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Armstrong County PA Biographies






Daniel and Robert Hall










Prepared by Capt Robert G. Heiner.

General Daniel Brodhead, of revolutionary fame, whose portrait appears elsewhere in this volume, was born in Marbletown, Ulster county, New York, in 1736, and died and was buried in Milford, Pennsylvania, November 15, 1809. He was the great-grandson of Capt. Daniel Brodhead, of the English army, who came to this country in 1664, as a member of the expedition commanded by Col. Richard Nichols, in the service of King Charles II, after the Restoration. After the surrender of Stuyvesant Capt. Brodhead was sent up to Albany, in September, 1664, and was a witness to the treaty made with the Indians there in that month. He was afterward promoted to the command of the military forces of Ulster county, by commission from King Charles, dated September 14, 1665, which position he held till his death in 1670. He left one daughter and two sons-Ann Brodhead, Charles Brodhead and Richard Brodhead. The latter was born at Marbletown, New York, in 1666, and was the grandfather of General Brodhead. Richard Brodhead had two sons, Richard Brodhead, Jr., and Daniel Brodhead, born in Marbletown, Ulster ounty, New York, in the year 1698, and died at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the year 1755. This Daniel Brodhead, the father of the subject of this biography, removed with his family from Ulster county, New York, in the year 1737, to Danville, Pennsylvania, while the subject of this biography was but an infant. Inured to the dangers of the Indian frontier from his very cradle, the impression made as he grew up among the scenes of Indian barbarities, and the outrages of the savages, helped to form his future character and to mold him into the grand, successful soldier and Indian fighter which his subsequent history proved him to be.

General Brodhead first appeared prominently in public life when he was elected a deputy from Berks county to a provincial meeting which met at Philadelphia, July 15, 1774, and served on a committee which reported sixteen resolutions, one of which recommended the calling of a continental congress and acts of non-importation and non-exportation from Great Britain. These were among the first steps toward the revolution which followed.

At the beginning of the war of the revolution he was commissioned by the assembly of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia as colonel of the 8th regt. Pa. Colonial Troops. He first participated in the battle of Long Island. Before the close of this battle he commanded the whole of the Pennsylvania contingent troops, composed of several battalions. He was especially mentioned by Washington in his report to congress on this battle, for brave and meritorious conduct. He also participated in several other battles of the revolution. Having received the approbation of Washington, he was sent by him, in June, 1778, with his troops to Fort Muncy, where he rebuilt that fort formerly destroyed by the Indians, which command he held until Washington, on the following spring, recommended his selection to congress for the command of the western department. Washington, being personally acquainted and warmly attached to him, knew well his qualifications as a brave, judicious and competent general. Washington, by sanction of congress, issued an order, dated March 5, 1779, directing him to proceed to Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, and take charge of the western department, extending from the British possessions, at Detroit, on the north, to the French possessions (Louisiana) on the south, a command and responsibility equal to any in the revolutionary army. Gen. Brodhead established the headquarters of his department at Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He had under his command the posts of Fort Pitt, Fort McIntosh, Fort Laurens, Fort Tuscarora, Fort Wheeling, Fort Armstrong and Fort Holliday's Cove. He made a number of successful expeditions in person against the Indians with a large part of his command. In 1779 he executed a brilliant march up the Allegheny with 605 men, penetrating into New York, overcoming almost insurmountable difficulties, through a wilderness without roads, driving the Indians before him, depopulating and destroying their villages all along his route, killing and capturing many. This expedition began August 11 and ended September 14, 1779, between 300 and 400 miles in thirty-three days, through a wilderness without a road. Gen. Brodhead received the thanks of congress for this expedition, and the following acknowledgment from Gen. Washington: "The activity, perseverance and firmness which marked the conduct of Gen. Brodhead, and that of all the officers and men of every description in this expedition, do them great honor, and their services entitle them to the thanks and to this testimonial of the general's acknowledgement."

A great number of the thrilling Indian stories of which we read in the present day occurred under Gen. Brodhead's command. The famous Capt. Brady was a captain in Gen. Brodhead's eighth regiment, and seldom ever went out on a scout but by orders from the general. Gen. Brodhead's devotion to the cause of liberty was untiring. He never doubted the result of the war, and his letters of encouragement to Gen. Washington and others are part of the history of our country. In one, lamenting the coldness of some former patriots, he writes: "There is nothing I so much fear as a dishonorable peace. For heaven's sake, let every good man hold up his hands against it. We have never suffered half I expected we should, and I am willing to suffer much more for the glorious cause for which I have and wish to bleed."

Gen. Brodhead had a treble warfare to wage- a warfare which required the genius and daring of a soldier, the diplomacy of a statesman and the good, hard sense and clear judgment of an independent ruler over an extensive country composed of a variety of elements. He waged war upon the unfriendly Indians, and held as allies in friendship several friendly nations. He watched and controlled, to a great extent, the British influence upon the Indians in the direction of Detroit. He kept in subjection a large tory element west of the mountains in sympathy with Great Britain, and punished them by confiscating their surplus stores and provisions for the benefit of his starving soldiers, when they had refused to sell to his commissary officers on the credit of the government; but he never resorted to this punishment until his starving soldiers paraded in a body in front of his quarters and announced they had had no bread for five days.

On June 24, 1779, Gen. Brodhead issued his famous order directing Col. Bayard to proceed to Kittanning and erect a fort at that point for the protection of all settlers desiring to settle in that vicinity, and for the better protection of the frontier.

After the erection of this fort settlers took up land and built their houses around and in the vicinity of this fort, under its protection, until the accumulation of houses and homes in the vicinity transformed the Indian town of Kittanning into the present thriving capital of Armstrong county, which can only justly and truthfully be acknowledged the result of the fort erected by command of Gen. Brodhead, and which he was too modest to have called after himself, regardless of the importunate efforts of Col. Bayard, whom history shows to have earnestly entreated Brodhead to permit him to call it Fort Brodhead.

Gen. B.'s untiring watchfulness of the settlements along the Allegheny, the building of his fort at Kittanning, his protection of the inhabitants in its vicinity until they became numerous enough to defend themselves, his modesty in not permitting the fort to be called after himself, justly entitle him to the credit of being the founder of Kittanning, just as the erecting of every fort on our western frontier from that day to this has been the foundation of a city or town which invariably sprang from such a planting, as Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, Leavenworth, Fort Dodge, Detroit, for never until that time had Kittanning any white inhabitants, and never from that time until the present has it been without white inhabitants.

In 1781 Gen. B. was given command of the 1st Pa. Colonial regt., and during that year received his full commission as general. His services extended through the entire war of the revolution, and at its close he was elected by the officers assembled at the cantonment of the American army on the Hudson River, May 10, 1783, as one of a committee to prepare the necessary papers for the organization of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1789 Gen. Brodhead was elected by the Pennsylvania assembly surveyor-general of the State of Pennsylvania, which position he held for nearly twelve years.

For his services in the revolution Gen. B. received several thousand acres of land, which he located in Western Pennsylvania. Besides this he purchased largely of land through Western Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. He located much land in the vicinity of Kittanning and on the Allegheny, the scenes of his former exploits, which he never ceased to love. His second marriage was to the widow of Gen. Samuel Mifflin. He had but one child, Ann Garton Brodhead. She married Casper Heiner, of Reading, Pennsylvania, a surveyor by profession and an author of a series of mathematics.

To Ann Garton Heiner and her children Gen. Brodhead left all his lands and property. Ann Garton Heiner had but one son, John Heiner, who removed to Kittanning in 1812, and took possession of all the lands left him by his grandfather, Gen. Brodhead.

Captain John Heiner died and was buried in Indiana, Pennsylvania, in 1833. He left but one son, Daniel Brodhead Heiner, late of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, and three daughters, Ann Eliza, who married John Mechling, sheriff of Armstrong county from 1845 to 1848; Margaret Heiner (Carson), of Sidney, Illinois, and Catherine Heiner Smith, wife of Gov. George W. Smith, of Lawrence, Kansas.

