Biographies from Portage and Wharton Townships Potter Co., PA

Submitted by Barb Hyde

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E. O. AUSTIN, farmer, P.O. Austin, Penn, Mr. Austin is a son of Oramel Austin, and was born in Greene, Chenango Co. N.Y., in 1825. He received a limited education in his native county, and in 1841, with his parents came to White' s Corners, Harrison township, Potter county, remaining there until 1856, when he removed to what is now the borough of Austin, then in Sylvania township. He soon after built the road from North Wharton (now Costello) to his place, three miles. In 1870 he built the State road from Austin to Keating Summit, to bring his township in connection with the W.N.Y. & P.R.R. which was built in 187 2- 73. He bought a tract of land, which he cleared, and was largely instrumental in the location of extensive manufacturing interests. His solicitation with Mr. Goodyear largely influenced Mr. Garretson to locate his business there in 1885, and this resulted in the location of other important mills and enterprises. He was educated as a civil engineer, and was largely concerned in surveying and engineering in his county some years ago. The town, which was named Austin in honor of E.O. (he being its founder), was incorporated as a borough October 19, 1888. It is located on a tract of 147 acres belonging to Mr. Austin, and was laid out on plans drawn by him. He has always been prominently identified with the town, doing all in his power to promote its interests. Mr. Austin began life as a poor boy, and is emphatically a self-made man. He has been justice of the peace about thirty years, or ever since 1857, with the exception of a few months; was elected county commissioner in 1863, serving two terms, and has been a school director forty years. He enlisted in the war of the Rebellion in the fall of 1862, and served until July, 1865, being chief clerk in the department of the Pamlico. Mr. Austin wrote the reminiscences of Potter county deposited with the State Historical Society, and a history of the county published in Egle' s History of Pennsylvania, which has been of great value to the compiler of the history of Potter county. He is a correspondent of many papers, and is a writer of ability on any subject he chooses to discuss. He read law with Isaac Benson from 1847 to 1849, and fitted himself for the bar, although he had no intention of practicing. He is the leading citizen of the town of Austin, and no man in the county has a more extended influence or is more widely known and respected. He was married, in 1849, to Amelia Stedman, who died, leaving five children. He afterward married Julia Allington, and to them have been born three children. Mr. Austin is a stanch supporter of, the principles of the Republican party. He is a member of Eulalia Lodge, No. 342, F. & A.M.

FRANK L. BLAISDELL, proprietor of the Kindling Wood Factory, Austin, son of E.F. Blaisdell, was born in Maine in 1852, where he was reared and educated. He came to Potter county, Penn., and began the erection of his works at Austin, in July, 1886, in company with his brother. Their sawing machinery and bundling presses are of his own invention. The Blaisdell Brothers are pioneers of the kindling wood business, and were compelled to invent machinery to avoid infringement of patent, and have the best in the world. Their mill has a capacity of sawing 100 cords of four-foot wood daily, giving employment to 150 hands. Mr. Blaisdell was married in 1877 to Margaret Fenter, of New York City, and to them have been born five children. Mr. Blaisdell is liberal in religion and politics.

JOHN BROWNLEE, proprietor of saw-mill, P.O. Costello, is a son of Robert and Ruth Brownlee, and was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1827. When he was two years old his parents moved to Killyleagh, County Down, where he was reared and educated, and learned the trade of baker and pastry cook. In 1851 he came to the United States, the passage occupying thirteen weeks, and located in New York City. The first engagement he had on this side of the Atlantic was as pastry cook on the steamship "Georgia," under Admiral Porter, running between New York City and Aspinwall. After following his trade five years in New York, he came in 1856, through the influence of his half brother, Gorman Young, of Ulno, to Potter county, where he has ever since resided. He settled in Portage township, on the place he now owns, which he purchased when it was a wilderness. This he cleared and improved, making it a very fine property. Coming here, as he did, with $2, 000 in money, Mr. Brownlee was considered a capitalist in those days. He is the owner of a saw, grist, planning and shingle mill, and, in addition to attending to the work of his farm, has always been in the lumber trade. Mr. Brownlee has been twice married- first, in Liverpool, England, to Elizabeth Savage, of Downpatrick, County Down, Ireland, who bore him ten children, all natives of Potter county, except the eldest, who was born at 73 Fulton street, New York. Seven of the children are yet living. This wife dying, Mr. Brownlee afterward married Rebecca Courtney, of Fulnek, a Moravian settlement in Yorkshire, England. Politically Mr. Brownlee is a Republican.

HARRY D. CASKEY, son of M.C. and Eliza L. (Thayer) Caskey, was born at Great Valley, N.Y., January 5, 1862. He received his education at the Chamberlain Institute, Randolph, N.Y., and entered the office of the Courant at that place as an apprentice, in 1878. Remaining three years, he moved to Warren, Penn., and worked in various offices in Western Pennsylvania and Western New York until 1883, when he purchased the office of the Cherry Creek (N.Y.) Monitor, and in partnership with John Ackley, conducted that paper until the close of the year, when he returned to Randolph. In the summer of 1884 he moved to Butte, Mont., and entered the Miner office. In 1885- 86 he traveled through the West, and, returning to Pennsylvania, resumed work, establishing the Sharon Leader and Ceres Courant. After a term of fifteen months, he moved to Austin, September 1, 1887, and with the editor of the Reporter established the Austin Autograph. In April, 1888, he sold the office to Snyder & Co., who in turn, sold to W.H. Sullivan in November, 1888. In April, 1889, the latter sold to D.W. Butterworth, but in September of that year Mr. Sullivan resumed possession of the office, and immediately turned it over to Mr. Caskey, who has been editor since its establishment here. His marriage with Miss Matie Brock, took place November 1, 1887, at Ceres, N.Y. Mr. Caskey has always been a Democrat, and his journal is strongly favorable to that party.

