Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 78 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 78 of 193)
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tached to this is a wing twenty-two by forty feet. The
boiler-house and engine-house are each twenty-two by
twenty feet. A forty horse-power engine is used, and
from forty to eighty workmen are employed in the
manufacture of doors, sash, blinds, etc., and in the
erection of buildings, etc. During the past summer
this company erected sixty-one buildings. As both
the Southwest Pennsylvania and the Baltimore and
Ohio Railroads pass over the five acres of ground
owned by the company, they enjoy excellent shipping
facilities, and are constantly shipping lumber, etc., to
all sections of the country. In connection with their

mill, Messrs. Laughead, Hadden & Co. conduct a
general store in a two-story building twenty by
seventy feet.

The Uniontowu Gas and Water Company was in-
corporated by an act passed March 26, 1859. This
j act was supplemented by one approved April 2, 1868
I and in June of the latter year the company was organ
ized, with Dr. Smith Fuller as its president, and T. B
Searight, secretary and treasurer. Dr. Fuller, Col. T,
B. Searight, and E. B. Downer were constituted a
committee to open books and receive subscriptions
The amount of fifteen thousand dollars was subscribed
and at a meeting of stockholders held on the 10th of
July, T. B. Searight, Alfred Howell, J. H. McClellan,
E. B. Woods, and Ewing Brownfield were chosen
managers, and a constitution and by-laws adopted.

After organization, the subscriptions to the stock
not being i)aid in, John H. Miller, Jr., of Grafton,
W. Va., proposed to build gas-works at his own ex-
pense, provided the company would transfer its powers
and franchises to him. This offer was accepted, and
legislation was procured (March 26, 1869) authorizing
the transfer to Mr. Miller, with the proviso that he
should not charge for gas a price exceeding two dollars
and fifty cents per thousand feet, unless he was com-
pelled to purchase coal at a price above twelve dollars
per one hundred bushels. He soon after built the
works (located on the creek near the Broadway bridge)
as proposed, and operated them for the manufacture
of gas until May 8, 1872, when Eleazer Robinson, of
Uniontowu, purchased the works. He carried on the
business till 1875, when his son, William L. Robinson,
assumed charge and still continues to supply gas to
the people of Uniontown.

The population of Uniontown borough by the
United States census of 1880 was :

Total 3265

Since the taking of that census, however, the re-
markable business activity and prosperity of the town
and surrounding country has brought a corresponding
increase in the population of the borough, which at
the present time (January, 1882) is estimated to be
fully four thousand.



Hon. Daniel Sturgeon, "the Silent Senator," who

was born in Adams County, Pa., Oct. 27, 1779, and

died at Uniontown, Fayette Co., July 2, 1878, in the

eighty-ninth year of his age, was of Scotch-Irish



Presbyterian stock, his grandfatlier having come
from the north of Ireland and settled in Adams
County some time early in the eighteenth century.
He graduated at Jefferson College, Washington
County, and moved to Uniontown in 1810 to study
medicine with Dr. Benjamin Stevens, a man of note in
his day. After finishing his studies in medicine he
commenced practicing his profession in Greensbon/,
Greene Co., and remained there a year, after which.
Dr. Stevens meanwhile dying, Dr. Sturgeon returned
to Uniontown to take his place, and went into prac-
tice there. He was chosen by hi* fellow-citizens to
represent them in the Legislature of the State in its
session of 1819, and was continued in his capacity of
representative for three terms. In 1825 he was
elected a member of the Stale Senate, and -served in
the important position of Speaker durini;- the years
1827-29. His manly bearing and strict integrity of
character secured him the post of auditor-general of
the State under Governor Wolf in 1830, at which he
served for six years. He was State treasurer in the
years 1838-39, and was in 1840 elected United States
senator for the term commencing March 4, 1839 (the
Legislature having failed the session before to elect ;
in consequence of " the Buckshot war"). He was re-
elected in 1845, and served till 1851. In 1853 he was j
appointed by President Pierce treasurer of the United
States Mint in Philadelphia, and held that respon-
sible trust until 1858, when he retired -from public
life. Among Dr. Sturgeon's contemporaries in the
United States Senate were Webster, Clay, Calhoun,
Benton, Wright, Buchanan, AVilliam Allen, and
Simon Cameron.

