Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Survellon Burr Holcomb (1871-1952)

Portrait courtesy of www.legis.state.pa.us.

    The proud possessor of a truly unusual first name, Survellon Burr Holcombe served a total of twelve consecutive years as Sullivan County's representative in the Pennsylvania State Assembly. The son of Pierson Alonzo and Sophia Elizabeth Mott Holcombe, Survellon B. Holcombe's birth occurred in the town of LeRoy, Pennsylvania on March 16, 1871. Unfortunately, I have no interesting tidbits to share with you as to where the name "Survellon" originated from. Despite this, it looks as if Survellon himself preferred going by the abbreviated name 'Vell", as most of the period resources mentioning him record this name.
   Holcombe resided in the county of his birth until reaching age ten. whereafter he and his family relocated to Sullivan County. He attended school here for a period of three years, after which his family returned to LeRoy. A graduate of the Elmira School of Commerce, Vell Holcombe removed to Dushore, Pennsylvania in 1893, where he would take on the position as bookkeeper under Samuel Cole, a prominent local businessman. He remained in the employ of Cole until 1898, when he decided to go into business for himself. 
   In December 1898, he and Holcombe and Henry Obert partnered and purchased a furniture and undertaking business formerly owned by E.F. Taubach. Holcombe would purchase his partner's interest the following year, and afterward the business would operate under the name Holcombe and Lauer. Vell Burr Holcombe married on November 29, 1900 in Dushore to Ms. Rosanna Jane "Jennie" Cook (1876-1969), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple's lengthy union would see the births of five children: Pauline Cook (1903-1992), Alice Elizabeth (1905-1955), Pierson Joseph (1907-2002), Vell Carl (1913-1999) and Richard L. (1915-2014), who died just short of his 99th birthday
   Through the succeeding years, Holcombe built up a reputation as one of Dushore's most well-known businessmen. As a notable citizen in the town, Holcombe held several local offices, including stints as a member of the borough council, school board and board of health. In November 1920 he was elected to his first term in the Pennsylvania State House, garnering a total of 2,251 votes on election day. During the 1921-23 term, he served on several house committees, including Ways and Means; Mines and Mining; Education; Forestry and Federal Relations. Sources relate that as an assemblyman Holcombe was an advocate of prohibition and favored "good roads for everybody" as well as "preserving the forests and game protection." 
   Vell Holcombe would continue to represent Sullivan County in the state assembly until 1933, having been an unsuccessful candidate for reelection the previous November. He continued to own and operate his furniture and undertaking business until 1947, when he retired and turned over the operation to his sons Richard and Vell Carl. Survellon Burr Holcombe died in Dushore in May 1952 at age 81 and was later interred at the St. Basil's Cemetery in that town. His widow Jennie survived him by nearly two decades, dying in 1969 at age 92.

Survellon and Roseanna Holcomb, courtesy of "Endless Mountains" on Rootsweb.

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