Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography


[Who Practiced There Before 1816][1]

William B. Moore

© 2020 Crawford County Legal Journal



Alexander Addison, b. 1758, Morayshire, Scotland, d. 24 Nov. 1807, Pittsburgh, PA, after an illness of six weeks,[2] bur. in the graveyard of the First Presbyterian Church on Wood Street,[3] leaving eight children and a widow, to whom he left all of his property.[4]

m. Jean/Jane ____, b. ca. 1763, d. 13 Feb. 1820, in her 57th year, Washington, PA, after her sleigh overturned.[5]  Seven surviving children mentioned in her will.[6]


Addison had several careers:  he was a minister before becoming a lawyer, then was elevated to the judgeship, but, after he was impeached in a political show trial, he went back to being a lawyer.  In this instance, he was presiding judge in the new counties of Crawford-Erie-Mercer-Warren-Venango in 1801 and 1802 when they were added to his district, and he then returned to practice within their bounds as a lawyer in 1807.


As will be noticed in the biographies of several lawyers in this list, during the 1790’s politics became sharply divided on the national level between the Federalists of Washington and Adams who preferred a strong national government on the English model, and the Republicans of Jefferson, who admired the individualism of the French revolution.  In western Pennsylvania, matters came to a head with the so-called “Whiskey Rebellion” in 1794, when western farmers refused to pay a national tax on whiskey and drove off the tax-collectors, and were only quelled when an army led by Washington himself re-established order.  Two leading Pittsburgh figures were in opposite camps:  James Ross, a life-long Federalist, took the government’s side, while Judge Hugh H. Brackenridge sided so closely with the rebels he narrowly avoided a charge of treason.  Judge Addison had been appointed by Federalists and was a Federalist himself.  Matters changed as Republicans gained in local politics, and when President Jefferson took office in the spring of 1801, the Republicans took over on the federal and state level, and began a purge of the Federalists. 


Until the later nineteenth century in Pennsylvania, counties had lay “associate judges” without legal training who shared the bench with the judges who were lawyers.  (In Meadville, for example, the first court in northwest Pennsylvania had been held in the spring of 1800 by David Mead, as associate judge, since no litigation was on the docket, but Judge Addison presided at the second court session that fall, because there was a matter to be tried.)  Those who opposed Judge Addison took advantage of this state of affairs when they appointed an associate judge of Republican opinions in Allegheny County where the tensions were the highest.


The situation he faced was summarized in 1889:


“H. H. Brackenridge was bitter in his hostility.  As soon as the new political party got into power, Judge Addison was a doomed man.  John B. C. Lucas was appointed associate judge of Allegheny county July 17, 1800.  As soon as he took his seat on the bench he commenced to annoy and provoke Judge Addison.  Although a layman, he would frequently differ with the judge on points of law, and actually charged petit juries in opposition to the views of the president judge.  He also insisted on reading a written harangue to a grand jury, in opposition to some views expressed by Judge Addison to a previous grand jury.  Judge Addison and Judge McDowell, who constituted a majority of the court on that occasion, remonstrated against such conduct on the part of Lucas, and stopped him.


That gave a pretext for legal proceedings against Judge Addison.  The first movement was an application to the supreme court to file an information, in the nature of an indictment, against him for a misdemeanor in office.  The supreme court dismissed it, saying that the papers did not show an indictable offense.  (4 Dallas 225)   The next step was to have him impeached by the legislature.  The house ordered the impeachment and the senate tried and convicted him.  The articles of impeachment contained nothing but the two charges:  (1) that when Lucas charged the petit jury Judge Addison told them they should not regard what he said because it had nothing to do with the case, and (2) preventing him from charging the grand jury, as above stated.  The sentence was pronounced by the senate January 27, 1803, removing him as president judge from the Fifth district, and declaring him forever disqualified for holding a judicial office in the state.”[7]


Barred from any judicial position, Addison returned to the practice of law.  While much of his practice was in Pittsburgh, eight months before his death, Addison was admitted to the Mercer County bar, placing him as one of this list of the earliest lawyers in northwestern Pennsylvania:


“Alexander Addison, a learned and highly accomplished Scotchman, was admitted to practice in the Mercer courts on the 18th of March, 1807.  He was a resident of Washington, Penn.  Prepared for the ministry, in which he labored for a time at Washington, Penn., he was thoroughly trained in the principles of justice and equity   Having studied law, he was admitted to the bar in 1787.  Learned, patriotic, philanthropic, judicial, he labored constantly for the highest good of society, as will be seen by reading his letters, essays, public lectures, addresses, and charges to juries.   There was in his composition none of the elements of demagogy.  Fearless and impartial, he did his duty as he understood it.  His bold and conscientious course in supporting the General Government during the whisky insurrection of 1794 secured for him many personal enemies, who were bent on his ruin.  Of course no judicial body would or could convict him.  Failing in the courts, his persecutors sought the aid of a partisan Legislature.  The House ordered his impeachment, and the Senate convicted him, the sentence being his removal as president judge of the Fifth Judicial District, and perpetual disqualification for holding a judicial office in the State.  Says Judge J. W. F. White:  ‘No person can read the report of the trial without feeling that it was a legal farce; that gross injustice was done Judge Addison from the beginning to the end, and that the whole proceeding was a disgrace to the State.  The trial took place in Lancaster, where the Legislature sat.  The House and Senate refused to give him copies of certain papers, or give assistance in procuring witnesses from Pittsburgh for his defense.  The speeches of counsel against him, and the rulings of the Senate on questions raised in the progress of the trial, were characterized by intense partisan feeling.  It was not a judicial trial, but a partisan scheme to turn out a political opponent.  It resulted in deposing one of the purest, best and ablest judges that ever sat on the bench in Pennsylvania.’  This trial, which occurred in 1802, crushed the spirits of this good man.  He continued, however, to practice in various courts until the time of his death, which occurred in Pittsburgh on the 27th of November, 1807.”[8]


Another biography added a few details:


“Born in Ireland, according to an early note, but in Scotland, according to family tradition, he was of Scottish descent, and was educated at Edinburgh, according to the same note, but at Aberdeen by family tradition; and was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Aberlowe.  Coming to Western Pennsylvania, he was, on the 20th of December, 1785, permitted by the Redstone Presbytery (Brownsville) to preach within its bounds.  For a short time he preached at Washington, Pennsylvania, then studied law, was admitted there, and admitted in Allegheny County December 16, 1788, and in 1791 was commissioned president judge.


Judge Addison was eminent for his culture, erudition, correct principles and his patriotism.  Living in troublous times and during the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794, he was sorely tried; but all his efforts were on the side of good order and lawful government.  An earnest advocate of the adoption of the Federal Constitution, he was antagonized by those who opposed it, and by some who were impregnated with the loose and virulent ideas of the French revolution.  This antagonism led finally to his impeachment at Lancaster in 1802.  After a trial, the most flagitious ever urged on by vicious hate and obnoxious partisanship, he was convicted and sentenced to be removed from office, and ever afterwards to be ineligible to the office of judge in any court in this commonwealth.  But insolence and enmity failed to rob him of his good name, and it has descended to posterity surrounded by a cloudless lustre and unstained by the impotent attempts to blacken and defame it.  In his volume of Reports, and his charges to juries and essays may be read the fidelity, learning, and impartiality of the judge and the luminous virtues of the man…[9]


A slightly later biography said Addison graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1775 and received his M.A. there in 1777, and then in 1785, came to the United States with Dr. Charles Nisbet, the newly-elected president of Dickinson College in Carlisle, himself a noted scholar and wit.  Addison began his legal career with his admission to the Washington Co. bar in March 1787.  He was appointed president judge of Pennsylvania’s Fifth Judicial District on 22 Aug. 1791, which then covered Allegheny, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties.   Greene County was added in 1796, Armstrong, Beaver and Butler in 1797, and finally Crawford, Erie, Mercer, Warren and Venango in 1801, making him responsible for almost all of Western Pennsylvania.  The author said he was “wont to express his views in clear, ringing, unmistakable Scotch-English” which made him unpopular with those who disagreed with him, but “that he was great, good and honest all now admit.”[10]


Alexander Addison was a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.[11]  His household in 1800 included 4 males and 5 females.[12]



James Allison, Jr.

James Allison Jr., son of Col. James Allison, a pioneer of Washington Co., PA, in 1773, b. 4 Oct. 1772, Cecil Co., MD, d. 17 June 1854, Beaver, PA, bur. Old Beaver Cemetery.

m. ___ ___, who d. in 1848

Allison studied classical languages under David Johnson, Esq., of Beaver, then studied law in the office of David Bradford, in Washington, where Allison was admitted to the bar, and he was admitted in Allegheny Co. on as well, before moving to Beaver in 1803.  Daniel Agnew recalled that “As a lawyer he was sound and well versed in every branch, including the now but little studied science of special pleading, whose rules he knew well how to handle with skill and danger to his adversary.”[13]


In 1803, along with the judges of Allegheny, Greene, Fayette and Westmoreland Counties, James Allison, Jr., signed a certificate supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings.[14]


“James Allison, admitted at Mercer May 17, 1804, was a resident of Beaver for more than half a century, and identified with all the early struggles and improvements of the town and county.  He was highly educated, and known throughout his long career as a man of highest integrity.  He was a man of ability and was from the organization of the county until his retirement from practice one of the acknowledged leaders of the bar.  Chief Justice [John B.] Gibson said he was ‘the best case lawyer in Pennsylvania.’  He served in Congress from 1823 to 1825 and was re-elected but declined to serve, preferring the happiness of domestic life to the strifes of politics….”[15]




George Armstrong

George Armstrong, usually called Col. George Armstrong, b. ca. 1766 in south central Pennsylvania,[16] d. 19 Aug. 1847, in his 81st year, at his home in Pittsburgh, bur. Trinity Cemetery.[17]

m. near Pittsburgh “at Troy, the seat of John McDowell, Esq.,” 18 Dec. 1799, Ann Lukens,[18] daughter of Charles[19] & Margaret (Sanderson) Lukens,[20] the latter of whom married (2) Dr. John McDowell of Allegheny County[21] one of the Associate Judges there.[22]  Ann (Lukens) Armstrong was b. ca. 1775, d. 4 Oct. 1842, age 67, Greensburg,[23] bur. Trinity Cemetery, Pittsburgh.

George Armstrong was admitted to the Allegheny Co. bar on 4 Mar. 1793, on motion of John  Woods and presentation of a certificate of admission from the Cumberland Co. bar.[24]  Armstrong was also admitted to practice at the first court in Meadville in 1800.  He was also taxed on his profession in Crawford County in 1801.[25]


In 1803, George Armstrong signed a certificate supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings.[26]


Several advertisements Armstrong placed in the Pittsburgh Gazette in 1797 and 1798 illustrate the problems faced by the itinerant bar:[27]


“$8 Reward.[28]  Lost on the 10th inst., on the great road leading from Pittsburgh to Greensburgh, a pair of Saddle Bags, containing some wearing apparel, and a black leather pocket book, with a few papers, which is of no use to any but the owner.  The finder will receive the above reward by leaving the saddle bags and contents with George Armstrong, Esq., Greensburgh, or the Printer of this Gazette, Pittsburgh. Dec. 15.”[29]


Six months later, he became more concerned, and the reward was increased:


“$30 Reward.  Lost on the 10th December last, on the great road leading from Pittsburgh to Greensburgh, a pair of Saddle Bags, containing some wearing apparel, and a black leather pocket book, with a few papers, of no use to any person but the owner.  The above reward, and no questions asked, will be paid for the Papers only, if delivered to George Armstrong, Esq., Greensburgh, or to the Printer of this Gazette.  June 22.”[30]


As if one set of lost papers were not enough, he somehow lost a second set the next month:


“Lost, on the road leading from Pittsburgh to Greensburgh, on Saturday the 9th of June, between the forks of said road and Col. John Irwin’s, a bundle of papers consisting of Bonds, Notes, and Depositions, wrapt in Porcupine’s newspaper[31] --- Pittsburgh endorsed on the said newspapers.  The newspaper was found that enclosed these papers, but it is supposed the papers were taken out by two travelers who passed by Dubois’s early the next morning carrying packs on their backs.  The person who found them, either by delivering them to the subscriber in Greensburgh, or the printer of this gazette shall receive a reward of $8.  /s/ George Armstrong, June 25.”[32]


Other details of his life are scarce:  he was an attorney in Greensburg 1800 through 1820,[33] and his household in 1810 included one nonwhite person.[34]  In a discussion of slavery in western Pennsylvania, one author noted that George Armstrong, then chief burgess of Greensburg, auctioned a negro girl belonging to a client on the streets of Greensburg in 1817.[35]  Like many other lawyers, he invested in real estate, and advertised the auction sale of a 300-acre tract six miles from Mercer, in 1817.[36]


George Armstrong was a member of the Greensburg Presbyterian Church,[37] and his wife, “Mrs. A. Armstrong,” was a member and one of the first “directresses” of its Female Sunday School Association of Greensburg, founded in 1817.[38]  He also was a member of the Westmoreland County Brigade, which may have been the source of his title “Colonel,” and he was elected Brigade Inspector in 1807.[39]




John Armstrong

“John Armstrong was a member of the Westmoreland County bar, where he was admitted 11 Mar. 1793,[40] and was called a member of the Pittsburgh bar when he was admitted at Mercer, May 17, 1804.  He also rode the circuit of Western Pennsylvania.”[41]

No further information has been located about this John Armstrong.[42]




Gen. William Ayres, son of David & Rachel (Newton) Ayres,[43] b. 19 July 1771, York Co.,[44] PA, d. 4 Apr. 1843, at his home in Butler, PA, bur. North Side Cemetery, Butler, PA.[45]   William Ayres never married. [46] 


A prominent Butler resident, he left a large net estate of $60,000.  On his deathbed, he made a nuncupative [oral] will, leaving his entire estate to his illegitimate son, William John Ayres, b. Mar. 1811.[47]  A private bill legitimating William J. Ayres was rushed through the legislature, passed on 4 Apr. and was signed into law by the governor the next day.  Unfortunately, nuncupative wills are rarely accepted in Pennsylvania, and the bill legitimating William J. Ayres did not become law until the day after his father died, so a compromise was reached and the estate was divided nine ways:  eight shares going to the descendants of Ayres’ siblings and only one to William J. Ayres.[48]


Ayres was remembered in 1876:


“William Ayres was a man of great ability and prominence at the bar, and was admitted at Mercer May 17, 1804.  He was a resident of Butler, to which place he came from the southeastern part of the State.  He was a large, fine-looking man, a bachelor, and noted for his wit.  He took an active part in the ejectment suits which were brought in his county, and became quite wealthy.  He was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1837, and shared in its deliberations both in Harrisburg and Philadelphia….[49]


Another lawyer remembered Ayres’ assistance to him early in his career:


“Judge Maxwell of Greenville, relates the following incident with much satisfaction:  ‘When I first appeared at the Mercer bar, in March, 1832, I boarded at the Hackney (now Whistler) House, which was then the stopping place of all the attorneys who attended the bar.  I was introduced to all the legal gentlemen.  Gen. Ayres seemed to take special interest in my case.  Said he:  ‘I had the pleasure of an acquaintance with your father in the East, and esteemed him highly.  Now it is important that you start out aright in your practice in this new county.  If you will permit it, I shall be most happy to aid you in any way I can.’ He then examined my papers, and advised me how to present the cases.  He also attached his name in the form of a temporary partnership---Ayres & Maxwell.  My cases, some four in number were won, and I ever afterward had his warmest friendship—a favor I greatly appreciated.  The influence of an able and venerable attorney like him was no ordinary affair.’”[50]


An account of him from the Butler County History in 1883 is the most detailed:


“[General Ayres] came West, we are informed, with Washington’s army in 1794, during the whisky troubles generally known as “The Whisky Insurrection.”  He came with the soldiers in the capacity of a tailor.  Of his early education, little is known.  That he had acquired a liberal amount of knowledge, and that he had a thirst for more, is quite evident from his after pursuits.  He read law in the office of that celebrated jurist, Judge [Hugh H.] Brackenridge, in Pittsburgh, and came to Butler in 1804, as Prothonotary, a position he got by appointment from the Governor.  It seems he appointed Henry M. Brackenridge (son of his preceptor, himself afterward a United States Judge and man of letters) his deputy.  Young Brackenridge attended to the duties of the office, allowing Ayres time to pursue his processional business.

Commencing his local career with the organization of the county, he availed himself of the opportunities offered by giving a strict attention to business, and by discharging every trust most scrupulously; he thus gained and held the confidence of the people through life.

He was a Whig in politics, and had the confidence of his party, and was chosen by it in 1837, to a seat in the convention then chosen to revise and reframe the constitution of his State, and was one of the minority of that body who voted against the word “white” being placed in that instrument, as a qualification for suffrage.  The country has since come up to his views on this subject.”[51]


Ayres’ household in 1820 was the only one in Butler Twp., Butler Co., which included a black servant.[52]


Ayres and Henry Baldwin had a number of clashes, some of which were only semi-humorous.

“When I [Josiah Copley, Esq.] was first there, Gen. William Ayres was a leading member of the Butler bar.  How long he had been there prior to 1818, I am unable to say, but he was then in the prime of life, a portly man, tidy in his dress, and as a fine-looking a man as I ever met.  His hair was beautifully silvered, and well and scrupulously kept in order.  Although a bachelor—which he continued to be all his life—he had a handsome frame dwelling on the west side of Main street, where, judging from appearances, he lived like a prince.  He evidently aimed to be a gentlemen of the old school, and kept within the severe proprieties of life, never to my knowledge indulging in dissipation.  From the fact that he gradually became wealthy for those days I infer he was a man of considerable ability in his profession.  As a speaker, he was emphatic and precise, keeping prominent all the dignity that was in him, which was not a little.  He had a suit once about a tract of land which lay on Slippery-rock Creek.  Henry Baldwin, of Pittsburgh, was the opposing counsel.  The General in his argument to the jury had often occasion to name Slipperyrock.  Baldwin, who sat near him, in a distinct but suppressed voice, pretending to correct him, cried, ‘No, Slippery Creek.’  “O, yes,’ Ayres would rejoin, “Slippery creek.’  Then after two or three ‘Slippery Creeks’ would be uttered, Baldwin, with well simulated solicitude, would exclaim “No, Slipperyrock Creek.”  Then Ayres, as if blaming himself for the misnomer, would say ‘Well, well, Slipperyrock; yes, that’s right.” And so would go on correctly for a while until Baldwin, in all apparent seriousness, would again interject, “Slippery Creek.”  The poor man became so confused at length that he did not know what was the correct name.  Of course, his argument was sadly crippled.  Gen. Ayres lived to a pretty advanced age, an eminent member of the bar and a useful and honored citizen.”[53]


Perhaps less to his credit, William Ayres on 1 Jan. 1802, was one of the signers of the petition prepared by Judge Hugh H. Brackenridge, requesting the removal of Judge Addison from the bench.[54]




Henry Baldwin, son of Michael & Theodora (Wolcott) Baldwin, b. 14 Jan. 1780, New Haven, CT, d. 21 April 1844, in Philadelphia, while he was on circuit.  He was buried in the cemetery on “Kalorama” the Joel Barlow estate in Washington, DC, and his remains were later removed to Oak Hill Cemetery, and then were reported moved again to Greendale Cemetery in Meadville. 

m.(1) May, 1802, Mariana Norton, of Bloomfield, NY, b. 1784, d. 1804, New Haven, CT.[55]  One son, Henry Baldwin, Jr., b. 1804

m.(2) Meadville, 11 June 1805, Sarah Ellicott of Lancaster, PA, daughter of Andrew & Sarah (Brown) Ellicott, b. 1788, Baltimore, MD, d. 7 July 1866, Batavia, NY, bur. Greendale Cemetery.  Her family history said she “occasionally accompanied her husband to Washington, and on such occasions visited her relatives in Baltimore.  She…resided in Meadville….”[56]  There were no children, though Baldwin adopted a daughter.


