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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman 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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WILLIAM CANAM, superintendent of the finishing department of the steel mill of the Bethlehem Iron Company, has been with them since the starting of the works in Bethlehem in 1862-63. He assisted in making the first steel rail in South Bethlehem, and since 1862 has been connected with this giant industry. A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Canam was born in Huntingdon County, October 7, 1827, being a son of Richard Canam, who was born in Connecticut and was a merchant by occupation. The family is of Scotch-Irish descent. Richard Canam came to Pennsylvania when a young man, starting in business in what is now Racetown, and afterward going to Alexandria, where he engaged in merchandising until his death, at the age of forty-five years. His wife, who was of Irish descent, was in her girlhood Susan Thompson, a native of Huntingdon County and a daughter of John Thompson, also a native of the same place. The mother died about the year 1856, in her seventy-fifth year. Of her seven children, only two are living, our subject and his sister, Mrs. Rebecca Moss Ward, of Marietta, Ohio. A remarkable fact connected with the Canam family is that eight nephews of William Canam and two brothers-in-law took part in the late war.

William Canam was reared until his fifteenth year in the county of his birth, where he attended the common schools and learned the carriage-maker’s trade in Hollidaysburg. As early as 1840 he worked in a rolling-mill at Alexandria, and then went to northwestern Pennsylvania. Later he was employed at Brady’s Bend as a millwright, building rolling-mills. At Johnstown he worked as assistant at rolls in the mills at that place. In 1862, coming to Bethlehem at the solicitation of John Fritz, he took charge of the finishing department upon the opening of the mills (having previously assisted to put the machinery in the rolling department of both mills) until the new rolling-mill started, when he was given a similar position, and in 1873, still having charge of the finishing department, assisted in manufacturing and finishing the first steel rails, they being cast October 4, and rolled and finished October 18. These were made for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Some time after this Mr. Canam became assistant to John Fritz in the steelmill. He is a stock-holder in the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and formerly owned stock in the Northern Pacific Railroad, which, however, he disposed of.

Since 1864 the residence of our subject has been at No. 147 South New Street. In 1850 he married Miss Rebecca Homan, who was born in Venango County, and died in Bethlehem in 1879. Of their nine children, five grew to maturity. Clara is now Mrs. Frank Bynon, of Denver, Colo.; Mary, who died in Bethlehem in 1891, was the wife of H. A. Grroman; Annie is Mrs. Oliver Wilson, of Elmira, N. Y.; Edith became the wife of J. Paul McNeal, of Philadelphia; and Grace is attending Stroudsburg Normal School. In July, 1888, Mr. Canam married Mrs. Rebecca B. Talley, who was born in Wilmington, Del., and is a daughter of Richard C. McBride, a native of New Jersey. The latter was a contractor and builder at Wilmington and later in New Castle, Del., where he died in 1869. Mrs. Canam’s ancestors were of Scotch-Irish descent, and her mother bore the maiden name of Sarah A. Gibbon. Ephraim Gibbon, the father of the latter, was a farmer near Greenwich, N. J. Mrs. Canam, who is the eldest of eight children, was reared in New Castle, and married in Philadelphia Charles L. Talley, who was a hardware merchant in Philadelphia, where his death occurred. They were the parents of four children, two of whom are living. Leonard Kent, a graduate in pharmacy, is in the United States Navy; and Anna is at school in Stroudsburg. Mr. and Mrs. Canam have three children, Isabel, Florence and Helen. The wife is a member of the Baptist Church. Mr. Canam was formerly a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is a Master Mason. In politics he is a true-blue Republican, and is personally well liked by his large circle of friends and acquaintances.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

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

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