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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 121 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 121 of 192)
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After r,,ni|,Ietlii- his eihu.ition lie entered the hard-
w.iresl.ii-.' Ill .M.( 011k. V \ Slianiieii as clerk, where
111- reinaineil iiiilil jiiiie. l;-;i;7, ulieii he was placed in
charge i.f a brain h slme at l.'ii! I'each street. In Jan-
uary, 1869, he purchased tiie branch store and con-
tinued to do a flourishing business at that stand until
February, 1893, when he removed to his present loca-



tion, 724 State street. Here he has the most thor-
oughly stocked and equipped hardware store in Erie,
and does both a wholesale and retail business. Besides
his Erie interests, Mr. Finney owns, at Orniond, Fla.,
a five-acre orange grove, set in 1888, a ten-acre vine-
yard, set in 1891, and a two-and-one-half-acre lemon
grove, set in 1890. IVlr. Pinney was married March 4,
1869, to Miss Mary E., daughter of Mr. .A.llen A.
Morse of Erie, whose father was a cousin of the cele-
brated inventor, Prof. Samuel F. B. Morse. This
happy union was blessed with one child, Sarah Ellen,
who was married June 4, 1895, to Mr. William F. H.
Nick, of Erie. Mr. Pinney is a member of the Masonic
order, the K. of P., A. O. U. W., and the E. A. U. In
politics he has always been a staunch Democrat.

George D. Williams, a leading retail grocer of
Erie, was born in this city December 29, 1846, and is a
son of J. B. and Abigail (Bowers) Williams, natives of
Albany, N. Y. His father came to Erie county about
1836 and enga,t,'r(l ill fanniiii; in Mill Creek township
until the time of Ins .Ir.iUi. wliicii occurrrd in 1891.
Mrs. Williams ,,l C mk 1 omitv, Ireland. His
father came to the liiitr.l Stairs about 1860 and
located in Philadelphia, where he remained about five
years. He then came to Erie to take charge of the
Erie Gas Works and continued as superintendent
until 1884, when he retired. The family consisted of
fourteen children: Miss Julia, who died December 8,
1893, at the age of 37 years; Minnie, Mrs. J. J. Bur-
goyne, of Erie; James P.; Catherine E., Mrs. John T.
Dillon, of Erie; William, who at the age of 4 was acci-
dentally killed; Rose W., Mrs. D. P. McMahon, of
Ellicotville, N. Y.; John R., student in the Chicago
Dental College; Joseph A., general delivery clerk in
the Erie postoffice; Daniel S., traveling salesman for
the Cleveland Dental Manufacturing Company; Ed-
ward C, Misses Jennie and Nellie (twins), Agnes V.,

and Clara. Mr. Hanley was educated in the public
schools and in the National Business College of^ Erie,
graduating from the lattter in 1877. He soon after se-
cured a position as bookkeeper in the office of Mr. P.
F. Miles, then operating a spice mill on Seventh
street between State and Peach streets, which he held
until the business was discontinued. He next was for
one year in the employ of the Burdett Organ Com-
pany of Erie, three years in the employ of the Erie
Gas Works, one year with the W. W. Pierce Hard-
ware Company, and then accepted a position as ticket
agent at the Union depot, remaining there from May,
1881, until October, 1887, when he became interested
in the insurance business. In 1886 he was elected as
member of the common council, being the only suc-
cessful candidate of his party in that election. He
was re-elected in 1886, and unanimously chosen as
chairman of that body. At the earnest solicitation of
friends he became a candidate for the city treasurer-
ship in the municipal election of February, 1888. He
recel\ id iln' noinination, and was elected, and was re-
electril 111 |s;i(i, with a majority of 2,998 votes over two
oppiuM Ills, till laiL;est majority ever given any candi-
date till' an\ nllRr in Erie city. Mr. Hanley is now
serving his third term as treasurer of Erie, which is
sufficient evidence of his hold on popular confidence.
Mr. Hanley is possessed of a rare combination of indus-
try, honesty and genial sociability. In local musical
and dramatic circles he is known as a willing and tal-
ented contributor to many of the charitable entertain-
ments. He has also sung in the choirs of several
churches of the city. Mr. Hanley was married Sep-
tember 28, 1893, to Miss Mabelle Agnes Barry, daugh-
ter of Mr. and Mrs. P. T. Barry, of Chicago. Mr.
Barry is secretary of the Chicago Newspaper Union,
and president of the Indiana Mineral Springs Com-
pany, located in Warren county, Indiana. Mr. and
Mrs. Hanley have one son, John Barry, who was born
January 11, 1896. They are devoted members of the
Catholic Church, of which they are generous support-
ers. Naturally gifted with graceful manners, reared
under the refining influences of a model home, and
given all the advantages of a modern education, Mrs.
Hanlr\ IS ,1 hiLjIiK accomplished lady, and a talented
vocal I >i ^lii WIS some time previous to her mar-
riage till Iciiliiit; soprano in one of the prominent
churches of Chicago, and was a great favorite in the
many musical events in which she took part. Polit-
ically Mr. Hanley is a staunch Democrat, and
although he has always been an earnest and untiring
worker in the interests of the party, he has never
practiced the unlawful methods usually employed by
the modern politician in the generally accepted use of
the term

