John Woolf Jordan.

Genealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) online

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(II) John L., eldest son of John and Eliza-
beth (Bcynon) Thomas, was born in Birming-
ham, now South Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
June 28, 1854. His parents moved to Coulter,
Pennsvlvania, where the lad attended school
five months each winter until thirteen years
of age, then began working in the coal mines
with his father. Later he took his brother
Robert O. in with him and they worked to-
getlier in the mines until John L. became of
age. He then saw that) there were better op-
portunities for an ambitious man, as mining
had become so systematized that all that was
wanted was a man to dig, no knowledge of
minerals or expert mining methods being re-
quired except in the few positions of fire and
mine boss. He had always been fond of com-
mercial arithmetic and well informed in that
branch, so decided to enter commercial life.
He continued in the mines until he found his
wished for opening with the Baltimore &
Ohio railroad, under John L. Vaughn, sta-
tion agci'it at Alpsville, Pennsylvania, who
tauglit him telegraphy. After three months
he was promoted, his younger brother, Wil-
liam H., taking his former position at the
key. John L. continued with the Baltimore
& Ohio until June i, 1882, then resigned to
become assistant manager of the Youghiog-
heny & Ashtabula Coal Company at Guf¥y
Station, Pennsylvania, remaining there two
years. He then resigned, having been of-
fered by Division Superintendent Yohe the
appointment of station agent for the Pitts-
burgh & Lake Erie railroad at Connellsville,
West Side (New Haven). After one year
there he was transferred to the station at May-
ville, Pennsylvania, now called Adelaide, as
chief clerk in the scale office. On November
I, 1889, he w-as appointed general agent for
the Connellsville coke region for the Pitts-
burgh & Lake Erie and located at Dickerson
Run, also acting as local weigh master for
coal, coke and freight. He has held this posi-



tion continuously for nearly a quarter of a
century, and is one of the company's old,
faithful and most trusted employees. He has
never regretted the ambition that drove him
from the mine to seek his fortune in the great
business world outside. He has risen through
his own well directed energy, and by doing
well each duty that presented itself.

He is a Republican in politics, but never
sought public office. He became a member
of the Alethodist Episcopal church of Con-
nellsville in 1884, and has been a member of
the official board of that church and of the
church at Dawson ever since that date. Has
been for several years financial secretary of
the Dawson church, his home being in Daw-
son, just across the Youghiogheny from his
office in Dickerson Run. His method of
keeping the congregation informed as to the
condition of the church finances, and of their
own accounts, is accomplished by mailing
quarterly to each one a printed statement,
showing how every cent received has been
spent and of the condition of their individual
account. This plan is worthy of adoption by
other churches, as it has proved a valuable .
one for the Dawson congregation. He is a
member of the Iroquois (a fraternal order).

He married, IMarch 20, 1879, Rebecca H.
Shields, born at Greenock, Pennsylvania, Sep-
tember 10, 1S59, daughter of Thomas and
Margaret (Walker) Shields, both born in
Paisley, Scotland, coming to Pennsylvania
about the year 1856. Thomas Shields was a
coal miner, but became a mine owner and
operated his own plant. His children: i,
John, born in Scotland about 1850, now a re-
tired coal operator residing in Pittsburgh,
East End, where he conducts a small store
for the sake of keeping his mind employed.
He is unmarried. 2, Janet, married in her
native land a Mr. Welsh and died in 1879. 3.
Margaret, married E. F. Cloman, a grocer
of Greeiioch, Pennsylvania. 4. James H., a
retired coal merchant of Pittsburgh. East
End, and Florida, where he maintiins summer
and winter homes; he married Abigail Ray.
5, Rebecca H.. married John L. Thomas, of
previous mention. 6, Isabella, married Henry
Jones, whom she survives, a resident of Mc-
Keesport, Pennsylvania. 7, Mary, married
Harrv Walthour, a railroad employe of Ver- .
sailles, Pennsylvania. 8. Walter, deceased, :
leaving a widow and two sons, now of Mc-



