Biography of Robert D. Tonkin
Clearfield County, PA Biographies

ROBERT DUDLEY TONKIN,* manager of the Cherry Tree Iron Works, and one of the leading business men of this part of Clearfield county, was born in Burnside township, this county, July 10, 1880, son of Vincent and Margaret J. (Hughes) Tonkin. His paternal grandparents, John and Mary (Hicks) Tonkin, came to America in 1831 from Cornwall, England, settling first in Baltimore, Md. Later they removed to Germantown, Pa., where they remained one year, removing at the end of that time to Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Pa. In 1838 they came to Clearfield county, settling in the vicinity of Cherry Tree, where John Tonkin carried on farming and lumbering until about 1861. He died at the age of 84 years and his wife at that of 83. He was a member of the Whig party in politics, and he and his wife belonged to the Episcopal church.

Vincent Tonkin, son of the above and father of this sketch, was born in Cornwall, England, January 5, 1830 and was a babe of 18 months' when he accompanied his parents to America. When old enough he engaged in the lumber business with his father, and he subsequently bought the old homestead of 300 acres, which he conducted until 1899, when he engaged in the mercantile business., He also at some time subsequent to 1866 engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes by hand, purchasing large quantities of leather. He was also for some years engaged in the cattle business, operating through Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and shipping his cattle to the eastern markets, driving as many as 150 head at a time. After 1865 he was engaged in lumbering near Cherry Tree up to 1885. During that time he was superintendent for the large timber firm of Hopkins & Ervin, but later went into business for himself and so continuing until his final retirement. In 1903 he built the largest machine foundry in northern Pennsylvania. He was one of the charter members and vice president of the First National Bank of Cherry Tree, and was also interested in various tracts of coal and timber land throughout this section. In politics a Republican, he was an active worker for his party.

Vincent Tonkin was married October 22, 1879, to Margaret J. Hughes, who was born March 14, 1853 at Cherry Tree, Pa., a daughter of Robert and Elinor (Douglass) Hughes, natives of Cambria county. Robert Hughes, who was a tanner by trade, carried on his business for a number of years at Ebensburg, Pa., and subsequently built the first tannery at Cherry Tree, which he operated until 1878. He died in i888 at the age of 65 years. Vincent Tonkin's death occurred March 22, 1908, at Cherry Tree. By his marriage with Elinor Douglass there were the following children: Robert Dudley, subject of this sketch; Vivian S., residing at home; Maxie E., wife of R. McConnell, of Cherry Tree; Vincent Ord, who married Octo O. Nottey; Alice D., a teacher living at home; A. Worth, attending school.

Robert D. Tonkin, after attending Mt. Union College, at Alliance, Ohio, began industrial life in the foundry and machine business, first at Cresson, Pa., and subsequently in his father's foundry at Cherry Tree. In course of time the management of this latter plant devolved upon him and he has since continued to hold this responsible position, having proved his capacity as a thoroughly practical foundryman. He is also interested in the First National Bank, and is a director of the Cambria Title, Savings & Trust Co. of Ebensburg, Pa.

Mr. Tonkin was married June 20, 1905 to Birdis Sechier, who was born August 7, 1880, a daughter of Joseph and Emma (Stough) Sechier, of Cherry Tree, where her father holds the office of postmaster. Onr subject and wife have been the parents of two children: One that died in infancy; and Joseph Dudley, born April 5, 1910. Mr. and Mrs. Tonkin are members of the Presbyterian church, and are people well known and highly esteemed in this part of Clearfield county, Mr. Tonkin, indeed, having a wide business acquaintance, both throughout the county and elsewhere.

Note - Sketches unrevised by subscribers are distinguished by a small astrict (*).

Twentieth Century History of
Clearfield County, Pennsylvania
and Representative Citizens.
BY: Roland D. Swoope, Jr.
Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co,
Chicago, Ill. 1911

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