England

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.
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St_Mary,_Fordwich_Kent_-_Royal_Arms_-_geograph.org.uk_-_324710

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.)

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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,_Fordwich_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1351266

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.

Organ

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.

box

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!

bible

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

A Trewin Tidbit

Tuning fork (Wikimedia Commons- public domain)

Tuning fork (Wikimedia Commons- public domain)

I had to move some cobwebs around in my head, but I do remember seeing a very old-looking tuning fork somewhere along the line among old family papers and belongings. No doubt it will resurface again some day, and when it does I will now know what its significance is thanks to a recently discovered note left behind by my grandmother, Zillah Trewin: Tuning fork used by Grandpa Trewin [Thomas Trewin, 1817-1875] when he led the singing at the chapel in England.

A note left behind by Zillah Trewin, my grandmother

A note left behind by Zillah Trewin, my grandmother

Born on 12 August 1817 to Thomas Trewin and Sarah Larcom, Thomas was christened at the Wesleyan Methodist Church on William Street in Woolwich, Co. Kent, England. According to the Londonburials website, that chapel is now part of a Gurdwara (a Sikh temple).

Whether or not Thomas grew up in and then led the choir in the William Street chapel, I do not know. But I found it very interesting to discover that Thomas had such musical ability and devoted himself to leading choir activities at his church.

As always, comments, corrections, & additions are welcome.

 

Categories: Trewin, Woolwich, Greater London | 2 Comments

The Thomas Trowbridge (1597-1672) Connection

The popular TV show, Who Do You Think You Are, which focuses on the genealogical roots of various celebrities, moved to TLC this past season. I saw the first 3-4 episodes, but then the hurly-burly of the holiday season and whatever else was going on at the time threw the show off my radar, which is too bad, because love it or hate it (because it makes finding one’s roots look much too easy), it can be very interesting. So, a couple of weeks ago, for some reason, the series came to mind and I thought I’d see online what I’d missed out on. I randomly clicked on a Cindy Crawford video clip and discovered that she and I (and no doubt thousands of others out there in the world) are related via a distant 10th/11th great grandfather, Thomas Trowbridge, whose line I have mentioned before, albeit many moons ago.

Tudor Tavern, Fore Street, Taunton

Tudor Tavern (on left), Fore Street, Taunton (here Thomas Trowbridge’s grandfather Thomas–a very successful and charitable wool merchant–leased and operated a store (1576-1606). Image: Wikipedia

Thomas, from Taunton, Somersetshire, England, brought his young family to America sometime around 1633-1636. They started out in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony, but moved to New Haven for religious reasons. His wife Elizabeth Marshall died sometime before 1641. Thomas, who was a mariner and merchant, was constantly on the go, and for perhaps business reasons or to find another wife, he returned to Taunton, marrying there in 1641 and leaving his sons in the care of his servant Henry Gibbons. Back in England, Thomas got swept up in the political events of the time and until his dying day (February 7, 1672) never returned to America. Gibbons was later charged with mismanaging moneys left by Thomas to provide for the boys, and the authorities placed them with Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Jeffrey. The blog Old Stones Undeciphered has an excellent post about that and other eras of Trowbridge family history.

There are more remarkable links to discover, as the show points out. Thomas’s mother Agnes Prowse (1576-1622) links Thomas and his many descendants to Charlemagne, aka Charles the Great or Charles I (see below). Now, let’s face it, by now probably half or more of the planet’s inhabitants are related to him! That said, I still can’t help but be fascinated.

For more on Cindy Crawford’s link to Thomas Trowbridge and Charlemagne, visit:

Charlemagne (Wikimedia)

Charlemagne (Wikipedia)

