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Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio
Pages 1232-1244 Thomas Gilbert to Joshua Swartzel

THOMAS GILBERT, [pages 1232-1234] farmer of Perry township, Montgomery county, Ohio, spring from sterling English ancestry on his father’s side and from German stock on his mother’s side of the family.  George Gilbert, his father, was born in Maryland, October 2, 1786. He was a carpenter by trade and married Catherine Wampler, January 27, 1825.  To them were born the following children:  James, born November 23, 1825; Samuel, born September 10, 1827; Thomas, born January 18, 1829.  The mother of these children died, and Mr. Gilbert married a widow named Mary Wampler, whose maiden name was Brown.  To this marriage there were born George and Gideon.  Mr. Gilbert and family settled three-fourths of a mile east of Liberty, in Jefferson township, on 160 acres of land, which was at the time partly cleared of its timber.  To this he added until at length he owned 300 acres of excellent land, which he improved both by intelligent cultivation and by the erection of good buildings. He was an unusually prosperous man, and was well known for many miles around as a straightforward, honorable citizen.  Mr. Gilbert was a democrat in politics and was honored by his fellow-citizens with election to the offices of township trustee and township treasurer, beside several other minor offices of trust.  He died in 1862, at the age of seventy-six, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Thomas Gilbert, the subject of this sketch, was born in Jefferson township, Montgomery county, Ohio.  He received the education then given to the country-bred children, in a subscription school, and upon arriving at a suitable age was put to learning the carpenter’s trade, at which he subsequently worked for many years.  He married, when he was twenty-seven years of age, July 4, 1855, Miss Ellen E. Colliflower, who was born in Maryland and was a daughter of Peter and Mary Colliflower.  Peter Colliflower, was born in Maryland, of German extraction, and lived and died in his native state.  His widow then brought her family to Ohio and settled in Liberty in 1848.  The children were William, Joel, Abraham and Ellen E.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert settled east of Liberty on three acres of land, he working at his trade for fifteen years.  He then purchased forty acres of land in Jackson township, where he lived until 1866, when he removed to Perry township, having purchased here ninety-eight acres of land, partly cleared.  This farm he has greatly improved, and in 1872-3 erected his present commodious residence.  He is a most careful and practical farmer, and now has his farm under a high state of cultivation.

The eldest child born to Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert was Leroy, who educated himself and graduated from the high school of Trumbull county, Ohio, attended Oberlin college, also a college in Tennessee and the college at Delaware, Ohio.  He was professor in an eastern college, and later was vice-president of a college at New Orleans.  Then going to Washington, he became superintendent of the public schools at Tacoma, where he died, leaving a reputation for high character and fine scholarship.  He married Miss Harriet Faulkner, of Trumbull county, Ohio, by whom he had two children.  The second child of Thomas Gilbert is Charles, who married Margaret Lamkin.  He is a farmer of Jackson township, and has three children.  Emma lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Nettie married John Bowman, a farmer of Jackson township, and has two children.

Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.  In politics Mr. Gilbert is a democrat and as such he has been elected a school director of his district.  In private as well as in public life he has always been looked upon as a man of integrity and of honorable character.

Mr. Gilbert learned his trade as carpenter very thoroughly, serving two years as an apprentice and two years as journeyman, acquiring all the knowledge necessary for a first-class mechanic, and has erected many business buildings and residences.

The great-grandfather of Thomas Gilbert came from England, settled in Maryland, and married a German woman.  He had two children, Jeremiah and Susan, to the former of whom he gave a farm.  On May 9, 1779, Jeremiah married Catherine Weaver, whose father was a soldier of the Revolution, and the children of this marriage were Thomas, Elizabeth, Catherine, George, Hannah, Jeremiah, Sophia and one that died in infancy.  The mother of these children having died, Mr. Gilbert married for his second wife Miss Powell, August 27, 1793, and by her he had the following children:  Reuben, Jeremiah, William, Isaac, James, Sarah, Rhoda, Mary, John, Joseph, Lydia, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Solomon.  In all he was the father of twenty-three children, tow of whom died when quite young.  Jeremiah Gilbert was a prosperous farmer, a good citizen, and died in 1822, when sixty-one years of age.  He was a member of the German Baptist church.


REV. SAMUEL HORNING, [pages 1234-1236] one of the present preachers of the German Baptist church in Montgomery county, Ohio, and also a progressive and successful farmer, came from excellent Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestors.  His remote ancestry came from Germany, and were among the early German Baptists to settle in Pennsylvania.  His great-grandfather, Ludwig Horning, was born in Germany in 1708.  Among his children were Peter, Samuel and John, the last named of whom was born in 1755, lived on the old homestead in Skippack township, Montgomery county, Pa., and was married to Elizabeth Hall, May 11, 1780.  Their children were Jacob, Lewis, Catherine, John, Mary, Ann, Samuel, Henry, William and Isaac.

