Augustus T Pontius


AUGUSTUS T. PONTIUS (deceased), for a number of years a prominent resident of Parker City, Armstrong county, where he was well known in his various official and business relations, was a native of this county, born at Dayton, Dec. 24, 1841, son of Ezra Pontius.

The Pontius family has been established in America for several generations. The first of the family in this country, one John Pontius, came from Alsace-Lorraine, France, in 1738, when twenty years old, having been born in 1718. He settled in Tulpehocken township, Berks Co., Pa. In 1743 he married Anna Catherine Zellers, daughter of John Zellers, a French Huguenot, and they had a large family, the sons being: John Henry, born in 1744; John Peter, born in 1747; John, born in 1751; Andrew Michael; George, and Frederick.

John Pontius, born Aug. 16, 1751, in the Tulpehocken valley in Berks county, Pa., served in the Revolutionary war from that county, being a private in the company of Capt. Peter Grube, Jr., Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, of which Samuel Miles was colonel. He enlisted April 28, 1776 (Vol. II, Page 239, Pennsylvania in the Revolutionary War; Archives, Second Series). His home in Berks county was not far from Philadelphia, and thence he moved to Huntingdon county, where he remained but a short time. In 1816 he came with his son Jacob to Armstrong county, Pa., settling in Wayne township, and died near what is now Dayton in 1836; he is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery. He was reared a Lutheran, and became a member of the Methodist Church. In politics he was a Whig. His wife , Barbara (Cotterman), born Sept. 24, 1753, died in March, 1810, and is buried in Berks county. they had the following children: John married Elizabeth Root; Catherine became Mr. Everhart; Esther married John Beyer; Jacob married Elizabeth Lias; Susan married John Lias.

Jacob Pontius, son of John and Barbara (Cotterman) Pontius, was born Nov. 3, 1783, in Berks county, Pa., and came to western Pennsylvania from Huntingdon county in 1816, settling in Wayne township, Armstrong county, with his family. He had come out to this region the year previous and bought 400 acres of land, over a portion of which the borough of Dayton has since been extended. He died in 1845. He was a Methodist in religion and a Whig in politics, voting that ticket when he and one other man were the only Whigs in their section. When he came to Armstrong county the region in which he settled was very sparsely inhabited, and very little improvement had been made. Many of the settlers gave more attention to hunting that to clearing their lands. Jacob Pontius, however, was very industrious and enterprising, and he brought up his children in the same way. He started a tanyard upon his farm, taking into partnership a young man who knew the trade, and under whom his son Wesley later learned the business.

Jacob Pontius married Elizabeth Lias, who was born Sept. 15, 1789, and whose father was a German; Mr. Lias moved from eastern Pennsylvania to Huntingdon county, where he followed farming until his death. Mrs. Pontius died in 1842. She was the mother of nine children, born as follows: Elias, Dec. 25, 1811; Wesley, July 31, 1813; Ezra, Dec.15, 1814; Mary Ann, April 20, 1817; Eliza Jane, July 12, 1819; Catherine, July 16, 1821; Maria, March 20, 1823; Margaret, Nov. 15, 1826; and John, Jan. 30, 1828.

Ezra Pontius, son of Jacob Pontius, was born in Huntingdon county and passed practically all his life in Wayne township, Armstrong county, where he followed farming and also engaged in merchandising, and although his early advantages were few his natural ability made him quite a successful man. He died in 1888. Mr. Pontius was a Whig and Republican in politics, and in religion a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which he served officially for forty-five years, in the capacities of steward and class-leader. He was twice married, his wives, Emily Turney and Eliza Turney, being cousins, the latter the daughter of Jacob Turney, a dry goods merchant at Kittanning. Mrs. Emily (Turney) Pontius, his first wife, born in 1822, died in 1862, a member of the M. E. Church. she was the mother of all his children, viz.: Augustus T., Albert C., John M., Maria N., Margaret N., Robert G., Harry L. and Emma O.

