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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 129 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 129 of 192)
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location. Eleventh and Wayne streets, in 1891. The
plant covers about five acres and has a capacity of 100
head a week. The products of the concern include
all kinds of domestic dressed meats, which are kept in
cold storage and always in good condition for market.
The business, which is exclusively wholesale, is the
largest local concern of its kind in the city. The firm
consists of Morris and Jacob Schaffner, the former re-
siding at 2111 Peach street and the latter at 153 East
Eleventh street. Mr. Schaffner was married Novem-
ber 28, 1886, to Miss Carrie Schuster of Buffalo, by
whom he has three children: Milton, Alfred and Min-
nie. Mr. Schaffner and family are members of the
Jewish Reformed Church. He is a member of the

K. and L. of H. and I. O. S. B. In politics Mr. Schaff-
ner is a staunch Democrat and is an active worker in
the interests of his party.

Gustav A. Ebisch, late of Erie, Pa., who at his
death. May 1, 1890, was superintendent of the stove
foundry of Black & Germer, was born in Hartenstem,
Saxony, Germany, December 21, 1838, and was a son
of Frederick and Johanna (Neuber) Ebisch. His
father started to America in 1853, but died at sea; his
family landed in Erie and located in safety. There were
four children: Ernest, of Warren, Pa.; Johanna (Mrs.
John Schoenfield), of Erie; Louis, who is in the employ
of Black & Germer; Gustav A. and Theresa (Mrs.
Otto Germer), of Erie. Mr. Gustav A. Ebisch received
his education in Germany, but learned his trade in the
moulding department of what is now the Black &
Germer foundry, where for several years previous to

A., daughter of Christian ami ( hristana (Keppel)
Schwingel, of Erie. Mrs. I Ihm h u as horn in Huron,
Ohio, where her mother ilnd \\\\r\\ she was but six
months old. She came to Erie with her father at the
age of 3 years. She still resides in the family residence
at 319 East Ninth street, which they rebuilt and occu-
pied in 1870. There were five children: Charles G.,
William C, Mary F. (Mrs. Charles A. Sexauer, of
Erie), Miss Elizabeth K. and Otto F., who is in the
employ of the Colby Piano Company. Mr. and Mrs.
Ebisch were members of St. Paul Evangelical Church;
he was a member of the Masonic fraternity, the Knights
of Honor, and was one of the founders of the Erie
Liedertafel Society. In politics he was a Republican,
and for a term of three years served as a member of
the school board. Mr. Ebisch was a good citizen and
he died lamented by a host of friends. He left his
family well provided for.

Charles G. Ebisch, superintendent of the foundry
department of the Black & Germer stove manufactory,
Erie, Pa., was born in Erie March 21, 1860, and is a
son of the late Gustav Ebisch. He received his edu-
cation in the public schools of Erie, and at the age of
12 years began his trade with his father. With the ex-
ception of two years spent in Cincinnati, Ohio, he has
been for twenty-three years in the employ of the pres-
ent concern. Upon the death of his father, in 1890, he
succeeded to the superintendency, the duties of which
he has faithfully discharged. Not only has he filled
every requirement of his employers, but his treatment
of those under his charge has been such as to merit
their universal respect. Mr. Ebisch was married No-
vember 9, 1888, to Miss .Stella E. Temple, of Coopers-
town, N. Y.; they reside at 457 East Sixth street. In
politics Mr. Ebisch is a Republican.

Fratik Rodolphus Simmons, one of Erie's
most prominent and successful men, was born in East
Springfield. Erie county. Pa., March 3, 1845, and is a
son of Elliott and Mary (Hart) Simmons. The elder
Mr. Simmons, born May 20, 1820, in Jamestown,
N. Y., is still living in East Springfield, and his wife,
born August 3, 1825, in Weston, Windsor county, Vt.,
died May 27, 1851. The family consisted of two sons,
of whom Frank Rodolphus was the elder; the other,
Herman Simmons, born January 24, 1848, died Janu-



