Ohio Biographies

Christopher Potter

Christopher Potter, a representative citizen of Delaware, was born in County Meath, Ireland, March 27, 1831, and is a son of John and Mary (Lynch) Potter. In Ireland, John Putter was considered a man of some little means and it was not with the thought of increasing his own wealth that he came with his Family in America, in 1844, but with the hope that in this country his children might find easier conditions and better opportunities than prevailed in his own land, he discovered, however, as did many another emigrant that the capital broughl so confidently from the old home soon melted away, in providing for a hundred unforseen wants. He found after locating at Utica, New York, that he was not able to care as thoroughly for his family as heretofore, and that his elder sons would have to become self-supporting and help to provide also for the younger members of the family. He bought a small farm in Westmoreland Township, Oneida County, New York, and settling on it devoted the rest of his life to its cultivation, he died in the fall of 1852, at the age of sixty-five years. His wife died in October, 1849, aged fifty-two. Their second son, James, died in Ireland, in 1843, while serving an apprenticeship to the blacksmith trade. The oldest of the family, William, learned the carpenter's trade and worked in Westmoreland, New York, where he died in 1848. He married Bridget Devoe.

The other children of John Potter and wife were: Ann. John, Christopher, Nicholas, Mark. Francis and Stephen. Ann Potter married Nicholas Walsh and accompanied him to Rome, New York, where he had a position as foreman on a boat in the service of the State, He probably met an accidental death as his lifeless body was found in the sand after he had been absent from home for an unusual time. He left one child and his widow with her babe came to Delaware County with Mrs. Walsh's brother John, taking up their residence in a house owned by Christopher Potter, opposite The Children's Home. John Potter subsequently married and then bought property on Central Avenue, Delaware, on which he built a residence, and his death occurred in March, 1907. Mrs. Walsh, who is now over eighty years of age, makes her home with a nephew. John Potter is survived by a son, Frank Potter, who is employed by the Big Four Railroad as baggage master.

Nicholas Potter resided on the home farm until his father died, when he came to Delaware, Ohio. After five years of railroad work he bought a farm in Troy Township, Delaware County, on which he lived some seven years, when he sold out and moved to Columbus. He married Rosa Dunn, who died in 1891, and they had four daughters and four sons. One of his sons went to the Klondyke gold regions. Another is employed as yard master for a railroad entering Columbus and one is a stationary engineer. Mark Potter also secured a railroad position, being walking foreman for a long period, for the Big Four Railroad, between Columbus and Lewis Center, Ohio, He never married. He died at Columbus, where he was first interred, but in 1907, his brother Christopher had his body brought to Delaware.

Francis Potter resided with his brother Christopher until 1858, when he went to Sedalia, Illinois, where he was living when the Civil War broke out, being engaged as a contractor on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. He immediately enlisted in the Federal Army and served three months and then re-enlisted for three years, but was taken ill and refused hospital care, dying in the service, in the first year of the war. He held the rank of corporal.

Stephen Potter remained at home with his father until the latter's death and then joined his brother at Dresden, where he learned the cooper's trade. Later he came to Ohio, where his brother Christopher extended to him a helping hand, securing him a railroad position. After frequent promotions, he was made yardmaster and thus continued until he was appointed postmaster of Delaware, by President Cleveland, during the latter's second administration. Since retiring as postmaster, he has twice been elected county commissioner of Delaware County, largely on account of his personal popularity, he being a Democrat and the county being normally Republican by a majority of 600 votes. Stephen Potter married Ellen Qualey. and they have one son, who is chief clerk at Little Rock. Arkansas, for the Iron Mountain Railroad. He married and his one son is employed in the office of the locomotive department, being chief clerk for the chief engineer of the Iron Mountain Railway system. He also secured his position through the good offices of Christopher Potter.

