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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 145 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 145 of 192)
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extensive one, as well as profitable to Mr. Leary.
After attaining to a position of affluence, he panic of
1873 left him almost penniless, but pluck and ambi-
tion have again placed him in an independent position
financially." Mr. Leary is one of Erie's substantial but
unassuming citizens, and is one of the men who has
helped to make Erie the prosperous city it is, he hav-
ing been one of the active spirits in securing legisla-
tion and funds for the construction of the Erie and
Sunbury road. On the 14th of July, 1848, he was
united in marriage to Mary, daughter of James and
Mary Dunbar, of Erie. Nine children have blessed
this union, three of whom are living: Mary, wife of
William Hickey, of Erie; they are the parents of three
children, Genevieve, Marie and Naomi. Mr. and Mrs.
Hickey live with her father, as does also the youngest
child, Catherine. Frank, the only living son, is mar-
ried to Jacobina, daughter of Jacob Weschler, of Erie.
They live in Erie and are the parents of four children:
William, Marie, Katrina and Josephine. The family
are all ardent Catholics and attend St. Peter's, of
which they are members. Mr. Leary takes but little
interest in politics, and is a Democrat.

Jeremiah H. Canty, a prominent railroad con-
tractor of Erie, was born in Harbor Creek township,
this county, July 3, 1840, and is a son of Jeremiah and
Mary (Forest) Canty, natives of Cork county, Ireland.
His father came to America in the early twenties, the
voyage occupying four months. He landed in Que-
bec and made the trip thence to Erie by wagon. He
located on a farm in Harbor Creek township, which
he occupied until his death, January 26, 1882, at the
advanced age of 86 years; his wife had died February
22, 1872, at the age of 72 years. Of his children four
reached majority, Johanna (deceased), who married

William Connell; he died in the navy soon after the
close of the war of the Rebellmn; liiri..tli\-, who died
at the age of 22 years; Mary (d. ,,,,-;, ,1 1, wlm married
John Melaven, of Erie, and Jen-mi, ih 11., »hi> was edu-
cated in the public schools of his nati\ c t.iwn and St.
Francis College, Columbia county, Pennsylvania.
Just before the close of his second year in college, his
father's health had so failed that he was obliged to re-
turn home. After a year at home he engaged in the
grocery business on Fifth street, between State and
French streets, where he continued three years. He
then removed to Harbor Creek, where he followed
farming for five years. In 1S70 he Iji'-.m imIIi, inn-
tracting, which he h,i- -m, ,• f, ,;i, ,^^ ,.,i, r, , , iniii, r.itc
all the contracts win, !i hr I,,,- i.ik.h ,,n.| . ■■..i m.-d
during this quarter of a rini iii\- n! sin , cn^iuI lii^uMss,
would be impossible. It will sulfirc tn iiuntinn a few
of the more important ones. His first cnntract was
that of grading thirty-six miles of the C.inada Southern
R. R., of which he 'broke the first ground. He also
built all the side tracks of that road from St. Thomas
to Detroit, and the yard at the latter place. This oc-
cupied four years, after which he filled contracts for
the Toledo, Peoria and Warsaw R. R., which occupied
two years. He then built twenty miles of grading for
the Stratford and Huron R. R. in Canada. In 1880 he
removed to Milwaukee, Wis., where for nine years he
was engaged in contracting for the Wisconsin Central.
In 1888 he went to Tennessee, where he built five miles
of road for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis
R. R., after which he did a year's contracting for the
Nashville and Knoxville at Lebanon. He then re-
moved to Nashville, where he admitted to partnership
Mr. Frank R. Davis, and they took a contract of build-
ing a twelve-mile dummy line, upon which there was
heavy cutting and tunneling; they also had contracts
in other places at that time, and later built the West
Point branch of the Louisville and Nashville. He was
in partnership with Mr. Davis for about two years.
Mr. Canty 's next contract was that of building a rail-
road for the Southern Iron Company from their mines
to the .^tna furnace, a distance of eighteen miles.
In 1892-3 he laid fortv miles of track for the Louis-
ville and Nashville, between Dixon and Clarksville.
He next built ten miles of narrow-gauge road with
bridge and all complete, which was owned by a lumber
company in Missouri. In the fall of 1894 he did quite
an extensive job of street filling for the railroad com-
panies of East St. Louis, and is now doing some work
for the Louisville and Nashville R. R. Mr. Canty was
married September 17, 1862, to Miss Mary, daughter
of Michael and Anna (Giles) Hendrichs, who were
born near Dublin, Ireland, and came to the United
States in 1850. They first located in Jersey City, and
in 1866 came to Erie. Mrs. Hendrichs died in 1874,
and Mr. Hendrichs at the advanced age of 84 years.
Mr. and Mrs. Canty are the parents of five children:
Frank J., received his early education in the Mil-
waukee high school and was graduated from Lawrence
University" After completing his education he se-
cured a position in the freight claim department of the
Chicago and Milwaukee R. R.; later was agent of
freight of that road at Chicago and has been for thn-e
years adjuster for the American branch of the London
Guarantee and Accident Company in Chicago. He is
also pursuing the study of law in the Chicago L'niver-
sity. Mary Josephine, now Sister St. Rogue, com-
pleted her education in Toronto, and became a nun (;f



