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years been an important factor in the business
interests of York. After finishing the course
at York Collegiate Institute he matriculated at
Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, and finished
his education there. In 1893 he became asso-
ciated with his father in the mercantile busi-
ness in York, continuing until the disposal of
the business as stated. During his association
with the mercantile interests of the city Mr.
Geesey became influential in the merchants'
organization known as the Merchants' Associa-
tion of York, and of which he became secre-
tary in 1898. In the same year he became a di-
rector and member of the Executive Committee
of the Retail Merchants' Association of Penn-
sylvania, and in 1903 a director and second
vice-president of the Retailers' Mutual Fire
Insurance Company, of Pennsylvania.

Among other activities in which Mr. Clar-
ence A. Geesey is interested is the York Steam
Heating- Company, his connection with this
important enterprise commencing in 1899, and
he has for some time been District steam engi-
neer ; he is also president of the Manoline Com-
pany, who are compounders of pharmaceutical
preparations, this firm doing a national and in-
ternational business. The Geesey Motor Car
Company, of which he is the head "nd which
has offices in the Geesey Building, is located
at No. 2G South George street, the lot being
the site where the Confederate cavalry leader.
Gen. Jubal Early, met the burgess of York
for negotiations concerning the sum to be paid
for his saving the city.

Clarence A. Geesey resides in an elegant
home at "Cottage Place," with his wife and
one child, Adam F., Jr. Their other child,
Charlotte Louise, died July 26, 1905, aged



about one year. His wife comes of one of the
prominent families, her maiden name having
been Hattie Lafean, and she is a daughter of
Charles Lafean, deceased, and sister of Con-
gressman Lafean. She is a lady of much refine-
ment of character and presides over her home
with dignity and grace, which make her and
husband most popular in York society. Mr.
Geesey is a worthy member of York Masonic
Lodge, No. 266, having been a Mason since
1867, is also prominent in the councils of the
Royal Arcanum, and still retains his member-
ship in his college fraternity, the Phi Kappa

The foregoing will serve imperfectly to
note the salient facts concerning one of York's
most prominent families. It is a record preg-
nant with suggestions of integrity and indus-
try. The head of the family, Mr. Adam F.
Geesey, is a broad-gauge man of intense activ-
ity and energy. He carries his enthusiasm into
social and religious fields, as well as business,
and is a tower of strength in the moral life of
the community by reason thereof. In matters
of philanthropic effort he is active, though he
cleaves to the Bible injunction, for the most
part, so that the recipients of his beneficence
are unaware of the source of their relief. Taken
all in all, he is a man whom to know is an in-
spiration and whose career ought to be a beni-
son to the hundreds of youth who have come
under its influence.

GEORGE P. SMYSER. York is particu-
larly noted for having among her citizens
prominent factors of the business world, men
whose names are as familiar in the great cen-
ters of industry as many who are rated as
kings of commerce and finance. The biogra-
pher is privileged to present here one of these
gentlemen, a man whose operations extend into
some thirty or more different corporations,
many of them of high capitalization and ex-
tensive business. He is more familiarly known
as the president of the E. G. Smyser Sons'
Company, one of the most important iron con-
cerns in the State.

Generations ago the name of Smyser was a
familiar one in York county, as references to
the first volume of this work will disclose.
This generation of the family comprises the
three sons who compose the E. G. Smyser
Sons' Company: George P., born in York
May 20, 1843, Henry M., born Nov. 10, 1844,

and James A., born Feb. 4, 1849. George P.
and Henry, who is unmarried, reside in York,
while James, who married Mary, daughter of
Lemuel Townsend, has resided in Baltimore
since 1877, ^'^d is prominent in the business
world there, being president of the Builders'
Exchange Company, a director of the First
National Bank, and having business connec-
tions with many prominent corporations.

George P. Smyser's resident life has been
passed in York. After securing a good educa-
tion in the York County Academy he entered
the iron works of his father, who required all
his sons to acquire an actual knowledge of the
business by actual service. Here he spent
four years in the machine department and
three in the foundry. He then continued in
various higher positions in the business part
of the concern, and in 1875, ^^i company with
his brother Henry M., was made a member of
the firm of which he is now president, pre-
ceding the entrance of James by three years.
The growth of the business has been phenome-
nal, the structural and ornamental iron which
is manufactured being sold in every State in
the Union and in many foreign countries. It
is worthy of note as a testimonial to the high
character of the firm and the product that
they constructed the New York end of the
Brooklyn bridge, a piece of mechanical engi-
neering unsurpassed in any country.