William Horning, the father of Samuel, was born in Montgomery county, Pa., February 16, 1801, and received a common-school education in his native state.  Being of a mechanical turn of mind he learned the millwright trade and in many ways showed that he was possessed of rare ability in this direction.  He married in his native state, August 12, 1826, Hannah Price, who was descended from one of the oldest of the German Baptist ministers of the country.

Jacob Preisz was the original founder of the Price family in America, and was born in Wetzenstein, Prussia, about the beginning of the eighteenth century.  He came to this country in the fall of 1719, being one of the many who were persecuted on account of their religious principles in their native land.  After reaching America he remained for a time at Germantown, Pa., and about 1721 settled at Indian Creek, Lower Salford township, Montgomery county, Pa.  He was a preacher of great power and influence.  Jacob Preisz died and his remains lie buried on the old homestead now occupied by his great-great-grandson, Abraham Price.  He had one son, John, who  was also a minister, and who wrote poetry of considerable merit, a collection of which was published by Christopher Sam in 1753.  John Price married young, and was the father of two sons, Daniel and John.  Daniel Price, of the third generation from the founder of the family in America, was the father of thirteen children, of who the following married and reared families.  These children were John, George, Henry, Daniel, _____, Elizabeth and Hannah.  George Price, who was of the fourth generation, was the father of eight children, of whom the names of six are remembered, viz:  Mary, Sarah, Daniel, George, Hannah and John.  John became a minister of the gospel so young that he was known far and wide as “Johnny Price, the boy preacher.”  Wherever he went to preach people of all denominations flocked to hear him.  He originated the Sunday-school in Coventry, not without much opposition.  In his early life he kept a store in the house now occupied by John Ellis, and while thus engage he changed the name to Price to correspond with its pronunciation.  When he died the entire church mourned his loss, for “Lo, a great man is fallen in Israel.”  John Price was the father of twelve children, ten of whom lived to marry and rear families of their own.  These ten were Isaac, George, Rebecca, Mary, Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, Lydia, Anna and John R. The Price family have long been prominently identified with the progress and prosperity of Pennsylvania.  They appear to have been a priestly race as far back as we have any knowledge of them, as Jacob was a noted preacher in Europe, and his son, John, was a preacher and poet.  Daniel, son of John, was also a preacher, and had two sons who were preachers, while in every generation since there have been one or more ministers of the gospel.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. William Horning settled in Montgomery county, Pa., and there he ran a grist-mill and a clover-mill on his farm.  He and his wife had seven children born to them, as follows:  John P., Elhanan, Daniel, Elizabeth, Mary, Jonas and Samuel.  In the fall of 1840 Mr. Horning moved from Pennsylvania, settling in Perry township, Montgomery county, Ohio, where he purchased 160 acres of land, to which he later added 100 acres.  To him and his wife there were born the following children:  Rebecca, Lydia and Samuel.  Mr. and Mrs. Horning were members of the German Baptist church.  Mr. Horning was an ingenious mechanician, having built a threshing machine in Pennsylvania and also a feed-cutter, which he himself invented.  In Ohio he invented the force-feed grain-drill, which was constructed on the same fundamental principle as those now in most general use.  He also invented a horse hay-rake and a horsepower for threshers and a two-roller cane-mill, beside several minor implements.  He was both skillful and industrious, and was known far and wide for his integrity of character and for his genial disposition.  He was one of the early advocates of the temperance cause and among the first who undertook the suppression of the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage in his neighborhood.

Rev. Samuel Horning, the subject of this sketch, was born March 5, 1848, on the old homestead in Perry township, Montgomery county, Ohio.  He was educated in the public schools, was reared a farmer and learned of his father the trade of blacksmith, thus becoming familiar with the use of all kinds of tools.  When he was twenty-three years of age he married Anna Matilda Eversole, who was born in Montgomery county, Ohio, September 11, 1850, and who is a daughter of Abraham Eversole and his wife, who was Margaret Folkrath.  The father of Mrs. Horning was born December 8, 1804, in Shepherdstown, Jefferson county, Va., and was a weaver and a farmer.  He located in Hagerstown, Md., and there married Mary Logue, removing to Ohio in 1832, and settling in Greene county, where his first wife died.  He afterward married Margaret Folkrath in 1834, and by this second marriage had ten children, as follows:  Daniel, Catherine, Maria, Henry C., Elizabeth, Julia, Anna M., Sarah F., John C. and Laura L.  He is a most excellent neighbor and an honored member of the community.  While a member of no church, yet he is a supporter of religious work, giving the ground for the building of the Eversole church, which is located on his farm.  Mr. Eversole is the last living member of his father’s family, Mrs. Elizabeth Roop, another member, having recently died.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Horning settled on the farm and moved into the ancient mansion, remaining there three years, then bought part of the old homestead and erected excellent modern buildings, where they still reside. Their children are as follows:  John, Jr., who died at the age of twenty years; Edwin L. and Clara.  Rev. Samuel Horning has been a minister of the German Baptist church for the past fourteen years, or since August 31, 1882, and has worthily followed in the footsteps of his ancestors.  He is possessed of a broad and liberal education, and so highly appreciates the advantages of educating the youth, that he has given his children the best education within his means, and the best the facilities of the present day permit.  He is a man of wide and careful reading, informed on all current topics, and well versed in ancient and modern history and theology.  He and his wife have been members of the church since 1872, their children also uniting with the church in early life.


