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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 108 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 108 of 192)
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with Mr. George Selden and Mr. John H. Bliss, under
the firm name of Cleveland & Co., and established a
foundry, which was practically the foundry depart-
ment of the Erie City Iron Works. Mr. Cleveland was
married July 2, 1851, to Miss Julia Stidd, a native of
Pike county, Pennsylvania. To this happy union
were born three children, Frank (deceased), whose bi-
ography is contained in this work; Delia F., who on
November 13, 1894, was married to Charles H. Hodges,
Esq., attorney at law, New York city, and Miss Jennie
R. Cleveland, who was for ten years a teacher in the



Erie high school and now resides with her mother at
the family residence. Mr. Cleveland was for many
years a member of the First Methodist Episcopal
Church, of Erie, of which he was tru.stee, steward and
Sabbath school superintendent. He had affiliated
with the Masonic order during his residence in Hor-
nellsville, and always maintamed his membership at
that place; he was also a member of the Knights of
Honor. In politics Mr. Cleveland was a Republican,
and though not a seeker of public office or political
honors he rendered much valuable service to his party.
Mr. Cleveland was a man who always had the best in-
terests of the community and country at heart. For
several years previous to his death he had been an
active member of the Board of Trade.

Fratik F. Cleveland (deceased) was born in
Steuben county, New York, January 11, 1853, and died
in Erie, Pa., November 20, 1893. He was the only son
of the late Washington Lafayette and Julia (Stidd)
Cleveland. Washington Lafayette Cleveland was
born in the State of New York November 21, 1825.
He was the son of Israel and Sallie (Tuttle) Cleve-
land, the former a native of Rhode Island, the latter a
native of Connecticut, and both of English descent.
W. L. Cleveland was brought up on his father's farm,
received a country school education, and at the age of
17 received a certificate enabling him to teach, a
vocation which he followed for eight winters, working
on the farm during the summer months. He learned
the carpenter's trade, and worked at this trade until
35 years of age. During this period he acted for a
time as deputy sheriff of Steuben county. New York.
When the oil excitement broke out in Pennsylvania
he started an oil refinery in Erie, Pa., and continued to
engage in that business for six years. He afterwards
made successful investments in oil lands, and then
embarked in the business of manufacturing mill and
machinery castings at Erie, under the firm name of
Cleveland & Co. His wife, who survives, is a daughter
of the late Jonathan O. Stidd. The oldest child, Frank
F. Cleveland, was educated in the schools of Erie, was
for a time clerk in tha Marine National Bank of that
city, and in 1880, in connection with William Hard-
wick, established the Erie Engine Works, under the
firm name of Cleveland & Hardwick. He was mar-
ried in 1874 to Catharine, daughter of Louis Maus.

Col. David S. Clark, one of Erie's most esteemed
and venerable citizens, was born near Shippensburg,
Cumberland county. Pa., June 10, 1816, and is a
son of George and Anna (Sterrett) Clark, natives
of Pennsylvania and of Scotch-Irish ancestry. He
received his early education in such schools as his
native town then afforded, and worked on his father's
farm until 1831, when he came to Erie. Here he
lived with an elder brother, Mr. James S. Clark, for
four years, a part of which time he attended the public
schools of the city. He then embarked in the mercantile
business, which he followed with a marked degree of
success until 1852. Soon after this, as chairman of the
building committee, he superintended the erection of
the First Presbyterian Church of Erie, of which he
had then been a member for ten years, and of which he
has been elder since 1857. In 1840 he was elected
major of the 104th Reg. Pa. Militia, of which, two
years later, he became colonel, both by the vote of the
regiment and commissioned by Governor Porter. He

held the colonelcy for seven years, during which time
he faithfully discharged the duties of his position and
put forth every effort to further the interests and
discipline of the regiment. In February, 1838, Col.
Clark performed a feat which should become a matter
of history, because it illustrates his force of will power,
and because the like never has, and probably never
will be done a second time. He had driven a span of
horses attached to a sleigh to Buffalo for the purpose
of selling them, but finding no purchaser (which he
had sought so long that the sleighing had all disap-
peared) he made the return trip to Erie upon the ice
on the lake without accident. In 1860 Col. Clark
associated himself with Messrs. George Selden and
John H. Bliss in the oil refining business, which
partnership lasted four years, after which he, as sole
proprietor, continued the business two years longer,
when he retired from active life. Upon the organiza-
tion of the Erie Cemetery Association in 1852, Col.
Clark was elected manager, which he has since con-
tinued. He has taken great interest in all the
workings of the association, and as a result of his
almost half a century of untiring effort, Erie has one
of the most beautiful and best regulated cemeteries in
the State, and the people of Erie an ideal spot in
which to lay to rest the remains of their dear ones who
have passed to the great beyond (see Erie Cemetery
Association in another part of the work). Col. Clark
was married March 28, 1839, to Miss Jane Ann,
daughter of Robert T. Sterrett, a pioneer farmer of
Erie county. His wife has also been for many years a
member of the First Presbyterian Church. In politics
Col. Clark has always been a staunch Democrat, but
has never been desirous of political office.

