Posts Tagged With: family history
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Seek and ye shall find. That’s true, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled upon something of value while seeking something else. Last week I was doing some more sifting and came upon a box of old slides from 1948. They were mostly scenes from my grandparents big train trip out west to California and the Pacific NW/Canadian Rockies. But there was a column of other miscellaneous photos, including one of my uncle Woodruff Brodhead and his family on Thanksgiving Day. My Dad was very fastidious about labeling and had terrific penmanship. Atop the slide were the unmistakable words ‘Aunt Vean.’ Having never seen a photo of her, I was thrilled to scan it in and get a look at her, albeit in her much later years (age 88) and with a hat obscuring part of her face. To her right is her housemate of many years, her cousin Elizabeth Booth. At this point they were sharing a home in Montclair, NJ. I still don’t know how they were related. And I don’t know where the photo was taken, but I presume it may have been in Elizabeth, NJ, at the Coleman residence, a distance not far from Montclair, and a home in which family and extended family were known to gather at the holidays. So, if you’re an Angus and have never seen a photo of Lavinia (‘Vean’) Pratt Angus Marthaler, youngest daughter of James and Wealthy Angus, here she is! (She lived to age 94.)
For more on Aunt Vean (Lavinia Pratt Angus Marthaler), visit these old posts:
Lavinia P. Angus (1858-1940s)—geometry whiz; who knew?!
Lavinia Pratt Angus Marthaler outlived all 10 of her Angus siblings
Photo circa 1880: Jno. Philip Marthaler, husband of Lavinia P. Angus
A Florida Friday: Enjoying our painted buntings’ return and treasuring Mom’s childhood Christmas decorations
Well, I have been laid low with a nasty cold this past week and haven’t had the energy to do much of anything. So this will be a quick post. First, I’m happy to say that “our” painted buntings have returned from the Carolinas to winter with us. They are elusive little critters, but I catch them pretty regularly coming to the feeder. They always wait for all the other birds to disappear before making their dash to the seeds. Sometimes they try to compete with the cardinals but the latter usually swat them away. Below is a little video of one of the males. And, second, I’m posting some photos of Mom’s surviving childhood Christmas decorations. They must be from the 1920s and 1930s. Her father used to build a little village out of them every Christmas that went up a ‘mountainside’ to the family Christmas tree in the house’s big bay window. Too bad no photos exist of that scene, but at lease some of the decorations have survived. Mom is enjoying seeing them on display again all these years later. Have a great weekend, all!
Anyone with an ongoing interest in things discussed in my last post (Wealthy Ann Cushman Jaques and the possible Mayflower Connection) should check out page 102 of The Ancestry of Jane Maria Greenleaf: Wife of William Francis Joseph Boardman, Hartford, Connecticut by William F. J. Boardman, a book that was privately printed in Hartford, in 1906. Scroll down to see my red arrow below indicating a Marcia Toocker (daughter of Joseph and Hannah Toocker) who was married to 1) Cushman and 2) Timothy Keney.
I believe this ‘Marcia Toocker’ is the ‘Mary? Zooker/s?’ (married to ‘Eleazer Cushman’ and then ‘? Keeney’) mentioned in the last post and that this ‘Marcia’ and ‘Cushman’ are the same people mentioned on page 206 of Families of Early Hartford: “Eleasur Cushman died Aug 9, 1795 ae 27 bur Center Church. Widow Mercy Cushman.”
The Cushman family website links this Eleasur/Eleazer buried in the Center Church Ancient Burying Ground to Seth Cushman (1734-1771) whose ancestry is documented back to Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton. The entry for Eleasur/Eleazer contains a bit of possibly conflicting info (e.g. place of death MA, not CT—states close together so the body could have been transported for burial in Hartford; and a wife named Sarah—she would have to have preceded Marcia/’Mercy’, spouse at time of death).