Charlemagne to Thomas Trowbridge:
1-Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor b. 747, d. 814
+Hildegarde b. 758, d. 30 Apr 783
2-Pepin King of Italy b. 773, d. 8 Jul 810, Milan, Italy
+Unknown
3-Bernard King of Italy b. 797, d. 17 Apr 818, Milan, Italy
+Cunigunde d. 835
4-Pepin Count of Senlis b. Abt 815, d. After 840
+Unknown
5-Herbert I, Count of Vermandois b. Abt 840, d. Abt 902
+Bertha de Morvois
6-Beatrix de Vermandois d. 931
+Robert I, King of the West Franks b. 856, d. 15 Jun 923, Soissons
7-Hugh Magnus Duke of France b. Abt 895, d. 16 Jun 956, Deurdan
+Hedwiga of Germany b. Abt 915, d. 14 May 956
8-Hugh Capet King of France b. Abt 939, d. 24 Oct 996
+Adelaide of Poitou b. 945, d. 1004
9-Hedwig of France b. Abt 972, d. After 1013
+Regnier IV Count of Hainault
10-Beatrix de Hainault b. 992, d. After 1015
+Ebles I Count of Roucy and Rheims b. Abt 988, d. 11 May 1033
11-Alice de Roucy b. Abt 1014, d. 1062
+Count Hildouin of Montdidier and Roucy
12-Marguerite de Roucy b. Abt 1014, d. 1062
+Hugh de Creil d. 1101
13-Adeliza de Clermont b. Abt 1074, d. After 1130
+Gilbert fitz Richard Lord of Clare & Lord of Cardigan b. 1065, d. 1114
14-Richard fitz Gilbert Lord of Clare d. 1136
+Adeliz le Meschin of Chester b. Abt 1074, d. After 1130
15-Roger de Clare Earl of Clare or Hertford b. 1116, d. 1173
+Maud St. Hillary b. 1132, d. 24 Dec 1193
16-Aveline de Clare b. Abt 1172, d. Bef 4 Jun 1225
+Geoffrey fitz Piers Earl of Essex b. 1164, d. 14 Oct 1213
17-Hawise fitz Geoffrey d. 1243
+Reynold de Mohun Lord of Dunster b. Abt 1206, d. 20 Jan 1257
18-Alice de Mohun b. Abt 1230, d. 1284
+Robert de Beauchamp IV, Lord of Hatch d. Abt 1265
19-Sir Humphrey de Beauchamp b. Bef 1253, d. 1317
+Sybil Oliver d. After 1306
20-Eleanor Beauchamp b. Abt 1275, d. After 1300
+John Bamfield d. After 1300
21-John Bamfield II b. Abt 1300, d. After 1337
+Isabel Cobham
22-John Bamfield III d. 1362
+Joan Gilbert d. After 1345
23-Thomas Bamfield b. Bef 1345, d. After 1392
+Agnes Coplestone d. After 1386
24-Agnes Bamfield b. betw 1377 and 1386, d. After 1435
+John Prowse b. Abt 1377, d. After 1447
25-Richard Prowse b. 1407
+Margaret Norton b. Bef 1440
26-John Prowse Lord of Chagford b. 1436, d. 1526
+Joan Orchard b. Abt 1438, d. 1480
27-Robert Prowse b. Abt 1475
+Christian d. 1516
28-John Prowse b. Bef 1504
+Alice White b. Bef 1520, d. 13 Aug 1583
29-John Prowse II b. 1539, d. 11 Sep 1598
+Elizabeth Colwick b. Bef 1546, d. After 1576
30-Agnes Prowse b. 14 Apr 1576, Tiverton, Devonshire, England, d. 6 Jun 1622, Taunton, Somersetshire, England
+John Trowbridge b. 25 Jul 1570, Taunton, Somersetshire, England, d. 25 Jul 1649, Taunton, Somersetshire, England
31-Thomas Trowbridge b. 8 Feb 1597, Taunton, Somersetshire, England, d. 7 Feb 1672, Taunton, Exeter, England
+Elizabeth Marshall b. 24 Mar 1602, London, England, d. In or bef 1641, New Haven, CT

Categories: Celebrities, Charlemagne aka Charles I, New Haven, Prowse, Taunton, Somerset, Trowbridge, WDYTYA | Leave a comment

Trewins, scenes of Cornwall, and ‘Doc Martin’

Remains of Tintagel Castle, legendary birthplace of King Arthur public domain Uploaded by: Archibald Tuttle from Wikimedia Commons (original source)

