Biography of A. Elverton Sisson
Erie County, PA Biographies





A. Elverton Sisson, who ranks among the prominent attorneys of Erie County, was born at Dayton, N. Y., Jan. 12, 1851, being the son of Nathaniel and Salina (Phillips) Sisson.

The Sisson family is of English descent, having settled in that country in 1066, and having held New England residence since 1640. The first American ancestor was Richard Sisson, born in 1608, who came to America soon after the landing of the "Mayflower." He settled at Portsmouth, R. I., where he possessed lands that long remained in the family. He afterward became owner of large tracts of land in Dartmouth, Mass., his death occurring in 1684. James Sisson, son of Richard Sisson, from whom A. Elverton Sisson is of the sixth generation in descent, married Lydia Hathaway, daughter of Arthur and Sarah (Cook) Hathaway. John Cook, father of Sarah, and Francis Cook, father of John Cook, were passengers on the Pilgrim vessel Mayflower, while the maternal! grandmother of Lydia Hathaway, Sarah (Warren) Cook, was a daughter of Richard Warren,! who also sailed on that vessel. Most of the Sissons of early years were members of the Society of Friends. James Sisson, of the second American generation, was a collector of taxes for the Massachusetts town in which he lived, and suffered imprisonment because he would not collect the Church of England tax,

Nathaniel Sisson, great grandfather of A. Elverton, was a native of Dartmouth, Mass., born Nov. 11, 1756, and died at Queenstown, N. Y., on May 10, 1840. His wife, Grace Gifford, was also a native of Dartmouth, Mass., born Sept. 16, 1761, and, died at Queenstown, on Sept. 4, 1848. The grandfather, Benjamin Sisson, born Jan. 22, 1791, was a native of Queenstown, and died at Brant, N. Y., in 1874. In 1820 Benjamin Sisson moved from Queenstown, N. Y., where his father had settled at the close of the Revolutionary War, and established a home near Buffalo. For many generations the majority of the Sisson family were Quakers, but Benjamin, the grandfather, was debarred from the church, as he had married Sally Ferris, a woman outside the faith. Nathaniel, father of A. Elverton Sisson, was a farmer and a native of Erie County, N. Y., born in 1821, his wife, Salina Phillips, being born near Glens Falls, N. Y., in 1819. Mrs. Sisson was a daughter of Samuel D. and Hannah (Wing) Phillips. The Wing family, on the maternal side, was also identified with the Society of Friends, and was long established at Glens Falls, and Sandy Hill, N. Y., whither different members had moved from Massachusetts, prior to the migration of the Sisson family. In 1854 Nathaniel Sisson settled in Crawford County, Pa., and five years later moved to Springfield, Erie County, where he died in 1885. His first wife passed away in 1851, the year of the birth of A. E. Sisson, of this sketch.

A. Elverton Sisson received his education in the common schools of Crawford and Erie County and at the Kingsville, Ohio, Academy, the West Springfield, Pa., Academy, and the North East, Pa., Seminary. He taught school and was in business a short time, then began the study of law, and in 1881 gained admission to the bar of Erie County, and almost from the start gained favor as an attorney. His political activities began early and in 1885 and 1886 he held the chairmanship of the Republican County Committee, the following year being elected prosecuting attorney of Erie County. He succeeded himself in this office through reelection in 1890, his being the first instance in which a prosecuting attorney of Erie County had been elected for two successive terms. In 1900 he became the candidate of his party (Republican) for state senator, was elected and reelected in 1904 and again in 1908, thus setting a new mark as being the first senator from the Erie district to hold a seat in the Senate for three successive terms. At the conclusion of the session of 1907 he was elected president pro tempore of the Senate and again became presiding officer of that body of the Legislature in 1909. During the special session of the Senate in 1906 be served as a member of the committee investigating the state insurance department and in 1909 was chairman of the committee on railroads, and a member of the commission created at the session of that year to investigate all transactions in connection with the building and furnishing of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, and several men wen sent to the penitentiary as a result of this investigation. President of the Senate, a member of the most important senatorial committee, am one of the leaders of his party, Mr. Sisson displayed rare political geniw and wrote boldly a record of public service that will long endure.

Mr. Sisson was elected auditor general of Pennsylvania on Nov. 2 1909, having been the unanimous choice of his party for that office. Al the notification meeting informing Mr. Sisson of his nomination for this office, the chairman of the meeting spoke in part as follows: "Senator A. B. Sisson, you are the unanimous choice of the Republicans of Pennsylvania for the office of auditor general. There existed special reasons for your selection for the office. You have an excellent reputation as s lawyer, your capacity and integrity as a business man are generally recognized, as legislator of wide experience for years, you have been identified with public affairs. You are familiar with the duties of auditor general and no other man in this state possesses higher qualifications for the performance of those duties. You are a public spirited and progressive citizen and your selection by the convention should be enthusiastically ratifled at the polls." The fulfillment of the above prediction is now a matter of history and Mr. Sisson's efficient administration of the office has added to the lustre of his achievements in public life and has given a new appreciation of generous talents already recognized. In 1920 he was again elected to the state Senate, and his term expired with 1924. Tn 1907 he succeeded in securing an appropriation from the state of Pennsylvania of $15O,000 for constructing and building the "public steamboat landing or wharf upon state lands of the Port of Erie, by producing State Street northwardly into the harbor commencing on the north side of the public dock at the foot of State Street in the City of Erie, and extending northwardly about 600 feet, and 100 feet in width, to the harbor line established by the U. S. engineer." The splendid dock at the foot of State Street is the result of this legislation secured by the then Senator Sisson.

In 1909 and 1911, he, with others, secured the enactment of legislation in Pennsylvania that brought about the building of the splendid Perry's Victory Memorial at Put In Bay, commemorating the victory won by Commodore Perry and his fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie, and in 1918 he was instrumental in securing an appropriation by the state of Pennsylvania of the sum of $150,000 for raising and restoring the brig "Niagara" and "the erection of a permanent marker, arch or memorial at the city of Erie, Pa., commemorating the building of the fleet at that place, as well as the splendid manner in which, in the hands of the brave Commander Perry and the gallant men who fought with him, it performed its errands at the Battle which followed its construction," and in 1921, when a member of the Senate, he prepared, introduced and aided by Hon. J. Reed Craig, member of the House from Erie, secured the enactment into law of a bill providing that the Presque Isle peninsula and certain water property in the Bay of Presque Isle "be preserved, maintained, improved, enlarged, and forever held as a public park, to be known as Pennsylvania State Park at Erie."

Mr. Sisson was president of the Pennsylvania Perry's Victory Cen tennial Commission and treasurer general of the Interstate Board of Perry's Victory Commissions, the latter of which built the splendid monument at Put In Bay, Ohio, and now that board and commission has become a national commission and he is vice president of it. He took a very active part with others in bringing about the erection of that memorial, which has now, by act of Congress, been made a national memorial. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission and is a member of the Pennsylvania State Bar Association, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Society of New York, the Erie Club, the Harrisburg Club of Harrisburg, Pa., and the Elks Lodge of Erie. He is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has taken an active interest in all these organizations, availing himself of the special benefit of each as often as possible.

On Dec. 13, 1888, Mr. Sisson married Miss Lena L. Spencer, daughter of Dr. H. A. Spencer, a leading physician of Erie for a number of years. They have a son, Spencer Alec Sisson, a practicing attorney of Erie.

From:
History of Erie County, Pennsylvania
By: John Elmer Reed
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis
1925

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