Sunday, June 19, 2011

Samuel Funkhouser (1811-1861) & Caroline Osmon (1810-1880)

Caroline Osmon Funkhouser (about 1810-1880)
Samuel Funkhouser
Born: Jan 4, 1811 in Beaver County, PA
Died: June 18, 1861
Mother: Nancy Ann Showalter (1778-1850)
Father: Jacob Funkhouser (1775- about  1840-50)
Wife: Caroline Osmon, born 1808-1810 in Beaver Falls, died 1880-1887

Jacob Osmon, born Jan. 10, 1839 in Beaver Falls, died 1907
James Madison 
George Dallas
Samuel, died about 1884

The following information is from History of New Brighton 1838-1939, published by the Historical Committee of the Centennial, Butler, PA, pages 30-32:

“The first blacksmith shop in New Brighton of which there is definite record was that of SAMUEL FUNKHOUSER, which stood on Eighth Street upon the site now occupied by the First Baptist Church and was operated by him prior to 1837 and continued until after the Civil War. He was born in North Sewickley township of German ancestry, his father having been one of the first settlers north of the Ohio River. Samuel was a person of great physical strength.

“In his shop an episode had its inception which resulted in a tragedy and changed the name of a stream. One autumn day about 1845 a man whose oddly appearing garb indicated that he was an European appeared upon the streets of New Brighton and unable to understand him, sensing that he might be German someone directed him to Mr. Funkhouser’s shop. Mr. Funkhouser was known to speak German, but though he could not comprehend all the stranger said, he did understand that the man had been robbed at the market place in Pittsburgh, of most of his money. His clothing however indicated prosperity. Leaving the shop he was again seen about the streets for some time, teased by a coterie of small boys, one of whom was James Madison Funkhouser, son of the former Samuel, who related these particulars. But disappearing that evening the German was soon forgotten.

“In the early Spring of the following year some boys ascending Trough Run, the proper name of the third rivulet north of town, discovered the body of a man in the water, lodged against brush at what is known as the falls in that hollow. He had a hole in the side of his head, and was half frozen in the unmelted ice of the preceding winter. The wound was believed to have been caused by a sharp stick. When men were summoned, the corpse was identified by his garb as the odd appearing stranger seen on the streets of town some months prior thereto. He was never identified hut was buried in a rude box on the nearby hillside. Some years later an earth slide partially exposed the body. The pupils of the Bran Hill, now Thompson school, learned of what had just happened and they flocked down the hollow after dismissal to view the sight. Not knowing the correct name of the ravine they referred to it thereafter as the hollow of the dead man, so Trough Run became, though improperly “Deadman’s Hollow.” Tragedy entered the story, when it was revealed by a man on his death bed, a former town resident of unsavory record, that accompanied by another villager as derelict in morals as himself, they had killed the stranger. Thinking from his appearance that he had money they inveigled him, in some way, out the Mercer Road and into a thicket at the head of the ravine where they shot him in the side of the head. Finding nothing they cast the body in the run where it was washed down against the brush and lay there all winter.

“Mr. Funkhouser’s wife was CAROLINE OSMON who was born on her father’s farm on the site of Beaver Falls. He was an ex-English sea captain. The Funkhouser children were Jacob Osman, James Madison, George Dallas, Charles, Denny, and Samuel. James and Denny were veterans of the Civil War.

JACOB O. FUNKHOUSER was born in New Brighton on January 10, 1839. He learned the blacksmith trade with his father, but about 1866 associated himself with his brother, James Madison, and started a wagon and blacksmith shop at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street. James Madison soon withdrew, and later Jacob O. changed to the tinning business which he pursued until he retired. In later life he served ten years as toll keeper at the Brighton bridge and died about 1907. Surviving him were Dallas, Caroline, Virginia M., Harvey A., Druscilla, wife of Joseph F. Paulson, and Samuel H. Funkhouser, all of New Brighton. Samuel H. has continued in the tinning business.

“The second Samuel Funkhouser mentioned, brother of Jacob O. will be remembered by all of the older residents and many Ft. Wayne railroad men not residents. He was a short, extremely strong man with the singular formation of 12 fingers and 12 toes, and for at least 15 years was daily on the streets delivering light freight and baggage from the New Brighton railroad station to local consignees. He used a two wheeled hand cart in which he sometimes pushed loads that were worthy of the strength of a dray horse, often singing as he trod the pavement.

“He had a pleasing personality and an excellent singing voice which he exercised frequently. For these reasons and his physical peculiarity the trainmen nearly all knew him. Upon one occasion when the train bearing the famous singer, Jennie Lind, stopped at the station, the railroaders persuaded Samuel to sing for her and held the train until he finished. He was somewhat embarrassed when she complimented him upon the sweetness of his voice. He died about 1884.

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