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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 4 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 4 of 192)
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Columbia was opened for travel in October,
1834 (being part of the State improvement
system), and the first boat on the main line of
the State canal between the latter place and


Pittsburg reached the Ohio in the same month.
The Pennsylvania railroad, the first great line
of the kind in the State, and one of the ear-
liest through systems in the country, was com-
pleted to Pittsburg in 1854. The first really
successful steamboat was built by Robert Ful-
ton, a Pennsylvanian, though the idea of pro-
pelling boats by steam had previously been
patented by John Fitch, another citizen of the
State, who made some experiments on the
Delaware which foreshadowed the future use-
fulness of his scheme.

Flag of the United States.— The Na-
tional Flag, which was designed by a Philadel-
phia lady, Mrs. Betsey Ross, was adopted by
the Continental Congress, sitting in that city,
on the 14th of June, 1777. The resolution to
that effect was as follows : " That the flag of
the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes,
alternate red and white ; that the union be
thirteen stars, white in a blue field, represent-
ing a new constellation." Describing the
flag, Charles Sumner said: "The stripes of
alternate red and white on the United States
flag proclaim the original union of thirteen
States to maintain the Declaration of Inde-
pendence. Its stars, white on a field of blue,
proclaim that union of States constituting our
national constellation, which receives a new
star with every new State. The two together
signify union, past and present. The very
colors have a language which was officially
recognized by our fathers. White is for
purity ; red for valor ; blue for justice." In
commemoration of the adoption of the national
emblem, the 14th of June in each year has
been set apart as "Flag Day," and is generally
observed, more especially by the schools. By
a later act of Congress to the one above men-
tioned, a star is added upon the admission of
every new .State.

French War. — As is more fully detailed
in the general history of Erie county, the
French at one time claimed all the country
from the headwaters of the Allegheny river,
down the Ohio, to the mouth of the Missis-
sippi. Their claim was disputed by the
English. The French made their base of
operations at Erie (formerly known as Presque
Isle), and established a chain of forts from
there southward, among other points, at
Waterford (LeBoeuf), Franklin (Venango),
and Pittsburg (Duquesne). Early in 1753,
George Washington, then a young man, was

sent to LeBoeuf to inquire into the purpose of
the French. Receiving an evasive answer,
he returned to Virginia, and headed a force to
drive the French out of the country. The
latter pushed forward a thousand men from
Erie to Pittsburg, and forced Washington,
with a small detachment, to capitulate. Brad-
dock's expedition, in behalf of the English
and English colonists, was organized in 1758,
with Washington as an aid-de-camp to the
commander-in-chief. It consisted largely of
British regulars, added to a considerable body
of Colonial troops from Pennsylvania, Virginia
and Maryland. The French and their Indian
allies waited in ambush at a point on the
Monongahela river, ten miles from Pittsburg,
where they surprised Braddock and effected
one of the most complete routs in history. A
second army was organized in 1758 bj' the
English, assisted by the Colonies, who march-
ed to attack Fort Duquesne. The French, on
learning of the superior force of their foes,
abandoned the fort, which was promptly
christened Fort Pitt, in honor of the great
English premier. Soon after the French dis-
appeared from the western part of the State,
and, by a treaty of peace in 1762, relinquished
all claim to the country. By the same treaty
Canada became a British province.

Fruits. — Every variety known to the north
temperate zone grows in profusion, especially
apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums, prunes,
quinces, grapes, and apricots.

Floods (Great.) — Some of the most de-
structive floods ever known have occurred in
Pennsylvania. Scarcely a year passes that
much damage is not done along the rivers and
creeks of the State, due mainly to the cutting
off of the timber. The most terrible calamity
that ever happened in Pennsylvania took
place on May 31, 1889. Heavy rains had oc-
curred all over the State, filling every stream
to excess. A large dam on the South Fork
of the Conemaugh river burst suddenly, let-
ting out an immense volume of water that
swept everything before it. The flourishing
towns of Johnstown and Conemaugh were
practically wiped out of existence. It is esti-
mated tha't from 3,500 to 4,000 persons lost
their lives, and that the flood caused the de-
struction of $75,000,000 worth of property.
The sympathy of the whole country was
aroused in behalf of the surviving population,
and donations of money, clothing, etc., were




