All About the Greene Connections Archives Project

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

We hope you have visited our site (www.GreeneConnections.com) and found your ancestor looking back at you, or seen what your house or street looked like a century ago, or read a handwritten letter your relative sent home from France during World War I. The possibility of such discoveries increases daily as the project continues to grow!

Greene Connections is a free, volunteer-operated project aimed at increasing access to rare photographs and documents from Greene County, Pennsylvania. We started in 2003, while researching content for Memory Medallions (www.MemoryMedallion.com) that would share stories and images of ancestors buried in Waynesburg’s Green Mount Cemetery. After making a few inquiries, we discovered exceptional local history collections that we thought were worthy of attention.

Construction of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Monument Park, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, item no. STEW-AN002-0004-0001, Carl Headlee Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

Soon thereafter, Greene Connections was launched online at www.GreeneConnections.com and has evolved steadily to accommodate growing participation. Over 10,000 items have been catalogued and the queue of items waiting to be processed contains at least 2,000 more and is growing. The archives have been shared by families, individuals, and local repositories such as the Cornerstone Genealogical Society, Greene County Historical Society, and Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum.

Our volunteer team visits collections to digitally scan and archivally document each item. We carefully study and research every record, interview owners, and create complete captions, ownership histories, and credit lines. We do not take away any physical items when we complete the process. All collections stay in the custody of the families or repositories who choose to share with us. (Upon special request, we will work with families to rehome unwanted collections so that the originals are preserved.)

Last year, we took a big leap and upgraded Greene Connections with PastPerfect Museum Software. This software is endorsed by the American Association of State and Local History and provides search and navigation options that we hope will increase the fun and quality of finding your family records at http://www.GreeneConnections.com. Of course, this means that right now we are under construction as we move our vast collection into the new program. You can see our progress by visiting the site and clicking ARCHIVES. Be sure to stop back every few weeks, as more records are migrated into this new software, which allows us to tag people, search terms, and creators (photographers, artists, authors, and more). These new software features allow visitors to see how local families and history topics connect across the shared collections. One person may have shared your great-grandmother’s photo as a baby, a school collection may show her in a cap and gown, a church collection may show her in the choir, someone else might have had an image of the family farm, perhaps her wedding invitation was in a scrapbook that a neighbor kept – all of these things are able to be linked in our new Archives section at www.GreeneConnections.com so that by going to your great-grandmother’s name in the Tags, you can see every item linked to her. This same method has helped to identify hundreds of photographs because while one may be unidentified in a particular collection, a same or similar image may have captions or clues in another collection.

William Cook Harvey [1847-1864] – son of Samuel Harvey & Sarah Inghram Thockmorton, item no. ROHR_AN001_0008, John Corbly Gregg Collection, shared by John Rohrman, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).
Wm. C. Harvey, (Rogersville, Pa.) to “Father and Mother” [Samuel & Sarah (Throckmorton) Harvey], letter, 24 March 1864, item no. HARV-DOCU-0002, Samuel Harvey Collection, shared by Samuel H. Harvey, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

Our volunteers make every effort to analyze and research items shared so that we can set estimated dates, determine accuracy, and present the most complete information. Like all areas of research, we are always learning, exploring, and examining new evidence. The items in our Archives are updated as the research continues.

Learn how to share your family archives with our project by clicking on the FAQ tab at www.GreeneConnections.com.

BEYOND THE ARCHIVES

In addition to our Archives, Greene Connections is intended to be a hub linking researchers to the many resources available in Greene County. Once you click any tab to enter our site, you will see large, sidebar links to our local research repositories including the Cornerstone Genealogical Society, Greene County Historical Society, and Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum.


Downey House fire, 23 December 1925, looking northwest on Washington Street toward High Street in Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, item no. JACD_AN002_0046, William Francis Jacobs Collection, shared by David Kent Jacobs, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

Tabs across the top of the web site will take you to highlighted category choices, for example:

  • The Cemeteries section is a work in progress to list every known cemetery in our county and provide links to interactive pages on Find a Grave so that we can all work together to catalog tombstone and burial information for our ancestors.
  • The FAQ page hosts video tutorials to show you how to use our Archives; demonstrates exactly how to create a solid source citation to records you find on our site; and explains how to share your collection with the Greene Connections project.
  • The Resources tab has layers of detailed category links to help you find out about the kinds of records that exist in our county and where you can view them.
  • The Waynesburg College Alumni 1852-1938 area is another feature of our research with the goal of identifying and profiling the early alumni of our historic school. Waynesburg was one of the first nationwide to graduate women with equal degrees to men, as early as 1857. If your ancestor attended the school, the chances of photographs and records are very good.
  • Our Blog and additional tabs are there to bring attention to special items and topics in Greene County history that we hope you will enjoy!

We hope that you will visit and enjoy our site! Our special thanks to everyone who has shared with us and made such a project possible!

Support Greene Connections

Greene Connections is operated and funded by a small group of volunteers. Your support helps to maintain our web site, software, and equipment, so that we may continue to bring you this local history project free of charge.

$5.00

First Women Voters in Greene County, Pennsylvania

Abigail (Woods) Hoge with her grandchildren

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Featured photo: Abigail (Woods) Hoge with her grandchildren. Abigail was one of the women in line early on that first Election Day on November 2, 1920. A young teen when the Seneca Falls convention took place in 1848, Abigail survived the entire struggle for suffrage and was ready at the polls every election well into her 90s. (Item no. BAKM_AN003_0003, Margaret Leah (Waddell) Baker Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com)).

On June 24, 1919, Pennsylvania became the 7th state to ratify the 19th Amendment that would ultimately give women the right to vote. (See more about how Greene County voted.) It was on August 26, 1920, after the required 36th state ratified it, that the amendment was certified and made a part of the United States Constitution. This was just in time for women to register to vote in the Presidential Election of 1920.

The Waynesburg Republican newspaper was a champion of Women’s Suffrage and celebrated the victory of the amendment. Immediately after the amendment’s adoption, the newspaper began publishing front page, highly visible columns encouraging Greene County women to register and participate in the fall election.

Local women took up the opportunity eagerly. They literally had just days to register if they wanted to vote in November. Between the amendment’s adoption on August 26th and the registration deadline on September 1st, 7,074 women in Greene County registered to vote, compared to 8,082 men who were already on the rolls.

On Tuesday, November 2, 1920, Greene County women joined their sisters across the country at the polls. The Waynesburg Republican had much to celebrate in their weekly issue on November 4th. They heralded the victory of the Republican candidate Warren Harding as President and wins of their party throughout the state, but above the President-elect’s expressions of gratitude, was an article praising the first female voters of the hometown precincts. The language of the day is worth reading exactly as it was written for the sake of both its history and its era and so it is below in its entirety. It both celebrates women and shows how far we had yet to come. Most of the ladies highlighted are identified as being the “Mrs.” attached to their husbands’ names rather than their own. A tone of surprise at the lack of nervousness upon entering the voting booth for the first time echoes the misperceptions of the day.

Women’s Suffrage was a bi-partisan and cross-party issue. Republicans and Democrats struggled within their parties with members both for and against. Both parties were anxious to receive credit for the Amendment’s passage. This is a history we can celebrate together.

