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John A. Dale

JOHN A. DALE (deceased) was born in Centre county, Penn., November 14, 1808. The death, in 1815, of his father, Rev. Joseph Dale (who was a Methodist minister), made it necessary for the widowed mother to journey with her little ones to the then wilds of Western Pennsylvania, whither her own immediate family had preceded her. It was a long "and perilous journey by wagons, and the humble log-cabin, hastily erected on the bank of Tionesta creek, about three miles above its outlet, promised little of home comfort to the widow and her little ones; but she was a devout Christian woman, imbued with the implicit confidence of the God of the widow and the fatherless, and bravely took up her work. One son was soon laid to rest, but her remaining three children, John A., Joseph G. and Susan (now Mrs. McClatchey), were spared her. She lived to see her family honored members of society, and in her old age was tenderly cared for by them. Opportunities for mental improvement were few in the undeveloped and sparsely settled country, but, overcoming every obstacle, the subject of this commemorative record obtained a liberal education, and for a number of years taught school in the winter months, engaging in other pursuits in the summer. This early self-tuition gave him a lawyer's skill in drafting documents; and for many years deeds, leases and all legal instruments for the people of this section were written by him, with no other reward than the good-will or those whom he served. He studied medicine in the office of Dr. Marvin Webster, but never practiced. In 1835 he embarked in mercantile business at Tionesta (then a mere hamlet), in which he was successfully engaged for many years, making, by his honorable, straightforward course, many friends, As an instance of his personal popularity, he was, in 1847, nominated by the Whig party, and elected by a large majority, sheriff of Venango county , although the county was at that time largely Democratic; he afterward held the office of prothonotary of the same county, by appointment, on the death of William Elliott. During the Civil war he was active in raising troops for the suppression of the Rebellion, sparing neither time, labor nor expense in sustaining the government, and he was proffered by President Lincoln an appointment as paymaster in the army, with rank of major, but failing health obligated him to decline the honor. The present boundaries of Forest, with Tionesta as the county seat, are largely due to his influence and energetic action, and although conscious that he was making personal enemies, he still worked for "the greatest good to the greatest number."
In 1867 Mr. Dale was appointed associate judge upon the death of the incumbent. He filled many other positions or public trust, ever conscientious in the discharge of duty, the public schools being the particular object of his solicitude. The life of Judge Dale was a busy one. He was engage at different times in the manufacture of lumber, and in the development and sale of oil lands. Early in 1870 he became connected with the interests of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad, and labored zealously for the interests of the company, holding various positions in the same. It was while returning from an official visit to James McHenry (then in New York) that he met with the terrible accident at Renovo, Penn., on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, which was doubtless the cause of his death. Thus. from his early manhold until his death, which occurred June 25, 1877, Tionesta was his home, and the best interests and prosperity of its people his care, until he left the stamp of his individuality throughout its entire limit; indeed, a history of Forest county would be very incomplete without prominent mention of his name. Many men, now in middle life, and dwelling in different parts of the country, remember gratefully his helpful counsel, and say that life has been better and brighter for what he did for them. He was a great lover of nature and made a special study, in the later years of his life, of horticulture and arbor culture, which be understood fully, as demonstrated by garden and arbor surrounding his beautiful home on the banks of the Allegheny river. Pure upright in his daily walk and conversation, honest and earnest in all things, he was respected by all, and has left his family the best of all heritages - that of a good name. He was a Freemason of high order for many years, great affection for the fraternity, and he was buried with Masonic honors.
Judge John A. Dale was twice married; in early life to Jane E. Richardson, of Kittanning, Penn., and in 1852, in New York City to Miss Elizabeth C. Watson, who still survives him. There are four daughters living: Mrs. E. L. Davis, Mrs. David Hays, Mrs. L. R. Freeman Mrs. W. A. Greaves.

Source: Page(s) 926-927, Chapter 15 Biographical Sketches - Tionesta Township and Borough of Tionesta
Hickory and Harmony Townships
History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania.
Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed November 2005 by Nathan Zipfel for the Forest County Genealogy Project
Published 2005 by the Forest County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project

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