Monthly Archives: May 2012

Appomattox: Our Links to a Major Historic Event

Surrender at the Appomattox, Palm Sunday, Apr 9, 1865 (Image in public domain)

Well, it’s almost a year ago that I was posting Civil War letters written by the Trowbridge brothers, Uzal (Company A, 1st New Jersey Volunteer Regiment) and his older brother Henry. Uzal did not make it; he was killed early on during the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in June of 1862, a brutal event that shook those present that day to the core of their beings. The loss of Uzal must have been a major blow to the Trowbridge family. Brother Henry entered service shortly after Uzal was killed, in August 1862, serving in the 14th NJ Volunteer Infantry. Somehow he made it through to the end, and went on to marry and have children. I’ll never forget that one letter of his in particular, from February 1864, in which he spoke of wanting to get home for what may be his last chance to see his loved ones. He equated going into battle with being part of a flock of birds under fire. Who lived and who died was all so random:

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.

Imagine being my great grandfather William Woodruff, to whom the letter was written. He was only 15 at the time. I know when I was that age, a letter like that would have made a huge impression on me. Without a doubt, such frank talk would have lingered in William’s mind for a long time. Thankfully Henry had a happy ending, though who knows what terrifying scenes must have stayed with him until his passing in 1898 at 63.

Well, why am I bringing this up again? Well, I discovered something very interesting recently. I subscribe to Genealogy Bank and was doing some digging in a Jersey City newspaper called The Jersey Journal. My great grandfather William Trewin lived in Jersey City as did his sister Emma. William met his wife Elizabeth Sargent in Jersey City, and that may well be where Emma met her future husband Francis C. (FC) Ludey. Emma and Francis made their home in nearby Bayonne. William and Elizabeth settled in Elizabeth, a bit further away. Genealogy Bank does not have many New Jersey newspapers, unfortunately. I had been hoping I could access the old Elizabeth Daily Journal, but that’s not on there. But, there is a ton of stuff from the The Jersey Journal, so I was trolling for articles on the Trewins, Sargents, and Ludeys. In the process, I stumbled on an obituary notice for FC Ludey (published 19 Jan 1918) and it mentions that he was present at the Appomattox Courthouse for Lee’s surrender to Grant.  And, as Francis served in the 14th NJ Volunteer Regiment with Henry Trowbridge, something I discovered a while ago and mentioned in this blog at that time, that means (of course!) that Henry was present for the surrender, too. And I thought that was pretty amazing. Talk about having a front row seat to history. Uzal could not be there to witness the end; but at least Henry got to do that for him. So this great historic connection has been there all along, and I am only putting two and two together now. Shame on me, but better late than never I suppose. Still, I cannot help hearing the words of my old high school physics teacher who used to say in response to such a statement: “Better never late.” But that is neither here nor there.

The text of Francis’ obituary reads as follows:
Funeral services for Francis C. Ludey, 73 years old were held at his late home, 75 West 42nd Street last night. Rev. M.Y. Bovard, pastor of the First M.E. Church, officiated. There were present delegations from Bayonne Council, Royal Arcanum, Odd Fellows, and a number of C.A.R. men. Mr. Ludey, being a veteran of the Civil War and present when Gen. Lee surrendered to Gen. Grant at Appomattox. James S. Coward, who was closely associated with Mr. Ludey in affairs of the First M.E. Church Sunday School, was among the mourners.

Francis C. Ludey; this may well have been taken for the Memorial Day event of 1917 at which he was a speaker (Personal Collection of Ruth Kirby Dean)

Included here is a photo of F.C. Ludey, courtesy of his 2nd great granddaughter Ruth Dean. I found an article describing Memorial Day celebrations in Bayonne in May 1917, and Francis was a featured speaker at that event. It may well be that this photo was taken on that very day.

For details of service for the 14th NJ Volunteer Regiment, click here.
For a list of NJ Civil War units, click here.
For the monument to the 14th NJ Regiment at Monocacy, click here.

Categories: Appomattox, Bayonne, Civil War, Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Jersey City, Hudson Co., Lee General Robert E, Ludey, Memorial Day, Obituaries, Sargent, Trewin, Trowbridge, Woodruff | Leave a comment

GSV Wills Memoirs

New pages have been added to the previous post containing GSV Wills’ memoirs.

