JEFFERSON COUNTY, NEW YORK


BIOGRAPHIES OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, NEW YORK

Part 8


Biographical information was extracted from R. A. Oakes' 1905 Genealogical and Family History of the County of Jefferson, New York, Volume II by Marilyn Sapienza!


JEFFERSON CO NY BIOS OAKES V. 2 – Part 8

OLMSTEAD, WILLIAM SANFORD of Deferiet -

William S. Olmstead's grandfather was Jabez Olmstead, son of Jabez and Rebecca Olmstead, and was born 7 March 1806 in Granville, Washington Co., NY. On 23 December 1832 he married Orpha Knight, who was also a native of Washington Co. Orpha was born there on 19 June 1809. Jabez visited Jefferson Co. in 1831 and bought 100 acres of land in the town of Watertown, southwest of the city. Jabez and Orpha lived there until his death on 13 March 1880. Orpha survived until 9 January 1892 at the age of 83 years. They were the parents of three sons:

William, the eldest, remained on the family farm until his death on 20 Sept. 1902 Royal, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado

Edwin Hamilton Olmstead, their youngest son, was born 31 March 1841, on the family farm. After attending schools, he worked on the paternal farm until he was 25, and taught one term of school. After clerking in the general store of J. G. Francis at Great Bend for two years, he bought the farm where he resided, near that village in 1867. His success at farming was marked by a production of large quantities of potatoes grown for the New York City market. In 1892 he built a cheese factory at Great Bend, which he operated for three years, and then sold. Edwin was one of the promoters and charter members of the Great Bend Grange. He married on 7 April 1874 to Sophia Lewis, born on 31 December 1847 at North Wilna; she was the daughter of Sanford Lewis and his wife. Sanford Lewis was the son of Stephen Lewis. The only child of Edwin and Sophia Olmstead was:

William S. Olmstead, born 1 May 1879 in Great Bend. He attended schools there and later accepted the position of timekeeper in a papermill at Deferiet.

WITT, DR. ERVIN W. of Brownville -

Dr. Witt was born 1 January 1865 in Clayton, Jefferson Co. His ancestry was traced to Gott Witt, born 25 May 1773 in Massachusetts. Gott was born 25 May 1773 in Massachusetts and died in Brownville on 25 March 1844 in his seventy-first year. His wife was Eleanor Fall. It was said that she was born in Mohawk, NY; she survived her husband, and died in Brownville in 1871 at 81 years. Her father was Henry Fall; he died in Clayton at the age of 99. Henry's wife was Sarah Durham. Gott and Eleanor were the parents of seven sons and five daughters.

John Witt, son of Gott and Eleanor, was born 4 July 1801 and died 15 April 1869 close to his sixty-eighth year. He was a farmer and a pioneer settler of Hounsfield where he bought land and turned it into a valuable farm. In old age he went to live with his son, Eli, in Brownville, who was the owner of a farm where he resided until his death. While working in the field he was seized with a spasm of heart failure, which proved fatal. In early manhood he married Deborah Livermore, born 1810 in Hounsfield, daughter of Levi Livermore, who was a pioneer of that town. John and Deborah had a large family:

Dyer Witt moved for Crawford Co, Iowa and assumed the name of DeWitt, which was the original form of the surname Charles L., became a miller at Brownville where he died in 1893. Eli lived on a farm in Brownville, where the father died. Lois A., married Henry Knight and died at Wadena, MN in 1903 and left three children:

Rev. John Knight. M.D.
Henry of Wadena, MN
Amelia, wife of Fred James of Limerick, town of Brownville

Levi Livermore Witt, son of John and Deborah, was born 19 June 1833 in Clayton. There he received his education and in 1867 settled in the Town of Brownville where he purchased a fine farm and lived there until 1878 when he moved to Hounsfield. It was there that his death occurred on 6 august 1898. In 1867 he married Fanny Zimmerman; she was born in St. Johnsville, Montgomery Co., NY on 30 June 1835. Her father, Nicholas Zimmerman, was a native of that place. At the age of 12, Fanny came with her parents to Reynolds Corners in the Town of Clayton. Later, Mr. Zimmerman became a resident of Dexter, NY where he died in 1865.

