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Reuben H. Leonard
(1841-1922)

 

Irwin Memorial Cemetery

Reuben H. Leonard was born on Sept. 2, 1841 in Stewart Township, Fayette County, PA, the son of Benjamin and Sarah (Harbaugh) Leonard. He was a veteran of the Civil War, and other than his military service, spent his entire life in Stewart.

Reuben stood five feet, six  inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. His friend Evans Rush once said that he was "strictly a temperate man in every particular." Another friend, John W. Williams, called him a "good citizen...."

He married Martha A. Cunningham (1850-1912), who was one of 17 children of Robert and Sarah (Pinkerton) Cunningham of Preston County, WV. Through this marriage, Reuben became kin to his wife's cousins, Rev. David Ewing and Sarah Catherine (Williams) Minerd.

The Leonards went on to have five children: Alvah R. Leonard, Clara May Holt, Harry D. Leonard, Hazel Dell Leonard and Bruce Herbert Leonard Sr. 

 

Son Alvah's grave

Sadly, son Alvah died as he neared his fifth birthday, on Aug. 6, 1876. His remains were interred in the Thorpe Cemetery, with a small, upright stone marking his place of rest. The marker is seen here and was still very legible when photographed in the summer of 2001.

Reuben is said to have "served with distinction" as a member of Company E of the 168th Pennsylvania Drafted Militia during the war. He suffered from malaria and heart disease ("catarrh") while on duty. He later testified that when his regiment arrived in Newberne, NC, he "had to lie on ground that night, suffered very much with cold which resulted in Dumb Ague and weak Back." His company's captain, J.C. Stacy of New Salem, PA, later testified that:

... while on a forced march from Suffolk, Virginia to New Berne, North Carolina, [Reuben] contracted intermittent or malarial fever, caused by wading streams, sleeping in wet clothes, and bivouacking in the cold night air in the snow; that many of the most able-bodied men in [the] company broke down and never again recovered their health; that [Reuben's] health was broken down, and that he has never recovered from the effects....

 

Fierce battle action at New Bern, North Carolina

 

After the war, Reuben and Martha resided on a farm at Meadow Run, about two miles south of Ohiopyle. He was a member of the Will F. Stewart Post of a veterans organization called the Grand Army of the Republic in Uniontown, PA. He was "widely known throughout the county."

 

Meadow Run Falls near Ohiopyle

Reuben's father and brother in law George Perry Potter were "the first to manufacture splint chairs on Meadow Run," says the 2000 book, The Explorer's Guide to the Youghiogheny River Gorge, Ohiopyle, & S.W. Pennsylvania's Villages, by Marci McGuinness and Bill Sohonage. Later, Reuben and his brother Chris "kept his business going long after [the father's] death." 

Seen here are the picturesque Meadow Run Falls near Ohiopyle, from a rare old postcard dated 1913.

When the federal census of 1870 was taken, Reuben and Martha were living in Stewart Township, Fayette County, with young son Bruce. They were next-door neighbors to his brother Christmas Leonard and also to Isaiah Collins, all three of whom were listed as chair makers.

 

Reuben's signature

In the summer of 1891, Reuben broke his left foot when it became caught and was crushed by the wheel of his wagon when he was drawing the brake. This left him "not able to perform hard work or stand on my feet more than six hours without great fatigue." In May 1894, he was severely injured when thrown from a horse.

He applied for and was awarded a soldier's pension for his wartime disabilities. In October 1911, to prove his age, he produced a family Bible which showed his birth date. A notary public observed the Bible said the entry "has no marks of erasures or alteration and from the appearance of the writing in said record I believe the entries to have been made about the dates given."

Martha passed away on Jan. 22, 1912. She was buried in the Thorpe Cemetery (later renamed Belle Grove Cemetery, and today known as the Irwin Memorial Cemetery).

Reuben outlived his wife by more than a decade. He was afflicted, noted a physician, with "rheumatism complicated by valvular heart dise [sic], and Arterio-Schlerosis." He died at the age of 81 on Sept. 12, 1922.

