John Woolf Jordan.

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

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ally contributed. He is a member of the
Presbyterian church ; the Independent Or-
der of Odd Fellows, the Heptasophs, and
a Republican in politics.

He married, October 30, 1895, Etta Jean
Hawkins, born August i, 1871, at Mill Run,
Fayette county, Pennsylvania, daughter of
Thomas and Rebecca (Rowan) Hawkins.
Thomas Hawkins was born in Ireland and
is now engaged as a mine broker. Rebecca
(Rowan) Hawkins was born in Springfield
township, Fayette county, Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Etta Jean Haines is a member of the
Presbyterian church. They have no chil-

(IV) Walter Wheeler, third son of James
Walter and Annie Laura (McCarty)
Haines, was born in Connellsville, West
Side (New Haven), June 8, 1876, in a little
log house just across from the Baltimore &
Ohio shops. He attended the public schools
until he was thirteen years of age, then be-
came messenger boy at the general offices
of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company.
Later he worked in the repair shops, then
returned to his position as messenger boy.
During this period he had acquired a
knowledge of telegraphy, and in 1894 was
appointed operator for the Baltimore &
Ohio at Layton, Pennsylvania. In 1895 he
returned to Connellsville where he remained
as operator until 1902. In that year he was
wire chief of the Baltimore & Ohio, in 1904
appointed despatcher at Connellsville, and
in 191 1 sub chief despatcher at Connells-
ville, and in 1912 chief despatcher. He is
clear-headed and efficient, handling the bus-
iness of his division with skill and prompt-
ness. He is prominent in the Masonic Or-
der, belonging to King Solomon's Lodge,
No. 346, Free and Accepted Masons ;
Uniontown Lodge of Perfection ; Pittsburgh
Consistory, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite,
in which he has attained the thirty-second
degree. He is a Republican.

He married, April 25, 1908, Estelle La-
verne Barnette, born in Connellsville,

daughter of William and Elizabeth D. (Van
Swearingen) Barnette, both born in North
Union township, Fayette county, Pennsyl-
vania. William Barnette was engaged in
the grocery business in Connellsville for
twenty years, partner of J. D. Frisbee, then
was in the grocery business alone, and in
1908 established a bakery at Uniontown.
He died December 28, 191 1. His wife,
Elizabeth D., survives him. She is a daugh-
ter of William S. and Dorcas (Bryson) Van
Swearingen, of an early county family, de-
scending from Garret Van Swearingen,
said to have been a younger son of a noble
family of Holland; was well educated and
came to America, settling in New York.
Of his descendants Captain Van Swearin-
gen was the first to settle in Western Penn-
sylvania, a noted revolutionary officer and
captain in the ecjually celebrated Eighth
Regiment Pennsylvania Line and particu-
larly distinguished himself under the com-
mand of General Gates at the battle of
Saratoga. A latter day descendant and
brother of Mrs. Elizabeth D. Barnette is
John Quincy Van Swearingen, the ablest
lawyer of Uniontown and an honored and
respected member of the Pennsylvania bar.

This family, so prominent in
SOISSON the business history of Fay-
ette county, Pennsylvania,
springs from an ancient French family of
Alsace, although their ancestral province
has reverted to its original owners after a
[long period under the French flag. Part ot
the indemnity exacted by Germany from
France after their conquest of that county
in 1870-1871 was the cession of Alsace-Lor-
raine, ancient German possessions.

