Guest Post: “Grave Marker Dedication of Revolutionary War Soldier Benjamin Woodruff on May 14, 2016”

This post was contributed by Sue Woodruff Noland. Her previous post on the topic of the Woodruff family can be found here.



Benjamin Woodruff, born 26 November 1744 to James Woodruff* (1722-1759) and Joanna ? (1722-1812), attended the Morristown Presbyterian Church.  He served during the Revolution with the New Jersey militia, leaving behind his wife and 3 children; his wife, Phoebe Pierson Woodruff, died 21 January 1777, aged 36, and one can only hope that Benjamin was able to be there with her and the children.  Benjamin married again 8 July 1778, to Patience Lum, daughter of Obadiah Lum, with whom he had more children he left behind as he served our country.  It has been certified that Benjamin served one monthly tour in 1776 as a drummer; three monthly tours as a sergeant in 1776, including an engagement near Elizabeth, NJ, on 17 December 1776.  He served under various captains to the close of the war.  [information from the genealogical history provided by Charles Marius Woodruff]

Grave marker - Note the misspelling of Freelove Sanford's first name - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Grave marker – Note the misspelling of Freelove Sanford’s first name – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Those of you who are familiar with Michigan and the Great Lakes, which is where I live, know how variable the weather can be; mid-May average temperature is mid-60s.  On May 14, 2016, the day of the Grave Marker Dedication Ceremony for Benjamin Woodruff, son Andrew and I, both descendants of Benjamin, encountered temperatures in the low 40s and brisk breezes that carried sleety-snowy-rain as we gathered at Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan!

As was common in 1837, when Benjamin died, he was buried the following day and therefore was not accorded a military funeral.  The DAR and SAR strive to provide a service for our forgotten patriots; on this day another Revolutionary War soldier, Josiah Cutler, was honored with our ancestor, Benjamin.

Benjamin Woodruff Grave Market Dedication Ceremony – At podium: Phil Jackson, Huron Valley Chapter SAR – PHOTO COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

The ceremony began with a welcome from Phil Jackson, Huron Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).  Following Phil’s remarks, we watched the posting of colors and standards with bearers dressed in Revolutionary War period uniforms.  Thomas Pleuss, Chaplain of the Huron Valley Chapter SAR, gave the invocation, and then Kate Kirkpatrick, from the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter made some remarks, followed by remarks from a representative from each patriot’s family.  Thomas Woodruff and Frank Ticknor (Josiah’s family) each presented a brief history of our respective ancestor.  This portion of the ceremony was conducted about mid-way between the two patriot’s graves.  After family remarks, the ceremony was conducted separately at each grave site.


Descendant Thomas Woodruff receiving flag – Sue Woodruff Noland in purple shawl looking on; her son Andrew is on the left in a plaid jacket – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL – USED WITH PERMISSION

Benjamin’s grave site is a family memorial with several of his family interred there.  Tom and his son, Michael, generously purchased a marker for Benjamin indicating his service as a Revolutionary War patriot.  (The US government ‘declined’ to provide a marker.)  Our grateful thanks to Tom and Michael’s families for researching Revolutionary War markers and commissioning the marker to be made.  The marker was unveiled before our nation’s tribute, the folding of the flag.  Since there was no flag pole, the ceremony actually involved unfolding a flag brought by the SAR/DAR for the occasion, and then refolding it as a story was told about the meaning of the folds, the last fold being a representation of a mother tucking in her child for the night—a story made up sometime in the past, but a touching story nonetheless.  Once folded, the flag was presented to Tom.  We were then cautioned that the next part of the ceremony would be the military tribute, a 21-gun (and 2 muskets) salute—startlingly loud!



The veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County (Michigan), the Indiana Society Color Guard, and the Ohio Society Color Guard performed the tribute of three volleys.  The 21 spent shells were given to Tom, who offered one to each of the family as a memento of the day.



The Sword Salute was by far the most touching part of the ceremony for me.  Three of the Color Guard detached from the group.  The leader explained that, on command, the three of them would tip their tri-corn hats to honor our patriot and then bow, touching the ground with their swords, to show humility for Benjamin’s service to us and our country.  To conclude the ceremony there was a sounding of taps by two buglers.

Both families (Woodruff and Cutler) came together once again after Josiah’s ceremony, for floral tributes from several SAR, DAR, and CAR groups (Children of the American Revolution).  These organizations developed at various times with the objective of keeping alive their ancestors’ stories of patriotism and courage “in the belief that it is a universal one of man’s struggle against tyranny….” [from SAR website]  The conclusion of the entire ceremony was a bagpipe tribute to both soldiers, by Herm Steinman.

