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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 89 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 89 of 192)
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Corry City Lodge, K. of P., October 16,

Lincoln Council, R. A., April 10, 1878.

Teutonia Lodge, D. O. H., August 17,

St. Joseph Branch, C. M. B. A., April 24,

Aharath Sholem Lodge, B'nai Brith, May
30, 1871.

Bliss Council, R. T. of T., April, 1879.
Hope Council, March 15, 1880. Humboldt
Lodge, Febru.iry, 1874.

Ely Lodge, K. of H., November, 1874.

Washington Lodge, A. O. U. \V., Janu-
ary, 1870.

Lafayette Council, G. K., December 8,

Evening Star Lodge, K. & L. of H.,
March, 1878. Germania Lodge, March 26,

Other lodges were established as follows :
K. O. T. M., October 20, 1884 : L. O. T. M.,
August, 1894; Woodmen of the World, May
20, 1892; National Union, July, 1886; L. C.
B. A., March, 1890; C. B. L.', February 12,
1887 ; C. K. of A., June 15, 1885.

In addition to the above, there are other
societies, the date of organizing which had not
been secured at the time of preparing this


The following is a list of the citizens of
Corry who have held State and county offices :
Associate Judge, HoUis King, November 8,
1866, to November 17, 1871. Delegate to the
Constitutional Convention of 1873, C. O.
Bowman. Assembly, C. O. Bowman. 1869;
W. W. Brown, 1872 to 1874; Isaac B. Brown,
1881-82, and 1883-84 ; J. D. Bentley, elected
in 1889. District Attorney, C. L. Baker,
elected in 1884. County Commissioner, W.
T. Brown, elected in 1872. Jury Commis-
sioner, D. L. Bracken, elected in 1879; H. L.
Spiesman, elected in 1891. Director of the
Poor, S. A. Bevis, elected in 1869; G. S.
Beavis, elected in 1895. Mercantile Ap-
praiser, L. E. Guignon, 1875; Wm. T. Brown,
1880 ; John W. Leech, 1890. Oil Inspector,
A. J. Hubbard, appointed in 1873.

W. W. Brown, chosen to Assembly, as
stated above, moved to Bradford, and repre-
sented the McKean district in the Forty-
eighth and Forty-ninth Congresses.

Isaac B. Brown was Deputy Secretary of
Internal Affairs from May, 1887, to January,
1895, and was appointed Secretary, to fill a
vacancy, on the latter date. He served as Sec-
retarj' until May 7, 1895, and was then ap-
pointed to his former position as Deputy.

Charles Porter was State Fish Commis-
sioner for a number of years.




Below is a list of the postmasters of Corry
since the office was established, with the dates
of their appointments and the time they took
charge of the office, as nearly as the same can
be ascertained :

C. S. Harris, Republican, appointed 1861.

James Foreman, Republican, appointed
April, 18G8.

J. Guy Foreman, Republican, appointed
August, 1867.

Oliff E. Gleason, Republican, appointed
April, 1877.

Frank H. Button, Republican, appointed
February 24, 1885, took charge March 3, 1885.

Max Cameron, Democrat, appointed Sep-
tember, 1888, took charge September 8, 1888.

Frank H. Button, Republican, appointed
January 6, 1891, took charge February 1, 1891.

John B. Patterson, Democrat-Populist, ap-
pointed March 1, 1895, took charge April 1,


The Corry Water Company began its sup-
ply in September, 1886. The water was origi-
nally taken from Hare creek, but is now
drawn from artesian wtlls. A reservoir of
5,000,000 gallons capacity, at an elevation of
287 feet, furnishes a pressure that avoids the
necessity of steam fire engines. The company
has put down fourteen miles of pipe and set
sixty-one tire hydrants. For some reason con-
siderable opposition to the company has
arisen, and on March 25, 1895, the city Coun-
cils let the contract for another plant, to cost
■$80,000 This became a matter of very ani-
mated litigation. The Court of Erie county,
on August 13, 1895, issued a permanent in-
junction restraining the Councils from carry-
ing out the contract and the contractor from
going ahead.

A system of sewerage was commenced in
October, 1891, and finished in August, 1894,
as far as its general features were concerned,
at a cost of $64,000, raised by assessment on
the property thought to be benefited. The
main sewer, which empties into Hare creek,
east of the cit)', is four feet in diameter and
8,000 feet long. Of this, 1,200 feet are iron
pipe and the balance is brick. The system
begins on Spring street, at the intersection of

Church, and passes through the business por-
tion of the city. A number of lateral sewers
are under course of construction.

