WILLIAM ALLISON CONKLIN. The history of the development of any new country affords interesting illustrations of zeal and rigid determination, so essential to the successful prosecution of a difficult undertaking.
Of this Captain John Conklin, one of the old pioneers of Washington county, presents a striking example, and his numerous descendants of the present day possess the same characteristics in no small degree. Capt. John Conklin was born in Morris county, N. J., September 30, 1763. In 1784 he married Elizabeth Mills, a native of the same county, who was born March 29, 1766. In November, 1790, with his wife and three daughters, he started for Washington county. It is hard to realize the difficulties of that journey by wagon. The route was a very hilly one, the grading steep, rendering it necessary to make frequent stops in ascending a hill, in order that the team might rest. These rests necessitated the services of "a blocker" to follow the wagon, and place a block behind a wheel when a stop was made. This duty devolved upon Mrs. Conklin. In many instances, to render this assistance she left the youngest child at the foot of the hill, and the wagon having reached the summit, she would return and carry the child. Arriving at the glades in the mountains, they were compelled to stop three or four months on account of Mrs. Conklin's illness. Then, renewing their journey, with their four children, on horseback, and leaving all behind except what clothing they could carry on two horses, they arrived in Washington county in May or June, 1791. Capt. Conklin purchased 440 acres of land, near Sparta, on the south fork of the north branch of Ten-Mile creek, the present property of W. A. Conklin. Here he devoted his energy to the improvement of the place, which was made to yield a good income. Capt. Conklin died July 12, 1824, having given to the country a family of twelve children -- eight daughters and four sons -- all of whom married, forming twelve families of eighty-four children; sixty-six of the grandchildren married, all but about seven having families, some very large ones.
The eldest son, John, grew up, always having close friends. He married, in 1820, Jane Andrew, a quiet, kind and loving wife and mother. Two years after he moved west to a quarter section of land, given to him by his mother, on the west bank of Little Darby creek, now opposite West Jefferson, Madison Co., Ohio. Here he lived until his death, October 26, 1873. He reared a family, and lived to see four out of seven children married well. John was a great hunter, and was soon known for hundreds of miles around by that class of people through the wilderness of central Ohio. All strangers or friends were so cordially welcomed by him that they soon were his loving friends. As soon as his visitors, rested, John would order his best team and rig, suitable for the occasion, and rations for each, and off they would go, until all parties were satisfied.
Two years after her husband's death, Mrs. Conklin married Caleb Lindley. Mr. Lindley lived about ten years, and the widow returned to the old homestead, and lived with her son William, hardly knowing what sickness was, until she died suddenly August 16, 1852.
William Conklin, born July 4, 1810, was the youngest of this family of twelve children. He remained with his father until the latter's death. Then, being fourteen years of age, he was bound to John Griffith to learn the shoemaker's trade. Having served his term, he worked as a journeyman shoemaker at different places in Ohio, until 1835, when he returned and settled on his farm in Washington county, where he dwelt until his death, June 25, 1880 (he died within a few feet of the log cabin where he was born), in a brick mansion, built in 1862. He was a farmer. As a justice of the peace, for ten years he filled the office with credit to himself and satisfaction to the people. On March 2, 1838, he married Catherine, born May 16, 1818, a daughter of Jacob and Abigail Ross, of Greene county. Jacob was one of the prominent drovers of the time and section. Jacob Ross' parents, John and Elizabeth Ross, were the first owners of the tract of land on Ruff's creek, near Jefferson, Greene county. John died in 1813, and was buried on the farm, there being no graveyard. He owned slaves, and frequently had serious trouble with the Indians. Jacob Ross, her father, donated the land for the first graveyard, and lot for the first church (Baptist) that was built in that section of the country. It still stands, enclosed with the old stone wall. Timothy and Rachel Ross settled on a tract four miles west. (John and Timothy were no relation, but of the same name). On this farm the Indians found a man and his two sons clearing a lot for corn. They shot and scalped two of them, one son escaping to the fort. This was the last murder by the Indians in that section. Timothy Ross died on one of his farms, near Shinstown, Monongalia co., W. Va., aged eighty-five years. Mr. Ross was one of the first Campbellites in this part of the country. He often rode his big sorrel horse, "Mose," to Bethany, Brooke Co., W. Va., to hear Elder Alexander Campbell preach. Elizabeth Ross died a the home of her son William, in Ohio, in 1834, aged almost one hundred years. Jacob Ross died in 1856. Abigail Ross, Catharine's mother, died July 2, 1881. With remarkable eyesight and strength, she was out overseeing her farms in Richhill township, Greene co., up to a few days before her death.
To William and Catharine Conklin nine children were born: Phoebe Jane, born December 2, 1838, married, April 2, 1868 to Cephas Meek (he died on his farm on Ruff's creek in Greene Co., leaving a widow and one son); William Allison is the subject proper of this sketch; Benjamin Franklin, born September 12, 1841, taught school for several terms, read medicine, attended Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, and the following winter graduated from the Western Reserve Medical College, Cleveland (he settled in Fayette city, Penn., and in 1871 married Millie J. Kelley, of Salem, Ohio. He was the father of one child, now the wife of Guy W. Boudinot, of Cleveland, Ohio. He practiced medicine until his death, January 18, 1873. He was one of the most prominent and successful physicians in the Monongahela Valley). Thomas H. Benton, born May 25, 1844, died June 1, 1845; Cinderella, born March 27, 1847, married Noah D. Sowers, February 17, 1881, and resides in Vermilion county, Ill.; Gleason P., born March 29, 1849, married, January 1, 1879, to Victorine Wilson daughter of James Wilson, of Franklin township (they reside near West Union, Greene co., and are the parents of six children); one who died in infancy; Ophelia Belle, born February 6, 1853, married, in 1875, to Ross McClain (they reside in Greene county. She is the mother of seven children, all living); Catharine Ivangenia, born July 4, 1856, married March 7, 1888, to George E. Mann (they reside in Vermilion county, Ill. She is the mother of one child, Chloe); Ross M., born August 4, 1861, received a common-school education, attended college a number of terms, and graduated at Duff's Commercial College, Pittsburgh (he went to McPherson, Kans., in 1884, where he taught school four years, and married Madeline Burwell, of McPherson, May 28, 1888. Shortly after they moved to Oregon, where he has been principal of the Roseburg College ever since, and in which his wife is an instructor).
William Allison Conklin, born March 28, 1840, received a common-school education, and taught a number of terms. He attended a commercial college, and then chose a farmer's life. He has always been a hard worker, and is possessed of more than ordinary intellect and culture. A genial disposition, which is only found in those who are temperate, characterizes him. He never uses strong drinks or tobacco; never has been known to swear an oath under the most trying circumstances; has always been kind to the poor, true to his word and firm for his rights. His widowed mother, kind, gentle and affectionate, lives with him on the old place, which has been handed down from father to son for three generations. He has been a member of the M. E. Church for over twenty years, and has served as superintendent of Sunday-school, steward and trustee. He is a Democrat, who seeks not office, but is always found working for the man best fitted for the office. No one rejoiced more heartily than he did over the results of the elections of November 8, 1892.
Text taken from page 797 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed May 1997 by Karen Souhrada of Pittsford, NY as part of the Beers Project.
Published June 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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