Categories: Wills | Leave a comment

Rev. Samuel Sargent

Elizabeth Sargent Trewin and daughter Zillah, 1919

Elizabeth Sargent Trewin and daughter Zillah, 1919

Rev. Samuel Sargent PhD (1852-1926; image courtesy of Frances Sargent Cowles, a great granddaughter)

My great grandmother Elizabeth (Sargent) Trewin, daughter of Mary Wills and William (Slaymaker) Sargent, had three siblings: Samuel, her older brother, and Sadie and William, who were both younger. All four were born in England. While I know little if anything about the younger two, I know a bit about Elizabeth and Samuel, mostly that they were both devout Methodists, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents (George & Mary Wills). I’ve already mentioned my great grandmother in this regard and her support of missionaries.

Samuel became a Methodist minister, and, in his day, was widely regarded as an outstanding orator. His son, Rev. Norman Vincent Sargent, followed in his father’s footsteps, earning by some accounts an even more outstanding reputation. Norman’s son Gerald became a clergyman, too, serving for years as a chaplain in the US Navy.

I remember growing up hearing my mother mention Samuel from time to time. She does not recall ever meeting him, however, though she probably did as a baby or toddler (both Samuel and Elizabeth died in 1926).

The Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove, NJ

Ocean Grove Tent City

Ocean Grove, NJ

Mom remembered her mother telling her that Samuel’s portrait hung in the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ. Coincidentally, we used to travel down to Ocean Grove every so often until I was in my mid-teens to visit my mom’s elderly cousins on her father’s side of the family, sisters Louise and Jenny Nixon, who lived in a multi-storied Methodist retirement home there. They were lovely ladies and both had a great sense of humor. They passed away in the mid- to late-1970s, within a year or two of each other, and thus, the trips to Ocean Grove sadly came to an end, and we said adieu to the town’s wonderful Victorian architecture, pleasant beach, and unique ambiance.

The town was established in 1869 and developed as a summer, seaside Methodist camp meeting ground. According to Wikipedia, at the beginning of the last century, which is when Samuel would have preached there, Ocean Grove was known as “the Queen of Religious Resorts,” and it remains to this day “the longest active camp meeting site in the United States.” I remember we would always travel down there on a Saturday, because on Sundays the town was completely closed to motor vehicles. The idea of hoofing it around on a Sunday with two elderly ladies and four kids in tow was understandably impractical and unappealing to my parents, though I for one would have enjoyed experiencing a town where pedestrians were king if only for a day. Must be a bit like Venice, Italy, where the absence of cars lulls you into a completely different and totally relaxed mindset (at least if you travel there in the off season). It’s quite a rude awakening to leave.

Samuel Sargent’s grandson Rev. Gerald Hornor Sargent (second from right) being congratulated upon his ordination. Gerald’s father Rev. Norman Vincent Sargent (far right) proudly looks on. (Photo kindly provided by Frances S. Cowles)

I remember driving by Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium and past its curious tent village. It all looked so charming and quaint. Hanging out there for even a week during the summer must have been very cool. No doubt, it was also a fun town to grow up in. Sadly, in all the time we spent in Ocean Grove, we never made it in to visit the Great Auditorium to see whether or not Samuel’s portrait is there. Perhaps it is there to this day. If anyone reading this knows or ever has an opportunity to visit, please share a photo with us. (For more on Ocean Grove’s history, visit the local historical society’s website. I may send them an e-mail myself just to see what they may know of the portrait.) In any case, it was to the tranquility and salty air of Ocean Grove that Samuel Sargent retired after all his many decades of service.

Samuel married Ella Tunison on June 1, 1879, in Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ, the town in which the Sargent children grew up. In 1889 the couple was living in Kansas when son Rev. Norman Vincent Sargent (m. Grace Hornor) was born, and a daughter, Vivian T. Sargent (m. Clyde Packard), arrived roughly two years later. By then, they had returned to live in New Jersey.

1900 Census – Samuel Sargent Family

The Daily Standard Union: Brooklyn, Sunday, August 24, 1902; courtesy of www.fultonhistory.com

The Daily Standard Union: Brooklyn, Sunday, August 24, 1902; courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com

The New York Sun, Thursday, Nov. 4, 1926 (Courtesy of www.fultonhistory.com)

The New York Sun, Thursday, Nov. 4, 1926; Courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com

Below are some biographical materials of unknown origin (probably Methodist conference publications) and some old postcard scenes of Ocean Grove. Samuel had a very rich and fulfilling life and impacted the lives of thousands through the years. His grandfather George Wills, known to be a powerful speaker in his church as well, would no doubt have been enormously proud of Samuel and the legacy he left behind in his adopted country.