The great rainfall and flood of June, 1892,
the severest ever known in Erie county, did a
great deal of damage in Corry and its vicinity,
especially to the railroads and public roads.

Corry has four cemeteries, viz. : PineGrove,
St. Thomas (Irish Catholic), St. Elizabeth
(German Catholic) and the Jewish. The first
named, which is the general burial ground of
the city and vicinity, embraces ten acres, and
was started in 1866.

The principal public halls are the Week's
Opera House and the Armory of the National
Guard of Pennsylvania.

In 1895, the cit)- commenced a general
system of street paving, which is intended to
be carried along until all the principal streets
are properly paved. During the year named
Center street was paved from First to Wash-
ington. The material used up to date (Sep-
tember 1, 1895) is vitrified brick.

"The Park," an enclosure of between
four and five acres, was donated to the city by
W. H. L. Smith. It is surrounded bj' hand-
some residences.

The Corry Hospital Association was or-
ganized in 1895, and its property purchased
the same year.

Natural gas was introduced into the city
in 1886 through the mains of the Pennsyl-
vania Gas Company, bringing the article from
Warren and Elk counties. The same com-
pany supplies Erie, Jamestown and Warren.

A Board of Trade was organized Septem-
ber 4, 1895.

A fair has been held at Corry regularly
each fall for many years, under the auspices
of the farmers of the surrounding townships,
who receive the hearty co-operation of the
people of the city. It has always been well
patronized and the society, which was organ-
ized in 1870, is in a flourishing condition.

Capt. Edward Dow, formerly an officer in
the merchant sea service, died in Corry on
November 26, 1895, aged 92 years. He located
there in 1851.

For an account of the State Fish Hatchery
see Wayne township ; and for a list of Corr}'
physicians, lawj'ers and dentists, see Chapters
XX and XXI, General History.



Family Histories and Biographical Sketcks.

The Reed Family are closely and intimately asso-
ciated with the history of Erie county, from the very
beginning, and may be said to have been the pioneers
in its development. Col. Seth Reed, the founder of
the family fortune, was a physician at Uxbridge, Mass.
When the Revolution began he was given command
of a regiment, and fought at Bunker Hill. After the
Revolutionary War he finally located in Ontario
county, New York, where he became possessed of a
tract of land eighteen miles in extent by a trade with
the Indians. Impressed with the favorable location of
the then new town of Erie, and believing that it was
destined to become an important commercial center,
he sold out his Ontario county estate, and, with his
wife and sons — Charles John and Manning — started
for the frontier. At Buffalo he met James Talmadge,
who had fitted out a sailboat to run between that place
and Erie, with whom a contract was made to bring
the party and the few goods they had along with them
to their destination. They reached the harbor of Erie
on the evening of the last day of June or 1st day of
July, 1795, and camped on the peninsula for fear of the
Indians. Thos. Rees and a company of State militia,
urider the command of Capt. John Grubb, with some
friendly Indians, were quartered upon the Garrison
ground. On seeing the hre in Mr. Reed's camp, they
were greatly alarmed, thinking a hostile band had
landed there preliminary to an attack. Sentinels
were kept on watch all night, and the troops were
ordered to be ready at any moment to meet the ex-
pected foe. In the morning a boat, with men well-
armed, carrying a flag of truce, and accompanied by a
canoe-load of friendly Indians, was sent over to the
peninsula to ascertain the cause of the alarm. Land-
mg with extreme caution, they were surprised to find
a white man and his family equally anxious and
alarmed. Mutual explanations ensued, and all fear
was allayed. Soon after his arrival. Col. Seth Reed
proceeded to erect a place of shelter, choosing a loca-
tion at the mouth of Mill creek. The building was a
one-story log cabin, roofed with bark; it had no floor,
strips of bark serving for carpets. This was the first
building on the site of Erie, and, primitive as it was, it
was called the " Presque Isle Hotel," and used by Col.
Reed as a public house. Martin Strong, one of the
pioneers of Erie county, on a visit to the locality, said
the house was provided "with plenty of good refresh-
ments for all itinerants that chose to call." In Sep-
tember, Col. Reed's sons — Rufus S. and George —
came on by the way of Pittsburg, with Mrs. Thos.
Rees and Mrs. J. Fairbanks. The following year a
larger and better building was constructed for hotel
purposes, which was placed in charge of Rufus, when
the Colonel moved to a farm he had located on the
Walnut creek flats, on the present site of Kearsarge.
Here he remained in a rough cabin, until his death, on
the 19th of March, 1797, at the age of 53. There being