I



FAYETTE COUNTY



421



Kcesport. 9, died in infancy. 10, died in
infancy. The two brothers, James H. and
John Thomas, have both been conspicuous
figures in the coal business in Pittsburgh, be-
ing weakhy, influential operators and dealers.
Children of John E. and Rebecca H. (Shields)
Thomas: i, Mary Belle, born October 11,
J 880; married William M. Shannon, a loco-
Uiotive engineer in the employ of the Pitts-
burgh & Lake Erie railroad, now residing at
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania; child, Helen Re-
becca. 2, Sibyl M., born May 19, 1882; mar-
ried Albert E. Knight, a bill clerk at the Pitts-
burgh & Lake Erie scales office in Dawson;
children: Howard Ellsworth, Raymond
Thomas, Fred Ruhl.

(II) William Henry, second son of John and
Elizabeth (Bcynon) Thomas, was born at Bir-
mingham, now Pittsburgh, South Side, Au-
gust 8, 1S56. His parents soon after moved
to Coulter, Allegheny county, when he at-
tended the public school, and at quite an early
age began working in the coal mines, contin-
uing for some years in various capacities,
from mine boy to skilled miner. He followed
the example of his elder brother and prepared
himself for a business career, learning teleg-
rapliy while yet employed in the mines. In
1876, when his brother John L. was pro-
moted, leaving a vacancy in the Baltimore &
Ohio telegraph office at Alpsville, William H.
was appointed to the vacant key, much to the
surprise of his brother, who did not even
know he was an operatos, his preparatory
studv having been carried on quietly without
display. One year later he was sent to Broad-
ford, Pennsylvania, as clerk to the freight
agent at that point, continuing in that posi-
tion two vears. In 1879 he became station
agent at Broadford to succeed F. B. Flambry,
remaining until July, 1883. In September of
the latter year he entered the employ of the
Pittsburgh & Lrke Erie railroad, receiving
the appointment of yard master at Dickerson
Run. He was on the payroll of the company
two weeks before the road was completed to
Dickerson Run and ready to operate, there-
fore he was the first Pittsburgh & Lake Erie
eni]iloyee in the coke region, of which Dick-
erson Run is the centre. After six years as
yard master he was made special agent -for
the company, continuing as such four years.:
Then for six months connected with the su-
perintendent's office at Pittsburgh. He then



was appointed station agent for the company
at New Haven (Connellsville, West Side), a
position he now occupies most satisfactorily
to his company and the traveling public.
He is an ardent Republican and active in
party work. He has served as councilman of
i\ew Haven and of Connellsville; was clerk of
council, and one year was collector of taxes.
He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal
church, as is also his wife. He was made a
Mason in 1881 in King Solomon's Lodge,
Free and Accepted Masons; is a companion
of Connellsville Chapter, Royal Arch Masons,
and a Sir Knight of Uniontown Commandery,
Knights Templar.

He married, at Broad Ford, Pennsylvania,
October, 1884, Ella Duke Brandhoover. born
at West Liberty, Pennsylvania, daughter of
Henry and Mary (Storey) Brandhoover, now
deceased. Her father was a well-known hotel
proprietor, having at dififerent times conduct-
ed hotels in Pittsburgh, North Side, Eliza-
beth and Broad Ford, Pennsylvania. Both her
parents were born in Westmoreland county,
Pennsylvania, of German and English de-
scent. The family home, on West Main
street, Connellsville, was purchased by the
Western Maryland railroad in 191 1, and a
depot building now occupies the site. Mr.
Thomas has secured lots in Greenwood Addi-
tion, West Side, and will there erect a mod-
ern house. He has no children.

