Hillside Union

Daguerreotype of brothers William Earl Woodruff and Matthias Woodruff, circa 1853

Sons of Mary Jane Trowbridge and Francis Woodruff, circa 1853

I was thrilled to come upon this old daguerreotype of my great-grandfather, William Earl Woodruff (b. 1848, right), and his little brother Matthias (b. 1851, seated on the left and holding what appears to be a rifle/sword). William has his hand on Matthias’s shoulder; apart from showing his brotherly love, he was perhaps doing his best to keep Matthias from fidgeting while the image was being recorded. Was having Matthias hold the rifle/sword a way to keep his hands still? I suspect so. This is the only image I have ever seen of Matthias, who eventually grew up to marry Mary S. Ayers and, in his 30s, headed out alone to the Dakota Territory to farm wheat. He died an accidental death in Chatham, New Jersey, when in his early 40’s.

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff (1820-1883)

I think Matthias resembles his mother Mary Jane, while William looks more like his father Francis. From previous posts you may remember that the family lived in a farmhouse built by Francis on Conant Street in present-day Hillside.

For more posts on this family, enter ‘Francis Woodruff’ in the search box on the left. Enter ‘Matthias’ for those posts chiefly related to him. As always I recommend reading the posts in chronological order.

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff (1820-1883)

On a different note, I have seen a few trees on Ancestry that show a son named John for this family, and Family Search corroborates this:

“New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FC1S-YHV : accessed 23 March 2015), John Woodruff, 27 Jun 1851; citing Union Twp., Essex, New Jersey, reference v 1 p 132a; FHL microfilm 493,712.

Francis’s father was John Woodruff (1795-1857; husband of Mary Ogden Earl) and  Francis’s older brother was Matthias Woodruff (1818-1844, died of Yellow Fever in Louisiana), so I can see where the names ‘John’ and ‘Matthias’ came from. I am however wondering whether there were two sons by those names or if there was one son named ‘John Matthias’ who was known by family and friends as ‘Matthias’. I have not yet found an exact birth date for Matthias but other information I have places him as being born in 1851 (1860 census, death certificate—aged 42 on day of death April 6, 1893, etc.) So, if there was a John, perhaps he was a twin who died very young? (He is absent from the 1860 census). Personally, I am much more inclined to think that ‘John’ and ‘Matthias’ were one in the same person. Blog readers, please feel free to weigh in!

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Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Grandma’s Class of 1898: Battin High School, Elizabeth, Union Co., New Jersey

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Fannie Bishop Woodruff, HS graduation photo, June 1898

Another treasure has surfaced, this one found within a stack of extremely old newspapers and magazines. And I wanted to share it in the event it helps others locate an image of an ancestor (or two).

My grandmother, Fannie Bishop Woodruff, graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, on June 21, 1898, and the wonderful find is a fabulous and fascinating group photo of her with all of her classmates.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll see that I have labelled it with the names listed by my grandmother on the reverse side. I have marked her with a little red heart. A second red heart appears on her cousin Frank W. Russum whose mother was Cecelia Angus, a younger sister of Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, Fannie’s mother.

Every little detail makes this photo special—the expressions on the faces, the clothing, the architecture, the lettering on the sign followed by a period, the big wooden chair in the open window, the little flowers (dandelions?) on the lawn, the flower pot… A true slice of life from June 1898.

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Battin High School, June 1898

When it came to trying to match faces to the list of names, I was initially somewhat confused with regards to the order in which she listed the young men (starting from the left, but from the top or the bottom? Same question for the right side).  I found a way to match them to her list by first finding photos of a handful of them in Rutgers College yearbooks (searching in the yearbooks for students from Elizabeth) and then matching the faces. That worked out well, so I feel quite confident that the young men are labelled correctly. (One young man – second from the left in the top row – is not identified—my grandmother left a space where his name should be; read further for my theory on him.)

By the way, those I found who went on to Rutgers were the following:

  • Rutgers ‘02: Frank Winner Russum; Charles Ernest Pett; and Charles Warren Stevens Jr.
  • Rutgers ’05: Emil Eisenhardt Fischer and Frederick Alton Price, Jr.

The yearbooks are available for free online via Rutgers (click the above links) and contain a wealth of information and images, Definitely worth a leaf through if you have time and are interested in getting a glimpse of college student life circa 1900, at what was once an all-male school.