The downfall and embarrassment of the suffrage movement is the way it positively impacted white women over their sisters of all colors. Throughout the suffrage movement there was constantly a struggle with race equality. Bewildering examples of beloved leaders in the women’s movement not standing up for the equality of all, or worse being willing to sacrifice the rights of others to their own advantage, diminishes the celebration of the 19th Amendment’s successes. This is history that we must confront and we must do better. We do not know the exact statistics related to this aspect of voter registration yet for Greene County, nor what the atmosphere regarding voter registration and participation was like here. We hope to learn more as we delve into the identities of each woman on the voter rolls and this topic in our community’s history. We do know from the Waynesburg Republican feature that a former slave Mary Elizabeth “Aunt Betsy” (McDonald) Workman cast her ballot on November 2, 1920, at the North Ward No. 2 precinct in Waynesburg. She was born in Virginia in 1841 and ultimately married Cornelius Gillespie “Neil” Workman of Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Visit our Archives section of Greene Connections throughout the next year as we add to this research. Using the Tags tab in the Archives, you can look at related subject search terms as well as the names of those involved in the fight for suffrage and among the first 7,074 women who registered to participate in the first electoral opportunity.

“New Voters Show Interest in Election” article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 4 November 1920, page 1. Transcribed by Candice Buchanan.

“New Voters Show Interest in Election

Notwithstanding Jupiter Pluvius acted as unchivalrously as it was possible for him to do, the new voters of Waynesburg and Greene County braved the bad weather and voted. They turned out in goodly numbers in every ward and precinct and were at the polls early. They were much interested and while it was a new experience they knew how they wanted to vote and marked their ballots and placed them in the ballot boxes as quickly as the men, showing little or no nervousness over their new privilege. At some of the polling places voters were waiting when the officials arrived. In the North Ward No. 2, Waynesburg, several women voters were waiting, among others being Dr. Jane Teagarden, who is believed to be the first woman to cast the ballot in Waynesburg. Miss Minerva Minor and “Aunt Betsy” Workman, who was once a slave in Virginia, were voters in this precinct who have passed the eightieth mile stone.

In the North Ward No. 2 Mrs. Abigail Hoge and Mrs. Mary Denny and in the South Ward No. 2, Mrs. Sarah McCormick, who are eighty and more years “young” all voted early.

The following women were appointed watchers at the polls: Misses Anna Mary Cooke, Jane Sayers, Nella Hoskinson, Mrs. William Bennet, Mrs. John Clark, Mrs. L. M. Hoge, Mrs. A. A. Purman, Mrs. J. B. F. Rinehart, Mrs. Ella Miller, Mrs. A. E. McKee, Mrs. John Huffman and Miss Blanche Hickman.”

Our Vote in Pennsylvania Today Is Historic for U.S. Women

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

100 years ago, Pennsylvania women, like most of their sisters across the country, did not have the right to vote.

In 1915, Pennsylvania attempted to give suffrage (voting rights) to the women of our state. It failed. Men in Greene County were split 1694 for, 2070 against. Women of course had no opportunity to cast a ballot on the matter.

The hope of Pennsylvania women, like those in most states, then rested upon the passage of a federal amendment to the constitution. The fight for such a move began in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 (one year before Waynesburg College was founded in Greene County offering strikingly progressive equal coeducational opportunities for women). The fight was still going strong in 1919. The language was simple, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

ON THIS VERY DAY 100 YEARS AGO, May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives in Washington DC passed the 19th Amendment. Two weeks later, June 4, 1919, the Senate also passed it. Then the all un-to-certain battle to win over 36 state legislatures began. Pennsylvania was the 7th of the 36 to ratify the Amendment on June 24, 1919. Our suffrage flag with 7 stars in each color marks our place in the slow progress. The 36th state came after a serious and never assured effort over a year later on August 18, 1920.

In Greene County alone, 7,074 women registered to vote in their first opportunity for the fall elections of 1920. This compared to the 8,082 men already registered in our county shows how readily these first eligible women (including my great-grandmothers) took up their rights.

It seems so clear to us now, so much so that we take this right for granted. But the women and men who started this fight died before it was won. And it was a fight. Intelligent debate and peaceful protests resulted in horrific treatment, arrests, imprisonment, and unfounded cruelty.

Please exercise your right today in our Pennsylvania Primaries. It has been well earned and hard fought.

Road Rage Car Crash, 1912

by Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

The caption on the photograph read, “Car in which Simon Wesley Rinehart was killed.” It was clearly going to be a research path that would lead to tragedy. Moved by this haunting image, what follows is a glimpse into the events of late 1912, remembering the lives that are memorialized by this simple picture of an automobile with a foreboding inscription.

Simon Wesley Rinehart, item # RINE_AN001_0044, Russell Rinehart Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

Simon Wesley Rinehart [1881-1912] was the husband of Clara Hughes, and the son of George N. Rinehart and Hester Moore. His family’s photograph collection has been shared with Greene Connections by the children of his nephew Russell Rinehart. (See the complete Russell Rinehart Collection). Simon makes an appearance in several beautiful turn of the century images before his series ends with a lonely picture of the car that lead to his death.

The car crashed on 24 November 1912 in the vicinity of New Freeport, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Simon’s injuries resulted in his death on 7 December 1912. A Pennsylvania death certificate and Greene County coroner’s report confirm the details. Also in the vehicle were Robert Ullom, Benson Moninger, and William Moninger.

The tragic event was not just an unfortunate accident. It appears to have been the result of an early road rage incident in the days when automobiles were the new technology trying to share country roads with the long-standing traditional forms of transport. The crash occurred following an altercation with John F. Renner who was a teamster driving a wagon of oil rig timber on the same road. The news article below provides an account of the event, seemingly presenting the story from the car passengers’ point of view. So far, we have found no criminal or civil charges filed in the local Greene County courts, which makes us believe that there may be another perspective to be shared from the wagon team that we have yet to read.

The Robert Ullom who survived the crash is believed to be Robert Smith Ullom who was the first cousin of Simon’s wife, Clara (Hughes) Rinehart. If they are one in the same, Robert Smith Ullom was killed 22 August 1913 by a train in Landisburg, Fayette County, West Virginia.

Benson and William Moninger were sons of Johnson Moninger and Mary Ellen Ullom. They survived the crash and led long lives.

Car in which Simon Wesley Rinehart [1881-1912] was killed, item # RINE_AN001_0046, Russell Rinehart Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

**TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: The following article provides a graphic account of this fatal car crash.**

“Simon W. Rinehart Dies from Injuries” article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 12 December 1912. Transcribed by Candice Buchanan.

“Simon W. Rinehart Dies from Injuries

Victim of Automobile Accident at New Freeport,Expired Saturday Morning

Deceased Belong to Prominent Family and Was Married. Stone Thrown by John F. Renner Primary Cause of Accident, as Shown by Inquest.

Simon W. Rinehart, who was injured by an automobile accident near New Freeport, recently, died at the home of John McNeely, on last Saturday morning, Dec. 7, as the result of the injuries he sustained. The young man was carried to the home of Mr. McNeely immediately after the accident and his condition was such that he was never able to be removed.

Deceased was thirty-one years of age and a wealthy farmer of Jackson Township, being a son of George N. Rinehart, Esq., of Delphene. He had married Miss Clara Hughes, daughter of Jacob Hughes, of Nettle Hill, who survives him. Beside his wife and parents he is survived by two brothers and one sister, W. A. and Jesse Rinehart and Mrs. Ida Woodruff.

On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 24, Mr. Rinehart was driving in his automobile along the highway about three-fourths of a mile below New Freeport. In the car, beside himself where Robert Ullom and Benson and Wm. Moninger.

Ahead of them were three teams and wagons hauling oil well rig timber. Mr. Rinehart sounded the automobile alarm several times as a signal for the teams to draw to one side of the road and permit him to pass, which they would be required by law to do, but the teamsters gave no heed to the signals, whatever. Finally, at a point in the highway where there was room outside of the regular traveled track for the automobile to pass, Mr. Rinehart drove the car by on the right hand side of the teams, which was the lower side of the road. The teams and wagons kept in the usual course of travel,which was to the upper and left side of the road.

