John Gilpin


DR. JOHN GILPIN was the first of his name in Kittanning-a name that has been kept in prominence there ever since his day by his son, John Gilpin, and grandson, Oliver W. Gilpin, in turn, the former one of the foremost attorneys of Armstrong county bar in his time, the latter now practicing there as a member of the law firm of Buffington and Gilpin. There are few families whose members uniformly display such qualities of leadership. In professional circles the Gilpins have figured among the most distinguished members of the community for three quarters of a century, and none have stood higher for honorable citizenship. They come of a stock which has made this region famous, being descended from Friends who emigrated to Pennsylvania in provincial days, the ancestors of Dr. John Gilpin moving to Cecil county, Md., where he was born Feb. 24, 1806, a descendant of Samuel Gilpin, founder of the Cecil branch of one of the oldest and most aristocratic families in America. Some accounts of the early family history and lineage show that the Gilpins in England have long been an honored race, striving and achieving, and in view of the fact that so many of the name have shown distinguished ability it is interesting to note that Francis Galton, the English scientific writer, noted for his studies in heredity, in his work on "Hereditary Genius: mentions the Gilpin family as an illustration of his theory of transmission.

The first of the line of whom we have record was Bert de Guylpyn, who came to England in the train of William the Conqueror. His descendant, Richard de Gylpyn (the name already undergoing slight change), called "Richard the Rider," performed a signal act of bravery in the time of King John, killing the last wild boar of Westmoreland, which had devastated the land and terrified the people. Some time previously, about 1206, he had accompanied the Baron of Kendal, who could neither read nor write, to Runnymeade, as his secretary, and in recognition of his heroic act the Baron gave him Kentmere Manor, an estate some four thousand acres in extent in a wild portion of the English lake district, about ten miles distant from Lake Windermere, a "breezy tract of pasture land" as Froissart, the French chronicler, records. Gylpyn thereafter changed his coat of arms from that borne by his forefathers to that having the wild boar upon its shield. This adventure of his, his consequent change of arms, are embodied in an old poem called "Minstrels of Winandermere."

Bert de Gylpyn drew of Normandie
From Walchelin his gentle blood,
Who haply hears, by Bewley's sea,
The Angevins' bugles in the wood,
His crest, the rebus of his name,
Pineapple-a pine of gold
Was it, his Norman shield,
Sincere, in word and deed, his face extolled.
But Richard having killed the boar
With crested arm an olive shook,
And sable boar on field of or
For impress on his shield he took.
And well he won his honest arms.
And well he knew his Kentmore lands.
He won them not in war's alarms,
Nor dipt in human blood his hands.

The arms are those used by the Gilpins to the present day: Or, a boar statant sable, langued and tusked gules. Crest: A dexter arm embowed I armor proper, the naked hand grasping a pine branch fesswise vert. Motto: Dictis Factisque Simplex.

