Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Fate of Mary Wills (1829-1877), Part I

Image from private family archives. George Wills original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

Image from private family archives. George Wills original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

12/14/2011: Please see the update to this post.

In a previous post, I’d mentioned that George Wills was left a widower in 1839 when his wife Mary Capon passed away. At the time, their children were aged 24 (Ann), 21 (Phoebe), 17 (Jabez), 14 (Martha), and 10 (Mary).

At some point, George took in an orphan boy named William Slaymaker who at the time was uneducated and unrefined. The identity of William’s birth parents was not known. George raised William up in the family home (Old Stone House, Blisworth, Northampton–the house George built for Mary, his bride), sent him to school, and treated him like one of his own.

From what notes my grandmother left us, we know that George tried to interest the boy in spiritual things, but William was headstrong and not interested.

Some years later, unbeknownst to George, a romance blossomed between William and George’s youngest daughter, Mary. When Mary was 21, she ran away with William (also 21) and the two married. George was very upset about the marriage when he learned about it but took the couple in and made William a co-partner in his business. John Simpson, husband of George’s daughter Phoebe, was also a co-partner. When George died, he left his business to the two men. The business had been built up by George and was very successful. It was responsible for the construction of many chapels, buildings, and bridges in their locality.

(To be continued)

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, England, Roade, Northants, Sargent, Slaymaker, Wills | Leave a comment

George Wills Family Tree

If you check the S-Z tab above you will come across the extent of the information I have currently about the George Wills family tree. Most of these dates and details came down from a handwritten tree that had been created by my grandmother. I am posting it here. It includes George’s parents and siblings. Of George’s and and his wife Mary Capon’s children, the document records marriages and children of Phoebe and Mary.  I know GSV Wills is a son of Jabez Wills from previous research, however it is unclear whether daughters Martha or Ann had children. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has information on them.

Wills Family Tree

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, Capon, England, Roade, Northants, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Wills | 2 Comments

George Wills Handwritten Pledge, 22 February 1846

Here is a handwritten note dated 22 February 1846. It was written by George Wills and appears to be a record of a charitable pledge he made and eventually fulfilled. Funds were donated to various entities including “widows,” “Roade Missionary Meeting,” “Blisworth Missionary Journey,” “Brother Kent,” “Missionary Society,” and “Hope Chapel.” At the end of the note, it reads: “Glory be to God who hath enabled me to redeem my pledge this 31st day of December 1846. May the next year exceed the former. Amen & Amen.” This document confirms what I had read about George Wills–that he was an extremely generous and kind man, a devout Christian, and someone who gave of himself to make life better for those around him. According to Mr. Marsh who manages the Blisworth.org website, builders were known to tithe heavily.

George Wills note dated 22 February 1846

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, England, Missionaries, Roade, Northants, Wesleyan Methodist, Wills | Leave a comment

Wills Family: Some Significant Dates

I am posting a sheet of paper, probably dating from the 1830s, on which someone, most likely George Wills himself, recorded the birth and death dates of various family members. The list begins with George’s marriage to Mary Capon on 14 April 1812 and ends with her death on 9 August 1839. Four of their nine children passed away between 1916 and 1935. When Mary died, George (age 47) was left a widower with five children of varying ages: Ann (age 24), Phoebe (age 21), Jabez (age 17), Martha (age 14), and Mary (age 10). Mary is the individual from whom my family line descends.

A record of significant dates for members of the George Wills family

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, Capon, England, Wills | Leave a comment

Last letter by Henry Trowbridge, Civil War letter #6

This is the last letter I have that was written by Henry A. Trowbridge, 14th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers. Thankfully I can read his letters knowing full well that he survived the war and went on to get married and have children. William Earl Woodruff, his nephew, who was the recipient of the letter and just 14 at the time, did not have that luxury. Note: the abbreviation “inst.” is short for instante mense (Latin for “this month”).

Camp of the 14th Regt. NJV
Near Culpeper, Viriginia
Friday morning, April 8, 1864

