back to: family
The Birth Family of Joanna D. McGaughey
Munny and Pap:
Andrew E. Durham, Mother’s father, was nicknamed “Pap”. Her mother, Aura S. Durham, was nicknamed “Munny” - a child’s pronunciation of “Mommy”.
Pap’s siblings were Aunt Margaret (Bridges), Uncle Ernest, and Uncle Earl. Uncle Earl did not get along well with Pap. He married “Aunt Pony” whom he had met when he was buying mules in Kansas. They had one son, “little Ernest”, who later went into business in a clothing store and the movies. Mother remembers that he cut out a wooden Santa Claus for her as a puppet when she was 10 to 11.
Uncle Ernest sent Pap through college after Pap’s parents disowned him. Pap’s parents were very conservative and narrow in their thinking. Pap was kicked out of Depauw University for dancing with opera singers at Grenada and then taking the dancers back to his fraternity house, Tau Nu Epsilon. The whole fraternity was suspended then then invited back to Depauw, but Pap refused. He finished up his studies at Indiana University, graduating from there.
The Black farm west of town was a showcase. Pap’s parents lived in an old brick house on the west side of town. Originally Pap’s parents lived in Russellville. They were living there when Pap went away to military school, Western Military Academy, in Alton, Illinois. The Durhams were farmers and not particularly religious. Grandma Durham died four days after Aurie was born. She had long black hair, and the kids were privileged to comb it.
Grandpa Jake Durham was peddler who became quite well-to-do. He went on horseback to Philadelphia where he bought needles and thread, bolts of cloth, and other items, which he took back to Indiana to sell. He was a “huckster”. Jacob Durham read the newspapers and charged one penny for it. Some of Jake’s money went into founding the Russellville bank at the time of the Civil War, which was the last privately owned bank in Indiana. Pap’s parents owned a majority interest. It was sold in 1954.
Jacob (“Jake”) Durham had at least two wives. Hannah Spears was the first. The second, Rachel, was Pap’s grandmother. Jacob’s body was moved from a family cemetery in Russellville to Forest Hills Cemetery (in Greencastle).
How Pap met Munny: Munny attended a finished school in Washington, D.C., called the Ward Belmont school. Helen Edgington (later lived in Milford, PA, with husband “Cousin Frank” Edgington and sister Patty Biddis) was Munny’s music teacher there. Munny had her own piano.
Munny’s roommate, Elizabeth Schoaf, came from Veedersburg, Indiana. Elizabeth married Fred Purnell of Attica, Indiana, who later became a Congressman. Fred was a friend of Pap’s. They had attended law school together at Indiana University. (Another view: Pap never went to law school. See below.) Munny was a bridesmaid at the Purnell wedding, and pap was an usher. Munny and Pap met at the wedding reception. (Uncle Frank’s view: It was not at the wedding reception but at another party around that time.) Pap carried Munny’s trunk back to the Schoaf house, and Munny was smitten.
Pap and Munny were engaged for three years. Grandpa (Frank P.) Sawyer would not allow them to marry until Pap had accumulated $1,000. Aunt Margaret (Bridges) was petrified that Munny might get pregnant. (She was afraid of an illegitimate birth.)
It is unclear whether Pap went to law school at Indiana University. (In those days, you could “read” for the law without going to a law school; and that’s what Pap did.) Pap graduated from Indiana University two years early. Pap’s mentor in the law was Court Gillen of the law firm Corwin and Gillen. Pap didn’t practice law that much but instead went into politics. A woman remembered him as a “big wig” in the Democratic Party, grateful that Pap had let her stay at the post office after the Democrats won Greencastle. Pap was in the Indiana assembly for a few terms than then was elected to the state senate in 1928, the year that Mother graduated from high school.
Pap’s parents owned a majority interest in the Russellville bank. When he was twelve years old, Pap had the job of guarding the money in the bank with a gun until the bank acquired a safe. In later years, if you walked into his room when Pap was asleep, he would throw up his hands in surprise when he awoke. This reaction dated back to his youthful days at the bank. Pap did not believe in insurance but had an insurance agency.
Pap loved to go out with the men and was popular with people in town. He played a few bars of jazz: "Onward Christian Soldiers", etc. Pap never went to church unless he was running for office.
As a sport, Pap used to go frog hunting with cronies. Mother went with him once. Sometimes he took people from New York City banks. They used carbon lamps which would cause the frogs to freeze in position. Pap kept the frogs in a tub in the basement. Once Frank was surprised by the frogs when he went to the basement because it was cool. The frogs were later eaten; only the legs were used. Hunting frogs with carbon lamps is illegal today.
Rebuttal from Frank Durham on July 19, 1994:
“It (the above account) has a number of errors as I understand the facts. For instance, I never heard that Uncle Earl didn’t get along well with Pap. He did have some problems with his mother after he married Aunt Pony without his mother’s consent. But Pap has always been on good terms with his brother Earl. And where did you get any information that Uncle Ernest sent Pap through college? Never heard of that either. Pap was not kicked out of DePauw. After the incident with the dancing at the Opera House, Pap took all the blame and quickly changed schools before the President, Bishop Hughes, could discipline him, or kick him out.”
Also from Frank Durham:
Munny and Pap met at a party, not at a wedding reception. In 1950, Pap and daughter, Aura May (“Aunt Aurie”) toured South America. Pap called Aurie “Sugarfoot” and referred to her wearing curlers on that trip.
