Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 95 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 95 of 193)
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which win for him the popular confidence, and not
only achieve for him an extended practice, but enable
him to keep it and to add to it year by year. Two
things especially seem to conspire to such success, to
be necessary to it in fact, namely, keen insight into
the nature or cause of disease, or what medical men
term scientific "diagnosis," and the profound fore-
casting of the course and event of a disease by par-
ticular symptoms (enabling the true physician to
effectively apply and vary remedies from time to
time as the need of them is indicated), and which
they call " prognosis." The skillful diagnostician and
the like excellent prognoser, or " prognostician,"
must unite in the one physician if he be really able,
and his success for a given period of years is the best
possible assurance that the two do unite in his pro-

41 S


fessional character and determine his career, who-
ever he may be. Such a physician is Dr. George W.
Newcomer, of Connellsville, who, though compara-
tively a young man, enjoys a very extensive practice,
and stands correspondingly high in the confidence of
the community, as is made evident by the fact that
his "oliicr liours" are crowded with patients, and his
town visitations anil country ride out of office hours
constant and lalioridus. Success like his is practical
testimony of worth which cannot be gainsaid, — the
visible crown of merit.

Dr. George W. Newcomer is on his paternal side
of German descent; on his maternal of Scotch-Irish
stock. His great-grandfatlier, John Newcomer, was
born in Germany, and emigrating to America, settled
in Maryland, where the doctor's grandfather, John
Newcomer (Jr.), was born. The latter came to Fay-
ette County about 1790, and settled in Tyrone town-
ship, on a farm on which the doctor's father, Jacob
Newcomer, was born in 1809, and which he finally
purchased, living upon it all his life, and on which
the doctor himself was born.

Jacob Newcomei-, who died March 8, 1871, was the
second of a family of eight children, and the oldest
son. On the 21st of September, 1830, he married
Elizabeth Hershey, of Allegheny County, who was
born April 22, 1812. Of this marriage were ten chil-
dren, of whom George W. is the seventh, and was
born May 27, 1845. He was brought up on the farm
till about thirteen years of age, working in summers
after he I" rnmr old enough to work, and attending
school in the winter seasons, and devouring at home
what books he could get to read. When arrived at the
age above mentioned he was placed as a clerk in the
store of his uncles, John and Joseph Newcomer, in
Connellsville, wdiere he remained till seventeen years
of age, attending school winters. He then entered
Pleasant Valley Academy, Washington County,
where he [lassed two years, taking a partial course of

At nineteen years of age he commenced the study
of medicine with Dr. John R. Nickel, of Connells-
ville, one of the most eminent physicians of the re-
gion, and at one time Professor of Anatomy and Sur-
gery in the Physio-Medical College (now Institute)
of Cincinnati. He continued with Dr. Nickel during
tlie usual period of medical office study, ami in duo
time took the regular course of medical lectuns at
the Physio-Medical Institute of Ciminnati, from
wdiich institution he received his diploma, graduating
Feb. 7, 18(57. He then returned to Connellsville and
opened an office for the pr.actice of mcdicim', whii'h
he there pursued lor about live years, aii.l then, upon
the call of Itien-ls, he reuiov.Ml lo Mount Vern.Mi,
Ohio, lo take the piaetiee of 1 >r. James l.oar, wlio
was about to remove farther West. Dr. Newcomer
remairieil in praeliee at Mount Vernon till the spring
of 1S74, wlien, at the urgent request of his old pre-
ceptor. Dr. Nickel (who in a few weeks thereafter

died), he returned to Connellsville, where he has ever
since remained.

Aside from the practice of medicine, the doctor has
engaged more or less in real estate speculations with
excellent results.

Dr. Newcomer is in politics an ardent Republican,
.and though he does not claim to have done his coun-
try great service during the war of the Rebellion, it
may be mentioned here that he studied Republican-
ism in the field for about three months in war times,
being then a member of Company B of the Fifty-
fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, a
three months' regiment, organized about the time of
the battle of Gettysburg, but in which battle it did
not participate, the company at that time being mus-
tered in at Pittsburgh and awaiting equipments.
But shortly afterwards it was sent with other compa-
nies to attempt the capture of the " Morgan raiders"
in Ohio, and succeeded in cutting off Morgan at Sa-
linesville, in that State, — a good lesson in politics, the
doctor thinks.