Cornwall scene: Remains of Tintagel Castle, legendary birthplace of King Arthur; public domain; Ookaboo (uploaded by: Archibald Tuttle from Wikimedia Commons (original source))

Cornwall, 1830 Map; Talland can be seen closer to the northeast corner

Cornwall, 1830 Map; courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Port Isaac. The Doc's house/office stands on the hill to the left of the big stone house. (Wikimedia Commons: public domain by Sbeech)

Port Isaac. The Doc’s house/office stands on the hill to the left of the big stone house. (Wikimedia Commons: public domain by Sbeech)

Port Isaac; 1989 |Author: Manfred Heyde Wikimedia Commons: Public domain under GNU Free Documentation License)

Port Isaac; 1989 |Author: Manfred Heyde Wikimedia Commons: Public domain under GNU Free Documentation License)

It was two summers ago that I discovered that my Trewin family roots go back to a 16th century Cornish gentleman hailing from the seaside village of St. Gennys. I wrote about it in one of my posts. It was a wonderful discovery to make, especially since I had taken my mother on a tour of Cornwall in the mid-1990s, and we had both found this southwestern-most county of England to be absolutely charming–lovely people, stunning landscapes, breathtaking seaside vistas, and quaint villages.

Minack Theatre, Cornwall (Wikimedia Commons: contribute by Chef)

Boscastle, Cornwall (Wikimedia Commons: contributed by JUweL)

Boscastle, Cornwall (Wikimedia Commons: contributed by JUweL)

All those great memories made us want to go back to experience it all again, something not really possible now that mom is a nonagenarian. The next best thing would be to find a film of some kind that could transport us across the seas. And so I began to peruse Netflix… and that was when I discovered the Doc Martin television series about a cantankerous British surgeon who develops a fear of blood and moves to the seaside Cornwall village in which he’d spent happy days as a child visiting with his aunt. There he becomes the village’s local GP. His lack of bedside manner can be horrifying, but he is such an astoundingly capable physician that the villagers learn to put up with him. Each episode includes some kind of medical mishap or mystery, and part of the fun is watching the Doc sort it all out, alienating some and rescuing others in the process. And then there is the on-again, off-again romance / attraction with the village school’s headmistress Louisa, a relationship that alternately delights, entertains and frustrates the heck out of you. Other characters add to the chaos: the village pharmacist, policeman, radio DJ, plumber-turned-restauranteur, and office receptionist, among others.

The series takes place in a picturesque village called ‘Portwenn’ which in real life is the village of Port Isaac, some 20 miles south of St. Gennys. We ordered series 1, and within a few episodes we were completely hooked. Series 3-4 followed, and we watched episodes practically daily until the source of all our fun dried up.

Eventually, Mom was missing the series so much, I went out and bought it on DVD so she could watch it anytime she wanted to. Then, oh happy day, series 5 came out and we snapped it up on DVD. We devoured those episodes and loved how season 5 ended. Then, sadly, another long drought was upon us. (They don’t film the series annually as is common in the US.)

The local PBS station picked up the first few years of the series, but they weren’t showing episodes in any particular order (or so it seemed to me anyway) so it was not quite as fun. Plus of course we’d seen them all before—at least twice!

doc_martin

Yes, we’ve got them all now!

Thankfully, season 6, which was shown on TV last spring in the UK, just came out on DVD here—it was THE perfect gift for mom this past Christmas. The first two episodes have been thoroughly fun and enjoyable. So if you are looking for something to entertain you this winter season and you have not discovered Doc Martin already, I recommend you give it a try. Those with Cornish roots or who just simply love Cornwall and marvelous multi-layered characters may find it as irresistible as we do!

Categories: St. Gennys, Cornwall, Trewin | 1 Comment

Rebuilding London’s Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace General view from Water Temple, 1854. Author: Philip Henry Delamotte, Negretti and Zambra (Wikimedia Commons: PD-Art, copyright expired 70+ years ago)

Crystal Palace General view from Water Temple, 1854. Author: Philip Henry Delamotte, Negretti and Zambra (Wikimedia Commons: PD-Art, copyright expired 70+ years ago)

I just read in The Telegraph of London’s plans to rebuild the famed Crystal Palace, which was built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and later relocated to South London. There in 1936, it was destroyed by a massive fire. To view the October 3rd online article & accompanying video clip, which includes animated schematics of the planned rebuild, click here.

