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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 94 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 94 of 192)
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posterity. Mr. Bliss' grandfather, Joseph Bliss, was a
captain of artillery in the regular Continental army of
the United Colonies during their struggle for indepen-
dence. His father entered the regular army of the
United State in the war of 1812 as lieutenant, reached
the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was wounded at
Lundy's Lane; he died December 22, 1864. Of the
children, Mr. John H. Bliss was the one who reached
majority. He was educated in the Cincinnati College,
studied civil engineering and was for two years em-
ployed in the survey of the Erie extension of the
Pennsylvania Canal. He then entered upon the study
of law at Little Falls, N. Y., later continued his
studies in Buffalo, attended a course of lectures at
Harvard University, and was admitted to the bar at
Albany, January 15, 1847. He afterwards returned to
Buffalo, but gave up the practice of law. In 1855 he
came to Erie, where he soon formed a partnership
with Mr. George Selden, in the establishment of a
bending works, which they operated three years.
They then engaged in the manufacture of oil barrels,
at that time in great demand, which they continued
until 1864, when, in company with Mr. W. J. F. Liddell,
under the firm name of Liddell, Selden & Bliss, they
purchased the Erie City Iron Works. This institu-
tion, upon whose fame and whose products it may be
truly said that the sun never sets, was founded in
1840 by (B. B. and J. H.) Vincent, (David and
William) Himrod & Co. In 1860, the proprie-
tors became (W. J. F.) Liddell & (Joseph) McCarter,
who sold to the present company in 1864. The origi-
nal plant was located at the corner of State and
Twelfth streets, and there continued until 1880, when
the rapid increase of business made the demand for
greater facilities imperative, and a lot 200x600 feet,
located on the east side of East avenue, adjoining the
L. S. & M. S. R. R. was purchased. Later a lot
330x618 feet, bounded on the north by the L. S. & M.
S. R. R., and on the west by the P. & E. R. R., was
added to the space necessary to contain this gigantic
institution. This vast area is entirely occupied by the
various buildings of the concern and the yards and



tracks necessary for the successful operation of the
same. The boiler shop is 100x600 feet, the foundry
104x286 feet, the machine shop 80x160 feet, the flang-
ing shop 40 X 180 feet, the engine room 30 x 50 feet, the
office room 40 x 50 feet, and a pattern and general
storehouse each 60 x 150 feet. There are besides those
mentioned, almost innumerable minor shops, and
power, pump and storehouses. All buildings except
the flanging shop, are substantial stone, brick andiron
structures, and are supplied throughout with the latest
and most improved machinery. The company was
incorporated January 1, 1894, with John H. Bliss, presi-
dent; George D. Selden, vice president; E. P. Selden,
treasurer, and George T. Bliss, secretary. The capital
stock is §1,000,000. From 1889 to 1892 inclusive, the
output was over a million dollars a year, some years
reaching nearly a million and a half, which is un-
doubtedly the largest of any similar institution in the
world. The products of the concern include all kinds
of stationary and portable horizontal and upright
boilers and engines, for the sale of which depots have
been established in all the great business centers of
the United States, also in Paris, Glasgow and Mexico.
It is not the purpose of this sketch to advertise this
world-renowned institution and its products, but to
give to coming generations some conception of it, in
order to properly identify the gentleman who has
made its establishment and development the greater
part of his life work, and who has been to a great
extent responsible for its wonderful success, he havmg
had charge of the office and works, while Mr. George
Selden conducted the sales department, and brought
the institution into the recognition of the markets of
the world. Mr. Bliss was first married in 1848 to Miss'
Mary Lovering. His second wife was Miss Ellen
Christie, daughter of Dr. Christie, surgeon in the
United States navy, to whom he was married October
1, 1850. The issue of this marriage was four children:
Anna (wife of the Rev. S. D. McConnell of the Episco-
pal Church of Philadelphia), Horace John (who died
in childhood), Louise (widow of the late Wallace De-
Witt, Esq.) and Mr. George T. Bliss. Mr. Bliss and
family attend the Protestant Episcopal Church. He
belongs to that class of truly benevolent people who
are daily doing something to relieve the poor and un-
fortunate, but who do not allow the name of the donor
to be known, even to those who are recipients of their
benefaction. Indeed, it is doubtful whether Erie has
a greater or more conscientious worker in the field of
charity than Mr. Bliss. In his political views he is a
life-long Democrat, but with a sense of justice stronger
than party allegiance, with the best interests of the
community always at heart, and with a conviction that
the welfare of the nation should be paramount to the
success of any party; he is never in sympathy with the
trickery of unscrupulous politicians whose ambition is
that of personal emulation rather than the prosperity
of the country. He is a member of the Sons of the
Revolution, to which he is justly entitled by both his
paternal and his maternal ancestors.

