Monthly Archives: March 2012

Matthias Woodruff Letter to Francis Woodruff, May 10, 1883

Turning Sod in North Dakota in the 1890s (Photo credit: Shorpy website–see link to large version of photo below)

Below is a letter written on May 10, 1883, by Matthias Woodruff to his father Francis Woodruff. Matthias’s mother Mary Trowbridge Woodruff passed away earlier that spring (in March). Francis passed away two months after the letter was written. Both parents were in their early sixties. Matthias was writing from Larimore, North Dakota, a town founded in 1881. In 1883 there must not have been much to Larimore. North Dakota obtained statehood in 1889, and at the time of the 1890 census, the population was just 553.

He was on his own out there–far away from his wife Mary and son Frances (mentioned in previous post). I gather he did not get back East very often. I have another, longer letter that I will post in the near future. It is partly in pencil and there is some smudging, so it will take time to decipher.

P.S. I have added some punctuation since it is largely missing in the letter. The spelling and grammar are his.

Larimore May 10th

Dear Father

It is now a long time since any word from home but have heard of your terrible loss. I wish you would write and tell all about my Mother death and if she ever spoke of me before she died. It is nice warm weather now. we are seeding now. I am tin [I think he means “thin”] for seed. it a great deal of money to start in this country as well as any other.  I had to mortgage my stock to get seed. now I want to ask you to help me pay $130 by the 16th of June. There no chance for me to get the money till my crop comes off. Then I can pay every thing and I will pay you back the first thing. I am about to take another 160 acres [?] of land which I have a chance to do. You will help me this much I hope. I want to come home this coming winter and make a visit. My land is in fine order. I am using mules instead of horses this year. Please excuse all mistakes as I am in an awfull hurry. With much love to all I remain your ever loving son. M. Woodruff

Shorpy Image

Categories: Ayers, Larimore, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Francis Woodruff & Ezra Ayers Families

Mary Jane Trowbridge

Mary Jane Trowbridge

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff

On March 16, I posted an update on members of the Francis Woodruff family. There were four children: Emma (b. 1846), William (b. 1849), Matthias (b. 1851), and Phebe (b. 1855). You may recall that Phoebe and Matthias had married siblings from the Ezra Ayers family: Phebe married Isaac J. Ayers, and Matthias married Mary S. Ayers. I did a bit of digging on the Ayers family and emerged with the below family tree. There were nine children in all!

 1-Ezra Ayers b. Jun 1821, New Jersey 
  +Mary Ann b. Oct 1823, England
|--2-Sarah M. Ayers b. Cir 1846, d. After 1910
|--2-Isaac J. Ayers b. Jan 1848, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|   +Phebe M. Woodruff b. 11 Oct 1855, Union Twp, Essex, NJ
|  |--3-Anna W. Ayers b. Aug 1875, Newark, Essex Co., NJ
|  |--3-Charles S. Ayers b. May 1878, New Jersey
|  |--3-Amy M. Ayers b. Jul 1888, New Jersey
|  |--3-Isaac Ayers b. Abt 1880, Newark, Essex Co., NJ
|--2-Francis Ayers b. Abt 1851, d. After 1910
|--2-Mary S. Ayers b. 1853, d. After 1910
|   +Matthias Woodruff b. 1851, d. 6 Apr 1892, Chatham, Morris Co., NJ
|  |--3-Frances Woodruff b. Abt 1875, d. After 1910
|--2-Emma Ayers b. Abt 1856, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Samuel Ayers b. Abt 1858, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Joseph Ayers b. Abt 1860, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Elizabeth Ayers b. Abt 1862, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Judith Ayers b. Dec 1863, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Annie Ayers b. Abt 1866, New Jersey, d. After 1910

In August 1850, when Ezra was 29, he and his wife were living in Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ, with Sarah (age 4) and Isaac (age 2). His occupation is listed as a tailor and he has declared real estate with a value of $1,200 (roughly $35,000 today). He was born in NJ, while his wife was born in England.