Ann Garton Brodhead Heiner had, beside her son John Heiner, four daughters, Rebecca Heiner, who was the mother of the Hon. Henry Johnson, of Muncy, Pennsylvania, presidential elector in 1848 on the whig ticket; state senator of Pennsylvania, from 1861 to 1864, and chairman of the judiciary committee and author of the bill to entitle soldiers to vote in the field (after the supreme court of Pennsylvania had decided their voting unconstitutional). She was the grandmother of Hon. Henry John Brodhead Cummings, colonel of the 39th Ia. Inf. during the war of the rebellion, and member of congress from the Des Moines district from 1877 to 1879. Ann Gorton Brodhead Heiner's second daughter (Margaret Heiner) married John Faulk, and was the mother of Hon. Andrew J. Faulk, governor of Dakota, from August 4, 1866, to May 1, 1869, also superintendent of Indian affairs for Dakota, and member of the committee, with Gen. William T. Sherman, Gen. Stanley and others, which made the famous treaty with the Sioux Indians at Fort Sully, Dakota, in 1868. Ann Garton Brodhead Heiner's third daughter (Catherine Heiner) married Col. Brodhead, a distant cousin, descended of a brother of Gen. Daniel Brodhead. Gen. Brodhead's descendants by this marriage are the children of Geo. Brodhead, of Kittanning; Mark Brodhead, of Washington; Mrs. Kate Van Wyke, wife of United States Senator Van Wyke, of Nebraska, and Mrs. Van Auken, wife of John Van Auken, member of congress from Pike county from 1867 to 1871, and Ann Gorton Brodhead Heiner's fourth daughter (Mary Heiner), married John Weitzel, late of Reading, Pennsylvania.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Joseph Buffington, for many years judge of the "old tenth" district, and whose life was intimately connected with the history of Armstrong county, was born in the. town of West Chester, county of Chester, on the 27th of November, 1803, and died at Kittanning on the 3d of February, 1872. The ancestors of Judge Buffington were Quakers or Friends, who left England several years before Wm. Penn, and in 1677, five years before the arrival of Penn, we find one of them, Richard Buffington, among the list of " tydables " at Upland, which same Richard was the father of the first-born child of English descent in the Province of Pennsylvania. From Hazard's Annals, page 468, as well as from the Pennsylvania Gazette from June 28 to July 5, 1739, we learn that, "on the 30th of May past, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Richard Buffington, Sr., to the number of 115, met together at his home in Chester county, as also his 9 sons and daughters-in-law, and 12 great-grandchildren-in-law. The old man is from Great Marie upon the Thames, in Buckinghamshire, in Old England, aged about 85, and is still hearty, active and of perfect memory. His eldest son, now in the 60th year of his age, was the first-born son of English descent in this Province."

The second son, Thomas, was born about 1680, and died in December, 1739. He was married to Ruth Cope, and among other children left a son William, who was first married to Lena Ferree, as appears in Rupp's History of Lancaster county, page 112, and afterward to a second wife, Alice, whose maiden name is unknown. By this second wife there was born in 1736 a son Jonathan, who died October 18, 1801. This Jonathan Buffington was the grandfather of Judge Buffington. He owned and operated a gristmill which is still standing at North Brook, near the site of the battle of the Brandywine. At the time of that battle (September, 1777) his mill was taken possession of by the British troops, and the non-combatant Friend compelled to furnish food for the British.

Jonathan Buffington was married to Ann (born 1739, died June 16,1811), daughter of Edward and Ann Clayton. Their third child, Ephraim Buffington, was born March 23, 1767, and died December 30, 1832. Ephraim Buffington was married to Rebecca Francis, March 4, 1790, at the old Swedes church, Wilmington, Delaware. He kept a hotel at West Chester, at a tavern stand known as the "White Hall," a venerable hostelry, and well known throughout that region for many years. It was here that Judge Buffington was born and lived until his tenth year, when his father, in hopes of bettering his fortunes in the then West, left Chester county, came over the mountains and settled at Pine creek, about five miles above Pittsburgh, on the Allegheny river. When about 18 years of age he entered the Western University at Pittsburgh, then under the charge of Dr. Bruce, at which place he also enjoyed the instructions of the venerable Dr. Joseph Stockton. After finishing a liberal course of studies he went to Butler, Pennsylvania, and for some time prior to studying law, edited a weekly newspaper called the Sutler Repository, and in company with Samuel A. Purviance, afterward a well-known member of the Allegheny county bar and attorney-general of the commonwealth, he engaged in keeping a small grocery store. Soon afterward he entered, as a student of law, the office of Gen. William Ayers, at that time one of the celebrated lawyers of Western Pennsylvania, under whose careful training he laid a thorough foundation for his chosen life work. During his student life he married Miss Catharine Mechling, a daughter of Hon. Jacob Mechling, of Butler county, a prominent politician of that region, and for many years a member of the house of representatives and the senate of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Buffington survived her husband, dying September 11, 1873. They left no children, their only child, Mary, having died in infancy.

In July, 1826, he was admitted to practice in Butler county, and in the supreme court on September 10, 1828. He remained at the Butler bar for about a year, but finding that the business was largely absorbed by older and more experienced practitioners, he determined to seek some new field of labor and finally decided upon Armstrong county, to which he removed and settled at Kittanning, where he continued to reside until his death. Shortly after his coming he purchased from his perceptor, Gen. Ayers, the lots on Water street which afterward became his home and on which he built the old homestead.

Though the first years of his professional life were ones of hardship and narrow means, yet his industry, integrity and close application soon brought him to the front of the bar, and in a few years he was in possession of a practice that absorbed his time and afforded him a comfortable income. During the years that intervened between his coming to Kittanning and 1843 he was closely engaged in the line of his profession. Patient, laborious and attentive, full of zeal and energy for his clients' causes, he acquired an extensive practice. He was constantly in attendance upon the courts of Clarion, Jefferson, Armstrong and Indiana, and his services were often in demand in other counties. He was connected with all the important land trials of these regions, and his knowledge of this intricate branch of the law was thorough and exhaustive. To practice successfully in these counties indicated no meager abilities as one recalls to mind the array of legal talent of those days, among whom may be mentioned Thomas Blair, Gov. Wm. F. Johnston, H. N. Lee, Darwin Phelps, of Armstrong county; Hon. Samuel A. Gilmore, Hon. Charles C. Sullivan, Hon. Samuel A. Purviance, Gen. I. N. Purviance, of Butler county; Hon. Thomas White, Daniel Stannard, William Banks, of Indiana county; Hon. Henry D. Foster, Edgar A. Cowan, of Westmoreland county; Hon. James Campbell and Thomas Sutton, of Clarion county.

Upon coming to manhood, Judge Buffington took a strong interest in politics. At the inception of the anti-masonic party in 1831 or thereabouts he became one of its members and served as a delegate to the national convention of that body which met at Baltimore in 1832 and nominated William Wirt for the presidency. During these and the few succeeding years he was several times nominated for the position of state senator or member of the house of representatives, but without success, his party being largely in the minority. In 1840 he became a whig, taking an active part in the election of Gen. Harrison and serving as one of the presidential electors on the whig ticket.

In the fall of 1843 he was elected a member of congress as the whig candidate in the district composed of the counties of Armstrong, Butler, Clearfield and Indiana, his competitor being Dr. Lorain, of Clearfield county. In 1844 he was again elected in the same district, his competitor being Judge McKennan, of Indiana county. During his membership of the house he voted with the Whigs in all important measures, among others voting against the admission of Texas on the ground of opposition to the extension of slave territory.

His fellow townsman and warm personal friend, Hon. W. F. Johnston, having been elected governor, he appointed Mr. Buffington in 1849 to the position of president-judge of the eighteenth judicial district, composed of Clarion, Elk, Jefferson and Venango counties. This position he held until 1851, when be was defeated in the judicial election by Hon. John C. Knox, the district being largely democratic.

In 1852 he was nominated by the whig state convention for the judgeship of the supreme court. In the general overthrow of the whig party which resulted in the defeat of Gen. Scott for the presidency, Judge Buffington was defeated, his competitor being the late Chief Justice Woodward, of Luzerne county.