the order of Loretta. She was one of the founders of
Loretta Academy, Englewood, Chicago, and is the only
American in that institution. Anna spent two years
at school in Joliet, 111., and one year in Toronto, gradu-
aing from the latter. Harriett'May died August 29,
1837, at the age of 16 years. Frances U. graduated
from the Erie high school, and after one year passed
at Loretta Academy, Niagar? Falls, was graduated
from that institution. The children all have diplomas
and have a taste for music and art which were culti-
vated in their education. Mr. Canty and family are
members of St. Peter's Cathedral. In politics he is a
Democrat, but he has never been a seeker for public

WJIliam Patterson Atkinson, general manager
of the Herald Printing and Publishing Company, Erie,
Pa., was born in the county of Durham, England, June
10, 1842, son of James and Ann (Patterson) Atkinson,
natives of England. James Atkinson was a miner,
and came to this country in 1844. William P. Atkin-
son received his education in Schuylkill county, this
State, and learned the trade of printing on the Potts-
ville Miners' Journal. In 1860 he started the St. Clair
Sentinel, which he published until March, 1862, when
he closed the office and enlisted in Co. G, 48th P. V.
I., serving two years and five months; was actively en-
gaged in five battles, viz.: Second Bull Run, Fred-
ericksburg, Chantilly, South Mountain and Antietam;
while on detached service he published a paper called
The Kentueky Loyalist for nine months in Lexington,
Ky., which attracted considerable attention on account
of its pronounced Union sentiments in one of the bor-
der States. On retiring from the service, he went to
Philadelphia, resuming his trade, and, in 1867. came
to Erie city, and had charge of the Dispatch job office
until 1869, when he purchasrd tlu- Dxihi Hipiihlican,
which he sold to J. E. Ashhy \ Cc, in M.iy, LS70, re-
maining in charge of that jjlant until November, 1880,
when he purchased the " Economy Printing House,"
which was merged into the Herald office in October,
1882. He was in charge of the printing department of
this office until July, 1895, when it was reorganized into
a stock company, under the laws of the State of New
Jersey, and Mr. Atkinson was appointed its general
manager. He served as member of the select coun-
cil during the years 1874-5-6. Since 1872 he has pub-
lished annually the Erie city directory. Mr. Atkinson
was united in marriage, July 17, 1867, with Caroline,
daughter of Joseph Jackson, from which union seven
children were born, five of whom are now living: Anne
C, Harry J., Tillie E., Sarah J., and Josephine C. In
April, 1892, his wife died, and he was again married,
on June 5, 1894, to Annie Cowan, a daughter of his for-
mer wife's si.ster. The family are Episcopalians, and
Mr. Atkinson is a member of the Masonic order, the
Grand Army of the Republic, and several assessment

Stephen W. BoUes. present publisher and editor
of the Erie Dispatch, the Dispatch- Oazette and Evening
News, is the son of Nelson R. and Malvina Whitford
Bolles. He was born at Springboro, Crawford county.
Pa. On his father's side he is descended from English
and Welsh stock, and his ancestry early settled in Massa-
chusetts and Connecticut and now form a large family.
His great-grandfather served in the Revolutionary war.
John Bolles, father of Nelson R. Bolles, went west in 1820,

