Sunday, January 26, 2014

#3 - PS Bancroft – 3 Careers and a War (my mother's great grandfather)

Peter Sanford Bancroft, Professor, Captain, and Editor
Peter Sanford Bancroft B. 24 Dec 1830 Canaan, CT D. 16 May 1916 in Butler, PA
M. April, 1865 Isabell (Belle) S Brinker, youngest daughter of Jacob Brinker B. 1846 Butler, PA  D. 1874 Butler, PA
1 * Flora Gertrude Bancroft 1867-1949 *my great grandmother
2 Earl D Bancroft 1868-1927
3 Grove Graham Bancroft 1869-1899

When 8 years old Peter Sanford Bancroft came to Western Pennsylvania with his parents, who settled on a farm near Meadville, PA. His father was the Rev. Earl Bancroft, a retired minister and local preacher of the Methodist church. His mother was a daughter of Grove Pinney.

PS Bancroft worked on the farm, attended county schools and then Allegheny College, from which he graduated in 1855 magna cum laude

Career 1 - Professor of Greek & Latin
For the next few years he was Professor of Greek and Latin at Madison College (now part of Waynesburg U).  

Shifting: Part 2 - Civil War and an Officer 
In September, 1861, he joined the army of the Union and was made Second Lieutenant in Company E, One Hundred Eleventh Regiment, PA Infantry.
On September 17, 1862, in the battle of Antietam, his right arm was shattered by a bullet. While in hospital suffering from this wound he was promoted to the rank of Captain.
March 16, 1863, he resigned and was discharged on surgeon's certificate of disability.
In Apr. 1863 the U.S. War Department created the "Invalid Corps" made of worthy disabled officers and men who had been in the army. 
It was variously called Invalid Corps or Veteran Reserve Corps, and Bancroft signed on and he was appointed First Lieutenant in the Veteran Reserve Corps. In December he was appointed Captain and later assigned to the Third Regiment of that corps. 
This appointment was confirmed by the issue of a Captain's commission with 'the advice and consent of the Senate' and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. His grandson Charles Tilton had possession of the commissioning signed by Lincoln until he sold it to antiques dealer in the 1900's.  

Bancroft continued in the service with the Invalid/Veteran Reserve Corps until February 1866, nearly a year after the close of the war

Capt. PS Bancroft

Marriage &  New Life - part 3 - Farmer

In April, 1865, in his 35th year Bancroft married 19 year old Bella S. Brinker,  youngest daughter of Col. Jacob Brinker, a former sheriff of Butler County and Sarah Ann Graham. They were farming the Meadville farm when Belle (Brinker) Bancroft died in 1874, leaving 3 small children.

Bella (Brinker) Bancroft

Widower and Move to Town-Part 4 - Witherspoon Institute
In 1877 PS Bancroft and his family moved to Butler. In the wake of his personal economic struggles and the nationwide postwar recession, he decided to go into education.  He took the Witherspoon Academy, a school begun as a Presbyterian school and subsequently bought by Lutherans, and turned into a non-sectarian private school.  His reorganization grew as the newly re-formed Witherspoon Institute, and he was for a number of years Principal (manager and administrator).  

Part 5 - Newspaper Editor

While running the Witherspoon Institute, he was also a staunch supporter of the cause for which he fought. He'd become a member of the (fairly new) Republican Party. Eventually former war veterans who were fellow Republicans felt they needed a publication. 
In March, 1889, he entered newspaper work in the office of The Butler Eagle, and October of 189 [?}, he became associate editor of the Butler County Record.

He worked as the Associate Editor until May 6, 1916, ten days prior to his death, when he was taken ill.

PS Bancroft was living with his daughter Flora, her husband William Tilton, and his grandson, Charles Bancroft Tilton in Butler at the time of his death.

PS Bancroft (73 yrs) Charles Tilton (14 mos) Dec 1903
Further Reading:

The Butler Citizen, Thursday, November 26, 1908 - Under "Butler School History"
On Dec. 11 1819, a literary and religious institution was established by the Allegheny Presbytery and called Witherspoon Institute. Rev. Loyal Young was the first principal and David Hall assistant. School opened May 13, 1830, in the basement of the Presbyterian church, and the following year the first Institute building was erected on Main Street [in Butler, Pennsylvania]. In 1865 the Butler Academy and the Witherspoon Institute were united. It cos continued until 1877 when the property was sold to the First English Lutheran church for $6000. In 1879 Witherspoon Institute was turned into a non-sectarian school with  Prof. P S Bancroft at the head of it and J C Tintsinan [sp?] associated with him. The school flourished under the leadership of these two able instructors, and in 1882 boasted of 172 pupils. Prof Bancroft continued until 1887 when he closed it and took up other work.

The Butler Eagle was established in February, 1870, as a Republican journal.  A company, the greater number of the members of which were veterans of the War of the Rebellion, was organized with the object of giving to the county a newspaper which would expound the ideas of the soldier or military element of the Republican party, and inculcate lessons of patriotism from their point of view….under the management of Robinson & Carson, (While) they did not surrender a single Republican idea, they made politics, even in bitter campaigns, agreeable; for they surrounded attacks on the opposition with credits for the good parts of the enemy, and thus, giving justice where due, won respect.
The Eagle is credited in Rowell's Newspaper Directory with a weekly circulation of 1,800. It is well printed and edited, while its news columns tell of the thorough effort made by the publishers to gather the news items.
From March, 1888, to October, 1889, Professor Bancroft held a position in the local department of this paper.
On removing the office to Butler, the name was changed to the Butler County Record, and the first number, under this new name, was issued June 6, 1888.
On October 1, 1889, Prof. P. S. BANCROFT, formerly of the Witherspoon Institute, and later in the local department of The Eagle, was engaged as associate editor—a position he still holds.
Messrs. Herr and Bancroft are earnest workers in the newspaper field and aim to make their columns as interesting and newsy as they were in the lively days when the great Petrolia oil field yielded up its surprises, jokes and tragedies daily.
It is now a neatly printed journal of thirty-six columns, politically independent and carefully edited. The certified circulation is 1,700.
Source: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895

2 Fold 3
3 Photos Collection of ACharity Higgins (NYS)
4 Education:
5 Internet Archive
6 Most information about adulthood was sourced from the genealogical and historical information held in Butler County Library, Butler, PA. Thanks to the volunteers and librarian in the Butler  (Butler, Butler, PA) Library for being so helpful.

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