ary 15, 1862. The earliest definite knowledge now
obtainable of the Simmons family in this country is
that of Jonas Simmons, born in Berlin, Rensselaer
county, N. Y., March 11, 1758, a descendant of the
earliest settlers of that town and county, and of Dutch
ancestry. He and his ancestors took an active part
in the French and Indian war and in the Revolutionary
war. Though not a regularily enlisted soldier, he ex-
perienced many of the hardships of border warfare,
which is always more cruel and harassing than mili-
tary service. The family removed to Chautauqua
county. New York, about 1809 or 1810. Mr. Sim-
mons' maternal ancestors were English, by name of
Hart, and Scotch, by name of Lawrence. His great-
grandfather, Lawrence, entered the Revolutionary war
at the age of 16, and served until its close; he was one
of the latest survivors of that great struggle for liberty
and independence, dying at his home in Vermont at
the advanced age of 96 years. His grandfather, Law-
rence, had three sons in the war of 1812. In 1825 Mr.
Peter Simmons, a son of Jonas Simmons, and the
grandfather of Mr. F. R. Simmons, settled on a farm
in Springfield township, Erie county. The family con-
sisted of four sons, of whom the only survivor, Elliott,
prosecuted the tanning business until 1873, when he
retired from active life. There are now no known
relatives living in this vicinity by the name of Sim-
mons, except Elliott and Frank Rodolphus Simmons;
a cousin of the latter lives in Dakota. Mr. Simmons'
early education was obtained in the public schools of
Springfield, and in 1870 he completed the classical
course of Oberlin College, Ohio. He then accepted
the principalship of the graded schools of Utica, Ohio,
which he held for three years and was highly success-
ful as an educator. In 1873 he, in company with
Joseph Osborne, a practical tanner, established a tan-
nery in Girard, which they operated until the death of
Mr. Osborne in 1875, Mr. Simmons doing the buying
and selling at 1926 Peach street, Erie. He then re-
moved to 136 East Ninth street, where he has since
continued dealing in hides, wool, pelts, tallow, leather
and findings. In 1889 he built a cold storage plant at
132 East Ninth street, where he has since done an ex-
tensive business in wholesaling butter, cheese and
eggs. The plant is one of the largest in the city, and
is thoroughly equipped with modern conveniences.
During the summer season sufficient quantities of but-
ter and cheese are obtained from- the creameries of
Western Pennsylvania, but in the winter chiefly Elgin
butter, from Illinois, is handled, thus giving his patrons
the best that the market affords. Mr. Simmons was
married September 11, 1872, to Miss Susanna, daughter
of William and Sarah (Reed) Alsdorf. Mrs. Sim-
mons' paternal ancestors were among the earliest
Dutch settlers near Schenectady, N. Y., her great-
grandfather having been a Revolutionary soldier.
Her mother was descended from Scotch-Irish ances-
try, all of whom were Covenanters in faith, as was she
also. Mr. and Mrs. Simmons have one daughter, Miss
Edith May Simmons, who was educated in the Erie
high school and Rye Seminary, New York. They re-
side at 122 West Twentieth street, and are members
of the Central Presbyterian Church, of which they are
generous supporters. Mr. Simmons is a Republican
in his political views, and has served as a member of
the select and common councils of the city. He is one
of Erie's most public-spirited citizens, and is ever
ready to assist by his means and influence any enter-

prise that will strengthen her institutions or improve
her commercial enviornments.