(II) Robert O., third son of John and
Ehzabeth (Beynon) Thomas, was born at
Coulter. Allegheny county, Pennsylvania,
June 10, i860. He attended the public
schools at Coulter, and when little more than
a boy began working in the coal mine with
his elder brother, John L. Thomas, first as
driver, then as digger. After his brother left
the mine and learned telegraphy Robert O.
very quietly found means to also acquire the
art. He secured a position with the Baltimore
& Ohio railroad as telegrapher, became an
expert despatcher and continued at the key
eight years. In September, 1888, he resigned
and became bookkeeper for the H. C. Frick
Coke Company at their Adelaide plant. In
the spring of 1889 he was appointed superin-
tendent of that plant, continuing seven years,
then was transferred to the Mount Pleasant
branch, having charge of Summit, Eagle and
White Plants, remaining two years. He next
was placed in management of the Calumet



422



PENNSYLVANIA



plant, which he completely rebuilt and man-
aged for five years. In 1901 he resigned and
located in the city of Connellsville, where he
engaged in the coal and coke business, and
so continues a successful man of business
and substance. He is a Republican in poli-
tics, has served as school director in Con-
nellsville ; also was a candidate for nomina-
tion for assembly in 1910 on the Republican
ticket. In religious faith he is a member of
the Methodist Episcopal church, as is his
wife. He is a member of the Masonic order,
belonging to Connellsville Lodge, Free and
Accepted Masons, and the Chapter, Royal
Arch Masons.

He married, September 20, 1887, Jennie
Coughanour, born in Connellsville December

7, 1863, daughter of Gilbert Lafayette and
Rebecca (Norris) Coughanour, of Connells-
ville. Children of Robert O. Thomas: i.
John Joseph, born April 28, i8go, now en-
gaged with the West Pennsylvania Engineer-
ing Corps. 2. Mary Margaret, born October
16, 1894. 3. William Fred, born September

8, 1896; all graduates of Connellsville high
school. 4, Robert O., Jr., born February 23,
1903- 5. James Gilbert, December 8, 1906.
The family home is at No. 401 East Green
street, Connellsville, erected in igo8.



A pioneer of this fam-
STILLWAGON ily, who deserves more
than a passing notice
here in view of the fact that more than one
thousand of his descendants are now resi-
dents of Connellsville and vicinity, was Peter
Stilhvagon, Sr., who was born in Germany
and came to America about the year 1765. In
1775 he was married to Elizabeth Poole in
the German Lutheran church of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, and in July of the following
year he enlisted in the patriot army as ser-
geant of a company commanded by Captain
Holmes. He was also a member of the Fifth
Pennsylvania Regiment. He took part in the
battles of Colts Neck, Brandywine, German-
town, Trenton, Monmouth and Eatontown;
he was captured by the British and confined
in an old sugar house in New York for near-
ly two years. During his absence his home
was plundered by British troops and his wife
so mistreated that she applied to General Fir-
man for relief, who gave her a home with
the wife of Captain Huddy. Just before the



battle of Trenton a company of Tories, com-
manded by Captain David Smith, again vis-
ited the Stilhvagon home, plundering it of its
remaining valuables and burning it to the
ground. Airs. Stilhvagon, hearing of their
coming, took her two little children to an ad-
joining field and watched in anguish while the
work of destruction was carried on. She then
once more sought refuge in the camp with
her husband. The commanding ofificer
treated her kindly and allowed her to stay.
She made herself useful by washing and bak-
ing for the soldiers and caring for the sick
and wounded. At the battle of Monmouth
she distinguished herself by her courage and
carried ammunition for the artillery. By
some she is believed to be the "INIoIly Pitcher"
of historic fame. At the close of the war
Peter Stilhvagon received an honorable dis-
charge and settled with his family at Decker-
town, New Jersey.

Mr. Stilhvagon was the father of thirteen
children: i, Daniel. 2, Hannah. 3, William, of
whom further. 4, Sarah Ann; married Henry
Nash, a Methodist minister, and moved to
Tennessee. 5, Mary. 6, Catherine; married
a Mr. Conklin, and died at the early age of
twenty-two, leaving two- children, Daniel and
William. 7, Andrew. 8, Peter, Jr. 9, Susan-
nah. ID, Josiah Decker, of whom further. 11,
Andrew Poole, married Catherine Butter-
more, and removed to the West. 12, Henry.
13, John, died without issue at Broad Ford,
Pennsylvania. One of these daughters mar-
ried Mr. Haven, an Englishman, and lived
and died in Connellsville. Among her grand-
children were Mrs. Annie Robbins, deceased;
Mrs. Eliza Newcomer, deceased; Mrs. Mary
Enos and Mrs. Kate Kurtz. Another daugh-
ter married a Mr. Polk and removed to Ten-
nessee.