You may recall that this blog mentioned the Crystal Palace once before. It was there that famous chemist George S. V. Wills‘ granddaughter Dorothy Hope Wills (m. Frederick James Warren) played piano with the Palace’s orchestra.

A Chinese investment firm is responsible for the redevelopment which will also include the restoration of the vast grounds and gardens. Work is expected to begin in winter 2015.

Once the reconstruction is complete, I imagine it will be extremely exciting for Dorothy’s descendants to visit and get a sense of the wonderful world in which she adored sharing her enormous musical talent with the visiting public.

Dorothy Hope Wills wedding to Frederick Warren, circa 1920

Dorothy Hope Wills’ wedding to Frederick Warren, circa 1920 (Photo from personal family collection of Colin Newton)

Crystal Palace interior during the Great Exhibition of 1851. (Wikimedia Commons: PD-1923 – published before 1923 and public domain in the US)

Crystal Palace interior during the Great Exhibition of 1851. (Wikimedia Commons: PD-1923 – published before 1923 and public domain in the US)

Plan of Crystal Park Palace in 1857 (Wikimedia Commons: Public domain in US; copyright expired 70+ years ago)

Plan of Crystal Park Palace in 1857 (Wikimedia Commons: Public domain in US; copyright expired 70+ years ago)

Categories: London, Wills | 4 Comments

1898 Shipwreck: Brodhead sister-in-law & husband lost

SS Mohegan, 1898 (Wikipedia-Public domain in US)

SS Mohegan, 1898 (Wikipedia-Public domain in US)

It was the year 1898. William McKinley, a Republican from Ohio, was President, his assassination at the hands of an anarchist still three years away. The Spanish-American War was in full swing. Hawaii was annexed as a US territory. The Wright Brothers had yet to fly, and the initial laying of the RMS Titanic‘s hull was eleven years in the future. And, of course, from the last post, we know that men’s suits were selling for $12 and a glass of soda cost a nickel.

By no means the largest maritime disaster to have taken place prior to 14 October 1898, nonetheless the tragic downing that day of the SS Mohegan off Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula near the village of Porthoustock, was a major event that found its way onto the headlines of the world’s newspapers, large and small. The loss was inarguably a huge blow to all the families on both sides of the Atlantic who so abruptly and unexpectedly lost their precious loved ones.

New York Times, 16 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

New York Times, 16 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Of the Mohegan’s 146 passengers (roughly two-thirds were crew), 106 souls were lost including Robert Packer Brodhead‘s sister-in-law Emilie Loveland Luke (age 32) and her husband Loren M. Luke (age 28) of Kingston, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania.

SS Mohegan wrecked on the Manacles, the Lizard coast of Cornwall (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

SS Mohegan wrecked on the Manacles, the Lizard coast of Cornwall (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

The ship had gone off course on the evening of 14 October—just a day after departing London. The night was clear but the  the currents and winds were strong. Just as the passengers were sitting down for their evening meal, the Mohegan smashed into a submerged reef called the Manacles (about a mile from shore), and sank so quickly that only 40 passengers—those who made it into the first lifeboats (mostly women) and those who survived the plunge into the rugged seas and the jagged rocks below—managed to escape. All the officers, including Captain Griffith, whose skills had always been highly regarded, drowned. Many people were severely injured on the rocks—some to the point that they succumbed from their injuries even after being rescued from the water.

Villagers on land had witnessed the Mohegan too close to shore before the accident and knew the vessel was in trouble. Some set off immediately in boats hoping to get there in time to assist with an evacuation, but the ship sank too quickly. Rescuers in a lifeboat found 14 exhausted and near-drowned crew members on the rocks. A tugboat picked up one survivor who’d been in the water over seven hours and was able to give an initial account of the accident.

Most of the dead passengers were affluent Americans who were returning home from time spent in Europe on business or pleasure. The Mohegan, owned by the Atlantic Transport Line, was part passenger liner and part animal carrier (it had 700 stalls for cattle); the accommodations on board for the human travelers were very opulent and comfortable.