sent in to an unprecedented amount, the total
cash contributions alon'e being 13,746,819.
Tlie same unusual period of rains caused great
mischief along the valleys of the Juniata and
the West Branch, especially at W'illiamsport
and Lock Haven, in tiie latter region, but the
disasters at those points were almost lost sight of
in view of the overwhelming calamity at Johns-
town. It is characteristic of the American
people that the citizens of the latter place set
to work immediately to retrieve their misfor-
tune, and to-day Johnstown is larger and
more prosperous than before the disaster. An-
other memorable flood took place on Oil
Creek June 5, 1892, caused, as before, by the
breaking of a dam. It did vast damage at
Titusville and Oil Citv, and led to much loss
of life. The floods of 1892 extended all over
the northwestern part of the State, and were
particularly disastrous at Union City, in Erie
county, and Irvineton, in Warren county.
An account of this and other serious floods in
Erie county will be found in the ensuing

Fisfi and Fisheries. — Tiie lisherics of the
State are quite extensive, being most produc-
tive in the Delaware, near Philadelphia ; in
the Susquehanna, below Columbia, and in
Lake Erie at Erie city. Shad are caught in
great numbers in the rivers named, and white
fish, pike, sturgeon, bass, perch, herring and
other fish in Lake Erie. The rivers and creeks
were once well stocked with a large variety of
fish, but they have decreased in consequence
of the dams and the filth poured into the
streams by the cities, towns, mines and factor-
ies. Brook trout, once plentiful, are now only
found to any extent in the mountain streams.
The State has established several fish hatcheries,
and the Fish Commission are making a strong
effort to restock the lakes and streams. The
following statistics, from the censuses of 1880
and 1890, show the extent to which fishing is
carried on in a commercial way :

Peksons Capit.^i, Valuk OI'

Employes. Invested. Product.

18^0 SS2 119,810 $320,050

1890 2,631 735,035 903,005

[See Cjeneral Historj- of Erie County.]
Franklin, Benjamin. — The most illustri-
ous person in Pennsylvania history was born
in Boston in 1705, and died in Philadelpha,
after residing there most of his life, and fill-
ing almost every important position in the

gift of his State and country, on the 17th of
April, 1790, aged about 83 years. He was
buried by the' side of his wife in the cemetery-
of Christ Church, Philadelphia, at the south-
! east corner of Fifth and Arch streets,
j where the slab that covers his remains is open
to the public view, through an iron railing,
on the line of the public walk. The follow-
ing epitaph was written by Franklin when he
was only twenty-two years old :

The Body



(Like the cover opan old book.
Its contents torn out.
And stripped of its lettering and
i gilding),

1 Lies here food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost.
For it will (as he believes) appear once


In a new and more elegant edition.
Revised and Corrected



Farms and Farm Products. — The United

States census reports give these statistics in
, regard to farms and farming products, exclu-
j sive of live stock :

Number of Farms, Etc.


improved unimproved size in

total. acres. acres. acres.

1870 174,041 11,515,965 6,478,235 103

1S80 313,542 13,423,007 6,368,334 93

1890 211,557 13,210,597 5,153,773 87

1 Valuation of Farm Lands.

j LAND & iMPLE- live


1870 (depre-
ciated cur-

I rency) 1,043,481,582 36,658,196 115,647,075

! 1880(g-old

basis) 975,689,410 35,473,037 84,242,877

1890 (gold
basis) 922,240,233 39,046,855 101,652,758

Bushels of Cereals Produced.


]870 529,562 2,532,173 34,702,006

1880 438,100 3,593,326 45,821,531

1890 493,893 3,069,717 42,318,279



1890 36,197,469





Hay, Potatoes and Tobacco.



.2,848,219 12.889,367 3,467,539

.2,811,517 16,284,819 36,943,272

.4,331,582 12,899,315 28,956,247

Poultry and Eggs.

other eggs-
chickens, fowl. dozens.

6,620,016 740,787 34,377,889

10,381,781 999,604 50,049,915


Game Laws. — The Acts of Assembly
make it lawful to kill wild birds, animals and
fish in the State — excepting Pike county and
the Delaware river — only within the periods
stated below ; the penalties for infringement
thereof being from $5 to $50 :

Turkeys Oct. 15 to Jan. 1

Ducks •. Sept. 1 to May 1

Plover Sept. 1 to Dec. 1

Woodcock July 4 to Jan. 1

Quail Nov . 1 to Dec. 15

Ruffled grouse or pheasants Oct. 1 to Jan. 1

Rail and reed birds Sept. 1 to Dec. 1


Elk and deer Oct. 1 to Dec. 15

Squirrels Sept. 1 to Jan. 1

Hares and rabbits Nov. 1 to Jan. 1


Salmon or speckled trout April 15 to Julj- IS

Lake trout April 15 to July 15

Black bass, pike and pickerel. ..June 1 to Jan. 1
German carp Sept. 1 to May 1

Governors and Lieutenant-Governors.

