Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897
[p. 160] one of the truly representative citizens of Lawrence County, now living in honored retirement on his farm in North Beaver township, was born in Washington, D. C., Sept. 21, 1814. He is a son of Joseph and Deborah (Sutherland) Edwards, and a grandson of Robert and Mary (Burrough) Edwards.
The grandfather was born in England, but a captaincy he held in the army, which came from the mother country to assist the colonists in the French and Indian War, brought him to this side of the ocean. At the end of his service, being thoroughly well pleased with the new land, he decided to remain, and accordingly bought a large tract of land in St. Mary's Co., Maryland. Besides being a brave soldier, Robert Edwards was a skilled ship carpenter, and through being a large land-owner in later years he came to possess large numbers of slaves, like his neighbors around him. He did not scorn to put his hand, when occasion demanded it, to the trade of his younger years, and many a stanch craft owed its being to him. He died at a good old age, rich in worldly goods, and respected and loved by all. His wife, whom he had married in early life, survived him some few years. Five sons and two daughters were born to Robert and Mary Edwards. Among them were: John, who was at one time sheriff of St. Mary's Co.; Jesse, a planter and extensive slave-owner of the same county; Hezekiah, who moved west to Kentucky; and Joseph, the father of the subject of this sketch.
Joseph Edwards worked with his father on the farm, and learned not only the details of successful farming, but also his parent's valuable trade. When King George's yoke became too heavy to bear, the young man was ready and willing to lend a hand in freeing the country from oppression. He served through the Revolutionary War, and soon after its close received an appointment from Thomas Jefferson as mid-shipman in the navy, a position he held with headquarters in Washington, D. C., until 1818. After leaving the service of the government, Mr. Edwards located in Beaver Co., Pa., buying the farm now owned by F. Edwards. He resided there and with the family of the subject of this sketch up to the time of his death at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. The widow, whose maiden name was Deborah Sutherland, but who had been previously married to John Ledger, survived him but a few short months. Six children were born to them: Rebecca; Polly, who died in childhood; Ann; Henry; Jane; and Emily. All these children were reared according to the teachings of the Episcopal Church, to which the father and mother belonged.
Henry Edwards, the subject of this notice, early manifested his natural bent of mind. He was an apt pupil and a lover of knowledge. From the schools of his day he acquired a good education, to which he has ever since added, until he can be safely termed one of the best read and best informed men of his county. In 1852, when already a prosperous man, he came to North Beaver township, buying the mill site, together with several acres of land from John Clark. Soon after he erected a new flouring mill at an expense of over $5,000, and equipped it with the best and most modern machinery that could then be obtained. A prosperous business rewarded this venture, but after five years of success, misfortune in the shape of water came and destroyed the mill. About this time, the new railroad came this way, and Mr. Edwards, ever alive to business opportunities, became a large contractor, and built many miles of the line with considerable pecuniary profit to himself. When the oil business began to develop, Mr. Edwards again saw his chance, and devoted much time to fortunate prospecting and opening of new oil fields; at one time he even had an oil well on his own farm. Besides these interests, Mr. Edwards had been steadily buying land, and was profitably tilling many broad acres of fertile soil. He had built a new house and barns in 1856, and as time went by had set out large quantities of the best varieties of fruit. For years since then he has been one of the largest fruit-growers in the township. At one time our subject was a heavy dealer in wool, handling large quantities of it with good returns to himself.
In 1887 and 1888, Mr. Edwards, who had long been a leading factor in political affairs of the county, was prevailed upon to accept the Republican nomination to the State Legislature. He was duly elected, and served his constituents in a manner that won their hearty plaudits, and added to the honor and esteem in which he had always been held.
Henry Edwards married Margaret Clark, a daughter of David Clark; she died at the age of forty-eight, leaving him five children: Mary, who married John Hoffman of Philadelphia, Pa.; Joseph, who married Essie Eckles, and is a prominent railroad contractor; Jane, who is the wife of Thomas Graham of New Castle, Pa.; Jessie, the wife of L. Cross of North Beaver township; and Harry, who is his father's helper and co-worker.
As has been stated before, Mr. Edwards is a man of high attainments and, varied accomplishments. Being a ready speaker, and the possessor of a mine of information, he has never been worsted in a political debate or argument. He is extremely active, of a cheery, genial disposition, and has warm friends by the hundreds, wherever he is known. No social gathering is so complete as it is when he is present. For keen judgment either in politics or in business he is unexcelled. As an adviser, he is much sought, and his advice has the very pleasant feature about it that it can be relied on. Few men have such a fund of experience and anecdote. An out and out Republican since the days of John C. Fremont, he is proud of the record of the Keystone Statea record that men of his stamp are certainly responsible for. Bright, hale and happy, with a constitution strong, and unimpaired, he stands surrounded with the fruits of his life work, a true example of the best American manhood.
Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897
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Updated: 3 May 2001