ABRAHAM NEFF, [pages 1236-1237] of Perry township, one of the oldest and most respected native-born farmers of Montgomery county, Ohio, is a native of Jefferson township, was born June 7, 1818, and is remotely of German descent.

Leonard Neff, his grandfather, was native of Virginia, and when a young man removed to Somerset county, Pa., where he married Elizabeth Miller.  He went thence to Kentucky, where he was a compatriot of the famous Daniel Boone, and at one time found shelter in the same fort with him during an Indian raid.  Mr. Neff cleared a plantation in Jessamine county, Ky., and there died at the age of about seventy-six years, the father of the following children:  John, Peter, Elizabeth, Mary, Michael, Jonathan, Joseph and Margaret.

Michael Neff, father of Abraham, was born in Kentucky in 1794.  He was reared to farming in Jessamine county and also learned the blacksmith trade.  He came to Ohio in 1815 and was married in Montgomery county, in 1816 or 1817, to Esther Weaver, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1795 or 1796, a daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Heistand) Weaver, the latter a native of Pennsylvania and of German extraction.

Peter Weaver way born in Germany, came to America when a young man, and first made his home in Pennsylvania, married in that state, later brought his family to Ohio, and was a pioneer of what is now Jefferson township, Montgomery county, and at one time owned a section and a half of land, which at the present time is divided into eight farms.  His children were named John, Jacob, Henry, Elizabeth, Barbara, Esther, Peter and Abraham.  He was for many years a faithful member of the German Baptist church, lived to the great age of ninety-four years, and died in Elkhart county, Ind., at the home of his eldest son, John.

Michael Neff and wife, after their marriage, settled on the Peter Weaver farm in Jefferson township, and here were born their four children—Abraham (the subject of this memoir), Margaret, Michael and Elizabeth, and here, also, Mrs. Esther Neff was called from earth about 1824.  Mr. Neff next married Miss Barbara Floro, daughter of Joseph Floro, and this union resulted also in the birth of four children—Sarah, Joseph, Eve and Jonathan—all probably born in Perry township, whither after his second marriage Mr. Neff removed about 1827 or 1828, and settled on 160 acres in the woods, of which tract, however, twenty acres had been cleared.  This land had been cleared.  This land had been entered by Peter Weaver in 1812, the deed being signed by President Madison; the parchment is still preserved by Abraham Neff, who now lives upon the farm.  Michael Neff thoroughly developed this place and lived upon it until failing health called a respite from labor, when he made a visit to Charleston, W. Va., in hope of recuperating, but there died July 10, 1851, at the age of fifty-seven years.  He was a whig in politics, an unswervingly honest man, and honored universally as a useful citizen.

Abraham Neff, with whose name this biography is opened, was reared to farming and was educated in an old-fashioned log schoolhouse.  He learned from his father the blacksmith’s trade, also, and, when of a little over twenty-two years old, was married January 9, 1840, in Jefferson township to Tracy Bellmier, who was born in Washington county, Md., December 15, 1817, an daughter of Gabriel and Margaret (Toby) Bellmier, the former of whom was a Marylander by birth, but of German descent.  He was a farmer and came to Montgomery county in 1827 or 1828, settling on 160 acres of land in Jefferson township, but about 1850 removed to Ogle county, Ill., where he died at the age of sixty-four years, the father of the following children:  Catherine, Susan, Elizabeth, Mary, Tracy John, Charity, Martin, Harrison, Caroline, Ruan and Thornton.