Battin High School, Elizabeth, NJ - image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Battin High School, Elizabeth, NJ – image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

With the ladies, identification was more cumbersome and not entirely successful. First, my grandmother refers to ‘rows’ with the 1st row being the top step and the 6th row being the bottom step. For me, it was difficult, if not impossible, to decide where rows 3, 4, and 5 start and end given the way the young women in those areas are not seated in neat rows. Second, you’ll notice that four are not labelled at all, and that is because my grandmother left empty space at the start of ‘row 5’ as if she planned to go back and fill in the names later. So, I have done my best guessing. (Names that are my best guess are in regular font; those I feel confident about are in bold.)

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Joseph Battin who donated his mansion to the city of Elizabeth for the high school – image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Two names of these ladies (Edith Denman and Ethel M. Hall) don’t appear in the commencement brochure (shown below), but they DO appear in the Elizabeth Daily Journal article about the 1897 graduation (that article is also below). Why that is, I have no idea.

There are names in the commencement brochure that likely match five of the people in the photo:

  • Wilbur Van Sant Coleman* / Ora Kenneth Mizter / William John Millin / Richard Pollatschek / Ida Hand / Blanche Irene Hess* / Edna Winifred Lawson / Elizabeth Landrine Reeve / Elizabeth Winifred Roolvink* / Mary Elise ‘Sadie’ Fozard*

Pollatschek would have been a very unusual name for my grandmother to remember and write/pronounce, so perhaps the young man second from the left up top is Richard Pollaschek, who, I discovered, was born in Bohemia and emigrated from Austria to the US with his family.

To throw an additional spanner into the works, the above individuals marked with an asterisk also appear in the newspaper article for the previous year’s graduation… (as do names of some of the others in the photo)… Why that is, I don’t know. What makes things stranger is that Blanche Hess is listed as a participant in the ceremony in the 1898 brochure.

It occurred to me that the group photo could have been taken in 1897 when my grandmother was a junior, but that would not explain the presence in the 1897 newspaper article of so many names of people who aren’t in the group photo. If anyone out there has a theory as to the overlap, let me know.

Anyway, what matters most is that the photo exists, and we are still far ahead of the game of identification thanks to my grandmother who wrote down the names she did, and to my parents who kept the photo since her death in the mid-1960s.

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Prior to being known as Proctor’s, in 1898, this venue was known as the Star Theatre.

Grandmother’s graduation ceremony was held on Tuesday, 21 June 1898, at 7:45 p.m. at the Star Theatre (which later became Proctor’s Theatre and had numerous other names over the years; it was eventually demolished and replaced by the Ritz Theatre) located at 1146 East Jersey Street, less than a mile from the school. At the time she lived on the family farm on Conant Street, Hillside; this must have been a big night out for her parents and five sisters, and of course, for the many other families whose children had grown up together in, what was then, a quickly evolving city.

You can read the article about the 1897 graduation (credit: Digi-find) to get a sense of what the 1898 ceremony may have been like. Apart from the article, below you will also find the 1898 commencement brochure and an excerpt about Battin High School from the 1889 book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated which contains hundreds of interesting photos and descriptions of Elizabeth during that period.

You may have noticed the two young black students in my grandmother’s group photo—James Morris and Mattie Thomas.  James looks exceptionally scholarly in his spectacles and student attire. He is listed in the 1897 article as one of the students who was graduating. The article further stated: “As the graduates went forward to receive their diplomas each received applause. There were two young colored people in the class, and they were especially favored with the expression of the delight of the audience.” That was very gratifying to read and I have no doubt that Mattie and James were just as warmly received in 1898.

A-ha! Lightbulb moment! I noticed that James appeared in the 1897 list as a student in the Commercial Course and in the 1898 brochure as a student in the Regular Course. If I am not mistaken, the same appears to be true of the other students who appear to have graduated twice. So, perhaps, it was common for students to take an extra year to complete the regular course after graduating from the commercial course. That seems like a possible explanation.

I hope you find this post interesting and enjoyable. Please leave a comment if you have anything to correct, add, or share. Thank you!

Update: As luck would have it, I just came across the Elizabeth Daily Journal article for the 1898 graduation. It is included below at the very end. Unfortunately it is not entirely legible, but I can make out my grandmother’s name, and many of the others.

