DR. EDWIN J. FITHIAN,  inventor and manufacturer of Grove City, was born in Portersville, Butler county, Pennsylvania, July 1, 1863, a son of Isaac N. and Margaret J. (Riddle) Fithian. Isaac N. Fithian was born in Zelienople, Butler county, Pennsylvania, April 16, 1837, a son of John and Martha (Stewart) Fithian, both natives of Pennsylvania. Charles Fithian, father of John, was a Baptist minister and the family originally came from New Jersey.  John Fithian, father of Isaac N., was a farmer of Butler county, where he was married. His wife was a daughter of Robert Stewart, the founder of Portersville, Pennsylvania, and these worthy parents had eight sons and three daughters.

Isaac N. was reared on the farm and when seventeen years of age left it to learn the cabinetmaking trade, at North Washington. Later he went to Portersville, where he spent ten years in partnership with William Williams, who was his uncle. While there, and in 1859, he married Margaret J. Riddle. From Portersville he went to the great oil fields of Pennsylvania in the vicinity, of Bruin and Karns City, where he spent six years in the latter place, engaged in the furniture business. He went to Grove City in 1880, and has resided there ever since, being engaged in the drug trade. He began life a poor young man, unaided by others, but by his activities in business has met with a good measure of financial success. When he went to Karns City he entered the place leading by the hand his son Edwin J., of this memoir, who has come to be one of the leading factors and a prominent manufacturer of Grove City. An other son, Fred, and a daughter, Lilah, lives with the father, the mother having died in 1904. In his religion, Mr. Fithian is of the Methodist Episcopal faith and has for years been an active member in this denomination.

Edwin J. Fithian was seventeen years of age when his parents moved to Grove City and established a permanent residence there. The family had resided, as above indicated, at Portersville, where Edwin J. was born. Subsequently they lived at Foxburg, Bruin and Karns City, in which places the son attended the public schools. On coming to Grove City, the parents placed the son in Grove City College, whence he was graduated with the class of 1889. He then took up the study of medicine, entering the Western Pennsylvania Medical College and receiving his diploma from that excellent educational institution, with the degree of Medical Doctor, in 1892. For six years he practiced medicine. One year was spent at Portersville, his native town, and five years at Harmony, Pennsylvania, after which he gave up the practice of his profession and entered the field of manufacturing. Being gifted with a fine mechanical genius. Dr. Fithian was naturally drawn towards mechanics and is the inventor and patentee of a gas and gasoline power engine.

For the manufacture of his engine, the Bessemer Gas Engine Company was formed in 1898, and incorporated in 1899, with a capital of $200.000, which had been increased in 1908 to $500,000. The officers in 1908 were: John Carruthers, president: Arthur J. Hull, vice president; Mark W. Graham, secretary, and Edwin J. Fithian, treasurer. In the beginning the business was somewhat experimental, but success soon followed to the fulfillment of the most sanguine hopes of all interested. Business increased, and a large manufacturing plant was needed. In 1904 the last addition to this plant was erected, the same being a concrete structure. Within these works about one hundred and seventy-five skilled workmen are steadily employed. Here are made engines from two up to three hundred horsepower for general power work, and one special size for oil-well pumping. The company has offices in Pittsburg, Lima, Ohio, Montpelier, Indiana, and Joplin, Missouri, as well as in many other lesser cities, where warehouses are maintained for distributing purposes.

Dr. Fithian is also a member of the Carruthers-Fithian Clutch Company, of Grove City; also the Hercules Specialty Company. Dr. Fithian and John Carruthers are the joint-patentees of the only automatic friction clutch, the same being manufactured by them at the extensive works. Dr. Fithian is director and vice president of the Grove City Savings & Trust Company. In the field of invention and in manufacturing business the doctor has achieved an enviable reputation. In his early years he mastered the carpenter’s trade, became a builder and contractor and with means thus obtained defrayed the expense of gaining his education for the medical profession. Aside from being fortunate in associating himself with men of merit, he is indeed the architect of his own fortune, literally speaking. As a medical doctor his contemporaries regarded him as a successful practitioner. In fraternal relations Dr. Fithian is prominent, being a thirty-second degree Mason. He is a member and liberal supporter of the Presbyterian church. Personally he is a man possessed of good address and easy manners, with a keen conception of the rights of others, and his fidelity to friends has won for him a large circle of admirers.

He was happily united in marriage in 1892 to Miss Georgiana Shellito, of Espyville, Crawford county, Pennsylvania, and by this marriage there are two daughters, Leila and Mary.

Source: (Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, 1909, pages 372-373)

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