On the estate thus acquired rose the stronghold known as Kentmere Hall, walled, towered and turreted, with great manorial inclosures, close by a wild stream which leaps down the mountainside. In the early days a Norman church was built nearby, of rubble stone, with thick walls and Norman arched windows (twelve in number to represent the Apostles, and arranged in groups of three to give honor to the Trinity), and it still stands, near it an enormous yew tree believed by competent judges to have been there since the Conqueror's time. It is girdled by heavy chains and well protected. In this church, in the sixteenth century, preached occasionally Bernard Gilpin (the name gradually assumed the present form), a younger son of Kentmere Hall. Besides his regular charge, by royal command, he labored throughout the northern counties, among a people classed indiscriminately by Bishop Carlton as "border robbers," and during the troublous times succeeding the death of King Henry VIII he lifted up his voice continually for the purity of life, sincerity in religion, against all abuses of the clergy of whatever persuasion. By his fearless and unselfish life, following the principle "no place too small to occupy, no people too low to elevate," he won the title "Apostle of the North," and as such is immortalized in ecclesiastical history, for his career has afforded a theme for at least a dozen writers, including Wordsworth and Wesley. Although reared under Catholic influence he embraced the Protestant faith, and "his charities are reminders of the distribution of alms from the monasteries, which had recently been abolished by royal mandate. Almshouses had not yet been established to provide for the poor whose necessities had been hitherto relieved through ecclesiastical charity. One biographer says: "The hospitality and charity of Gilpin were unbounded. Every week on the Thursday he ordered that a very great pot should be provided full of boiled meat for the poor." Twenty-four of the poorest of his people were his constant pensioners. Every Sunday from Michaelmas to Easter he kept open house for all his parishioners; for their entertainment three long tables were provided, one for the gentry, a second for the farmers, a third for the laborers. Like most apostles, Bernard Gilpin was a fearless man, which the following story illustrates: Once upon entering Rothbury Church, in Northumberland, he espied a glove suspended in a conspicuous place as a challenge from some horse trooper of the district. He ordered the verger to remove it, but that worthy, trembling with fear, said he dared not, so the apostle, procuring a long pole, hooked down the challenge himself, and carrying it with him entered the pulpit and began to preach. During the course of his sermon he paused, and lifting the glove to view said: "I hear there is one among you who has even in this sacred place hung a glove in defiance. I challenge him to compete with me in acts of Christian charity." Scott's painting, "Gilpin in Rothbury Church," hangs at Wallington Hall, Northumberland, the seat of Charles Treveilyan, Bart., and this spirited scene is also one of the three subjects composing the Bernard Gilpin memorial window in Durham Cathedral.

During the religious controversies of Queen Mary's reign the "Apostle of the North" was tried on thirteen different accusations, but was liberated by his uncle, the Bishop of Durham. His enemies, however, summoned him before Dr. Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London. While journeying to the metropolis the apostle broke his leg, and before he was sufficiently recovered to appear for trial Queen Mary died, the reformers were in power, and the charges against him withdrawn. Bernard Gilpin established schools and continued to wield a great influence in ecclesiastical circles until he died.

The "Apostle of the North" was one of the three sons of Edwin Gilpin, one of whom was George Gilpin, minister to the Hague during Queen Elizabeth's reign, who was commissioned to form an alliance with the Dutch States against the Spanish, at that time threatening Great Britain with the Armada. In an autograph letter of the Queen carried with him on this mission, Elizabeth writes thus: "Having charged Mr. Gilpin, one of our councilors of State, to deliver this letter, it will not be necessary to authorize him by any other confidence than what is already acquired by a long proof of his capacity and of his fidelity and sincerity, assuring you you may trust in him as in ourselves."

The second son of Edwin Gilpin was William Gilpin, from whom the Maryland branch of the family is descended, and who married Elizabeth Washington, of Hall Heal, the sister of George Washington's great-grandfather.

The estate of Kentmere was increased during the reign of Henry III by a grant of the Manor of Ulwithwaite to Richard, the grandson of the first of that name.

The history of a family, as of a nation, seems to advance in epochs, and from the time of Elizabeth down to the Commonwealth nothing of importance is to be noted. Then the Kentmere Gilpins succumbed to the forces of Cromwell, and the Hall was demolished by his troops, the tower alone left standing. The head of the house, obliged to flee the country, left his estate in a kind of trust mortgage to a friend, but his heir coming home in the time of quiet was unable to get hold of the proper deeds to the estate, and thus it was lost.

The division of families at that period of civil war is illustrated by the fact that Thomas Gilpin, of Warborough, was colonel in the regiment of Cromwell's Ironsides at the battle of Worcester. Whether as reaction or not from this scene of strife he soon after renounced what his biographer terms "foolish and wanton delights, as sports and pastimes, music and dancing," and betook himself into the peaceful Quaker fold, where he was a preacher for forty years. His son, Joseph, who came to America after William Penn and who married Hannah Glover, was the founder of the American branch of the family.