The machine was safely passing and was fully four feet away from the wagons, but in passing the second team, which was being driven by John F. Renner, the latter’s dog may have been touched by the car, but at least was not hurt, as it bounded out of the way with a yelp. This it is presumed enraged Renner, for he called to the men in the automobile to stop,then hurled a stone at the car. Robert Ullom who was sitting beside Mr. Rinehart saw the stone being thrown and said to the latter, “look out, here comes a stone.” By that time the automobile had passed all three of the teams and had turned up into the traveled part of the highway. As Ullom spoke, Mr. Rinehart turned his face backward so that he might see, and, if necessary,dodge the stone, as the top of the car was down and while his face was turned the car ran over an embankment about forty feet high. The automobile first passed through a wire fence then turned over twice.

The Moninger boys were thrown out of the car when it first overturned and escaped injury, but Rinehart and Ullom were carried to the bottom of the embankment.The former received a gash across the side of his face, one of his ears being cut in two, and his head was crushed, by being caught, it is supposed, beneath the steering wheel. The pressure upon his jaws had bursted several of his teeth. He was carried unconscious to the home of Mr. McNeely and for several days no hope for his recovery was entertained, though later his friends were hopeful,but his face was found to be paralyzed and he gradually became weaker. On Friday morning a message came from here stating that his death was expected at anytime.

Robert Ullom was seriously cut upon the face, arms and breast, but is recovering from the wounds.

Much indignation is felt over Renner’s action, particularly from the fact that he and both the other teamsters, one being his brother and the other a man named Hostetler, drove on, without even halting, after the automobile went over the embankment. No assistance, whatever, was rendered by them.

Coroner A. T. Adamson held an inquest upon the death of Mr. Rinehart Saturday evening,his jury consisting of Peter Bradley, L. R. Hawn, B. G. Potter, John Minor, H. B. Hennen and James A. Darling. In their verdict they found that Simon Wesley Rinehart came to his death from injuries received in an automobile accident,Nov. 24, that the attention of said Simon W. Rinehart, driver of the car, was called by an occupant of said car to a stone being thrown at the car by one John F. Renner, which information drew his attention from the machine, causing him to lose control of it, so that the car went over an embankment, resulting in the injuries aforesaid and the death of Simon W. Rinehart.

The funeral of deceased was held on Monday at 1 p.m., services being performed by Rev. J. M. Murray. Interment in the Centennial Cemetery.”

Treasure Hunting in the Census

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Originally published September 8, 2014.

Family and local history researchers know and love the decade-by-decade revelations of Census records. It is not just a listing of households, but a neighborhood roll-call identifying neighbors who have the potential to be in-laws, cousins, or at the very least the folks our ancestors likely interacted with on a day-to-day basis. Besides the basics of names, ages, and relationships, Census records also let us in on school attendance, literacy, values of real estate and personal property, home ownership or rental, and occasionally status of health and sanity, to name just a few of the fun facts. Certainly, in reference to sanity, it was that column in consecutive Census records that pointed me to the real story of Grandma Elizabeth, who has been the subject of previous discussions. Today, the reason for this small accolade to the Census taker is due to a reminder of just how fascinating Census data can be.

Hannah Snyder tombstone
McVay Cemetery
“Hannah M. / Wife of / H. C. Snyder / Died / June 21, 1880 / Aged 26 Ys. 2 Mo. / 24 Ds.”
(Photograph by author)

Henry Clay Snyder and his wife, Hannah (McVay) Snyder, appear in the 1880 Census of Aleppo Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. [1] The head of household was Clay Snyder age 36, farmer, born in Pennsylvania, father and mother born in Pennsylvania. Living in his home: Hannah M. Snyder his wife, age 26, keeping house, sick with consumption, born in Pennsylvania, father and mother born in Pennsylvania; Mary E. Snyder his daughter, age 7, at school, born in Pennsylvania, father and mother born in Pennsylvania; Ida Snyder his daughter, age 4, born in Pennsylvania, father and mother born in Pennsylvania; J. M. Snyder his son, age 1 month, born in the month of May 1880 in Pennsylvania, father and mother born in Pennsylvania.

The Census taker, a man named Jacob Tustin, visited the household 18 June 1880. At the time of his call, as seen above, he noted that Hannah was sick with consumption. Just days later, Hannah died 21 June 1880 without an obituary or death record or therefore any details of her circumstances other than the date on her tombstone. [2] Her baby son, J. M. Snyder, a month old in the Census, died 23 June 1880. His tombstone says only “Infant” in place of his name. [3] They are buried at the McVay Cemetery in Aleppo Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. In this unique case, the Census in one household entry, reveals the mother’s cause of death and the baby’s name.

Infant Snyder tombstone, McVay Cemetery
“Infant / Son of / H. C. & H. M. Snyder / Died / June 23, 1880” (Photograph by author)

It is undeniably a sad entry, but without it the stories of this young mother and her baby would be even emptier. These details fill-in gaps and provide some insight into their brief lives. It is for the chance of these types of little clues, that it is well worth finding our relatives in every Census and studying each column in the document. You never know what you might learn.


[1] 1880 U.S. census, Aleppo Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 66, page 128C (stamped)/27 (written), dwelling 226, family 234, Clay Snyder household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 April 2014); National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1133.
[2] McVay Cemetery (Aleppo Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania), Hannah M. Snyder tombstone; personally read by Candice Buchanan, 23 March 2014. “Hannah M. / Wife of / H. C. Snyder / Died / June 21, 1880 / Aged 26 Ys. 2 Mo. / 24 Ds.”
[3] McVay Cemetery (Aleppo Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania), Infant Snyder tombstone; personally read by Candice Buchanan, 23 March 2014. “Infant / Son of / H. C. & H. M. Snyder / Died / June 23, 1880.”

Joseph Throckmorton Sr. Letter (1862)

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Originally published January 31, 2016.

Joseph Throckmorton Sr.
(Frances Grimes Sitherwood, Throckmorton Family History: Being the Record of the Throckmortons in the United States of America with Cognate Branches (Bloomington, Illinois: Pantagraph Printing & Stationary Co., 1929), page 169)

On August 2, 1862, Joseph Throckmorton Sr., age 77, sat down to write a letter to his second wife, Laura (Peck) (Gilbert) Throckmorton, age 63. Laura was at home on their farm in Morrow County, Ohio, to which the envelope is addressed, while Joseph was visiting his family in Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, from where the letter was written. The envelope itself is postmarked in nearby Harvey’s, Pennsylvania, a post office in Center Township, Greene County, on September 7.

Unique documents such as this letter, family Bibles, diaries, and more are being scanned along with photographs for preservation and access as a part of the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania, Archives Project. Visit the Archives to view these items.

Rare documents like this letter are treasures that hold a variety of precious gems for family and local history. Most obviously, Joseph’s letter mentions the death of his niece Catherine (Throckmorton) Cole and her children, and also notes several of the adult children by the first marriages of both he and his current wife, Laura. Locally relevant, is a single line about the formation of a company preparing to leave Waynesburg for the Civil War, as well as an infestation affecting the crops. To the many descendants of Joseph, though, the most impacting aspect of this letter will no doubt be the opportunity to know his time and place, and practically hear his voice, for these few moments on August 2, 1862.

Joseph’s handwriting, word choices, grammar, subject selection, and endearments to his wife, all give us a small glimpse into his personality and mannerisms in a way that the cold vital records we so dutifully collect never can. Documents like this are uncommon finds and should be scoured for every detail they reveal. This letter has been transcribed for ease of reading, but if you do not also study the handwritten pages you will miss out. My favorite little insight is on the bottom of the last page, when Joseph is affectionately signing off and inadvertently misspells his wife’s name. He scribbles out his error to write a corrected version. This notable fix stands out among other misspellings he left alone. He was dutiful about how Laura’s name was to be written.

