Historical Markers
Eli Slifer Historical Marker
Mouse over for marker text

Eli Slifer

Valleys of the Susquehanna


Marker Location:
US 15 just N of Lewisburg

Dedication Date:
October 4, 1968

Behind the Marker

Head and shoulders
Eli Slifer, circa 1870.
When Eli Slifer died in May of 1888, the Philadelphia Times called him "one of the few unobtrusively great men of Pennsylvania." He was born in Chester County, and moved as a young boy to Union County. The family struggled economically and then both parents died. The children were divided among relatives. Eli was sent to live with his father's sister, where he was raised in a German-speaking household.

At the age of 16, Slifer walked 100 miles back to Lewisburg, where he reunited with his brother, found work as an apprentice hat-maker, and learned to speak English. Eventually, he opened a boat-building business that supplied the nearby canal. He eventually became a leading investor in commercial enterprises in his adopted community.

A successful businessman, Slifer gave no thought to politics until he was called upon to speak at a rally in 1848. A local newspaper labeled the effort "the speech of the day." "Although a young man," the correspondent concluded, "he has the talent and the true heart to make a public speaker whose influence shall be potent for good."

During the 1850s, Slifer won several elected offices. He resigned as state treasurer in 1861 to take up the post of Commonwealth Secretary, charged with organizing the state's wartime mobilization under markerGovernor Andrew Curtin. Like Curtin, he was known for his tireless commitment to the war effort.

Slifer and his wife Catharine were married nearly fifty years. Their wartime letters, now available among Slifer's papers at Bucknell University, tell a poignant story of separation and mutual anxiety. "My heart is sick when I see our utter failure," Slifer wrote as Confederates first crossed the Potomac River in 1862. "I fear that I shall not be able to get home, things are looking very badly." The Slifer House, formerly headquarters of the Evangelical Home, is now a period museum run by the Albright Care Services.
Back to Top