Referring back to the Toocker ancestry, we can see that Marcia was born between 1770 (birth of older sister Rhoda) and 1779 (birth of younger brother Joseph). Sibling Mary (aka Polly) preceded Marcia (‘Mercy’). Marcia’s year of birth probably lies between 1775-1777/8, perhaps closer to the latter if this is the ‘Mercy Keeney’ found in “Connecticut Deaths and Burials, 1772-1934” on FamilySearch:
Name: Mercy Keeney
Birth Date: abt 1779
Age at Death: 70
Death Date: 7 Jul 1849
Death Place: Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
FHL Film Number: 1313828
So it appears highly possible that timeline-wise, my third great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Cushman (m. Isaac Jaques), born 11 November 1793, in Hartford, CT, is the daughter of Eleasur (Eleazer) and Marcia (Mercy). Now to prove it! Anyone with thoughts, ideas, please feel free to share. And if/when I make any headway on this, I will let you know.
Happy Thanksgiving to all this blog’s readers! Thank you for your support and encouragement this past year, and thanks to all of you who have shared information, supplied material for guest posts, or written guest posts yourself. I have seen this blog continue to help people connect with family members near and far, and for that I am also very grateful.
Today’s post may be of interest to descendants of Isaac Jaques and Wealthy Ann Cushman and it concerns the possible familial link between Wealthy and the youngest of the Mayflower’s 102 passengers—Mary Allerton. (Anyone out there with information on that link, please do get in touch via the comment box below or my email address which appears on the ‘About’ page.)
I had absolutely no idea when I visited Plimoth Plantation at age 12 that I may be related Mary Allerton. I recall wandering that open-air museum on a very cold and raw day, thinking about what it must have been like to get through just one day of life in the 1620s, let alone entire months and years. Brrr—just thinking about it makes me cold. (Ever see the episode of Colonial House where Oprah and her friend Gayle “go back in time” 400 years to experience life in a Maine settlement? See https://vimeo.com/2811969. Again, all I can say is Brrrrrrrrrrr….) Our foreparents were made of extremely tough stuff! (Four hundred years from now, they may be saying that about us, which is hard to imagine given how comfortable life is today, compared to 400 years ago.)
Forward to 2016. You may recall that I was somewhat flabbergasted this past summer to come across an obit for Job Winans Angus Jr. in which it was stated that Job had an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower. A little hand-written note I found from Job’s nephew Thomas Russum seemed to confirm that this was indeed something worth exploring even if it was, perhaps, wishful thinking on their part. The ancestor on whom all this hinged was Wealthy Ann Cushman: wife of Isaac Jaques, mother of Wealthy (Jaques) Angus, and my third-great-grandmother. Thomas’s note mentioned a father Eleazer and a mother Mary Zooker/s with a question mark next to her first and last names. The year of death for Eleazer was given as 1792, again with a question mark. The mother “Mary? Zooker/s?” was noted as having remarried someone named Keeney and having had two children with him: Aaron and Jane. I did find a death record for a Mercy Keeney who was presumably born around 1779. If the circa 1779 birth date is accurate, she would have given birth at age 14/15, so this may be a red herring; if the date is off and she was older when Wealthy was born, this could be the correct Mercy.
I subsequently found, on page 206 of Families of Early Hartford, an Eleasur Cushman listed as having been buried in the Center Church Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford, Connecticut: “Eleasur Cushman died Aug 9, 1795 ae 27 bur Center Church. Widow Mercy Cushman.” I believe this Eleasur may very well be the father of Wealthy Ann Cushman, who was born in Hartford, CT, on November 11, 1793, and that “Mary? Zooker/s?” was Mercy Cushman, but proving that is an entirely different thing. (Wealthy Ann Cushman married Isaac Jaques on Feb 4, 1812, and they named their second son Eleazer (b. 1820), which may be more than coincidence).
