Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 92 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 92 of 193)
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thougli noted for his jocularity and salient wit. But
withal he is, in some respects, a peculiar man, indulg-
ing idiosyncratic tastes at times, as is illustrated by
the fact that it has been his habit for a period of over
forty years to take annual excursions alone to the
Atlantic seaboard, or among the Indians of the lakes
or of Canada, among whom he usually spends two or
three months, by them being called "the Pennsyl-
vania Quaker," or " Wacco," which is understood to
be the Indian translation of the former designation.
Visiting with these people Mr. Gibson finds great
diversion, and thinks he thereby conserves his health.
He returns home invariably buoyant in spirits, find-
ing the old home with its comfortable surroundings a

I new Eden, wherein he settles down again in quiet
and peace. Thus he renews his age and his home,
and escapes for a while each year the perplexities of
business and the corroding temptations of avarice,
' and so will, doubtless, lengthen out his green old age
I far beyond the Scriptural allotment of life to man.
Mr. Gibson was an Old-Line Whig in politics, and
is now a Republican, but " never bothered with parti-
san politics." In 1852 he married Mrs. Ellen Simon-
son, of Connellsville, by whom he has two daughters
and a son.

Among the distinguished men of Fayette County
who have passed away, stood eminent in professional
and social life, Thomas R. Davidson, who was born
in Connellsville, Oct. 6, 1814, the son of William
and Sarah Rogers Davidson, both of Scotch-Irish de-
scent. William Davidson, the father, was an old iron-
master, State senator, and a man of great mental vigor.
Thomas R. Davidson received his education at home
and at Kenyon College, Ohio, and after being ad-
mitted to the bar, practiced law for some years in
Uniontown, where he married Isabella Austin, daugh-
ter of John M. Austin, then one of the leaders of the
bar in his section of the State. Of this union were
two children,— Mary D., now wife of P. S. Newmyer,
of Connellsville, and William A., at present practic-
ing law in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shortly after his mar-
riage he located in Connellsville, his old home, where
he continued during the remainder of his life in the
duties of his profession, and engaged in various en-
terprises for the advancement of the community in
which he was interested. He was very c;iutious and
reticent in business pursuits, but was quite successful
and accumulated a handsome estate. He had no de-
sire for political advancement, preferring the more
congenial walks of private life, though he once ac-
cepted the honorary office of presidential elector.
Mr. Davidson died Nov. 3, 1875.

His appearance was very commanding, he being
in stature six and one-half feet, finely proportioned,
and weighing two hundred and forty-two pounds.
Perhaps a more correct estimate of his character and
standing could not be given than that expressed in
the following extract from a tribute by James Darsie,
who knew him long and well :

" His departure from our midst has left an aching
void which cannot be filled. No other man can lake
his place, do the work, and command the confidence
that was reposed in him by the entire community.
He was indeed the rich man's counselor and the
poor man's friend, and was universally esteemed, hon-
ored, and beloved as a man of lofty principle, gener-

I ous and magnanimous impulses, and of spotless in-
tegrity. I have rarely met one who had so great an
abhorrence of a mean, dishonorable, or dishonest act

' as he ; indeed, the love of truth and justice was in him


innate. While in principle stern and unbending,
even to severity, in heart and sympathy he was ten-
der as a child. He never disappointed tlie hopes and
expectations of his friends, or betrayed a trust com- i
mitted to his hands. He practiced his profession not ,
so much for profit as to heal the animosities, adjust
tlie difficulties, and restore the peace and confidence
of neighbors. I presume I may safely say he settled
more disputes by his sagacity, wisdom, and modera-
tion than he ever did by the hard process of law,
and oftentimes prevailed upon his clients to amicably
settle their disputes rather than risk the vexation and
uncertainty of an appeal to a legal tribunal. He was,
indeed, a peacemaker in the highest sense of that term,
and had a far more honest satisfaction in amicably
settling a difficulty than in gaining a suit before a
judge and jury. In one word, he filled the full out-
line of that sentiment happily expressed by one of
England's noblest bards, —

The following testimonial to his great worth is
quoted from resolutions by the bar of Fayette County :

" It is with heartfelt sorrow and unfeigned regret
that we are compelled to submit to the loss of one so
endeared to us all by long and pleasant associations.
His genial, warm, and affectionate disposition, his
tender regard for the feelings of others, his uniform
courtesy and affability, and, above all, his high sense
of honor and sirict integrity secured to him the love
and respect alike of bench and bar. This bar has
lost a sound lawyer, an able counselor and upright
man, whose honor and integrity were only equaled
by his unassuming modesty and affability."


