John B Elwood


JOHN B. ELWOOD, of Leechburg, who is engaged by the American Sheet & Tin Plate Company as sheet roller, is a native of the borough in which he has passed all his life, born Jan. 21, 1878.

Mr. Elwood is a member of the fourth generation of his family in America, whither James Elwood came from the North of Ireland in company with a brother, the latter settling near Philadelphia. James Elwood came westward to Westmoreland county, and there passed the remainder of his life, reaching the ripe old age of ninety-six years. (Another account says his name was William Elwood, and that he settled on Turtle Creek, Westmoreland county, in 1783.) He was a farmer by occupation. In religion he was a strict Presbyterian.

John Elwood, son of the founder of the family in this country, was born in 1796 in Westmoreland county, three miles from Oakland Cross Roads. He learned the trade of cabinetmaker and also became a contractor and builder. Coming from Mifflin county to Warren (now Apollo), Armstrong county, about 1830-31, he followed his trade, erecting many houses at Apollo and elsewhere in the southern section of the county, kept a stable at Apollo for canal horses and was employed upon the canal. He owned several boats. He was an active citizen, and a man who interested himself in all the affairs of his day, holding various township offices. He was first a Whig in political opinion, but early took sides with the Abolition party, supporting the first Abolition ticket ever voted for in Apollo. He was one of the three men at Apollo who voted for Kember Cleaver, the Free-soil canidate for governor of Pennsylvania. He was one of the early Methodists in his section of the county, and his wife also belonged to that church. Mr. Elwood was married at Apollo to Mary Patterson, of Washington county, Pa., who was of Kentucky stock, and whose father, Robert Patterson, was lost at sea while on the way to Europe. Mr. Elwood spent the last of his life in retirement at Apollo, dying in 1872; he is buried there. His wife died in 1880. Of the four children born to this union, all sons, Benjamin F. died in infancy. The other three, William J., Robert D. and Thomas Jefferson, became associated in the mercantile and manufacturing business at the close of the Civil war under the firm name of Elwood Brothers, the firm being dissolved in 1873, after which William remained in Apollo, where he continued to follow merchandising, and Robert D. removed to Pittsburgh, where he engaged in business. Thomas J. stayed at Leechburg. William J. is now living retired at Vandergrift, Pa. Capt. Robert D. Elwood organized Company I, 78th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Sirwell commanding, General Negley's brigade, and served in the Civil war as captain of that company, taking part in the battles of Stone River, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, and was mustered out with his regiment at Kittanning. Later he entered the grain and feed business at Pittsburgh, where he became very successful. He is now living retired at Verona, in Allegheny county, Pa. He was one of the early burgesses at Leechburg. He is a member of Pittsburgh Post, G. A. R., and of the Loyal Legion of Pennsylvania.

Thomas Jefferson Elwood, son of John, was born March 4, 1844, at Apollo, and there received his education in the public schools. He learned the trade of harnessmaker, and also followed canalboating. When the war broke out he enlisted in the Union service, joining the 17th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was detailed to duty at the Allegheny arsenal as harnessmaker, being stationed there for three years, serving out his term of enlistment. Then coming to Leechburg, he engaged in the manufacture of salt, and later became interested in the grain, flour and feed business for several years, purchasing the Leechburg Flour Mill, which he operated until he sold it in 1884 to Schwalm & Elwood. In 1878 he was elected treasurer of Armstrong county and served his term with high credit. Returning to Leechburg at the close of this service he became associated with B. F. Jennings as assistant superintendent of the West Penn Sheep & Steel Company, and later became weighmaster for Kirkpatrick & Co., at Leechburg. In 1891 he was elected to the office of justice of the peace, serving as such until his death, which occurred Feb. 22, 1906. He is buried at Leechburg. In politics Mr. Elwood was a Republican. On Jan. 12, 1877, he married Isabella Parks, daughter of James B. Parks, of Farmers' Delight, Parks township, Armstrong county, and she died Feb. 13, 1904. Mr. and Mrs. Elwood are buried side by side. They were members of the Presbyterian Church, and both took an active part in its work. Mr. Elwood was a member of the Royal Arcanum and of the Masons, holding membership in Kittanning Chapter, R. A. M. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Elwood: John B.; Thomas Jefferson, Jr., who is receiving teller in the First National Bank of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Robert Parks who is with Smail & Hill, hardware merchants, at Leechburg, Pennsylvania.

John Bratten Elwood was educated at Leechburg, attending the high school there, and when sixteen years old entered the mill as a cold roller boy, later advancing to the position of sheet roller, which he still holds. Meantime he took a three years' evening business course under professors Smeltzer and Hepler. He has been active in the communtiy in various capacities which prove his interest in the general welfare, serving as game warden of Armstrong and Westmoreland counties and humane agent in the same district, and being assistant chief of Fire Companies Nos. 1 and 2 of the Leechburg department. The latter work has had particular interest for him. The first recorded meeting of the Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company was held Sept. 5, 1891, with Dr. J. D. Orr presiding, S. M. Anderson as recording secretary, C. H. Sloan, corresponding secretary, J. H. Parks, treasurer, M. M. Weiser, first vice president. The second recorded meeting was held Sept. 12, 1891, when J. D. Orr was elected chief, A. J. Laughrey, assistant chief, and M. M. Weiser, second assistant foreman. On Sept. 26th of that year, hose cart, hose and appliances were ordered. On Nov. 3, 1891, a hook and ladder truck was pruchased from Hail Clark at Saltsburg. The fire company has lost thirteen members by death since its organization, namely: M. M. Weiser, John Martin, Frank Critsor, Harry Kunkle, David Kistler, H. Lookabaugh, Fred Schotte, H. P. McKallip, P. I. Murphy, Frank Beale, Samuel Klingensmith, Stephry J. Lock and H. W. Beale. The present officers of Mr. Elwoods company are: President, S. R. Saunders; first vice president, J. B. Cruikshank; second vice president, T. E. Jones; secretary, M. V. DeWitt; treasurer, W. C. Stevenson; trustee, P. A. McCracken; chief, Harry May; first assistant, J. B. Elwood; second assistant, Lloyd Parks. Mr. Elwood is also a member of the local lodge of Elks, No. 377, and in politics he is a Republican.

On Oct. 12, 1909, Mr. Elwood married Lena Toella, daughter of August and Fredericka Toella. Mr. and Mrs. Elwood are members of the German Lutheran Church.

Source: Pages 960-961, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed November 1998 by Joyce Sherry for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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