The same year he was appointed, by President Fillmore, chief justice of Utah territory, then just organized. He was strongly urged by the president personally to accept, as the position was a trying one and the administration wished it to be filled by one in whom it had confidence. Its great distance from civilization and the customs of the country, which were so abhorrent to his ideas, led him, however, to decline the proffered honor.

In the year 1855, on the resignation of Hon. John Murray Burrill, judge of the tenth district, he was appointed to that position by Gov. Pollock, with whom he had been a fellow-member of congress. In the fall of 1856 he was elected to fill the position to which he had been appointed, for a term of ten years. In this election he had no contestant, the opposition declining to nominate. This position he held until 1866, when he was again elected to fill the judgeship for another term of ton years. His position during these years was one of hard and constant labor, and the growing business of the three counties of Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland kept his mind and time fully occupied. In 1871 failing health admonished him that the judicial labors, already too great for any one man to perform, were certainly too severe for one who had passed the meridian of life, and had borne the burden aid heat of the day. It was indeed hard for him to listen to the demands of a feeble frame, but, sustained by the consciousness of duty well done, and cheered by united voices from without, proclaiming his life-mission to the public nobly performed, he left the busy scenes of labor aud retired to private life after forty-six years' connection with the bench and bar of the commonwealth, to the thoroughness and industry of which the state reports of Pennsylvania bear silent but eloquent testimony. Surrounded by friends and every comfort of life the following year passed quickly, but as in the case of many an overworked professional man, the final summons came without warning. On Saturday, February 3, 1872, he was in his usual health, and, rising from dinner, he went to an adjoining room, acroas which he commenced walking as was his custom. His wife, coming in a few moments later, found him lying peacefully upon the sofa in the sleep of death. He was buried according to the services of the Episcopal church, of which he had been an attendant, officer and liberal supporter for many years. He was buried in the cemetery at Kittanning, where his resting-place has been marked by a substantial granite monument, a fitting emblem of the completeness of his own life.

Said one of his life-long friends, Gov. William F. Johnston, " To speak of Judge Buffington's career as a lawyer would be a history of the judicial contests in this section of the state for more than a quarter of a century. He had a large practice in Armstrong, Jefferson, Clarion and Indiana counties, the courts of which counties he regularly attended. It was a pleasure to be with him, either as assisting or opposing counsel, in any of those counties. It may not be forgotten that in those early times, in the judicial history of Middle Western Pennsylvania, the bar constituted a kind of peripatetic association, each and all contributing his share to the social enjoyments of the occasion, and to the instruction of the unlearned in law of the obligations that were imposed upon them. These unions at different places created necessarily many happy reminiscences. But, like the schoolmaster of the village, the very spot where once they triumphed is forgot.'"

Of Judge Buffington as a lawyer we have spoken; as a citizen he was public-spirited and gave a ready support to every undertaking calculated to benefit the community. In common with Gen. Orr, Gov. Johnston and others, he took an active part in procuring the building of the Allegheny Valley Railroad, and served for some time as one of its directors. In his younger days he took much pleasure in hunting and fishing. Naturally fond of an outdoor life, he took kindly to agricultural pursuits. From time to time he acquired farming lands in the neighborhood of Kittanning, and their care and cultivation absorbed most of his leisure time. Of industrious habits, and a hard worker, Judge Buffington gradually added to his worldly possessions. Fond of making money, he never cared for it for the purpose of hoarding it, but only for the pleasure its expenditure gave himself and those around him.

It was in private life and in the familiar intercourse of friends that he is best remembered. His courtesy to all, joined to the natural, courtly dignity of the man, stamped him at once in the minds of all with whom he came in contact as a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, while his well-stored mind and fine conversational powers lent a charm to his acquaintance that drew around him a circle of warm and intimate friends. While his words were to the point and his language incisive, his naturally kind heart kept him from bitterness, and his judgment of others was never harsh or prompted by ill will. Kind, sympathetic and generous, he was always ready to listen to and aid those in distress. He never lost sympathy for the young, and there are venerable men at the bar today who will tell how the kindness of Judge Burlington in the early days of their professional career was a real help when they needed friends and encouragement.

A grateful tribute was paid to his memory at March court, 1883, by the Hon. James B. Neale, president judge of the district, and son of his esteemed neighbor and life-long friend, Dr. S. S. Neale.

Judge Neale had an excellent oil portrait of the judge painted, and at that time presented it to the county of Armstrong. It was placed, with appropriate remarks, above the judge's bench in the courtroom where he had so long presided.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


James Calhoun, the father of the old and honored resident of Armstrong county whose name stands at the head of this sketch and of whom a portrait appears, came from Ireland to this country prior to the issuance of the declaration of independence, and settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where he married a Miss Ellen Templeton, by whom he had two children, Samuel and William. James Calhoun served through the revolutionary war and was wounded in one of its battles. After the close of the struggle he settled in what is now Indiana county, and his first wife having died he there married a Mrs. Mary Walker, whose maiden name was Abrams. She had a large family of children by her first husband, of whom Col. Robert Walker, well known as a spy in the Allegheny valley during the long period of Indian hostility, was one. He subsequently became a settler in what is now Boggs township.

Our subject, John Calhoun, was born in Armstrong township, Indiana county, January 16, 1784. In his youth his parents moved to the region now known as Boggs township, Armstrong county, and he of course accompanied them. He purchased a tract of land in that township and improved it. In 1806 he was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Anthony, with whom he continued to reside upon his original purchase until the spring of 1814, when he sold it. He immediately bought another tract in Wayne township, south of the site of Dayton, to which he moved in the spring of 1815. He lived upon this farm until the spring of 1839, in the meantime, September 1, 1827, losing his wife. His final removal was to a fine body of land in the northwestern part of Wayne township, about seven miles from Dayton, which he purchased from Gen. Robert Orr. To this place his children by his first marriage and his second wife, Catharine Marshall, whom he had married January 1, 1828, went with him. Her death occurred upon April 26, 1865. Mr. Calhoun departed this life ten years later, in his ninety-first year.

In his early years Mr. Calhoun was a great hunter, and in his old age he delighted in relating reminiscences of adventure in that sport, which was the pioneer's chief means of relaxation from arduous toil. He had learned the carpenter's trade, but his occupation throughout life was farming. He was a man of sturdy character, of great usefulness to the people around him, widely known and universally respected. He held office during a large portion of his active life. Upon August 30, 1811, he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and upon March 30, 1813, captain of militia, by Gov. Snyder. He was commissioned by Gov. Heister in 1822 as justice of the peace for district No. 7, composed of Plum Creek and Wayne townships, a position which he filled for many years. In 1840 he was appointed and commissioned associate judge of Armstrong county, serving out the unexpired term of an incumbent of the office removed by death. In 1842 he was commissioned to the same office for a full term by Gov. D. R. Porter, and again appointed by Gov. Shunk in 1848. He gave the utmost satisfaction in this and other offices which he held. Politically he was a democrat and a life-long adherent of the party, taking a deep interest in its success and the measures which tended toward it. He was one of the founders of the Glade Run and the Concord Presbyterian churches, and served as an elder in each. He was a man of strong and practical religious tendencies and exerted a valuable influence in the community.

The children of John and Elizabeth (Anthony) Calhoun, with the dates of their respective births, were as follows: Noah A., born December 26,1806; William J., July 22, 1809 ; Mary (Ritchey), January 15, 1812 ; Nancy (Porter), September 18, 1814; James R., March 25, 1817; Sarah (wife of James Calhoun), October 4, 1819; Samuel S. N., March 22, 1823, and John K., February 26, 1825. Of these, all are deceased except Noah A., James R. and Samuel S. N. The first and last named of these three live upon the old farm, Samuel S. N. having the homestead place, and James R., having retired from active farming, lives in Dayton. All of the daughters married farmers, and all of the sons followed farming, except John K., who was an attorney.

