Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister
Chapter XXI - Political History -- Annual Record
The first election for Auditor and Surveyor General was held this year. The Democratic State ticket consisted of William T. Morrison, of Montgomery, for Canal Commissioner; Ephraim Banks, of Mifflin, for Auditor General; and James Porter Brawley, of Crawford, for Surveyor General. The Whig ticket consisted of Joshua Duncan, of Bucks, for Canal Commissioner; Henry W. Snyder, of Union, for Auditor General; and Joseph Henderson, of Washington, for Surveyor General. The Whigs carried the county by an average majority of 1,460, but were defeated in the State. Mr. Brawley ran some three thousand votes behind his ticket.
An amendment to the Constitution making Judges elective was submitted to the people, and 144,578 votes were cast in its favor to 71,092 votes in opposition. Erie County gave 3,908 votes for the amendment, and only 369 against it.
The Whig candidate for Congress was John H. Walker, of Erie County; the Democratic, Carlton B. Curtis, of Warren. The following was the vote in the district:
The county tickets, with the vote for each candidate, were as follows:
Whig -- Assembly, James C. Reid, of Erie, 3,159; Alexander W. Blaine, North East, 3,163; Commissioner, Thomas Dunn, McKean, 3,149; Treasurer, Alfred King, Erie, 3,175; Auditor, Flavel Boyd, Waterford, 3,158; Director of Poor; Melvin M. Kelso, Fairview, 3,097.
Democratic -- Assembly, George H. Cutler, Girard, 1,699; C. M. Tibbals, Erie, 1,681; Commissioner, Henry Allison, North East, 1,615; Treasurer, Henry Cadwell, Erie, 1,694; Auditor, Henry Gingrich, Mill Creek, 1,704; Director of Poor, A. Mallory, Springfield, 1,716.
At this election, the District Attorney and County Surveyor were chosen by popular vote for the first time. The following were the candidates, with their vote:
Whig -- District Attorney, Matthew Taylor, Erie, 3,164; Surveyor, David Wilson, Union, 3,152.
Democratic -- District Attorney, Benjamin Grant, Erie, 1,641; Surveyor, Irvin Camp, Erie, 1,698.
The Democratic State ticket consisted of William Bigler, Clearfield, for Governor, and Seth Clover, Clarion, for Canal Commissioner. The Whigs renominated Gov. Johnston, and John Strohm, Lancaster, was their candidate for Canal Commissioner. Erie County gave 3,610 votes for Johnston and 2,106 for Bigler.
The vote of the State was as follows:
Bigler, 186,507; Johnston, 178,070.
The Democratic candidate for Canal Commissioner was elected by about the same vote. The Native American candidate for Governor was Kimber Cleaver, Schuylkill, who received 1,713 votes; for Canal Commissioner, David McDonald, Philadelphia, who received 1,875 -- no votes for either being cast in Erie County.
The first election of Judges by popular vote took place this year. The Democratic candidates for the Supreme Court were Jeremiah S. Black, Somerset; James Campbell, Philadelphia; Ellis Lewis, Lancaster; John B. Gibson, Cumberland; and Walter H. Lowrie, Allegheny. The Whig candidates were Richard Coulter, Westmoreland; William M. Meredith, Philadelphia; George Chambers, Franklin; Joshua W. Comly, Montour; and William Jessup, Susquehanna. All of the Democratic candidates were elected by considerable majorities except Mr. Campbell, who was defeated because he was a member of the Catholic Church. The Native Americans united their force upon Richard Coulter, who had a majority of 3,199.
In this district the Democratic candidate for Presiding Judge was John Galbraith, Erie; the Whig, Elijah Babbitt, Erie. Mr. Galbraith's extraordinary popularity, added to the dissatisfaction over their party nomination among a portion of the Whigs, enabled him to carry the district.
