I think you’ll agree that photos, portraits, and physical descriptions of our ancestors are real treasures. If there is no photo or portrait, as is often the case, at least a physical description gives you some idea, however vague, of what someone may have looked like. So it was quite a thrill to discover some time ago that my fourth great grandfather, Richard Brodhead, was “a man of splendid physique, over six feet tall, and of stern and serious character.” Seeing that description in print made an impression on me. When I subsequently saw a photo of his son Garret, one of my third great grandfathers, I definitely thought the “stern and serious” description applied to him as well. No doubt there are glimpses of father Richard to be found in son Garret.
For this post, I am including some biographical information about Richard that I have found in several publications. Some of the information is redundant, but I will present it here “as is”. For links to these sources, please visit my “Links” page.
History of Pike County, Chapter IX, Lehman Township – Published 1886
“…Richard, who was born at Stroudsburg, July 26, 1771, and subsequently married Hannah Drake, of Stroudsburg, was the person who figured conspicuously during, his life in the history of Wayne and Pike Counties. He was a man of splendid physique, over six feet high and of stern and serious character.
He took great interest in State affairs, regarding it as a conscientious duty, and he looked upon the civil and political duties of man as matters of serious obligation. When Wayne County was organized, in 1799, although not thirty years of age, he was appointed first sheriff of the county by the Governor of Pennsylvania. In a paper written by himself in November, 1842, he thus enumerates the offices he has held as follows:
1. Sheriff of Wayne. 2. Two years in the Legislature (1802 and 1803). 3. Eleven years associate judge. 4. Collector of United States revenue for Wayne County and Pike during the War of 1812. 5. Appointed State commissioner by Governor. McKean, in connection with General Horn, of Easton, to investigate the expenditures of five thousand pounds, granted by the State to David Rittenhouse, to improve the navigation of the Delaware River from Trenton to Stockport. 6. Postmaster seven years. 7. Major of the Second Battalion, One Hundred and Third Regiment Militia. 8. Prothonotary for Pike County. 9. County commissioner. 10. All the township offices, of all kinds, except constable. 11. County auditor. 12. Executor of five estates. And I now, hereby, bid defiance to all heirs, legatees, creditors and others to prove that I have ever wronged any man.
Judge Brodhead, during the greater part of his life, resided on his farm, on the Delaware River, then called Wheat Plains, fourteen miles below Milford, (now owned by Charles Swartout), where he moved about 1791. He had a post-office established at his house called Delaware, which was kept on that spot for nearly half a century. A few years before his death Judge Brodhead moved to Milford, where he died November 11, 1843.
He left quite a large family, and all the sons became quite prominent citizens.”
Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania: Including the Counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe (Monroe Co., PA: J. H. Beers & Company, 1900):
“Hon. Richard Brodhead […] was born at Stroudsburg, July 26,1771, and about 1791 removed to Pike county, where he spent his remaining years, his death occurring November 11, 1843. He married Hannah Drake, of Stroudsburg, and had twelve children: Sarah, wife of Col. John Westbrook, member of Congress from 1841 to 1843, from Wayne, Pike, Monroe and Northampton counties; Garrett (1793), who married Cornelia Dingman; William (1795), who married Susan Coolbaugh; Jane, Mrs. Moses S. Brundage; Albert G. (1799) who married Ellen Middaugh; Anna Maria, wife of John Seaman; Rachel, who married Dr. John J. Linderman; Charles, […]; and Richard, Jr., United States Senator from Pennsylvania from 1850 to 1856. The other three children died in infancy. [Hon. Richard Brodhead] possessed a fine physique, being more that six feet in height, and was of firm and serious character. As he regarded it a duty to take an active part in public affairs, he held a prominent place in political circles, as is shown by the following memorandum written by himself in November, 1842, in which he enumerates his various official positions:
1. Sheriff of Wayne. 2. Two years in the Legislature(1802-1803). 3. Eleven years associate Judge. 4. Collector of United States Revenue for Wayne and Pike counties during the war of 1812. 5. Appointed State commissioner by Gov. McKean, in connection with Gen. Horn, of Easton, to investigate the expenditure of 5,000 pounds, granted by the State to David Rittenhouse to improve the navigation of the Delaware river from Trenton to Stockport. 6. Postmaster seven years. 7. Major of the second Battalion, 108 Regiment Militia. 8. Prothonotary for Pike County. 9. County commissioner. 10. All the township offices, of all kinds, except constable. 11. County Auditor. 12. Executor of five estates. And I now, hereby, bid defiance to all heirs, legatees, creditors and others to prove that I have ever wronged any man.”
Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania – Volume I – Published 1906:
“Richard Brodhead, third son of Lieutenant Garret and Jane (Davis) Brodhead, born Stroudsburg, July 31, 1772, died Milford, Pennsylvania, November 11, 1843; married, 1790, Hannah Drake, born November 15, 1769, died July 31, 1832, daughter of Captain Samuel Drake. Richard Brodhead was the first of his family in direct descent from the American ancestor who did not lay claim to a military title or boast of prowess in the Indian wars or the Revolution ; but this was because he was too young to bear arms during the latter contest. He was, however, an officer of the state militia during the second war with Great Britain. He has been described as “a man of splendid physique, over six feet tall, and of a stern and serious character.” He was sheriff of Wayne county, 1798; member of the legislature, 1802-03 ; associate
‘judge eleven years ; revenue collector for Wayne and Pike counties, 181 2-1 5 ; postmaster seven years ; major Second battalion, Pennsylvania militia; prothonotary Pike county, 1821 ; county commissioner, 1835-36, and county auditor. Richard and Hannah (Drake) Brodhead had: 1. Sarah, born 1791, married John Westbrook. 2. Garret B., Jr., born December 2, 1793, […]. 3. William, born 1795, married, February 6, 1816, Susan Coolbaugh. 4. Jane, born 1797, married Moses S. Brundage. 5. Albert Gallatin, born 1799, married Ellen Middaugh. 6. Anna Maria, born February 14, 1801, died March 14, 1868 ; married John Seaman. 7. Charles, born August 4, 1805, died September 5, 183 1 ; married Mary Brown. 8. Rachel, born January 5, 1803 ; married Dr. John J. Linderman. 9. Richard, born January 5, 181 1, died September 17, 1863 ; married Mary Jane Bradford. 10. Elizabeth, born 1814, died young. II. Elizabeth (2d), died in infancy.”