Augustus T. Pontius was reared on the farm and received his early education in the common schools, later attending Dayton Union Academy. He remained on the farm until he reached the age of nineteen years, and taught school for several terms. He then entered the office of Dr. J. R. Crouch, of Dayton, with whom he read medicine until his enlistment, in 1862, in the Union service, becoming a private in Company B, 139th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was promoted from fifth sergeant to first duty sergeant, and was in line of promotion for a commissioned rank when his right arm was shattered in front of Petersburg, necessitating amputation at the shoulder. From Petersburg he was taken to a hospital situated on an island in the Hudson river (Davis), remaining there until all in his ward were dying of gangrene except himself and one other, a man who had been shot through the tongue. Clad only in shirt, drawers and shoddy slippers they found their way to Chester hospital, and after Mr. Pontius' arrival there his people were informed that he still lived. He was discharged from there June 14, 1865. Until injured he was in all the engagements in which his command took part. returning to his home in Armstrong county, Mr. Pontius was elected county commissioner in 1865, on the Republican ticket, and served two successive terms, being reelected in 1869. From 1872 to 1880 he was engaged in the fire insurance business at Parker City and Kittanning, settling in the former place in 1876. In 1881 he was commissioned postmaster at Parker City, under the Garfield administration, and continued to serve until 1885, when he was removed under the Cleveland administration, for making political speeches. In 1887 and 1888 he served as mayor, and he was a member of both the common and select branches of the borough council. His record as a public official was uniformly high. After leaving the post office, he engaged in the mercantile business, which he continued successfully until his death, which occurred April 4, 1891, at Parker City. He was buried in the M. E. cemetery there, but within a year his body was removed to Emery Chapel Cemetery, Dayton, and rests with his kindred. He served as steward of the Parker City M. E. Church, in which he was choir leader for several years. He was a member of good standing of the G. A. R. and the I. O. O. F.

IN 1867 Mr. Pontius married Laura S. Goodhart, daughter of Dr. George Goodhart, of Dayton, and she now makes her home at Dayton. Mr. and Mrs. Pontius had no children. She owns a fine farm in Wayne township. Mrs. Pontius is particularly interested in educational questions.

DR. GEORGE GOODHART, father of Mrs. Pontius, was born in 1818 in Mifflin county, Pa. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, and coming to Armstrong county in 1840 first settled at Rural Valley, where he practiced for a short time. Then he practiced a while at Smicksburg, Indiana county, before settling at Dayton, where he made his permanent home. He followed his profession until his death, which occurred Oct. 5, 1852, when he was but thirty-five years, five months, four days old. He was the first physician to locate at Dayton, and was very well known and highly respected in that vicinity. He is buried in the M. E. graveyard here.

Dr. Goodhart married Eliza Lias, daughter of John and Susanna (Pontius) Lias, and they had a family of four children: Augustus K.; Laura S., widow of Augustus T. Pontius; Florida, who died unmarried; and Missouri, who married D. O. Crouch.

AUGUSTUS K. GOODHART, son of Dr. George Goodhart, was born Jan. 27, 1847, in Cowanshannock township, Armstrong county, and received a good education, attending the Dayton Academy. During the Civil war, though very young, he enlisted in Company K, 2d Pennsylvania Cavalry, and served eighteen months, until the close of the war. He then located in Wayne township, Armstrong county, and followed plastering and farming throughout his active years. He now resides at Dayton. He is a member and past commander of J. W. Turk Post, No. 321, G. A. R., and also belongs to the I. O. O. F.

On Sept. 15, 1872, Mr. Goodhart married Sarah Rupp, daughter of John H. and Susanna (Schrecongost) Rupp, and they have had seven children: John, who is living in Wayne township; Jane, wife of E. C. Snyder; Dolly, who died young; George, who is engaged in teaching in Wayne township; Beulah, wife of Henry J. Postlethwaite; Laura, wife of Charles Snyder; and Florence, who is teaching in Armstrong county.

Source: Pages 594 - 596, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed January 1999 by Connie Mateer for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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