Old Philadelphia Families

An article from The North American newspaper, Philadelphia, PA, March 10, 1912

by Frank Willing Leach

As the name of Strawbridge is rather an unusual one, it might naturally be inferred that all those bearing it were more or less intimately related, or, at least, of the same common stock. Such, however, appears not to be the case; or, if it is so, there is no conclusive evidence of the fact. There are a number of persons of this name, in and about Philadelphia, all people of prominence within the respective environments by which destiny has hedged them in, who are, apparently at least, not kin to one another, being descended from totally different emigrant ancestors, though a remote relationship may exist.

While another Strawbridge family was located in the adjoining county of Chester at an earlier date, it is the writer's purpose to present at this time a sketch of a family bearing the name in question, which has been more intimately associated with the history of Philadelphia, for a century and more, than any other bearing the same surname.

For our information relative to this line we are largely indebted to the painstaking thoughtfulness of a representative of it -- John Strawbridge, born in 1780 and died in 1858 -- who, during the leisure moments which came to him in the concluding years of his life -- in 1843 -- reduced to writing, for the benefit of his progeny, his reminiscences, including information which he had gained from his father; thus carrying the family history back into the middle of the 18th century.

We are indebted, moreover, for much interesting information, to a similar memoir, written in 1852, by John Strawbridge's sister, Jane Strawbridge, then the widow of General Jonathan Denise Ledyard.

From the records preserved by John Strawbridge and his sister, who seem to have possessed the true genealogical instinct, certain excerpts will be made from time to time in the present narrative. Thus the record of the brother begins:

John Strawbridge, my grandfather, emigrated from the north of Ireland about the year 1752, and settled near Back Creek, eastern shore of Maryland. He had previously married a widow Miller, who survived him to the great age of ninety years, and died in 1796, when I was almost sixteen years old.

It will thus be observed that, like many other noted Philadelphia families, such as the Chews, the Tilghmans, the Balches, the Parrishes, etc., the Strawbridges were first located in Maryland, whence, later, they moved up into the adjoining Province of Pennsylvania.

The family narrative thus continues:

Of my grandfather, who died many years before I was born, I have heard only that he was a good tempered, indolent man, of very moderate education. The support of her young family, three daughters and two sons, devolved on the energy of my grandmother, who well discharged her duty, assisted by my father, who although a very young man, and with but an imperfect education, as was common in those days, came to be considered the head of the family, and received a large share of his mother's pride and affection.

His attention to her and to his sisters, and their children, was constant and untiring. In after years his mother with some of his nieces or nephews passed several months of every winter at his house, all receiving kindness and many presents. Three or four of them were well educated by him. His mother, after forty years, was nearly as Irish in her dialect and notions as ever. She was a strict Presbyterian and very religious, yet too indulgent to her grandchildren. She never could bear to hear any of us scolded.

John Strawbridge, the Colonist, died in 1772 or ‘73, as the account of his administrators, his widow and his eldest son, was filed in Cecil County, May 24, 1773. According to this account, the heirs were the widow, Jane, and five children, Ann, Mary, John, Margaret and James.

The eldest two daughters, Ann and Mary, married brothers, Samuel and Thomas Moffitt, who lived near North East, Cecil County, Maryland. The other daughter, Margaret, or Peggy, as she was called, became the wife of John Lawson, and, in 1787, they emigrated to that part of Pennsylvania which is now Lycoming County, then a wilderness. These three sisters all had issue, but it is not pertinent to the purpose of this sketch to follow these female lines further.

John Strawbridge, the elder of the two sons, and the only one who was married, was probably born in Ireland, in 1749, accompanying his parents to Maryland in 1752, when two or three years of age. Some time prior to the Revolution he left Back Creek, where his father had originally located, and purchased a farm in Cecil County, Maryland, near the Pennsylvania line. Subsequently, he removed to what the son, in his autobiography, denominates "a very pretty residence, Fair Hill, eight or nine miles east of Elkton." The son adds:

I suppose they lived comfortably. I know they were highly respected by all the old neighbors. John must have been greatly esteemed, as, during the war, he was Sheriff of the county, and, as I have heard, a major of militia.

John Strawbridge, the autobiographer, details an interesting incident bearing upon a very important occurrence in American history, of the revolutionary period. As is well known, the British fleet set sail, in the summer of 1777, from New York, Philadelphia then being the objective point. It was supposed, of course, that the Delaware Bay would be entered, and the Quaker City reached via the Delaware river.

Instead, the fleet chose the Chesapeake, sailing northward as far as the "Head of Elk," or Elkton, Maryland. Their arrival at this point, so near Philadelphia, seems to have been made known to the commander of the Continental forces by John Strawbridge, the father of the biographer. The latter thus narrates:

It was at this time, August, 1777, when my father was circumstanced as I have described, that the British fleet which had sailed from New York several weeks previous and was supposed to be destined for Philadelphia, after various demonstrations off the Capes of the Delaware, came into the Chesapeake and landed a large force at Court House Point, under Gen. Sir William Howe.

