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Pontius Biographies from the

History of Butler Co., PA

R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895

The following biographies come from the 1895 History of Butler County, Pennsylvania.  The full text of this book may be found at:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~pabutler/1895/index.htm.  Please click on the person's name to go to his lineage page.


There are other Pontius references in this book, and the researcher is encouraged to search the site listed above for more information.



NICHOLAS PONTIUS, one of the well known and prominent citizens of Fairview township, was born in Prussia, Germany, April 18, 1832, son of Charles and Elizabeth (HARTWICK) PONTIUS, natives of Prussia. Charles PONTIUS was a shoemaker, and came to the United States, with his wife and six children, in 1845, landing at Baltimore, and thence proceeding to Pittsburg, where he followed his trade. Later he settled on a farm in Washington county, Ohio, where both he and wife died. They were the parents of six children, three of whom are living, viz.: Charles, a merchant of Cameron, Ohio; Nicholas, and Caroline, wife of Gottlieb FOX, of Virginia. The subject of this sketch spent his boyhood days in his native land, where he received a common school education. He was thirteen years of age when his parents came to the United States, the voyage across the Atlantic in a sailing vessel consuming fifty-six days. After arriving at Pittsburg he entered a furniture manufactory, and served an apprenticeship of three years as a finisher, receiving three dollars per week and later four dollars per week during his apprenticeship. He afterwards worked as a journeyman until 1862, in which year he located at Millerstown, Butler county, and engaged in the mercantile business. In 1864 he removed to Buena Vista, where he continued in business until 1878, in which year he retired. In the meantime he had embarked in the oil industry, and now owns 140 acres of good land with a profitable production. He is also interested in the eastern belt, is one of the leading producers of his locality, and at one time owned an interest in fifty-six wells in the Millerstown field. He is a stockholder in the Producers Pipe Line Company, and was one of the original stockholders in the German Oil Refinery at Brady's Bend, which was afterwards purchased by the Standard Oil Company. In 1852 Mr. PONTIUS was married, in Pittsburg, to Christina WOLFE, a native of Saxony, Germany, who came to Butler county with her parents when five years of age. To this union has been born one son, Edward, who died in infancy. Politically, Mr. PONTIUS is a Republican, and is a member of the I. O. O. F. In 1878 he and his wife spent the summer on a visit to their native land, enjoying a portion of the fruits which his industry and economy accumulated. He has been a very successful business man, and is recognized as one of the substantial citizens of the county.  [p. 1005]


ISAAC REEP, son of Isaac REEP, Sr., was born near Philadelphia, in 1787, and came to Butler county with his parents when fourteen years of age. He grew to maturity here, and served in the War of 1812. He married Mary PONTIUS, a native of eastern Pennsylvania, and settled on a portion of the REEP homestead, near the village of Fairview, where both he and wife resided until death. Mr. REEP died July 2, 1863, and his wife, March 9, 1880, aged eighty-three years. They were members of the Evangelical Lutheran church, and the parents of thirteen children, only three of whom are now living. The names of their children are as follows: Elizabeth; John; Isaac; Gabriel; Samuel; William; Mary; Jacob; Henry; Lewis; Eli; Catherine, and Solomon. Of these William, Eli and Catherine survive.  [p. 994]


CHARLES SWARTZLANDER was born in Berks county, Pennsylvania, in June, 1822, son of Abraham and Elizabeth SWARTZLANDER. When Charles was seven years old his parents removed to Armstrong county, making the trip in a covered wagon drawn by three horses, our subject walking much of the distance. His father purchased a claim in Armstrong county, upon which he subsequently settled, and both he and wife died there. Charles grew to maturity in that county amid the scenes and hardships of pioneer days, attending school in a little log building with the rudest furnishings of the period. When fourteen years of age he worked six months for fifty dollars. In 1843 he came to Butler county and worked at the carpenter's trade, having served an apprenticeship of two years at that business. On May 6, 1847, he married Phoebe PONTIUS, a daughter of Gabriel and Mary PONTIUS. She was born on the PONTIUS homestead in Donegal township, September 23, 1828, and is the mother of the following children: Harvey O.; Amos G., deceased; Samuel M.; William J., and Mary A. M., deceased. In politics, Mr. SWARTZLANDER is a Republican. His wife is a member of the English Lutheran church, and the family are adherents of that faith. Their son, Harvey O., was born April 10, 1848, in Fairview township, and has always followed the vocation of a farmer. He is a member of Karns City Lodge, I. O. O. F., which he joined September 9, 1876. Politically, he is an ardent Republican.    [p. 1003-1004]