Captain Griffith, lost with the Mohegan (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

Captain Griffith, lost with the Mohegan (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

The vessel, originally named the Cleopatra, was built for a leisurely Atlantic crossing not for speed. She was purchased by the Atlantic Transport Line to replace ships that had been commandeered by the US government for duty in the Spanish-American War. It had only undertaken one previous voyage (in July 1898), which was fraught with mechanical problems that grounded the vessel until she was felt to be sea worthy again—in time for the October 13th sailing. By then, she had been renamed the Mohegan and was manned by a crew who thought her bad luck.

Robert P. Brodhead, husband of Fanny V. Loveland; son of Andrew Jackson Brodhead & Ophelia Easton.

Robert P. Brodhead, husband of Fanny V. Loveland; son of Andrew Jackson Brodhead & Ophelia Easton.

Initially the Luke, Loveland, and Brodhead families of Kingston had severe doubts as to whether the couple had actually been on board. Robert Brodhead had received a letter from the couple several days before the accident saying they would be departing on October 13 on the steamer Victoria; but Robert then learned that for some reason the Victoria sailed early—on October 9—and that her sister ship, the Mohegan, sailed on the 13th. (The switch it seems may well have had to do with some of the Mohegan’s mechanical problems taking longer to solve than expected). The family in Kingston initially did not want to fear the worst and questioned the initial passenger list that showed the Lukes as having been on board the downed vessel. Sadly, within days, the families’ fears were realized when Loren Luke’s uncle received a telegram from Vicar Diggins of the St. Keverne church (St. Keverne is a village near Porthoustock) to which bodies had been taken for identification and, in some cases, burial. The telegram stated that Loren’s body had been identified and that there were still four women yet to be identified. It was presumed that one of them was Emilie, and eventually that identification was made.

Most of the dead were buried in a common grave in the St. Keverne churchyard. Most of the bodies of the wealthy Americans who'd been on board were embalmed before being transported to NYC (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

Most of the dead were buried in a common grave in the St. Keverne churchyard. Most of the bodies of the wealthy Americans who’d been on board were embalmed before being transported to NYC (Wikipedia: Public domain in USA)

Most, if not all, of the deceased Americans on board were embalmed by morticians sent down to Cornwall from London (the local area had not yet made it a practice to embalm the dead). Once embalmed, the bodies made the long journey back to the US on the SS Menonimee, a sister ship of the ill-fated Mohegan. Many of the others who were lost were laid to rest in a common grave in St. Keverne churchyard, where a memorial and stained glass window honor their memory.

For the Lovelands in particular this was yet another cruel twist of fate. Emilie Loveland Luke’s parents, William and Linda Loveland, had seven children in all; three had died as infants: firstborn Ellen Tiffany and the last two children (both boys)—William and John Walter. Another daughter, Mary Buckingham Loveland (wife of Rev. George N. Makely), died in June 1895, leaving just three children among the living: Fanny Vaughn Loveland Brodhead, Elizabeth Shepherd Brodhead, and Emilie. Earlier in 1898, in the month of March, Mr. Loveland (William) passed away. So with Emilie swept away by the Mohegan disaster, Mrs. Loveland was left with just two of her seven children.

Compounding all the grief felt by the family was surely an additional factor—and that is the reason Emilie and Luke had gone abroad that August in the first place. On July 31, they lost their first child, an infant son named simply ‘Loveland Luke,’ who was born on October 21, 1897. Emilie had taken the loss exceptionally hard, and sensing that a change of scenery may do her some good, Loren organized the trip abroad. They departed on the SS Victoria in mid-August for a two-month stay in Europe.