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Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Graduations, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Russum, Woodruff | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Last group photos of the Woodruff sisters, early 1950s

My garage clear-out yielded these two group photos of my grandmother Fannie B. Woodruff and her five sisters, Jennie, Flora, Mildred, Cecelia, and Bertha—the children of William Earl Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus. The photos were damaged and faded, but some “Photoshopping” has helped to revive them a bit. Oldest sister Jennie died in October 1955 so the image was obviously taken sometime prior to that. Sister Flora Ulrich lived out in California, so maybe this photo was taken to commemorate her visit to New Jersey or to mark some other special/solemn occasion, perhaps even the death of one of their spouses. My grandfather died in May 1951 and Jennie’s in December 1953. The location I am not sure of; but I think it may have been my grandmother’s home in Scotch Plains, NJ. I think it’s somewhat sweet that in the top photo they are all looking in different directions as if trying to catch their best sides. In the photos I have of them in their much younger years, all heads were always pointed in the same direction.

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Front Row: Jennie Bell Woodruff Coleman, Fannie Bishop Woodruff Brodhead, Flora May Woodruff Baker Ulrich /// Back Row: Bertha Winans Woodruff, Wealthy Mildred Woodruff Brown, Cecelia Russum Woodruff Van Horn

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Front Row: Bertha (daughter #6) and Jennie (daughter #1) Back Row: Cecelia (daughter #3), Mildred (daughter #5), Fannie (daughter #4), Flora (daughter #2)

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Categories: Brodhead, Brown, Coleman, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Russum, Scotch Plains, Ulrich, Van Horn, Winans, Woodruff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Summer 1904 cemetery photos of family marking the placement of the headstone for Wm Sargent Jr. & Sarah Jane Bowley graves

While going through my grandmother Zillah Trewin’s photo album, I came across these images taken in Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, during the summer of 1904 at what I presume was a small gathering to mark the placement of the gravestone for William Sargent (1861-1896) and his wife Sarah Jane Bowley (1849-1904) who died earlier that year, in January. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that the tiny elderly woman in the photo may actually be Mary Bowley Pitt, older sister of Sarah Bowley and second wife of William Sargent (Zillah’s grandfather and my 2nd-great-grandfather; 1st wife was Mary Wills, daughter of George and Mary Wills of Northamptonshire, England). You may recall the post where it was revealed that father and son (both named William) married sisters Mary Bowley Pitt and Sarah Bowley! Based on 1880 census records, Mary Bowley (1st marriage to ? Pitt) was born in 1839 in England; in 1904 she would have been 64, and I am trying to figure out if the mystery woman pictured could be around that age.  Thoughts anyone?

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Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ. new headstone for Sarah Bowley and William Sargent, 1904

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Elizabeth Sargent Trewin (b. 1854) at grave of her brother William Sargent and sister-in-law Sarah Bowley, 1904

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Zillah Trewin (left) at grave of her uncle William Sargent

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Unknown woman (left) and Elizabeth Sargent Trewin standing behind gravestone of her brother and sister-in-law, 1904

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Sargent, Slaymaker, Trewin | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Hillside, New Jersey, 1922: Woodruff golden wedding anniversary

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From our family archives: News clipping from the Elizabeth Daily Journal, Monday 19 June 1922

Here’s a clipping about my great-grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration (William Earl Woodruff & Wealthy Ann Angus), which took place on Saturday, 17 June 1922, at their home in Hillside, Union Co., NJ. The clipping, saved by my grandmother, is from the June 19, 1922, issue of the Elizabeth Daily Journal.

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A photo from our family archives: Wealthy Ann Angus & William Earl Woodruff, 17 June 1922

The accompanying photograph, one of our family history treasures, brings to life the article’s description of my great-grandmother’s outfit and all the various flowers on display. Lots of roses, of course!

Conant Street farmhouse

Conant Street farmhouse

Such articles usually offer new little clues and facts, and this one does not disappoint. For example, the Who’s Who of who was present, the name of the minister who married them, and the celebratory trip to Niagara Falls were news to me.  According to the article, they left for the Falls the next day, Sunday, 18 June. Since their actual anniversary was June 20, Tuesday, they marked the date there.

I visited Niagara Falls for the first time about 10 years ago, but had no idea that this connection with the Falls existed in my family tree. I suppose if I’d known about it at the time, it would have impacted my experience in some small way. I definitely would have paid attention to historical images from that period.

