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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 25 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 25 of 192)
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1880— Population, 74,578. Paupers in the
almshouse, 221. Total expense for the county

1890 — Population, 86,074. Paupers in the
almshouse, 188. Expenses about $33,000.

The following shows the requisitions of
the Directors of the Poor for the years named :

1845 S 5,000

1855 4,500

1860 8,000

1865 11,000

1870 20,000

1880 20,000

1890 33,000

1891 35,000

1892 37,000

1893 40,000

1894 40,000


The expense of the indigent, insane, &c.,
during the year 1894 is given as below in the
annual statenient of the County Commission-
ers •

Conveying- to asylum f 35 84

Requisition of Directors of the Poor 40,000 00

School for feeble-minded children 5 54

Warren asylum 5,457 25

Warnersville asylum 116 71

Burial indigent soldiers 175 00

Headstones for soldiers' graves 45 00

L. W. Olds, for services rendered in the
construction of the Poor House as
per order of court 600 00

$46,430 34



While Hon. Morrow B. Lowry was a
member of the State Senate, he conceived the
idea of a Marine Hospital at Erie, for the
care of sick and unfortunate seamen of the
lake service. Through his efforts, appropria-
tions were made from year to year, until a
building was erected which constitutes in the
main, the central portion of the present Sol-
diers' and Sailors' Home. The structure was
never used for the purpose of the original ap-
propriation, and was neglected for some years
until it became badly out of repair. On June
3, 1885, a bill was introduced in the Legisla-
ture by Hon. I. B. Brown, of Corry, passed
and approved by the Governor, creating a com-
mission to locate a Home " for the disabled sol-
diers and sailors of Pennsylvania." This body,
consisting of Gov. Pattison and ten other
prominent citizens, concluded to make use of
the Marine Hospital for the purpose. An
appropriation was secured, Trustees appoint-
ed, additions made to the original structure,
and, within less than a year from the day of
the first legislation on the subject, the institu-
tion was ready for occupancy. The two
most active men in " working up " the enter-
prise were Maj. John W. Walker and Capt.
John H. Welsh, both of Erie.


The Home was dedicated on the 22d of
February, 1887, at which time it was formally
opened for inmates. Gen. Gobin, of Leba-
non, delivered the dedicatory address, and
speeches were made by Gov. Pattison and
others. Maj. W. W. Tyson was appointed
Commander, and has remained in the position
ever since He is assisted by Capt. N. W.
Lowell as Qiiartermaster, who was chosen
March 1, 1888. Dr. S. F. Chapin has been
Surgeon since October 1, 1889, and David
Reinhold Resident Physician since the fall of

The buildings have been much enlarged
and improved, and the grounds, whicb em-
brace 107 acres, are kept up in a handsome
manner. Altogether, the institution is a great
credit to the State, and makes a most comfort-
able abiding place for the aged and unfortu-
nate soldiers and sailors who become inmates.
None but those who are disabled and without
proper means of support are received.

The institution is in charge of a board of
Trustees, of whom the Governor is, cx-officio,
the President.

On the grounds of the Home is a block-
house in imitation of the one in which Gen.
Anthony Wayne died, which stands on or
very near the place of his burial. It contains
portions of his coffin and various mementos
of the Revolutionary hero. The main men in
locating Gen. Wayne's grave and securing the
erection of the blockhouse were Dr. Edward
W. Germer and Capt. John H. Welsh. [See
Chapter VII., Erie City.]


The Normal School at Edinboro for the
training of teachers in the common schools,
was first recognized as a State institution on
January 26, 1861 . It embraces a number of
buildings, generally well adapted for the pur-
pose, and in the main has had a large degree
of success. The school was managed by Prof.
J. A. Cooper from 18(33 to 1892, and. since
the latter date, by Prof. Martin G. Benedict.
[See Edinboro.]


Erie county has been selected as the site of
two of the vState hatcheries, for the propaga-
tion of fish, to restock the rivers, lakes and
creeks — one at Erie and the other at Corry.

The one at Corry was established in 1873,

by Seth Weeks, as a private enterprise, and
made a State institution in 1876. It is located
in Wayne township, a short distance east of
Corry, and is wholly supplied by springs,
which burst out copiously from the hill near
by. [See Wayne township.]

The Erie hatchery was opened December
12, 1885. It occupies a neat building at the
corner of .Second and Sassafras streets, and
draws its supplj' of water from the city water
works. From 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 small
fry — largely white fish — are hatched out each
season, and placed in the lake or other suitable
places. [See Erie City.]

Both hatcheries are under the supervision
of the State Fish Commission, and in charge
of William Buller, who has brought them up
to a high state of efficiency.


