13. Ephraim Ellsworth, July 28, 18.50 - Feb. 9, 1899
m. Caroline Neff (1859-1917) Mar. 18, 1880
14: John Smith, Mar. 28, 1852 - Nov. 29, 1859
15. George William, Mar. 23, 1855-Mar. 26, 1940
m. Lu Ella Cole ( 1860- ) Aug. 30, 1881
16. Mary Ellen, Dec. 17, 1859 - Aug. 23, 1916
m. George Roberts, ( -1912) Mar. 6, 1889
Rodley, the birthplace of Edward Cass, is located on the river Aire midway between Leeds and Bradford in the heart of England's industrial and textile district. His father and mother, John and Hannah (Pratt) Cass, were both born at the nearby town of Calverley and the register of the Calverley Parish Church shows entries of several generations of her family. She was a daughter of John Pratt and a granddaughter of John Pratt, Sr., both of Calverley. John Cass, a cabinet maker by trade at Rodley, came to Erie County, Pennsylvania with several members of his family in 1842 and later helped to organize and construct the Harbor Creek Woolen Factory of which he became the sole owner in a few years.
Edward Cass received his schooling at the Bramley and Rodley Academies under J. Hill, Master, finishing when fourteen years old. His note books, yellowed with age but well preserved, show his mastery of an artistic style of penmanship, his thoroughness and accuracy in arithmetic and mensuration, his sample problems demonstrating a working knowledge of geometry, trigonometry and surveying computations. He also studied shorthand and by helping his father at cabinet making before his family brought him to America he became quite handy with tools.
He worked a short time for Mr. Perry, a butcher in Erie, and helped in the construction and operation of the Woolen Factory before going to Fallston to work in the mill operated by Ephraim Smith. That move was made with the idea of learning the newer methods of wool precssing as practiced by others in che business at that time and returning to the Cass mill in Factory Gulch to put the new methods into use. Instead he married his employer's daughter and after a short time went with her to her father's farm in the frontier State of Illinois to operate the carding mill there.
As the Smith and Cass families had lived in nearby towns in England and some members of the Smith family had attained some local prominence there, it is not surprising that Edward Cass and others of his family knew some of the connections of his future wife's family before they left England. Although Mrs. Edward Cass was quite young when she came to this country she thought she remembered having seen Edward performing in a local church celebration as a boy in England.
In the Fall of 1850 Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cass, with their infant son Ephraim, traveled by covered wagon to Mercer County, Illinois in company with her cousin, Mrs. Crabtree, and her husband. It was a perilous journey crossing Indiana owing to floods and floating logs from the corduroy road over which they traveled. The Cass family lived in Illinois nearly four years during which time the carding mill on Pope Creek, near Viola, was washed away in a flood. While they were in Illinois Mr. Crabtree died and his widow, Mercy Crabtree, later married John Dingwell, a neighboring farmer, and stayed in Illinois.
In 1854 John Cass, Edward's father, bought the shares of his partners in the Harbor Creek Woolen Factory and became the sole proprietor. He soon sent an urgent request to his son to return east and help him with the business. Although both Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cass were satisfied with their prospects for a future in Illinois, they were influenced by his feeling of devotion to his father. They arrived in Erie June 5, 1854 and hired Charles Vosberg, a negro, to drive them out to the Factory Gulch. It rained on them all the way out and they were drenched, but that was the last rain in one of the driest summers known in Erie County.
He found the factory heavily mortgaged and in danger of being lost through foreclosure of the the mortgage very soon. A large stock of wool was on hand for which there was no local demand, so he immediately took a load of wool to Buffalo, New York, realizing enough cash from the sale to ease the mortgage situation. At his father's request he entered into partnership and proved to be the mainstay of the business.
He was the bookkeeper, waited on customers, repaired ma- chinery, set up new machines and made himself generally useful. The factory was a four-story, frame building about thirty feet wide and seventy feet long on the foundation with an office on one side and a dye house of brick and stone on the other side. The power was supplied by a wide overshot water wheel of about sixteen feet in diameter, the water coming through a three hundred- thirty foot mill race. The remains of this race and the arch dam are still in excellent condition. The dam was about two hundred feet wide and some seven hundred feet long with a maximum depth of fourteen feet. In 1864 a twelve horse power boiler and engine were installed to carry over the emergencies of dry weather.
The factory was an important station of the "Underground Railroad" before and during the Civil War, and negroes escaping from their southern masters were frequently hidden in the wool stored on the fourth floor by members of the Cass family until such time as they could be moved forward on their route to Canada. Ephraim Smith's carding mill on Pope Creek in Mercer County, Illinois had a similar use, one branch of the creek just above the site of the old mill being called "Nigger Run" from the use to which it was put.