Christopher Potter came to Ohio in the spring of 1851, locating first in the city of Cleveland. He came to find work and it was characteristic of the boy, as it later was of the man, to find what he sought. He was soon lured to check off pork and beef, for a salary of $14 a month, shortly afterward finding an easier position at the same salary with George Nichols, near Elyria, and from there he went to Detroit, Michigan. In the meantime he had married and shortly afterward he secured a situation as section foreman on the Lake Shore Railroad, his first work being on the construction of the line. Starting as section boss with a salary of $36 a month, he was soon atter made conductor of a construction train. From railroad work Mr. Potter turned his attention to investing in land, this being just the time when agents for Nebraska land were visiting prosperous communities in the East. Mr. Potter invested some of his hard-earned money in a land claim and traveled many miles and lived on deer and corn pone in order to reach it. When he finally found it he discovered that it was occupied by a family of squatters. The question of ownership was amicably adjusted, however, the squatters paying for the claim, and he set out on foot on his return journey, meeting on his way with many adventures.

After his return to Ohio he resumed work for the Lake Shore Railroad, receiving $60 a month, and he continued thus occupied for some years. In 1857 he purchased a farm in Lorain County. Ohio, which he subsequently sold, buying other property. In 1858 he went to Cleveland and became fireman on the Lake Shore road. After his second marrage in the following year, he moved with his wife to Lewis Center, and in the spring of 1860, for a short time, resided in Delaware, but in the same year he returned to Lewis Center, near which he bought a farm of eighty acres, during all this time retaining his position on the railroad. At the beginning of the Civil War he worked a large force of men, engaged in purchasing Land and chopping wood. In 1870 he returned to Delaware and became roadmaster between this city and Cincinnati, a position he filled until 1892, later taking in the Columbus division from Columbus to Cleveland, and in October of this year filling the office of superintendent of stone quarries. Mr. Potter then went to Indianapolis and accepted tlie position of roadmaster on the Big Four Railroad, from Lafayette to Indianapolis, where he continued for eleven months, going thence to Desoto, Missouri, where he was roadmaster from St. Louis to Poplar Bluff and all branches, a position he retained until 1902. He took charge of the Bontair Railroad in .Missouri, where he remained one year and was made roadmaster of the Cotton Belt Railmad from Greenway to Pine Bluff. This road he left in 1905. His last railroad employment was as roadmaster of the Magnetic Springs Railroad, from which he retired in November, 1907. Few railroad men are better knjown or more kindly remembered by their associates than Mr. Potter.

In 1851, Mr. Potter was married (first) to Catherine Burns, who was a daughter of Patrick and Elizabeth Burns, of Brownhelm, Lorain County, Ohio. They had one son, George N., who died at the age of five years, his death being followed four months later by that of his mother. Mr. Potter was married secondly, in 1859, to Emily Moran, who is a daughter of Francis and Emily (Baldwin) Moran. Mr. Moran was born in Ireland and his wife in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, removing at the age of nine years to Lorain County. Of Mr. Potter's second union there have been four sons and one daughter, namely: George F., Mary E, Francis C, William J. and Edward S.

George F. Potter has been supervisor of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad between Cincinnati and Columbus for the past twenty years. He married Mary Breen, a daughter of Thomas and Ellen Breen, of Marion, Ohio, and they have children—Emily N., Helen C, Mary. Alice. George F., Dorothy and Margaret. Mary E Potter married Joseph D. Teasdale, and they reside at Kansas City. Missouri, Mr. Teasdale being division superintendent of the Kansas City Street Railway. He has one child, William Bernard. Francis C. Potter died in 1887. He was chief clerk in the roadmaster's office at Delaware. William J. Potter is an engineer on the Big Four Railroad running between Delaware and Cincinnati. He married Josie Sullivan, who died in 1907. She was a daughter of Michael and Mary Sullivan, residents of Delaware. Mrs. William J. Potter left five children—Marie Frances. Christina, Ellen, Edward and James. Edward S. Potter died March 4, 1894, in Missouri, while in his father's employ, he being a collector for the Baltimore & Ohio and the Big Four Railroads.

Mr. and Mrs. Potter are members of St. Mary's Catholic Church at Delaware. Mrs. Potter was educated at the Ursuline Convent at Cleveland. In 1873 Mr. Potter erected The Children's Home, where he resided for thirteen years. He sold this beautiful property in 1885. In politics he is a Democrat, but when he was a candidate for the Board of Public Service at Delaware, he had no difficulty in overcoming a normal Republican majority of from 400 to 450 votes. His fellow-citizens, irrespective of party, hold him in high esteem.


From 20th Century History of Delaware County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens by James R. Lytle