25 October 2015

Sunday’s Obituary: Charles Gillespie

Charles Gillespie was an Irish immigrant who made his way to Lancaster in the early 1800s. He was married three times. He had six children all total. His obituary praises him as a prudent businessman and a community minded gentleman. 

His obituary reads:
Another of the old landmarks that linked the present generation with those long gone by has passed away in the death of Charles Gillespie, which occurred this morning a few minutes before 8 o’clock at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Ellen Sheaff, on West Orange street. For two months past the old gentleman had been in declining health, and the end this morning was due to the gradual decay of his physical energies superinduced by old age. 

Charles Gillespie was born near Belfast, in the County Derry, Ireland, February 2, 1792. He came to this country in 1815, and spent the four succeeding years in New York City and in Philadelphia. In the fall of 1819 he came to Lancaster, where he has ever since resided, and established himself in the boot and shoe business on East King Street, a few doors west of the present site of the Farmer’s National bank. Shortly afterwards he purchased the property adjoining the Lamb hotel, opposite the “Red Lion” on West King Street, where he passed the remainder of his busy life in the extensive manufacture of boots and shoes. The approaches of age had begun to make themselves felt, when in 1860 he retired permanently from active business life. 

The deceased during his long and eventful life was ever justly famed for his strict devotion to business principles and his large public spirit. When the cotton mills, now a leading industry, were first broached, he was one of the first to help along, the enterprise by his money and influence, and he subscribed largely for shares of stock in the Stevens house when that building was first projected. For a period of 30 years he was a member of select and common councils, and for 20 years sat in the Lancaster school board, of which he was one of the original members. He was a Democrat of the staunchest type, and cast his first presidential vote for Jackson in 1824. After David Heitshu’s death the deceased was the only surviving member of the City’s Guards, a military company commanded by Captain Reynolds, the father of Gen. John F. Reynolds, Admiral William Reynolds and General James L. Reynolds, all of whom are now deceased. Mr. Gillespie was also for many years president of the Mechanic’s Library association, and was one of the principal factors in the success of that society. 

During his long and chequered career the deceased was over a consistent practical Catholic and his best and tottering form might have been seen at all the more important services at St. Mary’s church, of which he was a devoted parishioner. He was a man who always enjoyed remarkably good health and it was his boast even up to his fatal illness, that he had never been confined to bed for one whole day. 

Mr. Gillespie was three times married. The children of his second union are Mrs. Ellen Shaeff, widow of the late John Sheaff, and Mrs George W. Smith, of Pittsburgh, Pa. The fruit of his third marriage were Mrs. Ambrose McComsey, Mrs. Henry Deckert, Charles Gillespie, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Mrs. Thomas Sheehan, of Youngstown, O., and the late Miss Mary Gillespie, who died here two years ago. Mr. Gillespie’s third wife died a few years since. One of the granddaughters of the deceased is the wife of Congressman Bayne of Pittsburgh, and another is married to Mr. James McDevitt, also of the city. In his death his family loses a kind and affectionate father, and Lancaster one of its most public spirited citizens. 

The Daily Intelligencer. (Lancaster, PA), 24 October 1882. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. 

Sunday’s Obituary is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.