When quite young, this son went to Kittanning to obtain an academical education. He studied law in the office of Judge Buffington, and was admitted to practice December 18, 1850, upon motion of Hon. Thomas White. He soon exhibited unusual talent, and rose rapidly in his profession. In 1856 he was elected, upon the Democratic ticket, to represent Armstrong county in the legislature, and served during the session of 1856-7. By re-election he became a member of the legislature of 1857-8. When the war broke out he took a deep interest in the success of the Unionists, and was elected captain of a Kittanning company of militia or emergency men. While attending court in Pittsburgh in the fall of 1863, he fell ill with what proved to be typhoid fever, from which his death resulted upon December 5 of that year. He was deeply lamented by his professional colleagues and a wide circle of friends, who appreciated his ability and sterling, manly qualities.

By his second marriage John Calhoun had one child, a daughter, Elizabeth - Anthony - born October 30, 1830.

The grandchildren of John Calhoun number fifty-seven. Of this number three have studied divinity, three law, four medicine, and six were in the war for the Union. The names of the latter were: Ephraim, son of James R. Calhoun, killed in the battle of the Wilderness; James Robert, son of William J. Calhoun, who died in the hospital at Wheeling, West Virginia; William D. Porter, John A. Ritchey, John A. and John C. Calhoun.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Elizabeth Cochrane

COCHRANE, Miss Elizabeth, author, journalist and traveler, known the world over by her pen-name, "Nellie Bly." born in Cochrane Mills, Pa., 5th May, 1867, a place named after her father, who was a lawyer and for several terms filled the office of associate judge of Armstrong county. Pa. She is a descendant on her father's side of Lord Cochrane, the famous English admiral, who was noted for his deeds of daring, and who was never happy unless engaged in some exciting affair. Miss Cochrane's great-grandfather Cochrane was one of a number of men who wrote a declaration of independence in Maryland near the South Mountains a long time before the historic Declaration of Independence was delivered to the world. Her great-grandfather, on her mother's side, was a man of wealth, owning at one time almost all of Somerset county. Pa. His name was Kennedy, and his wife was a nobleman's daughter. They eloped and fled to America. He was an officer, as were his two sons, in the Revolutionary War. Afterward he was sheriff of Somerset county repeatedly until old age compelled him to decline the office. One of his sons, Thomas Kennedy, Miss Cochrane's grand-uncle, made a flying trip around the word, starting from and returning to New York City, where his wife awaited his arrival. It took him three years to make the trip, and he returned in shattered health. He at once set about to write the history of his trip, but his health became so bad that he had to give up his task. Her father died while Elizabeth was yet a child. She was educated at home until 1880, when she was sent to Indiana, Pa., where she remained in a boarding-school until 1881. Impaired health forced her to leave school, and she returned home. The family moved to Pittsburgh, and there she began her literary career. She saw an article in the Pittsburgh "Dispatch " entitled "What Girls are Good For." She wrote a reply to the article, and though the reply was not published, a paragraph appeared in the "Dispatch" the day after she sent the communication, asking for the writer's name. Miss Cochrane sent her name and received a letter from the editor, requesting her to write an article on the subject of girls and their spheres in life for the "Sunday Dispatch." This she did. The article was printed, and the same week she received a check for it and a request for something else.

Her next subject was "Divorce," and at the end of the article appeared the now famous signature, "Nellie Bly." Miss Cochrane assumed it on the suggestion of George A. Madden, managing editor of the "Dispatch," who got it from Stephen Foster's popular song. The divorce article attracted attention. She was invited to the office and made arrangements to accept a salary and devote her time to the "Dispatch." Taking an artist with her, she went through the factories and workshops of Pittsburgh, and described and pictured the condition of the working girls. The articles made a hit. Miss Cochrane became society editor of the "Dispatch" and also looked after the dramatic and art department, all for a salary often dollars per week. She decided to go to Mexico to write about its people. At that time she was receiving fifteen dollars per week. She went, and her letters printed in the "Dispatch" were full of interest and were widely copied. She had never been out of

her State before, but she traveled everywhere in Mexico that a railroad could take her. Her mother was her companion on that trip. Returning to Pittsburgh, she became dissatisfied with that field, quit the "Dispatch," and went to New York City. She did syndicate work for a while. One day she lost her pocketbook and all the money she possessed. She was too proud to let her friends know, and she sat down and thought. Before that she had written to the "World," asking the privilege of going in the balloon the "World" was about sending up at St. Louis, but, as final arrangements had been completed, her suggestion was not favorably received. Now finding herself penniless, she made a list of a half-dozen original ideas and went to the "World" office, determined to see Mr. Pulitzer and offer them to him. Having no letter of introduction and being unknown, she found it almost an impossibility to gain an audience. For three hours she talked and expostulated with different employes, before she finally exhausted their denials and was ushered into the unwilling presence of Mr. Pulitzer and his editor, John A. Cockerill. Once there, they listened to her ideas and immediately offered her twenty-five dollars to give them three days in which to consider her suggestions. At the end of that time she was told that her idea to feign insanity and, as a patient, investigate the treatment of the insane in the Blackwell Island Asylum was accepted. Miss Bly did that with such marked success and originality of treatment, and attracted so much attention, that she secured a permanent place on the "World" staff. She originated a new field in journalism, which has since been copied all over the world by her many imitators. Her achievements since her asylum expos£ have been many and brilliant. Scarcely a week passed that she had not some novel feature in the "World." Her fame grew and her tasks enlarged, until they culminated in the wonderful tour of the world in 72 days, 6 hours, n minutes and 14 seconds. That idea she proposed to Mr. Pulitzer one year before he approved and accepted it. Owing to delayed steamers, Miss Bly lost fifteen days on land, but she was the first to conceive and establish a record for a fast trip around the world. Since Miss Cochrane "girdled the globe," others have repeated the feat in less time. Her newspaper work resulted in many reforms. Her expose of asylum abuses procured an appropriation of $3,000,000 for the benefit of the poor insane, in addition to beneficial changes in care and management. Her expose of the "King of the Lobby" rid Albany of its greatest disgrace; her stationhouse expose procured matrons for New York police-stations; her expose of a noted "electric" doctor's secret rid Brooklyn of a notorious swindler. Miss Cochrane left journalism to do literary work for a weekly publication. She is now a resident of New York.

(American Women Fifteen Hundred Biographies Vol. 1, by Frances Elizabeth Willard & Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, Publ. 1897. Transcribed by Marla Snow)

Benjamin Franklin Burwell
Burwell, Benjamin Franklin, lawyer and jurist of Oklahoma City, Okla., was born April 15, 1866, in Armstrong County, Pa. He was educated in the public and private schools, and at the state normal school at Glenville,W.Va. He studied law in West Virginia and Kansas, and practiced in Kansas at Gypsum City, where he was city clerk. In 1891 he located in Oklahoma City; and in 1898-1907 was an associate justice of the supreme court for the territory of Oklahoma. He is now actively engaged in the practice of law in Oklahoma City, Okla.
[Herringshaw's American Blue-Book of Biography by Thomas William Herringshaw and American Publishers' Association, 1914, Transcribed by AFOFG]

HALL BROTHERS, Daniel R. and Robert J. Hall are owners and operators of a fine livery business in Republic (WA). They have a large barn, fifty by one hundred feet, with room for fifty tons of loose hay and over fifty head of stock. They have a fine assortment of rigs and plenty of first-class horses, and do a thriving business. They are substantial men and have done their share in building up Republic and fostering the interests of the new county.

Daniel R. Hall was born in Roler Valley, Pennsylvania, on March 6, 1874, being the son of Robert and Isabelle (Moore) Hall, natives of Scotland and Pennsylvania, respectively. The father came to this country when quite young and Pennsylvania was the home of the family until 1886, when they removed to California. The father died in 1903, while making a visit to his son in Republic, and the mother still lives in California. They were the parents of nine children, named as follows: Joshua, Mary, Wm. J., better known as Kelley, Sadie, Robert J., Rebecka, Daniel, Nannie and Alice. Our subject received his education in various places where the family lived, and at the age of eighteen began life for himself. For a while he was engaged on a stock farm and in 1889 came to where Republic now stands. Later, in connection with his brother, Robert J., he opened the Pioneer livery stable of Republic and has continued since, doing a fine business. In addition to this property, he owns one hundred and sixty acres of good land near town.