Nicholas Zimmerman's wife, and mother of Mrs. Witt, was Christine Ann Thumb, a native of St. Johnsville and they had a large family:

Lyman Joel, of Brownville
Mary J., wife of George Shill of Evansville, Indiana
Eliza, married Nelson Calkins and lived in Camden, NY
Fanny, who married Levi L. Witt, above
Magdalen, who married Daniel Robbins of Chaumont, NY
David, a soldier in the Civil War who lived in Brownville
Martha, who married Luther Sternburg of Reynolds Corners
Luther, who was also a soldier in the Union army and lived in Brownville

Christine Ann Thumb Zimmerman passed away in 1876 at the age of 75 years. Fanny, the sixth of her children moved to Hounsfield and was the mother of two sons, the elder, Byron J. Witt, was a well-known contractor and builder of Brownville.

Dr. Ervin W. Witt, the youngest son of Levi L. and Fanny received his education and in preparation for the practice of medicie he began a course of reading under the preceptorship of Dr. Henry G. P. Spencer of Watertown, prior to his matriculation in the medical department of the University of Buffalo. He graduated there with the class of 1897 and opened a practice in Brownville. In 1892 he married Jennette E. Grant, daughter of Captain Philander B. Grant of Watertown, NY. She was the second of three Grant children; her elder sister Ida, married William H. Mould. Fred Grant associated in business with his father in Watertown.

Dr. Witt and Jennette lived in a house which was built in 1816 by a brother of General Brown, for whom Brownville was named. It was the oldest residence of that place.

LAKE, CHRISTOPHER C. of Natural Bridge -

Christopher was among the leading manufacturers of Jefferson Co. It was thought that his ancestors were of German origin.

James Lake was born probably in Otsego Co., and moved to Canada where he settled on the banks of the Reto River and owned a farm of 500 acres. During the War of 1812 he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British government and his land was confiscated. He was obliged to leave Merrick Falls, the named of the town where he had settled, and return to the United States. He went to St. Lawrence Co. and settled on a farm of 150 acres where he remained the rest of his life. On 9 September 1790 he married Hannah Jackson, a native of Ontario Co., and a distant relative of Andrew Jackson, the seventh US President. Her family was of Irish origin. Children of James and Hannah Lake were:

Thomas Jesse
Abraham
Catherine
John
Henry.

James, the father, spent his last years peacefully, and died on his farm in St. Lawrence Co., on 7 March 1841, at 80 years.

Jesse Lake, son of James and Hannah, was born in 1795 in Alexandria, NY and when a youth in St. Lawrence Co., was pressed into the service of the British to defend Prescott. Crossing on the ice he went to Ogdensburg, reported to General Forsythe, and received from him a pass under the protection of which he went to Monroe County, where he settled on a farm and remained for some time. Then he took up his abode four miles from the Village of Gouverneur, in what was then a wilderness. He married Lavinia Cook, a native of Plainfield, MA, and one of a family of two children. Jesse and Lavinia were the parents of ten children, three of whom were mentioned:

Hannah of Gouverneur
Levi who lived at Harrisonville, Lewis Co.
Christopher C.

Jesse Lake, the father died in 1864 at age 69. Lavinia died at 85.

Christopher C. Lake, son of Jesse and Lavinia, was born 8 May 1838 near Rochester, Genesee Co., NY where he spent his boyhood. At 14 he went to learn the carpenters and joiners trade and in 1861 went to Harrisonville with his brother, Levi. They associated in business for a year and then he returned to the practice of his trade. Christopher enlisted on 17 August 1864 in Company A, One Hundred and Eighty-sixth Regiment New York Volunteer Infanty, commanded by Col. Winslow of Watertown. After the war, Christopher returned to Natural Bridge, and resumed his trade. In time he became a mill owner and manufacturer but a disastrous fire destroyed his buildings. He rebuilt the mills and until 1903 his son was an associate, and in that year moved to Utica. In 1862 he married Fidelia, born in Otsego Co., daughter of Gains Pyne, who belonged to a Huguenot family and they had three children.

Frederick educated in his native town and in the Correspondence Schools of Lancaster PA He was associated with his father in business for many years and worked on the staff of the Utica “Globe”. He married Jennie Dickinson, daughter of a pumpmaker of Denmark and they had one adopted child, May P. A daughter, Laura, was at one time in teaching and then became a professional dressmaker.

EGGLESTON, GEORGE VERNON of Antwerp -

George was a native of Jefferson Co. His grandfather was Asa Eggleston, a New England native and mason by trade; he passed his last years in New York State.