General Washington, with the Marquis de Lafayette, was in the neighborhood of Newark watching and expecting his arrival in the Delaware. My father was the first to communicate the news at camp. After being subjected to a searching examination he was desired to accompany Washington and Lafayette, who, attended by the Staff and escort, proceeded to Iron Hill to test the truth of his intelligence. My father rode between the two generals. It was a very hot day, and he noticed that Lafayette wore long boots but no stockings. When they attained to the top of the Hill, a commanding eminence near Elkton, by the aid of glasses they could discern the British fleet and encampment.

The Americans were brought up. Several sharp skirmishes ensued, and, on the eleventh of September the severe and unfortunate battle of Brandywine took place, and the result was the loss of Philadelphia.

Washington was highly pleased with my father, and before they separated urged him to accept a captain's commission in the Continental Army. This compliment he was compelled respectfully to decline.

As indicated by his son, John Strawbridge, the second, was sheriff of Cecil County. This was in 1778. In the same year he was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel–not Major, as the son states–of the Susquehanna Battalion of Cecil County Militia. The county records exhibit these facts.

The war being over and peace declared, the Strawbridges, about 1783, or shortly thereafter, removed to Philadelphia, since which time, embracing a period of a century and a quarter, the family has been intimately associated with the business and social life of the Quaker City.

John Strawbridge, who established himself as a tobacco merchant, first resided on Third Street, below Market. Later he lived on Walnut Street, below Third. His place of business was located at Walnut Street Wharf. "Notwithstanding some heavy losses," wrote the son, "he got on fast, and at the end of ten years seemed desirous to arrange his affairs and go to the country, more especially there to bring up his children. He was fond of rural life and topics, and used to entertain his family with conversation on such subjects."

A popular form of investment at that time was in "back lands" of Pennsylvania–vast tracts of territory now comprising some of the richest and most thickly populated of the western and northern Counties of the State. Mr. Strawbridge, in conjunction with his brother James, purchased a number of these tracts, but, according to the son, "they never came to much in our hands."

Among the real estate investments of the brothers were certain extensive tracts in what is now Tioga County, which were obtained from the Commonwealth. Included in these purchases was the site of the town of Osceola, now a thriving community.

In 1792 John Strawbridge negotiated for a large property in Washington County, but, the deal falling through, he finally abandoned his purpose of removing from the vicinity of Philadelphia, and, renting Peel Hall, then a noted estate, the site of Girard College, he set about closing out his business and retiring to his new home.

His residence here continued only a short time as, the following year, he lost his life, as a result of the frightful scourge which devastated Philadelphia that year. The son details this sad occurrence:

In August, 1793, the yellow fever made its appearance in Philadelphia. My father visited the city daily. On the seventh he had adjusted all. On the ninth he was attacked, and died prepared and resigned on the Sixteenth of September, 1793, taking leave of my mother and uncle with entire composure. Of his children he could not bear to take leave. I passed his door twelve hours before his death and still remember his face and position.

He was forty-four years of age, and of middle size, very square and stout, good face, hazel eyes and possessed a wonderful constitution. He was always a temperate and religious man. As one of the victims of 1793 his name appears in the records of that melancholy period, as one of the most useful, benevolent citizens and intelligent, active merchants.

I may mention here as the evidence of alarm and distress then prevailing in Philadelphia, that in six hours my good father was hurried to the grave, my uncles and two negroes alone attending him to our Arch street ground.

There is a monument with a long inscription by Dr. Green which my mother never liked nor considered, however just, as suited to his retiring modesty.

For nearly five weeks after his decease we were shut up and nearly starved, such was the difficulty in procuring provisions. No one came near us. At last our grandfather, George Evans, came and took us to Newark, Delaware, where we lived six months, then removed to Wilmington, where my mother ended her days.

My father had few close city friends, but they were highly respectable. Dr. Ashbel Green, then our young minister, was one of them.

I do not believe there was a more liberal and benevolent man in the city. He gave largely through others, and was always retiring and unostentatious. Congress and the Legislature both met here. He knew many of the members and their visits occupied most of the evenings. . . . . I remember two of these gentlemen, Gen. Wm. Montgomery and Judge Allison.

John Strawbridge, second of the name, whose death has just been recorded, married Hannah Evans, daughter of George and Rachel (nee Gilpin) Evans, and a niece, on her mother's side, of Thomas Gilpin, the noted Philadelphia Quaker, who, in 1777, was exiled to Virginia–where he died the following year–with a score of others, chiefly Friends, for his refusal to give allegiance to the cause of the revolutionists. Thomas and Rachel Gilpin were grandchildren of Joseph and Hannah (nee Glover) Gilpin, who, coming to America in 1695, became the progenitors of many people prominent in Philadelphia's social and professional life.

Mrs. Strawbridge's father, George Evans, actively participated in the Revolution, being a commissary with the rank of Colonel in the American forces. His granddaughter, Mrs. Ledyard, thus refers to him in her reminiscences:

I used to sit in a little chair by his side and listen to his accounts of the war, and particularly remember his speaking of the battle of Princeton, where his coat tail was shot off by a cannon ball, and of his describing the sensation, the shock being so great that he at first thought he had lost a limb.

He is mentioned in a printed notice, in my possession, as having by his activity and patriotism made himself very obnoxious to the British, who, when in possession of Wilmington, were anxious to secure himself and family as hostages, but they were secreted for a time by their friends, and afterwards, one at a time, removed to the country.