Samuel Sargent – Service History

Samuel Sargent Bio, page 1 of 2

Samuel Sargent Bio, page 2 of 2

Ocean Grove bathers–but not on Sunday!

Ocean Grove boardwalk

Bathers at the beach in Ocean Grove

An ocean-side pathway

View of Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove street scene with Great Auditorium in the distance

Categories: Jersey City, Hudson Co., Methodist, Nixon, Obituaries, Ocean Grove, Sargent, US Federal 1900, Wills | Leave a comment

The George Wills Line: Some Fresh Information

I was recently contacted by Tim Laker, who lives in England and is a descendant of George Will’s son, Jabez. Tim has provided some fresh information on the Wills line.

First, he brought to my attention the fact that George had all his children baptized in a Wesleyan Chapel in St. Mary-le-bone, London. I don’t recall having heard or read that, but it makes complete sense since George had converted to Methodism and was living in London prior to taking over his father Sampson’s business after the latter’s fatal accident.

Second, Tim alerted me to additional children of Jabez who were missing from my tree: Frederick Arthur and Beatrice. You may remember that Jabez was a stone carver in the tradition of his father and grandfather, Sampson Wills. Frederick Arthur continued in that tradition as did one of his sons, also named Frederick, who died in 1984. According to Tim, the two Fredericks worked together on the restoration of many London buildings including the Houses of Parliament.

And lastly, Tim advised me that he had been doing research on the Family Search site and believes he has ascertained that Sampson Wills’ parents names were Thomas Wills and Elisabeth Rainbow (married 19 June 1761). The marriage date makes it likely that Thomas and Elizabeth were born around 1740. They also resided in the Wolverton, Buckingham, England, area. I love that surname–Rainbow. How exciting to make it back yet another generation! I think Tim may well be right about Thomas and Elizabeth; with a bit of fiddling on the website, I came upon some of Sampson’s siblings and presumably Sampson himself. The tree my grandmother left behind showed Sampson’s birth date as 26 December 1767. A christening on 20 March 1768, as the record indicates, would be very plausible. There was an Elisabeth Wills born the year after Sampson to a Thomas and Elisabeth Wills, but because the birth took place in Bobbing, Kent, and that is a good distance from Wolverton, it seems likely that a different Thomas and Elisabeth Wills were involved there.

1-Thomas Wills b. Cir 1740, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
+Elisabeth Rainbow b. Cir 1740
|–2-Mary Wills c. 17 Jan 1762, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
|–2-Wills c. 4 Jan 1763, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
|–2-Sarah Wills c. 14 Jun 1764, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England
|–2-Sampson Wills b. 26 Dec 1767, c. 20 Mar 1768, Holy Trinity, Wolverton, Buckingham, England

Many thanks to Tim for sharing. He promises to fill us in on more as he finds it out!

NOTE: I will be adding more pages to the GSV Wills Memoirs post sometime next week.

Categories: London, Wesleyan Methodist, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | 2 Comments

Ogden & Phoebe Woodruff Family – update

Over the weekend, a kind volunteer for Find a Grave, took photos of Rev. Frank Stiles Woodruff’s resting place in Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ. Part of the inscription reads “Blessed Are the Pure in Heart.” (You may recall that a while back I did a post on the Reverend. He is the one who lived and worked in the late 1800s at what is now the American College in Beirut. To view that post, click here). The large family memorial stone is quite impressive. Frank’s small marker, bearing his initials, appears in the foreground on the right in the wide shot of the family plot. The inscription for Frank on the main monument takes up one of the four sides. Another side lists the names of his parents, Ogden and Phoebe (Asenath Bonnell) Woodruff, who lived to ripe old ages: he to 86 and she to 80. This side of the monument also lists two of his 11 siblings: Lucetta Crane Woodruff (never married, died at 79) and Mary Earl Woodruff (never married, died at 77). William Ring Woodruff (died at age 23), and Edward Earl Woodruff (died at 32) are listed on the side opposite that of the parents’. The remaining face lists Carrie Elizabeth Woodruff (never married, died at 92). (Another sibling, Ogden Bonnell Woodruff is on Find a Grave as well, but is evidently in a different location.)

I had an “a-ha” moment about Mary Earl Woodruff. It must be her dog that appears in this old photo. Actually, she may have simply been the one to order the photo. The reverse side lists her initials and surname and her presumed address at the time, 902 Salem Road.