settling in Genesee Falls, afterwards in Cattaraugus
county. New York, where he died. Stephen Whit-
ford, his mother's father, was an early settler of Beaver
township, Crawford county, coming with his father,
Oliver Whitford, from Ticonderoga, New York, in
1838. Oliver Whitford's father, Con.stantine Whitford,
came from Scotland, settling in Rhode Island, and
served seven years on a man-of-war, under Admiral
Hopkins, in the American Revolution, dying at the age
of 104, at Ticonderoga, N. Y., where he had moved in
1800. Oliver Whitford was born in Rhode Island, in
1790, and died at the age of 80, in Beaver township,
Crawford county. Pa. The parents of Mr. Bolles
moved to Wisconsin, in 1868, residing for the most
part in Waushara county, where, by private instruc-
tion and the common schools, their eldest son received
his education. He went with his family to Minnesota,
and afterwards returned with them to Springboro,
where his parents still reside. He taught school in
Crawford and Erie counties, and did newspaper work
in several western cities, afterward graduating from
the State normal school at Edinboro. Going west in
August, 1888, as principal of Defiance College, he re-
signed to become editor of the Republican Express,
and though not yet a citizen of Ohio, was made secre-
tary of the county committee. In June, 1889, he re-
signed to go as State editor of the Toledo Daily Blade,
Nasby's paper, and passed through the grades of city
editor, staff correspondent, associate editor and man-
aging editor, which position he held until he resigned,
October 8, 1894, to come to his native State. He served
for five years as a member of the Republican com-
mittees of Toledo and Lucas counties, was four times
a delegate in State conventions, a delegate to three
conventions of the Republican National lleague, chair-
man of the county convention, and one of the list of
speakers in the campaign of 1891 to 1894. December
1, 1894, Mr. Bolles bought of the Dispatch Publishing
Company, Limited, the newspaper properties they had
owned, and has since published them. He was mar-
ried, in 1893, to Helen Perigo, daughter of Lieut. Will-
iam H. Perigo, of Toledo, O., and has one child, a son.
William Perigo Bolles, born in 1893.

William James Robinson was born at LeBceuf,
Erie county. Pa., March 7, 1854, of Scotch-Irish an-
cestry. His father, William Robinson, and his mother,
Ann Eliza Ford, were natives of Erie county. His
grandfather, John Robinson, was born in County Cork,
Ireland, emigrating to this country about the year
1800, and settled in Eastern Pennsylvania. In 1805
he removed to Erie county, and bought a large tract
of land in LeBceuf township. Subsequently he built
a distillery, and continued in that business for many
years. His great-grandfather, on the maternal side,
was Capt. Robert King, a soldier and officer in the
Revolutionary war, and a personal friend of Gen. La-
fayette. Capt. King had also rendered the State valu-
able service in securing treaties from the Indians, as
a reward for which the Legislature of Pennsylvania
voted him 400 acres of land west of the Allegheny
river. Capt. King, it is said, was the first actual set-
tler in Erie county, having removed there from Ly-
coming county, in 1794. Mr. Robinson was educated
in the public and select schools of Mill Village, Pa.,
and subsequently completed a commercial course.
His boyhood was spent on the farm. In 1877 he engaged
in general merchandising in Mill Village, near the

(T'-U/^ /t^C^:2^Z^5



place of his birth, and continued in active business
for ten years. He bought in 1890, an interest in the
Erie Daily and Weekly Dispatch, and in April of the
following year became general manager of the Dis-
patch Publishing Company, limited. Under his man-
agement the company bought the old Erie Gazette,
and established in 1892, the Erie Emuing Neirs. On
September 1, 1894, Mr. Robinson sold his newspaper
interests, and organized the Dispatch Printing and En-
graving Company, tiecoming the president and man-
ager of tliat ccmipany. He is also a member of the
firm of Robinscm & Sawdey, real estate and insurance
agents. Mr. Robinson early in life took an active
part in politics, casting his first vote for Gen. Hart-
ranft, for governor of Pennsylvania, in 1875. He was
the following year elected a member of the Erie
County Republican Executive Committee, and has
since been continuously identified with the organiza-
tion, serving as secretary for three years, and chair-
man one term. In 1886 he was elected treasurer of
Erie county, serving three years. He was a delegate
to the Republican State convention of 1879, 1887 and
1889. He belongs to the stalwart element of the Re-
publican party, inheriting much of his zeal for the
party from his father, who was a Whig, and an un-
compromising Republican.