John Strawbridge, the third, has this to say of his mother, in his previously quoted reminiscences:

Often have I heard her tell, as passing through our army with her family, they and all they could gather in a wagon, on the day before that dreadful battle [Brandywine] was fought, and of hearing the cannonading all day. Her descriptions of their alarm and anxiety and of the looks and sufferings of the poor sick and wounded, was truly graphic

"Gold Bless your pretty face," said one of the soldiers, "don't be afraid, you'll see how we will whip the d'd rascals."

In her youth my mother was very handsome, one of the best of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. She remained a widow, irreproachable in all her relations, and died in Wilmington, Delaware, in November, 1811.

The daughter, Mrs. Ledyard, in her narrative, previously referred to, gives even a more striking pen picture of the mother, as follows:

My mother was Hannah Evans. She married young, was a handsome woman, taller than myself, and of rather full habit as I recollect her, and of a very florid complexion, large dark blue eyes, regular features and beautiful soft brown hair, which never became gray, as was the case with nearly all the family, many of them at quite an early period of life.

She was a pious woman, a member of the Presbyterian church, but much attached to the Society of Friends. She passed through many trials, but had strong faith to support her, and entire submission to the will of God. Was a person of strong mind, very energetic, active, managing in her family, and a general favorite among her pleasant and large circle of friends and neighbors.

Mrs. Strawbridge died in November, 1811 or 1812, the son giving the first-mentioned date in his memoirs, and the daughter naming the year 1812 in hers.

The children of John and Hannah (nee Evans) Strawbridge were five in number, as follows: John, James, George, Joseph and Jane, to all of whom reference will presently be made.

James Strawbridge, a younger brother of John Strawbridge, the second, was born about 1750, probably a year or two prior to the parents' departure for America. He participated in the Revolution, as we learn from an interesting document prepared in 1854 by a nephew, Judge George Strawbridge, a brother of the other two family historians, John Strawbridge and Mrs. Ledyard. In George Strawbridge's memoirs he says:

Now, it so happened that my father's only brother (James Strawbridge) who had been an officer in Smallwood's Maryland brigade had to retire from the army (of the Revolutionary War) on account of a terrible abscess of the lungs, which nearly cost him his life.

Like his brother, he removed to Philadelphia shortly subsequent to the Revolution. He did not, however, long tarry there. His nephew further writes on this point:

He chose on partial recovery the life of the woods. The land office of Pennsylvania was recently opened; with good guides he penetrated the woods and located a considerable body of the choicest lands of Pennsylvania. They lay principally in Tioga county on the waters of the Tioga and Cowanesque rivers.

This was the tract previously referred to, as embracing the site of the present town of Osceola. A local historian, Charles Tubbs, of Osceola, thus writes of the event:

Coming from the depths of the forest into this opening, where the sun could strike the earth, it looked pleasant to James Strawbridge. Earth, air, sky, water–all were inviting. Here on the 25th day of June, 1785, Deputy Surveyor General Thomas Tucker, located land warrant number 451, consisting of 268 acres, for James Strawbridge. After the English fashion he gave this place a name. He called it "James' Choice." No other warrant was located that year in the Cowanesque valley in Thomas Tucker's district.

To what extent and how long Strawbridge became an actual settler in this remote wilderness, is somewhat difficult to say. The nephew, however, gives us this information:

James Strawbridge settled on his land, cleared some of it, built a house, a barn, and was employed about that important matter, a mill.

In the office of the Secretary of Internal Affairs, at Harrisburg, is an old survey of this section, made in 1792, upon which the property in question is noted as the "Jas. Strawbridge Improvement."

The "Northern Tier" was claimed by Pennsylvania under the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. Upon this first attempt, made in 1785, to open up the country to settlement, Pennsylvania's claim was controverted by the Connecticut-Susquehanna Company, and, as a consequence, followed the armed invasion of the soil by the Sons of Connecticut, and the Wyoming Massacre, in a more eastern portion of the same territory.

While this controversy was eventually settled in favor of Pennsylvania's contention, the Connecticut invaders greatly outnumbered the original settlers, and, owing to the absence of all effective authority at the time, the new-comers practically controlled the situation. The nephew thus writes:

They (the Connecticut settlers) established themselves along the north line for a width of some twenty miles, which they held in defiance of the laws of Pennsylvania, for more than twenty years. They shot his (Strawbridge's) cattle, burned his houses, and would have shot himself, had he not vacated the country. With the laws on his side he never saw his property again. He proved the most persevering enemy they ever had, but in vain.

Returning to Philadelphia he assumed charge of the extensive estate of his brother, John Strawbridge, who, as previously stated, died in 1793. About the year 1801 he embarked in business, investing all his own means, and a considerable portion of the property of his deceased brother. In this enterprise he was unfortunate, and nearly all the money invested in it was lost, thus greatly embarrassing the widow and her children.

This financial reverse, however, though bringing disaster in the family, produced no unfriendly feeling between James Strawbridge, on the one hand, and his sister-in-law and her children, on the other. John Strawbridge, the nephew, thus speaks of him:

He was a kind, honest, liberal man . . . James Strawbridge was one of the handsomest men I ever saw. He never married, and these untoward events ended his days, in 1806, in much trouble. I never think of him but with affection and regret.