Bagpiper who performed at the ceremony - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Bagpiper who performed at the ceremony – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Chilled to the bone, but eager to meet cousins we didn’t even know existed a few short weeks before, we gathered with Benjamin’s other descendants at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Ann Arbor, as guests of Tom and his wife, Jane, and Mike and his wife and tiny daughter.  We met ‘new’ cousins, including Tom and Mike’s families, as well as Pam Olander from the Chicago area and reacquainted ourselves with cousins who had attended one of the Woodruff family reunions we organized during the mid-2000s.  The room was quite abuzz with everyone sharing history and asking questions.  Tom told us the motto on our Woodruff Coat of Arms, “Sit Dux Sapientia,” translates as “Let wisdom be your guide;” we had not known the motto, only the shield design.

The day before the ceremony, Andrew and I had met Pam at the Bentley Historical Library on the U of M campus in Ann Arbor.  We spent over two hours poring through Woodruff documents stored at the Library and were finally able to answer a question:  Why would John Woodruff leave England in 1640?  The answer: he seems to have decided that King Charles I was taking too much of the family income via taxes.  Later, it seems our Benjamin, living in the colonies, may not quite have agreed with King George III’s Stamp Act of 1765 (and a few others: sugar tax, currency, etc.), thus leading to his participation in the Revolutionary War a few years later.

If any of you should travel to Michigan in the future, for research at the Library or simply to visit Benjamin’s final resting place (he was moved to Forest Hill from another site), we would love to meet any ‘new’ cousins.


*James Woodruff (b. 1722, Elizabethtown, NJ) was the son of Benjamin Woodruff (1684-1726) and Susanna (1686-1727), both of whom were born and died in Elizabethtown, NJ.

Categories: Ann Arbor, CAR, DAR, Lineage Societies, Michigan, New Jersey, Revolutionary War, SAR, Woodruff | Tags: , | Leave a comment

An image of Mrs. Lewis Dingman Brodhead (a.k.a. Mildred Elizabeth Hancock)

Lewis Dingman Brodhead (undated; probably circa 1904)

Lewis Dingman Brodhead (undated; probably circa 1904) – Image copyright James and Barbara Brodhead

As long-time readers of this blog know, Mildred Elizabeth Hancock (1892 – Aft 1940) eloped with my Great Uncle Lewis Dingman Brodhead (1884-1934) on June 23, 1911, at the Church of the Transfiguration in Manhattan.

(My previous blog posts about them include: Another Brodhead elopes, this time in 1911 at NYC’s Little Church Around the Corner; More on Lewis D. Brodhead; and Survived by ‘Mrs. R. J. Cole of Philadelphia’)

Well, some good news! The Baltimore Sun has kindly given me permission to publish the photo of Mildred that appeared on p. 14 of the July 12, 1911, issue of that paper.

Mildred’s hat is pretty fabulous; it’s a shame we can’t see her or her hat in full living color, but under the circumstances, B&W will definitely do!

Below Image: Reprinted with permission from The Baltimore Sun.  All rights reserved.


Reprinted with permission from The Baltimore Sun. All rights reserved.

Categories: Brodhead, Hancock, Lutherville, Maryland, New York City | Tags: | 7 Comments

Another descendant of the Nixon family of Fermanagh Co., Northern Ireland

My grandmother Zillah May Trewin’s best friend Catherine Mae Roberts, April 1905; they appear together in the 2nd photo from the right.

My grandmother Zillah May Trewin’s best friend Catherine Mae Roberts, April 1905; they appear together in the 2nd photo from the right.

This is Catherine Mae Roberts, one of my grandmother Zillah Trewin’s best friends from childhood, in April 1905. Catherine was a cousin of the Nixon sisters (Jennie & Louise), about whom I have previously written. From the second photo from the right, in which my grandmother appears with Mae, you can tell they were good chums. Fourteen years after these photos were taken, my grandmother would marry Mae’s cousin William Robert Boles whose mother Sarah was a sister of Mae’s mother Jane. Below is a family tree of sorts in the event one of you wants to see the details. (Anyone who wants to help me fill in some of the blanks, please give me a shout at ‘chipsoff at gmail dot com’!)

I love the smiles. And the hats!!! What were they made of?!

