Governor James A. Beaver Probably Millerstown's most notable citizen was Governor James A. Beaver, Brigadier General of the United States Army and twentieth Governor of Pennsylvania. He was of French Huguenat and German descent, the son of Jacob and Ann Eliza (Addams) Beaver, born on October 21, 1837, in the James G. Brandt property on Market Street in Millerstown (present home of Terrance and Stephania Crouse). The Governor's mother was born in Millerstown in the large stone house beside Savercool brickyard). His father was in the general merchandise and grain business in Millerstown, which was a great center of trade when the Pennsylvania Canal went through Millerstown. He died when James was just three years old. In 1846, the family moved to Belleville but young Beaver came back to Millerstown for some time where he attended school. In 1852 he entered Pine Grove Mills Academy and at age 17 was able to enter the junior class of Jefferson College and graduated in 1856. After college he practiced law in Bellefonte where he joined the Bellefonte Fencibles and became second lieutenant. If troops were necessary to save the Union, this would be the first company called from Pennsylvania. When President Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 volunteers to defend the nation, the ink was hardly dry before the Fenables, with Beaver as first lieutenant were on their way. Beaver's second enlistment in the service was with the 45th Regiment from Centre, Lancaster, Mifflin, Tioga, and Wayne Counties with Lieutenant Colonel Beaver in charge. Later, he was promoted to Colonel and given charge of the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers, a regiment made up of Centre County. During the Battle of Antietem, Colonel Beaver's only brother, Lieutenant J. Gilbert Beaver, was killed instantly at the head of his company. J. Gilbert Beaver was also born in Perry County. After the Battle of Fredericksburg, Colonel Beaver's regiment was ordered to the front and reported to duty to General Winfield Scott Hancock. While protecting a needed fording of the river at Chancellorsville, Colonel Beaver was shot, the bullet going through the fleshly part of his abdomen. He spent time in the hospital, went back to Bellefonte to recover, but was soon back in Harrisburg reporting for duty, his wound still open. President Lincoln called for 120,000 emergency men to help turn back Lee's army but Beaver's doctors refused to allow him to rejoin his regiment and he was given command of Camp Curtin. Beaver was wounded twice again but always returned to service, but in the Battle of Ream's Station, he lost his leg and almost his life. On November 10, 1864, President Lincoln appointed him Brigadier General of Volunteers, by brevet, for highly meritorious and distinguished conduct throughout the campaign, particularly for valuable service at Cold Harbor, while commanding a brigade. His excellent military background, his character, his bravery, and his love for his mother made him an excellent candidate for Governor. After leaving the Army, he returned to his new law firm where he won the respect and admiration of all who knew him. He was drafted by the Republican Party to run for State Legislature but was defeated in the general election, Centre County being strongly Democratic. In 1865 he married Mary McAllister, a daughter of his law partner. He continually refused to be a candidate for Congress. It would take pages to list his positions of honor and trust on various committees and organizations. At the 1880 Republican National Convention, Beaver possibly gave up a chance at the United States Presidency by declining the nomination for vice president because he knew his friends in Pennsylvania wanted him to run for governor. In 1882 Beaver ran on the Republican ticket for governor but an independent ticket split the Republican vote and caused Beaver's defeat. Nominated again in 1886, he was elected Governor of the State of Pennsylvania by 42,000 votes over his opponent, Chauncey F. Black. He was inaugurated on January 18, 1887, and during his administration he passed legislation dealing with the betterment of life. It was during his term in office that the great Johnstown flood occurred. He was Chief Marshall of President Benjamin Harrison's inaugural parade in 1889, and during the same year led the National Guard at the Centennial Celebration of Washington's inauguration as first President of the United States. In 1888, at the first reunion of the Union and Confederate Armies at Gettysburg, he delivered the Welcome Address. At the time of his death in 1914, he was Judge of the Supreme Court, an office he had held since 1895. In 1873 he became a trustee of the