History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895x74-1

History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895

Biographical Sketches, Chapter 74 (Pgs. 1203-1243)

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Link to plat maps of Butler townships and boroughs from the Atlas of Butler County, G.M. Hopkins & Co., 1874. Please read the explanation and caution about this transcription. Use your browser's "search" or "find" capability to look for surnames in the chapter that are not included as biographical sketches. Transcribed by: Judy Lockwood


CHAPTER LXXIV

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

Slippery Rock Township and Centreville Borough; Mercer Township and Harrisville Borough; Worth and Brady Townships; Franklin Twp and Prospect Borough; Muddy Creek Township and Portersville Borough

[p. 1203]
ZEBULON COOPER, SR. was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, in 1778, a son of Zebulon COOPER, a native of New Jersey, who removed to Washington county at an early day. The subject of this sketch grew to maturity in his native county, and in 1796 accompanied his uncle, Nathaniel COOPER, to Butler county. They purchased a tract of 500 acres of land in what is now Slippery Rock township, situated on both sides of Wolf creek, upon which they settled in 1798. Zebulon retained 390 acres, and his uncle the balance. He built a log cabin on the site of the residence of his son, Sylvanus COOPER, and later in life erected the present home. The old log house was moved back, and is still doing service as an out-building. Upon this farm he spent the remaining years of his life. After making his settlement and erecting a cabin, he returned to Washington county and married Sarah BEAN, to whom were born the following children: Elizabeth, deceased wife of T.J. McNEES; John, who died near Whitestown; Mary, deceased wife of Thomas McNEES; Rebecca, who died May 31, 1894; Anna; Sarah, deceased wife of Robert S. ANDREWS; Zebulon, of Worth township; Jerusha, wife of William BIGHAM; Hannah, deceased wife of Sylvester CAREY, and Sylvanus. Mrs. COOPER died in 1830, and her husband, August 24, 1864. They were members of Plain Grove Presbyterian church, and are buried in the graveyard belonging to that society. In politics, he was a Whig in early life, and afterwards a Republican.

SYLVANUS COOPER, youngest child of Zebulon and Sarah COOPER, was born in Slippery Rock township, Butler county, August 10, 1822, and has spent his entire life upon the old homestead. He obtained his education in the common schools, and has made farming his life vocation. In 1853 he married Susannah THORPE, who died in 1864, leaving a family of six children, viz.: Oliver N.; John A.; Charlotte M., wife of Prof. William McGEE; George W.; Mary J., wife of Lee MUSICK, and Ida A. Mr. COOPER married for his second wife Mrs. [p. 1204] Sarah R. CUMMINGS, a daughter of John NEAL, deceased. Both he and wife are members of the Presbyterian church, and in politics, he is a Republican. He has filled several of the township offices, and is one of the leading and enterprising farmers of the community.

JOHN NEAL was born in Erie county, Pennsylvania, November 27, 1801, son of John NEAL, a native of Germany, and one of the pioneers of that county. He grew to manhood in Erie county, and in 1820 came to Butler county and settled near Centreville, in Slippery Rock township. His father also settled in this township, upon 200 acres of land, where he died in 1847, aged eighty years, leaving the following children: Catherine; Ann, who married Joseph McDERMOTT; Elizabeth, who married Enoch PERRINE; Nancy, who married Joseph McCOY; John; James, who married Eliza McCALLAN, and Smith, who married Mary McCONNELL, all of whom are dead. John NEAL, Jr., married Johanna STILLWAGON, in December, 1825, and their children were as follows: Alexander; Mary; William; Smith; George W.; Oliver P.; Joseph M.; Johanna E.; Lewis J.; Vance R.; James; Margaret; John, and Sarah R., wife of Sylvanus COOPER. Mr. NEAL moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in April, 1850, where his wife died in 1859. He married for his second wife Mrs. Mary Ann DAVIS, who became the mother of two children, David Alfred, and Nancy Jane, both of whom are residents of Wisconsin. Mr. NEAL was one of the early justices of the peace, a Democrat, in politics, and a member of the Seceder church. He died in Wisconsin, in 1874.