Another thing to prove is the link back from Eleasur Cushman of Hartford to his parents—possibly Seth Cushman (1734-1771) and Abiah Allen. They had a son named Eleazer, born July 17, 1768 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. If you add 27 years to 1768, you come up with 1795, the year of death of Hartford’s Eleasur Cushman.
The links between Seth Cushman and Mary Allerton (1616-1699; wife of Thomas Cushman, 1608-1691) have all been proven and are all documented.
So the challenge is to definitively connect Wealthy Ann Cushman with Eleasur Cushman and Eleasur Cushman to Seth Cushman. If those connections don’t exist, it will be back to square one. I contacted the Connecticut State Archives hoping for some clues about the Cushman family of Hartford, but they had nothing new to tell me. I also contacted the Mayflower Society (MS), but they had no information on anyone using Seth and Abiah Cushman’s son Eleazer to prove Mayflower ancestry. It is up to us descendants to do it. The MS was very helpful and supportive, so as time goes on, maybe they will help steer me in some fruitful directions.
I know from reading some letters that Wealthy’s daughter Wealthy (Jaques) Angus of Elizabeth, NJ, stayed in contact with Hartford relatives and visited them periodically, but I have found no new clues that would better ID them. Perhaps, someone out there has a box of old letters that contains some answers?
Anyway, we are standing before a brick wall of sorts and hopefully, we’ll figure it all out. Perhaps, in time for next Thanksgiving – 2017? It would be fun to be able to pass this info on to the little ones in the family. We shall see!
Again, best wishes to you all for a very blessed Thanksgiving 2016.
Hello, Brodhead descendants & anyone with an interest in Pennsylvania history! You may not be aware of an important project that could greatly use your support: the restoration of Wheat Plains Farm in Pike County, Pennsylvania, the old Garret Brodhead (1730-1804) family homestead that Brodhead family members were forced to abandon in the 1970s due to the Tocks Island Dam project. Below is a letter just received from James and Barbara Brodhead who are spearheading the DePuy-Brodhead Family Association’s efforts to restore the home (now managed by the National Park Service). So please take a few moments to read the below letter and see if you can lend your support. PS: Next summer’s DePuy-Brodhead Family Association annual reunion is likely to be held there; it would be extremely positive if as many Brodhead descendants as possible made the effort to be there to show the NPS that the home’s fate is of concern to many, not just a few. I hope to be there—a great opportunity to support a great cause and meet cousins of all kinds.
As many of you know, some members of the DePuy/Brodhead Family Association have been working with the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to preserve the Wheat Plains house. Wheat Plains is the farm started by Garret Brodhead on the land he received as partial payment for his service in the Revolutionary War. From 1790 the farm was owned by the Brodhead family until it was sold to Cornelius Swartout in 1871. Robert Packer Brodhead purchased back the farm in 1896 and his descendants remained there until the 1970’s when the land was acquired by eminent domain as part of the Tocks Island Dam Project. The Army Corp of Engineers headed the project. Later the Army Corp of Engineers determined that the river bed would not support the dam. The land then was transferred to the National Parks Service (NPS) who now manages the property. There are currently about 700 buildings remaining in the park on both sides of the Delaware River. Some have historical significance and most have sentimental value. Many buildings are in poor condition. Wheat Plains is structurally sound and it sits in a prominent place on highway 209.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) is developing a long range plan to identify which buildings should be restored, maintained, or removed. The NPS has limited funds to do this work. Included in their consideration is the cost of maintenance and what the long term usage of the structure will be. Without a defined usage the preservation efforts will be limited.
Now to get to the purpose of this letter. We have been encouraged to send letters to the Superintendent of the DWGNRA and express our interest and support of preserving Wheat Plains or other structures. Please write a politely worded letter expressing your personal interest in preserving Wheat Plains farmhouse and property. Please include personal memories and historical facts that you have. If you have ideas for the usage for the house, (i.e. museum, vacation rental, etc.) please include that also. These letters need to be sent by the end of the year in order to be included in the evaluation process. The sooner the letters arrive the better. The Association created a good impression when we helped clean the house in 2015. It showed the NPS how much we care and your letter will add to that.