To record the different activities of Mr.
Smyser would take pages of this volume. Sev-
eral of the more important are the York Trac-
tion Company and its lines, the Central Mar-
ket Company, of which he is president, and
the York Trust Company, of which he is a

In the religious, educational and social
world our subject takes a prominent part, being
connected, officially and otherwise, with many
different institutions which have for their ob-
ject the uplifting of humanity. In fact, there
is not a man in York to whom the word
"brother" has a broader significance. As a
lifelong member of the Lutheran Church he has
been a powerful factor in the spread of its
beneficent doctrines. He has been an elder in
the old Zion Church in York for the past sev-
enteen years, and has for many years been a
member of the Board of Lutheran Church Ex-
tension of the United States. In the educa-
tional field he is equally active, serving one
term on the board of school control, until he

, /. K/^^^U^^l^



removed from that district, as trustee of the
York County Academy since 1887, and as
trustee of the York Orphans' Home.

Socially Mr. Smyser is a Knight Templar
and a Mystic Shriner, while in politics he is
active in the councils of the Democratic party.
Mr. Smyser has always been uncompromising
in his opposition to the financial vagaries of
the western wing of the party and in 1896 was
delegate to the National Convention of the
Gold Democrats in Indianapolis. He is now
proud to know that the efforts of himself and
his compeers have at last borne fruit in the
return of the party to its old-time position on
the money question.

The home which Mr. Smyser maintains in
York is a model one, both in point of archi-
tectural excellence and comfort and in its
happy domesticity. Our subject and his wife
were married in York Nov. 22, 1865, her
maiden name having been Jane V. Fulton. Mrs.
Smyser was the daughter of Thomas H. Ful-
ton, a cotton manufacturer, and her death oc-
curred Dec. 26, 1895, at the age of fifty-eight
years. Of the children born to this union,
Mary S., the eldest daughter, is the wife of
William Kinzer, of Lancaster; S. Jane D. mar-
ried George H. Jeffers, son of Dr. Jeffers,
president of the York Collegiate Institute ; and
Annie G. is now Mrs. W. F. O. Rosenmiller,
her husband being connected with the York
County Bank.

Life with our subject has never been a
burden, but rather a joyous possibility. He
drives his business, never giving it the reins,
thus avoiding the mistake that wears out men
prematurely. He takes care to relax the mind
with change of thought and scene, and, though
busv at all times, thus secures the rest which
comes from the change of occupation. In pur-
suance of this idea he has traveled extensively,
first becoming thoroughly acquainted with our
own glorious heritage, and then crossing the
ocean to the continent of Europe. In the five
trips he has made to the Old World and the
Holy Land Mr. Smyser has become thoroughly
familiar with the Orient, its people and cus-
toms, and is thus a most entertaining and in-
structive companion.

In closing this review of the career of one
of York's most esteemed citizens, the author
feels that he voices the sentiment of all her
people in giving him the highest meed of
praise for the manly, helpful character which

he has developed among them. His life has
been an inspiration to many struggling youths,
and an example of patient thrift and industry
to all.

JOHN C. SCHMIDT, president of the
Standard Chain Company, York, was born on
March 16, 1859, at Carlisle, Pa., and received
his education in the schools of St. Paul, Minn.,
the York Collegiate Institute and at Stuttgart,
Germany. In 1876, after completing his edu-
cation, ;\Ir. Schmidt became connected with
P. A. & S. Small's store, with which he re-
mained until the fall of 1881, when he engaged
in the manufacture of chains in York. He was
alone in the business, which expanded with
great rapidity, and he next bought the Key-
stone Chain Works, operating both plants for
several years. These manufactories were sub-
secjuently consolidated, and a factory was built
in a new location, the business culminating in
the birth of the Standard Chain Company.
This concern controls fifteen chain factories,
and Mr. Schmidt has been president of the
firm since March 14, 1900. The main office
is located in Pittsburg, while branches are to
be found at York and Carlisle, Pa., Columbus,
and St. Marys, Ohio, and Marion, Ind. Mr.
Schmidt has other large business interests, be-
ing a director of the York National Bank, an
office he has held for over twenty years ; a di-
rector of the York Gas Company and a director
in the York Water Company, and prominently
connected with the Western Maryland Rail-
road and other corporations.