Dear Willy,

I received your Welcom letter letter of the 8th inst. last evening and was glad to hear from you once more. It found me well and a kicking as usual. and I hope this may find you the same. I came in from picket yesterday we had the hardest time and have had all winter for it rained, hailed and snowed for two days and one night we got soaking wet through. we layed on the soft side of some split logs the first night. but when it stopped raining we went outside of the line to a secesh farmer and got some straw to lay on them. we could sleep as well as on a feather bed. The smoke nearly smoked my eyes out. oh who would not be a snoger. we are cooking some beans and pork for dinner. don’t you wish you was here to take some with us? you could enjoy yourself down here for some time very well. you could go out on picket with us for 3 days. and stand your post and watch for the rebels as a cat watches a mouse. They cannot get in without we see them. the Company have been out playing ball all the morning but I stayed in and boilt dinner. there is a theater [?] on near here by the soldiers those who have went say it is very good for the army. I have not had a chance to go yet. if the weather keeps dry we will move soon but where or how we cannot tell. grant will make the rebel army open their eyes I tell you he is the man to do it. they will tremble in there shoes when they see the army of the Potomac moving on them. he will have one solid corps of artillery to open on them at once. how the earth will tremble when they begin to fire. you say that you wish me to tell you about the furlough. Well Willy I have have applyed for one but it has not been sent in yet. nor is there any use to send it in for they all come back disapproved. so there is no chance all furloughs and all passes have been stoped. so I will not get home this time. But the time is comming when I can come if spared and stay there and let them go to thunder with their furloughs. that cracker of yours must have been good was it not. who sent do you know I would like to have some. Can’t you send some down? I should like very well to be there to dig your garden and hall out the manure but I rather think as how I can’t this year. for Uncle Sam has got a large grave to dig then I will come I hope. It will be as the fortune teller said. In 1860 the war was begun. In 1862 the war was half through. In 1863 the slaves was set free. In 1864 the war will be oer. With this I must close and get ready for batallion drill this afternoon at two o’clock. We have 5 [?] regts in our brigade now. They look like a small army so good bye to you all from your Uncle Henry A. Trowbridge

Categories: Civil War, Culpeper, VA, Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Trowbridge, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Henry A. Trowbridge, Civil War letter #5

Another letter written by Henry Trowbridge to his nephew William Earl Woodruff. The brief descriptions of the encounter with a southern family and the ladies participating in the military review are especially interesting. Note: the abbreviation “inst.” is short for instante mense (Latin for “this month”).

Camp of the 14th Regt. NJV
Near Culpeper, Viriginia
Thursday evening March 17th 1864

Dear Friend Willey,

I received your kind and welcom letter of the 15th inst. this evening and was very glad to hear from you again. it found me well and a kicking as usual which I hope this may find you all. Yesterday we had a review of the whole Corps. We went out at 10 o’clock and did not get back until 3 in the afternoon. The wind blew very cold and chilly. but it all past off very nice. General French and staff past each brigade in review followed in the rear by about 30 ladies all mounted and draped in style. some were very good riders and good looking and others were very homely. but you know that fine feathers makes pretty birds. they make Uncle Sam’s horses [???] I tell you. but there time is short in the army. They will soon haft to go home. it is quite a sight to get a peap at them down here. last week on thursday we went out on picket and came in on sunday. it rained all the time we were going out and all the first night and the second day untill after sunset then it cleared off once more. we were glad to see a clear sky. we were all wet through and sat up all night to get dryed off. the first night we did not get a moment’s sleep. The 3 day a [???] and myself went outside of our picket line to a farmers to get some eggs and milk. guefs what we paid for them. we gave 40 cents for a canteen of milk and 60 cents for a doz eggs. that is awfull. they had one daughter, a young lady, and a pretty girl she was, but we did not stay long for there were to strong secesh for me. the father sat in an old chair patching old shoes. the mother sat in an old chair knitting over old yarn. everything they have seems to be old and about played out. they were very anxious to hear the news for they say they cannot get a paper or a letter. they hear nothing of what is going on around them. but they did not find out much by me for I did not say much to them. they call the Rebel Army our Army. they say the live in hopes, but they do not say what they live in hopes for. Sargent Wardell came back day before yesterday. he looks better than when he left. he told me that you was to see him and that you wanted him to let you know when he was comming back. but he could not see anyone to let you know so he could not fetch anything for me. you did not say whether your father got a letter with a greenback in it or not. but I suppose he did as I sent it by Hanning [?]. he did not see your father so he gave it to Wardell to give him but he told me that he gave it to Uncle Ogden [possibly Francis Woodruff’s brother, Ogden Woodruff (b. 4 Mar 1832, d. 4 Nov 1918), OR Francis Woodruff’s uncle, Ogden Woodruff (b. 1776, d. 21 Nov 1883)] so I suppose it is all safe. I am very sorrow to hear that Ogden’s wife is so sick for she is a good woman to anyone, I think. Well, Willy, the noisy drums are a beating tat too, and I must close for this time hopeing to hear from you soon. From your loving Hen. my love to all. good night. 

Categories: Civil War, Culpeper, VA, French, Gen. William Henry, Trowbridge, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Henry Trowbridge, Civil War letter #4

Here is yet another letter written by Henry Augustine Trowbridge to his nephew, William Earl Woodruff. His comment about the flock of birds (placed in bold font by me) is particularly poignant. Note: the abbreviation “inst.” is short for instante mense (Latin for “this month”).