Kentmere was thus lost to the Gilpins, after having been in their possession for thirteen or more generations. Dr. Richard Gilpin, after the restoration, bought Scaleby Castle, an estate situated in the adjoining County of Cumberland, not far from Carlisle. This was the third great estate owned by the Gilpin family, and the castle is of much historic interest, standing near the ruin, of an old Pict wall. Here again was ruin, for overconfident in thick walls, a double moat, a drawbridge and portcullis, its former owner, Sir Thomas Musgrave, had also held out against Cromwell with the usual result. Repairing, as well as their impoverished fortunes would permit, the castle's gaping walls and battered roof, the Gilpins occupied it for a time, but afterward allowed it to fall into decay and be occupied by their retainers. In course of time the fortunes of Scaleby were recouped by the marriage of a lady of the house to a gentleman by the name of Fawcett, who drained the fields, repaired the castle, built a new portion around three sides of the court and made it a place of beauty for descendants of his name and Gilpin lineage to dwell within.

Joseph Gilpin, the founder of the American branch of this family, was the only son of Thomas Gilpin, of Warborough, above referred to. In 1691 he married Hannah Glover, and in 1695-96, with their two children, and Joseph�s relatives, John West and his family, followed Penn the Quaker to the Colonies. They emigrated because of the persecution to which they were subjected on account of being Friends. Hannah�s uncle gave her 100 acres of land, and Joseph Gilpin bought 425 acres more for 40 pounds, and they settled in Birmingham, Chester Co., Pa., walking to their new home from Newcastle, where they landed. Darkness coming on before they reached their destination, they passed the night in an Indian wigwam, and the friendliness between themselves and the aborigines then established continued ever after. Joseph Gilpin

immediately busied himself with the preparations of a home, necessarily primitive---nothing in fact but a cave he constructed by the side of a rock---and there he and his family lived for a considerable time, until he had made some progress clearing the land. In 1730 he built another

"Kentmere," a large brick dwelling which is still standing, and it was at this farmhouse that General Howe made his headquarters after the battle of Brandywine. It was also occupied by General LaFayette, who revisited it in 1824.

With the energy of his race, and ably assisted by his wife, who was a most hospitable and thrifty housewife, Joseph Gilpin soon became a man of prominence and prosperity in the neighborhood. Many Indian wigwams were on his farm, and his family of fifteen children grew up in entire harmony with their aborigine playmates. There was plenty and to spare, and the home soon became an objective point for all immigrants arriving in that section of the country, who were cordially entertained and assisted in getting their lands properly located and planned. Friend Gilpin was sole agent in the settling of all of one township---New Garden---in Chester county, as well as part of Kennett and Marlboro, and had his reward in the gratitude of those whom he aided---but nothing material for his labors. We have the following record of the fifteen children born to himself and wife: (1) Hannah married William Seal and had six children. They lived in Birmingham township, Chester Co., Pa. (2) Samuel married Jane Parker and had seven children. They settled in Elkton, Md., where many of their descendants still reside. (3) Rachel married Joshua Pierce, and had four children. They lived in Chester county, Pa. (4) Ruth married Joseph Mendelhall and had seven children. They lived in Kennett township, Chester Co., Pa. (5) Lydia married William Dean. They had three children, and moved to Wilmington, Del. (6) Thomas was married three times times, first to Rebecca Mendenhall, second to Hannah Knowles, third to Ann Caldwell. They resided at Wilmington, Del. (7) Ann married Joseph Miller and (second) Richard Hallett. She had five children. (8) Joseph married Mary Caldwell, and they had twelve children. They removed to Wilmington in 1761. (9) Sarah married Peter Cooke. They had seven children, settled in Chester county and afterward removed to York county, Pa. (10) George married Ruth Caldwell and (second) Sarah Woodward. They had three children and lived at the old homestead. (11) Isaac married Mary Painter and had three children. They lived in Chester county, Pa. (12) Moses married Ann Buffington. (13) Alice married Richard Evenson and had five children. (14) Mary married Philip Taylor and (second) George Strode. They had nine children, and lived in Chester county, Pa. (15) Esther married Samuel Painter and had seven children. They lived in Chester county, Pennsylvania.

