My garage clear-out yielded these two group photos of my grandmother Fannie B. Woodruff and her five sisters, Jennie, Flora, Mildred, Cecelia, and Bertha—the children of William Earl Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus. The photos were damaged and faded, but some “Photoshopping” has helped to revive them a bit. Oldest sister Jennie died in October 1955 so the image was obviously taken sometime prior to that. Sister Flora Ulrich lived out in California, so maybe this photo was taken to commemorate her visit to New Jersey or to mark some other special/solemn occasion, perhaps even the death of one of their spouses. My grandfather died in May 1951 and Jennie’s in December 1953. The location I am not sure of; but I think it may have been my grandmother’s home in Scotch Plains, NJ. I think it’s somewhat sweet that in the top photo they are all looking in different directions as if trying to catch their best sides. In the photos I have of them in their much younger years, all heads were always pointed in the same direction.
Our new little charge, Tiger Lily, is growing up fast; her name has proved to be very apt—at times she’s a ‘tiger’ and at times, she’s a “lily” (it’s that “Jekyll and Hyde” thing cats have going on). Fortunately for us she is mostly a “lily,” and when she is in “tiger mode,” she can be extremely entertaining. Had she been around in 1881, it sounds like she would have been one of MANY alley cats festooning the fence tops of backyards throughout the land. Read on for a curious cat-related start to your Monday (courtesy of a free New York Times archives article dated August 15, 1881).
Has anyone ever seen a cat(s) on roof tops or fence tops during a lightening storm?!!! Perhaps, 19th-century cats were made of tougher stuff.
Summer 1904 cemetery photos of family marking the placement of the headstone for Wm Sargent Jr. & Sarah Jane Bowley graves
While going through my grandmother Zillah Trewin’s photo album, I came across these images taken in Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, during the summer of 1904 at what I presume was a small gathering to mark the placement of the gravestone for William Sargent (1861-1896) and his wife Sarah Jane Bowley (1849-1904) who died earlier that year, in January. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that the tiny elderly woman in the photo may actually be Mary Bowley Pitt, older sister of Sarah Bowley and second wife of William Sargent (Zillah’s grandfather and my 2nd-great-grandfather; 1st wife was Mary Wills, daughter of George and Mary Wills of Northamptonshire, England). You may recall the post where it was revealed that father and son (both named William) married sisters Mary Bowley Pitt and Sarah Bowley! Based on 1880 census records, Mary Bowley (1st marriage to ? Pitt) was born in 1839 in England; in 1904 she would have been 64, and I am trying to figure out if the mystery woman pictured could be around that age. Thoughts anyone?
Today’s post was generously contributed by Sue Woodruff-Noland who got in touch with me several months ago to share some very interesting information on her Woodruff-related travels and Woodruff ancestors. We figured out that our common Woodruff ancestor is John “the Elder” Woodruff (b. 1637, m. Sarah Ogden), so we are cousins albeit very distant ones! I hope this blog’s readers, particularly those who are Woodruff descendants, will find Sue’s post of great interest. Please feel free to leave comments in the box below.
The days in Northern Michigan are still warm and steamy, but the rascally squirrels are busy hiding acorns, so I think I need to gather “acorns of wisdom” and share them with the generations of John “The Immigrant” Woodruff (1604, Fordwich, Kent, England), whose descendants are abundant.
Likely you all know the lineage from John and where your lines diverge. From the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, my son, Andrew (the family genealogist) and I have further records provided by a descendant named Charles M. Woodruff (1851-1932) that pre-date John “The Immigrant.” Charles states, “The facts are attested by documentary and historical records; wills, marriage licenses, church rolls, etc. The generations from our progenitor, John Gosmer, gentleman, Mayor of Fordwich, England, 1638 are eleven generations.”
From Charles’ genealogy:
1503, Thomas Woodruff (1), Fordwich, Eng., a jurat, and “trusted envoy of ye town.” Died 1552.
William Woodroffe (2), son of Thomas, senior jurat, “key keeper of town chest, a very honorable office conferred upon the two best men of the liberty;” died 1587.