Henry Baldwin attended Hopkins Grammar School in 1793, received his A.B. from Yale in 1797, and enrolled in Tapping Reeve’s Litchfield Law School the same year.  He was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia in 1798.[57]


An account from 1876 briefly outlined Baldwin’s career:


“Henry Baldwin was, next to [John B.] Gibson, probably the most powerful and distinguished member of the Mercer court of February, 1804.  He was a native of New Haven, Conn., and graduated from Yale College in 1797.  He studied law in Philadelphia with Alexander J. Dallas, and was admitted to the bar in that city.  Early in the next year 1800 he moved from the city of Brotherly Love to Meadville, where he assisted in organizing the first court of the county.  He was taxed on his profession in Crawford County only in 1800 and 1801, however.[58]  About 1804 he removed to Pittsburgh.  In 1816, he was elected to Congress,[59] where he served without interruption until 1828.  During his Congressional career he was prominent as the champion of domestic manufactures, and participated freely and effectively in the public discussions upon those subjects.  He was deeply interested in the iron business, but owing to the financial depression resulting from the War of 1812 failed, as many others did.  During the campaign of 1828 he took a deep interest in the election of Jackson to the Presidency.  He was an applicant for the position of Secretary of the Treasury, but failing in that he was appointed a member of the supreme bench of the United States.


In 1842 he returned to Meadville, where he continued to reside until the time of his death, which occurred April 21, 1844, while attending court in Philadelphia  While on the bench he published a volume of reports, containing is own decisions in the circuit of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  He was a jovial, generous and high-toned gentleman, an eminent lawyer, a strong, vigorous speaker and an incorruptible Judge.  He was justly regarded one of the intellectual and legal giants of his day.”[60]


Baldwin as stated above, was one of the six attorneys who appeared at the 1st court in Meadville, following the circuit, as described below.  Baldwin was widely remembered and there are a number of sketches of his rather striking character.


Baldwin, like many prominent lawyers, allowed students to “read law” in his office, teaching them the practice as well as theory of the law.  One such student was Hon. Harmar Denny, who became Baldwin’s partner when he was admitted to the bar in November, 1816,[61] and another was Walter Forward.


A long biography of Baldwin was prepared by Daniel Agnew in 1888, and is of particular interest since Agnew began his career as another of Baldwin’s clerks and knew him throughout most of his life:


“Among the distinguished men who marked the early period of the bar of Allegheny County was Henry Baldwin, a native of New Haven…the son of a farmer, a man of strong intellect, and the father of several sons who rose to eminence.  One became a member of Congress from Georgia, another ranked high in Ohio, a third held office under the Unite States in New Haven, and the fourth is the subject of his sketch.  A sister became the wife of Joel Barlow, celebrated as an early American poet and as minister to France.  His chief work was the “Columbiad,” a patriotic poem. A brother of Joel was Judge Stephen Barlow, of Meadville, Pennsylvania, a large landholder in Crawford and Mercer Counties, and a joint tenant with Mr. Baldwin in a number of tracts of land.  Another brother, Thomas Barlow, was long a resident of Allegheny Town (City), and married to the daughter of a brother of Commodore Preble.


Henry Baldwin was graduated at Yale College, and in 1830 received from his Alma Mater the degree of Doctor of Laws.  Having lived in the early part of his life on a farm, he maintained and strengthened a vigorous constitution, inherited from his father.  It was his boast in after years that he drove a cart for James Hillhouse in planting the now famous elms of New Haven, whose spreading branches arch the highways of the city.  He studied law with Alexander J. Dallas, then a distinguished lawyer of Philadelphia and attorney-general, and was admitted in that city.  An amusing event, happening to him while in Mr. Dallas’s office, he used to relate with great zest.  A large party was given by Mrs. Dallas, to which Henry was invited.  The fashion of the time was to wear long hair combed back from the forehead, tied in a queue behind, and powdered white.  Baldwin had gone to a barber, and had his hair dressed in the fashion, in preparation for the great event.  On entering Mrs. Dallas’s parlor he found his hair had been drawn back and tied so tightly and his brows were elevated so high he could not close his eyelids without effort, and thus he spent the night with open eyes suffering great agony.

One of his brothers having settled in Ohio, he was led to come West, but stopped in Pittsburgh, where he was admitted to the bar April 30, 1801.[62]  Being a man of talent and possessing a frame and vigor which suited the people and the times, he soon became popular and obtained practice.

The courts of the territory west of the Allegheny River, laid off into counties in the year 1800, were organized for judicial purposes early in the year 1804.  We find his name among the list of attorneys enrolled in Beaver in February of that year.  Afterwards he “rode the circuit,” as the phrase ran, over all the counties west of the Allegheny, and was employed in the trial of many ejectments, land actions then composing the principal litigation, owing to the unfortunate legislation of the State in 1792, which brought the holders of warrants and the actual settlers into conflict; a contest which lasted far into my own day.  The lawyers who practiced in these counties for the most part lived in Pittsburgh and road the circuit together.  Among Baldwin’s companions, we find John Woods, Steele Semple, Thomas Collins, Alexander W. Foster, James Mountain, and others.  Baldwin was somewhat rough at that day, and these were the occasions for practical jokes, in which he was the foremost.  According to the custom of that time, night found the company of riders at a country tavern, unrestrained by order, with whiskey, cigars, and cards in plenty and this was Baldwin’s opportunity.  Tradition has handed down tricks and practical jokes which will not bear repetition in ears polite.


Among the earlier incidents of his life, I heard it said in my youth, he had fought a duel, and his life was saved by a Spanish silver dollar carried in his waistcoat-pocket.  But of this I can find no verification; and it may have been a rumor in some way growing out of the duel between Tarleton Bates and Thomas Stewart, with which he and Steele Semple were measurably connected, being present when Bates cowhided Ephraim Pentland on Market Street.  William Wilkins was Stewart’s second in that duel.  Dueling was not so uncommon then as now.  Alexander W. Foster fought with Major Roger Alden in 1800, at Meadville, crippling him for life; the duel growing out of a love-affair, in which the wounded man carried off the prize.

Advancing years brought greater refinement, and Baldwin ripened into a great lawyer and advocate.  His powerful frame and vigor of intellect enabled him to accomplish much work, and to bring to his cases extensive learning, the result of tireless study, and of the finest library in the West.  His library was composed of all the English Reports in law and equity, from the earliest period, including the Year Books,[63] imported from England, and all the American Reports of the principal States.  Many of the Early English Reports, some in black letter,[64] such as Hardress, Hobart, Keble, and others, and Coke’s Institutes and Lillies’ Entries, were in the folio form.  This library descended to W. W. Fetterman in part and from him to Messrs. McCandless and McClure.  What became of it all I never knew.  When a student in Mr. Baldwin’s office I often witnessed his method of examination, generally made at night, however.  In the morning I would find the books piled on the floor open, face downward, and around a chair, the pile often mounting two feet high.  Sometimes there were two and even three piles.  During examination he smoked incessantly, always having at hand a box of the best small black Spanish cigars.  His style of speaking was not polished or finished, but strong and forcible; his full, sonorous voice giving emphasis to all he said.  He was very effective before juries, and was employed in all important causes.


Mr. Baldwin was elected to Congress in 1816, and took his seat in 1817, and was twice re-elected, but resigned in 1822.  He became chairman of the Committee on Domestic Manufactures, and conspicuous for his able advocacy of a tariff for the protection of American-made fabrics.  The War of 1812-15 had left the country in a state of extreme poverty, and measures were essential to bring the industries of the United States into a state of activity.  Then the statesmen of the South including John C. Calhoun, were favorable to the protection of domestic manufactures, not having discovered the peculiar interest of that section in the export of cotton and return cargoes.  A strong impulse was given to these measures by the part Mr. Baldwin took in the passage of the protective tariff laws, especially in that of 1820.


The period centring around the year 1820 was one of great stringency, in which the leading business men of Pittsburgh suffered largely, many to the extent of relief by the insolvent laws.  Mr. Baldwin suffered severely.  He had embarked in the iron business on Bear Creek in the northeast corner of Butler County, had failed, and was sadly straitened by the adverse state of affairs.  That he was encumbered largely the record shows; but whether he was relieved by the insolvent laws cannot be ascertained, as, strange to say, no record of insolvents can be found in the prothonotary’s office of Allegheny County from 1818 until 1829, a period searched by  myself.  This search was made in reference to the case of Anthony Beelen,[65] as well as that of Mr. Baldwin.


In the Presidential campaign of 1828, between John Quincy Adams and General Andrew Jackson, Mr. Baldwin was an earnest and active supporter of the latter.  On the 4th of July of that year an immense Jackson meeting was held near the Allegheny River, on the rear end of the John Woods premises  on Penn Street, then owned by James S. Stevenson, member of Congress from Pittsburgh, the same now occupied by the buildings of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railway. The meeting was presided over by William Wilkins, whose silvery voice penetrated distinctly to the outward limit of the great assemblage.  Baldwin was the orator of the day, and spoke in tones thundering far and wide, but not with the distinctness of Wilkins’s utterance.  His speech was long and full of points, covering about forty pages of foolscap.  I copied it.  The campaign of 1828 was most bitter, the attacks on Jackson being greatly personal, requiring much to be said in his defence. [sic]


Mr. Baldwin expected to be appointed Secretary of the Treasury by General Jackson, with whom he was a favorite.  But policy dictated otherwise, and Samuel D. Ingham was appointed from Pennsylvania in 1829.  Still Baldwin was remembered by Jackson, who appointed him to the vacancy on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1830, caused by the death of Judge Washington.  Here he exhibited the immense learning his indefatigable industry had acquired.  The labor of his latter years was supposed to have unhinged his mind,--so gentlemen of the bar of Philadelphia thought.  But my knowledge of his peculiarities lead me to think this was largely a mistaken belief.  For example, a learned judge of Philadelphia said to me there was no doubt of his insanity, for he had known him to have a cup of coffee and cakes brought to him on the bench,  These persons, probably, knew little of his peculiarities and the inattention paid to punctilios in the new country where Baldwin lived so long.  He often carried confectionery in his pockets, which he dealt out to the children liberally.  An instance of conduct which might be attributed to insanity occurred in Philadelphia, when the late Walter Forward and myself were there as members of the Constitutional Reform Convention in 1837-38.  We both had been his students, longos inverallos,[66] called by him “Forred” and “Dannel.”  We had called on him at his hotel in Chestnut Street.  He proposed going to see Mrs. Baldwin, then visiting Philadelphia.  Starting, we turned into Eight Street towards Market.  Going a short distance he stopped, went into a grocery, and came out carrying a large ham by the hock.  Proof conclusive of insanity!  Yet none know the contrary better than we.


It was in his circuit Judge Baldwin was seen at his best, presiding with dignity, exhibiting his stores of learning, and holding attorneys to good behavior.  One of the noted trials in which he sat was that of John F. Braddee, of Uniontown, in 1840, for robbing the mails.  The most eminent members of the Pittsburgh bar participated in the trial,--Cornelius Darragh, Andrew W. Loomis, Samuel W. Black, Moses Hampton, Richard Biddle, Walter Forward, Wilson McCandless, and others.  The excitement of the trial was great, waged as it was by these Titans of the bar.  Tradition spoke of the strong hand of Judge Baldwin in which he held the reins of power, and by bridled sway kept in order men of so much character and force.


Perhaps the most noted case coming before Judge Baldwin, and his greatest opinion delivered, was that of Magill vs. Brown, found in Brightly’s Reports, p. 347,--involving the doctrine of charitable bequests to unincorporated societies.  By his research and his laborious thought he brought to the light the true doctrine of such charities, then much misapprehended, in a way untrodden before in this State, and redeemed them from the influence of English common law, and the prohibition of British statutes; bringing them into the favor and protection of equity.  The opinion was one of immense labor, and a work of love, to which the profession is greatly indebted….”[67]


A year later, another biography was inserted into a county history, and included an unusual assessment of Baldwin by a woman:


“Henry Baldwin was, in his day, the most prominent lawyer at the bar.  He was very successful in his practice, and was elected to Congress in 1816, and served from 1817 to 1823.  He was appointed a judge of the supreme court in 1830 and served until 1844,[68] when he died.  There was a very strong feeling of attachment to him manifest in all who ever knew him and this fact, alone, shows how very worthy and excellent a man he was.  Mrs. Ann Royall, in her sketches of her travels in Pennsylvania, in 1828, speaks thus of him:


Mr. Henry Baldwin is the darling of Pennsylvania and the pride of Pittsburgh.  He is about thirty-five years of age, a thin, light figure, of good height round, delicate face and sallow complexion; his eye is keen or rather sparkling, deep hazel, or what some would call black.  His countenance would not indicate talents of the first rate, although he certainly does, very justly, rank among the first men of the state.  But of all men he has the most pleasing countenance and the most fascinating manners.  He appears to most advantage when pleading.  It is impossible to portray the winning smile which plays upon his countenance, while his head is elevated and his figure erect and manly.  His voice is harmonious and his actions pertinent and graceful.  He is said to be an able statesman and of unshaken integrity.  Well may Pittsburgh be proud of him.  His talents are devoted to it, and have been for some years, while his generosity and goodness of heart keep him in the background.  On my way to Pittsburgh the people would say, “You will see our Idol, Mr. Baldwin.”


This, it may be said, is a woman’s view, drawn from a female standpoint; and so it is.  But it is nevertheless a very graphic sketch of the man.  His face, lit up with a winning smile, won all hearts to him, and his power with a jury doubtless flowed from his manly bearing and his thrilling voice, as well as from his all-conquering smile.  As a lawyer he occupied the front rank, and this was evinced by his elevation to the bench of the United States supreme court.  He was a partner, for a long time, in the Union rolling mill, at Kensington, and was thus an enterprising citizen as well as a first-class lawyer.”[69]


A short note in 1882 said:


“Mr. Baldwin as a deeply-read lawyer and an excellent scholar, but in his person and manner remarkably plain and unstudied.  He was a warm, rapid, and cogent speaker, at the same time close, logical and subtile.[sic]  He invariably exhausted his subject, but studiously avoided all ornament or unnecessary verbiage.  He entered at once in medias res, and ended without peroration when he had nothing more to say.”[70]


The same writer also attested to Baldwin’s reputation with other judges:


“Baldwin represented this district in Congress from 1817 to 1823, and as a member of the bar, he always stood in the front rank.  As a judge he was candid, impartial and just, and his opinions, as rendered, were always clear concise and easily understood.  Judge McCandless always pricked up his ears when a decision of Judge Baldwin was cited to him, and when he felt compelled to rule differently, protested that he still had a high veneration for Judge Baldwin.”[71]


Baldwin participated in many practical jokes with other lawyers, particularly William Ayres, as related in Ayres’ biography.  One of Baldwin’s practical jokes on Ayres backfired, however, and was recalled in 1876:


“An incident is related concerning Ayres and Baldwin that illustrates the freedom with which the old-time attorneys perpetrated practical jokes upon each other.  Baldwin and some other attorney had informed an innkeeper not to allow Gen. Ayres to have any more whisky, inasmuch as he was unable to control himself.  It happened on one occasion that Ayres asked those two gentlemen to drink.  The barkeeper set up two glasses, which were taken by Baldwin and his friend, and gave Ayres none, as he had been instructed to do.  Ayres saw the trick and accepted the situation gracefully, secretly determining to be even at an early opportunity.  In the town was a woman of not most reputable character.  Ayres gave her $10 as a gift to go into the court-room that day with a counterfeit bill, and while Baldwin was making a speech to the jury to pass up the aisle, and, handing out the spurious bill, say to him:  “The money you gave me is a counterfeit.”  She did according to contract.  Baldwin saw at once that he was caught by his wily attorney friend, and reaching into his pocket drew out a genuine bill and handed it to her.”[72]


Along with William Ayres, Henry Baldwin on 1 Jan. 1802 was one of the signers of the petition prepared by Judge Hugh H. Brackenridge, requesting the removal of Judge Addison from the bench.[73]


Late in life, he moved back to Meadville, where he had lived briefly early in his career, and began the construction of a mansion, which still stands on Terrace Street.  At his death, it was only partly completed, as his inventory lists windows and other building supplies.  It is unusual as it was built in a southern version of Greek Revival, with a portico completely surrounding the house, and its main rooms on the second floor, where two large rooms and a smaller one between survive with the original elegant classical woodwork, the window frames and mantels, and even the doors, in tiger maple.


At the time of his death, he was in debt, and even his servants’ wages were more than a year in default.  He still possessed a large library of historical and legal books, as well as current fiction, which were enumerated in his estate inventory and sold at auction.[74]

Baldwin Township in Allegheny County was established shortly before his death and named for Henry Baldwin on 24 Feb. 1844.[75]




Richard Bean, son of Nathaniel & Susannah (Currier) Bean, b. 19 July 1787, Warner, NH,[76] d. 2 Sept. 1824, Franklin, PA.[77]

m. Meadville, 7 Nov. 1816, Augusta Crary,[78] daughter of Frederick & Lydia (Updike) Crary, b. 1798, prob. Newport, RI, and d. 1841, “near Pomeroy, OH.”[79]  She m.(2) Franklin, PA, 29 Jan. 1827, Rev. Charles Smith, June 1790, d. 13 Sept. 1836, Wickford, CT,[80] bur. Milford Cemetery, Milford, CT,[81] rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Meadville[82] and an organizer of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, and then rector of St. Peter’s Church, Oxford, CT,[83] when he died.


Richard Bean attended Dartmouth College and was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa there as a junior in 1810.[84]  A history of his home town said “Richard Bean received a liberal education although he did not take his degree owing to a difficulty with the authority of College rather than a deficiency in scholarship.  He studied the profession of Law.  He survived but a few years after obtaining his education.”[85]  He was a lawyer in Meadville[86] when he was married in 1816, and still lived there in 1820.  He was also admitted in Franklin, and may have moved there.




Philemon Beecher, son of Abraham & Desire (Tolles) Beecher, he was b. 19 Mar. 1776, in Kent, CT, d. 30 Nov. 1839 in Lancaster, OH, bur. Elmwood Cemetery there.

m. 1803, Hannah/Susan Gillispie, daughter of Neil Gillispie, Sr., of Washington Co., PA, b. ca. 1786, d. 29 July 1854, in her 69th year, Lancaster, OH, bur. Elmwood Cemetery.  They had a daughter and a son.