The Cass Woolen Factory had three power looms, one hand loom, four carding machines, and a spinning jack of one hundred- sixty spindles, its capacity being about six hundred pounds of wool a day. Residents of the country came for many miles to trade wool for cloth, stocking yarn, flannel, blankets, etc., and to have their wool carded for home spinning.
At the time of the Civil War Edward Cass was called twice by his local draft board, but was rejected both times as being of too small chest measurement although "Sound as a bullet". He volunteered when Pennsylvania was invaded, and carrying a knapsack knit by his wife, bade his family farewell, walked to Harbor Creek and traveled with other volunteers to Franklin in a box car where they were told of the battle of Gettysburg and that they would not be needed then in the defense of their State.
In 1875, the year after the death of his father, the factory was sold at auction and Edward Cass purchased it, continuing its operation for about twelve more years. By that time the earlier prosperity of the mill had fallen into the decline in fortune which all mills of its type arid remote location were undergoing, being unable to compete with the larger, more modern factories located in the industrial centers.
Edward Cass engaged more and more extensively in farming operations. He acquired one farm soon after his return from, Illinois and after closing the woolen factory he purchased more farms until he became one of the largest land owners in the community. He managed the farms himself with the assistance of his sons and some hired help. He built three farm houses and two or more barns, doing the masonry work himself and most of the interior finishing in the houses.
Edward Cass was elected Road Commissioner for Harbor Creek Township in the eighties and while holding that office he engaged in building the first stone arch bridges in the Township. They were of the Vossoir type of stone masonry culvert similar to some he had seen as a lad in England. Among those which are still in use are two over Elliott's Run; one in the hollow by the house of Herbert Cass and the one at Tate's Corners. He built the one near Gidding's Corners and another for the Buffalo Road beside the Cacholic Cemetery a short distance east of Moorheadville that must have been a difficult bit of construction because of its skew. He built the abutments for the old bridge across Factory Gulch a short distance down stream from the present bridge. We also have reason to believe he built the arched stone culvert still in use at Bascobel, near South Wales.
Edward Cass was a staunch Republican and was at the polls each election day. Both he and his wife were regular attendants at the Harbor Creek Presbyterian Church, of which Mrs. Cass was a member. Although he helped support the church and sang in the choir Edward Cass never joined the organization.
Mrs. Edward Cass is remembered as a very amiable and sympathetic person. She was an energetic woman and at times used to help with the work in the factory. On one of these occasions while operating a loom she caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, resulting in her death. A telegram had been sent to her mother when the seriousness of her condition was realized, and she waited in great anxiety for her mother's arrival. Still able to recognize and speak to her mother on her arrival, she seemed greatly relieved and relaxed, soon passing away quietly.
Edward Cass was an outstanding person of energy, ambition and enterprise in his family and of all his descendants, which now number over a hundred, none are known to be lazy physically or who are not reliable and honorable. Most of them still live in the vicinity of Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania.
In his early years Edward Cass smoked a pipe but in middle life he suddenly decided to quit the use of tobacco and he never smoked again. Once when having a tooth pulled by a country dentist a difficult time ensued when the tooth broke off and the dentist had trouble getting a firm grip on the root. He was practically leading Mr. Cass around the room with the forceps when Edward took the instrument and getting a good hold on the tooth managed to pull it out himself, demonstrating his strength of will and determination.
He was accustomed to carry large sums of money with him when going to and from the mill. Once when returning home late at night he was stopped near the Hoag Cemetery by two bandits, one of whom covered him closely with his gun while the other grabbed the bridle of his horse. The spirited horse (Old Fred) was hard to hold so Edward Cass told the would-be robber to keep away from his head and he would stand quietly. As the fellow stepped away Mr. Cass pretended to reach for his wallet but gave the horse a sharp cut with the whip instead. The startled horse plunged quickly knocking down the man in front and the buggy wheel ran over the man with the gun. As soon as they regained their feet two shots were fired which went wide of their mark, but Mr. Cass arrived home safely.
Edward Cass was once offered a position as a reporter on the staff of the Erie Gazette which he refused as he prefered to help his father at the woolen factory.
Among those who made their home with Edward Cass in his later years were his widowed mother, his uncle "Ned" who had lost his money in various enterprises, his maiden sister Jane, and his niece, Anne Smith, whose parents died when she was very young. In December 1900 his son George and family moved into the father's house in order to be of most help to him in his final illness. His granddaughter, Anna Roberts, died as an infant in the same house and later in the same night on which he died.
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cass are buried in their family lot in South Wales Cemetery. Their son John died with diphtheria.
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