Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 79 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 79 of 193)
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ficient of itself to constitute an ordinary fortune.
He next bought the Judge Nathaniel Ewing farm,
one mile north of Uniontown, on which he at present
resides. Altogether, he is at this time the owner of
four thousand eight hundred acres of land, twelve
hundred of which lie in the county of Logan, Ohio, of
excellent quality for farming and grazing. He has
three thousand six hundred acres in Fayette County,
all of the best quality of farming land, and underlaid
with the celebrated Connellsville vein of coking coal,
except eight or nine hundred acres of mountain range.
He is also the owner of a one-half interest in the
Lemont Furnace, which has a daily capacity of forty
tons, and he personally manages the affairs of this fur-
nace, in a,ddition to bestowing careful attention upon
his extensive farming and stock-raising interests.
And this colossal fortune was made in a few years by
a man who started out in the world with nothing to
assist him but willing hands, a clear head, and an
honest heart. Robert Hog;sett is small in stature, and
wears a full beard. While he is not a member of any
church, he is temperate and exemplary in his habits.
He never indulges in profanity, nor does he use
tobacco in any form. All his life he has followed
the precept of the maxim, " E.arly to bed and early to
rise ;" and if the practice of this precept has not made
him healthy, it has at least made him wealthy and
wise. Without opportunity of going to school in
early life, as has been seen, his education is limited
to the rudiments of book learning, and he has prob-
ably never seen the following lines, although his
career, is a perfect illustration of the truthfulness of
the sentiment they contain, viz. :

"The heights by great mon reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,

Were towering upward* in the night."

Robert Hogsett is utterly indirterent to the gilded
signs of fashion and fancy. A brass band on the
street makes no more impression upon him than the
murmurings of the rivulet that threads its course
through one of his rich meadows. He pays no atten-
tion to "side-shows," but never misses the "main



chance." It must not be inferred from this, however,
that he is lacking in hospitality or generosity. On
the contrary, he lives well, and no man greets or en-
tertains his friends with warmer cordiality. When
at home, released from the anxious cares of business
engagements almost constantly pressing upon him,
he delights in receiving the calls of his neighbors and
friends, and derives pleasure in talking with them on
the common topics of the hour. With all his good
fortune he has suffered one sad misfortune, the death
a few years ago of his wife, Jane Foster. But Provi-
dence, as if unwilling that the even current of his
successful life should seem to be broken or per-
turbed, sent him another wife in the person of Susan
Allen, one of the most excellent ladies of Fayette

The character and remarkable career of Jasper
Markle Thompson, now and since 1870 jjresiclent of
the First National Bank of Uniontown, iiniy, per-
haps, be best illustrated by a brief recital of the his-
tory of his immediate progenitors, from whom he
evidently inherited the elements of the vigorous but
modest character which he has manifested through-
out his career in life. He comes of an ancestry on
both the paternal and maternal sides — the one Scotch-
Irish, the other Pennsylvania Dutch — who were driven
from the lands of their birth because of their relig-
ious convictions, and found a refuge in the colonies
of America, in the province of Penn, early in the
eighteenth century. His paternal grandfather, like
many other of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of the
Cumberland Valley, desiring to stand upon the fron-
tiers of civilizalidn, drifted westward to Westmore-
land County prior to the Revolutionary war, and
took up a tract of land in the vicinity of Mount
Pleasant. His wife was Mary Jack, a daughter of
John .lack, a gentleman who was prominent, with
others of his family, in drafting and uttering the
Hannastown Declaration of Independence in 1775.
A new tield of operations was about that time opened
to men of strong arms aud unflinching courage, and
lie determined to meet the red man on his own battle-
field. Inclination, if not duty, pointed to the choice
soil of Kentucky, and Mr. Tliompson's grandfather,
together with his wife, and about a half-dozen, fam-
ilies, nearly all immediate relatives, pushed their way
through the wilderness, and joined Boone in his ag-
gressive conflict, and continued companions in the
struggle till possession was established. There the
grandfiither of Mr. Thompson passed the remainder
of his life, dying in Mason County, wliere his young-
est son, Andrew Finly Thompson, father of Jasper
Markle, was born in 1791. Andrew and his three
older brothers served through the war of 1812, An-
drew being taken prisoner on the occasion of Hull's
surrender. Being released, near the present site of

Detroit, Mich., he traveled on foot to his relatives in
Westmoreland County, Pa. Here he married Leah
Markle, the youngest of the twenty-two children of
Gasper Markle, who settled in Westmoreland prior to
1760, coming from Berks County, Pa., where his father
had settled in 1703, having upon the revocation of
the Edict of Nantes fled from Alsace in 1686 to Am-
sterdam, where he engaged in business until he took
ship for America.