Dr. Smith Buttermore, of Connellsville, an excel-
lent gentleman, courteous, intelligent, and compan-
ionable, and a leading physician in his part of the
county, is on his father's side of German stock. His
grandfather, Jacob Buttermore, came to America
when a boy, and settled in the eastern part of Penn-
sylvania. In the war of the Revolution he served as
a soldier in Gen. Wayne's division, and after the war
resided in Westmoreland County, near Ligouier, and
eventually moved to Connellsville, wdiere George
Buttermore, the father of Dr. Buttermore, was born
in 1798 and died in 18G8. George B. married, about
1822, Barbara Smith, daughter of Henry Smith, of

Dr. Buttermore was born in February, 1830, and
received his education other than professional in the
common schools and at Jefferson Academy. When
eighteen years of age he entered the office of Dr.
Lutellus Lindley, of Connellsville, and read med-
icine during the required period, and attended regu-
lar courses of lectures at Cleveland (Ohio) Medical
College, from which institution he graduated in 1854.
Immediately after graduation he went to the State of
California, wherein he practiced medicine for five
years, and then returned home to Connellsville.
Spending a summer there, he removed to Harrison
County, Va., and entered into the practice of his
profession there. When the war broke out all busi-
ness, on the border es|ieeially, was thrown into con-
fusion, anil he, being unable therefore to prosecute
his profession in the old way, accepted a commission
in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under
Gens. Lee and Jackson, where he became noted as
a surgeon, and held his commission through the war.

After the war he resumed practice in Harrison





County, and continued it till the death of his father,
in 1868, when he returned to Connellsville to settle
the estate. He has since resided in that borough,
and enjoys a fine practice, having in fact all the
practice which he is able to attend to.

In politics Dr. Buttermore is a Democrat, and rep-
resented Fayette County in the State Legislature in
the session of 1881.

In 1857 he married Miss Mary Lamb, a native of
Washington County, Pa., by whom he has two chil-
dren, — Nevada, born in Virginia, and Virginia, born
in Connellsville.


Maj. David Cummings, who became a citizen of
Connellsville about 1820, and lived there for several
years, where four of his children now reside, was born
in Cecil County, Md., April 23, 1777, and was the son
of James Cummings, by birth a Scotchman of dis-
tinguished family, who coming to America became
an officer in the war of the Revolution. David Cum-
mings was a gentleman of classical education, and in
early life taught select schools. He was an officer in
the army during the war of 1812, and was wounded
and taken prisoner at the battle of Beaver Dam, in
Canada, and with other captive American officers
carried to England, where he was held for six months,
until exchanged, sufliering great hardships. After the
war he became a mail contractor under the govern-
ment, and as such first found his way into Western
Pennsylvania, and eventually settled at Connellsville,
where he soon became a man of note. He represented'
Fayette County iu the Legislature at the sessions of
1823 and 1824, and was the first man in the legislative
body who made an effort to establish a general system
of education by common schools. That system being
a matter of contest, he was at the next election de-

Some years thereafter, leaving Connellsville, he re-
moved to Mifflin County, where he was at first en-
gaged in the building of the Pennsylvania Canal,
from Huntingdon to Lewistuwn, he afterwards be-
coming superintendent of the canal, as also collector
of the port of Harrisburg. He died at Lewistown,
Feb. 5, 1848, and his remains were brought to Con-
nellsville and interred in the family burying-ground
beside those of his wife, who had died some years be-
fore him,

Maj. Cummings wa-s married June 30, 1801, to
Elizabeth Cathers, of Cecil County, Md., by whom
he had six sons and six daughters, of whom five
daughters and two sons are living, — Hannah M., who
'married the late Thomas R. McKee ; Margaret Eliza,
widow of Thomas McLaughlin; Sophia, widow of
Josiah Simmons, who died about 18G3 ; Mary Ann,
who first married Dr. Bresee, of New York, now dead,
and as her second husband, Andrew Patterson, of Ju-
niata County ; Ellen, wife of Robert T. Galloway, of

Fayette County ; and Jonathan W., once a govern-
ment surveyor, now of Uvalde County, Te.xas ; and
John A., who resides in Connellsville with his oldest
sister, Mrs. McKee. Of the sons deceased was the
late Dr. James C. Cummings, who died in Connells-
ville, July 28, 1872. He was born in Maryland in
1802, and moved with his parents to Fayette County
about 1820, and was educated at Jefferson College,
and studied medicine under Dr. Robert D. Moore,
then a distinguished physician of Connellsville, where
he himself afterwards became equally distinguished
in his profession. He was coroner of Fayette County
for several terms, and a member of the Legislature
during the sessions of 1843 and 1844. He was never