Before leaving you to read Joseph’s message, I will end by noting that this recent acquisition was obtained via eBay auction, fortunately seen and able to be obtained for Joseph’s descendants and is now in the custody of Glenn Toothman, Joseph’s third-great-grandson (see the Letter). Recently, an incredible photo album shared for this family was found at a flea market (see the VanCleve-Throckmorton Album). Keep an eye out for your ancestors’ priceless heirlooms, they could be anywhere waiting to be found!

Joseph Throckmorton Sr. letter, page 1
(Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

Joseph’s Letter [1]

“Waynesburg Green[e] Co Pa

August 2, 1862

Dear wife

I take the presen[t] / opportunity to let you [know] that I / received yours the 23 July / and am glad to hear from / you that you are well as / common, as for my self I / am not very well I am / very weak and have fell / away very much in flesh / I wrote a letter to John that / if he would come in in the / turn of 2 or 3 weeks I would go / home with him Daniel & Joseph / has so much to do & it will / be so late before they are done / harvesting or one of them would / come home with me, pleas[e] let / me know on what condition you / get the hay cut & who done it // as I wrote to John to / consult you & to get some / one to cut it & I would pay / for it[.] 

Joseph Throckmorton Sr. letter, pages 2 and 3
(Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

I wish you would get some / one to cut that wood if / you can if Jack won’t do it / & I will pay for it.

I wish you would let me / know how the mare looks / & if they tended the corn / with her[.] I would like to / know how the hogs is doing / and if they have growed / much[.] There is a great / many little things that I / would like to know a / bout, but I cannot mention / them in / a short let[t]er you will / pleas[e] let me know in your next / anything that would be interesting / to me // as I think a great / deal about you & home[.] / you wished to know / which one of James[‘] Daughter[s] / it was that died it was / Catharine, Cole[‘]s Wife[.] She / lost all four of her children / & dyed [sic] her self.***

Those lice you speak of / has ruined the oats in / this county and I think / they hurt / some of the wh / eat all though jenerally [sic] / the wheat is good / they call them abolition / lice here[.]

They are listing men / here for nine months / There is a company make / ing in town & will soon / be full. The children is / all well so far as I know[.] //

I conclud[e] with / my respects to John / & family Needles & / family and all that / may enquire after / me[.]

Joseph Throckmorton Sr. letter, page 4
(Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

give my respects to / Mary Dill[.]

let me know in your / next if Whiteley is at / home. Tell Mary Elen / not to let it bee too long before she writes / that letter[.]

So now I conclude with / my sincere love to you / my Dear wife

This from your husband

Joseph Throckmorton to his / wife Laura Throckmorton”

***Catherine Throckmorton was the daughter of James Robinson Throckmorton, Joseph’s brother. She was married to John W. Cole.

Joseph Throckmorton Sr. letter, envelope
(Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

[1] Joseph Throckmorton, (Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania) to Laura Throckmorton, his wife (Sparta post office, Morrow County, Ohio), letter, 2 August 1862; Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman III Collection, privately held by Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman III, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 2016. Glenn received the original letter intact with its envelope after it was purchased via eBay auction. Joseph was visiting Waynesburg and writing the letter to his second wife, Laura (Peck) (Gilbert) Throckmorton, at their home in Ohio. Owned and shared with the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project in 2016 by Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman III – son of Glenn Jacob Roy Thornton Toothman Jr. & Katherine Jane Throckmorton.

What’s in a Name?

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Originally published April 11, 2016.

Have you ever wondered how or why an ancestor’s name was selected? Taking the time to research this basic, profile fact – one that we so often fill in and move past – may reveal fascinating details, not about your subject, but about his or her parents. With this new baby in their arms, they chose this particular name. Was there a reason and what might we learn from it?

For example, there is a fair chance that an early US genealogy will have a George Washington so-and-so somewhere in the progeny. Celebrity politicians and military leaders were popular baby names. These moniker selections likely indicate the civic perspective of the household. Politics were hot and lively in the old days too, so knowing which party your ancestor was partial to is a revealing factor that may offer more room for research to grow. Religious leaders, often including preachers and missionaries, may reveal another weighty worldview of your great-something grandparents. Sermons and writings of popular clergy were published and circulated. They may have also toured through the area during their ministry and had a direct personal contact with your family that made an impression. Studying these specific individuals whose names were so-honored could give you relevant insight into the life and times of your ancestors. It’s a unique way to gain some rare understanding of their personal lives.

Keeping it in the family was, of course, very common too. This is something to scrutinize every family group in your tree for, including collateral lines. Depending on your ancestral origins, naming patterns could be key to unraveling the previous generation pedigrees. Surnames built into a child’s first or middle name often reveal mothers’ maiden names or other family alignments. Watch for these clues and drill into them as leads. There may be more to it than just bestowing beloved Uncle Moses’s name on the new infant, the child’s birth may coincide with Moses’s death or a significant event that brought attention to him.

To maximize the learning opportunities of any of these possibilities, search sources for complete and accurate names of all ancestors including siblings. This is why middle initials just are not enough! Knowing the whole name and assuring it is accurately evidenced from solid records is vital to gaining knowledge from the name itself.

Beyond the family circle, our ancestors were deeply bonded to friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and community leaders, whom they loved and respected just as we are so-connected to our peers today. These people too, impacted the name choices granted to newborn babes, and from these folks we also can enrich our family tree stories and understanding.

The story that follows is excerpted from research recently published in A Waynesburg College Family: The Legacy of Alfred Brashear & Margaret Kerr (Bell) Miller and used here with permission.[1] The book obviously focuses on Alfred and Margaret, who were both inspiring teachers, responsible for leading Waynesburg College. They were pivotal players in the school’s extraordinarily early offering of coeducation, resulting in equal Bachelor’s Degrees for women in the 1850s. There is much to be said about them, but this particular focus is on their lives as quite a young couple, married only two and a half years. He was not yet President of Waynesburg College, but was a Professor at the small school. Margaret was Principal of the brand new Female Department of Waynesburg College, a revolutionary and hard-fought concept that had just graduated the first three women from the school with male-equivalent Bachelor’s Degrees on 23 September 1857.[2] This program had evolved from the unequal Female Seminary initially established, which denied women access to the full curriculum and granted lesser diplomas. Though the school had only been established in 1849, Alfred and Margaret, with dedicated faculty colleagues, determined students, and fresh alumni, were already working hard to accomplish something amazing for education right here in Greene County, Pennsylvania. It was in this atmosphere, that Margaret Kerr (Bell) Miller, bore her second child, on 28 October 1857, a daughter given the name Lucy Lazear Miller.

Our Namesake and Her Eponym: Lucy Lazear Miller and Lucy Lazear

*An eponym, by definition, is a person after whom a discovery, invention, place, etc., is named or thought to be named. In this case, our eponym is Lucy Lazear.

**A namesake may be defined in both directions, but most commonly refers to the target person or thing that has been given the name of another. Our namesake is Lucy Lazear Miller.

LEFT – Lucy Lazear, Waynesburg College Female Seminary, Class of 1853 (Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

RIGHT: Lucy Lazear Miller, circa 1875 (Robert Silas & Eva Mae (Christie) Merrick Collection,
Greene Connections Archives Project)

All of Alfred and Margaret’s children were named for people influential in their parents’ lives. Family friends, relatives, religious leaders, and scholars are all on the list. Lucy Lazear Miller takes her name directly from the family’s Waynesburg College roots.

