Samuel Steel, Co. K, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves

Biographies of Jefferson County. Commemorative Biographical Record.

Samuel Steel, who along with his wife was for seven years a leading and successful merchant of Sandy Valley, Jefferson County, where he served as postmaster four years, is a man of keen discrimination and sound judgment, and his executive ability and excellent management have secured for him a comfortable competence.

Mr. Steel was born July 14, 1834, in Indiana County, Penn., and comes of a family that has long been prominent in the affairs of the State. His early ancestors were from Ireland and on coming to the New World first located in eastern Pennsylvania, whence they removed to Westmoreland County and engaged in agricultural pursuits. The birth of William Steel, the father of our subject, occurred in Fayette County, but he was reared in Westmoreland County, where he married Experience Hill, a daughter of George Hill, a prominent farmer, and a minister of the Presbyterian Church, being one of twelve who organized the first church of that denomination in Westmoreland County. Of his sixteen children, the following grew to years of maturity: John, Alexander, William, James, George, David, Elizabeth, Sarah, Deborah, Mary, Ann, Nancy and Experience.

In 1832, William Steel removed to Indiana County, Penn., where from he wilderness he developed a farm, and was later employed in he construction of the old Pennsylvania canal, serving as foreman on a division for eleven years. He also owned several flat-boats which he used in transporting iron to Pittsburg down the Conemaugh River, but later he gave his attention to farming. He died in 1857, his wife in 1866, both earnest members of the Presbyterian Church. They were the parents of nine children, namely: Mrs. Elizabeth Carnahan; George (deceased); Mrs. Esther Finley; John, who was a Union soldier during the Civil War; Sarah, who died unmarried; Mrs. Nancy J. Benchoof; James, a carpenter by trade; Samuel, of this review; and Joseph, who also served his country during the Rebellion.

Samuel Steel, the subject proper of this sketch, was reared amidst rural scenes upon his father’s farm, and attended the common schools near his home. On coming to Jefferson County, in 1858, he located in Brookville, where he was living when the Civil War broke out. He then offered his services to the government, enlisting in 1861, at Brookville, in Capt. E. R. Brady’s company, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves. The regiment, which was commanded by Col. Thomas Gallager, was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and during its three-years’ service participated in many important battles. Mr. Steel was never wounded, but on May 5, 1864, at the battle of the Wilderness, he was taken prisoner with eighty-two others, including Gov. Edward Scofield, of Wisconsin, and was transferred to Gordon, Lynchburg and Danville consecutively. Later, he was incarcerated in Andersonville prison, and still later taken to Florence, S. C., where he remained until February 1865, when he was transferred to Wilmington, N. C. During the siege at that place he was removed to Goldsboro, in the same State, and a week later returned to the Federal lines twelve miles from Wilmington. Gen. Scofield then being in command at that place. By boat our subject went to Annapolis, where he landed March 4, 1865, and after recuperating was returned to Pittsburgh, where he was honorably discharged and paid off on the 16th of the same month.

Returning to Brookville, Mr. Steel engaged in lumbering, after his marriage locating on a farm, but continued to follow lumbering in connection with agriculture. At the end of sixteen years he disposed of his farm and removed to DuBois, Penn., where he made his home, coming to Sandy Valley in 1888. He purchased the property where he yet lives, and for a short time operated a planning mill, but subsequently bought the store mentioned above, which he stocked with a choice assortment of general merchandise, and until recently carried on business there, receiving from the public a liberal patronage. From July, 1893, he served four years as postmaster of the place, and proved a most popular and capable official.

In 1867 Mr. Steel was married to Miss Nancy J. McGee, a daughter of William and Rachel (Cathers) McGee, honored pioneers of the county, who where natives of Jefferson County, Penn., and New Jersey, respectively. Her father, who was of Scotch-Irish extraction, was the first white child born in the Beech Woods settlement, Washington Township, Jefferson County, and he improved a farm in that township, where his death occurred in 1861. He was a Baptist in religious belief; his wife, who died in 1875, held membership in the Presbyterian Church. They were the parents of five children: Nancy J., wife of our subject; Mrs. Rose M. MacIntosh; Mrs. Elizabeth Henderson; and John T. and Robert, both residents of San Francisco, California.

Nine children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Steel, namely, George, who died at the age of two and a half years; Minnie J., who died at the age of ten; Mrs. Sarah M. Hildebrand; William, who died at the age of four; John, Samuel, Joseph G., Loren A. and Charles B., all five yet at home. The mother is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and a most estimable lady. In his political affiliations, Mr. Steel is a Democrat; socially, he is identified with the Veteran Legion. He is a courteous, affable gentleman, and wherever he is found, whether in public or private life, his integrity is above question and his honor above reproach. Sandy Valley owes much to him, and numbers him among her valued citizens.

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Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.