The vote was as follows:
The Democrats made no nominations for county officers, but supported independent candidates. The following were the candidates, with their vote:
Associate Judge, Joseph M. Sterrett, Erie (Reg. Whig), 3,062; John Wood, Waterford (Reg. Whig), 2,426; James Miles, Girard (Ind. Whig), 3,090; Assembly, Alex W. Blaine, North East (Reg. Whig), 3,531; Charles W. Kelso (Reg. Whig), 3,460; Prothonotary, James Skinner, Erie (Reg. Whig), 2,540; Samuel Perley (Ind. Whig), 2,752; Register, David McAllister, Erie (Reg. Whig), 3,472; Commissioner, Rodney Cole, Greene (Reg. Whig), 3,414; Coroner, Simeon Dunn, Erie (Reg. Whig), 3,426; Director of Poor, William E. McNair, Mill Creek (Reg. Whig), 3,432; Auditor, Samuel Reeder, Washington (Reg. Whig), 3,319. Messrs. Sterrett and Miles were elected Associate Judges, and Mr. Perley, Prothonotary. All of the balance of the Whig ticket was successful.
The Democratic candidates were: For Canal Commissioner, William Hopkins, Washington; for Supreme Judge, in place of R. Coulter, who died, George W. Woodward, Luzerne. The Whig candidates were: For Canal Commissioner, Jacob Hoffman, Berks; for Supreme Judge, Joseph Buffington, Armstrong. The Abolitionists and Native Americans also had candidates in the field. Erie County gave 2,180 votes for Hopkins, 3,257 for Hoffman, 2,165 for Woodward, 3,247 for Buffington, and 212 for the Abolition ticket. The vote of the State was as follows: Hopkins, 171,548; Hoffman, 151,600; Woodward, 172,610; Buffington, 153,681 -- Hopkins and Woodward being elected. The Abolition ticket received 3,061 votes, and the Native American 8,099 in the State.
For Congress, the Whigs nominated Gen. John Dick, of Crawford; the Democrats, George H. Cutler, of Erie; and the Abolitionists, David A. Gould, of Erie. The district had been changed since the last election, and comprised only Erie and Crawford Counties. The following was the vote:
The Senatorial district was also changed, and consisted of the same counties as the Congressional. For the ten years preceding, it will be remembered, Erie was a Senatorial district by herself. The Whigs nominated James Skinner, of Erie, and the Abolitionists, Charles A. Hammond, of Crawford. The Democrats made no nomination, and supported David Derrickson, of Crawford, who ran as an Independent Whig candidate. Below is the vote:
The Democrats had no nominees for county officers, and supported Independent Whig candidates. Below is a list of the candidates with their vote:
Regular Whig -- Assembly, Charles W. Kelso, Erie, 3,140; Humphrey A. Hills, Conneaut, 2,932; Sheriff, Thomas B. Vincent, Waterford, 3,054; Commissioner, Richard R. Robinson, Springfield, 3,137; Treasurer, James Chambers, Harbor Creek, 3,164; Auditor, Orin Reed, McKean, 3,079; director of Poor, Joseph B. Moorhead, Harbor Creek, 3,117.
Independent Whig -- Assembly, James Hoskinson, Erie, 2,254; John McKee, Springfield, 2,393; Sheriff, James H. Campbell, Edinboro, 2,489; Joseph B. Ferguson, Erie, 63; Commissioner, Gilbert Hurd, Springfield, 1,806; Treasurer, James M. Reed, Mill Creek, 1,931; Auditor, D. W. Vorce, McKean, 2,002; Director of Poor, John Parmeter, McKean, 1,952.
Abolition -- Assembly, Job Stafford and Nathaniel Wilson; Commissioner, Samuel Kingsbury; Treasurer, Alex Mehaffey; Sheriff, J. A. French; Auditor, Aaron Kellogg; Director of Poor, Benjamin Grant, McKean. These candidates received an average of about 150 votes.
The Whig candidate for President was Gen. Winfield Scott, of New Jersey; for Vice President, William A. Graham, of North Carolina. The elector for this district was Christian Myers, of Clarion. The Democratic candidate for President was Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire; for Vice President, William R. King, of Alabama. J. S. McCalmont, of Venango, was the candidate for Elector. The Free-Soil Party ran John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, for President, and G. W. Julian, of Indiana, for Vice President. Below is the vote of the county:
The State gave Scott 179,743 votes, Pierce 198,534, and Hale 8,860. Pierce and King were elected by a large majority of the electoral votes of the Union. Jacob Broom, the Native American candidate for President, received 11,048 votes in the State, but none in Erie County.