Abraham Neff and wife, after their marriage, lived for four years on an eighty-acre farm in Defiance county, and then returned to the old Neff homestead in Montgomery county, their present home.  To this farm Mr. Neff has gvien much intelligent labor, improving it with modern and convenient buildings, and bringing it under a high state of cultivation, so that it now ranks among the best places in the township.  The children of Mr. and Mrs. Neff are John, Miranda, Allen, Mary, Maggie, Amelia and Althea (twins), Peter, Hettie and Minnie.  The family are members of the old-school German Baptist church.  Mr. Neff is very popular with his fellow-citizens and has served them as town trustee for ten terms and as a member of the school board for seventeen years.  He has always been a promoter of good schools, has liberally aided other churches beside his own, and has done all in his power to promote good roads and other essential public improvements in his township.


ISAAC C. HAINES, [pages 1237-1238] farmer, of Madison township, Montgomery county, Ohio, sprang from German and Irish ancestry, his paternal ancestors being from Germany and settlers in Pennsylvania.  Three brothers named Haines came from Germany at an early day.

Allen Haines, the father of Isaac C., was born in Lancaster county, Pa., was a shoemaker by trade, and married, in Lancaster county, Nancy Lemmon, who was brought from Ireland by her parents when she was seven years of age.  Mr. and Mrs. Haines were the parents of the following children:  Lemmon, Frank, Catherine, Caroline, Isaac C., Cyrus, Levi, Israel, Henry, Samuel and John.  In 1826 Mr. Haines came to Ohio, settling in Clay township, near Phillipsburg.  Later he removed to Miami county, where he passed the remainder of his days, dying at the age of sixty-seven years.  His wife was a member of the Lutheran church and lived to a good old age.

Isaac C. Haines was born October 9, 1826, in Lancaster county, Pa., and was brought to Montgomery county, Ohio, by his parents when he was about six months old.  Receiving a common-school education, he was reared a farmer, and when twenty-one years of age he married, August 17, 1846, Miss Barbara Alice Teetor, who was born December 17, 1829, in Washington county, Pa.  She is a daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Donson) Teetor.  Her grandfather, Francis Teetor, came from Germany with his family.  His wife, Catherine Donaldson, was born in Germany.  Their children were as follows:  John, George, Catherine, Barbara, Susan and Jacob. Francis Teetor settled on the Ohio river at an early day, and was a member of the German Baptist or Dunkard church.

Jacob Teetor, the father of Mrs. Haines, was born December 1, 1805, on the Ohio river, and was reared a farmer’s boy, though losing his father when he was but two years of age.  He grew to manhood and married in Washington county, Pa., the maiden name of his wife having been Elizabeth Donson.  She was born in Maryland, and was a daughter of Thomas and Barbara (Garber) Donson.  Thomas Donson was a wealthy man, one of the original pioneers of Union and Randolph townships, and owned saw-mills and distilleries in the early days.

Jacob Teetor came to Ohio in 1827 with his family and first settled in Union, Randolph township, where he purchased a farm of 160 acres of land.  Later he purchased 160 acres of land in Madison township, upon which he lived for a time, afterward removing to Weaver station.  Here he bought a tract of fifty acres, and later removed to Stringtown, Madison township where he purchased seventy-five acres, upon which he remained until his death, reaching the great age of eighty-five years.  He was always an active man and held several important positions of honor and trust, such as superintendent of the Montgomery county infirmary for five years, and also that of township trustee for some time.  Politically he was a republican and in religion he belonged to the German Baptist church.  He and his wife reared the following children:  Barbara Alice, Thomas, George, Henry, Elizabeth and Daniel.

Mr. and Mrs. Isaac C. Haines, after their marriage, settled in Madison township near Trotwood.  In 1851 or 1852 Mr. Haines purchased land in this township and lived upon it for some years.  In 1879 he was appointed superintendent of the Montgomery county infirmary, a position which he held with credit for seven years.  In 1886 he purchased his present farm, which contains 155 acres in Madison township, and which is well improved.  Politically Mr. Haines is a democrat and as such has served the people as township trustee for some years.  As a man of character he stands high in the community, and enjoys general confidence and respect.  His children are Eva, Webster, Sallie, Birdie Emma, Walter and Clarence.  Mr. Haines had three brothers in the late Civil war—Henry, Samuel and John.  Henry was a member of the Fifteenth U.S. infantry, and the other brothers served in Ohio regiments.

Eva Haines married Charles Winters, a hardware merchant of Braidwood, Ill., and has two children—Pearl and Amy.  Sallie married Charles Hoffman, of Little York, Montgomery county, and has three children, Claudie, Ethel and Roscoe.  Walter, who is clerk of Madison township, married Laura Stauffer; Clarence married a Miss Mumma, and is a carpenter, but living on a farm.