Robert Woodroffe, married Alice Russell at St. Mary Northgate, antiguous to Fordwich, 1573; he and his brother William figure in town books as freemen; William’s line became extinct in 1673; Robert is recorded as jurat and church warden in 1584, died in 1611.
Charles then records John (5), John (6), and John (6)A. Our common ancestor is John (5), baptized at St. Mary Northgate in 1604. Hopefully you have been able to follow…vaguely?… along thus far. Genealogy is not my strong suit; telling stories is. And here is our story.
In early October 2014 I called Andrew and asked if he would like to go to Ireland to explore our ancestral homeland, Co. Mayo. Of course, he jumped at the opportunity; he also asked to add on a week in England to explore ancestral areas there, and a two-week trip became three. (Son, Neil, living and working in China, was unable to arrange so much time off work to join us.)
About 10 years ago, Andrew serendipitously acquired the 1597 Geneva Bible belonging to the Woodruff family. Woodruff cousins paid for a specially made box to preserve the remains of the Bible (at least the first five books of the Bible are worn away, i.e., g-o-n-e), though happily and thankfully the center pages remain intact. I bought Andrew a new, sturdy backpack and on 9 May 2015 the Woodruff Family Bible began its ancestral journey back home to Fordwich, Kent, England.
We arrived in London 10 May and did a very cursory tour of London, leaving Tuesday, 12 May for Canterbury, arriving around 10 a.m. After taking luggage from the rear seat and the ‘boot’ to our assigned room, we set out for our ancestral village, Fordwich, about four miles northeast of Canterbury. Fordwich is Britain’s smallest town and first recorded as an inhabited place in 675 A. D. I’m not sure if we saw the entire tiny village or not. We walked along sun-dappled lanes, past both a large, modern home and also quaint, sweet little cottages (note the 1650 designation on the cottage pictured here!)
And then, there it was: our ancestor’s church, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (St. Mary’s Church.)
The church dates from around 1100, in Norman times. Andrew (I gained several rear shots in 3 weeks!) and I approached the church’s entry along a path through a tree shaded cemetery with assorted tombstones, many of indeterminate (old) dates. St. Mary’s closed in 1995, passing, at that time, into The Churches Conservation Trust—and for this we are very grateful on this fine Tuesday in May 2015.
We entered the church in awe, to think that our ancestors worshiped here, may have been ‘baptized, married, and buried’ from here more than 400 years before. Not surprisingly, we had the church to ourselves and took our time exploring the nave and North aisle (added in the late 12th century.) The tower was inaccessible and the chancel was blocked by the altar rails, which date from the 1600s and comprise thickly set balusters to stop dogs from defiling the Holy Table. Nearby was a lectern and that is where Andrew carefully placed our Family Bible.
There is a benefactions plaque upon the wall in the narthex that lists a Daniel Woodruff, but this name needs to be researched to determine if he is of our line—apparently there were a great many Woodruffs in Fordwich 400 years ago. Later, while touring Canterbury Cathedral, we spoke with a volunteer, perhaps in her 70s, who has lived in Fordwich all her life and she was not aware of any Woodruff family any longer residing in the area.
Andrew and I didn’t talk much as we made our way around inside the church, each of us engrossed in our own thoughts. Like church mice, first here, then there, into the vestry, out of the vestry, and back for another look at the old organ. I imagined someone playing A Mighty Fortress is Our God in the 1600s, if the congregation was wealthy enough to have an organ then?
The Chapel of St. Catherine, in the eastern section of the North aisle, was converted at some point in the church’s history. The church organ is accessed here in the vestry and was rebuilt in 1889; it came from St. Martin’s Church, Canterbury, in 1908.
The Fordwich Parish Registers box was tucked in a corner of the NE side of the nave. Such boxes would have contained baptism, marriage, and burial records. Where the records from this box may be stored is unknown (no docent is on site to answer questions.) It is a lifetime endeavor for us to uncover any records and our family’s history!
