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WISSINGER, Lewis


SOURCE NOTATION:
    Johnstown Tribune, 23 Sep 1895, Contributed by Lynne Canterbury

A Short Sketch of the Life of the Remarkable Man Who Died on Saturday

Lewis Wissinger, notice of whose death on Saturday last we published that evening, was aged a century and two years three months, to a day, having been born on the 21t of June 1793.

He first saw the light on the farm now owed by Abner Griffth, on the Bedford Pike in Stoneycreek township about two and one-half miles from Johnstown. His father, after having served in the Revolutionary War, secured a grant of a tract of land there and moved on to it from near Manns Choice, Bedford County, probably ten years or so before the beginning the present century. The newly acquired property was one vast wilderness, but there the elder Wissinger lived and toiled vand brought up his family of eleven children, of whom Lewis was the seventh in order of birth and the last to pass away, the others having died at ages ranging from 80 to 90 years. The father died when 90. The mother, who survived him a few years, was also very aged when she died.

When about twenty-five years of age Lewis was united in marriage to Miss Barbara Strayer, and for several years thereafter he farmed the old homestead for his father, after which he drove a six-horse team for some time on the Pittsburgh Pike, hauling metal from Shade Furnace to Pittsburgh. Mr.. Wissinger was considered an expert teamster, as well as an excellent farmer, and was engaged in one or the other of these pursuits for his entire life up until about four years ago, when the task of running a farm became too burdensome for him, and he moved into a three-roomed one-story house on the farm of his son Harry, in Conemaugh Township, which was placed at his disposal. It was here he died. Here during the past few years, he and his wife did some gardening and kept several cows, from which they continued to make their own living.

Although he was an expert farmer and a hard worker all his life, the fruits of Mr.. Wissingers labors and knowledge in this direction were reaped by some one else, and he was never able to get a farm of his own, but lived on rented ones all his life, and died poor in this worlds goods.

After some seventeen years of married life, during which time the union was blest with five children, Mr. Wissingers wife was claimed by death. He mourned her loss for about four years, and in 1839 was married to Miss Margaret Lint, who survives him, and is now in her seventy-eight year. To this union were born six children.

The surviving children to his first wife, in the order of their birth, are: Sarah, wife of David Kauffman, of Croyle Township, Eli, who resides in Walnut Grove, and John, who is engaged in farming in Jackson Township. The children to his second wife, in order of their birth, were: Harry, who is engaged in the lumber line, and coal business in Conemaugh Township; Esther, who died in maidenhood at the age of twenty-three years; Samuel, of East Taylor Township, who is engaged in the butchering business at Conemaugh; Barbara, wife of Peter Keiper, railroad switchman at Conemaugh, Annie, wife of Daniel Fyock, of Adams Township, and Adam, who is in the lime and coal business near Scalp Level.

Mr. Wissinger was a consistent member of the German Baptist Church for over half a century, having connected himself with that denomination when about forty-nine years of age. His wife has been a member of that church for almost fifty-five years.

The end of this aged man was peaceful, and he slept away surrounded by his wife and several children. His death can be attributed to nothing but the wearing out of the vital organs. Up to a few months ago he had never been ill a day in his life. Six weeks ago his strength began to fail, and he gradually grew more helpless until the end.

In recent years it had been the custom to hold family reunions at his home on the anniversary of his birth, or near that time, which were attended by many hundreds of persons from all over the county. This year it was omitted on account of his feeble condition. The last such gathering was held on the 8th of August 1894. He was then in excellent health and spirits and enjoyed the festivities of the day greatly, shaking hands twice around with all the guests.

Among his direct descendants could be numbered at the time forty-eight grandchildren and forty great-grandchildren. The funeral took place this morning at 9 oclock, interment being made in the Gossard Graveyard, in Conemaugh Township.

The cut which accompanies this article is from a photograph of Mr. Wissinger and his wife, which was taken some three years ago. At that time both enjoyed the best of health and had the full use of all their faculties.

Lewis Wissinger was a wonderful man, and lived through a brilliant period in the history of the world. He lacked but a few years of being, on his native Unknown?Unknown?Unknown, a subject of King George III, living through the French Revolution and the reigns of the Napoleons. He was one the few persons who was a citizen of the Country under Washington and every succeeding President up to the present.

He became of age the year before the Battle of Waterloo, when Madison was President, and cast his first Presidential ballot in 1816, for Rufus King, the Federalist, then and always opposing the party of slavery and Free Trade. In his youth the household supplies and other
merchandise were brought from the Eastern cities on pack mules, then by the National Turnpikes, and these were succeeded by the canal and railroad. Only a short distance to the west, in his youth, the Indians and white men were at war.

He was familiar with the War of 1812, and remembered when Jackson fought his winning battle at New Orleans. He remembered, too, of the message of non-interference, in 1823, since known as the Monroe Doctrine. Opposed to the Free Trade policy, he was friendly to Jackson in his enforcement of the law, and applauded when the President declared he would hang Calhoun "higher than Haman" for persisting in the Nullification Act of 18?2. He was a strong supporter of the Government in the war with Mexico and the Civil War in 1861.

When he was fifty years of age the magnetic telegraph was invented by Morse and a short time prior the first steam railroad had been built. He was one who saw his nation commence with thirteen States and at his death have forty-four; he saw the continent being spanned by the railroad and telegraph, and the world girdled by the cable; he lived in a period that revolutionized travel, reducing the passage across the ocean from five weeks to six days, and the time from Johnstown to Philadelphia from three weeks to six hours. He lived to see his neighbors and tradesmen doing business by the aid of the telephone, while several hundred miles apart, and to see heat, power and light ground out of small pieces of steel for the use of mankind. He saw the cradle and scythe replaced by the reaper and mower.

Lewis Wissingers life began in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and lasted almost over the nineteenth, through the most glorious period of the earth, when the darkness gave way to the dawn of many possibilities for making life better, with more pleasure and happiness and less labor to secure it; when slavery was abolished and all men made peers.

And whatever is better today than it was a hundred years ago; whatever in our glorious country makes life less of a burden and more of a pleasure, makes it easier to give every child the heritage of a good education and guarantees to every person the enjoyment of rights as dear as life itself--whatever of this there is today, owes its existence to the upright, straighforward lives of that sturdy class represented by Lewis Wissinger.

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