Dorothy Perkins roses (Credit: Wikipedia)

‘Dorothy Perkins’ rose, introduced in 1901 (Credit: Wikipedia)

"The Conard Star Roses," 1924 (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons - uploaded to Flickr by Biodiversity Heritage Library)

No. 2 – Ophelia in “The Conard Star Roses,” 1924 (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons – uploaded to Flickr by Biodiversity Heritage Library)

William and Wealthy made the trip at ages 73 and 71, respectively. It must have been a tremendously exciting and memorable moment for them, one that they could look back on happily during their remaining five years together.

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Coreopsis (Credit: Wikipedia)

Niagara Falls stamp, 1922 (Credit: Wikipedia - By U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing; Designed by Clair Aubrey Houston - U.S. Post Office Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Photo image obtained/rendered by Gwillhickers, Public Domain)

Niagara Falls stamp, 1922 (Credit: Wikipedia – By U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing; Designed by Clair Aubrey Houston – U.S. Post Office Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Photo image obtained/rendered by Gwillhickers, Public Domain)

Wealthy passed away on 27 May 1927. My dad, who was six at the time, distinctly remembered the emotional tumult the family experienced upon losing Wealthy and the sadness that accompanied William’s passing the following year (18 October 1928). My dad’s parents, who lived in neighboring Elizabeth, took in William and Wealthy’s dog, but the dog kept running away back to the house in Hillside, and eventually got hit my a car. My dad was heartbroken; as he described it, the last link with his Woodruff grandparents was gone.

(Sorry to end the post on such a down note, but I think all these pieces help convey how beloved William and Wealthy were to their children and grandchildren.)

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Categories: Angus, Anniversaries, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: | 3 Comments

Angus Family History – ‘Boots on ground’ NJ research opportunity

James Angus business card, side 2

James Angus business card, side 2 (from my family’s personal archives)

This blog is all about my desire to be collaborative and share family history information, and this post focuses on some collaborating we could do, but unfortunately, I can’t take the lead on this one at this time since I am my mom’s full-time caregiver. Embarking on distant travels is hard for me right now. My big July Oregon escape was just that: BIG. But, it was also RARE! 🙂 But, let’s get back to that ‘boots on ground’ research opportunity with regards to the Angus family:

If you visit the New Jersey Historical Society website and look up the ‘Angus Family’, you will discover that the Society has the following holdings in its archives:

No. 615.  ANGUS FAMILY  Papers, 1838-1969. 75 items. Correspondence, business records, genealogical material.  Business records relate to Angus family companies in New Jersey  and Mexico, I839-71.  Of particular interest are the business records, 1849-71, of the Elizabethtown Steam Manufacturing Company, James W. Angus, Superintendent. Gift of Exchange and Gift Division, Library of Congress, 1964.

Seventy-five items! There’s bound to be something ‘new’ there. Perhaps, someone reading this has visited the Society and has gotten to see these items (or at least some of them) first-hand. If so, please consider sharing your findings and impressions via the ‘Comments’ section below. Or perhaps this post will inspire someone who lives in or near Newark to visit the Society to find out exactly what’s there (I believe you may need to call ahead). You can request copies, but not of the entire collection due to staff shortages. Since I don’t know what is there, I don’t know what to request. The contact details, if you are interested: 52 Park Place, Newark, NJ. Tel: 973.596.8500.

James Angus business card, side 1 (from my family's personal archives)

James Angus business card, side 1 (from my family’s personal archives)

Some past posts on this family:
James Winans Angus (1810-1862): The Early Years
Isaac G. de. G. Angus (1840-1885)
Job Winans Angus & Lincoln’s Lost Ballroom
For additional posts, use the Search box in the left column.

On a positive note, my request for Angus records elsewhere was met with success, so I will be sharing information gleaned from them once I have had time to review them. They have yet to wend their way to my mailbox.

Happy Thanksgiving, All!

Categories: Angus, Hillside Union, New Jersey | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Grandma’s first forty years in pictures

“Less is more”–in this case, fewer words from me and more photos for you! For this post, I thought it would be interesting to share some early photos we have of my grandmother, Fannie Bishop Woodruff (1882-1965), fourth daughter of William Earl Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus; sister to Jennie, Flora, Cecelia, Mildred, and Bertha. You can enlarge some of the photos by clicking on them.

Any descendants out there reading this who have information and old photos of this family, and would be willing to share them, by all means feel free to get in touch. I’d love to see them, and would even be happy to watermark them for you and post them here for extended family to enjoy and learn from. Have a great weekend!

                                                                  Fannie’s Mom & Dad

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Categories: Angus, Brodhead, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | 2 Comments

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