Dr. James K. Rogers was the son of Dr. Joseph
Rogers, deceased, and Elizabeth Johnstone Rogers,
still living, and of Connellsville. He was born Feb.
5, 1832, and was educated at the common schools and
at the academy of Dr. McCluskey, at West Alexander,
Washington Co., Pa. At about seventeen years of
age he commenced the study of medicine with Dr.
James Cummings, of Connellsville, eventually matric-
ulating in Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia,
from which institution he graduated in March, 1852,
a month after arriving at the age of twenty years.
Immediately after graduation he commenced practice

in Connellsville, and tl

I'ed 1

irofcssion with

signal success until tlie breaking out of the war of the
Rebellion, soon after which he took his departure from
home without ap]irising his friends of his intention
and oll'ered his services to tlie government. Being
accepted he received appointment as surgeon and at
once entered upon duty, and not long after wrote an
affectionate letter to his parents, informing them of
his new field of duty. During the war he held regu-
lar correspondence with his mother. His official po-
sitions in the service were those of assistant surgeon
and surgeon under appointment by President Lincoln
and confirmation by the Senate ; and lieutenant-colo-
nel by brevet under commission of Andrew Johnson,
countersigned by Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War,
ranking him as such from the 1st day of November,
1865. During a portion of his career he was corps
surgeon under Gen. Heintzelman. He at one time had
charge of the hospitals at Chambersburg and Hagers-
town, and was the chief commissioned officer present
upon the capture and burning of the former town by
McCausland's cavalry, July, 1864. He also held

j the post of .assistant medical director of the Depart-

j ment of Missouri. Dr. Rogers visited various parts
of the theatre of war, inspecting hospitals, etc. Dur-

I ing his life in the army and elsewhere he performed
over a thousand amputations of limbs, besides a large

i number of other surgical operations. He prepared
some time before his death a manuscript work on



surgery intended for publication, but which was un-
fortunately lost.

After the surrender and the war was practically
over Dr. Rogers was stationed in the government hos-
pital at St. Louis, Mo., for about a year; but suffering
under malarial fever contracted while ou duty in
South Carolina and Florida, he returned to Cminells-
ville, and entered upon practice there, at imce securing
his old clientage. But he was ever a great sufferer, and
on March 18, 1870, died from the effects of the fever
which he had so long undergone. Dr. Rogers was
not only a man of excellent intellect, but of great
generosity and kindness of heart. He habitually
gave away with free hand the money he earned in liis
practice. There was no avarice in his composition.
His devotion to his profession as a whole was remark-
able, but his chief love was surgery, in which his
natural ability, disciplined by his experience in the
army, made him eminently accomplished.


One of the most enterprising gentlemen of Con-
nellsville, or whom she has numbered among her in-
habitants for many years past, the common declaration
of her citizens names Porter S. Newmyer, Esq., lawyer
and business man, and still young. His ancestors
were German, he being the great-grandson of Peter
Newmyer, who came to America from Germany about
the middle of the eighteenth century, and eventu-
ally settled near Pennsville, Fayette Co. His grand-
father's name was Jacob. Mr. Newmyer is the son
of Joseph (born about 1820) and Elizabeth Strickler
Newmyer, now residing at Dawson, and was born in
Tyrone township, Oct. 8, 1847.

He was educated at home and at the Southwest
Normal College, in Calilbrnia, Washington Co., Pa.,
and at Alliance College, Stark County, ( Miio, which
latter college he left in the spring of l^r.s. and en-
tered upon the study of the law under the ilirection
of Hon. W. H. Playford, of Uniontown, with whom
he remained until admitted to the bar at the March
term of ciurt, Fayette County, 1871. May 5th of
the same year he located in Connellsville and com-
menced the praetiie of his profession, at which place
he has continued to this time, enjoying an extensive
and lucrative business. In politics Mr. Newmyer is
a Democrat, and has several times been elected repre-
sentative delegate for Fayette County, and once sen-
atorial delegate from Fayette and Greene Counties to
State Conventions.