George Truscott Bliss, secretary and assistant
superintendent of the Erie City Iron Works, Erie City,
Pa., was born in Erie, May 21, 1864, and is a son of
Mr. John H. Bliss (whose sketch appears in this work).
He received his early education in the private schools
of Erie, and during a year and a half, in 1875-6, while
his parents lived in Charlotte, N. C, he attended the

Carolina Military Institute of that city. After return-
ing to Erie he attended the academy, and later a
private school for about three years. In 1879 he en-
tered De Vaux College, there he remained one year,
after which he attended Harcourt Academy, a boys'
boarding school in Gambler, Ohio, for about two years.
He next entered the Polytechnic Institute at Troy,
N. Y. In 1883 he entered the machine shop of the
Erie City Iron Works to learn the trade of machinist.
For three years he worked ten hours a day, and in al-
most every position about the shop, all the time study-
ing steam engine construction, and making himself
familiar with the practical part of the work. He be-
came assistant superintendent in May, 1893, and upon
the incorporation of the company, January 1, 1894, was
elected secretary. Mr. Bliss takes great interest in
boating, and is a skillful yachtsman. It was largely
due to his efforts that the regatta on the bay, Saturday,
September 8, 1894, was a success. He was the mov-
ing spirit m the organization of the Erie Yacht Club in
September, 1894, of which he was made the first presi-
dent; he was made Commodore of the club November
14, 1894. Mr. Bliss was married January 16, 1894, to
Miss Grace, daughter of Mr. I. A. Forman, of Erie,
by whom he has one child, Miriam. Mr. and Mrs
Bliss are members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church; he
is a member of the Y. M. C. A., a charter member of
the Kahkwa Club. Politically Mr. Bliss has no party,
and thinks the time has arrived foreshadowed in
" Washington's Farewell Address," when party lines
are a menace to the country.

The Guwnisons of Erie county trace their gen-
ealogy to Hugh Gunnison, who came from Sweden
some time before 1631, and finally settled in Boston,
Mass. He was born about 1610, and died at Kittery,
Maine, September 21, 1658. Among his descendants
was William Gunnison, who was the immediate pro-
genitor of the Erie county Gunnisons. He was twice
married, and was the father of twenty-two children.
Ebenezer Dearing Gunnison was the eighth child of
William by his first wife, Hannah Grant, and was born
in Kittery, Maine, March 27, 1790. His education was
mainly obtained at the Salisbury (N. H.) Academy,
where he was a fellow-pupil with Daniel Webster,
Levi Woodbury and John A. Dix. He was trained
for a surveyor, but taught school in New Hampshire
several years. On the 14th of February, 1815, he mar-
ried Miss Sophia Baker, and in October of the sarne
year, accompanied by his wife and brother, Benjamin,
he came to Erie. He was employed as a school
teacher for ten years, a year and a half of the time as
principal of the Erie academy. In 1825 he was
elected justice of the peace, and held that position
until 1840; in the meantime he also did business as a
merchant. The financial crisis of 1837 stripped him
of most of his earnings. In 1839 he was appointed
register and recorder by the Governor; in 1840 he was
clerk to the engineer on the canal; in 1841-2 was
bookkeeper for Walker, Williams & Co.; in 1843 he
was chosen as confidential business agent for the
Reed estate, a place he held during the balance of his
long life. He was one of the original members of the
First Baptist Church of Erie, and was always one of
its leaders. Mr. Gunnison died March 17, 1873; his
widow August 15th of the same year. Their children
were as folic
married Dr. Charles

