HENRY GRAHAM ASHMEAD, of Chester, Pennsylvania, is a descendant of John Ashmead, who was born at Cheltenham, county of Gloucester, England, October 14, 1648, and emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1682, accompanied by his mother, Mary Ashmead, his wife and two children.
Ashmead and his brother-in-law, Toby Leach, had purchased from William Penn a large tract of land in what is now Cheltenham township, Montgomery county, then included in Philadelphia, where they settled, giving to the township the name Cheltenham, a reminder of their old home in the motherland. John Ashmead died there, December 21, 1688, and his wife the following day. The shock of her husband's death (the result of an accident) was fatal to her. She was a daughter of William Currier, of Cheltenham, England, where she was married, October 14, 1677.
The eldest child, John Ashmead, was born at Cheltenham, England, July 12, 1679, and when at the age of nine years, five months and ten days, on the death of his parents, the second John Ashmead became the head of the family in the new world.
This John (second) married, October 12, 1703,
NOTE. - "There is an ancient family in Spain named Ashmede, as I believe the name is spelled there, which is thought by some to be of Moorish origin. Some one had said the name possibly came from Achmet. However this may be, certain it is that a wanderer of the Germantown race of Ashmeads, it may be with this Moorish blood in his veins, found in England a bride in the Baroness Burdett Coutts." - "The Germantown Road and its Associations," in Penn. Mag. of History, vol. vi, p. 377.
The Ashmede family of Granada, Spain, as well as the branches of that family in Mexico, Brazil, and other South American countries, assert that the Ashmeads of Pennsylvania are of the same lines as themselves, and that the original emigrant to England was banished among the Moriscoes expelled, from Spain, by the edict of Philip III, in 1611.
at Darby Meeting, Sarah Sellers, born at Darby, July 13, 1685, a daughter of Samuel Sellers, of Derbyshire, England, who settled in Upper Darby, Chester county (now Delaware), Pennsylvania, in 1682, and his wife Ann, daughter of Henry and Helen Gibbons, formerly of Pariridge, England. John Ashmead died at Germantown, October 7, 1742. To the marriage of John (second) and Sarah Sellers was born, May 12, 1706, John Ashmead (3), who on August 23, 1734, married Ann Rush, born October 25, 1716. She was the great-granddaughter of Captain John Rush, an officer in Cromwell's army, whose sword and watch are now in the museum in the old State House (Independence Hall), Philadelphia. Ann Rush was an aunt of Dr. Benjamin Rush, the signer of the Declaration of Independence. John Ashmead (3) died July 30, 1750. His widow married Samuel Potts, and became the mother of Major James Potts, of the Revolutionary army. To the marriage of John Ashmead (3) and Ann Rush was born at Germantown, September 29, 1738, John Ashmead (4), who became a noted sea captain.
He was appointed naval constructor by the Continental Congress in 1776, and captain of the ship "Mars," the brig "Eagle," and other vessels of the Pennsylvania navy, 1777-82, and was engaged in action with various British privateers in 1779. In his later years Captain Ashmead, who was senior warden of the port of Philadelphia, wrote an account of his voyages and adventures between the years 1758 and 1782, which have been privately printed. Thomas Twining, in his travels in America in 1795-6, makes numerous references to the Captain, in whose vessel he was a passenger from India to Philadelphia. Captain Ashmead, on January 28, 1761, married Mary Mifflin, daughter of Benjamin Mifflin, and niece of Major General Thomas Mifflin, of the Revolutionary army, and first governor of Pennsylvania. His wife died May 18, 1814, and Captain Ashmead died June 6, 1818. (*)
William Ashmead, fourth son and fifth child of Captain John and Mary Ashmead, was born April 24, 1776. When a lad of seventeen he married Margaret McKinley, daughter of William McKinley, of Delaware, and of the family from which President McKinley was descended. Her mother was Margaret Wayne, daughter of John Wayne, and granddaughter of Captain Anthony Wayne, who commanded four troops of horse in the army of William III, at the battle of the Boyne. She and "Mad Anthony" Wayne were first cousins. To this marriage eight children
|(*) Sir Ellis Ashmead Bartlett and William Ashmead Bartlett, now Burdett-Coutts, are great-great-grandsons of Captain John Ashmead.|
were born, of whom four reached adult age; the eldest son was the distinguished Rev. William Ashmead, and the youngest was the father of Henry Graham Ashmead.
