James Lees Jr.

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JAMES LEES, Jr., of Leechburg, Armstrong county, is vice president of the Hyde Park Foundry & Machine Company, whose plant is conveniently located a short idstance above the borough, on the Westmoreland side of the river. His association with that concern alone, in view of its great importance as an industrial asset of the town, would justify his standing as one of the leading citizens of the place, but he has won and kept the good will and friendship of his townsmen in as great a degree on his personal merits. Since his settlement at Leechburg, in 1891, all his interests have been centered here.

Mr. Lees is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., born Jan. 4, 1864, son of James and Anna (Evans) Lees, the latter born at Bilston, Staffordshire, England, daughter of George and Keziah (Chambers) Evans. She is a descendant of Sir Humphrey Jennings, and one of the legal heirs of the Jennings estate. Paternally Mr. Lees is also of English extraction, his grandfather, Charles Lees, having passed all his life in England. He was a farmer at Denton, near Manchester, a freeholder, owning a large property. The family is an old one in the neighborhood.

James Lees, son of Charles, was born and reared in England, coming to the United States after attaining his majority. His first location in this country was at Norristown, Pa. In a short time, however, he went to Allegheny, Pa., where he worked at his trade, blacksmithing. He and his wife now (1913) reside at McKeesport, Pa., he being eighty years old, and she seventy-two years of age. They had children as follows: James, John, Daniel W., Anne E., (wife of E. H. Beale, of Leechburg), and four who are deceased.

James Lees, son of James and Anna (Evans) Lees, is essentially a self-developed man. He attended the Liberty school at Pittsburgh until fourteen years old, then entering the foundry at McKeesport, Pa., where he learned the trade of molder. After eleven years there Mr. Lees spent a few months at East Liverpool, Pa., and one year at Pittsburgh, in March, 1891, coming to Leechburg, where he secured employment in the foundry of the Leechburg Foundry & Machine Company. Remaining four years in this connection, at the end of that time, in company with T. W. McClausland, N. H. Slonaker, George Shaner, and five others who sold their interest to the four mentioned above, he organized what is now the Hyde Park Foundry & Machine Company, one of the most important concerns of its kind in the valley. Mr. McClausland is president, Mr. Lees vice president, and Mr. Slonaker secretary and treasurer. They started business with a foundry only 60 by 80 feet in dimensions. Now they have a foundry 280 by 80 feet, while their machine shop is 260 by 70 feet, and the pattern shop 80 by 40 feet; there is also a power house, besides offices, etc. The company manufactures all rolling mill machinery. Employment is given to one hundred skilled workmen, and as the demand is constant, a full force is kept busy all the year round. For the first few years Mr. Lees had charge of the foundry, and he ran the first heat. Since 1903, however, he has been the outside man, selling for the company. Toward its progress and steady growth he has contributed his full share, and his value to the plant is recognized and appreciated by all in a position to judge. His best efforts have been given to its development and efficient management, and he well deserves the reputation he bears for competency, and intelligent application to whatever engages his attention. His other important business connections are with the Acme Natural Gas Company, of Leechburg, of which he is president, and with the National Gas Producer Company, of Leechburg, in which he is a stockholder.

With all his business activities, Mr. Lees has also maintained his interest in local affairs to the extent of serving as member of the council. Politically he is a Republican, and socially an Odd Fellow and a Scottish Rite Mason, in the latter connection belonging to Blue Lodge No. 577, F. & A. M.; Orient Chapter, No. 247, R. A. M., of Kittanning; Tancred Commandery, No. 48, K. T., of Pittsburgh, and the Consistory at Coudersport, Pa. He has passed all the chairs in the I.O.O.F. The Methodist Church holds his membership, and he has sung bass in the choir for several years. Ever since he was a youth of eighteen, in fact, he has been well known as a church singer, his voice, which is a combination of baritone and a deep, musical bass, being of superior quality and unusual strength, and much appreciated in solo as well as choir singing.

Mr. Lees was married (first) to Flora Roesing, daughter of Florence Roesing. Mrs. Lees died in 1877, leaving one child, Corrine F., now the wife of Wallace White of McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 6, 1889, Mr. Lees married, at East Liverpool, Ohio, Ida B. Maple, and they have had seven children, namely: Harold M., who is deceased; J. Rolland, a student; Walter L.; Charles R.; Kenneth, deceased; Dorothy B., and Virginia M.

Mrs. Ida B. (Maple) Lees is of Revolutionary stock, her grandfather, Benjamin Maple, having served in the Revolution, and also in the War of 1812, holding the rank of Captain. The Maples are of English descent, and were among the pioneer settlers in Ohio, Benjamin Maple having been a farmer near Salineville, that State. He was married three times, his wife Nancy (Fitzpatrick) being the grandmother of Mrs. Lees. Nancy Fitzpatrick's father, a native of Ireland, came of an old and distinguished family. His people wanted him to enter the priesthood, but he married young and came to America, eventually settling in the neighborhood of Salineville, Ohio.

Larrison Maple, father of Mrs. Lees, was born at Salineville, Ohio, and married Hannah Crist, daughter of Thomas and Matilda (Cashil) Crist, who were of German descent. Thomas Crist was a farmer. Larrison Maple was a river pilot between Pittsburgh and New Orleans before the days of steam navigation on that route. The Crists and Maples were Methodists.

Mrs. Lees has decided talent as an artist, as her work in oil and crayon shows, her faculty for portraiture and her ability to produce a good likeness proving she has the true gift and artistic sense. Had she devoted the necessary time and study to the development of her talent she would no doubt have become a superior worker.

Source: Pages 720-721 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed October 1998 by Joyce Sherry 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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