The Democratic ticket for State officers was as follows: Supreme Judge, John C. Knox, Tioga; Canal Commissioner, Thomas H. Forsyth, Philadelphia; Auditor General, Ephraim Banks, Mifflin; Surveyor General, J. Porter Brawley, of Crawford. The Whig candidates were: Supreme Judge, Thomas A. Budd, Philadelphia; Canal Commissioner, Moses Pownal, Lancaster; Auditor General, Alexander K. McClure, Franklin; Surveyor General, Christian Myers, Clarion. The Democrats were successful by average majorities of 35,000, except in the case of Mr. Brawley, who ran some 10,000 votes behind his ticket. In Erie County, the vote for Supreme Judge was 1,434 for the Democrats, and 2,017 for the Whigs, this being about the average for all the candidates except Brawley.
The county tickets and their votes were as follows:
Whig -- Assembly, Gideon J. Ball, Erie, 2,073; H. A. Hills, Conneaut, 2,341; Commissioner, William Parker, Greenfield, 1,978; Surveyor, William Benson, Waterford, 1,899; District Attorney, S. E. Woodruff, Girard, 1,831; Auditor, Robert Gray, Union, 1,931; Director of Poor, John Hay, Girard, 1,901 -- all being elected.
Democratic -- Assembly, Wilson Laird, Erie, 1,164; E. W. Gerrish, Edinboro, 1,353; Commissioner, Myron Hutchinson, Girard, 1,281; District Attorney, Carson Graham, Erie, 1,560; Director of Poor, J. P. Grant, Wayne, 1,257.
Free-Soil -- Assembly, N. Wilson and N. Gould; Commissioner, J. J. Compton; Surveyor, P. C. Compton; District Attorney, Andrew H. Caughey; Auditor, William Gray; Director of Poor, John B. Fluke. This ticket received an average vote of about 250.
The Know-Nothing party had risen into sudden importance, and swallowed up a large portion of the Whig organization, together with some Democrats. The Whigs and Know-Nothings nominated James Pollock, of Northumberland, for Governor. The Democrats re-nominated William Bigler for Governor, and Henry S. Mott, of Pike, for Canal Commissioner. The Whig candidate for the latter office was George Darsie, of Allegheny, the Know-Nothings making no nomination. The Democratic candidate for Supreme Judge was Jeremiah S. Black; the Whig, Daniel M. Smyser, of Montgomery; the Know-Nothing, Thomas H. Baird, of Washington. Erie County gave Pollock 3,637 votes; Bigler, 2,526; Darsie, 1,885; Mott, 3,364; Black, 2,389; Smyser, 1,494; Baird, 1,694.
The vote of the State was as follows: Pollock, 204,008; Bigler, 167,001; Darsie, 83,331; Mott, 274,074; Black, 167,010; Smyser, 83,571; Baird, 120,516.
Mr. Darsie, the Whig candidate for Canal Commissioner, was of foreign birth, and the Know-Nothings threw their votes for Mr. Mott, who is supposed by some to have been a member of the order, but he always denied the charge. He received the largest majority ever given in the State. The original Native Americans had separate candidates in the field for Governor and Canal Commissioner, but they received only a trifling support.
A ballot was taken at this election to decide whether or not the Maine Liquor Law should be adopted in this State, and resulted in 158,342 votes for to 163,510 against. Erie County cast 2,767 for the law, and 1,501 against it.
Gen. John Dick was re-elected to Congress without opposition.
The memorable "railroad war" in our county was in full vigor this year, and weakened party obligations to a considerable extent. The following are the tickets with their votes:
Whig -- Assembly, G. J. Ball, Erie, 2,889; Wareham Warner, Venango, 2,766; Prothonotary, Alfred King, Erie, 3,391; Register, David McAllister, Erie, 2,525; Treasurer, M. Phelps, Edinboro, 3,043; Commissioner, Flavel Boyd, Waterford, 1,619; Coroner, David Burton, Erie, 1,583; Auditor, George W. Brecht, Mill Creek, 1,643; Director of Poor, Thomas McKee, Mill Creek, 1,432.
Democratic -- Assembly, James Thompson, Erie, 2,881; Prothonotary, Robert S. Hunter, Erie, 2,169; Commissioner, John S. Barnes, Girard, 1,329.
