My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOHN D. STEELE, A.B., A.M., Secretary of the Hooven & Allison Cordage Company at Xenia, is a son of David Steele, of this county, and the grandson of John Steele, one of the early pioneers of Southern Ohio. He was born in Beaver Creek Township, this county, November 4, 1855. Here he grew to mature years and acquired a good education, completing the course at the Union School in Xenia, from which he was graduated in the class of ‘72. Subsequently he was graduated from the University of Wooster, Ohio, with the degree of A. B.

The business career of Mr. Steele commenced in the office of his uncle, J. H. Harbine, a grain dealer of Xenia, and with whom he remained until 1881. That year he became a member of the firm of Eavey & Co., wholesale grocers, disposing of his interests in the business in July 1889, when he became connected with the Hooven & Allison Cordage Company, further details of which will be found on another page of this work. He attends strictly to business during business hours, and evidently has before him a successful career. He votes the straight Republican ticket, is a Royal Arch Mason, and a member in good standing of the Reformed Church.

In connection with the interests already mentioned, Mr. Steele holds the office of Vice-President of the Xenia National Bank, is a member of the pork packing firm of Millen, Harbine & Co., and is also a member of the wholesale grocery firm of Steele, Hopkins & Meradith, at Springfield, who succeeded to the business of B. F. Funk & Co., in May, 1889. He is also a stockholder of the Xenia Gas Company. His business integrity is unquestioned, and he holds a good position in the social circles of Xenia and vicinity.

David Steele, the father of our subject, during the Civil War enlisted, about 1861, in the Third Iowa Infantry, but on account of ill-health was soon afterward obliged to accept his honorable discharge. He then returned to Xenia, and having somewhat recovered was not content to rest at home while his country needed the assistance of every patriotic son. He accordingly re-enlisted, and raised Company E, Ninety-fourth Ohio Infantry. He was presented with a Captain’s commission, and going to the front with his command, fell mortally wounded at the battle of Stone River in January, 1863. He lingered for a time after being wounded, and his remains were laid to rest at Beaver Creek Cemetery, Alpha, Ohio. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Mary Harbine, daughter of John Harbine, who was the first representative of that name in this county.

John Harbine was born in Washington County, Md., January 17, 1804, and lived there until coming to this countjq in 1828. He was married in Lancaster County, Pa., August 21, 1827, to Miss Hester Herr, and not long afterward started with his young wife for their new home. They drove through in a carriage, and Grandfather Harbine bought the court-house in Beaver Creek Township, together with a tract of land. They moved into the dwelling thus obtained, and the husband occupied himself as a miller, having likewise purchased the mill which stood on the property, and which was the first structure of the kind in this county. The first flour which he manufactured was called the Alpha Brand, from the first letter of the Greek alphabet. From this the post office was also named when first established.

Mr. Harbine continued milling for some years, and finally built extensive oil, flour and woolen mills, together with a store, and became largely interested in the grain trade at Xenia. He also had two mills on the Miami River, where was erected the first cotton factory in this part of the country. Mr. Harbine became one of the leading men of this section, and was largely interested in the development of the turnpike system, besides being instrumental in securing the building of the Little Miami road. He was warmly interested in the establishment and maintenance of schools, and labored to bring about the teaching of Greek, Latin and mathematics in the common schools. Politically, he was in the early days a stanch Whig, and later gave his support to the Republican party. Religiously, he was a prominent member of the Reformed Church.

To Grandfather Harbine and his estimable wife there was born a family of eight children, all of whom grew to mature years — Daniel R.; Jacob H. is a resident of Beaver Creek Township; Mary E., mother of our subject, was the third child; Hattie M. is the wife of the Hon. John Miller, and they occupy the old homestead; Sarah J. married Dr. William Hagenbaugh; Anna C. is the wife of George Smith; J. Thomas; and B. F. is deceased. Grandfather John Harbine departed this life at the homestead in Xenia Township, June 8, 1873. He was fond of travel and a polished gentleman.

The Harbine family were of old Huguenot stock, and the early ancestors were driven from their native France to lands where they might worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. In this manner three families of that name left their native land about the year 1700. One family settled in Algiers, where a small town now bears their name. The other two came to America, one settling in West Virginia and the other in Berks County, Pa. Grandfather Harbine’s great-great-grandfather, Peter Harbine, took his family, and with numerous other Huguenots fled to Switzerland first, but they too finally left for America. During the voyage a son was born, Peter, Jr., who was the great-grandfather of John. His grandfather was Adam and his father was Daniel, the latter of whom was born in Berks County, Pa.

In 1749 Peter Harbine purchased a tract of land from Thomas and Richard Penn, in the then Province of Pennsylvania. This land still remains in the family, who have in their possession the old deed given by the Penns; and the old stone house and barn built over a century ago still, in point of solidity and strength, rival many modern farm houses and barns in the Keystone State. Grandfather John Harbine prosecuted his education at Clear Springs, Md., to which place his father had removed, and completed it at an academy in Pennsylvania.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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