Most of the children of Joseph Gilpin died before the Revolution came on, but his son George, then living at Alexandria, Va., at once entered the army, becoming colonel of the Fairfax militia. Washington knew him, and he accompanied the General, was with him in the battle of

Dorchester Heights, Mass., and remained with him until the close of the war. Later Colonel Gilpin was intimately associated with Washington in navigation investigation being made regarding the Potomac river, and the close friendship of the two men endured until the death of Washington; Colonel Gilpin was one of the pall bearers at his funeral.

Many grandsons of Joseph Gilpin fought on the side of freedom in the Revolution, but one, Thomas Gilpin, of Philadelphia (son of Samuel), was so thoroughly a Friend in his beliefs that he suffered arrest on suspicion of lacking patriotism rather than take up arms. With twenty others like-minded he was exiled from Philadelphia, Sept. 11, 1777, and taken to Winchester, Va., where he died March 2, 1778. His uncle Col. George Gilpin, interceded for him and endeavored, ineffectually, however, to procure his liberty.

Samuel Gilpin, eldest son of the emigrants, Joseph and Hannah (Glover) Gilpin, was born in England, June 7, 1693, and passed his early life at Birmingham, Chester Co., Pa. Thence he removed to Concord, Pa., and subsequently, in 1733, to Cecil county, Md., in which State most of his posterity have since resided. He settled at what became known as Gilpin�s Falls, Elkton, in the Great Northeast, on a tract of seven hundred acres previously purchased. He married Jane Parker, daughter of John Parker, of Philadelphia, and they had a family of seven children; many of their descendants continue to reside at Elkton and in that vicinity, and there still stands the old Gilpin Manor House, the historic old homestead built by Joseph Gilpin (eldest son of Samuel), in 1760, and remodeled in later years---the abode of the Gilpin family from the time of its erection to the present. This interesting old mansion is described in the "Story of Gilpin Manor." It stands on the banks of the Big Elk, about one mile northeast of the town of Elkton, in a part of the original tract of Belleconnell, and almost hidden in a park of trees. The mansion house is of stone, large and spacious, the arched doorway of the main entrance fashioned after Kentmere Hall, one of the ancestral homes of the Gilpins in England. But the design is typically colonial, and the place, well preserved as it has been, stand to-day as a fine specimen of the architecture of that period, and a reminder of the good old days of hospitality. The grounds, carefully laid out many years ago, retain most of their former beauty. The trees and shrubbery bear evidence of great age. Within the house, it is easy to conjure up visions of the attractive social life and delightful entertainment the place afforded. Even the kitchen, with its huge fireplace, recalls its part in the profusion which was the rule in such households. On the whole, it is a picturesque, romantic old habitation. One the side back from the river is the old family burying ground, the last resting place of many departed ancestors of the Gilpins. It is surrounded by solid granite walls, and the mounds are marked by substantial gravestones hearing odd inscriptions, many of which came from England. Gilpin Manor is now owned by Oliver W. Gilpin, of Kittanning, Pa., who inherited it from his grandfather, Dr. John Gilpin.

Joseph Gilpin (2), eldest son of Samuel Gilpin and grandson of Joseph, the emigrant, was a patriotic and public-spirited citizen. He represented Cecil county in the Provincial convention of the early days, was one of the foremost of Cecil�s patriot leaders in the Revolution, and for years was chief justice of the courts. On Nov. 8, 1764, he married Elizabeth Read, and died March 30, 1790, leaving, besides his large landed estate in Cecil count, Md., property in western Pennsylvania and Virginia.

John Gilpin, son of Joseph (2), became the owner of Gilpin Manor, by his father�s will. He represented Cecil county in the Assembly for several years, and was a presidential elector three successive times, first when John Adams was elected, and twice for Jefferson. He married Mary Hollingsworth, daughter of Col. Henry Hollingsworth, of Revolutionary fame.