— Under the original system the Governors
were appointed by \\'illiam Penn and his fam-
ily, who also named the legislative council.
William Penn himself acted as Governor for
some six years. The last proprietary Governor
was John Penn, a grandson of the founder —
who was deposed in 1770, together with all
officers of the royal government. During the
Revolution, and up to the adoption of the
Constitution of 1790, the presidents of the
Supreme Executive Council acted as Govern-
ors. Among the most famous of these
were John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin and
Thomas Mifflin. The Governors and Lieuten-
ant-Governors have been as follows [See
sketches of Governors on other pages] :




Under the Constitution of 1790.

1— Thomas Mifflin Philadelphia Dec. 21, 1790, to Dec. 17, 1799.

2— Thomas McKean Chester Dec. 17, 1799, to Dec. 20, 1808.

3— Simon Snyder Union Dec. 20, 1808, to Dec. 16, 1817.

4— William Findlay Franklin Dec. 16, 1817, to Dec. 19, 1820.

5— Joseph Hiester Berks Dec. 19, 1830, to Dec. 16, 1823.

6— John Andrew Shulze Lebanon Dec. 16, 1823, to Dec. 15, 1829.

7— Georg-e Wolf Northampton Dec. 15, 1829, to Dec. IS, 1835.

8— Joseph Ritner Washington Dec. 15, 1835, to Jan. 15, 1839.

Under the Constitution of 1838.

9— David Rittenhouse Porter Huntingdon Jan. IS, 1839, to Jan. 21, 1845.

10— Francis Rawn Shunk* Allegheny Jan. 21, 1845, to July 9, 1848.

11— William Freame Johnston* Armstrong July 26, 1848. to Jan. 20, 1852.

12— William Bigler Clearfield Jan. 20, 1852, to Jan. 16, 18S5.

13— James Pollock Northumberland Jan. 16, 1855, to Jan. 19, 1858.

14— William Fisher Packer Lycoming Jan. 19, 1858, to Jan. IS, 1861.

15— Andrew Gregg Curtin Centre Jan. 15, 1861, to Jan. 15, 1867.

16— John White Geary Westmoreland Jan. 15. 1867, to Jan. 21, 1873.

Under the Constitution of 1873.

17— John Frederick Hartranft Montgomery Jan. 21, 1873, to Jan. 18, 1879.

18— Henry Martyn Hoyt Luzerne Jan. 18, 1879, to Jan. 16, 1883.

19— Robert Emory Pattison Philadelphia Jan. 16, 1883, to Jan. 18, 1887.

20— James Addams Beaver Centre Jan. 18, 1887, to Jan. 20, 1891.

21— Robert Emory Pattison Philadelphia Jan. 20, 1891, to Jan. 15, 1895.

22— Daniel Hartman Hastings Centre Jan. 15, 1895,

*Governor Shunk resigned on his death-bed July 9, 1848, and was succeeded by Mr. Johnston,
who, as president of the Senate, became Governor by the Constitutional provision. Governor Shunk
was the only Chief Executive who died during the term for which he was elected.


Lieutenant-Governors Under the Constitution of 1873.

John Latta Westmoreland county Jan. 1'), 1875, to Jan. 21, 1879.

Charles W. Stone Warren county Jan. 21, 1879, to Jan. 16, 1883.

Chauncev Forward Black York county." Jan. 16, 1883, to Jan. 18, 1887.

William T. Davies Bradford county Jan. 18, 1887, to Jan. 20, 1891.

Louis Arthur Watres Lackawanna county Jan. 20, 1891, to Jan. 15, 1895.

Walter Lyon Alleg-heny county Jan. IS, 1895,

General Progress. — The general progress
of Pennsylvania for the last twenty years has
been greater than that of any other Eastern
State. The following figures from the l'. S.
census reports show how the State is gaining
in population upon Xew York :





Gettysburg. — The most decisive and a-
mong the most desperate series of battles in the
war for tiie Union took place on Pennsylvania
soil, at Gettysbuig, in Adams county, near the
Maryland line. A brief account of the three-
days' series of fights at that point will be
found under the heading, "War for the
Union." The battlefield is now largely occu-
pied as a national cemetery and public park,
and is covered with splendid memorial stones,
marking all the important positions, and mak-
ing it one of the most interesting spots in the
world. Gettysburg is easily reached by rail
from Ilarrisburg, York and Baltimore. It was
at the dedication of the monument to the
Union dead, in the National Cemetery at Get-
tysburg, on the 19th of November, 1864, that
Lincjaln delivered the address which ranks as
one of the classics of American oratory, read-
ing as follows :

" Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers
brought forth upon this continent a new na-
tion, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to
the proposition that all men are created equal.