His niece, Mrs. Ledyard, refers to him in a similar vein, in her memoirs, addressed to her daughter, as follows:

You have frequently heard me mention my father's only brother, Uncle James, to whom I was inexpressibly attached. He was our guardian and as fond and indulgent as a father. We have, you know, his miniature, given to me when a little girl. He never married, was a most amiable, excellent character, and the very handsomest man, in face and figure, my eyes ever saw.

James Strawbridge was a pronounced factor in the social life of the city of Philadelphia, and otherwise active in contemporaneous happenings. He was elected, June 25, 1798, Captain of the 5th Company of the celebrated "Macpherson Blues," then the most prominent militia organization in the Quaker City, at a time when such bodies constituted an influential element in current affairs.

As already indicated, he was a bachelor, and he resided at the corner of Fifth and Market streets, a fashionable boarding-house being located there in his time. His death occurred November 14, 1805, and not in 1806, as his nephew states. Poulson's Daily Advertiser, of November 18, 1805, thus refers to him:

He was endowed by nature with a good constitution; his mind was vigorous; his disposition distinguished for benevolence; he exhibited the principles of integrity; he was extensively known and as extensively esteemed; his property was large and valuable, but it was wrested from him by fraud and violence.

John Strawbridge, the eldest of the five children of John and Hannah (nee Evans) Strawbridge, was born near Elkton, Md., April 25, 1780, and accompanied his parents upon their removal to Philadelphia, at the close of the Revolution. When the father died, ten years later, the widow and children changed their residence to Wilmington, Delaware. In the following year, 1794, the eldest son, then a lad of fourteen, returned to the Quaker City, where he thereafter resided. Of this early period in his life John Strawbridge thus speaks, in his memoirs:

From 1794 I never lived at home, though a constant visitor there. Uncle James was indulgent and I gay and extravagant but not dissipated, for I had then as my friends and patrons some of the best men in Philadelphia, such as Robert Ralston, Samuel Archer, Alexander Henry, etc. I was well educated at Princeton College, 1797. . . . After considerable trouble Mr. Ralston's partiality started me in 1802. I made two prosperous voyages to India and settled in 1804.

John Strawbridge does not mention the fact that, after leaving college, he studied law, intending to pursue that profession. As a matter of fact he did so, as we learn from the reminiscences of his sister, who writes:

My eldest brothers, John and George, were educated at Princeton, and both read law with James A. Bayard, quite a distinguished public man. John tired of it and went into a counting house at Philadelphia, where, after a time, he was employed as supercargo twice to India, and his profits were so handsome that he was enabled to establish himself in business.

John Strawbridge, like other merchants of his day, owned his own ships, which were dispatched to all parts of the civilized world, especially to certain Asiatic ports, with which an extensive trade had been by that time established.

Besides conducting his own private business, which was an extensive one, he interested himself in other enterprises of a commercial and financial character, among them, the Philadelphia Savings Fund, now nearly a century old, of which he was one of the founders, in 1816; being also named in the incorporating Act of Assembly of February 25, 1819.

His sister, Mrs. Ledyard, writing in 1852, thus refers to him:

Your uncle John, you are aware, has always remained in Philadelphia, has had various changes and trials, but has always been highly esteemed and respected by his old friends and connections; has had fine health and retained his natural gaiety of disposition. He is a talented, well educated man, was in youth very handsome, had all the beauty of the family.

The character of the man is clearly evidenced in the words employed by him in the concluding paragraph of his memoirs, written in 1843, from which quotations have been so liberally made, as follows:

To these reminiscences I can only add, for the benefit of my children, my sincere conviction that I now, for sixty-three years, have been most favorably dealt with by a kind Providence. I have committed many errors and suffered for them, but I believe never forfeited the claim to honesty and fair conduct in domestic relations, which, after all, is the only happy path. Few have been more desirous of discharging the moral duties of husband and father. This I can say truly but to God the gracious Benefactor how far have I come short.

John Strawbridge married, September 18, 1804, Elizabeth Stockton–the only daughter of General John Stockton, of Delaware–who died June 3, 1807. He married a second time, April 14, 1810, Frances Taylor, daughter of John and Ann (nee Huston) Taylor, who was born February 18, 1781, and who, through her mother, was a great-granddaughter of Samuel Hassell, who was called to the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania October 9, 1728, and was three times Mayor of Philadelphia, 1731, 1732, and 1740.

Mrs. Strawbridge is mentioned in the memoirs of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Ledyard, who resided with her, when a young girl, following her mother's decease, as "an estimable woman and did everything in her power to place me at ease and render me happy in her home." She died April 18, 1836, but her husband, John Strawbridge, survived her twenty-two years, dying in Germantown, April 4, 1858.

By the first wife, nee Stockton, there were two children, Stockton and John Ralston, the latter of whom died in infancy. Stockton Strawbridge was admitted to the Philadelphia bar June 2, 1828. Subsequently, after the gold fever of ‘49 developed, he removed to California, where he died unmarried, in February, 1861.

The children of John Strawbridge by his second wife, Frances Taylor, were eight in number, namely: Ann Taylor, John Taylor, George, Frances Rebecca, Thomas, Julia Elizabeth, Elizabeth Jane and James Vandekamp, five of whom married, as will presently appear.