JACOB A. HEPNER, [pages 1238-1240] a farmer of Perry township, and a grandson of one of the original pioneers of Montgomery county, springs from German ancestry.  His great-grandfather, George Hepner, was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1731, and came to this country a young man, accompanied by a brother, in 1757.  He settled in Lancaster county, Pa., and in 1760 married Nellie Kline.  Their children were Henry and Catherine.  Later he removed to Rockingham county, Va., where he settled on a farm.  Still later he came to Ohio with his son Henry, who settled in Jackson township in 1806.  Here the old man died in 1808, when he was seventy-seven years of age.  He was a member of the Lutheran church, a man of strong character, and the founder of the Hepner family in America. He was buried in the woods one and a quarter miles southeast of New Lebanon, his last resting place being on what is now the farm of Henry Schoenfeld, but formerly the farm of Henry Hepner.

Henry Hepner, the grandfather of Jacob A., was born in Lancaster County, Pa., in 1762, was reared a farmer and learned the blacksmith trade. In his native county he married Mary Hyser, and by this marriage he became the father of the following children: George and Polly, twins; John; Sophia; Lydia and Leona, twins; the first four being born in Virginia, and the last two in Ohio. Henry Hepner brought his family to America in 1806, and located on the line between Jefferson and Jackson townships, entering 160 acres of land in the latter township and forty acres in the former township.  Selecting a huge oak tree, he cut it down and built his cabin around the stump. This stump trimmed and dressed to bring it into proper shape, served for a table for a number of years.  Mr. Hepner was well known among the pioneers in all that region as a man of safe and reliable judgment and was unusually influential in his neighborhood. Being a vigorous and energetic worker, he prospered and became a substantial farmer. He was a member of the German Baptist Church.

John Hepner, father of Jacob A., was born in Rockingham county, Va., in 1797, and was therefore but nine years old when brought to Ohio by his father. Educated principally in the German tongue, yet he acquired a sufficient knowledge of the English to enable him to read and converse in this language. His father being a blacksmith as well as a farmer, young Hepner was trained in both callings.  He married Elizabeth Diehl, who was born November 29, 1800, in Bedford county, Pa., and was a daughter of Jacob Diehl, for fuller mention of whom the reader is referred to the biography of the Diehl family, published elsewhere in this volume. Mr. Hepner settled on section 34, Perry township, on 110 acres of land in the woods, which had been entered by Jacob Diehl . This land Mr. Hepner cleared and upon it built his home.  In his earlier life, in this then wild country, he was accustomed to do a great deal of hunting, killing many deer, wolves and wild turkeys, wildcats and panthers. He was a most industrious man on his farm, and by thrift and careful management of his affairs he came to own 271 acres of excellent land in Montgomery county, and also 150 acres in Lake county, Ind. Religiously he was a member of the German Baptist church, and was noted for his strong, upright, Christian character. Politically he was an old-line whig.  Mr. Hepner lived to be forty-four years of age, and died on his farm.  His children were George, Jacob A., Elizabeth, Rosanna, John and Lydia. His wife died when she was forty-nine years of age, a member of the German Baptist church.

Jacob A. Hepner was born May 24, 1828, on his father’s farm.  Obtaining the common-school education of his day, he was reared a farmer, and on September 29, 1852, married Miss Eve Neff, who was born February 6, 1836, in Perry township, and was a daughter of Michael and Barbara (Floro) Neff. For fuller mention of Miss Eva Neff the reader is referred to the biography of Abraham Neff.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Hepner settled on the homestead farm, on which they lived until 1857, when they removed to their present farm of 107 acres.  Of this Mr. Hepner cleared about forty acres, which he materially improved.  Adding other acres to its original number, he at length became possessed of 136 acres of good farming land. He and his wife reared the following children: Mary C., born August 22, 1853, died March 26, 1854; Minerva, born September 23, 1854; Sarah A., born April 22, 1856; Amanda, born October 9, 1858; Elizabeth, born December 23, 1860, died a married woman; Emma, born April 7, 1862, died in April, 1893; Clara, born March 22, 1865; George W., born January 4, 1867; Jacob A., born April 12, 1870; William A., born January 14, 1872; Morris, born January 3, 1876, and died January 10, 1876; and Omar V., born February 27, 1877.  Mr. and Mrs. Hepner are members of the German Baptist church, and Mr. Hepner has been an active politician for many years, being an excellent speaker and an efficient worker. Politically he was in early life an old-line whig, but has been a member of the republican party since its organization.  He has always taken an active interest in educational matters, and exercises his influence in the direction of good schools.  He has for this reason served as a member of the school board for many years.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Hepner married as follows:  Minerva married John H. Wehrly, of Dayton, Ohio, and has one son; Sarah A. married Samuel Fasnacht, a farmer of Sumner county, Kans., and has one child; Amanda R. married Martin B. Fasnacht, a farmer of Sumner county, Kans., and has five children; Elizabeth married James L. Weaver, of Boulder county, Colo.., had three children, and is now deceased; Emma married David C. Cloppart, a farmer of Montgomery county, Ohio, and has one child; Clara married for her first husband Lucien Berk, by whom she had one child, and after the death of her first husband Mrs. Berk married William T. Ninninger, of Johnson county, Mo.; George W. married Clara Bowser, of Montgomery county, and has two children; Jacob A. married Hattie Bowser, is living on the home farm and has one child, and William A. married Bessie Slyder, is a farmer of Montgomery county, and has one child.  The Hepner family is one of the most respected in Montgomery county, and comes from good, old pioneer stock.


