Anna Bennett Vroman
Granddaughter of Thomas Bennett and Daughter of George L. Bennett
Source: Sue Shaner

The Vroman and Bennett Lineage

Contributed by Sue Shaner
November 2005


In November 2005, Susan Annette "Sue" Shaner sent us this unfortunate news: My grandmother died just last month. She was a Bennett/Taylor. My father gave me ALL of her photos, scrap books, wills, and so much more. I would like to share with Sullivan County what I have found. It may take me years to get through it all.

We are indebted to Sue for the contribution of these materials and for her desire to preserve both a history of her family and also part of the history of our two hundred-year old community. Sue is related by descent to the Taylor, Boatman, Little, Bennett, Smith, Ellis, Craft and Clark families of Sullivan and Lycoming Counties, PA,and by ancestral marriage to the Vroman, Fulmer and Houseknecht families. In other words, she is a living representative of a full spectrum of the great settler families of the area.

We are also very appreciative of the help given by Carol Brotzman in explicating the family histories and relationships presented here. At the end of this story, we have appended several family charts created by Carol to show the relationships among the people presented here. You can refer to them as you go as a means of keeping the personalities in mind and in order.

The Lineage

Here is the descent sequence that we will be looking at in this story:

1 Thomas Bennett (brother of Joel Bennett from New Jersey) born about 1782 and died about 1870; married Phebe Woolsey
2 George L. Bennett (1815-1906); married Lydia Ann Little (1815-1892)
3 Anna Elizabeth Bennett (1858-1930); married Murry Walter ["Mert", in some accounts] Vroman born about 1855
Her brother was:
3 Richard Watson Bennett born 23 May 1854**, died about 1934; married Sarah Matilda Ellis (1862-1938), of whom we will say more below
**Editor's Note: Eagles Mere Cemetery stone says 1853-1934.
4 Hannah Emmaline Bennett born 11-24-1895; married Raymond Larue Taylor born 11-22-1895
5 Rhoda Mae Taylor (1921-2005); married (1) Verus Shaner (1920-1997), then (2) a Living Campbell**
6 Gerry Verus Shaner born 1943; married Gladys Elizabeth Minier born 1947 [see more below on this lineage]
7 Susan Annette Shaner born 1966
Editor's Note: The web page of Jeff Stewart indicates that Rhoda Mae (Taylor) Campbell, widow of Verus Shaner and via a second marriage to a Living Campbell, died on Octoer 12, 2005 in Muncy, Lycoming County, PA.

In the 1900 Federal Census for Shrewsbury, Sullivan County, PA, we find the family of Richard Watson Bennett:

Richard Watson Bennett Head Age 46 Married 21 years
Sarah Mattie Ellis Bennett Wife Age 40**Married 21 years
Alfred Little Bennett Son Age 20
Clarence Wilson Bennett Son Age 18
Mary M. Bennett Daughter Age 15
Jessie Eloise Bennett Daughter Age 10
Ernest Voningham Bennett Son Age 7
Hannah Bennett Daughter Age 4
**Editor's Note: This is a discrepancy with the date given above in Sue Shaner's lineage.

Incidentally, the widowed George L. Bennett is also shown in this census, age 84, heading a household that includes an unmarried daughter, Amanda, age 52, and a married daughter, N. E. (Freeman) Bennett **, age 41, with the latter's daughter Irene Freeman, age 3.
** Editor's Note: Per Larry Pardoe, this individual was actually Anna/Annie Elizabeth (Bennett) Vroman. Maybe the census taker took "Annie" as N.E.? Moreover, perhaps whoever translated the census took "Vroman" for "Freeman". These kinds of things happened continually with handwritten records and transcriptions of the spoken word. In this vein, her daughter Irene should is also likely to be "Vroman", not "Freeman".


The Pictorial Record and Commentary

Pictured at the head of this page is Anna Elizabeth Bennett, who was the sister of Sue's great-great-grandfather Richard Watson Bennett. It was Anna who married Murry Vroman. The back of this photo is also a historical curio, since it indicates both the identify of the West Virginia company that printed the photo as well as the Williamsport "New Gallary" [sic] location where the photo was taken.

Back of Anna Bennett Vroman Photo
Shows Williamsport, Lycoming County, PA Location of Gallery
Source: Sue Shaner

Here is a picture of their daughter, Irene Vroman, born about 1878:

Irene Bennett Vroman
Daughter of Murry and Anna (Bennett) Vroman
Source: Sue Shaner

The Vroman Connection

While the Vroman family is fairly common in Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming Counties, we have had a major challenge in trying to uncover the identity and background of Murry Vroman. Our research has also brought us into contact with many other old families in the history and settlement of the area. Here is one example from Larry Pardoe:

I have a lot of Vromans in the tree, but not tied together. At first, I wondered if perhaps a George Vroman; Peter L. Vroman, born January 10, 1842; and Stephen S. Vroman, born January 29, 1847 might have been brothers. However, it turns out that George was actually the son of Peter and Polly (Best) Wroman [see below]. Peter L. and Stephen S. Vroman were sons in turn of Barnett ("Barney") Vroman, who was a brother of George. Incidentally, George's son James Henry Vroman (1852-1926) was married to Isadore Green, daughter of Wheeler Green and Hariett Ball, which connects the Vroman family to my Green ancestors. You can read about the Greens in Aunt Eliza's Scrapbook. It is also interesting to me that George and Barney Vroman's parents. Peter and Polly, came from Schoharie County in New York State. A lot of other Sullivan County families came from there as well. For example, you had William Porter (1781-about 1861); Dr. John T. Wilcox (October 4, 1756-1860); and his son, Dr. John Day Wilcox (October 14, 1794-March 28, 1866). They are all found in Ron Porter's Descendants of John T. Wilcox.

In the end, we believe that the Vroman family of interest here goes back to the children of Peter (1797-1866) and Polly (Best) (1800-1889) Vroman. They were married in 1816 in West Fulton, NY, but moved to Bradford County, PA thereafter and had twelve children that we know of, most born after their relocation. Many Vromans are buried in the Granville Center Cemetery in Granville Township, PA. One of these was George S. Vroman, whom Larry mentioned above. George was born at Granville in Bradford County, PA in 1927 and died in 1913 in Williamsport, Lycoming County, PA. George was married twice, first to Margaret Bagley about 1851, and later, presumably after Margaret died, to Nancy Hoagland, born around 1830, about 1858. Nancy was the daughter of Joseph and Hannah (Mullen) Hoagland and the granddaughter of the original settlers in the area, Joseph and Hannah (Carpenter) Hoagland. One of the children, likely of this second marriage of George Vroman, was Murray Walter Vroman. We believe this individual is the "Murry" to whom Annie Bennett was later married. Incidentally, this marriage took place around 1895 and only lasted for about five years, during which time Irene Vroman was born in 1897. Notice that "Vroman" has been anglicized to "Froman" by the census taker.

We do not know why Murry and Annie divorced, but we do know that Murry was married three times, Annie being his second wife. In the 1900 Federal Census for Shrewsbury, Sullivan County, PA, Annie and Irene are living with the elderly George Bennett and Annie's older sister Arminda Bennett. In the 1910 Federal Census for Shrewsbury, they are still living there with Arminda, but George has passed away. However, unlike 1900, where Annie is still shown as married, by 1910, she is shown as divorced. When Irene came of age, she married Harry Springer about 1916, and is there in the 1920 Federal Census for Hughesville, Lycoming County, PA. Harry and Irene had two daughters, Elsie M. (born about 1921) and Margaret E. "Peggy" (born about 1917) Springer. These daughters in turn eventually married and had four and one children themselves, respectively. Irene tragically died at age 24 on November 22, 1922 at home in Hughesville, and is buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery near there. Annie died on December 1, 1930 at her home in Hughesville and is allegedly buried at the "Beech Woods" Cemetery in Eaglesmere, per her death notice in the local Hughesville newspaper. We are not sure if this cemetery reference is erroneous or a local reference to a cemetery known formally by another name. There is no formal cemetery by that name in Eaglesmere. The 1930 Federal Census for Hughesville showed Arminda, Annie and the girls, "Peggy" and Elsie, living there together. Incidentally, there is another Springer family headed by a widow, Nora A. Springer, of exactly the same age that Irene would have been had she survived, on the same census page in 1930 in Hughesville. She has two children, Carl T. and Harriet L. Springer. It is likely this woman is the second wife of Harry Springer, who remarried after Irene died. Such a presumption is consistent with his obituary, which reports him leaving a wife and four children. Here is his obituary:

The Sunday Grit
Williamsport, PA
February 20, 1927:

Harry Springer, of Hughesville, passed away at his home there Friday, at the age of 35 years. His funeral takes place tomorrow afternoon, at 2 o'clock at the house. Mr. Springer left his wife , four small children, these brothers and sisters; Morton * of Hughesville; McKinley, of Ludlowville, N.Y.; Lloyd, of Williamsport; Mrs. Susan Bristol, of Troy; Mrs. Dewey Marshall, of Allenwood; Mr. Jack Fox, of Williamsport; Mrs. H. W. Unter, of Falconer, N.Y.