George Strawbridge, second son of John and Hannah (nee Evans) Strawbridge, was born October 31, 1784. In 1802 he graduated from Princeton College–then known as the College of New Jersey–and shortly afterward entered the law office of James Asheton Bayard, the distinguished Delaware statesman, and was in due time admitted to the bar of the state indicated.

Mrs. Ledyard, in her previously quoted reminiscences, thus refers to her second brother:

After George completed his course of study he went to New Castle, five miles below Wilmington, to be near us, and with the hope of there pursuing his profession. Business came slowly. He had no other means of support, so after my mother's death, he quit practice and went out supercargo for brother John, but previously passed many months in Western Pennsylvania, to look after lands belonging to the family and which had been neglected until necessity obliged us to sell off, tract after tract, for support.

After this George went abroad several voyages and was quite fortunate until the last, when the vessel he was in was captured by an English frigate, and he was detained prisoner abroad six months, but at length landed at Georgetown, N.C., where he formed many pleasant acquaintances and was treated with the greatest hospitality, and, when leaving, was supplied with a variety of nice things for the return voyage.

Soon after he engaged in manufacturing, which proved so profitable that he felt encouraged to settle down at a pleasant place near Frankford and married miss Fanny Hepburn. Immediately afterwards peace was declared and the manufactory (where they had contracts from government to make cloth for the army) was no longer to be depended upon.

He made other experiments, but only to experience other reverses of fortune, until at length he was induced to go to New Orleans about the year 1824, and resumed his profession, and, after reading the Napoleon Code, engaged very successfully in practice and was enabled to educate his children and afford them every advantage.

A reference is made by his sister to an early visit to Tioga County. This was not long after the death of his uncle, which occurred in 1805, the nephew having been appointed administrator of his estate. The latter, in his own memoirs, tells of this trip through the wilderness, to look after the lands which had been in the possession of the squatters for a score of years. This incident is related by him:

I continued on along a dreary road, the mud covered with snow. As I went on, remarked the track of a man with a mocassin coming into the path and I soon saw himself; the snow prevented him hearing my horse's steps until I was close upon him, when he halted, turned, and taking his rifle from his shoulder exclaimed: "Strawbridge, is that you? Here's a glorious opportunity to get rid of you," and after a moment added, "I could take you from your horse and lay you behind that log and the wolves would take care of you; some of them are none to good to do it, but I am not of that kind. I wish to settle with you for my land and get a good title," and thereupon he took his place alongside and we traveled together to the Cowanesque, some five or six miles. This was Phil Taylor, who had the reputation of being concerned in some of these fights. I had formed a bad opinion of him, and had I known who it was, I should not have given him such a chance. The idea he expressed was quite naturally uppermost.

As indicated by his sister, George Strawbridge succeeded in the practice of his profession, following his settlement in New Orleans, and his branch of the family continued thereafter to reside in and be identified with affairs in that city. He attained a place on the bench, where he won eminence in the discharge of his judicial duties. His death occurred March 11, 1859, and the New Orleans True Delta, of the following day, thus refers to the deceased:

Our old and greatly esteemed friend, Judge George Strawbridge, is no more, having breathed his last, after a tedious illness, yesterday, in the seventy-fourth year of his somewhat eventful, checquered, but always honorable and upright life.

The deceased was a native of Maryland, with which State his family had long been connected. In his youth he removed from there to Delaware, where he studied and practiced law, and for a time, also, was a resident of Pennsylvania. Dissatisfied with the legal profession, he embarked in mercantile pursuits and became interested in shipping. In the latter he made numerous voyages, and in the last war, while engaged in enterprises requiring his presence, the ships in which he voyaged were twice captured and confiscated by the British. Of these exploits and adventures he often spoke with agreeable interest and animation.

About forty years ago he came to this city, where he resumed the practice of the law, and for many years occupied a deservedly high place in the legal profession as a lawyer of great eminence in commercial and general matters. For several years after the establishment of our present District Court system, the deceased was Judge of the Fourth District Court, over which he presided with dignity, ability and impartiality.

Judge Strawbridge was not in his later years what would be called a popular man–his habits, instincts, cultivation and inflexible integrity unfitted him for winning mob applause or political notoriety, but as a member of society, a scholar, a jurist, a gentleman, a friend, a husband and a father, he was all that the best men are proud to be, and the good aspire to be. He leaves a widow and three sons and one daughter to mourn his death. We unite our sorrows with theirs for we knew him long, enjoyed his friendship, honored his worth, and reverenced his integrity.

Judge Strawbridge married, November 13, 1816, Frances Hepburn, daughter of Stacy and Sarah (nee Duffield) Hepburn, who was born January 13, 1792, and died June 12, 1871.

Their children were six in number, as follows: Henry Hepburn, Sarah Duffield, James, George Edward, Alexander Baldwin and Robert Charles. Of the six, the eldest two sons, Henry Hepburn and James, became leading members of the New Orleans bar, they having established a partnership, as J. & H.H. Strawbridge, with offices at No. 41 Prytania street, as appears upon reference to old directories of that city. James Strawbridge, the second son, had previously–in 1840–graduated from Princeton College.

Of the six children, only the latter, James Strawbridge, married, his wife having been Clementine Hepburn. They were the parents of only one child, a son, Edward Hepburn Strawbridge, who married Marie Aimee Dolhonde, and died February 18, 1905. The children of the latter are Miss Clementine E. Strawbridge and James Edward Strawbridge, 1434 Derbigny street, New Orleans–these two being the only surviving descendants of Judge George Strawbridge.

