Otto Township2 McKean County Pennsylvania Genealogy

PAGenWeb McKean County, Pennsylvania


Otto Township Biographical Sketches
  • C. C. AMALONG, oil producer, Duke Centre, was born in Fayette county, Penn., February 15, 1847, a son of Christopher and Mary Amalong, Pennsylvania Germans. He was reared and educated in his native county, and at the age of sixteen started out in life as a farm laborer. In October, 1863, he enlisted in Company M, Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and participated in the battles of Winchester, Sailor Creek and in other engagements, and was honorably discharged from the service in June, 1865. He then located at Petroleum Centre, Penn., and worked as a driller for the Columbia Oil Company. He soon after went to Chambersburg, and later to Butler county. In 1878 he located in Duke Centre, where he was in the employ of the Columbia Oil Company eight years. He has been a producer on his own account, and is now the owner of three producing wells. He is a representative citizen of Duke Centre, and is a collector of taxes for Otto township. He is a member of the Odd Fellows order, and of the Select Knights, A.O.U.W. Politically he is a Republican. Mr. Amalong was married, December 24, 1868, to Miss Kate Henry, and they have two children: Jennie and Anna.

  • JOHN E. BALDWIN, oil producer, Duke Centre, was born in Augusta, Me., May 5, 1837, a son of Cyrus and Sylvia (Philbrick) Baldwin. His father settled in Otto township, May 5, 1855, locating on the farm now occupied by the subject of this sketch, which, with the assistance of his sons, he cleared and improved. He also engaged in lumbering, to some extent, until his death. His family consisted of ten children: Dorothea M., David K., Caroline M., Samuel, James, Mary (Mrs. F.W. Sprague), all deceased, and Cyrus Jr., John E., William P. and Amanda (Mrs. Benjamin Prescott) living. Of these, four sons were in the Civil war: James, Cyrus, John E. and William P. All but John E. served in the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers. James was wounded at Fort Harrison and died at Fortress Monroe in 1864; Cyrus lost a leg at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1863; William P. served three years. John E. enlisted in the fall of 1864 in Company H, One Hundred and Ninety ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and served ten months. He came to Otto township in 1855, and after attaining his majority embarked in the lumber business, which he followed until 1878. He then engaged in the oil business as an operator and producer; he has nineteen producing wells on his own farm, and is proprietor of several leases in the township. December 31, 1863, he married Josephine A., daughter of Charles H. and Mary White, of Taunton, Mass., and they have six children living: Minnie E. (Mrs. J.C. Gault), Frank E., Arthur E., Eva, Mary and Lillian J.A. Mr. Baldwin has held most of the civil offices of Otto township. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, Equitable Aid Union and Grand Army of the Republic; in politics he is a Republican.

  • JAMES M. BALDWIN, lumberman, Seattle, Wash., was born in Springfield, Penobscot Co., Me., January 9, 1844, a son of James M. and Ellen (Small) Baldwin, of Puritan stock, who settled in Otto township in November, 1849, being the fourth family to settle there. His father, who was a farmer, cleared and improved what is now known as the Gridley farm, on which he resided until 1869, when he returned to Maine, where he died. He had six children: Melville, Arvilla (Mrs. Charles Baldwin), Greeley, James M., Edwin and Ellen, James M. and Edwin being the only ones living. All of the boys served the Union during the war of the Rebellion. Melville was taken prisoner at Gettysburg, and died in Belle Isle prison. Greeley died of disease contracted in the army, twelve days after reaching home. Edwin served four years and four months in the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers; was honorably discharged and now resides in Oceana county, Mich. James M. enlisted August 18, 1862, in Company G, One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Bucktails; was wounded in the right wrist at Gettysburg and taken prisoner; was paroled on the battlefield, exchanged, and was honorably discharged September 23, 1863. He then returned to Otto township where he owned the land on which Duke Centre now stands, and engaged in the lumber business and farming to some extent, which he continued until 1874, when he sold out and moved to Oceana county, Mich., where he was engaged in the lumber business until the spring of 1889, at which time he removed to Seattle, Wash., where he now resides, engaged in the lumber business. He has been twice married, his first wife being Melvina, daughter of Hubbard Champney, of Cooksville, Rock Co., Wis., and by her had two children: Ellen (Mrs. John Joyce) and Arthur L. His second wife is Margaret, daughter of H.K. Barton, of Otto township, this county, and they have seven children: Gertrude, Greeley, Naomi, Roy, Ray, Evangeline and Merritt. Mr. Baldwin is a member of the G.A.R., and is a Republican.