Lucy Lazear, born 1835, was the daughter of a prominent Waynesburg couple, Jesse and Frances (Burbridge) Lazear; her father was a founder of Waynesburg College and served as Greene County’s United States Congressman during the Civil War.[3] Lucy was one of Margaret’s earliest students in the days of the Waynesburg College Female Seminary.

Evidence of Margaret’s significant influence is recorded in Lucy’s handwritten valedictory address as she spoke for the women of the Class of 1853. This eloquent teenager addressed each segment of her audience. When she came to the Waynesburg College Trustees, she cajoled, “Open the fields of Literature to the female as to the male, then the world more refined and elevated will acknowledge you as the greatest benefactors of your race.” Lucy’s urge, of course, was soon to be heeded, because just four years later, a different kind of graduation ceremony would bestow the first equal degrees to Waynesburg College women. For now, Lucy accepted a lesser diploma, still a great opportunity for a female education in her day, whilst making her voice heard. Upon giving a worthy general tribute to the faculty, Lucy, asked a moment more for this specific homage:

One word more, beloved faculty, and we leave you. Bound to you all by sentiments of lasting regard, you must forgive us if our hearts yearn most fondly towards the conductress of the department where our duties have been exclusively confined. Being immediately under her care, more constantly in her presence, this partiality is natural. Greater intimacy necessarily engenders deeper affection, especially when it is the occasion for the display of those engaging qualities which adorned her department during our whole intercourse. That sisterly devotion which labored so ardently for our good — making our interests her own, that affectionate sympathy which joined in all our sorrows, that sweet gentleness which calmed every ruffled feeling of our breasts, forgave every error, and threw a mantle of charity over our weaknesses, all contributed largely to hallow our school-days — a green isle in the ocean of memory. Dear Miss Bell, as teacher and pupils, the bonds of the past are forever dissolved. Not so the tie that endears your name to our affections. This is a personal tie, unchangeable by time or distance, & stronger even than death. But preceptors, counselors, friends, — a last, a sad farewell![4]

It was not only Margaret whom Lucy knew so well. Lucy Lazear was the counterpart to her teacher’s future beaux. As Lucy led the ladies of the Female Seminary, Class of 1853, so did Alfred Brashear Miller lead the men of Waynesburg College, Class of 1853, on graduation day.[5] In the classrooms where the men and women combined in these early days of easing in coeducation, these two individuals were classmates and obviously friends.

Lucy (Lazear) Stephenson tombstone, Green Mount Cemetery

“Lucy J. Stephenson
Wife of Kenner Stephenson Esq.
And Daughter of Jesse and Frances B. Lazear
Died April 6th A. D. 1856
Aged 20 Years and 6 Months
She the beloved has passed away
Her blameless life is over
And grief dost hold its mournful sway Till in a fairer, happier day
We meet to part no more.”

(Photograph by author)

Lucy furthered her education the following year in New England, where she met Kenner Stephenson, whom she wed on New Year’s Day, 1856. On the bridal trip, during an open sleigh ride over the frozen Ohio River, Lucy caught a cold and never recovered. She died 6 April 1856, only 20 years old, with so much potential unfulfilled.[6] Margaret’s student and Alfred’s classmate, the Millers mourned her deeply. On New Year’s Day 1857, a year to the date of her wedding, Alfred wrote in his diary:

Went to the Cemetery & visited the grave of Mrs. Lucy Stephenson who was married on last New Years Day – now over her lifeless remains stands a beautiful monument telling the beholder that youth and beauty and amiability were no safety against death. [7]

Later that year, when their second daughter was born, they named her in honor of their friend.

This story introduces us to baby Lucy Lazear Miller in the family chronology, but moreover it lets us into the personal lives, influences, and relationships of her parents.

Who are your eponym / namesake pairs and what stories might they tell?


[1] Candice L. Buchanan, A Waynesburg College Family: The Legacy of Alfred Brashear & Margaret Kerr (Bell) Miller (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015), 12-14, 38-39.

[2] Margaret Leonice Needham, Laura Weethee and Lydia Weethee were the first three women to receive male-equivalent Bachelor’s Degrees from Waynesburg College, graduating 23 September 1857, as identified in: Waynesburg College, Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Waynesburg College for the Academic Year Ending September 1857, 6, 17. At least one school, the renowned Oberlin College in Ohio, is proven to have graduated women with male-equivalent Bachelor’s Degrees prior to 1857, Oberlin having graduated its first degreed females in 1841. In Pennsylvania, Westminster College of New Wilmington, appears to be the only school prior to Waynesburg College to graduate women equally; their first class having graduated in July 1857 just a couple of months before Waynesburg did the same in September 1857. As an additional point, though Westminster held commencement ceremonies earlier, thus giving them the credit as the first to give the degrees, Waynesburg’s program of equal coeducation predates Westminster and was the first in Pennsylvania to initiate the opportunity. Excepting Oberlin and Westminster, numerous schools in the nation graduated females prior to 1857, Waynesburg included, but diplomas or degrees of a lesser value were awarded; they were not male-equivalent Bachelor’s Degrees. In a letter from Dr. Paul R. Stewart (Waynesburg, PA), President of Waynesburg College 1921-1963, to Mrs. C. Tubbs, 11 January 1929; held in 2003 by Bonnie (Watts) Cook, great-granddaughter of Margaret Leonice (Needham) Still, Stewart says, “it has developed that [Margaret] was the first woman to graduate from this institution from the same course as the men and with the same degree. This is all the more important since this college was the second college in the world to grant degrees to women on the same basis as men.” For additional information on early Waynesburg College female graduates see: Candice Buchanan, “The Early Coeducational Institution as Matchmaker: A Study of Romantic Attachments at Waynesburg College 1850-1875,” Western Pennsylvania History, volume 91 (Fall 2008): 46-57 and Dusenberry, Waynesburg College Story, 1849-1974, 41-42, 419n. For additional information on early Oberlin College female graduates see: Robert S. Fletcher and Ernest H. Wilkins, “The Beginning of College Education for Women and of Coeducation on the College Level,” Bulletin of Oberlin College, New Series 343 (20 March 1937).

[3] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 – Present (bioguide.congress.gov : viewed 27 February 2004), Jesse Lazear bio.

[4] Lucy Lazear, “Valedictory Address,” handwritten document, Waynesburg College Female Seminary, Class of 1853; archived at the Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum (Miller Hall, 51 W. College St.; Waynesburg, Pennsylvania 15370). Lucy (Lazear) Stephenson was the valedictorian of the women graduating from the Waynesburg College Female Seminary. A transcript of the original ten handwritten pages was created by Waynesburg University’s History 295 class led by Dr. Elesha Coffman, 30 January 2009. Students participating, in order of pages, were: Marisa Hodge, Breanne Tomi, Ricky Keys, Amber Churney, Sara Schieb, Chelsey Clark, David Burch, Seth Farley, Tyler Emmerson, and Laura Garcia. Transcript and digital scans of original document sent via Elesha Coffman, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, to Candice Buchanan, email, 17 April 2009, “Valedictory address,” Waynesburg College Alumni; privately held by Buchanan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2014.

[5] Waynesburg College, Annual Catalogue of Waynesburg College and Female Seminary for the Academic Year Ending September, 1853, photocopy reproduction only; cover and title page missing (N.p.: n.p., 1853), list of “Male Students For The Year Ending September, 1853,” Senior Class. Archived at the Waynesburg University Museum (Miller Hall, 51 W. College St.; Waynesburg, Pennsylvania 15370).

[6] Waynesburg University (Waynesburg, Pennsylvania), matriculation cards, Lucy Ann (Lazear) Stephenson, Class of 1853. Lucy’s card includes a handwritten account of her education, marriage, and last illness.