 

Quiet Ohio Pyle street

 

The Connellsville Daily Courier reported that he "was buried with due honors as an old soldier." His obituary in the Uniontown Morning Herald said that "While his death was not unexpected, it came as a distinct shock to his many friends." The Will F. Stewart Post of the Grand Army of the Republic sent a flag to drape his casket., and many "beautiful floral offerings were sent by his many friends. The Methodist Episcopal Choir of Ohiopyle sang 'The Old Rugged Cross,' 'Safe in the Arms of Jesus' and 'Some Time We'll Understand'." He was laid to rest beside Martha, after a funeral led by Rev. G.E. Latchworth of the home church and nephew by marriage, Rev. Ray G. Manley.

 

1933 book naming the Leonards

In 1933, Martha, Reuben and the children were mentioned in a book about her family, Genealogy of Some Early Families in Grant and Pleasant Districts, Preston County, West Virginia, authored by Edward Thorp King, of Marshalltown, Iowa. 

Reuben and Martha also are mentioned in a profile of his brother in law Thomas Sobieski Cunningham in The History of West Virginia, Old and New, published in 1923 by the American Historical Society, Inc. (vol. II. page 387). The profile calls Reuben "an old Federal soldier." The volume is on file in the West Virginia and Regional History Collection at West Virginia University.

 

Yesteryear in Ohiopyle

Reuben was remembered in an article about the 75th anniversary of his pastor-brother Amos's first church in Meadow Run in the Aug. 9, 1935 edition of the Uniontown Morning Herald. The article named his brother Christmas Leonard and son Harry and nephew "Homer Leonard of Stewart township, and Chauncey Leonard of Connellsville. Mrs. R.G. Manley of Cardale is a niece of this man...."

In 1994, two photographs of Martha standing at the Meadow Run Methodist Episcopal Church were published in the book, Yesteryear in Ohiopyle and Surrounding Communities, Vol. II (seen here), compiled by author Marci Lynn McGuinness. Reuben also is pictured in the book, in a photograph taken at a Civil War veterans reunion at the original Ohiopyle House, standing beside his brother in law, George Perry Potter. The same soldiers' reunion image also has been published in McGuinness's 1998 book, Stone House Legends and Lore

~ Son Bruce Herbert Leonard ~

Son Bruce Herbert Leonard Sr. (1869-1927) was born on July 16, 1869 on the old Leonard homestead near Ohio Pyle, Fayette County. 

Said the Uniontown Daily News Standard, he "had a host of friends and many acquaintances not only in Uniontown but throughout the county. he was well liked and most highly respected by all who knew him [and] succeeded in winning the lost and respect of many." 

Bruce married Agnes Cooper (1875 -1945), daughter of William and Margaret E. (Jones) Cooper of Connellsville. The couple was wed on Aug. 6, 1901 by the hand of Rev. Ellis B. Burgess in Connellsville. At the time, both husband (age 32) and wife (26) were school teachers in New Haven (south side of Connellsville),

They had two sons -- John "Charles" Leonard and Bruce Herbert Leonard Jr.

 

The Leonards' church, Great
Bethel Baptist in Uniontown

As a young man, Bruce taught school in Dunbar Township near Connellsville, and then found more lucrative employment with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. For many years he was a foreman for the Pennsy at the Rainey coke works in Uniontown, and worked for the railroad as a car inspector for nearly a quarter of a century. 

He and Agnes made their home at 38 Maurice Street in Uniontown, where they were members of the Great Bethel Baptist Church. Other distant cousins belonged to this church body over the years. Among them were Edward Eugene Minerd, founder of the Minerd Funeral Home; Mahlon S. and Lillie (Griffey) Kern; Andrew T. and Mary (Williams) Morrow; William H. and Missouri (Shelkey) Minerd; and Thomas B. and Mary (Richter) Hunt Sr. The church also hosted the wedding of Arthur Paul and Alverta Mae (Stull) Ream in 1936.

The Daily News Standard once described his active mind:

Although a foreman on the railroad, Mr. Leonard was a student and thinker. He was a lover of children and nature. He spent his spare time in reading; his hobby was the skies, hills, valleys and streams; he loved animal nature. He accepted his illness and death with the same philosophy that ruled his life, and during his confinement and suffering, his complaints were none and his wants few.