no burying ground, the remains of Col. Reed were
temporarily interred on the Walnut creek farm and
were later successively removed to the United Presby-
terian graveyard, copner Eighth and French streets;
then to the Episcopal graveyard, and finally to the
family lot in the beautiful Erie cemetery. Hannah,
his wife, died December 8, 1821, in her 74th year.
Chas. J. Reed, who had moved with his father on the
Walnut creek farm, remained there after his father's
death. On the 27th of December, 1797, he was united
in marriage to Rachel Miller, Thomas Rees, perform-
ing the ceremony, as a justice of the peace. This was
the first wedding in Erie county. Their bridal trip
was taken in a plain sled from the fort to their home
on Walnut creek. Mr. Reed died in 1830, and his
wife survived until 1851. George W. Reed, another of
the sons, went two miles further up the creek, in Sum-
mit township, and located a farm. From there he
moved to Waterford and opened a public house. In
1823 he changed to Erie, where he continued in the
hotel business a number of years. Returning to
Waterford in 1844, he died there three years later.
Rufus S. Reed, the most prosperous and best-known
of the sons, always remained in Erie. He was born at
Uxbridge, Mass., on the 11th of October, 1775. While
the rest of the family took to farming, his taste was
altogether for business, in which he had extraordinary
success. He started a store in 1796, which did a large
trade with the Indians, the soldiers and the settlers.
In 1797 he began an extensive fur trade with the In-
dians which was very profitable. His boats ran con-
stantly on the lake, loaded with store goods one way
and furs the other. He secured large government
contracts for supplying the Western posts with beef,
pork, flour and whisky. His business becoming too
large for him to conduct alone, he associated Giles
Sanford in the mercantile branch, and the partnership
continued many years. In 1817-18 he erected a grist-
mill and distillery on Parade street, near Fifth, and
seven years later he built another distillery on his
farm, near the corner of Parade street and the Buffalo
road. He purchased large bodies of land and fed
many cattle, which he killed or drove to the Eastern
market. He became an extensive owner of lake ves-
sels, and was the foremost man in enterprise in the
whole lake country. To illustrate his shrewdness:
The law forbade the sale of ardent spirits to the In-
dians by the gill, quart, or barrel. Mr. Reed evaded
the statute, and preserved the peace of his conscience,
by having a hollow stick made, and selling the liquid
by the yard. Rufus S. Reed was married twice, his
first wife being Dolly, daughter of Jonathan Oaks, of
Palmyra, N. Y. The ceremony was characteristic of
the man. In 1798, he left Buffalo by lake with a lot of
goods in small boats. The party stopped in the eve-
ning at the mouth of Smoke's creek (now Hamburg,
N. Y.), where Mr. Reed informed the men that he had



a matter of business to attend to some three miles
back in the country. He was gone all night, and re-
turned in the morning accompanied by his wife. She
died the same year, and was buried by the side of Col.
Seth Reed, at Walnut creek. In 1801 he married
Agnes, daughter of Gen. William Irvine, who bore
him one son, the well-known Gen. Charles M. Reed.
The marriage ceremony was performed by Thomas
Robinson, a justice of the peace at North East. Rufus
S. Reed died at the age of 70, on the 1st of June, 1846,
leaving the largest fortune that had been accumulated
up to that time in the lake shore region. Gen. Charles
M. Reed, the only child of Rufus S. Reed, inherited
his father's great business abilities. He was born in
Erie, in 1803; after receiving the best education the
schools of the time afforded, he was sent to college at
Washington, Pa., and from there went to Philadelphia,
where he read law, and wasadmitted tothebar in 1821.
Returning to Erie, he almost immediately engaged in
business with his father, and developed such aptitude
for money-making that it was a question which was the
more skillful of the two. He early foresaw the ad-
vantages of steam navigation, and became the largest
owner of steamboats on the lakes. Some of his boats
were fitted up magnificently, equaling the finest of the
present day. While the canal was at the height of its
prosperity, he realized all the benefits of that enter-
prise, and when the time came for building railroads,
he quickly grasped their importance. In his early
years he was fond of military display, and became a
brigadier general of militia. He served a year in the
State Legislature and a term in Congress. In politics
he was first a Whig and then a Republican. He died
in the f)9th year of his age, December 18, 1871, in the
mansion at the corner of Sixth street and the West
Park. His fortune at the time of his death was vari-
ously estimated at $5,000,000 to $16,000,000. None but
the family and a few intimate friends knew the exact
amount, but it was certainly not less than the sum first
named. Gen. Reed was married in September, 1838,
to Miss Harriet Gilson, of Watertown, N. Y., who is
still living. They had a number of children, of whom
only two sons, Charles M. and Lloyd G., survive. Har-
riet, one of the daughters, married Hon. Henry Rawle,
and at her death left two children, who are heirs to
their mother's portion of the large estate. It will be
seen from the above that Charles M. and Lloyd G. are
the fourth generation of the Reeds in Erie. All of the
members of Col. Seth Reed's family are buried in the
Reed lot in the Erie cemetery. Hon. Charles M. Reed
has served as mayor of Erie two years, having been
twice elected, in 1872 and 1873. He is a director of
the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern R. R., and has
been often and strongly urged as a Republican candi-
date for Congress. Mr. Charles M. Reed married Miss
Ella M., daughter of the late R. S. Morrison, one of
the leading merchants of Erie, who came to the county
about 1860. His widow survives and resides in Erie.
Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Reed have two children, Carl
Morrison and Harrison. Mr. Reed is one of the
largest stockholders of the First National Bank of
Erie, a member of its board of directors, and since the
decease of his father is second vice-president of the
board. He and his brother, Lloyd G., and their mother
(Mrs. Gen. Reed) reside in Erie, the latter in the fine
family mansion, at the corner of West Sixth street and
the park; Hon. Charles M. Reed in a magnificent resi-
dence on West Sixth street, and Lloyd G. Reed has