Know-Nothing -- Register, Thomas Moorhead, Erie, 2,386; Commissioner, Samuel L. Foster, Erie, 1,301.
Free-Soil -- Assembly, N. Wilson, Union, 1,612; Audley Magill, Harbor Creek, 353; Prothonotary, S. Mervin Smith, Erie, 151; Register, Azro Goff, Erie, 551; Treasurer, Ira Sherwin, Harbor Creek, 1,246; Commissioner, John Pickney, Erie, 1,024.
This was one of the most curious elections ever held in the county, the returns being "mixed" in a puzzling manner. All of the Whig candidates were elected except Warner, who was defeated by Judge Thompson.
This year was remarkable for the number of State tickets in the field, there being no less than six. A re-action had set in against the Know-Nothings, but desperate efforts were made on their part to retain the ascendancy. A portion of the Whigs and Know-Nothings nominated Thomas Nicholson, of Beaver, for Canal Commissioner. The Democratic candidate for the same office was Arnold Plumer, of Franklin. The Republicans, by which name the old Abolitionists and Free-Soilers had christened themselves, nominated Passmore Williamson, of Philadelphia, whose resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law had got him into prison, and caused him to be looked upon as a martyr. The original Natives supported Kimber Cleaver. The dissatisfied Know-Nothings nominated Peter Martin, of Lancaster, and the old-fashioned Whigs supported Joseph Henderson, of Washington. Erie County gave Plumer 1,698 votes; Nicholson, 2,113; Williamson, 471; and Cleaver, 15. The vote of the State was as follows: Plumer, 161,280; Nicholson, 150,359; Williamson, 7,063; Cleaver, 4,041; Martin, 571; Henderson, 2,270 -- Plumer, the Democratic candidate, being elected.
The "railroad war" continued to excite the people of this county and district, and party lines were not drawn in the choice of local officers. The candidates were voted for with reference to that issue entirely. For State Senate, Darwin A. Finney and Charles B. Power, both Crawford County Whigs, were the candidates. The vote was as follows:
The candidates for other offices were as follows: Assembly, G. J. Ball, Erie, 2,716; Murray Whallon, Erie, 2,575; Theodore Ryman, Girard, 2,114; Robert Dunn, Summit, 2,136; Sheriff, John Evans, Girard, 1,151; Allen A. Craig, Erie, 1,834; John Killpatrick, Harbor Creek, 2,063; Commissioner, W. W. Eaton, Fairview, 1,571; Myron Hutchinson, Girard, 1,051; J. J. Compton, Washington, 2,004; Director of the Poor, S. W. Keefer, Erie, 2,319; Samuel Kingsbury, North East, 458; Isaac R. Taylor, Washington, 1,259; Auditor, N. W. Russell, Mill Creek, 1,250; Jehiel Towner, Erie, 383; S. B. Benson, Waterford, 1,219; Z. E. Peck, Harbor Creek, 1,160. The successful parties were Messrs. Ball (Whig), Whallon Democrat), Killpatrick (Democrat), Compton (Free-Soil), Keefer (Whig), and Russell (Whig).
The opposition to the Democracy nominated a Fusion State ticket, which was defeated, as shown below:
Canal Commissioner, George Scott, Columbia County (Democrat), 212,921; Thomas E. Cochran, Lancaster County (Fusion), 210,172; Auditor General, Jacob Fry, Montgomery County (Democrat), 212, 468; Darwin Phelps, Armstrong County (Fusion), 209,261. Surveyor General, John Rowe, Franklin County (Democrat), 212,623; Bartholomew Laporte, Bradford County (Fusion), 208,888. The vote of Erie County was: Scott, 1,980; Cochran, 4,083; Fry, 1,985; Phelps, 4,021; Rowe, 1,967; Laporte, 4,008.
