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Obituary of John Rumbarger (1810-1889) of DuBois PA

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Obituary of John Rumbarger (1810-1889) of DuBois PA

Posted: 1120748125000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Rumbarger, Marshall, McClelland, McIntosh, Schwem, Goodyear, Bryan
NOTE: John Rumbarger (1810-1889) established the Clearfield County town of Rumbarger, precursor of the present city of DuBois, Pennsylvania. The following obituary appeared in "The DuBois Courier", 16 January 1889. Endnotes address inaccuracies or clarify relationships.

Life's Fitful Fever O'er / Death of John Rumbarger, Founder of DuBois / The Father and Patriarch of the Borough Pays the Debt That all Men Owe / Sketch of an Historical Life / The Obsequies

John Rumbarger, the father of town of DuBois, died at his home on State Street, in the First Ward, on Saturday morning at the age of 77 years, 8 months and 11 days. John Rumbarger was born in the township of Warrior's Mark, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, May 25th, 1811 [1]. He is of Dutch descent, although his ancestry had lived so long in the United States that Mr. Rumbarger must rank as a thorough American.

His father before him, likewise named John Rumbarger, was a native of Lancaster County, this State; but his grandfather was a Hollander. From the meagre intelligence now to be gleaned of the phlegmatic ancestry we may imagine that the grandfather came of good stock, thrifty and tolerably prosperous. The advent of the Rumbargers on American soil must date about the Revolutionary period in the preceding century.

John Rumbarger, Sr., was one of a large family, all of whom prospered and led contented lives. They nearly all located in Huntingdon County, one of them taking up a residence in Half-Moon Township, Centre County, not far distant. The old Rumbarger home in Huntingdon County was noted in the early days as a hospitable point for travelers and as John Rumbarger, Sr., was liberal and prosperous it was a stopping place on the great highway for that craft of appreciative diners, the preachers of all faiths, who made their trips one way or the other between the east and west, sought out the far-famed home.

John Rumbarger, Sr., married a Miss Ellenberger of Lancaster County. This union is said to have been singularly a happy one. It was crowned with the love of ten children, seven girls and three boys. The one son died at about his fortieth year. The younger son, Samuel Rumbarger, now 70 years old, was present at his brother's funeral on Tuesday. Six of the daughters are living, one of whom is 90 years old. The other died about a year ago at the age of 70. It will be observed that the family is of rare vitality.


The early history of John Rumbarger, Jr., was uneventful, as indeed may be said of the whole span of his existence, for in all his life he followed the even tenor of a man who is content to make a happy fireside for wife and little ones, and he made few, if any, efforts to reach the Dead Sea fruit of riches or political preferment.

In 1834 Mr. Rumbarger was married to Miss Elizabeth Leathers, daughter of Joseph and Barbara Leathers, to whom were born two sons and two daughters. These four who survive their father are Jacob L. Rumbarger, now living in Maryland; Anna May [2] Marshall, living in Reynoldsville; Elizabeth Goodyear, living in DuBois and Franklin Rumbarger, living in DuBois. Mrs. Rumbarger died early in 1844.


Mr. Rumbarger was again married May 22nd, 1845, this time espousing Miss Eliza Earhart, daughter of Emanuel and Catharine Earhart. Nine children came to them and of these four are living, Lavina Bryan, Alice Jane McIntosh, William and John Rumbarger, all of DuBois. [3]

Mrs. Rumbarger also lives to mourn the death of her consort, and is in right good health yet for one of her age.

Mr. Rumbarger in 1850 left his native county and settled for a time at Kittanning, Armstrong County. He lived here a period of three years, and then moved again to a point on the Allegheny River not far from the present site of Parker's Landing, and known as Black Fox Furnace. Two years finds him prompted by the wandering spirit once more, and he landed in Brookville, Jefferson County, to better carry on his occupation as a lumberman, and there he remained until the close of the war.


In 1865 Mr. Rumbarger bought from David Heberling a tract of land of 325 acres in the wilderness of Brady township. The greater portion of his farm is now embraced within the borough limits and a large portion of the town is built upon it. Mr. Rumbarger then located here permanently. He resided in the Rumbarger House, on Main Street, now kept by William Davis, where he gave entertainment to lumbermen and others.

He devoted much of his time to his farm. He had about 200 acres under fence and the fine crops of wheat, rye, corn, potatoes, etc., were the talk of the neighborhood. His thrifty habits that a life on the eastern farm had ground in him still clung to him, and his farm was a model for agriculture.
His nearest neighbor at that time was Henry Shaffer, who lived in a log house on the site now occupied by Dr. W. A. Means, on Stockdale Street . . . The next nearest neighbor was Samuel Postlethwait, who lived near Luthersburg. The Resingers, Michael Shaffer, Thomas Wayne and Abraham Heberling lived within a radius of two miles, and comprised the entire population.