Patrick P. O'Briea, painter and contractor,
Erie, Pa., was born in Waterford county, Ireland, De-
cember 5, 1860, and is a son of James and Joanna
(Dwyer) O'Brien. His father, who is a railroad con-
tractor, came to America in 1864, located for a time in
Lake Superior, and is now a resident of Madera, Cal.
The family consisted of ten children, eight of whom
are living: Patrick P., Ellen (Mrs. Simeon White),
John (telegrapher), Joseph (printer), Annie, Maggie,
Mary and Thomas F., all of whom are in California
except Patrick P. He was educated in Notre Dame
University, Indiana, and studied law with Henry
Nunn, Esq., of St. Paul, Minn. He was admitted to
the bar in 1883, but did not engage in the practice of
the law. He soon after went to Omaha and took a
position as painter in the coach department of the
Union Pacific railroad shops, where he remained until
the spring of 1887, when he removed to Erie. Since
coming here he has conducted a very successful
painting business, employing from ten to twenty-five
men. He does all kinds of house painting and inte-
rior finishing and decorating. His fresco work in the
Villa Maria is undoubtedly equal to the finest in the
city; he also finished the woodwork of St. Peter's
Cathedral. He built his own comfortable home at 806
West Eleventh street in 1892. Mr. O'Brien is an oc-
casional contributor to current literature, and from
1890 to 1891 was manager and editor of the Truth, a
Sunday labor paper then published in Erie. Mr.
O'Brien was married July 19, 1885, to Miss Mary,
daughter of Thomas and Mary (Callaher) O'Connor,
of Erie. Mrs. O'Brien and her parents were natives
of Cork county, Ireland. After coming to America
they resided for several years in Canada, where Mr.
O'Connor was engased in furnishing wood and other
supplies to railroads by contract. They then removed
to Erie, where he accepted a position with the Erie
Forge Company, with whom he remained until his
death, which occurred in 1893, at the age of 79 years,
having survived his wife fourteen years, she dying at
the age of 60 years. Besides Mrs. O'Brien there was
one son, Cornelius, who died in Erie in 1890, at the
age of 49 years, leaving a widow and five children,
Maria Patricia and Joseph C. Maria, though scarcely
7 years old, has already acquired considerable fame
as a pianist and singer. She is under the instructions
of Sister Emaculate, of Villa Maria, and is now in her
third year of music. Her parents have allowed her to
appear in public a few times within the past year,
when she has surprised the audience with her ability,
and received complimentary notices from the press.
If the indications of such early childhood can be re-
lied upon she certainly bids fair to one day occupy a
high place in the musical world. Her natural aptitude
for music may be accounted for by the fact that her
mother, who sings in the choir of St. Peter's Cathedral,
has quite a thorough knowledge of music, and the
O'Connor family are quite musical. Master Joseph
also has a taste for music, and sings to his sister's ac-
companiment. Mr. O'Brien and family are devoted
members of St. Peter's Cathedral, where he has charge
of the renting of the pews and the collection of rents
therefor. He is a member of the C. B. L. and the
Lincoln Club. In politics he is staunch Republican,
and in 1893-5 represented his ward in the




council. During his term of office he faithfully dis-
charged the several duties pertaining thereto and se-
cured many needed and valuable "public improve-
ments for his constituents.

George L. Kent, grocer, Erie, Pa., was born in
Waterford township, Erie county, October 3, 1860, and
is a son of Henry and Mary J. (Kelley) Kent, natives
of New York State, and of English and Irish ancestry.
His great grandparents, Nathaniel and (Nancy) Jones
Kent, lived in Kent, England, and came to America
in 1777; the former was a sea captain, and his grand-
father, Nathaniel Kent, was born on the sea, during
the voyage to America. His grandmother was Mary
Tvler. Henrv Kent, who is a miller by trade (and is
still living), located in Waterford township in 1864.
The family consisted nf ten children, seven of whom
areliviiit;: 1. cd, 1111.1 1 Mrs. (). L. Knapp, of Greene
townslii|i, 1 III- iiiiiiu\i, Oscar H. (carpenter, Erie),
George I,., 1.11,1 iM]>.. William H. Compton, of Erie),
Elmer G. (carpenter, Erie), Rolla M. (telegrapher),
and Cassius, a hreman on the P., S. & L. E. R. R. Mr.
Kent was educated in the public schools, and for some
time followed farming. He spent two years in the oil
regions, after which" he returned to Harbor Creek
township and re-engaged in farming. He then came
to Erie, purchased a home at the corner of Reed and
Twenty-fifth streets, and continued farming until 1893,
when he engaged in the present business. "He carries
a full line nf groceries and is building up a good trade.
In politics Mr. Kent is a Re])ublican.

