Biographies from West Branch, Abbott, & Stewardson Townships, Potter Co., PA

Submitted by Barb Hyde

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WILLIS CONABLE, merchant and lumberman, West Branch, was born in West Branch township, Potter Co., Penn., May 26, 1849. He remained at home, working on his father' s farm and in the lumber camp, until twenty-four years of age, when he bought a farm, which he has improved. In 1883 he built a store and embarked in general mercantile business, this being the first commercial enterprise started in West Branch township. Mr. Conable is a progressive man, and has been successful in his business ventures, He was married, November 22, 1872, to Miss A. J. Vanhousen, of West Branch, and they have three children: Blanche I., Ina and Edward D. Mr. Conable is a member of the Masonic fraternity, Eulalia Lodge, No. 342, Coudersport.


CHARLES MEINE, physician, Germania, son of Philip Meine, was born in Hessia, Germany, in 1830. He was reared and educated in his native country, and graduated from the gymnasium at Rinteln, University of Marburg. Owing to political and military difficulties, he was compelled to leave Germany, and so came to America in 1854. He studied medicine in Germany, and completing his course in this country, graduated at the Buffalo Medical College, and at Germania (Potter Co., Penn.), of which village he is the founder, he began the practice of medicine, and has been its only physician. In early days, as well as now, to a large extent, all difficulties among the German population were settled by arbitration, and the Doctor's decision was as binding as a decision of the supreme court. No citizen of the town is more highly respected than he. He is a gentleman of rare intellectual abilities, and one of the ablest of Potter county' s men. As a physician he stands in the front rank, and has one of the largest practices in the county. He married Mary Sandbach, and they have four children. The Doctor is a member of Eulalia Lodge, No. 342, F. & A.M. He is a Democrat in politics, and has been postmaster of Germania for the past ten years.

LOUIS F. MEISSNER, merchant, Germania, a son of Charles A. Meissner, was born in Rahway, N.J., in 1853. His parents removed to Germania in 1858, where his father was engaged in the mercantile business, and also in farming, being in business there until his death, February 10, 1889. His mother is still a resident of Germania. Their children are Charles A., Wilhelmina (Mrs. H. Bach) and Louis F. Louis F. was reared on a farm in Germania, but at twelve years of age was associated with his father in the mercantile business, under the firm name of C.A. Meissner & Son. He is now one of the leading merchants of the place. He was married, in 1874, to Theodosia Schwarzenbach, and they have seven children: Wilhelmina, Cecelia, Clementina, Charles A., Ella, Martha and Louis F., Jr. Mr. Meissner, in politics, is a Republican.

JOHN SCHMID, brewer, Germania, a son of John Martin Schmid, is a native of Germany, and, although he has lived in Germania only three years, is one of the substantial and enterprising citizens. He came to America in 1871, and first located in Philadelphia, where he lived fifteen years. In 1886 he removed to Germania, Potter county, and built a brewery, which he has since successfully conducted, and Schmid's lager has gained a wide reputation as one of the best beers in the market. Mr. Schmid married Miss Rose Strahley, and they have a family of three children: John F., Katie and Harry. In politics Mr. Schmid is a stanch supporter of the principles of the Democratic party.

JOSEPH SCHWARZENBACH, brewer, Germania, a son of Simpertus Schwarzenbach, was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1822. He came to America in 1851, and located in New York City, where he worked at his trade, marble carver, for four years. He worked on the capitol building at Washington, D.C, two years, and then removed to Philadelphia. He was also employed on the post-office building at Washington, as carver of marble. He came to Germania, Potter Co., Penn., in 1858. In 1855 he married Louisa Seebalid, in Philadelphia, and their children are Theodosia, Roland, Herman, August, Virginia, Louisa and Emanuel. Mrs. Schwarzenbach died in 1884, and he then married Cilia Eberle, in New York City. Mr. Schwarzenbach began brewing in 1858, has since been engaged in the manufacture of lager beer, and is now one of the two licensed brewers in Potter county. He is a radical in politics, has been postmaster of Germania, and by an act of the legislature was made a road commissioner. He is one of the popular German citizens of the county.

AUGUST SCHWARZENBACH, P.O. Galeton, a son of Joseph Schwarzenbach, was born in Germania, Potter Co., Penn., in 1863. In 1882 he went to Galeton, where he has lived for seven years, being employed in the interest of the Consolidated Lumber Company of Williamsport, of which he is a stockholder. He buys for them real estate, timber (standing and lying), and all kinds of lumber, including all hardwoods. He is a member of Tiadotten Lodge, No. 9811, I.O.O.F., at Gaines, Tioga Co., Penn., and also of the Encampment. He was married, August 1, 1888, to Isabel Fowler.