* Editor's Note: Larry Pardoe states that the correct name is Milton, not Morton.

And what of Murry, if he is our man, after the divorce from Annie? In 1900, he was living with his father George in Franklin Township, Lycoming County, PA, still listed as married. There is a grandson of George named John A. Vroman, born in 1888, also in that household, but we do not know if this is a child of Murry by his firt marriage or the offspring of another child of George Vroman. In 1910, Murray is living with his third wife, Elizabeth H. ("Sally"), age 48, in Pine Township, Columbia County, PA. His occupation is listed as a "collector". For now, that is all we know of the Vroman relationship.

In late April 2006, Sue Shaner went visiting some relatives interred at the Germany Reformed Church Cemetery in Lairdsville, Columbia County, PA. Some of the stones are just leaning up against a tree, an unfortunate reality about old cemeteries unless they are cared for regularly. She found one "Vroman" there:

Anna M, wife of M W Vroman 1866-1893
1910 United States Federal Census > Pennsylvania >
Columbia > Pine Twp > District 33
Enumerated 7 May 1910
Name: Murray W Vroman
Age in 1910: 52, married x3, married 5 years
Estimated birth year: abt 1858

This must be the marker for his first wife, preceding Anna Bennett in that role. The cemetery is full of the surnames of Hill, Renn and Ritter.


The Little and Peale Relationships

It probably will not surprise anyone familiar with the history of Sullivan County that an early settler family, such as the Bennetts, was intermarried more than once with other settlers families, such as the Littles. The descent chart presented above indicates an early marriage between George Bennett and Lydia Ann Little, daughter of John Little IV and his second wife, Mercy Dennis. Peter C. Little was a son of Daniel Little and Nellie Covenhoven. Peter also had a sister named Lydia who married William Whitacre, but that is not part of this story. Peter's wife's name was Miriam [born December 15, 1809]. His parents were born in Monmouth County, New Jersey on December 31, 1771 and August 4, 1772, respectively. They died in Sullivan County on August 10, 1863 and March 4, 1853, respectively. Richard Watson Bennett later bought the home of Peter C. Little in Eagles Mere, which is shown below. Does anyone know if the structure is still standing?

Peter Little (November 20, 1809-December 29, 1890) and his parents, Nellie and Daniel Little, are buried in the Eagles Mere Cemetery, as is Richard Watson Bennett. George L. and Lydia Ann (Little) Bennett are also buried at Eagles Mere Cemetery. Richard's wife, Sarah Mattie (Ellis) Bennett, is buried at the Picture Rocks Cemetery in Lycoming County, PA. You can learn much more about the Littles and other early families with whom they intermarried at The Little Family: An American Odyssey and at Aunt Eliza's Scrapbook.

Here is a brief illustration of the complexity of the Little family and its relationships, as summarized for this page by Pj Little, the living expert on this family, at the end of December 2005:

Little Facts:

John^4, Thomas^3, Daniel, Tobias and Theophilus^2 Little were brothers. They were the sons of Theophilus Little^1 and Mary Polhemus. Collectively, they had 34 children who were first cousins that sometimes married each other, and 140 grandchildren who sometimes did the same thing.

By the time these five son and their parents, Theophilus Little^1 and Maria Polhemus, removed to Lycoming County, PA from East Jersey, John Little's 1,2,and 3, Thomas^1, Mary Little (Theophilus^1's sister) and John Little^4's first wife were all deceased.

John Little^4 married his second wife, MERCY DENNIS, in East Jersey around 1805. They had 8 children. These EIGHT children were **** half-siblings*** to John's FIVE children by his FIRST WIFE.

Thomas^3, his wife and their children removed by sleigh to Ohio in the winter of 1815 and REMAINED for life. None of his children lived in PA., after their departure to Ohio.

John Little^4 had 13 children by his two wives. By his first wife, he had five children. Benjamin and Margaret married Wisner siblings who lived in Lycoming County; their sister Mary died. Their sister Elizabeth, married her first cousin, James Seabrook Little, the son of Daniel and Nellie Covenhoven Little. And then, their brother John C. Little married three times. His second wife, Louisa Little, was a cousin and the daughter of Theophilus Little^2 who himself was a second cousin once removed to his own wife, Elizabeth Holmes. Unlike his father, this John Little had no issue from any of his three wives.

Miriam Little, the daughter of John^4 and his SECOND WIFE, Mercy Dennis, married her **half-cousin** Peter C. Little, the son of Daniel Little and Nellie Covenhoven.

Daniel married his first cousin Eleanor Covenhoven. She was the daughter of Elenor Polhemus and Pieter Covenhoven. Elenor Polhemus and Daniel's mother. Mary Polhemus, were sisters.

Lastly, Nathan Little, the oldest son of Tobias Little and Content Allen, married Isabel Holmes, his third cousin twice removed. Isabel and Elizabeth Holkes were sisters who married uncle and nephew.

Finally, Mercy Dennis married John Little^4 and may have had at least one child before they also removed to Lycoming County.

Do not despair. There are many of these types of relationships found within the five Little family lineages.

Peter C. and Miriam Little Homestead
Eagles Mere, PA
Source: Sue Shaner

Next are two pictures of members of the Peale family: Mariah Peale (1823-1916) and Elice Peale. Family records suggested to Sue that Mariah Peele married Boyd Patterson Bennett (1850-1915), son of George Washington Bennett and grandson of Joel Bennett. But this turned out to be incorrect. As indicated below, independent research has confirmed that Boyd was actually married to Mariah's daughter, Annie Mariah Peale (1855-1918). Mariah (Haywood) Peale, the woman shown in the picture below, was actually the wife of Christopher Peale (1815-08/26/1900). They both emigrated from their birthplace in England. Boyd Bennett was the son of George Washington Bennett [1821-1892] and Sarah Laird Smith [1825-1916]. You can see a picture of George W. and Sarah at the top of the Descendants of Joel and Sarah Bird Bennett page.

Meanwhile, we are not clear at all at this point as to the place where Elice Peale fits in the the family tree. Perhaps she is the daughter of Frederick W. Peale, Annie Mariah's brother, named Elsie M. Peale, born in 1896 and shown in the 1910 Federal Census for Eagles Mere. About 1927, she married Carl E. Bigger and they were both living with her parents when the 1930 census was taken in the same location. But for now, we do not know.

Mariah (Haywood) Peale
Photo Taken in Eagles Mere, PA
Wife of Christopher Peale
and Mother of Annie Mariah (Peale) BennettSource: Sue Shaner

Elice Peale
Eagles Mere, PA
Exact Relationship Not Known
Source: Sue Shaner

The Laird Connection

We do know that Mariah (Haywood) Peale is buried in the Eagles Mere Cemetery, although her daughter Annie Mariah and son-in-law Boyd are buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Hughesville, PA. What else do we know about the Peales and the Bennetts? We know that Boyd was the grandson of Joel Bennett, while Richard Watson Bennett was the grandson of Joel's brother Thomas Bennett. This makes Boyd and Richard second cousins. Those familiar with the county history will also note the introduction of yet another of the early settler families with the name "Laird". Yes, Sarah Laird Smith was the daughter of William Smith and Martha Laird [born in 1797; listed in the Federal Census for Davidson Township, Sullivan County, PA in 1850, 1860 and 1870]. Here is what the Hodge-Podge History has to say about William and Martha:

William Smith was an able man in Lycoming County who served as its commissioner before Sullivan was organized. He moved to his Elk Lick** home which later became the home of the Charles Cox family in 1833. After the new county was organized he was elected county treasurer and later one of its associate judges. He had no children but reared Thomas Laird, nephew of his wife, after the boy’s father died.
**Editor's Note: Elk Lick is now known as Nordmont.

This extract gives us a clue as to Martha's identity. We know that Thomas S. Laird (1831-1914) married Sarah Jane Glidewell (1832-1921), If Martha was aunt to Thomas, then she may have been the sister or first cousin of John Laird, the original settler in the area, or Sarah Laird, also a first cousin of John Laird, and the bride of John Little, son of Daniel Little and Nellie Covenhoven. The statement that William Smith had no children of his own also seems to suggest that he married Martha after she already had children by a previous marriage, since we know whe had at least two--Sarah and Harriett Smith (1821-1902)*. So, as an alternative, she may have been the widow of one of the siblings of John Laird, and then married William Smith in a second marriage. Is it not amazing how the families connect to one another?
Editor's Note: Harriett Smith was born Janaury 1, 1821 in what is now Sullivan County, PA, and died in Quimby, Cherokee County, Iowa on October 31, 1902. She is buried in Quimby as well. On December 12, 1839, she married Jesse Colley Pennington of Benton, Columbia County, PA, who was born July 4, 1817, and they had six children. The family relocated in 1868 to Iowa. The Cherokee County Biographical History (1889) sketch of H. K. Lee contains adtional information about their lives there.