Politically, Mr. Hall is an active Democrat. He is a member of the Eagles.

The marriage of Daniel R. Hall and Miss Gertrude Coffee was solemnized on January 1, 1904.

Robert J. Hall, better known as James Hall, was born on July 13, 1869, in a rural village of Armstrong county, Pennsylvania. He attended the common schools until fourteen years of age, then soon after went to California and engaged in stock farming. From there he came to Republic with his brother, mentioned in this article, and since that time has been associated with him in his business as liveryman. For three years he was interested in the stage line that operated between Republic and Grand Forks, and since then has been one of the firm of Hall Brothers, liverymen. Mr. Hall is a member of the M. W. A. and is a councilman of Republic. Politically he is a solid Democrat and works for his principles.
Robert J. Hall married Miss Nora Page and to them three children have been born: William R., aged seven; Dan J., aged five; and Carrie I., aged three.
[Source: "An Illustrated History of Stevens, Ferry, Okanogan, and Chelan Counties in the state of Washington"; Western Historical Publishing Company, 1904. Tr. by Rhonda Hill]

Mrs. Nellie (Owen) Hibler

HIBLER, Mrs. Nellie, musical educator, born in Utica, N. Y., 10th September, 1858. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Owen, are Welsh, and members of families of culture. Nellie from her early childhood was noted for her love of music. When quite young, she was graduated from the Utica advanced school and entered the academy. When in her sixteenth year, she accompanied her parents to Wales, and for three years they lived in the town of Aberystwyth. There Nellie received a scholarship for piano and harmony. By extraordinary diligence she was graduated in two-and-a-half years instead of three. She received the title Associate in Music of the University College of Wales. While abroad, her studies were under the direction of Dr. Parry, the famous Welsh composer. Not long after her graduation she returned with her parents to Utica, where she was for a time the organist of the South Street Methodist Episcopal Church. Afterward the family moved to Parker's Landing, Pa., where the daughter sang in the Presbyterian Church. She gathered a large class in music, which she taught with much success until she became the wife of Mr. Hibler, of Parker's Landing, who was then teller of the Exchange Bank. In less than three years after her marriage her husband and infant son died, within a few days of each other. Again she took up her profession and concluded to make a specialty of voice culture. She has been instructed by some of the best teachers in America. In Bradford, Pa., where she now resides, she was a leading soprano for two years in the Presbyterian Church, and for two more years the leader of the choir. Owing to the increased number of her private students, she resigned her position as a leader. She often sings in concerts and some of her compositions have been lately published.

(Source: American Women, by Frances Elizabeth Willard, Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, Vol 1, 1897. Transcribed by Marla Snow)


John Mosgrove, father of the subject of this sketch, was a native of Ireland, and one of the first settlers of Kittanning, coming to the locality as a young man about the time the town was laid out. He was a carpenter by trade, and followed that occupation during the greater part of his residence in Kittanning, which only terminated with his death. His wife, Mary Gillespie, was the daughter of John Gillespie, one of the pioneers of Armstrong county. They were the parents of five children. Andrew J. Mosgrove, the only brother of our subject, was by profession an attorney. He entered the service of the United States as a volunteer soldier and met his death in the Mexican war. Of the three sisters, Margaret, the eldest, is the wife of Thomas B. Storey; Phebe Isabella is the widow of the late Judge Jackson Boggs, and Anna Jane is the wife of Simon Truby.

James Mosgrove was born in Kittanning, June 14, 1822. At a very early age he engaged in the iron business, accepting the position of clerk at the Buffalo Furnace in this county. Combining a well regulated and fine business capacity with the qualities of integrity and perseverance, he at once commanded the respect and confidence of his employers, and the management of the furnace was soon placed in his hands. In 1845 he married Miss Rebecca Jane, daughter of Robert Brown. About the same time he entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law, the late James E. Brown, of Kittanning, and became part owner and active manager of Pine Creek Furnace, which position he held from 1845 to 1880, passing through all the different phases and vicissitudes of the iron business during that long period of thirty-five years. He has also been engaged quite extensively in oil production. Mr. Mosgrove's superior ability as a practical, strong and enterprising business man is universally admitted. Few men can be found in Armstrong county, or for that matter in Western Pennsylvania, who equal him in the possession of the combination of characteristics which command success. He is now largely interested in the business affairs of the county, being president of the Kittanning Ironworks and president of the National Bank of Kittanning. He was the principal organizer of this financial institution, and from the death of James E. Brown until July, 1882, when its charter expired, was president of the old First National Bank.

In politics Mr. Mosgrove has always been a democrat. He accepted the nomination of the greenback party for congress in 1878, when it was tendered to him, not because he had abandoned any of his democratic principles, but because he had for years advocated the financial doctrines of the greenback party. In that campaign he ran far ahead of his ticket, but was defeated on account of the failure of the democrats to indorse his nomination, which he had a right to expect they would do. He never sought a political office in his life, and he furnishes a notable example of the office seeking the man instead of the man seeking the office.

In 1880 he was nominated for congress by both the democratic and greenback parties without any solicitation on his part, and was elected by a majority of 756 votes over his competitor, and that, too, in a republican district. He served his constituency intelligently and efficiently-creditably to himself and acceptably to the people of the twenty-fifth congressional district of Pennsylvania.

In 1882 he was renominated, but declined to serve as a candidate.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Dr. Samuel S. Neale was born in Burlington, New Jersey, on January 15, 1792, where he received the usual education afforded by the excellent academy of that city. Afterward he commenced the study of medicine in the city of Philadelphia, under such eminent physicians as Dr. Rush and Dr. Physic, and also attended the course of lectures in the University of Pennsylvania.

About the year 1814, he settled in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and in the course of two or three years thereafter located in Kittanning, where he continued to practice his profession till the time of his death, with but a single interruption of a short residence in the city of Pittsburgh.

He was married on July 4, 1826, to Margaret E., daughter of Robert Brown, Esq. Her death occurred March 18,1851.

He died on August 22, 1857, leaving surviving him two daughters and three sons-Rebecca B., Phebe I., Charles T., James B. and Alonzo P. Neale.

As a physician he commanded the respect of his professional brethren as well by his skill as by his uniform courtesy and constant observance of professional etiquette; but, more than all, he became greatly endeared to those to whom he bore the relation of family physician. Constant and devoted in every case of illness, skillful in his treatment of disease, kind and thoughtful in his manner, and gentle and sympathetic in times of distress and affliction, his presence and words could always soften the grief and allay the sorrows, even at the bedside of the dying.

In social life he was always genial and open, refined in his manner and conversation, and warm and sincere in his friendships. In his death he bore with him the respect and good will of all who had known him.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Robert Orr was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania (probably in Hannahstown), upon March 5, 1786. His father, whose name descended to the subject of our sketch, had been one of the defenders of the Pennsylvania frontier; had enjoyed some official distinction in Westmoreland county, and was one of the earliest pioneers of Armstrong county west of the Allegheny. His mother's maiden name was Fannie Culbertson. Coming with his parents to what was then almost the verge of the inhabited portion of the country while still a minor, Robert Orr entered upon his manhood as a pioneer, and had considerable experience in that rugged condition of life for which the strong alone were fitted. His boyhood had been passed in a region which afforded educational and other opportunities scarcely in advance of those he found in sparsely-settled Armstrong county. His instruction had been very meager, his schoolmasters few and, doubtless, of limited talent; but as boy he had been (and as man ever continued to be) an apt pupil in that great and thorough school wherein the teachers are observation and experience. To this fact, in conjunction with strong native ability, strict honesty and more than average energy of character, may be attributed both his usefulness and his success in life. The young man resided with his parents in Sugar Creek township for a few years, and in 1805, when the county was organized for judicial purposes, came to Kittanning to serve as deputy for his brother John, who was the first sheriff of the county. Subsequently he studied and followed surveying, and in still later years was appointed deputy district surveyor.