Wiufield Scott Riblet, Erie, Pa., was born in
Erie, January 31, 1848. He is a son of the late Jona-
than and Sophia (Fluke) Riblet, both natives of Erie.
Jonathan Riblet was a son of Michael Riblet, who
came from Lancaster, Pa., and located in Erie about
1800. He married Elizabeth Ebersole, was a farmer
of Mill Creek township, and died April 23, 1857. Jona-
than, his son, pursued the business of cabinet making,
and was at one time a partner in that business with
his brother, J. Harrison Riblet. Jonathan Riblet died
in 1880; his wife in 1892. W. S. Riblet completed his
education at the Erie Academy, learned cabinet mak-
ing, pursued that business for a short time, and then
found employment in the office of Jacob Bootz, plan-
ing mill proprietor, with whom he remained for ten
years. For the following three or four years he en-
gaged in business for himself as a contractor, and, in
1887, entered the employ of Henry Shenk as book-
keeper, a position which he still occupies. He is a
Republican, and was a member of the Erie school
board, from the Sixth ward, from 1877 to 1883. He was
secretary of that board for two years. Mr. Riblet was
married April 9, 1872, to Aftie, daughter of the late
Benjamin and Sophia (Parker) Russell, formerly of
Erie county. Pa., latterly of Grant county, Wisconsin.
Mr. and Mrs. Riblet, with their three children, Scott
R., Winifred S. and Bertha B., reside at 454 East Sixth
street, and are members of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Riblet is a member of the I. O. O. F., K. of H.,
A. O. U. W. and E. A. U.

Edward J. Riblet, owner and proprietor of the
mammoth furniture store, corner of Peach and Twelfth



streets, Erie, Pa., was born in Erie, May 13, 1854,
in a house that stood on the same corner now occu-
pied by his splendid block. He is a son of the late
John Harrison and Jane (Kilpatrick) Riblet. The
former was one of Erie's most estimable citizens. He
was born in East Mill Creek, February 28, 1815, a son
of Michael and Elizabeth (Ebersole) Riblet, the for-
mer a son of John Riblet, who came from Lancaster
county, Pennsylvania, in 1802, and purchased a farm
in East Mill Creek and followed farming to his death,
succeeded by his son, Michael, who also lived and died
on this property. John H. Riblet received a common
school education, and when 14 years of age, quit the
farm and apprenticed himself to the cabinetmaking
trade. After completing his apprenticeship he opened
a place of business in the city, and for forty-four years
he followed the same with marked success. He had
associated with him at different times his brother
Jonathan, Henry Spooner, A. Sterrett, Josiah Neil' and
C. F. Bostwick. Mr. Riblet was a very modest gen-
tleman, his aim in life was to build up a business and
to acquire a competency that would secure his family,
to whom he was remarkably attached. He always
avoided politics, although he served with distinction
for a number of years in the select council. He was a
self-made man, successful through his own efforts.
He married in 1844, Miss Jane Kilpatrick, and to them
were born three sons and two daughters; Frank H.
(deceased), Alfred K., and Edward J., and Etta S.,
Mrb. C. F. Bostwick, and Miss Anna E. Edward J. Rib-
let received his early education in the public schools of
Erie and graduated from the high school in 1872, and
engaged as salesman in his father's store for the fol-
lowing six years, when in 1878 the business was turned
over to himself and brother A. K., and they conducted
it until A. K. retired from the firm, and accepted the
position of general manager, and the business has since
been owned and operated by Edward J. It was one of
the largest and most complete establishments in the
city. Mr. Riblet was united in marriage November
17, 1881, to Miss Emma L., daughter of O. C. Thayer,
of Erie, and to them has been born one daughter, May
27, 1883. The family are members of the United
Presbyterian Church, and politically Mr. Riblet is a
liberal Republican.