Trolley Cars Running Near Newark Courthouse Circa early 1900s
(Charles Cummings and John O’Connor. Newark: An American City)

I hit pay dirt with the 1870 census (both records freely available on Family Search, by the way) which shows the couple with all nine children living in the Tenth Ward of Newark, Essex Co., NJ. Isaac is 48 by now and listed as a retail grocer. His real estate is now valued at $12,000 (nearly $210,000 in today’s currency) and his personal estate at $1,500 (about $26,000 today). Wife Mary is still “keeping house” (with nine children, I can’t imagine what else she would be doing!), but now daughter Sarah (24) is a clerk in a “Fancy Store” and Isaac (22) is a “Grocers Clerk”, likely in his dad’s store. Son Francis is 19 with no occupation listed for him. In school are Mary (16), Emma (14), Joseph (10), and Elizabeth (8). Little Annie, age four, born when mother Mary was 41, is still at home. Interestingly an Isaac Jones is also in residence. He is 76 and listed as born in England, so it seems likely he is Mary’s father. The census shows that her mother was born in England as well.

Newark Public Service Terminal, 1917 View (copyright-free image)

How the Ayers and the Woodruffs became acquainted, I do not know. Francis was a farmer so perhaps he sold his produce at Ayers’s market. In any case, it was not long after this 1870 census that the two marriages–those of Matthias Woodruff to Mary S. Ayers, and Isaac J. Ayers to Phebe Woodruff–took place. Although Phebe is the younger of the two Woodruff siblings, I’ll begin with her. She (19) married Isaac Ayers (26) on October 23, 1874, in Union, NJ. A Google search on Isaac J. Ayers name revealed a website for a restaurant at 13 Waverly Place in Madison, NJ, called Poor Herbie’s. Their website information reveals that the building their restaurant is located in was operated as a grocery store by Isaac J. Ayres in 1877, the year a major fire destroyed a large commercial area. The fire allegedly began in that very building. [For an image of the building as it appears today, click here. Poor Herbie’s is on the left.] Isaac remained in the grocery business; the 1880 census lists him as a grocer in Newark, NJ.

Isaac and Phebe Ayers had four children: Anna W. (b. 1875), Charles S. (b. 1878), Amy M. (b. 1888), and Isaac Jr. (b. about 1880). Only the older three children appear in the 1900 census, so I gather Isaac Jr. must have died young. The 1900 census lists Isaac Sr. as a farmer who owned his farm free and clear. Anna (24) is not working, Charles (22) is a real estate clerk, and Amy (11) is at school. Ten years later (in 1910), the census record shows Isaac still as a farmer in Union, NJ. The record says at “Truck place”–I have no idea what that means, but he is listed as an employer. Wife Phebe and daughter Annie (34) are at home, while daughter Amy (21) is listed as a public school teacher. That is, thus far, the extent of what I know about this family.

Now, back to Matthias (b. 1851), who greatly intrigues me; he married Mary S. Ayers (b. 1853) on November 21, 1872, in Newark, Essex Co., NJ. They had a single child, a son, Frances, who was born about 1875. Matthias died on April 6, 1892, in Chatham, Morris Co., NJ, in the couple’s twentieth year of marriage. So what was going on with Matthias for those twenty years and why did he pass away relatively young? I could not find him in 1880 or 1890 census records. I did find Mary in 1900 and 1910, but, of course, by then Matthias was already long gone.

Suffrage Hikers in Newark, NJ, 1913
(copyright-free image)

In 1900, Mary (47) is back living with her elderly parents, Ezra and Mary Ann Ayers, and sister Judith E. Ayers (36). Their residence is listed as 130 Elm Street, Newark City, NJ. Ezra, 76, is listed as a dealer in dry goods, owning his own home free and clear. Mary states all 9 of her children are still living. This time she lists herself as born in England and her parents as having both been born in Wales.