Returning again to the immediate family of John and Hannah (nee Evans) Strawbridge, we have two sons and a daughter to account for. The elder of the two sons, the third born to his parents, to-wit, James Strawbridge, is thus referred to in the memoirs of Mrs. Ledyard:

James, my third brother, had a plain English education, was not of studious habits, but very steady, healthy and industrious. He chose to enter into one of the celebrated Brandywine mills as an apprentice and remained there until he had a thorough knowledge of the business, but the dust of the mill irritated his lungs (as was often the case) and he was obliged to quit, and as there was no other opening for him he went to sea before the mast in one of brother John's ships, and was soon advanced to the rank of mate, when somehow returning from England in a British vessel as passenger the ship was captured by the French and he with others thrown into the fortress of Cherbourg on the coast, exposed to the chill sea air passing through a grated window, and there remained two or three months, until the family heard of the situation, through the Government, or our consul there had him released. He returned with impaired health and died at Philadelphia after I went there to reside, about the year 1814.

The limited information we have concerning the youngest of the four brothers, Joseph Strawbridge, comes, likewise, from the reminiscences of his sister, written in 1852, which set forth:

Joseph, my youngest brother, had a classical school education, went early into a counting house in Philadelphia, was very closely confined, and growing rapidly he became weak and disabled and was advised to try a sea voyage. He made a trip to Martinique, enjoyed it, and was benefitted so much that he concluded to go again, and, having obtained a very desirable berth as assistant supercargo aboard a fine ship, went to Canton and gave great satisfaction to his employers by his steadiness and capacity. I have many of his letters written, as you know, in the most beautiful manner. On the return voyage, near home, his health gave way and after lingering several months he died at home in the nineteenth year of his age.

The only daughter of John and Hannah (nee Evans) Strawbridge was, as already indicated, Jane Strawbridge, the Mrs. Ledyard so frequently quoted, who was, as she herself says, named for her grandmother, the wife of the first John Strawbridge, who settled in Maryland in 1752. She writes interestingly of herself in her memoirs, as follows:

As I said, I was the youngest child and only daughter, and the most troublesome, when young, to manage, but afterwards her [mother's] greatest earthly comfort. She said she always felt the greatest confidence in me. I was always conscientious. It is pleasant, my dear daughter, to dwell upon her memory. My childhood was a most happy one. Now, when I look back, I think I had too much liberty, in consequence of which I went too much to the other extreme in bringing up my own family. . . . I could not look out of either door or window without being hailed by young companions, and for some reason, I know not why, Jane Strawbridge was a great favorite with her schoolmates.

She was a highly educated woman, and her associates were found among the leading people of Wilmington and Philadelphia, where she successively resided. She mentions officiating as bridesmaid for a school friend, where the groomsman was none other than Louis McLane, afterwards distinguished as a statesman, he having been United States Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, Minister to Great Britain, etc.

Jane Strawbridge married, October 26, 1819, Jonathan Denise Ledyard, son of Benajamin and Catharine (nee Forman) Ledyard. The father, Benjamin Ledyard, was a Major during the Revolution, and was one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati.

The son, who was born June 10, 1793, was adopted by Colonel Jan van Lincklaen, of Amsterdam, who came to America in 1792, as agent for the Holland Land Company, settled at Cazenovia, New York, and married Helen Ledyard, a daughter of Benjamin Ledyard and an elder sister of Jonathan Denise Ledyard.

The latter graduated from Union College in 1812, was admitted to the bar in 1815, and, upon the death of Mr. Lincklaen, in 1822, the management of the entire property devolved upon him, embracing 125,000 acres in Madison and Chenango Counties. He held several local town and village offices, was president of the 3d Great Western Turnpike Company, served as Brigadier General in the New York militia, was a delegate to the National Convention held at Harrisburg, Pa., in 1839, etc.

Mr. Ledyard died January 7, 1874; his wife, nineteen years previously, in February, 1855.

Jonathan Denise and Jane (nee Strawbridge) Ledyard had issue, as follows: Lincklaen, Jonathan Denise, George Strawbridge, Cornelius Cuyler, Helen Lincklaen and Lambertus Wolters, all of whom are now deceased.

The eldest son, who changed his name by Act of Assembly, to Ledyard Lincklaen, was a graduate of Union College, practiced law at Cazenovia, N.Y., held various local offices there, and was the author of a number of scientific and political papers, including a "Guide to Geology" in New York State. He married Helen C. Seymour, the only issue of said marriage being a daughter, now Mrs. Charles Stebbins Fairchild, No. 10 West 8th Street, New York, whose husband, besides filling other positions of distinction, was Secretary of the Treasury in the Cabinet of President Cleveland from 1887 to 1889. He is now president of the New York Security and Trust Company.

The second son, Jonathan Denise Ledyard, married Elizabeth Fitzhugh, but died without issue, having lost his life on the St. Lawrence, by the destruction of the steamboat "Montreal," in June, 1857.