An attorney, he appeared as a resident of Mead Twp., in what is now Crawford Co., in the 1800 septennial census.  He was noted as a native of Kent and a resident of Sharon, when he was admitted to the Litchfield Co., CT, bar in 1800,[87] so he could not have been long in Pennsylvania when he was noted in the census.[88]  He did not stay long, either, as he moved to Fairfield Co., OH, in 1801, where he practiced for the rest of his life and also served in Congress.




Thomas Collins, son of Thomas & Susanna (North) Collins, b. 1774 in Dublin, Ireland, where his father was a leading merchant, d. 17 Feb. 1814,[89] Butler, PA, bur. “in the Catholic burying-ground near the town.”[90]

m.(1) 28 Sept. 1796, Susan Read, daughter of Collinson Read, Esq., a lawyer in Philadelphia and a presidential elector who voted for Washington in 1789.  Susan d. Sept. 1804, Pittsburgh.  They had one son who became a lawyer in Pittsburgh.

m.(2) 16 Oct. 1805, Sarah Lowrey, daughter of Col. Stephen & __ (Spencer) Lowrey, of Centreville, MD, who had been a commissary in the Revolutionary army, and owned large tracts of land around Butler, PA.  Sarah d. 18 Sept. 1833, at her home outside of Butler.  Four daughters and one son who died young.


Thomas Collins was another of the lawyers admitted to practice at the first court in Meadville in 1800 and he was taxed on his profession in Crawford County the next year.[91]  He did not appear in the Quarter Sessions papers, 1800-1815, except as the victim of an assault by one John Long in 1801, who was convicted and sentenced to a fine of $30 and 10 days in the county jail.[92]


He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin[93] and came to the United States in 1790, and studied law in Reading, PA, in the office of Marks Biddle, Esq., and was admitted to the Berks Co. bar on 8 Aug. 1794.  He soon set out for Pittsburgh, and was admitted to the bar in Allegheny Co. 3 Dec. 1794.  He was probably “Thomas Collins, Esq.” who was naturalized a U.S. citizen in Pittsburgh in May, 1798,[94] though it is surprising he had been admitted to the Bar while he was still an alien.


“He quickly rose in practice, and became engaged in important causes, his name appearing frequently in Yeates’s and other early reports of cases decided in the courts of Allegheny and in the western Circuit Courts of the Supreme Court.


He was admitted to the bar of Beaver County at the first term after its organization, in February, 1804…. He was one of the early bar who rode the circuit of the western counties.  Much of his practice afterwards fell within Butler County, when, by marriage he became interested for the lands of his father-in-law, Colonel Stephen Lowrey.”[95]


Squatters continually occupied the Lowrey properties, which “made Mr. Collins’s professional services in Butler frequently necessary.”   Sarah Lowrey inherited the Butler lands from her father at his death in 1822, but “at that early day [they] brought very little at sale or lease, compelling her to put forth strenuous efforts to maintain her family and station.”  She had conveyed the 417 acres outside of Butler on which she lived to her daughter and son-in-law in 1830, but they mortgaged it and lost it in a foreclosure.[96]


In 1876, the details of his life were briefly reported:  “Thomas Collins was an attorney at the time, of Pittsburgh, and was admitted at Mercer, May 17, 1804.  He subsequently removed to Butler County, where he died.  His wife, Sarah Collins, was a daughter of a gentleman in the East, who owned large landed possessions in Butler County….  Collins was a good scholar and a man of marked ability.”[97]


A biography from 1889 added a few personal details, but those were scarce as Collins had been dead for seventy-five years:


“Thomas Collins, also was a legal giant in those early days.  He was prominent in legal practice, and for a time there was a pleasant rivalry between him and H. H. Brackenridge.  He was a more solid and less florid man than Brackenridge, and this solidity attracted favorably the more cautions part of the community.  He was not prominent as a politician; at least but little is heard of him in connection with politics.  Socially, he stood high.  Collins township, now a part of the city, was named after him.  He had two[98] daughters, both noted for their intelligence and beauty.  One of them married Wilson McCandless, and the other William B. McClure; and it is noteworthy that these two lawyers both became judges—McCandless of the United States district court and McClure of the county court of common pleas.  As both McCandless and McClure were originally whigs, along McCandless afterwards became a democrat, it is inferable that Collins, like most of the lawyers of his day, was a federalist.  He was, however, a first class lawyer…”[99]


In 1803, Thomas Collins signed a certificate supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings, so his Federalist beliefs were explicit.[100]


Collins even turned out to be an early oil man:  oil flowed into a salt well he was drilling, but it was not appreciated since it ruined the salt.[101]



David C. Cunningham, b. at Conestoga on the Susquehanna, and brother to John, who ceded the site for the town of Butler, was at one time a member of the bar.  He rode the circuit and was admitted to the Butler bar in May, 1804 [102] and the Mercer bar in August, 1804.[103]  He taught school in Marion Township in Butler County in the 1810’s,[104] and was remembered as a man of good culture,[105] but “what became of him is unknown.”[106]  There was a D. C. Cunningham, age 69, one of several lodgers living with the John and Rebecca Anderson family in Venango Township, Butler County, in 1850, who declared no assets and gave his occupation as “none.”[107]



Patrick Farrelly, a resident of Meadville, b. 1770, Ireland, d. 12 Jan. 1826, Pittsburgh, PA, bur. in the Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh, but removed to Greendale Cemetery, Meadville, PA.

m.(1) 11 June 1806, Elizabeth Mead,[108] daughter of David & Agnes (Wilson) Mead, b. 19 Nov. 1786,[109] d. 14 July 1811, Meadville,[110] bur. Greendale Cemetery.  Patrick and Elizabeth Farrelly had two sons.

m.(2) 25 Mar. 1819,[111] Martha Wright Alden, daughter of Rev. Timothy & Elizabeth Shepherd (Wormsted) Alden, b. 19 May 1798, Marblehead, MA,[112] d. 17 Aug. 1887, Allegheny City, PA.[113]  Martha m.(2) 25 May 1835, as his 2nd wife, John Birch McFadden, a Pittsburgh silversmith.  By his 2nd marriage, Patrick Farrelly was the father of a daughter who died as an infant and a son.


Patrick Farrelly came to the U.S. in 1798, studied law in Lancaster, PA, and came to Meadville in 1802, where he was admitted to the Crawford Co. bar 11 July 1803.  He was taxed on his profession in Crawford County the next year,[114] then was appointed Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds in 1805 and Clerk of Courts the following year. 


Farrelly was involved in an affray in Mead Township on 5 Mar. 1807.  Farrelly, with Moses Scott, James Orr, James Douglass, John Miller, Douglas Gollagher and James Johnston were charged with riot and assault on Pieter Huidekoper and Daniel Lefevre.  Farrelly claimed that he was the victim of riotous imprisonment, assault and battery in the same incident by Robert Fitz Randolph, Daniel Lefevre, Henry Dunn, Harm Jan Huidekoper and Robert Gibson, and James Orr charged he was assaulted by Pieter Huidekoper at the same time.  Indictments were issued in the first case, but not the latter two.[115]


Farrelly was a major in the militia during the War of 1812, and served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly 1811-1812.  He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820, and died in office.[116]  Although a Roman Catholic, Farrelly owned a pew in the Meadville Presbyterian Church, the only church in Meadville at the time.


It was said of his time in Erie:  “Mr. Farrelly, in particular, was present at almost every term of court, and it is said that his practice at the Erie bar was larger than that of any or all of the lawyers residing here”[117]

A writer in Mercer recalled:  “Patrick Farrelly was an Irish Catholic who came from Ireland to the United States in 1798, studied law at Lancaster, and coming to Meadville in 1802, was there admitted July 11, 1803, and at Mercer February 16, 1804.  He represented his district in the State Legislature and in Congress.  He died in Pittsburgh, February 12, 1826, while on his way to Congress, aged fifty-six years.  Mr. Farrelly was one of the most prominent brilliant and successful attorneys of the pioneer bar, and built up a very large practice.”[118]



Alexander W. Foster, second son of Rev. William & Hannah (Blair) Foster, b. 1771, d. 3 Mar. 1843,[119] Mercer,[120] PA, bur. Old Mercer Cemetery.[121]

m. Meadville, 1802,[122] Jane T. Heron, daughter of General James G. & Eleanor (Evans) Heron,[123] a retired Revolutionary officer who lived in Franklin, PA.[124]  Jane was b. 21 Jan. 1788, and d. 17 Mar. 1826, at Greensburg.  They had five daughters, three of whom d. young, and two sons, by one account; by another:  three sons, two daughters. 


Like his father before him, Alexander Foster was a graduate of Princeton College, receiving his degree with the Class of 1790.  He was admitted to the Allegheny County bar 7 Dec. 1798,[125] and the Crawford County bar 6 Oct. 1800, then was duly taxed on his profession in Crawford County from 1801 through 1805 at least.[126]  Foster appeared in a few cases between July Sessions in 1801 and December Sessions in 1808, and he was a witness in a case in 1809.[127]  Surprisingly, Foster was charged with assault and battery on Dr. Thomas R. Kennedy, a leading citizen of Meadville on 11 Mar. 1803, and indicted.[128] 


On 4 Dec. 1805, Alexander W. Foster decided to enter the real estate business and laid out the “town of Cussewaga,” containing a central square, 48 town lots and 27 larger outlots, at the “crossings of Cussewaga Creek and including the forks of said creek.”[129]  This appears to be directly west across French Creek from Meadville, which itself had been called “Cussewago” at first, changing to Meadville about ten years before this time.  Samuel Lord had also laid out a proposed town immediately to the north of Meadville, so it is not surprising that not all were successful.  In 1810, A. W. Foster headed a household in Meadville which included one nonwhite servant.[130]


An 1882 account in Westmoreland County said:


“Alexander W. Foster, the second son, studied law with a Mr. Burd, who had an office corner of Ninth and Chestnut Streets, in Philadelphia.  After his admission to the bar, he was for a while in a law partnership with George Clymer.  In 1796, he and his brother Samuel decided to remove their mother and the remainder of the family out to the eastern part of the state, where there was a wider field for their talents.  They settled in Crawford County, purchasing a farm on Conneaut Lake, six miles from Meadville, for their brother William and James to cultivate, where their mother and sisters lived with them….  In 1812, he moved to Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., and practiced his profession there for many years.  He with his brother, Samuel B. were among the most eminent lawyers of Western Pennsylvania, and were long recognized as leaders of the bar.  He devoted half a century to the labors of his profession, and died in Mercer 1843, at the age of seventy-two years, after a short illness, resulting from a sudden cold taken while preparing cases to take before the Supreme Court in Pittsburgh.”[131]


William S. Garvin wrote in 1876:


“Alexander W. Foster, an elder brother of Samuel B. Foster, was admitted to practice at the Meadville Courts on the 6th of October, 1800.  He was a prominent and able lawyer.  He was considered a very successful attorney in matters pertaining to real estate.  In 1805, he and Roger Alden were the principals in the only duel that every occurred in Crawford County.  The hostile meeting took place on the banks of French Creek, about a mile and a half from Meadville.  Alden was wounded.  Subsequently, he [Foster] removed to Pittsburgh, where he occupied a prominent position at the bar, and where he died in March, 1843.  The bar of the city passed resolutions in which they referred to his ‘long career at the bar as distinguished by profound and varied learning, and endeared by the many virtues of his private life.’…”[132]


An extended biography was written for the 1918 history of Westmoreland County:


Alexander Foster … read law in the office of William Bird and was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia in 1793.  In 1796 his family moved from Chester county to Meadville.  There he practiced law a number of years and became very prominent for one of his age.  His work in the bar took him frequently to most of the counties between Pittsburgh and Erie.  In 1812 he was retained in a Westmoreland case and was so favorably impressed with the town and the community that he determined to locate in Greensburg.  So at the age of forty-one, having already achieved an enviable reputation at the bar, he became a member of the Westmoreland bar.  He very rapidly secured a large practice and was undoubtedly one of the ablest lawyers of his day.  As we have said before the trio of [John B.] Alexander, Foster and [Richard] Coulter, had no superiors in Western Pennsylvania.  Foster did not possess the impassioned and florid eloquence of Coulter, nor the great legal erudition of Alexander, but his intellectual attainments outside of his profession were far superior to those of the former, and as a trial lawyer, particularly in the cross-examination of witnesses, he had more ability than the latter.  Inferior to Alexander in an argument before the court, he was superior to him before a jury, where he was nearly, if not quite, the equal of Coulter.


Foster had a kind, genial disposition, and his office was, for many years, said to be the best one in Greensburg in which to read law.  He often conferred with his students, put questions to them, argued with them, and held in his office a veritable “moot court.”  Several of his students who arose to distinction at the bar in after years, attributed in a great measure their success to him, and one at least is on record as saying that he learned more law orally from Foster than he learned from reading his books.  He excelled in any branch of the profession, but it was in the cross-examination of witnesses that he was probably seen at his best.  It is said that he could, better than any member of the bar of his day, expose the falsehood or fraud of an evilly disposed witness, and that he could do this in a mild, genteel way which, nevertheless, forced the attention of the jury and frequently moved them to laughter.  His kindly nature precluded the possibility of his being genuinely sarcastic, yet when necessary he could be extremely severe.  He excelled also in his command of language and in the marshaling of his ideas.  He could most suitably express his thoughts without halting, without error, and apparently without effort.  Most of his arguments were copiously illustrated with amusing anecdotes, some of which he seemed, like Lincoln, to have invented for the occasion.  Some of his stories have come down to us and are fresh and interesting when read or repeated even to-day.  He had very brilliant conversational powers, he was very fond of company, and was always a social leader.


Like Major Alexander, he delighted in agriculture.  He wrote articles and delivered addresses on the practical application of chemistry to farming and on other subjects.  He was in demand to address the people at various public meetings, county fairs, etc., a practice that was then the custom in most of the counties in the State.  In 1820 and 1822 he was the Federalist candidate for Congress in this district, composed of Westmoreland, Indiana, Armstrong and Jefferson counties.  He was defeated each time because he was in an Anti-Federalist district, though in Westmoreland, then strongly Democratic, he obtained a small majority.  After the breaking up of the Federalist party he became an Anti-Mason and when that party collapsed he became a Whig, and so remained until his death.


In person he was of medium size and weight, inclined to leanness rather than corpulency.  One who knew him well described him as of a nervo-bilious temperament, with a somewhat sallow complexion.  Most of his life he was greatly addicted to smoking, a cigar being his constant companion.  For his own use he had hot-houses built and grew Spanish tobacco….[133]




Samuel Blair Foster, eldest son of Rev. William & Hannah (Blair) Foster and brother of Alexander W. Foster, b. 1774, West Chester, PA, d. 4 Mar. 1831, Mercer, PA, in his 58th year, bur. Old Mercer Cemetery.[134]  They had four sons, two of whom died young, and five daughters, two of whom also died young.

m. Elizabeth Donnell of Meadville,[135] daughter of Judge Donnell of Northumberland Co.,[136] b. 1785, d. 1829, bur. Old Mercer Cemetery.


Samuel Blair Foster lost his father when he was eight years old, but William Foster left his farm in the care of his widow and two elder sons, and requested that Samuel was “to be a scholar.”[137]  Samuel Foster entered Princeton College with the Class of 1788 and fulfilled most of the requirements but for unknown reasons did not complete the work for a degree.[138]  His activities are unknown for several years, as he studied law under the direction of his younger brother, Alexander W. Foster, but he could not have begun that before the end of 1793, when Alexander was admitted to the bar.  Samuel apparently completed his legal studies by 1796, when he and Alexander, along with Thomas Forster, were appointed agents of the Holland Land Company.[139] 

The brothers, with their mother and the rest of the family moved to Cussawago, soon renamed Meadville, where they bought a farm, and their younger brothers, William[140] and James, cultivated it.  Samuel apparently practiced law briefly, as he was taxed on his profession as an attorney in Crawford County in 1801.[141]   He was a bondsman for defendants in 1801 and 1802, a witness in 1806, and claimed he had been libeled by James Orr of Beaver Twp. on 10 Aug. 1815, though Orr was not indicted.[142]


The brothers’ career with the Holland Land Company, however, was unsuccessful, as they failed to obtain as many residents as required.  Alexander W. Foster then relocated to Greensburg, PA, and Samuel moved to Mercer, the first lawyer to live there.  As a lawyer, he was recalled as “well-versed, brilliant and eloquent and logical before juries.”[143]


In 1876, William Garvin wrote:


“One of the eminent attorneys admitted to the first court in Mercer, February 16, 1804, was Samuel B. Foster, a younger brother of Alexander W. Foster, under whom he read law….  He graduated from Princeton College, New Jersey.[144]  By a competent member of the Meadville bar he is said to have been a man ‘possessed of a fine classical education, high legal attainments, and great reasoning power, clear and forcible in argument and often very eloquent before a jury.’  He came from West Chester to Meadville as the agent of the Holland Land Company, and subsequently removed to Mercer, where he practiced until the day of his death…. Samuel B. Foster was the first regular attorney that located in Mercer County.”[145]




John Bannister Gibson, son of Lt. Col. George & Anne (West) Gibson,[146] b. 8 Nov. 1780, Sherman’s Valley Cumberland [now Perry] County, PA, d. 2 May 1853, Philadelphia, bur. Old Graveyard, Carlisle, PA.

m. 1810, Sarah Work Galbraith, daughter of Andrew & Barbara (Kyle?[147]) Galbraith, and sister of Juliana Galbraith, wife of William Neill Irvine, b. 25 Jan. 1791, d. 25 Jan. 1861, Carlisle, bur. Old Graveyard.[148]  They had 4 daughters, one of whom d. in childhood and 4 sons, two of whom d. in childhood.[149]


“John Bannister Gibson was probably the ablest of the entire number admitted at Mercer in 1804…. At the age of eighteen it was said he graduated from Dickinson College, at Carlisle,[150] studied law with Thomas Duncan, and was admitted to the bar of Cumberland County in March, 1803.  He first opened a practice at Carlisle, and then removed to Beaver, where he spent several years, and he was admitted to the Allegheny Co. bar on 26 Sept. 1803.[151]  His practice at Beaver was not regarded a successful one.  He was a man of large dimensions, a regular giant in both physique and intellect.  Standing considerably above six feet in eight, he was muscular, well-proportioned, full of intellect and benevolence, and indicative of strong character.  He was called, by way of derision ‘Horse-head Gibson,’[152] on account of the height of his head.  In his early practice he would in rising to read a paper, shake and quiver, and his voice would tremble.  He was exceedingly fond of the violin, and would spend hours in producing music upon it.  It is said that he afterward, when he had become chief justice, some of his best decisions were studied out while he was engaged in solacing himself by the strains of this instrument.  He was very social at time, and liked his pet associates very much.  Among his intimate friends at Beaver was Gen. John Mitchell, formerly of Bridgewater.  His practice at Beaver was neither extensive nor lucrative.  The people of the county had not yet discovered the mighty genius which subsequently made him the learned judge of the supreme bench.  In the Beaver Court records is found the following memorandum:


Elias Milor vs. James Magaw, issue summons wherefore with force and arms he the said James Magaw on the said Elias Milor an assault did make at the county aforesaid, and him did there beat, wound and evilly treat, and other wrongs to him did, to the great damage of the said Elias and against the peace.  [signed] Elias Milor

To David Johnston, prothonotary

The bearer says he has not money enough about him to pay for the writ, but if you don’t think to trust him I will be accountable for the price of it. 

