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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOHN S. HAMILTON, of Lower Allen township, has been a prominent citizen of his section of Cumberland county in more ways than one. For fifty years he engaged in contracting, doing general carpenter and mill work, and he has also become well known in political circles, and as justice of the peace.

Mr. Hamilton was born April 22, 1833, in Lower Allen township, at the old Heidlebaugh oil mill, on Yellow Breeches creek. His ancestors came from Scotland to America at an early day, and his grandfather, Hugh Hamilton, was born in Berks county, Pa. When a young man he went to York county, Pa., and there married, in 1806, Elizabeth Thorley, who was born Dec. 23, 1787, in Newberry township, that county, and was reared there. Mr. Hamilton located for a time in what is now New Cumberland, Cumberland county, and thence removed to Fairview township, York county, where he passed the remainder of his days, following his trade, that of shoemaker, until his death, Nov. 11, 1820. His widow subsequently married, on Oct. 9, 1831, John Orris, and they both died in York county, she on Dec. 3, 1862. She was a devout Winebrennerian in religious faith. To Hugh and Elizabeth (Thorley) Hamilton were born children as follows: (1) Thomas, born April 24, 1807, married Salome Shell. (2) Abraham, born Nov. 16, 1809, married Mary Groff, and died in Lower Allen township; his widow still survives. (3) John, born April 13, 1812, married Miss Margarett Stuoey. He engaged in the dry-goods business at Lisborn (Cumberland county), Hogestown, Carlisle and Lewistown (Mifflin county), at which latter place he died Sept. 20, 1879. (4) William, born Jan. 13, 1815, died before attaining his majority. (5) Mary, born Nov. 20, 1817, married John Roush, of Perry county, Pa., and died July 9, 1870. (6) Sarah Jane, born Feb. 12, 1821, married John McLaughlin, and died Jan. 1, 1893. By her marriage to Mr. Orris the mother of this family had one child, which died young.

Thomas Hamilton, born April 24, 1807, in New Cumberland, Cumberland county, grew to manhood in Fairview township, York county, and was reared to farming. His education was received entirely in the subscription schools common in that day. During his early manhood he hauled whiskey, store goods and hogs to Baltimore, and he also learned the carpenter’s trade, contracting in which line he commenced on his own account after his marriage. He became widely known as a skilled mechanic, and his services were much in demand throughout his section, his work being found on many buildings in York and Cumberland counties. In 1833 he helped to put up the Gorgas Building, in Lower Allen township. In the year 1832 Mr. Hamilton married Salome Shell, daughter of Andrew Shell, in Fairview township, York county, where they made their home and he died there Oct. 19, 1882. Mrs. Hamilton passed away Jan. 4, 1891. She was a Lutheran in religious faith, and Mr. Hamilton belonged to the German Reformed Church, being a constant attendant at church services and the organizer of the first Sabbath-school in Fairview township, in which he taught for some time. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton had children as follows: (1) John S., the oldest, is mentioned below. (2) William, born March 18, 1835, married Miss Fanny Warner, who is now deceased, and he resides in New Cumberland. (3) Andrew, born Nov. 6, 1836, married Mrs. Martha E. Carothers, and in 1865 they went to Illinois. In 1902 they moved to Kansas, where they now live in Oswego. (4) Keziah, born May 31, 1841, died in infancy. (5) Mary Ann, born Nov. 15, 1843, is unmarried. (6) Elizabeth Hamilton, born Aug. 13, 1846, became the wife of Zaccheus Spong, of Cumberland county, who enlisted June 15, 1863, becoming a private in Company D, 20th Pa. Cav., for six months’ service. He died Nov. 2, 1896, and his widow lives in Wormleysburg, Cumberland county. (7) Hugh, born April 25, 1849, died in infancy. (8) Catherine Salome, born Feb. 5, 1852, married David Eshelman, of Lemoyne.

John S. Hamilton commenced his education in the public schools of Fairview township, first attending three months a year, and later four months a year. After reaching his twelfth year he commenced to work as farm boy during vacations, at first earning two and a half dollars a month, with Adam Zinn, of Fairview township. The next year he received five dollars a month, and the year following he received nine. He did farm work for four years, after which he worked at the carpenter’s trade one year with his father. For the next two years he continued his apprenticeship under Philip Shell, of Mifflin township, Cumberland county, finishing his trade the following year with his brother David Shell. The first house he put up on his own account was in Fairview township, and he continued contracting for fifty years, doing mill work as well as carpentering, for the mills along Yellow Breeches creek. He put in many overshot wheels, and did other mill work, proving as able in that line as in the work that belonged strictly to his line of business. In 1855 he helped to build the Samuel Hertzler home, which stands next to his present home, and many other fine residences and barns in this section testify to his skill and to the large patronage he enjoyed. In 1868 Mr. Hamilon was appointed whiskey gauger by the United States Government and served as such for two years and ten months; his appointment was received from President Johnson, through the influence of Henry G. Moser, Associate Judge of Cumberland county, and Richard Halderman, Congressman at that time. For six years he was a member of the township school board, during five years of the time serving as secretary of that body. In 1890 he was elected justice of the peace, and he has held that office continuously ever since, the present year being the fourth of his third term. He has found time for public service in spite of his active business life, and has been a lifelong member of the Democratic party, in whose interests he has worked hard and late from early manhood. His first vote was cast for President Pierce. He has been county committeeman, has missed but few primaries, and has missed only one election since he reached his majority; that was during the Civil war. He enlisted at Harrisburg March 15, 1865, for one year, in Company D, 101st P. V. I., and was mustered out in Newbern, N. C., after five months’ service; he received his discharge at Harrisburg. In 1869 Mr. Hamilton joined Bethel Church, in Fairview township, York county, and has retained his membership with same to the present.

On Nov. 12, 1854, Mr. Hamilton was united in marriage, in Mechanicsburg, with Miss Elizabeth Frysinger, who was born in Monaghan township, York county, daughter of Daniel and Susan Bishop (Vorther) Frysinger, farming people. To Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton have been born children as follows: (1) Clara, born Oct. 6, 1855, married William Naylor, and died in Fairview township. (2) Agnes, born April 21, 1857, died in infancy. (3) Thomas, born Jan. 8, 1859, married Marv Feese, and they live in Steelton, Pa. (4) Melissa, born Nov. 6, 1861, is the wife of John Noel, of New Cumberland, Pa. (5) Mardia E., born June 13, 1862, died in infancy. (6) Cordelia F., born Sept. 26, 1863, married Eli Thorley, and they live in Chicago, Ill. (7) Daniel, born Oct. 19, 1865, married Mary Prowell, and their home is in Riverton, Cumberland county. (8) Jennie M., born Aug. 16, 1867, died in infancy.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

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