For Congress, in the district composed of Erie and Crawford, the Democratic candidate was James A. McFadden, of Crawford, and the Fusion candidate, John Dick, of the same county. The latter was elected by the following vote:
The Fusion candidate for Additional Law Judge (being the first election held for that office) was David Derrickson, of Crawford; the Democratic, Rasselas Brown, of Warren. Below is the vote:
The county tickets, with the vote for each candidate, were as follows: Fusion -- Assembly, G. J. Ball, 4,003; Wareham Warner, Venango, 3,922. Associate Judges -- Samuel Hutchins, Waterford, 3,538; John Greer, North East, 3,790. Commissioner -- William W. Eaton, Fairview, 4,273. Treasurer, Jeremiah Davis, Lockport, 3,833. District Attorney -- G. Nelson Johnson, Erie, 3,923. Surveyor -- William Benson, Waterford, 3,377. Auditor -- John W. Campbell, Washington, 3,589. Director of the Poor -- John Spaulding, Springfield, 3,786. Mr. Johnson died immediately after election, and Charles W. Kelso was appointed by the Governor. Mr. Spaulding refused to serve, and John Hay, of Girard, was appointed by the court.
Democratic -- Assembly, Murray Whallon, Erie, 1,971; Wilson Laird, Erie, 1,246; Associate Judges, Anthony Saltsman, Mill Creek, 1,885; Henry Gingrich, Mill Creek, 1,809; Commissioner, Joseph Neeley, Harbor Creek, 1,818; District Attorney, John W. Douglas, Erie, 2,141; Director of the Poor, Eli Duncombe, Amity, 1,869; Auditor, C. C. Boyd, Waterford, 1,471.
Independent -- Associate Judge, James Miles, Girard, 1,178; Treasurer, Joseph S. M. Young, Erie, 1,366; Surveyor, Samuel Low, Harbor Creek, 1,142; Auditor, Samuel Drown, Greene, 588.
The Democratic National candidates were James Buchanan, Pennsylvania, for President, and John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, for Vice President. Vincent Phelps, Crawford, was the elector of this district. The Republican party, which by this time had swallowed up a majority of the opposition to the Democracy, ran John C. Fremont, of California, for President, and William L. Dayton, of New Jersey, for Vice President. The American party supported Millard Fillmore, of New York, for President, and A. J. Donelson, of Tennessee, for Vice President. A fusion of the two latter elements was formed, and an electoral ticket nominated, with the understanding that the votes for each candidate for President and Vice President should be counted separately. James Skinner, of Erie, was the district nominee for elector. A portion of Mr. Fillmore's friends would not unite, and ran a separate electoral ticket, with James Webster, of Fairview, as the candidate for this district.
The vote of the State was as follows: Buchanan, 230,500; Fusion (Fremont), 147,447; Fusion (Fillmore), 55,891; Straight Fillmore, 26,338.
Below is the vote of the county:
Of the Fusion votes, only 37 were for Fillmore, all the rest being in favor of Fremont. Buchanan and Breckenridge were elected.
Three tickets were in the field for State officers -- Democratic, Fusion and American. The vote of the State, for Governor, was as follows:
William F. Packer, Lycoming (Dem.), 188,890; David Wilmot, Bradford (Fusion), 146,147; Isaac Hazlehurst, Philadelphia (American), 28,160.
Supreme Judge, James Thompson, Erie (Democrat), 187,023; William Strong, Berks (Democrat), 186,823; Joseph J. Lewis, Chester (Fusion), 141,377; James Veech, Fayette (Fusion), 141,467; Jacob Broom, Philadelphia (American), 27,244; Jasper E. Brady, Cumberland (American), 26,954; Canal Commissioner, Nimrod Strickland, Chester (Democrat), 186,578; William Millward, Philadelphia (Fusion), 142,479; John F. Linderman, Berks (American), 25,780.
The vote of Erie County was, for Packer, 2,105; Wilmot, 3,306; Hazlehurst, 148; Thompson, 2,598; Strong, 2,027; Lewis, 2,767; Veech, 2,673; Broom, 101; Brady, 94.
The Democrats made no nominations for county officers, and supported Independent candidates. Below is a list of those who ran, with their votes:
Fusion -- Assembly, Wareham Warner, Venango, 3,299; John R. Cochran, Erie, 2,235; Prothonotary, James Skinner, Erie, 3,778; Register, William P. Trimbell, Harbor Creek, 3,075; Commissioner, Amos Gould, North East, 2,995; District Attorney, James Sill, Erie, 3,163; Auditor, Elias Brecht, McKean, 2,869; Coroner, Thomas Dillon, Erie, 2,948; Director of the Poor (three years), Alex Nicholson, Fairview, 2,938; William Bracken (two years), LeBoeuf, 2,919.
