James Wesley King

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Hon. James Wesley King, President Judge of Armstrong county, has attained a degree of distinction in his profession which is adding prestige to a name honored in Armstrong county for generations. He was born here Sept. 29, 1859, on the old King farm in Burrell township belonging to his father, and adjoining that of his grandfather, John King..

The Kings are of German origin, the name in old records being Konig, and in the Pennsylvania Archieves it appears as Koenig. Mathias King, the Judge's great-great grandfather, a native of Germany, came to America in the year 1751 in the ship "Janet," two brothers accompanying him to this country. Abraham and Jacob. Settling in Northampton county, Pa. near Nazareth, in the section known as "Drylands," he obtained a grant of lands from the Penns, and lived there for many years. During the Revolution he served the Colonial cause as a corporal in Capt. George Nolf's company. He was a member of the Reformed Church at Hecktown, Northampton county. along about 1791 he emigrated with his family to Westmoreland county, Pa., settling in Mount Pleasant township, where he died in the year 1807. He married a Miss Hartzell, and had children as follows; Jonathan, George Adam, John, Henry, David, Magdalene (married Nicholas Weitzel), Catharine (married John Speilman), Christina (married Jacob Wolf) and Regina ( married Isaac Townsend).

George Adam King, son of Mathias, born Feb. 11, 1756, in Nazareth township, Northampton Co., Pa., died April 2, 1843, in Kittanning (now Burrell) township, Armstrong county. About 1791 he removed with his father to Westmoreland county, and prior to 1800, probably about 1796, settled in what is now Armstrong county. As early as 1812 he purchased a part of what is now the Abraham Bush heirs' farm in Burrell township, later purchasing 139 acres in what was then known as Pine township, this county, and was still the owner of both tracts at the time of his death. Farming was his occupation. He was the first constable of Kittanning township, serving in 1807-08-09. Mr. King was one of twelve men who, with their wives, organized St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Burrell township in 1806. His first wife, Maria Catharine (George), who was born Oct. 25, 1768, daughter of Conrad and Susan George, of Nazareth, Northampton county, died about 1830, and in 1832 he married Margaret Shoemaker, a widow. He and his first wife are buried in the old graveyard on the Abraham Bush farm, which he owned. To them were born: Abraham, 1785; Isaac, 1786; John Jacob, 1788; John, 1790; Christiana, 1792; Henry, 1794; Thomas; Solomon, 1798; Susannah.

John King, son of George Adam, was born March 27, 1790, in Nazareth township, Northampton Co., Pa.(sponsors at baptism Johannes Konig and his wife Catharine), came to Westmoreland county with his father and grandfather about 1791, and later to Armstrong county with his father. He was a farmer, tailor, and cooper, owned real eatate in Kittanning township, and was a man of considerable prominence in the community in which he lived, being quite active in public affairs. He was a member of St. Michael's Evangelical Church. Mr King was somewhat of a scholar and literary man, as is evidenced by the library he ownwd at the time of his death, the appraisement list of his estate showing over one hundred volumes, among which were four volumes of Goldsmith's "Animated Nature," two volumes of Shakespeare, three volumes of "Scottish Chiefs," the "Pickwick Papers," Burns's Poems, Aesop's Fables. "Thaddeus of Warsaw," the "Vicar of Wakefield," "Luther's Life and Commentary," Buck's Theological Dictionary, " Horseshoe Robinson," "Lyonell," " Robin Hood," "Naval Officer," "Children of the Abbey," and many more of travel, history, literature, science, religion and romance. He owned the farm where Samuel Albert King now lives, in Burrell township, which upon his death vested in his son John, and descended from John to Samuel Albert.

John King married Susannah Heilman, who was born Aug. 8, 1788, daughter of Peter Heilman, and died July 18, 1851. He died in 1848, and they are buried in St. Michael's Lutheran Church cemetery. They were the parents of eleven children, and the following record kept by John King shows their names and respective dates of birth: "1811 Sunday February the 24th Mary Anne King was born in the sign of the fishes. 1812 Wednesday December the 23d George King was born in the sign of the virgin. 1814 Tuesday August the 2nd Gideon King was born in the sign of the fishes. 1816 Sunday May the 5th John King was born in the sign of the lion. 1818 Sunday March the 1st Selim King was born in the sign of the archer. 1820 Thursday January the 6th Selim King died aged one year ten months and six days. 1820 Monday January the 17th Esther King was born in the sign of the waterbearer. 1821 Thursday the 18th Susannah King was born in the sign of the lion. 1823 Saturday September the 13th Lydia King was born in the sign of the goat. 1823 Monday September the 15th Lydia King died aged two days. 1824 Thursday August the 26th Eve King was born in the sign of the virgin. 1827 Friday the 6th day of July Helen King was born in the sign of the archer. 1829 Teusday the 8th day of September Flora King was born in the sign of the goat."

