Biography of Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Kane
McKean County, PA Biographies





MAJ. GEN. THOMAS L. KANE, the founder of Kane, was a Philadelphian, descended from some of the oldest pre Revolutionary families of the northern colonies. His patronymic was derived from John Kane, who came from Ireland in 1754, and married Sybil Kent, daughter of a Puritan minister of "Mayflower" ancestry. Elisha Kane, their son, married Alida Van Rensselaer, daughter of Gen. Robert Van Rensselaer, and their son, John K. Kane, afterward Attorney General of Pennsylvania and subsequently judge of the United States District Court, married Jane D., daughter of Thomas Leiper, who commanded the Philadelphia First City Troop during the Revolution. Thomas Leiper's wife was of the old Philadelphia family of Grays. Their second son, Thomas Leiper Kane, was born Febuary 27, 1822. He married April 21, 1853, his second cousin, Elizabeth Dennistoun Wood, whose father, William Wood, was by birth a Scotchman, of Covenanter blood, while her mother, Harriet A. Kane, was the daughter of John, the eldest son of John and Sybil Kane. William Wood still lives in New York, and until last year was one of the most active members of the Board of Education of that city. The latter years of his life have been devoted wholly to philanthropy, and public works for the development of that city. Thomas L. Kane, and to a less extent his brother, Elisha Kent Kane, the arctic explorer, differed from the rest of their family connection on the question of slavery. Educated to high flown radical ideas of liberty by fighting behind the barricades in Paris, shoulder to shoulder with the men who in subsequent years suffered death as Communists in defense of their "Amour Sacre," their "liberté cherie," young Kane had hardly returned to his native land before he engaged in the anti slavery struggle, and became a director of the "Underground Railway." His two means of earning a livelihood were sacrificed to his principles, resigning the United States cornmissionership because it would have compelled him to assist in the Fugitive Slave Law [See Wendell Phillip's speech on the case of Judge Loring.], and resigning the Clerkship of the District Court to go on a special mission to avert the impending Mormon war. In 1856 he came to Elk county as agent of a Land Improvement Company, and as city director of the Sunbury & Erie Railroad. He was thus occupied at the commencement of the Rebellion, and he was the first man to offer his services to the governor of Pennsylvania for its suppression. How he raised, in McKean, Elk and neighboring counties. the celebrated "Bucktails," and his battles, wounds and promotion have become a part of the history of the war more than of these counties. In 1864. crippled by many wounds, he returned to the mountains to revive his former projects for peopling the wilderness. The village of Kane was planned by him as a Prohibition Borough, but the act of incorporation was lost [sic] after its passage and before receiving the governor's signature. He endeavored to give effect to his views on this question by placing restrictions on all village lots, but a method of circumventing him was found by the liquor men, and from 1867 to 1878 he contented himself with personal efforts at license court. In 1878 a more effective restriction was found, and the subsequent growth of the town has been on land protected against liquor shops. The McKean, Elk, Forest and Clarion (commonly called the Big Level), the Kane, Wilcox, Ridg way and St. Mary's, the Kane & Campbell's Mill, and the Kane & Lafayette are State roads which remain as monuments to his local patriotism., legislative influence and engineering skill. The routes of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, the Pittsburgh & Western, the Ridgway & Clearfield and the New York, Lake Erie & Western Coal Railroads, through these counties, were designated by him, and he was the most influential man in promoting the construction of those railroads. At the time of his death he was president of the New York, Lake Erie & Western Coal Railroad, which had just completed its famous Kinzua viaduct. Politically Gen. Kane was first a war Democrat, and subsequently a Stalwart or Grant Republican. In 1872, however, he joined the Greeley liberal revolt against corruption, after warning Gen. Grant of his intention in an interview which only cemented the strong personal friendship which subsisted between them until his death. In 1880 he represented his congressional district at the Chicago Republican Convention, and was prominent among the "306" or "Old Guard." The bronze medal commemorating the fact is cherished by his children. Woman suffrage and the Higher Education of women were essentials of his political doctrine, and his wife and daughter graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Philadelphia. His religious affiliations and tenets were strongly Presbyterian, and the First Presbyterian Church of Kane, a picturesque and costly building, was constructed for his sake by his aunt, Mrs. Ann Gray Thomas. Complying with his dying request, his body was interred in front of this church, where a simple grahite slab covers the grave. Gen. Kane died in Philadelphia, December 26, 1883. His wife and children all survive. Harriet Amelia, Evan O'Neill and Thomas Leiper are physicians, and Elisha Kent is a civil engineer by profession. All are members of the Presbyterian Church, and of the Prohibition party. They reside at Kane, and endeavor to carry out their father's projects and principles.

From:
History of the Counties of
McKean, Elk and Forest,
Pennsylvania
With Biographical Selections.
J. H. Beers & Co., Publishers
Chicago, 1890.

Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies Counter

NAVIGATION

McKean County, PA Biographies

Online
Biographies

Pennsylvania
Biographies

Pennsylvania
Histories

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012