ISAAC MILLER, [pages 1240-1241] whose post-office is Chambersburg, Ohio, is one of the old soldiers of the Civil war and a highly-respected citizen. He was born in Butler township, Montgomery county, Ohio, March 7, 1828, and is a son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Sunderland) Miller.  Isaac was a son of James Miller, who came to Montgomery county, Ohio, from Kentucky, in 1794, settling in Butler township.  His children were John, James, Mary, Martha and Isaac.  When he came to Ohio in 1794 James Miller settled on 140 acres of land, being the first settler within the limits of Butler township. His farm consisted of an unbroken forest, which he cleared as fast as possible, in the meantime making a part of his living by hunting. Later he left Butler township and settled on the Wabash river near Lafayette, Ind. He was a typical pioneer, and lived to a great age, dying in the last-named state.

Isaac Miller, father of the subject, was born in 1790, and came with his parents from Kentucky to Ohio in 1794.  Growing up in the wilderness among the pioneers, his education was necessarily limited.  He married in 1811, when he was twenty-one years old, Elizabeth Sunderland, who was born in 1794, in Pennsylvania, and who was a daughter of Richard and Nancy Sunderland, for fuller mention of whom the reader is referred to the biography of Richard Sunderland, in this volume. After their marriage Isaac Miller and his wife settled on the old Sunderland homestead, and lived there the remainder of their lives.  He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and was stationed at Greenville about eight months.  He and his wife had the following children:  Nancy, Martha, Pattie, Massie, Richard, Martin, William, Isaac, Benjamin, John and Elizabeth.  Mr. Miller lived to be seventy-nine years old.  He was a member of the German Reformed church, and in politics was first an old-line whig and became a republican upon the formation of that party. Four of his sons were in the Civil war, viz:  Richard, Martin, Benjamin and Isaac.  Martin was a private soldier in company H. Thirty-fifth Ohio volunteer infantry, served his full time and was in many battles.  Benjamin was in an Illinois regiment, served three years and veteranized, and participated in many engagements.

Isaac Miller, the subject of this sketch, was born March 7, 1828, in Butler township, and was educated in the common schools. Reared on the farm he naturally became a farmer. On October 14, 1833, was born Martha Westerman, whom Mr. Miller married in Butler township.  She was a daughter of Henry and Ellen (Harrison) Westerman, the former of whom was of English ancestry, and married his wife in Maryland. His children were as follows:  Mary, Martha, Elizabeth, Thomas, Lafayette, William, and one that died in infancy. Henry Westerman came as a pioneer to Butler township and purchased a good farm of 100 acres. He lived to be eighty-two years old, an honored citizen and an upright man.

Mr. and Mrs. Miller settled on the old Sunderland homestead, upon which they lived for thirty years, and then moved to Henry Westerman’s farm in Butler township, upon which they lived ten years. They then removed to their present home in Chambersburg.  Mr. Miller now owns a farm of fifty-six acres and is in comfortable circumstances. Mr. and Miller have had the following children:  Ellen, Henry, who died at the age of eleven years, and Elizabeth. The parents are members of the Lutheran church, and Mr. Miller has been a trustee of his church for twenty-five years.  In politics he is a republican.

Mr. Miller enlisted in the army, leaving his wife and three little children at home. At that time he was thirty-five years old. He became a member of company F, Seventy-fourth Ohio volunteer infantry, and enlisted to serve three years, or during the war. He served until he veteranized at Chattanooga in 1864, in the same organization, and served until mustered out at Camp Dennison, July 17, 1865, thus serving his country faithfully three years and nine months. He was in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The principal battles in which he took part were Stone River, Dalton, Buzzard’s Roost Mountain, Peachtree Creek, Big Shanty, Kenesaw Mountain, the battle of Atlanta, in which McPherson was killed, and Jonesboro. Mr. Miller was also in many minor battles and skirmishes, and went with Sherman to the sea, taking part in the battle of Savannah. He was in all the battles, marches and skirmishes in which his regiment was engaged. He is a member of Milton Weaver post, No. 594, G.A.R., and has held the offices of junior and senior vice-commander. Mr. Miller is now a hale and hearty man, and is a splendid specimen of the veteran American soldier and the true and worthy American citizen.