Sophia Elizabeth, born July 3, 1816,
les T. Sage, July 20, 1845; Dr. Sage



died November 18, 1874. They had four children,
Eugene J., Mary Jane, Eben C. and S. Mimsie.
Elvira Jane, born July 22, 1818, died February- 13, 1835;
Mary Baker, born October 28, 1820, married George
J. Morton September 30, 1845; Mr. Morton died
February 28, 1868; they had three children, Sylvia
Cook, Blanche and George Julius. George W., born
May 8, 1823, a prominent educator, died in Boston
May 14, 1878 (he was twice married: first to Sarah L.
Pattison, second to Harrietta L. Boynton, and was the
father of six children). John B., born April 16, 1826,
educated at Erie academy, learned the trade of tanner
and currier at Hays's tannery in Erie, was in the book
trade a number of years; in 1859, associated with his
brother, Charles E., built and has since operated the
Gunnison tannery in Erie; has served on the school
board and city councils and held various other public
trusts; married Eleanor Spafford February 5, 1851
(they have had four children, Charles, Alfred, Anna
and Rolla; Charles married May Evelvn Gunnison
March 12, 1878; Alfred married Josephine Springer
July 12, 1877; Anna is the wife of Chas. L. Thayer and
resides in Minnesota). Charles E., born August 9,
1829, educated at Erie academy; in his early years
was engaged in a general store; clerk in 1851 in the
banking house of J. H. Williams (afterwards Williams
& Wright); cashier of the Southern Bank of Indiana
in Terre Haute in 1853; partner in the banking house
of C. B. Wright S; Co. from 1854 to 1859; assistant
cashier Marine National Bank of Erie from 1866 to
1884; married Jane T. Welsh September 1, 1852; they
had three children, Emma, Harry and Carrie. Emma
married Dr. D. H. Strickland October 16, 1878; have
two sons, Clyde C. and Charles G.: Carrie married
Frank T. Kimball, Sentember 8, 1881. Annette Julia,
born December 31, 1832; married Gen. David B. Mc-
Creary September 17, 1851; they had three children,
Sophia Gertrude, Annette and Wirt. Sophia Ger-
trude married Henry Alden Clark July 18, 1878;
Annette died October 16, 1854; Wirt was in 1884 a
naval cadet at Annapolis, now of the firm of Thomp-
son & Co., dealers in guns and sporting supplies.
Benjamin Gunnison, brother to Ebenezer, was born in
Kittery, Maine, May 24, 1796, and came to Erie at the
same time. He first settled on one of the Love farms
in Mill Creek township, but in two years removed to
Greene township, where he continued on the same
farm for thirty-five years; he then moved to Erie, but
in six years went to Mill Creek; remaining there twelve
years, he again returned to Erie, where he died
August 18, 1879. He was married July 1, 1819, to Miss
Clarinda, daughter of Jonas Parker; their children
were three sons, as follows: Ora Parker, born April
27, 1822, married Elmira, daughter of Cyril Drown, of
Greene township, April 30, 1848; they have had no
children. Mr. Gunnison has been a farmer, assistant
assessor of internal revenue, deputy collector and
collector of internal revenue and clerk to the county
commissioners. Jonas, second son of Benjamin, born
December 25, 1824, married Charlotte A. Spafford
May 9, 1847, died July 21, 1871; their children were
Frank, Nerr, Clara, Mary and Marion; Nerr died
November 20, 1851, and Mary February 24, 1863.
Jonas Gunnison was educated at the Erie academy;
studied law with John Galbraith, and was very suc-
cessful in his practice; for a number of years was
associated with Gen. I). B. McCreary; served in the
Select Council of Erie; was a member of the Legisla-

ture in 1860; for many years was trustee of the Erie
academy; frequently represented Erie county in
Republican State conventions, and was on the Repub-
lican State committee. Frank, son of Jonas, was born
in Erie February 2, 1848; married Lila, daughter of
Hon. M. B. Lowry, September 5, 1872, by whom he
had two children, M. B. and infant son; studied law
with his father; admitted to practice in 1870; was
associated for a time with Gen. McCreary; was a
member of the Select Council of Erie and trustee of
the Erie academy, and is now President Judge of the
Sixth judicial district of Pennsylvania. Albert B.,
third son of Benjamin Gunnison, was born September
1, 1830, married Olive A. Low, May 19, 1853; their
children have been May, Evelyn, Albert, Merrick
Low, Ora C, Paul, Olive Albertine, Mary Edith and
Jennie Clarinda; Albert died March 21, 1856, and Paul
January 27, 1863; Mary Evelyn married Charles, son
of J. B. Gunnison, March 12, 1878; have two children,
Arthur and Carl. Merrick Low married Blanche
Fairbairn in April, 1879; have one child, Florence.
Ora C. married Mary Loyer in 1883. Mr. Gunnison
started in life as a farmer, then commenced the
manufacture of wooden pumps and pipes, in which he
was engaged up to 1884; he was also engaged in
lumber dealing with W. W. Love; he has been road
commissioner, county commissioner, and prominent in
public life generally.

