Saturday, October 25, 2014

#35 - Jacob Brinker, Butler Innkeeper, Sheriff, Councilman, Colonel

Occupations:  Innkeeper, Sheriff, Borough Councilman, Colonel

Jacob Brinker, Abraham Brinker’s son, lived at an exciting time in Butler. He came of age during the war of 1812 and died before the Civil War. It was exciting because that region of Pennsylvania he had a lent a hand in establishing the settlement so that would not only provide food and shelter to the families but also furthered their protection and nurturing. In this period and location, it seemed every able and willing person was involved in doing something of this sort. The American character was forming, Noah Webster was writing his dictionary of American English and Francis Scott Key had just penned the poem that eventually became the national anthem.

Butler County felt threatened when, in the 1820s, Joseph Smith of Illinois a boarder of the Hale family in Harmony, Butler County. He was the founder of a new religion decided to take the daughter of the family, Emma, as his (first) wife.  Shortly thereafter, Joseph Smith claimed to have found the Book of Mormon in upstate New York. A history book from the 1800s claims that Butler County residents were worried about Joseph Smith's religion, thought his ideas of polygamy in their county were too much to bear, and they said they had a “Mormon Problem.”

What did Jacob Brinker Look Like?
I have no photos of Jacob Brinker, but (unusually) I do have a description of Jacob:

“He inherited the patriotic spirit of his father, and took a deep interest in military affairs, but was unlike him in personal appearance, being a large, stout man.” Hmmm.. he must have been large if the history book remarks on his appearance.

Birth and Early Venture
Jacob was born in January of 1796. His parents were  Abraham Brinker and Louisa (Moser) Brinker (both in another post).  His mother’s family, the Mosers, are mentioned as an early pioneering family of NW Pennsylvania, as are the families of Jacob’s wives (the Riddles and the Grahams).

Jacob’s father Abraham had opened the first “public house” or tavern in Butler. But it must not have suited him for he sold it within a few years and bought land outside of Butler to farm.
Jacob, however, was quite different from his father. Early in his youth he was an innkeeper, in the so-called Brinker’s Hotel, and was the  owner/innkeep for many years.

First Marriage
He married Matilda Riddle on March 28, 1822 when she was 20 years old, and he was 26 in Muddy Creek Twp, Butler County. 

As far as I can tell, beginning about 1826 and for many years thereafter, Jacob ran for and was elected the Sheriff (as well as working as an innkeeper).

Jacob Brinker Runs for Sheriffalty Jan 1827

Jacob Runs for Sheriffalty
Death of Matilda
In March 1827,  his wife Matilda died after a “long and protracted illness.” She was only 25 years old. 
The text of the newspaper says the turnout for the funeral was “possibly the largest yet.”  I don’t believe there were any children from this marriage.

Obit of Matilda Riddle Brinker 1827 Butler Sentinel

Within a few months after Matilda's death, in October of 1827, Jacob remarried. His second wife was younger than he. Sarah Anna Graham was 18 or 19 years old (based on her obituary record).  Jacob would have been 31 when he married Sarah Ann(a) in Butler.
Announcement of Marriage to Sarah A Graham. Butler Sentinel
Jacob and Sarah Ann had 7 children. In order they were: William, Sarah J, Alfred, Addison, Margaret, HP (Henry P), and Isabell (Bella). Here they are in the 1850 census:

Borough Councilman - 1826, '27,'29, '39 and 1840
1826 1827 1829 1839 1840  Borough Councilman  Butler, PA
"...he records of the borough council from 1817 show[s] the trials and struggles of the local lawmakers. The list …is as follows:" [removed the names of those serving with him]
1826—Council, Jacob Brinker
1827—Council, Jacob Brinker
1829—Council, Jacob Brinker
1839—Council, Jacob Brinker
1840—Council, Jacob Brinker

Colonel Jacob Brinker
The Butler County history records show that Jacob was also a Colonel in the local militia. The militias at the time were still local.
The account given in the  History1895 of the early militia sounds like it was a rollicking good time.  A bit like a Rod and Gun Club or perhaps more like a local Volunteer Fire Department, as they were necessary. When not in the business of drilling, they enjoyed socializing together.