{{Information |Description=Advertisting poster for hats for C.A. Browning & Co., Boston. French, 1904–05. France. Lithograph, printed in color, on paper. Anonymous firm. Poster advertising hats for C. A. Browning and Co., 32 Franklin Street Boston. (In public domain is US due to being published before

Advertising poster for hats for C.A. Browning & Co., Boston. French, 1904–05. France. Lithograph, printed in color, on paper. Anonymous firm. Poster advertising hats for C. A. Browning and Co., 32 Franklin Street Boston. (In public domain is US — see below *)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Courtesy of Fulton History dot com

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sunday, March 26, 1905 (Courtesy of Fulton History dot com)

1-William Nixon b. Cir 1802, Ireland, d. 10 Aug 1871, Manhattan, New York, 
  New York
 +Rachael Millar b. Cir 1818, Ireland, d. Possibly 10 May 1890, Manhattan, New 
  York, New York, bur. Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, 
|--2-Edward Nixon b. Cir 1839-1845, Ireland, d. Betw 1889 and 1900
|   +Anna Bracken b. Aug 1847, Northern Ireland, d. After 1930
|  |--3-Jane Bracken Nixon b. 15 Apr 1884, Manhattan, New York, New York, d. 
|  |    May 1972, Ocean Grove, Monmouth, NJ
|  |--3-William Thomas Nixon b. 24 Aug 1885, Manhattan, New York, New York, d. 
|  |    Sep 1967, Suffolk, New York
|  |   +Marion Zoller 
|  |--3-George Robert Bracken Nixon b. 12 Feb 1887, Bridgeport, Connecticut
|  |   +May L. Swenarton b. Cir 1889, New Jersey
|  |  |--4-George W. Nixon b. Cir 1914, New Jersey
|  |  |--4-Frank L. Nixon b. Cir 1919
|  |--3-Louise E. Nixon b. 22 Jul 1889, Bridgeport, Connecticut, d. Oct 1979, 
|  |    Ocean Grove, Monmouth, NJ
|--2-Mark Nixon b. Cir 1845, Ireland, d. 28 Mar 1893, New York, New York, bur. 
|    31 Mar 1893
|   +Mary Quaile b. Abt 1846, Derrintober, Drumshambo, Ireland, d. possibly 25 
|    Nov 1876, Derrintober, Drumshambo, Ireland
|  |--3-Florence Katherine Nixon b. 25 Sep 1869, New York, New York, d. 21 Aug 
|  |    1944, Porter Hospital, Middlebury, Addison, Vermont
|  |--3-Evangeline Roberta Nixon b. Sep 1873, bur. 15 Dec 1960, Green-Wood 
|  |    Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, USA
|      +Joseph Russell Parker b. 29 Sep 1879, d. 1950, bur. Green-Wood 
|       Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, USA
|--2-Elizabeth Nixon b. Cir 1849, Ireland, d. After 2 Jun 1880
|--2-Jane Nixon b. 28 Dec 1851, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, d. 7 Feb 
|    1938, East Orange, Essex Co., NJ, bur. 9 Feb 1938, Jersey City, Hudson 
|    Co., NJ
|   +William Elliott Roberts b. 12 Dec 1842, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, 
|    Ireland, d. 4 Apr 1907, Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, bur. Jersey City, 
|    Hudson Co., NJ
|  |--3-William Roberts b. 1876, d. 10 Mar 1942
|  |--3-Charles Benjamin Roberts b. 9 Aug 1878, Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, d. 
|  |    14 Mar 1962
|  |   +Grace Yates b. 1882
|  |--3-Edward Roberts b. 1880, Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, d. 22 Sep 1951
|  |   +Ruth Deming 
|  |--3-Catherine Mae Roberts b. 3 May 1882, Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, d. 13 
|  |    Dec 1966
|  |   +Emory Chenoweth b. 1878
|  |--3-Harry James Roberts b. 12 Dec 1886, Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, d. 2 
|  |    Feb 1974, Novato, Marin Co., CA, bur. 8 Feb 1975, Cheyenne, Laramie 
|  |    Co., WY
|  |   +Mary Elizabeth Baldwin b. 21 Nov 1884, d. 3 Feb 1971
|  |  |--4-Paul Nixon Roberts b. 30 Jul 1922, East Orange, Essex Co., NJ, d. 26 
|  |  |    Jan 1941
|  |--3-Herbert George Roberts b. 17 Oct 1888, Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, d. 
|  |    19 Nov 1972
|      +Ella Marjorie Harrison b. 1892
|--2-Thomas Nixon b. Cir 1852, Ireland, d. After 2 Jun 1880
|   +Eliza d. Bef 2 Jun 1880
|--2-Sarah Nixon b. 26 May 1855, Ireland, d. Sep 1938, Dublin South, 
|    Ireland, bur. Kentstown Cemetery, Co. Meath, Ireland
|   +Edward Boles b. 4 Jun 1855, Fingreagh Upper, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, d. 24 
|    Oct 1940, Meath Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, bur. Kentstown Cemetery, Co. 
|    Meath, Ireland
|  |--3-Jane Kathleen Boles b. 7 Jul 1889, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, d. 
|  |    5 Jun 1982, Belfast, Northern Ireland
|  |--3-John James Boles b. 10 Jan 1891, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, d. 
|  |    Dec 1935
|  |--3-William Robert Boles b. 24 Feb 1892, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, 
|  |    Ireland, d. 2 Mar 1950, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. 4 Mar 1950, 
|  |    Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union, NJ
|  |   +Zillah May Trewin b. 11 Jun 1883, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, d. 11 May 
|  |    1955, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. 13 May 1955, Evergreen Cemetery, 
|  |    Hillside, Union, NJ
|  |--3-Edward Benjamin Boles b. 9 Apr 1894, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, 
|  |    d. 21 Nov 1970, bur. Clandeboye Cemetery, Bangor, Northern Ireland, UK
|  |--3-Beulah Sarah Boles b. 9 Apr 1894, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, d. 
|  |    1900, co. Leitrim, Ireland
|  |--3-Mary Elizabeth Boles b. 5 Jun 1896, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, 
|  |    d. 26 Jul 1928, Cloneen, near Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland
|--2-Rachael Nixon b. Cir 1856, Ireland, d. After 1886, United States
|   +Charles F. Hodgson 
|  |--3-Elizabeth Hodgson b. 18 May 1886, Manhattan, New York, New York
|--2-Mary Nixon b. Cir 1858, Ireland, d. After 2 Jun 1880
|--2-Benjamin Nixon b. 2 Aug 1862, Ireland, d. 5 Aug 1939
|   +Mary Graham Clark b. 9 Mar 1864, New York, NY, d. 23 Jan 1948
|--2-Robert Nixon b. Jan 1863, Ireland, d. After 1912
|   +Blanche Shaw b. Mar 1868, d. After 1912
|  |--3-Nixon b. Betw 1891 and 1900, d. Betw 1891 and 1900
|  |--3-Dorothy R. Nixon b. Aug 1895
|  |--3-Marguerite Nixon b. Cir 1902
|  |--3-Margaret A. Nixon b. Cir 1906
|--2-Catherine Nixon b. 3 Jan 1864, Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, d. After 
|    Oct 1886
|   +Charles Hugh Larkin 
|--2-James Nixon 
|--2-John Nixon 
|--2-William Nixon