Newark Paper Boys, 1909*
(Photo Credit: Shorpy website, see link to large Shorpy photo at end of post)

By 1910, Ezra must have passed away. Mary, 85, is listed as the head of the household at 130 Elm Street. Once again, she lists all nine children as still living. Matthias’s widow, Mary Ayers Woodruff (now 56, working in dry goods, store retail), is still living there, as is her son Frances, age 35, single, and a dentist. Also resident are daughter Emma J. Brown, a widow, aged 50, working as a sales woman in dry goods; daughter Judith E. Ayers (44; single, no occupation); daughter Annie M. Ayers (40; single, no occupation); and a 17-year-old servant named Helen Lannigan.

Matthias’s son Frances would have been 17 when he (Matthias) died. Perhaps Frances’s path to dentistry was owed to his great uncle John Dickinson (a dentist) who was married to Emma Woodruff (Francis Woodruff’s sister and Matthias’s aunt). What happened to Frances? I gather he never married, but who knows, maybe we will find out differently.

Dentist in His Office, Unknown Artist, American; Date: 1900s (Metropolitan Museum collections, visit http://www.metmuseum.org)

I found a death record for a Frances Woodruff born on August 18, 1874. If this was “our” Frances, he lived to the ripe old age of 93, passing away in February 1967 and last residing in Orange, Essex, New Jersey. But, I’ll need to see the death certificate to know for sure whether that’s him.

Relevant to Matthias’s whereabouts for those twenty years of marriage, I recall coming across some letters a long time ago that revealed a bit about Matthias’s relationship with his father Francis Woodruff. Matthias wrote the letters either from Wyoming or North Dakota. As I recall he talked about farming wheat. Perhaps Matthias was working land out there to support Mary and Frances, but the way he spoke in the letter, it sounded like he had a boatload of kids to support, but now I know there was just Frances. He also, as I recall, asked his dad Francis Woodruff for money. I will try to find those letters and include them in the blog.

Well, enough for today. Until next time!

*Shorpy Image: click here.

Categories: Ayers, Newark, Essex Co., US Federal 1870, US Federal 1880, US Federal 1900, US Federal 1910, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Cemetery Reveals New Mysteries about Sargent Family

This past week I received notification from a Find a Grave volunteer, Jessica Thomas, that she had been in Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, NJ, and had photographed all the graves in the plot in which the Ludeys and Trewins were laid to rest. [Note: William Trewin married Elizabeth Sargent so there are Sargents there as well.]

There was one big surprise. I had known that William Sargent Jr. (b. 1861) was buried there and that presumably the Sarah there was his sister (b. 1858). Curiously the photos revealed that the Sarah buried there was actually William Sargent Jr.’s wife: Sarah Jane Bowley. I’d no idea he had married for one thing, so that was quite a revelation. Now what was even more interesting to me were the following:
1) Sarah Jane was seventeen years older than William Jr.
2) The couple was married in 1890 when William was 29 and she was 46.
3) William died in 1896, of what I do not yet know, but it will be interesting to find out. Sarah died eight years later, at the age of 60.
4) Sarah Jane Bowley (b. about 1844) shared the same surname with William Sargent Sr.’s second wife Mary Bowley Pitt (b. 1839, widow of Pitt). Did father and son marry sisters?!

The Trewin-Ludey plot was purchased by William Trewin and Francis Ludey in 1886, yet Thomas Trewin Sr. (d. 1875) and his wife Mary Anne Phillips (d. 1878) are buried there. Perhaps they were moved there from elsewhere?