Though we don’t have the records that may have been stored in the Registers box, I can clarify for you what the entry in our Family Bible reads (rather confusingly, to me):
The Age of Benjamin Woodruff. He was born November the 26 Anno: 1744. Being the only one of my grandfather’s family that is now liveing [sic] this March the 23 day Anno 1785. Benjamin Woodruff was born November 26 A 1744 and died 18 October 1837. Benjamin Woodruff’s property June 2d A 1805 (?) Benjamin Woodruff’s property Joanna D (?) 1805 Nov. 5 died July (?) Joanna Benjamin died July 28, 1812.
The Benjamin who died in 1837 is our Revolutionary War soldier, about whom I will write a separate story for you. I am not aware of any Benjamin who died in 1812, whether I am misreading it, or if the person who wrote it misspoke. There are multiple Johns and Benjamins in the family, too many for my muddled mind!
I have about 30 photos taken in Fordwich, mostly inside the church, but about a quarter of them of the outside grounds. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Fordwich, I think you, too, will be humbled by the history of the settlement of this once important maritime port city on the River Stour where our ancestors once lived…and where, to this day, the Cinque Ports Confederation, an annual Civic service, is still attended by dignitaries from other Cinque Ports, held in our ancestral church.
In July 2016, the Woodruff family Bible was donated to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where two or three boxes of Woodruff documents dating back to the 1840s are stored. All items are available for Woodruff researchers and contain fascinating reading.
A newly unearthed photo of my great-grandfather William Trewin (1847-1916) of Elizabeth, NJ, taken in September 1904 by his daughter Zillah (then age 21):
Quite a while ago, I did a post featuring Sanibel Island, a place we enjoyed on family vacations in the 1960s. I recently came upon this brochure for Casa Ybel, which is where we used to stay. The resort still exists after all these years, but, as you can imagine, it is much-much different! For their website, click here. To be honest, while it looks lovely today, I think I’d rather time travel back to the Casa Ybel of the 1960s; you could really feel like a bit of a castaway back then. The beach was THE place to be! I don’t recall having TV in any of our accommodations, which back then would have meant getting several channels at most—changed manually sans remote, of course. When not on the beach, we were busy exploring the island, reading books, or playing games.🙂
But we were far from the first to be captivated by this area of Florida. Below is a near-100-year-old article* from the Homer (NY) Republican, dated 21 February 1918, which features a letter describing one person’s impressions of a winter-day boat tour around some of the sights off the coast of Ft. Myers (winter residence of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison): the pristine and exotic-looking (to a Northerner’s eyes) Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine islands.
(Note: The writer erroneously describes the Caloosahatchee River as having been named by the Seminole Indians and meaning ‘beautiful river’. Caloosahatchee refers to the culture of the Calusa Indians who preceded the Seminoles and thrived in SW Florida from 500 BC to 1750 AD!–and were ultimately pushed out (even sold into slavery) by Seminoles and other hostile tribes that had come down into the Florida peninsula from northern areas. Some say the remaining Calusa escaped to Cuba.)
Another clipping saved by my grandmother: the brief July 1952 obit for Mrs. Bessie Scott Woodruff (née Fry), widow of Joseph Whitehead Woodruff (b. 1873). Joseph was the son of Ogden Woodruff and Phebe Asenath Bonnell, younger brother of Rev. Frank Stiles Woodruff, and older brother of Carrie Elizabeth Woodruff. Joseph was one of twelve children in all; the two specifically mentioned have appeared in past posts. The home at 866 Salem Avenue was also featured in a past post: “Old Woodruff Family Homestead: Witness to American History.” My grandmother’s father William Earl Woodruff (b. 1848) was one of Joseph’s cousins, although there was a 25-year age difference between them.
The Woodruff House at 866 Salem Avenue – present day
Just a brief post today: the nearly 100-year-old obituary notice for Mary Jane Woodruff, daughter of Henry King Woodruff and Abby Winans Angus Woodruff, which was saved along with a bunch of other clippings by my grandmother.
Mary Jane (single, never married) died on November 30, 1916, at age 84, at the home of her cousin Mary Martha Angus Knowles (1846-1922) and Mary Martha’s husband Austin Fellows Knowles (d. 1924). (Their beautiful house located at 924 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ, was featured in a previous post.)