"The appointments of officers for the Twenty-Fourth regiment, First brigade, Sixteenth division, Pennsylvania Militia, were made March 20, 1829, by Jacob Brinker, colonel of the command.
The staff comprised James Thompson, adjutant; J. L. Maxwell, quartermaster; John N. Purviance, seargeant-major; George Linn, surgeon; A. Spear and James Graham, assistant surgeons. The ten captains commissioned were Alexander McBride, Jacob Doudhiser, Thomas Dodds, Johnson White, Samuel Dodds, George Frazier, of the First Battalion; and Alexander Craig, John Weir, Thomas Jolly, J. B. McConnell and George Wolf, of the Second Battalion. The first and second lieutenants for the same companies were commissioned at that time [& etc]... "

School Trustee & Butler Schools
Every civilization needs a school.
The Butler Academy was set up in 1811, and  Jacob as served as one of the Trustees for the school, the first time in 1833 (but not the only time).

Jacob Brinker, Trustee of Butler Academy

As an aside, the Butler Academy consolidated with the Presbyterian school, the Witherspoon Academy, right after the Civil War in 1866.
Not co-incidentally, when Jacob’s son-in-law, Peter S Bancroft returned to Butler and married Jacob’s daughter, Bancroft needed money in the Panic of the post-Civil War period.
He conceived the idea of reviving the Witherspoon /Butler Academy, but running it as non-sectarian school, and renamed it the Witherspoon Institute.

The Samuel Mohawk Murders
Jacob was still running the Brinkers Hotel in the 1840. The census records him living in Butler at age 44.
A  few years later, now about 47, he was involved in the Samuel Mohawk incident, as the keeper of Brinkers Hotel (later the Willard Hotel, then the Pennsylvania House). Here is the telling of the story of the Samuel Mohawk murders by a historian who gave a presentation on the event based on his book:

"An Indian called Samuel Mohawk murdered the Wigton family 171 years ago in the Slippery Rock, [PA] area…"Something went wrong on one of his trips," Brad Pflugh said of how Mohawk ended up in the area, eventually killing the wife and five children of James Wigton. Pflugh [is] ..a board member of the Butler County Historical Society, head of the history department at Knoch High School, Butler County Community College professor and [is] author of the book "Rage, Murder and Execution! The Story of Sam Mohawk and the Wigton Family Massacre." …
Mohawk, a Seneca Indian was born Dec. 25, 1807, on a reservation in Cattaraugus County, N.Y.
…Native Americans like Mohawk would ride the Allegheny River on rafts, transporting logs, and stop in Butler, where they would take a stagecoach that passed through the area.
In late June 1843, Mohawk was spotted in Butler at least once, and he was known to have "problems with women," Pflugh said, adding he would make nasty comments and had been fighting with his wife when he left home.
He also had a severe alcohol problem that led to violent outbursts. Court documents detailing Mohawk's arrest show his path south at that time, starting in New York and ending up in Butler on June 29, [1843] when he was suffering serious alcohol withdrawal. Earlier that day, 11-year-old Catherine Herrit-Protzman said she had been jumped by Mohawk while walking alone and he tried to pull his knife on her; she was able to escape unharmed.

Jacob Brinker, owner of the Willard House hotel and tavern, had heard about Mohawk and took him in to calm him down, with the help of his daughter, and it's reported they bled him out. "He was just going crazy," Pflugh said.
On the morning of June 30, Jacob Brinker and William Beatty paid a stagecoach to take Mohawk away and it made stops in Prospect, Unionville, and at the Old Stone House, rented by John Sill, who ran it as a tavern and stagecoach stop at that time.
"The stagecoach took off and Sam Mohawk was not there," Pflugh said of how Mohawk stayed behind.
He had gone up the road to the home of Jesse and Margaret Kiester, an important family that had just turned part of their residence into a tavern known as the Kiester House; Mrs. Kiester was the only one home. "She is very lucky she was not killed that day," Pflugh said.
She offered Mohawk some milk, which he drank. He then fell asleep in the tavern and left after waking, returning that evening to the Old Stone House, where he fought with Sill because he refused to serve him alcohol.

