Biography of Edwin Haskell
Potter County, PA Biographies

EDWIN HASKELL, editor and publisher of the Potter County Journal, Coudersport, like thousands of others whose parents were pioneers of the wilderness, knows but little of the genealogy of his family, being unable to trace his ancestry back farther than his grandparents. Even of them he knows very little, further than that his grandfather on his father's side was a citizen of New Bedford, Mass., of English descent; that he was a soldier under Gen. Winfield Scott, and was killed October 13, 1812, at the battle of Queenstown, Canada. His grandmother was a Miss Crapo, a lady of French descent, and at the time of her husband' s death she had three sons: John, Peter (the father of the subject of this sketch) and Parmenio. After the war she married a man by the name of Hill, who moved with his wife and stepsons to the township of Lisle, in Broome county, N. Y. Mrs. Hill soon after died, also her son John. A few years afterward Parmenio returned to New Bedford, and for many years followed a seafaring life. Peter, on November 5, 1825, being then eighteen years of age, married Myra Olney, a daughter of Zalotis Olney, of Bickford, Tioga Co., N. Y. She was a few months younger than her husband. The Olneys, who were of English descent, came from Nova Scotia: and located in Richford at an early date of its settlement, and here reared a. large family of sons and daughters. In their old age they followed their daughter Sally, the wife of Hosea Cushing, to Brookland, Ulysses township, Potter, Co., Penn., the latter being one of the first settlers of that township. With their daughter the old people resided, sharing with her family the various vicissitudes of pioneer life until their death at a ripe old age. In 1833 Peter and Myra Haskell moved from Richford, Tioga Co., N. Y., to Potter county, Penn., and settled two miles from Brookiand, in Ulysses township. Their family consisted of three children: Cordelia, Edwin and Asa, Edwin being about four years of age at that time. The journey of 120 miles was made with an ox team, and consumed a week's time. They went to work with a will, to hew out a home in the forest, but, though a good start had been made in clearing up a farm, in 1836 the family was moved back to Richford, N. Y. Though so young, much that transpired in those few years in the wilderness is indelibly stamped upon the memory of Edwin. In those days the stern realities of life were early brought home to the children of the pioneers. The condition of things was not much better in Richford. The township was comparatively new and backward in development. The people were poor; the price for labor was low, and the cost of store goods was high. To provide ordinary comforts for a large growing family, it was necessary that each one should contribute something in proportion to his age and strength. Edwin, being the oldest boy and the eldest but one in a family of eleven children, had, from the time he was ten years old, not only to provide for himself, but to contribute one half of his earnings, from working out upon a farm, to help provide for younger brothers and sisters. The wages he received were from $4 to $12 per month, and board. Under such circumstances, the chances of obtaining even the poor education afforded by the common schools were very small-a month or two in the winter, and often under the instruction of teachers receiving a salary of 75 cents or $1.50 per week, whose qualifications were, in many instances, on a par with the wages they received. Fortunately, however, he had acquired an early taste for reading, and thus obtained a very creditable fund of general information, which in part compensated for lack of instruction at school. Coming to visit his uncle at Brookland in the fall of 1848, he learned that an apprentice could obtain a situation in the office of the Potter County Journal, a paper that had been recently started at the county seat, as an organ of the Free Soil party in Potter county. He made application for the place, and was accepted as an apprentice for two years. Being a rather old "devil," he made very good progress in learning to set type; but this, with chopping wood for office, sweeping floor, washing rollers, distributing pi, etc., was not all he strove to accomplish in his first year of apprenticeship. To remedy in part the deficiency of his education, he entered upon a course of self instruction in arithmetic, grammar, rhetoric and English composition. At the end of the year he had mastered these subjects quite as thoroughly as have most students on graduating from an academy. At the close of the year the paper upon which he had been working suspended publication for a season, and brought his apprenticeship to an end. Being out of employment for the time being. he embraced the opportunity to attend school for two terms at Coudersport Academy. After this he engaged for a season to carry chain for his former employer, who was a surveyor, and to take lessons in practical surveying, but in a few months he found Out there was a great deal of the chain carrying and very little of the lessons Learning that his mother was dangerously sick, he resolved to return to Richford. The next year was passed in working at haying, teaching a term of school, and setting type in an office at Owego. Returning to Coudersport in the fall of 1851, he took charge of the publication of the Potter County Journal, being associated with Hon. J. S. Mann as one of the editors. On May 5, 1852, he married Laura A. Canon, an acquaintance with whom had been formed during his attendance at school at Coudersport Academy, and they went to housekeeping in Coudersport. The county was new, and the prospects of providing for a family from the receipts of a newspaper office were not very promising, although reasonable success, under the circumstances, had been achieved. In the fall of 1854, he retired from the Journal and went to Waterford, Erie Co., Penn., where he worked as a compositor for nearly a year in the office of the Waterford Dispatch. Then he moved to Allegany, Cattaraugus Co., N. Y., and, in partnership with his brother Asa. engaged in the manufacture of window sash for three years.

The two brothers having purchased a tract of wild land at Colesburg, Potter county, in 1859, they moved thither, and went to work in clearing up a farm. Asa soon sold out his share in the property, and went back to Allegany, N. Y. Edwin resided on the farm until April, 1875, when he rented and moved upon the S. K Mills farm in the same neighborhood, and engaged in the dairy business for the next six years, working his own farm at the same time. During his residence at Colesburg, though engaged in the most laborious work-the clearing up of a wild farm-he managed to keep fairly abreast of the times in general information, and to take an active interest in the education of his two daughters, Edith and Bell, who were born soon after he came to Colesburg. Though prospering but moderately in the acquisition of wealth, Mr. Haskell was extremely fortunate in gaining the respect and confidence of his neighbors, and of the people of Allegheny township. In township affairs he always took an active part, serving many years as director and secretary on the school board, township clerk, justice of the peace, township auditor, etc. In the summer of 1880 he received the nomination on the Republican ticket for county treasurer, and in the fall was elected by a large majority. In 1882 he moved to Coudersport, to attend to the duties of his office. January 1. 1883, he purchased a one half interest in the Potter County Journal, and at once assumed control of the paper as publisher and editor. For the last six years he has devoted his whole time to the paper. In politics, from earliest youth, he has depended upon his own judgment in forming his opinions His father, brothers, and all his relatives were Jacksonian Democrats, as they termed it, but he early entertained anti slavery opinions, and his first ballot was cast with the Free Soil party, in opposition to the extension of slavery into new territory. In religious belief he extends to all the utmost freedom of opinion, believing it to be a matter solely between each individual and his Creator, with which no one has a right to interfere, and that honest belief and profession are always entitled to the utmost respect.

From the foregoing it will be seen that Edwin Haskell's life has been one of constant, earnest work, the relaxation in which has been chiefly in studying and reading in those hours which most men devote to absolute rest or social pleasures. He is not an educated man in the common acceptance of the term, nor is his knowledge that of the specialist, yet the fund of information he has acquired is large and varied in its nature, embracing something upon nearly every topic that has claimed the attention of political, scientific and literary men during the past century. He is not a "self made man," but an indigenous product of the country which requires every man to work out his own destiny to the best of his ability, under the circumstances in which he is placed, in the end accounting to God, only, for the result.


From:
History of the Counties of
McKean, Elk, Cameron and Potter, Pennsylvania
J. H. Beers & Co. Publishers
Chicago, Ill. 1890


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