Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 248] alderman of the Fifth Ward of New Castle, and one of the city's enterprising men, being an extensive dealer in real estate, and an insurance agent, was born in 1839, in Mercer township, Mercer County, this State, where his father lived at that time. Our subject's father, Alonzo H. Potter, was born in Genesee County, New York State, where his father Hiram was numbered among the representative and progressive farmers. Alonzo H. came to Mercer County in 1844, and followed the business of driving stage from New Castle to Rochester, Pa., and to other: points for several years, and then became a watchman at the Brown, People & Co.'s mills for a number of years. Later on he secured employment as one of the machine hands, tending a wrought iron spike machine, until he entered the rolling-mills, where he worked until his death took place. His wife, Mary, was a daughter of Daniel and Mary Bowden; she died in 1890, aged about seventy years. The children born of this marriage who grew up to maturity were: John R., the subject of this personal mention; Mary, the wife of James Lester; Sarah, the wife of William Brannan; Margaret, the wife of James Gurney; and Samuel, who resides in Oil City, this State.

When our subject was five years old, his parents moved to New Castle, and the remaining years of his boyhood and youth were passed in the town of his present residence. At the age of eleven years he went into the factory to work at 25 cents a day to help support the family; after a while his father became a little more independent and was able to send John to school, yet in the vacations he still continued his work in the factory. His first employment there was in heading nail kegs, advancing from that position to that of feeder for the nail machines, continuing in that position for five years, when he became boss nailer, and had charge of the wrought iron nail machines until they were discontinued to make way for the wire nails. In 1877 he became interested in auctioneering, and being a practical salesman he opened a commission-house, where to-day he carries on a large business, the location being in the city of New Castle, opposite the Diamond. During his connection with the manufacture of nails, in 1859, he moved to Youngstown, Ohio, and worked there at his trade until June, 1861, when he enlisted in the 84th Reg. Ohio Vol. Inf., but his offer of his services was not accepted, for in the years previous he had met with an accident, the ends of his fingers having been cut off his right hand by being caught against the grind-stone. But he was not to be discouraged by any such drawbacks, and determined to go to the front in some capacity or another, and possessing musical ability, being a member of the local band, and a good snare drummer, he was accepted as a member of the 54th Reg. Ohio Vol. Inf., holding the position of musician, and serving until September, 1861. When the band was discharged, he moved to Sharon, Lawrence County, and worked as boss nailer twelve years, but has since then made his home in New Castle. In 1892, he was appointed by Gov. Patterson as alderman, and has by re-election been continued in that office up to the present time. He has also served as city assessor three years, and is president of the board of assessors. He is a Republican to the back-bone, and is chairman of the County Committee. In whatever capacities he has been employed or in whatever way he has served his fellow-townsmen, he has never lost sight of the trust placed in him, and has discharged the duties that came to him in a simple, conscientious manner, never with any attempt for show or effect. He is one of whom New Castle may well be proud, as an upright, honest man, who has made his own way in life, and can look everyone in the face, confident of never having wilfully injured anyone. He has dealt quite extensively in real estate, and has a finely fitted office at No. 134 South Mill Street, and resides on Sutton Street. He is a member of the local G. A. R. Post.

Mr. Potter married Miss Hannah Floor, daughter of John and Margaret Floor of New Castle, and to them have been given six children, namely: Harry, who is in the U. S. Railroad Mail Service, working between Pittsburg Pa., and Buffalo, N. Y.; Charles G., who is one of the leading jewelers and dealers in high grade silverware of Pittsburg, Pa.; Emma, who married H. Bollard of Indiana Co., Pa.; Cora M., the wife of C. B. Ransey of New Castle; Jennie S., who lives at home with her parents; and Willie, a student in the high-school. In addition to the above interesting group of children, was born another, Ralph, who died at the age of seven.

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

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