                                                                                    [signed] John B. Gibson


The note of the future chief justice seems to have been satisfactory to the noted prothonotary, and the case was put upon record.


Judge Gibson never looked upon his stay at Beaver with much pride, his practice being made up of petty cases, that annoyed without affording the corresponding remuneration.  Hence we need not be surprised at the statement made by him once at a social party, when the question of ages was up for consideration.  Like other aged people he was disposed to turn the dial backward a little.  Said he:  ‘I am sixty-two.’ ‘But,’ says his friend, ‘you were twenty-four when you went to Beaver and you were there five years.’ ‘My God,’ says the old chief, ‘I hope you are not going to charge me with that.’


His success was achieved after his return to Carlisle.  In 1827 he became the successor of Chief Justice Tilghman on the supreme bench, and retained that position until 1851, when, by a change in the Constitution, the judiciary became elective.  He was the only member of the bench retained, but only as an associate.  Even in a subordinate position, ‘his great learning, venerable character and overshadowing reputation still made him,’ in the language of Judge [Jeremiah S.] Black, ‘the only chief whom the hearts of the people would know.’  Versed in the ancient classics, familiar with the whole round of English literature, and thoroughly informed in the science of medicine, he was an oracle in all departments of law, and justly entitled to the following eloquent tribute by Judge Jeremiah Black, which is placed upon the tall marble shaft at Carlisle that marks his final resting place:


In the various knowledge which forms the perfect scholar he had no superior.

Independent, upright and able, he had all the highest qualities of a great Judge.

In the difficult science of jurisprudence he mastered every department,

Discussed almost every question, and touched no subject which he did not adorn.

He won in early manhood, and retained to the close of a long life,

The affection of his brethren on the Bench, the respect of the Bar, and the confidence of the people.”[153]




John Gilmore, son of James Gilmore who had emigrated a few years earlier from Newtonlimvady, Ireland, b. Mar. 1780, near Stony Creek in what is now Somerset Co., PA, d. 11 May 1845, Butler, PA.  He m. 1803, Elena Spence Anderson, daughter of Rev. Samuel Anderson of Washington, PA.


Soon after the birth of John Gilmore, his father removed to Washington County, where he purchased a large farm, overlooking the town of Washington, and John was educated at Washington and studied law there with Col. Bradford.[154]

Gilmore was involved in the Whiskey Insurrection. It is related that one morning while he was sitting in the office, a fine, soldierly looking gentleman, dressed in full hunting-shirt uniform, entered. He was Col. Morgan, who had been ordered to arrest Bradford. He said, "Young man, where is Col. Bradford?" to which Gilmore replied that he had not seen Mr. Bradford that morning. The fact was that Col. Bradford had got word of the intended arrest, and had gone South.

Gilmore was admitted to the bar in 1801, but soon removed to Pittsburgh. But when Butler County was organized, he was appointed Deputy Attorney General, and, early in 1803, removed to Butler.  He also apparently rode the circuit, as he was admitted to practice in Mercer County, in August Term, 1804.[155]

About the year 1816, Gilmore was elected to the Legislature, being re-elected several successive years. During this time, he was chosen Speaker of the House. In 1828, he was elected to Congress (this year Gen. Jackson was elected President). He remained in close relations with Jackson's administration. He was re-elected in 1830. Later in life, he was elected State Treasurer. In brief, it may be said of him that he filled the full measure of a liberal-minded and highly esteemed citizen.  He had acquired a considerable quantity of land, which he parted with to those of limited means on easy terms, never oppressing any one.[156]

Fellow attorney Josiah Copley compared John Gilmore to his colleague William Ayres:

“John Gilmore was, I think, nearly the same age as Gen. Ayres, and ranked his equal at the time I first knew him. He had a family. In personal appearance, Mr. Gilmore was the equal of his friend and rival, but was less fastidious. He represented his district in Congress in later years. He, too, was a good and highly honored citizen. I did not know him as intimately as I did the other, but I do know that I always regarded him with profound respect."[157]



Andrew Graff, Jr.,[158] attorney, appeared as a resident of Mead Twp., Crawford Co. in the 1800 septennial census.  He probably was the same man as Andrew Graff who was admitted 25 Dec. 1800 to the Allegheny County bar on motion of William Ayres.[159]  He was taxed on his profession in Crawford County from 1801 through 1804.[160]  He appeared regularly as deputy attorney general [today “district attorney”] there from July 1801 through May 1804, when his name disappears from the Quarter Sessions docket.  Graff had at least one case where he was not a prosecutor, representing the supervisors of Sandy Lake Township in 1802.[161]




David Hays.  Admitted to practice in Mercer County, August Term, 1804.[162]  Untraced.




James Gordon Heron,[163] b. Jan. 1749, Scotland, d. 30 Dec. 1809, Franklin, PA[164]

m. Eleanor Evans, the daughter of a planter in West Nottingham, MD,[165] d. 1 Apr. 1824, Erie, PA.[166]


In the last decade of his life, Heron was a leading figure of Franklin, but he was not remembered by historians as a lawyer there.  However, a modern family history asserted he was admitted to the Venango Co. bar on 17 June 1806.[167]  He may have been the “Mr. Heron” who filed a motion in the Ross Foster case in Crawford County in 1803.[168]  Heron was appointed prothonotary of Venango County in Oct. 1805, served one year, and then was appointed associate judge 5 Dec. 1805 and installed 27 Jan. 1806.[169] 


Colonel James G. Heron was a Scotsman, a Revolutionary war veteran,[170] and charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati.[171]  He lived in Maryland as late as 1788, where he represented Cecil County in the constitutional ratification convention.  He appeared in the 1790 Maryland census as the owner of twelve slaves.  By 1792, however, Heron had moved to Pittsburgh, and was assistant quartermaster at Ft. Fayette in Pittsburgh early in 1799,[172] but he moved again and settled in Franklin in 1800.[173]   The family came by land, but their five black servants[174] and furniture came from Pittsburgh by keel-boat and were three weeks in making the passage.  When the Herons  arrived, there were only five[175] other families in town,[176] plus the garrison at the fort. 

Even as a Pittsburgh resident, however, Heron must have visited Franklin frequently before 1800, as he was mentioned in the Ft. Franklin store ledgers 1795-1798, the last having a balance of £120 for flour, lard, meat, potatoes, labor, etc.[177]   He applied for a state land grant of 286 acres west of French Creek on 4 Oct. 1795,[178] and another 201 acres on 10 Sept. 1796.[179] 


He was active in land speculation near Meadville with Samuel Lord at the same time:   early in 1797, Heron, in Pittsburgh, and Lord, “on the premises,” announced they had laid out a town they named Salisbury on the east side of French Creek, above Cussawago [now Meadville] and invited purchasers to view the plans or inspect the lots.[180]  This project must have quickly failed, possibly because it was located next to Meadville which grew faster, and in 1802, Heron announced he was selling a  ½ interest in 400 acres on the west[181] side of French Creek, adjacent to Meadville, “taken as the property of Samuel Lord at the suit of James G. Heron.”[182] 


Other land was also purchased in Shenango Township, as Heron sold lots in “Shenangoville,”[183] and then announced he was selling Donation Lot 177 in the Second District, in Shenango Township late in 1797.[184]  He also sued John Crawford in 1799 and had the sheriff sell his property.[185] 


Two of his daughters married lawyers, Alexander W. Foster and David Irvine, and a third married a brother of Atty. William Wallace of Erie.




John Ware Hunter, son of Edward & Jane (Ware) Hunter, b. 22 Nov. 1767, VA, d. 12 Dec. 1841, Washington, DC, bur. Congressional Cemetery there.

m. ca. 1797, PA, Margaret Donnell, a sister of wife of Alexander W. Foster, b. 3 Mar. 1771, PA, d. 1 July 1840, Washington, DC, bur. Congressional Cemetery.  Ten children, the ninth named “Baldwin M. Hunter,” b. ca. 1815.[186]


John W. Hunter lived in Meadville and was taxed on his profession in Crawford County from 1802 through at least 1805.[187]  He appeared twice as a witness in the Crawford County Quarter Sessions dockets, in the Farrelly fracas of 1807 and in a case against the county treasurer for conversion in 1809, but then as a defendant in his capacity of a Crawford County commissioner for failing to pursue the larcenous treasurer the following year. [188]

“John W. Hunter is the first attorney in the list of those who were admitted to the first court of Mercer, February 16, 1804.  He was a resident of Meadville, and a brother-in-law of Samuel B. Foster, the latter having married a sister of Mrs. Hunter.  He finally removed to Pittsburgh, where he lived and practiced, but ultimately received an appointment at Washington, where his death occurred.  He practiced very little at the Mercer courts.”[189]   


He was probably the same John Hunter who was admitted to the Allegheny Co. bar on 29 Sept. 1801 on motion of Thomas Collins.[190]


One family tree placed Hunter in Williamsport, Lycoming Co., PA, 1799 to 1809, and then in Pittsburgh by 1815.[191]




David Irvine, d. 1827, Franklin, m. 1810,[192] Mary Ann Heron, daughter of James G. & Eleanor (Evans) Heron,[193] of Franklin, b. ca. 1789, Maryland, res. Erie, 1870,[194] 1876,[195] d. there, at the home of  her daughter, 9 Feb. 1877,[196] aged 88 yrs., bur. Erie Cemetery.[197]


There are few recollections of David Irvine since he died so early.  The basic 1903 account said the first attorney of any record in Venango County was David Irvine who came there in 1806 and died in Franklin in 1827.  “He was a painstaking, methodical man and well-versed in the law.”[198] 


In 1810, probably before his marriage, the household of David “Irwin” in Franklin included 2 youngish men, an older man, and 2 youngish women.  In 1820, there were three boys and one girl, plus the parents.[199]


Since attorneys frequently handled legal matters about land, they engaged in the real estate trade as well.  David Irvine owned a mill and 400-acre mill tract in Scrubgrass Township near Emlenton, which he agreed to sell on 23 Mar. 1814, for the substantial sum of $2,100.[200]  The Irvines sold Franklin in-lots 116 & 117 for $150 in 1820,[201] but on the other side of the ledger, they lost several Franklin in-lots and 400 acres in French Creek Township for unpaid taxes in 1820 and 1824.  In 1820, David Irvine was clerk of the Venango County commissioners.[202]  When the Franklin Sunday School was established in 1824, Mary A. Irvine was one of the teachers.[203]


The Irvines were Episcopalians.  Mary’s parents had hosted the first religious service in Franklin soon after their arrival, and she thought the preacher was a Presbyterian.  However, after Charles Smith from Connecticut was appointed rector of the newly-founded Christ Church in Meadville, he also preached in Franklin, Mercer, and “parts adjacent,” leading to the establishment of St. John’s Church in Franklin in 1825, where David Irvine was one of the subscribers to Rev. Smith’s salary for preaching every other week, beginning 1 Jan. 1826.  Irvine was one of the petitioners for a charter for the church, which was granted by the legislature on 22 May 1826, and he was appointed one of the first wardens and vestrymen.  He also was one of the twenty subscribers to the fund for constructing a building, which began later the same year, though it was not completed for many years.[204]  The church also had a “neighboring cemetery, lately closed against further burials, contain[ing] all that is mortal of many of these pioneers…,”[205] and it is probable David Irvine was buried there.




William Neill Irvine,[206] son of Gen. William & Ann (Callender) Irvine, b. 1 Nov. 1782, Carlisle, PA, d. 26 Sept. 1854, Harrisburg, PA,[207] bur. there.

m. First Presbyterian Church, Carlisle, 26 July 1808, Juliana Galbraith, daughter of Andrew & Barbara (Kyle?[208]) Galbraith, b. ca. 1786, Cumberland Co., PA, d. 13 Jan. 1862, Philadelphia, bur. Laurel Hill Cemetery there.[209]  They had at least two sons.[210]


A brief notice in the Erie County history said Irvine came to Erie in 1806, representing the Pennsylvania Population Company, but went back to Harrisburg and later became a judge in Adams County.[211] 


Another noted William N. Irvine was the son of a Revolutionary War general,[212] and was appointed judge in the Adams Co. district in 1846.  “Impeachment proceedings were instituted against him, however, because of his insufficient legal ability.  He resigned after serving three years.”[213]  He was living with his wife in Harrisburg in 1850, but said he had no occupation.[214]


The longest biography, by William H. Egle in 1896, said Irvine was educated at Dickinson College,[215] studied law with Thomas Duncan in Carlisle, and was admitted to the Cumberland Co. bar in 1802.  His brief residence in Erie was not mentioned at all, but he moved to Harrisburg, joined the Dauphin Co. bar in 1807, but then enlisted in an Army artillery regiment on 3 May 1808, and was stationed for several years in New Orleans.  He resigned from the army in 1810 or 1811, and resumed the practice of law in Sunbury, PA, but was acting Adjutant General of Pennsylvania in 1813, when due to the War of 1812, he was appointed by President Madison as colonel of the 42nd U.S. infantry on 4 Aug. 1813.  He resigned from the army again after the war, and settled in Harrisburg, where he was deputy attorney general/district attorney for Dauphin and Northumberland Counties.  He was appointed escheator general of Pennsylvania on 14 Sept. 1814, but that office was abolished.  He represented Dauphin Co. in the legislature in 1818-1819, where he originated the bill to construct the state capitol in Harrisburg, then he served as Adjutant General of Pennsylvania again from 1819 to 1821.  He moved to Gettysburg, where he lived from 1826[216] through 1850, and in 1847 Gov. Shunk appointed him law judge of the York and Adams district, upon the expiration of his predecessor’s term, but Irvine “resigned shortly after, owing to some difficulty with the members of the bar and efforts made to impeach him.  Col. Irvine was a brilliant pleader, but not a lawyer, and hence his failure in the judicial station to which he had been elevated.  He returned to Harrisburg, where he resumed the practice of the law for awhile, and subsequently died there.  He was an excellent military officer, a gentleman of fine personal appearance, tall and commanding, of good conversational powers, a delightful companion, and for a period of thirty years was quite prominent and influential in public affairs.” [217]


Irvine was nothing if not well-connected:  his father was a noted general, his wife’s first cousin, Judge John Galbraith, was married to Amy Ayres, sister of Gen. William Ayres of Butler, and his wife’s sister, Sarah W. Galbraith, was married to PA Chief Justice John Bannister Gibson.[218]




William Johnston

William Johnston was taxed on his profession as a lawyer in Crawford County in 1801.[219]

Possibly William Johnston, Esq., who m. Pittsburgh, 14 Nov. 1815, Rachel Ferree, daughter of the late Col. Joel & Christiana (Kuykendall) Ferree,[220] b. 4 Nov. 1794

Also possibly William Johnston, Esq., Inspector of the 1st Brigade of the 15th Division of Pennsylvania Militia, who was accused in 1820 that he “in sundry instances has been negligent and inattentive to the duties of his office.”[221]




David LeFevre came to Franklin a few years after David Irvine.  “He was a grand attorney and built up a nice practice.  He was the second resident lawyer in Franklin.  He left the city many years ago and none knew where he went or when he answered the final summons.”[222]


Since many attorneys invested in land, he may have been Daniel Lefevre whose vacant 2410 acres in French Creek Twp., Venango Co. and 400 acres in Brokenstraw Twp., Warren Co., were listed for Treasurer’s Sale for unpaid taxes in 1814.[223]

He was possibly the same person as:  Daniel LeFevre, son of George & Anne B. (Slaymaker) LeFevre, b. 23 Nov. 1788, d. 13 Jan. 1855.[224]  “Daniel” LeFevre was also one of the persons assaulted by Atty. Patrick Farrelly [XI] in Crawford County in 1807.


He m. Meadville, 1 Dec. 1818, Henrietta Louisa Colson, daughter of Carl Wilhelm von Colson and his wife, Caroline Wilhelmine Reimer, b. 27 June 1802, prob. Bückeburg, in the principality of Lippe-Bückeburg, d. July, 1892, Jamestown, NY, and they had three children.[225] Henrietta divorced Daniel in Crawford County, PA, on 17 Apr. 1829,[226] on the grounds that he had deserted her in the spring of 1826.  Her brother testified that LeFevre was living in Ontario, Canada, when last heard from, in a “destitute and debauched condition.”  This would no doubt account for his disappearance from Franklin, leaving no trace behind.




Col. Ralph Marlin, son of Joshua & Agnes (McCulloch) Marlin,[227] b. 3 Apr. 1777, Cumberland Co., PA, d. apparently unm., 14 Aug. 1826 at the home of his brother, Joshua, in Indiana, PA.[228]

Ralph Marlin may have settled in Meadville as early as 1801, as he was taxed on his profession in Crawford County from 1801 through 1805 at least,[229] and he lived in Meadville at the time of the 1810 federal census, the head of a household with two men aged 26 to 45.[230]  Marlin was also admitted at the first court in Mercer County in February, 1804.[231]  He received the title “colonel” for his service in the war of 1812, and his obituary said he was “formerly an eminent attorney at Meadville.” 


Evidently a Federalist, Ralph Marlin signed a certificate “from subscribers in Meadville,” supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings in 1803.[232]  Marlin was a surety for Pieter Huidekoper in the free-for-all of 5 Mar. 1807, when he was charged with assault on Patrick Farrelly,[233] and town father David Mead was indicted for assaulting Marlin on 27 Sept. 1808.[234]


A recollection in 1876 said:


“Ralph Marlin came from Central Pennsylvania in the spring of 1801 and settled at Meadville.  He had been admitted to practice prior to his coming west.  He went out as a major in the regular army in the War of 1812, and was at Erie during the building of Perry’s fleet in 1813.  He served in the Legislature from 1815 to 1818, but finally became somewhat dissipated, and about the year 1826, returned to one of the eastern counties.  His practice in Mercer was not extensive.”[235]


Ralph Marlin was present at the first session of Court in Warren County on 29 Nov. 1819, and he was one of the four attorneys admitted to practice, along with Thomas H. Sill, John Galbraith and Patrick Farrelly.


Recollections of witnesses to an altercation between one of the attorneys and one of the grand jurors that first night varied between themselves and the court record in the details.


