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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 93 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 93 of 192)
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Rock and Buffalo by the British and Indians, the most
terrifying rumors were circulated; May 15th the wild-
est alarm was created by a false report that 600 or 700
British and Indians were coming to Erie to destroy
and burn the village; the troops at Erie only num-
bered 2,000 men, and the hostiles were 3,000 strong;
the first brigade of Gen. Mead's command was ordered
into service to increase the defensive force to about
4,000; happily the alarm was false, but a considerable
body of troops was kept at Erie during the winter;
many of these men were poorly furnished with arms
and equipments; so destitute were the stores of com-
fortable supplies that Mrs. Kelso was obliged to cut
up her blankets to make clothing for her boys. Fol-
lowing the war, Mr. Kelso and citizens were kept busy
restoring and rebuilding trade, laying out roads and
clearing land. Gen. Kelso's son remembers holding
thejildw 111 iilihl ,1 \okfof oxen, breaking the road to
Massas-,: ' I - i ^ Gen. Kelso donated the bluff

for the 1.1 -I', being a part of the tract given

to the I iiiif'l >',i:. - ndvernment for the purpose of
a lighthouse, the abandonment of it in March, 1881,
caused a question of title between the purchaser, Myron
Sanford.and William Kelso,which was amicably settled.
Later, the government, through the pressure brought to
bear by lake men, repurchased from Mr. Sanford, giving
double the amount it cost him, that is, $4,000. Gen.
Kelso died in 1819, in the prime of life, leaving his
widow, Mrs. Sarah Willis Carson Kelso, and seven
children, two daughters and five sons. Her great wish
and ambition was to live to see the Erie canal com-
pleted. She was an interesting conversationalist, and
could tell much of the society of Erie, which was of
the army and navy (the best of the county), and most
delightful. Gen. Kelso's descendants own and reside
on 2OO acres of land on the bank of the bay, near the
head upon which he once lived and the home at the
foot of State street.

Edwi« J. Kelso (deceased), second son of Gen.
Kelso, was born April 10, 1800, in Fairview township,
Erie county. He came to Erie a boy, and as his
father was in the discharge of public trusts, he was
early instructed in the modes and duties of official
routine. It was with experience thus in advance
acquired that he accepted the position of prothonotary
and register and recorder, to which he was appointed

by Gov. Shultze in 1824, upon the death of Thomas
Wilson. These duties were ably and satisfactorily
performed for about twelve years, when relieved by a
change of administration, in 1835. In 1836 he was ap-
pointed by President Jackson collector of the port of
Erie, to succeed Col. Thomas Forster, who soon died,
after having filled the position of collector for thirty-
five years. Mr. Kelso was the second collector of the
port, and having been re-appointed by President Van
Buren, held the office till 1841, when he was displaced
by a change of parties, after which he held no office.
For some years he was engaged in the forwarding
business in Erie, wherein his large and early acquaint-
ance was utilized. Mr. Kelso was married, in 1828, to
Miss Malvina Atkins, of Buffalo, whose elegant tastes
and genial manners, as evinced in her surroundings,
will be kindly remembered. Mrs. Kelso died in 1871.
The inheritor of a large landed property in and near
Erie, and connected, with its public business, promi-
nent as a citizen, and politician, Mr. Kelso became
widely known and trusted. He was an earnest mem-
ber of the Democratic party, and shared in its tri-
umphs, yet was loyal to its teachings under adversity,
as in its palmier days. To have filled his public posi-
tions satisfactorily, to the appointing power and to the
people, to have been faithful to all these trusts; and
laid down his functions without a stain upon his
record, was the pleasing contemplation of Mr. Kelso
during the evening of his life. He died February 10,
1879, leaving one son, John, and two daughters, Emma
S., married in 1865, to C. C. Eddy, a resident of Erie
county, Pennsylvania, and Mary; they live on the old
homestead. C. C. Eddy was born in Rhode Island
January 27, 1829, son of Sylvester and Thamer H.
(Luther) Eddy, natives of Rhode Island, of English
extraction. Mr. Eddy enlisted in the United States
navy in New York in 1862, and in the same year was
appointed second lieutenant. He served five years
and six months on the United States steamer Mich-
igan during the civil war. In 1878 he resigned his
position and embarked in the lumber business; he is a
Democrat in politics.