Camp of the 14th Regiment NJ
Near Culpeper, Viriginia
Monday morning, Feb. 1st 1864

My Dear Willey,

I received your Welcom letter of the 24th inst. last evening. also one from Emma [William’s sister Emma Woodruff] at the same time. And was very pleased to hear from you once more. It found me alive well and a kicking as usual, which I hope this may find you and Matte [William’s brother, Matthias Woodruff]. I write to Emma last evening and till the candle burnt out and then I had to stop writing and turn in for the night. Yesterday and last night it rained near all the time, and the mud is getting as bad as ever. tomorrow morning we got to go out 7 miles on picket to stay out 9 days. it is so muddy I think we will have an interesting time getting out there. marching out and back is worse than to do the duty when we are out there is some talk about camp that the 3rd Division of the [????] will be sent to Tennisee. but we cannot believe anything we hear now days. last week there was two regiments of lee’s army tryed to desert. they started off but before they could get to the Rapidan they were over taken by some artillery and cavalry and after fighting some time, they were compelled to go back to there camps. if they act so now, what will they do when the spring campaign begins. then they can desert without much danger. I only wish evry one of them would come over the more the better for us. we expected to get paid off the 1st of January but we did not. so now we will not get it until the 1st of March. Then we will have 4 months pay. Willey, I wish you to ask your father [Francis Woodruff] how much money I have all togeather. and let me know in your next letter. I asked Emma to let me know, but I suppose she has forgotten it. I will send you my picture as soon as I can get it taken. but the muskrat hides I cannot send for I do not have any chance to ketch them. I am sorrow you cannot give me some excuse to get home. for this winter may be my last chance. if I do not get home this winter, I may never get home. It is all chance. it is the same as if you shoot into a flock of birds and those you hapen to hit must fall and the rest go on untill the next time and leave you behind. they may bury you and they may not just as it happens and how much time they have to do it. but there is no use in talking we may as well laugh as to cry and base it as we have done so far. I suppose you will see Sargent Wardell around town. he is to stay 40 days to [???] when he comes on. I wish you would send some fine cut chewing by him. you must not be afraid to speake to him if he is ordaly sargant. our old ordaly George Rhodes is 1st lieutenant in a negrone company. We were all sorrow to loose him. Tell Emma she must send me Phoebe’s picture [William’s other sister]. our Capt. is home you have seen him before this time I suppose. well now I must close hopeing to hear from you again. From your loving Uncle Hen. We’ll hang Jeff if we ketch him on a tree.

Categories: Civil War, Culpeper, VA, Davis, President of the Confederacy Jefferson, Rapidan, VA, Trowbridge, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Henry A. Trowbridge, Civil War letter #3

I only have the last two pages from this particular letter written by Henry Augustine Trowbridge, 14th Regiment NJ Volunteers, to his nephew William Earl Woodruff. The letter mentions “Antetem.” I presume Henry meant the Battle of Antietam which took place on September 17, 1862. So the letter may have been written during the latter part of September of that year. This was not long after he entered service on August 26, 1862.

…I told John Henry about William Bennet getting drowned and he said it was no wonder for they was on thin ice or in the water most all the time. that was a sad axident that happened to those people on the north river to lose 27 lives out of 37. that is as bad as to get killed in battle. you said that emma [William’s sister] was invited to a party to jobe tours. I hope she will enjoy herself and have a nice time and not serve the boys as she did Clarrance. you say that you wished that i had went in the 9 months men [those who enlisted for 9 months only] so that I could come home sooner. well, I wish sometimes I had too but from all accounts and what I see and here, I think that we will get home sometime next summer. I would like to be home in time to help you mow away hay and to go to Jersey City for grains and to get my lager Bier for I cannot get it here. it is nothing now for me to see dead boddies. they pass through here every day dead and wounded in every way. yesterday there was five car loades came up from Fredrick City of sick and disabled soldiers and some of them was gray backs that was taken prisoners at Antetem. some of our men had one leg off with a bandage around the end of his leg and a strap around his shoulders. I do not know why Cornelia did not com down on Christmas or New Years only that they had a fair up there and she had to tend one of the tables. I’ll bet if I had been home she would have been there for she said when she was there before that she did not feel at home because I was not there. I do not know what you meant by telling me to forward it on. I wish you would let me know. We spend our time in playing ball and setting in the tent telling stories, writing and a cleaning our enterments. I have not heard from Peet. well, i will have to close for this time hoping to hear from you soon again. Write soon.

From your Loving Uncle Henry Trowbridge

Categories: Antietam, near Sharpsburg, MD, Civil War, Frederick, MD, Trowbridge | Leave a comment

Mary Pitt Capon

Further to my recent post on George Wills (b. 2/22/1793), I am posting this silhouette of his wife Mary Capon’s mother whose name was Mary Capon (née Pitt). The latter was purported to have been a cousin of William Pitt, prime minister of England from 1783-1801.

Mary Pitt Capon

Mary Pitt Capon

Categories: Blisworth, Northamptonshire, Capon, Pitt, Pime Minister William, Wills | Leave a comment

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