The record from which the above is quoted goes on to 1846, viz.: "1832 April 10th John Heffelfinger and Mary Anne King were married. January 21st Lydia and Susannah twins born in the sign of the waterbearer. 1834 October 17th Reuben was born in the sign of the ram. 1836 November 6th George Washington was born in the sign of the virgin.---- Of John Heffelfinger. 1837 April 13th George King and Mary Fiscus were married . 1838 March 25th Caroline Emilia King was born in the sign of the fishes. 1839 April 3d Maria Heffelfinger was born in the sign of the archer. 1839 June 5th Huldah Jane was born in the sign of the fishes.-----Gideon King. 1840 February 13th, John King and Cristina Wolf were married. 1840 Monday October 26th Lucetta Amanda was born in the sign of the scorpion. ----George King. 1840 Monday November 30th Susannah King was born in the sign of the waterbearer--- Of Gideon. 1840 Monday the 28th December Belinda Eveline was born in the sign of the fishes.----Of John. 1842 Friday 11th day of February Esther was born in the sign of the fishes.---John Heffelfinger. 1842 Thursday 25th of August a daughter born to John King, Jr. Died the Friday 2nd of September following. 1842 Monday the 19th of September Priscilla was born in the sign of the fishes.----Gideon King. 1842 November the 15th Tuesday John Woodside and Esther King were married by Reverend W.J.H. Bernheim, minister of the gospel. 1843 Tuesday February the 14th Susannah Nancy was born in the sign of the lion.---George King. 1843 Thursday the 2nd day of March Michael Shall and Susannah King were married by the Reverend J.H. Bernheim. 1843 March 12th John Woodside died aged 22 years one month and 14 days. 1843 Friday 30th day of June John Handcock Wolf was born in the sign lion.---Of John. 1843 Wednesday 20th of September Belinda Evilina died aged 2 years 8 months and 23 days. 1844 Wednesday the 6th day of March John King Shall was born in the sign of the scales. 1844 Monday the 3rd day of June Isabella King was born in the sign of the goat,---Of Gideon. 1845 Thursday May 15th Robert Shall and Eve King were married by Isaac Kinnard Esquire. 1845 Monday the 18th of August George Williams King was born in the sign of the fishes.---Of John. 1845 Thursday October 9th Isaac Fitzgerald and Esther Woodside were married by Thomas Caldwell Esquire. 1845 Sunday October 19 David Luther was born in the sign of the twins.----Of George. 1845 Tuesday 23d of December Jackson Heffelfinger was born in the sign of the scales. 1846 February the 11th Wednesday Sarah Ann Shall was born in the sign of the lion,----Of Robert Shall. 1846 Sunday the 27th of September Selina Fitzgerald was born in the sign of the archer."

George King, son of John was born Dec. 23, 1812 in Kittanning township, Armstrong county, on what is known as the Stacey Thomas farm, on a plot of land now owned by John lease. He attended the subscription schools of his day and had a very good common education. For a number of years he taught school in Kittanning township and was esteemed one of the best teachers of his time. He was exceptionally strong in mathematics, was prolific reader, and was quite at home in the use of the German language and also Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as English, being able to read and converse in the German. Some time after his marriage he embarked in the mercantile business, but was not inclined to follow this line and soon after abandoned it, engaged in farming, which he continued the remainder of his life. He owned a farm of 207 acres about a mile southwest of Brick Church (St. Michael's) in Burrell township, where he lived for more than forty years and on which he died July 11, 1898. A part of the farm on which is the dwelling house where he lived is now owned by Thomas Lemon. He was a great reader, was active in political affairs, was a Democrat all his life, filled many township offices, and was a candidate for county commissioner. He was always an active, devoted churchman. Like his father he was a lover of books and had quite an extensive library. His hospitality was well known to all, and many of the prominent men of the county were accustomed to visit him and were always welcomed and provided with the best that a country home could afford.