The earliest record we have is of Joseph
Soisson, a well-to-do merchant of Alsace.
On his mother's side he was a relative of
the great Philadelphia banker, capitalist and
philanthropist, Stephen Girard, his mother
bearing that name previous to her marriage.
The Girard family of Bordeaux, France,
were wealthy, and when the hot-headed
Stephen, at the age of fourteen years, de-
manded a portion, his father purchased
three thousand dollars' worth of goods and
sent him away with them on a ship bound
for one of the French colonies in the West



Indies. A daughter of the same family was
the mother of Joseph Soisson. He married
Margaret Kinstof Christophe, born in the
same province. They Hved to a good old
age, rearing a family of six children: i.
John, born in Alsace, France, where he
grew to manhood and received his educa-
tion. He emigrated to the United States
in 1847, settling in Cambria county, Penn-
sylvania, near Nicktown, where he engaged
in farming. He married in his native land,
Magdalena Lambour, who accompanied him
to the United States. Children : i. Nicholas
Louis, born November 19, 1852; now resides
at St. Louis. Missouri ; married and has nine
children; ii. John E., born March 3, 1855,
married and has four children ; iii. Anthony,
Dorn August 12, 1856, a farmer, married and
has twelve children; iv. M. J., born
February i, 1858, now engaged in the ex-
press and storage business in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania; v. Mary Magdalene, born
February 27, 1859, married, October 24,
1876, M. J. Kersch, and has fourteen chil-
dren. 2. Joseph, of whom further. 3. Pe-
ter, whose sketch follows. 4. Lizzie, born in
Alsace, France, April 18, 1833; married, in
Germany, February 17, 1858. Joseph Schlos-
ser. She came to the United States later
in life with her two younger children and
now resides with her brother, Joseph, in
Connellsville. Children: Laura, Margaret,
Joseph, Leo and Katherine. 5. Leon Jo-
seph, born at Wahlscheid, Germany, April
22, 1838. He grew to manhood in his na-
tive land and came to the United States,
settling in Fayette county, Pennsylvania,
with his brother Joseph, in whose employ he
continued until "his death, November 21,
191 1. He married, in 1868, Barbara Sny-
der, of Nicktown. Cambria county, Pennsyl-
vania. Children: i. Louisa, born May 13,
1869, married Thomas Collins — seven chil-
dren; ii. George Peter, born July 4, 1870,
married Clara^ May Carven, six children ;
iii. Franklin F., born January 25, 1872, mar-
ried Gertrude Rhodes, no children ; iv. Wil-
liam J., born November 22, 1873, married, in
1898, Myrtle Younkin, seven children; v.
Sylvester, born August, 1875, married Nel-
lie Denver, no children ; vi. Edward, died
1882; vii. Emma, died 1882; viii. Elizabeth,
born December 27, 1878, married Victor

Sims, no children; ix. Bertha, born March
15, 1882, married Charles McCarthy, two
children; x. Louis, born July 17, 1884, mar-
ried Kate Collins ; xi. Agnes, born August
31, 1886, married Lorance Coyles, two chil-
dren ; xii. Ambrose, born August 3, 1886,
married Pearl Weis ; xiii. Andrew, born
June II, 1891 ; xiv. Ella, born May 31, 1895.
6. Margaret, born in Alsace, married Charles
Walter and yet resides in their native prov-
ince in the village of Wahlscheid ; one child.
(II) Joseph (2), second son of Joseph (i)
and Margaret K. (Christophe) Soisson,
was born in Wahlscheid, Alsace, France,
January 9, 1829. He was educated in his
native province and learned both the Ger-
man and French languages. At the age of
twenty he came to the United States, land-
ing at New York City, after a voyage of
forty-two days made in a sailing vessel.
He could speak no English, but soon ac-
quired a sufficient vocabulary for his needs.
He soon left New York, where he worked
at tinning, going to New Jersey, where for
eighteen months he was engaged in the
manufacture of building brick. He had now
learned the language and determined to
still further prospect for a favorable loca-
tion, for he had determined to become a
manufacturer. He came as far west as Hol-
lidaysburg, Blair county, Pennsylvania,
finding employment at brickmaking with
Charles Hughes. Here he became thorough
master of all details of the business. He
then went south looking for a location, but
after going as far as New Orleans and not
finding a suitable opening, he returned to
Mr. Hughes, who had formed a partnership
with Dr. Roderick and was extending his
business in all directions. Mr. Soisson be-
came an agent for the firm, selling brick and
taking contracts. After two years as agent
he purchased Dr. Roderick's interest, the
firm becoming Hughes & Soisson. They
operated the plant at Plane No. 8 near Hol-
lidaysburg, Pennsylvania, until i860, then
established another plant at Miltenberg.
Hughes & Soisson conducted a very suc-
cessful business until 1869, when they dis-
solved by mutual consent. For six years,
until 1875, Mr. Soisson continued the busi-
ness alone. He then formed a partnership
with Messrs. Spiggs and Wilhelm, and

