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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 115 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 115 of 192)
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the summer at least. They went south of the little
hamlet of Erie, out upon the hills and rented farms
for the season. In the spring of 1816 they bought a
tract of land, and Joel Olds moved into the wilder-
ness on his own land, cut down the timber, making a
log house by a good spring of water, and thus life was
begun in earnest. He cleared his land, cutting the fine
timber, burning it and selling the ashes to the potash
factory in Erie for ten cents "a bushel. At the end of
ten years he had paid for his farm, and saved enough
to take him back to the home of his kindred. Adding
to his acres by thrift and industry, he still made his
visits back to his old home every decade, each time
taking some of his family with him. Ere the sixth
pilgrimage was made, he was called to his long home
in eternity. His wife dying, he married, in 1838, Miss
Juliet Baker, of Windham, Conn., by whom he was
tenderly cared for to a ripe old age, passing away July
21, 1872. The love and affection of those two brothers,
who were left motherless so young, endured even unto
the end, and life was lengthened to each of them be-
yond four score. It was touching in the extreme to
see them sit so close for hours, and visit like lovers, as
they were indeed. May this beautiful feature crop
out in generations that follow. Of the first family but
two daughters are living, Mrs. Frances Foster, in Shell
Rock, Iowa, and Mrs. Emily Ward, in Marion, Kas.
Horace, the son, died in April, 1879, leaving a family
who are at present in Des Moines, Iowa. Of the sec-
ond family, Helen will be remembered by many as a
successful teacher m our public schools for several
years, married G. E.Noble in 1869, and died March,
1887. The other two are both living in Erie. Miss
Sophornia, a teacher in our schools, and Melvin J., so
well known as a survivor of the gallant Eighty-third
Regiment, that more than a passing notice should be
made of him. He enlisted in '61, before he was 16
years old, when no one was allowed to enlist under 18,
and none under a required height would be received.
He had extra high heels put on new boots, that he
might fulfill the law. Such patriotism could not be
rejected. His history is the history of the regiment.
Being one of the youngest members of his regiment,
he nov/ suffers when he should be in his fullest
strength, the rack and torture of rheumatism, en-
gendered by exposure in Southern swamps. Can pen
describe the history of a faithful soldier? Think what
it means to stand as a target for an enemy. Our gov-



ernment can never pay the debt it owes the boys who
saved our nation. Mr. M. J. Olds married in January,
1871, Miss Clara E., daughter of Z. L. Webster, Esq.,
of Summit, and they have two sons: Z. Webster, born
in March, 1874; and Leon Baker, born in June, 1889.
The farm on which Joel Olds spent fifty-six years of a
quiet and peaceful life is still owned by his children.
Miss Sophorina and Melvin J. It is pleasantly situated
on elevated land, overlooking the city and the lake,
two miles from the present city limits. For a beauti-
ful view of the lake no prospect is better. On a clear
day the outline of the Canadian shore and Long Point
is visible, and at night the flash-light from the same
point can be seen. It was a matter of great surprise
.to them, when they found they could see the lake, the
country being all a wilderness at the time, they had no
idea they were on such high land.

Extracts from a letter (when postage was twenty-
five cents) written by his brother, after he had bought
land, raised crops and returned to his father's house.

WiLLiAMSTOWN, Vx., June 17, 1816.
Dear Joel:

We are all well. I wrote one letter and sent by the
mail before this. Thomas Howe starts this day with
his family for the Ohio. I will send this letter by him.
Dial Smith is going to drive his ox-team for him.
When he returns he will call and see you. I want you
should go and show him my land, then I want you
should write to me. What has become of my wheat?
You may sell it, and have the use of the money until
next spring. How many loads of potatoes did I have?
Have you built a school-house yet? How did you
make out with your mill? and if any more land has
been sold in the neighborhood. My colt is worth
seventy dollars, but will not fetch that, for there is no
money to be got. Our father has five horses that are
fit to work and ride; he says he will send you one next
fall or winter. He sold his Dalton farm for one horse
and 110 dollars, to be paid in cattle. Last night there
was a hard frost; we are pouring water on the beans to
save them; on plowed ground I had to kick hard to
break the frozen crust. I want you and Mr. Parker to
go and burn my piece. Your relations are all well. I
am your affectionate brother,

Asa G. Olds.
Joel Olds.