Some of Mother's recollections:
Mother’s family seldom went to the movies because they were too expensive. (However, the Saturday afternoon showings were cheaper.) There was much free entertainment for children such as parades on the Fourth of July. There were swimming contests in the Delaware River at Milford. Vaudeville shows traveled through small towns in Indiana including Russellville. They would rent space for a week or perhaps on a weekend, and then would move on. One of the shows was held in a vacant lot next to the Russellville Bank. In exchange for a certain number of free tickets, the bank allowed the show to pitch a tent on this lot. Mother received one of these tickets because her father, Pap, was president of the bank.
12/28/96 Mother once attended a tent revival in Russellville, Indiana, next to the Russellville bank. Uncle Ernest, Pap’s brother, was its President. Uncle Ernest visited a girl in Texas each year but they never married. Uncle Earl, another of Pap’s brother, had a son named Ernest who made a wooden Santa Claus on a string for Mother in shop class. Young Ernest and his mother, Aunt Pony, moved to California. Ernest opened up a men’s clothing shop in Sonora, California, and might have had some children. Aunt Gret tried to visit him about 8 years ago. Ernest has since died.
Aunt Margaret (Pap’s sister) was a beautiful woman who was invited to come out as a debutante in Washington, D.C., but she was painfully shy and came back to Indiana. She married Uncle Bridges when she was about 45. Uncle Bridges was a Hereford breeder and president of the breeders association. He took a particular shine to Aunt Gret. Uncle Bridges used to bring Get things in his lunch paid; once gave her two pet skunks. Skunks don’t begin to stink until they are a year old. Mother was a bit jealous of the affection for (Margaret) Gret.
Mother and Dad were married at St. Bartholomew’s church on Park Avenue in New York City. Mother became an Episcopalian as a result of attending a young professional people’s group at St. Bartholomew’s church. Les Douglas (a stock broker who married the daughter of Henry Wallace) and several of Dad’s roommates attended this group. Dad was a regular member.
Mother and Dad were married on a Saturday. Mother had spent the entire day on Friday working at her Associated Press job. She got her hair done Friday evening and was so tired she broke down and cried. The hair dressing took four hours.
Mother was a fashion editor at the Associated Press from 1935 through 1939. She wrote an advice column.
Mother worked with Mary Beth Plumber who later married Davison Taylor (a television network executive). She was invited to view a television set at NBC headquarters. They told Mother of their plans for the new industry saying that they would provide the television shows before a studio audience. Mother wrote a column about how to behave as a member of a TV studio audience. (This was one of the first newspaper columns about television ever written.) Her boss thought that the article was rather far out but the New York Times later reprinted it - not giving Mother credit, of course.
“The wife of baseball’s iron man is no iron woman” began her column on Lou Gehrig after his illness was revealed to the public. Lou Gehrig’s wife visited the AP office. Mother was substituting for Mary Beth Plumber, who was on vacation. Mrs. Gehrig invited mother to their home and showed her the special bed made for Lou. (He wasn’t there at the time.) Mother wrote a story about this which Pap read in the newspaper under the byline “John Durham”. Pap got a kick out of this.
Mother also edited a food column which was written by an experienced cook.
Mother had a hard job getting a job after she graduated from Columbia Journalism School. She first worked in the book department at Macy’s - a physically demanding job. While Mother was working at Macy’s she was broke. Borrowed some money from Get, who was a student a Barnard College. They roomed together.
Then Mother heard of a floater’s job at Stern’s on 42nd Street. These are people who fill in for others. She earned $15 a week. Used K.C. Hogate as a reference - worked there for awhile.
Mother called K.C. Hogate (of the Wall Street Journal) to say she expected to be laid off (from the job at Sterns). Hogate said: “How would you like to work at the Scarsdale Enquirer?” Hogate’s wife was on the board. Mother’s immediate boss was a bitch who was constantly criticizing her work. She might have resented Mother’s connection with the Hogates. Mother was fired from this job as a reporter because she told another reporter that she had overheard that this woman was about to get fired. (Her husband was an alcoholic and she had missed some days of work.)
Mother used to run photographs to a place to get half tones made.
She used to run into a man named Robertson who worked on the floor below. One day, she told Robertson that she was losing her job. After a week later Robertson called to suggest that she interview for a reporters job opening up at the Tarrytown newspaper. She interviewed with Sam Lesch (later an editor at the Wall Street Journal). Mother got along well with Sam Lesch. A catholic advertising manager didn’t like Lesch because he was Jewish.
Mother got the Associated Press job because a letter announcing the new features section was addressed to graduates of the Columbia Journalism School. The letter was addressed to Jane Durham (Aunt Jane, Mother’s sister) but sent to Mother’s address. So Mother went to the interview and got the job. She dressed up in her finest coat with a fur collar, which might have impressed the interviewer.
Later note by William McGaughey, jr.: Sam Lesch was the copy desk editor at the Wall Street Journal, located at 44 Broad Street in New York, when I worked there as a copy boy in the summer of 1960. I recall that Mother helped her old boss, Lesch, get his first job at the Wall Street Journal. The Depauw clique, headed by Bernard Kilgore, then ran the newspaper - but I’m not sure if that was the connection that got Lesch his job. The Kilgore family had a summer place at Twin Lakes, Pennsylvania (near Milford). The Durham family had a larger compound at Twin Lakes, on the small lake.