John Wayne Ashmead, son of William and Mary (McKinley) Ashmead, was born in Philadelphia, May 16, 1806. His parents died when he was hardly more than an infant. He was reared by his three maternal aunts, and at fifteen years of age was apprenticed to Isaac Ashmead to learn painting. His inclination was for the law, and entering the office of Archibald Randall, afterward judge of the United States district court, he worked at his trade by day and read law by night. He was admitted to the Philadelphia bar, May 5, 1827. He was elected a member of the legislature in 1832, and was deputy attorney-general for Philadelphia under attorneys General George M. Dallas and Ellis Lewis. In 1849 he was appointed by President Taylor district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, and was continued in the same office by President Fillmore, and held the position for one year under President Pierce. While in the discharge of his duties in that office, he conducted on behalf of the United States, in November, 1851, the noted proceedings against Castner Hallway, indicted for treason in resisting the enforcement of the fugitive slave law, which Colonel McClure, in his "Recollections," declares was the opening struggle to the Civil war.
In 1856 John W. Ashmead removed to New York, where he was engaged in a number of celebrated cases. In March, 1859, he defended James Stevens in the leading trial of arsenical poisoning in this country. In 1866 he defended Captain Richard W. Meade, tried before a naval court martial for the loss of the United States steamer "San Jacinto," on the Bahama Banks, January 1, 1865, and was counsel for James Murphy in his claim against the Republic of Chili for the seizure of the brig "Townsend Jones" and her cargo at Valparaiso, in April, 1859.
John W. Ashmead was the author of Ashmead's "Reports of Decisions of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia." He died April 7, 1868, at his country seat, Clinton Place, near Newark, New Jersey.(*)
John W. Ashmead married Henrietta Graham Flower, daughter of Richard and Henrietta (Graham) Flower, November 29, 1829; she
|(*) An account of John Wayne Ashmead will be found in Martin's "History of Chester," p. 440; as also in Thomson Westcott's "Rich Men of Philadelphia Forty Years Ago," a series of papers published in the "Philadelphia Sunday Republic," which Westcott, who died in 1888, did not live to complete.|
was born June 20, 1809, and died at Chester, Pennsylvania, February 20, 1879.
THE FLOWER LINE. - The Flower family first appears in the history of Chester county in 1685, when William Flower, who had been one of Fenwick's colonists in New Jersey, settled at Marcus Hook, where his daughter Mary became the wife of John Flower, of the Connecticut branch. A son of that marriage, Richard Flower, born in 1724, and who died January 25, 1763, married Hannah Grubb in 1746. Her grandfather, John Grubb, who settled at Upland, now Chester, prior to 1677, was the great-great-grandson of Henry Grubb, member of Parliament from Devizes, Wiltshire, 1571, and whose death occurred in 1581.
Richard Flower, second son of Richard and Hannah (Grubb) Flower, was born at Marcus Hook in 1759. When only a few months over sixteen, he was appointed one of the committee of correspondence for Chester county, and under the supervision of Richard Riley, his first cousin, the young man was active in collecting intelligence of the movements of the enemy in the southeastern section of the county. He was a miller by occupation, and in 1789 purchased the noted Chester Mills, where is now Upland borough, then owned by his father-in-law. Richard Flower retired from busines in 1824, and died at Lamokin Hall, his plantation near Chester, August 24, 1843. He married Henrietta, daughter of Henry Hale Graham, September 8, 1785. She was born April 27, 1768, and died October 6, 1841. Her father, Henry Hale Graham (a nephew of George Graham, the inventor of the chronometer, for which the English nation gave his remains interment in Westminster Abbey), was born in London, England, July 1, 1731. His father, William Graham, born April 25, 1692, on December 31, 1729, married Eleanor Wyatt, daughter of Zedekiah Wyatt.