Judge [Lansing] Wetmore wrote:

This first term of court went off rather as a jubilee and jollification than sober business of administering justice to parties, and trial of cases.  Every body drank liquor then and almost every body got drunk, or, as Mr. Parmelee used to have it “Gentlemanly gay…..”  There were but two cases tried, and they were in the sessions.  They originated in a fight on Monday evening of court week, between one of the grand jurors and an attorney at the bar from Meadville.  The attorney had been a Colonel of the Militia in the War of 1812, and the juryman a soldier.  He, the colonel, was telling in rather a boasting way of his exploits while on the frontier. The juryman listened to him for some time, when he asked him if he was the officer who dodged behind a tree when there was an alarm of an attack by the British.  The gallant colonel replied by a blow on the head of the grand juryman.  It was promptly returned, when a general melee ensued.  It resulted in some bloody noses and black eyes, but no serious injuries; all being a little more than “gentlemanly gay.”  The colonel was indicted and convicted of an assault and battery; a motion was made in arrest of judgment, which still remains unargued and undisposed of; the colonel has long since gone to his final account.  The grand juryman was also indicted and tried, but was acquitted on the plea of se defendendo.[236]


Judge [Abner] Hazeltine remembered the incident differently:


During the evening of the first day Counselor Marlin, who was not a total abstinence man, was approached rather incautiously, as he thought, by one of the grand jurors named Dickson, who, like the colonel, had imbibed pretty freely.  Colonel Marlin had been some years previous to that engaged in lumbering on the Conewango and the Allegheny and Dickson, who claimed to have been employed in some capacity about that business, was disposed to be more familiar with the colonel than was agreeable to him, and he put himself upon his dignity, which greatly irritated Dickson, who being a grand juror supposed himself the peer of any one.  The result was a free fight ensued in which the colonel was rather roughly handled.  As several of the grand jurors were witnesses of the affray, they thought it their duty to indict them both.  My recollection is, that Mr. Sill [XXXII in this series] of Erie, officiated as prosecuting attorney and drew the bill.  The next day the bills were presented in court and the defendants arrested.  That day, or the next, Dickson was put upon his trial.  That, I suppose, was the first trial before a jury ever had in this county. That circumstance and the character of the parties concerned, interested the public and caused a large attendance.  The evidence in the case was brief; only two or three persons who saw the affray were sworn.  One I think, was Mr. Miller, the foreman of the grand jury.  Mr. Sill appeared for the Commonwealth, and as was his wont, made a very eloquent speech, speaking in high terms of Colonel Marlin and alluding to his services in the then recent war with Great Britain, in which the colonel had served with distinction.  Dickson was defended by Mr. afterwards Judge [John] Galbraith, then a very young man.  The jury, after receiving a very brief charge from the court,[237] consisting mainly of a definition of the crime of assault and battery, retired to a room provided them by the sheriff in another building.  They soon returned and rendered a verdict of guilty against the prisoner.  A motion was then made to postpone the trial of Colonel Marlin to the next term, which was granted.  The sentence of Dickson was also postponed.  According to my recollection, neither case was ever moved again, but what the records show in the matter I am unable to say.[238]


The authors of the 1887 Warren County History, however, did some independent research, and came up with details of the two criminal trials:


Since both gentlemen—Messrs. Wetmore and Hazeltine—depended on their memory alone in reciting events connected with this term of court, they have quite naturally failed to state things just as they were, particularly in relation to the trial of Marlin and Dixon for assault and battery, the results, etc.  Therefore we furnish the reader the following information derived from the docket:


In the case of “Commonwealth vs. R. Marlin, Esq.,” which was first called, the witnesses for the Commonwealth were John Dixon, Samuel Gibson, Henry Dunn, Alfred Ayers and Johnathan Andrews; the witnesses for the defendant being Richard B. Miller, James Wilson, William Siggins, Alfred Vanornam, Charles O’Bryan, and Barnabas McKinney.  The trial came off November 30, 1819, the second day of the term before the following jurors:  Cookson Long, Enoch Gillam, Cephas Hulbert, Samuel Gregg, Eli Granger, Levi Morrison, Ethan Owen, James Collett, Walter Seaman, John Sample, John Gilson and Henry Myers. Defendant was found not guilty, but ordered to pay the costs of prosecution.  On December 1, 1819, motion for new trial was granted.


“Commonwealth vs. John Dixon”   In this case the witnesses for the Commonwealth were Alfred Vanornam and William Siggins; for the defendant, Alfred Ayers and Jacob C. Boardman.  The trial came off the same day as that of Marlin’s, before a jury composed of the following members:  Barnabas Owen, Eben Owen, Philip Huffman, Abraham Strickland, James Willson, John Rogers, Eben Jackson, George Morrison, Michael McKinney, Johnson Wilson, Barnabas McKinney, and Robert Miles.  The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of $6 and the costs of prosecution.[239]





Robert Moore

Robert Moore, the son of Dr. Henry Moore, an Irish surgeon, was born and educated in Washington County, joined the bar there in August of 1801 and was admitted in Allegheny Co. on 25 Mar. 1802.[240]  He was admitted in Mercer, 17 May 1804, was another distinguished member of the circuit-riding group, though he was a resident of Beaver from 1803 to the time of his death, which occurred January 14, 1831, aged fifty-four years.  He was a member of the State Legislature in 1829 and was an exemplary citizen, filling several important trusts with honor to himself and credit to the public.  At the time of his death the Beaver Argus contained the following flattering encomium upon him:  ‘As a public servant, he was vigilant, able and successful.  As an attorney, he was learned, faithful and honest.  As a citizen, he was obliging, attentive and much beloved.’  He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church….”[241]




Anselm Potter,[242] son of Daniel & Margaret (Humiston) Potter, b. 20 Nov. 1786, Plymouth, CT, d. 25 Feb. 1848, New York Lunatic Asylum, Utica, NY, bur. North Street Cemetery, Logansport, IN.[243]  

He m. ca. 1815, Julia Geraldine Turner, daughter of Asa & Isabel (Ketchum) Turner, b. 28 Aug. 1796, Franklin, NY, d. 17 Jan. 1875, Topeka, KS, bur. Pleasant View Cemetery, Oskaloosa, KS,[244] and they were the parents of three daughters.


Anselm Potter at the age of seventeen entered Yale with the Class of 1804, one of his classmates being John C. Calhoun, although “through close application to study, he became partially deranged” and “did not complete the course.”[245]  Both Potter and Calhoun in 1805 enrolled in the law school of Judge Tapping Reeve in Litchfield, CT, which is generally considered the first law school in the United States.[246]


An Erie County history listed Potter as one of the first attorneys resident in Erie, and said he was admitted to practice there in 1808.[247]   Local historian Isaac Moorhead said that in 1809 just east of the Park, in the area of French and Sixth Streets, “Anselm Potter, was an attorney ‘at Mr. Fisk’s opposite Duncan’s’”—Duncan being the proprietor of the “Spread Eagle.”[248]  Potter was not listed in the 1810 census in Erie, but had already moved to Mayville, Chautauqua Co., NY, helping to found a Federalist club there in 1812,[249] and hosting the organizational meeting of the Chautauqua County Temperance Society in his office in 1829.[250]  Potter did not appear in the Crawford County Quarter Sessions 1800 to 1815.[251]


One of his professional listings said he had been admitted to practice as an attorney in 1820 and as a counsellor in 1826, and was elected a justice of the peace in 1827. [252]  His obituary said he sustained severe head injuries in a fall from his horse which affected his mind, and he suffered a breakdown when his eldest daughter died in 1831.  He apparently continued to practice, however, and was listed as an attorney in Mayville in directories for 1843 and 1847.[253]  About that time, before they moved to Logansport, Indiana, his family placed him in the asylum in Utica, where he spent the last two years of his life.




John Purviance,[254] b. 28 Dec. 1781, Washington, PA, d. there, 28 Dec. 1820. 

He m. ___ Anderson, the daughter of Rev. Samuel Anderson, the sister of the wife of Atty. John Gilmore.  She survived him with seven children, and all returned to Butler after he died.


Purviance probably was the same John Purviance who attended Canonsburg Academy several years before it became Jefferson College in 1802.[255]   He studied law with Parker Campbell, Esq., of Washington, PA, and was one of the first attorneys who settled in Butler County, being admitted to the first court held in Butler, and he continued the practice of his profession until the war of 1812 with Great Britain. Soon after the war began, he was elected Colonel of the Second Regiment of Infantry, which he commanded until mustered out of service, by reason of expiration of term of enlistment.  Some few years after his return from the army, he moved back to Washington, where he resumed the practice of the law until his death.

The records of Butler County show that Mr. Purviance had a large practice, and attest the confidence of the people in his ability and integrity. During his residence in the county, he was the attorney of the Rapp Society, at Harmony, and continued as such until the society removed to Posey County, IN.[256]  Purviance also rode the circuit, as he was admitted to practice in Mercer County, in August Term, 1804.[257]




John Reynolds, son of William & Lydia (Thomas) Reynolds, b. 18 June 1782, Colchester, England, d. 23 July 1871, Meadville, PA, bur. Greendale Cemetery

m. Meadville, PA, 20 June 1814, Jane Judith (Ellicott) Kennedy, daughter of Andrew & Sarah (Brown) Ellicott, 25 June 1778, Baltimore, MD, d. 27 Nov. 1845, Meadville, PA, bur. Greendale Cemetery.  Jane m.(1) Lancaster, PA, 28 July 1802, Dr. Thomas R. Kennedy, a widower, b. ca. 1763, Chester County, d. 21 Mar. 1813, Meadville. 


The Reynolds family came to the United States in 1795 and settled in Cherrytree, Venango County, in 1797.  John Reynolds made a fortune in real estate and is remembered as a civic leader in Meadville.  However, this brief reference turned up in the 1885 Crawford County History:


“John had been educated in Birmingham and Leominster before leaving England, and in 1805 came to Meadville, where he taught in the Meadville Academy.  In 1807, he “became connected with Col. [Ralph] Marlin in surveying lands of the Holland Land Company and continued to be thus occupied for several years.  Subsequently he began the study of law under the directions of Col. Marlin.  In 1812, he was admitted to the bar, but devoted little time to the practice of his profession, applying himself almost exclusively to real estate business.”[258]


In this respect, Reynolds’ career paralleled that of Edward Work [XXXVI] who went into business with Dr. Kennedy and served as Kennedy’s deputy when he was prothonotary, 1800-1809.  Work and Kennedy invested in lumbering in Chautauqua County in 1807, and Work moved there in 1809 to supervise the business, giving up the practice of law entirely.  Reynolds, new to Meadville about that time, apparently filled Work’s place with Dr. Kennedy.


In John E. Reynolds’ street-by-street listing of historic Meadville buildings, which he based on the notes of his father, William Reynolds, he described the Thomas R. Kennedy office which stood immediate south of the homestead on the west side of Water Street as his grandfather’s law office:


old office building of Dr. [Thomas R.] Kennedy, prothonotary of Crawford and Venango Counties, John Reynolds, clerk.[259]  Here the first mail was distributed by Edward Work, postmaster.  When this building later became the law office of John Reynolds, the books of the first library were kept here.[260]


            The above quotations are the only references yet located concerning John Reynolds’ admission to the bar, but his involvement as clerk to Dr. Thomas R. Kennedy in his extensive land business evidently kept him from legal jobs, just as it had with Edward Work.  On Kennedy’s death in 1813, Reynolds, who lived in the Kennedy homestead, was appointed executor of Kennedy’s will and guardian of his five minor children, and then fifteen months later, he married Kennedy’s widow, gradually taking over the Kennedy enterprises.  John and Jane Reynolds had two sons and two daughters of their own.  This marriage connected Reynolds with Henry Baldwin [VI] whose second wife was Sarah Ellicott, sister of Jane Ellicott, the wife of Dr. Thomas Kennedy and then John Reynolds. After Baldwin’s death, Sarah Baldwin did not want the new mansion he had built in Meadville as his retirement retreat, and sold it to her nephew, John Reynolds’ younger son William, and it remained in the Reynolds family until 1965.[261]


As for Dr. Kennedy, his post as prothonotary at that early date may not have been onerous, but neither was it a sinecure.  To paraphrase William S. Gilbert’s Pirates of Penzance, too often “the prothonotary’s lot is not a happy one.”  On 9 Apr. 1802, William Fergus was brought before Judges Mead and Bell for “singing a song ridiculing Thomas R. Kennedy, Esq., Prothonotary of the Court, at the Court House Door and in the hearing of the Court.”  Fergus was committed to the custody of the Sheriff, but “Did then in view of said Court and within the Court Room, contemptuously sing the said Song” a second time, whereupon he was fined $5 and sentenced to eight days in jail.[262]  The next year, Alexander W. Foster Esq., “of Mead Twp., attorney at law,” [was charged before the grand jury with assault and battery upon Thomas R. Kennedy.  After testimony by Kennedy and Ralph Marlin, the grand jury returned a true bill, but the deputy attorney general removed it by certiorari.[263]





James Ross, b. 12 July 1762, York Co., son of Hon. Thomas Ross, d. 27 Nov. 1847, Pittsburgh.

m. Ann Woods, daughter of Col. George Woods of Bedford, d. 15 Sept. 1805.[264]

Though a long-time resident of Pittsburgh it was recalled that Ross appeared at court in Franklin.


Most accounts of his career are full of superlatives.  The first, by Daniel Agnew:


“The bar of the decennial between 1790 and 1800 was one of marked character and ability.  Foremost was James Ross, a man of culture, erudition, legal learning, eloquence and forensic ability.  In person an Apollo, with the proportions of an Ajax, his mental was superior to his bodily vigor….


In the West we first notice him as a teacher of a Latin school at Canonsburg, before 1784, under the patronage of his friend, the Rev. Dr. [John] McMillan, of pious memory.  He was led to study law by the recommendation of Hugh Henry Brackenridge, then a prominent lawyer in the West.  The time of his admission to the bar in Washington County is uncertain.  He was admitted in Fayette County in December, 1784, and in Allegheny after its erection, December 16, 1788.


He became conspicuous for his eloquence, persuasiveness, learning, and logical statement.  To a fine manner he united force and polish in his address, and soon rose to distinction.  Impelled by the circumstances of the time, he took a lead in politics.  They were full of excitement and incident, were calculated to bring out all the talent of the day, and Mrs. Ross became a marked leader.  On the presentation to the people of the Constitution of the United States for adoption, he was found among its able advocates and defenders, and was ranked among the Federalists.  In the formation of the Constitution of Pennsylvania of 1790, he took a leading part.  He strongly opposed the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794, making a speech in opposition in Washington [PA] where he resided, of two hours’ length.  But the fiery zeal of David Bradford, a leader in the opposition to the government excise on whiskey, carried the people with him, and they resolved to go to Braddock’s Field, a place of meeting of the insurgents.  Defeated then, he resolved to attend the meeting there.  Historically the fact is well known; he appeared there, with Hugh Henry Brackenridge and others; but his previous speech, his subsequent course, and his well-known services to the government leave no doubt of his purpose to be there to observe the proceedings and not to be an actor,--a matter in which Mr. Brackenridge was less fortunate, for his motive has never been clearly vindicated, though much has been written in his defence.[sic]

A supporter of Washington, Mr. Ross was on the 8th of August, 1794, on account of his bold and open stand on the side of law and order, appointed a commissioner to confer with the insurgents.  Judge Jasper Yeates and William Bradford, attorney-general, were joined with him as commissioners.  In this service he displayed marked ability.  To him Hugh Henry Brackenridge owed largely his escape from a prosecution for high treason, for the apparent part he took with the insurgents.


Mr. Ross was three times a candidate of the Federal party for governor; but, Pennsylvania having followed the fortunes of the Democratic party, he was defeated by Thomas McKean in 1799 and 1802, and again by Simon Snyder in 1808.  It was during the last campaign his famous couplet was repeated by the supporters of Snyder:

                             ‘Jimmy Ross,

                             He’s a hoss;

                             But Simon Snyder,

                             He’s the rider.’


He was also a senator of the United States from 1794 until 1803.  After his defeat by Simon Snyder, Mr. Ross retired from politics and pursued his profession in the western counties, chiefly in Allegheny.  In the latter part of his life he became fairly wealthy from the rise in the value of real estate of which he became a pretty large owner.  The court-house recently burned, the site also of the present magnificent building, was erected on property purchased of him.  I remember well the high, close board fence which separated his property from the remainder of Grant’s Hill, then open and the parade-ground of the militia and kite-ground of the boys.  His dwelling and office stood on a rise, at about fifty or sixty feet eastward of the old Fourth Street road.  In  these pages I shall refer to the numbered ‘avenues’ as ‘streets,’ as they were always known to me and in the time treated in these sketches.  From this office emanated a number of law students, among them my school-companion and friend Cornelius Darragh.


Mr. Ross came occasionally into the court after I came to the bar.  I was so fortunate to hear his argument in the Supreme Court at September Term, 1830, in the Diamond Court-House, before Chief-Justice Gibson and his associates.  The case was then a great case,--an ejectment for land occupied by West Elliott, at the mouth of Saw-Mill Run, opposite the Point,--involving titles acquired under the State of Virginia while she claimed this part of Western Pennsylvania.  The plaintiff claimed under General Hand, whose title rested on a Pennsylvania warrant and patent and on two Virginia entries.  Walton, under whom the defendant claimed title, held also a Virginia certificate.  The counsel were W. W. Fetterman, James Ross, John Kennedy, and Walter Forward.  Ross spoke about half a day.  Kennedy’s argument was as long as one of his opinions when he became a supreme judge, a whole day,--and Forward spoke less than two hours, making a most terse and lucid argument.  Ross’s argument was remarkable for its smooth and polished periods, the beauty and finish of its delivery, as well as for its cogency.