The Laird family has a broad and rich tradition in North America, and the branch that came to the southern part of Sullivan County was just one of over a dozen Laird families in the New World. Here are a few clues about the Lairds that reflect on their history and range of presence in early Pennsylvania history. For one thing, there appears to be a connection between the Smith and Laird families. As already reported here, William Smith was the husband of Martha Laird. However, of intriguing interest, Chapter 50 in the 1899 Meginness History of Lycoming County provides brief biographical sketches of four members of the Laird family: James Laird (1741-1846); his son John Laird (born in 1789), who married Margaret Smith in 1810 [a relative of Judge William Smith?]; John's son James Laird (died in 1882); and, finally, J. C. Laird, born in 1844, the son of the younger James and therefore the fourth generation in this sequence. The story also tells us that John Laird, born February 19, 1812, was the son of John Laird (1761-1846) and Margaret Smith (1770-1796). The implication is that Lairds and Smiths intermarried more than once. The ages are about right for William Smith and Margaret Smith to be siblings. That would imply a similar relationship between this John Laird and William Smith's wife Martha. But, so far, we have not been able to make that connection. What you will see, further along in our story, is a reappearance of the Smith surname in relationship with the Bennett and Ellis surnames. A deeper connection from the same Smith line to all these families is not yet clear.

The Laird family first came to America in 1737, when an earlier James and his wife Jane Laird, possibly parents of James Laird who was born in 1741, arrived in the Chesapeake Bay area at Cecil's Court-house, in what is now Maryland. They then relocated north to south central Pennsylvania. You can read about this branch of the family at James Laird and Family. Apparently, the Snoddy family, to whom the Lairds were related by marriage back in Northern Ireland, had come even earlier and carved out a farm near Swatara township in what is today Dauphin County, PA. William Laird, the Revolutionary War veteran mentioned below, was one of the sons of James and Jane Laird; he later filed a deposition in 1799 in Lancaster county to establish his family's claim to the land originally settled by William and Mary (Laird) Snoddy. This Mary Laird was a sister of Williamn Laird.

Here is what one 1899 source has to say about the branch of the Laird family that ended up in the Sullivan/Columbia/Lycoming County area of Pennsylvania:

THOMAS S. LAIRD, a blacksmith of considerable prominence at Nordmont, Laporte township, Sullivan County, Pa., is purely of Scotch descent, as his name indicates. He is the second child and eldest son of William and Sarah (McNeil) Laird, and was born at Washingtonville, Montour County, Pa., January 21, 1831.

Col. William Laird was the first of the Laird family to come to America. He was born in Scotland and came to this country at the age of seven years in company with some friends. He grew to manhood in the midst of the most exciting times in our country's history, at a time when young men for love of country left fathers, mothers, and sweethearts, and husbands left wives and families, that they might battle for the cause of freedom. It is almost needless to say that he responded to the call to arms. He served as a private under the illustrious Washington in 1755, and during the Revolutionary War he served as captain of Washington's body-guard, which fact is to-day the boast of his descendants. He wedded Rosanna Gaston, a Scotch emigrant, and settled in Northumberland County, Pa., where he bought a farm and became a tiller of the soil, an occupation he followed until cut off by death at the extreme age of ninety-seven years. His companion also lived to a very old age. Realizing that our country, depleted by the ravages of war, would need in the future many brave men and women to support the cause for which they fought, Col. Laird brought into the world sixteen children, eight boys and eight girls. It is not absolutely known how many of the girls reached maturity, as women sometimes change their names early in life, and their identity is easily lost. But the following boys grew to manhood: Thomas; John; James; William; Samuel; and Matthew.

Thomas, the eldest of these, was the grandfather of our subject. He was born in Derry township, then a part of Northumberland County, Pa., and died at the age of sixty-five years, having been a farmer all his life. He participated in the War of 1812 and was wounded at the battle of Lundy's Lane. He was united in marriage with Annie McBride, a Scotch emigrant, who, upon dying, left him with seven children, namely: Martha; Rosanna; Sarah; Esther; Eliza; William; and Thomas. Mr. Laird formed a second matrimonial alliance with Hester McReynolds, and they had two children: Anne, and Russell.

William Laird, the father of our subject, was born in Derry township, Columbia County, Pa. Early in life he learned the trade of a blacksmith, working at his chosen calling for a canal company, being thus employed when his life was cut short by a misfortune which deprived his wife and children of a loving husband and father. He was accidentally drowned at Carrasawaga Falls, Dauphin County, Pa., while yet in the prime and vigor of manhood, having only attained the age of thirty-five. He was married to Sarah McNeil, who survived him, having borne him four children, viz.: Mary, who died in infancy; Thomas S., our subject; Ann; and Samuel.

Our subject is particularly fortunate in one respect, there are many interesting facts and adventures by which he can remember his forefathers, and this is not alone true of his father's family, for there are many thrilling experiences told of his maternal ancestors, one of which deserves a place in this sketch. Sarah (McNeil) Laird was the daughter of Samuel McNeil of Columbia County, who was of Scotch descent. Her mother's maiden name was Annie Davis, who was taken prisoner by the Indians during the Revolutionary War at Chillisquaque Creek, seven of her sisters and brothers being killed at the same time. She was kept in captivity for five years, when Ezra, her brother, who was in the Colonial Army at the time of her capture, went to Canada, where she was held, and succeeded in securing her release. After her husband's demise our subject's mother formed a second marital union with Benjamin J. McWilliams, no issue resulting from their marriage.

Thomas S. Laird learned the blacksmith's trade by serving an apprenticeship under Joseph Green of Hughesville for a period of two years. He then started in business for himself at Sonestown, Sullivan County, Pa., where he remained one year; then he moved successively to Smithsville, Taylorville, Hughesville, and finally settled at Nordmont in 1876, where he is considered an expert in his business. He was united in marriage with Sarah Jane Glidewell of Davidson township, Sullivan County, and their home was blessed by the presence of nine children, as follows: Jerome; William; Coralynn; Caroline; Amanda; McClellan, now deceased; Eleanora; Russell; and Estella. It gives great pleasure to speak of a good man and to note what he has done, and we feel sure there are few men who more fully enjoy the confidence and good will of their fellow-men than does Mr. Laird. As to the question of religion and where people shall worship, he expresses broad and liberal views. In politics he upholds the principles of the People's party; has been on the election board twenty-one years as judge, inspector or clerk; and was auditor of Davidson township for eighteen years.

Extracted from: Book of Biographies of the Seventeenth Congressional District
Published by Biographical Publishing Company of Chicago, Ill. and Buffalo, NY (1899)

Paul Nascimbene is an experienced Laird family researcher with his own views on the topic of Laird family propagation in Pennsylvania:

March 2, 2006

Your section entitled "The Laird Connection" was very interesting. The only information I question is the attribution of 'Colonel' to William Laird (and his service as 'Captain of Washington's Body-Guards.' I'll have to follow up on that source and see how it jives with what I already know.) Actually, I have a great deal of information on Capt. William Laird and his son James, plus a fair amount of information on the family in general.

They did come to this country from Northern Ireland in the early 1730's, landing in Chesapeake Bay, traveling up the Susquehanna and settling initially along the Great Swatara Creek in the Hanover/Derry area of then Lancaster County, PA. It is now known that the Laird family made two crossings.

The first took place ca. 1733-4, and this included William's older brothers James and John, sister Mary, her husband William Snoddy and his siblings, and likely Samuel Harris and his brother John Harris (father of John Harris Jr, founder of Harrisburg). If the Harrises were on this first crossing, so was Martha Laird. I think I can find this out.

The second crossing took place in about 1736, and this included William Laird, his father James Laird Sr and wife Jane, plus siblings Hugh, Samuel and Matthew, as well as other sisters (whose names are unverified). There are good primary sources for this information.

I will be happy to send you any information you are seeking on the Lairds, provided I have it. I am also curious about any other Laird-related information you come across.


Paul C. Nascimbene
Division of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
New York, NY 10024

Another source strengthens the indication that the Laird family came from Northern Ireland, Donegal specifically, and was related to the Hunter family, another early settler name in Sullivan County. This source is The Laird Family of Bogstown, and is the creation of Bruce Laird.


Sarah (Glidewell) Laird was one feisty woman, as the following anecdote about her battle with Albert "Hunsicker" {Hunsinger] over the construction of the railroad through her back yard illustrates. Go to Volume X of the Now and Then history, published by the Muncy Historical Society in October 1953. Scroll down to the second half of this posting [pages 285-293] to find the story entitled "A Mountain Spring" written by Mrs. Myrtle Edgar Magargle, Sarah's granddaughter.


And here is further information provided in a dialogue on between two Laird family researchers, Paul Nascimbene and Susan Holman:

Source:, 11/08/2003, posted by Susan Holman:

Martha Laird came to America with her brothers and sisters in the early 1730's on board the same ship with Samuel Harris, who became her husband soon after landing in Pennsylvania. Later they moved to North Carolina and then to Greene County, Georgia. Samuel Harris gave civil service in the American Revolution and all eight of Martha Laird Harris' sons and her three sons-in-law served in the war. The DAR chapter in Mt. Pleasant TX is named for Martha Laird. There were three Laird wills in Pennsylvania records who could have been relations of Martha. All mention a Martha. Looking for information on Martha, her parents and siblings.