David, a son of Asa, was also a native of the state and was born on 4 August 1812; he settled in Antwerp when he was a young man and cleared a farm of 160 acres, four miles west of the Village of Antwerp and lived there until his death in 1895. David married first to Miss Snell, who died; she left one child, William, who became a probate judge of Steele Co., MN. In 1853 he married Elizabeth, sister of Martin Rugg. They had seven children:

Ambrose, the eldest, lived on the parental homestead in Antwerp
Ellen married James Dickson of Antwerp
Jane, the second wife of James Dickson, JR. of Antwerp, a nephew of her elder sister's husband.
George V.
Nina married Frank Hull of Hailesboro, NY
Harriet died as the wife of James Dickson, Jr.
Nettie married William Dickson of Antwerp

George V. Eggleston was born 5 July 1861 in Antwerp and grew up there on the family farm. After local school terms he spent five terms at the Ives Seminary. Later he went to Carthage and began his commercial career as a clerk in the grocery store of L. D. Thompson for two and one-half years and then for five years conducted a grocery store in partnership with Charles Dealing. He thought that some other line of trade would be more congenial and profitable so he engaged as a clerk in the drug store of C. L. Fredericks. For four years he represented Samuel Felt, a wholesale druggist of Watertown, as a salesman to the trade. George was extremely active in the affairs of Carthage. In 1888 he married Viola Baxter, born near Gouverneur, St. Lawrence Co., daughter of John and Amelia (Odell) Baxter. Amelia was a relative of an ex-governor of the State of New York They had one son, Walter, and a daughter, Florence.

JEFFREY, MANUEL of Sackets Harbor -

Manuel was a resident of Sackets Harbor beginning in 1855. He was born in England on 14 March 1837, son of Robert and Jane (Lane) Jeffrey. Robert Jeffrey, the father, died in England and when Manuel was age six in 1843, his mother, with four of her five children (the other child came a year later) emigrated to the United States and settled in Jefferson County, near the home of her father, Thomas Lane. Thomas Lane was the father of five sons and four daughters. Children of Robert and Jane Jeffrey:

Sylvanus; married in England
John, whereabouts unknown since 1865; served in the navy during the civil War and sent a telegram from New York City for Manuel Jeffrey, his brother, to meet him at the railroad station but he never came
Thomas; married Julia Cunningham and lived at Mexico, Oswego co., NY
Elizabeth; married Seth Larkins
Matilda married John Reader, a resident of Sackets Harbor
Elizabeth
Matilda

After receiving his schooling, Manuel drove a team for Mr. Eveleigh for whom he worked for six years. In 1865 he established a livery and stage line at Sackets Harbor, but disposed of the business and then engaged in the mercantile business for ten years. For 25 years he served as janitor of the Presbyterian Church of Sackets Harbor, of which he was a trustee.

Manuel married first to Ida (Palmer) Jeffrey, daughter of David and Fanny (Livermore) Palmer, in 1876. They had no children and Ida died in 1898. Manuel's second wife, whose maiden name was Laura Roe, was a native of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where her parents lived.

SLATER, JOSEPH of Hounsfield -

Joseph Slater was the youngest child of Stephen and Hannah Slater, born 18 August 1798. In 1820 he married Zylpha Morgan, daughter of Richard Morgan, of Bloomfield, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. She was born in 1801 and died 27 May 1848 in Hounsfield. Joseph and Zylpha were the parents of seven children. Joseph married in 1850 to Sarah Jane, daughter of Peter Smith, also of Canada. She was born 6 December 1811 and they had one daughter. Joseph was a farmer in East Hounsfield and held the office of constable for several years. Their children were:

Vincent
Candace
Hiram
Stephen
Angeline E.
Allen
Lyman
Harriet Zylpha

Angeline Elizabeth Slater, the fifth child and second daughter of Joseph and Zylpha, was born 10 December 1832 in Hounsfield and died 1 November 1903 in Wilkesbarre, PA. She married on 30 April 1858 to William Kirby, whom she survived for nearly nine years.

