Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 346] It is not often that the chronicler of local history finds among the representative citizens, native both to the County and township, one whose age quite approaches that of the prominent citizen of New Bedford, Pulaski township, whose name appears as the heading of this personal history. The assertion is often made that a century ago our forefathers lived longer than we of the present time do, yet here we have in the person of Mr. Stevenson one of the oldest men that has ever made his home for any length of time in the county. He was born in Pulaski township, Dec. 22, 1806, and is therefore almost ninety-one years; this makes him the oldest citizen in the county as well as the longest connected with the growth of this section. His parents, James and Catherine (Moore) Stevenson, came from Donegal, Ireland, just previous to the Revolutionary War. James Stevenson enlisted in the army, and the family underwent the horrors of war in a new country, far from home and friends. Soon after his enlistment, soon after Philadelphia was occupied by the British, he was taken prisoner, lodged in a stone jail in the above-named city, and then sent under surveillance to New York, where after waiting eight months he was liberated. After his duty in the ranks was discharged he acted as a tax collector for the Government. In those days, as well as at all other times, the Quakers would not join in the fight for Independence, as it was against the rules of their order to engage in strife, so in order that they might help bear the burden of the war, they were compelled to pay heavy taxes to buy supplies for the men who went upon the bloody field. Mr. Stevenson was appointed as one of these tax collectors, and served the Government in this capacity until the end of the war. He next engaged in charcoal burning in Chester Co., Pa.; he then moved to Virginia where he spent some time, and then transferred his residence to Pulaski township in 1806; whence he removed to Poland, Ohio, about 1808, where he purchased some choice land that was still in its primeval state, and as yet unscarred by the hand of man. He cleared the timber from the place, utilizing it for charcoal, which he disposed of to the Yellow Creek Furnace that was located in the neighborhood of Poland. He spent the remainder of his days there, and by hard, incessant toil provided for his family, and accumulated some property, besides. His first wife was Hannah, a sister of Col. Bull, who served in the Revolutionary Army. Nine children resulted from this marriage: Andrew; Thomas; Elijah; Margaret; Lucy; Nancy; Sarah; Hannah; and Mary. The mother went the way of all flesh, and the father, after looking about for some one to aid him and to preside over the household, married Catherine Moore, who bore him: Robert; James; William; Rebecca; Elisha M.; Silas; Samson; Samuel; and a baby that died in its infancy. The family was brought up to attend the Presbyterian Church, and to live according to the precepts given them by the various pastors who had charge of the flock. Mr. Stevenson was a Whig, and in his later years became an Abolitionist, doing whatever his advanced years would allow him to do in the spreading of the movement directed against human slavery.

Because of the large size of the family, our subject's father was unable to provide all with a complete education, but Elisha M. received the benefit of the subscription school in Poland, Ohio, and in Pulaski, Pa. He then took a preparatory course for civil engineering under old Master Johnson, after which he dealt in merchandise in company with his uncle in Wayne Co., Ohio. For about a year he was in Pittsburg, interested in mercantile business, and then moved to Hookstown, Beaver Co., Pa., and again kept a store. At this time he married Nancy Dawson, April 30, 1829, and still carried on his store until he bought his present farm in 1831, which he cultivated himself up to 1890. For six consecutive winters, he was also engaged in teaching school, which meant a good deal in those days, when boys attended the schools until they were full-grown men, and delighted in throwing out a teacher whenever it was possible. Mrs. Stevenson was a daughter of Thomas Dawson, an astronomer of Beaver Co., Pa. The first three children born of our subject's union, Homer, Nancy A. and Catherine, sank into the grave in their youth. Elisha, whose demise occurred in 1886, grew to years of manhood and discretion, married Ellen Brown of New Bedford, and had four children—Joseph, Harvey, Willard and Amy; of these four children, Joseph married Gertrude Martin of Oil City, Pa., and has a little son, Robert M. Willard married Adda McClung. Rebecca E., the next in order of birth after Elisha M., married James Neal of Pulaski township and their family consists of Alice, Dawson, Leonora, Nellie, and Florence. The youngest son, Dawson, married Mary Cookingham of Chautauqua Co., N. Y., and this union has been blessed with four children, Metta, Homer D., Melva and Mabel. Of these children Homer D. married Clementine Brownlee of Coitsville, Ohio. Melva married Vennis A. Green and resides in Huntingdon Co., Pa. Mrs. Stevenson died in 1872, aged 72 years.

Mr. Stevenson converses with ease and shows his wide acquaintance, with books and papers that pass current in these days; he keeps himself abreast of the times, and is ever eager to learn all about any new subject. In speaking of religious matters, he evinces a liberal turn of mind. He is a man who has lived through trouble and thrived. He has a broad comprehension of subjects that would not catch the notice of an ordinary reader, and from his standpoint of age and experience he can elucidate many of the lessons that confront mankind in the great Book of Life.

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

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Updated: 29 May 2001