just completed a fine country residence near Massas-
sauga Point.

Captain Daniel Dobbins (deceased), was born
in Lewiston, Mifflin county. Pa., January 5, 1776, and
was married to Miss Mary West, near Cannonsburg,
Pa., April 1, 1800. She was born October 26, 1779.
They had eight children: William W. (deceased);
Jane S. (deceased), wife of the late John A. Tracy, of
Erie; Stephen Decatur (deceased); Mary Ann; David
Porter; Leander; Eliza M., wife of the late Captain
John Fleeharty, and Marcus (deceased). Mr. and
Mrs. Dobbins came to Erie on horseback, in company
with 'Squire Rees' party of surveyors in the year 1795.
Soon after his arrival. Captain Dobbins engaged in
the merchant service, and was part owner and master
of the schooner Harlequin, which he sailed for some
time. In July, 1812, he sailed the schooner Selina,
and while he was lying at Mackinac, the British
landed on the island, took possession of the fort, cap-
tured his vessel and took him and his passengers,
Rufus S. Reed and William W. Reed, of Erie, pris-
oners. They were all soon after released on parole
and returned to their homes in Erie. This was the
first intimation that war had been declared. Capt.
Dobbins' experience in lake navigation, and his
thorough knowledge of the harbors of the lake render-
ing him well qualified for the position, he was ap-
pointed by the government, in 1813, as sailing master
in the United States navy, and given the superin-
tendency of the construction and equipment of the
fleet of war vessels then being built at Erie (an
account of which appears in another part of this his-
tory), and it was through his efforts and indomitable
perseverance that Erie was made the United States
naval station. While connected with the navy he
was also engaged in the merchant service. He had
commanded the schooner Washington in 1816, which
the same year conveyed troops to Green Bay, and his
was the first vessel to enter that harbor, it then being
considered a difficult task to navigate it. On his first
visit some of the harbors in that locality were named
and still retain the names given them by Capt. Dob-
bins and the army officers who accompanied him.
In 1826 he was ordered to sea in a vessel fitted out to
bring home the remains of Commodore Perry, and
resigned his commission. In 1827 he was engaged in
constructing piers at Ashtabula, O. In 1829 Gen.
Jackson appointed him to the command of the revenue
cutter Rush, and he was reappointed in 1845 by
President Polk to the command of the revenue cutter
Erie. He left active service in the revenue depart-
ment in 1849. Capt. Dobbins possessed many sterling
qualities, and having been a close observer, was
enabled to relate many interesting and exciting in-
cidents connected with the early navigation of the
lakes and life on the frontier. Capt. Dobbins died in
Erie, February 29, 1856, aged 86 years. His wife died
January 27, 1879, in her 100th year. The remains of
both now lie buried in the Erie cemetery.