In about 1922, he became paralyzed with what newspapers called "creeping paralysis." This caused him to be bedfast for the remaining five years of his life. 

Bruce suffered from heart and kidney disease and died at home on April 29, 1927, at the age of 57. Rev. Frank Hollinshead led the funeral from the family church, followed by burial in Oak Grove Cemetery in Uniontown. 

Agnes outlived her husband by 18 years. To support herself, she went to work as an assistant nurse at the Baptist Home for the Aged and Orphanage in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh. 

She was felled by a stroke and died at the age of 73, in the Baptist Home in Mt. Lebanon, on New Year's Eve 1945. Following a funeral at the Baptist Home, she was laid to rest beside her husband in Uniontown. 

Son John "Charles" Leonard was married and had two sons, among them Ira Leonard. They lived on Maurice Street in Uniontown circa 1932. Son Ira was struck by an automobile in October 1932, breaking both legs, which led to a lengthy recuperation in Uniontown Hospital. Charles relocated to Harrisburg, Dauphin County, and resided there in 1945. 

  • Grandson Ira Leonard ( ? - ? ).

Son Bruce Herbert Leonard Jr. made his home circa 1945 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

 

Clara Holt

~ Daughter Clara (Leonard) Holt ~

Daughter Clara Leonard (1871-1940) was born on June 6, 1871 in or near Ohio Pyle. 

At the age of 21, she married 27-year-old John T. Holt (1866-1919), a well-known farmer of Farmington, Fayette County, and the son of John W. and Keziah (McKean) Holt of Pittsburgh. Their wedding took place at Uniontown on Feb. 21, 1893, by the hand of Rev. Thomas N. Boyle. 

 

Clara Holt

They had three known sons -- Charles William Holt, Clifton Harold Holt and John Victor Holt.

Clara was an early educator in the family. According to her newspaper obituary, "She received her early education in the Belle Grove school and later qualified as a teacher through honor studies at the old Ohiopyle Normal school. Following her graduation she taught several terms in Stewart and Springfield townships." 

She likely ended her teaching upon marriage in 1893 as school directors required teachers to be single so they could devote their full attention to their students.

At the time of marriage, John was a sawyer in Wharton Township. Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, John "was a farmer virtually all his life, residing on the same farm at Farmington until [1918] when with his family he moved into what is known as the old stone house on the National pike. He also owned two motor trucks, operating them for the state." 

John's brother, Robert C. "Bob" Holt, was well known for operating a general store in Ohiopyle.

When the federal census was enumerated in 1900, Clara, John and their sons made their home in Wharton Township. John's occupation was listed as "farmer." They kept two boarders that year -- 20-year-old Ernest Show and 10-year-old Nellie Smith. Living next door was 34-year-old Alice M. Holt with her two sons and two daughters.

The federal census of 1910 shows the husband and wife and their three sons living in Wharton Township, with John laboring as a farmer.

Lumber camp photo from the Holt family collection

 

Caption on back: "Uncle Harry and Bob Holt"

Tragically, John was killed in a freak accident in or near Markleysburg, Henry Clay Township on June 12, 1919. Reported the Courier, "While returning home from a stone quarry about 10 o'clock last Saturday night, Mr. Holt was jolted from his motor truck, driven by his son... The wheel of the truck passed over him, causing two fractured ribs, a fracture of the right leg and injuries to the head. Erysipelas developed, causing his death." 

He was only age 53 at the time of death. He was laid into rest beneath the sod of Sansom Chapel Cemetery in Farmington.

Clara outlived her husband by more than two decades, remaining in her home along Route 40 (National Turnpike) in the mountains of Farmington, east of Uniontown. 

Part of her 500-acre farm was located 12 miles east of Fort Necessity and considered historic property -- known locally as the "Camp of the Twelve Springs." During the French & Indian War, George Washington and his beaten army camped there after surrendering Fort Necessity on July 4, 1754, and the following year, General Braddock made his eighth encampment there on June 25, 1755. Later, Job Clark had patented the land and kept a tavern at the site. An article in the Uniontown Daily News Standard reported in 1932 that "Outlines of the old springs and the tavern are still visible."