Henry C. Kelsey, treasurer of the Union Ice
Company, Erie, Pa., was born in this city October 29,
1844, and is a son of Samuel H. and Mary H. (John-
son) Kelsey, natives respectively of Oswego, N. Y.,
and Philadelphia, Pa. Joseph Kelsey, the father of
Samuel H. Kelsey, removed from Oswego to Erie
county, when the latter was a young man, and located
on a farm in Mill Creek township. The elder Mr.
Kelsey, in partnership with his son-in-law, Henry Cad-
well, rented a store at the corner of Fifth and French
streets, and for a number of years conducted a hard-
ware and tinning business. Mr. Cadwell afterwards
built the large store which still stands at the southeast



corner of Fifth and State streets, where he did a very
extensive merchandising business. The children of
Joseph Kelsey were: Walter, who died in Sacramento,
Cal.; Sylvester, who lives near Oswego, N. Y.; Joseph,
who lives in Cleveland, O.; Hannah, who married
Harry Catlwell, both of whom are deceased; Louise,
who married Daniel Ely, and for her second husband
Mr. Crandi-11; Sanuiel H. and Elizabeth, who married
Dr. John Trissler, of Phelps, N. Y., and for her second
husband, John Eliot, of Erie. Samuel H. Kelsey was
for a few years engaged with the hardware firm, of
which his father was a member, after which he occu-
pied a position in the postofifice during the postmaster-
ship of Robert Cochran. He then entered the employ
of Gen. Charles M. Reed as clerk on a lake boat,
commanded by Captain J. S. Richards. After two
years he was given a position as an accountant in the
office at the docks, in which capacity he remained in
the employ of General Reed for upwards of twenty
years. When the firm of Henry Rawle & Co. suc-
ceeded to the control of Gen. Reed's business, Mr.
Kelsey retained his old position under the new man-
agement until the dissolution of that company. Asso-
sociated with his son, Henry C, he, in 1866, established
the Erie Ice Company, and placed his son in its man-
agement. Mr. Kelsey died August 14, 1892, at the age
of 75 years. The family consisted of two children:
Margaret, Mrs. Henry Shannon, of Erie, and Henry
C. Kelsey. The last-named gentleman was educated
in the public schools of his native city, and when but
16 years of age went to Canada, where he passed two
years in various positions in the oil fields. In 1862 he
returned to Erie and entered the employ of Henry
Rawle & Co., where he remained four years. The ice
business, which his father established, was the first
thoroughly-equipped institution of that kind m the
city, and was the nucleus of what is now the Union Ice
Company. Under his able management the business
grew rapidly and enjoyed great prosperity during its
nearly a quarter of a century of successful operation.
The present company was organized in 1890, being made
up from the Erie Ice Company and the John R.
Cooney Ice Company. The People's Ice Company,
which was established in 1892, was added to the Union
Ice Company in 1893. The members of the present
company are H. C. Kelsey, J. R. Cooney, C. M. Briggs
and E. D. Carter. These gentlemen have each a thor-
ough personal knowledge of the ice business, and with
united interests they make a combination highly worthy
of the brilliant success which it has attained. The
plants of the company, which are equipped with the
most modern and improved machinery and facilities,
are located at the foot of Cascade, Chestnut, Sassafras
and State streets, and the general office at No. 9 East
Seventh street. About 40,000 tons of ice are handled
annually, and every effort is made to supply patrons
with the best quality obtainable. Mr. Kelsey was mar-
ried September 3, 1868, to Miss Laura H. Johnson,
of Erie. This happy union was blessed with two chil-
dren, Margaret Shannon, widow of the late Harry
Saltsman.of Erie, and Miss Blanche Elizabeth Kelsey.
Mr. Kelsey is a Knight Templar Mason, a member of
the Mystic Shrine, and is also a member of the Knights
of Honor. In politics he has always been a staunch
Democrat, but the numerous cares of his active busi-
ness life, togetherwith a distaste for political notoriety,
has prevented him from seeking or accepting public