George Strawbridge Ledyard, the third son, was president of the village of Cazenovia in 1875-76, held other local offices, and served on Governor Horatio Seymour's staff as aide-de-camp, with the rank of Colonel. He married Anne Fitzhugh, by whom he had seven children, the eldest two being now deceased–John Denise Ledyard and Richard Fitzhugh Ledyard. The survivors are: Mrs. E. Remington, Miss Mary Fitzhugh Ledyard, Mrs. R.F. Hubbard, Wolters Ledyard, all of Cazenovia; and George Strawbridge Ledyard, 2050 85th street, Brooklyn, N.Y. Mrs. George Strawbridge Ledyard, Sr.–Anne Fitzhugh–also resides at Cazenovia.

The fifth son, Lambertus Wolters Ledyard–the fourth, Cornelius Cuyler Ledyard, having died young–graduated from the Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar, his residence having been "The Oaks," Cazenovia. He married Elizabeth Vail, and their only child is Miss Murray Ledyard, Washington, D.C.

Helen Lincklaen Ledyard, the only daughter, she being the fifth child, became the wife of John F. Seymour, but left no issue.

The branch of the family which has continuously resided in Philadelphia, and been identified with its social and material interests, is that of the third John Strawbridge, through the children of his second wife, Frances Taylor. As previously stated, five of them married. The eldest of these, Ann Taylor Strawbridge, born April 6, 1811, became the wife of Peter Browne, who was born February 8, 1803, and died March 25, 1840, forty-one years before his widow, whose death occurred January 1, 1881, she having married, secondly, William C. Kent, a prominent Philadelphia merchant, head of the firm of Kent, Santee & Co.

Peter Browne was a son of John Coats Browne–a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1793, and a member of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry–by his wife Hannah Lloyd, and a grandson of an earlier Peter Browne, a prominent Philadelphian of the eighteenth century.

Only two children were born to Peter and Ann Taylor (nee Strawbridge) Browne, namely, John Coats Browne, who still survives, his residence being 907 Clinton Street, and Frances Strawbridge Browne, who died in infancy. Mrs. Henry Potts, 720 High Street, Pottstown, is the only living representative of this line of the next generation.

The second of the five children, and the only one to carry down the Strawbridge name, was George Strawbridge, who was born November 18, 1814, and died September 28, 1862, having married Jane V. West. They had issue as follows: John, who died in infancy; George and Anne West.

The surviving son, George Strawbridge, M.D., is one of Philadelphia's most eminent physicians, his specialty being diseases of the eye and ear. Dr. Strawbridge graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1863; from the medical department in 1866. After pursuing a course of supplemental study at the University of Berlin and in Vienna, he began practice in Philadelphia. From 1879 to 1890 he was clinical professor of diseases of the ear at his alma mater. He also served on the staffs of Wills Eye Hospital and of the Presbyterian Hospital, and was, for many years, in charge of the Pennsylvania Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Dr. Strawbridge is a member of many of the leading professional organizations, Philadelphia County Medical Society, Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, the German and American Ophthalmological Societies, Otological Society, etc. He was a delegate to the American Medical Association, in 1872; to the International Medical Congress, in 1876, and to other important assemblages of his profession in later years. In 1877 he was admitted to membership in the American Philosophical Society.

Throughout his busy professional life, Dr. Strawbridge has delivered numerous lectures, many of which have been published, and has also contributed extensively to the leading medical journals of the country. Dr. Strawbridge's home is on Wissahickon avenue, Germantown.

He married in 1873, Alice Welsh, a daughter of John Welsh, former Minister to the Court of St. James, and their children are as follows: John Strawbridge, Germantown; Mrs. Joseph Sailer, 1830 Spruce Street, and Welsh Strawbridge and Miss Anne West Strawbridge, Germantown.

Dr. Strawbridge's sister, Miss Anne West Strawbridge, resides in Chelten avenue, Germantown.

The third of the married children of John and Frances (nee Taylor) Strawbridge, to-wit, Frances Rebecca Strawbridge, was born December 14, 1816, and died January 30, 1886, having, September 27, 1866, become the wife of Cephas G. Childs, who died July 7, 1871. Mr. Childs was at one time a well-known local artist, his specialty being line-engraving. Between 1827 and 1830 he published "Views of Philadelphia." About 1835 he became the publisher of the Commercial List, for many years the leading mercantile journal of Philadelphia. Mr. and Mrs. Childs had no children.

Julia Elizabeth Strawbridge, the fourth child, born December 20, 1818, married, April 17, 1843, Samuel Borden, son of Josiah and Mary (nee Robbins) Borden, who was born July 13, 1818, and died April 17, 1857. Thirty years later, September 9, 1887, the death of Mrs. Borden occurred.

The Bordens trace their ancestry back to Richard and Joan Borden, who settled at Portsmouth, Rhode Island, early in the seventeenth century, and who subsequently, in 1667, purchased land in New Jersey, where the family settled, and where the name became an eminent one in Colonial and state history.

Samuel and Julia Elizabeth (nee Strawbridge) Borden were the parents of three children, of whom two, both sons, survive, Francis Strawbridge Borden, Ocean City, N.J., and Henry Borden, who resides in New York City. The only daughter, now deceased, became the wife of William Henry Loyd, a well-known banker and broker of Philadelphia, who, after three years of service during the Civil War, was commissioned, October 13, 1864, Major of the Seventh New Jersey Infantry. Major Loyd was wounded two weeks later, October 27, 1864, at the battle of Boynton Plank Road, while serving as Brigade Inspector, Second Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps. He was a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, which, in a circular issued after Major Loyd's decease, said of him:

In his death, which occurred on June 2, 1907, there departed this life a man of irreproachable character and sterling citizenship. As a soldier he enjoyed the confidence of his superior officers, which is evidenced by his frequent promotions.