Benjamia F. Sloan, youngest child of William
A. and Esther (Crandall) Sloan, was born in Westfield,
Chautauqua county, N. Y., March 27, 1819, and moved
with his parents to Fairview township, Erie county,
Pa., about 1821. He attended the country schools un-
til he was 17. Entered the office of the Erie Gazette
in 1836 as an apprentice and served four years. Vis-
ited the Southern States in 1841 and 1842, and worked
in various offices in New Orleans and Louisville.
Part of the latter year was connected with the Louis-
ville Daily Oazette as night editor. In connection with
A. P. Durlin, Esq., in 1843, he purchased the Erie Ob-
server and edited it till January 1, 1861, when he sold
the ofifice and became a member of the grocery firm of
Sloan, Booth & McCreary. Was engaged in the busi-
ness of oil refining from 1863 to 1868. From 1868 to
1875 was editor of the Erie Daily Republican and the
Titusville Daily Courier. Was clerk of the committee
on invalid pensions of the House of Representatives
• during the Forty-fourth and the extra session of the

Forty-fifth Congress. Was appointed secretary and
treasurer of the Erie water department January 1,
1879, in which position he continued until 1891. Mr.
Sloan was married March 27, 1845, to Elizabeth M.
Barr. They have had five children, of whom two are
living — Clara Virginia (intermarried with H. D. Mc-
Naughton, of Rochester, N. Y.), and Charles H. Mr.
Sloan was appointed postmaster by President Pierce
in April, 1853, and was reappointed by President Bu-
chanan in 1857, serving until the spring of 1861. He
now resides with his son-in-law in Rochester, N. Y.

John Depinet, register and recorder of Erie
county, Pennsylvania, was born in Erie November 14,
1855, and is a son of Michael and Mary (Erhart) Depi-
net, natives of Baden, whence they emigrated and lo-
cated in Erie in 1853. Mrs. Depinet died in 1856.
The senior Mr. Depinet was a contractor in brick and
mason work, which he followed successfully for many
years. Mr. John Depinet was educated in the public
schools and Erie Academy, and in 1877 accepted a
position as bookkeeper in the ofifice of William Dens-
more. After five years' faithful service in this capac-
ity, he became a member of the firm of William Dens-
more & Co., and traveled in the interest of the com-
pany. He was elected to his present position in 1890
and re-elected in 1893. In 1891 he was chosen chair-
man of the Republican county committee, the duties
of which position he most efficiently discharged. He
has always been a staunch Republican, and has ren-
dered much valuable service to the party of his choice.
Mr. Depinet organized and was for several years in-
terested in the Erie base ball club, and other athletic
sports which he always tried to keep above reproach.
In this, as in other undertakings, he was highly suc-
cessful, and during his active connection with base
ball it received the enthusiastic support and patronage
of the public. On June 1, 1895, Mr. Depinet leased
the Central Market House, the success of which his
able management assures. Mr. Depinet was married
October 2, 1882, to Miss Jessie, only daughter of Will-
iam and Harriet (Dewey) Densmore, of Erie. This
happy union has been blessed with two children, Fred
E. and Ned E. Mr. Depinet is a Knight Templar
Mason, a very active member of the Elks, and is also
a member of the Royal Arcanum. He is a member
of the Erie and Kahkwa clubs and of the Mainnerchor
and Liedertafel societies. Public-spirited and with the
best interests of the community at heart, he is ever
ready to support and encourage by his means and in-
fluence all worthy enterprises of a public or charitable

William Saltsman Brown was born in Erie, Erie
county. Pa., November 20, 1826. He is a son of the
late Samuel and Elizabeth (Saltsman) Brown, both na-
tives of the Keystone State, and of German descent.
Samuel Brown located, about 1810, in Erie, where he
was one of the early leading merchants, and where, in
1825, he married Miss Elizabeth Saltsman, the daugh-
ter of William Saltsman, one of the pioneer settlers
of Erie. Samuel Brown died in 1865; his wife, the fol-
lowing year. William S. Brown was educated at the
Erie Academy. His first employment was as clerk in
the postoffice at Erie, where he remained for four years,
then entering the service of General Charles M. Reed,
with whom he was associated for two years. The follow-
ing four years he was deputy collector of customs at