The Wilkes-Barre Times of November 7, 1898, mentioned that Robert P. Brodhead was in New York City making arrangements to bring the bodies of Loren and Emilie home to Kingston. Robert P. Brodhead, the eighth child of Andrew Jackson Brodhead and Ophelia Easton Brodhead, was one of my great grandfather Andrew Douglas Brodhead’s younger brothers. Robert married Kingston native Fanny Vaughn Loveland in 1889; the couple lived in Kingston where Robert developed a successful career as a contractor, eventually heading Brodhead Contracting Company. He’s the one who purchased Wheat Plains, the old family farm south of Milford that had temporarily gone out of the family’s possession. In November 1896, Fanny’s younger sister Emilie married Loren M. Luke, an 1893 Princeton graduate, Kingston attorney, and highly regarded member of the Luzerne County bar association.  In his spare time, he taught classes in English grammar at the YMCA, was secretary of the Princeton Alumni Association, and was involved with Sunday School. Loren had a home built on Wyoming Avenue for Emilie in advance of their November 1896 nuptials. The Brodheads and Lukes both lived in Kingston and the Loveland sisters remained very close, visiting each other frequently.

Loren Mill Luke, Emilie Loveland Luke, and their infant son Loveland Luke were buried on November 9, 1898, in the Forty Fort Cemetery, in Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania. A family gathering took place at Mrs. William Loveland’s home prior to the burial. (To view the graves of the Lukes, visit the Find a Grave website.)

Such devastating losses must have been impossible to bear at times. And the following spring of 1899, Robert and Fanny Brodhead endured another tragic loss—their first-born child, a son named Robert aged 10, died of diphtheria. Perhaps all that was more than Mrs. William Loveland could bear, as she died a year later in June of 1900.

Rumors abounded as to what caused the Mohegan to go off course. The official verdict was human error, but some thought the weather that day had somehow affected the ship’s instrumentation. And, some villagers claimed to have seen Captain Griffith rescued by a lifeboat and then disappearing into the hills, causing some to rumor that he purposely wrecked the ship due to financial woes (he was an American Transport Lines shareholder and could thus collect insurance monies). As it turned out, the ship was grossly underinsured.

Even a quarter of a century later, the event was mentioned in a “25 Years Ago” column in the Caledonia New York Advertiser (see clipping). Today, the SS Mohegan is one of the UK’s most famous wrecks for scuba diving.

Caledonia NY Advertiser, 25 October 1923 (www.fultonhistory.com)

“25 Years Ago” column, Caledonia NY Advertiser, 25 October 1923 (www.fultonhistory.com)

**************************************************************************

Princeton Verse, edited by Raymond Blaine Fosdick (Hausauer, Son & Jones Co., 1904), p. 59:

Lines on a Ring by Loren M. Luke, Class of 1893

Oh precious drop of crystal dew,
Set in a tiny band of gold,
Which doth within its little grasp
A blue-veined finger softly hold–
Thou failest if thy radiant rays
Are seeking—bold attempt ‘twould be!—
To show a fraction of the love
That beams from Edith’s eyes on me.

***************************************************************************

From The Quin-decennial Record of the Class of '93 of Princeton University, p. 73 (published 1908; available as Google eBook)

From The Quin-decennial Record of the Class of ’93 of Princeton University, p. 73 (published 1908; available as Google eBook)

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

IthacaTimes_2

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Ithaca Times, 17 Oct 1898 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Resources:

  • The Wreck of the Steamer Mohegan – a poem by Scottish poet William McGonagall
  • The Atlantic Transport Line – the SS Mohegan
  • St. Keverne Local History Society – The Mohegan Tapes
  • Wreck SiteSS Mohegan
  • Genealogy of the Loveland Family in the United States of America by John Bigelow Loveland and George Loveland (I. M. Keeler & Son, 1892) – Volume I – Google Books
  • Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula
  • “The Tragedy of the Sea. Mr. and Mrs. Loren M. Luke of Kingston, Believed to Be Lost,” Saturday, October 15, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6
  • “Last Edition! 170 People Drowned at Sea. The Steamship Mohegan Went on the Rocks off the Lizard,” Saturday, October 15, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6, 1
  • “Postscript. Four O’Clock. Mr. Luke’s Body Identified. Telegram Received This Morning – No Women Yet Identified,” Monday, October 17, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6.
  • “Beautiful Tributes. To the Late Loren M. Luke from Members of the Bar, Saturday,” October 22, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 5.
    “The Mohegan Disaster. Interesting Illustrations Reprinted from the London Illustrated News,” Monday, November 7, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 7.
  • “Kingston,” November 7, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 7.
  • “A Double Funeral. The Remains of Mr. and Mrs. Loren M. Luke Interred in Forty Fort Cemetery,” Wednesday, November 9, 1898, Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), p. 6.
Categories: 1890s, Brodhead, Death, England, Forty Fort Luzerne Co PA, Loveland, Luke, Spanish American War, SS Mohegan, St. Keverne Cornwall | 2 Comments