Stephen Slater, father of Joseph Slater, was the second son of Abraham and Hannah (Adams) Slater. He was born 1 August 1752 and died September 1821. He married his cousin, Hannah Slater, and lived in Halifax and Plymouth, VT. Their children were:

Silas
Hannah
Phebe
Stephen
Sarah
Abial
Sarah (2)
Belinda
Lois
Joseph

NUGENT, MARTIN of Orleans -

Martin Nugent was a native of County Clare, Ireland and was reared in Parish Fahel. He married Mary Hinds, born in County Clare, daughter of Andrew and _____(Brady) Hinds. They were the parents of five children. In 1851, the Nugents emigrated to the United States and located first in the Town of Orleans and later in West Theresa, where Martin farmed and dealt in cattle. Martin died in 1878 and his wife died at 70 years. Their children were:

Nora; married Henry Bates of Cape Vincent, NY
Edmund
Kate McCray, died in 1889 at 51 years
Andrew born 1840; a farmer in Theresa
Maria; married Ellis Smith of Toledo, Washington
John, a resident of Fort Plain

Edmund Nugent spent his early years in Ireland and obtained his education there in the national schools. In 1856 after his arrival with his parents in New York, he moved to Jefferson County to work on a farm at twelve dollars a month, until the onset of the Civil War. He enlisted under Captain Joseph Spratt. Edmund was a participant of many battles and was severely hurt by a horse falling upon him. He received an honorable discharge from the service near Petersburg, Virginia on 16 October 1864.

After Edmund returned to civil life, he located on a small farm in Theresa, and later purchased the farm where his wife was raised, in Orleans. In 1898 he purchased another farm and in 1901 build a house in Lafargeville. He served as a deputy sheriff and served also in various township offices. On 6 June 1867, he married Eleanor Graham, born in Orleans, NY, daughter of John S. Graham, who was born in the north of Ireland.

John Graham emigrated and settled in Brooklyn, NY but later moved to Orleans where he farmed until his death at age 70. John Graham and his wife were the parents of eight children, six of whom were daughters and who became school teachers. The Graham children were:

William, a resident of Nebraska who served in Company A. Tenth Reg. Of NY
Mary McIntire, a resident of Nebraska whose husband served for 3 years in the army
Eleanor, wife of Edmund Nugent
Elizabeth who married William Timmerman and lived in Hamton, Iowa
Sophia, a resident of Iowa
Edward N. who was a resident of Theresa, NY
Martha, who married D. Watkins and lived in Chicago, Illinois

STEBBINS, JEAN REGINALD of Watertown -

Jean R. Stebbins was the son of William Burrell and Elivra S. (Griswold) Stebbins; he was born 24 August 1826 in Marshall, Oneida Co., NY. His parents moved to Salisbury, NY where Jean received his education. Early he taught school and in 1854 moved to Little Falls where he entered the law office of Hon. George A. Hardin. Jean was admitted to the bar in 1860. While clerking for Judge Hardin, Jean purchased, from the heirs of Daniel Ayres, in 1861, “The Journal” and subsequently purchased other newspapers. Jean married on 13 July 1864 to Adelaide Cooper, daughter of John Cowles and Elvira (Fox) Cooper. She was born 3 April 1836 and a resident of Watertown. They had five children:

William Cooper
Frederic, died in childhood
John C., died in childhood
Grace Adelaide
John Cooper

William Cooper Stebbins, son of Jean R. and Adelaide, was born in Little Falls, NY on 20 June 1866. After receiving his education he spent two years at Cornell University and in 1890 was employed by the Agricultural Insurance Co., of Watertown, where he remained until 1896 and two years later in 1898, was made director of the Steel Company. On 9 October 1895 he married Grace Foster Sewall, born in Watertown on 16 June 1867. She was the daughter of Quincy and Catherine (Smith) Sewall. William and Grace had one child, Jean Reginald, born in Watertown 14 September 1899.

Grace Adelaide Stebbins, the fourth child of Jean R. and Adelaide, was born in Little Falls, NY on 22 July 1870. On 14 June 1894 she married Charles Norton Sherman of Watertown, NY. They had one child whose name was Adelaide.

John Cooper Stebbins, the younger son of Jean R. and Adelaide, was born at Little Falls, NY on 1 April 1874, and received his education in the military school in Chester, PA and at Dr. Holbrook's School in Sing Sing, NY. He married on 19 April 1900 to Edith Williams, a daughter of Justice Pardon C. Williams.

WINSLOW, EDWARD of Pamelia -

Edward Winslow, son of Benjamin Winslow, was born in Rochester, MA on 5 March 1788. He was one of six children. In 1800 he moved to Pamelia, Jefferson Co. where he resided for many years. He married in Rutland on 3 November 1812, to Fanny Otis. She was born 6 August 1793 in Marlborough, VT, daughter of ______and Elizabeth (Adams) Otis. Edward Winslow had an ivory headed cane which belonged to his grandfather Winslow, and which it was thought to have been brought over in the Mayflower. It was of live oak stock and had the name and date of Edward Winslow 1714 on a silver band under the ivory head. Edward Winslow died in Sanford's Corners, Jefferson County on 17 August 1879 at the age of 91, and had survived his wife for a little over a year. She died at the same place on 5 June 1878 at the age of 85.