With the exception of the Rumbarger farm and the Henry Shaffer farm the site of DuBois was a forest.

In 1866 John Goodyear [3] came to settle in the neighborhood. He bought from Mr. Rumbarger a piece of ground on Main Street which is now the space used as Booth Street. It was in the heart of as fine a wheat field as was to be seen in the country. Here Mr. Goodyear built a store. For a year he carried on his trade, and then sold his place to Mr. Rumbarger. Subsequently the building was removed to the Hughes? lot and became a part of Mr. Hughes' house which was destroyed in the June conflagration.

The spring of 1867 saw another store, that of Elisha Evans. It was built at the corner of Main Street as the miner's row is approached and is now known as the McCauley house.

The natural growth of, the community and the prospects induced Mr. Rumbarger in 1872 to plot a portion of his farm in lots and the new town was known as Rumbarger. The survey was made by George Kirk and the first lots were purchased by our well-known citizen, Mr. P. S. Weber. They were located on Main street and he paid $100 for two. One year later Mr. Rumbarger erected the store that was before the fire occupied by J. B. Ellis. This building was rented to J. M. TroxeIl and George Glasgow. They conducted a general store. Thomas Montgomery had preceded by erecting a storeroom on the corner of Main and Booth Streets.


Mr. Rumbarger sold his lots low at fifty to one hundred dollars a piece, and gave a long time to pay for them, thereby encouraging persons to locate permanently. This policy has been adopted by him ever since and there are many families now residing here who own good properties purchased in this manner, who might, under other circumstances, have not been so fortunate. Others, again, paid for their property, sold out and realizing handsomely on their investments, put their money into something else, while some have moved away. A number of lots sold then at from seventy-five-to one hundred dollars are worth today from two to three thousand dollars each.

While anxious to promote the growth of the town in every honorable way, and willing to help all commendable enterprises, as he always has been, Mr. Rumbarger had a keen appreciation of the mission and privileges of the church and gave liberally to it. When the idea of starting a Methodist Episcopal Church was broached, he donated to the Trustees of that Society two very desirable lots and gave in addition $1000 in cash. The Trustees afterwards sold these lots a piece 52 x 120 for $1910, and on the rear portion of the lot on which the church building stood until the fire they built a parsonage which was later sold for $900.

He next donated a lot for the erection of the Catholic Church and then sold them another for $75, on State Street. The First Ward School building was also located on one of his lots on the same street, which he disposed of at the
nominal price of $70.


About 1873 the growth of Rumbarger began to make rapid progress, and from the first start until the present it has kept up the march with almost unbroken regularity. But a new force had entered into the spirit of growth and it was one destined to swallow up the older memories. It came with the arrival of the Low Grade railroad and the lumber mills of John DuBois. As Mr. DuBois built mills and offices a desire arose to have the name changed from Rumbarger to DuBois, and after sundry attempts a compromise was finally agreed upon, and the monument which the people first intended to rear to the memory of the man who so recently passed the narrow portal into life everlasting was awarded to the more powerful rival.

Mr. Rumbarger ceased to be actively engaged in business about ten years ago, at which time he severed his connection with Alfred Bell. Since then he has lived a life of quietness and peace to which his years of labor and his prudent habits of life entitle him.

For a few years previous to his death he had been a sufferer from asthma, but it had not been of an annoying type until lately. He had little premonition of death until a few days before the summons came, and then he appeared to realize that dissolution was close at hand. With the end in view he made a will, the provisions of which are substantially as follows:


To his wife is given the use of the homestead and household property so long as she may live. For her sustenance is provided $100 per annum and the rent of four tenements. After paying all debts the balance is to be equally divided amongst the lawful heirs. An account had been kept heretofore for each child, and this is to be taken into consideration on making the distribution.

Upon the death of the wife the remaining property is to be divided in like manner. A. L. Cole, W. N. Prothero and W. E. Rumbarger are executors.


Mr. Rumbarger's descendants number 47 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren, nearly all of whom who live.

He never took much hand in politics and his election to such position of honor as assistant burgess was not of his seeking. He was a plain man, kind and unassuming, and his death has caused many sincere regrets.


1. The Rumbarger family Bible, in the possession of Kelly Marshall, clearly states the birth year as 1810. His sister Sarah Rumbarger Fye was born 6 June 1811.

2. His daughter?s name is Anna Mary Rumbarger (1838-1924), not Anna May. She married William Kelker Marshall (1828-1912) and was the mother of twelve children.

3. Deceased children include Catharine Rumbarger McClelland, who married George B. McClelland and was survived by a daughter, Minnie; Lovila, Alfred, and two other sons named John, all four of whom died in childhood.

4. Goodyear was the husband of Elizabeth [Eliza] Rumbarger.

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