Alfred King Riblet, Erie, Pa., was born in Erie,
Pa., April 16, 1860. He is a son of the late John Har-
rison Riblet (memoirs of whose life are contained in
this volume). Alfred K. Riblet was educated in the
public schools and in the Erie Academy, from which
latter institution he was graduated in 1867. He had pre-
pared to enter Michigan University, Ann Arbor, but
through a serious accident was deterred from so doing,
being confined to his home for three years. He then
entered the employ of J. H. Riblet & Co., manufac-
turers of and dealers in furniture, the members of
which firm were the father and the uncle of the subject
of this sketch. A. K. Riblet and his brother, E. J.
Riblet, subsequeutly succeeded to and for some years
carried on the business as partners. In 1888, A. K.
Riblet sold out his interest to his brother, and has
since been identified with it as manager. He was
married June 14, 1889, to Anna, daughter of John Mc-
Knight, an insurance man of Erie. She died June
9, 1891. Mr. Riblet resides at 120 West Eleventh
street, and is a member of the United Presbyterian

Thomas Dillon is at tfie present date (1895)
probably the oldest voter in Erie county. He was born
in Washington county, Pennsylvania, October 8, 1797.
His mother, Rebecca Hamilton, was of Irish parent-
age and Presbyterian faith, and his father, Thomas
Dillon, was an English Quaker, consequently the
family were brought up in the Quaker belief. They
moved in 1797 toa place near the present site of New
Lisbon, Ohio, where they remained until the father's
death, in 1832, at the age of 69 years. His mother
lived to be 94. When 19 years of age, Mr. Dillon was
apprenticed to a blacksmith in Fairfield, a small vil-
lage near their home. Having served three years for
board and clothing, he started out to find work where
he could get money for pay, the pay in that section
being farm produce, and not saleable. He walked 150
miles through November mud and snow, not finding
work till he reached Meadville, Pa., where he stayed
one month. He then came to Erie, in 1820, working
for General Fleming six months; then went to Harbor
Creek, where he stayed two years, working at his
trade summers, and going to school winters. In 1824
he married Nancy Bonnell, of Harbor Creek; soon
after purchased a place in Erie on West Eighth street,
near State, living there thirty-eight years, and rearing
a family of five children, of whom are now living two
daughters in Erie, and a son in Warren, O. Mr. Dil-
lon was collector of school taxes in Erie, and was a
member of the first common council of Erie city. He
was coroner of the county for twelve years, carried on
the business of blacksmithing until he lost the use of
his hand, in 1867. He afterward served as wood and
hay measurer for a number of years. At the present
writing he is 98 years old, and still retains his faculties
to a remarkable degree.

The Grubb Family. -Special interest attaches to
this family, because its head, Hon. John Grubb, came
to the site of Erie in the spring of 1795, as captain
commanding a company of state troops. He was sent
to guard the surveying party which was to lay out the
town of Erie. His company encamped on Garrison
Hill. He was there stationed when in June, 1795, Col.
Seth Reed and his wife landed. John Grubb was born
June 8, 1767, in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. He
was commissioned captain in the 7th Battalion, Lan-
caster County Militia, October 12, 1792, and September
11, 1794, as captain in 2d Reg. Lancaster brig. In the
spring of 1795 he came to Erie in charge of a cpmpany
of troops and remained-about three years. In 1798 he
went to York county, Pennsylvania, and married
Alicia Cooper. They settled in Mill Creek township
on the farm occupied by his grandson, George Reed,
where he died June 8, 1845. They had seven children,
two sons and five daughters. All are dead and, with
their parents, are buried under a pine tree planted by
Mrs. Grubb on the old farm, at the death of her first
child. Judge Grubb filled many offices, among these
were major of militia December 26, 1798; justice of the
peace, April 15, 1797, and May 16, 1801; county com-
missioner, 1813-15; associate judge of Erie county,
January 8, 1820, to March 13, 1841. Mrs. Grubb, born
in 1777, died August 18, 1844. Judge Grubb closed his
useful and honorable life June 8, 1845. Of their seven
children, Delia A., Armfield M. (deceased), Mrs. Jane
Reed, who died in 1846; Stephen C.,who died in April,
1857, were, with their noted father, members of the
First Presbyterian Church, of Erie. Benjamin Grubb,


brother of the judge, was born March, 1777, married
and moved in 1800 to McKean township, where he
died in 1846. His widow died in Mercer county at the
age of 86. George and John G. Reed, of Mill Creek,
are the only descendants of Judge Grubb in Erie

