Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 167] William Leslieone of the oldest and most widely known residents of North Beaver township, now leading a somewhat retired life on a splendid farm, was born April 27, 1822, on what is now called the McMurray farm in the above township. This place is about two miles distant from where Mr. Leslie at his marriage settled, and has ever since lived. Our subject is a son of John and Nancy (Gilmore) Leslie.

John Leslie was of Irish birth and parentage, born in Donegal, County Down, but with his brothers George and James, emigrated to America shortly after the Revolutionary War. He had received a training in the wheelwright's trade, and on settling down in Westmoreland Co., Pa., followed that calling. In 1802, he located in North Beaver township on a farm which he bought with his accumulated earnings. This was new land, so the first work of the sturdy settler after coming into possession was to make a clearing, build a log-cabin and sow small plots of grain. He then returned for his wife, a Miss Nancy Neil, whom he had married not long before, and who was born in Allegheny County. On their return they labored together until the place was cleared of the forest and brought under cultivation. In 1814, the first wife died, leaving five children: James, born March 19, 1789: George, May 19, 1792; Jennie and Adam, twins, July 6, 1795; and John, Oct. 22, 1800. After a few years, John Leslie married again, and three children resulted from this second union, namely: Nancy, born March 6, 1818; Martha, April 27, 1820; and William H., the subject of this sketch. Besides clearing 110 acres of forest and faithfully attending to all the arduous duties of a pioneer farmer, John Leslie found time to work at his trade of wheelwright, and found considerable employment in that line in the newly settled country. He brought up his large family in the way they should go, all being regular attendants and members of the Seceders Church. He assisted in building the first log Seceders Church in 1797. John Leslie lived to the good old age of seventy-three, dying Jan. 15, 1835.

Agnes (Witherspoon) Leslie William H. Leslie, the youngest of the large family of children, was given the best educational advantages the early schools could afford, and in his boyhood days profited largely by being continually thrown in contact with his sturdy father. Industry, thrift, honesty and sobriety were the watchwords of those old days. The early settler's struggles with nature, and the daily cares and obstacles to be overcome, gave a training that developed a hardy manhood. Our subject was married Nov. 30, 1843, to Agnes, the daughter of John and Margaret Witherspoon, who were neighboring pioneers. Agnes Witherspoon was born on the farm, which afterwards became the home of herself and husband, Jan. 25, 1824. No children have ever blessed their union, but through all the years in which the now venerable couple have lived together in perfect confidence and unanimity, they have ever looked to the welfare of others. Scores of near and dear friends, and many appreciative people, who have been the recipients of their willingly-bestowed favors, attest on every hand the high esteem in which Mr. Leslie and his wife are held. Mr. Leslie soon became the owner of the farm on which he settled at the beginning of his married life. Constant care and hard work have made it an ideal home place. In its virgin state, the farm was heavily timbered; with axe, wielded by brawny and sinewy arms, he hewed down the kings of the forest, built a new house and barns, sowed the fields to grain, and set out many acres of fruit. The apples, peaches, plums and pears raised on this farm are famous. It is safe to say that in all this section, there is not to-day 128 acres of land in finer condition, or more carefuly tended, than that of Mr. Leslie's.

In 1893, rich in years and prosperous in worldly affairs, Mr. Leslie and wife celebrated their golden wedding. This auspicious event brought many friends from miles around, who had grown to know and love the aged and respected couple. No home in their neighborhood is oftener visited, and no cheery hospitality is better appreciated in general than that offered by Mr. Leslie and his wife. Their latch-string is ever out, and the good things of their larder are always ready to minister to the refreshment of their friends and acquaintances.

William H. Leslie in his long life has never sought office; his political connections have, however, always been strong and well grounded. His advice in public affairs is much sought, and his ripe experience has been drawn upon by the leaders in the party of his choice. Mr. Leslie was originally a Whig, but about war-time he cast his lot with the Republican party, of which he has ever since been an ardent supporter. Both Mr. Leslie and his wife have been life-long members of the United Presbyterian Church. They are true Christian people, and bring the teachings of their Master into their daily life. In the fulness of their years they can look back upon the past, and in memory link the forests of the old days with the changed conditions of the present. There are few people living nowadays, who have watched the building of our State and Nation step by step, and still fewer, who have taken an active part in bringing out the developments seen at this end of the nineteenth century. Mr. Leslie and his beloved wife are of this now fast-disappearing class. Their home, their friends, and their life-work all testify that they have borne their part faithfully and well. On preceding pages the publishers have placed the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie, who both represent, as few others can, the pioneer element of the county, that has grown up with this section, and is now so fast disappearing.

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

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