In the latter part of his life, though not then considered intemperate, he occasionally came under the warming influence of wine.  Then a peculiarity noticed by others, I have seen myself, when walking he always took the middle of the street.  My last recollection of him was when going beside him, up the steps of the Bank of Pittsburgh from Third Street.  What led to the quotation of Pope’s line I do not remember, but as we entered he said, ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’”[265]


A second account was almost as fulsome:


“James Ross was the first in every respect. He was a very large man, over six feet high, broad and full in all his proportions, and with big feet, of which he was not ashamed.  He came here shortly after the county was organized and lingered until nearly half of the present century was passed.  As a lawyer, he was not noted for his pleading abilities, but for the soundness of his judgment and his full acquaintance with the law.  When he was a candidate for governor in 1808, as we learn from “Linn’s “History of Buffalo Valley,” page 372, James Ross was declared to be a man of mercenary and avaricious disposition; accused of blasphemy and mockery of religion, and was said to be the candidate of the nabobs and lawyers; than while a member of the United States senate he advocated the wresting of New Orleans from the Spaniards by force, instead of acquiring it by treaty.  The first charge had a bare color of truth in it; the second had nothing to sustain it, unless it may have been that, like many public men of that day, he was inclined to skepticism; and the third was true; but in advocating the acquisition of Louisiana he was but reflecting western sentiment, which was clamorous for the opening of the Mississippi to the ocean.  With regard to his “mercenary and avaricious disposition,” this much is true:  he had money and he preferred to lend it safely.  He would never take or charge more than legal interest, 6 per cent. And he preferred lending to men in extremities, who could secure him for advances made their relief.  It is but natural that a man who was careful as to whom he lent money should acquire the reputation of being “mercenary and avaricious,” but the fact that he never took more than 6 per cent interest, in times when he could have had from 10 to 20 per cent, should relieve him from the charge of avariciousness.  He owned and lived upon a square on Grant’s hill, known then as the “Oregon” lot, extending from Fourth to Fifth on Grant and Ross streets.  He sold the half of this, from Diamond alley to Fifth in 1837 or 1838, to the county commissioners, for a courthouse and jail, and they paid him, as it is thought, $75,000 for it.  The present courthouse occupies the whole of it.  The other half of the lot he occupied himself until he died, the house standing upon the hill, considerably above the grade of Fourth avenue.  Within the recollection of old citizens, an old orchard occupied at least part of the remaining half of the lot.  Besides this Mr. Ross acquired a considerable part of the O’Hara estate, on the Allegheny river, eight nor nine miles up; but the money which paid for this land saved the O’Hara estate from destruction at a moment of great peril to O’Hara’s financial credit.  It is not worth whole to try to conceal the fact that Ross had an eye out, always, to the main chance; but he never oppressed anyone, and always maintained his integrity as a man and a lawyer.  He was, as must be already apparent, prominent as a federal politician.  Twice he was the federal candidate for governor, not by nomination, for state conventions did then exist, but by general consent of that party; and he was twice elected to the United States senate. The first time for the unexpired term of Gallatin, who was elected in 1792, but ruled out on account of ineligibility, and was re-elected in 1799.  Altogether he was a man of great intellect and a sound lawyer, who left a good reputation behind him.”[266]


A wealthy man, his household in 1800 included two black servants.[267]  Not surprisingly, a lawyer as locally successful as Ross did not have to travel far for cases, and his name does not appear in the Crawford County Quarter Sessions docket between 1800 and 1815.[268]




Cunningham S. Semple, son of Cunningham & Agnes (Welsher) Semple, b. 27 Dec. 1762, York Co., PA, d. 28 Feb. 1822, Mercer, PA

m. Mercer, PA, 1803, Ann Bell, b. 1786, Enyvale, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.  A son and daughter.[269]


Cunningham Semple was admitted to the Washington Co. bar in Nov. 1798, and the Allegheny County bar on 3 Dec. 1798.[270]  “Cunningham Semple was another of the first attorneys [at Mercer]”[271] where he was admitted at the first court in February, 1804.[272]   Benjamin Stokely, who was believed to be the first permanent European settler in Mercer County in 1796, also confirmed that “the first lawyer that settled in Mercer was E.[sic] S. Semple.”[273]  However, Semple’s name did not appear in the Crawford County Quarter Sessions Dockets, 1800-1815.[274]


“He was a fleshy man, who took the world easy, giving very little attention to legal matters.  He was the first postmaster of Mercer, holding the position from 1st of July, 1805 to 1st of July, 1810.  He lived on the east side of the diamond, and owned all the land from A. J. McKean’s corner north to the alley….”[275]  He also served as burgess of Mercer in 1815[276]  His household in 1820 included a young black woman.[277] 




Steele Semple, son of Robert & Lydia Letitia (Steele) Semple, b. 26 Aug. 1768, Carlisle, PA, d. 16 Apr. 1813, Pittsburgh.

m.(1) Pittsburgh, 17 Dec. 1793, Catherine Fowler, daughter of George & Caroline (Swanwick) Fowler, b. 1773, PA, d. 1 Mar. 1800, Pittsburgh. [278]  They were the parents of a daughter, and a son who died in his teens.

m.(2) Pittsburgh, 4 June 1801, Juliet Steel Sample, daughter of Samuel Sample,[279] b. 1780, d. 10 Oct. 1808, Pittsburgh.  A son who died as a teen and a daughter.


Steele graduated in the first class at Dickinson College in Carlisle in 1787, also received an A.M., and then in January 1791 delivered an oration there about the nature of civil liberty and the evils of slavery and despotic power.


Steele was one of the group which appeared before the first court in Meadville in 1800, though he resided in Pittsburgh until his death.  His name does not appear in the Crawford County Quarter Sessions Dockets, 1800-1815, so he may never have practiced there.[280]  In 1803, Semple signed a certificate supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings.[281]


His obituary was unabashedly laudatory:


Died, on the 16th ins. At Pittsburgh, STEELE SEMPLE, Esq., Counsellor at Law.

Endowed with transcendant powers of mind, prompt, acute, correct, learned and eloquent, he was long regarded as among the very first and ablest counsel at the bar:--To him literary attainments were no labour, for being congenial to his taste, they were gained as if by intuition, and retained by a memory that knew not how to forget:--In brilliance of thought, felicity of expression, and genuine wit he had no equal, no rival among his contemporaries.

Is heart was worthy of the noble intellect by which it was directed:--ardent in its friendship; kind in its affections; tender in its temper; constant in its attachment; generous and liberal to a fault in its intercourse with the world.—Such indeed was the rare union of pre-eminent talents, with the most benevolent disposition, that this amiable man never wounded a companion by his exquisite wit, nor made a deserving man his enemy in the whole course of his life.[282]


The biography by Daniel Agnew in 1888 is the fullest and most balanced:


“Somewhat later…came Steele Semple, an able lawyer, eloquent advocate, and finished scholar.  Tradition says this much, yet his remains are so small and vague it is impossible to describe him with fidelity.  Tradition speaks of his legal attainments as immense, of his scholarship as magnificent, and of his eloquence as grand.  Like [John] Woods, with whom he was partly contemporary, his largest practice was found in the land-title disputes and the trial of ejectments.  His name is also frequently seen in Yeates’s Reports, and as in attendance at the Circuit Courts of the Supreme Court in the western circuits of the State.  He was, with Henry Baldwin, a witness of the cowhiding of Ephraim Pentland by Tarleton Bates, and with him signed a certificate of the facts.  In this way he became partly identified with the duel which followed between Bates and Stewart, in which Bates was mortally wounded and died in a few hours.


Tradition represents him as of a convivial turn, often tarrying over the wine-cup late at night.[283]  It is said that on one night, after indulging in the pleasures of the glass until very late, and being too much elated to walk in the right line of sober directness, he started for home along Wood Street, and, walking with erratic steps, fell into an open cellar.  There confined within the unassailable ramparts of its walls, he lay shouting aloud, and from time to time crying, ‘De profundis clamabo!,[284] until a night wanderer, late as himself, passing, heard the cry and released him from the profound depth in which he so resolutely shouted out to catch the passing ear.


He had his own experience in litigation, under the will of an uncle,[285] carried into the Supreme Court; and his case gave rise to the rule laid down by that court,-‘That words which only describe the object devised give no more than an estate for life; but words which comprehend the quantum of the estate pass the fee.’  The words were, ‘I devise to my beloved son-in-law, Steele Semple, all my real and personal property,’ 6 Binney, 97.


He lived in, and probably built, the house which before the great fire of April 10, 1845, stood on Second Street, at the corner of Chancery Lane, next door to the Branch Bank of the United States, and in which my father lived many years as a tenant under James Ross, who in some way claimed the property….[286]


Agnew then quoted the following description “said to be [by] George Dallas Albert” though he warned “What opportunities the writer had to enable him to make the statements I know not:”


“The great favorite of the younger members of the bar was Steele Semple, who ought to be considered at the head of the corps of regular practitioners.  In stature he was a giant of mighty bone, and possessed a mind cast in as mighty a mould.  Personally he was timid and sluggish.  As a speaker his diction was elegant, sparkling, and classical.  His wit was genuine.  He was at the same time a prodigy of memory, a gift imparted to him to supply the want of industry, although it is not every indolent man who is thus favored.  Mr. Semple was conversant with all the polite and fashionable literature of the day, and was more of a modern than his distinguished competitors.  It is not less strange than true that, for the first few years of his appearance at the bar, his success was very doubtful.  His awkward manner, his hesitation and stammering, his indolent habits occasioned many to think that he had mistaken his vocation.  Judge [Hugh H.] Brackenridge, the elder, was almost the only person who saw his future eminence.  He was unfortunately carried off when he had just risen to distinction.  He fell a victim to that vice which unhappily has too often overtaken the most distinguished in every profession.  His fame had not travelled far from the display of his powers, which is usually the case in the profession which must be seen and felt to be appreciable.”[287]


A third biography written in 1889 was less specific:


“The most that is known comes down by tradition.  He was gone from his profession before any of the present generation had a chance to know him.  But all the accounts that have been heard of him are good.  He was such a lawyer, in his day, as Henry Baldwin and Walter Forward were after him.  His specialty, as was the cases then with all the bar, was land cases.  With James Ross, he had pre-eminence in ejectment cases.”[288]


An 1876 evaluation was not as favorable:  “Steel[e] Semple was a noted attorney and a man of eminent ability—a fine classical scholar.  He lived at Pittsburgh, but was admitted to the Mercer bar February 16, 1804.  He was addicted to the use of intoxicating drinks, which impaired, somewhat, his great usefulness and power.”[289]


Like many businessmen who take risks, Semple’s estate was in debt when he died, and his executors attempted to pay some of it by auctioning the “out lots” Semple had platted along the Monongahela River “above Pittsburgh” on 1 Oct. 1813,[290] and it appears his home was eventually sold as well.  His household in 1800 included one black servant.[291]




Joseph Shannon, b. ca. 1770, d. 16 Apr. 1839, aged 69, bur. Old Mercer Cemetery[292]

m. Susan Warner.  The couple appears to have been childless.[293]


“Joseph Shannon was another of the attorneys admitted at the first court [at Mercer.]  He lived about three or four miles south of Mercer, on the New Castle road.  His wife was Sarah Warner, a sister of Mrs. Bevan Pearson. He never had much of a practice, but was treasurer of Mercer County in early days….[294]




Thomas Hale Sill, son of Capt. Richard Lord & Sarah (Hale) Sill,[295] b. 11 Oct. 1783, Windsor, CT, d. 7 Feb. 1856, Erie, PA,[296] bur Erie Cemetery

m. 22 Sept. 1816, Joanna Boylston Chase, daughter of Rev. Amos & & Joanna Boylston (Lanman) Chase, b. 29 June 1796, Litchfield, CT, d. 21 June 1889, Erie,[297] bur. Erie Cemetery.  Four sons, three daughters.


Thomas H. Sill graduated from Brown University in Providence, RI, in 1804, took some time off due to ill health, then studied law with Jacob Burnet in Cincinnati, OH, then practiced law in Lebanon, OH, until about 1809 when his health failed again, but he recovered and settled in Erie, PA in 1813, where he was admitted to the bar the same year,[298] and he filed a motion in a Quarter Sessions case in Meadville that fall.[299]  In Erie, he was a deputy U.S. marshal, 1816-18, and then became deputy attorney general [district attorney] in Warren Co. in 1819, his practice being mainly in Erie, Crawford and Warren Counties.[300] 


The Erie bar remained small.  William Wallace and William N. Irvine were the prosecuting attorneys there in 1804, but after Wallace returned to Philadelphia, Patrick Farrelly and Ralph Marlin of Meadville filed the post in 1809.[301]   Sill who arrived in 1813 and George A. Elliott, who moved from CT to Erie in 1816 were the entire Erie bar for a number years, until they were joined by an influx of new lawyers after the Court House burned in 1823 and was rebuilt.[302]  Sill was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1823, and to Congress 1826.  He was president of the U.S. branch bank in Erie in 1837, postmaster of Erie from 1847 to 1853, and a trustee of the Erie Academy for thirty years,[303] and but had time to partner in the lumber and flour business of his brother-in-law, Joseph L. Chase, in Titusville, PA.[304]  The Sill home was located at the corner of Sixth and Holland Streets in Erie.  “[T]he lots west of the home of the Hon. Thomas H. Sill [were] open as commons...[in 1835]. The little building next the commons [was his] law office.  He was known as an earnest, able and dignified gentleman.”[305]





John Bradford Wallace, son of Joshua W. & Tacey (Bradford) Wallace, b. 17 Aug. 1778 at Ellerslie, his father’s farm in Somerset Co., NJ, d. 7 Jan. 1837, Philadelphia, bur. St. Peter’s Churchyard there.[306]

m. 2 Apr., 1805, Susan Binney, daughter of Dr. Barnabas & Mary (Woodrow) Binney, and sister of Philadelphia lawyer, Horace Binney, b. 22 Feb. 1778, d. 8 July 1849, at her country home in Burlington, NJ, bur. St. Peter’s Churchyard.


Wallace was active in politics and long served as a vestryman in the Episcopal Church.  His epitaph concluded that he was “of commanding stature, and elevated mien, manners gracious and refined.”


An account written in Mercer in 1876 differed slightly:


“John B. Wallace was a Meadville attorney who did considerable business in Mercer.  He was a native of New Jersey.  He was a large, well-formed man of majestic mould, a vigorous thinker and an eloquent speaker.  He lived in Meadville from 1821 to 1834, during which time he paid his visits to Mercer.”[307]


Wallace was Pennsylvania manager of the Holland Land Co., in 1818 or 1819, he sent George Selden to Meadville, as their lawyer.  In 1810, Wallace with Judge William E. Griffith of NJ, had contracted to buy all the lands of the Holland Land Co. west of the Allegheny River for $180,000 to be paid when the land was sold, and then Wallace bought another large tract from the Pennsylvania Population Co. and moved to Meadville himself to manage his landholdings.[308]





William Wallace, son of Benjamin Wallace & his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Culbertson, b. Oct. 1767 in Hanover Twp., in what is now Dauphin Co., PA, d. 28 May 1816, Harrisburg, bur. in the graveyard of the Paxtang Presbyterian Church.[309]

m.(1) 27 Apr. 1803, Rachel Forest, daughter of Dr. Andrew Forest, formerly of Harrisburg but then of Lycoming Co., who d. 10 Mar. 1804.[310]

m.(2) 21 or 22 Apr. 1806, Eleanor Maclay,[311] daughter of William & Mary McClure (Harris) Maclay, and granddaughter of John Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, she was b. ca. 1774, and d. 2 Jan. 1823, bur. Paxtang Presbyterian Cemetery.


He was erroneously called “John Wallace” in 1884 Erie County History, but the brief biography given there matches that of William Wallace: 


He came from “Eastern Pennsylvania” to Erie in 1800 as attorney for the Pennsylvania Population Company, was considered the first resident lawyer there, but moved back to Harrisburg in 1811.[312]


William Wallace graduated from Princeton College in 1788, then studied law either with Galbraith Patterson of Harrisburg,[313] or John W. Kittera of Lancaster,[314] and was admitted to the Dauphin County bar in June 1792, and the Philadelphia bar the following October.


Wallace moved to Erie by 1800, the first lawyer to settle there.  He was attorney for the Pennsylvania Population Company, and also secretary and local agent of a smaller land company, the Harrisburg and Presque Isle Co.  Besides his land company work, he built a sawmill in 1807 or 1808 in partnership with Thomas Forster, served as Deputy Attorney General [previous title for District Attorney] for Erie County, 1804-1807, and bought land on his own account, which by 1895 had become “exceedingly valuable.”[315]  He was one of the four initial trustees of the Erie Library founded in 1806, and one of three commissioners of the new borough of Erie the same year—his brother, John C. Wallace was the first burgess—and an auditor of Erie County in 1809.


Wallace moved back to Harrisburg in 1810 or 1811, where he practiced law with John Lyon and was a director and president of the Harrisburg Bank.


He was described as “a polite, urbane man, of slight frame and concise address.”[316]


Evidently a Federalist, William Wallace signed a certificate “from subscribers in Meadville,” supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings in 1803.[317]


In 1810, William Wallace’s household in Erie consisted of one free nonwhite person and two enslaved nonwhite people.[318]




Edward Work, son of Henry & Sarah (Crawford) Work, b. 4 Dec. 1773,[319] near Mercersburg, Franklin Co., PA,[320] d. 10 July 1857, Worksburg (now Falconer), Chautauqua County, NY.[321]

m. (1) Chautauqua Co. 1816, Jane (Armstrong) Cameron, daughter of John & Catharine (Carl) Armstrong, and widow of Joseph Cameron, b. 27 May 1778, d. 1812, Franklin County.[322]  Jane was b. 6 Apr. 1780, Westfield, NJ, and d. 19 Sept. 1833, age 33,[323] Jamestown, NY.[324]  One son and two daughters.

m.(2) 27 Oct. 1841,[325] Permelia (Mead) Jeffers, daughter of Zadock & Tryphena (Reed) Mead, b. 19 Dec. 1802, Lanesborough, MA, d. aft. 1860.  She had m. ___ Jeffers, and had one daughter, who m. Work’s son by his first marriage.


Work was admitted to the Allegheny Co. Bar on 7 Sept 1798,[326] and came to Meadville about that time, where he became postmaster.  He evidently practiced law as well, as he was taxed on his profession in Crawford County from 1800 through 1805 at least,[327] and he was admitted in Mercer County at the first court in February, 1804.[328]  He was deputy prothonotary under Dr. Thomas R. Kennedy of Meadville, and county prosecuting attorney between 1800 and 1805.[329]  Work became a partner of Dr. Kennedy who operated a large lumbering business in Chautauqua, NY,[330] around the village now called Kennedy in the town of Poland, and together they bought 1200 acres of land on both sides of the outlet of Chautauqua Lake below Dexterville in 1807.[331]  Work moved there about 1809[332] to supervise, and settled the village of Falconer in the town of Ellicott was originally called “Worksburg.”  While moderately successful, Work was by no means rich:  in 1850 Work still lived in the town of Ellicott, called himself only a farmer, and declared assets of $2400.[333]  One of his daughters died as a child in Meadville, his second daughter died single at 21,[334] and his son Edward Fillmore Work died at 26, leaving an only daughter, Jane Amozette Work, b. 14 Dec. 1842.  She appeared with her grandmother in 1860, and was worth $5090, while the elder woman declared no assets.


Evidently a Federalist, Edward Work signed a certificate “from subscribers in Meadville,” supporting Judge Alexander Addison in his impeachment proceedings in 1803.[335]


Very little was recalled of him by 1876:


“Edward Work was a practitioner at Meadville, and the second postmaster of the village.  He ultimately removed to Jamestown, N.Y., where he lived until his death.”

In Worksburg, Work and his first wife joined the Methodist Church, and he became a temperance advocate.  Once a heavy smoker, he gave up that habit as well.  Several times solicited to run for political office, he always refused, and he sold his mills and retired in 1836.[336]



[1] This series ran in the Crawford County Legal Journal, Nov. 2019-19 Aug. 2020.  It followed a tentative listing of names of the first discoverable attorneys who practiced before 1816 in the five counties of northwest Pennsylvania which was published in the two previous issues.  Two names were added to that list from PA’s septennial census of 1800, which recorded the occupations of residents, and it demonstrated there were five attorneys in Crawford County—and none in any of the other counties of northwest PA—and they were Henry Baldwin, Philemon Beecher, Alexander Foster, Andrew Graff, and Edward Work.  More importantly, these five actually lived in Crawford County and did not merely follow the circuit around the area, though Beecher cannot have lived there long.  [Thomas L. Yoset, “Septennial Census of 1800,” Crawford County Genealogy, Vol. 17, pp. 13-20, 99-110 (1998)]  With the new information, the name list was expanded into brief biographies.

[2] Pittsburgh Gazette, 1 Dec. 1807

[3] Though his remains and those of his wife were removed to Allegheny Cemetery on 27 Jan. 1903.  [Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 807, which confirmed he died on 24 Nov. 1807]

[4] Allegheny Co. Will Bk. 3, p. 517, probate file #263.

[5] Pittsburgh Gazette, 18 Feb. 1820.

[6] Allegheny Co. Will Bk. 2, p. 197, probate file #164.

[7] History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, II, p. 252

[8] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, pp. 253-254

[9] Daniel Agnew, “Address to the Allegheny County Bar Association, December 1, 1888,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, No. 1, (1889) pp. 3-4.

