On the morning of 16 July 1902, Abigail Winans (Angus) Woodruff (1812-1905) awoke in her home at 1177 South Chestnut Street in Elizabeth, NJ, to begin celebrating her 90th birthday. Abigail made it into the newspaper that day on the occasion of her newly acquired nonagenarian status, and thanks to my grandmother who saved the clipping, I can share it with you today. Many came to meet and greet Abigail, who was “in the possession of health and strength, and received her guests in a most affable manner.” (On a side note, not surprisingly the house on Chestnut Street no longer exists, which is a shame; I’d love to see what it was like.)
Abigail’s older brother James, my 2nd-great-grandfather, died in 1862 at just 52 years of age, and because of that I always think of him as being someone from the fairly distant past. But the fact that his sister, and brother Job (1821-1909) for that matter, made it into the 20th century just goes to show that there were indeed some very good genes in the family, and were it not for an unfortunate twist of fate (an unpleasant bacterial skin illness), James may have made it into the 20th century as well.
Abigail was married to Henry King Woodruff (1806-1853), who’d died nearly a half century before this 1902 celebration. They’d had three children together: Mary Jane (1832-1916), Jacob (1840-1847), and William (1842-1913). So two of the three children were present for their mother’s milestone festivities.
Unfortunately, another clipping from 1905 reports the sad news of Abigail’s demise on the 16th of March of that year, but it’s obvious from reading the clipping that hers was a life very well lived, and that she enjoyed the support of the community and a great many family members. The clipping offers us a little snapshot in time of the funeral, and because it names names, we know with certainty where some of our ancestors were on that day in history. I learned, for example, that my great-grandfather William Earl Woodruff was a pallbearer (he was married to Abigail’s niece Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, James & Wealthy Angus’s daughter) at the funeral. Other pallbearers included nephews Charles Dujah Angus, Job Winans Angus (Jr.), and George Welsh Angus—all sons of my 2nd-great-grandparents James and Wealthy Angus; and two sons of Mary Martha Winans Angus Knowles (another daughter of James & Wealthy). Abigail was buried in the historic First Presbyterian Churchyard.