Christian Kessler. grocer and wholesale liquor
dealer, Erie city. Pa., was born in Bavaria, on Novem-
ber 21, 1842, the son of Henry and Elizabeth (Back-
fish) Kessler. His mother died in Germany in 1852.
His father, who was a quarry man by occupation, on
comini; to Aiiicric a in 1857, located first in Greene
townslii|i, ihi^ ■ .unity, and later in Iowa, where he died
in 186'.!. 1 li 111 \ ;iiiil Elizabeth Kessler were the par-
ents of SIX 1 liililrin, (if whom Christian was the young-
est. He went to school in Bavaria until he was 14.
The only English education he received was during a
period of between three and four months in the public
schools of Greene township. He came to Erie in 1859,
without a cent in his pocket, and served as clerk in a
grocery store for six years. In February, 1865, he en-
gaged in the grocery business for himself at 408 State
street, and afterward changed to the northeast corner of
State and Fourth streets, where he has remained ever
since. Mr. Kessler was married in 1803 to Miss Helen
Bloeser, of Erie city, by whom he had eight children,
of whom seven are living, viz.: Elizabeth (wife of John
Kolb), Helen D., Annie K., Mary J., Clara L., Christian
H. and Florence E. Part of the family attend the
Central Presbyterian and the balance the German St.
Paul's Evangelical Church. Mrs. Kessler died on May
4, 1883, respected and mourned by all who knew her.
Mr. Kessler is deservedly regarded as one of Erie's
most prosperous, influential and enterprising citizens.
He was a member of the common council from April,
1873, to 1875; of the license board from April, 1875, to
Aijril, 1876; of the select council from April, 1876, to
April, 1878, and from April, 1880, to April, 1882; of the
Board of Water Commissioners from May, 1886, to
May, 1892; and is one of the incorporators of the
Hamot Hospital. Politically he has long been an
active and leading Democrat. In local affairs, how-
ever, he refuses to be bound by party ties, and sup-
ports the men he believes to be most fit and worthy.
Mr. Kessler is one of Erie's largest property owners.
He owns the premises and built or materially improved
the structure at Nos. 401, 402, 403, 404, 406, 408, 410,
730, 1118 and 1120, State street, besides being inter-
ested in a number of important enterprises. To Mr.
Kessler is largely due the inception and ultimate
erection of the People's market house, which has no
superior for its purpose in the country. He secured
most of the subscriptions to the stock of the market
company and superintended the work on and about
the building from its start to its completion.

Charles F. Miller, grocer, Erie, Pa., was born in
Erie December 13, 1867, and is a son of Charles F. and
Augusta (Heilinstadt) Miller, natives ot Germany.
His father, a miller by trade, reared a family of five
children, four of whom are living: Charles F.;Gustof
J., druggist, Erie, and Misses Emma and Etta Miller.
Mr. Miller was educated in the public schools of Erie,
and then ent,'age(l in the grocery business, which he
has since fn I lowed. He was employed successively by
Burton \ Williaiiis seven years, M! Hartleib one year,
Jacob I' lit/, lour years, Jacob Minnig two years, J. S.
Town seven years, and on May 1, 1889, he established
a business of his own at the northwest corner of Eighth
and Myrtle streets, where he has since remained. Mr.
Miller was schooled in the business by the best
grocers in the city and is thoroughly conversant with
all the details. He carries a full line of fine groceries
and also handles meat. Mr. Miller was married Sep-



tember 25, 1884, to Miss Caroline Heyer, of Conneaut,
O. He has one child, William H. Mr. and Mrs.
Miller attend the German Lutheran Church; he is a
Knight Templar Mason, and politically is a Repub-