William Jr.’s sister Sarah is obviously buried elsewhere, I presume with a spouse. The photographs confirm that William Sr. and his first wife Mary Wills (d. 1877) and second wife Mary Bowley Pitt are definitely buried elsewhere. Perhaps there is a Sargent plot in Evergreen holding Wm Sr. and spouses, and even Sarah. (Update 4/29/12: see newer post about Sarah a.k.a. Sadie.) (Update: See Button hook post)

Sargent Family

1-William Sargent b. 2 Sep 1828, Weedon Beck, Northamptonshire, c. 10 Dec
1829, Weedon and Flore, Northamptonshire, England
+Mary Wills b. 11 Nov 1829, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, England, d. 6 Dec
1877, Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey
|–2-Rev. Samuel Sargent b. 1852, Blisworth, Northamptonshire, England, d. 3
| Nov 1926, New Jersey
| +Ella Tunison b. Abt 1854, United States
| |–3-Vivian T. Sargent b. 7 Aug 1891, Camden, New Jersey
| | +Packard
| |–3-Rev. Norman Vincent Sargent b. Feb 1889, Kansas
|–2-Elizabeth Sargent b. 15 Sep 1854, St. Sepulchre, Northampton,
| Northamptonshire, England, d. 1926, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, bur. 6 Feb
| 1926, Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union, NJ
| +William Trewin b. 21 Mar 1847, Hardin Street, Woolwich Dockyard, Co. Kent
| (now Greater London), England, d. 4 Dec 1916, Elizabeth General Hospital,
| Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. 7 Dec 1916, Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside,
| Union, NJ
| |–3-Zillah May Trewin b. 11 Jun 1882, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, d. 11 May
| | 1955, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside,
| | Union, NJ
|–2-Sargent b. 15 Sep 1854, d. 1854
|–2-Sarah Sargent b. 1858, St. Sepulchre, Northampton, Northamptonshire,
| England
|–2-William Sargent b. 1861, St. Sepulchre, Northampton, Northamptonshire,
| England, d. 24 Jul 1896, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, bur. 27 Jul 1896,
| Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
| +Sarah Jane Bowley b. Abt 1844, United States, d. 3 Jan 1904, bur. 6 Jan
| 1904, Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
|–2-Sargent
|–2-Sargent
|–2-Sargent
|–2-Sargent
|–2-Sargent
|–2-Sargent
|–2-Sargent
+Mary Bowley Pitt b. 1839, England

Categories: Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Ludey, Sargent, Trewin, Wills | Leave a comment

Francis Woodruff Family

The last ten days or so have had me turning my attention to the Francis Woodruff family. Seems like every now and then, a variety of circumstances come together and put the spotlight on one particular person or family line. So why Francis Woodruff and his wife Mary Jane Trowbridge? Well, it began when I heard from a Find a Grave volunteer photographer who notified me she had photographed the graves of their son William Earl Woodruff, his wife Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, and one of William and Wealthy’s six daughters, Bertha Winans Woodruff (who has her own post in this blog). And, at roughly the same time, I heard from a descendant of Emma Woodruff, William’s sister, who discovered this blog and decided to get in touch. She was able to provide many details on Emma’s descendants. (All I had previously known about Emma was that she had married a dentist and lived with him in Brooklyn, NY.) A highlight of doing this blog, by the way, is hearing from distant relations; it is fascinating and enormous fun to meet cousins, no matter how many times removed, and compare information.

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff was a descendant of John Woodruff (b. 1637) who, in 1639, arrived as a toddler in Lynn, Massachusetts, from Kent, England, with his stepfather John Gosmer and mother Anne Gosmer (widow of John Woodruff (1574-1611) as well as Anne’s parents. The family settled the following year in Southampton, Long Island, making them one of the original families there. In 1664, John (the younger), by then married to Sarah Ogden of Stamford, Connecticut, and a group of Englishmen–the Elizabethtown Associates–from Eastern Long Island bought land in New Jersey from the Lenape sachem (the paramount chief), Mattano, and thus began settling the area now known as Elizabeth, NJ, then known as Elizabethtown. (To view a historical timeline for Elizabeth, click here). John and Sarah Woodruff’s son, John (b. 1665), was described in the Woodruff Chronicles (Vol. II, A.H. Clark Co., 1967, p. 27) as the “first white child” born in Elizabethtown. John Woodruffe the elder died in Southampton in 1670 and was buried in the old burial ground there.