Clara had what a newspaper called "considerable interest in the historical significance of the farm on which she lives." Her sons made an effort to locate each of the 12 springs on the property. In 1932, she paid to have a commemorative marker produced and placed at the site of Twelve Springs. John Kennedy Lacock, an authority on the Braddock expedition, and professor of history at Harvard University, organized a dedication service on Sept. 11, 1932. Yet the site never fully captured the public's attention. By 1937 John P. Cowan, park ranger and historian at Fort Necessity, wrote to the editors of the Daily News Standard saying "everybody has overlooked" the area.

 

Site of the Camp of Twelve Springs, 1908, four miles east of Farmington

 

She died on Sept. 15, 1940, at the age of 68, in Henry Clay Township. The cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver -- "not alcoholic," wrote a physician. Her funeral service was filled to overflowing. One of the mourners, known to have traveled from the coal mining patch town of Republic, Fayette County, was her cousin Ellen (Leonard) Manley, daughter of Christmas Leonard. Said the Uniontown Morning Herald, "Many persons from various parts of the county paid as loving a tribute as has ever been accorded a Fayette county woman... [and that she was] for years one of the most highly respected residents of Farmington. Rev. C.E. Latchworth delivered a glowing eulogy at the home..., highly praising the years Mrs. Holt spent in Christian work." A poem, "Crossing the Bar," was recited by Rev. Fred Crow, and a choir sang "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Beautiful Garden of Prayers" and "Good Night Here, Good Morning Up There." She was buried in the Sansom Chapel Cemetery, rejoining her husband there after a separation of 21 years.

 

Stationery from the family lumber business

 

Son Charles William Holt (1893- ? ) was born on Jan. 18, 1893 near Ohio Pyle. He was slender and of medium build, with light brown hair and grey eyes. Unmarried at the age of 24, he earned a living working on his father's farm. He married Ethel M. Herring ( ? - ? ), daughter of Thomas Newton and Eliza ("Culler" or "Collier") Herring of nearby Elliottsville. The couple resided on a farm in the area of in Markleysburg and Farmington, Fayette County. They had at least one son, John Philip "J.P." Holt Sr. During the 1920s, Charles owned and operated a business, Charles W. Holt & Brother, providing "lumber and all kinds of mine material." In 1940, when the U.S. census count was made, Charles and Ethel lived in Markleysburg, with their son and Charles' widowed mother residing under their roof. The following year, after the death of his mother, Charles served as administrator of her estate. Nothing more about this couple is known.

  • Grandson John Philip "J.P." Holt (1927-2013) was born on March 12, 1927 in Markleysburg. He married Mildred (Sullivan) Show ( ? -1997), daughter of George W. and Bessie (Leonard) Sullivan of Farmington. Their children included John Philip Holt Jr., Clara Thomas and Darlene Lint. Mildred brought children to the marriage named Ronald Show and Larry Show. J.P. was a truck driver and enjoyed cutting timber and raising cattle. He died at home at the age of 85 on Feb. 23, 2013, with burial in the Stonehouse Cemetery.
  • Step-grandson Ronald Show married Marlene Schwenzfeier and lived in Friendsville, MD on Humberson Road. The couple had three known children, and possibly more -- Donald Show, Douglas Show and Lisa Ellen Show.

 

Clifton and Inez Holt

Clifton Holt

Son Clifton Harold Holt (1894-1941) was born on Dec. 4, 1895 near Ohio Pyle. As a young man, he was tall and of medium build, with light blue eyes and light hair. At the age of 21, in June 1917, as the United States inched closer to involvement in World War I, he registered for the military draft. Clifton disclosed to the draft officer that he was single and worked on his father's farm. He married Inez (?) (1903- ? ). They had no children, but provided a home for a foster daughter, Ruby Matlick. He earned a living for 25 years as a sawmill laborer and farmer. In 1930, they lived in Farmington, and their five-room house was destroyed in a fire at a loss of $1,500. The family made their home in 1940 Markleysburg, Henry Clay Township, Fayette County. They were members of the Farmington Methodist Episcopal Church, where Inez was an active member and volunteer with the Ladies Aid Society. Clifton was diagnosed with leukemia in the fall of 1940. He died six months later, at the age of 45, on Feb. 24, 1941. Funeral services were held at the Sansom Chapel church, followed by burial in the church cemetery near his parents. The funeral service was preached by Rev. Fred Crow of Point Marion assisted by Rev. Smith of Somerfield. An obituary in the Uniontown Morning Herald noted that he was a "prominent man of Markleysburg" and that his "mother preceded him in death four months ago and his father several years ago." The obituary also mentioned that the deceased's uncle was "Attorney H.D. Leonard, of Uniontown." Whatever happened to Inez is not yet learned.