Independent -- Assembly, David Himrod, Waterford, 2,724; Register, John Rice, Harbor Creek, 1,321; District Attorney, William J. Herring, Erie, 102; Coroner, Samuel L. Forster, Erie, 435.
American -- Assembly, James McClelland, Girard, 245; Prothonotary, Isaac Webster, Fairview, 654; Register, Silas E. Teel, Erie, 88; Commissioner, Andrew Oliver, Waterford, 115; Auditor, Charles Sterrett, McKean, 100; Director of the Poor (three years), James P. Paul, Conneaut, 134.
Mr. Himrod, Independent, was elected to the Assembly, over John R. Cochran, Fusion. All the rest of the Fusion candidates were successful.
A series of amendments to the State constitution were submitted to the people, and carried by a large majority -- in the county as well as in the State.
All elements of opposition to the Democrats rallied under the Republican banner, and won a sweeping victory. The State candidates with their votes, were as follows:
Supreme Judge, John M. Reed, Philadelphia (Rep.), 198,116; William A. Porter, Philadelphia (Dem.), 171,130. Canal Commissioner, William E. Frazier, Fayette (Rep.), 196,626; Wesley Frost, Fayette (Dem.), 170,336.
From this date the Republicans have carried the State regularly, with the exception of the years 1862, 1867, 1874 and 1877.
The vote of Erie County was, for Reed, 3,233; Porter, 1,921; Frazier, 3,187; Frost, 1,519.
For Congress, Elijah Babbitt, of Erie, ran as the Republican candidate, and James C. Marshall, of Erie, ran as the Democratic. The vote of the district was as follows:
The Republican candidate for State Senate was Darwin A. Finney, of Crawford; the Democratic, Benjamin Grant, of Erie -- Finney being successful, although Mr. Grant had a majority in the county. The vote of the district was as follows:
The vote for County officers was greatly mixed, and hinged wholly upon the railroad issue, the Democrats making no regular nominations, and supporting Independent candidates of both parties. Below is the vote. Assembly, (Reg. Rep.) John W. Campbell, Washington, 2,937; Henry Teller, Girard, 2,401; (Ind. Rep.) David Himrod, 1,966; (Ind. Dem.) Wilson Laird, Erie, 2,656; Sheriff, (Reg. Rep.) John W. McLane, Harbor Creek, 3,029; (Ind. Rep.) Elias Brecht, McKean, 156; (Ind. Dem.) D. D. Walker, Erie, 2,279; (Ind. Dem.) James Lytle, Erie, 117; Treasurer, (Reg. Rep.) Thomas J. Devore, Springfield, 2,794; (Ind. Rep.) Mortimer Phelps, Edinboro, 2,220; Commissioner, (Reg. Rep.) William Putnam, Union, 3,043; Director of the Poor, (Reg. Rep.) Thomas Stewart, Erie, 2,523; Auditors (three years), David Nash, Concord, 2,473; (two years) H. H. Bassler, Fairview, 2,431. Wilson Laird (Dem.) was elected to the Assembly over Henry Teller.
The State candidates, with the votes for each, were as follows:
Auditor General, Thomas E. Cochran, York (Rep.), 181,835; Richardson L. Wright, Philadelphia (Dem.), 164,544. Surveyor General, William H. Kain, Berks (Rep.), 182,282; John Rowe, Franklin (Dem.), 163,970.
The public works of the State having been sold, the office of Canal Commissioner was abolished.
Erie County's vote was, for Cochran, 2,325; Wright, 1,119; Kain, 2,299; Rowe, 1,144.
The Democrats made no county nominations, and the only Democratic candidate in the field was Wilson Laird, for Assembly, who received 1,632 votes, and was defeated. The following were the Republican candidates: Assembly, Jonas Gunnison, Erie, and Henry Teller, Girard; Commissioner, Hiram Brockway, Springfield; Director of the Poor, William Bracken, Le Boeuf; Surveyor, William Benson, Waterford; Auditor (three years), John L. Way, Summit; (two years), H. H. Bassler, Fairview. Joseph Henderson, Mill Creek, was an Independent candidate for Commissioner, and was elected by 265 majority over Mr. Brockway.
Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Part II, Chapter XXI, pp. 340-430.