John C. Schmidt was married April 17,
1890. to Miss Anna M. Small, daughter of the
late W. Latimer Small, and three children have
been born to this union, namely : Katherine
Riley, who is attending a private school which
is maintained by a few families of York, of
which Mrs. Schmidt was an organizer and pro-
moter; Henry Duncan, \\^ho attends the York
County Academy; and Mary Dalrymple, a pu-
pil at a private school.

Mr. Schmidt belongs to the Lafayette and
Countr}' Clubs, in which he is very popular.
In religioxis views he is an Episcopalian, at-
tending St. John's Episcopal Church, in which
he has been secretary of the vestry for more
than twenty years. Politically he is a Repub-
lican: but in politics, as in all the afifairs of
life, he is broad-minded and liberal. Mr.



Schmidt is also president of the Schmidt &
Ault Paper Company, operating the Codorus
Paper Mills, with an output of 5,000 tons per
annum. Their specialties are rosin-sized
sheathing, carpet linings and butcher's wrap-
ping paper, which find a market from New
England to California. The business was
started in 1897 with an annual output of 1,000
tons, its growth, like that of the Standard
Chain Company, having been phenomenal un-
der Mr. Schmidt's personal direction.

CAPT. JOHN FAHS, president of the
Western National Bank of York, has long oc-
cupied a position of prominence in that city
and county, as a leader in successful business
enterprises and progressive public undertak-
ings. In the intelligent direction of his own
affairs he has had the opportunity to observe
the needs of the community, and has given his
time and attention to promoting the general
welfare as unreservedly as he does to his per-
sonal interests. The Captain comes of a
family which is among the oldest in York, and
his record as a citizen and soldier does credit
to the sturdy stock from which he springs.

John Fahs, his grandfather, was born at
Emaus, Lehigh Co., Pa., and in his youth
learned the blacksmith's trade, which he fol-
lowed until long past middle life. This was
in the days prior to railroads, and all his work
was from his own forgings. The work was
hard and confining, but he was industrious and
prospered, investing his savings in land, own-
ing many acres in and around Bottstown (now
part of the city of York), Y^ork county, the
greater part of which is now owned by his
grandson, Capt. John Fahs. He died Sept. 5,
1834, aged sixty-nine years. He was known
as a very kind-hearted and liberal man, and it
was known that there were those in life whose
start was due to the kin-d assistance, without
other reward than gratitude, given by John
Fahs. In after life, when he became possessed
of much means, he could often be found in the
old shop, chatting familiarly with his success-
ors, and in many ways indicating his love for
his' old calUng and old friends. _ In politics
he was a Democrat, as were and ai-e all of his
progeny. He married Eva Feiser, a native of
Dover township, York county, and their chil-
dren were : John, mentioned below ; Daniel,
who married Miss Markey ; Samuel, who mar-
ried Airs. Alterdise (born Wier) ; Elizabeth,

who married Daniel Dinkle. All are deceased.
John Fahs, Sr., son of John, learned the
blacksmith's trade with his father at Bottstown,
which he followed with profit until his removal
to a farm one mile northwest of Bottstown,
locating on a tract at that time owned by his
father. To this he added, in time having 166
acres, all but forty acres of which is now owned
by Capt. John Fahs. His home was in West
Manchester township, York county, until his
retirement in the spring of 1853, when he re-
turned to Bottstown, where he temporarily
resided until the fall of 1854, when he pur-
chased and moved to the Judge Bonham prop-
erty at York borough, now No. 437 West Mar-
ket street, where he spent the remainder of his