Leitrim Roots Festival 2013

As someone with some Leitrim Co., Ireland, roots I was glad to come across Alan Stewart’s post about the upcoming (September 2013) Leitrim Roots Festival. Sounds like a lot of fun and wish I could go. Alan has a great blog, by the way, with tons of great information for those researching their English and/or Irish roots.

Grow Your Own Family Tree

Leitrim Genealogy Centre is organising its fourth Roots Festival to be held in September 2013.

View original post 501 more words

Categories: England, Ireland, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Traces of Our Slaymakers in Northamptonshire

The Northampton Mercury, 26 January 1861

The Northampton Mercury, 26 January 1861

George Wills died in 1857 and his son-in-law William Slaymaker and daughter Mary removed to Northampton to head a stone masonry business there. With them were their daughter Elizabeth (my great grandmother) who would have been six at the time the above ad appeared; son Samuel who would have been about eight (he went on to be a well-known Methodist minister affiliated with Ocean Grove, NJ); and daughter Sarah (a.k.a. Sadie) who would have been just a baby. Son William appeared in 1861, probably after this ad was placed. I’ve done quite a few posts about them already. When they emigrated to the US in 1870, they changed their last name to ‘Sargent.’ The family settled in Jersey City, Hudson Co., NJ. I’ve found a few more traces of their Northamptonshire roots and will share them in future posts.

George Wills, 1793-856, Image from private family archives. George Wills' original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

George Wills, 1793-856, Image from private family archives. George Wills’ original portrait was inherited by his daughter Martha according to the will

William Slaymaker (changed last name to Sargent before moving to the US in 1870)

William Slaymaker (changed last name to Sargent before moving to the US in 1870)

Elizabeth [Slaymaker] Sargent Trewin

Elizabeth [Slaymaker] Sargent Trewin

Rev. Samuel Sargent PhD (image courtesy of Frances S. Cowles)

Rev. Samuel Sargent PhD (image courtesy of Frances S. Cowles)

Categories: Methodist, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Sargent, Slaymaker, Wills | Leave a comment

Sampson Wills’ accidental death in Wolverton, near Stony Stratford

 Commons

All Saints Calverton Church, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire (Attribution: Mr Biz, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

Holy Trinity Church in Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, England (Attribution: John Salmon, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

While perusing some old UK newspapers, I came upon a list of coroner’s inquests that included the accidental death of stone mason Sampson Wills, one of my 4th great grandfathers, father of George Wills, and husband of Ann Gadsden.

I’d mentioned Sampson’s tragic accident in a previous post; he had fallen supposedly while attempting to affix the pinnacle of the All Saints Calverton Church in Wolverton (Buckinghamshire, England). His great grandson chemist G.S.V. Wills had documented the accident in his memoirs. G.S.V. gave no exact date, but based on what he’d written, I’d estimated that the death occurred around 1830.

The newspaper article, published in London’s Morning Post* on Wednesday, 18 April 1827, provides more definitive details, thankfully. For one thing, it places Sampson’s death in or before April 1827. I don’t know how long after a death an inquest would take place, but I assume within weeks? Any ideas?

Copyright restrictions prohibit me from including a clipping of the article here, but in a nutshell, it confirms a fall from Calverton Church– specifically from the east pinnacle which had recently been erected. Sampson had been cleaning it when the scaffolding beneath him gave way. The 50-foot fall left him with a serious concussion, and he died two days later.

The article states his age as 63. Unfortunately that throws into question the birth and christening dates I have for him: 26 Dec 1867 and 20 Mar 1768 (at the Holy Trinity Church in Wolverton), respectively; presumed parents: Thomas Wills and Elisabeth Rainbow. As always, just when one question gets answered,  two more appear in its place!