Source: June 8 and then June 11, 2004, to Susan Holman from Paul Nascimbene—

Hi, Susan: I've done extensive research on a branch of the Laird family that came to America in 1733 from Ireland, settling in central PA, and included brothers John, William, Hugh, Mathew and Samuel, and sister Mary. I'm not sure if this is the complete list of siblings. The father was a John or James Laird, and his wife was Jane. At first, the Lairds settled primarily in Derry and Carlisle, on either side of the Susquehanna; two of the brothers -- Hugh and Samuel -- moved west into the Cumberland Valley, while William, Mathew and John were important figures in that part of Lancaster County that later became Dauphin Co. The father (John or James) may have had brothers or sisters accompanying him to this country, but I have not yet found such information, even though it is suggested by various contexts. My primary interest has been in reconstructing the lives of Captain William Laird (b. 1727) and his son, James (b. 1761), who became one of PA's first state senators. Please let me know if I can be of any help in your own researches. Regards, Paul

Hi, Susan: It appears that the Lairds (John/orJames and Jane, plus children: John, William, Hugh, Samuel, Mathew and Mary +?) arrived from Ireland and landed in Chesapeake Bay, then travelled north to the Carlisle area along the Susquehanna, spreading out from there. My family letters and memoirs and several historical PA texts place the year of William's arrival as 1733, since William was six when he came to this country with his parents, and he was born in 1727 in Ireland. Some of the family may have arrived earlier -- in fact, I believe sister Mary was already there, and possibly an older brother or two. The Scotch-Irish were originally from Scotland and Wales, but spent a couple of generations in Ireland before crossing the Atlantic -- this all due to persecution by James 1 and subsequent rulers. The Laird family was large, and there may well have been close relatives (brothers, cousins, etc) of the family above who travelled with them to America. Please let me know if I can be of further help, and please let me know what you find out about the Lairds in your researches. I'm attempting to put together a larger context and background, so your information would be very helpful. Regards, Paul

What about the Peales? Christopher and his wife Mariah (Haywood) are in the 1880 Federal Census for Shrewsbury, PA with two sons, Christopher T. (1853-1935) and Frederick W. (1859-1933). By then, Annie Mariah, their sister, age about 25, had already married Boyd Bennett [the date was December 25, 1873]. The earlier 1860 Federal Census for Shrewsbury seems to show an older sister as well, Caroline E. Peale (1843-1932). Interestingly, the parents of Mariah (Haywood) Peale, Thomas (1794-1869) and Mary (1791-1875) Haywood , are also buried at Eagles Mere Cemetery along with their daughter.

Caroline E. Peale later married John H. Wallace Little (1840-1911). Her brother, Christopher, Jr. married a woman with the first name of Elizabeth, born in 1856, whose parents were also born in England. She had died by 1920, when he is listed as a widower in the Federal Census for Eagles Mere for that year. The other brother, Frederick married a woman whose first name was Della E. (1860-1942). This is the father of Sidney J. "Syd' Peale, pictured with "Von" Bennett below. You can learn more about this family at The Descendants of Christopher Peale.

The First World War

Here is another set of photos from this collection--this time, they show Sue's great-great uncle Ernest Von Bennett. "Von", short for Voningham, served in and was killed in World War One. You can read more about him at The Death of Ernest von Bennett: 1918. He was the brother of Sue's direct ancestor, Hannah Emmaline Bennett. Von has a marker at Eagles Mere Cemetery, but is actually buried overseas. His colleague in the first picture, Syd Peale, is actually buried at Eagles Mere Cemetery. Here is what their cemetery information indicates:

Ernest Von Bennett September 28, 1918 Killed in action in France Co K 47
Inf. Aged 24 yrs & 9 months

Peale, Sidney J. 1894-1982 2D LT US Army WWI

We imagine that Von and Syd must have been college chums at West Chester, which at that time was a college located in the town of tht name, just west of Philadelphia. The college was founded in 1871, but has roots as a preparatory school going back to 1812. Today, the institution is known as West Chester University.

Ernest "Von" Bennett and Syd Peale
At West Chester College
West Chester, PASource: Sue Shaner

Some time before he left Sullivan County for the army, Ernest penned the following postcard message to Maynard "Sam" Stackhouse. It does not appear to have ever been mailed. The front shows the Forrest Inn in Eagles Mere. Maynard J. Stackhouse, born in January 1886, was the son of Jeremiah and Redocia (Philips) Stackhouse, proprietors of the Lorah House hotel in Sonestown and former residents of Shrewsbury, per the 1900 Federal census for that community. Therefore, by 1918, "Sam" would have been 32 years old and "senior" to Ernest. We have no idea how he came by Sam's suit; perhaps Stackhouse was a guest at the Lorah House and left his suit there.

Postcard from Ernest Bennett
To Maynard J. "Sam" Stackhouse
Prior to September 1918
Front and Back
Source: Sue Shaner

Ernest "Von" Bennett at Camp Meade, Maryland
Before Deployment to Europe in World War One
Second Soldier from Right
Others Unknown
Source: Sue Shaner

Ernest "Von" Bennett
On Carnival Ride
Location and Date Unknown
Von is the Soldier on the Right
Other Soldier Not Known
Source: Sue Shaner

Sarah Matilda Ellis: Who Was She?

Home of Sarah Matilda Ellis Bennett
Picture Rocks, PA
On the Road out of Town Toward Laporte
Bennett House is on the right;
the house on the left belonged to Cyril and Linda (Boatman) Burk.
Source: Sue Shaner with Identifications by Joyce Ingerson

We promised to come back to Sarah Matilda Ellis (1862-1938), the wife of Richard Watson Bennett. This is Sue Shaner's great-great grandmother. Exactly who was she and where did she come from? In the family charts at the end of this page, she is shown as the daughter of Caroline (Smith) Ellis, but would that it were that simple a story!

Here is what Sue could tell us in December 2005:

Sarah Matilda Ellis died January 15, 1938 and is buried in the Picture Rocks Cemetery, Picture Rocks, Lycoming County, PA
S Matilda Bennett 1862-1938

Information obtained from family members indicate that she was raised by her grandparents, George and Ann (Weston).Smith. George and Ann are said to have been from England. The location of their homestead was in in Eagles Mere, Sullivan County, PA, 'near the airport'. Sarah's granddaughter Rhoda recalls them selling some of their land to the golf club. Sarah married Richard Watson Bennett, descendant of Thomas Bennett of New Jersey. Sarah and Richard were separated and Richard was living with another woman in the 1920 Federal census for Shrewsbury Township, Sullivan County, PA. His consort was Ida M Andrews, divorced wife of Charles Andrews. Richard was at that time Superintendant for the Eagles Mere Golf Links. Sarah also appeared in a local newspaper concerning the death of her son Ernest Bennett in WWI.
According to her tombstone, Sarah was born in 1862. A George and Ann Smith appear in the 1860 and 1870 Shrewsbury census as well; however Sarah is not listed there. She does not appear until the 1880 census as the wife of Richard Watson Bennett, same location. Rhoda claims their home was on the same side of road as the golf course.
Family notes also indicate that Sarah Matilda Ellis Bennett had a brother named Joseph Ellis who lived in Philadelphia. Her obituary confirms this relationship. On a photo I obtained from my grandmother is written the names Joseph Ellis, his wife Emma, their daughter May who married a Paddison (maybe should read Patterson?), and May's daughter Emma, who married a Cunningham. Also pictured is Joseph's mother, and written on the back for her identification is "Kathryn ?". My guess is that this is supposed to read "Caroline" but the writer wasn't sure of the name. Also included are the names of her daughters Matilda Bennett, Hannah Cimbol [which we believe to be "Simple"], and what looks like Sallie Johnson. Other names are written there, but illegibly. The 1880 Federal census for Philadelphia shows Joseph Ellis, wife Emma, daughter May and Joseph's mother Caroline.

Source of Information: Mormon Genealogy
1880 Census Place 23rd Ward, District 20, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Family History Library Film 1255182
NA Film Number T9-1182
Page Number 257C

Now look at the picture, front and back, that Sue refers to in her summary:

Family of Joseph and Emma Ellis
Philadelphia, PA
Front row: l to r: Joseph Ellis, Caroline Smith
Back row, l to r: Emma Smith, Anna May (Ellis) Patterson, and Emma Patterson
Source: Sue Shaner

Back of Ellis Family Photo
Very difficult to read
Midsection mentions "May" [Anna Mae] Patterson, daughter of Joseph Ellis, and her daughter, Emma Cunningham.
There are other names as well, but they are not clearly legible.
Source: Sue Shaner

Joseph and Emma were likely married about 1879, the approximate same year in which Sarah Matilda Ellis was married. In the 1880 Federal census for Philadelphia, Joseph and Emma are 22 and 23, respectively, and have a one-year old daughter, Annie May. Caroline, mother of Joseph, is also in the household, age 45. By 1900, they are living in nearby Bristol Township, Bucks County, PA, with a son named Joseph as well, age 14. A daughter named Emma, listed as being 17, is given as born in 1883. Anna May ["Annie'] may well have been married by now. In fact, there are at least two Patterson families next door to the Ellis family, and it would not surprise us if Annie had married into one of them. Internal contradiction from one census record to the next is also pretty common. Mistakes are propagated whenever census enumerators write down what they believe they heard, as well as what the responders told them for one reason or another, or just inadvertently.