[7] Alfred Brashear Miller, “Diary,” (manuscript, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 1856-1866), 1 January 1857 entry; archived at Waynesburg University, Office of the President (Miller Hall, 51 W. College St.; Waynesburg, Pennsylvania 15370), 2014. Obtained via auction, 2013.

That’s Our Henry!

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Originally published in Greene Speak, April 2006. Updated 21 February 2016 for Greene Connections blog.

The few photos initially in my family’s custody when I began researching over 20 years ago, has been one of the catalysts for launching the Greene Connections Archives Project. In searching for my own missing history, I discovered how much is out there in boxes, drawers, attics, closets, and so on, going unseen. It became a quest to find a way to preserve and share those items.

Henry Bowler (Candice Lynn Buchanan Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

Henry Bowler and I met face to face, so to speak, for the first time, when my father’s cousin gave me his Cabinet Card photograph. As she put it in my hand, she commented that her son had hoped this scary looking fellow was no relation to us. She had dashed that hope by pointing out that he was our – her son’s and mine – third great grandfather. I was thrilled!

It is incredible, and sometimes overwhelming, to consider the number of ancestors that actually compose any single person’s family tree. As one of my favorite genealogy quotes points out, in family history, “whenever you solve one problem, you gain two more.” Every person in your pedigree has two parents, and each of those two lead to two more. Family trees grow exponentially in this way. Ultimately, a genealogist trying to compile the stories of long-ago relations, has plenty of ancestors to choose from when deciding whom to research each time they open the record books.

Sometimes, though, our ancestors make these decisions for us. Accidental discoveries of tombstones, newspaper clippings, family papers, or the occasional “scary” photograph, catch our attention and direct our curiosity. In this case, great-great-great-grandfather Henry had stepped up.

Henry Bowler tombstone, Bowler Cemetery (Photograph by author)

At the time I only knew Henry as a name on paper in the great genealogy records chase. So, I went to visit him. Henry is buried in a small family cemetery on the farm where he lived near Rogersville, in Center Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Beside his gravestone, markers still stand for his wife, Penelope (Stewart) Bowler, and nine of their close relatives. Standing on this hilltop a cemetery visitor can look out on the land where Henry spent his daily life.

Of course, the man in this photo, made me want to know what his life was like. Who was Henry really?

Revealing an individual’s personality and personal story is not generally obvious, sometimes nearly impossible, to discover for ancestors who lived so long ago. We can often piece together facts from official records to recreate some sense of their status and lifestyle, and gain a sense of their priorities and routines, but not as often their personal description or nature.

Henry, however, was not done basking in the family history spotlight. Obituaries from the early 1900s, have the potential to be non-existent, very brief, or alternatively awesome! Do not ever look to just one local newspaper and accept it as the only offering. In Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, several newspapers were in print at the time of Henry’s death and his family chose a less common one, the Independent, in which to publish his extended notice. The more popular Waynesburg Republican carried only a two sentence death notice [1] and if the research had ended there, we would have missed an incredible biography. This is an excerpt from Henry’s exceptional obituary published 26 May 1904 in the Independent [2]:

Henry Bowler Funeral Card (Candice Lynn Buchanan Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

“Henry Bowler was one of the oldest citizens of the county and we might say in some respects a very peculiar man. He was never outside of Greene county but once and that only across the line for a few hours. He had never seen a train of cars nor a steamboat. Had not been away from the farm on which he lived but twice in the last fifteen years. Had not been to Rogersville, which is in sight of his farm, for something like thirty years.

Henry Bowler was a remarkable man in other respects. Being of a rugged constitution, his eyesight never failed him. Within the last two years he would go hunting and always with the old time piece, the rifle, and find more game than the young men with their latest improved hunting pieces. He had a remarkable memory and was a great reader. One would be surprised at his knowledge of affairs of the world, both past and present. Always taking the papers that kept him reliably informed as to what was taking place in the world, and in this respect he was a mine of information, and while a helper at home for many years he never lost interest in the affairs of the government, being a staunch Republican all his life and knew the party leaders and their positions on all the important questions. In early life he accepted the gospel and became a member of the Christian church and for some years was an active worker in the church which at that time met at Crouse’s school house, just below Rogersville. He was a lover of music and in his younger days loved the service of song in which he took a leading part. In conversing with him a short time before his death he talked of the church and its work and was happy in the fact that the kingdom of Christ was advancing and reaching unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”

This account of my “peculiar” ancestor is a lively complement to the treasured photograph. Henry’s photo is the first one you will see if you ever open my Bowler family photo album. He never fails to make me smile.

Allow your ancestors to inspire and lead you on your search. There is a serendipitous influence underlying family history research that few genealogists will deny. Sometimes unexpected discoveries take you down paths to whole new branches of your tree waiting to be explored!

Henry’s extended family and additional photographs collected in the course of my personal research may be viewed in the Candice Lynn Buchanan Collection of the Greene Connections Archives.


[1] Henry Bowler obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 24 March 1904, page 1, column 7.
[2] Henry Bowler obituary, Waynesburg Independent, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 26 May 1904, page 2, column 1-2.

A Rolling Stone

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Originally published 11 February 2018.

Family reunions come in all forms when you are heart-deep in genealogy: DNA matches, brick-wall breakthroughs, friend-requests from long lost cousins. This week, my tree had the benefit of such an unexpected reunion, in rather a unique form.

One section of Greene Connections is devoted to identifying area cemeteries. Many volunteers contribute regularly to posting photos and improving listings via this section’s specific links to FindaGrave.com. When a contributor offers suggested edits to a grave listing on the site, the volunteer managing the grave’s page receives an email. Such an email arrived last week with an unusual entreaty. The volunteer advised that he had added a tombstone photo to the entry for Elizabeth Young in Mt. Zion Cemetery, which is located in Castile, Morgan Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. However, this was not an ordinary image addition. I had visited the graveyard looking for that very stone in 2013 and found it to be missing. The volunteer explained why that had been the case. Elizabeth’s memorial had been photographed by him, not in Pennsylvania where she rests, but in North Carolina, where it graces the yard of a friend! The stone had been found abandoned in a ditch with other markers, while the current owner was passing through Pennsylvania. Finding it in good condition, it was rescued. Not knowing where it belonged or why it had been so neglected, it was resurrected in it’s new home.

The Find a Grave volunteer photographed it and searched for a listing that matched the criteria presented in the inscription as well as a relevant location. His note to me was to ask if I agreed with his conclusion that this stone and my Elizabeth Young posting were a match.

Elizabeth Young, was not just any entry in my work on the site. She is my 7th-great-grandmother!

When James and Dorothy Hennen recorded the inscriptions at Mt. Zion in 1977, Elizabeth’s stone was next to that of her daughter Mary (Young) McGinnis and Mary’s husband Joseph McGinnis. Joseph and Mary are my 6th great-grandparents. This couple is often mixed up and misrepresented in McGinnis family trees because another Joseph McGinnis had lived in the same era, though with different geography and family; that Joseph’s heirs have an unfortunate habit of linking him as the son of John McGinnis and Sarah Clark, pushing my neglected ancestor, the proven child of John and Sarah, out of existence. As such, I was anxious to document and photograph these three stones to show some physical proof in addition to my research, that Joseph and Mary had lived.

Tombstone of Mary (Young) McGinnis, Mt. Zion Cemetery (Photograph by author)

As is custom in my family tree, upon reaching the row of stones, I found mostly grass. Only Mary (Young) McGinnis still has a marked grave.

Fortunately, the Hennen’s fine work provides a record of exactly what each stone said. Accordingly, I created Find a Grave entries with the Hennen’s notes for each Elizabeth and Joseph, so that they could be linked to the family and given representation of their known burial locations.