Gen. Orr inherited from his father the strongest spirit of patriotism and a fondness for military pursuits. When the war of 1812 broke out he was very naturally found among the defenders of our country, and rendered valuable services. History states that the second brigade of the army rendezvoused at Pittsburgh on October 2,1812-where the subject of this sketch was elected major,-and left that place the same fall under command of Gen. Crooks to join the northwestern army under Gen. Harrison, on the Miami river, where Fort Meigs was afterward built. At Upper Sandusky they were joined by a brigade of militia from Virginia. From that place Maj. Orr, by the direction of. the general, took charge of the artillery, munitions, stores, etc., and set off with about 300 men to headquarters of Gen. Harrison. While on the march he was met by an express from Harrison, bringing information of the defeat of Gen. Winchester on the River Raisin, and requesting him to bring on his force as rapidly as possible. After consolidation with the balance of the army from Upper Sandusky, they proceeded to the rapids of the Miami (Maumee), where they remained until the six-months term of duty of the Pennsylvania and Virginia militia had expired. Gen. Harrison then appealed for volunteers to remain fifteen days longer, until he should receive reinforcements from Kentucky. Maj. Orr and about 200 other Pennsylvanians did volunteer and remained until they were discharged, after the battle at Fort Meigs, upon April 19, 1813.

It was not long after Gen. Orr'a return from Fort Meigs that he received his first honor in civil life. He was elected to the legislature in 1817. He served two terms in that body and was then (1821) sent to the state senate to represent the large, but comparatively thinly settled, district composed of the counties of Armstrong, Warren, Indiana, Jefferson, Cambria and Venango, the latter county including much of the territory now in Clarion. After serving one term he was led to enter the contest for election to congress, and, doing so, defeated Gen. Abner Laycock. He thus became the representative in the nineteenth and twentieth congresses of the district composed of Armstrong, Butler, Beaver and Allegheny counties. In the legislature, in the state senate and in the congress of the United States he served satisfactorily to his people and with unwavering integrity of purpose. Calm, judicious and experienced, his presence in the national counsels could not but exert a beneficial influence in the direction and control of the affairs of the country, which at that time witnessed the earlier symptoms of the disturbance that eventually culminated in the tragical events of 1861.

Later in life Gen. Orr was appointed by the governor associate judge of Armstrong county and served very acceptably to the people. He retained his interest in military affairs and was active in the militia organizations of Western Pennsylvania, thereby acquiring the rank and title of general.

After all, it was not in official life that Gen. Orr was greatest or that he was most useful to his people. He was one of those men who heeded not the dignity of office to give him a name among his fellow citizens, or to command their love and respect. His true loftiness and kindliness of character were daily attested by little acts, which in his long lifetime aggregated an immense good.

Gen. Orr became possessed of a large number of land tracts in Armstrong and adjoining counties, which he leased or sold as he had opportunity. During the years he was most extensively engaged in his land business, money was scarce and it was very frequently the case that purchasers were unable to meet their payments. Debtor never had better creditor than Robert Orr. When those to whom he sold were embarrassed and could not meet their obligations, he extended their time and gave them easier terms. With many individuals this was done again and again, until at last they were able to pay. Gen. Orr never dispossessed a man of property on which he was toiling to discharge his indebtedness. Often, the sons of the men who contracted with him for lands completed the payment for them. Through this leniency and lack of oppression in the subject of our sketch many families were enabled to gain homes. He was in a very literal sense the steward of his riches, holding them for others' good as well as his own. His kindness of heart and practical philanthropy found expression in many ways beside the one on which we have dwelt. He was unostentatiously and judiciously charitable throughout his life. He did much to advance the interests of the school and church, and for many years prior to his death was a member of the Presbyterian church.

Gen. Orr's whole life was identified with Armstrong county. For about three years (1848-52) he resided in Allegheny City, and for a short time, about 1845, he lived at Orrsville (mouth of Mahoning), but the greater number of his years were passed in Kittanning. He was interested in and helped to advance almost every local public improvement inaugurated during his time. Laboring zealously for the construction of the A. V. R. R., he lived to realize his hope in that direction and to see the wealth of his county practically increased by its mineral and agricultural resources being made more easily available to the uses of the world.

In politics Gen. Orr was a Democrat, in 1861 a War Democrat. He used his influence and contributed liberally of his means to assist the organization of the military, and the camp where the 78th and the 103d regts. rendezvoused was appropriately named in his honor. His appearance upon the ground, when the soldiers were encamped there, was always the signal for an ovation, or at least hearty cheers, and all who knew him gathered round him to shake .the hand of the old soldier of 1812.

Gen. Orr lived to see the war ended and the country he loved so much still preserved in union. He lived to witness the nation recover from the worst effects of that war and in the centennial year rejoice in peace and prosperity.

Upon May 22, 1876, this grand, good old man passed away at his residence in Kittanning, after a lingering but not severe illness, "full of riches, full of honors and full of years."

Gen. Orr was married in 1836 to Martha, sister of the late Judge Robert C. Grier, of the United States supreme court, who died December 7, 1881. Two children were the offspring of this propitious union-Grier C. Orr, Esq., and Fannie E. Orr. The last-named, of most esteemed memory, died March 14, 1882, after a brief illness.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Concerning the ancestors of the subject of this biography but little need be here said, as they have prominent places elsewhere in this volume. His father, David Ralston, a pioneer of Scotch-Irish descent, settled in Plum Creek township, Armstrong county, in 1800, and met with a tragical death nine years later. His grandfather, upon the maternal side, was the famous Capt. Andrew Sharp, an officer in the revolutionary army, who, coming from Cumberland county to what is now Indiana county, settled near the Armstrong line in 1784, and subsequently had some thrilling adventures with the Indians. His mother, Agnes Sharp, second daughter of the gallant captain, born February 21, 1785-the first white child who had its nativity in the region-was married to David Ralston in 1803. John Ralston was their third son, and was born January 30, 1807, in Plum Creek township. His life was spent upon the farm which was his birthplace, and in the near-by village of Elderton; but although thus passing his days in rural or semi-rural quietude, and never seeking public honor, he became one of the best known citizens of Armstrong county. As he was also one of the most respected and much loved, it is fitting that these pages should contain a few lines to revive the recollection of those who knew him, and convey some idea of the man to those who come after.

His life was without important events-unless we call important those seemingly little incidents which tend to develop the sturdy character-to make the manly man.

When about 22 years of age he entered the dry-goods store of William Lytle at Elderton as clerk, and he doubtless exhibited in that capacity the qualities in embryo which eventually made him the successful man of business, for we find that he was taken into partnership in 1832. This partnership was dissolved in 1838, and Mr. Ralston immediately opened a business house of his own, which he carried on with signal ability and success. Keeping apace with the growing wants of the people, he increased his business until he made it tributary to the patronage from the farmers for many miles in every direction. Fair and honorable dealing made him extremely popular. He procured for and supplied to the agricultural population everything they needed, and in return bought and shipped their produce of all kinds.

We will remark here that upon June 26, 1833, Mr. Ralston was united in marriage with Miss Jane Sloan, of Blairsville. Through her good management and good judgment, she was a very efficient helper to Mr. Ralston in his efforts. His business required him to be much away from home, and thus more than usual care and responsibility fell to her, which she proved fully competent to assume. Their family consisted of four sons- Andrew S., now in Titusville; D. Alexander, now a citizen of Kittanning; William M. and Thomas N., both residents of Elderton. These sons, as they arrived at suitable age, were taken into the business by their father, and thus obtained a practical knowledge of business affairs, and a successful start in life.

Mr. Ralston was identified with the business of producing petroleum from the time of its discovery on Oil creek, and was one of the original members of the Ralston Oil Company, which consisted of himself, his brother and the Kirkpatricks of Pittsburgh. Later in life he was a member of the wholesale house of Romberger, Long & Co., of Philadelphia. He was one of the original stockholders in the Indiana County Deposit Bank, of Indiana; had an interest in the banking house of John Ralston & Co., of Elderton, and also in the Fairview Deposit Bank.