Dr. John Gilpin, son of John and Mary (Hollingsworth) Gilpin, prepared early for the medical profession and commenced practice in Elkton, but before 1830 came to Armstrong county, Pa., and settled at Kittanning. Here he lived and prospered for a period of thirty years, becoming one of the most prominent citizens in that vicinity. Soon after his arrival he began to secure local property, becoming one of the large landowners of the section, and he was one of a small coterie (including Judge Joseph Buffington, the elder, James E. Brown, and Gov. William F. Johnston, the Doctor�s father-in-law), known as John Gilpin & Co., though its members were supposedly silent partners. It became famous as the real estate trust of its day, the combination of capital and influence which enabled them to control the local market. Buyers and sellers had to go to one or the other, though they bid against each other as a matter of form. In 1834-35, Dr. Gilpin erected one of the first brick buildings in Kittanning, a large mansion on the north side of Market street, a short distance above McKean, on Jacobs� Hill, so called because in the rear of the site, at the northern end of the stone wall in the garden, stood the powder magazine of the Indian chief Jacobs, under his house and fort, which was blown up by Col. John Armstrong in 1756. This old mansion, at one time the home of Alexander Reynolds, forms a part of the "Alexander Hotel." A man of superior intelligence and education, Dr. Gilpin was a member of the old school, a scholar, and a leader in the activities in his day. For many years he was senior warden of the Episcopal Church. In 1860 he returned to his early home at Elkton, Md., being the owner of Gilpin Manor House and the estate of 480 acres adjoining, and he expended considerable money restoring and improving the property. There he passed the remainder of his life, dying there July 9, 1868.

He is interred there with his ancestors, in the old family burying ground. By his first marriage to Nancy Monteith, Dr. Gilpin had four children: Martha, who married Major Carroll; Mary, who became the second wife of major Carroll, after her sister�s death; John, mentioned below; and Thomas, an attorney of Philadelphia, who died when a young man of twenty-five years. By his sucond wife, Ann (Johnston), Dr. Gilpin had no children.

John Gilpin, eldest son of Dr. John Gilpin, was one of the most successful lawyers of the last generation born Oct. 8, 1839, at what is now the "Alexander Hotel," Kittanning, he attended public school until he was fourteen years old, after which he was sent to Eldersridge Academy, which in those days had the reputation of being one of the best college preparatory institutions in Pennsylvania. He was under the special care of Rev. Dr. Donaldson. He was a notably good scholar and careful student. Entering Union College, at Schenectady, N. Y., he was graduated therefrom when about twenty years old, with high honors, and returning home at once commenced the study of law, in pursuance of an ambition he had had from boyhood. He began his studies with Hon. Chapman Biddle, prominent lawyer of Philadelphia, and entered the law department of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating about 1859-60. In1861 he was admitted to the bar at Philadelphia, and then returned to his native town, obtaining admission to the Armstrong county bar in December of the same year. From that time on he was devoted to the practice of his profession. As a law student he had manifested the same industry and methodical habits which marked his devotion to preparatory studies, and during his active legal career he was often spoken of as a technical lawyer. But those who knew him best regarded this rather as a tribute to his accuracy, resulting in his extreme thoroughness in the preparation of his work, rather than from any tendency to observe the letter of the law more than its spirit. No detail was too insignificant to receive his attention, and his remarkable success was laid upon a foundation of completeness which could not be shaken. His reputation was such that he retained all the clients who came to him, and his patronage was so wide that he soon took his place among the leaders of the local bar. He had the honor of being elected a member of the

Constitutional convention which met in November, 1874, and formulated the constitution of that year, and his learning, together with his ability as a debater, brought him great renown in connection with his work in that body, which was composed of leading lawyers, lawmakers and financiers. His fellow members showed the greatest esteem for his able and efficient efforts, and upon his return home he was given a vote of thanks by his fellow citizens for the creditable manner in which he had represented them.