While prosecuting his professional business he has
also been largely and profitably engaged in the real
estate business and other important affairs. He or-
ganized the gas company of his borough, and origi-
nated the First National Bank of Connell>ville ; was
its vice-president from 187G to January, 1NS2, and
one of its heaviest stockholders until the last-men-

tioned date, when he sold out his stock. Mr. New-
myer was one of the projectors of the Key-itone Courier,
one of the best county papers of Western Pennsyl-
vania, and was one of the organizers of the Dawsou
Bridge Company across the Youghiogheny River. He
recently erected the extensive and theretofore much-
needed structure known as "Newmyer's Opera-House
Block," on Pittsburgh Street, and is connected with
Hood Brothers & Co. in the dry-goods business, and
lends his assistance to various measures for the ad-
vancement of the interests of Connellsville. He is
one of the trustees of Bethany College, West Vir-
ginia, elected in May, 1880.

On the 10th of April, 1873, Mr. Newmyer married
Miss Mary A. Davidson, daughter of Thomas R. and
Isabella Davidson, of Connellsville, by whom he has
a .son, Thomas D., and a daughter, Isabella D.

JOSEPH sorssoN.

Of those of our fellow-citizens of foreign birth
whose energy and ambition demand a less cramped
field of action than Europe generally affords her most
enterprising children, is Mr. Joseph Soissou, of Con-
nellsville. Mr. Soisson was born in 1827 in Alsace,
then a province of France, but since 1872 under the
dominion of Germany, where he was educated in both
the German and French tongue, and when about
eighteen years of age came to America, at that time
unable to speak English. Finding employment in
New York he in a few months acquired a competent
knowledge of our language and moved to Philadel-
phia, where he remained about eighteen months, and
thence went to Hollidaysburg, Blair Co., Pa., in the
employ of Charles Hughes, a brick-maker, continuing
with him about a year and a half, whereafter he visited
New Orleans, La., tarrying there a few months, and
returning to Mr. Hughes, who finally went into busi-
ness with Dr. Rodrick, of which firm Mr. Soisson soon
took contracts for making brick. This business he
prosecuted for about two years, and then went into
partnership with Hughes, Rodrick retiring, on the
Allegheny Mountain, Plane No. 8, the firm-name
being Hughes & Soisson. The business continued at
No. 8 till about 1800, when Hughes & Soisson insti-
tuted another brick-making partnership at Milten-
berger, Fayette Co., which lasted about nine ye.ars,
the firm dissolving about 1869. Mr. Soisson then
carried on the business alone for about six years, and
next entered into partnership with Spriggs & Wil-
helm, brick-makers at White Rock, Connellsville,
under the style of Soisson, Spriggs & Co., which after
sundry changes in copartners became Soisson & Co.,
Mr. Soisson buying out some of his partners, and
his young son, John F., purchasing the interests of
others in 1876 (with capital which he had the business
energy and courage to borrow), the firm continuing
under the name of Soisson & Co. till December, 1879,

ofc^^tA^ aJcj^^^^



when Soisson & Son came into full possession of the
business, which they have since conducted with great
success. The company manufactures all kinds of
brick on order, but coke-oven brick are their spec-
ialty, of which their works produce about ],. 300,000
per year. They also make a fine article of pavement

In 1872, Mr. Soisson, John Kilpatrick, and John
Willielm, as Kilpatrick, Soisson & Co., established a
fire-brick works at Moyer's, near Connellsville, which
is now owned by Soisson & Kilpatrick (son of John
Kilpatrick), Wilhelm having withdrawn, and at which

about eight thousand coke-oven and other bricks are
made per day.

Mr. Soisson has ever maintained an excellent repu-
tation for moral character as well as business enter-

In March, 1853, he married, at Hollidaysburg,
Miss Caroline Filcer, daughter of Michael Filcer, of
Centre County, who was born and married in Ger-
many, some of his children being born there, Caro-
line, however, being a native of Centre County. Of
this union are four daughters and seven sons. Three
of the daughters are married.


