Joseph Hamilton Stivenson

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JOSEPH HAMILTON STIVENSON, ex-mayor of Leechburg, a prominent merchant of that borough who has long been classed among its leading citizens, belongs to an Armstrong county family of Revolutionary descent. Old members of the family claim descent from Peter Stuyvesant, of New Amsterdam (now New York).

Mr. Stivenson�s great-grandfather was a shoemaker, going from house to house to work at his trade. His children were Joseph (eldest son), John, William, Tobias, Hannah (married Jacob Lynch), and Nancy (married an Olinger).

Joseph Stivenson, grandfather of Joseph H. Stivenson, was a soldier in the second war with England, 1812-15, enlisting in an Armstrong county company which went to Black Rock, N. Y. He served as a private. By occupation he was a farmer. His family consisted of five sons and four daughters, namely: George, a mason and stonecutter of Kittanning, married Nancy Hunter; John was the father of Joseph Hamilton Stivenson; Daniel, a carpenter, was killed on the railroad across the isthmus of Panama while on his way to California (he was unmarried); Joseph, a teamster, of Kittanning, married Sarah King, daughter of Isaac King; Jacob, a carpenter, married Esther Schreckengost (he was a private in the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry during the Civil War); Lydia married Thomas Morrison, and they moved to River Styx, Medina Co., Ohio; one daughter married a Martin, who went to California and was lost track of, never being heard from again; Christina married George Yount and lived in Kittanning (he was a private in the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry during the Civil war); Margaret died in young womanhood.

John Stivenson, son of Joseph , followed farming all his long life. He died May 6, 1894, aged seventy-two years, six months. In religion a devout Lutheran, he served as deacon of his church for many years. He married Flora King, daughter of John and Susanna (Heilman) King, and granddaughter of Matthias King. John King was a pioneer settler in Armstrong county, owning and residing on property in what was then Kittanning (now Burrell) township still held in the family. He was a prominent and much esteemed man of his day. His wife, Susanna (Heilman), belonged to an old and substantial family of this section, being a daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Harter) Heilman, pioneers of Armstrong county who settled in what is now Manor township in 1796. Peter Heilman died in 1833, aged eighty-three years, his wife in January, 1831, aged seventy-nine years, and they are buried in the old Heilman graveyard, on his homestead place. The Kittanning Gazette had the following notice: "Died Jan. 21, 1831, Mrs. Elizabeth, consort of Peter Heilman, of Kittanning townshiip, in the seventy-ninth year of her age.""

The various members of the Heilman family are recorded in the assessment lists of 1807 as owners of mills, distilleries and large tracts of land, and the Heilman whisky, made by Jacob Heilman, was celebrated in its day. The family of Peter Heilman consisted of twelve children. More extended mention of the Heilmans will be found elsewhere in this work.

Joseph Hamilton Stivenson was born March 27, 1851, in Kittanning township, this county, within one and a half miles from the original homestead of John King, his maternal grandfather, and on his grandfather King�s birthday. He assisted with the farm work at home and attended school winters until eighteen years old. When a young man he taught during the winters, having made the most of his opportunities for securing an education, for besides going to public school he was a student at select school for two terms. When twenty-one years old he entered the employ of a man who was engaged in huckstering, continuing with him two and a half years, after which for four years he was engaged at work in rolling mills. He was next weighmaster at a coal tipple for eight months, at the end of which time he embarked in the mercantile business at Leechburg, where he has since conducted a general store. His trade has increased steadily through the third of a century he has done business in the borough, and his honorable methods and capable management of his own affairs have led him into other avenues of usefulness. His fellow citizens with just appreciation of his value to the community, have called upon him for various public services, and he had been councilman for three years, burgess three years and constable five years, still acting in the latter capacity. He is also marshal of the borough., An active member of the Lutheran Church, he has served in the office of deacon, having taken a useful part in church work as in all other things which enlist his interest and attention. All in all, he has led a worthy life, whose activities have not been limited to promoting the success of his own enterprises. In his early youth he harvested with the sickle and did other work in the manner typical of the times. He sowed flax, pulled it, threshed the seed out, rotted the wood on the grass (by watering, to make the wood brittle), then broke it by hand with the old sword brake, and scutched it, after which it was made into linen which wore well. In those days many people spun and wove all their cloth and there was no shoddy in those clothes.

On July 4, 1872, Mr. Stivenson married Harriet Smail, daughter of Peter and Polly (Klingensmith) Smail, both descendants of local pioneer families, and granddaughter of Jacob Smail, a civil engineer, who was a large landowner in which is now Bethel township. He married a Klingensmith of Westmoreland county. Mrs. Stivenson is like her husband a member of the Lutheran Church. They have one son, Robert F., born August 12, 1879, now engaged in merchandising in Leechburg as hisfather�s partner. He married Grace Gosser, daughter of Albert M. and Susanna (Hill) Gosser. Socially he is a member of the I.O.O.F., B.P.O. Elks and Knights of the Maccabees.

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Source: Page(s) PAGES 345-346,
Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914

Transcribed July 1998 by Pat Godesky 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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