Albert J. Kelso was born September 7, 1802, in
this county, son of Gen. John Kelso. His wife used to
ride home to Cumberland county on horseback to visit
friends. Mr. Kelso was educated in Erie, success-
ively by Mr. Eastman, Prof. Blossom, Mr. Reed and
Mr. Gunnison. He was married January 26, 1842, to
Elizabeth Sullivan, who bore him the following chil-
dren: Sarah, wife of Edwin Tenny, of Crawford
county, Pennsylvania; Albert C, married to Livonia
Green, have four children, Philo K., Frankie, Ella and
Harry; Annie, wife of E. DeWolf, have six children,
reside in Iowa, and Edwin J. Mrs. Kelso dying in
1850, he married, January 25, 1853, Maria L. Fales, a
native of Massachusetts. By this union were born
five children, four now living: Susan M., wife of J.
Benson, have one daughter, Grace; Caroline A., Alice
A. and Charles H. Mr. Kelso resided in Erie city
fifty years, and on his present farm, located on the
Lake road in West Mill Creek township thirty years.
He was at one time in business in Erie city with Mr.
Kellogg. He was a thorough temperance man, de-
clining even to sell barley for distilling purposes. He
died some years since.

Melvitt M. Kelso, born in Erie city September 1,
1816, married Martha S. Johnson, born in Fairview




May 3, 1817, daughter of Samuel and Ann (Barnett)
Johnson, natives of Dauphin county, Pennsylvania.
They had eight children, of whom Richard B., Melvin
M. and Effie B. are now living.

Melviw M. Kelso, sr., was a son of Gen. John
Kelso. In early life he was a sailor, then for a num-
ber of years was clerk in the Erie postoffice. Inherit-
ing from his father 130 acres on Ridge road in Fair-
view, he eventually adopted agricultural pursuits, in
which he was very successful, owning 474 acres of
farm property. He was a prominent citizen, filling
the offices of director of the poor, township road com-
missioner, justice of the peace, etc. He was an ad-
herent of the Presbyterian Church, to which with all
other good causes, he contributed liberally. He died
November 18, 1866.

Richard Bamett Kelso now owns the home
farm, which he is greatly improving, and on which he
is erecting fine buildings. Politically he is a Repub-
lican. Harry Kelso moved in early life to the vicinity
of Green Bay, where he died many years since.

Williaiti C. Kelso, the last of his family, died
April 24, 1892. He was of refined and gentle nature,
a true Christian, was a vestryman of St. Paul's Church
for over fifty years, and many years of that time rec-
tor's warden. Among his effects was an English side
dagger, belonging originally to an officer of the Brit-
ish fleet and surrendered to an officer, of Perry's. Mr.
Kelso was very much of a coUaborature in old books
and relics. William C. Kelso was assistant assessor of
internal revenue tn 1863 and served for some years.
Adaline (Kelso) Whallon, wife of Rev. James H.
Whallon, D. D., was married about 1829 and spent
most of her life in Erie. Her home was at the cor-
ner of Second and Sassafras streets, on her patrimonial
estate. Her husband was a Methodist Episcopal
minister and actively engaged, serving several terms
as presiding elder. He was sent by President Grant
as consul to Port Mahon, in Meditterranean. Dr. Whal-
lon died about 1877, and Mrs. Whallon survived hin;
some time. Of their large family only Melvin and
Isabella survives. Both reside in Ohio.

A. C. Kelso, farmer. Mill Creek township, post-
office Erie, was born in the city of Erie in 1848, son of
Albert J. and Elizabeth (Sullivan) Kelso. The former
was a native of Erie county and was born in Man-
chester, Fairview township. The latter was a daughter
of Rev. Mr. Sullivan, a Methodist clergyman, and for
many years a resident of Harbor Creek, After her
death he was again married to Marie Fales, who now
survives him, residing in Mill Creek township. Albert
J. Kelso was a resident of the same township during
his life time, and the last forty years was spent on the
farm now owned by his son, A. C. He died in 1890,
at the age of 87 years. Mr. A. C. Kelso is the third of
a family of four children: Sarah, wife of L. E. Tenny,
Lincolriville, Crawford county. Pa.; Anna, wife of
Ezra DeWolf, resident of Iowa; Albert and Elizabeth,
of Erie. By the second marriage there were also four
children: Susan, wife of B. J. Benson, Union City, Pa.;
Caroline, Mill Creek township; Alice, Mill Creek, and
Charles, of Riceville, Pa. September 10, 1873, Mr. Kelso
was married to Miss Livonia, daughter of Philo H. and
Betsey L. (Gleason) Green, of Harbor Creek. The
former was a prominent citizen of the township, where