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Cc^£/^ /i^ Qyc^-'^^



erected a large plant at White Rock near
Connellsville. This continued until 1879,
when Mr. Soisson and his son, John F.,
absorbed the entire business and launched
the firm of Soisson & Son. In 1872 a part-
nership had been formed with John Kilpat-
rick and John Wilhelm, trading as Soisson,
Kilpatrick & Wilhelm. This firm had erect-
ed an extensive plant at Moyer, Fayette
county. This plant, after a successful ca-
reer, was merged with Soisson & Son and
the entire business incorporated under the
title of The Joseph Soisson Fire Brick Com-
pany, with Joseph Soisson, president. This
is the largest brick manufacturing company
in the county and conducts an enormous
business. They manufacture at their dif-
ferent plants all kinds of bricks and for all
purposes, building brick, fire brick, coke
oven brick, pavement brick and tile, all of
a quality that has built up their market and
holds it. Their six plants have a combined
daily capacity of one hundred thousand

In 1873, Mr. Soisson first made Connells-
ville his home, and has continuously re-
sided there until the present date (1912).
He and his seven sons, all capable active
men of affairs, have been potent factors in
the development of Connellsville. The
father, as years accumulated, withdrew from
the more active field, leaving to the sons the
burden of the business. He took a great in-
terest in borough affairs, contributing lib-
erally of time and money to those enter-
prises that promised a benefit to his city.
When the Humbert Tin Plate Company was
organized and when the Slaymaker-Barry
Lock Company came to Connellsville, seek-
ing a location and local aid, he was the first
of the moneyed men of the city to extend a
helping hand. His contribution to the fund
to purchase a site was a large one, and the
influence of his name still more helpful, and
these industries were able to establish large,
well equipped plants, employing a large
force of men. He was a director and stock-
holder of the Humbert Tin Plate Company
until its absorption iij 1899 by the tin trust.
The American Tin Plate Company. He was
a director and first vice-president of the
S'aymaker-Barry Company for many years.
These are only solitary instances and could

be further multiplied ; any enterprise that
appealed to his business judgment has had
his support. He went outside his realm of
business and became one of the founders of
the Yough National Bank of Connellsville.
He was a director when it was the State
Bank, and since becoming a National Bank
its honored president. This bank stands
among the leading financial institutions,
which proves his breadth of mind and the
versatility of his genius. He is a most gen-
erous giver to charity and is liberal in all
things. His career is an inspiration and a
great object lesson to the ambitious. In-
dustry and clean living are the lessons his
life teaches to the young man who would
emulate him. When such a goal can be won
by a young man, a stranger in a strange
land, without even a knowledge of the lan-
guage of those around him, exceptional mer-
it in that particular young man must be the
explanation of his success, not luck or for-
tuitous circumstances. He won success, de-
serves it and all wish him many years more
to enjoy it. In 1907 he gave downtown
Connellsville a modern place of amusement
by building the Soisson Theatre. He is a
Democrat, casting his first presidential vote
for James A. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania.
He is a member, with his entire family, of
the Church of the Immaculate Conception
(Roman Catholic).