On April 13, 1837, Mr King married Mary Ann Fiscus, born March 16, 1820, died Jan. 19, 1897. She was a daughter of Wiliam Fiscus. Mr and Mrs. King are buried in St Michael's Lutheran Church cemetery in Burrell township, of which church they were lifelong members. To them was born a family of eleven children, of whom we give the following record, the quoted portions being from the family record kept by George King.: (1) "Caroline Amelia King was born on the 25th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight at half past 9 o'clock in the morning in the sign of the fishes, in Kittanning Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." She died March 30, 1889, and is buried in St Michael's Lutheran Church cemetery. She married John Robb, and had children, Estella, Eunice, Milton E. (deceased) and Jesse J. King. (2) "Lucetta Amanda King was born on the 26th day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and forty at 4 o"clock in the evening, in the sign of the scorpion, in Plumcreek Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." She maried Henry Rupert and (second) Samuel Woodward, and by her first husband had the following children: Belle, Elizabeth, Homer H., Amanda, Susannah, Alice, Martha, John B., George and William. (3) "Susannah Nancy King was born on the 14th day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and forty-three at 4 o'clock in the morning, in the sign of the ram, in Kittanning Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." and died Dec 28th 1912. She married Joseph M. Richard and Mr McMunn, and by the first union had children: James (deceased), Nora Belle, Katharine, John, Walter and Lillie. (4) "David Luther King was born on the19th day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty five at half past 3 o'clock in the evening in the sign of the twins, Kittanning Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." He married Mary Ann Irwin, and they had children, Belle, Mayme, George Irwin (born Feb. 8, 1878), and Chester. (5) "John Bunyan King was born on the twenty-sixth day of March, Sunday, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight at forty five minutes before nine o'clock in the morning in the sign of the bowman, in Kittanning Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." He died Aug. 26, 1892. He married Amanda J. Ashbaugh, and they had two children, Luella (deceased) and Welty Sarver (born Sept. 22,1880). (6) "George Adam King was born on the fifteenth day of August on Thursday in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty, at 11 o'clock in the evening, in the sign of bowman, Kittanning Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." "George Adam King died November the first A.D. 1851, aged one year two months and 16 days. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." (7) "1852 September 9th a daughter was born to G. And Mary King at half past 12 o'clock at noon. Died in about fifteen minutes. Blessed be the Lord, forever, Amen and Amen." (8) "Aaron Calvin King was born on the 22nd day of April in the year of our Lord A.D. 1854, at half past four o'clock in the evening in the sign of the fishes. In Kittanning Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." He married Angeline Altman, and they had children, Bertha (deceased) Effie, Charles, Vernon and Paul. (9) "Mary Ann King was born on Sunday in the sign of the Scorpion, The 12th of April A.D. 1857 at half past 12 o'clock in the evening in Burrell Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania." She married George J. Heilman, and they had children, Gertrude and Holmes W. (10) "James Wesley King was born on Tuesday September The 29th 1859 at eight o'clock in the morning in the sign of the scorpion, in Burrel Township, Armstrong County, State of Pennsylvania." (11) " 1863 May the 27th a son was born to Geo. and Mary King at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, lived 22 hours. Blessed are the youth or infants that die in the Lord. Amen."

James Wesley King was brought up in Burrell township and began his education in the local district school at Leechburg, the Leechburg Normal Institute, where he was under the instruction of Professor Duff, and following this taught school in Armstrong county for four winter terms, to earn the money necessary to enter Thiel College, at Greenville, Mercer Co., Pa. He was a student there for two years, following which he began the study of law, in 1883, under E.S. Golden, of Kittanning, in his day considered the best all-around lawyer in Armstrong county. Mr. King was admitted to the bar in Armstrong county in May, 1886 and has practiced law here ever since. Owing to his experience as a teacher he has always taken a deep interest in educational matters, and has served several terms as a member of the school board. For more than ten years he served as chairman of the Democratic central committee, and he has been sent as adelegate to county and State cinventions. He was one time on his party ticket as a canidate for the Legislature, and in 1909 was its choice for President Judge of Armstrong County, running against Judge W.D. patton. His personal popularity was shown by the fact that he was defeated by only sixteen votes, in a county that usually gives a Republican majority of from 2,000 to 2,500 votes. On Sept.16,1913, he was again nominated, and he was elected in November by an overwhelming majority. The non-partisan ballot law enacted in 1913, provides that the candidate receiving the majority of votes cast at the primaries in the judicial district id entitled to have his name alone printed on the official ballot, and Mr. King having recieved a majority of 1,223---the only candidate to get a majority of all the votes cast--- was thus alone on the ticket. At the election he won by six thousand votes. Conscientious, honorable, without pretense, and sincere in his desire to serve the people who have given such flattering evidence of their confidence, the high principles, Christian character and love of justice he has inherited from a line of patriotic and public-spirited ancestors should bear him through a creditable term.

On May 25, 1887, Mr. King was married to Ida Lillian Cooper, who was born in New Bethlehem, Clarion Co., Pa., daughter of John and Sarah (Roll) Cooper, and granddaughter of Naboth Cooper, of Chester county, Pa., a half-brother of James Fenimore Cooper, the celebrated author. The Cooper family is of English origin, and the first ancestor in this country came from Stratford on Avon, the home of Shakespeare, in the seventeenth century, to Philadelphia. John Cooper, Mrs. King's father, was born in Chester county April 24, 1821, and died March 10,1914. Moving to Clarion county, he was a miller at New Bethlehem for years, later coming to Armstrong county, where he purchased the Cochran grist mills in Burrell township. His mill burning down he went to Leechburg for a brief period and then to Allegheny county, where he purchased and ran a mill at Oakdale until he retired from active life some ten years ago. His death occurred there. His wife was a native of Clarion county and a member of an old family of that section.

Mr. and Mrs. King have had two children: James Perry, born March 8, 1889, has been a resident at Pennsylvania College and is now studying law; Fenimore Cooper, born April 24, 1891, is a student. Judge King and his wife are members of the Sunday school of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kittanning borough. The Judge has some of his grandfather's old books in his library, and treasures them highly.

Source: pages 400-403 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co. 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by Rodney G Rosborough for the Armstrong County Beers Project.
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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