googled myself and found my great-great-great-great grandfather

September 20, 2005

This page has a blurb about the first Ira Canfield Mitchell — my Great-Great-Great Grandfather (and his parents). I’m the fifth, but I think not technically, as I found out a while back that a generation was skipped early on (I’m such a fraud!). Anyway, it’s a trip to think about this guy who has been dead for 125 years who I share a name with and his father the Reverend Nathan J. Mitchell (who apparently married well). Ira Canfield Mitchell was born at Howard, Centre Co., Pa. He is a son of Rev. Nathan J. Mitchell and Mrs. Sarah B. Mitchell, who was a sister of ex-Governor William F. Packer; educated at the public schools of his native township, and at Dickinson Seminary; admitted to the bar on motion of ex-Governor Andrew G. Curtin, at Bellefonte, Centre Co., April 28, 1854; practiced successfully until 1862; went to the West and had a successful career until 1877, when he returned to Lock Haven, where he has since remained.

Among the many highly respected citizens of the borough may be mentioned the Rev. Nathan J. Mitchell, the head of the Disciples’ Church in Central Pennsylvania. He was born March 2, 1808, in Washington County, this State, and came to Howard in 1832 from Stark County, Ohio, where he had just married a sister of Governor Packer. Mr. Mitchell is a man of great intelligence, being well informed on general topics as well as the doctrines of his church, and has many warm personal friends in Centre County.

6 Responses to “googled myself and found my great-great-great-great grandfather”

  1. Ira Says:

    This Nathan Mitchell guy was quite a firebrand:

    HOWARD, Centre Co. Pa. April 15th, 1833.

    THE Presbyterians in this vicinity can preach regeneration, the new birth, and every thing relative to remission of sins and an acceptance in Christ, and the creature remain as inactive as the Blue Ridge in Virginia. God does all the work, just as he spoke the universe into existence by his omnipotent fiat. This they call a harder way of being saved than in obeying the gospel. Excellent logic truly! The disciples need much encouragement in this vicinity, the sects redoubling their efforts to do that which they say God alone can do. No proclaimer of the ancient gospel but one in the county, you may easily guess the opposition he meets with. The Harbinger I believe will do much good in this part.

  2. Ira Says:

    A description of the church he started from


    A congregation or religious society known as “Disciples of Christ,” or Christians, “(the title first given to the disciples of Christ about the year 41), was organized at Howard in the summer of 1832 by Elder Nathan J. Mitchell. Neither their religious principles nor the people themselves were at that time known in Centre County. Having no human creed or symbol of faith and claiming the Bible alone as the rule of faith and practice, it was incumbent upon him to make known orally the object and principles of the society. The organization consisted of five persons: Henry B. Yarnel, Job Rendel, Harriet Way, the Elder and his wife. The organization has continued to the present time. It has never exceeded eighty or ninety members, owing somewhat to death and to a constant emmigration west.

    In October of 1859 the congregation at Howard erected a church in what is now the borough. Hitherto they had worshipped in dwellings and school houses. The principal contributor to this church was John P. Packer, (a brother of the Elder’s wife, also of Gov. William F. Packer). He became a member of the church in 1841. The house of worship is not large, but quite comfortably arranged. It is a frame structure and cost two thousand dollars.

    In 1832 Elder Mitchell extended his labors down the Bald Eagle valley to Mill Hall, which was then in Centre county, and preached in different localities between Howard and Mill Hall. The same year he organized a church in what was called the Beach Creek neighborhood. It was composed of about ninety members. Here a house of worship was erected by the joint efforts of the Mennonites and Disciples. In a short time the former surrendered their entire membership to the Disciples, who became sole owners of the building. This house was occuplied by the Disciples until 1869, when a lot on the opposite side of the public road was purchased and a large and commodious brick edifice erected. It has a capacious basement and a beautiful audience room above.

    This congregation once numbered among its members ex-Sheriff J. J. Lingle, now of Philipsburg, this county; Hon. James Chatham and Orin T. Noble, Esq, both now of Lock Haven. Austin Leonard, an elder of the first organization resides in Beech Creek, three-fourths of a mile from the church. He has stood for forty-five years a pillar in the church and a citizen of irreproachable reputation. The Disciples organized a congregation in Curtin township many years ago. Their house, of a more recent date, is a pleasant and convenient building. The have a good Sunday-school and meet for worship every Lord’s day.–Elder Nathan J. Mitchell


    Obit of the first Ira:


    At His Residence on Sunday Afternoon at O’clock,


    At One Time He Stood at the Head Of the Centre County Bar – Overwork During the Last Presidential Campaign the Principal Cause of His Death – He was also a Minister of the Gospel and in this Capacity Tried to Make the World Better