[10] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 807

[11] History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, II, p. 267

[12] Five of these were young persons, probably their children, and Alexander and Jane themselves were two of the others.  It is impossible to tell who the remaining two were—possibly servants, boarders, clerks, etc.--as no names other than the head of household were listed in censuses before 1850.  The other two persons were not black servants or slaves, as they would have been enumerated separately.  In the 1810 census, the term was not black, but “other” meaning non-white persons, but by 1820 the term “black” was re-instated, with free black persons and enslaved black persons counted separately.  In this study, in those households where free and enslaved black or non-white people resided, that fact has been noted.  While it might be guessed that free and enslaved black servants might be more common in southern Pennsylvania, just north of the Mason-Dixon Line, there were 14 enslaved non-white servants listed in Erie Borough in 1810.

[13] Obituary by Daniel Agnew in Beaver Argus, 21 June 1854, reprinted in 1888 Beaver Co. History, pp. 166-167.

[14] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803

[15] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 254

[16] Armstrong had two connections to that area:  He had been admitted to the Cumberland County bar and presented a certificate at his admission in Allegheny County in 1793.  He was also the beneficiary of a substantial $1000 bequest in the 1811 will of Joseph Armstrong of Hamilton Twp., Franklin Co., PA [Franklin Co. WB C, p. 19, at p. 20]   Joseph Armstrong left no surviving children and devised a life estate to his wife, a farm to his brother’s son in North Carolina, and then the remainder to six individuals whose relationship he did not specify:  four were bequests to his wife’s nieces and nephews, and a fifth was to a young namesake, Joseph Armstrong Blackburn of Salem, OH, in addition to “George Armstrong, Esq. of Greensburg.”  An Armstrong family historian [George O. Seilhamer, Some Missing and Misplaced Ancestors, Chambersburg, PA:  1907, p. 10] related that all four of Joseph Armstrong’s brothers had moved to North Carolina during the Revolution, and did not suggest George Armstrong was a descendant of any of them.

[17] Pittsburgh Daily Gazette, 20 Aug. 1847.

[18] Called “Nancy” in the marriage notice.  Pittsburgh Gazette, 21 Dec. 1799.

[19] Charles Lukens was the eldest son of John Lukens, Surveyor General of the Province of Pennsylvania, and worked with his father.

[20] They m. 11 Feb. 1766, Lancaster, PA [MR St. James’ Episcopal Church, Lancaster]

[21] Greensburg, PA, Westmoreland Republican, 25 Apr. 1818, recorded the death of “Mrs. Margaret McDowell, widow of Dr. McDowell of Allegheny County” at the house of “her son-in-law, Col. G. Armstrong” on 19 Apr. at the age of “about 70.”

[22] he d. 21 Mar. 1814, Pitt Township. [Pittsburgh Gazette, 25 Mar. 1814]

[23] Greensburg, PA, Pennsylvania Argus, 7 Oct. 1842.

[24] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 808.  Even though Armstrong came from Carlisle, he is not listed as a graduate of Dickinson College there.

[25] Thomas L. Yoset, Esq., a family historian and Meadville attorney, reviewed the Crawford County tax duplicates for 1800 to 1805, and noted eleven lawyers were taxed on their profession during that period, and he kindly shared the results of his research.  While real estate taxes were paid on land located in Crawford County, no matter where the owner lived, one would think only residents would be taxed on their profession, status [bachelors were taxed at one point] or personal property [horses and cows most often, but watches for a time.]  So this may imply Armstrong lived in Crawford County in 1801.  [hereafter, Yoset, tax duplicates]

[26] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803

[27] It is possible the lost saddle bags belonged to a client of George Armstrong, who merely handled the reward if they were returned, but there was no need for anonymity, so it seems more likely they belonged to Armstrong himself.

[28] The amount of the reward is unusually large for clothing and papers of no value, since the same issue of the Gazette contained a reward of $10 for the return of a soldier who deserted from Fort Fayette, and a similar amount was offered for the return of runaway indentured servants.  The subsequent reward of $30 is huge in comparison.

[29] Pittsburgh Gazette, 23 Dec. 1797

[30] Pittsburgh Gazette, 30 June 1798

[31] A revealing choice of newspaper.  William Cobbett’s Porcupine’s Gazette and United States Daily Advertizer, was published in Philadelphia between 1797 and 1800, and was strongly Federalist and anti-French.  He specialized in attacks on his political opponents, which spawned a host of libel suits.  Cobbett discontinued the paper after losing a $5,000 libel suit brought by Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, and tried before a judge whom Cobbett had criticized in the Porcupine.

[32] Pittsburgh Gazette, 28 July 1798

[33] 1800 PA septennial census, 1800, Hempfield Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA; 1810 U.S. census, Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., PA, p. 827; 1820 U.S. census of same, p. 92

[34] 1810 U.S. census, Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., PA, p. 827.  His wife’s step-father, Dr. John McDowell, owned 7 years’ service of a “negro boy” who was advertised for sale by Armstrong as one of the executors in 1814.  [Pittsburgh Gazette, 1 Apr. 1814]

[35] Edward M. Burns, “Slavery in Western Pennsylvania,” Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. VII, p. 207 (1925)  He cited John N. Boucher’s Old and New Westmoreland, 1918, as his source, but the compiler has been unable to locate anything like that in the book, and not on the pages Burns cited.

[36] Pittsburgh Gazette, 21 Nov. 1817

[37] 1788-1888 Proceedings on the Centennial Celebration of the Presbyterian Church of Greensburg, Penna., Greensburg:  1888, p. 33.

[38] 1788-1888 Proceedings on the Centennial Celebration of the Presbyterian Church of Greensburg, Penna., Greensburg:  1888, p. 23

[39] Pittsburgh Gazette, 21 July 1807

[40] George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, 1882, p. 330

[41] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 254

[42] It appeared he was located when the history of the Greensburg Presbyterian Church said “John Armstrong Sr.,” a lawyer, was an early member.  [1788-1888 Proceedings on the Centennial Celebration of the Presbyterian Church of Greensburg, Penna., Greensburg:  1888, p. 33]  However, this evidently refers to John Armstrong, Sr. (1789-1866) the father of noted Greensburg lawyer, John Armstrong, Jr. (1816-1889), so unless he was admitted to the bar at the age of 4, this is not the correct John Armstrong.

[43] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 809.  Egle, p. 284, said Ayres’ father was Rev. Robert Ayres, an Episcopalian minister, long a resident to Brownsville, Fayette County, Pa.

[44] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 809 said b. Bucks Co.

[45] Findagrave #7445235

[46] “RJE’s Tree” at, accessed 24 Nov. 2019, said he had m. Elizabeth M. S. ___, b. ca. 1775, who predeceased him leaving no issue.  No other sources suggest Ayres ever married.

[47] Diana Marie Voltz Geibel, From the Archives of Butler County, Pennsylvania, Apollo, PA:  1997, p. 13

[48] Butler Co. probate #A-29, though there is also a recital that the collateral heirs agreed to give everything to William J. Ayres, by agreement recorded in Bk. P, p. 77.

[49] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 255.

[50] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 256

[51] Thomas Robinson, in History of Butler County, Pennsylvania, 1883, p. 49

[52] 1820 U.S. census, Butler Twp., Butler Co., PA, p. 140.

[53] Josiah Copley, in History of Butler County, Pennsylvania, 1883, p. 49

[54] Pittsburgh Gazette, 25 Feb. 1803.

[55] The published abstracts of Cramer’s Pittsburgh Almanack state she died in Pittsburgh in 1803; the date at least is incorrect.

[56] Charles W. Evans, Biographical and Historical Accounts of the Fox, Ellicott, and Evans Families, and the Different Families Connected with Them, Buffalo, NY:  1882, p. 212.

[57] Samuel H. Fisher, Litchfield Law School, 1774-1833, Biographical Catalogue of Students, 1946, p. 16, #49.  Either Baldwin did not take the full course at Litchfield, and had to read law with Dallas to complete his legal studies, or perhaps having decided to settle in Pennsylvania, he thought it prudent to study with a Pennsylvania preceptor.

[58] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1800, 1801.  Mr. Yoset also lent his transcript of the Crawford County Quarter Sessions papers, 1800-1815, which are mainly criminal actions.  The previous lawyers--Alexander Addision, George and James Allison, George Armstrong, John Armstrong and William Ayres—did not appear in them.  That does not conclusively prove they did not practice in Crawford County during that period, since their names might appear in the Common Pleas civil dockets.  Henry Baldwin only appeared in the Quarter Sessions in 1801.  [Yoset, QS, Jan. Sessions, 1801, Docket 1, p. 21.  [hereafter “Yoset, QS]  The papers and dockets were donated to the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg some 20 years ago, but are still in the original cartons and uncatalogued, though the staff has been willing to look for matters if an approximate date can be supplied, as from a newspaper account.

[59] Pittsburgh Gazette, 15 Oct. 1816

[60] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 255

[61] History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, II, pp. 214-215.

[62] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 810 agreed.

[63] The year books were the earliest form of case reports and often included the judges’ discussion of the issues as well as their decisions.

[64]black letter” refers to the “Old English” style of letters used before Roman type was adopted about 1500.

[65] Mr. Agnew went on to describe the Beelen situation in detail:

“The case of Mr. Beelen is interesting as exhibiting the former state of the law, and the expedient he resorted to to avoid arrest.  It occurred before the law authorizing the giving of an insolvent bond had been passed.  As the law then stood the defendant arrested on a capias ad satisfaciendum went to jail to await a discharge.  But the sheriff could not break the outer doors of a dwelling to make an arrest on civil process [as this was], nor could he execute civil process at all on Sunday.  Mr. Beelen shut up and barred his outer doors and windows.  The backyard of his dwelling on Water Street, between Wood and Market Streets, was protected by a high wall.  In this he placed as a watchman and guard a tall, strong, and vigorous workman, taken from his foundry, to prevent surprise by the sheriff when the family was employed in the yard.  On Sunday his house was thrown open, his friends were dined and wined, and he and his family went to chapel.  Thus the officer was held at bay, until Mr. Beelen was either discharged or in some way appeased his creditors.

[66] Literally “after a long time”

[67] “Address to the Allegheny County Bar Association, December 1, 1888,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, No. 1, (1889) pp. 23-29.

[68] “1846” in original

[69] Russell Errett, in History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, p. 271-272.

[70] George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, p. 301.

[71] Russell Errett, in History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, p. 249

[72] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 255

[73] Pittsburgh Gazette, 25 Feb. 1803.

[74] His widow did not occupy the house, and it was rented by a private girls’ school—the Baldwin Institute--for several years before she sold it to her nephew, William Reynolds.  Reynolds extensively remodeled the house in 1866, making the first floor the main one, and adding a grand stairway and heavy double doors and woodwork in walnut, with marble mantels in the mid-Victorian style.  The house is on the federal Register of Historic Places and owned by the Crawford County Historical Society which operates it as a house museum.

[75] History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, II, p. 54.

[76] Josiah H. Drummond, “Genealogy of John Bean (1660)” in Proceedings of the John Bean (1660) Association, at its Annual Reunion at Haverhill, August the 19th, 1902, 1902?, pp. 213, 219. 

[77] Crawford Weekly Messenger, 9 Sept. 1824.  LDS #KLF8-2Z9 said he d. 23 Aug. 1843, but no source is given, and it is incorrect as his widow remarried in 1827.

[78] Crawford Weekly Messenger, 9 Nov. 1816.  Drummond, p. 219 said he m. Lydia Casey, and “is reported to have died childless.”  The marriage to Lydia Casey is in error, but it is unclear if he had any children.  His household in Meadville included 5 males over 10 and 2 females.  [1820 U.S. census, Meadville, Crawford Co., PA, p. 47A]

[79] Charles J. Crary, Genealogy of the Crary Family, Palo Alto, CA:  1956, p. 43.  Her brother, James Lewis Questa Crary, lived in Pomeroy.

[80] Sic in Crary genealogy, 1956, p. 43.  There is currently no Wickford in CT, though there is a Wickford, RI.

[81] Findagrave #144838994, which noted he was ordained in 1817 by Bishop Hobart.

[82] Crawford Weekly Messenger, 8 Feb. 1827.

[83] The church had reactivated in 1827 after closing in 1776 due to the Revolution.  Its history says that Charles Smith was rector there 1834 to 1835.   [, accessed 10 Dec. 2019.

[84] Catalogue of the Members of the New-Hampshire Alpha of the ΦΒΚ Society, Dartmouth University, Andover, MA:  1815, p. 4.  It listed his residence as Warner, NH.

[85] Dr. Moses Long, “Historical Sketches of Warner, NH,” p. 195, in Collection s of the New-Hampshire Historical Society, III, Concord, NH:  1832

[86] Though his name did not appear in the 1800-1815 Quarter Sessions papers there.

[87] Dwight Canfield Kilbourn, The Bench & Bar of Litchfield County, Connecticut, 2012, p. 225

[88] His name did not appear in the 1800-1815 Quarter Sessions papers there.

[89] 22 Feb. 1814 according to the abstracts of Cramer’s Almanac, but the Pittsburgh Gazette18 Mar. 1814 said he d. 17 Feb. after 10 days’ illness, “adverse circumstances” having ruined his health.

[90] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 808, explained that the cemetery was part of a larger tract conveyed to the Catholic church, and that was why Collins, a protestant, was buried there.

[91] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1801.  After that, as “Thomas Collins, Esq., Pgh.” he was taxed instead for two lots he owned in Meadville.

[92] #19 July Sessions, 1801, Dock. 1, p. 35 [Yoset, QS, 1800-1815]

[93] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 808, which also listed his parents and his college education.

[94] Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, A List of Immigrants Who Applied for Naturalization Papers in the District Courts of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Volume I, 1798-1840, Pittsburgh, PA:  1978, p. 4

[95]  Daniel Agnew, “Address to the Allegheny County Bar Association, December 1, 1888,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, No. 1, (1889) p. 15.

[96] “Address to the Allegheny County Bar Association, December 1, 1888,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, No. 1, (1889) pp. 15-18.

[97] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 254

[98] Actually, four, as noted above.

[99] Russell Errett, in History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, pp. 270-271.

[100] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803

[101] History of Butler County, Pennsylvania, 1895, p. 20

[102] 1895 History of Butler County, p. 158.

[103] Mercer Co. QS Docket 1.

[104] 1895 History of Butler County, p. 644

[105] 1883 History of Butler County, p. 61

[106] 1895 History of Butler County, p. 300

[107] 1850 U.S. census, Venango Twp., Butler Co., #762/768.  There is no Butler Co. probate for D. C. Cunningham.

[108] Crawford Weekly Messenger, 12 June 1806

[109] Spencer P. Mead, History and Genealogy of the Mead Family, NY:  1901, pp. 306-307

[110] Crawford Weekly Messenger, 17 July 1811

[111] Crawford Weekly Messenger, 2 Apr. 1819

[112] Ebenezer Alden, Memorial of the Descendants of the Hon. John Alden, Randolph, MA:  1867, pp. 51-53.

[113] Pittsburgh Gazette, 18, 19 Aug. 1887.

[114] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1804

[115] Unnumbered cases, Quarter Sessions docket 2, pp. 42-46 [Yoset, QS]

[116] Biographical Annals of the American Congress, 1774-1961, Washington, DC:  1961, p. 876.

[117] History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, 1884, p. ____

[118] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 253

[119] Crawford Democrat, 21 Mar. 1843.

[120] Pittsburgh in Garvin, but in Mercer according to his tombstone, and he apparently was a resident or at least owned property there, as letters of administration on his estate were issued there in 1843.  [Mercer Co. Probate File #OS-1072]

[121] Findagrave #33499544

[122] 1803 according to the abstracts of Cramer’s Pittsburgh Almanack.

[123] Laurence Tunstall Heron, One Heron Line and Its Origins, Homewood, IL:  1988, pp. 1-7

[124] George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, p. 326.

[125] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 809.

[126] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1801-05, not checked beyond.

[127] #7 Mar. Sessions, 1809, [Yoset QS]

[128] #20 July Sessions, 1803, Dock. 1, pp. 114-131 [Yoset, QS]  Fellow attorney Ralph Marlin was one of the prosecution witnesses.

[129] Crawford Co. Deed Book C-1, pp. 80-81. 

[130] 1810 U.S. census, Meadville, Crawford Co., p. 399

[131] George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, pp. 325-326.  See also John N. Boucher, Old and New Westmoreland, 1918, II, pp. 38-39.

[132] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, pp. 252-253

[133] John N. Boucher, Old and New Westmoreland, NY:  1918, II, pp. 38-39.

[134] Findagrave #20292634

[135] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252

[136] George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, p. 326

[137] For an extensive genealogy of the Fosters, including some early antecedents, see George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, pp. 324-326.

[138] One account said he studied for the ministry at Princeton, but never preached.  [George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, p. 326]

[139] Their complicated agreement of 6 Apr. 1796, is recorded in Allegheny Co. DB 9, p. 348.  Theophilus Cazenove, attorney-in-fact for the Holland Land Co. agreed with Samuel B. & Alexander W. Foster that “each of 200 tracts is settled and patented” to give  ¼ of each to the Fosters and sell each 400 acres at $1/acre, payable in 1806, and each could choose 8 tracts in District 1 and eight in District 2—then 23 lots were listed.  Roger Alden, agent for the Holland Land Co. confirmed Lot 64 in Dist. 2 to the Fosters on 27 Oct. 1798, which they accepted on the same date, and Alden promised the Fosters the other 22 lots as soon as Paul Busti approved, which he did on 20 Apr. 1799.

[140] Who lived the rest of his life in Crawford County, mostly in Meadville.   William Foster purchased Lot 11 there from David Mead on 10 May 1798, but sold it to James Gibson on 2 Dec. 1799.  [Allegheny Co. DB 9, p. 350]

[141] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1801.  Samuel Foster did not appear in any of the Quarter Sessions dockets, 1800-1815.  [Yoset, QS]

[142] ##13,14 July Sessions 1801; 11 Apr. Sessions, 1802, Dec. Sessions, 1806, and unnumbered August Sessions, 1815, Dock. 2, p. 168.  [Yoset, QS]

[143] Ruth L. Woodward & Wesley Frank Craven, Princetonians, 1784-1790, A Biographical Dictionary, 1988, pp. 258-261.

[144] In two items, Garvin was mistaken:  Samuel B. Foster was the elder brother of Alexander W. Foster, and he did not graduate from Princeton.

[145] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252

[146] 1888 Beaver Co. History, p. 171

[147] Findagrave #25536298

[148] Egle, p. 285; Cumberland Co. DR, transcribed on findagrave #29895417

[149] H. H. Hain, History of Perry County, Pennsylvania, 1922, “Perry County’s Noted Men,” p. ___

[150] But Gibson’s name does not appear in the record of Dickinson graduates through 1800, though Jesse Duncan graduated that year, and Stephen Duncan in 1805.

[151] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 812.

[152] Others have suggested this was a nickname of Justice Gibson’s father.

[153] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, pp. 256-257

[154] Col. David Bradford (1762-1808) of Washington, PA, was a leader in the Whiskey Rebellion, fled down the Ohio to Louisiana, where he became a planter.  He took part in the Burr Conspiracy, but was eventually pardoned by President Adams.

[155] Mercer Co. QS Docket 1.

[156] 1883 History of Butler County, p. 50.