Old Stone House, mentioned in this story
After the disturbance, Mohawk spent the night outside, sleeping not far from the Old Stone House, and on July 1, he headed in the direction of the nearby Wigton home, where Margaret, 29, was alone with her children: Elmira, 7; Jeninah Nancy, 6; Perry, 4; Amanda, 2; and John Wallace, about 8 months old.
James Wigton had left that morning...  Mrs. Wigton was cutting meat in an out-building and it's believed that Mohawk saw a light on, leading him to the property and some kind of argument. "She put up a fight," Pflugh said of Mrs. Wigton, who managed to cut Mohawk on the head with her knife.
He hit her with a rock, thinking he killed her, and went into the home, but she followed him and attacked him again.  Mohawk then proceeded to kill Mrs. Wigton, her four daughters, and the infant boy with blows to their heads with rocks. However, there were and still are some people who believe James Wigton murdered his family and framed the drunken Mohawk.
"And yet Mohawk admitted it," Pflugh said, adding that Mohawk also said he decided to kill the baby because if he lived, he would grow up to hate and kill Native Americans because one murdered his family.
As Wigton neared home that day, he was intercepted by Jesse Kiester, who by then discovered what became of the rest of the family; he urged Wigton to remain outside.  A crowd started to gather and the manhunt for Mohawk was on. Mills, mines and schools closed as news spread of what happened to the Wigton family. Mohawk fled to the nearby Kennedy family farm, where he hit one of the young boys in the head with a rock. …He was off and running again and ended up at the Philip Kiester farm, where he went into the home and began rooting around, not knowing that an angry mob was forming outside; some stories claim up to 100 people had gathered.  Kiester knew Mohawk was in his upstairs bedroom because he heard him playing his fiddle, but thankfully Mohawk didn't find the loaded pistols he kept in a drawer.
Mrs. Wigton's brother, Charles McQuiston, was in the crowd and several men took turns trying to lure Mohawk out of the home, throwing rocks at each other until they managed to knock Mohawk unconscious and drag him down the stairs and outside.
James Wigton showed up then and some folks wanted to bury Mohawk immediately, but he was soon escorted in a wagon to the Butler jail; the men on the walk were paid to do so.
[And, from The Old Home Week Book: Made Up of Sketches of History, Biography, Tradition and Reminiscences Pertaining to Prospect, Butler County, Pa, by Andrew White McCulloch and David Luther Roth, 1912, comes this addition:]
The Rev. Mr. Bassler, pastor of the Lutheran church in Prospect, who had opened a mission in Butler, visited the [Mohawk, the] Indian in jail and brought him to a sense of his sin.
The first evidence that he showed that his act was criminal was when he exclaimed, "Me break law. Me break law.
After satisfying himself and the Church Council that Mohawk was penitent and a believer in the merits of Jesus, Mr. Bassler baptized him. (End of section)
Continuing with the historian:
"The trial was held in December 1843 and Mohawk's attorney pleaded insanity, but he was indicted on six counts of murder. The governor agreed with the judge's ruling that he should be hanged - Butler County's first hanging.
On March 22, 1844, Mohawk confessed to the murders and converted to Christianity, and was then hung in the jailyard with about 20 witnesses including Wigton; about 100 people stood on the other side of the jailyard wall, unable to see what was going on. The Wigtons are buried at Muddy Creek Cemetery, Clay Township… "
[Cited here are portions of an article from Allied of Grove City PA, dated Oct 19, 2014, the brief section added was from the book cited on Prospect PA)
Birth of His Last Child: Bella Brinker
In 1846 when he is 50 years old, youngest child, Isabell (Bella) Brinker, my great, great grandmother was born. Bella was the wife of Peter S Bancroft (of another post).
Bella Brinker, youngest child of Jacob & Sarah A Brinker
Jacob died when Bella was 7 years old, on July 4, 1853. He was 57 years old and still lived in Butler, Pennsylvania. His father, Abraham had died only 3 years before this, but his lived until 1865.

Jacob’s Wife, Sarah Ann Graham
His wife, Sarah Ann Graham was born about 1808 Pennsylvania, and died on 29 Jul 1889 in Butler, Pennsylvania. Here is a photograph of her late in life. She died in her daughter’s home in Butler.

Sarah Ann[a] Graham [Brinker]
Jacob’s widow had lived for more than 30 years after her husband, outliving her daughter Bella who died in 1874.
The Butler Public Library had this on record, which I recorded:
Butler Area Public Library
Obituary Index .
Obit Record .
Name: BRINKER, Sarah A 
Age: 79 Years 
Locality: Butler 
Relation Info: BRINKER, Jacob  w/o 
 Newspaper: Butler Citizen 
Date/Page: 26 Jul 1889 p3 
Film #: 


How I am related to Jacob Brinker & Sarah A Graham:

Research in:
Butler Area Public Library: microfilm copies of Butler newspapers

And Sources:
History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895
Allied of Grove City PA, dated Oct 19, 2014
The Old Home Week Book: Made Up of Sketches of History, Biography, Tradition and Reminiscences Pertaining to Prospect, Butler County, Pa,
by Andrew White McCulloch and David Luther Roth, 1912

Source of photographs:
Family photographs.

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