The borough of Brownsville is situated on the right
bank of the Monongahela Kiver, at and extending
below the mouth of Dunlap's Creek. Within its
boundaries was the residence of the old Indian chief,
Nemacolin, and the site of the pre-historic earthwork,
known for a century and a quarter as " Redstone Old
Fort," as also the site of "Fort Burd," which was the i
earliest defensive work reared by English-speaking
people in the Ohio River valley, except that which
was partially constructed by Englishmen (but com-
pleted by the French) where Pittsburgh now stands.
The building of Fort Burd and the opening of a road
to it from the East by Col. Burd, in 1759, gave to this
place a great comparative importance, which it sus-
tained in succeeding years, through the periods of
Western emigration, of flat-boat and keel-boat build-
ing, of successful steamboat navigation of the Monon-
gahela and Ohio Rivers, and of travel and traffic over
the old National road, embracing a total of more than
three-fourths of a century, until, by the completion of
the Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Ohio Railroads,
in 1852, and the consequent diversion of trade and
travel, the old town was shorn of much of its former
importance, and from that time, for almost thirty
years, it has remained in a comparatively obscure and
isolated situation until the spring of 1881, when, by
the opening of the Pittsburgh, Virginia and Charles-
ton Railroad Line, from Pittsburgh to West Browns-
ville, the boroughs on the Monongahela at the mouth
of Dunlap's Creek were for the first time placed in
possession of railroad connection with Pittsburgh
and the marts and markets of the Atlantic and the

■ The borough is almost encircled by the township of
Brownsville, which extends around it from the Mo-
nongahela River and Redstone Creek, on the north
and northeast, to Dunlap's Creek on the south, its

longest boundary line, on the southeast, being against
tlie township of Redstone, of v/hich it originally
formed a part. The township, by the census of 1880,
contained a population of 24() ; that of the borough
of Brownsville being returned in the same census at

-^ With the possible exception of a few transient
squatters' who clustered around Fort Burd for a few
years just after its erection, there is little doubt that
Michael Cresap was the earliest white settler witiiin
the territory now embraced in tlie limits of the bor-
ough of Brownsville. He has been mentioned as
such in all published accounts of the settlement, and
it admits of no doubt that he was the first who came
here with the intention of making the place his per-
manent home, though permanent settlers preceded
him on the opposite side of Dunlap's Creek, and
also at several points not far to the eastward and
southeastward of the present borough. One of these
was Thomas Brown (afterwards founder of the town),
whose settlement in this section antedated that of
Cresap a few years.

Michael Cresap was the son of Col. Thomas Cresap,
of Oldtown, Md., who had been connected with the
operations of the Ohio Company as its agent, and
who had been one of the earliest travelers to the Mo-
nongahela country over the old Nemacolin path, as
also one of those who accompanied Col. Burd to Fort
Redstone in 1759. Whether the knowledge which he
thus gained of this place had any influence in caus-

1 Snch were probjibly John and Samnel McCnlloch, t'-ndere, who mnde
chum to a large tract of land, inrlmiiiiK all that is now the borough of
Brownsville. It i> n t iiiih 1, uwii whether th.-y ever livi>d here
or not, but it is pr^'l :-' 'i \ : i a. fl here for a time tempomrily

in their trailing lip.i I ; iin.-d under an alleged military

permit, granted liy ( I I ]. u ju i \'> .Hi. -r valid or not, their claim was
afterwards purchased by T hjuiai Uiuwu tu make his tiile complete.




Cresap's rei
sorted with

ing his son to settle here is not ]j;nown. He (Mi-
chael) first came as a trader about the year 1769
(though the exact date of his first visit is not known)
to the mouth of Dunlap's Creek. "This post,' i
known in border historj' as Redstone Old Fort, be- ]
came the rallying-point of the pioneers, and was fa-
miliar to many an early settler as his place of em-
barkation for the 'dark and bloody ground.' In the
legends of the West, Michael Cresap i=, connected with

is spoken of as remarkable for his l.ravc. adv.

whites liy a timely notice of the savages' approach, a i
of which he (jbtained by unceasing vigi-
lieir movements. This fort was frequently
iidezvous as a trader, and thither he re-
his people, either to interchange views
and adopt plans for future action, or for repose in I
quieter times when the red men were lulled into in-
action and the tomahawk was temporarily buried.
These were periods of great conviviality. The days
were spent in athletic exercises, and in the evening
tlie sturdy f.jresters bivouacked around a fire of huge
logs, recounted their hairbreadth adventures, or if,
perchance, a violin or jews-harp was possessed by the
foresters, it wascertainly introduced, and the monotony
of the camp was broken by a boisterous 'stag danru.'-'
":\Iirliacl Crcsap discovered at that early .lav tliat

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 95 of 193)