Nathaniel J. Whitehead was born in Trenton,
N. J.. Novemlx-r ;!0, lSr,.\ son of William Whitehead,
born in l-^nglaml in 1810 and .Vnn \'alentine White-
head, who was born in Xru- Irrsev. lohn and Anna
Whitehead, parents of Willi. 1111 W' 'ictth-.l m
Pennsylvania at Hatlic.iM in Isl7. N.itli.ini.j |. W hiti-
head received his edut.iiinn .it ilir 1 intrd Stiites Mil-
itary Academv, West rniiU, N. \'.. ur.Klii.itiiit: in June,
1879. Hishi-st niiiiloMiiriii «.is in til.' offices
of the PhihnK-l|ilii.i \ fnir K. R. .liirin.;- the years
1873 and 1.ST4 .m.l till Iniic, Is-;.", .u wlmh tune he en-
tered tin- Milit,ir\ .\c ,nU iii\. .\fter graduation in 1879
he ser\..l .1^ ..f Co. D, 4th U. S. infantry,
and was st.itn'iMil .it I- nrt Laramie, Wyoining, until
1883. He ,s, ptember 4. 1879, to Nannie
S.Campbell, d.iii-'nt' 1 of Charles Campbell, of Vir-
ginia. They ha\ . tun 1 lulilicn, Charles Campbell and
Katharine S., Imih att.n.ling the Erie high school.
Since 1883 Mr. Whitehead has been prominently iden-
tified with the manufacturing interests of Erie, being
treasurer of the Keystone Rubber Works, engaged in
manufacturing rubber goods for mechanical purposes.

John Elliott, one of Erie's best citizens, was born
in Barnard Castle, Durham county, England, June 8,
1828, and is a son of Archibald and Hannah (Beckton)
Elliott. Of his father's children, two are living, the
other being a sister living in England. He received
his education in his native country, and learned the
cabinet-making trade. In 1849 he came to the United
States and located in Rahway.N. J., where he remained
about six months, after which he visited his uncle, the
Rev. John Elliott, who was a Protestant Methodist
minister. He next spent a year in Wheeling, W. Va.,
after which he went to Ohio, and finally located in
Cleveland. There he entered the employ of the

C. C. C. R. R. Company, He was later placed in
charge of the car shops of the Cleveland, Paines-
ville and Ashtabula R. R. at Erie. In 1870 he
accepted a position as superintendent of the Erie
Car Works, the duties of which he faithfully dis-
charged until the discontinuance of the works in Feb-
ruary, 1893. During this long term of service he al-
ways commanded the respect of his men and the con-
fidence of his employers. Although Mr. Elliott chose
this as his adopted country, he refused to become a
citizen until he was satisfied that slavery was to be
abolished. Then, although he knew that it would make
him eligible for military duty, he declared his intention
and became a citi/in. Hi- cnlistril in Erie in Co. M,
18th Pa. Cav.. .ind >, ) \ I (1 until In \\ .is sent home from
the hospital, llr «.i- in C.niish Ikii nicks when Pres-
ident Lincoln shot. .Mr. Elliott was married Sep-
tember 14, IS.M, to Miss Permelia B. Townsend, of
Cleveland. Tlu- issue of this was five chil-
dren: Minnii- (who died at the age of 7 years), Annie
(who married John Miller, of Providence, R. I.), Mary
(who married Walter R. Barnes, contractor, Erie),
Archibald (who died at the age of 7 years) and Effie,
an accomplished young lady and quite an artist, who
died at the age of 27 years. Mr. Elliott and family
attend the Simpson Methodist Church, of which he is
the oldest male member. He is independent in his
political views, and has served his city as a member of
the school board.

