Biography of Samuel J. Catherman
Erie County, OH Biographies





SAMUEL J. CATHERMAN. Prominent among the brainy, forceful men who spent the larger part of their long and useful lives in Sandusky was the late Samuel J. Catherman, whose name will he held in lasting remembrance in the annals of Erie County history. He was a man of indefatigable enterprise, of great inventive talent and marked fertility of resource, as a contractor and builder contributing generously toward the material prosperity of the community, and his services in advancing the industrial interests of city, county and state are worthy of honorable recognition and praise along with the achievements of those who successfully labored in other fields of endeavor:

A picture of the first engine built in Sandusky is shown in an interesting volume entitled the "History of the Western Reserve," and from that work we take the following quotation: "There is now living in Sandusky (in 1910) a man in hips ninety third year named J. S. Catherman, who when he was eighteen years old was employed in the old car shops of the Mad River Railroad in Sandusky. Various parts of the pioneer engine The Sandusky' were manufactured in the East and shipped to Sandusky to be put together. The work was successfully accomplished under the direction of Thomas Hogg, the master mechanic who was at the throttle of the machine when it clanged over the strap rails to Bellevue, in 1835. Later Mr. Featherman himself became master mechanic of the shops, and has a vivid recollection not only of the 'Sandusky,' but of the second engine, 'The Erie.' He claims that the Sandusky was the first engine run west of the Alleghany Mountains, and the first one in the world equipped with a steam whistle. A few months ago the still bright old gentleman was interviewed by the 'Sandusky Star Journal,' whose representative drew from him other information which has real historic value. When Mr. Catherman first worked in the Mad River Railroad shops little side door cars, much resembling small box cars, were used on all the steam roads. To General Gregg he suggested building cars with a door at each end, and with reversible seats. The idea appealed to Mr. Gregg, and Mr. Catherman was instructed, to go ahead, and from the passenger cars which he commenced to build in the Mad River shops have developed the luxurious coaches of today."

Samuel J. Catherman was born in 1817, in Union County, Pennsylvania, and died at his home in Sandusky, Ohio, in May, 1911. His father, George Catherinan, was also born in Union County, Pennsylvania, and his mother, whose maiden name was Philadelphia Jones, was born and bred in the City of Philadelphia. At the age of fifteen years Samuel was bound out to David Moore, with whom he served an apprenticeship of seven years at the carpenter's trade, after his third year with his employer having control of all the work. When ready to start in life for himself Mr. Cathernian returned to Pennsylvania for his mother, sister and brother, and with them came to Sandusky, making the entire journey in a covered wagon. For three years after his arrival he had charge of the carpenter work of Mr. White, after which he was for forty years engaged in contracting and building on his own account. With his first partner, Lawrence Cable, he assumed as one of his first contracts the construction of 2,000 reapers known as the "Hero" reaper and invented by a Mr. Henderson. That contract was received in the spring of 1856, and in the fall of that year Messrs. Cathermuan and Cable were awarded the contract for building the Washington Street pavement, and when that was completed the partnership was dissolved.

Mr. Catherman subsequently erected more than a score of lime kilns and many fine residences. Ms reputation for rapid and skilful workmanship brought him many contracts of importance, among others having been the erection of the cribbing in the bay, at the east and west ends of the City of Sandusky, for the Mad River Railroad Company, and the building of the Bay Bridge. Employing 300 men in the latter work, the bridge was built in a marvellously short space of time, every stroke of each man employed counting one. On one occasion during the building it was necessary to have an engine and two flat ears at Danbury, and Mr. Catherman loaded the engine on the two cars and thus towed them across the bay on a scow, and there unloaded them, doing the whole in one day, a feat deemed almost impossible.

Mr. Catherman married in 1844, Clarissa Gregg, who spent her entire life in Sandusky, her birth occurring in 1823, and her death in 1907. Her father, Benjamin Gregg, a native of New Hampshire, married Clarissa Hibbard, who was born and bred in Vermont, and soon after that happy event the young couple journeyed westward to Ohio, becoming pioneer settlers of Sandusky. Mr. and Mrs. Catherman reared five children, namely: Josephine; Georgia; Franklin; William; and Erastus, who died at the age of fifteen years. Josephine, the eldest child, became the wife of Albert Clemons, of Marblehead, Ohio; and their only daughter, Georgia Clemons, married William Stokes, and died in early womanhood, leaving one son, Albert Stokes. Franklin Catherman, the eldest son, now residing in Kansas City, Missouri, married Abbie Wager, and they have five children, Dorothy, Laura, Clara, Georgia, and Herbert. William Catherman, a resident of Oregon, married, and is the father of four children, Lillian, Bessie, William, and Freda. Georgia Catherinan, the only member of the family living in Sandusky at the present writing, in 1915, has taught in the first grade of the public schools for a period of thirty five years, her term of service in that capacity bespeaking her efficiency and popularity as a teacher. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which her father likewise belonged. Mr. Catherman cast his first presidential vote for William Henry Harrison, in 1840, the whig candidate, and after the formation of the republican party was one of the most earnest supporters of its principles.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


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