Samuel A. Davenport, attorney at law, Erie,
Pa., was born near the head of Seneca Lake, Tompkins
county. New York, January 15, 1834. He is a son of
the late William and Phylance (Tracy) Davenport.
William Davenport was a native of New Haven,
Conn., and of old Puritan stock, being lineally
descended from that distinguished Puritan divine,
John Davenport, the first preacher of Fair Haven.
Mrs. William Davenport was a native of Vermont,
and of Scotch-Irish descent. From his ninth year up
to his arrival at maturity William Davenport was a
sailor. At the beginning of the war of 1812 he was
aboard a merchantman which was captured, but very
soon thereafter was exchanged. His patriotic im-
pulses led him to enlist and he served throughout that
war. At the close of the war he purchased a farm in
Tompkins county, a part of which is that beautifully
picturesque spot (now a famous summer resort) known
as Watkins' Glen. In 1835 he removed with his
family to a farm which he had purchased in Harbor
Creek township, Erie county. Pa., where he continued
to reside until 1839, when he removed to Erie, Erie
county. Pa. He served for a number of years as
captam on one or another of the Reed line of
steamers, retired from business in 1859, and died in
June, 1865. His wife survived until May, 1880.
Samuel A. Davenport attended the Erie Academy,
read law under the preceptorship of Judge Galbraith,
was graduated from Harvard Law University and
admitted to the bar in 1865. He entered upon the
practice of his profession in Erie, filled the office of
district attorney for one term, and in 1871 formed a law
partnership with George P. Griffith, which, under the
firm name of Davenport & Griffith, continued until
1891, since which time he has been engaged in practice
alone. Besides attending with marked ability and
abundant success to the interests of an extensive
clientage, Mr. Davenport has otherwise contributed
materially to the growth and development of this
community by his large investments in a number of
the leading manufacturing establishments of Erie.
He was a member of the firm of Stearns, Clark & Co.
(afterward Stearns Manufacturing Company), was one
of the founders of the Burdette Organ Company, the
Erie Car Works, the Erie Boot and Shoe factory, the
Keystone Boot and Shoe factory and the Derrick &
Felgemacher pipe organ factory. Mr. Davenport
was married December 31, 1862, to Kate, eldest
daughter of the late Hon. John H. Walker, one of
Erie's most prominent lawyers and president of the
Constitutional Convention of 1873. Mr. Davenport
was a delegate to the National Republican Convention
which nominated Benjamin Harrison for the Presi-
dency in 1888, and was a delegate-at-large to the
National Republican Convention at Minneapolis in

William R. Davenport was born near Watkins'
Glen, Schuyler county. New York, on the 31st of July,
1831. He was the oldest son of Capt. William Daven-
port, who settled in Erie in 1839. After graduating at

the Erie Academy he entered the dry-goods store of
Clark & Metcalf, and became their book-keeper.
Shortly after the completion of the Cleveland, Paines-
ville & Ashtabula R. R. he entered its employ, and
after the consolidation of the different railroads
between Cleveland and Buffalo, was appointed agent
at Erie. On the 4th of June, 1856, he married Eliza-
beth W. Shirk, eldest daughter of David Shirk, late of
Erie, deceased. He organized the firm of Daven-
port, Fairbairn & Co., and engaged in the manu-
facture of car wheels on a large scaleвАФin fact, for
some years theirs was the largest manufactory of car
wheels in the United States. Afterwards he aided in
the establishment of the Erie Car Works, the Erie
Fusee Company and the Martel Furnace Company.
He was one of the founders of the Young Men's
Christian Association, and for a number of years was
its president. Through his liberality and earnest
efforts the property owned by the Association on the
corner of Tenth and Peach streets was purchased.
In 1871 he assisted in the formation of the Central
Presbyterian Church, and to his generosity is largely
due the building now occupied by the church, on the
corner of Tenth and Sassafras streets, Erie. When
on his way home he was attacked in Buffalo with
the sickness which caused his death on the 13th day
of December, 1888. Mr. Davenport was a clear-
headed and able man, and probably Erie owes as
much to him as to any other person for the position
she 'now holds among the manufacturing cities of our
country. Mr. Davenport left three children: Mary
E., wife of E. W. Sheldon; Charles W. Davenport, of
Erie, and Helen L., wife of Edward D. Wetmore, son
of Judge Wetmore, of Warren.

