History of Warren County, Chapter 56

ALLEN, ORREN C., was born on a farm near Russellburg, Pine Grove township, Warren county, on the 1st day of May, 1840. He traces his ancestry back to his great-grandfather, who came from the north of Ireland about ninety years ago, and settled in the county of Dauphin, near Harrisburg, Pa. He died about sixty-seven years ago. He there owned and operated a saw and flouring-mill successfully, and lived to be about one hundred years of age.
He was a man of strong character, though marked by decided eccentricities.
Of his two sons, Thomas and James, the former was the grandfather of the subject of this sketch. The latter enlisted in the War of 1812 when he was quite young, and was never afterward heard from. Thomas grew up to partial manhood in Dauphin county, and went to western Virginia near Georgetown, on the Ohio River, where he remained for fifteen or twenty years, and where he married Joanna Jones, a descendant from a Welsh family. About 1845 he settled in Pine Grove township, whither one of his sons had preceded him, and there died in 1855, aged sixty-six years. His wife survived him about ten years and died in the same town. They had eight children, three sons and five daughters, of whom the eldest, Samuel P. Allen, was the father of the subject of this notice. He was born in Virginia, and when quite a boy removed with his parents to what was called Sewickly Bottoms, in Beaver county, Pa. From there, about 1830, he emigrated to Russellburg, and engaged in lumbering. After a few years he married Mary, daughter of Caleb Thompson, one of the early settlers of Pine Grove township, and who was long a justice of the peace in Russellburg, and was noted for his enormous strength. He died at the age of eighty years. Samuel P. Allen and wife had a family of five sons and three daughters. The eldest son is Colonel Harrison Allen, who was born in 1834, admitted to the bar of Warren county in November, 1866, took an official part in the War of the Rebellion, served in the State Legislature in both houses, was made auditor general of Pennsylvania, afterward became United States marshal for Dakota territory, was superseded by a Democrat in 1885, and now resides in that territory. Samuel T., the second son, was admitted to the bar in February, 1864, served in the last war, held a clerkship in the office of the auditor general one term, was a clerk under General E.B. French in the treasury department at Washington, D.C., was three times elected burgess of Warren borough, and died on the 10th of January, 1885. The third child was the subject of this sketch. The next was Mary E., now the wife of Luther Bishop, of Warren. The fifth was George W. Allen, born at Pine Grove in March, 1845, was admitted to the bar of Warren county in December, 1866, served two honorable terms in the Legislature, residing until 1882 at Tidioute, and then removing to his present residence at Denver, Col. The sixth was Martha, now the wife of Fenton B. Hayward, of Russellburg. The next was Walter, who now resides in Warren, and the youngest is Ida, wife of Dr. H.H. Bowers, of Forrestville, N.Y.

O.C. Allen was reared on the farm on which he was born, remaining at home until he was twenty-one years of age. The farm was a pretty rough one, requiring hard work to manage it and gain a good livelihood from it, which they did. During his boyhood he attended the district schools in the winter time and worked on the farm every summer; the sons generally managing the farm while their father looked after the lumbering business. During the fall, as they approached manhood, the boys had the privilege of attending select schools in Russellburg for one or two months. Later still O.C. Allen went to the academy at Jamestown and at Randolph, N.Y., leaving the latter school in the spring of 1861. He remained on his father's farm until the harvesting was over in August of that year, when he came to Warren and began to study law in the office of Scofield & Brown. During two or three years before he was twenty-one years of age, and one winter after he began to study law, he taught winter schools to earn his own money. He reached Warren a comparative stranger, and with very little money. He rented a room in the Johnson Exchange building, purchased an outfit, and diminished his expenses by cooking his own provisions. This he continued for two years, at the same time pursuing his studies with the utmost diligence. The income from a little business which came to him then enabled him to live better, and he boarded at the Tanner House. In February, 1864, he was admitted to practice in the courts of Warren county, on the same day that witnessed the admission of his brother, S.T. Allen. His preceptors, Scofield & Brown, kindly gave him the use of their office for the first season free of rent, and he began to practice on his own account. Only one year later he was nominated and elected the district attorney for Warren county, and then opened his office in A.H. Ludlow's building. His success in practice was something unusual and was constantly on the increase; but after a few years Mr. Allen became connected with oil operations in Tidioute, in this county, and being somewhat broken in health, he concluded to abandon the practice of law for a time, and removed with his family to the village now called North Warren, though then less euphoniously denominated Berry's Corners. Several years in that place failing to bring him to a return of health, he removed to Richmond county, Va., purchased a farm, planted a large peach orchard, and remained a portion of the time for four years. He returned to North Warren about the time of the location there of the hospital for the insane. As soon as he discovered that the hospital was surely to be erected there, he and several other gentlemen purchased lands in the vicinity and laid them out into village lots. After disposing of these lots and of other land at a gratifying profit, he returned to Warren, and in company with his brother, S.T. Allen, and Dr. Laban Hazeltine, now of Jamestown, engaged in the drug business at the corner of Second and Liberty streets. At the end of a year he and his brother sold their interests, and the same season he was appointed postmaster of Warren, succeeding Captain Robert Dennison. He acted as postmaster eight years and was then followed by the present incumbent, Isaac Alden. On leaving the office he again engaged in the practice of law, in the office of his brother, and then formed the partnership with the district attorney, G.H. Higgins, which still continues.