Erie, under Presidents Taylor and Fillmore. Upon the
completion of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern
R. R., Mr. Brown was made general freight agent at
Erie of that road, a position which he held for twenty
years. Succeeding this he was treasurer of the Penn-
sylvania end of the Lake Shore roads, and was one of the
boards of directors of the Lake Shore, Erie and Pitts-
burg and Oil Creek railroads. He served as collector
of internal revenue for the Erie district by appoint-
ment of President Grant. He was one of the early
stockholders of the Second National Bank of Erie,
and has been for many years and is still a member of
the board of directors of that institution. Mr. Brown
was associated with Orange Noble, Joseph McCarter
and Henry C. Shannon in the erection of the first grain
elevator at the port of Erie. He devoted eleven years
in active service to the cause of education as a mem-
ber of the Erie board, and was fornme years president
of that body. He was married October 10, 1853, to
Rosina M., daughter of the late Joseph Winchell, of
Erie. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Brown are:
Scott Brown, of the Northwestern R. R. office of Chi-
cago; Benjamin B. Brown, of the firm of Brown &
Thomas, iron merchants, of Erie; and Mary, wife of
Lieut. George R. Clark, of the United States navy.
The family reside at the northeast corner of Ninth and
Peach streets, and attend the Park Presbyterian
Church, of which Mr. Brown was one of the founders.

Hugh Brady Fleming (deceased). On both sides
the lineage of this gentleman fitly represented those
Scotch-Irish elements and reflected the characteristics
which history, story and song have so inseparably in-
tertwined with the name of the Keystone— his native
state. His father was Gen. James Fleming, who en-
listed in the War of 1812 when about 16 years of age.
His mother was Rebecca, daughter of Robert Lowry,
one of a family of ten brothers, who, coming from the
North of Ireland towards the close of the last century,
had such a thrilling experience in the land title
troubles at the first settlement of the lake shore of
Pennsylvania. A notable episode of this strife was the
successful journey made by the wife of one of these
brothers on horseback through the wilderness to the
federal capital, where, by an order of President Jeffer-
son, her husband was released from imprisonment,
which he had incurred by disregarding a decree of court
in the land litigation. The military record of the family
is exceptionally honorable. James Fleming, father of
Hugh Brady, served through the War of 1812, partici-
pating in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane,
under General Scott, and was wounded at Fort Erie.
He completed a long and honorable service in the
United States army. He afterwards served many
years in the volunteer establishment of Pennsylvania,
where, passing through several grades, he became
major general. Col. John W. McLane (own cousin of
Major Fleming) closed a brilliant career in the War
of the Rebellion by his death at the head of the re-
nowned 83d Reg., Pa. V., at the battle of Gaines' Mill.
The chivalrous valor shown in the careers of both
seemed to corroborate the tradition that they were of
kin with Gen. Anthony Wayne, whose name was given
to two especially fine military companies before the
war, raised and drilled by Captain McLane at Erie.
The first, the Wayne Grays, in 1841; the second,
the Wayne Guards, organized in 1859; practically
it was a military school for the coming war, and,

in fact, was the nucleus of the famous 83d Reg., Pa. V.
With such an ancestry and surroundings, the record of
Maj. Hugh Brady Fleming will not be a matter of sur-
prise. He was born in Rockdale township, Crawford
county. Pa., in 1827. His early education was ob-
tained in the common schools, then of the commonest
sort. He was named for his father's companion in
arms, if not regimental commander, while his brother
bore the name of the veteran general under whom his
father had fought at Lundy's Lane. All of his early
surroundings tended to instill, to cultivate and intensify
a love of military life. The science of war, especially
as illustrated in the great battles of the period in Eu-
rope and America, amounted to a passion with General
Fleming, whose prominence in organizing, disciplining
and arming the State forces in Northwestern Pennsyl-
vania continued for many years— co-incident with
his son Hugh's childhood. His fireside was made
cheerful in the companionship of his comrades of
the War of 1812; while the Patriot War and the
"Burning of the Caroline" quickened the interest in
military circles, as they brought to the lake frontier
Gen. Winfield Scott in connection with the stirring
events liable to produce bloodshed and plunge the
country into a war with England at any moment.
Hugh Brady Fleming was most naturally devoted to
military life— it was a logical sequence of his father's
career. In July, 1848, in the very month the Mexican
war was officially declared at an end, it was on the
nomination of Hon. James Thompson, then member of
Congress from the Erie district, under the administra-
tion of President Polk — William L. Morey being Sec-
retary of War — he was appointed to the West Point
Academy. The achievements of our armies had raised
the interest in military matters to a high pitch; yet
from all of the eight counties of the Twenty-third Con-
gresssional District, with their three endowed acade-
mies and scores of graduates, Hugh Fleming was
named for the cadetship of 1848. The intuitive percep-
tion and instinctive acumen of Judge Thompson were
well vindicated in the long and distinguished career of
his appointee. No doubt the result of the war, as that
year announced, with its acquisition of California and
Northern Mexico, adding as it did by the treaty of
Guadaloup Hidalgo, 649,000 square miles of territory
to the domain of the United States, while more than
101,000 men had been in the field, involving an ex-
penditure of 8100,000,000, intensified the anxiety all
over the country to enter West Point. It was a class
embracing Generals Phil Sheridan, Henry W. Slocum,
A. W. D. McCook, George Crook, T. L. Casey and
others destined to win so much renown in the great
War of the Rebellion. On the 1st of July, 1852, hav-
ing graduated, Cadet Fleming was made Second
Lieutenant of the 9th U. S. infantry. He was assigned
to duty in the distant West, where the army, reduced
to a peace footing, was engaged in keeping open com-
munications in the vast region beyond the Mississippi
before the organization of Kansas and Nebraska.
Circumstances then made him prominent; his first
skirmish was while defending Fort Laramie against
the Sioux, June 17, 1853; in another fight, August 24,
1854, he was wounded. It is needless to follow Lieu-
tenant Fleming in his long, arduous and brilliant ca-
reer, which commenced so soon after his graduation.
He was on frontier duty at Fort Stillacom, Washing-
ton, and operated against the Puget Sound Indians in
1856. The next year he was stationed in Washington