Below is a tree showing how they were related. My great-grandmother Wealthy Angus Woodruff, one of Mary Martha’s sisters, was a cousin as well. She lived a little less than 3 miles away on the Woodruff family farmhouse located on Conant Street and was probably a frequent guest in the Knowles’ home.
Mary Jane was buried in the First Presbyterian Churchyard. She shares a gravestone with her younger brother William Henry Woodruff (1836-1913).
I have another Woodruff obit to share, but will do so in a separate post. Have a great day, all.
1-Jacob Baker Angus b. possibly 13 Oct 1786, c. 26 Nov 1786, First Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY, d. 27 Mar 1828, Hester Street, New York City, New York USA, bur. Methodist Society Cemetery, New York, NY +Mary Winans b. 1784, Elizabethtown, NJ, d. 27 Nov 1824, New York City, Kings County, NY, bur. Stone #1249, First Presbyterian Church yard, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ |--2-James Winans Angus b. 10 May 1810, New York City, New York USA, d. 23 | Dec 1862, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, bur. First Presbyterian Church yard of | Elizabeth, NJ | +Wealthy Ann Jaques b. 15 Dec 1815, New York City, New York. NY, d. 7 Mar | 1892, At Home, 25 Reid Street, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. First | Presbyterian Church yard of Elizabeth, NJ | |--3-Mary Martha Winans Angus b. 20 Aug 1846, Mexico City, Mexico, d. 16 Jan | | 1922, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ | | +Austin Fellows Knowles b. Mauch Chunk, Carbon Co., PA (Jim Thorpe, PA), | | d. 20 Aug 1924 |--2-Abigail Winans Angus b. 16 Jul 1812, Albany, New York, USA, d. 16 Mar | 1905, 1177 S. Chestnut St., Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, bur. First | Presbyterian Church yard of Elizabeth, NJ | +Henry King Woodruff b. 1806, New York, USA, d. 1852, Elizabeth, New | Jersey, USA | |--3-Mary Jane Woodruff b. 1833, New York, NY, d. 30 Nov 1916, Home of Mrs. | | AF Knowles, 924 Elizabeth Ave, Elizabeth, Union, NJ, bur. First Pres. | | Church of Elizabeth, Union, NJ
Here is an image of a few unknowns. I love the photographer! I’m quite certain that’s C. Clarence Coleman on the right. He was born in 1877 and he looks to be about 20 here, maybe younger. I’m not very good with ages. The young fellow to his left looks very familiar but I can’t place him. For some reason this photo was mixed in with some Brodhead family photos which initially struck me as odd given young Coleman is in the photo, but my Grandmother Brodhead was a Woodruff and her older sister Jennie ended up as Clarence’s bride in 1904, so perhaps those connections were all in the process of being established or in place when this photo was taken. Everything would be clearer if I knew who these other folks were. If anyone can identify them, please let me know. The woman on the left looks a bit like Clarence—perhaps, a sister?
Have a great day, All!
PS: The fence is the exact same type my dad built around our swimming pool in the early 1970s. I wonder if the inspiration came from this very spot, provided the fence here lasted another 30-40 years!
My great-grandfather William Trewin’s first marriage (1868) ended tragically on December 7, 1879, when his wife Edith H. Fry died in childbirth. He remarried and his two sons Bert and Clarence became the beloved sons of my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent. I’d never been able to find an exact date of William and Elizabeth’s marriage until earlier this summer when I found an envelope containing the original marriage certificate. The William Sargent listed as a witness was probably Elizabeth’s father rather than her brother who shared the same name. It appears that her brother Samuel, a Methodist minister, performed the ceremony. These new details, as few as they are, combined with images we have of these four, help paint a faint picture of the happenings of July 31, 1882, in the lives of these ancestors and those closest to them.
This is to Certify
That William Trewin of Elizabeth, NJ
and Elizabeth Sargent of Jersey City, NJ
were by me joined together in
in Jersey City according to the ordinance of God and the Laws
of the State of New Jersey on the 31st day of July 1882
Samuel Sargent, Minister of the Gospel