Mr. Ralston was far too large a man to be successful in naught but business. His life was a blessing upon the community in which he lived, and one rich in good results, material and moral, to individuals and to society. His kindly counsel was the impetus of many a good career entered upon by young men, and his influence was one which had much effect upon men who were abreast of him in the march through years. His liberality was proverbial. He was one of the original members of the Elderton United Presbyterian church, and until the close of his life one of its strongest supporters. For a number of years he sustained with a few others an advanced school, and he was afterward one of the promoters and steadfast friends of the Elderton academy. Public-spirited in a high degree, he was the leader in almost, and the hearty assistant in all, measures for the good of the people among whom he dwelt. His own

farms-he owned several-were among the best improved in the county, and the same spirit of neatness and order which made them so led him to take advanced steps in beautifying and practically benefiting the village of Elderton.

Ever a friend of peace and harmony, he stopped many a lawsuit by his friendly intercession. His intervention was effective because he was highly esteemed by all who knew him. Owing to his unswerving integrity he was often called upon to act in the capacity of arbitrator when difficulties arose between people in the neighborhood. One of the marked characteristics of the subject of our sketch was his faculty of close observation and reflection upon what he saw. The difficulty attending the shipment of petroleum during the early years of its production set him to thinking whether some more economic method might not be devised than that of barreling it. He was not long in arriving at the idea of building tanks upon platform cars. Not long afterward, the plan occurring to someone else, such tanks were constructed and proved a success. He traveled much, was quite an assiduous reader, and by these and other means be secured the varied stock of information which proved a greater education to him than many possessed who had better school advantages.

Politically Mr. Ralston was a republican and an active worker in politics. Although frequently urged to become a candidate for the higher offices, he was unwilling, by accepting them, to break in upon a successful business career, for which he considered himself better adapted.

He took a warm interest in the prosecution of the war, and aided, by his influence, the raising of troops in his vicinity. He personally took supplies to the troops, visiting them in Virginia, and later, during the invasion of Pennsylvania, he accompanied to the field a company raised in the immediate vicinity of Elderton, and went with the organization subsequently to Ohio, where it was engaged in the movements which led to the capture of Morgan. Although not subject to the draft, he paid a large bounty to one man and sent him into the field, as in a certain sense his representative, for which he received an acknowledgment from the government in the form of a diploma.

The death of John Ralston occurred at his home in Elderton, August 24, 1879, and was preceded by that of his wife, who died August 9, 1874.

The following tribute to the memory of John Ralston is contributed by Judge James B. Neale:

Experience shows that a successful career is often denied to some, not on account of natural deficiencies unfitting them for every vocation, but because of special disqualification for certain kinds of labor or enterprise. We often recognize in the successful, even distinguished professional man, one who has utterly failed in other undertakings, and as often we discover in the professions men who have wholly mistaken their calling. They fail, and we attribute their want of success to general incompetency. A criterion of success in any pursuit, in a majority of cases, is adaptation. This, in the individual instance of John Ralston, was peculiarly true; his was a successful career, because he was admirably adapted, by natural inclination and talent, to the duties which he had undertaken. He was essentially a business man, and whether his field of labor was limited or extended, he was bound to succeed, and he was as certain in the end to embrace all that his circumstances and surroundings would admit of-even if a whole community must be built up to accomplish that result.

He made business a study, and life and experience was a constant development of business capacity. He did not wait for opportunities; he created them. Out of the unpromising materials of an inland rural village he developed sources of income, thrift and enterprise. The mere trading that could be carried on in a village store did not satisfy him. He reached out for more, and a whole section of country responded. He made a market for the entire productions of a wide extent of country, and in order to increase that production and to improve its quality to the highest standard, he took a personal interest in the seed that was planted, and in all the stock that was raised upon every farm. He instilled into the mind of every man the true idea that it cost but little more, and that only in the original outlay, to produce the superior qualities of grain or to raise the better grades of stock than the inferior. He managed his own farms upon this principle, and the example was widely contagious. He did not barter with his neighbors by the narrow methods usually pursued, but dealt with them always with a view to their own advantage as well as his own ; by allowing higher prices for the better articles, he made it an inducement to excel, and excited a competition that produced most beneficial results. Standing at the head of the community in which he lived, his influence was felt in every direction; the higher grade of schools were established and liberally patronized, churches were erected, and religious observances earnestly encouraged. In the course of time he was recognized as the arbitrator of all disputes among his neighbors, and by his instrumentality litigation and strife were measurably restrained. In nearly everything his counsel was sought, and his advice implicitly followed. It was so fully understood that he was acting for the good of all, that in everything he did his conduct was beyond cavil, and his influence prevailed at all times with old and young alike, and when death finally laid his hand upon him to remove him from a field of so much usefulness, it was regarded as a bereavement to every household-the. taking off of its truest, most devoted benefactor.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


Frederick Rohrer was born in Westmoreland county about 1794. He learned the printing business in Pittsburgh in the Mercury office and came to Kittanning in the latter part of the year 1818 or in the early part of the year 1819, during which year or about the month of February, 1819, he started the then only paper published in the county, called The Columbian. He was appointed by Gov.Schultz register and recorder of the county, and afterward was appointed by Gov. Wolf prothonotary. He held the office of postmaster during the time he was prothonotary, and was after the expiration of his term engaged in mercantile pursuits. He ceased the publication of The Columbian during the year 1831 or 1832. He afterward was appointed a justice of the peace, and was holding that office at the time of his death, which occurred in 1837.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


William Sirwell, son of Richard and Elizabeth (Graham) Sirwell, both natives of England, was born in the United States army, at the Allegheny arsenal, on August 10, 1820, his father, who had been principal musician, at that time being armorer at the arsenal. Of a military turn of mind he entered the militia service in 1839, and commanded in succession the City Blues, of Pittsburgh, and the Washington Blues, Brady Alpines and Kittanning Yeagers, of Kittanning, to which place he removed in 1855. He was also for ten years brigade inspector of Armstrong county. In person he is six feet in height, broad shouldered and robust. He was married on November 6, 1840, to Miss Elizabeth McCandless, of Butler county. They have had eight children, viz.: Lucinda Ann, Alexander Nelson (dead), Sarah C., Mary H., William Mitchell, Samuel (dead), Elizabeth M., and Emma J. (dead).

In 1854 being in Iowa, he raised at Davenport the first military company in the state, and in 1855, while on his way home, he organized in Pittsburgh the first military company of colored men known to have been formed in the United States. They were called the Hannibal Guards.

On the breaking out of the rebellion Col. Sirwell with his company, the Brady Alpines above mentioned, were the first company in Western Pennsylvania to offer their services to the United States government, and were at once accepted and served through the three months campaign in the 9th regt. Pa. Vol. Inf., under Gen. Patterson, in Virginia. Upon the expiration of their term of service and return home, Capt. Sirwell at once proceeded to organize the 78th regt. Pa. Vol. Inf., was commissioned colonel of the same, and with his brigade, under the command of Gen. James S. Negley, ordered to the army then stationed in Kentucky. In the affair at Lavergne, one of the actions for the defense of Nashville, the regiment particularly distinguished itself, and its commander was complimented by Gen. Negley and by Andrew Johnson, then military governor of Tennessee. At Stone River the regiment captured the White Horse Artillery, of New Orleans, consisting of four twelve-pounder brass Napoleon guns, the regimental colors of the 20th Rebel Tennessee, and the guidon of the 4th Florida. As a reward of his service here, Col. Sirwell was made provost marshall of Murfreesboro, and was afterward placed in command of the 3d brigade, 2d division, of the 14th corps, department of the Cumberland. In the terrible conflicts of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, and in the subsequent campaign of Atlanta, he rendered valuable services. At New Hope Church so marked was his gallantry that he was commended by Gen. Thomas. When Atlanta finally was taken after a campaign of a hundred days in which, the smoke of battle scarcely cleared away, it became difficult to keep open the base of supplies, stretching away to Chattanooga. Col. Sirwell was assigned to this duty and preserved unbroken the line of transportation, supplies being rapidly brought up. After his term of service expired, at the solicitation of the commander of the department, Col. Sirwell remained in the field, his regiment as mounted infantry being employed in attacking and pursuing Forrest's cavalry through Middle and Southern Tennessee.