Henry Hale Graham was named for his great-great-grandfather, Henry Hale, of Horton, Worcestershire, England, whose granddaughter, Alice Hale, became the wife of George Graham and they were the grandparents of Henry Hale Graham. *
The latter, Henry Hale Graham, when a child of three years, came with his parents to the colony, and when eighteen he became deputy prothonotary of Chester county under Joseph Parker, and in 1765, was appointed prothonotary and deputy register-general, a position he held until 1777. November 7, 1789, he was appointed president judge of the then newly created Delaware county, and died in Philadelphia, January 24, 1790, where he was attending as a
|(*) For line of Graham, see Pedigree xii, "Americans of Royal Descent."|
delegate the proceedings of the state constitutional convention of that year.
Judge Graham married, July 1, 1760, Abigail Pennell, half-sister of Dr. Jonas Preston (the founder of Preston Retreat, a maternity hospital in Philadelphia); a great-granddaughter of Robert Pennell, who settled in Middletown, Delaware county, 1685; granddaughter of Thomas Mercer, an early settler at Thornbury; a like descendant of David Williamson, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1682, and who died in 1727, while attending the session of the assembly, of which he was a member. She was also a granddaughter of Philip Yarnall, of Edgemont, and great-great-granddaughter of John Baker, of Edgemont, where he died in 1685. He named the township for his natal place, Edgmond, Shropshire, England.
Henry Graham Ashmead, son of John Wayne and Henrietta Graham (Flower) Ashmead, was born at Philadelphia, June 30, 1838. He was educated at the Chester Academy at West Chester, Pennsylvania, of which the Rev. James Crowell was principal, and at the Saunders Institute, West Philadelphia. Hon. Samuel W. Pennypacker, governor of Pennsylvania, the distinguished surgeon, William W. Keen, Professor Gregory B. Keen, the curator of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, being among his fellow students.
He read law in his father's office, and was admitted to the bar in New York on November 29, 1859, and entered into partnership with Leon Abbett, afterwards twice governor of New Jersey, in the practice of his profession, but, his health failing him, by advice of physicians he abandoned the active pursuit of the law. While in New Orleans in 1863, a friend who was correspondent of one of the leading New York dailies became ill with typhoid fever. Mr. Ashmead acted in his stead for a period covering several months, during which time he had opportunity of seeing much of the active campaigning in the department of the Gulf. On the death of his father, in 1868, the following year the family removed to Chester, Pennsylvania.
In June, 1872, when the "Chester Evening News" was established by F. Stanhope Hill, he became first reporter and local editor of that daily paper, and in 1874 held a like position on the "Delaware County Republican," at which time the late Y. S. Walter was the editor and proprietor. In the fall of that year he edited "The Campaign," a political sheet designed to advocate the election of Thomas J. Clayton as judge of the Delaware county courts, one of the incidents in Mr. Ashmead's life which he views with regret.
From this time on, Mr. Ashmead was a busy writer. In 1876 he wrote the "Sketch of Delaware County" published in Eagle's "History of Pennsylvania." He was appointed in 1882 corresponding secretary of the Bi-Centennial Association of Chester, and he wrote "Historical Sketches of Chester-on-Delaware," William Shaler Johnson furnishing the account of the Bi-Centennial exercises, the work of the committee, the celebration, and other interesting matter which forms a part of that volume.*
In 1884 Mr. Ashinead wrote "A History of Delaware county, Pennsylvania," a volume of permanent value, and involving much diligent labor.
