranch were
made members of the Academy of the New Church
(Swedenborgian) November 18, 1888. He is a mem-
ber of the Lincoln Club of Erie, and a member of the
committee on legislation of the State Homeopathic So-
ciety. Outside of his profession, the doctor has made
some study of music, composing several pieces, and
writing occasional poems. He has also studied much
in the sacred languages; also in chemistry.

James Casey, one of Erie's best known and most
public-spirited citizens, died at his residence, at the
southwest corner of Tenth and Chestnut streets, June
3, 1886. He was born in Buttafin, Cork county, Ireland,
December 24, 1814, and was a son of Thomas and Jo-
hanna (McCarty) Casey. His parents came to America
in 1821, and located on a farm in Canada, where they
passed the remainder of their lives, the elder Mr.
Casey dying in Canada, and Mrs. Casey in Erie. The
family consisted of six children: James, the subject of
this sketch; Patrick, who died in Erie in 1892; Han-
nah, who married Mr. William Delaney, of Erie, both
deceased; Miss Ellen Casey, who resides on Fourth
street, Erie; Mary, who married Mr. John Harvey, of
Dunkirk, N. Y., both of whem are deceased; and John,
who was for a number of years in partnership with his
brother, James, in the contracting business, and died
in Erie, December 28, 1879. Mr. James Casey was
educated in the public schools of Canada, and when
still quite a young man, engaged in contracting. He
removed to Buffalo in 1836, and came to Erie in 1838.
His first important contract was upon the excavation
of the Welland canal, which was completed in 1848.
He subsequently contracted very extensively in the
construction of many of the leading railroads of the
United States, notably the New York and Erie, New
York and Buffalo, State Line, Erie and Pittsburg,
Chicago and Rock Island and Canada Southern. He
was universally successful in his undertakings, and
realized handsome profits. He was a shrewd investor,
and despite his life-long and bountiful generosity to
the unfortunate and afflicted, became one of Erie's
wealthiest men. He was one of the most extensive
real estate owners in the city, and even yet it may fre-
quently be heard said: "He was the best landlord in
Erie." He always kept his properties in good condi-
tion, and his leniency with poor tenants was unparal-
leled. He sympathized with the laboring classes, and
commanded the love and respect of the thousands
whom he employed during his long business career.
Mr. Casey was married in Canada, in 1835, to Miss
Mary, daughter of Mr. Richard Delaney, a native of
Ireland. To this union were born eight children, five

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 106 of 192)