ZEBULON COOPER was born in the old log cabin on his father's farm in Slippery Rock township, Butler county, April 14, 1816, a son of Zebulon and Sarah COOPER. He was reared upon the homestead, and attended the pioneer schools of his neighborhood. He remained with his parents until he was thirty years of age, assisting his father on the farm, and in 1846 settled on 109 acres of the same tract, which his father gave him. He resided on this place for nine years, then sold it and purchased 120 acres in Worth township, to which he later added 180 acres, which includes the site of his present home. Here he has resided for nearly forty years engaged in farming. Mr. COOPER was married on July 2, 1857, to Amanda LESLIE, a daughter of Francis LESLIE, of Slippery Rock township. She was born October 15, 1827, and was the second youngest in a family of ten children, four of whom are living. Seven children have blessed this union, viz.: Francis M., who lives upon a part of the homestead, married Jane HENRY, and has three children, Pearl A., William Z., and Minnie I.; Sarah E., wife of J.G. GROSSMAN, of Worth township; William E., who married Mary ALLSWORTH, and lives on a part of the home farm; Hannah E., who died at the age of twenty-six years; Thomas U.; James H., and Joseph H. The family are members of the Presbyterian church, with the exception of Thomas, James and William, who belong to the Baptist denomination. Mr. COOPER is one of the oldest and most prosperous citizens in the township, and is highly respected by the community at large.

NATHANIEL COOPER, SR., was one of the first settlers of Slippery Rock township, Butler county. He was a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, and in 1796 came with his nephew, Zebulon COOPER, to Butler county, and to- [p. 1205] gether they purchased 500 acres of land lying on both sides of Wolf creek. Nathaniel owned 110 acres of this tract, and here he erected his cabin and spent the remaining years of his life. He married a Miss TURNER, and was the father of four sons, viz.: Lot, a physician, who died in Cincinnati; Nathaniel; William, and Stephen, and one daughter, Polly, who married John McGOWAN. All of these are dead, but numerous descendants of the family are still living in Butler county.

NATHANIEL COOPER, son of Nathaniel COOPER, Sr., was born in Washington county, May 16, 1795, and came to Butler county with his parents in infancy. He was reared upon the farm in Slippery Rock township, and after arriving at maturity, he settled on the land where his grandson, Joseph COOPER, now resides, near the borough of Centreville. He married Sarah HUNTER, a daughter of Ephraim HUNTER, and was the father of the following children: Harvey; Lemuel; Munson; Martha; Jane; Lewis; Milton; William: John R.; Sarah, and Clarissa, all of whom are dead excepting Harvey. Mr. COOPER was one of the well known justices of the peace of his township, and filled that office some ten years. He was a member of Plain Grove Presbyterian church, and one of the original members of Centreville Presbyterian church. He was an elder for nearly half a century, and died in 1880. His first wife died June 13, 1838, and he was afterwards married to Mrs. Jane DUNLAP, nee WALKER. In politics, he was a Whig during his early life, and afterwards became a Republican.

HARVEY COOPER, only living child of Nathaniel and Sarah COOPER, was born in Slippery Rock township, May 9, 1817, and was reared upon the old homestead. In 1851 he removed to Mercer county, lived there ten years, and in 1861 purchased his present farm of 160 acres, in Slippery Rock township, upon which he has since resided. He was married in 1851, to Lucinda LESLIE, a daughter of Francis LESLIE, of Jackson township, Butler county, and has two surviving children, viz.: Andrew L.; Sarah E., who married G.W. HINES, and died August 9, 1894, and Mary I., wife of Ashley GROSSMAN. In politics, Mr. COOPER is a Republican, and is one of the oldest citizens of the township.

ANDREW L. COOPER, son of Harvey COOPER, was born in Mercer county, February 26, 1855, and was reared in Slippery Rock township, where he is now engaged in farming on the old homestead. He married Mary E. FULKMAN, a daughter of David FULKMAN, of Brady township, and has three children, viz.: Earl G.; Edward I., and Howard V. Mr. COOPER is connected with the I.O.O.F., and Jr. O.U.A.M., and is a member of the Presbyterian church. Politically, he is a Republican, and is one of the leading farmers of the township.