John A. Tracy (deceased) was born in Scipio,
Cayuga county, N. Y., February 16, 1798. His father,
Capt. John Tracy, was a descendant of Lieut. Thomas
Tracy, who came to Salem, Mass., from Tewkesbury,
England, in the year 1636. Capt. John Tracy, with his
family, removed to Little Conneauttee (now Washing-
ton township, Erie county, Pa.) in 1799, and thence, in



1801, to Waterford. Here John A. Tracy attended
school for a few years, under Rev. Russell Stancliff.
He commenced as a boy in the active business of
teaming for his father between the head of navigation
on French creek and Erie. This business was active
in 1812-13-14, during the war, as army and navy stores
for Gen. Harrison's army and Commodore Perry's fleet
were carried on this route from Pittsburg to Erie, and
he thus took his first lesson in inland transportation
with ox teams, over stump roads cut through the woods.
Mr. Tracy came to Erie when 18 years of age, as clerk
in a store, on the southwest corner of French and Sixth
streets. He afterwards became a partner of P. S. V.
Hamot for several years, and later with Jonas Harri-
son in a general mercantile business. He was one of
the directors of the U. S. branch bank of Erie, and also
of the old Erie Bank. He took an active interest in
the Erie Extension Canal from the Ohio river to Erie
and was a contractor in building the Walnut creek ac-
queduct, and was subsequently a director for many
years. Mr. Tracy was one of the contractors on the
New York and Erie R. R. in the early efforts to build
it, and again about the year 1848, when the efforts to
resume and finish it from New York to Dunkirk were
successful. He was among the first and active work-
ers to start the Erie and North East R. R., the first
railroad built to the city of Erie, and was one of the
contractors in its construction in 1850-51. When com-
pleted he continued to be a director until 1853, when
he was elected president of the company, and so con-
tinued until the company was consolidated with the
Buffalo and State Line company, under the name of
the Buffalo and Erie company, and when this company
was consolidated with the Lake Shore and Michigan
Southern company, making one corporation from Buf-
falo to Chicago, he became a director and continued in
that ofifice until his death. He was also a director of
the Erie and Pittsburg R. R.Co. After the conclusion
of his more active duties of railway construction, he
gave much attention to farming; his large farms in
West Mill Creek and Fairview were models in their
thorough cultivation. He married Susan Jane Dob-
bins, daughter of Captain Daniel Dobbins, in 1826.
She died in 1867. Mr. Tracy died at his residence in
Erie, February 26, 1875, leaving seven children: John
F. Tracy, Mrs. Mary M. Scott, wife of the late Hon.
W. L. Scott; Mrs. Anna M. McCollum, wife of Mr. J.
V. McCollum; Charles Tracy, Mrs. Eliza T. Griswold,
wife of Wni. A. Griswold; Daniel D. Tracy, and Will-
iam A. Tracy. Mr. Tracy controlled men by the gen-
tle force of his nature, but was inflexible for right and
truth. Though mild in his manners, he was firm when
it was proposed to drive him from the right. Plain and
unpretending, he disliked shams and false pretenses.
Social, friendly, and with an extensive acquaintance,
he continued a favorite until the day of his death. His
remains and those of his wife rest side by side in the
cemetery in Erie.

John F. Tracy (deceased), son of John A. Tracy,
was born in Erie, Pa., January 7, 1827. He received
his education at the Erie Academy. While his father
was building the acqueduct of the Erie and Pittsburg
Canal at Walnut creek he had his first experience as
superintendent of large engineering enterprises, and
developed marked capacity. Subsequently he was
engaged in the construction of the Buffalo and State
Line, the New York and Erie and North East rail-

roads, and although not 25 years of age, almost the en-
tire management of these enterprises was confided to
his care. Shortly after the completion of the latter
road he was appointed its supermtendent, where he
did his full share in devising the plans for the practi-
cal operating of railroads. When, in 1853, it was de-
cided to change the gauge of this road and make it a
part of a through line — a determination which was
violently opposed by a large portion of the citizens of
Erie, and which resulted in the famous " Railroad
War " — Mr. Tracy held his post with firmness and a
courageous devotion to the interests of his road, and
never for a moment yielded to the pressure of the
mistaken and overwhelming popular sentiment which
sought to maintain a break in the continuous line of
what was destined to become a great continental high-
way. Mr. Tracy completed this change of gauge de-
termined on by his company in 1854, and then accepted
the office of assistant superintendent of the Chicago
and Rock Island R. R., then in process of construc-
tion. He was soon promoted to the position of general
superintendent; was next made vice-president, and
finally president of the road, which office he held for
many years, until ill health necessitated his resigna-
tion in 187'7. Under Mr. Tracy's management the
Chicago and Rock Island R. R. was extended through
Iowa to the Missouri river and across Iowa and Mis-
souri to Leavenworth, Kan. He built the first rail-
road bridge across the Mississippi river, which first

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 89 of 192)