Territory (then Northern Oregon), also at Fort Dallas
and Fort Walla Walla and on the Spokane expedition.
In 1858 he fought the Indians at Tohotsnimme and at
Four Lakes, at Spokane Plains and River. He was on
frontier duty at Walla Walla, Washington Territory,
from 1858 to 1860, and was promoted to be captain of
the 9th infantry May 14, 1861. He relieved Kit Carson
at Fort Garland, Colorado, and was presented by that
renowned frontiersman with the sword he wore when
he escorted Gen. John C. Fremont across the Rocky
Mountains. It was thus Captain Fleming was thrown
into active, prolonged and arduous military service,
but the strain of such successive and unremittive effort
by day and by night wore upon him. When the War
of the Rebellion broke out he sought to place his mil-
itary education and experience at the service of his
country. He was invited by Governor Curtin to take
command of a Pennsylvania regiment and a like offer
came from the Governor of New York. The Secretary
of War refused to accept his resignation, but employed
him in mustering, inspecting and organizing the vol-
unteer forces and he remained a captain in the army.
Several times after the breaking out of the war he was
ordered to the remotest frontier. Honored as he was
with the fullest confidence of the W^ar Department, he
was detailed to organize troops at Fort Columbus,
N. Y. He served as mustering and disbursing officer
at Buffalo, N. Y.,and at Fort Humboldt, California, and
for Nevada and California from 1861 to 1865. After
this he was acting assistant provost marshal general
and superintendent of volunteer recruiting service in
California and Nevada. He returned to frontier duty
at Fort Ruby, Nevada, in December, 1865, and July
28, 1866, won his spurs and gold leaf, while attached
to the 19th U. S. infantry. He was next assigned to
the 5th U. S. infantry in 1869, and in 1870 was retired
on account of disease contracted in the line of duty.
He had helped to clear the Indians from the plains,
but with them had vanished the youth, the vigor and
the elasticity of Major Fleming, who at his graduation
seemed to possess an iron-clad constitution, fired with
the courage of a lion — animated by a spirit of loyalty
worthy of the kinsman of Mad Anthony Wayne.

Major Fleming never ceased his studies of military
science. He kept up almost to the day of his death
with every change in tactics, in arms, engineering,
ship building and armor plating. He was genial and
companionable, a man of strong friendships, with a
high sense of honor, and he would not allow himself
to be outdone in his duties to his fellow men or to. so-
ciety. His domestic relations were most pleasant. In
1866, while stationed at Buffalo, he was married to
Miss Maria Louise, daughter of Joseph Neely, Esq.,
of Erie. With his wife, he reported at Fort Garland,
where his son, Hugh Neely Fleming, was born in 1868.
Upon Major Fleming's retirement from active service
he took up his residence at the family home on West
Eighth street, Erie. Though offered the chair of mil-
itary science in the University of California and that
of Minnesota he was obliged to decline both on ac-
count of ill health. In the vain effort to recuperate
that health and vigor, which had been lost m arduous
frontier service, he spent much time and very much of
means in traveling. His friends noted with anxiety
his steady decline. About two years ago the light of
his pleasant home went out in the death of his charming
wife. Though cheered by the constant companionship
and untiring attentions of his devoted son, the sturdy

warrior answered his last roll call at his beautiful but
darkened home on the 9th of April, 1895.