Charles E. Gunnison, cashier of the Marine
National Bank, Erie, Pa., was born August 9, 1829, at
Erie. He is a son of the late E. D. Gunnison, whose
history and genealogy are contained in this volume,
under the caption, " The Gunnison Family." Charles
E. Gunnison completed his education at the Erie
academy, and, at the age of 14, found employment as
clerk in the general store known as the " Canadian
Store," located in the original Reed House Block, on
North Park Row. From 1847 to the spring of 1851 he
was engaged in a clerical capacity in the Reed store,
owned by the late General Charles M. Reed. His
banking career commenced April 1, 1851, when he ac-
cepted a position with J. H. Williams, banker, Erie.
In 1853 he went to Terre Haute, Ind., to assume the
cashiership of the .Southern Bank of Indiana, where
he remained for nearly a year, returning thence to
Erie to become a member of the banking firm of C.
B. Wright & Co., the members of which were Charles

B. Wright, Frank P. Bailey and Charles E. Gunnison.
This firm was dissolved in 1858. In 1859, Mr. Charles
E. Gunnison associated with his brother, John B. Gun-
nison, established the tannery business which has ever
since been, and is still, conducted under the name of

C. E. Gunnison & Co., and is one of the most import-
ant and successful industries of Erie. Mr. Charles E.
Gunnison re-entered the banking business in the spring
of 1866 as assistant cashier of the Marine National
Bank, of Erie, with which he has ever since been con-
nected, and of which he became cashier in January,
1889. Aside from his active identification with the
business interest of his native city as banker and
manufacturer, Mr. Gunnison has contributed, in asso-
ciation with his brother, in a very material way to its
growth by the erection of the several large structures
connected with the tannery plant on West Eighteenth
street, and nineteen dwelling houses, all of which they
still own. Mr. Charles E. Gunnison has been a mem-
ber of the Erie Board of Trade for many years, and



acted as vice-president of that body for one year. He
was married September 1, 1852, to Jane T. Welsh, a
native of the Isle of Man. Their children are: Emma,
wife of Dr. David H. Strickland, of Erie; Harry,
assistant cashier of the Marine National Bank, who
married Lucy, daughter of the late R. S. Morrison, of
Erie, and Carrie, widow of the late Frank T. Kimball,
former chief clerk of Superintendent J. M. Kimball,
of the Erie and Pittsburg R. R. Mr. and Mrs. C. E.
Gunnison reside at 151 West Seventh street, and are
members of the Park Presbyterian Church.

Albert Beujataiti Gunnisow (deceased), one of
Erie's well-known and successful manufacturers, was
born in Beaver Dam (now Greene township), Erie
county. Pa., September 1, 1830, a son of Benjamin and
Clarinda (Parker) Gunnison. She was a daughter of
Jonas Parker of Mill Creek township. Benjamin Gun-
nison was born in Kittery, Me., May 24, 1796, and
came to Erie county in 1815, locating in Mill Creek
township on a farm, where he lived two years; he then
purchased a property in Greene township, where he
followed farming for thirty-five years, when he moved
to Erie, still operating his farm in Greene township six
years longer; he then sold it to his sons and purchased
a fine property in East Mill Creek, where he resided
and continued farming for twelve years, then selling
his land and moving to Erie, where he died August
18, 1878. He was a son of William and' Hannah
(Grant) Gunnison, to whom were born fourteen chil-
dren, of whom Benjamin was tenth in order of birth.
William Gunnison was twice married, and took for his
second wife Polly Tandy, and to them were born eight
children. He was a farmer by occupation, was born
at Kittery, Me., March 1, 1753, and died at Fishers-
field, Me., March 9, 1831. He was a son of Joseph and
Mary (Crocker) Gunnison, to whom were born eleven
children, William being seventh in order of birth.
Joseph Gunnison was a shipwright by trade, was born
in Kittery, M»., October 3, 1713, where he died De-
cember 5, 1799. He was a son of Elihu and Mary
(Rollins) Gunnison, to whom were born six children,
of whom Joseph was fourth. Elihu was twice married,
his second wife being Mrs. Marjorie Whittemore, by
whom he had no children. He was a shipwright by
trade, was born in Kittery, Me., about 1675, and died
at said place about 1754. He was a son of Elihu and
Martha (Trickee) Gunnison, to whom were born four
children, Elihu being the eldest. Elihu, sr., was twice
married, and by his second wife had two children.
Elihu, Sr., was born in Boston, Mass., February 12,
1650, was a shipwright by trade, and died in Kittery,
Me., the latter part of March, 1729. He was a son of
Hugh Gunnison, who was born in Sweden about 1610,
and came to America about 1630. He was twice mar-
ried, his first wife bore him four children. His second
wife was Mrs. Sarah Lynn, who bore him two children,
of whom Elihu, sr., was the youngest. Hugh departed
this life about 1658 at Kittery, Me. Albert Benjamin
Gunnison received his education in the log school-
house of his native township, and when 17 years of age
shipped as cabin boy on a large passenger steamer on
Lake Erie; he was soon promoted to wheelman, and
was so employed for about four years. He then came
back home and took the contract to build a section of
the Erie and Wattsburg plank road, after completing
which he followed farming for two years on the home-
stead farm. He then purchased a mill property in

