TILL, John
Back Up Next

TILL, JOHN, son of John and Catherine (Miller) Till, was born April 13, 1804, in the district of Kensington, Philadelphia. His parents were natives of Philadelphia, and he was the fourth child of ten sons and one daughter. Like his father, grandfather and most of his relatives, John was brought up a ship builder, learning that trade with the Messrs. Vaughan, of Kensington. In the winter of 1834 he came to Harrisburg to build a boat for W. P. Orrick, of Reading, who was extensively engaged in transportation on the Pennsylvania and Union canals. Returning to Philadelphia after finishing his contract with Mr. Orrick, he entered into partnership with James Main, a ship builder of that city, and removed to Harrisburg in August, 1835, establishing a boatyard at the foot of North street on the canal. At that period boat building was the leading business at Harrisburg. About 1840, owing to want of proper facilities, the firm purchased a location on the west side of the canal, below Mulberry street, where they constructed a large basin connected with the canal on the towpath, over which they built a drawbridge. At this place they carried on the building of boats for many years. A large number of the packet boats were built by them. During the winter the packet and other boats of Leech & Co.'s extensive transportation line were repaired, the number filling the basin and the canal from Paxtang street to now Herr street, from one winding bridge to the other. It may be here stated that Messrs. Till & Main constructed on the river bank below Mulberry street, two boats and one schooner for parties in New York City, which were launched in the Susquehanna during the rise, and floated in the bay. In 1852 the firm erected a saw mill adjoining their boat yard, where they carried on a large lumber business. In 1853 Mr. Main died, and for several years Mr. Till conducted the enterprise alone, subsequently engaging in the coal trade a brief period, when he retired from all business pursuits. He served one term in the old borough council, for sixteen years a member of the school board, and was elected county treasurer for one term. Mr. Till married, November 6, 1825, Rebecca Rutter, of Philadelphia, who died May 16, 1871, at the age of sixty-five years. Their surviving children are: William B., Rebecca, who married G. L. Suttie, of New York, and Mary E., who married David C. Burnite, of Harrisburg