Dr. Sturgeon was a man of commanding stature, of
majestic presence,—

" The combination and the form indeed
Where every god did seem tq set his seal |

To give the world assurance of a man."

He was a sturdy actor rather than talker, and
though a fiuent and graceful coUoquist, made no pre-
tense even, as a public speaker. In the Senate, where
he did good work on the committees, and commanded
high regard for sterling good sense and integrity, he
made no speeches, and received the sobriquet "the
Silent Senator." He was a man of great decision of I
character, and in 1838, while State treasurer, broke |
up "the Buckshot war" by stubbornly refusing to
honor Governor Eitner's order on the treasury for
820,000 to pay the troops, setting guards about the
Treasury and personally overseeing them.

In 1814, Dr. Sturgeon married Miss Nancy Gregg, a '
daughter of James Gregg, of Uniontown, a merchant,
and Nancy Gregg, who survived her husband about
fifty years, reaching the age of eighty-seven years.
Mrs. Dr. Sturgeon died in 1836, at the age of forty-
two, the senator never remarrying, leaving five chil-
dren, four sons and a daughter, of whom three sons
are dead. Of these, one took part in the Mexican

war under Gen. Scott, being Lieut. John Sturgeon, of
Company H, Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volun-
teers, who died in Pueblo, Mexico, in the campaign,
on the 18th dav of Julv, 1848.

Among the venerable men of Fayette County, iden-
tified particularly with L'niontown for

L'niontown for a period ex-
tending from 1S05, when, as a child of two years of
age. he was Ijrought by his parents to Fayette County,
to the year of this writing (1882), a period no less
than seven years more than what is commonly counted
" the allotted age of man," stands Col. Ewing Brown-
field, in the vigor of well-preserved old age, and, if
his old-time neighbors are to be credited, without a
stain upon his character for general probity and
uprightness in his business dealings through life. He
was born near Winchester, Va., Sept. 7, 1803, of
Quaker parentage. Thomas Brownfleld, his father,
brought his family to Uniontown in the year 1805,
and at first rented and afterwards bought the White
Swan Tavern, which he conducted till he died in
1829. Ewing grew up in the old tavern, enjoyed the
advantages of the common schools of that day, and
when become of fitting years assisted his father as
clerk and overseer of the hotel until the father's
death, when, in 1830, he and his brother John, now
a prominent citizen of South Bend, Ind., formed a
partnership in the dry-goods business, of which more
further on.

In early manhood Col. Brownfleld conceived a great
love for military discipline and display, — " the pomp
and glory of the very name of war," — -and in a time of
profound peace, when he was about twenty years of
age, was one of the first to join a Union volunteer
company at that time organized. It is one of Col.
Brownfield's proud memories that upon the occasion
of Gen. Lafayette's visit to Albert Gallatin, at New
Geneva, in 1825, he, with several of his companions
in arms, went on horseback, as military escort, to the
residence of Mr. Gallatin, and were delightedly re-
ceived by the latter gentleman and his renowned
guest. About that time there came into Uniontown
a certain Capt. Bolles, a graduate of West Point, who
formed a military drill squad, of which Brownfleld
was a member. Under the tutelage of Capt. Bolles,
Brownfield became proficient in company drill, also in
battalion and field drill, etc. After the formation of
the First Regiment of Fayette County volunteers,
about 1828, Col. Brownfield, then a private, became
an independent candidate for major of the regiment,
and was elected over three strongly supported candi-
dates. Holding the jjosition for two years, he was
thereafter, on the resignation of Col. Evans, elected
colonel himself without opposition, and continued in
the colonelcy for five years, receiving from Maj.-
Gen. Henry W. Beeson, at that time a military
authority of high repute, the distinguished compli-





iiiciit implied in the following voluntary plaudit be- I
stowed upon his regiment, namely, "The First;
I ';i\ .tte County Regiment of volunteers is among the ,
very best field-drilled regiments in the State." [

In 1832 he and his brother dissolved the partner-
shiji before referred to, Ewing continuing the busi-
ness till 1836, when he " went West," and settled in
j\lisli:uvaka, Ind., again entering into the dry-goods |
business. But owing to the malarial character of the
locality in that day, he decided to leave the place I
after a few months, and returned to Uniontown,
where, in 1837, he resumed the dry-goods business. [
In the same year he bought a house and lot on the
corner of Main and Arch Streets, tore away the old j
building, erected a new one, and there conducted his j
favorite business, continuing in the same from that
date to 1862. In the latter year he disposed of his
dry-goods interests, and from that time to 1872 was
engaged, for the most part, in the wool business. In
187.'i he was elected president of the People's Bank,
which position he now holds. I

