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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  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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JAMES RAMSEY MEANS. The descent of the Means family of Cumberland county is readily traced back to John Means, of Paxtang, Dauphin county. To go back of him the historian must rely mainly upon traditions that necessarily are vague and doubtful. Little is known as to when John Means settled at Paxtang except that it was at some date prior to the Revolution, and when that part of the province was yet included in Lancaster county. An Adam Means lived in that vicinity at the same time, as is shown by the Paxtang Church records. According to a well founded tradition John and Adam Means were brothers. Their father was probably Joseph Means, of County Tyrone, Ireland, who never came to America.

In 1776 John Cleans enlisted under Captain John Murray, whose company was a part of Col. Samuel Mile’s rifle Battalion, which participated in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton. Subsequently he was in several other enlistments and rendered his country valuable service down to the end of the war. He died Oct. 3, 1795, at the age of fifty years, and is buried in the graveyard of the Paxtang Presbyterian Church in Dauphin county. His wife was Martha Ramsey, daughter of James and Janet (Woods) Ramsey, and granddaughter of Robert Ramsey. She was a brave, self-reliant, God-fearing woman, and several years after her husband’s death removed from Paxtang to Allegheny county, carrying on the backs of pack animals her household effects and her children, one of whom was a baby boy who was not yet born when his father died. This baby boy was named Joseph McCord Means, and subsequently became a distinguished citizen of Cumberland county, the head of one of its representative families and a most exemplary church worker. As soon as his years and strength permitted, he learned the tanning trade under his brother Nathan, in Allegheny county, and later, in quest of employment, came to Carlisle on foot, carrying in a small budget all his personal effects. He first obtained work with Andrew Blair in Carlisle, who then had a tannery upon the lot on South street, where now are the Eppley livery stables. Next he for some time worked at Newville for a man named Davidson. On Feb. 15, 1820, he was married to Jane Woods, of Dickinson township, the Rev. George Duffield. pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, performing the ceremony.

After his marriage Joseph M. Means located at Newburg, in the northwestern part of Cumberland county, where with no capital save his own energy and a thorough knowledge of the trade, he succeeded in establishing a large and profitable tanning business, and also acquiring several farms. His private affairs, although extensive and exacting, did not cause him to neglect the duties of the citizen. He gave to public affairs a due share of his time and attention, which gained him prominence, and in January, 1827, Gov. Shulze appointed him a justice of the peace for the district composed of the townships of Shippensburg and Hopewell, a position which he held for more than forty years. He was known by the familiar title of “Squire Means” during more than half his long lifetime, and by it recalled to memory for many years after his death. In 1835 he was elected county auditor, and in 1845 member of the State Legislature, and in each capacity rendered his constituents efficient and satisfactory service. The training of his pious mother landed him within the folds of the Presbyterian Church in his early youth, and he continued active and zealous in its cause all through life. In the year 1836 he was elected an elder in the Middle Spring Presbyterian Church, and held that honored station until 1875, when he transferred his membership to the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle. In 1867 he removed from Newburg to a property he purchased at Middle Spring. The years were now rapidly accumulating upon his head, and he was gradually entering upon a well-earned retirement. Six years later he removed to Carlisle where on Jan. 8, 1878, his wife died. After her death he had his home with his daughter, Mrs. D. W. Huston. As man and wife they had lived as one for almost three score years, and in death were not long divided. He died on June 8, 1880, and their remains rest side by side in Ashland cemetery at Carlisle.

Joseph M. and Jane (Woods) Means had the following children: John, Jane Mary, Martha Ramsey, Samuel Woods, James Ramsey, Elizabeth, Joseph McCord, William Davidson, Agnes Rebecca and John Alfred. There were also three others who died in infancy. John, the first named child, died in his twenty-third year, and before his brother, John Alfred, the youngest child, was born.

James Ramsey Means, the seventh child of this large family, was born at Newburg, Oct. 30, 1829, where he grew to manhood. His education was limited to the public schools of his native town, and for an avocation he learned the tanning trade with his father. His brothers preferring to do the work of the farm, it fell to him to work steadily in the tannery, which he did until he was twenty-six years of age. Having become discouraged by the losses suffered frequently by floods, he concluded, soon after marriage, to relinquish tanning and engage at farming.