A. DEICHES, merchant, Austin, a son of W. Deiches, was born in Austria in 1852, and came to the United States in 1870. He first located in New York City, where he remained until 1886, when he removed to Austin, Penn., and became associated with S. Deiches in the clothing business. While in New York he was engaged in the manufacture of cigars at Brooklyn, and was also in the clothing business. He was the first to manufacture cigars in Austin, and still carries on an extensive business in that line. He was married in New York to Celia Tyroler, and they have three children. They are adherents of the Hebrew faith. In. politics Mr. Deiches is a Republican.

R. J. GAFFNEY, Austin, son of Michael Gaffney, was born in New York City, January 14, 1863. He remained in his native city until nine years of age, when his parents removed to Valley Falls, Rensselaer Co., N.Y., where he remained some twelve years. After leaving school he was for some years working in the manufacture of mosquito nets, linen twines, and buckrams, in Valley Falls, Rensselaer Co., N.Y., and March 15, 1884, left Valley Falls and returned to New York City, remaining there one year in the employ of Clarkson & Allen, painters and wall-paper decorators, as their collector. In March, 1885, he left New York City and went to Fish' s Eddy, Delaware Co., N.Y., to take charge of a country store for Keery Bros., in connection with their chemical works at that place; he remained with Keery Bros. three years, and, was at the time of leaving them, their general superintendent of chemical works and store, which, by the way, grew and prospered in his hands. March 15, 1888, he came to Potter county, Penn., erected the Austin Chemical Works, where he manufactures wood alcohol, acetate of lime and charcoal, and is also superintendent of the extract works. June 22, 1887, Mr. Gaffney married Hattie L. Sproat, of Valley Falls. He is a strong supporter of high license and firm against the removal of the internal revenue tax on grain alcohol.

W. H. SULLIVAN, Austin, son of Timothy Sullivan, was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, in 1864, where he was educated, graduating from the collegiate institute in 1880. In 1882 he became connected with the Buffalo Hardware Company, and upon the completion of their works at Austin, in 1886, came here as their general manager. In December, 1888, with Mr. Harvey, he leased both mills of the Buffalo Hardware Company, the upper one being the largest in the State, and one of the largest in the United States, giving employment to 275 men. He married Elizabeth, daughter of A.C. Calkins, of Buffalo. He is a member of Eulalia Lodge, No. 342, I.O.O.F. He is, in his political views, a Democrat, and was a member of the State Central Committee in 1888.


SETH BRIGGS, manufacturer of lumber, P.O. Sanders, was born in Tioga county, N.Y., October 9, 1834. He came with his, father, Seth Briggs (who was one of the first settlers of Wharton township), to Potter county, October 9, 1854. The family settled on a tract of wild land, and held it by peaceable possession, living on it twenty-one years. His father died in 1862, and although a resident of the county only eight years, was well-known and highly respected. In 1875 Mr. Briggs bought the saw-mill formerly owned by David Card, and now carries on an extensive business in lumber. He was married July 9, 1887, to Miss D.M. Horton, of Wharton. He has been a prominent citizen of the county, and has held various official positions. In politics he is a Democrat.

DAVID CARD, lumberman and farmer, P.O. Sanders, was born in Chautauqua county, N.Y., February 14, 1818. In his childhood his parents moved to Vermont and from there to Oswego county, N.Y., where they lived until 1850, when they moved to Tioga county, N.Y. Mr. Card bought a farm in Tioga county, living on it until 1858, when he came to Potter county, Penn., and exchanged his farm in Tioga county for a tract of wild land, heavily timbered, in Wharton township. He built a mill on his land, and has been extensively engaged in the lumber business. He also has given his attention to agriculture, and owns a well-improved farm on the Sinnemahoning river, which is attractive, his residence and farm buildings being among the best in the township. Although deeply engrossed in his own business, he is interested in all matters of public benefit, and has held various official positions. Mr. Card was married, in 1851, to Miss Diadona Green, who died in 1858, and May 11, 1861, he married Miss Louisa Briggs, daughter of Seth Briggs, who came from Tioga county, N.Y., to Potter county, in 1854. Mr. Card has a family of five children: Della, wife of Henry Engle; Laura, wife of Wesley Harding; David; Cora, wife of Isaac Cornelius, and Charles. Mr. and Mrs. Card are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

M. T. SEIBERT, farmer, P.O. Costello, was born March .26, 1826, in Berks county, Penn., where he was reared and educated, remaining with his father until he became a young man. He bought a farm, in Berks county, and remained there until 1848, when he came to Potter county, and purchased a tract of wild land, but did not move to the county until 1871. He now has a good home in Wharton township, and is one of the prosperous farmers of the township. Mr. Seibert was married in October, 1847, to Miss Mary A. Good, who died in 1856. In November, 1866, he married Miss Amelia Bishop, of Berks county, and they have seven children: John M. (in Alabama), Luther B., (an attorney in Austin), Douglas S. (a merchant in Sanders), Mary L. (wife of George Olmsted, of Coudersport), Annie A. (in Eldred), Nellie G. and Nora V. Mr. Seibert is a member of Williamson Lodge, No. 807, F. & A.M.

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