Col. Brownfield was married in 1842 to Miss Julia j
A. Long, daughter of Capt. Robert Long, of Spring-
field township, Fayette Co. They have had three
children, — Robert L., Anna E., and Virginia E. {
Robert, a graduate of the Sheflield Scientific School '
of Yale College, New Haven, Conn., is now a pros- :
perous merchant of Philadelphia ; Anna E. grad-
uated at the Packer Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y., and
is the wife of William Huston, a wholesale merchant
of Pittsburgh ; Virginia died on the 14th of May,


Dr. Fuller, a gentleman of high repute in his pro-
fession, on all hands conceded to be the leading phy- |
sician and surgeon of Uniontown and a wide district
thereabouts, as well as a manly man among the man-
liest in the various walks of life, is the son of the late I
John Fuller, of Connellsville, a tanner by trade, and |
a leading politician of his locality. He was three i
times a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, i
and was a member of the Constitutional Convention I
of the State in 1838, and died in 1865, at the age of j
seventy-nine. j

Dr. Fuller's mother was Harriet R. Smith, a daugh- |
ter of the distinguished physician. Dr. Bela B. Smith, j
a native of Hartford, Coan., and who practiced medi- i
cine at West Newton, Westmoreland Co., for fifty
years, and died about 1835, having accumulated a j
large estate, principally landed property, through the [
practice of his profession. ' j

Dr. Fuller was born in Connellsville in 1818, and |
in early childhood attended the common schools of
Connellsville (then a town of about 1000 inhabitants), i
till about the age of fifteen, when he was sent to Wash- I
ington College, an institution then embracing about 1
one hundred students, and the chief seat of learning !

in Western Pennsylvania. He remained at college
three years, and leaving it went to West Newton to
study medicine with Dr. John Hasson, a leading
physician of Westmoreland County. He read medi-
cine with Dr. Hasson for two years, and then took a
course of lectures at Jefferson Medical College, Phila-
delphia, concluding which he located in Uniontown
in the spring of 1840, and entered upon the practice
of medicine, which he pursued, developing great skill
and laying the foundatiqn of his exceptionally envi-
able reputation as a physician until 1846, when he
returned to Jefferson Medical College, took further
courses of lectures, and graduated in 1847. The emi-
nent Robley Dunglison and Prof. Pancoast were
prominent professors of the college at that time.

Dr. Fuller returned to his Uniontown home, where
he has ever since been located, enjoying an extensive
practice. In his early practice physicians were few
in Fayette and adjoining counties, and he was often
called on to visit patients twenty-five miles distant
from Uniontown.

In early life a Democrat, Dr. Fuller co-operated
actively with the National American party in 1856,
and on the organization of the Republican party
united with it. In 1860 he was a member of the Na-
tional Convention at Chicago which nominated Abra-
ham Lincoln for President. In the same year he was
elected to the State Senate from Fayette and West-
moreland Counties ; and after the expiration of his
term as senator was nominated by the Republicans
as representative in Congress ; ran against Hon. John
L. Dawson, then running for a second term, Dawson
being declared elected by a majority of sixteen (in a
strongly Democratic district). Dr. Fuller contested
the seat, but unsuccessfully.

Aside from his profession, he has been largely en-
gaged in business, notably in tanning for the whole-
sale trade in Georges township, Fayette Co. He has .
never united with any sectarian religious organization,
though looking with favor upon all practical means
of promoting good morals.

Dr. Fuller was twice married. His first wife was
Miss Elvina Markle, of West Newton, whom he mar-
ried in 1839, and who died in the early part of 1848.

He next married, in 1849, Miss Jane Beggs, of Union-
town, with whom he is now living. By his former
wife he had three children,— a son and two daughters,
— all of whom are now living. By his second wife
he has had five sons, three of whom are now living.
Three of his sons are practitioners of medicine and
one of law.

Robert Hngsett is the most remarkable man in
Fayette County in this, that he has wrought out by
his own unaided efforts a larger fortune than any
other citizen of the county. Others may possess
more wealth, but cannot say as Hogsett can, " I made
it all myself."