Miss M.E. Woodruff’s dog, “Button,” in February 1910

You know, of all Ogden & Phoebe’s 12 kids (4 girls and 8 boys), only one of the girls, Fannie Meeker Woodruff, went on to marry (William E. Townley). And it appears only half the boys lived long enough to marry: John Woodruff (m. Carrie Conover and lived to 81); Ogden Bonnell Woodruff (m. Helen Budd and lived to 70); Irenus Prime Woodruff (the film Transformers comes to mind for some reason!), m. Ethel Viola Huff but died at 31; and Joseph Whitehead Woodruff (m. Bessie Scott Fry). The twelfth child, Henry Cooley Woodruff, born when Phebe was about 44, died in 1886 after surviving just two years.

I think the Ogden Woodruff family must have been quite close to the Francis Woodruff family, from whom I descend by way of son William Earl Woodruff. Francis had three brothers, and Ogden was the youngest. The other two died quite young: Matthias from yellow fever, contracted in Louisiana at age 24; and Enos at 46. Francis’ kids (born between 1846 and 1855) would have been older than Ogden’s (born between 1860-1884), but Francis’ youngest and Ogden’s oldest weren’t that far apart. A number of them probably attended school at the same time.

Old Salem Schoolhouse (?)

The book, The Woodruff Chronicles: A Genealogy, The Long Island-New Jersey Family of John Woodruffe the Immigrant Ancestor to America, Vol. II (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1971), provides a couple more clues about some of the Ogden Woodruff children. Lucetta Crane Woodruff “lived in the Woodruff homestead (built before 1800) at 866 Salem Avenue, Hillside, with sisters Mary and Carrie Woodruff, the property once an 82-acre farm. Lucetta died there 3-27-1956.”

Youngest daughter Fannie, the only daughter to marry, is described as “beloved wife of William E. Townley II. A native of Hillside, she lived at 431 Jersey Ave., Elizabeth, NJ, where her husband was a retail merchant on Broad Street and later on Grand Avenue., Elizabeth. She died after a long illness, June 17, 1956, at age 74. Her husband and children and two sisters survived,… Mr. and Mrs. Townley collected family records and genealogical data for many years and a considerable portion of the Woodruff records in this Vol. II are the result of 35 years of joint effort with one of the compilers of this book [Ceylon Woodruff Newton and Maurine R. Herod] on Woodruff Newton and . The Townleys were fine upright citizens and Mrs. Townley a devoted wife and mother…” The book goes on to give a sketch of the Townley family. It is here that we can find the names of Fannie Meeker Woodruff and William Townley II’s children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. For privacy reasons, I will only list the children in the S-Z tab above.

The lives of all the old Elizabeth families were heavily intertwined with each other. The surnames include those like Meeker, Stiles, Ogden, Earl, Crane, Lyon, and many others. You’ve stumbled upon many of these reading this blog, either as a first name, a middle name, or a surname. They say that if you scratch the surface of any present-day Russian, you’ll find a Tatar, owing to the invasion and occupation of Russia by Mongol hordes during the 13th to 15th centuries. Scratch the surface of some present-day Woodruff descendants, and you just may find a smattering of all those old Elizabeth families mixed in with all the rest.

UPDATE 3/29/2014: Below is a genealogy of the Stiles family from The History of Union County New Jersey, published 1897, pages 341-343. You can see quite a bit of intertwining between the Woodruffs, Stiles, Cranes, etc., all old families of that area:

stiles_1

stiles2

stiles3

Categories: Bonnell, Elizabeth, Union Co., Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Stiles, Woodruff | Leave a comment

William Sargent Jr. — Cause of Death

Jersey City, NJ

In a previous post about the Sargent family, I spoke about discovering William Sargent Jr.’s spouse, Sarah Jane Bowley, in Evergreen Cemetery alongside him. I’d had no idea he was married. And there were other revelations such as the fact that his wife was considerably older and had the same surname as William Sargent Sr.’s second wife Mary Bowley Pitt. I was also surprised and curious about his death at a young age, 34, so I sent off for the death certificate. It arrived the other day and revealed that William Jr. died of “debilitation of the heart” at what I presume was his home address: 195 Harrison Ave., Jersey City, NJ. I “googled” the location, and it is now occupied by a Bank of America.

Debilitation of the heart is a rather vague description, and it was probably secondary to the actual cause of his death. Perhaps he had suffered as a child from something like rheumatic fever which can have devastating effects on the heart as one ages. Unfortunately back then, it seems like these certificates of death were filled out in hasty fashion; the doctor in this instance did not indicate the “length of sickness,” a detail that may have provided more clues as to what happened to him. In any event, how sad his loss must have been to all who loved him, not the least his wife of just five years.