he resided. He died November 8, 1872, aged 47 years.
His widow still survives, at the age of 78 years, and re-
sides in Harbor Creek. Their children were: George
(deceased), Livonia, wife of Mr. Kelso; Ellen L., wife
of G. P. Gifford, of Harbor Creek; Charles, of Buffalo;
Clarinda, wife of William H. Gray, Harbor Creek;
Albert (deceased), and Andrew Greene, of Harbor
Creek. The children of Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Kelso are:
Philo, Frank, Ella, Harry and Bessie. John Kelso,
grandfather of A. C, was a grn.-ral ui the war of 1812
(of whom a complete sketch IS imLlislinl m tins work).
Charles H. and CatheniK^ - !;,,«. i>, (inm,, -rand-
parents of Mrs. Kelso, w( ic natiMs ..1 N(« 'i'ork
State, and came to Erie county aliout fifty years ago.
William Gleason, grandfather of Mrs. Kelso, was a life
long resident of Chautauqua county. New York. His
wife was Polly Smith. Noah Sullivan, grandfather of
Mr. Kelso, died in Harbor Creek. Mr. Kelso is one of
the progressive farmers and influential citizens of Mill
Creek township. Mr. and Mrs. Kelso are members of
the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Miles Family. In June, 1795, William Miles
and William Cook came with their wives, who were
sisters, to what is now Concord township, Erie county,
before the organization of the township or county,
and a month or so before the arrival of Colonel Seth
Reed and his family to Erie. They are deemed the
first white settlers in the county, as Mrs. Miles and
Mrs. Cook were the first white women to become
residents. The Miles and Cook families first set-
tled in Concord, but in 1801 came to Union, where
Mr. Miles erected both saw and gristmills. He was a
very prominent and noted man, and in his lifetime
witnessed many changes. Born in the Valley of the
Susquehanna, not far from the junction of the North
and West branches, where the border warfare with the
British and Indians might well have caused it to be
called " The dark andbloody ground," he was taken
prisoner during one of those furious raids to which the
valley was subjected from the savages and their allies,
under Brant, or warriors of like infamous character.
When a child, he was taken to Canada and there de-
tained as a prisoner for some time. During this period
he was instructed, and upon his return to his home,
was fitted for the remarkable career to which he was
destined. He was the brother-in-law of David Watts,
of Carlisle, both of whom came to the Northwest wil-
derness in connection with the survey, allotment and
sale of a large part of Erie county, the survey of the
Tenth Donation district, laying out for settlement nu-
merous bodies of land, as well as the village of Watts-
burg, which was named for David Watts. Mr. Miles
became possessed of a vast body of land in Union
township and its vicinity. His son, James, afterward
purchased 1,600 acres in Girard township, embracing
the mouth of Elk creek. Mr. Miles was a conspicuous
and influential citizen in the settlement of Erie county
for nearly half a century. He had a strong will, great
versatility and unyielding purpose. He acquired a
very large land estate and left many memorials of his
life. In the laying out and building of roads and
bridges, and nammg townships and fixing places for
voting, he exercised a large influence. He built mills
at Union City, which place was long called Miles'
Mills. He had several children, among whom were:
Hon. James Miles, associate judge of Erie county
from 1851 to 1856; Frederick Miles and Mrs. Bemis.



James Miles, in 1832, settled on his large tract of land
at the mouth of Elk creek. There he resided in almost
baronial style. He also purposed the laying out of a
city and the formation of a harbor at the mouth of Elk
creek, to be accompanied with an effort backed by
powerful support to make it an outlet for the Erie and
Pittsburg Canal. He also offered the Agricultural
College of Pennsylvania the gift of one or more hun-
dred acres of this land for its location, after his char-
acteristic activity in the organization of the college.
Judge Miles co-operated with Judge John Galbraith
and Hon. Alfred Kelley in the building of the railroad
from Erie to the Ohio line, now part of the Lake Shore
R. R. Into this he entered with great zeal, and was
long a director of the Cleveland, Painesville and Ash-
tabula R. R. Co., and among the most prominent in
the movements touching the railroad system of Erie
county in the stirring period from 1850 to 1864. Judge
Miles, towards the close of his life, built an imposing
mansion on the banks of Elk creek, and Miles' Grove
was laid out at the station of the Lake Shore R. R.
The village of Miles Grove, with the busy hum of in-
dustry, and the constant arrival and departure of cars
on several railroads, perpetuate the name of its
founder. Mrs. Bemis and Frederick Miles died many
years ago. Judge James Miles died at his home near
Miles Grove in 1869. His father, William Miles, died
about half a century since. Of the Judge's family,
William Miles, who made a brilliant record as a cav-
alry officer, gave his life for his country. James Miles,
Jr., died about four or five years since, and John F.
Miles and Mrs. Hall and one unmarried sister are the
surviving children of Judge Miles.