In 1802 Mr. Stilhvagon came to Connells-
ville, Pennsylvania, and established a home
in the neighborhood of Peach and Water
streets. The children at this time numbered
but nine, four of them having died. By mere
chance of fortune Captain David Smith, their
old Tory enemy, also came to Connellsville
after the war, living with his son, Asher
Smith, on the corner of Cottage avenue and
East Main street, and it is said upon good
authority that some of the plunder of the
Stilhvagon home was afterward discovered
there in an old chest. Peter Stilhvagon, .Sr.,



FAYETTE COUNTY



423



died in Connellsville in December, 1831. His
wife Elizabeth, with a marvelous vitality,
lived to be one hundred and fifteen years of
age. Even at that advanced age .she was re-
markably active and able to attend to many
of her household duties. One Monday after-
noon she was left at home alone and her
grandson on his return found the interior of
the house on fire. Securing help, he put out
the flames as quickly as possible, but his
grandmother was already dead. It is be-
lieved that she was smoking a pipe and that
sparks from this set her clothing on fire.

(II) \\'illiam, son of Peter and Elizabeth
(Poole) Stillwagon, married Margaret Wil-
son, of Deckertown, and had eleven children;
Peter, of whom further; Joshua; Sophia;
Eliza, married Stephen Robbins; Josiah
Decker, married Elizabeth Eicher; Sarah,
married Josiah Marietta, mother of a large
Marietta family of Connellsville; Henry
Nash, married Mary M. Curry; he was a sol-
dier in the Mexican war, and received an
injury while building a bridge for the ar-
tillery before \'era Cruz from which he never
fully recovered; Joseph; Mary; John, married
Elizabeth StoufYer; William Wilson, married
iNiaria M. Rockwell. William Stillwagon in-
herited much of the patriotic fire of his par-
ents and was a veteran of the war of 1812.

(III) Peter (2), eldest son of William and
]\Iargaret (Wilson) Stillwagon, married Mar-
garet White and had issue.

(IV) William P., son of Peter (2) and Mar-
garet (White) Stillwagon, was born in Con-
nellsville, Pennsylvania, in 1844, died Octo-
ber 4, 1893. He was educated in the public
school, and in his early life was a contractor
and coal operator, conducting the W. P. Still-
wagon Coal Company; later Mr. Marietta
was admitted as a partner and the name was
changed to. the Marietta & Stillwagon Coal
Company. He also had interests in West
Virginia coal lands. He was a Democrat in
politics and a man of influence. He married
Mary Gregg, born in Connellsville; died there
in the year 1908, daughter of George and
Susan Gregg. George Gregg, of Irish de-
scent, was credited by his friends with being
the real inventor of the armor-clad vessel
which Ericsson later developed into the fa-
mous "3.Ionitor"' of civil war fatne. Children
of William and Mary Stillwagon: i, Clair,
died 1910; married Rose Hanlon. 2, Blanche,



married (first) John Woodward (second),
William Rice, of Connellsville. 3, Anna, mar-
ried Thomas Crush, of Pittsburgh. 4, Lar-
mer, of whom further. 5, Edna, married
Harry Grifiin, of Glassport. 6, Rose, married
Thomas Maloney, of Pittsburgh. 7, William
P., now living in West Newton. 8, Rockwell,
now living in Connellsville. 9, Ruth, now liv-
ing in Connellsville.