GABRIEL PONTIUS came to Butler county when a young man, and located in Donegal township about 1803. He was born in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, in 1786, and after coming to Butler county, he married Mary BARNHART, of Donegal township, subsequently purchased a tract of 200 acres, erected a log cabin and began the work of making a home. The country was then comparatively a wilderness, and some time after settling in Donegal township, Mr. PONTIUS established a small pottery, which business he followed for nearly thirty years, making many of the dishes and much of the pottery used by the pioneers of that locality. His patrons sometimes paid for their ware by working on his farm, while he was engaged in the pottery. He died upon the homestead in 1872, and his wife in 1875, aged eighty-eight years. They were the parents of eight children, as follows: Elizabeth, deceased wife of George ELLENBERGER, of Armstrong county; John, deceased, who resided in Donegal township; William, a resident of Armstrong county; Polly, deceased, who married John F. WILES; Solomon, who lives upon the old homestead; Catherine, deceased, who married Abraham BARNHART; Hannah, deceased wife of Henry WILES, and Phoebe, wife of Charles SCHWARTZLANDER, a resident of Fairview township. Mr. PONTIUS was a prominent Democrat, and held various township offices, such as assessor, supervisor, collector and school director. He took an active interest in educational matters and labored zealously to secure the introduction of the public schools in his township.  [p. 951-952]

SOLOMON PONTIUS, fifth child of Gabriel and Mary (BARNHART) PONTIUS, was born in Donegal township, Butler county, December 13, 1819. He spent his boyhood days upon the farm, assisting his father in clearing the land, and working in the pottery. Dressed in the home-made clothing of the period, he would often pull the flax and break and scutch the same, and then assist his mother in spinning and weaving it into clothing and blankets upon the home loom. The usual mode of going to mill was on horseback, with a pack saddle, across which he would place the sack of grain. He attended for a few weeks during the winter season the early subscription schools, when the little log school house with puncheon floors, and benches split from logs, was the best the times afforded. Mr. PONTIUS remained with his parents until twenty-three years of age, when he took charge of the homestead farm, his parents making their home with him until their death. In 1842 he married Mary KING, a native of Armstrong county. She died in 1843, leaving no children. On April 27, 1845, he married Margaret MYERS, a native of Westmoreland county, born August 22, 1822. Her parents, Frederick and Susannah MYERS, came from Westmoreland county to Sugar Creek in 1826, and resided here the remainder of their lives. She, too, was reared amidst pioneer surroundings, and experienced the usual trials and hardships of that period. Five children are the fruits of this union, viz.: John W., born August 14, 1846, now pastor of the German Reformed church, at Martinsburg, Blair county; Susannah, born June 4, 1848, died in December, 1861; Caroline, born August 23, 1851, died July 29, 1882; Mary Catherine, born May 19, 1856, wife of Dr. C. F. DAUBENSPECK, of Crawford county, and Solomon Isaiah, born October 7, 1861, married Sarah Catherine SOMMERVILLE, of Armstrong county, and has five children. He resides with his parents upon the old homestead. Mr. PONTIUS and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, of Millerstown, in which he has filled several official positions, and for twenty years was superintendent of the Sabbath school. He was formerly a member of the German Reformed church, and was an elder in that society for a long period. Politically, a Democrat, he has been active in local politics the greater part of his life. For nearly forty years he has served as justice of the peace, and is still holding that office. He has also filled the offices of supervisor, assessor, and school director, the last mentioned for eighteen years, seventeen of which he was secretary of the board. 'Squire PONTIUS owns the old homesterd [sic] of 200 acres, also another farm in the same township of sixty-two acres, besides 111 acres in Trumbull county, Ohio. He is one of the successful farmers of the county, and is an extensive oil producer. Few men in the community have won and retained to a greater degree the esteem and confidence of the people, and throughout his long residence in Donegal township, he has been recognized as a public-spirited and progressive citizen.

 [p. 952]


JOHN PONTIUS, eldest son of Gabriel and Mary (BARNHART) PONTIUS, was born in Donegal township, Butler county, December 25, 1812. He was reared upon the old homestead, and married Mary m. WILES, a daughter of Frederick WILES, who came from eastern Pennsylvania at an early day and settled in Donegal township, Butler county, afterwards serving as a soldier in the war of 1812. Mr. PONTIUS settled in Armstrong county after his marriage, resided there eight years, and then returned to Donegal township, where he died January 22, 1892. His widow still survives him. She was born July 14, 1820, and reared a family of eleven children, nine of whom are still living as follows: Gabriel, of Donegal township; Susan, wife of John KAYLOR, of Fairview township; Caroline, wife of J. J. CRAWFORD, of Millerstown; Phoebe, wife of William KEPPLE, of Armstrong county; William, a resident of Donegal township; Mary, wife of Robert TAYLOR, of Clearfield county; Samuel W., who resides in Pittsburg; John Henry, and George W., both residents af [sic] Donegal township.  [p. 953]

JOHN HENRY PONTIUS, son of John and Mary M. PONTIUS, was born in Donegal township, Butler county, February 5, 1859, was reared upon the farm and received his education in the public schools. On September 1, 1881, he married Ada BURFORD, a daughter of Reuben BURFORD, of Armstrong county. They resided in Beaver Falls for some time, where Mr. PONTIUS worked in an iron mill, and later located on their present homestead in Donegal township. He owns a well improved farm of 100 acres, with oil and gas production. They are the parents of two children: Sidney Easton, and Myrell Reid. Mr. PONTIUS is an active Republican, and, though living in a township strongly Democratic, has been elected to various offices, all of which he filled in a highly creditable manner. Mr. PONTIUS and wife are members of Mt. Pleasant English Lutheran church, and liberal contributors towards that organization. He is a member of Millerstown Lodge, Number 457, K. of P., also of the K. O. T. M.  [p. 953]