Spilman, John, Wheatfield, was born in Germany, near the city of Frankfort, June 18, 1833, and came to America at the age of thirteen with his parents, settling in Buffalo, N. Y. His first occupation was that of ropemaker; he then spent a year and a half in Burns & Watter's bottling works, and a year and a half at the Eagle street theatre making gas; this was before the city had gas. Mr. Spilman then went on the lakes, where his first occupation was coal heaver, then fireman, then watertender, then greaser on the steamer Empire State, then greaser on the steamer Western Metropolis, then in 1856 engineer in Hazard's elevator, Buffalo. He came to Tonawanda as engineer in Hazard's distillery, then engineer of the stave factory, then again engineer of the distillery, and then about twenty years as engineer on the lakes, on the tugs Sprague, Relief and John Owen. He then became the first engineer in the blast furnace and helped to build it; then engineer on the tug Relief again, and then on the barge Plymouth, then on the barge Olean, and since 1883 has been engaged in his present business, that of wholesale and retail liquor dealer. He married Caroline Colle of Hamburg, Erie county, and they have five children: Mrs. Allen Hershell, Albert Spilman, Mrs. Milliman, Edward Orton, and Josephine Spilman, who is attending the Buffalo Dental College; Albert Spilman is a prominent mechanic of Niagara county; Allen Hershell is a manufacturer; Mr. Millerman is an express messenger; Edward Orton is a student in Cornell University and is one of the foremost American oarsmen; he has been' captain of the freshmen crew which beat the famous Dauntless crew of New York in 1894, pulled No. 2 oar in the Henley crew which went to England in 1895, and pulled No. 6 oar that carried Cornell's colors to victory at Poughkeepsie in 1896, and was captain of the Cornell crew in 1897, and pulled No. 6 oar to a greater victory than Cornell had ever seen before. John Spilman is one of the substantial business men in North Tonawanda and owns stock in several firms.
Contributed 2017 by Lisa Slaski from Landmarks of Niagara County, New York, by William Pool, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY, 1897
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