SAMUEL DILLINGER, a leading man of affairs in the early development of Westmoreland county, was a native of Pennsylvania, born in East Huntingdon township. Westmoreland county, October 28, 1810. He was of German descent in both parental lines. Daniel Dillinger, his father, was born in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, August 6; 1787, and while yet a boy crossed the Allegheny mountains and located in Westmoreland county, near Bethany. Here he was brought up on a farm, and when he arrived at manhood married Mary Myers, a daughter of Samuel Myers. Their children were: Samuel, Christian. Joseph, Jacob, Abraham, Daniel, Elizabeth (married Alexander Myers), Sarah (married Michael Sheets), and Mary, married John Billheimer. Daniel Dillinger lived in the vicinity of Bethany until his death, which occurred February 9, 1847, at the age of fifty-seven years, his widow surviving him twenty-six years. After her husband's death she lived with her son Samuel at the home farm where she died June 19, 1871, aged eighty-one years. The husband and wife were buried in the Mennonite cemetery, at Alverton, Westmoreland countv.
Samuel Dillinger, eldest child of Daniel and Mary (Myers) Dillinger, was brought up on the parental farm, and received but a limited education. Early in life he was employed by Martin Stauffer, near Jacob's Creek, where he learned the business of distilling. He married Sarah Loucks in 1831, and soon after they purchased and located on what is now known as the "Home farm," near Alverton. Their children were: Annie, married Joseph Hixson; Mary, married Abraham Sherrick; Catherine, married Moses Hixson; Sarah, married Jacob C. Fox; John L., married Mary Mclntire; Elizabeth L., married C. T. Hanna; Eliza L., married A. A. Hasson; Daniel L.; and Samuel L., married Katie Hutchinson.
Samuel Dillinger followed the business of farming, buying and selling cattle and horses. etc. He had for some years a large Conestoga wagon with six horses, with which he traversed the National Pike transporting merchandise between the cities of Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He subsequently engaged in contract work building school houses and churches, and other edifices. He was an untiring worker for the free school system, and was an efficient member of the board of school directors for many years. In his prosperity he added by purchase additional farms adjoining his "Home farm," until he owned upward of six hundred acres in one body, all of which was underlaid with Connellsville coking coal. In addition to his farming interests, about 1850 he purchased a custom grist mill in old Bethany, and soon afterward erected in connection with the mill a distillery, both of which he operated successfully for about thirty years, until 1881, when they were entirely destroyed by fire. The following year, with his two sons, Daniel L. and Samuel L., he built a new distillery at Ruff's Dale, in Westmoreland county, which until his death was successfully operated under the firm name of S. Dillinger and Sons. The business has been continued by his sons up to the present day, and is one of the largest and best known in the state of Pennsylvania. It has a daily capacity of five hundred bushels of grain, or a product of fifty barrels, and has six warehouses with a combined storage capacity of fifty-five thousand barrels of whisky. With his sons, in 1872, he erected a number of coke ovens at Hawkeye, and in 1879 extended the coke business by the erection of additional coke ovens at Tarr and Pennsville, and later with the McClure Coke Company at Alverton, the latter being known as the Donnelly plant. Dillinger and Sons are therefore entitled to rank among the pioneer coke operators of Pennsylvania.
Mr.. Dillinger's activities were also extended to important interests in other directions. He was one of the projectors of the Southwest Pennsylvania Rail- way in 1871, and served upon the directorate for some years. As a business man he was distinguished for the order with which he conducted all of his affairs, for his firmness and decision, promptness, great energy and punctuality. He was gentle to his employees, and straightforward in all his dealings. As a citizen he was what his character would indicate as a business man, and which commanded for him the highest respect of his fellow citizens. He was public spirited and zealous in politics. During the administration of President Buchanan and prior to that time, he was affiliated with the Whig party. While he was opposed to slavery, he was also opposed to confiscation and the Civil war, believing that slavery would terminate its own existence by the education of the people to the fact that it was wrong, and that this course would at the same time better prepare the slaves for their freedom. In this, like all his other motives, he was conscientious in what he believed, and naturally united with the Democratic party .He was never an aspirant for political office, but always advocated the nomination of the one whom he thought to be best qualified for the position. He was an honest man, and never feared to express the convictions of his conscience. He was a constant friend and neighbor, and was ever ready and willing to lend a helping hand to the weak and erring or downtrodden. His last illness was paralysis coming upon him suddenly, and from which he never regained consciousness. He died August 25, 1889, at the age of seventy-nine years. He was buried in the Mennonite cemetery, at Alverton. His bereaved widow, Sarah, to whose energy, faithfulness and frugality a large portion of his prosperity may be attributed, survived him about nine years, during which time she made her home with her son, Daniel L. Dillinger, at Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She died August 19, 1898, in the ninetieth year of her age. She was buried by the side of her husband in the Mennonite cemetery, at AIverton, Pennsylvania.
Source: Page(s) 117 - 118, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 2, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed June 2001 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project
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