John M. Henry, one of the most successful business men of Unity
Township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, comes of good old Pennsylvania
stock, and is decdnded from one John Henry, his grandfather, who was born
March 7, 1777. The Henry family is of German origin, but whether this original
John Henry was born in that country or been decended from German parents,
has not been definitely ascertained. However that may be, he owned a farm
in Westmoreland county conssisting of some one hundred and ninety acres,
one hundred and twenty of which now constitute the Palmer farm in Unity
township. Here he spent a large portion of his life, engaged in farming,
and here he eventually died on March 15, 1855. He married Mary Magdelina
Noel, a member of another very old Westmoreland county family, and among
their children was John S. Henry, the father of John M. Henry, of this
review. He was one of two children, the other being a sister Mary, who
later became the wife of Michael Palmer, who died in Youngstown in 1916.
To Mrs. Palmer the old Henry homstead was left, which is now in the possession
of her son, Edward Palmer. Mary (Henry) Palmer's death occurred while she
was still a very young woman. John S. Henry became the owner of a farm
that was originally a portion of the old Nosker farm of about thirteen
hundred acres, and here he lived during the major portion of his life.
He married Eliza Noel, and they were the parents of eleven children, as
follows: Israel J., who now resides in Derry township; Matilda, who
became the wife of Frank J. Slater, and eventually died in Latrobe; Elias
C. who is engaged in business as a carpenter at Greensburg; Eliza Agnes,
who became the wife of Frank Miller, and eventually died at Manitou; John
M. with whose career we are particularly concerned; Edward, who died when
but twenty-two years of age after taking a course in pharmacy at the State
College; and five other children now deceased. John S. Henry erected the
handsome barn, forty-five by sixty-five feet in dimensions, in the year
1859. He and his wife were Catholics in their religious belief and attended
St. Vincent's Church which is located about two miles from their farm.
Born on April 11,
1862, on this old farm, John M. Henry son of John S. and Eliza (Noel) Henry, passed the years of his childhood there and gained his education at the local public schools. While still a young man he purchased interests in his father's farm, which was located in the coal region and which was one of the most prolific in that neighborhood. In the year 1880 the underlying
coal was sold at the rate of seventy-five dollars per acre. For a time Mr. Henry followed farming as his occupation, but eventually entered the paper hanging and slating business which he has developed to its present large proportions. His sons are associated with him in this enterprise, and the firm makes a specialty of slate roofing, a line of industry that demands more than the supply can keep pace with at the present time. In this he has made a great success and has done a very large business in and about that region. John M. Henry was united in marriage, January 9, 1884, with Amelia Thana, a daughter of John and Catherine (Beckman) Thana who came from Germany in 1846 in the same ship that brought the Rev. Francis Boniface
Wimmer, who was the founder in America of the Benedictine Order of St. Vincent. They had been his parishioners in Germany and were ready to follow him to America, where they continued in close relationship with him and were communicants of the mother church here. They resided in Denison in Unity township, where Mrs. Henry was born, and they are buried at St.
Vincent's, their deaths occurring at the ages of seventy-five and seventy years respectiveely. They were the parents of two sons, besides their daughter, Mrs. Henry, Thomas, of Latrobe, and Clement, who died at the age of thirty-two years. To Mr. and Mrs. Henry the following children have been born: Joseph, who died in childhood; Mary T. who became the wife of Charles B. Smucker, who resides at St. Vincent's Crossing, where he is employed as a machinist; Charles J. who is engaged in business as a carpenter in Latrobe, and who married Blanche Nessler; Catherine, who became the wife of James A. Mills, of Mine No. 1, at Connellsville; Edward, who is now engaged in business as a blacksmith; and Francis. Edward and Francis are the two sons who are engaged waith their father in the paper hanging and slate roofing business and are members of the firm with him. Mr. and Mrs. Henry and all their children are members of the Catholic church and all attend St. Vincent's Church of that denomination. They are all of them Democrats, but do not take an active part in the actual politics of the region. They
are all possessed of a strong musical talent and the sons are all members of an orchestra. Mr. Henry is a fine type of the Pennsylvania business man and merchant, absolutely honest and square in his dealings with all men, a strict disciplinarian where his own conduct is in question, keeping himself closely to work at his daily tasks, yet tolerant of other men. A great lover of home and all its associations, he finds his chief happiness by his own fireside and is a most devoted husband and father. He is of a retiring disposition, as may well be observed in his connections with politics. He is a strong supporter of the Democratic party and the principles and policies which it stands for, but he neglects to press his position of influence as one of the most important citizens of the community, and never held any office. It is said of such men that it is more than ever the duty of prosperity to preserve the records in order that they may be insured of their true mead of praise that might suffer a certain eclipse in their own too modest treatment.