[157] Josiah Copley in 1883 History of Butler County, pp. 49-50.

[158] As he signed himself at #27 July Sessions, 1801   [Yoset, QS]

[159] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 810.

[160] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1801-1804

[161] #31 April Sessions, 1802 [Yoset, QS]

[162] Mercer Co. QS Docket 1.

[163] Frequently spelled “Herron” but Heron himself addressed a letter to his wife in 1798 as “Mrs. Eleanor Heron”  [letter, 4 Feb. 1798, J. G. Heron to Mrs. Eleanor Heron, Pittsburgh, original in collection of Mrs. Martin Moore, Jr. of Sewickley, PA, 1960, photocopy in “Moore Collection DB” at Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.]

[164] Pittsburgh Gazette, 12 Jan. 1810; Venango Co. Register’s Docket 1, p. 11.

[165] Laurence Tunstall Heron, One Heron Line and Its Origins, Homewood, IL:  1988, p. 3

[166] Erie Gazette, 8 Apr. 1824, though it erroneously called her “Jane,” it says she d. at the res. of her son-in-law, A. W. Foster “of this place.”

[167] Laurence Tunstall Heron, One Heron Line and Its Origins, Homewood, IL:  1988, p. 6

[168] #2 July Sessions, 1803  [Yoset QS]

[169] Laurence Tunstall Heron, One Heron Line and Its Origins, Homewood, IL:  1988, p. 5.  His obituary, Pittsburgh Gazette, 12 Jan. 1810, is not very informative on his career.  While he could have practiced as a lawyer while prothonotary, it is surprising he is believed to have practiced law while on the bench.

[170] He served in Hazen’s [“Congress’ Own”] Regiment, was captured then exchanged.  DAR Lineage Bk. 51, pp. 364-365, #50815; Lineage Bk. 98, p. 89, #97265.

[171] An organization open only to officers in the Continental Army, and their senior descendants in the male line.

[172] see two MS. directives to him, one, for tomahawks for Indians, sold at Heritage Auctions in 2016 and one for the outfitting of the ship “James Ross” for sale in the book trade presently

[173] see 1800 U.S. census, Franklin, Venango Co., PA, p. 585, showing father and mother, 2 sons, 5 or 6 daughters, a 2nd woman and 6 black people.

[174] Laurence Tunstall Heron, One Heron Line and Its Origins, Homewood, IL:  1988, p. 4, claims Heron owned five slaves “as long as he lived” and two of them were in his estate.  It depends on their age:  in Pennsylvania, children of slaves born after 1780 were free.

[175] Eaton amended this to “six”

[176] Eaton, S[amuel] J[ames] M[ills], A Sketch of the History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, delivered at Franklin, Pa., July 4th 1876, 1876, p. 32; based on a letter 20 Jan. 1876 he received from Mary A. Irvine.

[177] Newton, p. 443n

[178] Crawford County Surveyor’s Docket, p. 8, #6

[179] Crawford County Surveyor’s Docket, p. 8, #2

[180] Pittsburgh Gazette, 3 Mar. 1797

[181] This cannot be “Salisbury” because the 1797 announcement specifically said Salisbury was on the east side of French Creek, and Meadville is also on the east side.  If this tract was also “adjacent” to Meadville, but on the west side of French Creek, it must have been directly across the creek, about where Kerrtown was located.

[182] Pittsburgh Gazette, 11 June 1802

[183] Allegheny Co. Deed Book O-1, pp. 452, 641; DB R-1, p. 572.

[184] Pittsburgh Gazette, 8 Oct. 1797

[185] Pittsburgh Gazette, 27 Apr. 1799

[186] “Jesse Z. Ocon” at, accessed 24 Nov. 2019

[187] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1802-1804

[188] Yoset, QS

[189] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252

[190] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 810

[191] “Jesse Z. Ocon” at, accessed 24 Nov. 2019

[192] Certainly by 21 Oct. 1810, when her mother addressed a letter to her “Mrs. Mary Ann Irvine, Franklin.”  [letter, Erie, 21 Oct. 1810, E. Heron to Mrs. Mary Ann Irvine, Franklin, by Mr. Steele, original in collection of Mrs. Martin Moore, Jr. of Sewickley, PA, 1960, photocopy in “Moore Collection DB” at Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania]

[193] Laurence Tunstall Heron, One Heron Line and Its Origins, Homewood, IL:  1988, pp. 1-7

[194] 1870 U.S. census, 4th Wd., Erie, Erie Co., PA, #810/849, where she and several others were boarding with A. T. Marsh, a wealthy pump manufacturer.  Buried on the family lot in Erie Cemetery are Capt. James A. Irvine, d. 1 Mar. 1865, age 47 yrs. and Hannah S. Nelson d. 10 Jan. 1863, aged 72 yrs.

[195] Eaton, S[amuel] J[ames] M[ills], A Sketch of the History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, delivered at Franklin, Pa., July 4th 1876, 1876, p. 37

[196] Erie Dispatch, 14 Feb. 1877; Erie Observer, 15 Feb. 1877

[197] Findagrave #138717134.  Her recollections of early Franklin and its settlers, written in 1876, is quoted in J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 443.  Unfortunately she did not discuss her immediate family.

[198] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, I, p. 339.  Samuel J. M. Eaton in 1879 said only “David Irvine, an attorney, located here in 1806.  He was an able man and worthy to be called the “pioneer lawyer.”  [in J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 444.]  No Irvines or Irvins were admitted to the Allegheny Co. bar before 1820, and none appeared in the Venango Co. census through 1820, though it appears he was enumerated in 1810 and 1820 as “David Irwin.”

[199] 1810 U.S. census, Franklin, Venango Co., PA, p. 468; 1820 U.S. census of same, p. 3A.

[200] J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 643

[201] Venango Co. Deed Book C, p. 379

[202] J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 455

[203] J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 460

[204] J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, pp. 468-469

[205] J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 469

[206] Called “William B. Irvine” in 1884 Erie Co. History.

[207] New York Evening Post, 29 Sept. 1854.

[208] Findagrave #25536298

[209] William H. Egle, Pennsylvania Genealogies, 2nd ed., 1896, pp. 276, 284-285.

[210] Who are mentioned in Egle, p. 284, but “Long Family Tree” at, accessed 1 Dec. 2019 listed ten children.

[211] History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, 1884, p. 324;

[212] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, I, p. 261.

[213] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 159.

[214] 1850 U.S. census, Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA, #161/171 in the household of Ann Hall with a number of other apparent boarders.

[215] Perhaps Irvine studied there, but he is not listed as a graduate.  His brother, Callender Irvine, was a graduate in 1794, a James Irvine graduated in 1795, and there was a William Irvine in the Class of 1809, but William N. Irvine by that time was 26 years old and had been practicing law since 1802.

[216] Irvine was one of dozens of “honorary members” of the Phrenakosmian Society of Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College by 1846 [see 1846 college catalogue, p. xvi.]  John Jacob Astor of NYC was also an honorary member, so they must have made a wide appeal, not limited to Gettysburg College graduates.

[217] Egle, pp. 284-285.

[218] Egle, p. 285.

[219] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1801.  The only Willliam Johnston mentioned in the Quarter Sessions papers was a juror on 25 Nov. 1812 and therefore probably not this man.  [3 Nov. Sessions, 1812, Yoset QS]

[220] Pittsburgh Gazette, 25 Nov. 1815

[221] Pittsburgh Gazette, 22 Feb. 1820

[222] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, I, p. 339.  J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, p. 453, had only identified “David” Lefevre as the second resident lawyer in Franklin, without any commentary.  No LeFevres of any spelling appeared in the Venango Co. census through 1830, and none were admitted to the Allegheny Co. bar before 1820.

[223] J. H. Newton, History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, 1879, pp. 142-143.

[224] LeFevre, George Newton & Franklin D., The Pennsylvania LeFevres, Strasburg, PA:  1952, pp. 19-20

[225] Frances Dittmann, “The Colsons in Pennsylvania,” Crawford County Genealogy, X, (Spring/Summer, 1987) p. 40

[226] Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, #16 Nov. Term 1828

[227] “Barkley Family Tree” at, accessed 24 Nov. 2019; S.A.R. application of Harry H. Martin, 1923, national #38375, PA #1427; D.A.R. Lineage Book, Vol. 81, p. 148, #80390; Vol. 149, p. 226, #148729.

[228] Harrisburg Chronicle, 4 Sept. 1826.

[229] Yoset, tax duplicates 1801-1805

[230] 1810 U.S. census, Meadville, Crawford County

[231] Mercer Co. QS Dock. 1

[232] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803.  Name transcribed as “Ralph Martin.”

[233] #7 Mar. Sessions, 1807 [Yoset, QS]

[234] Unnum. Sept. Sessions, 1808, Dock 2, pp. 61-75 [Yoset QS]

[235] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252

[236] J. S. Schenck & W. S. Rann, History of Warren County, Pennsylvania, Syracuse, NY:  1887, [hereafter “1887 Warren Co. History] pp. 143-144.

[237] Judge [Jesse] Moore, “a large, venerable-looking man,” presided “wearing as large a beaver as ever graced the head of William Penn,” [this was not a frontiersman’s beaver pelt hat, but one of the broad-brimmed felt hats made from beaver fur, a style  favored by the Pennsylvania Quakers] which he removed when charging the grand jury.  [1887 Warren Co. History, p. 144]

[238] 1887 Warren Co. History, p. 145.

[239] 1887 Warren Co. History, p. 146.

[240] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 811

[241] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, pp. 254-255; virtually the same language in 1888 Beaver County History, p. 171.

[242] Misprinted as “Anselen” and so repeated by several later Erie bar lists.

[243] Findagrave #9286108, reproducing his obituary from a Logansport[?] newspaper, but largely quoted from the Mayville, NY Sentinel. 

[244] Findagrave #94431916

[245] Andrew W. Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York, 1875, p. 278.

[246] Samuel H. Fisher, Litchfield Law School, 1774-1833, Biographical Catalogue of Students, 1946, p. 100, #63.  Fisher had not been able to trace Potter, and he is listed as “Ansel” Potter from Connecticut, in Reeve’s register.  Besides operating his law school, Reeve was an active judge and authored the first U.S. treatise on domestic relations in 1816.

[247]Anselm Potter was a resident of Chautauqua Twp, Chautauqua Co., NY, by 1812, when he was part of a federalist convention there.

[248] Isaac Moorhead, Occasional Writings of Isaac Moorhead, Erie, PA;  1883, pp. 202-203.  As Moorhead was not born until 1828, he was clearly quoting another source, but did not identify it.

[249] Young, p. 161

[250] Young, p. 144

[251] Yoset, QS

[252] 1830 New-York Register

[253] 1843 and 1847 New-York Register

[254] Poss. son of John & Elizabeth (Thompson) Purviance, who are listed as the parents of [?his brother] William Alexander Purviance of Butler, 1788-1857.  Findagrave #114444566.

[255] Joseph Smith, History of Jefferson College, p. 53.

[256] 1883 History of Butler County, p. 50.

[257] Mercer Co. QS Docket 1.

[258] 1885 Crawford County History, pp. 760-761

[259] The Thomas R. Kennedy, later John Reynolds, residence stood immediately to the north.  Built about 1795 by Samuel Lord who used the log building as a store, enlarged about 1800 into a “one and three quarter story house, painted white with green blinds, and trained sweet-briar roses over the front.”  William Reynolds grew up there and knew the area well.  [William Reynolds, typescript]

[260] WR, typescript

[261] See William B. Moore, “The Family of Dr. Thomas Ruston Kennedy (1763-1813) of Meadville,” Crawford County Genealogy, 29, pp. 98-115

[262] Crawford Co. Court of Quarter Sessions, #30 April Term, 1802, in Thomas L. Yoset, Abstracts of Crawford Co. Quarter Sessions, 1800-1815

[263] Quarter Sessions, #20 July Term, 1803, in Thomas L. Yoset

[264] The published abstracts of Cramer’s Pittsburgh Almanack state she died “near Lancaster” 13 Sept. 1805.

[265] “Address to the Allegheny County Bar Association, December 1, 1888,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, No. 1, (1889) pp. 4-7

[266] Russell Errett, in History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, pp. 269-270.  Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, pp. 805-806 told a similar story.

[267] 1800 U.S. census, Pittsburgh borough, Allegheny Co., PA, p. 7.  Ironically, the household of his arch-republican rival, Hugh H. Brackenridge also included two black servants.  [1800 U.S. census, Pittsburgh borough, Allegheny Co., PA, p. 9]

[268] Yoset, QS

[269] “Smith Family Tree” at, accessed 24 Nov. 2019

[270] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 809.

[271] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252.

[272] Mercer Co. QS 1.

[273] B. Stokely, “Remarks and General Observations on Mercer County, Pennsylvania,” in Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA:  1850, Vol. IV, Part II, p. 77.

[274] Yoset, QS

[275] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252

[276] History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 347

[277] 1820 U.S. census, Mercer, Mercer Co., PA, p. 127.

[278] Carlisle, PA, Gazette, 12 Mar. 1800 said she had died “last Thursday.”

[279] Samuel Sample left his entire estate to his son-in-law, Steele Semple.  [Allegheny Co. probate #184, WB 2, p. 263]

[280] Yoset, QS

[281] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803

[282] Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 7 May 1813

[283] This sentiment was echoed in another account from 1876 which suggested Steele was an alcoholic.  [William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 254]

[284] Latin, literally “From the depths I cry,” which are the beginning of the phrase in Psalm 130.

[285] Sic—but it was his father-in-law, Samuel Sample, not an uncle.

[286] “Address to the Allegheny County Bar Association, December 1, 1888,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, No. 1, (1889) pp. 13-14.   There was no question about the manner by which Ross got the property, it was the subject of a lawsuit, Payne vs. Craft, 7 Watts & Sergeant 458, in which one of Semple’s daughters, Mrs. Payne, attempted to reclaim it in 1842 and sued the buyer of the property from James Ross.  It recited that when Steele Semple died, he was in debt, and one of his creditors levied on the real estate and the sheriff sold it in 1815 to William Wilkins, one of the executors of the Semple estate, though Wilkins took title in his own name, and intended to hold it for the Semple heirs.  James Ross, another creditor of the Semple estate, then sued the executors, including Wilkins, and got a judgement against him in 1819, and renewed it periodically to keep it in force.  When the judgment still had not been paid in 1833, Ross levied against the real estate, and bought it himself at the sheriff’s sale in 1834.

[287] George Dallas Albert, History of the County of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, 1882, p. 301.

[288] Russell Errett, in History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1889, p. 270.

[289] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 254

[290] Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 1 Oct. 1813.

[291] 1800 U.S. census, Pittsburgh borough, Allegheny Co., PA, p. 14.

[292] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252

[293] 1810 U.S. census, Mercer Twp., Mercer Co., PA, p. 932; 1820 U.S. census, Lackawannock Twp., Mercer Co., PA, p. 147.

[294] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252.  He was admitted in February, 1804.  [Mercer Co. QS 1]

[295] Genealogy of the Descendants of John Sill, Albany, NYL  1859, pp. 64-67

[296] Erie Observer, 9 Feb. 1856, Erie Co. WB B, p. 627

[297] Erie Dispatch, 22 June 1889; Titusville Herald, 24 June 1889; Erie Co. WB H, p. 697

[298] History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, 1884, p. 324

[299] #3 August Sessions, 1813 [Yoset, QS]

[300] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, I, pp. 262-263

[301] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, I, p. 267

[302] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, I, p. 263

[303] Biographical Dictionary of the American Congress, Washington, DC, 1961, p. 160; 1884 Erie County History, pp. 952-953.

[304] See Crawford Co. Court of Common Pleas, Equity #1 Feb. Term, 1880.

[305] Isaac Moorhead, The Occasional Writings of Isaac Moorhead, Erie, PA:  1883, p. 177.  Moorhead continued “In Miss Sanford’s fine history of Erie county you will find an exact likeness of Mr. Sill as the writer remembers him.” 

[306] Findagrave #88028624

[307] William S. Garvin, 1876, in History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 253

[308] Edwin VanD. Selden, Selden Ancestry, 1931, pp. 159-160.  Wallace may therefore not have practiced in northwestern Pennsylvania before 1816.

[309] Ruth L. Woodward & Wesley Frank Craven, Princetonians, 1784-1790, A Biographical Dictionary, 1988, pp. 160-162.

[310] Oracle of Dauphin, 16 May 1803; 7 Apr. 1804

[311] Lancaster Journal, 25 Apr. 1806.

[312] History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, 1884, p. 324

[313] William H. Egle, History of Dauphin & Lebanon Counties, Pennsylvania, 1883, pp. 543-545

[314] L. R. Kelker, History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 1907, I, pp. 252-253

[315] William H. Egle, Notes & Queries, 1st & 2nd Series, II, p. 456.

[316] Laura G. Sanford, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, rev. ed., 1894, pp. 386-387.

[317] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803

[318] 1810 U.S. census, Erie Borough, Erie Co., PA, p. 851

[319] Andrew W. Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York, Buffalo, NY:  1875, p. 334, said he was b. 3 Dec. 1773.

[320] Von Gail Hamilton, Work Family History, Park City, UT:  1969, p. 36, some additional information in Von Gail Hamilton, Work Family History, Volume II, ?New Plymouth, ID:  1995, p. 22, but neither has information about Edward beyond his birthdate.   “Willis Family Tree” at, accessed 24 Nov. 2019, said he was b. in Fayette Co., but his parents lived in Franklin Co., and his younger siblings were all b. there.  “Ron’s Mead Tree” at, accessed the same day, provided additional information.  Obed Edson, History of Chautauqua County, New York, 1894, p. 177 said work was b. in Franklin County.

[321] Edward appeared in the 1855 census in the town of Ellicott there [1855 NY census, Ellicott, Chautauqua Co., NY, #102/104] but his widow, Permelia, appeared alone in Jamestown in 1860.  [1860 U.S. census, Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., NY, #1016/1016]  A recollection in 1876 believed he had d. in Jamestown, NY [History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1888, p. 252]

[322] They had one child:  four sons and Jane Armstrong Cameron, b. 12 Feb. 1809, d. 6 Jan. 1843, Jamestown, NY.

[323] Andrew W. Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York, Buffalo, NY:  1875, p. 334, said she d. 17 Sept. 1833, age 53.

[324] 10,000 Vital Records of Western New York, #10084

[325] Permelia told the 1855 census taker she had resided in Ellicott for 14 years.

[326] Twentieth Century Bench & Bar of Pennsylvania, 1903, II, p. 809.

[327] Yoset, tax duplicates, 1800-1805.

[328] Mercer Co.QS Dock. 1

[329] He appeared first at #1 July Sessions, 1800, and last at #2 Nov. Sessions, 1805.  [Yoset, QS]

[330] Obed Edson, History of Chautauqua County, New York, 1894, p. 177

[331] Andrew W. Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York, Buffalo, NY:  1875, p. 77

[332] The 1855 census showed he had lived in Ellicott for 46 years

[333] 1850 U.S. census, Ellicott, Chautauqua Co., NY, #543/550

[334] 10,000 Vital Records of Western New York, #10085

[335] Pittsburgh Gazette, 4 Mar. 1803

[336] Andrew W. Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York, Buffalo, NY:  1875, p. 334