(\') Larmer, son of William P. and Mary
(Gregg) Stillwagon, was born in Connells-
ville, Pennsylvania, February 17, 1878. He
was educated in the public school and on ar-
riving at suitable age learned the trade of
coremaker and molder, continuing four years
with the Boyt's Porter Company of Connells-
ville. The succeeding four years he spent in
the machine shops of the Baltimore & Ohio
Railroad Company at Connellsville, then en-
tered business life. He is interested in West
Virginia coal lands and is vice-president of
the Connellsville Distillery Company. In
191 1 he began the manufacture of soft drinks,
having bought the plant known as Deans
Bottling Works, in Connellsville. He there
carries on every department of soft drink
manufacture, including essences and syrups.
He is a Democrat in politics and a member of
Connellsville city council. His fraternal order
is the Benevolent and Protective Order of
Elks. He married, in September, 1905, Lily
Edwards, born in Connellsville, daughter of
Rolla and Margaret Edwards. Child; Lar-
mer, born January 15, 1908.

(II) Josiah Decker Stillwagon, son of
Peter Stillwagon (q. v.), came to Connells-
ville with his parents and nine of their chil-
dren, four having died before their emigra-
tion from New Jersey. The date of their
coming is given as both 1815 and 1802, the
former being in all probability the correct
date. He was a teamster on the "old pike,"
but later confined his teaming to Connells-
ville and vicinity. He was a Democrat in
politics and held several township and bor-
ough ofiices. He married (first) in Connells-
ville Elizabeth Rowtruck, of German descent,
who bore him; i, Elizabeth, married Samuel
Catlin. of Ohio. 2, Mary, married William
Crossland. Josiah D. Stillwagon married
(second) Elizabeth Coughenour, also of Ger-
man parentage; children; 3, Josiah Decker,
whose sketch follows. 4, Noah, died a young
man. 5, Theresa, died in 1861 or 1862; mar-



424



PENNSYLVANIA



ried a Mr. Hutchinson. 6, John Wesley, of
whom further.

(Ill) John Wesley, youngest son of Josiah
Decker (i) and Elizabeth (Coughenour) Still-
wagon, was born in Connellsville, Pennsyl-
vania, April 2, 1833. He was educated in the
public schools and on arriving at suitable age
was apprenticed to the blacksmith's trade.
He became an expert ironworker and con-
tinued in Connellsville until he moved to
Broad Ford, Fayette county, and established
a smithy of his own in that village. He con-
tinued there for forty years, doing the greater
part of the horseshoeing and ironwork for
that section. He also did all the smithwork
for the Overholt Distilling Company, when
they started in that neighborhood. He pur-
chased a small tract of ten acres when he
retired from active work, and now resides
there with his aged wife. He joined the In-
dependent Order of Odd Fellows July 4,
1863, and will soon celebrate his half century
of membership in that order. He also for
many years belonged to the Knights Tem-
plar. He is a Democrat in politics, and has
served as school director. He married, Sep-
tember 5, 1855, Elizabeth, daughter of Hen-
ry (2) Strickler, and granddaugTiter of Henry
(i) Strickler, of Pennsylvania Dutch descent,
and an early settler in Fayette county. Henry
(2) Strickler was a farmer, owning a good
farm of two hundred and forty acres. He mar-
ried Susanna Sloanecker and reared a family
of five daughters and two sons. Children of
John Wesley and Elizabeth Stillwagon: i,
John Wesley (2). 2, Josiah Decker, now re-
siding in Fayette county, married Margaret
Oxley. 3, Henry S., now living in Colorado.
4, Frank, now living in Dawson, Pennsvl-
vania, married Margaret Spaneyfelt. 5, Will-
iam, died December 11, 191 1; for twentv
years a machinist with the Overholt Distill-
ing Company; married Lily May Nicholson.
6, Charles Newton, deceased. 7, Walter S., of
whom further. 8, Mary Eva, now living in
Dawson, Pennsylvania; married John Will-
iams. 9, Ernest, now living in Chicago; mar-
ried Ollie Oxley.