After his marriage A. F. Thompson returned with
his wife to his Kentucky home, where his youngest
son, Jasper Markle Thompson, was born, near W^ash-
ington. Mason Co., Aug. 30, 1822. Mr. Thompson's
father and mother both dying before he was three
years old, he was taken to Mill Grove, Westmoreland
Co., Pa., and lived several years with his grand-
mother, Mary Markle (whose maiden name was Roth-
criiiol, of which family is V. F. Rothermel, who has
arliii-vcil a national n-iiiitation as an artist through
hi.- great paiiiting, the ■' I'.attle of Gettysburg"). After
her death, in 1832, he lived with his cousin, Gen.
Cyrus P. Markle, for eighteen years. W^hile with
Gen. Markle he worked on the farm, at the paper-
mill, in the store, sold goods, kept books, etc., till
April, 1850, when he moved to Redstone township,
Fayette Co., and purchased part of "the Walters
farm," two miles from New Salem, and lived there
until September of the same year. He then removed
to the farm on which he now lives, two miles and a
half from I'niontown, in Menallen township, and
farmed and dealt in live-stock until 1862, when he-
was appointed collector of internal revenue for the
Twenty-first District of Pennsylvania, the largest dis-
trict in the State except those of Pittsburgh and Phil-
adelphia. He was afterwards appointed receiver of
commutation money for the same district, and in this
capacity collected and paid over to the government
[ over §450,000, in addition to some §2,000,000 collected
as internal revenue, having collected over §100,000
tax on whisky in one day. He held two commissions
as collector from President Lincoln, and resigned his
post under the latter one after holding it for over
four years.
He was one of the original stockholders (1863) of
1 the First National Bank of Uniontown, of which lie
' is now president, and has been a dir€ctor since the
organization of that institution. He was nominated
as the Republican candidate for representative to the
j Legislature in 1873,but hesitated to accept the nomina-
tion, as it was generally thought there was no chance
' of electing a Republican candidate in a county which
usually gives one thousand Democratic majority, but
finally consenting, was elected by one thousand and
thirty-one majority, his opponent on the Democratic
ticket being Col. Alexander J. Hill. He was one of
I the first directors of the L^niontown and W'est Vir-
1 ginia Railroad Company, and after the resignation of
j G. A. Thomson was elected president. He has also
' been president of the Uniontown Building and Loan



Association from its organization to the present time,
it having a capital of two hundred thousand dolhirs;
also was one of the originators of the Fayette County
Agricultural Association, and has been president
thereof from its organization. He has been a mem-
I ber of the Presbyterian Church of Uniontown for
1 over thirty years, a ruling elder for about twenty
j years ; was commissioner from Redstone Presbytery
! to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
; which met in Albany, N. Y., in 1868, and again at
I Madison, Wis., in 1880, and is a director in the West-
ern Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church
1 at Allegheny City, Pa.

I Mr. Thompson was married in 1846 to Eliza Ca-
ruthers, youngest daughter of Samuel Caruthers, of j
Sewickly township, W^estmoreland Co., Pa., a ruling
elder in the Presbyterian Church of Sewickly, and
whose mother, Catharine Potter, was the daughter of
Lieut. John Potter, and sister of Gen. James Potter, ^
the intimate and trusted friend of Gen. Washington
in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary war. Mr.
Thompson has two daughters, who received their edu-
cation at the Female Seminary in Washington, Pa.
The oldest, Ruth A., was married in 1875 to Dr. J. T.
Shepler, now of Dunbar. The second, Lenora M., i
was married to John A. Niccolls, a merchant, in
1873, and resides at Irwin Station, Westmoreland Co.
He has also two sons, — William M. and Josiah V., —
who graduated together from Washington and Jeffer-
son College, at Washington, Pa., in 1871. William
lives with his father, and manages his farm of over
six hundred and fifty acres. The younger, Josiah V., ]
was chosen teller in the First National Bank of j
Uniontown in April, 1872, and elected cashier in
1877, when twenty-two years of age, and now holds
this position, this bank doing the largest banking
business done in the county, and being one of the
most successful.