So, are we any closer to learning the identity and origin of Sarah Matilda Ellis? Not yet. If Sarah is just the sister of Joseph Ellis, son of Caroline (Smith) Ellis, then how come she doesn't show up anywhere in the census, as far as we can tell, until 1880 when she is married? We CAN find Joseph Ellis, as an infant born in February of that year, in the 1860 Federal census for Philadelphia [East Division, Third Ward], with a sister "Anne", age two years. This girl is perhaps the "Hannah" listed in other records as a daughter in this family. We do not find an Emma yet, either. The parents, Joseph and Caroline Ellis, both age 26 are also there. The record says both parents were born in England, and the father is listed as a "Mariner". But there is no Sarah in the household, and we know that she was not yet born, wherever that event occurred.

Let's take a look at the Smith-Ellis lineage, as constructed by Sue Shaner:

1. George Smith Sr b England c. 1815-1820 died by 1880
m Ann Weston b England c. 1815; she was living in Pike Township, Bradford County, PA in 1880 with her son and daughter-in-law, George W. and Irene (Camp) Smith--we do not as of now have a death date
2 George W. Smith (telegraph operator in Philadelphia who, as we shall see, received five love notes from his future wife Irene Jedida Camp in 1878; not to be confused with George Smith of about the same age, who married Emma Lisson)
2 Caroline (Cathy?) Smith
m Joseph Ellis
3 Sarah Matilda Ellis
m Richard Watson Bennett
3 Joseph Ellis
m Emma Unknown
4 Annie "May" Ellis
m Unknown Patterson
5 Emma Patterson
m Unknown Cunningham
4 Emma Ellis
4 Joseph Ellis
3 Hannah Ellis
m Unknown Simple
3 Sallie Ellis
m Unknown Johnson
2 Sarah Ann Smith

There is also an Emma Smith who appears in the household of Sarah Matilda's grandparents, George and Ann (Weston) Smith, in the 1860 and 1870 census. The record says that she was born about 1855. She is only 14 years, but we have no clue on how she fits in. If George and Ann were born about 1815 to 1820, it's possible that this Emma was their own child but died before George wrote his last will and therefore was not mentioned.

Any way, we at least know at this stage the names of the parents of Joseph Ellis, the alleged "brother" of Sarah Matilda Ellis. The 1860 census showed us that their names were Joseph and Caroline [presumably Smith]. A further examination of the census records for these names in Philadelphia from 1860 to 1880 indicates a possible Thomas and Hannah Ellis as the parents of "Sarah Ellis", born about 1863. Thomas, born in England, is an unmarried boarder in the William and Serinda Thurman household in 1860; his occupation is weaver. By 1870, he is married to Hannah, born in Pennsylvania, and there are several children with various surnames in the household, including a five-year old named Serinda, surname unclear; several teenage children with the surname of Selsor [or possibly Selson] who are children of a prior marriage by Hannah; and "Sarah Ellis", age seven. There is no Joseph and no Caroline. There are also two boarders--one named James Smith, age 45, born in England. The mix of Ellis, Smith, Serinda and English origins is all very suggestive without being very explicit. Perhaps Thomas was a brother or other close relative of Joseph Ellis, the mariner.

So, where do we go from here?

In the 1880 census in Philadelphia, the Thomas Ellis household still has a Sarah "G". Ellis, as well as a granddaughter named Mable Walton, parents unidentified but possibly children of Adaline Selsor, who was in the 1870 census for this household, but not in 1880. She is the right age for "Sarah Matilda", but there is just not enough evidence in hand to make even an educated guess. What other information is available?

How about the census records for Sullivan and Lycoming Counties for 1860 and 1870? Let's digress. In the 1860 Federal census for Shrewsbury, we find a household headed by William Taylor, with a servant named Elizabeth Taylor, likely a relative; Matilda Smith, age 14 and likely the daughter of Elizabeth Taylor; and, finally, Robert Smith, a 30-year old laborer. George and Ann (Weston) Smith are also in the community, as are several Taylors and Bennetts. The surname Lisson is also present. Suppose, for the sake of argument that Robert Smith and Matilda Taylor had a liaison from which a child was born in about 1862 or 1863! At that time, Matilda, the mother, would have been 17 and unmarried. It would not have been at all uncommon for the child born out of wedlock to be sent off to relatives or a safe out of town environment to be raised. Is it a mere coincidence that "Sarah Ellis", born about 1863 shows up in the Thomas Ellis household in Philadelphia in 1870 without any obvious parentage? Is it coincidental that Sarah Ellis bears the middle name "Matilda"? Another suggestive factor is that by 1870, Robert Smith and Matilda Taylor, our candidate parents for Sarah Matilda Ellis, are married with two children of their own, George M. and John Smith, ages five and one, respectively. By 1880, they have three more children, Ida, age eight, and twins May and Jane, age five. Matilda's 70-year old mother "Eliza" is also in that household.

So, one proposal for consideration is that Sarah Matilda Ellis was born to Robert Smith and Matilda Taylor, out of wedlock, sent to Philadelphia to be raised as an Ellis by Caroline (Smith) Ellis, thereby acquiring a "brother", Joseph Ellis, the natural son of Joseph and Caroline (Smith) Ellis. By 1879 or thereabouts, she is married to Richard W. Bennett, son of George L. and Lydia (Little) Bennett, and living in the Shrewsbury area. They appear in the June 22 census enumerator's report in that location. That would mean that either she is not the same person as the Sarah "G." Ellis found in the Thomas Ellis family in Philadelphia because THAT Sarah is listed in Philadelphia in the May, 1880 census report. Or, Sarah married between May and June, and was counted twice. Ironically, perhaps, Sarah WAS married in June 1880 to Richard Bennett!

The mystery continues. We are open to further comment, disputes, corroboration, or suggestions. According to Sue Shaner, family tradition is that Sarah Matilda was raised by her Smith grandparents, but they are never, as far as we can tell, found with her in any census or other formal record. Perhaps they were financially responsible for her in some fashion. We just do not know.

Another, perhaps more likely candidate, is a family living in Gloucester, Camden County, New Jersey, in the 1870 Federal census. In this family, we have:

Caroline Ellis age 33 born England
Joseph Ellis age 35 born England
Hannah Ellis age 13 born Pa works in cotton mill
Joseph (P.?) Ellis age 11 born Pa works in cotton mill
Sarah Ellis age 8 born in PA

Perhaps this is the right family and we have made it all too difficult. Further research in the records of that county may help us out. But, for now, we will assume this is the correct family unit and arrange the family lineage charts below accordingly.

The Ellis, Taylor, Bennett and Smith connections also extend to the Armstrong family of Philadelphia, and of Sullivan County fame as well. The Armstrongs were an old Philadelphia family that made a profession in the rag collection and peddling business. Peter Armstrong married Hannah Taylor, parents unknown, and they left Philadelphia before the Civil War to found the religious colony of Celestia in Sullivan County. Their son Alvah T. Armstrong married Ocy Adeline Taylor, daughter of Robert and Mary (Sellers) Taylor. Robert was in turn the son of Frederick and Margaret (Edkin) Taylor. Frederick was the son of Robert and Elizabeth (Mayhew) Taylor who were Sue Shaner's gr-gr-gr-gr grandparents. That is Sue's great grandfather Raymond Larue Taylor's lineage [see entry paragraphs above]. In turn, his wife Hannah Bennett (1895-1988) was a daughter of Sarah Matilda Ellis. Here are two pictures featuring Raymond Larue Taylor:

Raymond Larue and Hannah Emeline (Bennett) Taylor
Wedding Day Picture
Church in Morris, Huntingdon County, PA
September 30, 1918
Source: Sue Shaner

Raymond Larue Taylor
Seated second from left
East Lycoming County School District Board Meeting
Late 1950s
Raymond was the director for a time. Written on the back of the picture
(but without distinguishing who is who) are the names of Raymond Hilliday, Ted Edkin, and Parvin Chestnut.
Source: Sue Shaner

You can read about The Descendants of Frederick Taylor in Faces and Families of Old Sullivan County, Group Six. The families of Sullivan County intermarried continually.

By the way, the Sarinda or "Serenda" Ellis who was living in the Thomas Ellis household back in 1870 with "Sarah Ellis" eventually married Joseph Armstrong in Philadelphia on December 24, 1885. We don't know the exact connection, if any. But it was unlikely a coincidence when Ellis and Armstrong came together in Philadelphia!