  • H. T. BREESE, oil producer, Rixford, is a native of Chemung county, N.Y., where he was reared until twelve years of age. He then went to Illinois and Michigan, and in September, 1861, enlisted in the Fourteenth Missouri Western Sharpshooters (afterward changed to the Sixty-sixth Illinois Volunteers), served three years, and was honorably discharged at East Point, Ga., September 17, 1864. In 1865 he located in the Venango oil region, became interested in the oil business and operated in that vicinity until 1876, when he began operations in the Bradford field, being interested with different companies. He is now connected with the firm of Emery, Bryer & Co., who are operating fifty-three producing wells in this field. Mr. Breese is a worthy citizen of Rixford. He is a member of the Oil Producers' Association, the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Union Veteran League. Politically, he is a stanch advocate of Prohibition.

  • JOHN V. BROWN, proprietor of the Duke House, Duke Centre, was born in Penn Yan, N.Y., February 15, 1835, a son of Ezra and Maretta (Downing) Brown. His father was a canal contractor, and built the Genesee canal from Scottsville to Rochester, N.Y. He died in Potter county, Penn., in 1867. John V. Brown was reared in Penn Yan and Tiffin, Ohio, and at the age of nineteen located in Bingham township, Potter Co., Penn., where he was engaged in a lumber-mill as fireman and engineer, four years. He then removed to Oconto, Wis., and worked in the pineries one year. In 1857 he returned to Penn Yan, N.Y., and ran a canal boat one season as captain, and for nearly two years thereafter worked in a distillery. In 1859 he again removed to Bingham township, Potter Co., Penn., where he engaged in farming until August 16, 1862, when he enlisted in Company K, One Hundred and Forty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was promoted to corporal February 21, 1863, and to sergeant April 1, 1863; was wounded at Petersburg, Va., June 19, 1864; promoted to first sergeant July 1, 1864; was commissioned second lieutenant May 16, 1865 (not mustered); had a command of a company of twelve months prior to commission, and was mustered out of the service June 24, 1865. He then located in Sweden township, Potter Co., Penn., where he engaged in farming four years, after which he bought and ran the Oswayo House, at Oswayo, as a tavern for four years, and then farmed in Sharon township, four years. In March, 1878, he purchased the Empire House at Duke Centre, which he successfully conducted eight years, and in 1886 rented the Duke House, of which he has since been the popular landlord. He has also been an oil producer for eight years. In 1855 he married Rebecca, daughter of John B. and Abigail (Brown) Harris, of Jerusalem, Yates Co., N.Y., and they have two children: Minnie A. and Charles H. Mr. Brown is a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, has passed through all chairs of First Lodge of Masonry, and belongs to Council Chapter, Commandery and Mystic Shrine; also of the Odd Fellows order, Grand Army of the Republic and Knights of Pythias. Politically, he is a Republican.

  • R. M. BROWN, oil producer, Duke Centre, is a native of Morgan county, Ohio, and was reared in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he received a common-school education. He first engaged in the oil business as a producer in 1874, at Millerstown, Butler Co., Penn., where he remained until 1878; then located at Duke Centre, where he has since resided and been actively engaged as an operator. He is a representative citizen of Duke Centre, a member of the Masonic fraternity, and in politics is a Republican.

  • V. PERRY CARTER, Duke Centre, was born in Victor, Ontario Co., N.Y., May 16, 1822, a son of Samuel S. and Lydia (Perry) Carter, both natives of Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Mass., pioneers of Ontario county, N.Y., and in 1824 they removed to Friendship, Allegany Co., N.Y., where the father, who was a clothier by trade, established himself in business, and resided until his death. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. V. Perry Carter was reared and educated in Friendship, N.Y., and in February, 1840, settled in Ceres township, McKean county, where he was in the mercantile business three years. He then removed to Richburg, N.Y., where he was in business seven years, and three years thereafter was connected with a wholesale house in New York City. In 1852 he returned to Ceres, and embarked in mercantile trade and the lumber business, which he continued until 1879, when he moved to Duke Centre and engaged in the gas business, and here he has since remained. He piped Duke Centre for the supply of fuel and light from natural gas, the second town piped in the State, and has also piped several other towns in the vicinity for the purpose. Mr. Carter was twice married. His first wife was Almina, daughter of John and Lucy (Mott) Smith, early settlers of Ceres township, and to them were born three children: Frances E. (Mrs. Frank Commerford), Henry W. and Ella (Mrs. John J. Robarts). His present wife is Lottie K., daughter of Cyrus and Charlotte G. Kimball, of Cincinnati, Ohio, formerly of Concord, N.H. To them has been born one son, Roy M. Mr. Carter is a prominent and representative citizen of McKean county, and has always taken an active part in public affairs. He was postmaster at Ceres and Richburg, N.Y., over thirty years; has served McKean county two terms as county auditor, and one term as county treasurer. He is a Republican.