Pennsylvania State College in State College (Penn State) and served on this Board for 41 years. Beaver Stadium, the home of Penn State Nittany Lions and Beaver Avenue in State College, stand today as the two most obvious memorials to James Addams Beaver. Beaver was a very religious Presbyterian and served on many church affiliated organizations including the State Sunday School Association and the Young Men's Christian Association. Governor Beaver died January 31, 1914 and was buried in Bellefonte. He had five children. One of the Governor's half sisters, Mrs. Anna McDonald Eckels was a resident of Millerstown as was Mr. D. M. Rickabaugh, classmate and intimate, lifelong friend of the Governor. Governor Beaver was the last of four Civil War Generals the Republican Party ran for Governor and was called 'one of the purest and cleanest men' in Pennsylvania Politics. One of his last public appearances was at the Blain Picnic in 1911 when he spoke of his pride in being a Perry Countian.   Thomas Cochran Another well-known merchant was Thomas Cochran, Thomas Preston Cochran's father. Born in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1776, he and his three brothers were forced to flee to the United States where they bought ground in Chester County and laid out the town, Cochransville, which still bears their name. In 1801, Thomas moved to Millerstown, taught school and engaged in the mercantile business. In this store he kept the first tavern (hotel) in the town and operated both the store and the tavern until 1813. During the War of 1812, he was postmaster, therefore, he couldn't enlist in the Army. In 1813, he sold the hotel but continued owning the store until 1835, when his son Thomas Preston Cochran took over. He and his wife were the principal promoters and supporters of the Presbyterian Church built in 1832 in Millerstown. A long time member of the Presbyterian Church, he served for a number of years as elder of the church. Thomas Preston Cochran was born in Millerstown in 1813, was educated in the town's schools, studied for two years at West Nottingham Academy in Maryland, attended Cannonsburg College in Washington, PA, for three years and then studied medicine in Philadelphia. Because of failing sight, he had to give up his preparation to be a doctor and returned home to Millerstown still determined to be successful. He took over his father's store upon his dad's retirement and was a very successful merchant. Later, he sold the store, bought a farm in Greenwood Township, and pursued farming as a career; eventually owning several farms. He led a very active civic life, including County Commisioner and numerous borough and township offices. He was married three times: first, to Miss Jane Patterson, daughter of John Patterson of Juniata County; second, to Rebecca Black, daughter of John Black of Tuscarora Township, and third, to Hannah Maria Kauffman, daughter of Samuel Kauffman of Juniata County.   Thomas P. Cathcart Thomas P. Cathcart, another well-known merchant of Millerstown was born in Greenwood township in 1861. The Cathcarts were originally from Scotland and settled in Cumberland County where they accumulated a large amount of property and were highly respected. Thomas was educated in the Millerstown schools until age 16 when he spent three years learning a trade in Cochransville, Chester County, and worked for eight months. In 1883, he returned to Millerstown, erected a store and built the largest and most profitable business in the area. He was an active Democrat, served as town councilman, and was a member of the Golden Eagle Lodge of Millerstown. He married Lynda Holman, daughter of Jacob and Sarah Ann (Wallace) of Liverpool.   George Beaver George Beaver was the father of the local Beavers. His younger brother Jacob was the father of James Addams Beaver who later became Governor of Pennsylvania. Jacob died at the age of 35 and his widow remarried and moved to Centre County when James was very young. George Beaver purchased the Pfoutz Valley farm which has been owned by successive generations of Beavers and is now the property of Sara Hoover, widow of Ross Beaver. George Beaver changed politics several times. He was a Democrat until 1854, then belonged to the short-lived Know-Nothing party and finally became a Republican. He and others published a Republican paper called People's Advocate and Press. He served as county commissioner for one year and was elected to the state legislature in 1841. His meticulously kept records show his close relation with his brothers in business and with his neighbors and acquaintances both in business and in politics.
Notable People in Millerstown History
Photo by : John Allison  @       Riverside Framing