The Marvin Family.— Elisha Marvin, eldest
son of Elisha Marvin and Elizabeth Selden, his wife,
was born at Lyme, Conn., November 22, 1768; brought
up on a farm. About 1792, in company with his brother-
in-law, Judah Colt, and his brother Enoch, he settled
in Canandaigua, N. Y. In 1796, Mr. Colt having been
appointed agent for the Population Company, both
brothers removed with him to Erie county, and settled
at Colt's Station, in Greenfield township, where Elisha
bought a large tract of land. He was justice of the
peace in Greenfield for many years, and long one of
the most prominent surveyors and farmers in the
county. He married Minerva Prendergast, of James-
town, 'N. Y., May 13, 1812; died September 29, 1829.
Mrs. Marvin, who was a woman of more than usual
culture, died April 1, 1858. Their children were Will-
iam E., born March 21, 1814; and Elizabeth Susan,
born November 29, 1818, died in the fall of 1873.
William still survives, in North East borough. Enoch
Marvin, brother of Elisha, was born in Lyme, October
19, 1774; after spending a number of years at Green-
field and Erie, he went to Beaver county, Pennsylvania,
as agent of a land company, where he died March 31,
1840, leaving a large estate, much of which was in Erie
county. Remarried Eliza Hull in 1820. She survived
him a number of years. They had one child which
died in infancy. Elihu Marvin, youngest brother of
Elisha and Enoch Marvin above named, was born at
Lyme, Conn., August 1, 1791. He early developed a
taste for business pursuits, and became associated with
General David Humphreys, of Derby, Conn., in the
woolen manufacture. September 10, 1813, he mar-
ried Ann Humphreys, a niece of the general. After
several years of active prosecution of the woolen

business, his health failed and he withdrew from the
concern. About 1823, he moved to Ripley, N. Y.,
where he purchased a farm and devoted himself to
agricultural pursuits. In 1842, changed to Erie, living
for a number of years on a farm which included the
site of Marvintown. About 1854 or 1856, he laid out
part of his farm in town lots, and sold off a large
number. About 1864, he built a residence on Tenth
street, where he resided until death. He was influen-
tial wherever he lived, but had a great repugnance to
holding office; was an enthusiast in favor of schools
and as a fruit grower; a liberal giver to the Presby-
terian Church, with which he early associated himself.
Mrs. Marvin died April 30, 1875. Mr. Marvin died
August 29, 1878, having acquired an extensive prop-
erty. They had two children — Susan, born in 1816,
died in 18:34; Sarah, born January 29, 1820, married
Rev. L. G. Olmstead, December 20, 1838, died May 25,
1843, leaving an only child — Sarah L., born May 18,
1840, who married Matthew Griswold, January 8, 1866,
and died in February, 1871, leaving two sons — Matthew
Griswold, jr., and Elihu Marvin Griswold.

Hon. Selden Marvin (deceased), formerly city
recorder and city attorney, Erie, only child of
Dudley and Mary (Whalley) Marvin (brother of
Elisha, Enoch and Elihu), was born in Canandaigua,
N. Y., June 9, 1819, named after his grandmother, who
was of the Connecticut family of Seldens; received
his education mainly at Canandaigua academy, and at
Jefferson college, Cannonsburg, Pa.; spent one year in
printing office in Boston. Parents moved to New
York city in the summer of 1837, where he read law
until 1841 in the office of his father, who was one of
the most distinguished attorneys in the State, and for
eight years a member of Congress. In 1841, removed
to Ripley, Chautauqua county, N. Y., where he was
exclusively engaged in farming until 1846; in the latter
year entered upon the practice of law at Jamestown.
In 1847, was married to Miss Sarah Wilson Dinsmore,
of Ripley, and returned to the farm. A year or so
later formed a connection with Hon. Geo. W. Parker,
now of the city of New York, and resumed the legal
profession at Westfield, N. Y.; in the fall of 1852, was
elected special county judge, and in 1855 county judge
of Chautauqua county, serving in the latter position
until January 1, 1860; moved to Erie in June, 1860; be-
came a member of the firm of Spencer & Marvin, and
practiced law until 1877. Was the Democratic can-
didate for Assembly in 1862; Democratic nominee for
Congress in 1870, coming within 500 votes of an elec-
tion; Democratic candidate for elector at large in 1872;
mayor of Erie city in 1877; the same year elected city
recorder for five years; was re-elected in 1882. The
marriage of Judge Marvin and his wife has been
blessed with five children, three of whom survive, viz.:
Charles Dinsmore Marvin, engaged in the banking
business in the city of New York; Anna Humphreys,
wife of William D. Lewis, and Elizabeth Selden Mar-
vin, wife of Robert W. Ne£f, of Boston, Mass. Judge
Selden Marvin died in Erie, December 25, 1894.