The Lindleys of America trace their English lin-
eage through Francis Lindley, who came to this
country with his Puritan brethren from Holland in
the " Mayflower." Demas Lindley, the grandfather
of the late Dr. Lutellus Lindley, migrated from New
Jersey, and settled on Ten-Mile Creek, Washington
Co., Pa., about the middle of the eighteenth century.
There the Rev. Jacob Lindley, Dr. Lindley's fatheV,
was born in a block-house, the resort for protection
against the Indians of the white settlers of the re-
gion. The Rev. Jaob was educated at Princeton
College, and early in his ministerial life removed to
Athens, Ohio, and took active jiart in the building
and establishment of the Ohio University at that
place, of which he held the presidency for over
twenty-five years. His oldest child was the Rev.
Daniel Lindley, the famous missionary, under the
American Board, to South Africa, where he remained
for some twenty-seven years. He died in New York
at the venerable age of eighty years.

Dr. Lindley, born Feb. 1, 1808, was educated at the
Ohio University, under his fatlier's charge, and was

prepared for graduation at the early age of sixteen,
but on account of ill health deferred it for two years,
till 1826, when he went to Virginia, and there taught
a private school composed of the children of several
neighboring planters. In 1831 he betook himself to
Ten-Mile Creek, read medicine with Dr. Henry Blatch-
ley, a daughter of whom, Maria, he married in 1833 ;
and in March, 1834, he removed to Connellsvilie,
where he practiced medicine with great success for
about forty-seven years, and died Oct. 25, 1881.

Dr. Lindley was singularly devoted to his profes-
sion, but enjoyed a great reputation, not only for
professional skill, but for urbanity, a generous hospi-
tality, and scrupulous integrity, commanding the
affection as well as confidence of his neighbors and a
wide circle of acquaintances.

His first wife, Maria Blatchley, died in June, 1841,
leaving a son, Henry Spencer Lindley, now a physi-
cian practicing in Perryville, Allegheny Co., Pa. In
July, 1842, Dr. Lindley married Mary A. Wade,
daughter of James Wade, of Fayette County, by
whom he had four sons and one daughter, all of
whom are now living save the first-born sou, Clark,
who was accidentally killed while a member of the
junior class of Allegheny College, Meadville, in the
twenty-first year of his age. The daughter, Carrie
Lou, was graduated at Beaver Female College in
1863, and in 1864 became the wife of Rev. C. W.
Smith, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and at-
tached to Pittsburgh Conference. Lutellus W., Lutel-
lus' second living son, graduated at Jefterson Medical
College, and practices in partnership with his half-
brother, Dr. Henry Spencer Lindley, before named.
Frank M., the third son, studied medicine at the same
college, and practices his profession in Connellsvilie.
Charles D., the youngest son, resides in Butler City,
Montana, engaged in mining.


Somewhere in Beaver County, Pa., near Brighton,
we believe, now resides, and of Pittsburgh makes his
business centre. Col. Daniel R. D.ividson, who belongs
rather to the State of Pennsylvania than to Fayette
County, in which he was born, and where he passed
perhaps fifty years of residence, and in which county
he still holds large business and proprietary interests
and spends considerable time, a sketch of whom it is
our lot to prepare for tlie history of Fayette County.

Mr. Davidson took great interest in the history of
his native county during its preparation for the press,
aud rendered willing aid to those who were engaged in
it whenever he could, contributing to whatever depart-
ment of the work he was requested to assist in until
a biography of himself was demanded, when the
proposing interviewer was met with the polite but
jjositive refusal of Mr. Davidson to furnish any item
whatever regarding himself, he easily baffling the
inquirer with the naive remark that he never knew





anything about himself, never understood himself as |
boy or man, and could not, therefore, say anything of I
himself; in ftxct, he would prefer that nothing be said,
and he left no uncertainty about his quiet but firm I
declaration that whatever might be written of him |
for the history must be obtained from others. How-
ever, persistent inquiry evoked from him the state-
ment that he believed himself to have been born at i
Connellsville, Jan. 12, 1820; but subsequent inquiry
of others casts doubt upon this date, and leaves the
writer unable to say whether Mr. Davidson was born
a year or two before or a year or two after that time.