Before the purchase of a government edi-
fice in Erie, the postoffice and Collector's office
were housed in private buildings. In 1844 Con-
gress appropriated $27,000 for a government
structure in Erie. Previous to that — in 1836-7
— the LTnited States Bank of Pennsylvania
had erected a marble building for its branch
in Erie, on the east side of State street, near
Fourth,' with a house for its cashier adjoining.
The bank failed, and the Government bought
the building in 1849. It was soon after oc-
cupied as the custom house, and the postoffice
was moved into it in 1853. On -the establish-
ment of the internal revenue system, the of-
fices for this district were located in the same
building, which caused it to be inconveniently
crowded. The postoffice was removed to the
Noble block in 1867, and afterward to one of
the store rooms in the Reed House.

In 1882 Congressman Watson secured an
appropriation of |150,000 for a building in
Erie, which slnould be adapted for the various
United States offices in the city and district.
This sum was increased to $250,000 through
the efforts of Congressman Brainerd. A Com-
mission on the part of the government selected
the site of the old Rufus S. Reed mansion, at
the southeast corner of Central Park and
State street. For this the sum of $36,000
was paid. Ground for the building was
broken in April, 1885, Henry Shenk being
the contractor, Jacob Bootz, the superintend-
ent, and Jos. P.' O'Brien clerk to the latter
officer. The structure was completed in 1887,



within the amount appropriated, inclusive of
the furniture. It was occupied by the post-
office and custom house shortly after. The
iirst Hoor is used by the postoffice ; the second
by the Collector of customs and the internal
revenue offices. On the third floor are two
rooms for the United States Courts and the
offices appertaining to the same, and the fourth
floor is used by the weather office, for jury
rooms, etc.

The building fronts seventy-two feet on
State street, and one hundred and fourteen on
Central Park. The Collector of the port is
custodian, makes all the appointments that
relate to its care, and looks after repairs and

[For a list of Postmasters and other United
States officials from Erie county, see Chapter


The Courts, Judges and Bar qv Erie County — Supreme Court — United States
Courts — Justices of the Peace and Aldermen.

AS heretofore stated, Erie county con-
stituted a sub-division of Allegheny
county up to the year 1800, and all
judicial proceedings took place at
Pittsburg, the county seat. The act
creating Erie a separate county is dated the
12th of March, 1800. The county was too
sparsely settled to maintain a distinct organ-
ization, and by the act of April 9, 1801, Erie,
Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Warren were
thrown temporarily together for election and
governmental purposes. Meadville was desig-
nated as the place where the county business
should be transacted. This arrangement con-
tinued for two years.

The first court in Erie was held by Hon.
Jesse Moore, in April, 1803. The hours for
con veninjT were announced by the Crier by the
blowing of a horn. This horn continued to
be used for the purpose until 18:23. The Su-
preme Judges at that time were obliged to
hold Circuit Courts in the several counties
of the State, and in the course of their duties
Judge Yates visited Erie on the 15th of Octo-
ber, 1806, and Judge Brackenridge in 1807
and 1811. A session of the Supreme Court
was held in the city in 1854, at which Judges
Lewis, Woodward. Lowrie and Knox were

The County Courts were held by the Pres-

ident Judge, aided by two Associate Judges —
usually farmers of good standing — until May,
1839, when a District Court was created to
dispose of the accumulated business in Erie,
Crawford, Venango and Mercer counties.
Hon. James Thompson, of Venango, was ap-
pointed to the District Judgeship, and filled the
position until May, 1815. The term originally
was for live years, but was extended one year
by request of the bar.

Previous to 1851, both the President Judges
and Associate Judges were appointed by the
Governor. The first election by the people
was in October, 1851, when Hon. John Gal-
braith was chosen President Judge, and Hon.
Joseph M. Sterrett and Hon. James Miles,
Associates. The office of Additional Law
Judge was created in 1856, Hon. David Der-
rickson, of Crawford county, being its first
incumbent, and expired by the operation of
the constitution on the 17th of April, 1874.
1 he Associate Judges were abolished on No-
vember 17, 1876, and since that date the en-
tire duties of the Court have been performed
by the President Judge. All law Judges in
the State are elected for ten years.

The "new" constitution, which went into
operation January 1, 1874, allowed the Presi-
dent Judge of each district, where there was
an Additional Law Judge, to elect to which



of the districts into which his original juris-
diction had been divided he might be assigned.
Under this provision, Judge Wetmore selected
the Thirty-seventh District, consisting of War-
ren and Elk counties, and Judge Vincent,
Additional Law Judge for the district, became
President Judge of Erie county, which had
been created a district by itself.