    “Perhaps t h ere was no more familiar figure on the streets of Bellefonte during the last three years than that of Ira C. Mitchell, Esq. He was not tall in statue but other wise the picture of health, and his genial and cordial disposition kept him in touch with his fellow men. Last Sunday at about 5
    o’clock this respected citizen and able practitioner of the law joined the innumerable host beyond the grave. His death, although expected, was a shock to many of his friends. During the last Presidential campaign Mr. Mitchell was a strong advocate of Bryanism, and, being an eloquent and forcible speaker, he was employed to speak nightly in different parts of the State. Before starting out he had just recovered from a severe attack of the grip, and when he returned home after the campaign it was found t hat h is health was so completely shattered that he had to abandon the practice of law. Being also a Deciple minister, he left Bellefonte and went to Ohio where he conducted several very successful revivals. His health how ever, failed again and sever al weeks ago he came home to recuperate, but instead of growing better he continued gradually to grow worse, his physicians pronouncing the disease gastric fever. Dr. M. J. Locke was the attending physician, but it was finally decided to call in another physician, so Dr. F. P. Smith, of Lock Haven, was sent for. He came, but it was found that Mr. Mitchell was past any medical aid. He continued to sink until the end came calmly and peacefully.

    Ira C. Mitchell was a native of Centre county, having been born in Howard on April 16th 1833, and therefore his age was 64 years, 3 months and 9 days. At the age of 18 he graduated from Dickinson Seminary and for a number years afterward he taught school, receiving his certificate from Supt. Gibson who was then county superintendent. He commenced the study of law with Bathan A Atwood, Esq., at Lock Haven and in 1854 he was admitted to practice in the courts of Centre county with Judge James Burnside on the bench. At that time the bar of Centre county was said to be the best in the State, and the subject of this sketch was endowed with natural ability and eloquence that he stood a peer above many of the noted jurists of his day. The late C. T. Alexander, Esq., studied law under him and after he was admitted to the bar the firm of Mitchell & Alexander was created, and both being bright and capable men, the firm at once began to prosper and gain a large practice. He was a democrat and so popular at that time that he could have asked for any political position within the gift of the Centre county democracy.

    In the year 1861 Mr. Mitchell purchased from William Hayes the property now owned and occupied by Editor P. Gray Meek and was than one of the most prosperous men to be found in the county. The late D. G. Bush, of Bellefonte, studied law with the deceased and from him he inherited, as it were, some of his zeal and push. In 1862 the firm of Mitchell & Alexander dissolved and Mr. Mitchell then recruited a company in Centre county and took them to Huntingdon, after which he left this part of the country and went to Iowa, thence to Texas and finally wound up in Nova Scotia. While in Iowa he was nominated for congress and made a strong fight but was defeated by a small majority. In 1870 he returned to Bellefonte where he hung out his shingle and tried again the practice of law in this county, but for some reason he was not able to regain his former practice. Besides being a lawyer Mr. Mitchell was ordained as a Deciple minister and he soon turned his attention to preaching the Gospel, and for a number of years held many prominent appointments throughout the West and in Virginia and Alabama. In this calling he gained notoriety and did much good everywhere he went. In the spring of 1894 he and his family returned to Bellefonte and took up their residence on Spring street. Mr. Mitchell opened up an office in Crider’s Exchange, but his health gradually failed and he was compelled to abandon his profession entirely. Since then he was in Ohio conducting evangelistic meetings, the result of which we have already stated. He was a great promoter of education and in 1855 had the honor of establishing the first normal school in this part of the state, at Howard. He was assisted by Prof. A. K. Brown, a man who figured prominently among the most intelligent people of that day.

    The deceased was married three times. His first wife w as Melissa Edgar, of Kentucky. One son, Edgar, Lancaster, Pa., survives this marriage. His second wife was Sophia Elliot, of Bradford, by whom he had one child, Nathan J., now residing in New York City. The third marriage was to Mrs. Mary A. McKibben, of Lock Haven, whose maiden name was Darah. Three children survive t his marriage: Charity A., John P. and James A. His step-daughter, Miss Lizzie McKibben, also made her home with him and was loved and respected by him h is own children.

    His grand-father on his mother’s side was Packer. His maternal grand-mother was Charity, daughter of Hezekiah Bye, who was an emigrant front half Moon township, in this county, to a point near New Libson, Ohio. A bout the same time his father’s ancestors went to Belmont county. Both the Packers and the Byes were of the Quaker Persuasion. His Grandfather Packer owned and occupied the farm opposite Howard which is still owned by his descendants and on which the Hon. John A. Wood ward now lives there was born then Hezekiah Bye, William Fisher, John Pettie and Sarah Bye Packer. William F. was the last governor of this state before the war of the rebellion. About the year 1820 began the religious movement known as the Deciples of Christ in the southwestern counties of this state. Among the leading actors in which were Thomas Campbell and his son Alexandria, Nathan J. Mitchell, t he father of the subject of this sketch, and his two brothers James and David were among the pioneer preachers in this movement. On the 12th of January, Nathan J. Mitchell was married to Sarah Bye Packer and shortly afterwards settled in the Bald Eagle valley, where he continued to reside till the close of his life in the year 1 886. He was a devoted and earnest minister of the gospel and his wife was a helpmate for him. In about 75 years the religious body with which he was connected has grown from a small congregation in Washington county Pa., to be the fifth in the number of its communicants of the protestant denominations in the United States.