(lY) Walter S.. seventh son of John Weslev
and Elizabeth (Strickler) Stillwagon. was
born at Broad Ford, Favette county, Penn-
sylvania, July I, 1869. He was educated in
the public schools and worked with his father
at the forge when young. He then learned



the machinist's trade, working under instruc-
tion at both Broad Ford and Connellsville,
and later studied plumbing and gasfitting,
following that trade five years in Connells-
ville. Later he became a stationary engineer,
and in 1889 entered the employ of the Over-
holt Distilling Company as machinist. After
being with that company some years he re-
turned to Connellsville for a time, then again
entered the employ of the Overholt Company
as chief engineer, a position he now most
capably fills. He is a Democrat in politics
and has served in several township ofifices.
His orders are the Knights of Malta and the
Junior Order of American Mechanics. Both
Air. Stillwagon and his wife are members of
the Presbyterian church.

He married, in 1893, Minnie E. Newman,
born in Fayette county, daughter of George
and Lydia Newman. Children: Wesley G.,
born December 2^, 1892; Oliver, June 28,
1895; Bessie, August 28, 1897; Florence, De-
cember 17, 1899; Lida, July 25, 1902; Ralph,
April 4, 1907; Thomas, March 7, 1910.

(III) Josiah Decker (2) Stillwagon, son of
Josiah Decker (i) Stillwagon (q. v.), was born
in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, April 8, 1828,
died June 8, 1893. He was educated in the
public schools, and was one of the prominent
men of his day." He became a hardware mer-
chant of Connellsville, where he was in con-
tinuous business for thirty-three years. He
was a staunch Democrat and a leader of his
party in Fayette comity. Among offices held
were those of postmaster of Connellsville and
clerk of the city council. He was a Aleth-
odist, and for thirty-seven years superintend-
ent of the Sui.Iay school. He married Eliza-
beth Freeman, born in Connellsville. 1828,
died April 7, 1874. Among their children was
a son, James Emmet, of whom further.

(IV) James Emmet, son of Josiah Decker
(2) Stillwagon, was born in Connellsville,
September 30, 1848, died August 9, iqoi. He
was educated in the public schools and early

in life learned the painter's trade, but never ,
followed it as an occupation. He was a i
strong Democrat, and during President
Cleveland's first administration was appoint-
ed assistant collector of internal revenue for
the Pittsburgh district. In 1890 he was ap- j
pointed superintendent of the Connel''^viile '
Water Company, a position he held until his
death. He was elected chief burgess of Con-



I



FAYETTE COUNTY



425



nellsville, serving at different times five terms
in that office.

His untimely death occurred August 9,
1901, being a passenger on the ill-fated Balti-
more & Ohio train of Atlantic City excur-
sionists that was wrecked with great loss of
life at Confluence, Pennsylvania, on that date.
Like all the Stillwagons, he was a Methodist.
He married Mary Elizabeth Walker, born in
Connellsville November 26, 1845, who sur-
vives him, a resident of Connellsville. She is
the daughter of David L. Walker, born July
23, 1819, died February 2, 1881, probably a
descendant of the Walkers of X'irginia. He
was a planing mill operator and general con-
tractor. He was a Democrat, and in 1887
was elected sheriff of Fayette county. He
married Sarah Zarley, born September 8,
1821.

Children of James Emmet Stillwagon :
Olive May, married Herbert Horn, of Pitts-
burgh; Josiah David, of whom further; John
Clark, now of Connellsville ; Ernest Lee, a
machinist; George Freeman; Minnie Hazel,
married Joseph C. Herwick.

(V) Josiah David, son of James Emmet
Stillwagon, was born in Connellsville, Penn-
sylvania, October 7, 1871. He was educated
in the public school and began business life
as a clerk in his grandfather Stillwagon's
hardware store, remaining three years. He
was then for two years in the employ of the
Union Supply Company; then two years with
Jamison & Fogg. He then secured an ap-
pointment as "ganger" in the United States
Internal Revenue service. Twenty-third
Pennsylvania district, continuing eight years.
He then succeeded his father as superintend-
ent of the Connellsville Water Works, hold-
ing that position until his resignation in 1910.



Online LibraryJohn Woolf JordanGenealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) → online text (page 22 of 57)