Mr. Davidson is so markedly sui generis in char-
acter, as everybody who has his acquaintance knows,
or should know, that it is quite unessential to men-
tion herein, as in biographical sketches in general, the
mortal stock of which he is a derivative; and yet it I
would seem that somewhat of his physical and spir-
itual nature is inherited ; as his father, the late Hon.
William Davidson, of Connellsville, is represented
by old citizens who kuew him well as a man of large '
mould and extraordinary mental powers, as well as of
a very sensitive and potent moral nature {mixed with
a degree of religious sentiment which in the last
years of his life made him an extreme though con-
sistent zealot) ; while his mother, Sarah Rogers, some
years since deceased, is pictured as a lady of remark-
able gifts, a woman of great energy and extreme per-

William Davidson was born in Carlisle, Cumber-
land Co., Pa., Feb. 14, 1783, and came into Fayette
County about 1808. He was at first manager of the
Laurel Furnace, and afterwards an iron-master at
Break Neck. He was several times a member of the
State Legislature, at one time president of the House,
and was also a member of the Senate. He was highly
esteemed as an active, intelligent, and honest legisla-
tor. It appears that the first or immigrant David-
son ancestor of William, came from the north of Ire-
land and lived in Londonderry during the famous

Mr. and Mrs. William Davidson were the parents
of three sons and two daughters. Daniel R. was
their fourth child. It is learned that he went to a
common school in his extreme young years ; but he
was never known by his schoolmates to study any-
thing. The every-day mj'stery to them was how, with-
out study, " Dan" got to know more about every-
thing than did they who studied hard. Of course j
the boys he played with had no capacities lo com-
prehend him. They knew nothing of him any more
than they did about the mysteries of the attraction
of gravitation when they fell off the dunce-block, or
why the water ran down the Youghiogheny, gliding
past their school-house. '

Frank always, but not bold in utterance, Daniel
Davidson grew up to sixteen years of age, as little
understood by his father, it is evident (and perhaps
by his mother too), as he understood himself; and the

fear being that this uncomprehended boy would never
amount to anything of himself, and would ever be " a
ne'er-do-well," he was at that age taken from the
school which he cannot be said to have "attended"
and banished " from Rome," — that is, sent into quar-
ters over which the central power or home govern-
ment held empire, but of which the boy was given
experimental charge, — asortof procuratorship. It was
an act of despair on the part of his fiither when he
made, as he thought, a fixture of Dan on the David-
son farm, north of the borough of Connellsville,
which farm it was supposed Dan would need all his
life to glean necessary food from. So little did the
paternal mind understand the boy. But, lo! Dan,
who now had a world of his own to move in, at once
began to exhibit extraordinary executive ability. He
greatly improved the farm, and reaped a revenue from
it which surprised everybody; and then it was that
his career commenced. The peculiar, great-souled
boy had with one stride stepped from youth to mature
manhood, and was already putting to himself large
problems of a practical character, and projecting in
his clear head how they should be solved, — problems
concerning the public weal and involving the ele-
ments of his own private fortune.