HENRY THEIS, merchant, Germania, was born in Paterson, N.J., in 1857, the only son of Henry and Sophia Theis. His parents removed to Germania in 1859, where his father engaged in the mercantile business until his death, which occurred in 1874, and since then the business has been conducted by Henry, under the firm name of S. Theis & Son. Mr. Theis, as will be seen, was but two years of age when his parents moved to Germania, and here he was reared and received his early education. He later attended school at New York City, and for one year was at Poughkeepsie. He is a young man of good business ability, fine attainments, and stands high in the community in which he lives. He was married, in 1880, to Jennie Schwarzenbach, and they have three children: Otto, Henry and Sophia. Mr. Theis is a member of Eulalia Lodge, No. 342, F. & A.M. In politics he is a Democrat, and was elected to the office of justice of the peace in 1880 (a position he still holds), and a school director, in 1884; he has been president of the school board ever since. He and his wife are members of the German Reformed Church.

AUGUST J. VOSS, proprietor of the Germania Hotel, Germania, was born in Germany, in 1858, a son of Frederick and Lydia (Von Senden) Voss. Frederick Voss died when August was a child, leaving to his widow the care of two young sons, George and August. In 1863 Mrs. Lydia Voss came with her children to America and located in Germania, Potter Co., Penn., where she lived until her death, May 3, 1874. August J. was reared and educated in Germania, and, since old enough to work, has been identified with its business interests. He is now the proprietor of the Germania Hotel, a business for which he seems especially adapted, making a popular and successful landlord. Mr. Voss was married October 23, 1880, to Lizzie Noelk, and they have one child, Harry J. In politics Mr. Voss is a Democrat.


BURT OLSON, proprietor of hotel at Kettle Creek, a son of Martin and Herminia Olson, was born in Norway in 1845. His parents came to America in September, 1852, and located at New Bergen, Potter Co., Penn. Ole Bull wished to form a settlement of his own countrymen here, and the representations he made induced many to come. Ole Bull himself made this his home for a year and half, after which the immigrants were thrown upon their own resources. In the winter of 1853-54, Martin Olson was killed in the woods, leaving his family unprovided for, as far as finances were concerned, and Burt and his widowed mother were compelled to struggle for a living as best they could. In November, 1855, the town of Germania was laid out, and the two found employment as housekeepers for a party of surveyors, remaining there until the spring of 1856, when they removed to the old turnpike bridge, which was their home until 1870.

They then went to Oleona, where they became proprietors of a hotel which they subsequently sold, and, from that time until 1880, Burt was engaged in the lumber business. He then repurchased the hotel, of which he has since been proprietor. His father' s family consisted of three children: Ole, Mary (now Mrs. C.A. Burroughs), of Bradford county, Penn., and Burt. In 1856 the mother married Ezra H. Pritchard, a native of Connecticut, and later a resident of Cortland county, N.Y., but who came to this county when a boy of eleven years. He was a famous hunter and trapper, and killed over 2,000 deer. He and J. M. Lyman, also a noted hunter, were very intimate, and often followed the woods in company in search of game. Mr. Pritchard at one time went on horseback to an adjacent spring, where he found the fish so thick they actually crowded each other. Having a hook and line, and a captured grasshopper, he cast his line into the water, which fairly bubbled with speckled beauties. He was also a noted cook, and upon state occasions his services were in demand. He at one time was sent for to go to Coudersport, and on the way over he killed four deer, carried two saddles in his knapsack, and the balance on his back-a reasonably good one-horse load.

Burt Olson is now one of the representative men of his locality and of the county. He has almost a national reputation as proprietor of a summer house, a favorite resort for fishers and hunters, and parties desiring an invitingly cool and delightful summer play-spell. His popularity being so well known, it is useless to add that as a public caterer, he anticipates the wants of a critical patronage. He was married, October 4, 1868, to Catherine Steele. In politics Mr. Olson is a Republican. In 1881 he was elected county commissioner, and served a term of three years; has also held the office of justice of the peace fifteen years, and has held the most of the township offices. He is a member of Eulalia Lodge, No. 342, F. & A.M. The name of the post-office at Kettle Creek was changed in the summer of 1890 to Oleona, with Mr. Burt Olson as postmaster.

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