When Judge Boggs went on the bench, in January, 1875, Mr. Gilpin received a share of his practice. His work kept increasing, in fact, until he found it was greater than he could handle, and in 1880 he formed a partnership with J. H. McCain, an able, active and industrious lawyer, with whom he was associated until his death. Their personal as well as business relations were established on a most congenial basis. In fact, Mr. Gilpin was on friendly terms with all whom he knew. he had a naturally companionable disposition, was genial, whole-souled and easily approached, and was a most entertaining talker. He had none of the aloofness which sometimes characterizes men who have attained success. Unless actually engaged with a client, he was always ready to stop what he was doing to enter into a conversation, and he often dropped into the offices of his friends for a friendly chat. However, he was conservative until well acquainted with people, and those who knew him best prized the privilege of associating with him. With a mind enriched by wide reading, an intelligence developed and strengthened by years of hard work in an exacting profession and unusual opportunities for the observation of his fellow men and their proclivities, and yet with a wholesome outlook upon life maintained by the good nature within him, he was never tiresome or heavy, but thought and said things agreeable to listen to and worth remembering.

As to his standing among the members of the bar, none enjoyed more prestige. To quote from an article published in the Union Free Press at the time of his death: "He was universally esteemed by his companions of the bar. Having reached the sun-crowned heights of his profession, he generously dispersed with a lavish hand any information on abstruse law questions sought by younger members of the bar. The cheerfulness and hearty good will with which he gave any information endeared him to the profession with whole-souled and genuine friendship. So generous was he, that often, it is said, when he was in the midst of a difficult case and surrounded by his books and briefs, he would lay them aside and give a willing ear to a brother lawyer who had some difficult questions in hand. He would even get down his books on that particular subject and look for authorities. Thus his generosity and good nature gained for him a warm place in the hearts of the members of his profession."

The following character sketch of Mr. Gilpin is from the same article: "It is not an easy matter in a sketch so short as this to give a comprehensive conception of a man of Mr. Gilpin�s attainments. He was an original character. His habits, his manners and his way of doing everything were so different from those of other people. He marked out for himself the path of his career and religiously walked therein. He had naturally a legal mind. This he trained and cultivated with great and untiring study and energy. With him labor was the touchstone by which genius towers to its lofty heights. For the purpose of storing his mind with all the principles of the law, he grew a midnight student o�er the dreams of its sages, and sought to borrow from their lights such attributes of learning as would more surely aid him in ascending the shining course that loomed up before him. The love of his profession lured him on to those inspiring toils by which man masters men, and reaches the goal to which his ambition aspires. In his study of Blackstone and other classical writers he had mastered the fundamental principles of the law, and had fixed in his mind those great landmarks of jurisprudence, so that the practice of law became to him a pleasure. Grasping complex questions with great vigor, his clearness of conception gained for him a speedy solution. Having a broad mind and being in no sense a one-sided lawyer, he studied both sides of his case, and with that clear and accurate mind of his solved with remarkable power and certainty the questions the law involved. In his arguments to the court on law points his diction was concise, his logic forcible, and his arrangement most methodical, making his argument clearly convincing. To the jury he presented the facts of his case in that plain and common sense manner which any man of an ordinary mind could understand, and which usually crowned his efforts with success. Thus he climbed the heights of his profession and joined that long and illustrious line of legal lights that have adorned the practice of this ennobled science. There was no branch of the law with which he was not conversant. His fame was not bounded by his own county, but on the other hand extended throughout the State.

"Aside from Mr. Gilpin�s legal attainments, he was a man possessed of a great fund of general information. His knowledge of history and science and literature was astonishingly great. Hardly any questions could arise on which he had not an opinion or of which he knew nothing. It seemed a pleasure and a pastime for him to drink from the whole fountain of human knowledge. The consequence was that he was a man who was able to take a comprehensive view of any question propounded to him. He improved the privileges of living in the evening hours of the nineteenth century."

The late Judge W. D. Patton, county judge of Armstrong county and president of the Armstrong County Trust Company, of Kittanning, said of him: "John Gilpin was one of the leading lawyers of this part of the State, a thorough student, a technical lawyer, careful, analytical, and a hard worker. He had the respect of all members of the bar ----and his ability as a lawyer would have been recognized and respected anywhere."