In June, 1886, he was recommended by the county of Warren as a candidate for the State Senate in the Forty-eighth Senatorial District, composed of Warren and Venango counties, and was nominated at the district convention. The nomination was followed by a very spirited campaign, resulting in his election by a plurality of 1,830 votes, and in Warren county of a majority of 1,557 votes, or 500 more than were given to the State ticket at that time. This success is due to his personal popularity, the confidence which the members of his own party repose in him, and his plain and direct course as a politician, a strong member of the Republican party, but a courteous and just opponent. In business matters Mr. Allen has been uniformly successful, and no more significant praise can be bestowed than to say that amidst fierce competition, in spite of early poverty, by his own unaided efforts, without the use of dishonest expedients, he has become a man of means. He has always been extensively interested in building operations, and a few years ago erected the block which he now, occupies.

On the 12th of July, 1864, he married Maria C., daughter of W.M. Cook, of Russellburg, his present wife. They have two sons, W.H., born July 21, 1867, and Samuel G., born August 24, 1870. They are both boys of great promise, and are afforded all the advantages of a thorough education, and are now attending the military and naval academy at Oxford, Md.

GRAHAM, SAMUEL M., son of Samuel Graham, was born in Lycoming county, Pa., on the 9th of March, 1805. His father was a farmer in that county (now Clinton county), and died there about 1857. He had three sons and as many daughters (of whom two daughters now live), and Samuel Graham, jr., was the third of these children. When he was about eighteen years of age the subject of this sketch began to pilot on the Susquehanna River as far down as Havre de Grace. From that time until he reached his twenty-fifth year he continued to labor under his father's direction, and by his own efforts almost supported the entire family. He did not relinquish the rafting business until 1837, and on the 28th of June of which year he married Margaret, daughter of George and Isabel (McCormick) Long, of Warren county.
Immediately after the marriage the couple settled on a farm in the near vicinity of Mr. Graham's birth place, where they remained until 1842. They then removed to what is now the township of Pittsfield, in this county, in one village in which (Garland) Mrs. Graham was born on the 23d of July, 1810. The principal motive which induced Mr. Graham to make this removal was the condition of George Long, his father-in-law, who needed care. They resided on his farm in the southern part of the township until 1868, when they returned to their old farm in Clinton county. There they remained six years. In 1874 they sold out there and returned to Pittsfield and settled on the old homestead. In 1882 they purchased and removed to the farm now occupied by Mrs. Graham, where he died on the 13th of April, 1884. The incidents and characteristics of George Long and his career are mentioned in the history of the township of Pittsfield.

Samuel Graham was during his life a strong Republican in politics, and though not an office seeker, was by his special adaptability for such positions as that of constable, etc., frequently forced by such persuasion to accept this and kindred offices. While he lived in Clinton county he was a member of the Presbyterian Church, but did not join any church in this county. As a business man he was pre-eminently successful; as a friend he was most trustworthy; and in all the essential elements of manhood was beyond reproach.