He married, March 21, 1853, at Hollidays-
burg, Pennsylvania, Caroline Filcer, born
in Centre county, Pennsylvania, daughter of
Thomas and Margaret Filcer. Children :

1. Elizabeth, born 1854; married Hugh
King, a blacksmith of Connellsville.

2. John F., born at Plane No. 8 on the old
Portage Road near Hollidaysburg in 1856,
died in Connellsville in November, 1899. He
was identified with the brick manufacturing
business with his father, and for thirty years
was a leading citizen and prominent busi-
ness man of Fayette county. He was treas-
urer and general manager of the Joseph
Soisson Fire Brick Company, president of
the South Connellsville Luml^er Company,
president of the South Connellsville Build-
ing and Loan Association, director of the
Second National Bank, director of the
Youghioheny Light, Heat and Power Com-
pany, director of the South Connellsville



Suburban Street Railway Company, director
of the Connellsville News Publishing Com-
pany, of which he was a founder. He joined
with his father and brothers in the devel-
opment of South Connellsville and aided in
the planting of the industries there. He
was a member of the Church of the Immac-
ulate Conception, the Knights of Columbus
and the Catholic Mutual Benefit Associa-
tion. He married Emma C. Whitney; chil-
dren : John Whitney, Hilda A., Emma,
Irene and Adrian.

3. Anna M., married John F. Gilligan, a
foundry and machine shop proprietor of
Latrobe, Pennsylvania; eight children.

4. Margaret M., married Joseph Madigan,
superintendent in the Pittsburgh Brewing
Company at Connellsville.

5. William Filcer, born at Incline No. 8,
Blair county, Pennsylvania, August 2, 1862;
now residing at No. 122 Peach street, Con-
nellsville. He was educated in the public
school and for two years attended St. Vin-
cent's College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
He worked for the Soisson Fire Brick Com-
pany in 1881, then became bookkeeper for
the firm of John D. Frisbee in Connellsville,
continuing until August 31, 1885. He then
formed a partnership with J. C. Lytle and as
Lytle & Soisson conducted a retail boot and
shoe store in Connellsville, continuing until
i8go, when he withdrew and became book-
keeper for Joseph Soisson & Sons, with a
one-third interest in the firm ; upon the
incorporation of the Joseph Soisson Fire
Brick Company, he was elected secretary,
continuing until 1899, when he was elected
general manager and treasurer. He was in-
terested in the development of Connellsville
and South Connellsville, and with his fa-
ther and brothers secured the industries of
that borough. He is a director and vice-
president of the Yough National Bank, di-
rector and president of the Inter-Railway
Coal Company, director of the Connellsville
Suburban Electric Railway, the Sunshine
Coal & Coke Company, the O'Brien Coal
Company, The Yough Heat, Light and
Power Company, the Connellsville Mer-
chandise and Supply Company, The Con-
nellsville Building and Loan Company,
president of the Soisson Summer Home
Company, sole owner of the Lang Coal and

Sand Company, and is a stockholder in the
Midland Coal & Coke Company, the Stewart
Creek Coal Company, the Connellsville,
Machinery & Car Company, the Citizens
National Bank, the Connellsville White
Sand Company, director of the Yough
Plumbing Company, president of the Rocks
Coal Company. He is a member of the
Church of the Immaculate Conception, a
Knight of Columbus, a Catholic Mutual
Benefit Association and a Democrat in pol-

He married (first) in 1887, Jennie,
daughter of Robert Lang. Children : Cy-
rilla Margaret, born November 27, 1888;
Robert Regis, July 22, 1890; Basil Joseph,
April 25, 1892 ; Ignatius Lang, August 9,
1894; Marie Genevieve, April 9, 1896; Anena
Caroline, August 5, 1898; Anna Marian,
September 2.^, 1901 ; Elnor Regina, Feb-
ruary 2"], 1904; William Edison, February
21, 1906; Fred Filcer. December 29, 1907.
Jennie, his wife, died January 26, 1908. He
married (second) Jennie M. Wyeth, a wid-
ow, daughter of James and Adelia Madden,
of Harvard, Illinois, June 6, 1910, by Rev.
Father Cusack.

