JAMES GALLAGHER, for many years the leading financier and a useful and highly esteemed citizen of Steubenville, O., passed from this life on April 7, 1892, at the venerable age of eighty-six years. He was a man of pronounced views, a leader in every sense of the word and ever active in promoting the best interests of his home community, wether from a business, moral or social standpoint. He carved his own way in the world, making advancement through hard work, keen business sagacity and judicious investment, but withal was the soul of honor and never sought advantage through another's misfortune. His life was a record of achievement and he leaves behind a memory which his descendants and all who knew him will cherish with respect and veneration through the years to come.
James Gallagher was born on Callow Hill, Street, Philadelphia, Pa., October 31, 1806, and was a son of Charles and Eleanor (Maloy) Gallagher, natives, respectively, of Counties Derry and Donegal, Ireland. His parents were born near Londonderry and they had a daughter Catherine, born to them before coming to the United States in 1804. They located at Philadelphia, where their other children, James and Eleanor were born. Both daughters died in childhood. The father died in 1811, when James was five years old, and in 1816, the mother left Philadelphia and sought a home in the West where her son might be able to make his own way in the world, as she had no fortune with which to advance him. They located in Steubenville, O., where she lived until her death in 1830, during these years being the recipient of the son's filial care and affection. In the spring of 1817, he was apprenticed to the saddlery trade in the shop of Joseph Walker, a pioneer settler here, and he served seven years, afterward working as a journeyman until 1830.
He then engaged in the river trade to New Orleans, in time acquiring an interest in a flat boat, William G. Murdock being the other owner. He continued this business for eight years, and made fourteen trips to New Orleans and return, on one occassion, in 1833, returning from Natchez on horseback in order to avoid the cholera which then prevailed in the river towns. Having accumulated some capital, Mr. Gallagher, with the business enterprise which always characterized him, embarked in a pork packing business, being a pioneer in that line in this section. In 1839, however, he sustained a sprained ankle in trying to stop a runaway horse, a common enough accident, but in his case complications set in and permanent injury resulted necessitating the use of canes to assist him in walking during the remainder of his life. He was advised to embark in some business that would not require a large amount of bodily activity. In 1836 he had become a stockholder in the Farmers and Mechanics Bank, which had been organized in 1816, and was one of the pioneer banks of the state, and in 1839 he was elected a director in that institution. He continued as such until the bank went out of existence through the expeiration of its charter. In the meantime he was elected in 1842 to the office of justice of the peace, serving one term. He took an active part in the formation of the Jefferson Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, of which he became a director in 1845, continuing until the expiration of the charter of this institution in 1865. When the Jefferson National Bank was organized in 1885 as the Steubenville National, he retired as the Steubenville National, he retired from active participation in business. During his half century's experience in the banking business, he established for himself a high reputation for keen foresight and wonderful sagacity in financial affairs. Under his wise and conservative management the bank was not only profitable to its stockholders but required an extended reputation as one of the solid institutions of the country. In the days of wildcat currency the notes of the State Bank of Ohio, and especially the Jefferson Branch, were always worth their face in gold. After retirement, his faculties remained unimpaired and his advice was valued as of old. He was the last living incorporator of the Steubenville and Indiana Railroad and also was at one time interested in the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad.
Mr. Gallagher was an omnivorous reader and this habit, in addition to his own experiences, tended to make him a well informed and broad minded man. He was an authority on early conditions and events, taking a keen interest in the early history of the community, and possessed a retentive memory to such an extent that he at times was requested to prepare articles on early happenings, which made their appearance in the press of the city. Among his early travels was a journey on foot to Washington, D.C., in 1827, at which time he had pleasure of seeing the president, John Quincy Adams. In politics he was a Whig in his earlier days and later a Republican. While working at the saddlery trade he became acquainted with Benjamin Lundy, editor of the Universal Emancipator, the first organ of the Abolitionists. Lundy being also a saddler, he worked at his trade in Steubenville while his paper was being printed and prepared for delivery.
On September 27, 1836, Mr. Gallagher was united in marriage with Miss Rachel Shaw, a daughter of Ambrose Shaw, who at that time was a builder and contractor in Steubenville and enjoyed considerable local prominence. It was Mr. Shaw who built the brick chimney of the first steamboat constructed in Steubenville, he going on the trip up the river with the boat in order to finish his work. His death occurred in 1855. The mother of Mrs. Gallagher was a Doyle and was the oldest daughter of Benjamin and Patience Doyle, who were of the very earliest settlers of this vicinity. Mrs. Gallagher died May 20, 1854, leaving three sons and two daughters: Ambrose S., who died on June 26, 1869; James, who died in childhood; Charles, whose death occurred October 5, 1901; Mary J., who is deceased; John D., a practicing attorney at Cincinnati; and Rachel, widow of Dr. A. A. Elliott, who attained distinction as a physician and surgeon at Steubenville.