From Fredericksburg to Boynton Plank Road he was present and bore a conspicuous part in all the engagements of his regiment and corps, and he will always be held in remembrance by his comrades as a courteous gentleman and a brave and efficient soldier.

The children of William Henry and Helen (nee Strawbridge) Loyd, both surviving, are William Henry Loyd, Jr., of the Philadelphia bar, and John Strawbridge Loyd, Devon.

The youngest of the children of John and Frances (nee Taylor) Strawbridge–save one who died young–was Elizabeth Jane Strawbridge, born January 29, 1821, who married, March 11, 1845, John Wyckoff Gibbs, and died February 4, 1886. They had issue five children, namely, Josiah Willard, Fanny Strawbridge, Elizabeth Strawbridge, John Strawbridge and Henry, of whom only the second daughter lives in Philadelphia. The youngest of the sons, and the only one married, Henry Gibbs, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1882, is engaged in agricultural pursuits, in Albemarle County, Virginia. His two brothers reside in Chicago.

The above record is confined, as will be observed, to the line of John Strawbridge, who settled in Maryland about 1752, and whose sons, John and James, removed to Philadelphia shortly after the close of the Revolution: this family of Strawbridges being the earliest of the name to become part and parcel of Quaker City life.

There was, however, as indicated at the beginning of this narrative, another Strawbridge family established in the adjoining county of Chester prior to the Revolution, the founder of the same having been James Strawbridge, who, with his wife, Margaret, came from the North of Ireland, and settled in Londonderry township, where, January 18, 1759, he had conveyed to him a piece of land situate on Elk River.

Both John and James Strawbridge, who established themselves, respectively, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, were from the North of Ireland; both came to America not long after 1750, and their homes were not far apart, though in different Provinces. It might naturally be concluded that the two colonists were kinsmen, possibly brothers.

Some of the representatives of the Chester County Strawbridges were prominent men in their respective times and communities. Thomas Strawbridge, a son of James Strawbridge, served as a Captain, and later, as Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Regiment, Chester County Militia; was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of July 15, 1776; was appointed Sub-Lieutentant of the County, October 16, 1777, and acted as President of the Board of Appeal, to pass upon the cases of persons drafted for the army. Removing, after the Revolution, to what is now Montour County, he was, in 1785, made presiding Judge of the Courts there.

A grandson of his, Dr. James Dale Strawbridge, was born April 6, 1823, graduated from Princeton College in 1844, and from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1847, served as Brigade Surgeon of Volunteers during the Civil War, and, in 1872, was chosen a Representative to the 43rd Congress. His death occurred July 17, 1890.

A younger brother, Colonel Samuel Dale Strawbridge, who was born August 31, 1825, also served during the Rebellion, attaining to the command of the 112th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, April 18, 1865. After the war Colonel Strawbridge resided in Philadelphia.

James Strawbridge, youngest son of James Strawbridge, founder of the Chester County family, served in the militia of that country during the Revolution. He was the great-grandfather of the late William Correy Strawbridge–born June 24, 1848, and died September 20, 1908–for many years one of the ablest patent attorneys at the Philadelphia bar. The widow of Mr. Strawbridge resides at 2210 De Lancey street.

Still another family of the same name was established over a century ago in that portion of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, which is now Columbia County, by three brothers, William, Phillip and Justus Strawbridge. The youngest of the three, Justus Strawbridge, by his wife, Susannah Maus, was the father of George Frederic Heap Strawbridge, who graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1830, and died April 13, 1841, aged 37 years.

The latter, by his wife, Ann Zelley, who died April 7, 1853, was the father of three sons, Benjamin Zelley, Justus Clayton, and George Stockton. The eldest two sons removed to Philadelphia, where, in due time, they became partners in the well-known firm of Strawbridge & Clothier.

The second of the brothers, whose death occurred only a year ago–March 27, 1911–was long a conspicuous figure in the commercial, social and civic life of the Quaker City.

Two of the latter's sons are now deceased–Edward R. Strawbridge and William J. Strawbridge. The survivors are: Frederic H. Strawbridge, "Torworth," Germantown; Robert E. Strawbridge, "Sysonby Lodge," Melton Mowbray, Lecistershire, England, and and Francis S. Strawbridge, Wissahickon avenue, Germantown. A cousin of theirs is George Holt Strawbridge, "Windemere," Bala, a son of Benjamin Zelley Strawbridge, by his wife, Isabella Holt.

The above article provides an excellent and detailed overview of one branch of the Strawbridge family tree. Some of the materials referred to by the author of the article are available elsewhere on this site, though not necessarily in their full versions. See, in particular, an abbreviated version of the biography of John Strawbridge; the letter of Jane Strawbridge Ledyard; and the letter of George Strawbridge to his son. Also, note that some of the dates mentioned in this article are in question. For example, the article states that the first John Strawbridge mentioned died in 1772 or 1773, but other sources say he died in 1768. I hope someday to clear up that confusion.

Home Articles Photographs Links Family Tree