The children of Samuel M. and Margaret Graham have been as follows: Helen, born June 20, 1838, died August 14, 1847; Herman, born December 24, 1839, died December 8, 1842; and John W., born June 6, 1847, and drowned in the Susquehanna River August 24, 1869. It was his death that formed the chief inducement for their removal from Clinton county to Pittsfield the second time.

JOHNSON, S.P., was born in Venango county, Pa., January 31, 1809, the second son of the Rev. Robert Johnston, one of the earliest ministerial pioneers of Northwestern Pennsylvania, who, after serving as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Meadville for some years, removed to Westmoreland county in 1817.

At the age of sixteen the subject of this notice entered Jefferson College at Canonsburg, from which he graduated in 1830. After graduation he immediately went east and took charge of an academy in Danville, then Columbia county, Pa., where, in addition to his academic duties most of the time, he studied law, under the direction of the Hon. Robert C. Grier, subsequently for many years one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States. . . . .  their new home without children that they besought John Philip Sechriest for the loan of his son John C., whom they desired for his company. Negotiations culminated in the adoption by them of "little Johnny," although he retained his family name. From that time on until Mr.
Gutzler's death, June 8th, 1852, Mr. Sechriest remained a member of their household and family. He then assumed the management of the farm and property in Conewango township. In the latter part of April, 1873, he removed to the place in Warren borough which he now owns and occupies, and a few days after his removal, or on the 2d day of May, 1873, his foster mother died at an advanced age.

But Mr. Sechriest had long previously formed other attachments, which, though adding to his earthly enjoyment, did not diminish his regard for his adopted parents. On the 27th of February, 1853, he married Susan A. Shafer, daughter of Joseph Shafer, of Franklin, Venango county, Pa., and his wife is still living. They have had five children, two of whom, sons, died in infancy, while two daughters and one son are living. Cinderella, the eldest, was born on the 8th of May, 1854; Sarah S. was born on the 24th of November, 1863; and Simon S.S. Sechriest was born February 8th, 1868.

Mr. Sechriest's parents were Democrats in their political sentiments, and the subject of this sketch entertained similar opinions until he voted first. His first vote was cast for Fremont, the presidential nominee, and from that time until recently he has voted the Republican ticket. He now desires the ascendency of the Prohibition party. He has more than thirty years been an active member of the Evangelical Church.

THOMPSON, ROBERT, was born in Deerfield township, Warren county, Pa., on the 16th day of August, 1816, and died in Irvine, Warren county, on the 10th day of March, 1877. He was one of ten children (seven of whom were sons) of Robert and Rachel (Irvine) Thompson, who were of Irish nativity. From the time of his birth until his marriage in 1843, the subject of this notice remained at home, attending the district schools of his native town, and rendering assistance on the large farm and timbered lands of his father. At the same time he engaged quite considerably in lumbering on his own account, taking frequent and regular trips down the river on rafts, until he became well and widely known as a skillful and trusty pilot. Upon his marriage he purchased a large tract of land at Dunn's Eddy, in Deerfield township, which he cultivated with diligence, at the same time continuing and increasing his activities as a pilot and lumberman. Indeed, he did not relinquish lumbering until a short time previous to his death. Some twelve or fourteen years ago he opened the Dunn's Eddy House, and kept it until his removal, in February, 1875, to Irvine. At the date last mentioned he had become owner, by purchase, of the fifty-one acres now occupied by his widow, and built the house which stands thereon at this day.

Robert Thompson began in life with a small capital, and by unremitting industry, by the practice of frugal economy, by temperate habits, provident foresight, pleasant manners, and honest dealings acquired more than a competence. His widow and heirs now own the property which he left, including the land at Dunn's Eddy, much of it still heavily timbered, and the property at Irvine.

He married Hannah, daughter of John Thompson, of Deerfield, on the 22d of January, 1843. His wife, who survives, was born in that township on the 20th of December, 1823, though at the time of their marriage she had been residing at Jamestown, N.Y., and at Warren. She has ever sympathized with her husband in his domestic affairs, in his business undertakings, in his Republican politics, and in his willing contributions to the support of school and church. Although not members, they were regular attendants upon worship at the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Thompson left, living, at his death four children, sons, as follows: James A., born March 1, 1852; John Nelson, born June 29, 1854; G. Canby, born April 22, 1863; and Harry Dale, born November 22, 1865; all of whom are now at home with their mother. The eldest two are married.