Robert Hogsett was born in Menallen township,
March 2, 1820. His father, James Hogsett, was a
north of Ireland man, and emigrated to America some
time during the early part of the present century.
There was nothing about him to distinguish him from
his fellow-men, and he died in North Union township,
near Uniontowu, about the year 1850, going out of
the world as he had lived in it, a poor but honest
man. He did not live to see his son take as much as
the initial step towards that distinguished rank in
business and financial affairs which he now admittedly
holds, but he left the world peacefully for all that,
confidently believing that all his children would be
able to hold their own in life's great battle. Eobert
Hogsett's mother was a daughter of Robert Jackson,
of the old Jackson family of Menallen township,
who organized Grace Church, near Searight's, the
oldest Episcopal Church in the county. At the early
age of twelve years Eobert was hired out to work for
such persons as would employ him, and for such
wages as could be obtained for him. His first en-
gagement was with Job Wheatley, a farmer, living
about one and a half miles northwardly from Sea-
right's. He remained with Wheatley but a short
time, doing such work as is within the scope and
power of a twelve years old boy. Upon quitting
Wheatley's service he went to breaking stones on the
old National road, a common thing with boys, and
men as well, at that day. There are many old men
in Fayette County who when boys and young men
broke stones on the old pike. Young Hogsett re-
mained on the road wielding the well-remembered
little round napping-hammer every day for five years,
and until he reached the age of seventeen, breaking
from two to five perches of stones a day, at twelve
and a half cents (called a "levy") per perch. Be-
coming tired of the monotony of the napping-hammer,
he entered into an engagement with Joseph Strickler,
who was running "the old Evans mill" on the farm,
or rather large plantation of Col. Samuel Evans, in
North Union township. Besides running the mill
Strickler farmed a portion of the Evans land. Strick-
ler was quite a prominent and active business man in
his day, and was among the first men of Fayette
County who gave attention to the feeding of cattle
for the Eastern markets. The Evans mill was de-
stroyed by fire while Robert Hogsett was serving for
Strickler, but at the time of the burning Hogsett was
not working in the mill, but on the Evans farm at
farm-work. While in the mill, Hogsett for the most
part had charge of the engine, but his duties were
multifarious, and he did many things in and about
the mill, such as carrying bags of grain from wagons,
placing grists on the backs of horses and tossing boys
upon them, and starting them home to gladden their
parents' hearts with fresh No. 1 flour and the usual
allowance of bran and sliorts to make slop for tho
cows. After the Evans mill burnt down Strickler
bought Vance's mill, on Redstone Creek, three miles

below Uniontown, which he refitted and operated.
This mill is still standing and doing work. Robert
Hogsett went with Strickler to Vance's mill. He
drove the team that hauled the machinery from the
burnt mill to Vance's, a work that occupied him many
days. Joseph Strickler had the misfortune to lose
his eyesight. After he became blind he removed to
the State of Missouri and died there. Mr. Hogsett
always speaks in kind terms of Joseph Strickler, and
says he was a good man.

While engaged in the milling business, Mr. Hog-
j sett, by reason of exposure to all kinds of weather,
] contracted quinsy, a complaint that pains him with
I periodically recurring attacks to this day. He re-
mained with Strickler eight years, and until he
j reached the age of twenty-five. During this period
his wages never exceeded one hundred and twenty
dollars per year, a rate, however, which at that
day was considered high for labor. After quitting
the service of Strickler he went to work for Mrs.
j Sampey, the widow of James Sampey, of Mount
Washington. His duties under this engagement
were to manage the large mountain farm upon which
old Fort Necessity is located ; to make all he could
out of it for his employer, and likewise to superin-
tend the hotel at that place, over which Mrs. Sampey
presided as landlady and hostess. This hotel was a
stage-stand at which the " Good Intent" lineof stage-
' coaches, running on the National road, kept relays
; of teams, and passengers frequently stopped there for
meals. There were nine stage-teams standing at the
Mount Washington stables all the time. Mr. Hogsett
! engaged but for a single year with Jlrs. Sampey, and
I in the year cleared for her and paid over to her the
! handsome sum of four thousand dollars. Now Hog-
sett had reached an age at which he was ambitious to
own something himself. His first thought after re-
solving to make a home for himself that he could
call his own was to obtain a good wife. And here
the genius of good luck first perched upon his banner,
and led him to woo and wed a daughter of John
F. Foster, of North Union township. Mr. Foster
owned a small but productive farm near Uniontown,
j and Robert Hogsett, soon after his marriage, rented
this farm and set up for himself and his wife. He
operated this farm as tenant of his father-in-law for
about two years, and then bought it. It contained
one hundred acres, and was the first real estate that
Robert Hogsett ever owned, and he owns it to this
da)', and lives within a few steps of its boundaries.
This purchase was made about the year 1848.