Mr. Thompson was one of the successful presidential
electors (on the Republican ticket) in the campaign
of 1872, resulting in Gen. Grant's second election.

Mr. Thompson in his youth attended only the
common schools, but with a sagacity and foresight
commendable, as his success in life has demonstrated
to the consideration of the youth of the present day,
improved his spare hours of daylight, and occupied
most of his nights not devoted to sleep to acquiring
what knowledge he could through books.


Among the now departed sons of Fayette County
the lives of whom shed upon her a special lustre, was
the eminent lawyer and cultivated gentleman, Alfred
Patterson, who died in Natchitoches, La., when on a
visit to his daughter there, Dec. 16, 1878, he having
reached her residence only three or four days before
his death.

Mr. Patterson was born in Menallen township, Dec.

24, 1807, and was of Scotch-Irish descent. His re-
mote immigrant ancestor settled in Lancaster County,
Pa. His grandfather was John Patterson, who came
into Fayette County from Dauphin County at an
early day and took up his abode in Menallen town-
ship. He had a large number of children, most of
whom eventually became scattered in the then far-off,
growing VV'est. But John, the father of Alfred, re-
mained upon the old homestead until Alfred was sev-
eral years old, when he sold the farm and purchased
a plantation near Wellsburg, West Virginia, whereon
he lived until his death.

John Patterson, who married Rebecca Oliphant,
had four sons and four daughters. Of the sons, An-
drew O. Patterson became the once-noted Rev. Dr.
Patterson of the Presbyterian order; and Thomas M.
a physician, who settled in Louisiana and acquired
great wealth; John E. died young; and of Alfred
we are to speak more specially farther on. The
daughters all married and died in middle life.

All'red was brought up in boyhood on the farm in
Menallen and on the plantation near Wellsburg, and
was carefully instructed and finally sent to Jefferson
College, Washington County, and graduated from
that institution about 182S. He then studied law,
and was admitted to the bar in Westmoreland County,
and soon after moved to Uniontown, where he entered
upon the practice of his profession, which he pursued
with such zeal and marked ability that he rapidly rose
to the leadership of the bar of the county, which he con-
tinued to hold during his residence in Fayette County.
Having while residing in Uniontown acquired large
business interests in Pittsburgh, he removed to that
city about 1805 and organized the Pittsburgh National
Bank of Commerce, and was elected its first president,
and was chosen president at all its successive elec-
tions of officers while he lived.

Mr. Patterson was as distinguished as a business
man as he had been as a lawyer. No eulogy here could
add to the brightness of the fame he enjoyed when
living, or monody fitly sound the regret with which
all who knew him received the announcement of his
sudden death.

In 1834, Mr. Patterson married Miss Caroline White-
ley, daughter of Col. Henry Whiteley, of Delaware,
and who died May 7, 1869. They were the parents
of seven children, — Henry W., who in 18C6 married
Miss Louisa C. Dawson, daughter of Hon. John L.
Dawson, of Fayette County, and who died in 1875,
leaving a son, Henry W., and in January, 1880, mar-
ried Miss Anna T., daughter of George P. Hamilton,
Esq., of Pittsburgh ; Mary C, wife of George Dawson,
a native of Fayette County, now residing in Louisiana ;
Catharine W., who died in infancy ; John Russell,
who was drowned in the Monongahela River while
skating about 1858, aged twenty-two years; Virginia,
wife of William H. Baily, residing in Minneapolis,
Minn. ; Elizabeth, wife of Samuel H. Jacobus, of
Allegheny City ; and Ella R., of the same city.




Prominent among the lawyers of Faj-ette County {
stands Alfred Howell, for a period of thirty-five years
identified with llie interests and progress of Union-
town, where he resides. Mr. Howell is a native of
Philadelphia, and was born in the year 182.5, of Qua- '
ker stock, both his paternal and maternal ancestry
tracing their lines through the time of William Penn
back for an indefinite period among the Quakers of
Wales. Benjamin B. Howell, his father, then a mer-
chant, removed with his family to New York City in
the year 1830-81, where young Howell wa* sent to pre-
paratory school, and eventually, at the age of fourteen,
entered Columbia College, and there continued until
well advanced in the sophomore class. Jleanwhile
his father had quitted merchandise and entered upon
the development of iron and coal industries near Cum-
berland, Md., having enlisted with himself several
English capitalists. Having occasion to visit Eng-
land on business, he took passage, in March, 1S41,
on board the ill-fated ocean steamer '' President,"
which foundered at sea, no tidings of her or any of
her human cargo having ever been had. The sudden
and great eiibniiity of the loss of his father necessi-
tated yimiig IIow.'H's withilrawal from college, after