*This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923. This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.

Categories: Boles, Chenoweth, Elizabeth, Union Co., Fashion & Beauty, New Jersey, Roberts | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

March 1888: Luke Brodhead’s collection of Indian relics stolen

In my travels, I came across the below article about the theft of Luke Wills Brodhead’s collection of Indian artifacts, and it reminded me that I should consolidate some information I’ve gathered about him into a blog post. He was a very interesting man and must have been a powerful presence in his community in and around Delaware Water Gap. Autumn is here and soon the colors will be changing in that neck of the woods—a gorgeous spot on the Delaware River that he and his family held dear. Long gone are the massive summer hotels looking down from high above at the flowing waters and rolling hills. City folk have far more places to vacation now. But, this was once a hugely popular area for tourism, and Luke was in the thick of if. Seeing images from that time and his portrait (he and his brothers were extremely tall), I can almost envision him energetically walking about his hotel’s grounds, chatting with guests, and directing his staff on various matters. And then to think of all his historical interests and writings…he was truly a class act!

Philadelphia Enquirer, Wednesday, 12 September 1888*

Luke Wills Brodhead

Luke Wills Brodhead portrait from History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania, by Alfred Mathews, published by RT Peck & Co., 1886

BRODHEAD’S COLLECTION. Stolen Indian Relics Traced to a European Museum.
TRENTON, Sept. 11.—The most remarkable and curious robbery on record has just been made known. It occurred at the Delaware Water Gap last March, when the celebrated collection of Indian relics and specimens of the stone age, which L. W. Brodhead spent a lifetime in gathering, were carried away. The most peculiar feature about this robbery was the fact that only the most valuable specimens were taken, and that the work was done by a student and expert.