  • GEORGE H. DANA, manufacturer of torpedoes and nitro-glycerine, Duke Centre, Penn., is a native of Buffalo, N.Y., born December 31, 1845, a son of George and Mary E. Dana, natives of Baden, Germany, who came to this country about 1830, and were reared and educated in Buffalo. He was reared and educated in Hamburg, Erie Co., N.Y., where he learned the tinsmith's trade, which he followed sixteen years in Hamburg and Collins, N.Y., and in Titusville, Penn. In 1877 he located at St. Petersburg, Penn., where he was superintendent and foreman of the torpedo works of Almar & Co., two years. In 1879 he came to Duke Centre, where he acted in the same capacity for the Producers' Torpedo Company, one year. He then, with his brother-in-law, George A. Platt, erected torpedo works, which they conducted under the firm name of Dana & Co., three years, when George H. Dana purchased his partner's interest, and has since conducted the business successfully alone. February 3, 1885, the factory blew up, killing two men, F. Sining and C. Thomson. Mr. Dana immediately rebuilt, and had the works again in operation within two months. Mr. Dana has been in the oil business as a producer since 1885, is the owner of five wells, and is interested in eighteen others. He is a popular and leading citizen of Duke Centre, and served three years as school director of the borough, and was elected to serve Otto township in the same capacity in the spring of 1889. He has been chief of the fire department of Duke Centre since 1886; is a member of the A.O.U.W., Select Knights, and of the Masonic fraternity. In politics he is a Democrat. Mr. Dana was married June 3, 1868. His wife, Louise Dana, was born in Hamburg, N.Y., July 30, 1848; she has borne her husband four children - one daughter, Louise H., and three sons, A.G., F.W. and E.N.

  • MASON G. DENNIS, farmer, P.O. Rixford, was born in Eldred township, McKean county, Penn., August 28, 1845, a son of George T. and Mary A. (Crandall) Dennis. His paternal grandfather was Nathan Dennis, who settled in Eldred in 1822. Mason G. Dennis was reared in Eldred, and was in the Civil war, enlisting September 5, 1864, in Company C, Two Hundred and Eleventh Pennsylvania Regiment, and was in the battle of Fort Stedman, also in front of Petersburg, and was honorably discharged June 8, 1865. After the war Mr. Dennis resided in Burt county, Neb., four years, going first in October, 1867, returning in December, 1868, to wed January 1, 1869, Jennie H., youngest daughter of William and Ann Janet Rixford, returning to Nebraska, and residing there until December, 1871, when they came back to Otto township, and settled down on the farm where they now reside. Mr. Dennis paid for his farm (ninety-three acres), in 1872, $800, and in 1878, the time of the oil excitement, he sold his oil and mineral right in said farm for $7,000. He has been in the oil business since 1879, and is still a producer. Mr. and Mrs. Dennis have three living children: Burdette (aged sixteen), Ann J. (aged eight) and Fred (aged four years). Their oldest boy, Willie, died October 11, 1881, aged eleven years. Mr. Dennis is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and Equitable Aid Union; has been school director for five years, and secretary of the school board, two years. Politically he is a Republican.