William Sargent (Jr.) death certificate

Where William fits into the Sargent family (for a more elaborate tree, go to the S-Z tab)
William Sargent Sr. b. 1828, c. 10 Dec 1829
+Mary Wills b. 1829 d. 1877
|–2-Rev. Samuel Sargent b. 1852, d. 1926
|–2-Elizabeth Sargent b. 1854, d. 1926
|–2-Sargent b. 15 Sep 1854, d. 1854
|–2-Sadie Sargent b. 1858
|–2-William Sargent Jr. b. 1861, d. 1896

Categories: Death Certificates, Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Sargent, Wills | Leave a comment

Matthias Woodruff — Cause of Death

Before I get to Matthias, I wanted to say that you may notice the change to my WordPress theme. The old one had some sort of bug that would not allow me to limit the number of blog posts per page. And that was becoming very annoying (for me, anyway). This new one is much better in that regard though I am still getting used to it.

Re: Matthias, you may recall that I’ve done several posts concerning him. He is the son of Francis and Mary Woodruff who went off to farm land in the Dakota Territory back in the 1880s (see posts from March 28 & 30, and April 11). He passed away on April 6, 1893, at just 42 years of age. Wife Mary (Ayers) Woodruff was left a widow at 40, and their son Frances left without a father at 18. I have long been curious as to the circumstances of his death. Well, on Monday, the envelope arrived from the NJ Department of Health’s archives, and I finally got my answer (and, indeed, it’s a very sad one): “Shock & loss of blood after injury.”

Matthias Woodruff death certificate

The certificate says the death occurred in Chatham, Morris Co., NJ, and that Matthias’s residence was located in Madison (next town over). You may recall that Madison is where Isaac Ayers, Matthias’s brother-in-law, ran a grocery store. How terribly tragic for the Woodruff and Ayers families, and I can’t help wondering whether the below group photo may have been taken on the occasion of the funeral (Matthias’s brother William, my great grandfather, is shown standing on the right). It fits the timeline, though I can’t remember whether NJ looks that wintery in early April. Matthias was buried at Evergreen Cemetery near his parents, Francis and Mary (Trowbridge) Woodruff, who passed away in the early 1880s.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the circumstances of his injury, and I am not sure how I would go about finding that out. Was this an industrial accident? A road accident? What happened to his land in Dakota is a mystery. Had he sold it by then, or was he just home visiting before heading off to begin his spring planting? If I were on the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are?, I would be saying, “Guess I’m going to North Dakota” or “I’m off to Chatham, then.” But alas, such travels are not in the cards for me any time soon! Perhaps, someday a descendant of Matthias’s son Frances will contact me via the blog to provide some clues.

William and Wealthy Woodruff with extended family, Elizabeth, NJ, circa 1893 (Photo from my family's personal archives)

William and Wealthy Woodruff with extended family, Elizabeth, NJ, circa 1893 (Photo from my family’s personal archives)

Categories: Angus, Ayers, Chatham, Morris Co., Death Certificates, Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Madison, Morris Co., Woodruff | Leave a comment

Dan Crawford, Scottish Missionary to Belgian Congo

“A Luban Lady” DC Crawford

Following in the tradition of her grandfather George Wills, my great grandmother, Elizabeth Sargent Trewin, was a devout Methodist and a huge supporter of the missionary work of Scottish missionary Dan Crawford (1870-1926), who spent much of his life living and working in the Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo). For more on Crawford, visit the website of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography. Elizabeth supported Crawford’s work financially and in prayer, and we have quite a bit of correspondence between the two. Elizabeth’s husband William Trewin passed away in 1916, and Crawford sends his sincerest condolences to her on that occasion. He also mentions prayerfully remembering Elizabeth’s daughter Zillah whenever glancing at her photo on his office wall. For this post, I am including a number of wonderful photographs sent to Elizabeth by Crawford. Both Crawford and Elizabeth passed away in 1926, she at age 72, and he at just 55 (from a minor wound that had become infected).

Categories: Africa, Belgian Congo, Crawford, Missionary Dan, Sargent, Trewin, Wills | Leave a comment

George Sampson Valentine Wills’ Memoirs

More pages have been added to the post containing chemist GSV Wills’ book. Chapter XII (starting on p. 61) gives some mention to his marriage to Miss Goode. I would have liked more embellishment there!

Categories: Sargent, Wills | 2 Comments

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