William C. Shaw, junior member of the Shaw
Bros. I.aimdrv Company, I-".rie, Pa., was born in New
Bedford. M.iss., juno :;o, is.").",, and is a son of Fred-
erick I', .inil M,ii\ (M.iMiilili Shaw, natives of New
Bedford. His - 1 1 .it— r.indi.ither emigrated from Eng-
land and was ■inioiig tlie early settlers of New Eng-
land. Frederick P. Shaw, when a young man, learned
the cooper trade, but was later engaged in the wholesale
grocery business for thirty-five years in one store in
New Bedford. He was a member of the Massachu-
setts Legislature, and also held various municipal
offices in his native city. He died in 1872 at the age
of 72 years. Mrs. Shaw is still living at the advanced
age of 84 years. The family consisted of six children,
five of whom are living, viz.: Capt. Charles F. Shaw,
treasurer of the New Bedford Street Railway Co.n-
pany, and senior member of the Shaw Bros. Laundry
Company; he is also secretary of the New Bedford
board of trade; he has served his State as a member'
of the Legislature, and at that time acquired consid-
erable fame by paying his fare on railroads while car-
rying passes in his pocket. Marion, who married Maj.
Edwin Dews, of New Bedford; Miss Anna V.; Flor-
ence C, who married Arthur R. Brown, attorney-at-
law and judge in Red Cliff, Colo., and William C,
who was educated in the public schools and Friends'
Academy of New Bedford, and then spent two years
in a coffee and spice store; he next spent four years in
the confectionery business in New Bedford, and also
in Providence, R. I., after which he accepted a posi-
tion with the Troy Steam Laundry, of Providence,
where he remained five years. In' 188.5 he came to
Erie and, in partnership with Mr. J. E. Jeffers, estab-
lished a laundry where the present one is located, at
the northwest corner of Peach and Fourteenth streets.
His partner was merely a silent partner, and sold his
interest to Charles F. Shaw in 1881. All the most
modern and improved machinery has been put into


the plant until it is one of the largest and most com-
pletely equipped in the State. Under the able man-
agement of Mr. W. C. Shaw the business of the coii-
cern has grown in magnitude and popularity until it is
the most extensive in northwestern Pennsylvania. In
1892 Mr. Shaw had conferred upon him the distin-
g;uished honor of being elected president of the Na-
tional Laundry Association. He is a Knight Templar
Mason, and is at present treasurer of Zem Zem Tem-
ple of the Mystic Shrine; he is also treasurer of the
Merchants' Club, and it was largely due to his efforts
that the charity fair was held under the auspices of the
Elks in the winter of 1893-4, and was made such a
brilliant success that §5,678.98 was turned over to the
bureau of charities. It will thus be seen that Mr.
Shaw takes an active interest in all worthy enterprises
of a public or social nature. He was a member of the
Erie Orpheus Society, of which he was elected presi-
dent in 1888. He was married January 29, 1889, to
Miss Edith P. Green, of Providence, R. I. Mr. and
Mrs. Shaw attend the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Henry William Zeiser, blacksmith, of the firm of
Zeiser Brothers, Erie, Pa., was born in Lancaster,
N. Y., August 25, 1865, received his education in Fair-
view township, Erie county, and learned his trade with
Herman Frank, of Sterrettania. After serving an ap-
prenticeship of two years he returnod to Fairview and
worked at his trade for a year. He then came to Erie,
where he remained two years, and after a few months
employment in Buffalo, entered into his present part-
nership. His comfortable residence at 826 Walnut
street, was built in 1891. Mr. Zeiser was married Sep-
tember 16, 1891, to Miss Anna M. Nellis, daughter of
Mr. John Nellis, of Mill Creek township. To this
union were born two children, Winnefred and Martha.
Mr. Zeiser and family are members of St. Mary's
Catholic Church. In politics Mr. Zeiser sustains the
man and principles at issue rather than party.