On Sept. 20, 1855, James R. Means was married, by the Rev. Alexander K. Nelson, pastor of the Rocky Spring Presbyterian Church, to Susan Smith McClelland, daughter of John McClelland and Martha Ann Cummins, his wife, and granddaughter of Thomas and Susan (Smith) McClelland. Thomas McClelland was a son of Thomas McClelland, and his wife, Janet Trimble, who was the first white child born in the vicinity of Newburg. John McClelland died in 1859, at the age of fifty-four years; his wife died in 1883, at the age of sixty-nine, and both are buried in the graveyard of the Rocky Spring Church, Franklin county, of which church he was an elder, and in the vicinity of which the Cummingses lived. The McClellands and the Smiths lived within the bounds of the Middle Spring Church. Martha Ann Cummins was a daughter of William and Catharine (Patton) Cummins, and a granddaughter of Charles Cummins. Catharine Patton, Susan McClelland’s maternal grandmother, was a daughter of Samuel Patton, who was a captain in Col. Joseph Armstrong’s Battalion in the war of the Revolution. Many of her Patton and Cummins ancestors are buried in the graveyard of the Rocky Spring Church, for whose maintenance a grand uncle, Mathew Patton, left a legacy. In the time of the Revolution the congregation of this church was both large and patriotic, and at the close of the war it was found that all its male members, excepting one or two, had been soldiers.

In April, 1856, James R. Means moved to South Middleton township, three miles southwest of Carlisle, to a farm then belonging to his father, but of which he afterward acquired the ownership. Here he lived and farmed for many years. In different ways he greatly improved his property, and later bought an adjoining farm. In 1893 he quit the farm, and moved to a home he purchased in Carlisle, where he contentedly spent the declining years of his life. Like his ancestors for generations before him he was a devout Presbyterian. He was a member of the Second Presbyterian church of Carlisle, in which he was for many years a trustee. He died Dec. 4, 1901, and his remains were interred in Ashland cemetery.

James R. and Susan (McClelland) Means had children: Martha Jane, Margaretta Anna and Joseph James. The last named was born on Oct. 23, 1873, and died April 7, 1876. The daughters are both graduates of Millersville State Normal School. Margaretta Anna is married, and Martha Jane and her widowed mother comprise all of the family now living in the pleasant home at 263 West South street, Carlisle.

On Dec. 26, 1878, at Carlisle, Margaretta A. Means, daughter of James R. and Susan (McClelland) Means, was married to Prof. R. Willis Fair, son of James and Harriet (Smith) Fair, of Indiana county, Pa., Rev. George Norcross, D. D., performing the ceremony. A hundred years ago the Fairs, the Smiths and the McClellands lived comparatively near each other, and it is probable that they knew of each other, and that they may in some way have been related. About that many years ago there lived in the Path Valley, which now is included in the bounds of Franklin county, a young man named Samuel Fair. With the general westward trend of emigration he drifted from that locality to Westmoreland county, where he married Ann Campbell, who bore him sixteen children, ten of whom were sons. The oldest son — and second child — of Samuel and Ann (Campbell) Fair, was named James and married Harriet Smith.

At a correspondingly early date there lived in the Cumberland Valley, not far from Shippensburg, a man named Joseph Smith, who married Jenny McClure, and among other children had a son named Daniel. This son Daniel was a sickle and scythe maker, and some time prior to 1794 moved to Washington county, Pa. From Washington county he moved to the vicinity of Blairsville, Indiana county, where he prospered, and in course of time became one of the wealthiest men of that section. He died in the year 1851, and is buried in the Bethel Presbyterian graveyard in Indiana county. Daniel Smith married, first, Elizabeth Blaine, who died early. Afterward he married Mrs. Jane (Sibbet) Copley, and the only child of this second marriage was a daughter named Harriet, who March 9, 1842, married James Fair, son of the aforesaid Samuel Fair.

James and Harriet (Smith) Fair had nine children: Jane Elizabeth, Samuel, Daniel McClure, Robert Willis, James Campbell, Alice, Harriet Smith, George Hill and May C.

Robert Willis Fair, the fourth of these children, married Margaretta A. Means. He was born on March 20, 1851, near Blairsville, Indiana county, on a farm which then belonged to his grandfather, Daniel Smith. He was educated in the public schools of his native county, and at the Millersville State Normal School, graduating at Millersville in the elementary course in 1875, and two years later in the scientific course in the State Normal School at Indiana, Pa. After his graduation he taught in the Millersville Normal School one year, and then was elected a member of the faculty of the Indiana State Normal School, where he taught for a period of twelve years. In 1888 he resigned his position at Indiana, and with A. W. Wilson, Jr., established the Kiskiminitas Spring School, at Saltsburg, Westmoreland county, a private school for boys, which they have successfully conducted for sixteen years. In 1892 the Western University of Pennsylvania conferred on Mr. Fair the degree of Ph. D. To Robert Willis and Margaretta (Means) Fair the following children have been born: Ethel Marian, James Means, Helen McClelland and Lois Margaret. Ethel is a member of the Junior class at Vassar College; James is a member of the Freshman class in Lehigh University; and the other two are with their parents in their home by the Kiskiminitas, in Westmoreland county.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

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