6. Joseph N., born at Oakdale, Fayette
county, Pennsylvania, August 16, 1864. He
was educated in the public school of White
Rock, later attended public school of Con-
nellsville and the parochial schools. In 1881-
82 he was a student at St. Vincent's College
near Latrobe. After leaving college he was
taken into the brick manufacturing business
with his father and elder brothers. He was
stationed at the fire brick manufacturing
plant at Volcano, Fayette county, where after
five months' experience, at age of nineteen
years, he was placed in charge of the plant.
He was next put in full charge of the new
plant being erected at Davidson's Station,
north of Connellsville. After the comple-
tion of that plant, one of the six operated
by the Joseph Soisson Fire Brick Company,
he went west spending three years at Kan-
sas City, Missouri, engaged in contracting
brick construction, stores, blocks and dwell-
ings. He then returned home and was made
superintendent of another Soisson plant, the
Fire Brick Works at Rankin, Fayette coun-
ty. He remained in charge of that plant
until its destruction by fire. These works



were not rebuilt and after the sale of the
ground, etc., he returned to Connellsville.
In 1896 he was again made superintendent
of the Volcano plant of the Joseph Soisson
Fire Brick Company, and in 1909 he was
elected assistant general manager of that
company. The plant at Volcano is the
largest of the five plants now operated by
the company; is equipped with all modern
brick making machinery and has a capacity
of 25,000 daily. The company manufacture
here only coke oven brick. Mr. Soisson
has other business interests, notably the
O'Brien Coal Company, of which he is
president. The company is a prosperous
one, owning and operating large properties
in Somerset county, Pennsylvania. He is
a Democrat in politics, casting his first
presidential vote for Grover Cleveland. He
served on the borough council of Rankin,
Pennsylvania, and is active in county poli-
tics. He is a member of the Church of the
Immaculate Conception and of the Knights
of Columbus. He married, April 16, 1897,
Mary T., daughter of Bernard and Mary
Callahan. Her father is a mine inspector.
Children: Paul B., born February 4, 1898;
Joseph Carl, June 2, 1900; Albert James,
May 29, 1903 ; Electra Margaret, May 20,
1911. The family residence is at No. 208
East Washington street, Connellsville.

7. Leo Joseph, born at Miltenberg, Fay-
ette county, Pennsylvania, (then the family
home) July 17, 1866. "He was but three
years of age when his parents moved to
their Connellsville home, where he grew to
manhood. He was educated in the public
and parochial schools of Connellsville, and
at St. Vincent's College where he spent fif-
teen months as a student. After completing
his studies he began business life as a tin-
ner. He learned his trade under the direc-
tion of Robert Greenland, continuing with
him two years. He then founded a partner-
ship with Lynn Fitzmeier and established a
tin and metal business under the firm name
of Soisson & Fitzmeier. He continued in
business thus for two years, then sold his
interest to Louis Balsley. He was then en-
gaged at his trade two years. He next
joined his father and brothers in brick man-
ufacturing, a business he was thoroughly
familiar with, having worked with his father

in boyhood and learned all parts of the busi-
ness. In 1894, when Mr. Kilpatrick's death
left a vacancy in the Joseph Soisson Fire
Brick Company's office of superintendent
of the Davidson plant, he was elected to fill
the vacancy. He has filled the position most
capably and at the present date (1912) is
still in ofTice. He is energetic and full of
vigor, understanding the manufacture of
fire brick thoroughly, his plant being large-
ly devoted to the manufacture of fire brick
used in coke oven construction. He is a
Democrat in politics, and a member of the
Church of the Immaculate Conception. He
married, April 22, 1889, Annie Edith
Whipke, born at Ohiopyle, Fayette county,
daughter of John and Eliza AV'hipke. Her
father is a veteran of the civil war and a
contractor, now residing at Hazelwood,
Pennsylvania. Children : Harold Gray, born
February 21, 1891 ; Mary Edith, June 8,
1892; Minnie Venetta, December 15, 1893;
Bessie Arvilla, April 21, 1896; Frances
Eliza, October 7, 1898; David Thuraphine,
February 20, 1901 ; Josephine Filcer, March
21, 1903; an infant, deceased, born June 13,
1905; John Leo, August 19, 1906; Ralph Ed-
ward, January 11, 1909. The family home
is at No. 1 140 South Pittsburgh street.