which hr s 1 entered as a student at law in the office

of Graham & Sandfords, counselors-at-law and so-
licitors in chancery, a distinguished firm, the Sand-
fords afterwards having been both elevated to the
bench. With these gentlemen, and their successors
in partnership with Mr. Graham, Messrs. Murray
Hoffman and Joseph S. Bosworth (both subsequently
becoming judges), Mr. Howell remained till 1845,
enjoying the good fortun
this remarkable conibinai
migrated to Uniontowu, :
in the office of his unci
leading lawyer, and was admitted to the Imr in 1847.
In 1851 he entered int.. partnership with Mr. Howell,
and continued with him until the fall of 18G1, wlien
Mr. Howell, having raised the Eighty-fifth Regiment ;
Pennsylvania Ynhiiiteers, and being commissioned
its colonel, entered into the war of the Rebellion,
wherein he became exce]itionally distinguished, and '
was killed near Petersburg, in September, 1864, by i
being thrown from his Iiorse in the night-time.

After Col. Howell's entry into the army, Mr. How-
ell succeeded to the business of the partnership, and
lias ever since continued the practice of the law,
conducting a large and laborious business with con-
scientious fidelity to his clients, earning honorable
distinction and a goodly fortune.

He has been more or less engaged in important
business enterprises, among which may be men-
tioned the projection, in 18G6, about what was then
known as Dawson's Station, on the line of the Pitts-
burgh and Connellsvijle Railroad, of a village, now
incorporated as tlie borough of Dawson, on a tract of
land there lying, and of which he about that time

f the eminent tutelage of
1 of legal talent, when he
finished his legal studies
ro^lnia P.. Howell, then a

came into possession. He caused the tract to be duly
surveyed and laid out into building lots, and so con-
ducted his enterprise as in the course of a few years
to erect a prosperous and desirable village, with
churches, public schools, etc., upon what was before,
and but for his business foresight and energy woujd
have remained, merely an uninhabitable portion of
an old farm. He has occasionally engaged in the
purchase and sale of real estate, particularly dealing
in coal lands, with profitable results, and taken active
part with others in supplying the county with local
railways, which have been the means of developing
the treasures of rich coal-mines and of otherwise en-
hancing the wealth of the county.

Mr. Howell became a communicant, in his early
manhood, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and
has ever since continued active connection there-
with, and occupies the position of senior warden.

Mr. Howell was, in the year 1853, united in mar-
riage with Miss Elizabeth Jennings Dawson, daughter
of Mr. George Dawson, of Brownsville, Fayette Co.
Mrs. Howell died in 18(39, leaving six children, one
of whom, a daughter, died in 1878. Of the five now
living, the elder son, George D., is at this time (1882)
a member of the senior class of Trinity College,
Hartford, Conn., intending, after his graduation
there, to studv law with his father.


Charles E. Boyle, one of the most prominent mem-
bersofthe FayetteConnty bar, wasborn in Uniontown,
Feb. 4. iNod, and i< tlie <'mi of Bernard Boyle, whose
father, al^i rv-rnard I'.nyle. emigrated from Ireland.
Mr. Boyle, the father of Charles E., died near New
Market, in Virginia, when Charles was only three
years old, leaving a family of four children, of whom
Charles E. was (he youngest. In liis boyhood he at-
tended the rnmuion -ilinnls, and also fora time Madi-
son College, and thereatier tonk a course of Studies in
Waynesburg College, Greene County.

While attending schoid Jlr. lioyle spent somewhat
of his time in and about the printing-office of the
Cumberland Prcsbi/feriaii, and picked up the art of
setting type at nine years of age, and thereafter fol-
lowed the business of printing at times previous to
attending Waynesburg College, on his return from
which he engaged in the same business in the office
of the Genhu of Liherlij. At twenty years of age he
became owner of a half-interest in that paper, and
three years later the sole owner, and alone conducted |
it for a year, and sold it to E. G. Roddy in February, '
1861. While proprietor of the paper Mr. Boyle was
entered as a student at law in the office of Hon. Daniel
Kaine, and was finally admitted to the bar in Decem-
ber, 1861, and immediately entered into partnership
with Mr. Kaine, continuing with him till the spring
of 1865. The firm enjoyed a practice second in im-
portance to none in the county.