I remember as a boy kicking a beach ball with Bernard Kilgore but I once saw him once - and briefly - when I worked that summer at the Wall Street Journal. After Bernard Kilgore died around 1967, his widow, Mary Lou Kilgore, married another property owner at Twin Lakes (Bob Beeman?). Their daughter, Katherine, married Alexander Cockburn, a left-leaning journalist who now edits Counterpunch.
Munny as a commercial model:
Munny (Mother's mother) was the young daughter of Frank P. Sawyer, then general manager of the Muscatine Oat Meal Company (a forerunner to Quaker Oats), a company in Muscatine, Iowa. Its Friends Oats cereal box included a tiny porcelain pitcher which could be used for pouring milk or cream. Munny, then about six, was the model for the picture of a young girl dressed in Quaker garb which appeared on the porcelain pitcher. We still have one or two of them.
Munny in the movies:
Mother said that her mother, “Munny” (Aura S. Durham) was in a film directed by W.D. Griffith filmed in the Milford area. Munny was an “extra”, hired by the studio to play a squaw. When mother was an infant in the crib, Munny came home with her “Indian” face paint and learned over the crib to kiss her good night. Mother screamed in terror. The film starred Mary Pickford. It might have been shot in 1912 or 1913.
The guide at the Delaware & Hudson Canal museum in Cuddebackville, New York, (about fifteen miles from Milford) where many D.W. Griffith films were shot, said that Griffith worked in Cuddebackville from 1909 to 1911. Fort Lee, New Jersey, was another place where he worked. One film, about the U.S. Civil War. was shot in Milford around 1912. The word “Massacre” might have been in the title.
Griffith pioneered the use of two cameras and other techniques. He was able to get the stars. Griffith’s studio was in Manhattan. They shot about 15 films in Cuddebackville, mostly 15-minute firms shown in big-city theaters. Many were westerns. The studio generally paid the extras something for their work - maybe $5 - but there wouldn’t be records of this.
from Aunt Ann’s (Ann D. Weinrichter) letter July 11, 1994:
“Pap loved dogs. He also was a jokester. One day he and his Father made a trip from Russellville to Greencastle in the buggy. Along the way they seemed to be a pied piper because they had gathered a bunch of dogs running along side. Pap’s Father was puzzled, and when they reached Greencastle, Grandpa walked around the buggy to discover ‘Why?’. Pap had tied a female in season to trot behind them.”
“I understood Pap was of high spirits and somewhat of a trial to his parents being born in their 40s. They were straight-laced ... Grandma Durham died in 1924.”
“Now Grandpa and Grandma Sawyer were fun people. Gret (Margaret Durham) had lots of stories. One was that someone cautioned Grandpa that Grandma was spending too much money. Grandpa said that he always could make more (money) than Grandma could spend.”
from Aunt Ann’s (Ann D. Weinrichter) letter January 22, 2007:
Thank you for the McGaughey and Durham family trees. It represents a lot of new information and effort spent.
However, Pap did not run for Congress. I remember talking with him -- he had thought about it. First of all he didn’t have the financial backing he needed. Uncle Ernest, I think, had helped him in previous years, and he either was dying of leukemia or was dead. Also Court Gillen, an elder friend, a Republican, jumped in to run. Also Pap didn’t think it would be good for family life, because he certainly could afford to take a wife and so many children to Washington.
Happy New Year to you and family.
About Ralph Weinrichter's family (Ann's husband):
“We came home to see some Studebaker memorabilia. (Uncle Ralph was a Studebaker.) J.M. Studebaker made the nest egg to expand the wagon business by making wheel barrows for the miners. When he took it back to South Bend, Ralph’s great-grandfather, Clement, became a long-time president of the company. Every year at the Fair ground in Placerville they have the Studebaker race (with wheel barrows!).”
About Calvin McQueston:
He was born in Bedford town, New Hampshire, 1801. Great-grandfather came from Londonderry 1730. Calvin graduated from Bowdoin college, Maine, in medicine 1829. Went west to Hamilton, Ontario, in 1835, to join his cousin, John Fisher (who later became Hamilton’s third mayor and later still was U.S. senator from the state of New York) in the manufacture of a threshing machine invented by Fisher. Their factory also cast the first cooking ranges made in Hamilton, and iron work for cars of the first train. (Sawyer-Massey Company evolved from this.)
About Sarah Black, Pap's mother:
Sarah A. Black (b. 1839)
Census evidence suggests that her father was Andrew Black, a farmer who settled in Putnam County, Indiana, near Greencastle. Her mother's name was Margaret. The 1860 Census lists a daughter, Sarah, born in Kentucky, who was then 19. Sarah A. Black was married to James V. Durham on December 11, 1860. (The Census was conducted in June.) The 1850 Census lists Sarah, aged 8, in Andrew Black’s household. This time, however, the Census was done in District 2, Montgomery County, Kentucky, which is about 20 miles east of Lexington. From the reported ages of Andrew Black’s sons in 1860, it appears that the Black family moved to Indiana from Kentucky around 1852.