William Elisha Marvin was born in Chautauqua
county. New York, March 21, 1814. He is a son of
the late Col. Elisha and Minerva (Prendergast) Mar-
vin, the former a native of Lynne, Conn., and of
English descent, the latter of New York birth and
Irish parentage. Col. Marvin settled in Erie county



in 1796, and was engaged in business as a surveyor
and farmer until his decease, in 1829. He was a valu-
able citizen and took a prominent part in local affairs
generally, holding numerous official trusts in the
county. His title was conferred through his command
of a regiment of militia. His wife survived until 1858.
William Elisha Marvin received a common school
education, learned surveying and followed that busi-
ness and farming jointly for twenty-five or thirty years,
since which time he has been exclusively engaged as
an agriculturist. Politically he was an old line Whig,
latterly a Republican. He was for twenty-one years
a justice of the peace in Greenfield township, has held
all the township offices, filling those positions with
ability, and to the entire satisfaction of the commun-
ity. He served acceptably as county commissioner,
and was a candidate for the State Legislature. He
has been one of the board of directors of the First
National Bank of Erie since 1880. He was married
November 2, 1848, to Catherine F., daughter of the
late William Spencer, of Had-Lynne, Conn. She died
in September, 1892. Mr. Marvin has been a consistent
member of the Presbyterian Church since May 1, 18(53,
and has been an elder of the congregation at North
East since November 8, 1868. He was'for many years
a member of the board of trustees, and has always
been a liberal contributor to the support of the congre-
gation. He was one of the original stockholders and a
member of the board of directors of the First National
Bank of North East.

John H. Bliss, president of the Erie City Iron
Works, Erie, Pa., was born in Fort Howard, Wis.,
October 4, 1823, and is a son of John and Letitia (Elli-
cott) Bliss, both of English ancestry. The Bliss fam-
ily settled in New England about 1630, and the Elli-
cott family in Maryland about 1730. Major Andrew
Ellicott, who was a grandfather of Mr. Bliss, was born
in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, January 24, 1754, and
devoted the greater part of his life to the service of
his country. Though a member of the Society of
Friends, he comma'nded a battalion of Maryland
militia in the Revolutionary war. In 1784 he was em-
ployed by the State of Virginia in fixing the boundary
Isetween that State and Pennsylvania. In 1786 he was
commissioned by the supreme executive council of
Pennsylvania to run the northern boundary of the
State. Two years later he was directed to make a
survey of the islands of the Allegheny and Ohio rivers
within the State of Pennsylvania. This occupied
about a year, after which he was commissioned by the
United States government to locate the western
boundary of the State of New York and ascertain the
validity of the claim of that State to the territory
which is now the northern portion of Erie county.
After much labor and hardship he succeeded in locat-
ing the present boundary. In this important and
responsible duty his services seem to have been
highly appreciated, for about the time of its comple-
tion he writes: "General Washington has treated me
with attention. The Speaker of the House and the
Governor of the State have constantly extended to me
the most flattering courtesies." The next important
service which he rendered to his country was that of
surveying District of Columbia and the city of Wash-
ington, which he began in 1790. In 1796 the govern-
ment was again in need of one in whom it could place
explicit confidence, and Washington, seemingly ever

conscious of Major Ellicott's sterling qualities, ap-
pointed him commissioner to fix the boundary be-
tween the United States and the Spanish American
possessions. During the very first month of Jeffer-
son's administration the " Father of Democracy" ten-
dered to Major Ellicott the Surveyor Generalship of the
United States, which he accepted, subject to conditions
of his own dictation. On September 1, 1813, he was
appointed professor of mathematics in the West Point
Military Academy, to which place he soon afterward
removed with his family, and where he died August
28, 1820, leaving a widow and nine children. The in-
telligence and active ability of Major Ellicott were of
inestimable value in the settlement and development
of this new country, and one important duty followed
another for a period of over forty years, in which he
was constantly employed in some public capacity of
responsibility and trust, and he was never found want-
ing. Chief among his characteristics, touching upon
his public life, were his true sense of duty, well de-
fined conception of personal responsibilities, and his
general upright character. It was these, rather than
shrewd political diplomacy, which won for him the
exalted honors which were conferred upon him. The
name of Major Ellicott will go down in American his-
tory an honor to his country, to his family and to his

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 93 of 192)