    Mr. Mitchell was an able, frank and generous type of manhood. His aim was unselfish and his life was made up of many little acts of love and charity that now have their reward. He was a kind neighbor, a faithful husband and a loving father who endeared himself to the members of his family. His friends were found in all the walks of life, for the passport of his friendship was not wealth but manliness. He was of a highly social nature and he cultivated that disposition.

    The funeral took place Tuesday morning at 11:30 o’clock. Services were held at the house, conducted by Rev. Dr. Laurie assisted by Rev. Nathan L. Atwood, of Girard, Indiana county, who knew the deceased from boyhood. He spoke in beautiful terms of him and said that probably he would soon be called to meet him on the other side. Rev. M. S Blair, of Mt. Eagle, made a fervent prayer. The Presbyterian choir was present and sang very effectingly the two following pieces: “He Leadeth me,” and “The Home of the Soul.” After the service the remains were taken to Howard on the afternoon train where they were interred in the family burying ground previously owned by Governor Win. F. Packer. Mr. Mitchell’s mother was the only sister of Governor Packer.

    The pall-bearers in Bellefonte were Clement Dale, Ellis Orvis, L. A. Schaeffer, D. F. Fortney, M. I. Gardner and John Kline. The following pall-bears officiated at Howard: B. Weber, A. W. Gardner, J. C. Leathers, A. Weber, H. A. Moore, William Heverly and W. R. Gardner.

    The Centre County Bar Association attended the funeral and escorted the body to the train, and a committee of ten of the members accompanied the remains to Howard.

    The Bar Association held a meeting Monday to take action in regard to the death of Ira C. Mitchell, Esq. On motion by Y. Stitzer, Esq., was chosen chairman and J. C. Harper, Esq., secretary. On motion of W. C. Heinle, Esq., a committee of five was appointed to draft resolutions and report at the next term of court, president of the meeting to act as chairman of said committee. Followlng persons constituted the committee : H. Y. Stitzer, Hon. A. 0. Furst, Wm. C. Heinle, W. F. Reeder and E. L. Orvis. On motion of A. A. Dale, Esq., it was agreed that the bar attend the funeral in a body and escort the remains to the depot. On motion of E. L. Orvis, Esq., it was agreed that ten members of the bar accompany the funeral cortege to Howard, whereupon the chair appointed the following committee: W. E Gray, W. C. Heinle, S. D. Ray, W. J. Singer, W. H. H. Walker. John Kline, Harry Keller, J. C. Harper, H. Y. Stitzer and. N. B. Spangler. On motion W. C. Heinle, Esq., was appointed to secure carriages.”

    Another Ira…

    This URL mentions a preacher named Ira Mitchell on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia in 1869ish…

  3. Ira Says:

    Found out Ira C. Mitchell lived at 90 Park Ave E., Mansfield, OH (40 miles Southwest of Cleveland) in 1890. He performed a marriage ceremony in his residence as listed on

    Google Map:,+Mansfield,+OH+44902&ie=UTF8&z=14&ll=40.758245,-82.512302&spn=0.04499,0.107803&t=h&om=1&iwloc=A

  4. Ira Says:


    Mitchell, Ira C. — The Rev. Ira C. Mitchell. Of the Rev. Ira C. Mitchell, the new pastor of the Disciple church in this city, the Pan-Handle News of Wellsburg, W. Va., of Feb. 14 says: “Rev. Ira C. Mitchell left yesterday, with his family, for an enlarged field of labor with the church at Mansfield, O. Few men have gone from this community who ranked with him in force, eloquence and ability, either as minister or attorney. Socially, he was a most companionable man; pleasant and fascinating in conversation, deep, keen and logical whether in or out of the pulpit, and with a wide scope of general knowledge rarely met with in professional men. Although having come in contact with the people both as pastor and lawyer, yet he leaves behind him not one with an unkind feeling, and takes with him only their love, regard and good wishes. His noble wife and her bright, pleasant daughters will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of their acquaintance, and who knew them but to love them.” Submitted by Amy. [Mansfield Evening News: 18 February 1890, Vol. 5, No. 296]

  5. Darlene Says:

    Hi…I found your blog very interesting about Reverend Nathan J. Mitchell. I am on the Library Committee at the First Church of Christ in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Rev. Mitchell was instrumental in founding the church in Lock Haven. We are about to celebrate our 150th year and I am in process of gathering information about Nathan Mitchel. Rev. Mitchell published a book entitled, “The Life and Travels of a Pioneer Preacher” Would you happen to have come across this publication? Any additional information or sites you may have found concerning him would be appreciated if you would care to share. I do not have a lot of information at this time, but would be willing to share what I have if you would like. Thanks

  6. Louann Says:

    I was entering very old recipes and found a pamphlet “The Ohio Apple Cook book”
    Stamped with: “Complimentary of:
    Sunshine Fruit Farm,
    Wm F. Packer & Son,
    Phone: 84 R 12,
    Adena, Ohio,
    Located one mile East of Harrisville on Route 250

    I thought it was cool, so I thought I would share it with you. I Googled the name and found your page.

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