The 1860 census, taken in Putnam County, lists two other farmers named Black consecutively next to Andrew Black on the census sheet: Miller Black and Alexander Black. In 1850, Miller Black’s family was counted in the census taken in district 1, Montgomery County, Kentucky. This would suggest that Miller and Andrew Black (and possibly Alexander) were related. They may have been three brothers who moved from Kentucky to Indiana around the same time.
Durham family records reveal that Miller Black’s daughter, Margaret M. Black, married George Spears Durham, who was the brother of James V. Durham, on February 5, 1861, which was less than two months after his brother married Sarah. Margaret M. Black was then 18. Curiously, Miller Black has a daughter named Sally (named Sarah A. Black in the 1850 census); but at the age of 13 in 1860 she may be too young for marriage. Her 19-year-old cousin would be a better candidate for this role.
Further information, supplied by Brenda Black Watson of Memphis, TN, indicates that Sarah Black's father, Andrew Black, was born on July 1, 1807, in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky. Her mother, Margaret Lockridge, was born on August 2, 1811, in Mt. Sterling, Mongomery County, Kentucky. Sarah A. Black was also born in Mt. Sterling. A family Bible inherited by Laura Moore Black, may be the source of this information.
A letter from Frank P. Sawyer to the publisher of "Famous Men of Iowa" directory:
April 9, 1897
Conaway & Shaw
Des Moines, IA
Upon the request of your representative, I will give you the following facts from which you may arrange the publication request, in such manner as will best serve the object intended, but will prefix it with the statement that as I am not in politics and have no inclination in that direction, being exclusively devoted to business and the reasonable home enjoyments which success affords, do not care for any enlargement which might give the appearance of parading the success attained, which might be very satisfactory to some parties, but in addition to the above feeling, also realize that changes at times occur which might make an article well written at the time, appear ridiculous or overdrawn at some future date. I will therefore only endeavor to cover the items mentioned, depending upon its rearrangement by you in accordance with the above.
My full name is Frank Payson Sawyer, using only the initials in my signature as F. P. Sawyer. My residence being the N.W. corner of Spruce & 2nd Sts., Muscatine, Iowa.
My father, Stephen P. Sawyer, was born in Amesbury, Mass., Jan. 13, 1832, and moved to Hamilton, Ont., about 1848. One June 21, 1853, he married at Nashua, N.H. to my mother, Francis Phoebe Gillett, who was born Sep. 1, 1832, at Newport, N.H. My father was of course quite a young man when he moved to Canada, after which he learned his trade, and was the principal party in founding the large agricultural manufacturing business now conducted under the title of “The Sawyer-Massy Mfg. Co.,” at Hamilton, Ont. In 1871 he retired from that business, moving to our present residence to retire from active business, except such as would avoid idleness; and for the past 20 years has spent most of his time in an effort to use his income for the benefit of the family, and chiefly in endeavoring to prolong the life and afford comforts to my mother who was a confirmed invalid for nearly 20 years, and who died March 18, 1897.
I was born in Hamilton, Ont., Nov. 30, 1856, and have resided in Muscatine, Iowa, most of the time since 1872. My early education was in the Canadian schools, well known for their thorough training and substantial foundation for a thorough education. I graduated from the Muscatine High School, and entered the Iowa State University at Iowa City, in 1874, but illness occurring in 1875, while in the Sophomore year, compelled me to retire, requiring the greater part of a year in a change of climate to enable my return. During this time I visited various Eastern cities, including our former home in Canada, and from observations among former associates drew the conclusion that professional lines, or the ordinary mercantile pursuits, were a poor foundation to meet reverses or conditions incident to financial depression which then existed. As soon after my return as possible, I therefore concluded to learn a trade as a foundation upon which to rely in case of necessity, abandoning the educational department and learning the marble cutter’s trade, after which I at once entered into that business in Des Moines, Iowa, but the exactions and exposures connected with it again made me feel it necessary to change, as the returns scarcely justified the risk which was very evident regarding my health, then somewhat impaired.
After a short time I was requested to become personally identified with the Muscatine Oat Meal Co., having been interested with the stockholders of this Co., since its organization, and in 1883 was placed in management of this business which has grown to the position occupied at the present time, of second largest Oat Meal industry in operation. The importance of our enterprise to this community is well known, and it does not require any enlargement on my part, but might state that our business extends into almost every country from South Africa to the European markets, and in all large cities of the United States and Canada. We furnish employment in this enterprise to over 160 employes in Muscatine, in addition to a large number of others indirectly obtaining their income from our branch of business. I obtain more pleasure from the amount of work thus furnished, and the successful operation of the business than any gratification realized from its success. While successful financially in this business and some other investments, which is a satisfaction, it is to me only the pleasure of the use made of such accumulations, and not for its possession, which affords the satisfaction.
I endeavor to keep posed on the various influences which political changes bear on business matters, but am not interested in politics beyond the business side of the question. My interests in other investments recommend keeping posted on the legislation affecting the careful handling of means intended for the benefit of commerce and those less fortunate, not only in the business above mentioned (of which I am secretary and General Manager), but in such portion of the management as rests with me as a director of the Muscatine Savings Bank, and Treasurer of the Muscatine Water Co, of which I am also one of the Board of Directors.
Politically I might be called a liberal Republican, as I always reserve the privilege of voting for the nominee showing the best business qualifications and recommendations for integrity, instead of blindly voting for the political nominee whose only recommendation is the fact that the party is either under obligation to him, or that for some other reason than merit and qualification he is placed on the ticket.