Jacob Zeiser, senior member of the firm of Zeiser
Brothers, blacksmiths and horseshoers, at 714 Chestnut
street, Erie, Pa., was born in Lancaster, N. Y., in July,
1861, and is a son of John and Barbara (Jerke) Zeiser,
natives of Germany. His father, who was a plasterer
by trade, removed with his family from New York
State to Fairview township, Erie county, in 1877, and
there followed his trade until his death, in 1889. Mrs.
Zeiser died in 1882. The family consisted of eleven
children, six of whom are living: Jacob, Henry W.,
John (clerk in George D. Williams' grocery), Miss
Mary, Charles (who is in the employ of his brother),
and Miss Florence. Mr. Zeiser was educated in the
public schools of Fairview, and at the age of 17 years
engaged with Julius Bush of that place to learn the
blacksmith trade. After two years he came to Erie
and worked for different parties untd 1884, when he
engaged in business for himself. The firm is now
Jacob and Henry W. Zeiser, and they are doing a
thriving business. Mr. Zeiser was married October
10, 1882, to Miss Catherine Kennedy, daughter of
Mr. Cornelius Kennedy, of Erie. This happy union
has been blessed with one child, Charles J. Mr. and
Mrs. Zeiser are members of the Catholic Church.
Mr. Zeiser is not bound in his political views by
party ties, but votes for the best principles and best

Charles Huster, wholesale liquor dealer, 1213
Parade street, Erie, Pa., was born in Ablig, Hesse-
Darmstadt, Germany, March 29, 1856, and is a son of
Jacob and Catherine (Metz) Huster. The family came
to America in June, 1872, and located in Erie. Mr.
Huster was educated in Germany, and after coming
to Erie learned the trade of shoe finisher, at which he
was employed four years. He then went into the gro-
cery business on Peach street, between Twenty-second
and Twenty-third, which he continued two years. He
then became proprietor of the Farmers' Home Hotel
in South Erie, where he remained four years, after
which he went to Oil City and became interested in
the Continental Refinery, of which he was secretary
two years and president two years. In 1890 he re-
turned to Erie and engaged in his present business at
916 Parade street, and in 1891 purchased and removed
to his present place. Mr. Huster was married May
13, 1879, to Miss Anna W., daughter of Mr. Peter
Eichenlaub, of Erie. The issue of this marriage is
three children: Katherine Maria, Margareta Maria and
Karl August. Mr. Huster and family are members of
St. Mary's Catholic Church. He is a member of the
C. M. B. A., the Uniformed Knights of St. John, the
Benedictus Society and the East Erie Turners, being
trustee of the latter society. In politics Mr. Huster is
a staunch Democrat, and served his city in 1892-3 as a
member of the common council.

John Miller, manufacturer of metal cornicing
and roofing, and dealer in hardware, tinware, lamps,
etc., at 617 West Eighteenth street, Erie, Pa., was
born in Wurtemberg, Germany, April 10, 1850, and
is a son of Egid and Johanna (Schwartz) Miller. The
family came to the United States in 1852 and located
in Erie, where his father died in 1878 and his mother
in 1879. The family consisted of two children, Agnes
(Mrs. August Scheiwer, of Erie) and John. Mr. Mil-
ler was educated in the public schools of Erie, and
when 17 years of age engaged with Mr. George Car-
roll to learn the tinner's trade. After working two
years his health failed, but after a year's recuperation
he again took up his trade in th'e employ of the South
Erie Iron Works, where he remained four years. He
afterwards worked eight years for N. Murphy and five
years for C. Flickinger, and, in 1887, engaged in busi-
ness for himself. He has a large, well regulated and
well equipped shop and is doing a thriving business.
Mr. Miller resides at 615 West Eighteenth street.
August 10, 1875, he was married to Miss Louisa,
daughter of Mr. Peter Schreifer, of Erie. The issue
of this marriage is five children, Mary, Annie, Joseph,
Agnes and John. He and his family are members of
St. Michael's Catholic Church, and in politics he is a

Peter Wehaii was born July 5, 1862, in Greene
township, Erie county, a son of John Wehan, a
farmer now living in Greene township. He is
of German parentage, and has lived many years
in Erie county. Peter Wehan was married Sep-
tember 26, 1888, to Rosa Kredler, daughter of
John and Katherine Kredler, who were Germans.
Three children were the result of this union: Albert,
Wilhelm and Katherine. The family are Catholics,
Mr. Wehan being a member of the C. M. B. A. Peter

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 129 of 192)