8. Charles E., born at Gibson Station,
Fayette county, Pennsylvania (the family
home just prior to the removal to Connells-
ville), June 16, 1868. He was educated in
the public schools of Connellsville and dur-
ing the years 1866-67 was a student of St.
Vincent's College. After completing his
studies he at once joined with his father
and brothers in their extensive brickmaking
operations. He was first employed at the
Volcano plant, continuing until 1889, when
he was appointed clay manager in charge of
the fire clay mines at Bear Run, Fayette
county. Here the clay is taken from the
banks and shipped to the six plants of the
Joseph Soisson Fire Brick Company. He
has about seventy men under him, which
force keeps the plants supplied with the
kind of clay used, principally fire clay. Mr.
Soisson is a capable manager and fills his
positon most effectively. He is a director
and treasurer of the Soisson Summer Home
Company, a corporation owning a tract of
land three-quarters of a mile east of Con-



nellsville, that they are developing as a
summer resort and home. A club house
has been erected, fishing grounds stocked
and many improvements begun. He is also
a director of the Connellsville Building and
Loan Association. He is an Independent in
politics, selecting his candidate for personal
fitness, regardless of his party. He is a mem-
ber of the Church of the Immaculate Con-
ception, as are the members of his family.
He married, June 26, 1888, Mary Elizabeth
Shoup, born in Connellsville, daughter of
Daniel F. and Sarah Jane (Saylor) Shoup.
Her father is a coal miner, residing in Con-
nellsville. Her mother, Sarah J. Shoup, was
born in Fayette county, descending from the
Saylors of Somerset county, of German-
French ancestry. Children : Henry William,
born March 11, 1889, married Nellie Lane,
of Scottdale, and has Joseph and Henry W.
(2) ; Archibald Edward, born September 8,
1891 ; Leroy Dallas, August 9, 1894; Ray-
mond Daniel Joseph, October 31, 1896; Otto
Charles, January 27, 1899; Anthony Saylor,
October 14, 1901 ; George Clarence, April
12, 1904; Emma Louise Caroline, October
25, 1906. The family home since February
2, 1900, has been at No. 211 Prospect street,

9. Caroline, born in Connellsville, Penn-
sylvania, November 10, 1870. She married
Joseph L. Stader, undertaker and livery man
of Connellsville.

10. Robert W., born in Connellsville,
Pennsylvania, November 28, 1872. He was
educated in public schools and St. Vincent's
College. He began business life in the
Yough National Bank of Connellsville, of
which he is now teller. He is a member of
the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

11. Vincent H., born in Connellsville,
Pennsylvania, at that part of South Con-
nellsville known as White Rock, February
18, 1875. He attended the public school at
Gibson Station and spent six years in the
Connellsville parochial school, then was a
student at St. Vincent's College for three
and a half years. After leaving college he
joined the civil engineering corps of S. M.
Foust, and later that of William Hender-
son. After two years in engineering works,
he became secretary of the South Connells-
ville Lumber Company, continuing until

1899 in charge of the office work of that
company. In November, 1899, his brother,
John F. Soisson, died and Vincent H. was
elected to succeed W. F. as secretary of
the Joseph Soisson Fire Brick Company,
which position he now most capably fills.
He is also treasurer of the South Connells-
ville Lumber Company, stockholder in Sun-
shine Coal & Coke Company, and interested

Online LibraryJohn Woolf JordanGenealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) → online text (page 38 of 57)