Elizabeth Young tombstone at its removed location in North Carolina (Photograph by Terrence McManaway)

Now then, there was at least an inscription to match to the volunteer’s photo submission. It was exact!

“Elizabeth / Young / Died 1834 / Aged 72 Yrs.”

Based on the geography of the found stone and the matching inscription, we feel assured that this is my Elizabeth’s marker. Whether or not we will try to arrange for her memorial to be brought home is now a pending consideration, but it is very wonderful and incredible to have reunited the person and the marker that remembers her in this way for now!

This is the new text posted on her Find a Grave site:

SOURCE NOTES: Dorothy T. Hennen, compiler, Cemetery Records of Greene County, Pennsylvania, 12 volumes (Waynesburg, Pennsylvania: Cornerstone Genealogical Society, 1975), 10: 699, Mt. Zion Baptist Cemetery, Elizabeth Young entry.

“Elizabeth / Young / Died 1834 / Aged 72 Yrs.”

Hennen recorded tombstone data in Mt. Zion Baptist Cemetery in 1977. When the present researcher, Candice Buchanan, visited the cemetery 8 June 2013, this tombstone could not be located. Based on Hennen’s list of graves, the stone should have been beside Mary McGinnis (nee Young), who was most likely her daughter. While Mary’s stone was located, neither Elizabeth’s, nor Mary’s husband Joseph McGinnis’s stones were found, though they should have been together. In 2018, researcher Terrence McManaway contacted Buchanan with a tombstone photo matching exactly to the Hennen’s inscription for Elizabeth Young. The stone had been found abandoned in a ditch in Pennsylvania, thence removed to a location in North Carolina where it is still located.

Zach Taylor, Hanged for Murder, 9 April 1890

By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist

Originally published April 3, 2016.

Zacharias Taylor was hanged 9 April 1890 at the Greene County Courthouse in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, for the murder of William McCausland. Zach was the second man hanged for murder in the county’s history. The first was his brother-in-law and accomplice, George W. Clark, who was hanged for the same murder, earlier in the year, on 26 February 1890. As the first man to face this fate, George often is the focus of reflections on this terrible event in our local history. Accordingly, this ongoing research is taking a closer look at Zach.

Right now, court records and extensive newspaper coverage, including interviews with Zach and letters he wrote from jail, are being transcribed and posted to the Greene Connections Archives. It is vital that anyone who chooses to embark upon family history research, remembers that genealogy requires an open mind. Ancestors were only human. We never know what we will discover. These articles reveal some of the upsides to finding controversy in the ancestral branches. Among the specifics of the crime and its repercussions, are also biographical details of Zach’s family members, including his parents, stepmother, siblings, wife, and children. Additionally, the drilled-in focus on Zach’s own life allows us to learn much more about him than we would ever find for most of our ancestors from the same era. Due to the fact that Zach’s wife was George W. Clark’s sister, research opportunities between the families doubles due to the intense media regarding each man.

Zacharias Taylor (Greene County Courthouse Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

Zach’s photo itself is a result of his crime and sentence to hang. Both he and George Clark sat for these studio photos during their jail time in Waynesburg. Their names were actually printed on the cabinet card photographs identifying them clearly – very unlike most of the nineteenth century images handed down to us. This original, professional photograph was taken by Rogers, Photo, Waynesburg, Pa. The picture of Zach was donated to the Greene County Courthouse by Larkin and Mary Jane Grimes Dellinger, 22 April 2005. It has been displayed and maintained by Thomas Headlee, retired Register and Recorder, who provided the opportunity to scan the photograph for the Greene Connections: Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project.

Whether or not your ancestor was directly involved as victim or defendant in such an event, you may still discover that your family members played other roles. In the news articles transcribed so far for Zach’s profile in the Greene Connections Archives, numerous people are identified as lawyers, jurors, witnesses, sheriff, deputies, executioners, and so on. Some of these individuals are even included with pictures and biographical sketches throughout the news coverage.

Below is one example of the articles being transcribed. The text demonstrates how valuable this information is for both understanding our community history and gleaning genealogical facts. As in all research, no one source should ever stand alone. As this article is compared and contrasted with the other sources being collected, a comprehensive tree is coming together for Zacharias Taylor that benefits his extended family. Simultaneously, of course, we gain an understanding of the events surrounding the murder of William McCausland and the impact on our community.


“To The Scaffold” article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 10 April 1890. Transcription by Candice Buchanan.

Newspaper microfilm available at the Cornerstone Genealogical Society, Waynesburg, Pa.

“To The Scaffold.

Taylor Meets His Fate Calmly and With Perfect Resignation.

He Firmly Asserts His Innocence, And Forgives Those Whom He Declares Have Rendered Him Injustice. The McCausland Crime Expiated.

At 11:11 the drop fell and Zach. Taylor was launched into eternity.

Precisely at 11:01 a.m. Taylor accompanied by Rev. Maxwell, Sheriff Goodwin, Dr. Ullom, Deputy Randolph Goodwin and Ed. Goodwin and watchman James Allison came from the jail and slowly took their places upon the scaffold. Taylor’s arms were pinioned. A short prayer was offered by Rev. Maxwell, after which Taylor repeated the Lord’s prayer. Sheriff Goodwin then asked Taylor if he had anything to say and he spoke 1 minute as follows:

Gentleman:

‘I am an innocent man of the murder of which I am charged. I never saw the man in my life, never knew there was such a man until after he was murdered. God knows this. I want all of you men to take note of this.’ After the prayer he pinioned himself. Before the noose was adjusted he said ‘Farewell. I want you all to meet me in heaven.’ He then kissed and bade all on the scaffold good bye. ‘I don’t hold ill will against anyone. If I was guilty I couldn’t stand here as I am.’ He did not make a perceptible struggle after he fell. Dr. Ullom held his pulse and noted his heart beats and pronounced him dead at 11:22.

Taylor’s Last Night.

Tuesday evening Taylor was visited by his attorneys who remained until 8:30. After that he spent the time conversing with Rev. Maxwell and his watchmen. Taylor’s little boy arrived yesterday and spent the night with his father. The boy became tired and was placed on the cot in the cell. When the boy fell asleep Zach. went into his cell and throwing himself over the boy prayed that the Lord might protect his family. He did not retire until 3 a.m. and slept soundly until 6. He then arose and ate a hearty breakfast consisting of a slice of bread, two eggs, piece of cake, piece of pie and a cup of coffee. He felt well and said: ‘I am ready to meet my God.’

James Allison and Ed. Goodwin were the [paper is folded or torn here and cannot be read] Lewis Anderson and Ed. Adamson assumed the watch till morning.

Monday evening Taylor spent talking, laughing and reading. He retired at midnight saying to the guards that ‘he had two letters to write tomorrow.’ To Allison he said: Good night, Jim.’ He soon fell asleep and slept soundly, merely moving his arm, a half hour later. Slight noises did not waken him. At 4 o’clock he wakened and ate some crackers and drank some water. He then fell asleep and slept soundly until 7, when he arose, washed, and ate a hearty breakfast. He wanted the guards Messrs. James Allison and Lewis Anderson, to stay near him. A cot was brought inside of the inclosure and placed near the door of Taylor’s cell which was left open. On this, one of the guards slept while the other kept watch, alternately. Taylor was in good spirits Tuesday and would converse readily with visitors who stood at the door. He was still proud of the nerve he was exhibiting and would hold up his arm and say: ‘Does that tremble?’

Greene County Courthouse and Jail as seen in 1887. Zach Taylor’s view would have been of this yard from one of these windows. It is in this area that the scaffold was built. (Greene County Historical Society Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

Taylor stood at the window and watched the workmen making ready for his execution, on Tuesday, remarking later, that, ‘It did not affect him a particle, no more than to see workmen building a house.’ Tuesday night he showed his suit which he was to wear when executed to his attorney, Capt. Donley, and spoke about the adjusting of the rope, with perfect coolness and indifference.

