Biography of James W. Tillinghast


Tillinghast, James W., Buffalo, was born at Brownville, Jefferson county, November 5, 1844. He received his education in private and public schools and Rome Academy, Rome, N. Y., and completed his education at the Fort Edward Collegiate Institute, at Fort Edward, N. Y. He commenced work as a clerk in his father's office on the Northern Railway of Canada, Toronto, Ont., during the summer of 1858, and while thus engaged he took up the study of telegraphy as an amusement, having no idea at the time that it was to become the work of his life. In October, 1861, he went to Pittsburg, Pa., and entered the service of the Western Union Telegraph Company as an operator; while engaged in that capacity his time was largely taken up with the handling of cipher dispatches passing between the western armies and the War Department at Washington, and his duties became so exacting and severe that his health failed, and in the winter of 1863-64 his physician advised him to abandon the work. In January, 1864, he removed to Madison, Ind., as manager of that office. His health having been restored, he came to Buffalo in April, 1865, as assistant manager. In May, 1865, he was sent to Erie, Pa., as manager of the office in that place, but resumed his position as assistant manager in Buffalo in October of the same year, and was appointed manager of the Buffalo office in January, 1870, and has occupied the position continuously since that date. In 1868 D. H. Craig, general agent of the New York Associated Press, formed a rival association and together with several agents of the old association, left it without notice. One of the first acts of J. W. Simonton, the successor of Mr. Craig, was to appoint Mr. Tillinghast as agent at Buffalo, with full charge of the service west and south of that point, clothed with carte blanche authority. The position was accepted as a temporary one and he was for the time being relieved of his duties with the Western Union Company. For six weeks he fought the battle for the Associated Press, and the Craig Association having been beaten, he resumedi his duties as manager. For the services performed for the Associated Press he received a vote of thanks of the executive committee of that association and a personal letter from every member of the committee, praising his work in the highest terms. The period referred to has been the only break in the service of the Western Union Company since he first joined the ranks in Pittsburg in 1861. Preferring Buffalo as a place of residence, he has declined offers of promotion and employment elsewhere. He is the only son of James Tillinghast, whose name is so closely associated with the N. Y. C. & H. R. Railroad, and is a descendant of Pardon Tillinghast, who settled in Providence, R, I., in 1642. He has one son by his first wife, Rev. James D. Tillinghast, a minister of the Universalist church, stationed at Providence, R. I. He married Sarah Dannals of Pittsburg, Pa., October 6, 1863. She died September 20, 1866, and he married Mrs. Anna Kelley of Lockport, N.Y., February 1, 1868; she died July 14. 1875; he married Anna Bergmann, at Erie, Pa., August 26, 1896.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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