SHORTT, HON. WILLIAM HAMILTON, was born in Lockerbie, Scotland, on the 23d of June, 1822, being the ninth of the eleven children of Robert and Agnes
(Sanders) Shortt, five of whom were sons. Mr. Shortt traces his maternal ancestry back to the Hamiltons of the time of Charles the Pretender, in the seventeenth century. Robert Shortt, his father, was a stone-mason, and carried on his trade in the old country until 1833, when he emigrated with his family to Warren, in this country. Two years afterward here moved to Youngsville, where he continued his calling until the time of his death in 1857, when he had reached the age of seventy-one years, owning the farm now the county farm. Robert's wife died in Wisconsin, at the home of her youngest son, in 1878, aged' nearly ninety-four years.

The subject of this sketch received the greater portion of his scholastic training in the place of his birth; when he was eleven years of age he accompanied his father to Warren, and afterward to Youngsville, where he passed between two and three months more in attendance upon the common schools.

He was then apprenticed to a tailor in Warren, and in 1841, opened a shop in Youngsville, expecting soon to go to Buffalo to reside. This he did not do, however, but remained in his chosen vocation in Youngsville until 1856, when he entered into partnership with J.B. Phillips, and engaged in the general mercantile business. A year later this partnership was dissolved, and Mr.
Shortt continued sole proprietor of the trade until 1872. His earlier manhood had been passed under the banner of the Democratic party, and he had been elected, during the administration of Franklin Pierce, to the position of county auditor, by Democratic votes. His last Democratic vote was cast for Buchanan, since which time he has been consistently Republican in sentiment and deed. In 1872 he was chosen to the State Legislature, in which he served two terms to the great satisfaction of his constituents, and was probably prevented from being then elected to the State Senate only by his appointment by President Grant to the consularship at Cardiff, Wales, and adjacent ports, such as Swansea, Newport, Milford Haven, etc., his commission being dated in May, 1873. He remained at Cardiff until 1876, in January of which year he resigned his office, on account of the continued indisposition of members of his family, and in July he returned to his home in Youngsville. Whether he performed the duties of his responsible trust acceptably to the citizens of Cardiff; or not, may be collected from a most gratifying testimonial of regard, and a request for his re-appointment, signed by the mayor and a number of distinguished officers and citizens of that port, presented to him when he was about to take his departure from them.

After a few months of retirement from active business, in April, 1877, Mr.
Shortt became largely interested in the Sugar Grove Savings Bank, and was made its president- a position which he continues to fill with his accustomed skill and fidelity. His son, Charles M., who also served a term in the State Legislature five or six years ago, has been cashier of the same institution since 1878.

Excepting the absence already mentioned, and several interims during the last war, when he was commissioned to look after the sick soldiers from this district, Mr. Shortt has resided in his present dwelling house since 1842.
Besides the office of county auditor, already mentioned, he has been kept almost continually in office ever since his first entrance into public life, serving ten years as justice of the peace.

In conformity with the traditions of his ancestors and his native land, he has ever retained an affection and a penchant for the Presbyterian Church, though his mind has kept up with the ever-widening march of a liberal charity for the beliefs of others. In default of a Presbyterian Church in Youngsville, he has united with the Methodist Church for many years, and has contributed to its support.

On the 17th of July, 1844, he married Emaline, daughter of William and Mary Davis, of Youngsville, and his wife is still living, though an invalid. They have eight children, five of whom are still living. The following are their names and the dates of their births:

Mary A., born June 23, 1845, now living in Greenville, Pa.; Agnes, born October 7, 1847, died March 20, 1851; Charles M., born March 10, 1850, now living in Sugar Grove; James W., born May 1, 1853, died in January, 1886; Emma Irene, born September 19, 1855, now living in Nashville, Tenn.; Ida May, born December 15, 1857, now living with her parents; Nettie, born June 20, 1862, died in August, 1864; and Mattie, born August 6, 1864, and now living at the home of her parents.

* Extract, from "Barnes's Historical and Biographical Sketches of Congress."