  • JOHN DUKE, the subject of this sketch, was the second of ten children of William and Elizabeth (Cokayne) Duke, true English people, of Derbyshire, England, but who, after marriage, and about the year 1829, removed to America, settling in Broome county, N.Y., where they lived until 1841, when they removed to Scio, Allegany Co., N.Y., on what is known as Knight's creek, where the father died in 1848. After the father's death Mr. Duke remained at home with his mother until his majority, when he entered the world as a millwright, which occupation, interspersed with a little farming and lumbering, he followed for twenty years. He lived at Scio until about 1868, when, with his two brothers, Thomas and Charles, he removed to McKean county, Penn., and settled on what is now called (and was named in their honor), Duke Centre. He engaged in his old occupation until 1878, when oil was discovered there. Owning some land, he commenced operations by sinking two wells, which are producing at this writing. He still owns these, and the oil right in 104 acres of land at the same place. Mr. Duke's house at Duke Centre was burned, and he lost heavily in the noted Tram Hollow fire in 1880, which doubtless influenced his removal in the following year to Olean, N.Y., where he built himself a beautiful home and now resides. Mr. Duke soon became interested in Olean's industries, and built, among others, the beautiful brick structure known as the Duke Block. The Young Men's Christian Association has a fine suite of rooms in this building, which it has occupied ever since its organization. He has also been interested in real-estate deals. While fortune has smiled on Mr. Duke, and he has had his share of this world's store, yet he has always been mindful of his duty to God, and, being of a religious turn of mind, early in life identified himself with the Wesleyan Methodist Church at Scio. Later he cast his lot with the people known as the Disciples of Christ, and during his sojourn at Duke Centre, donated the ground and the principal part of the funds for the erecting of the building occupied by what was incorporated as the First Church of Christ, at Duke Centre. He also planned and laid out the Duke Centre Cemetery. Mr. Duke was born at Corbettsville, in the town of Conklin, Broome Co., N.Y., on April 14, 1832. He is a man five feet eight inches in height, weighs about 190 pounds, has dark hair and eyes, and strong features; a man of the best of morals, good business tact, and is highly respected by all who know him. He is untiring in his efforts, positive, yet not aggressive in his manner, honest to the last, and generous to a fault. He is now a prominent and enterprising citizen of Olean, where he is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and one of the leading Prohibitionists. Mr. Duke married Nancy J., daughter of Joseph Morgan, of Scio, N.Y., who during their married life has fittingly taken her place beside him, and borne her share of life's toil. They had no children, but adopted William Carr, who took their name - William C. Duke, now a farmer at Duke Centre.

  • CHARLES DUKE, banker, Duke Centre, is a native of Broome county, N.Y., a son of William and Elizabeth (Cokayne) Duke, natives of England and pioneers of Allegany county, N.Y. Charles was reared in Scio, N.Y., where he received a common-school education. He began his life as a lumberman, and has always been interested in that business in Allegany county, N.Y., and McKean county, Penn. He located in Otto township in 1868, in what is now Duke Centre (named in his honor), where he was engaged in lumbering four years. He then went to Wellsville, N.Y., and engaged in the same business, in which he is still interested. In 1876 he returned to Duke Centre and re-embarked in the lumber business, purchasing his former mill, which he is still conducting. The oil excitement started in Duke Centre in 1877-78, and the present town was laid out in lots by Mr. Duke. He took an active part in developing this territory, opened a general store, and was twice burned out. In 1878 he built the Duke House, the principal hostelry of the place. In March, 1883, he succeeded to the banker's business established by a Mr. Robbins. He is a member of the drug firm of Duke & Mills, and is a representative and prominent citizen. Politically he is a Republican. In 1869 he married Lydia E. Taylor, of Friendship, Allegany Co., N.Y. They have three children, named respectively Charles A. Jr., Darwin T. and Mary Alice Duke.

  • GEORGE FISCHER, grocer, Duke Centre, is a native of Wyoming county, N.Y., and a son of Bernard and Abby (Koscher) Fischer, natives of Alsace, Germany. They immigrated to America in 1847 and located in Wyoming county, N.Y.; later removing to Erie county, same State, where George was reared and educated. In 1878 he came to Duke Centre and embarked in the grocery business, which he still successfully conducts. Mr. Fischer has been engaged in the oil business, three years, and is now the owner of nine producing wells in Foster township, this county. Politically he is a Democrat, and served two terms as member of the council when Duke Centre was a borough.

  • F. C. GILFILLAN, oil driller and manufacturer of the Gas Regulator and Low Water Alarm, Duke Centre, was born in Troy, N.Y., where he was reared until fifteen years of age. In 1865 he removed with his parents to Venango county, Penn., where he engaged in the drilling of oil wells, and learned all the rudiments of the business. He afterward worked in the Clarion district, and in 1879 came to Duke Centre, where he followed the occupation of a driller until June, 1887. In 1879 he invented and patented the Gas Regulator and Low Water Alarm (patented again in 1886), which, during his residence in Duke Centre, he has manufactured and sold. In 1887 he opened a shop of his own, and has already built up a lucrative business. Mr. Gilfillan is a pushing and energetic business man, and one of Duke Centre's most worthy, representative citizens.

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contributed by Maureen M. (Buckley) Lee