Judge Joseph Buffington said of him: "John Gilpin was one of the most astute and thoroughly trained men in the science of pleading and is knowledge of black-letter law and of the fine shades of distinction in all modern decisions, was comprehensive and keen. His mind was singularly acute. He was a daring practitioner and would risk the outcome of his case on technical points, and seldom failed to carry them through successfully. A man of strong personal feeling, he made his cl0ient�s cause his own. He possessed a withering power of sarcasm, and in his addresses to the jury could strip his adversary�s case with merciless logic and argument. In his preparation of a case he was thorough and tireless, and a busy court week would find the light burning in his office long after midnight. He inherited mental qualities of a high order from a long line of distinguished ancestors."

Mr. Gilpin died Nov. 2,1883, before his prime, perhaps before he had attained the heights of his professional possibilities. He was survived by his wife, Olive (McConnell), whom he had married in 1873, and by their two children, Oliver W. and Mary Elizabeth Adele. Mrs. Gilpin was the eldest daughter of Thomas McConnell, and her ancestors were of Scotch-Irish origin. The McConnell family settled in Kittanning in an early day. Oliver W. Gilpin is mentioned below. Mary Elizabeth Adele Gilpin was married in 1908 to Samuel Howard McCain, a prominent attorney of Kittanning.

Mr. Gilpin was a prominent Mason, a past master of his lodge, etc., nevertheless he showed his liberality of mind as well as purse by providing in his will for an annual contribution of $100 to the Catholic Church, to be continued as long as the church rang its bell for an hour on the anniversary of his birth. The church has never failed to perform this acknowledgment of his generosity. He and James Mosgrove owned the square where the first interments were made within the borough limits, on the east side of McKean street, between Arch street and the alley north appropriated by the former owner, Dr. John Armstrong, for burial purposes.

Oliver W. Gilpin, member of the firm of Buffington and Gilpin, attorneys at law, Kittanning, was born in that borough Sept. 4, 1874, and there received his early education in the public schools, graduating from high school in 1890. He then entered Phillips Academy, at Andover, Mass., graduating from that institution in 1893, in which year he became a student at Harvard, taking a full course and receiving his A.B. degree in 1897. His law studies were carried on at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated in 1901. The same year he received admission to the bar at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh and in Armstrong county. Then he took a trip to Europe, returning to this country in 1903, after an extended tour, and settling down to law practice, to which he has since been devoted. Forming a partnership with Orr Buffington, the representative of another local family whose members have become famous in the legal profession, under the firm name of Buffington and Gilpin, he has worked hard and attained honorable standing among his fellow practitioners. Mr. Gilpin was admitted to practice in the Federal court and State Supreme court. He has been honored with the vice presidency of the Armstrong County Bar Association. Mr. Gilpin is associated with local business enterprises as a director of the Armstrong Electric Company and as vice president of the Armstrong County Trust Company. He is a member of the Union Club at Pittsburgh and of the University Club of that city, and of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at Philadelphia. He belongs to the Protestant Episcopal Church.

On Feb. 16, 1909, Mr. Gilpin was married, at Palm Beach, Fla., to Emily Campbell Reynolds, of Kittanning, Pa., granddaughter of Judge James Campbell, of Clarion county, Pa., and daughter of the late Ross Reynolds, of Kittanning.


A second emigration in the Gilpin family took place in 1783, when John Gilpin, son of Rev. William Gilpin, born at Scaleby Castle and vicar at Boldre, came to Philadelphia and married Ann W. Sims of that city. He shortly removed to Nova Scotia, married twice, and had thirteen children, all of whom either settled in British provinces in America or returned to their ancestral homes, so that this branch of the family cannot be considered as part of the American house.

It is frequently difficult in tracing the genealogies of American families to find an unbroken family tree connecting them with their English ancestors. There is usually a ragged break at the date of emigration to America, where links, other than circumstantial, are wholly lost, but the Gilpin annals in both the Old and New World have been so carefully kept that the exact line of descent is followed even unto the present generation in the United States. The records include extracts from a genealogical chart accompanying a manuscript entitled "Memoirs of Dr. Richard Gilpin, of Scaleby Castle,Cumberland, written in the year 1791 by Rev. William Gilpin, vicar of Boldre, together with an account of the author and a pedigree of the Gilpin family." This manuscript was published in 1879 by the Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. George Gilpin, nephew of the Ambassador to The Hague, also contributed researches concerning the family tree, as did Sir Daniel Fleming, noted in the sixteenth century for his genealogical researches into the history of Westmoreland. Alan Chambre, recorder of Kendal, likewise extended his inquiries into the antiquity of the Gilpin family, and to these are added the genealogical collections at Scaleby Castle.