I am not at present an active member in any of the secret societies, though of course am a member of the Muscatine Commercial Club.
Religiously, I am a member of the Presbyterian church, and have been Secretary of the official board for over ten years, being elected as a Deacon about 1885.
On Nov. 30, 1882, I was married at Milford, Pa., to Joanna Wells, daughter of H.B. Wells, probably the most prominent and successful business man of Pike County, Pa.
We have three children - the oldest, Henry P., born Nov. 19, 1883; Aura M., born Feb. 17, 1885; Maud W., born May 4, 1892.
(Signed) F. P. Sawyer"
From Northeastern Pennsylvania Biographical, J.H. Boxers, Chicago, 1900:
"HENRY B. WELLS, the genial and popular proprietor of the “Bluff House” at Milford, is a lineal descendant of one of the earliest settlers in Pike county, and was born at Milford, April 1, 1827, a son of Nathan and Ann (Rockwell) wells, and a grandson of Israel Wells.
Before the town of Milford was laid out the present site was known as Wells Ferry, taking its name from the three wells brothers - Jesse, James and Israel - who came to this region from Connecticut before the Revolutionary war, and undoubtedly operated a ferry. Jesse Wells built a gristmill on the Sawmill, the people from across the river fording the creek below the mill, hence the present name of the town - Milford or Milford. James Wells lived at Panther Brook. Israel wells, the grandfather of our subject, lived on the hill south of the Sawmill, and his family were the following children: Benjamin, Abram, Jesse, Lydia, Nathan, David, Peter, Hart, and Sally. The father was drowned in the Delaware river in 1803.
Nathan Wells was born at Milford, in 1796, and learned the trade of a cabinet maker. His mechanical ability was out of the ordinary, and he invented the Wells fanning mill. He married Ann Rockwell, who was born in Orange, County, N.Y., a daughter of Jabez Rockwell, a patriotic soldier in the revolutionary army. Mr. Rockwell was a shoemaker by trade. He came to Milford about 1797, and for many years was prominently identified with local politics, serving one term as sheriff of Wayne county. Of his children, Lewis was sheriff of Pike county one term; Poll married James Watson, one of Pike County’s most popular sheriffs; Ann married Nathan Wells; and John B. was a merchant at Milford.
The following children came to bless the union of Nathan and Ann (Rockwell) Wells: Peter, who married Charlotte Burred, and died in 1894; Melinda (deceased) who married Cellar Sears; John, who died at the age of forty, unmarried; Henry B., mentioned below; Edgar, who married Lemma Greenly, and resides at Port Gervais, N.Y., where he is connected with the Erie Railroad Co.; Mary, who resides at Milford; William, who married Octave Barlow, and is deceased; and Salaried, who died young. The father of this family was a prominent adherent of the principles of the Democratic party, and his death in 1854, when he was aged fifty-eight years, was regarded as a public loss. Ann (Rockwell) Wells was a faithful and consistent member of the Presbyterian Church; this noble pioneer mother was laid to rest in 1884, after a life of ninety-two years spent in thoughtful, loving deeds for others.
Henry B. Wells spent his early years at home, but as his father was not overburdened with worldly goods he began, when quite young, to work among the neighboring farmers, and also to assist his father in the shop at painting, carpentering, or anything else that he could get to do. When but twenty years old he was considered a good carpenter and cabinet maker, and began to do business on his own account in h is father’s shop, devoting most of his time, however, to the manufacture of fanning mills, which he has continued to manufacture in his leisure moments ever since, having constructed altogether about 3,500. During the Civil war, when land was cheap, he would buy lots and erect houses thereon, for rent or sale as occasion offered. As soon as the money from the sale of one lot was received he immediately reinvested it, and has continued to do so ever since. He has built about fifty houses at Milford and Port Gervais, N.Y., in both of which places he owns considerable property at present.
In his political affiliations Mr. Wells has ever been a Democrat, and he has taken an active and prominent part in the work of the party, though always avoiding, where possible, all public offices. His friends, however, have so urged him at times that he has given a reluctant consent, and for three terms he served in the town council, for three terms as school director, and for two terms as chief burgess. As might be expected from so energetic and thorough a business man, the duties pertaining to these offices were performed with his characteristic conscientiousness, and the citizens of the town, regardless of party, would gladly have retained him as an official.
In 1873, Mr. Wells erected the “Bluff House”, which now has 214 rooms, is well-equipped with water, acetylene gas, and all modern improvements, overlooking the picturesque banks of the Delaware river, seven hundred feet above the level of the sea. (Note: The Bluff House burned down in 1946.) When this lot was first purchased, it was an unbroken wilderness, and the first building contained only ninety rooms; but as trade increased the original structure was from time to time enlarged, first by the addition of twenty-one rooms, then by thirteen, and in 1896 by another building of ninety rooms, the entire building costing something over fifty thousand dollars. This hotel is open in the summer only, and is conducted on strictly temperance lines. The careful attention bestowed on the guests has won for the establishment an enviable reputation, and each guest is made to feel that the proprietor has a personal interest in his comfort and welfare.