o . <^ , / J^^^-<^


//. e f ^^Y^c^^<




In 1862, Mr. Boyle was elected district attorney for
Fayette County for the term of three years, before the
expiration of which he was elected by the Democratic
party a representative to the General Assembly of
Pennsylvania, and re-elected the following year, serv-
ing in the sessions of 1866-67. In the latter session
he was placed upon the Committees of Ways and
Means, the General Judiciary, and Federal Relations,
the leading committees, the House being then two-
thirds Republican. The session was a stormy one.
Legislation in Pennsylvania at that time, just after
the war, ran wild. Laws were enacted en masse. Mr.
Boyle strenuously opposed that kind of legislation,
and at the close of the session his Democratic fellow-
members presented him with a complimentary service
of silver, a testimonial of his acknowledged political
leadership. For several years after the close of his
legislative services in 1867, Mr. Boyle suffered constant
ill health, but nevertheless paid diligent attention to
the practice of his profession, and was active in poli-
tics. He had been a member of several State Conven-
tions of his party prior to that of 1867, of which latter
he was made president. This convention nominated
Judge Sharswood, now chief justice, for judge of the
Supreme Court. In 1868, Mr. Boyle was nominated
by his party as its candidate for auditor-general of
the State, the Republican party at that time having
put in nomination Gen. Hartranft. Hartranft was
declared elected by a majority of about nine thousand
in a vote of six hundred and fifty thousand. Mr.
Boyle was temporary chairman of the Democratic
State Convention in 1871. In 1872 he was a candi-
date for nomination to Congress from the Twenty-first
District, composed of the counties of Westmoreland,
Fayette, and Indiana ; and also in the years 1874-76,
and 1878-80, for the same numerical district, then
composed of Fayette, Westmoreland, and Greene
Counties, and on each occasion carried against ear-
nest opposition his own county, F:iyrtto, by iinijuii-
ties successively increasinir, but lailnl 1<j sfi-uic tlic
nomination of the district, it going to one or other of
the other counties. Mr. Boyle was a member of the
Democratic National Conventions at St. Louis in
1876, and at Cincinnati in 1880, in both of which he
supported the nomination of Gen. Hancock.

In avocations of life other than professional, Mr.
Boyle has also had his full share of duties to perform
and received his meed of honor. He is one of the State
managei-s of the West Pennsylvania State Hospital,
appointed by a Republican Governor ; has for a num-
ber of years been a vestryman of St. Peter's Protest-
ant Episcopal Church, and a director of the First Na-
tional Bank.

In 1871, Judge A. E. Willson, Hon. W. H. Play-
ford, and Mr. Boyle became the owners of a body of
valuable coal land in Tyrone township, where they
erected works and engaged in the manufacture of
coke until the spring of 1880, when they sold a part
of the property to H. C. Frick & Co., realizing by the

sale, as is generally understood, a considerable for-
tune each. Mr. Boyle is a solicitor of the Baltimore
and Ohio Railroad Company, and retained counsel of
nearly all the great coke and furnace companies of
Fayette County, which companies operate capital of
millions of dollars.

Mr. Boyle was married in 1858 to Miss Mary Hen-
drickson, of Uniontown, by whom he has had seven
children, six of whom are living, — four sons and two


William H. Playford, who in addition to the rej u-
tation of being an excellent counselor and advocate,
enjoys popular distinction as the ablest criminal law-
yer at the Fayette County bar, is the son of Dr. Rob-
ert W. Playford, who practiced medicine at Browns-
ville, Fayette Co., for a period of over forty years, being
very successful, particularly as a surgeon, his prac-
tice extending into adjoining counties. Dr. Playford
was a native of London, and a graduate of Eton
College, England. He died in 1867, at the age of
sixty-eight. About ten years after his arrival in this
country he married Margaret A. Shaw, of Fayette

William H. Playford, who is one of three children,
— one of whom. Dr. R. W. Playford, is now practic-
ing medicine in Venango County, — was born in
Brownsville, Aug. 31, 1834, attended the common
school of his town, and at about fifteen years of age
was sent to Dunlap's Creek Academy for two years,
where he made studies preparatory to entering the
sophomore class of Jefferson College, Canonsburg, in

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 79 of 193)