View Near Elizabethtown, NJ, oil painting by Régis François Gignoux, 1847; Honolulu Academy of Arts (in public domain, copyright expired)

Of course, over the next 200 years, as the number of descendants grew, the size of land allotted to various descendents varied inversely. Still by the time of the 1870 census, Francis, then 50 years of age, listed his land value as $40,000 (in today’s money, that would be roughly $693,000), and his personal wealth as $12,000 (approx. $208,000 in today’s currency). So all things considered, Francis and family were doing quite nicely. Francis and Mary Jane Woodruff, as you may recall from previous posts [for Woodruff-related posts, click on Woodruff in the surname category on the right side of this page], had four children.

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff, mother of Emma, William, Matthias, and Phebe

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff, mother of Emma, William, Matthias, and Phebe

All of this prompted me to do a bit of digging on the Family Search website for Emma and William’s other siblings, Matthias and Phebe, and I found some descendants of theirs as well. Interestingly, Matthias and Phebe married two other siblings, Mary Agnes Ayers and Isaac Ayers, respectively. The latter were the children of Ezra Ayers (b. New Jersey) and his wife Mary (b. England). So, a number of upcoming posts will be about the Francis Woodruff family, the more immediate members of which appear below. The descendants of Emma Woodruff may help me put together a post about Emma and family. Stay tuned!

Francis Woodruff (1820-1883) and Mary Jane Trowbridge (1821-1883)

Emma W. Woodruff b. 1846, d. 19 May 1923, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
| +John W. Dickinson b. 1844, d. 9 Oct 1916, New York)
| |–2-John Woodruff Dickinson b. 1875
| |–2-Mary E. Dickinson b. 1877, New York, NY; d. betw 1910-1920
| | +William Chester Lamb b. 1878, New York, NY, d. 1946, New
| | York City, NY, bur. Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY
| | |–3-Edna S. Lamb b. 1900, New York, USA, d. 1994,
| | | Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ
| | | +Goddard
| | |–3-Florence A. Lamb b. 27 Mar 1903, New York, NY, d. Apr 1984,
| | | Irvington, Essex Co., NJ, USA
| | +John Mansel Britt b. 19 Sep 1896, d. 1970
| | |–4-Living Britt
| | |–4-Living Britt
| | |–4-Grace Adele Britt b. 1928, d. 1975
| |–2-Mabel T. Dickinson b. 1880, Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY, d. 1967
| |–2-Anne L. Dickinson b. 1886


William Earl Woodruff b. 4 Oct 1849, d. 18 Oct 1928
| +Wealthy Ann Angus b. 5 Aug 1850, d. 27 May 1927
| |–2-Jennie Belle Woodruff b. 24 Nov 1873, d. 20 Oct 1955, 17 Wilder St.,
| | Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ
| | +Charles Clarence Coleman b. 25 Nov 1877, d. 28 Dec 1953
| | |–3-Jennie Belle Coleman b. 11 Oct 1914, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, d. 12
| | | Jun 1997, Cumming, Forsyth Co., Georgia, bur. Evergreen Cemetery,
| | | Hillside, Union, NJ
| |–2-Flora M. Woodruff b. Apr 1877, New Jersey
| | +Baker d. Bef 1920
| | |–3-Norman Baker b. 1909
| | +John Jacob Ulrich b. 19 May 1884, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ
| |–2-Cecelia R. Woodruff b. Nov 1878, New Jersey
| |–2-Fannie Bishop Woodruff b. Jun 1882, New Jersey, d. 5 Sep 1965, Abbott
| | Manor Nursing Home, Plainfield, Union Co., NJ, bur. Evergreen Cemetery,
| | Hillside, Union Co., NJ
| | +Frank Martin Brodhead b. 5 Feb 1882, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, d.
| | 8 May 1951, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. Evergreen Cemetery,
| | Hillside, Union Co., NJ
| | |–3-Frank Martin Brodhead Jr.
| | |–3-Woodruff Martin Brodhead b. 1912 d. 2004
| | |–3-Charles Douglas Brodhead b. 1921 d. 1992
| |–2-Wealthy Mildred Woodruff b. May 1884, New Jersey
| | +Dr. G. Carlton Brown b. 1865, New Jersey
| | |–3-Richard A. Brown b. 1920
| |–2-Bertha Winans Woodruff b. 28 Oct 1888, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, d. 1
| | Mar 1973, Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ

Matthias Woodruff b. 1851, d. 6 Apr 1892, Chatham, Morris Co., NJ
| +Mary Agnes Ayers b. 1854
| |–2-Frances Woodruff b. Abt 1875

Phebe M. Woodruff b. 11 Oct 1855, Union Twp, Essex, NJ
+Isaac J. Ayers b. Jan 1848, New Jersey
|–2-Anna W. Ayers b. Aug 1875, Newark, Essex Co., NJ
|–2-Charles S. Ayers b. May 1878, New Jersey
|–2-Amy M. Ayers b. Jul 1888, New Jersey
|–2-Isaac Ayers b. Abt 1880, Newark, Essex Co., NJ

Categories: Angus, Dickinson, Elizabeth, Union Co., Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Lamb, Trowbridge, US Federal 1870, Woodruff | 5 Comments

Snowy February Sleigh Ride–a Century Ago

From Zillah Trewin’s photo album, some scenes from a February 22, 1910, sleigh ride somewhere in the New Jersey or Pennsylvania countryside. Quite a stark contrast to her summer 1907 holiday photos but very beautiful in their own way.

Categories: Trewin | Leave a comment

A. D. Brodhead’s 1917 Passing: A Condolence Letter

Andrew Douglas Brodhead passed away on May 6, 1917. The New York Times published a brief obituary on May 8, 1917, that read as follows:

BRODHEAD.–At Elizabeth, NJ, May 6, 1917, Andrew D. Brodhead, aged 64 years. Funeral service at his late residence, 732 Jersey Av., Elizabeth, NJ, Wednesday, May 9, at 2:30 PM.

Some time ago, I came across a three-page handwritten condolence letter written to Andrew’s wife, Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead (addressed “Dear Maggie”), from someone who signed it “Affectionately, Emily.” Emily wrote:

I am thinking of you so much these days and hoping you are each day finding strength to go on… I bid you take courage for you will be comforted- time will surely take away the heartache and bring to your troubles life, peace and calmness, when now all is grief and turbulent sorrow. Like myself, dear Maggie, you have the blessing of beautiful memories of your dear dead, for Doug’s life was so filled with love and duties and came for those he felt needed him, and his cheerful optimistic outlook on life, his great big heart filled with charity and kindness for people who needed his help, spiritually as well as materially, has left an impress, not soon to be forgotten– For your sons [Frank, Andrew, and Lewis; Edith passed away as a young child], the heritage he has left is most to be cherished…

I don’t know who Emily was. The only clues that the letter gives is that Emily was also a widow and lived in a town called Kingston (probably either the one in PA or the one in NJ). And, she mentions children/grandchildren: We are going to have Cornelia operated on for adenoids and tonsils on Saturday and the plan is now for Beatrice to have his throat done at the same time. I am not very enthusiastic about that but shall not plan to decide for them. Update 6/20/13: This letter was from Emily Linderman Brodhead Moon, wife of the late Frederick Moon and sister of Andrew Douglas Brodhead. Emily lived in Kingston, Pennsylvania at that time. Frederick Moon died in 1907. Emily had one son, Frederick Wiles Moon (b. 1882) whose wife’s name was Beatrice (b. 1889, d. 1949). Beatrice & Cornelia were Emily’s grandchildren. Cornelia was probably named after Cornelia Dingman Brodhead (Emily’s grandmother).

It was nice to come across this letter as it provides a brief glimpse into the kind of man AD Brodhead was; I have yet to come across any other information that offers such clues, the kind of clues that are the most interesting to know.

Categories: Brodhead, Elizabeth, Union Co., Lewis, Martin, Woodruff | Leave a comment

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