The following is a list of the President,
District and Additional Law Judges, with the
dates of their commissions :

President yudges. — Alexander Addison,
Pittsburg, August 17, 179L

David Clark, Allegheny county, March 3,

Jesse Moore, Crawford county, April 5,

Henry Shippen, Huntingdon county, Jan-
uary :24, 1825.

Nathaniel B. Eldred, Wayne county, March
23, 1889.

Gaylord Church, Crawford county, April
8, 1843. ^ ^

John Galbraith, Erie county, November (3,

Rasselas Brown, Warren county, June 29,

Samuel P. Johnson, Warren county, De-
cember 3, 1860.

Lansing D. Wetmore, Warren county, first
Monday in January, 1870.

John P. Vincent, Erie county, April 17,

William A. Galbraith, Erie county, first
Monday in January, 1877.

Frank Gunnison, Erie county, December
13, 1886.

Additional La-x' yiidg-es. — David Derick-
son, Crawford county, first Mondaji in De-
cember, 1850.

John P.Vincent, Eric county, first Monday
in December, 186C.

District yitdg-e. — James Thompson, Ve-
nango county, May 18, 1839.

Three President Judges have died in office,
viz. : Hon. Jesse Moore, at Meadville, on the
21st of December, 1824 ; Hon. Henry Shippen,
at Meadville, in 1839; and Hon. John Gal-
braith, at Erie, on the 15th of June, 1860.
Rasselas Brown, of Warren county, was ap-
pointed by the Governor to succeed Judge

John Galbraith, and served until Decembers,
1800. One Judge for the district — Hon.
Alexander Addison — was impeached and re-
moved from his office. Judge Eldred resigned
in 1843, but afterward went on the bench as
President Judge of the Dauphin district.

Two of the Judges were promoted to seats
on the Supreme Bench of the State. James
Thompson was elected one of the Justices of
the Supreme Court in 1850, and held the po-
sition until 1872, the full term of fifteen 3'ears,
the last five of which he presided as Chief
Justice. Gaylord Church was appointed a
Supreme Judge in 1858, to fill a vacancy
caused by the resignation of one of the mem-
bers of the Court. Judge William A. Gal-
braith is a son of Judge John Galbraith, be-
ing the only instance in the history of the
county where a son was elected to fill a prom-
inent official place occupied by his father.

The salaries of the Judges are paid by the


The following shows the competing can-
didates for President and Additional Law
Judges since the offices have been elective :

1851 — President Judge, John Galbraith,
Democrat; Elijah Babbitt, Whig.

1856 — Additional Law Judge, David Der-
rickson, Republican ; Rasselas Brown, Dem-

1860— President Judge, Samuel P. John-
son, Republican; Rasselas Brown, Demo-

1866 — Additional Law Judge, John P.
Vincent, Republican ; Benjamin Grant, Dem-

1870 — President Judge, Lansing D. Wet-
more, Republican' ; Samuel E. Woodruff, In-
dependent Republican; Rasselas Brown,

1876— President Judge, William. A. Gal-
braith, Independent Democrat; William Ben-
son, Republican.

188(3 — President Judge, Theo. A. Lamb,
Democrat; Frank Gunnison, Republican ; S.
P. McCalmont (Venango county), Prohibi-

[See Chapter XXVII. for the vote given to
the several candidates.]


The judicial districts since the organiza-
tion of the county have been as follows :


1800— All of the State west of the Alle
gheny river.

1808 — Erie, Crawford, Mercer, \'eiuinwo,
Warren and Beaver.

1825 — Erie, Crawford, Mercer and \'e-

1851 — Erie, Crawford and Warren.

1860— Erie, Crawford, Warren and Elk.

1870— Erie, Warren and Elk.

1874 — Erie alone, to date.

It is worthy of note that the district has
been designated the Sixth almost or entirely
from the day the county was organized.


The regular terms of court were fixed in
1894 as follows :

^/tarter Sessions — 1st Monday in Febru-
ary ; 2d Monday in May ; 1st Monday in Sep-
tember ; 2d Monday in November.

License Court — 1st Monday in February.

Civil List— 2d, 3d and 4th Mondays in
January ; 1st, 2d and 3d Mondays in March ;
1st, 2d and 3d Mondays in October ; 1st, 2d
and 3d Mondays in December.

Argument Court — Last Monday, each, in
February, March, Maj-, June, September, Oc-
tober and November


The cost to the county for " administering
law and justice " for 1894, as shown by the
statement of the County Commissioners, is as
follows, exclusive of the expense for main-
taining the court house, etc. :

Justices' costs 2,112 45

Reward for horse thieves 25 76

Conveying^ convicts 1,213 83

County detective, salary 840 00

Constables' returns to court. . . . 685 84

District attorney's fees 1,101 00

Assistant district attorney's fees 120 00

Costs in

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 25 of 192)