George W. Smith and Irene Jedida Camp

In the collection of materials assembled by Sue Shaner's grandmother before she died were five letters written by "IJC" to George Smith in Manayunk, an inner suburb of Philadelphia in 1878. These letters have been transcribed by Sue, as shown below. They were written on faded lined paper with what looks like purple ink. Here also is a picture of the cover of one of the envelopes, as well as the initials of the sender, whom we have determined to be Irene Jedida Camp, subsequently Mrs. George W. Smith.

Letter Envelope
From Irene Jedida Camp to George Bennett
Addressed to Manayunk, PA, a Philadelphia Community
Source: Sue Shaner

Initials of Irene Jedida Camp
Author of Letters to George Bennett in Manyunk
Source: Sue Shaner

The Camp-Smith Letters

Letter 1



Geo. W. Smith Esq

Telegraph Operator

Station House





postmarked Sept 11 Phila PA Station


Sunday June 30/78

My Very Dear Friend,

I received your very welcome and kind letter this morning.  Believe me, I was very , very glad to hear from you. You was a long time on the (wack?). I felt very much worried about you after it began to rain. I was so afraid you would get wet and take cold.. Am so glad you did not. It must have rained more there than here. I got home about seven pm did not get wet. Rained a little while I was coming home. I thought when I came in sight of home how pleasant it would be to meet some one there that I like. I sometimes think there is to be no real, lasting pleasure for me here. I am very lonely at times. After all, what do we enjoy more in the life than the society of congenial spirits find but very few of that (stripe?). Honestly George. I like your company of anyone best and you seem to understand things the same as I do. That makes it so pleasant to visit with you. I guess I enjoyed your visit as well as you did. It was very pleasant indeed. Would you believe I would miss you so soon when I came home that night and went through the house, seemed almost as if some one had died. I felt almost ready to cry. I knew that would not bring you back. I must smother down such feelings. I think more about seeing you now than I did before. You would be made welcome here any time you wish to come.and stay as long as you choose. I have ...? you so much since the warm weather commenced l think you must almost melt going up and down that miserable Manayunk hill I am afraid it will make you sick but hope not. If you get sick come here and we'll take the best kind of care of you.

I would not stay there through the summer. Your people need you more now than they ever have perhaps. I think it is your duty to stay with them. If you stop making money for a while it will be all the same a few years from now.  We can (pass?) through this life but once. and why should we deprive ourselves of so much enjoyment for the sake of money. Man wants but little here below nor wants that little long. How time that is. If we could be content with the comforts and neccessaries of life how much happier we would be. Look at the millionairs how miserable they are so afraid they will lose some of thier treasures that they do not enjoy what they have. They go rushing and hurrying through life. grasping after money until death overtakes them. Then they must give it all up for others to enjoy or squander. After all what does it all amount too, but vanity. I have been foolish enough sometimes, to covet riches but dont think I would be any happier and perhaps not half as I am now. I could be content with a good living, and a good friend to confide in and make happy. I know you think I have strange ideas but cant help it. I wouldnt talk to marry as I do to you. You told me I might talk to you as if you belonged to me and I think I do. You dont seem at all like a stranger to me. I dont fear you at all I may have mistaken ideas but hardly think so. from the first, I took you to be an honest,....... ?man and have not changed my mind yet. dont intend to talk of things that you do not mean if you do mean things that you do not say that is no more than we all do.

It is very warm today. I have been up stairs since ten oclock it is now three. I am truly Eve? today as far as dres? is concerened It is nearly supper time. I must gather up some fig leaves and prepare to go down country people have one advantage they are not obliged to dress to suit the custom but can dress to suit the weather If the days are warm, we have nice cool nights and no misquitos to bit us. I often think of my first visit to Rox [likely "Roxborough, a Philadelphia community near Manayunk]. My room was small and they kept the house so close that I suffered with heat could not sleep in a bed but on the floor. I came home the first of August. My room seemed so cool and free from flies and insects that I could sleep ..... all night. It was such a treat. When ...lying on my good bed I think of my good friend down in the station house lying in a board with hard books for a pillow wish he might be as comfortable as I am. If you will stay there all I can do is for you to sympathise with you that we all need. I think a person must be very unhappy without friends or a home. You and I know nothing about that from experience and dont wish to do. I am very sorry you had such a great sorrow in your youth. I presume you have suffered a great deal from it such things seem hard but are unavoidable as far as we are concerned.I feel us try to bear every trial patiently.



Note: The following text looks like it might belong to letter 1 (June/78)


We expect company this week. My brother and his family from Meshoppen are coming. They have three beautiful little girls. If they are not beautiful they are very nice and intelligent. I am glad they did not come while you were here. If they had I would not have had such a good chance to visit with you. Have you taken any afternoon naps since. Please forgive all my improprieties. Perhaps I am too affectionate but cant help it with those I like. I dont blame you for anything. I always forgive others much, but myself nothing. These natures of ours are hard to deal with arent they. We try hard to overcome them but in spite of all we can do they will sometimes overcome us. You did not tell me how you found your father. My father is not well his cancer is getting quite bad. Mother thinks he will not live many months. I wish we could sell the farm while he is living. It is fixed by his will that mother is to hold it her life time if she outlives him. We would not like to be obliged to stay here and manage it alone. He wants to stay here as long as he lives. I am to have all the personal property and more than half the farm besides. He has lived to help some of his boys by paying thier debts and having no help from them. he has brought himself in debt about twelve hundred dollars. If that was paid and they could have thier support from the place it would be nearly all they would require.
Now dont think me bold in saying what I do to you. I can not explain matters by letter as I would like too. Please dont think I want to urge you to anything against your will. What I wished to say is this, that I wish (as you say you are tired of your business) that you liked the place well enough to come here and like it. The farm has called worth seven thousand dollars. They would let us have it for one third or even less. They are not hard to suit if anything are too lenient with their own. They were highly pleased with you would do as well by you as by their own. Now dear firiend dont be afraid to tell what you think about it and if you have any objections dont hesitate to tell me. It is necessary I should know. I am interested in this matter. I can do nothing alone. This may sound to you like a proposal, I dont wish you to take it that way but i would like to know your mind. So we have been corresponding nearly two years. It is time we know our own minds. We are (situated?) very much alike. You have your parents to worry about and I have mine. I am willing to do what I can for them and always have. I want them to enjoy the fruits of their labor the remainder of their lives which can not be long.

I was sorry I did not have a chance to say more to you at Thompsons. We might have gone in the parlor and talked a while but did not think of it until afterwards. Aunt [or "Anna"] did not [???] me much. Uncle next door came in [????] he expected to find me crying. Asked what we were doing in the hall told was kissing good bye. They asked me when I was going to marry.I told them I did not know. They dont get the start of me much.

Brother and wife thought it was you and went out to call you back to stay over night but said you were trotting along so fast that they did not call. They are very sorry they let you [.....?] Did you get much to eat before you got home. Think you must have been tired. I thank you ever so much for comeing over. wish your journey back been easier. It was pleasant to anticipate your coming. wish you were coming next week. When may I expect to see you again. dont say one year please dont want to wait so long.

Your mark has almost disappeared am thinking of you all the time. Sometimes seems as if I could reach out my hand and touch you. Wish I could. Henry is going down to the centennial Tuesday goes to Laceyville. Comes back Thursday. He wants to stay here next winter. We have a girl to help now. Have had lots of little chicks and turks come out since you were here. Must have two hundred chicks and about ninety turks. Write soon and more than you did this time.

Tell me what Mary had to say and what kind of a time you had going from here to your home. Tell me if you got anything to eat. If I had knew you would have been so long going  I would have sent a lunch by you. Write something to comfort Eve for she is lonely now Adam is gone. Get out of Manayunk dont stay there and roast to death. Good night your best friend Irene.



Letter 2


LeRaysville Aug 21/78

To My Well Beloved George whom I love in the truth. (3.d Epistle of John 1)

Was glad indeed to hear from you. I do thank you for being so prompt in replying. But how is it you used to write only about once in a month but now you can write oftener. Well you dont displease me. I would be glad to hear from you every day. I am sorry you are not feeling well. I wish you were here. I think I could nurse you back to health in a short time. If you do not get well soon come to me. I would like to take care of you. I know you dont get indulged much. have to wait upon yourself sick or welI have thought all summer that you would get sick. I wish you had some business that would allow you to have your natural sleep. This turning night into day and day into night is not good for us. If you dont regain your appetite soon if I were you I would take Hop Bitters. Please try them will you. I presume your stomach needs toneing up. We are in usual health as for myself I dont fail in my flesh but gain some. I wish I were not so stout dont like it. We have beautiful weather now. such nice cool nights we sleep right along. I dont get up until six. I do so enjoy sleeping in the morning. The folks are all in bed now but me. I am getting sleepy will have to go soon. If I should put out my hand to touch you I would grasp nothing but space. I wish it might be. It is all nonsense to wish for wishing will not bring the things we most desire.