MILTON COOPER, son of Nathaniel and Sarah (HUNTER) COOPER, was born on September 5, 1829, upon the farm where his father settled and where his widow and family now reside, in Slippery Rock township, Butler county. He was reared a farmer, and received such an education as the times and circumstances afforded. He spent his entire life upon the farm, and died in 1876. In 1858, he married Maria HILL, a daughter of Daniel K. HILL. Eight children were the fruits of this union, viz.: Mary E.; Joseph L.; William D., deceased; Sarah B., wife of William CHRISTLEY; Clarissa C.; Francis N.; Harriet F., and Salina C. Mr. COOPER was one of the pioneer members of the Centreville Presbyterian [p. 1206] church, and was buried in the new cemetery in that borough. In politics, he was an ardent Republican, and a very worthy citizen.

JOSEPH L. COOPER, eldest son of Milton and Maria COOPER, was born in 1861, upon his present homestead, which he took charge of at his father's death. He is one of the energetic and enterprising farmers of his township, a leading member of the Republican party in Slippery Rock, and has served on the school board for two years. He is one of the original stockholders of the State Normal School, also of the Centreville Creamery Company, and gives a hearty support to every worthy enterprise. He is a member of the K. of P., of Centreville, and takes an active interest in the social and material prosperity of the community.

THOMAS BIGHAM was born near Gettysburg, Adams county, Pennsylvania, in 1782, a son of William BIGHAM, who served in the Revolution, and came of Scotch-Irish ancestry. Thomas grew to manhood in his native county, and in 1806 accompanied his father and brother Hugh to Slippery Rock township, Butler county. His father purchased 400 acres of land and gave each of the sons 200 acres, and then returned to his home in Adams county. Hugh stayed about two years and then disposed of his land and went back to his early home. Some two years after making his settlement, Thomas married Elizabeth WALKER, a daughter of John and Caroline WALKER, of Slippery Rock township. William BIGHAM, the son of Thomas, now resides upon the farm settled by his father, while the lands belonging to Hugh form a part of the borough of Centreville. To Thomas and Elizabeth BIGHAM were born the following children: William; Ann Eliza, deceased; Sarah, deceased; Catherine M., deceased wife of Jonah HODGE; Margaret J., deceased wife of James DAVIDSON; John, deceased; Asenath, who married Eli BECKWITH, and Minerva, who married Alexander DAVIDSON and died in Iowa. Mr. BIGHAM was one of the enterprising farmers of his time. He was a Whig in early life, and afterwards a Republican. He served in the War of 1812. In religion, he was an adherent of the Presbyterian church. He died in February, 1864, and both he and wife are buried in the old cemetery at Centreville.

WILLIAM BIGHAM, the only surviving child of Thomas and Elizabeth BIGHAM, was born on the farm where he now resides in Slippery Rock township, September 19, 1809, and has spent his entire life in tilling the old homestead. His opportunities for obtaining an education were confined to a few months each winter at the pioneer subscription school of his neighborhood. Upon the death of his father he inherited the homestead farm, having worked, per agreement with his father, twenty-one years to pay for the same. He subsequently built the present improvements, and cleared the forest off a large portion of the land, and has to-day one of the best improved farms in his locality. On December 12, 1848, Mr. BIGHAM married Jerusha COOPER, a daughter of Zebulon COOPER, one of the first settlers of Slippery Rock township. Both he and wife are pioneer members of the Centreville Presbyterian church. He has been prominent in church and Sabbath school work, and has been treasurer of the society for many years. Politically, he is a Republican, and has filled the offices of school director, [p. 1207] assessor and collector. Mr. BIGHAM is known for his benevolence, and has always been ready to extend a helping hand to religious and charitable purposes.