Alexander B. Aitkin, contractor and builder,
Erie, Pa., was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland,
May 15, 1837, and is a son of John and Anna Belle
(Baird) Aitkin. The family, with the exception of the
father (who died in Scotland), came to America in
1857, and located in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Aitkin
learned carpentering in Scotland, which he followed
in his adopted country. In 1863 he went to Chicago,
where, in 1869, he entered the employ of the Burdett
Organ Company. In less than two yearshe was given
charge of the bellows and action department. When
the factory was removed to Erie, in 1872, he came
with it, and remained in the employ of the company
until 1885, when he engaged in his present business.
He devotes his attention chiefly to contract work in
and about Erie. He has occupied his present resi-
dence for twenty years, and owns several other houses
in that portion of the city. Mr. Aitkin was married
Novemtser 22, 1866, to Miss Jane McGregor, of Chi-
cago, a native of Scotland, and a daughter of Nevin
McGregor. Six bright children compose the family,
viz.: Margaret J. (bookkeeper for Halleck &■ Duncan,
of Chicago); Anna Belle (who married Hul;1i Mclean,
formerly of Erie, but now of Dakotai; llili n Al. iwho
married Mr. Earnest St. John, of Eriei; Alcxamlii X.
(a carpenter by trade, working with his fatheri; Misses
Agnes D., Daisy May and William J. Mr. Aitkin and
family worship at the Presbyterian Church, of which
they are members. He is a Scottish Rite Mason, a
member of the I. O. O. F., and Encampment, and a
Republican politically. In February of 1895, he was
elected a member of the common council of Erie.

Daniel W. Nicholson, contractor and builder,
Erie, Pa., was born in Cape Breton, Canada, March
21, 1843, and is a son of Daniel and Margaret (Mun-
roe) Nicholson, natives of Scotland. His parents
were married in Canada, where his father engaged in
farming and fishing, and reared a family of ten chil-
dren, seven of whom are living, and of whom Daniel
is the fourth. He received his education in the public
schools of Canada, and at the age of 14 years went to
sea. When about 18 years old he was given charge
of a vessel, and his first trip to Newfoundland was
the quickest ever made up to that time. After spend-
ing three years in the West Indies he returned to New
York, and in April, 186.3, enlisted in Co. K, 11th C. V.
After three months' service, in the fall of 1864, his
health failed while plying on the James river, and he
was discharged. He then made another trip to the
West Indies, but upon his return to New York, in
April, 1865, he was taken seriously ill, and his physi-
cian advised him to take a trip inland. He went to
Jamestown, N. Y., where he became a bricklayer, and
where he remained three years; he continued on with
his Jamestown employer two years longer at Warren,
Pa. In 1871 he went to Chicago and remained two
years, most of which time he was engaged in con-
tracting, which he has continued since coming to Erie
in 1873. He built a cottage on the site of his present
home, in 1881, and his comfortable and spacious resi-
dence in 1891. Mr. Nicholson was married March 16,

1870, to Miss Anna, daughter of Mr. Dennis Collins,
of Erie. The issue of this marriage was six children:
Misses Maud E., Anna M., Raymond D. (who is a
graduate of the Erie Business University), Malcom H.,
Allen M. and Mary J. Mr. Nicholson and family wor-
ship at the United Presbyterian Church, of which he
is a member; he is a member of the A. O. U. W., and
usually affiliates with the Democratic party.

Charles Noble Hathaway, contractor and builder,
Erie, Pa., was born in Erie, September 18, 1835, and is
a son of Daniel and Amy (Noble) Hathaway, natives
of New York. His father, who was a boat builder,
came to Erie about 1830. The family consisted of
eight children, five of whom are living: Edward B.
(carpenter, Erie), Mary (Mrs. Samuel Cummings, of
Erie), Jane (Mrs. William Yager, of Waukegan, III.),
Charles N. and Sarah (Mrs. Levi P. Hurd, of Erie).
Mr. Hathaway was educated in the public schools of
Erie, and when about 16 years old learned the mason's
trade, wliich he has since followed. He began con-
tracting in 1861. Most of his business is in and about
Erie; but he also does out-of-town work. He built the
court house at Warren, Pa.; the Delamater Block,
Budd House and Hulings Hall, Meadville, Pa., and in
Erie there are such monuments of his work as the No-
ble Block, the Keystone Bank building. Reed House,
Marine Hospital, German Baptist Church, the Sands
& Son's building, the county house and the Downing
Block. He built his own elegant residence, at 319
West Eighth street, in 1891-2. Mr. Hathaway was
married IVIay 16, 1861, to Miss Sarah Shank, daughter
of Mr. William Shank, of Erie, by whom he had eleven
children: Carrie (who married William Herchurt,
manager of the Western Union telegraph office at Sal-
amanca, N. Y.), Lizzie (who married H. C. Barlow,
freight claim agent of the Erie R. R., with headquar-
ters in New York city), William M. (who is foreman for
his father), Frederick I), (also engaged with his father),
Charles N. (who died at the age of six years), Jessie,
Mary Belle, Harriett Gertrude, George Noble, Joseph
Pressly and Frank Ross (twins) — the latter dying at
the age of 3 years. Mr. Hathaway is a Master Mason,
and politically is a staunch Democrat.