Col. Sirwell was a gallant but prudent officer. He was much admired by his brother officers and the men of his command. He was made the recipient of two swords, both handsome and valuable ones, but prized by him more dearly for their associations than aught else.

At one time Col. Sirwell saw fit to resign his command (which, however, he almost immediately resumed), and the officers of the 78th regt. at that time, November 20,1863, presented him with the following resolutions:

Whereas, Col. William Sirwell has felt it his duty to resign his commission as colonel of this regiment, we, the commissioned officers, do resolve,

  1. That we sustain Col. Sirwell in the cause that induced him to take this step which sunders the reciprocal ties which for over two years have held him and his military family together. Declining health induced by hard service in the field entitle "the old soldier" to an honorable retirement.

  2. That the history of this regiment from its organization to this time, its superior discipline, its undaunted courage on the field of battle, and its complete appointment in every department are the handiwork of Col. Sirwell, and stamp him as a military commander of the first order.

  3. That the name and services of Col. Sirwell will ever be associated in our minds with recollections of Lamb's Ferry, White Creek, Neely's Bend, Goodletsville, Lavergne, Brentwood and Stone River, Dug Gap, Chickamauga.

  4. That the kindness of disposition and the frankness of Col. Sirwell have endeared him both to officers and men, and in parting with him they feel that they are losing a father who watched over them with fond care.

  5. That we each and all resolve here tonight in taking the parting hand of Col. Sirwell that we will do our utmost to bring this regiment home to him with its colors flying and its bright escutcheon untarnished.

  6. To William Sirwell, late colonel of this regiment, the strict disciplinarian, the accomplished soldier, the high-toned gentleman, the kind and genial companion--you have toiled with us, you have endured all the sufferings and enjoyed many of the glories of the soldier's life-to you we say farewell, and God bless you.

  7. Resolved, that copies of these resolutions be forwarded to Col. Sirwell and to the papers in Kittanning (except the Mentor), Indiana, Clarion, Butler, Lawrence and Pittsburgh.

(Signed by the commissioned officers of the 78th Regiment).

Having performed his duties faithfully to the government during the time of war, Col. Sirwell has since resided in Kittanning, and has held the offices of postmaster and justice of the peace. He has spent much time in collecting curiosities and relics, especially those which pertain to Armstrong county, and has perhaps the most valuable private cabinet in Western Pennsylvania.


Robert Walter Smith was born at Litchfield, New Hampshire, June 16,1816, at the residence of his grandfather (on the maternal side), Judge Parker. His great-grandfather, Capt. Ebenezer Smith, was an officer throughout the whole of the revolutionary war, and was appointed captain of the guard over Maj. Andre the night before his execution. His grandfather, the Rev. David Smith, D. D., was at the time of his death in his ninety-fifth year, probably the. oldest Yale College graduate in the United States. His father, the late Rev. David M. Smith, was also a graduate of Tale College, being a member of the class of 1811. He studied theology at Andover, Massachusetts, and was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian church. For many years he was the stated missionary to the Tuscarora Indians. He settled at

Lewiston, and in connection with his missionary duties he presided for twelve years over a large school. It was there that Robert Walter Smith laid the foundation for his future course. He was a very resolute, methodical and active boy. After leaving Lewiston, his father removed to Clinton, Oneida county, New York, and after preaching a year or so at Little Falls he removed to Stockbridge, in the same county; took charge of a very flourishing academy and also officiated as pastor of the Presbyterian church. At this place the subject of our sketch was very thoroughly prepared for Hamilton College, from which he graduated in 1837. He afterward read law in the office of Hon. Darius Pecet, a noted lawyer of Warsaw, New York. After leaving there he was for awhile principal of the Red Hood seminary. From there he found his way to Saugerties, New York, but not being satisfied there he soon removed. He next went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and from that place came to Kittanning.

The time of Mr. Smith's location in Kittanning, where it was destined he was to pass the remainder of his days, was the year 1846. Soon after his arrival he was associated in a law partnership with the late Judge Buffington, and remained with him for several years, afterward practicing alone. He was the first county superintendent of schools, being appointed to fill that position by the governor of the state in 1856. He served until 1860; was elected to the same office in 1863, and altogether occupied it over six years. During that period he devoted himself very conscientiously to the duties of the office, and made an admirable superintendent. From 1863 to 1876 he was editor of the Union Free Press, and performed his newspaper labors with the same care and thoroughness for which he was noted in other lines of employment. He was mayor or burgess of the town for two terms, and held other municipal offices as well as many positions of private trust. He was a man of studious habits and literary tastes. Very naturally, therefore, he was the chief promoter of the several fine lecture courses which the people of Kittanning enjoyed during the seventies. Appropriately and by common consent the duty of introducing the lecturers was assigned to him, and it was one which he well performed. He was also frequently called upon to address the people upon various subjects, and his history of Armstrong county in reality grew out of one of these addresses-the one delivered upon the centennial anniversary of independence at Cherry Run, in Plum Creek township. Conceiving the idea of writing an elaborate history of the county, he entered upon his arduous, self-imposed task with the determination of making it thorough and reliable. Toward this end he toiled patiently for full five years. How minute and painstaking was his research, and how devotedly he followed the tedious labor of collecting and collating facts, can be in some measure appreciated by whoever reads even a small portion of the volume, but the full measure of difficulty attending the work can only be understood by one who has attempted a similar production. Mr. Smith labored with conscientiousness and zeal. How deeply he was absorbed in his work (and also a glimpse of his method in writing the history and the regard which at least one man entertained for it) is shown by a paragraph from a letter written by him to the editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, under date of April 5, 1880. Mr. Smith says:

I hope to finish my manuscript, if not too much interrupted, in a few months, I have maps of all the original surveys of tracts of land in this county, and have become much interested in tracing up whatever of interest has occurred on each one and locating the same on it, so that every original tract is touched more or less minutely, according to what has transpired on it. You may readily conclude that I occasionally get on to a sticking place which detains me for a considerable time. It is encouraging to know that the facts which I have collected deeply interest people from different parts of the county, to whom I have read a few pages here and there of what I have written. For instance, a farmer to whom I read a few pages one day, respecting a different locality from his own, became so deeply interested in the facts that he told another person that he meant to have a copy of the work if it should cost him $25. So you see there are some very interesting facts connected with the history of this county.

Sadly enough the author was not permitted the quiet satisfaction of seeing the book on which he had so long toiled come from the press. He could not have been fully recompensed for his labor had he lived, but he might have been in some measure rewarded by the knowledge that its results were placed before the people. He worked without expectation of adequate pecuniary return, but whether wittingly or not reared for himself a monument which will ever perpetuate his name among the people of the county in which he spent the last half of his life.

Robert W. Smith, Esq., died December 6, 1881, at the home of his brother at Bronxvilie, Westchester county, New York, aged sixty-four years. He had been in poor health for about two years prior to that time, and for a much briefer period so ill as to be incapacitated for his duties. He bad gone to his brother's upon a visit, thinking that change of scenery and air would restore his health, and his death was not expected by his friends.

A meeting of the bar of Armstrong county was held upon the 9th of December, over which Edward S. Golden, Esq., presided, to take action upon the death of their deceased brother. Appropriate remarks were made and tributes of respect paid to Mr. Smith's memory by Judge James B. Neale and others, and a committee was appointed to draft suitable resolutions to be engrossed upon the journal.

Mr. Smith never attained a large law practice. He had not that kind of eloquence or art of speaking which is effective in the court-room, but he possessed a good knowledge of the law, and it was generally conceded was an able counselor. His character was untarnished, and he held the respect of all with whom he was associated, whether professionally or otherwise.

[Source: All biographies from History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Smith, Robert Walter, Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883 - Contributed by Karen Seeman]


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