The American annals of the family have also been most carefully and interestingly compiled by Dr. Joseph Elliot Gilpin. Much of this accuracy is doubtless due to the marked literary attainments for which many members of the family have been distinguished. The Apostle of the North was a prolific and forceful writer, and many of his ecclesiastical essays are held in high esteem. Rev. William Gilpin, M.A., prebendary of Salisbury and vicar of Boldre, in the New Forest, near Lymington, dedicated to Queen Charlotte in 1786 a volume illustrated by himself upon the picturesque beauties of Westmoreland and Cumberland. Rev. William Gilpin is believed to be the original of Dr. Syntax, hero of the delightful tale in verse that describes the adventures of a simple-minded, pious, henpecked clergyman who leaves home in search of the picturesque.

The songs and ballads of Cumberland were edited by Sidney Gilpin, of Derwent Cottage.

The artistic temperament was also, and still continues to be, strongly developed in the family. The pictures of Rev. William Gilpin sold for ^ 3,200, the whole of which he devoted to the establishment of schools in his parish, where his memory is regarded with almost sacred reverence.

Sawry Gilpin, a descendant of Dr. Richard Gilpin, who bought Scaleby Castle, was a member of the Royal Academy, renowned for his paintings of horses and distinguished for the untamed beauty of expression he imparted in his pictures of animals. It was Ann Gilpin, sister of Thomas Gilpin, of Warborough, who married Thomas West and became grandmother of Benjamin West, president of the Royal Academy. The late Henry Dilworth Gilpin, of Philadelphia, attorney general of the United States under Van Buren, and at one time acting secretary of treasury, possessed the same artistic perceptions. He was a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, and his kinsman, Mr. Jordan Stable, of Baltimore, is prominently associated with the artistic circles of that city, and his home is beautified by many rare old pictures.

A leaning toward the religious life is indicated by the many divines in the Anglican Church of this blood. Besides the Apostle of the North (who, aside from the Archdeaconry of Durham, refused preferment many times) that list includes several bishops and many of its clergy, not to speak of that fighting Quaker, Thomas of Warborough, who laid down his sword of steel to take up the sword of spirit. In America is included Dean Gilpin of Halifax Cathedral, who is a member of the family. A poet of the period of the Reformation has said concerning the Gilpins: "The race that once went bravely forth to slay the wild boar in his den now meets the bigots in their wrath and boldly claims the rights of men."

Members of the family have become equally distinguished in statesmanship. Queen Elizabeth�s minister plenipotentiary to The Hague was a brother to Bernard the Apostle. Col. George Gilpin, founders of the American branch of the family, held an important government position under George Washington. The late Gov. William Gilpin, of Colorado, did equal service as a statesman in another field. Sent in is boyhood to England, he was a classmate of Gladstone. He also had Hawthorne as his tutor, and returning to the United States he entered West Point, from which institution he was graduated. The spirit of adventure and progress so deeply rooted within the Gilpin family led him to a life of observation and exploration in the West, and embodied in a report brought before Congress in 1845, he called the attention of that body to the immense possibilities and value of the western country of the United States. Bancroft says of Gilpin�s report: "Coming just at this time, on the eve of the settlement of the Oregon question, the Mexican war and acquisition of California, its influence and importance cannot be estimated."

Among others of the family noted in public life are Charles Gilpin, three times mayor of Philadelphia; Edward Woodward Gilpin, for many years chief justice of Delaware; and most honored in Baltimore has been the late President Bernard Gilpin, of the Merchants� and Manufacturers� Association, who bore the same name as that of the Apostle of the North.

Source: Page(s) 336-344, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed July 1998 by Patti Godesky for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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