August 3, 1885, President Cleveland appointed Mr. Ashmead postmaster at Chester, and during his administration (on June 6, 1886), the special delivery service was instituted, and July 1, 1887, he organized the free mail delivery by carriers and put it into active operation on the date mentioned. In the spring of that year a committee was appointed to urge upon Congress an appropriation for a United States post-office building in Chester, and, at the request of the committe, Mr. Ashmead prepared a pamphlet entitled "Chester and Its Suburbs," which in a compact form presented the industrial features of the city of that day, and its importance as a commercial center as an adjunct to the port of Philadelphia. This pamplet was distributed to the senate and house of representatives, and from the data therein contained the subsequent reports of the committees of both houses were founded, and upon which a favorable roport was made.
In 1889 he collected and wrote the greater part of the pamphlet published by the Board of Trade, entitled "Chester, Pennsylvania: a History of its Industrial Progress and its Advantages for Large Manufacturing," but did not supervise the final form in which it was given publication.
In 1890-91 Mr. Ashmead was in Colorado with an invalid son, who had gone there in search of health. From 1895 to 1900 he was editorial writer on the Chester Morning Republican. In 1897 he wrote the text of the "Art Works of Delaware County." In 1902 he prepared a genealogical sketch tracing the descent of the children of Robert and Phoebe Ann (De Laney) Wetherill through the Sharp, Keen, Sandelands and other families, which was printed in book form for private distribution.
In the same year he wrote the plays, "Mistress Nancy," "The Captain's Ward," and "Miss De
|(*) Thomson Westcott, in writing of John W. Ashmead, makes this allusion to his son, H. G. Ashmead. "He is distinguished for his literary abilities, and published a few years ago an excedingly interesting book entitled "An Historical Sketch of Chester."|
Courcy." In the following year (1903) he wrote other plays - "The Matchmakers," "The Silent Witness," "By Order of the Czarina," "In Troublous Times," and "A Hallowe'en Tangle." In the same year he wrote, "The History of Chester," and was also associated editor of "Pennsylvania, Colonial and Federal," a history of the commonwealth. His fugitive contributions to the periodical and newspaper press, upon historical subjects, are numerous, far exceeding, if gathered into volumes, his publications in book form. He now has in preparation for publication "The Story of Lapidea Farm," the country seat of Hon. William C. Sproul, and "The History of the Bank of Delaware County, and its successor, the Delaware County National Bank."
In 1897 Mr. Ashmead read before the Delaware County Historical Society a paper entitled "Chester Street Nomenclature," and in 1901 "The Man in Leather Stockings," "Noted Trials in Early Colonial Days," and "Some Ghosts and Haunted Places in Delaware County." Although not posing as a public speaker, Mr. Ashmead has at various times delivered addresses which were heard with deep interest. He was called upon to make historical remarks at the unveiling of the tablets placed by the Delaware county chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on the Washington House, April 20, 1902, and on the City Hall April 19, 1903. Again on June 27, 1903, at a meeting of the Society of the War of 1812, lie delivered the historical address, taking for his theme the story of Camp Gaines.
It may be permitted to the writer of this sketch, during a long and busy life time engaged in work somewhat similar to that performed by the Ashmead, yet not so long acquainted with him as to make personal bias the mainspring of his remarks, to pass a verdict upon his performances. His writings have ever been characterized by that which is approved by the highest standards - clearness of style and smoothly flowing diction. It is to be said in all truthfulness that his pen has never been used in an unworthy cause. Whether as editor, writer or speaker, his one object has been the exploitation, forcefully, yet never outside the bounds of truthfulness, the accomplishments of those men of the past and of the present, too, who have stood for the best that there is in citizenship in their devotion to public interests and worthy causes, and all that goes to the establishment and development of an ideal community. To his tasks he has brought a wide range of abilities. A deep student of books, a close observer of events and a rare judge of men, and uniting the knowledge of the historian, the wise discrimination of the critic, and the well tempered judgment of the philosopher. He has through a long and peculiarly useful life, endowed himself with all the equipment necessary for his labors in promoting the upbuilding of the historic city and county in which he takes a genuinely hearty pride.
