My Genealogy Hound

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.

* * * *

JOHN HERMAN BOSLER was the oldest child of Abraham and Eliza (Herman) Bosler. He was born Dec. 14, 1830, near Hogestown, in Silver Spring township. His childhood and youth were spent upon the farm and at the Hogestown district school. When seventeen years of age he entered Cumberland Academy, a preparatory school then in existence at New Kingston, from which he entered Dickinson College, where he pursued his studies through the years of 1850 and 1851. Being predisposed to business rather than books, he then withdrew from college and entered into partnership with his father in the milling and distilling business, in which he continued for five years. He next engaged at the manufacture of iron in Huntingdon county for a period of two years, after which he returned to Cumberland county and again engaged at milling, and also at buying and shipping grain.

On Oct. 1, 1856, J. Herman Bosler was married to Miss Mary J. Kirk, of Mifflintown, Juniata county. Mary J. Kirk was a daughter of James and Martha (Sager) Kirk, and a descendant of an old and prominent family of central Pennsylvania. William Kirk, Sr., was born in the North of Ireland. He immigrated to America at an early date, married Mary McConnel, and settled near East Waterford, Lack township, in what is now Juniata county, at the same time that other members of his family settled in what is now Fulton county. He died in 1781. His son, William Kirk (2), was married twice, first to Mary Elliott and second to Jane Clark. He died on the old homestead in Lack township in 1843.

James Kirk, a son of William Kirk (2), by Mary Elliott, was born in Lack township and grew to manhood in that locality. He was educated in the common schools and under the private tuition of a Mr. White, an old Scotch teacher who had his home in the Kirk family for many years. When sixteen years old he left home to fight life’s battles for himself, going first to Churchtown, Cumberland county, where he taught school a term. He next went to Mifflintown, and there for a while clerked in the store of Robert Gallagher. From Mifflintown he went to Fulton county, where he and a cousin, also named James Kirk, for a short time jointly engaged in the mercantile business. He then returned to Mifflintown, and on June 9, 1835, was married to Martha Sager. After his marriage he went back to Fulton county and there spent two years more in the mercantile business, after which he for the third time went to Mifflintown, and there — first with Joseph Patterson and afterward by himself — conducted a general store until his death. He died in Mifflintown in September, 1870; his wife. Martha (Sager) Kirk, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Bosler, in Carlisle, March 16, 1884. Mr. Kirk was a Democrat, was active and prominent in politics, and was treasurer of Juniata county one term.

J. Herman Bosler continued in business in the vicinity of Carlisle for fifteen years with marked success. In 1869 he became interested in stock ranching in Nebraska and Wyoming with his brother, James W., investing heavily in the cattle business. They were the pioneer representatives of the western cattle business in Cumberland county and were very successful. Afterward J. Herman and George M. Bosler, with others, purchased a large body of land near the growing city of Omaha. This land subsequently was transferred to the South Omaha Land Company, of which J. Herman Bosler became vice-president and one of the heaviest stockholders. This proved to be a most fortunate purchase, for upon it was founded the town of South Omaha, which at first was three miles from the center of Omaha proper, but since has become a corporate part of the city itself. It today stands as a testimonial to the judgment and foresight of its founders. Mr. Bosler also interested himself in business enterprises as far away as the Pacific coast. In 1891 he and others, under the corporate designation of South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company, bought a large tract of land in San Mateo county, Cal., near the city of San Francisco. Subsequently this company made a second and much larger purchase of lands, with the view of developing its natural resources and establishing upon it, on an extensive scale, such industries as the rapid growth of that section calls for. This company has a capital of $2,000,000.

In his search for business opportunities Mr. Bosler did not overlook those which his own locality afforded. He assisted in organizing the Carlisle Manufacturing Company, which for many years provided steady employment to a large force of hands and was the means of bringing much needed money to the town. He was also president of the Carlisle Shoe Factory, a director of the Carlisle Deposit Bank; of the Merchants’ National Bank; of the Carlisle Gas & Water Company; of the Cumberland Valley Railroad Company, and president of the Carlisle Land & Improvement Company, an enterprise which built up a large addition to the town of Carlisle and established some important manufacturing industries. He owned a number of valuable farms in different parts of the county, in the management of which he found great pleasure, chiefly because it afforded him a restful diversion from business. Through his farming interests, and his close association with others similarly interested, he was induced to join the Cumberland County Agricultural Society and proved himself a most influential friend and patron of that useful organization.

Although a man constantly vexed with a great load of business cares and responsibilities, Mr. Bosler was possessed of most agreeable social qualities. He was genial, affable and kind. He had a pleasant word for everybody and few people were more generally known or more highly esteemed and popular. He was a man of excellent habits and character, took a deep interest in religious affairs, was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, and gave liberally to its support and the support of all its charities. In politics he was a stanch Democrat and supported his party and its policies zealously, but never sought office. In 1888 he was the Democratic Presidential elector from the Nineteenth Congressional district and was frequently urged to stand for higher office, but always declined because of the pressure of his many business interests. He died on Nov. 18, 1897, and his remains are interred in Ashland cemetery. He was one of the most honored and most conspicuous citizens of his section of the State, and few men in this country have won the measure of business success that he achieved.

As a lasting memorial to Mr. Bosler, his widow and five children erected a handsome public library building in Carlisle, known as “The J. Herman Bosler Memorial Library.” Entirely completed and equipped with furniture and books, it was formally transferred to trustees on Jan. 30, 1900, together with an endowment fund of $20,000. The presentation address was made by Herman E. Bosler, son of the deceased, at a large and representative assemblage in the building which was presided over by Hon. Edward W. Biddle, President Judge of the county. Addresses were made by the chairman and by Rev. George Norcross, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, and by Rev. Dr. George Edward Reed, president of Dickinson College and State Librarian. The building has a frontage on West High street of 57 feet and a depth of 88 feet, standing on a lot 63 by 110 feet. It is a handsome specimen of classic architecture, the front being constructed of Avondale marble with a massive columned entrance. About 4,400 books are now upon its shelves under the care of the efficient and popular librarian, W. Homer Ames. The trustees are: Rev. Dr. George Norcross, president; Hon. Edward W. Biddle, vice-president; John M. Rhey, secretary; Edward B. Watts, treasurer; J. Kirk Bosler; Mrs. Edward W. Biddle; Charles F. Himes; Joseph Bosler; Mrs. Ellen A. Parker; John B. Landis; Mrs. Florence P. McIntire.

To John Herman and Mary J. (Kirk) Bosler the following children were born: Gertrude D.; Herman E.; Lila McClellan; Jean M.; Fleta K., and J. Kirk. There were also four others who died in infancy. Gertrude D. is the wife of Judge Edward W. Biddle, whose biography appears in another part of this volume. Herman E. was secretary and treasurer of the Fidelity & Deposit Company of Baltimore until ill health compelled him to give up the position four years ago. He married Carolyn Dickey Dulany and resides in Baltimore. Lila McClellan married Edward Hooker, of Omaha. She died April 3, 1896, without issue. Jean M. is the wife of James I. Chamberlain, Esq., attorney at law, of Harrisburg, and Fleta K. is the wife of Chester C. Basehore, Esq., attorney at law of Carlisle.

* * * *

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. 

View additional Cumberland County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Biographies

View a historic 1911 map of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

View family biographies for other states and counties

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.