On June 6, 1853, Henry B. Wells was married to Miss Phoebe Dewitt, a native of Sussex county, N.J., and daughter of Silas and Johann Dewitt of that county, who for eight years resided in Milford, thence returning to their old home; they are farming people. To Mr. and Mrs. Wells have been born the following children: Mary, wife of Rev. C.S. Ryman, a Methodist clergyman at Summit, N.J.; Nathan, who was drowned at the age of eight in the old mill pond at Milford; Joann, wife of F.P. Sawyer, a manufacturer of oat meal at Muscatine, Iowa; Harry, deceased at the age of five years; Jennie, wife of William Shearer, at attorney at Chicago, Ill.; and Kittie, wife of Paul Boernique, who now manages the “Bluff House”. The mother of this family was called to her final rest in 1894, at the age of sixty.
Mr. Wells has been a member of the Methodist church for half a century, and is still serving as trustee and steward. He is one of that class of American citizens to whom we can point with pride - a self-made man, who by honest industry has won wealth, and with it an untarnished reputation. Prominent in the affairs of his town, he advocates all movements that tend to the moral and material advancements of the town, county or country, and is a liberal contributor to all charities, public and private. Though he has turned the active management of the hotel to his son-in-law, he still remains a silent force that helps to steer over the rough places, and Mr. Boernique has, as have all others who have known Mr. Wells, found his counsel safe, his judgment strong - a tower of strength and wisdom yet, at seventy-three."
The Story of Jabez Rockwell, from a D.A.R. Dedication Ceremony to honor the revolutionary patriots Henry Holdren and Jabez Rockwell in the Old Methodist Burial Ground at Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1976. This ceremony was attended by Jabez Rockwell’s descendants Jane D. Anderson and Joan D. McGaughey.
"Jabez Rockwell was a revolutionary soldier, born Oct. 3, 1761, near Richfield, Conn. He tried to enlist at age fifteen, but was told he was too young but he could join the troops as water boy and help with the horses, which he did.
On Feb. 16, 1777, at sixteen years of age, he enlisted in the Seventh Regiment in Connecticut, recruited under the supervision of Benedict Arnold. He fought at the Battle of Saratoga and was wounded. He was transferred to the command of General Putnam and later under the command of General Washington during that terrible winter at Valley Forge, and was in the same boat with General Washington on Christmas Eve when crossing the Delaware river, helping to push the ice away from the boat.
He became a personal friend of General Washington.
He was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October, 1781, and he walked from Milford, Pennsylvania, to New York to see General Lafayette, by whom he was warmly greeted.
When he was in the army on a march, the troops stopped for water at a house. He was near the rear and very thirsty. When it was his turn to have a drink, he was told there was no more water. He was disappointed and called to a young lady, telling her, jokingly, that if she would give him a drink of water, he would like to come back and marry her some day. She took the pail, ran to the well, filled it and overtook the column, which had stopped. She found Jabez and gave him a drink. He thanked her and asked her name.
She replied “Sarah Rundel”. She noticed he wiped the sweat from his face on the sleeve of his coat so she took off her apron and said she would give it to him if he would tell her his name, which he did.
When he returned to Connecticut in 1782, he wrote to her. She answered his letter and said she would like a new apron for the one she had given him, but that he should bring it in person. He visited her and brought an apron. Fourteen months later, in 1783, they were married. She later died and he remarried.
He was a shoemaker by trade and came to Milford in 1797. He served one term as Sheriff of Wayne County and he was “Cryer of the Court” when the first court was held in Wayne County.
He was a Mason and when he died at Leonardsville, East Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on January 11, 1847, age 86, his funeral was in charge of the Masonic Lodge of Honesdale, and the guards, a military company of the town. They escorted his remains from Leonardsville, East Honesdale, to the Methodist Cemetery, walking the entire distance, complying with the request made previously by Jabez. An air called “The Masonic Adieu” was played on the drum during the procession."
More on Jabex Rockwell and his descendants by my aunt, Jane Durham Anderson:
Who Blew What Horn?
By Mrs. Robert P. Anderson
Pike County Dispatch
March 4, 1976
Truth is stranger than fiction! Undoubtedly Mrs. Rollins Weaver of Hellertown, PA weaves a good yarn with just enough of an element of truth in it to seemingly authenticate her tales of Jabez Rockwell and his powder horn but for the record in this Bicentennial Year – much of her story just isn’t fact. I hate to disillusion her but—
Jabez Rockwell was my great, great, great grandfather. He was the eldest son of Josiah Rockwell (third of that name) and was the sixth generation of Rockwells in America – the first having been Deacon William Rockwell and his wife, Susannah Chapin, who sailed from Plymouth, England, on the ship, Mary and John, on March 30, 1630 and landed in Massachusetts to settle first, but briefly, in Dorchester from whence they went to Connecticut, settling in Windsor where Deacon William died and Susannah married the widower, Matthew Grant. The Grants had sailed from England on the same ship with the Rockwells.