" Now we are engaged in a great civil
war, testing whether that nation, or any na-
tion, so conceived and so dedicated, can long
endure. We are met on a great battlefield of
that war. We are met to dedicate a portion
of it as the final resting place of those who
here gave their lives that this nation might
live. It is altogether fitting and proper that
we should do this.

'But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate,
we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this

ground. The brave men, living and dead,
who struggled here, have consecrated it far
above our power to add or detract. The
world will little note nor long remember what
we say here, but it can never forget what they
did here.

" It is for us, the living, rather to be dedi-
cated here to the unfinished work that they
have thus far so nobl)- carried on. It is rather
for us to be here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us — that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to the cause
for which they here gave the last full measure
of devotion — that we here higiily resolve that
the dead shall not have died in vain ; that the
nation shall, under God, have a new birth of
freedom, and that the government of the peo-
ple, by the people, and for the people, shall
not perish from tiie earth.''

Holidays. — The following are the legal
holidays and half-holidays in the State. Ac-
cording to law, all notes due on any holiday
or half-holiday are payable and protestable on
the next secular business day :

January 1st — New Year's Day.

Third Tuesday of February (municipal
election). After 12 o'clock noon.

February 22d — Washington's Birthday.

Good Friday.

May 30th — Decoration Day.

July 4th — Independence Day.

First Saturday in September — Labor Day.

First Tuesday after the first Monday in
November — General election.

Thanksgiving Day (by appointment of
the Governor).

December 25th — Christmas.

Every Saturday after 12 o'clock noon.

Indian Titles.— Under the peaceful policy
adopted by William Penn all Indian claims to
the lands of the State were extinguished by
treaty and purchase. The release of the Tri-
angle portion of Erie county was secured from
the Six Nations in November, 1784, and con-
firmed in 1789. The lands south of the Tri-
angle, in the northwestern part of the State,
were sold by the Indians in 1784, and relin-


quished by all the tribes who claimed an inter-
est, in 1785. [See General History of Erie

Iron and Iron Ore. — Extensive bodies of
iron ore exist in various sections, which are
largely used in the furnaces of the State. One
of the most valuable deposits of iron ore in
the world is in Cornwall, Lebanon county,
which is generally spoken of as inexhausti-
ble, and which is worth many millions of dol-
lars. The ore consists of one vast mass, and
is dug as gravel or clay would be in most
places. It is one of the richest deposits of
mineral in the entire world, and probably the
easiest of access. Deposits of iron ore are
found in manj- parts of the State, but none
are equal in extent to the one mentioned
above. Generally speaking, the ore, coal and
limestone lie conveniently near to each other,
making Penn.sylvania one of tlie great iron-
producing portions of the world.

Indian Wars and Disturbances. — While
Penn lived and his policy was adhered to, the
Indians gave the white settlers little trouble.
As the conflict between the French and
English developed, they showed a decided
favor, however, for the former, who seem to
have been the more skillful in courting their
friendship. They took an active part with
the French in their efforts to circumvent the
English, and were present in large numbers at
the defeat of Braddock. This latter event en-
couraged them in the hope of driving the
English out of the country, and was succeeded
by numerous Indian murders and outrages.
The departure of the French left them still
hostile, but apparently submissive. Pontiac,
the celebrated Indian chief, conceived the idea
of striking a sudden and simultaneous blow
that should wipe the English, and the colonists
under them, out of existence, west of the
AUeghenies. To this end he, in 17(53, enlist-
ed a considerable body of the natives, who
were to make a concerted attack upon all the
English posts from the Allegheny mountains
westward. The forts at Erie, Waterford and
Franklin were captured, but the attempt on
the one at Pittsburg and elsewhere in the
southern counties proved a failure. This des-
perate venture, known in history as " Pontiac's
Conspiracy," was succeeded by frequent skir-
mishes with the savages and the loss of many
lives, both white and Indian. The white
people, roused by a spirit of retaliation, in-

