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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

Samuel McKean Leiper


Samuel McKean Leiper

(A biographical sketch taken from One Hundred Years, The Delaware County National Bank Chester, PA 1814-1914)

Years in parentheses are years of service as a Director of The Bank of Delaware County and/or The Delaware County National Bank

Samuel McKean Leiper, of Avondale (1830-31), son of Col. Thomas and Elizabeth Coultas (Gray) Leiper, was born at Philadelphia, August 20, 1806. He graduated with the degree of A. M. from the University of Pennsylvania, in the class of 1826. When he attained majority, he had direction, in connection with his brothers, of the extensive snuff manufactory and tobacco business established by his father. He enlisted as a private in the Philadelphia City Troop in 1829. On his marriage and removal to Avondale, Delaware county, in 1831, he found it so inconvenient to attend the drill, that in 1833 he was, at his own request, placed on the honorary roll. In 1826, when only twenty, he was elected first lieutenant of the Delaware County Troop of Horse, and four years later became its captain, serving until 1836, when it was disbanded, owing to the gradual loss of public interest in military organizations.

Mr. Leiper was an exceedingly popular man. In 1846, John K. Zeilin was nominated for Congress by the Whigs and Montgomery county yielded the nomination to Delaware. The Democrats had nominated Samuel M. Leiper for the same office. It soon became evident that as against Zeilin, Leiper would poll a large Whig vote in Delaware. One week before election day, the Whig convention reassembled at the Black Horse tavern, in Middletown, and Zeilin was required to yield in favor of Hon. John Freedley, of Montgomery county.

Zeilin reluctantly consented but concluded his announcement with, "When I have done this Freedley may go to Congress - and Zeilin may go to h--l for all you care."' Freedley's large vote in Montgomery gave him the election by a slender majority.

In 1835, Samuel M. Leiper was one of the organizers of the Delaware County Mutual Insurance Company, and for five years a director of that corporation. For several years before his death, he was a confirmed invalid. He died February 17, 1854, aged 58 years. His sons, Captain Thomas Irvine and General Charles Lewis Leiper, served with distinction during the Civil War. Another son, Callender Irvine Leiper, still operates the quarries at Avondale.

 

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