Jabez Rockwell was born October 3, 1761 at Ridgefield, Conn. He was the son of Josiah and Mary Scott Rockwell. At the turn of this century when his grandson, Charles Rockwell, wanted to ascertain for sure which regiment he served with, he paid a fee for a search by the Adjutant General of Connecticut – Hartford. This is the record:
“Seventh regiment (Connecticut line), formation of 1771-1781. Regiment raised from January 1777, for new Continental line to continue through the war. Recruited in Fairfield and other counties. Went into the field spring of 1777 at Camp Peekskill, New York, and in September was ordered under General McDougall to General Washington’s army in Pennsylvania. Fought Germantown, October 4, 1777, and suffered some loss. Wintered at Valley Forge 1777 and 1778, and on June 8th following, was presented at the battle of Monmouth. In camp during the summer at White Plains, and assigned to Huntingdon’s Brigade. Wintered in 1778 and 1779 at Redding. In summer of 1779 served on the east side of the Hudson, in General Heath’s wing. Its light company under Captain Chamberlain detached to Meig’s Light Regiment and engaged in storming of Stony Point, July 15, 1779. Wintered at Morristown Heights 1779-1780, and in following summer served with the main army on Hudson. Wintered in 1780-1781 at Camp Connecticut Village, near the Robinson’s House Upper Hudson, and there consolidated for formation of 1781-1783.”
This as it was recorded on the muster roll of the regiment: “Private Jabez Rockwell enlisted for a term of three years, in Captain Elderkins’ company. Term of service began February 16th, 1777; discharged February 16th, 1780.”
I own the Biographical Sketch and Genealogy of the Rockwell Family which was published in 1901 by Carrie Wells Milligan, daughter of Peter Wells of Milford who when she married moved to Philadelphia and she was the great granddaughter of Jabez and at the time the genealogy was published there were three daughters of Jabez’s living in Matamoras – Mrs. Lucinda Valentine then 85 years old, Mrs. Phoebe Gainford, 96 years old, and Mrs. Catharine Bowden, 89 years old. (Carrie Wells Milligan was a first cousin of my grandmother, Joanna Wells Sawyer).
Family history can be quite a bore to a non family member, as well as sometimes a family member, but I will dispense with lineage as fast as I can and say that Israel Wells was one of the founders of Milford and operated the Wells Ferry across the Delaware with his two brothers, James and Jessie – all having come from Connecticut. Nathan Israel’s son married Ann Rockwell, daughter of Jabez Rockwell.
Briefly, Nathan Wells was a cabinetmaker by trade and the inventor of the Wells Fanning Mill. His son, Henry Barnes Wells, carried on his father’s business, invested in real estate and built the “Bluff House.” I have an old letter he wrote to his daughter, my grandmother, in 1897 telling her he had “commenced to build another Bluff House.” Prior to this Henry Barnes Wells had turned his father’s Fanning Mill into an excelsior factory.
As Carrie told it, “He always had a penchant for wood and once told me that his first attempt at dealing in the article was whittling out skate bottoms and selling them at three cents a pair.”
Having covered a ‘bit much’ of family lineage I will get back to Jabez Rockwell. Our entire family from Wells, Sawyer, Durham (of which I am one) knew the Edgington’s well and I think in some way I’m not too sure about, we were related – perhaps not.
I am completely baffled by that story of Mrs. Weaver’s concerning Jabez deserting because the family history written by ‘Carrie’ and certainly cleared with the three living daughters of Jabez in Matamoras, states from the Adjutant General’s record that following his enlistment under Captain Vine Elderkins, his regiment went into the field at Camp Peekskill, New York, and I’m not clear on how Jabez ended up escorting that Hessian Baroness Rudysell to Cambridge, via Vermont, without that having been recounted by Jabez to his daughters but I do know that at Peekskill, under his Captain Elderkins, the regiment was under command of General Benedict Arnold and to quote, “As an indication of the character of Jabez Rockwell it may be stated that in after life when in his presence the treachery of Arnold was spoken of, while in no way excusing his after action, he would remind the speaker to remember Arnold’s gallantry at Saratoga.”
Jabez often recalled to family and friends his terrible winter at Valley Forge and his often repeated story concerning one morning following breakfast in his little hut roasting potatoes and hickory nuts, he took his station as sentinel at headquarters, and George Washington inquired and brought out some meat and bread.
But I cannot believe that Martha Washington herself was at Valley Forge and Mrs. Weaver’s story of the powder horn isn’t accurate either. To quote, “In those days the soldiers carried powder-horns, an ordinary cow horn, with ends stopped with wooden plugs, securely fastened to a strap which was thrown over the right shoulder. While the army was encamped at Valley Forge that winter, about thirty soldiers, among whom was young Jabez Rockwell, had lost their powder horns, and there seemed to be no way to replace them.
Hearing of their dilemma, the camp butchers proposed to give these soldiers tens horns which they had saved from cattle that had been slaughtered for food, but the applicants so largely outnumbered the horns that they were in a quandary as to their division, and finally agreed to leave the distribution up to the Commander-in-Chief.
One day General Washington was riding through camp, when they appealed to him to make the division. He readily consented to do so, and hit upon this novel plan: Taking from his pocket pencil and paper, whose guess was the closest, picking a number between 1500 and 2000, should receive the horns. He wrote ‘1776’ the year of the Declaration of Independence. This number was correctly guessed by one soldier. Four others of the successful guessers, of whom Jabez Rockwell was one, guessed halfway between these points, 1750. Young Rockwell lost no time scraping, polishing and preparing his horn to hold its allotment of powder, and inscribing his name upon the same.