Hon. David T. Jones, manager of the Erie
branch of the Atlantic Refining Company and the
Eclipse Lubricating Oil Works, was born of Welsh
parentage, in Marion county, Ohio, February 25, 1828,
and is a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Thomas) Jones.
His father followed agricultural pursuits, the chief
products of which at that time and in that section of
the State were pork and new corn whisky, which were
shipped and marketed down the Ohio river. When
Mr. Jones was but a few months old his parents moved
to Delaware, O., where they passed the remainder of
their lives. Mr. Jones was educated in the public
schools of Delaware and Ohio Wesleyan University,
attending the latter in 1845-6-7, when Bishop Thomp-
son was president and Bishop Harris tutor. After
completing his education he rented a small tannery,
which he operated for ten years, when he sold the
business, on account of the supply of bark in that lo-
cality being nearly exhausted. In 1860 he came to
Erie and built the second oil refinery in the city, and
one of the first in Pennsylvania, on the northwest cor-
ner of Sixteenth and French streets, where he has
since continued. For the operation of his first plant
he used the first cntjine manufactured in Erie, which
was one and iini-li.ilf manpower. As there were no
railroads at that time leading to the oil fields, oil was
transported by horses. In 1876 Mr. Jones sold his
business to the company which he has since repre-
sented in Erie. All the illuminating oil is now refined
in the oil regions, but the lubricating oil is manufac-
tured at Tenth and Wayne streets, where the plant
covers an entire scjuare. Mr. Jones was married Octo-
ber 17, 1847, to Miss Mary Millice, a native of Lexing-
ton, Va., but at that time a resident of Ohio. Mr. and
Mrs. Jones have one child, Cassius E., who married
Miss Myrtle Craig, of Clarion county, Pennsylvania,
and resides in Erie. He is in the employ of the
Eclipse Lubricating Oil Company, in Franklin, Pa.
Mr. Jones has been a vestryman of St. John's Protest-
ant Episcopal Church for twenty-eight years, and is a
Knight Templar Mason. Before Mr. Jones was 17

years of age he was a director of the party who oper-
ated the underground railroad, now well-known in his-
tory. He enlisted during the war, but soon after se-
cured a substitute. In politics Mr. Jones is a staunch
Republican, and has rendered much valuable service to
the party of his choice. He was a member of the select
council for several years, and in 1877 was the success-
ful candidate of his party for the office of mayor of
Erie, to which position he was re-elected a year later,
for a term of two years, without opposition.

Simon FeterWest, pastor in 1894-5 of the A. M.
E. Church, Erie, Pa., was born in Washington county,
Pennsylvania, June 18, 1858. His parents, James and
Sarah West, were from Loudon county, \'irginia; the
former died May 10, 1870; the latter survives and
resides at Uniontown, Fayette county. Pa. Rev. S. P.
West was educated at the high school. West Alexan-
der, Washington county, and the California State
Normal School; graduating from the latter in'stitntion
with the degree B. A., in 1886. In 18S7 h.- ^v,ls t.;„ l„r
of music and drawing in the -public scIi.hiUmI Wash-
ington county, and then for one year took rliaiLjc ol a
school in Luzerne town.ship, Fayette county, Pa. He
was for three years principal of the colored schools of
Uniontown, Pa., and during this period held the posi-
tion of census enumerator. In 1890 he received the

degree of M. E. D. from the California State Normal
School. In 1891 he began the study of theology in
Brownsville; joined the A. M. E. conference at Oil
City, Pa., in October, 1892, when he was appointed to
the pastoral charge at Erie. He was reappointed to
the same charge, and ordained deacon in 1893, and
was again reappointed by the Wheeling conference in
1894. The Erie A. M. E. Church was founded in 1875
by that veteran organizer. Rev. J. M. Morris, now of
Brownsville, Pa. It has had twelve pastors in the
order named: Reverends Wheeler, P+iilhps, Ross,
Herbert, Griffith, Russell, Palmer, Burrell, Brown,
Till, Pride and West. Its present membership, thirty-
nine,is the largest in its history. It has a flourishing mite
missionary society and aSunday-school,with an average
attendance of more than forty persons. The church
edifice is a wooden structure, presented to the congre-
gation by the Y. M. C. A., and was removed to its
present location on Seventh street, between Holland
and German, in 1881, the lot having been purchased
from Dr. Wallace. Rev. Mr. West was married
December 24, 1890, to Dora, daughter of Sydney and
Eliza Banks, of Brownsville. They have three chil-
dren: James, Anna E. and Jessie M. Rev. Mr. West
is a member of the Erie City Lodge 3509, G. U. O. O.
F., and a past officer in that lodge. He is also a past
officer in Phcenix Lodge, No. Tl, K. P., and also a
member of the uniform rank of that order, and a mem-
ber of the Pythagorean Commandery 68, K. T. Mr.
West was transferred to another charge in the fall
of 1895.

