Joseph T Shoemaker


JOSEPH T. SHOEMAKER, for thirty-five years justice of the peace of Mahoning township, Armstrong county, belongs to a family which has been settled in that township for a century. His great-grandfather, John Shumaker, a native of Germany, came to America prior to 1770 with six brothers, Solomon, Adam, George, Simon, Samuel and Daniel. George was the founder of another well-known branch of the family in western Pennsylvania. They settled first in Loudoun county, Va. John Shumaker was a soldier in the war of the Revolution, serving in the American army, and also served during the Indian troubles in western Pennsylvania. He was an early settler in Westmoreland county, Pa., where he purchased and cleared a large tract of land in Franklin township, making a permanent home there. He died in that county, as the result of wounds received during his army service. His wife was Mary Ann Baker, and they had two sons and three daughters, among them a son Philip.

Philip Shumaker, son of John, was born Jan. 25, 1784, and died April 10, 1860. In 1814 he settled in what is now Mahoning township, Armstrong county, taking up 400 acres of land, 200 acres of which he sold in 1824 to a favorite cousin, Peter Shumaker. He cleared and improved the 200 acres he retained, making a fine homestead, upon which he spent the remainder of his life, his death occurring there. He married Elizabeth Rose, who was born Nov. 18, 1790, and survived him, dying June 12, 1863. George Rose, her father, was born near Murrysville, Westmoreland Co., Pa., and was a farmer and hotelkeeper. Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Shumaker, as follows: Mary, born April 14, 1812, married Adam Smith, and died in 1887; John was born Oct. 22, 1813; Sarah, born Jan. 5, 1815, died young; Joseph, born April 9, 1819, was a minister of the German Baptist Church; Isaac was born July 27, 1821; Philip was born March 2, 1825; Susanna, born July 20, 1827, married Robert Ferguson; Elizabeth, born May 17, 1831, married M. N. Hetrick; Samuel was born March 12, 1834. The father was a Whig in politics until 1856, when he joined the Republican party. He was a member of the German Baptist Church.

John Shumaker, son of Philip, was born Oct. 22, 1813, in Westmoreland county, Pa., and was reared in Mahoning township, Armstrong county, where he passed all his life. He was a prominent farmer of his day, owning and improving 320 acres now the property of his sons Simon A. and Philip W., and after retiring from active work, in 1883, made his home with his son Philip until his death, which occurred in November, 1901. He married Ruth Davis, daughter of Bernard and Sarah (McClain) Davis, natives of Ireland, and pioneers of Kiskiminetas township, Armstrong county. Twelve children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Shoemaker, eleven of whom grew to maturity, namely: Eliza, who married Thomas W. Marshall; Joseph T.; Simon A.; Susan, who married George Balsiger; Philip W.; Emily C., who married Samuel Balsiger; Davis G.; Amanda M., who married Jacob Johnson; William T., deceased; Mary M., who married Dr. Harry Sadler; and James K.

Joseph T. Shoemaker was born May 26, 1837, in what is now Mahoning township and was reared there on the paternal homestead. Beginning his education in the common schools of the neighborhood, he later attended normal school at Putneyville, and when he was a young man of twenty taught school one winter. He then took a course in the Iron City Business College, at Pittsburgh, and when Hamilton, Shoemaker & Co. opened their store, in the late fifties, he entered their employ as clerk. After six months with that concern he again took up school teaching, at which he was engaged for several terms in Mahoning township. He then accepted a position as clerk in the general store of James A. Truitt, at Oakland, this county, remaining with them in that capacity for a period of two years, at the end of which he again entered the Iron City Business College, receiving his diploma from that school in 1860. He then went to Oil City, purchased a lot and built himself a shanty, and remained there for six months. Returning to Mahoning, he was appointed assignee of the bankrupt firm of Hamilton, Shoemaker & Co., and in June, 1861, purchased the goods at their appraisal. He conducted the business on his own account very successfully until 1879, when he sold out. For five seasons after that he was engaged in peeling bark, in Elk county, and then again went to Oil City, clerking for two years in a hardware store. For fifteen years Mr. Shoemaker was assistant postmaster at Oakland, Armstrong county, and he has been a justice of the peace continuously for the last thirty-five years; he was re-elected for his present term in the fall of 1911, for six years. In political connection he is a Republican, and he has been quite active in the interests of the party. He is a member of the regular Baptist Church at New Bethlehem.

During the Civil war Mr. Shoemaker enlisted, becoming a member of Company G, 57th Pennsylvania Regiment, Emergency Men, and was sent to Ohio where he assisted in the capture of General Morgan, who was then raiding that State. He was honorably discharged after three months of service.

On Oct. 3, 1865, Mr. Shoemaker married Martha A. Ritchey, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Calhoun) Ritchey, of Pine township, this county, and granddaughter of Judge John Calhoun, of Armstrong county. Of the children born to this union seven are living, namely: Harry C., Eddy O., Lucius I., Gertie (wife of Ellsworth W. Bowser), Ralph, Mary L., and Charles.

Source: Pages 826-827, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed October 1998 by James R Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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