*Note: The results of the coroner’s inquest were also published in the Northampton Mercury and Oxford Journal newspapers at roughly the same time.

Categories: Death, Gadsden, Obituaries, Rainbow, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Wills, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire | 2 Comments

George Wills’ wife’s family: The Capons of Newport Pagnell?

 Is this Martha Nunn Capon?

Is this Martha Nunn Capon?

Wills Family Tree

Wills Family Tree

Ages ago, I posted numerous entries on the George Wills family of Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, England. (You can find them easily by clicking on the ‘Wills’ category under ‘Surnames’ in the column on the left of the page.)

2/15/1926 Obituary for Elizabeth Sargent Trewin

2/15/1926 Obituary for Elizabeth Sargent Trewin

As I’d mentioned previously, my mother had a silhouette passed down to her of a woman who was presumably Mary Capon’s mother. Mary Capon was married to George Wills, one of my 3rd great grandfathers. Information passed down to my mother indicated that Mary Capon’s mother was named Mary Pitt and that she (the mother) was a cousin of William Pitt. That’s the extent of the information we’ve had on the Capons. I’ve never found evidence of the Pitt connection, which was mentioned in my great grandmother’s obituary notice. Anyone reading this who knows of a Pitt link, please leave a comment!

Newport Pagnell proximity to Stony Stratford

Newport Pagnell proximity to Stony Stratford

Meanwhile, (using the Family Search website) I came upon a Capon family who lived in Newport Pagnell, a village that is just a stone’s throw from Stony Stratford: the father William Capon married the mother Martha Nunn on 13 July 1779 in Newport Pagnell. The couple had eight children that I know of. Two of them died as infants. There was a daughter named Mary whose date of birth (1789) could easily qualify her to have been George Will’s wife (George was born in 1793). Unfortunately, we’ve never had OUR Mary Capon’s DOB; if we did and the two DOBs matched, I’d have my answer.

I found wills on file with the National Archives for both William Capon and Martha Nunn. He died in spring 1801 and she survived until December 1843. I’ll provide transcriptions of the wills in an upcoming post. Sadly, they don’t help identify any relationship with the Wills family. However OUR Mary Capon Wills died in 1839, so the lack of a mention would be logical.

1-William Capon d. Bef 4 May 1801
+Martha Nunn b. 1761, d. Dec 1843, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, England,
bur. 6 Dec 1843, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, England

|–2-Mary Capon b. 8 Jun 1780, c. 6 Jul 1780, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire,
| England, d. 18 Feb 1781
|–2-William Capon b. 14 Jul 1781, c. 10 Aug 1781, Newport Pagnell,
| Buckinghamshire, England
|–2-Martha Capon b. 2 Oct 1783, c. 28 Oct 1783, Newport Pagnell,
| Buckinghamshire, England
|–2-Mary Capon b. 7 Mar 1789, c. 4 Apr 1789, Newport Pagnell,
| Buckinghamshire, England

|–2-Rebecca Catherine Capon b. 25 Nov 1786, c. 1 Jan 1787, Newport Pagnell,
| Buckinghamshire, England
|–2-Joseph Capon b. 16 Sep 1791, c. 6 Oct 1791, Newport Pagnell,
| Buckinghamshire, England, d. 12 Feb 1792
|–2-Ann Capon b. 4 Jun 1795, c. 26 Jun 1795, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire,
| England
|–2-Joseph Capon b. 26 Jan 1793, c. 22 Feb 1793, Newport Pagnell,
| Buckinghamshire, England

So is there a connection or isn’t there? At least one of George Wills and Mary Capon Wills’ children were born in Newport Pagnell (Phoebe, b. 1818). The names of George and Mary’s children include both a William (1st born son) and a Martha (4th daughter). Was this in honor of William and Martha Capon? Anyway, it’s all very curious! If anyone out there has any clues, please get in touch!

From A Dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney, Oxford University Press, 1997: Capon, Cappon: Simon Capun 1227 FFC; Thomas Capoun 1382 LLB H. OE capun ‘a castrated cock’, metonymic for a seller of capons.

Categories: Capon, England, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, Wills | Leave a comment

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