The VosbHrg Family.— In 1818, Robert and Abi-
gail (Tisdale) Vosburgh, the former from Kinderhook,
N. Y., and the latter from Taunton, Mass., after a brief
stay in Ohio, came to Erie and made their home for
life. They had nine children, and became identified
with Erie. Of their children, Robert filled a position,
for about forty years, in the New York Custom House,
and died in Brooklyn, in December, 1889; George W.
has been about forty-two years engaged in the Cleve-



land depot of the L. S. & M. S. R. R. Company;
Richard was drowned; Henry and Israel perished in
the destruction of the steamer " Erie," August 9, 1841;
Charles died in Erie in 1880, and Fitz James at Oak-
land, California; their daughter, Susan, wife of W. H.
Dickson, died in Erie in 1892, leaving Albert sole sur-
vivor of the original family in Erie. He has continued
his father's business in Erie, much of the time on the
same spot. Of this large and well-known family,
Robert resided about fifty years in New York city,
and was engaged for a long time on the Hudson river
and Long Island sound steamers. He was for a while
on the " Great Western " steamship which, with the
" British Queen," formed the first regular steam line
after the practicability of ocean steam navigation had
been demonstrated by the " Great Western " and
" Sirius." His duties for so many years in the New
York Custom House were so acceptably discharged
under successive administrations as to cause his long
retention in office. Mrs. Dickson closed her long life
in 1892, with the respect of a wide circle of friends.
Albert Vosburgh is among the active, zealous Repub-
licans of Erie. For many years he co-operated with
William D. Fortin,of Philadelphia; William Nesbitt,
of Altoona; Robert Stewart, of New Castle, and others
in securing to all equality before the law. No one
regarded with more intense satisfaction the great
changes in the fabric of society. He has traveled
extensively. Few are better posted in current and
local history. He resides in the family mansion, so
long associated with the name. The residence of the
Vosburghs, in Erie, is exceeded in time by but few of
the old families.

The Waters Family.— About the year 1838 this
interesting and unobtrusive family first made their
home in Erie. They came from Michigan. The head
of the family, Hamiltcju E. Waters, was a person
whose originality, versatility and patient toil in all the
avenues of life then open to him, made him a favorite
with some of our leading citizens, who soon discovered
his competency and perfect reliability. His manners
and bearing supported his statement of Southern origin.
His wife was from Ithaca, N. Y. She had been in the
household of Governor Throop (Governor of New
York in 1829-30). Her dialect, conversation and man-
ners revealed the good breeding and polish of the
best society, among whom her early life was evidently
spent. The business mutations and consequent em-
barrassment which prevailed so generally in Erie, at
the period of their coming and early residence, caused
their life to be a struggle through many years, espe-
cially in consequence of the uneasiness and commo-
tion prevailing among all of their race in the Western
States, after the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law,
which made a change of residence essentia! for so
many. But the war and the Proclamation of Emanci-
pation brought life and hope to many. To none was
the new era more welcome than to this family, whose
single purpose seemed (aside from their irreproachalDle
daily living), to seek in the education of their daughters
that place in life for them which circumstances had
before that denied to the parents. For each of their
daughters a liberal education was secured. The
eldest was married to Henry Burleigh, and after his
death to John Elmendorf. Her son, Harry Burleigh,
has already attained celebrity as a vocalist, being still
under constant tuition, drill and improvement. He

gives promise of becoming one of the noted singers of
the day. Her daughter, Eva Burleigh, was for two
years a teacher in the Normal and Industrial School
in Lawrenceville, Va., and is now a teacher in the
Erie public schools, while the other children of the fam-
ily are steadily acquiring those accomplishments, now so
happily attainable in Erie's splendid system of graded
schools. Miss Louisa Waters, the youngest daughter
of Hamilton E. Waters, having filled an important
clerkship under the State Government of Louisiana,
holds a position as clerk in the insurance agency of
Hon. J. F. Downing, where, for fourteen years, she has
discharged her duties with ability. The more than
half century of residence of this family has demon-
strated the power of determined purpose and effort to
improve one's condition. It has also shown how every
obstacle can be overcome. Though the parents have
gone down to honored graves with the respect of their
townsmen, their children and grandchildren are now
in the enjoyment of that improved condition which
their parents so long hoped and struggled to attain.
Many will rejoice with them in the arrival and full
fruition of that better state of life in which their efforts
to rise have so happily culminated.

JacksoM Koehler, proprietor of the Eagle Brew-
ery, Erie, Pa., was born in Erie, on the 8th day of Oc-
tober, 18.51. He is a son of the late Charles and Ro-
sana Koehler, the former a native of Holland, the lat-
ter of Germany, and who came to the United States in
youth early in the '30s, and located in Erie. Charles
Koehler established a brewery on Parade street, re-
moving thence to the corner of Twenty-sixth and Hol-

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 145 of 192)