When writing your letter please remember that the NPS had nothing to do with taking the land; they were given the task of maintaining it. Please keep your letter kind and considerate.
Please address your letter to:
John J. Donahue, Superintendent
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area &
Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River
1978 River Road
Bushkill, PA 18324
Please also send copies of your letter to the following at the address above or email a copy to the addresses
Judson Kratzer – Judson_Kratzer@NPS.gov
Jennifer Kavanaugh – Jennifer_Kavanaugh@NPS.gov
We are in the initial stages of organizing a “Friends of Wheat Plains” non-profit org. to collect donations to help support the preservation of Wheat Plains. More information coming.
We sincerely thank you,
James and Barbara Brodhead
I have written rather extensively about Isaac and some of his family members, as you know. First wife Wealthy Cushman of Hartford, CT, died in 1856; and he and Wealthy had nine children: Jane (1814-1843), Wealthy (1815-1892), Isaac (1817-bef. 1880), Eleazer (1820-?), John (1822-1895), Samuel (1824-1858), Walter (1826-1850), Christopher (1831-1851), and Charles (1834-1866).
Isaac’s second wife was Rebecca Ann Gold Robinson (widow of William J. Robinson); and, at some point, descendants of one of Rebecca’s sisters donated an album containing old Gold family photos to the San Benito County [California] Historical Society. In the album was this image of “Uncle Isaac,” as well as one of Rebecca. I am indebted to an Ancestry dot come member for telling me about the image. She is a descendant of one of Rebecca’s sisters.
The photo of Isaac is not dated, but it must have been taken not too long before he passed away, in August 1880 at the age of 89.
Note: I had to pay a small fee to acquire this low-resolution image and get permission to publish it on this blog. If you want a high-resolution copy for your personal use (no sharing via email, no posting on Ancestry, social media, etc.), you can contact the San Benito Historical Society directly and officially request one (for a fee). You can also request an image of Rebecca Robinson Jaques. I paid for the high-res image of her but did not pay the extra fee to be able to post a low-res image here.
Guest Post: “Grave Marker Dedication of Revolutionary War Soldier Benjamin Woodruff on May 14, 2016”
This post was contributed by Sue Woodruff Noland. Her previous post on the topic of the Woodruff family can be found here.
Benjamin Woodruff, born 26 November 1744 to James Woodruff* (1722-1759) and Joanna ? (1722-1812), attended the Morristown Presbyterian Church. He served during the Revolution with the New Jersey militia, leaving behind his wife and 3 children; his wife, Phoebe Pierson Woodruff, died 21 January 1777, aged 36, and one can only hope that Benjamin was able to be there with her and the children. Benjamin married again 8 July 1778, to Patience Lum, daughter of Obadiah Lum, with whom he had more children he left behind as he served our country. It has been certified that Benjamin served one monthly tour in 1776 as a drummer; three monthly tours as a sergeant in 1776, including an engagement near Elizabeth, NJ, on 17 December 1776. He served under various captains to the close of the war. [information from the genealogical history provided by Charles Marius Woodruff]
Those of you who are familiar with Michigan and the Great Lakes, which is where I live, know how variable the weather can be; mid-May average temperature is mid-60s. On May 14, 2016, the day of the Grave Marker Dedication Ceremony for Benjamin Woodruff, son Andrew and I, both descendants of Benjamin, encountered temperatures in the low 40s and brisk breezes that carried sleety-snowy-rain as we gathered at Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan!
As was common in 1837, when Benjamin died, he was buried the following day and therefore was not accorded a military funeral. The DAR and SAR strive to provide a service for our forgotten patriots; on this day another Revolutionary War soldier, Josiah Cutler, was honored with our ancestor, Benjamin.