Edward D. Carter, president of the Erie Fish
Association and of the Merchants' and Manufacturers'
Electric Light Company, Erie,- Pa., was born in Mill
Creek township, Erie county. Pa., January 31, 1853,
and is a son of John H. and Anna (Heidlebach) Carter.
His father was born in England and came to the
Lfnited States about 1835, settling on a farm in Mill
Creek township, where he is still extensively engaged
in agricultural pursuits. The family consists of six
children: Mary (Mrs. William Hardwick, of Erie),
George W. (dealer in boots and shoes, Erie), Edward
D., Alfred (who is in the employ of the Union Ice
Company), John L. (who is engaged in farming) and
Luella (Mrs. Bacon, of Los Angeles, Cal.) Mr. Carter
was educated in the public schools, the Edinboro
Normal school and the Iron City Commercial College
of Pittsburg. After leaving school he secured a
position in a large furniture house in Pittsburg, where
he remained two years. He then came to Erie and,
in company with his brother George, engaged in the
grocery business, which he followed five years. In
May, 1876, he went into the fish business, which he
has since followed, and upon the organization of the



Erie Fish Association, in 1893, was chosen its presi-
dent. This concern employs about 300 men, operates
thirty fish boats and handles about 6,000 tons of fish a
year. It will be readily seen that the marketing of
this large natural product is a great benefit to the city,
as it brings in from the surrounding country several
hundred thousand dollars per annum. Mr. Carter
was married October 10, 1873. to Miss Clara, daughter
of Mr. John Robinson, of Erie. The issue of this
marriage is two children. Miss Maud and Carl Carter.
Mr. Carter is a member of the Masonic fraternity and
of the Royal Arcanum. In politics he is a Repub-
lican, and has served as a member of the Select
Council of Erie.

Charles C. Colby, late president of the Colby
Piano Company, Erie, Pa., who died .April S, ISO.S, was
born in Bradford, \'t., anfl was a son of John and
Hannah (Rowel) Colby, his maternal grandmother
being a direct descendant of Israel Putnam, of Bunker
Hill fame. When Mr. Colby was quite young his
father, who was a millwright, removed to Springfield,
Pa., where he remained for several years and then
went to Albert Lea, Minn. This citv was surveyed and
laid out by Mr. Colby in IS.M;; it is now the third city
in size and importance in tin- State. ( )f the five chil-
dren which reached maturity Lharles C. was the
eldest. He was ednratid in the public schools and
academy of SprniutiiM, 1 'a., early manifesting an in-
terest in matters |iertaiiiiiii; tci music and musical in-
struments. Wli.n ,1 l>.iv lie was a skillfull performer
upon the violin. He f.. I lowed school teaching for sev-
eral years, the last three years in the mathematical
department of the ehicagn public schools. He then
went to Minnesota, where lie engaged in surveying,
which he followed for twelve years. Removing to
Carthage, Mo., he engaged in the sale of pianos and
other musical instruments. He made the trip to
Missouri with two wagons that were built to order, one
of which carried a piano. He was accompanied by
his 8-year-old daughter, Clara E. (now Mrs. W. M.
Thoms), who has since become famous as a piano
artist. On one side the canvas top of the wagon con-
taining the piano could be withdrawn, exposing the
piano, and thus, with Clara at the piano and Mr. Colby
playing the violin, they gave concerts wherever they
stopped at night. After remaining in Carthage for six
years, Mr. Colby took up his residence in X'ienna for
the purpose of giving his daughter an opportunity of
acquiring a classical education in music and the lan-
guages, for which she possessed much natural talent.
He remained abroad five years, during which time he
visited his native country twice, and then returned to
New York city, where he engaged in the manufacture
of pianos. Mr. Colby made several valuable iniiirove-
ments in pianos, the most important of which was his
improved method of stringing. Finding that he could
manufacture cheaper in Erie than in New York, he
removed his business to Erie in 1888. The present
plant covers a space of over three acres of ground and
has a capacity of 100 pianos a week. It is one of the
largest institutions of its kind in the world, and is
without doubt one of the best organized and equipped.
Mr. Colby was the president of the company up to
the time of his death, and his son, C. C. Colby, jr.,
superintendent of the factories; W. J. McCarter, secre-

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 121 of 192)