flicted severe damage upon the Indians, and
it is a question to the person who studies the
events of the times, which side was most cruel.
The Indians became overawed, sued for peace
in 1764, and remained comparatively quiet for.
some years. They looked upon the white
colonists, though, as their natural foes, and,
when the Revolution opened, transferred their
allegiance from the French to the British,
whom they were led to believe would restore
them to their former rights and possessions.
Early in 1778, a bod)' of Indians joined with
some tories and British regulars, descended
the North Branch and destroyed the flourish-
ing settlements in the Wyoming Valley. The
barbarity shown in this raid has gone into his-
tory as the " W^yoming Massacre." The
colonists quickly organized expeditions in re-
tribution of their injuries which destroyed the
Indian villages along the Upper Susquehanna
and Allegheny rivers. By 1788 most of the
hostile Indians had been driven into "the
wilds of Ohio." Thej' continued troublesome
for a number of years, during which it was
unsafe for white men to locate in the northern
or northwestern counties. Several expeditions
were sent against them, but they were not
finally subdued until Wayne took command,
and by his energy and courage compelled them
to accept terms of peace. The treaty by
which this was effected was made at Green-
ville, Ohio, on the 3d of August, 1795. From
this date there were no serious Indian disturb-
ances in the part of the Union embraced within
western and northwestern Pennsylvania, and
the country was rapidly opened to settlement.
[For an account of the Indians of the north-
west, and a sketch of General W^aj'ne, see the
General Historj' of Erie County. ]

Johnstown Flood. — [See Floods.]
Judiciary System. — [See Courts.]
Keystone State. — The name, Keystone
State, as usually applied to Pennsylvania,
arose from the fact that it was the central one
of the thirteen colonies that revolted against
Great Britain. The colonies on the north
were New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hamp-
shire (6) ; on the south, Delaware, Mary-
land, Virginia, Nortli Carolina, South Carolina
and Georgia (6). As far as known, the term
was first applied in an address issued by the
Democratic or Democratic Republican com-
mittee in 1803.



Leading Products. — The leading products
of the State, aside from manufactures, are as
follows :

Minerals. — Anthracite coal, bituminous
coal, semi-bituminous coal, petroleum, iron
ore, natural gas and nickel.

Vegetable Productions. — Everything
that is produced in the temperate zone, includ-
ing vast quantities of tobacco in the eastern

Stone. — Slate, marble, sandstone, lime-
stone, greenstone, and a variet\- of the most
valuable building stones.

Timber. — Pine, hemlock, chestnut, wal-
nut, oak, ash, beech, maple, cherry, cucum-
ber, etc.

Fruits, etc. — Peaches, pears, apples,
grapes, cherries, quinces, plums, apricots,
prunes; in fact, all the varieties that grow in
the north. The south shore of Lake Erie, in
Erie county, has become one of the finest grape
and wine regions in the world.

Nuts. — Walnuts, chestnuts, beech nuts,
hickory nuts, hazel nuts, butternuts, etc.

Fish. — Shad, white fish, salmon, trout,
perch, pike, eel, herring, muscalonge, black,
yellow and white bass, sturgeon, sunfish, etc.
Vast fisheries are carried on upon the Susque-
hanna and Delaware rivers, and on Lake Erie
at the city of Erie and in its vicinity.

Domestic Animals. — Cattle, horses,
sheep, hogs, mules, and all the animals that
thrive in the temperate zone are produced in
great nimibers.

Grains. — All kinds of grain that grow in
the United States are cultivated in Pennsyl-
vania. The State is one of the most prolific
grain-growing sections of America. In fact,
Pennsylvania maj- be said, without boasting,
to be one of the choicest spots of the earth.
Ever}' kind of mineral useful to man is natural
to the State except the precious metals, and,
as a fruit, grain-growing, agricultural, veget-
able and timber-producing State, it is unsur-
passed. Natural gas is found in vast quanti-
ties west of the Alleghenies, and many cities
and towns are heated by this useful natural
product. The State contains some fine mineral
springs, chief of which are those at Bedford,
Cresson, Minnequa, Cambridge and Saeger-

Legislature. — The Legislature consists of
50 Senators, elected for four years, and 204
Representatives, elected for two years. The

pay of each Senator and Representative is
I 11,500, and mileage both ways, for each regu-
lar session. The Legislature meets every two
years, unless called in extra session by the
Governor, when additional pay and mileage
are allowed to the members.

Legislation. — All legislation is closely re-
stricted by the Constitution.

Language. — The language of the people is

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 4 of 192)