The remains of the veteran were tenderly placed in
the beautiful Erie Cemetery in a sightly location near
to the resting place of his beloved wife and his kins-
man. Colonel McLane, overlooking the spot on the
lake bluff where General Wayne, on his return
from his successful Indian campaign, died and was
buried. Kindred in blood and in their unfaltering
loyalty, though their spheres of activity so widely sep-
arated, each found a grave within sound and view of
the other, while the name and fame of each will be
cherished among its choice legends of history by the
Gem City of the Lakes.

F. F. Farrar, late of Waterford, Erie county. Pa.,
was born in Vermont, August 24, 1822, and died at his
home near Waterford, April 28, 1895. His father and
mother were natives respectively of Massachusetts and
New Hampshire. The former, Oliver Farrar, was
engaged in the milling business for many years in Ver-
mont, was a Democratic member of the Legislature of
that State for several terms, and served the people of
the county of his residence as justice of the peace for
some years. F. F. Farrar completed his schooling at
the Hancock Academy, New Hampshire, and then
taught school for one year. Upon attaining his
majority he removed to Waterford, this county, and
with his brother conducted a mercantile business
until 1853, when he withdrew and engaged in farming
and the hotel business at Forest Home, Erie county,
continuing nearly four years with good success; he
then entered a partnership with L. Phelps in the
grocery line at Waterford. In one year he sold out
and engaged under the firm name of Gray & Farrar
in the wholesale grocery business at Erie with his
usual good luck up to 1867 or 1868, when he sold and
turned his entire attention to the restoration of sul-
phuric acid at Pittsburgh, in which enterprise he had
invested prior to this time; he subsequently took the
principal management of the branch business at
Titusville and was very successful. At a period
during his busy life he was compelled to lay away his
first consort, the mother of four children, three of
whom are living, viz. : C. W. Farrar, of the Davis,
Farrar & Co., Erie; W. W. Farrar, of the American
Wringer Company, Erie, and Mrs. Minnie Arbuckle.
His second marriage was to Mrs. Mary Day, by
whom he had one child. Miss Zoe Farrar. Mr. Farrar
was a valued and valuable citizen. During the war
he was mayor of Erie, and fulfilled the duties of that
office during those troublous times with conspicuous

William Reifel, senior member of the firm of
William Reifel & Sons, Erie, Pa., was born in the
province of Rhein, Germany, January 4, 1838, and is a
son of J. P. and Anna Mary (Offenbacher) Reifel. His
father, who was a farmer, came to America in 1852 and
located in Erie, where he died in 1854, leaving Will-
iam, an only child. A part of his education was ob-
tained in his native country, and a part of it in the
public schools of Erie. Learning the moulders' trade
in the shops of Sennett, Barr & Co., he followed the
occupation eleven years. He then engaged in the
grocery business on State street, south of Twelfth,
where he remained two and a half years. In 1868 he
assisted in the establishment of the Erie Steam Bend-

And historical reference book of erie county.


ing Works, and maintained his identity with that con-
cern until 1878, when he engaged in his present busi-
ness of pump manufacturing. The plant was first
located on Myrtle street, between Seventh and Eighth
streets, and was removed to its present place in 1888,
where it has been enlarged and remodeled until its
capacity is between fifteen and twenty thousand pumps
a year. The products of the concern include all kinds
of wooden, chain and bucket pumps, and the territory
over which their sales extend includes all the eastern
half of the United States. Mr. Reifel owns considera-
ble other property adjacent to the building which he
occupies, and has real estate interests in other parts of
the city. Mr. Reifel was married in 1858 to Miss Mary
Knochel, of Erie, by whom he had five children, viz.:
Anna Marv (Mrs. .Samuel H. Burdett, of Fort Wayne,
Ind.), |ohn' F. (prrsidrnt of \\w Clrveland Dental Man-
ufacturing I, ,..ii|i,iuv, ,il I l.xrl.ind, O.), Miss Eliza-
beth, \\ illi.ini \ . ( whci .licil 111 lii^L':;il year), and George
V. (who IS II] the cinploy of UmC I.M-land Dental Man-

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 115 of 192)