It will be seen that at this date, while Jlr. Hogsett
had displayed indomitable energy and industry, as
wrll as close economy, his earnings were inadequate
t(i the purchase of a farm even of small proportions
and at a small price, the best average farm in Fayette
Ciiunty at that time rating only at about fifty dollars
per acre ; and that was the price he paid for the farm
of his father-in-law. But owing to the relationship

^.^cZ7 T^^/'e^^



between the grantor and grantee, the latter, of course,
obtained favorable terms. His industrious and eco-
nomical habits, liowever, soon enabled him to acquire
a sufficient sum of money to pay for this farm in full,
when he got his deed, and stood forth for the first
time a freeholder. When he commenced farming for
himself as lessee on his father-in-law's land, his whole
outfit consisted of two poor horses and one old sled.
As he pushed along he added to his stock, and soon
became the owner of an ordinary farm team. It was
his practice at this period to haul the grain he raised
into the mountains and sell it to the tavern-keepers
on the old National road, which was then a crowded
thoroughfare; and such indeed was the practice of
nearly all the farmers in the neighborhood of Union-
town and many portions of Fayette County.

The National road furnished a ready market for all
kinds of farm produce, and the mountains being remote
from the rich agricultural lands better prices were ob-
tained there than " in the settlement," as the region
west of Laurel Hill was called. After. disposing of a
load of grain the farmer proceeded with his team to
Cumberland, and returned with a load of merchandise
to Brownsville or Wheeling, for the transportation of
which he obtained remunerative prices, and thus was
enabled to make profitable trips. It was always con-
sidered an indispensable matter to secure what was
called a "back load." Farmers thus employed were
called "sharpshooters," a term used to distinguish
them from the " regulars," as those were called who
hiade transportation a regular business. Robert Hog-
sett was therefore called a " sharpshooter," but he
little heeded " nicknames" so long as he pursued an
honest calling and obtained an honest living. He
was utterly oblivious to everything but the accomplish-
ment of his aims and purposes, always pursuing them,
however, with the strictest regard for honesty and

It may be said that the turning-point of Mr. Hog-
sett's wonderfully successful career was his marriage
I with Miss Foster and the purchase of her father's
farm. After that he moved forward slowly and
' cautiously at first, but always making his points with
' certainty. Honesty, industry, and frugality were his
I dominant characteristics, and these when combined,
I rarely fail to bring success to any man who has the
; good fortune to possess them.

For many years after he became settled on his own
homestead Robert Hogsett devoted himself exclusively
to legitimate fiirming and stock-raising pursuits, which
brought him large profits, owing mainly to his judi-
cious management. In 1858-59, when the first railroad
was built to Uniontown, called the Fayette County
i road, he took a contract for construction, and com-
i pleted it with characteristic energy and promptitude;
I and upon the completion ofthe road, at the urgentsolici-
I tation ofthe directors, he consented to serve assuper-
I intendent, a position he held but a short time, not
I fancying the railroad business, and possessing too much
I 1!3

business talent to be wasted on a twelve-mile branch.
He is now, however, a- director in the Southwest Rail-
road Company, a position he has held from the first
organization of that company. Soon after the con-
struction of the Fayette County road, above mentionid,
he purchased the Isaac Wood tract of land, near
Mount Braddock, a large farm underlaid with the nine-
foot vein of coking coal. He moved on tf) this farm
and lived on it a number of years, leaving the old
Foster farm in charge of one of his now grown-up sons.
He subsequently purchased the Jacob Murphy farm,
adjoining the Wood farm, and also underlaid with
the big vein of coking coal. Here he erected coke
ovens, and operated them a number of years with his
customary success. He recently sold these works
and the coal adjacent for a large sum of money, suf-

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 78 of 193)