JOHN R. PEIFFER, [pages 1241-1242] one of the most expert mechanics of Miamisburg, Ohio, was born in Newmanstown, Lebanon county, Pa., March 14, 1850, a son of John and Catherine (Rabold) Peiffer, also natives of the Keystone state, and of German descent.

John R. Peiffer received an excellent education, both common-school and academical, in his native town, and then served two years as an apprentice to a miller. He followed this calling until he reached his majority, and then, in March, 1871, came to Miamisburg, Ohio, which has since been his place of residence. Here he entered the employ of the Bookwalter Wheel company, starting as a dayman, and was so attentive and faithful in the performance of his duties that he was promoted, from time to time, until he was finally placed in charge of the bentwood department. After filling out the long period of twenty years with the Bookwalter company, he accepted a position with the Acme Folding Box company, as general mechanic, and this place he has most creditably filled.

Mr. Peiffer was united in marriage, December 25, 1780, with Miss Alice C. Fidler, a daughter of Augustus and Catherine (Treon) Fidler, of Womelsdorf, Berks county, Pa. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Peiffer have been born three children, viz:  Catherine (Mrs. Ira C. Koehne), Edward and Luella. The family worship at the German Reformed church. In politics Mr. Peiffer is a republican, serving at present his first term as a member of the city council. He is fraternally an Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias, a Forester and a Knight of Honor, and is held in high regard as a public-spirited and useful citizen.


JOHN RIEGEL, [pages 1242-1243] one of the old and substantial farmers of Jackson township, Montgomery county, Ohio, and a resident of the county since six years of age, was born in Berks county, Pa., July 12, 1826, of German ancestors.

John Riegel, his grandfather, also a native of Berks county, was there married and had born to him the following children:  Samuel, Adam, Jonas, Joseph, Susan, Rebecca, Hannah, David, Lydia, Polly and Sallie. John Riegel came to Ohio in 1832 and settled in Perry township on 160 acres of land that had been cleared only in small part, and here he built a log house and in course of time cleared all his land and made a comfortable home.

David Riegel, son of John, the pioneer and the father of subject, was also born in Berks county, Pa., and there married Elizabeth Koucker. He followed farming and milling until 1832 in his native county, and then came to Ohio, lived for a short time in Germantown, Montgomery county, and then bought a tract of 160 acres in Perry township, all in the woods, but which he subsequently converted into a fertile and profitable farm. He also purchased an additional tract of 301 acres, and became one of the most respected and solid men of the township. The children born to David Riegel and wife were named Mary (who died at the age of thirteen years), John, Leah, Franklin J. and Harry. The parents were long members of the United Brethren church, and contributed largely toward the erection of the house of worship belonging to that denomination in Perry township. In politics Mr. Riegel was a democrat, but never sought public office.

John Riegel, the subject of this memoir grew to manhood on his father’s farm. February 15, 1849, he married, in Jackson township, Miss Rebecca Leis, who was born in Berks county, Pa., June 9, 1832, a daughter of Henry and Rebecca (Fidler) Leis.

Peter Leis, grandfather of Mrs. Riegel, was of German descent and came from Berks county, Pa., to Montgomery county, Ohio, in 1831 or 1832, bought a farm of 160 acres and lived to an advanced age. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Kalbough, bore him nine children, viz:  Henry, John, Adam, Polly, Peggy, Sallie, Katie, Leah and Hannah. The family were all devoted members of the Reformed church.

Henry Leis, father of Mrs. Riegel and also a native of Berks county, Pa., came to Ohio when his father came, brought his family with him, settled on 160 acres of land near Slyfer’s church in Jackson township, Montgomery county, and cleared up al excellent farm. His children were named Israel, Peter, John, Adam (who died at the age of twenty years), Henry (who died at thirteen years) and Rebecca. This family also were members of the Reformed church, and in politics Mr. Leis was a democrat. He lived to be about seventy-five years of age and died a well-to-do farmer and an honored citizen.