An old man, one of our neighbors died yesterday so you see we are all going down 'the valley' one by one. Soon it will be said of you and I. They have passed on to the silent land. After all what does this short life amount too. We can have as much wealth as the Rothschilds or be as poor as the poorest beggar. Our riches or poverty will not exempt us. When we are called we must obey. I only hope we will all be prepared when the summons comes. I feel a little gloomy from some cause or other. I keep thinking perhaps you are sick but hope not. I really hope nothing will occur to prevent your coming. I think you need rest. If you come you can have all the ripe apples and milk and cream that you can consume besides other things. You must tell me what you like to eat and how you like it cooked and i will try to please you.

You are too kind to offer to bring me whatever I want. Any token of your friendship, however small, would be highly prized by me. I can assure you since you asked me to tell you what I would like I would say that since you are desirous of bringing something but hardly know what you may bring me a fashionable comb as I can not find any here that suits. I like them quite high and rather broad as I am so short and stout that style is more becoming. All trains stop at W. now whenever you can come just let me know the day you will start. You must take a lunch with you or stop at White Haven for dinner. Train stops twenty minutes there for dinner. We will take supper at my cousins in W and be ready to start home about 6 pm.I will not write much more this time as it is almost night and mother and Henry are going into town to night and will send my letter by them. I had more things to write but I will not with pen and ink write into ????But I must I shall shortly see this and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee.

Good Night dear George and I hope this will find you well. Write soon.

Your true and Affe? Friend I J C


I am sorry Frankie did not enjoy his trip. Charlies peope are not of the hightest stripe but I think quite ordinary. I am like Frankie as far as company is concerned. C would be no company for me he is too boyish. It is too bad that you can not find the ducks nest. Perhaps you will succeed now as the weather is fine and dry. Then you would tickle my nose with a straw if you could catch me napping would you. O you naughty man. I have a bed on the floor in your room to nap on. The only trouble is it is so [????] that I sleep too long but it is nice.


Letter 3


Sept 6th/78
Dear George

I have been watching and waiting for a letter for two weeks and have to be disappointed every day. I am beginning to feel very anxious about you. In your last you said you were sick. I imagine up all sorts of things about you. I fear sometimes that you are very sick and dont want me to know it. Then again I fear you were hurt in the riot. Whichever or whatever the trouble is do please let me know soon for this suspense is terrible.

I feel more anxious about you than perhaps you think i do. I have been holding myself in readiness to meet you for several days but begin to think I shall have to give up the pleasure of seeing you but hope not. For I can assure you in all sincerety that I love to anticipate your visit although I know I would be lonely afterwards.

We are in usual health have plenty of warm weather rather more than I like

I can not write much this time as it is late and I have company and have a chance to send this to the office soon.

Perhaps you did not get my last letter. I replied in two or three days. If at any time my letters do not reach you as soon as you expect and you have a desire to write please dont stand on ceremonies but write whether you owe me a letter or not. You know I am always glad to hear from you. My mind is still unchanged. Perhaps by the ttime you receive this you will know when you can come up. If you cant come now come as soon as you can. What has become of Mary. I dont hear from her any more. I will have to close this brief note. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your True and Affe[ctionate?] friend. Good night dear friend and pleasant dreams.



Letter 4


Sept 9/78

Dear George

Yours of the 5th ? was brought to me about five this afternoon. Henry went to the office last night. They said there was no news for us. It must have come Saturday night. I am very sorry indeed that you are so unwell. I wish you had come up sooner so that I could have nursed and doctored you. Change of climate and and diet and suspension from business for a few days would do you good. You are doing injustice to yourself by working when you do not feel like it. It is too bad for you to walk up and down that miserable hill when you are troubled with that complaint. You ought to keep as quiet as you can. eat dry toast and drink ? coffee. If you have much inflamation in bowels foment? them by laying clothes wet in hot water upon them or hops either is good. {not sure of the spelling of this remedy} We have a very simple remedy here for that complaint. Mix wheat flour in water and drink. It will check it nearly every time. Mother has got some ???? week. wants me to send it. It is to be steeped in milk and sweetened with loaf sugar.

I was nearly dead with the same diesease when a child and was cured with that. I wish you were here to night. I would prescribe for you and let you quiet and rest up. that is what you need after such a hot summer. I hope you wont work when you are sick. I shall expect you next week. If you do not get well before that time and feel able to ride up here dont fail to come.for I think it will benefit you. Perhaps as you are not well you might get more than a week off. Try for it.

Of course I am not offended because you did not come sooner.but did want to hear from you . I was afraid you had got really sick. I felt a good deal of anxiety about it would not if I did not care for you. If you was with your mother I should expect you would be well cured for them.

Please destroy all my letters before you come. You know some one might get to see them I would not like to have them seen by a third party.

We expect the thrashers here tomorrow.but wont finish. I wish they would for I dread such dirty jobs. So your father is better is he. Well that is good. Poor man he must have suffered fearfully since he was first taken. These poor bodies of ours have to bear an immense amount of pain before they yield. Perhaps you will be well when this reaches you. If you are not please try my remedies they wont hurt or interfere with other medicines. Take as good care of yourself as you can. Write soon

Yours in Smith

We don't know how Sarah Matilda Ellis came into these letters. However, since the recipient, George W. Smith, was a brother to Caroline (Smith) Ellis, one can presume that they were passed down in the family after George or Irene's death. George and Irene married "late", in that he was 36 and she was 42 in 1880 [she actually listed her age as "40", probably to avoid showing that she was older than her husband] in the Federal census for Pike Township, Bradford County. Also living in this household is George's widowed mother, Ann (Weston) Smith, age 65, as well as Irene's parents, Daniel and Harriett (Bosworth) Camp, ages 75 and 67, respectively. Irene also had a brother named Henry, who is referenced in these letters. It seems likely that George moved to the community where the Camps lived after the marriage. He was still living there in 1910 at age 66. Also, the reference to "W" in these letters likely refers to Wyalusing.

Through the efforts of Carol Brotzman, we have provided a Camp family ancestral chart at the end of this page as well.


So who was the other George W. Smith, the one who married Emma Lisson (September 1839-November 11, 1897). He was living next door to "our" George, the one who married Irene J. Camp, in the 1860 Federal census for Shrewsbury. It is likely they are related, perhaps first cousins, but for now we are not sure. Eventually, the second George married Emma on March 24, 1864 and they lived in Eagles Mere, Sullivan County. They had at least these children [just as they were spelled in the 1880 Federal census records]:

George R. SMITH
Henery SMITH [sic]
Edward Smith
Marget Smith
Rosa Smith
Liza Smith
Walter Smith
With two men having the same names, living next to each other to begin with, being roughly the same ages and having wives of roughly the same ages, no wonder there is confusion! .

The Minier, Myer and Ritter Families

We mentioned at the beginning that one line of ancestry for Sue Shaner, our contributor, is through her mother, Gladys Elizabeth Minier, daughter of James Frank Minier (1913-1986) and Catherine Emeline Myers who was born in 1918. We will provide an overview of the realted families with the assistance of Joyce Ingerson, who has edited and updated our information along the way. Catherine was the daughter of Calvin Edgar Myers (1889-1979) and Mary Pearl Ritter.

Mary Pearl Myers
25 Oct 1891-3 Sep 1945
Muncy Cemetery
Lot C 263
Muncy Creek, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania
Lycoming County Genealogical Society Cemetery Books
Muncy Cemetery, Section C, page 25

Calvin, the son of Lafayette Leonard Myers (1859-1933) and Harriett Ann Watts (1861-1945), was quite an entrepreneur. He came from a family of sawyers and purchased and rebuilt one of the mills in Lairdsville in 1923 and lived there until he sold it in 1932. You can see a picture of his truck below, from which he ran a flour and feed business as well. Calvin married Mary Pearl Ritter (1891-1945) on February 7, 1913. She was the daughter of Jeremiah Douglas Ritter and Sarah Emeline Hill.

As we indicated, we have been greatly assisted in putting together the relationships among the Myers, Ritter and Minier families by Joyce Ingerson, who is a third cousin of Sue Shaner. Sue is a granddaughter of James F. and Catherine (Myers) Minier. Let's look at these families in some rational order. First, the Ritter is an old German family in the eastern Pennsylvania area. According to Joyce, George Ritter located in Turbotville, Northumberland County, at an early date and brought forth seven children; one son, Samuel, came to Lycoming County in his youth and raised a family with five children. Samuel's oldest son, William Ritter (1821-1891), married Lydia Renn (1826-1892) and had eleven children. For fifteen years, William was the justice of the peace in Franklin Township, Lycoming County. Two of William's children married into the Minier family and one married into the Houseknecht family, both also old German families in the area. The eleventh child, Jeremiah, married Sarah Emeline Hill about 1881, and they had six children. She was the daughter of Michael Hill and Elizabeth Andrews of Moreland Township in Lycoming County, PA. This is the shared relationship between Sue Shaner and Joyce Ingerson. Joyce descends from Michael and Elizabeth's daughter, Mahala Hill, who married Napoleon Herriman, while Sue Shaner descends from their daughter, Sarah Emeline Hill, who married Jeremiah Douglas Ritter.