  • Foster granddaughter Ruby Matlick (1923- ? ) was born in 1923 in Pennsylvania. She grew up in Markleysburg.

 

Clifton, Inez and Ruby at "Happy Acres"

 

Victor Holt

Virginia Holt

Son John "Victor" Holt (1898-1981) was born on Sept. 12, 1898. As a young man, he was tall and slender, with blue eyes and brown hair. When he was 20 years of age, in 1918, he worked with his father farming and timbering in Farmington. He married Virginia (?) (1906-1980), who was from Baltimore. She was eight years younger than her husband. Evidence suggests that they did not reproduce. He owned the Chestnut Ridge Garage near Farmington. In August 1935, Virginia spent a month visiting relatives in her hometown, with Victor motoring to the city to drive her back home. In 1940, they dwelled in Markleysburg, Henry Clay Township, Fayette County, with Victor earning a living as a foreman with a lumber business. He was the informant for his mother's death certificate in 1940. In September 1941, he owned the Deer Park Crossing Hotel, built in 1926, and it burned in a fire along with 100,000 feet of sawed lumber. He told newspaper reporters that he believed the blaze started when sparks from an outdoor kiln ignited wood shavings which blew to the roof and spread. Circa 1952, he was elected justice of the peace in Wharton Township, with his office in Markleysburg, serving until about 1965. He also served on the Fayette County Planning and Zoning Commission Board of Adjustment, completing his term in June 1965. They apparently resided in Farmington for the rest of their lives. Virginia died in July 1980 at the age of 74. Victor outlived her by a year and a half. He passed into eternity at the age of 83 in December 1981.

 

Victor Holt astride a horse, date unknown

 

~ Son Harry D. Leonard ~

Son Harry D. Leonard (1877-1951) was born on Nov. 4, 1877. He never married.

He became a lawyer and was a "prominent member of the Fayette County Bar…." He attended Ohio Northern University and West Virginia University and was admitted to the Fayette County Bar in 1910. In 1922, he served as City Controller of Uniontown. Harry also was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Ohiopyle. 

 

Fayette County Courthouse and county building, circa 1927, where Harry held office as county controller

 

Stricken with Parkinson's Disease over the last 10 years of his life, and a kidney disorder known as interstitial nephritis, Harry died at his home near Ohiopyle at age 73 on April 3, 1951. 

He was buried in the family's plot at Belle Grove. Pallbearers were Earl Skinner, Opal Dean, Jack Spittal, John Bryner, Russell Groover and Harry King. Honorary pallbearers were John L. Spurgeon, J.B. Adams Jr., Chad L. John, J. Espey Sherrard, J.R. Smiley and Lee Smith. His sister signed his death certificate.

~ Daughter Hazel Dell Leonard ~

Daughter Hazel Dell Leonard (1887-1967) was born in about 1887. She apparently never married but devoted her life to education.

Hazel made her home for years in Ohio Pyle, Fayette County, with her teaching assignments in Wharton and Stewart Townships. She was a member of the Meadow Run Methodist Church. 

When her father died in September 1922, Hazel was the informant for her father's death certificate. In 1931, when her widowed aunt Fannie (Rankin) Leonard celebrated an 80th birthday, Hazel attended the party held at the Leonard home near Belle Grove, three miles east of Ohio Pyle.

At some point Hazel moved into the city of Uniontown, and she remained there for the rest of her life. She died at the age of 80 on Aug. 9, 1967. Burial was with her brother Harry at Irwin Memorial Cemetery. Rev. C. Smith Hixson officiated at her funeral, and an obituary was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier.

Hazel also is pictured in the Yesteryear volume. 

Copyright © 2001-2012, 2014, 2017 Mark A. Miner