John Riegel, the subject of this memoir, at his marriage, settled on his present farm, which he bought from his father, and which comprised 177 acres, all in the woods with the exception of about fifteen acres. Through persevering industry he cleared up the entire tract, improved it with substantial buildings and all the accessories proper to the success of husbandry, and has now as fine a farm as there is in the township of Jackson. To his marriage there have been born eight children, in the following order:  David, William H., John A., Franklin, Mary A., Amanda, Emma K. and Rebecca E. The parents are members of the United Brethren church, and in this faith have reared their family. They freely contribute of their means toward the support of their denomination, and Mr. Riegel was largely instrumental in causing the erection of the Johnsville church edifice, to the construction of which he also freely contributed. In politics, Mr. Riegel is a democrat. Of the children born to Mr. and Mrs. Riegel, David is a farmer of Jackson township, married Belle Fulse, and has five children; William, also of Jackson township, married Mary A. Minderman, and has four children; John A., living on the home farm, married Lucy Dechant, and has eight children; Franklin, farmer of Jackson township, married Mary Sheppard, and has two children; Mary A., is married to Peter Leis, and has two children; Amanda (deceased) was married to Benjamin Comar (deceased), and had five children; Emma K., married to Theodore Dechant, has one child, and Rebecca E. is married to Oliver Patterson and has four children. Mr. and Mrs. Riegel, now nearly half a century married, have had eight children, have thirty-one grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They have resided for forty-seven years on their present homestead and have so lived as to have been able to confer many benefits upon the community and in turn to win the respect and esteem of the residents of the country all around them.     


JOSHUA SWARTZEL, [pages 1243-1244] farmer of Jackson township, Montgomery county, Ohio, comes of Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestors, his grandfather having been Matthias Swartzel, who came from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania. His children were Abraham, Henry, Philip, Matthias and one that died in infancy. These children he brought with him from Germany, beside a sister of his, who afterward married a Boomershine and settled in Montgomery county. Ohio.

Matthias Swartzel came to Jackson township after his son, Abraham, had settled here. While he married three times, all his children were by his first wife, who came with him from Germany. He lived to be seventy years of age and died on the farm adjoining that on which Joshua Swartzel now lives. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and served as fifer under Gen. Washington.

Abraham Swartzel, father of Joshua, was born in Pennsylvania, and there married Elizabeth Izor, also a native of that state. Their children were as follows:  Annie, Matthias, Philip, John, Elizabeth, Sarah, Abraham, Henry, Daniel, Polly, Joshua, Susan and one that died in infancy. In the year 1800 they came to Ohio, living for about one year in Franklin, Warren county, and removing in 1801 to Jackson township, where they settled on the section on which Joshua Swartzel now lives. Abraham Swartzel was, in fact, the second man to settle in the township, the first having been a man by the name of Stoner, who lived on the south line of the township.

Mr. Swartzel was the second man north of Germantown, there being no one in the county to the north or west of him, and the country being literally a howling wilderness, filled by wolves, panthers, deer, bear, and many other kinds of wild animals. Erecting a small log cabin, Mr. Swartzel cleared up a portion of his farm. He entered an entire section, 640 acres, and made a comfortable home for himself and family, putting up good buildings, and continuing to buy land, so that he was able to give each of his children a farm. The land on which Farmersville now stands he sold to his brother Henry, all of his brothers being settlers in Montgomery county. Mr. Swartzel was a member of the German Reformed church, and aided in the erection of several church buildings in Montgomery county. He was one of the most prominent members of Stiver church, assisting to erect the building, and afterward liberally supported the organization, and filled the offices of deacon and elder for many years. Politically he was a Jackson democrat. He died in 1840, at the age of sixty-one.

Joshua Swartzel, the subject of this sketch, was born May 7, 1819, on the farm which adjoins his present farm on the west. Brought up among the pioneers, he learned their habits of industry and simple living, and cleared up a considerable body of land. On May 7, 1840, he married Catherine Miller, who was born March 3, 1819, in Warren county, in Ohio. She was a daughter of Jacob Miller, who was one of the pioneers of that county, and whose father was Christian Miller. Beside Catherine, the children of Jacob Miller were John, Elizabeth, Susannah, Joseph, Mary A., Rose Ann and Adam.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Swartzel lived on the old home farm for about ten years, and in 1851 moved to his present farm, which then contained 128 acres, nearly all of which he cleared. By quiet and persistent industry he made his farm one of the best in Montgomery county. His children by his first wife were as follows:  Elizabeth, Jefferson, who died in infancy; John J., Joshua D., Joseph F., Manassa W., Orange C. Cordelia C., Rosette M. and Lucy.

Mrs, Swartzel died in August, 1873, when about fifty-three years of age, and Mr. Swartzel married for his second wife Sarah Albaugh, a widow, whose maiden name was Michael. Mr. Swartzel is now living on the old farm, his children having all married and gone to home of their own. He is a new-school Lutheran, and a democrat. He has always been liberal in his support of his church, as well as public-spirited in relation to enterprises designed to benefit the general community. While he is now seventy-eight years of age he is yet hale and vigorous, and has probably many years of usefulness and influence yet before him.

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