Edward Martin Winslow was born 13 Feb. 1816, son of Edward and Elizabeth Otis Winslow. He married on 22 March 1838 to Lydia Ann Hayes. She was born 5 May 1814 at Salisbury, NY, daughter of Daniel and Nancy Ann (O'Connor) Hayes. Her death occurred on 22 March 1854 at Clayton, NY but her remains were interred at Depauville, NY. Edward married second at Depauville, NY on 19 September 1854 to Mary Ann Bartlett, born in South Weare, Hillsboro Co., New Hampshire. She was born on 12 February 1829, the daughter of Enoch and Lucy (Giddings) Bartlett of Weare, NH. A year after his first marriage, Edward M. bought a farm in Clayton, NY which was two miles from Depauville. He was active in local affairs and organizations. Edward was the father of six children, three of whom died in infancy:

Emarancy Ann, child of his first wife, born 28 September 1846 in Clayton; she married there to Henry A. Rathburn, born 22 April 1843 in New Haven, Oswego Co., NY

Their children were:
Pearley E. b 22 October 1867
Cora A. born 10 January 1870
Newell C., born 10 September 1873
Lela M. born 23 April 1883.

Children of Edward Martin Winslow's second marriage:

Edward M. Winslow, the father of these children, died 4 January 1903 at 87 years. His wife, Mary Ann Winslow survived him and lived in Depauville.

DAVIS, FRANCIS G. of Watertown -

Francis was born in 1851 in Boylston, MA where he received his early education. His father was the Rev. Elnathan Davis, born Holden, MA in 1809. His first pastorate was in Indiana and then he returned to Massachusetts. He married in 1846 to Mary a. White of Boylston. His death occurred in 1881 but his widow survived him for 18 years and she passed away at 86 years.

Francis G. Davis worked in a variety of positions in Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Indiana and in 1884 moved to Watertown, NY where he took the position of general superintendent of the H. H. Babcock Company. In 1880 the company was noted for the manufacture of its fine carriages. In June 1878 Francis married Caroline E. Goss of Worcester, MA, and they had two daughters:

Alice M., born July 1879
Grace A. born April 1883.

Mrs. Davis was the daughter of William Goss of Worcester, MA. The wife of William Goss was Mary Hallett, born 1820 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

PIERCE, FRANK D. of Watertown -

Frank's paternal ancestors were residents of Vermont. His maternal grandfather, Samuel Shelly, was in the Battle of Sackets Harbor and it was said that he was the first man to carry to Kingston the news that peace had been declared. He was one of the pioneers of Brownville, where he settled about 1804 and took up 160 acres. He built a grist mill on the east side of the river.

Frank D. Pierce, son of DeForest and Mariette (Shelley) Pierce, was born in Jefferson County, and raised in Dexter where he received his education. He tried to enlist for service in the Civil War but was turned down because he as too young. Frank was a merchant in Brownville and was chosen several times as town clerk of Brownville; he also served as supervisor and in 1891 he was nominated for county clerk, elected by a majority of about two thousand. The record states he was twice re-elected. Frank Pierce had two sons and three daughters.

PIERCE, CHARLES E. M.D. of Watertown -

Of Scotch-Irish ancestry, his ancestors on the paternal side settled in Vermont. De Forest Pierce married Mariette, daughter of Samuel Shelly, one of the pioneers of Brownville, and who served in the War of 1812. Frank D. Pierce, above, was one of their sons.

Charles E. Pierce, son of Frank D., was born 18 February 1872 at Limerick in Jefferson Co. and received his education at Dexter, Adams and Oswego, NY. In 1897 he received his medical degree from Bellevue Hospital Medical College second in his class. In 1900 he moved to Watertown, NY and opened a general practice. Dr. Pierce was a member of a very large number of societies and organizations. In 1901 he married Elizabeth A., daughter of Charles W. Sloat of Watertown. Dr. Pierce and his wife were the parents of Gerald S. and Carolyn Elizabeth.

ELY, ADRIEL of Watertown -

Adriel Ely was the fourth son and youngest child of Adriel and Sarah (Stow) Ely. He was born 9 February 1791 in Lyme, CT and moved to Watertown, NY in 1814 where he died on 20 April 1859. On 28 December 1826 he married Evelina, daughter of Judge Jabez and Hannah (Hungerford) Foster. She survived her husband over four years and died 14 August 1863.

