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06/20/2021 12:52 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate

Eli Slifer

Photo credit:

Indiana Weekly Messenger, August 15, 1894




Session Position District Party
1851 26 Whig
1853 26 Whig
 Counties   Juniata, Mifflin, Union


1818 - 1888

Eli Slifer was born in Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, May 23, 1818, the son of Abraham Jr. and Mary (Coulter) Slifer. Orphaned at sixteen after his family moved to Lewisburg, he was reared by relatives in Chester County; returned to Lewisburg in 1834, apprenticed as a hat-maker; received little education, however became a proficient writer and mastered the English language; entered the canal cargo business; boat and barge building in Northumberland; and married Catharine Motter Frick, February 4, 1840. Pursued a boat building partnership with brother-in-law William Frick; managed a company barge; moved the business to Lewisburg, 1845; successful lumber transportation business; founder and director of the Lewisburg Dimes Savings Institution (Lewisburg National Bank in 1865); charter member of the Lewisburg, Centre, and Spruce Creek Railroad Company, 1853; (Lewisburg and Tyrone Railroad, 1879); selected for the board of managers of the Lewisburg and Mifflinburg Turnpike Company, 1858; and a co-founder of the Lewisburg Gas Company, 1859. Slifer was elected to the Board of Curators of The University at Lewisburg (Bucknell) in 1854, remaining in that capacity until 1882, also serving as Secretary from 1861-1867. Eli established Slifer, Walls, Shriner and Co., 1860, a consortium managing the Central Foundry, producing farm equipment.  With others, Slifer founded the Union National Bank in 1865 and served as president in 1869.  Served as president of the Lewisburg Bridge Company; instrumental in the construction of the railroad bridge across the Susquehanna River, 1869. Slifer’s opposition to slavery prompted his entry into the political arena, becoming a member of the Whig Party; elected to the state House; state Senate, 1852-1854; architect of the division of part of Snyder into and Union County. He was elected State Treasurer for a one-year term in 1855, and again in 1859 as a Republican.  Elected again in 1860, he resigned the office to become Gov. Curtin’s Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, serving to 1867, and playing a critical role in Pennsylvania’s prosecution of the Civil War, as well as Reconstruction efforts.  Slifer acted as Curtin’s replacement during the Governor’s periodic absences and organized the Loyal Governors Conference in Altoona, Pennsylvania, September 24, 1862. Slifer retired from public office in 1867, due to poor health. He spent time in the South recuperating, a process aided by the U.S. navy in 1871, as Eli was rewarded with a European trip on board a U. S. Navy vessel. He returned and became a man of letters in the community and a frequent stumper for the Republican Party. He was President of the Lewisburg Water Works, 1883; an organizer of the Lewisburg Centennial Celebration, 1885; president of the Lewisburg and Tyrone Railroad. His wife, Catharine Frick Slifer, died on September 7, 1886. Returning from the cemetery, after placing flowers on her grave, Slifer was thrown from his carriage, and died from his injuries on May 24, 1888. His pall bearers included former state senators John Walls and William B. Hart, as well as former Governor Curtin. Roman Catholic.