David Nicholas Dennis, physician, office Ninth
and Peach streets, residence 205 West Eighth street,
was born in Grafton, Mass., December 25, 1868, son of
Edward Parker and Jessie (Moore) Dennis, the former
of Somers and the latter of Oxford, Mass. The family
originally settled in Massachusetts as early as 1630.
Mr. Edward Parker Dennis was for some time a mer-
chant in Milledgeville, Ga., and afterward a farmer of
Grafton, Mass. Mrs. Dennis departed this life in 1860.
Mr. Dennis surviving her six years. They had but
one child, David N., who was educated in the Worces-
ter Academy, Grafton (Mass.) public schools, private
schools in Augusta, Ga., and Worcester, Mass., finally
graduating from Jefferson Medical College, Philadel-
phia, in March, 1881. He began the practice of his
profession in Philadelphia, later removing to Worces-
ter, Mass., and ultimately locating in Erie, Pa., where
as an eye and ear specialist he has established a very
large practice and earned an enviable professional
reputation that is more than local. Dr. Dennis was
united in marriage June 20, 1883, to Camilla, daughter
of Alexander and Mary (Yeager) Loder, the former a
native of Bellefont, N. J., and the latter of Allentown,
Pa. Two children are the result of this union, Edward
Parker and Dorothy Moore. Dr. Dennis is a member
of the Masonic bodies and the American Medical So-
ciety, and is a Republican in politics. He is opthalmic
gurgeon of Hamot Hospital.

I. Armstrong Forman, dry goods merchant,
Erie, Pa., was born in Bruceton Mills, Preston county,
W. Va. He is a son of the late John C. and Anne
(Armstrong) Forman, natives of Preston county. West


Virginia, the former of English and the latter of
Scotch descent. The Formans were Quakers and set-
tled in West Virginia at a time when that portion of
the Old Dominion was considered the far west. I. A.
Forman received such education as was afforded by
the public schools of his native county, during which
time he assisted in the work on his father's farm.
He then entered a store in Bruceton Mills, and six
months later was given a partnership interest therein
by his employer. This partnership continued for ten
years, when Mr. Forman opened branch dry goods
stores at Washington and New Castle, Pa. Four
years later he sold out his interest in the Washington
(Pa.) store and went into dry goods jobbing at 76
Franklin street, New York city, where he remained
for four years. He next embarked in lumbering in
Warren county, Pennsylvania, in which business he
continued to be engaged for two years. He located
in Erie in 1873, and two years later established him-
self in the dry goods business there at the southwest
corner of Park and State streets, remained there two
years, re-located in the Scott block, conducted busi-
ness there for seven years, removing thence to the
Masonic Block, 914-916 State street. In 1895 Mr.
Forman built the beautiful and substantial three-story
business block, Nos. 1013, 1015 and 1017 State street,
where the dry goods business of I. A. Forman & Bro.
is now carried on. In addition to this material con-
tribution to the growth of Erie, Mr. Forman has built
handsome residences, Nos. 130 and 328 West Tenth
street. I. A. Forman was married in April, 1870, to
Annie, daughter of the late Patrick Faulkner, a lum-
berman of Warren county, Pennsylvania. She died
in January, 1888, leaving three children, Grace, Jessie
and Ralph. Grace is the wife of George T. Bliss, a
son of John H. Bliss, leading manufacturer of Erie, a
sketch of whom is contained in this work. Mrs. Geo.
T. Bliss and Miss Jessie Forman are graduates of Rye
Seminary. Ralph is a student at Deveaux College,
Niagara Falls, N. Y. The family resides at 130 West
Tenth street, and are members of the Park Presby-
terian Church.

Charles P. Formaa, junior member of the dry-
goods firm of I. A. Forman & Bro., Erie, Pa., was born
in Bruceton, Preston county, W. Va., June 15, 1852.
Charles P. Forman received his initial schooling in the
public schools of his native town, and then entered the
University of West Virginia (Morgantown). After
leaving the university he entered the employ of his
brother, Mr. I. A. Forman (whose personal history is
contained in this volume), then a dry goods merchant
of New Castle, Pa. A few years later he went to
Princeton, 111., where he was engaged in the dry goods
business for two years with his brother-in-law, Mr. B.
C. Fear. Returning to Pennsylvania he fcir four years
clerked in the dry goods establishment of Mr. I. A.
Forman, Erie. He then, in connection with another
brother, Mr. John Forman, established a general store
at Walnut, III. Six years later he sold out his interest
in this store to his brother, and returning to Erie, re-
entered the employ of Mr. I. A. Forman, with whom
he has ever since been associated, becoming a partner
in the business, under the firm name of I. A. Forman
& Bro., in 1889. Mr. C. P. Forman was married Octo-
ber 8, 1879, to Lillian, daughter of the late John Little,
whose personal history is contained in this volume.
Mr. and Mrs, Forman have five children: John, Anna,

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 108 of 192)