A military order required every powder horn to be marked with the owner’s name so that it could be readily returned to him after being filled at the powder wagon. The horn is in the Valley Forge Museum inscribed “Jabez Rockwell, of Ridgebury, Conn. His horn made in camp at Valley Forge. First used at Monmouth, June 28th, 1778.” The horn was often loaned by his grandson to some history buffs and one such buff thought it would make the powder horn more historical and interesting if he added to the inscription “Last used at Yorktown 1781” – impossible since Jabez was out of the army by then. But the museum at Valley Forge wanted to buy the horn from Jabez’s grandson, Charles F. Rockwell, who wouldn’t sell it to the museum but gave it to the museum on the condition that it would not be considered the property of any person and he added to the inscription “May it be sacredly kept is the wish of his grandson, Charles F. Rockwell.”
When Jabez returned to his home state of Connecticut to Ridgebury, a section of Ridgefield, he again met Sarah Rundel, who when they were strangers, had given him a drink of water while on his way to join the army, and the renewal of the acquaintance led to their marriage on July 4, 1784, at his native home in Connecticut. In 1796, accompanied by his family, he moved to Pennsylvania, locating on land that is now part of Milford, the county seat of Pike County.
Mrs. Weaver’s letter in the Pike County Dispatch, February 26th, was in error on his wife’s name. She spoke of the name being Melissa Wells whose father was Henry Wells and Henry Wells was yet another generation unborn. Sarah Rundel was Jabez’s first wife and she was born November 20, 1759 in Danbury, Conn. She died in Milford, PA May 24, 1798 – just three months after her seventh child, Ann, my great, great grandmother was born. In September of 1799 Jabez remarried – an Elizabeth Mulford of Milford, and they had seven children and their first son, John B. Rockwell, was born in Milford, July 31, 1800 and later married Oliver Buchanan.
In 1837, Jabez Rockwell left Milford for a small hamlet then called Leonardsville, a mile east of Honesdale, PA and now part of Honesdale, I believe. He is buried there in Honesdale in the old Methodist cemetery I know well because I made a pilgrimage to find the grave when I lived in Massachusetts and was trying to get my children interested in their heritage. Jabez Rockwell died January 18, 1847.
For reference to Jabez Rockwell, Mr. Norman Lehde of Milford covered him quite well in an article he wrote for the Union Gazette, Port Jervis, N.Y., Saturday, June 7, 1975, and history buffs interested in his walk to New York City from Milford when Lafayette was last in this country should read his article. Jabez had served under Lafayette and made that pilgrimage to New York City to see his former comrade-in-arms at age sixty-three.
Where Jabez Rockwell actually lived the rather brief time he was in Milford, I am not sure. I do know that the old Wells homestead burned down but my mother, Aura May Sawyer Durham, who just had her ninety second birthday in Winter Haven, Florida, told me the homestead location was on Harford Street, where, at one point, a Mrs. Kloppman lived.
Henry Barnes Wells, son of Nathan and Ann Rockwell Wells, built the house on the curve of Blackberry Alley and Sawkill, the Smith house now. My sister, Mrs. McGaughey, covered the history of their house on Sawkill – next to mine.
The small house I am in now was built for Jennie Wells Shearer who later moved into a house on Harford Street, the ‘Doc’ Johns house. Jennie liked to be called ‘Aunt Jean’ but her father always called her Jen and her name was Jennie. She is buried in the Wells old family plot beside her infant daughter, Marie. Only the four Wells girls lived to become adults. Their oldest brother, Nathan, was drowned at age eight and his younger brother Harry, died when he was three years old. Following Harry came Mary Frances who married Charles Ryman, then came Joanna, my grandmother (Mrs. Frank Payson Sawyer), then came Jennie (Mrs. ‘Will’ Shearer) and Katharine, the youngest of the sisters who became Mrs. Paul Bournique.
This quite old house was once a woodshed and an ice storage shed and my mother thought it was originally Dewitt property – way back there. My great grandfather, Henry Barnes Wells married Phoebe Dewitt who was born in Sussex County, New Jersey, and taught school in a tiny one room schoolhouse up on Route 6, just prior to the road into Twin Lakes. The old foundations of that one room schoolhouse are still visible and every time we would come down from Massachusetts to Twin Lakes my children would shout, “Here’s where Mom’s great, great somebody or other taught school.” Generally, once during the summer, I’d cart one or the other of my five children off to Honesdale to pay their respects to Jabez Rockwell – the old cemetery was full of poison ivy and most of the headstones were down but we discovered that someone from the Historical Society had been trying to spruce up the plot now and then.
From “Carrie’s” book: “he had requested that if the Honesdale Guards should attend his funeral, the drummer and fifer should play one of his favorite airs, “The Masonic Adieu” and this request was complied with, the musicians continuously rendering the air from his house to the grave. With a parting volley the old patriot was left at his last resting place awaiting the resurrection call, and as each Memorial Day is reached the members of the Grand Army of the Republic never fail to lavishly decorate his grave, revering it as the resting place of the only soldier of the Revolutionary Army buried in Honesdale.”
Location of burial site: Chapel Street (Old Methodist Cemetery) Honesdale, PA
See book "Jabez Rockwell: a biographical sketch" by Charles Rockwell and Carrie Wells Milligan.
to: The birth family of William McGaughey, Sr. (father)
to: The family of William and Joanna McGaughey (the website creator’s parents)
back to: family
Click for a translation into:
Chinese - Indonesian - Turkish - Polish - Dutch - Russian