It was at this time of his life, when near twenty-one
years of age, that he became interested in the project
of a railroad from Pittsburgh to Connellsville (the
present Pittsburgh Division of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad). He threw his great energy into that mat-
ter, against the advice and solicitation of his hopeless
friends and even the demands of his father, the
people regarding him as little less than wild. But he
kept straight on courageously and with immense
industry in his course. He foresaw what none others
perceived, the vast advantages to the county and to
himself of the project; and tirelessly he pursued his
path, securing rights of way from- this and that one
through his earnest eloquence in picturing the bright
future, and from others by sagacious conditional
bargains ; and got charters, too, by piecemeal, fight-
ing and out-plotting all the old heads in opposition.
He, let it be remembered, was the only man (and
then an untried boy) who had the energy to do this
tremendous work. At this matter of the railroad he
spent some five years, not, however, neglecting his
form improvement and culture, and attending mean-
while to other important things which had come to
his hands to do. At last the road was built and
equipped. Crowds gathered at Connellsville on the
day on which the first train ran into the borough,
bearing an illustrious Pennsylvania protectionist on
the running-board of the engine, and by his side
Daniel Davidson, who, as the train stopped in the
midst of the people, shouted, " Here's the end of the
Pittsburgh Road, with 'Tariff Andy' on its back!"
and the doubters, who of course jeered and con-
demned him years before, now also of course ap-
plauded him to the echo, and literally bared their



heads before him. Cannon were fired, and the great
uproar of praise shook the sky. AVilliam Davidson,
the father of Dan, the banished, " luckless wight,"
looked on in silence that day, and then turned away,
walking speechless into his house near by. Perhaps
he grieved over his wild boy's victory, perhaps he
was proud. Since that day sensible people have not
questioned Daniel Davidson's judgment, his prog-
nostic powers, his great capacity and energy.

From this point on, we might proceed recounting
the struggles and conquests of this man, but our space
is too limited to permit much detail. Many have not
forgotten the time, not long after the railroad was
finished, when a mob of Connellsville people of "high
respectability" threatened dire things against Mr.
Davidson on account of sundry bonds connected
witli the building of the road, and to pay money
loaned on whicli, to the matter of twenty thousand dol-
lars or so, it was feared they were to be heavily taxed.
How they raged and fumed is a matter of history, as
well as how Dan laid a plan by which they were lightly
taxed, and the bonds gotten back by him into their
hands in indemnity, they severally receiving bonds
in proportion to the amount of their taxes; and how
some tore theirs up or burned them in rage and con-
tempt and punished themselves, while others kept
theirs and eventually profited by them some six
luindred per cent.

And while we are talking of railways, it must not
be forgotten that in later years it was this same Dan
who was a principal promoter of the Fayette County
Railroad, which took the county-seat and its adjuncts
out of the night of decay that was settling down upon
tliem and gave them new life, while many gave him
the encouragement of gibes and scoflTs, sneeringly de-
claring that a four-horse coach could carry all the pas-
sengers the railroad would ever convey ! The county
also owes to Mr. Davidson more than to any other
man the advantages which she has for years enjoyed
through the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad. He
was the originator of the project of its building, ren-
dered indispensable services in obtaining its charter
or charters, and gave his time and talents whenever
needed to the work.

Mr. Davidson resided for years on his farm near Con-
nellsville, and became universally sought for counsel in
business, politics, and confidential affairs. It is prob-
able that he srttird in,,n- iirighborliood and .Imnotie
difficulties than .lid all oilier men during his time in
Connellsville. In politics he became a great diploma-
tist. In extensive and subtle combinations in political
fields, in making men see things as he saw them, and
in [lointing out the way to easy, safe, and self-sustain-
ing victories, he became recognized among leaders as
a power long before the gray hairs began to creep
into his locks. He liked politics intensely for the
field it opened for the play of his forces, but he cared
not for oflSce. Indeed, he has been pressed to take
important offices, but has always refused.

Before Mr. Davidson left his farm as a place of
family residence, indeed early in life, he foresaw what
a mighty work would yet be done in the coking coal
fields of Fayette County. We cannot go into detail
here, but it is meet that we make note that he started
in the business (first helping others to enter upon it
before seeking to secure especial advantages to him-
self, however) when everybody said he was crazy for
so doing. (He has always been " insane !") He was
one of the great prime movers in the vast enterprise
of developing on a huge scale the mineral resources
of the county; indeed, he was the one intellectual
power which moved it. Others furnished brawn and
ignorant euergy. In his time he has owned more ex-
tensive coking coal lands than any one else who can
be named. In the measure of upbuilding the busi-
ness of Fayette County through her coal-beds, he ran
against the popular "judgment," as he had done in
many other matters, but, as in this case, he always car-
ried his measures to final popular approval and in-