The ceremony began with a welcome from Phil Jackson, Huron Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). Following Phil’s remarks, we watched the posting of colors and standards with bearers dressed in Revolutionary War period uniforms. Thomas Pleuss, Chaplain of the Huron Valley Chapter SAR, gave the invocation, and then Kate Kirkpatrick, from the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter made some remarks, followed by remarks from a representative from each patriot’s family. Thomas Woodruff and Frank Ticknor (Josiah’s family) each presented a brief history of our respective ancestor. This portion of the ceremony was conducted about mid-way between the two patriot’s graves. After family remarks, the ceremony was conducted separately at each grave site.
Benjamin’s grave site is a family memorial with several of his family interred there. Tom and his son, Michael, generously purchased a marker for Benjamin indicating his service as a Revolutionary War patriot. (The US government ‘declined’ to provide a marker.) Our grateful thanks to Tom and Michael’s families for researching Revolutionary War markers and commissioning the marker to be made. The marker was unveiled before our nation’s tribute, the folding of the flag. Since there was no flag pole, the ceremony actually involved unfolding a flag brought by the SAR/DAR for the occasion, and then refolding it as a story was told about the meaning of the folds, the last fold being a representation of a mother tucking in her child for the night—a story made up sometime in the past, but a touching story nonetheless. Once folded, the flag was presented to Tom. We were then cautioned that the next part of the ceremony would be the military tribute, a 21-gun (and 2 muskets) salute—startlingly loud!
The veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County (Michigan), the Indiana Society Color Guard, and the Ohio Society Color Guard performed the tribute of three volleys. The 21 spent shells were given to Tom, who offered one to each of the family as a memento of the day.
The Sword Salute was by far the most touching part of the ceremony for me. Three of the Color Guard detached from the group. The leader explained that, on command, the three of them would tip their tri-corn hats to honor our patriot and then bow, touching the ground with their swords, to show humility for Benjamin’s service to us and our country. To conclude the ceremony there was a sounding of taps by two buglers.
Both families (Woodruff and Cutler) came together once again after Josiah’s ceremony, for floral tributes from several SAR, DAR, and CAR groups (Children of the American Revolution). These organizations developed at various times with the objective of keeping alive their ancestors’ stories of patriotism and courage “in the belief that it is a universal one of man’s struggle against tyranny….” [from SAR website] The conclusion of the entire ceremony was a bagpipe tribute to both soldiers, by Herm Steinman.
Chilled to the bone, but eager to meet cousins we didn’t even know existed a few short weeks before, we gathered with Benjamin’s other descendants at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Ann Arbor, as guests of Tom and his wife, Jane, and Mike and his wife and tiny daughter. We met ‘new’ cousins, including Tom and Mike’s families, as well as Pam Olander from the Chicago area and reacquainted ourselves with cousins who had attended one of the Woodruff family reunions we organized during the mid-2000s. The room was quite abuzz with everyone sharing history and asking questions. Tom told us the motto on our Woodruff Coat of Arms, “Sit Dux Sapientia,” translates as “Let wisdom be your guide;” we had not known the motto, only the shield design.
The day before the ceremony, Andrew and I had met Pam at the Bentley Historical Library on the U of M campus in Ann Arbor. We spent over two hours poring through Woodruff documents stored at the Library and were finally able to answer a question: Why would John Woodruff leave England in 1640? The answer: he seems to have decided that King Charles I was taking too much of the family income via taxes. Later, it seems our Benjamin, living in the colonies, may not quite have agreed with King George III’s Stamp Act of 1765 (and a few others: sugar tax, currency, etc.), thus leading to his participation in the Revolutionary War a few years later.
If any of you should travel to Michigan in the future, for research at the Library or simply to visit Benjamin’s final resting place (he was moved to Forest Hill from another site), we would love to meet any ‘new’ cousins.
*James Woodruff (b. 1722, Elizabethtown, NJ) was the son of Benjamin Woodruff (1684-1726) and Susanna (1686-1727), both of whom were born and died in Elizabethtown, NJ.