John Fahs, Sr., married Susan Ilgenfritz,
daughter of Samuel Ilgenfritz, a wagoner, of
York, and she died in 1871, in her seventy-
seventh year, at the home in York. Mr. Fahs
lived to an advanced age, passing away in 1880,
in his eighty-ninth year. Mr. and Mrs. Fahs
had a family of seven children, three of whom
are deceased : William Henry, who died at
the age of forty-seven; Dr. Charles F., of the
United States Navy; and Mary M., who was
the wife of Martin L. Weigel, of York. The
survivors are: Sarah A., who is unmarried
and lives with her brother John, at the old
home in York previously mentioned; Susan
E., widow of Gibson Smith, a coal and grain
merchant of York ; Emma R., widow of Rev.
S. Morgan Smith, founder of the S. Morgan
Smith Company ; and John, whose name in-
troduces this article. In his religion John
Fahs, Sr., was an ardent believer in the Mora-
vian faith. He was highly respected but al-
ways avoided conspicuous position, although
he did serve as a director of the poor. He was
also a director of the York County National

Capt. John Fahs was born Aug. 5, 1835,
on the old homestead in West Manchester
township, and was reared to farming pursuits,
which he followed at home until his enlistment
for service in the Union army. His education
was procured in the district schools of the
locality, known as Louck's schoolhouse, and
at the York County Academy under Prof. G.
W. Ruby, an instructor widely and favorably
known, and at the time of his death a director
of the bank of which Capt. Fahs is now



Prior to the declaration of war with the
feehng of patriotism running high, a company-
was created known as "Ellsworth's Zouaves,"
(all York county volunteers), under the lead-
ership of James A. Stahle, who was made cap-
tain, and after enlistment for service in the
war this company became Company A, of the
87th P. V. I. Capt. Fahs was one of the or-
ganizers and members of this company, and
вАҐ was second corporal of the organization, from
which position his promotion was rapid. On
Dec. 7, 1861, he was made first lieutenant of
his company, and captain on Jan. i, 1863,
holding the latter rank to the close of his serv-
ices. He was captured June 23, 1864, and
kept a prisoner for eight months, with which
exception he was in active participation in all
the engagements of his command. The 87th
bore the reputation of being one of the best
drilled and most faithful in the service, and
Capt. Fahs did his full share in winning praise
and glory for the regiment. He deserves the
highest praise for his military record, for he
was one of those who did their duty unques-
tioningly, considering no sacrifice too great
that would insure the stability of the Union.
His experience as a prisoner included all the
suffering and horror characteristic of Rebel
prison life in those dark days, and their record
would fill a volume. Capt. Fahs was honorably
discharged March 12, 1865.

After the war Capt. Fahs entered into
partnership with his brother-in-law, Gibson
Smith, in the coal business, which was ex-
panded in time to include dealing in grain,
flour and feed, and the firm did a prosperous
business from its inception in 1867, until they
closed out in 1895, selling their property to
the Western Maryland Railroad Company.
Since then, Capt. Fahs, who is the owner of
valuable real estate adjoining the city limits,
has given much attention to real estate, in
which he deals extensively. One of his prop-
erties, the Hill farm, located opposite the York
County Fair Grounds, has been laid out in
building lots, which are being sold to prospec-
tive builders of suburban homes. Some of the
most important business enterprises in York
have had the Captain's support and coopera-
tion. He helped to organize the Western Na-
tional Bank, was one of its first directors, and
was elected to the office of president of that
well-known institution in January, 1903, having
been continued in that incumbency to the

present time, by successive re-elections annu-
ally, at present serving his fourth term. He
is also president of the Farmers' Market Com-
pany, was for many years a director of the
York Street Railway Company, and is a di-
rector of the York Trust Company. His re-
sponsible connection with such organizations
speaks more than words for his business
ability and standing, and the confidence which
his fellow citizens repose in his judgment and
correct business methods.

Capt. Fahs is a Democrat in political faith,
and has proved a popular candidate of that
party. He served a number of terms as a
member of the council from the Fifth ward,
when York had but five wards, and then a
borough, and as the ward was normally a Re-
publican one, one of his contests was very
close, his victory being won by a majority of
but one or two votes. The Captain is no office
seeker, but with the true instinct of the soldier
he enjoyed the contests and excitement of
election as much as his ultimate success. For
seven or eight years he was a member of the
board of school control, his election to which,
on the Democratic ticket, changed the majority
in the board from Republican to Democratic.
This same condition applies to the council.
Capt. Fahs has always aimed, in every position
in which he has been placed, to serve the best
interests of his constituents and fellowmen gen-
erally, whether as a business man, as the de-
fender of his country's flag, as a public official,
or as a promoter of educational interests, and
that he has succeeded to the satisfaction of all
who know him is very evident by the high po-
sition he holds in the esteem of those who have
been associated with him. His religious con-
nection is with the Moravian Church. The
Captain is unmarried, and. with his sister Sarah
A. and niece Ella E. Fahs, resides in the old
home on Market street to which his parents
removed from the farm.

the prominent citizens and well-known profes-
sional men of York, Pa., a leading member of
the York County Bar, was born Feb. 5, 1861,
son of Henry Dannerman and Mary Louise
(Carson) Schmidt.

