Famous Tall Cedar
John Clayton Backus

"Father of Electricity"


John Clayton Backus was born March 14, 1866 in Smethport, the son of Major John Couch Backus, a prominent lawyer of that period, and Mary Almyra Backus.  He was from a family of ten  children, eight of whom reached maturity.

He was married December 11, 1899 to Lucy Blake of Eldred and had resided here all his life, where he was the owner of the Backus Novelty Works, and was prominent in all civic affairs.  His untiring and finally successful efforts in leading the campaign to secure electricity for Smethport, are important annals in the history of the town.  He has been termed the "Father of Electricity" in Smethport, a name justly deserved.

He was an inventor of note;  the Backus Pin Setter, the Backus Checkhook, and the Backus Home Golf Trainer, and many other inventions are all products of his clever mind and hands. 

He was a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, the I. O. O. F. Lodge of Smethport, the Elks of Bradford, the Masonic Blue Lodge of Olean, the Consistory of Coudersport, Zem Zem Temple of Erie, Phoenix Chapter O. E. S., Tall Cedars of Lebanon, the Smethport Hose Company and the Conopus Club.  He was a former past master of the Masonic Lodge of Smethport.