Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 53] Associate-Judge and one of the highest esteemed men of the city of New Castle, has good right to boast of his long residence in the county, and in the town, for he was born in a log-house, near where he now resides, Dec. 1, 1822. He is a son of James and Martha (Johnson) Fulkerson, and a grandson of John and Mary (Alky) Fulkerson. John Fulkerson was of German descent, and the earliest record has him a resident of Virginia, living near Rappahannock, Fredericks County, where our subject's father was born. In 1810, John Fulkerson and his wife came to the town of New Castle in search of a desirable farm, on which to locate, traveling three hundred miles on horseback to reach this locality. Mr. Fulkerson was neither a slave-owner nor a believer in the iniquitous practice, and so his coming to this part of Pennsylvania was because he desired to settle in a new country where slavery was not allowed. He secured a farm of 200 acres, lying between our subject's present farm and New Castle, and returned to Virginia, and with horses and wagons brought his wordly effects and children, with the exception of two, who chose to remain in their old home. The farm had some few improvements, there being a small log-house or cabin, and a few acres cleared of the original timber by burning, and consequently very fertile. So with little difficulty he installed his household in the new home and set about acquiring a competence, and securing a livelihood; there he reared his family, and with the assistance of his sons cleared the land. Both he and his wife lived to exeed eighty years of age. He was an attendant of the Presbyterian Church, and helped to construct the first church building. There were eight children born to our subjects grandparents, as follows: Lewis; John; Roger; James; Eliza, the wife of Thomas Gillispie; William; Richard; and Margaret Ann, the wife of William Cox.

James, being one of the oldest children who went to Pennsylvania, was of valuable assistance to his father in clearing the farm, and in keeping the wild animals, that abounded thereabouts, from molesting their live stock. For his own farm he bought a tract of 200 acres, adjoining his father's property, which farm our subject owned later on, and set about in earnest to support himself and to accumulate property; he was a very hard worker, and made the work of clearing as easy as it was possible by burning what would be considered very valuable lumber nowadays, but which was then considered to be in the way of crops of grain which otherwise might occupy the same place. His brother went to the War of 1812, and James started with him, but met with a fall, which left Him a cripple in his left arm all his days. He was a prominent man among the town's citizens, and active in matters of public interest, but never held an office. He died at the age of seventy-nine. In the battle of life he ever looked on the bright side, was of a cheery disposition and never down-hearted; in his immediate surroundings he was a kind and loving husband and father. His wife, who was a daughter of John Johnson, died at the age, of seventy-nine, having borne him eight children, namely: John C., a resident of New Castle, whose sketch also appears in this volume; Lewis, a farmer of New Castle; Margaret, deceased, formerly the wife of J. R. Squires; Eliza, now deceased, married William C. Hoffman; Robert J., our subject; Jane, deceased, the wife of J. Houk; Matilda, the wife of William Coplin; and James, who resides in the State of Iowa.

Robert J. Fulkerson attended the district schools, and improved every opportunity by which he might add to his stock of knowledge, and so become equipped for life's work. He stayed at home, and like a dutiful son cared for his parents in their last days; in due time as a recompense for his services he was given the homestead and part of the land, on which he built a house, in 1861, where he now resides. Being located on the borough line, he has cut up a part of the farm into city lots, laying out the following streets: Oat, Fern, Ann, and Spring. Of these lots, which he has placed on the open market, he has sold the major portion, and many of them have been built on, and are fast increasing in value. Always active in the interest and progress of New Castle, he has been engaged in mercantile business some, and has been identified in municipal affairs to a considerable extent, having held many offices of the town and city, being overseer of the poor ten years and a school director for a lesser period. In 1887 he was elected associate-judge, and has filled the chair since with honor and distinction.

Mr. Fulkerson married Miss Mary Ann Gibson, daughter of Abner Gibson of Wilmington township, this county, Jan. 20, 1848; Mrs. Fulkerson was born Jan. 10, 1824, and died Oct. 4, 1885. Their marriage was never blessed with children, but such was their desire for some one to cherish and care for, that they have had several live with them, and they have done a great deal to assist in bringing up, educating, and making them honorable and God-fearing men and women. Our subject and wife were members of the Presbyterian Church, and Mr. Fulkerson has to-day a seat taken from the old Presbyterian Church, which, as the first seat in the church that he ever sat upon, he keeps under his favorite spruce tree as a remembrance of his appearance on that, his first visit. The seat consists of an oak plank, with four of the original spindles used as its supports. He has a fine orchard, which he assisted his father in setting out, and has since replaced the old trees which no longer bear with new stock. To show the fertility of the land and its adaptability for raising large crops of the most luscious fruit, it may be remarked that in 1896 the limbs of the trees broke down from sheer weight of the load they carried. He is not only a practicable farmer, but a fine business man in every particular.

Among the prominent and representative citizens of the county, whose portraits we present in this book, we take pleasure in giving that of Mr. Fulkerson as a gentleman of exceptional worth and good standing.

We also present the portrait of Mrs. Fulkerson as a worthy companion picture.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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