Undisturbed To The Last.

Taylor’s Impending Doom Is Passed Lightly By, As A Trivial Thing.

Heedless of his fate was Zach. Taylor to the end. He spent his last days and hours chatting and eating and sleeping just as he would have done in ordinary, everyday life. To those who visited the jail during the past week he talked freely of little incidents that had transpired while he was a free man. It had been generally said that, after George Clark’s execution, Taylor would weaken. This came to the ears of the prisoner and he seemed to take a cool pride in living down the prediction. To those who were familiar with him he would sometimes ask the question: ‘How do the people think I am bearing up?’ When told that it was the general opinion that he was bearing up well, his countenance wore an expression of grim satisfaction. He would then say: ‘I think I am bearing up better than George Clark did.’

George W. Clark (Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum Collection, Greene Connections Archives Project)

On Friday morning the writer visited the jail and as Warden Anderson opened the door Taylor and his wife were making a circuit of the room together. They approached with a steady gait, Taylor in advance of his wife and as he shook hands he was asked how he was enjoying himself: ‘Oh, very well,’ said he, ‘some people are afraid to die, but I am not. Everybody has to die and I think there is no need of worrying one’s self about it. Some people think it takes nerve to die, but it doesn’t. There will be another innocent man murdered here, as they did murder one innocent man, George Clark. I know that.’

The Final Parting.

Elizabeth Ann (Clark) (Taylor) Campbell (Waynesburg Democrat, 11 April 1890, page 1)

On Monday morning Taylor’s wife who had remained with her husband nearly three weeks, bade him a final farewell and took her sorrowful departure home, there to make ready for the reception of her husband who was to return again – not living but dead. She was deeply affected at the parting. John Taylor, Zach’s brother had arrived with a team from Masontown on Sabbath and he took Mrs. Taylor away. The condemned man seemed much less affected than his wife when her final leave was taken, and instead of this leaving him very much broken spirited, as some predicted, his manner throughout Monday was the same as it had been before.

Rev. Jas. A. Maxwell, arrived from Chester, Pa., on Saturday evening. He came by the prisoner’s request. He spent much time with Taylor after his arrival and talked with him upon spiritual matters. Monday he prayed and talked with the prisoner most of the day. He presented the way toward spiritual grace in a very plain, yet tender manner, showing to the condemned man that if he were guilty, redemption could only be had by a confession of his sin to God and man; while if innocent, he had simply to ask the grace of God and put his trust in the Savior.

Expressed Readiness To Die.

The prisoner manifested a willingness to meet his God, and stated that he was prepared to go. A bible and a volume of Moody’s Talks and Sermons lay upon a table near his cell. Taylor had five years ago become a member of the old Dunkard church, at Masontown. We visited Taylor Monday evening and he completed [paper is folded or torn here and cannot be read] this issue, an interruption having been made, by visitors, while it was being taken down, first. We found him sitting with Rev. Maxwell at the table, the latter being engaged in writing some farewell words which the prisoner desired to be read at his funeral. During the evening, Taylor talked pleasantly and with apparent unconcern, occasionally puffing at a cigar which he held in his hand. He spoke freely of his execution and gave directions as to certain details in conducting his funeral. His wife has moved from the house which they formerly occupied and he regretted that he could not tell Rev. Maxwell the location of her present home, from which his funeral is to take place. He desired certain ones to attend his execution and said they could leave if they desired before the drop fell.

Zachiras Taylor [sic] and Elizabeth Ann Taylor tombstone, Masontown Cemetery, Masontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania (Photograph by author)

The body will be conveyed to Masontown on Wednesday. Jasper Rice and John Taylor arrived Tuesday to take care of and convey the remains away. The construction of the board partitions and floor for additional standing room was commenced Tuesday, but the scaffold was not erected until Wednesday morning. Taylor’s health and appetite remained good up to the day of the execution, and he slept well.

Zach Taylor

An Interesting Sketch – His Complete Family History.

Zach. Taylor – he always put it on paper Zacharias Taylor, who with his accomplice George Clark paid the penalty of the law, for the murder of William McCausland, was 38 years of age last August. He was of spare build, thin face and rather small head. His eyes were restless, but when talking to anyone in a friendly way they would brighten up and he seemed to forget his surroundings. His father, James Taylor, was born in England, and served three years in the British army, and at the expiration of his term of enlistment he re-enlisted for another three years, but deserted afterward and shipped on a sailing vessel. He followed the ocean life for some time, but landed in America and lived in Western Maryland. He served in the late war. He was thrice married, being last wedded to a widow named Helmick, who survives him and resides with her son, Mr. Helmick, near Masontown. She is the stepmother of the man who died on the scaffold, and it is said she has been deeply grieved over his sad end, and wrote Zach a very affectionate and sympathetic letter. By the second marriage there were eleven children born. Zach was the third child. When he was nine years old his father removed to near Masontown, Fayette county, Pa., where he died about 20 years since. Zach’s mother died five years before.

Zach was married Jan. 10, 1875, to Elizabeth Clark, daughter of Zaddock Clark. ‘My wedding was to have taken place on Thursday, January ninth,’ said he a few evenings ago, ‘but it was put off until Friday, the tenth.’ That made us think of the superstitious saying, ‘That bad luck attends the performing of any important act on Friday’ – then it is said, that ‘to postpone one’s wedding day is unlucky.’ His wedding was put off because the minister couldn’t come on the day appointed. They were married at Jacob Harbaugh’s near Areford’s store, in Cumberland township, and Taylor said that Sylvanus Areford was present. The ceremony was performed by Rev. John McClintock. Mrs. Taylor is 38 years of age.

Six children have been born of that marriage. Two are dead. Of those living the eldest is a daughter, Annie Jane. She is fourteen years of age. Ah! how a father’s pride is shown for his daughter. ‘She is as nice a girl as walks, if I do say it myself,’ said her father on Monday eve. The second child is a boy, William aged ten. The third child is a boy, Minor Edgar, and is eight years old. Rosa Belle will be four in May. The children have all visited their father during his confinement in jail.

Taylor had never traveled much. He said he had ‘hardly been out of the smoke of Masontown.’ He had lived in and near Masontown since his marriage. Before his marriage he was a deck hand on a steamer that plied the Monongahela. He first worked on the Elisha Bennett, which went to wreck several years ago. He also followed river life, for some time after his marriage. He was employed on the Geneva, the John Snowdon, the Adam Jacobs and the Blaine. He came off the Geneva in ’85 and lay with fever nearly all summer. On recovering, he tried the river again, but was compelled to give up that kind of work. After that he engaged in ‘selling liquor on the sly’ as a source of livelihood. He remarked: ‘I didn’t sell it for nothing. I would get from fifty to seventy-five cents for a pint and paid $2 a gallon. With what water I added to it, I would have some profit.’

He has two brothers and one sister living, John Taylor resides at Masontown while Jesse, the youngest of the family lives near Smithfield, Somerset county, Pa. A sister lives in Maryland, while a half-brother George Taylor lives near Masontown.”


This article is followed in the same newspaper issue by an article titled, “Taylor Talks,” in which Zach provides his account of the day the awful crime occurred. Because they are too lengthy to list in full here, this and additional items found on further dates and in other newspapers are being posted to the Greene Connections Archives.

An excellent summation of the trials and executions is presented in Dr. G. Wayne Smith’s History of Greene County,Pennsylvania, volume 1, pages 57-65. These books are available at the Cornerstone Genealogical Society and area libraries.