John Schmidt, the paternal grandfather,
came from Hamburg, Germany, to York, in
181 5. Later he became associated with the
York Bank, which he served as cashier and later



as president, a position he held at the time of
his death in 1835. On the maternal side, the
ancestors were of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and
they came to America in the early part of the
1 8th century. They occupied positions of trust
under the Government, lought in the Indian
wars and took part in the American Revolu-
tion. The maternal grandfather of our sub-
ject, Charles Carson, of Harrisburg, Pa., was
a veteran of the war of 1812.

George S. Schmidt attended the public
schools at St. Paul, Minn., the York Collegiate
Institute and the Institute Ranscher in Stutt-
gart, Germany, and at Princeton. He gradu-
ated at the York Collegiate Institute in the class
of 1879 as valedictorian of the class, after
which he entered the junior class at Princeton,
where he graduated with the degree of A. B.,
in 1 88 1, and later received the degree of A. M.
from the same institution. Mr. Schmidt pre-
pared for the Bar in the office of United States
Attorney Benjamin Harris Brewster, subse-
quently taking a course of two years at the
University of Pemisylvania, and was graduated
in 1884 with the degree of LL. B. He was ad-
mitted to practice in the Orphans' Court and
the Court of Common Pleas, in Philadelphia,
after which he returned to York, was admitted
to the local Bar and soon thereafter to the Bar
of the Supreme Court. His activity has been
constant ever since in his profession. On Jan.
I, 1896, he was associated with the late Hon.
James W. Latimer, formerly presiding judge
of the courts of York County, the partnership
being conducted under the firm name of Lati-
mer & Schmidt. He has been connected with
the greater part of the important litigation
which has come before these courts in the past
few years and his position is one of unusual
prominence before the Bar.

Mr. Schmidt has been prominently identi-
fied also with many successful business enter-
prises and public-spirited interests. In 1887
he was one of the incorporators of the York
City Street Railway Company, and has been an
ofificial of that corporation ever since. He is a
member of the board of trustees of the York
Collegiate Institute and was for many years one
of the directors of the York County Bank, and
is counsel for the same. He has also been prom-
inent in political life. From 1885 to 1890 he
was chairman of the Republican county com-
mittee, and frequently has served as a delegate

to important conventions. In 1888 he repre-
sented the 19th Congressional District in the
National Republican convention, which nomi-
nated Benjamin Harrison. While at college he
was a member ot the American Whig society,
a college organization. He is a member of the
York and Lafayette clubs of this city.

On June 16, 1891, Mr. Schmidt was mar-
ried to Mary Richardson Small, and they have
three children, Mary Richardson, George Small'
and Samuel Small. '

ISRAEL LAUCKS. In the city of York
are to be found a number of industrial enter-
prises of wide scope and importance, and
among the most noteworthy of these is that
represented by the York Safe & Lock Com-
pany, of which Israel Laucks is president. Mr.
Laucks is one of the most prominent figures in
the commercial circles of the city and county,
and is a scion of one of the old and honored
families of the county, where he is a representa-
tive of the fourth generation.

Caspar Laucks, grandfather of Israel, was
a native of York county, and passed a great
portion of his life in West Manchester town-
ship, where he followed the vocation of

George Laucks, son of Caspar, was a citi-
zen of prominence and influence, and ever com-
manded unqualified esteem in the county which
was his home during the entire course of his
long and useful life. His occupation was that
of a farmer. He died at the home of his son
Israel, No. 413 West Market street, York, in
1878, at the venerable age of eighty years. His
wife, whose maiden name was Flizabeth Smy-
ser, was a daughter of Matthias Smyser, a
prominent farmer of York county, and a mem-

Online LibraryGeorge R. ProwellHistory of York County Pennsylvania (Volume II) → online text (page 10 of 201)