Adriel was active in the Watertown Presbyterian Church and conducted a general mercantile business. He filled various positions in the community, and served as an attorney de facto for the prosecution of pension claims. He and Evelina had seven children, four of whom were mentioned:

Harriet Foster, the eldest, wife of Charles Richardson of Renova, PA, a naval officer
Evelina died in 1846, at 17 years
Elvira died in 1835 in infancy
Foster
Frederick Gustavus
Gertrude Sumner, wife of George W. Knowlton
Theodore Newel

Foster Ely was born in Watertown on 21 May 1836, eldest son of Adriel and Evelina (Foster) Ely. He entered Hamilton College and attended Sand Lake Academy near Troy, NY. From his alma mater he received the degrees of BA, MA and in 1878 S.T.D. In 1859 he graduated at the NY State Law School and the year following was admitted to the bar of Mississippi as attorney. His service in the Civil War found him as a chaplain in the Confederate States Army. He was with General Robert E. Lee and wounded. After several assignments to various churches he made a European tour in the summer of 1870 and served the Holy Trinity Church in Paris, Frances. One his return, he was the rectorof St. Paul's Church in Newport, Kentucky. In 1876 he became rector of Grace Church in Lockport, NY and on 1 March 1889 he went to serve the old historic parish of Ridgefield, CT.

Dr. Ely was married twice: In 1873 he married Sarah Olive (Ely) Brewster, widow of Samuel C. Brewster of Syracuse, NY. She was the daughter of William Horace Ely, eldest son of Horace Ely, a brother of Adriel Ely of Watertown. Her mother was Mary Coffeen Ely, daughter of George Brown. Sarah Olive was born in Brownville in 1831 and died on 1 July 1884. Rev. Dr. Ely married in 1888 to Harriette Ruth, daughter of James G. Brown of New Haven, CT, and his wife, Harriet Susan, daughter of George Brown. George Brown was a cousin of Major General Jacob Brown, who was for 36 years the postmaster at Brownville, NY, and for nearly a decade as judge of court in Jefferson Co.

Frederick Gustavus Ely, the second son and fifth child of Adriel and Evelina Ely, was born 2 August 1838 in Watertown where he received his early education. At 17 years he began his business career as a clerk in his father's store in Watertown. Later he became a clerk in a bank, and then teller and bookkeeper. For some time he was associated with Levi A. Johnson in the clothing and dry goods trade in Watertown and then went to Chicago in 1872. There he remained for 16 years and then moved to NY City in 1888 where he was in the railway supply business. He became one of the organizers of the American Pressed Steel Car Company, for which he served as director and general salesman. He married on 12 September 1867 to Matilda C. Boyer. She as born at Evans Mills, NY, daughter of Judge Joseph and Roxana (Howland) Boyer. They had one son: Sumner Boyer Ely, who became chief engineer of the American Sheet and Tin Plate Co. of Pittsburg. Sumner married Mary Updike of that city and they had two children: Esther and Frederick.

Theodore Newel Ely, the youngest son of Adriel and Evelina, was born 23 June 1846 in Watertown where he received his early education. He entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy and graduated in 1866 as a civil engineer before age 20. His first employment was as engineer at the Fort Pitt Foundry in Pittsburg; in 1867 he was operating coal mines in the Monongahela River District. In 1868 he was in the engineering department of the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad and was soon appointed assistant engineer of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, which was a subdivision of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Several advancements in the company gave him a standing in the railroad operations world and he was a member of several engineering societies. Theodore's home was in Bryn Mawr, a suburb of Philadelphia. On 19 May 1874 he married Henrietta Brandes, born 6 December 1846, in Erie, PA. She was the daughter of Charles and Katharine (Schenck) Brandes, of German birth. She passed away on 13 June 1880. Their four children were:

Katrina Brandes Ely born 25 March 1875; she married on 24 June 1901 to Charles L. Tiffany, second son of Louis C. Tiffany of New York
Gertrude Sumner Ely, born 20 September 1876
Carl Brandes Ely born 30 January 1879; married 13 November 1904 to Elizabeth T. Hotchkiss of New Haven, CT
Henrietta Brandes Ely born 9 June 1880

Theordore married a second time on 23 March 1886 to Susanna Marie Wierman, daughter of Thomas T. and Emilie (Piolet) Wierman, in Harrisburg, PA.


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