JOHN RALSTON, SR., was born near Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1776, son of William RALSTON, there grew to maturity, and subsequently settled in Lawrence county. In 1801 he traded his land in Lawrence county for 300 acres in Brady township, Butler county, upon which he built a cabin and settled the same year. Some time after effecting a settlement he erected a grist mill, also a saw mill, and operated them until his death, in the spring of 1850. They are now known as CROLL's mills. Mr. RALSTON owned 800 acres of land, which his children inherited at his death. He married Betsey SHARP, a daughter of James SHARP, who founded the village of Sharpsville, Mercer county, and their children were as follows: William, who built Ralston's mill, and died in Centre township; Jane, deceased wife of William HOGE; James, who died in Venango county; John, who died in Iowa; Elizabeth, who married John SNYDER; David, a resident of Nebraska; Polly, wife of Henry HILGER; Elim, who died in Iowa; Susan, who married Henry WOLFORD; Samuel, who died in Slippery Rock, and George, who died in Clay township. Mr. RALSTON was a soldier in the War of 1812. His descendants are numerous in Butler county, and may be found among the leading professional and business men of the community.

SAMUEL RALSTON, son of John and Betsey RALSTON, was born in Brady township, Butler county, in 1813. He learned the miller's and millwright trades and was connected with his father's mill for many years, and throughout his life was more or less engaged in milling and in the erection of mills in this and adjoining counties. In 1839 he received from his father the farm now owned by his son John W., upon which he settled. He married Elizabeth WOLFORD, a daughter of Henry WOLFORD, who is still living at the age of eighty-four years. Their children are as follows: Salina B., deceased wife of Lewis WINTER; Mary J., deceased; John W.; Henry, who enlisted in Company E, One Hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was killed at Fort Steadman; Sarah E., wife of L.S. HALL; George, deceased; Minerva, deceased; Zachariah, deceased; Samuel, and Lewis, both residents of California. Mr. RALSTON died in 1865, and is buried in the old cemetery at Centreville.

JOHN W. RALSTON, eldest son of Samuel and Elizabeth RALSTON, was born September 16, 1839, in Slippery Rock township, Butler county. He received a common school education and learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed until 1870, and then located upon the old homestead farm, where he has since been engaged in cultivating and improving the property, which contains 100 acres. In 1862 he enlisted in Company E, One Hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and served until the close of the war, participating in the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, etc., and witnessed the surrender of Lee at Appomattox. In politics, he is a staunch Democrat, and gives an earnest support to the measures and principles of his party. In 1876 he married Sarah M. DICKEY, a daughter of John DICKEY.

JOHN RALSTON, JR., third son of John RALSTON, Sr., was born in Brady township, Butler county, and after reaching manhood settled on 127 acres of land in that township, given to him by his father. He afterwards purchased a farm [p. 1208] in Slippery Rock township, and five years later removed to Iowa, where he died in 1852. He was twice married; first to Susan MAWHA, of Slippery Rock township, who died in 1832, leaving two sons, Robert and John. His second wife was Nancy McLANE, to whom was born the following children: William Nelson; Susan; Caroline; Elvira; Mary; Alexander, and Margaret. Mr. RALSTON took an active interest in educational matters, erected the first school house in Slippery Rock township, and served as school director of Brady and Slippery Rock for many years. His eldest son, Robert, is a retired carpenter and builder, and lives with his brother John in Slippery Rock township.

JOHN RALSTON, second son of John and Susan RALSTON, was born on the old homestead in Slippery Rock township, September 9, 1831. He learned the carpenter's trade, and in the spring of 1861 settled on his present farm. He is the owner of valuable farm lands in Butler county, and is one of the leading farmers of Slippery Rock township. Mr. RALSTON was married in 1853, to Hannah, daughter of Alexander McCOY of Worth township, Butler county, and their children are as follows: Everett L., an attorney of Butler; Frank C., and William A., also a member of the Butler bar.