Mr. Brodhead is well known all over the country for his excellent collection, and one that would command an immense sum of money even under a forced sale. Mr. Brodhead keeps a hotel. Adjoining his own private parlor he has a library, the chief decorations of which are his arrow heads, axes, spears, rollers, javelins, pipes and bits of ancient pottery. With much care they have been arranged in groups. The arrow heads are tacked on white boards in groups, according to chronology or topography. He takes much pride in showing them to friends. Last winter the side shutter was forced open and the cases rifled and about one-third of the collection was taken away. The most valuable and rarest pieces were taken.

After the blizzard snow had melted away in a ravine near the house, the boards on which they were fastened were found. A detective was employed on the case, and he enjoined secrecy on all members of the household. The relics have been traced to England and are now thought to be in the possession of the officers of a museum. It is also thought that the man, who sold them for a handsome sum, will soon be apprehended. He is said to be a man well known in scientific circles, who acts as a purchasing agent for several European museums.

Luke Wills Brodhead bio from Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society by Moravian Historical Society, published 1900, pp. 38-39

Luke Wills Brodhead was born Sept. 12, 1821, in Smithfield Township, Monroe County, Penna. His parents were Luke and Elizabeth Wills Brodhead; his grandfather was Luke, one of the sons of Daniel Brodhead and his wife Esther Wyngart, who lived in Dansbury, now East Stroudsburg, whither they had come from Marbletown, N. Y. […]


New York Express 1867

Luke Wills Brodhead, at an early age, engaged in mercantile business at White Haven for twelve years ; returning to the Delaware Water Gap, he was appointed Postmaster there and, at the end of his term of office, he shared with his brother the management of the Kittatinny House.

In 1872 he built the Water Gap House, which he conducted until the time of his death.

Kittatinny Hotel, Delaware Water Gap, published by Detroit Publishing Company, 1898 (NYPL collections) - Wikimedia Commons

Kittatinny Hotel, Delaware Water Gap, published by Detroit Publishing Company, 1898 (NYPL collections) – Wikimedia Commons – Public domain in US

He was a man of more than ordinary ability and, by his genial personality, he made his house famous throughout the land.

He devoted much time and energy to the study of the records, historical and geological, of the Minnisink Valley, was a frequent contributor to the public press and in 1862 wrote a volume concerning the Delaware Water Gap.

Water Gap House, Detroit Publishing Company, 1905 (Illinois State Library Collections - non-commercial use permitted)

Water Gap House, Detroit Publishing Company, 1905 (Illinois State Library Collections – non-commercial use permitted)

He was a member of the Moravian Historical Society, the Historical Societies of Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Georgia and Kansas, the Minnisink Historical Society and the Numismatic and the Geographical Societies of Philadelphia. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution.

Mr. Brodhead was twice married – in October, 1850, to Leonora Snyder, who departed in 1877, and in 1881 to Margaret D. Coolbaugh. His son, Dr. Cicero Brodhead, died in 1884, and two daughters, Mrs. John Ivison, of Coatesville, and Mrs. H. A. Croasdale, of Delaware Water Gap, together with his widow survive him.

He was an active and interested member of the Presbyterian Church and by his modest, generous, unselfish and courteous manner he made hosts of friends.

View on roof of Water Gap House by Albert Graves - stereocard -no known copyright restrictions - Boston Public Library collections

View on roof of Water Gap House by Albert Graves – stereocard -no known copyright restrictions – Boston Public Library collections

For some years he had been suffering from chronic bronchitis, although his final illness was very brief. He died on May 7, 1902, and his remains were laid to rest in the Water Gap Cemetery.

