John W Ashbaugh


JOHN W. ASHBAUGH, of Kittanning, has been baggagemaster on the Pennsylvania railroad for over thirty years, and an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company since he was a youth of twenty. Mr. Ashbaugh was born Oct. 21, 1858, on his father`s farm in Burrell township (now Lower Burrell township), Westmoreland Co., Pa., just across the Armstrong county line.

William Ashbaugh, his grandfather, was a farmer, owning a large tract of land in Burrell township, Westmoreland county, where his death occurred. He was accidentally killed by a falling limb, while felling trees. In religion he was a Lutheran, as was also his wife, Mary (Shearer). They had a large family, among whom were: John, Henry, Lewis, Margaret ( who married Daniel Baer), Caroline (who married Daniel Spiker) and William.

John Ashbaugh, father of John W. Ashbaugh, was born Sept. 9, 1823, near Leechburg, Armstrong county, and there reared. Most of his life was spent in that region, for his farm in Lower Burrell township, Westmoreland county, was just across the Armstrong county line. In his young manhood he was engaged in school teaching, following that calling for several years, first in Burrell township, Westmoreland county, and afterward in various townships in this region. Log school houses prevailed in those days, and he had the usual experiences of the early educator in his section. While teaching in winter he engaged in farming during the summer, and eventually devoted all his time to agricultural work, living on the place in Lower Burrell township now occupied by his daughter Mrs. Harry McGinnis. In early life a Lutheran, Mr. Ashbaugh afterward became associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, in whose communion he lived and died. He was an active Christian worker, and organized the first Sunday school in his neighborhood, that of the Bethel M. E. church. Politically he was a Republican, but though interested in the success of his party took no active part in politics and never desired office. Mr. Ashbaugh was struck by lightning in the orchard at his home Aug. 27, 1900, being killed instantly. His funeral was one of the largest ever seen in his county, the many who turned out to pay the last tribute of respect testifying to the loving esteem in which this good man was universally held. The following sentences are quoted from his admiring pastor, who preached his funeral sermon: "He was respected as a true man. He lived not for himself but for others. He was a broad man, and ever given to charity. His knowledge of the Bible was most wonderful, in breadth and accuracy. He was a mighty man in prayer. He believed in prayer, and when he asked he knew he received. He organized the first Sunday school in all his region of country fifty years prior to his death . . . . He loved to minister to those in distress and the poor man never left his door hungry. He lived to advance the very best interests of morality and true righteousness . . . He left behind him a wife whose love, wisdom and cheer have cast much sunshine and many flowers along the way. . . . . To those of us who knew him in the strength of his manhood, when we were younger, his life seemed most beautiful. We planted him away in the old cemetery at Bethel, and though we say he is dead, yet he liveth and always will live in our hearts and lives."

In 1850 Mr. Ashbaugh married Rebecca Morrison, a native of Westmoreland county, and they lived to celebrate their golden wedding. Mrs. Ashbaugh survived her husband several years, passing away on the old homestead Jan. 24, 1908, at the age of seventy-nine years. They are buried in Bethel cemetery. The following children were born to this couple: James M., married Anna Van Horn, of New Florence, Westmoreland county, and they reside at Niagara Falls, N. Y.; Mary Elizabeth married Joseph M. Rowe, of Leechburg, and they reside at Braeburn, Westmoreland county; Rebecca is the wife of Harry McGinnis and they live on the old Ashbaugh homestead in Lower Burrell township, Westmoreland county; John W. is mentioned below; Ella died when eight years old.

Mrs. Ashbaugh came of pioneer stock of Westmoreland county, where her father, James Morrison, lived and died, in Burrell township. He and his wife Mary had a large family, among them being : Eliza, who never married; Rebecca, Mrs. John Ashbaugh; Jane, who married Lewis Ashbaugh, brother of her sister Rebecca's husband; Matilda, who married John Baxter, now residing in Westmoreland county; Sophia, who married William Ross and lived near Butler, Pa.; Kate, who married; James who married Caroline Fisher; and Thomas, who was a soldier in the Civil war.

John W. Ashbaugh received a common school education, attending at the Yetter schoolhouse. He continued at school until twenty years old, meantime also assisting his father with the farm work, and then started to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. After firing for six months he became a brakeman, first on freight trains and then on passenger trains, and after four years of such service was promoted to baggagemaster in 1881. He ran between Pittsburgh and Oil City and now has the run between Pittsburgh and Kittanning. After his marriage he settled at Braeburn for a time, then moved to Oil City and later to Emlenton and for the last nineteen years has been a resident of Kittanning, where he has his home at No. 888 North Grant Avenue. He is a member of the Heptasophs, Kittanning Conclave, No. 186, and a Republican in politics, but not active in the party. His religious connection is with the Kittanning Methodist Protestant Church, which he has served five years in the capacity of steward.

On Nov. 15, 1881, Mr. Ashbaugh married Carrie H. Starr, who was born on a farm in Armstrong county, where Ford City now stands, daughter of Andrew B. and Eliza (Wolfe) Starr, old settlers of Pine Creek Furnace and for a number of years residents of Ford City. Mr. Starr hauled the first load of brick used for construction purposes in what is now Ford City. He was born Jan. 10, 1825, and died at Echo, Pa.; by occupation he was a farmer. On April 15, 1847, he was married by Rev. J. Johnston, to Eliza Wolfe, like himself a native of Armstrong county, who was born March 5, 1827; and to this union were born children as follows: Margaret J., Hester A., David R., Maria E., John W., William J., Mary E., Andrew W., Caroline H., Catherine S., Samuel H. M., Chambers W. Orr, Harvey H., Josephus G. and Ellen (who died in infancy). The mother died Aug. 5, 1890. Mr. and Mrs. Starr were members of the Baptist Church, and in politics he was a Democrat but not active in the party, never seeking or desiring office.

Mr. and Mrs. Ashbaugh have had one son, Harry P., born April 5, 1884, at Braeburn, Westmoreland county, who received his education in the schools of Oil City and Kittanning, graduating from the Kittanning Academy. He is now engaged as locomotive engineer in the Pennsylvania railroad, running between Pittsburgh and Kittanning. He married Celia Adams, daughter of William Adams, and they make their home in Kittanning; they have three children: Velma Lenor, born July 6, 1904; Marie Othella, born Nov. 29, 1906; and John William, born Dec. 9, 1908. Mrs. and Mrs. Harry P. Ashbaugh are members of the Methodist Protestant Church.

Mrs. John W. Ashbaugh is a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, and socially belongs to the Lenape Camp, Royal Neighbors of America, the ladies' auxiliary of the Woodmen.

Source: Pages 679-681, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by James R Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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