Mifflin County Biographies
"History of the Juniata Valley and Its People, Vol. II" 1913

Benjamin Franklin Gregory


The Gregory family is an ancient one in England, where they may be traced for many generations. The family herein mentioned descends from the New York branch, which sprang from Henry Gregory, born in Nottingham, England, about 1570, came to New England and settled in Boston before 1639, moved to Springfield, thence to Stratford, Connecticut, of which he was one of the founders. His son, John Gregory, moved to New Haven, thence to Norwalk. of which he was one of the original settlers, deputy to the general court 1662, selectman 1668. There were three generations of John Gregorys sprang from him and then a Daniel, whose son Daniel (2), who was one of the first settlers of Plattekill, Ulster county. New York. From Ulster county the family spread to northern and central and southwestern New York, and are found in Albany, Chenango, Cattaraugus and other counties of New York. The grandfather of Benjamin F. Gregory was a Chenango county farmer, later of Cattaraugus county, where he died, leaving male issue, including a son Jason.

Jason Gregory was born in southern New York, where he grew to manhood, then moving to Ohio. He was living in that state when the gold excitement of 1849 swept over the country and was one of those who was carried over plain and mountain in the quest for gold, and while crossing the great American desert, as then known, but now the beautiful state of Nebraska, at a place called Rawhide he was the unwilling witness of the skinning alive of one of the young men of his train by the Indians for killing a young squaw (note description in a book called "Beyond the Mississippi"). He formed a partnership with a stranger and with him "struck" gold in paying quantities. After their mine had yielded them ten thousand dollars in dust and nuggets his partner decamped with the entire proceeds. Fortunately he could not take the mine, and Jason began all over again, but ever afterward held partnerships in disfavor. He worked until he panned another ten thousand, then sold his claim for twenty-five thousand dollars and returned home by way of Cape Horn from San Francisco to New York. But the "lure of gold" was upon him and in 1852 he again went to California, and after another successful experience again returned to Marysville, Ohio, purchasing a farm in Union county, near Richwood, and in the year 1861 enlisted the twenty-sixth day of October, at Marysville, Ohio, in Company F, 66th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served during the entire period of the civil war, was admitted to the Soldiers' Home at Dayton, Ohio, April 2, 1887, and died December 23, 1893. and was buried with military honors; age at death, 88 years; body interred in Dayton Home Cemetery; location of grave. Sec. I, row 21, grave 37.

He married, in Cattaraugus county, New York, in 1832, Cynthia Newton, born in southern New York, died in Nebraska, aged eighty-four years, and for seventy-six years a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and a mother of nine children, all girls but one, the youngest being Benjamin F. Gregory, the subject of this biography. She married (second) a Mr. Street and moved to Indiana, on the Macintucky lake, where he was killed by the caving in of a well, the land being very sandy in this locality. She married (third) John W. Turner and moved to Iowa, where he followed his trade of blacksmith; he worked for the Northwestern railroad when being built through the state, later died in Iowa. She then moved to Nebraska with her youngest son, Benjamin F. Gregory, only son of nine children by first husband, and there died at the home of a daughter, Laura E. Whiteman, Lincoln, Nebraska, while on a visit.

Benjamin Franklin, youngest of the nine children of Jason and Cynthia (Newton) Gregory, was born on the farm near Richwood, Union county, Ohio, later moved to Indiana. He was with his mother in Indiana and from the age of twelve years had supported himself and mother. He worked during the summer months when a boy and during the winters was able to attend school, in this way obtaining his education. At the age of twenty-two years he moved to Whiteside county, Illinois, and there married Sarah A. Newman, of Lyndon. He learned the plasterer's trade, and after his mother was left a widow for the third time moved to Fullerton, Nance county, Nebraska, with his wife and mother and one child, Etta May. He there raised a family of six children, all girls but one, who was named B. F. Gregory Jr., after the father. He there followed his trade, becoming a contractor and remaining fifteen years. During this period six children were born, five girls and one boy, his wife, mother and two children died. He later returned to Whiteside county, Illinois, with his four children and there again married. His second wife, nee Jenny King, and himself not living happily were soon parted and divorced, and about 1890 he moved to Snyder county, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in the contracting of concrete construction of various kinds. He was again married in 1898 to Sarah Breon, nee Spangler, of New Berlin, Pennsylvania, and moved to Sunbury, Pennsylvania, thence in 1900 to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in concrete contracting, with yard on Chestnut street and residence on Electric avenue in Highland Park, a suburb. He has also added the sale of coal and wood to his business, thereby making employment for his men during the winter months. He has a good, well-established business in Lewistown and surrounding territory, the first concrete contractor to establish in Lewistown. His own residence was the first block concrete house built in the county, but so rapidly has concrete grown in favor that they are no longer a rarity. He is familiar with all forms of concrete construction. such as the building of bridges, culverts, houses, sidewalks, steps, posts, curbs, gutters, etc. He has later taken up street paving and road construction. He employs from ten to thirty men and is an energetic worker himself. He was one of the organizers of the Highland Park Sewer Company and its first president, a position he yet holds. He is a Progressive Republican and is now serving as supervisor of Derry township, a four-year term. Always a liberal giver in the support of the churches and benevolent societies, although not a member of any church always recognized a Supreme Being.

He married (first) in Whiteside county, in 1876, Illinois, Anna Newman; married (second), in Whiteside county, Julia King; he married (third) Mrs. Sarah Breon, daughter of Ellis Spangler of Union county, Pennsylvania, but at that time a resident of Snyder county, Pennsylvania. Children of first marriage: 1. Etta May, married John Allison and moved to South Dakota and later moved to Lewistown, Mifflin county, Pennsylvania. 2. Martle, married Howard Schock and resides in Harrisburg. 3. Iva, died in girlhood in Nebraska. 4. Estella Rosina, married Elmer Spangler and resides in Lewistown. 5. Benjamin, associated with his father in the cement contracting, coal and wood business. 6. An infant, died in Nebraska.

Benjamin F. Gregory Sr., with his wife, Sarah, are now living at their beautiful home, No. 426, on Electric avenue, Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where, surrounded by their children, all not far away, they may enjoy their declining years and reap the reward of nearly sixty years' toil and care, and have the respect and love of all with whom they come in contact in this beautiful Juniata Valley.



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