BENJAMIN CAMPBELL, deceased, son of Samuel and Mary (GRAHAM) CAMPBELL, was born in 1809, in Lawrence county, and grew to manhood upon the homestead farm. His father was a native of Londonderry, Ireland, immigrated to America prior to the Revolution, and while working at the blacksmith's trade near Baltimore, Maryland, joined Washington's army, and served throughout the Revolution. About 1796 he entered 400 acres of land in Plain Grove township, Lawrence county, upon which he settled and spent the remaining years of his life. His family were as follows: Alexander; James; William; Mark; Samuel; Sarah, who married Andrew TURK; Jane, who married Daniel McMILLAN, and Benjamin. The last mentioned settled in Mercer county, where he resided until 1850, in which year he located upon his late farm in Slippery Rock township. He married Nancy CRAIG, a daughter of William CRAIG, of Mercer county. She died on June 21, 1893, the mother of ten children, viz.: James, deceased; Josephine, wife of James CLARK; Adeline, wife of Col. N.J. MAXWELL; Jane, wife of C.S. GRACE; Milton, who enlisted in Company E, One Hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was killed at the Wilderness; Agnes, widow of Newell GLENN; Ellen, wife of G.W. WOOD; Martha; Mark, and William. Mr. CAMPBELL was an elder in the Presbyterian church of Centreville, and in politics, he was a supporter of the Republican party.

SAMUEL WEAKLEY was a native of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, of English ancestry, the family being among the first settlers of that county. After reaching his maturity he removed to Mercer county, with his brothers, James and Robert, and about 1817 purchased 200 acres of land in Slippery Rock township, Butler county. He built his cabin on the farm now occupied by Mrs. Jane BROWN, and spent the remaining years of his life on that property. He married Sarah HOGG, and reared three children, viz.: Robert; Jane, who married Matthew BROWN, and Samuel, who married Susan RIGBY, and lived and died in Slippery Rock township. Mr. WEAKLEY was a soldier in the War of 1812. He [p. 1209] was a member of the Covenanter church, and is buried in the Harmony church graveyard.

ROBERT WEAKLEY, eldest son of Samuel and Sarah WEAKLEY, was born in Mercer county, September 21, 1816, and was reared in Slippery Rock township. He settled on seventy-five acres of the homestead farm, upon which he developed a coal mine, and engaged in farming and mining. He married Martha WATT, a daughter of Hugh WATT, a native of Ireland, but a resident of Slippery Rock township. To this union were born the following children: Hugh A., born January 17, 1841, served in Company I, One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania Volunteers, was wounded at Fair Oaks and taken prisoner, spent nine months at Andersonville, was then exchanged and died at Annapolis, December 21, 1864; Sarah J., born July 9, 1843, died April 27, 1848; Samuel S., September 24, 1845, died April 5, 1848; Margaret, October 28, 1847, died December 26, 1854; Maria A., January 18, 1852, died January 4, 1855; Mary S. April 19, 1854, died January 4, 1872; John F., August 12, 1856, and Martha, June 11, 1859. Mr. WEAKLEY died April 14, 1885, and his wife, December 24, 1892. He was a member of the Associate church, of Centreville, and in politics, he was a Republican.

JOHN F. WEAKLEY, son of Robert and Martha WEAKLEY, was born upon the homestead in Slippery Rock township, August 12, 1856, was reared upon the farm and received a common school education. In 1880 he opened a coal mine on his farm, and carries on mining in connection with agriculture. Since purchasing the old homestead he has made many improvements, and erected his present residence in 1893. On June 11, 1885, he married Olive ATWELL, a daughter of Robert T. ATWELL, of Venango county, and has two living children: Mary E., and Gertrude. Mr. WEAKLEY has been a Prohibitionist since 1885, before which year he was a Republican. He is a member of the United Presbyterian church, of Centreville, and is a member of the session.

PHILIP KIESTER was one of the early settlers of Slippery Rock township, and a son of Philip KIESTER, a native of Holland. His father came from Holland with his parents when three years old. They settled in Northampton county, where he grew to manhood, and removed to Westmoreland county prior to the Revolution, where the subject of this sketch was born and reared. The family of Philip, Sr., consisted of the following children: John; Philip; Daniel; Jacob; Peter; Michael; Elizabeth, and Katie. Philip was born in 1780, and served in the war of 1812. He was married in his native county to Margaret SHAFFER, and in 1818 came to Butler county and purchased 200 acres of land in Slippery Rock township, where his son Paul now resides. Here he spent the remaining years of his life, clearing and improving his land, and died in 1863. His wife died in 1872, and both are buried in the old cemetery at Centreville. Their children's names are as follows: Jesse, and Jacob, both deceased; John; Leah, who first married George CHRISTLEY, and after his death, Thomas W