Interestingly enough Sue also shares with Joyce her Shaner lineage, through David Shaner's parents, John Wesley Shaner and Permilla Snyder. David Shaner was Sue's great-great-grandfather. Permilla's parents were Lewis Snyder and Elizabeth Herriman. Elizabeth Herriman and Jacob Herriman, father to Napoleon, were also siblings. Both Elizabeth Herriman Snyder and Jacob Herriman as well as other Herriman/Harriman relatives were reared in Muncy Valley in the early 1840s. Many of their descendents still live in this same area.

Jeremiah D. Ritter, born in August 1860, appears as a farmer in the 1900 Federal census for Franklin Township, Lycoming County. He and his wife Sarah , born in October 1859, has four living children. At this time, their daughter Mary Peal is age eight years. By the time of the 1910 Federal census, Jeremiah is a landlord and hotel owner in Jordan Township in the same county. Apparently, thrift and hard work paid off for the Ritters.

In 1913, Mary Pearl married Calvin Myers, a drill presser for the the Sprout Waldron company, living in Muncy, Lycoming County. He was born in Unityville, Pa on September 19, 1889. As we already know, Calvin subsequently owned and ran a mill in Lairdsville. His grandparents, Jacob and Fredericca Myers, were born in Wertemberg, Germany in about 1818 and 1825, respectively, They emigrated to the United States in the 1840s to Lancaster County, PA. Jacob was a farmer, but his sons became carpenters and sawyers. Jacob and Fredericca are both buried in the Stone Heap Cemetery in Franklin Township.

One of their sons, Lafayette L. Myers, is listed as a sawyer in a saw mill in the 1900 Federal census for Jordan Township. He and his wife Harriett have seven living children, one of whom, Calvin E., will grow up to marry Mary Pearl Ritter. Lafayette and Harriett are both buried in the Salem Cemetery in Jordan. Their son Calvin and his wife Mary Pearl had four children:
Esther Mae Myers
James Ritter Franlin Myers
Pauline A. Myers
Catherine Emeline Myers
The last of these children, Catherine, married James F. Minier. In the 1850 Federal Census for Moreland Township in Lycoming County, we find Jacob Minier [a corruption or revision of "Minager"], age 70 with his wife, Laurena, age 55. They are both listed as being born in New Jersey. He is a farmer. They have several children, including a son, Jacob H. Minier, age 24, By 1860, Jacob has his own home in nearby Jordan Township. He lives with his wife, Fanny, age 26, and three children, including James, age three. The father, Jacob, died on February 28, 1862, and is buried in Salem Cemetery in Jordan, PA.

By 1880, James Minier (1857-1943) is age 22 and is married to "Christie", age 18. She is actually Mary Christianna Schwinn (1861-1933). Both James and Christie are buried in the Waller Cemetery in Jackson Township, Columbia County, PA. They were actually married during the same year as the 1880 census and have no children to date. He is a laborer at this time, and her brother, Henry Schwinn, is also living with them, age 10. The family gradually grows over the next several decades to include at least five children. One of these, Jacob Frederick Minier, age 26, is listed with the family in the 1910 Federal Census for Jordan as being married to "Rhea", age 20. This would be Rhea J. Fritz, daughter of B. Franklin Fritz and his wife, Hester, of Jackson, Columbia County. . They have been married for one year and own a farm. Jacob also signed a World War 1 draft registration card at Berwick in Columbia County on September 12, 1918. We know he had blue eyes, blond hair and was of medium build.

Jacob and Rhea had at least eight children; one of these, James Frank, was the grandfather of Sue Shaner. And, so, we have come full circle on these families.

Flour and Feed Truck
Owned and Operated by Calvin Edgar Myers
Great Grandfather of Sue Shaner
He Owned and Ran the Grist Mill in Lairdsville from 1923-1932
Source: Sue Shaner
You can see a picture of the grist mill in
John Laird and the Laird Family Tradition.

This article appeared in the Gazette and Bulletin of Williamsport, Pennsylvania on February 8, 1944:

Lairdsville Briefs The Lairdsville grist mill, which has been closed for some time, is operated each Friday and Saturday by James Minier, it is reported.

Note from Joyce Ingerson: This activity was probably to help the local farmers during WW2. Th "operator" was James F Minier, (06 Sep 1913- 24 Mar 1986), spouse of Catherine Emeline Myers and father of Gladys Elizabeth Minier.

Stray Photos

The photo scrapbook left by Sue Shaner's grandmother also contained many photographs whose subjects remain a mystery at this time. Here, for example, is a picture taken at the Eagles Mere branch of the Philadelphia-based Harrison Krips Studio. The back of the photo bears this handwritten inscription: "Ella Lareta Cousin". Sue Shaner surmises that this must be a young Bennett cousin of Sarah Matilda Ellis, Sue's great-great- grandmother. The search is under way for such a relative from the Bennet, Taylor, Little, Smith or Ellis lines in the Eagles Mere area.

"Ella Lareta"
Unidentified "Cousin"
Source: Sue Shaner
Photos Taken at Eagles Mere branch of
Harrison Krips Studio, Philadelphia, PA

Here are some other idiosyncratic pictures from the scrapbook with commentary where indicated:

Tannery Work Crew
Unidentified Tannery Workers
Late Nineteenth Century
Source: Sue Shaner

According to Joyce Ingerson:

My husband and I have enlarged and studied this photo for several days. Our theory is we strongly believe this building, becoming enlarged, is a local tannery.

The large tanks in the background we believe are pressure filled tanks used by this tannery. The tracks in the front are for small cars which bring the needed chemicals to the vats / tanks. These men, of course, are part of the construction crew. Some are carpenters; the young man in front looks like an apprentice to the other man to our immediate right--both are wearing suit jackets. I think that is a bird on the younger man's pant leg. Try enlarging it. You can see bird feet. View the men to the immediate far left, they have the highest probability og having been tanners, perhaps foremen. Anyway, their outer clothing has classic stains. v

The tanning process starts with the skins being salt dried for at least 24 hours to set and tighten the hair follicles. These prepared hides are then rehydrated in a mild salt bath to clean them and re-soften the flesh remaining on the hide. The skins are then transferred to what is known as a "hard pickle" bath for an indefinite period of time, but a minimum of 24 hours. When the skins have swelled, they are taken out and the swelled flesh is shaved thin using a hand- fleshing machine. The skins are put back into the pickle for about another 12 hours to swell again and be carefully shaved thin for a second time, if need be.

The skins are then ready to go into the pressure tanner, with a solution made of several mild chemicals and minerals. This specially created pressure tank gently but thouroghly tans the hides for up to 8 hours. During the process, the hides are inspected and certain chemicals are added to maintain a specific PH level. When this tanning process is complete, the hides undergo one of two finishing processes.

The wet-tanned skins are put directly into the freezer to be shipped and then mounted, while the hides to be soft-tanned are drained and partially dried. For the second group, a tanning or swabbing oil is applied to the skin, which is now known as leather. They are then "staked" which is an action of harshly dragging the tough leather back and forth across a blunt steel shaft to break the stiffened leather fibers and soften the hide. They are then placed in a large tumbler with a gauged amount of specific product designed to degrease, de-scent, and further soften the leather and hair/fur. The hides are then re-hung to ensure the complete drying of any trapped moisture - especially in some thicker furs.

The end result is supple, stretchy leather beautifully tanned right through to the soft, clean fur or hair. Throughout the process someone carefully inspects the hides to ensure the proper application of chemicals and best treatment periods for each individual hide. They often require reworking in areas to give the most homogenous result over the entire surface.

Next, consider that some of the other men might be plumbers. If you carefully enlarge the background you can see an array of pipe works that run probably into those large vats or tanks. The heavy steam is permeating the background. This heating was needed to process the hides to produce the coloring and introduce malleability to the hides during the tanning process.

Thomas Ingham's 1899 History of Sullivan County provides a possible date and location for this photo:

In the year 1867, L. R. Bump & Company purchased land from Robert Taylor, and erected the Muncy Valley tannery and conducted the business for several years. The property then passed into the hands of D. T. Stevens & Son, who made many improvements. The large business done there has been the means of building up the thriving village of Muncy Valley. The Stevens interest has recently been sold to the Union Tanning Company.

Reading Hose Ambulance
Reading, BErks County, PA
Source: Sue Shaner

This was a picture of a vehicle operated by the former Reading Hose Station at 614 Franklin St in Reading, PA. The fire house was replaced in 1974 by the larger current station on the corner of Plum and Franklin Streets. Here, for comparison, is a picture of the Rainbow Fire House at 8th and Court Streets in Reading about 1870.Joyce Ingerson points out the shape of the doors to this fire house. They are not totally identical to Sue's picture above, but the frames are structurally the same, swinging inward with a different painting enhancment. :.

Rainbow Fire House
Reading, PA
About 1870
Source: Joyce Ingerson from an Internet Scan


Shaner, Taylor, Bennett and Camp Family Charts







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