But we are giving this article the full length of a
preface to the book which might be written of the
man and the great part which Daniel Davidson has
played in the world, and when we took up our pen we
had no purpose to do more than make a synopsis of a
preface ; but the subject is an inspiring one, and the
material concerning it voluminous. The labor is not
in expanding but in coming to a halt; for every year
of Davidson's lil'e for the last four decades would build
a volume of record. It is not easy to biographize the
living, since regarding them one may not be so direct
and personal as if talking of the dead. Too much
truth about either, a stupid public (general readers)
will not usually bear, but whoever shall live to write
of Davidson when he shall have gone will have a
subject full worthy of the greatest pen, and may write
the full truth about whatever may be his faults and
failings ; but to the writer of this Mr. Davidson's faults
seeni quite unworthy of notice, as really no part of
him, — incidents of his life, not outgrowths of his
character, not of the man any more than his worn-
out and torn boots or old coat. There are some men
whom faults do not blemish more than do spots of
thin rust a tried Toledo blade. They are the current
records or telling symbols, not vital parts of a great
life of sturdy warfare. Indeed, there have been and
aie men whom crimes do not sully. Bacon was one
ol' tliein. But meannesses too low for the law to clas-
sify into misdemeanors even, these are the things which
stain the soul, or the rather, they are the exponents
of essential natures, proofs that the soul guilty of
enacting them is not great, whatever the man's
frontispiece before the world. Of such the world
accuses not Davidson ; and while the history of Fay-
ette County will be searched in vain in the chapters
of her illustrious dead for one native born the su-
perior of Davidson in all that goes to make great
manhood, so among the living of Fayette County



and of Western Pennsylvania a similar search would
surely also be vain. He has once been aspersed and
thrust into the civil courts, and he came out thor-
oughly a victor, and justly and nobly triumphant
over the attempted wrong and persecution.

Mr. Davidson has a wide acquaintanceship among
the leading men of the country, especially those of
the South and West, and commands their esteem, as
he does that of the people of his own State. Where,
when, or how in his strong-willed, successful career he
has gathered to himself the funds of information
Avhich he possesses upon many topics is unknown to
the writer, for he cannot learn that Mr. Davidson has
been a close student of books. But Carlyle, it is
said, could exhaust five octavo volumes a day. He
turned over the leaves of a book, read here and there
a page, caught the key-note, and saw the manner of
treatment of a subject, and could talk more wisely
then of the book than another man who had spent
three weeks in reading it. Mr. Davidson evidently
possesses some such power or art, and we are told
that his memory is prodigious. But over all his
powerful, logical brain reigns; and we are inclined to
think that out of the depths of his own being, by the
accretions of his own mind, more than from acquire-
ments of any sort, is it that the successes of Daniel
Davidson have been builded. But however made, or
created, or modified, sure it is that no son of Fay-
ette County was ever his superior in intellectual and
moral forces, in mental equipoise, in quiet but tre-
mendous energy given to great works of a practical
character for the well-being of the county; in that
mental forecast which amounts to prophecy in the
power to move and persuade men by gentle means,
opening their eyes that they may see, and, seeing, be-
[ lieve the things in practical life hidden to them, but
clear to his keen vision. In these and many other
1 things Davidson stands unsurpassed, felt as to his
[ power in every part of the county, but yet " un-
known," save only to the wise few, but by them un-
: derstood but partially, and careless, we think, as to
1 whether or not he shall ever be understood by the


Edward K. Hyndman, though a native of Carbon
Co., Pa., and present resident of Pittsburgh, resided
in Fayette County for a period of about eight years,
and holds large business interests therein.

Mr. Hyndman is of Scotch-Irish descent, being the
son of Hugh Hyndman, who was born in the north
of Ireland in 1800, and Catharine Huff, a native of
Danville, Pa., born in 1805, both still living in vigor-
ous old age. He was born in Mauch Chunk, Pa., the
great anthracite coal region, in 1844, and growing up
there became a civil engineer at about eighteen years
of age, and was engaged more or less in the construc-
tion and operation of railroads in their various de-

partments until at twenty-five years of age he
became the superintendent of the Lehigh and Sus-
quehanna Railroad, from Easton to Scranton (now a

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 92 of 193)