[Find a Grave link to grave site]

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XXVII, Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1903, p. 447-228

[…] Luke W. Brodhead was a man of more than ordinary ability, and for many years was deeply interested in the history and genealogy of the Upper Delaware and Minisink Valley. His published contributions comprise the following:

The Kittatiny House and the Water Gap House - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Kittatiny House and the Water Gap House – Detroit Publishing Co., ca 1900 – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

“The Delaware Water Gap: Its Scenery, its Legends, and its Early History;” “The Minisinks and its Early People, the Indians;” “An Ancient Petition;” ” Tatamy;” “Settlement of Smithfield;” “Portals of the Minisink: Tradition and History of the ‘Walking Purchase’ Region and the Gateway of the Delaware;” “Early Frontier Life in Pennsylvania: Efficient Military Service of Four Brothers;” “George Lebar;” “Historical Notes of the Minisinks: Capture of John Hilborn by the Indians on Brodhead’s Creek;” “Pioneer Roads, the Old Mine Road, Early People, etc.;” ” The Old Stone Seminary of Stroudsburg in 1815;” “Indian Trails;” “Soldiers in the War of 1812 from the Townships of Smithfield and Stroud;” “Almost a Cetenarian: The Last of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 in Northern Pennsylvania;” “History of the Old Bell on the School­-House at Delaware Water Gap;” “Indian Graves at Pahaquarra;” “Half-Century of Journalism;” “The Depuy Family;” “Early Settlement of the Delaware: Was the Upper Delaware occupied before Philadelphia? Early Occupation of the Upper Delaware;” “Sketches of the Stroud, Van Campen, McDowell, Hyndshaw, Drake, and Brodhead Families.” He was also associate editor of the “History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties.”

In addition to his connection with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Mr. Brodhead was a member of the Numismatic and Antiquary Society, the Geographical Society, and the Pennsylvania Society Sons of the Revolution, of Philadelphia; the Minisink Valley Historical Society, the Moravian Historical Society, the Georgia Historical Society, the Kansas Historical Society, and several college literary societies.

Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery
Spanning the GapPDF newsletter – US Dept of the Interior National Park Service
NJ Skylands “Million dollar highway” by Robert Kopenhaven
Pocono history website

*Article from

Categories: Brodhead, Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Last group photos of the Woodruff sisters, early 1950s

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.


Front Row: Jennie Bell Woodruff Coleman, Fannie Bishop Woodruff Brodhead, Flora May Woodruff Baker Ulrich /// Back Row: Bertha Winans Woodruff, Wealthy Mildred Woodruff Brown, Cecelia Russum Woodruff Van Horn


Front Row: Bertha (daughter #6) and Jennie (daughter #1) Back Row: Cecelia (daughter #3), Mildred (daughter #5), Fannie (daughter #4), Flora (daughter #2)


Categories: Brodhead, Brown, Coleman, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Russum, Scotch Plains, Ulrich, Van Horn, Winans, Woodruff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

New York Times, 15 August 1881: “The true purpose of cats revealed” — lightening rods?!


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.

Categories: Cats, Miscellaneous, Science and technology | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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?


Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ. new headstone for Sarah Bowley and William Sargent, 1904


Elizabeth Sargent Trewin (b. 1854) at grave of her brother William Sargent and sister-in-law Sarah Bowley, 1904


Zillah Trewin (left) at grave of her uncle William Sargent


Unknown woman (left) and Elizabeth Sargent Trewin standing behind gravestone of her brother and sister-in-law, 1904

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Sargent, Slaymaker, Trewin | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Guest Post: “Woodruff Ancestors” by Sue Woodruff-Noland

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.


St Mary, Fordwich Kent – Royal Arms Royal Arms dated 1688 over chancel arch, “WR”, Willielmus Rex, (King William III). No arms shown or impaled of his wife Queen Mary II (Wikimedia: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: John Salmon)

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.)


Fordwich sign (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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.

1650 cottage

1650 Cottage (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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.)

St. Mary’s Church

Church of St. Mary the Virgin (St. Mary’s Church) (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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.


The nave of the church of St. Mary the Virgin (Wikimedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: pam fray)

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.

Woodruff Bible

Woodruff Family Bible (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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.


Church organ (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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.


Fordwich Parish Registers box (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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!


Close-up of Woodruff Bible (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

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!

The Stour River (Wikimedia Commons: this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Joonas Plaan)

The Stour River (Wikimedia Commons: this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Joonas Plaan)

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.

Categories: England, Fordwich Kent Co, Woodruff | Tags: , | 2 Comments

‘New’ photo of William Trewin — September 1904

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):


Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Trewin | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A Florida Friday: 1960s Sanibel Island brochure for ‘Casa Ybel’

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.🙂


Image from ‘Florida’ in Davis’ new commercial encyclopedia, the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Published by Ellis A. Davis. Berkeley, Cal. Seattle. 1909 (Credit: Rumsey Collection;

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.)



Categories: Florida, Sanibel Island | 2 Comments

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