To this narrative may be added a pleasant incident which was written of in the following from the "Chester Times," in the autumn of 1902:
Henry Graham Ashmead, the Delaware county historian, may be said to have been nurtured in the cradle of literature, and has all his lifetime wielded the pen with a masterly effect. His literary researches and labors have naturally brought him into contact with many of the distinguished writers, but one of the pleasantest recollections of such intercourse, dates back to 1849, when he was a lad of ten years. His home was then in Philadelphia, opposite Washington Square, a few doors below Seventh street.
John Sartain, the distinguished mezzotint engraver, who was United States commissioner of fine arts at the Centennial exposition, and William H. Sloanaker, then naval officer of the port, were publishing "Sartain's Magazine." Both of these gentlemen were clients of Graham's father, John Wayne Ashmead, the United States district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. The boy was privileged to frequent the office of the Magazine at Third and Chestnut streets, and inspect at will a number of portfolios containing fine imported steel prints, of which, from time to time, selections were made for reproduction in the monthly.
On one of these occasions, when the noon hour arrived, Graham was about to leave for home, when a seedily attired gentleman, who had been conversing with the editor, Prof. John S. Hart, asked him which way he was going. When informed of the route, the gentleman replied "I am going that way, and will walk with you, my lad." The two proceeded up Chestnut street to Sixth and thence to Walnut, the boy being attracted toward the stranger and charmed by his delightful conversation, until they separated at the corner of Seventh and Walnut streets.
That afternoon a lady calling upon Mrs. Ashmead chanced to remark that she had seen her son walking with a person evidently in needy circumstances, whom she thought was scarcely a proper companion for a child of his age. The boy did not know the name of his chance companion. In the evening Mr. Sartain and Sloanaker visited the house, and Mrs. Ashmead inquired of them who the stranger was. She was informed that he was no less a personage than Edgar Allan Poe, conceded to be the most original of American poets, and classed by the majority of European critics as the greatest of all American authors.
When quite a young man, Mr. Ashmead was well acquainted with Frank R. Stockton, the author, who died last spring. There was a difference of only five years in their ages. Some fifteen years ago, at a chance meeting, Ashmead jocularly remarked to Stockton that the names he gave to some of his characters were noticeably ugly.
"So you object to the names I have selected for some of my heroes?" interrogated Stockton.
"Yes," was the reply, "they are in some instances just ugly, lacking that attractiveness which not unfrequently accompanies certain types of ugliness."
"Well," said Stockton, "the next story I write I will give my hero a name to which you cannot object."
Shortly afterwards this celebrated author published a Christmas love story entitled "Major Pendallas," in which the hero is styled "Henry G. Ashmead," an artist. Several years subsequent to the appearance of this story, Stockton and Ashmead again met, and in the course of their conversation "Major Pendallas" was mentioned, Ashmead remarking:
"Stockton, you failed to remember that I am always called by my middle name, Graham."
"So you still object to the names of my heroes," laughed the author.
Mr. Ashmead was at one time exceedingly active in Masonic circles, having attained to the thirty-second degree, Scottish Rite.
Mr. Ashmead has been twice married - first, September 2, 1872, to Miss Rebecca Frances Warner, daughter of Captain Richard N. Warner, of Alexandria, Virginia, and (second) October 26, 1881, to Miss Emma Campbell, daughter of James and Angelina (Garsed) Campbell. Her father, James Campbell, is prominently identified with the history of Chester as its first manufacturer who was instrumental in giving it its industrial incentive. To the first marriage of Mr. Ashmead was born, August 27, 1873, a son, John Wayne Ashmead, who, when a young man of exceeding promise, died November 30, 1891.
F. Y. HEDLEY.
Historic Homes And Institutions And Genealogical And Personal Memoirs Of Chester And Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania. Vol. 2, pp. 138-142. Gilbert Cope and Henry Graham Ashmead, Editors. The Lewis Publishing Company, 1904.