Mill Creek township, comprised of sawmill and woolen
mill, and a year later sold the sawmill and rebuilt the
woolen mill into a pump factory, where he resided and
conducted business till 1872. He then moved to Erie,
continuing the pump works for several years, finally
building a plant at 233 East Twenty-second street, and
moving the machinery to Erie, where he continued the
business for several years, and later added a complete
set of planing mill machinery, and was about to branch
out in building and contract work at the time of his
death, which occurred February 5, 1886. Mr. Gunni-
son was a man of sterling integrity, a high sense of
honor, supreme loyalty to his friends, generous kind-
ness to the needy, and marked devotion to his family.
Few men possessed a riper and sounder judgment in
private and public business. During his residence in
Mill Creek township he was long entrusted with the
township's most important official duties. After com-
ing to* Erie he served as a member of the Select Coun-
cil. He was trustee of the Erie academy for a number
of years, and was county commissioner for six years.
In all these he exhibited the same care and prudence
and constant watchfulness for the people's interest
that characterized him in the management of his own
affairs. Unassuming in his manner, and faithful to
every trust, he had the confidence and respect of all
who knew him. Mr. Gunnison was married May 19,
1853, to Miss Olive M., daughter of Samuel and Olive
Low. She was born in Lowville, Venango township,
Erie county, October 27, 1831. The union was blessed
with eight children: May E., wife of Charles Gunni-
son, of Erie; Albert (deceased), Merrick L. (see sketch),
Ora C. (see sketch), Paul (deceased), Olive A., at
home; Mary E., wife of Park Densmore, of Erie, and
Jessie C, at home. The family are members of the
Universalist Church, of which Mr. Gunnison was a
trustee and liberal supporter. He left a fine estate,
acquired by careful management and energetic busi-
ness habits. The family residence is at 269 East
Twenty-second street.

Merrick Low Gunnison, senior member of the
firm of Gunnison Bros., planing mill, contractors and
builders, and dealers in lumber, 233 East Twenty-sec-
ond street, Erie, Pa., was born in Mill Creek township,
January 14, 1857, and is a son of Albert B. and Olive
M. (Low) Gunnison. Merrick received his early edu-
cation in the public schools of his native township, and
when 14 years of age his parents moved to Erie and
he completed his education at the Erie Academy. He
then entered the office of Judge Gunnison for the study
of law, remaining two years, when he entered with his
father in the present business, continuing till February,
1885, when the father died and the business went into
the hands of Merrick and O. C, his sons, under the
firm name of Gunnison Bros., since which it has been
enlarged and successfully conducted. Mr. Gunnison
married, April 29, 1879, Miss Blanche, daughter of
John Fairbairn, of Erie, and to them has been born one
child, Florence Edith, born March 25, 1883. Mrs. Gun-
nison is a member of the Park Presbyterian Church.
He is a member of the Perry Lodge, No. 392, F. & A.
M., and in politics he is a Republican. The family
reside at No. 126 West Twentieth street.

Ora C. Gunnison, of Gunnison Bros., manufac-
turers and dealers in lumber, was born in Mill Creek
township, Erie county, August 26, 1860, and is a son of



Albert B. (whose sketch appears in this work). Mr.
Ora C. Gunnison was educated in the public schools
of Erie, and then engaged in business with his father,
who continued to manufacture pumps until 1883, and
then changed to the planing-raill and lumber business,
which he has since continued. Mr. Gunnison was mar-
ried September 20, 1883, to Miss May Loyer, daughter
of Mr. George Loyer, of Erie. They have one child,
Olive. Mr. and Mrs. Gunnison are members of the
Universalist Church; he is a Mason and a member of
the A. O. U. W. Politically he is a Republican, and
was elected a member of the school board in 1894.

William Saltsmati (deceased), was born in Penn-
sylvania in 1777, came to Erie county in 1796 with
Squire Rees, and assisted in surveying the county.
His father, Anthony Saltsman, was killed by the In-
dians on the Susquehanna. He, with other men, was
on the ice on the river when they discovered they were
pursued by the Indians. The others wore moccasins,
and therebv escaped, but Mr. Saltsman had on a new
pair of boots which prevented him from getting away,
and so he met his death. William was married in
1800 to Jane Stephenson. They had ten children, only
one living, Jane, the youngest daughter, a widow. She
married Andrew Scott, whose sketch appears in this
volume. Mr. Saltsman received his education in the

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 94 of 192)