Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wandering more in the Past of Family: The Wilsons

III
WILSONS
Wilson is another name of great popularity. I know this maternal side of my mother’s family was from Scotland. What is certain is the marriage of William Frederick Wilson I to Esther Helen Bicking; not so certain is the date of the wedding. Esther Bicking's family had come from Winterburg, Westphalia, Germany sometime in the mid-1700s. Her father, Frederick, managed one of the several paper mills started by the family around Milltown, Pennsylvania (later Downingtown).
William and Esther begat six children and here lines began to entangle. Their third child was a daughter named Emma Bicking Wilson. In 1866 Emma married Benjamin Franklin Meredith I. Benjamin and Emma are my Great, Great Grandparents on my father’s side.
William and Esther’s fourth child, Emma’s brother William II, married Anna Margaret Dunlap on March 25, 1879. Anna was the third child of James Evans Dunlap and Rachel Supplee Boyer (pictured on right at the top). William and Anna are my Great Grandparents on my mother’s side.
This means William II is also my Great Uncle and Emma is my Great Aunt. My mother and father are Second Cousins.6

 William Frederick Wilson II went by the name Fred. He was a busy fellow. He owned a great deal of land in Uwchlan Township, which he called Marchwood, where he farmed and raised dairy cattle. He sold the milk in Philadelphia where he gained a reputation for honesty. He also was an auctioneer and the proprietor of the Brandywine Hotel that existed once above Coatesville.
William II, as did his father, had six children, the three eldest were boys and the three youngest girls. William Frederick Wilson III, known as Billy, and Samuel Heber (who went by Heber) were long time farmers in Chester County. The middle of the three sons was James Evans (who went by Evans). He was also a farmer, but died in 1931 bringing hay to the barn. He slipped off the wagon and its wheels ran over his head.  James left behind two young children, Mildred and Robert (Bob). Robert Wilson was to later own a number of local hotels, including The Eagle Tavern in Eagle and The Swan Hotel in Downingtown.7
The oldest of the three daughters also died young. Her name was Helen (pictured on left) and she taught school. Clara and she married brothers, Joel Ellsworth Downing and Herford Evans Downing, direct descendants of Thomas Downing, who founded Downingtown. Clara had seven children with Ellsworth. However, Helen died from complications in the birth of her second child, Emily Margaret. Helen was 29 years old.
The family was to experience a schism some years later from this death. As is often the case it was a trifling matter. When Helen died, her oldest brother Billy and his wife Lizzie adopted Emily Margaret Downing. Herford kept his son; Herford Jr. Herford Sr. remarried the year after Helen’s demise.
In my youth I attended the annual Wilson Family reunions. I always enjoyed being with my Cousin Audrey June White. She attended with her mother, Beulah Downing White and grandmother Sadie Guest, who was a sweet elderly lady. I was to learn that Audrey was not my cousin. Sadie Guest was the second wife of Herford Downing Sr. after Helen’s death. Beulah had then been Sadie’s child by Herford and thus not blood. 8
For whatever reason, some resented Sadie Guest being invited to the reunions and made a “them or us” proclamation. The family elected to continue inviting Sadie, Beulah and Aubrey and so one branch boycotted the reunions for a number of years.
William and Anna’s sixth child was Esther, born in 1899 (pictured right at age 12). She is my
Grandmother.
(The picture captioned Our Family is from left to right standing: Heber, Clara, Evans, Billy and Helen; seated is William Frederick [Fred] Wilson II and Anna Margaret Dunlap Wilson holding baby Esther, 1899)


Footnotes:
6. Wilson Family History
Horace Wilson (pictured right)
1990


7. Chester and Delaware County Families
Volume 2
Chester County Historical Society Library

8. Thomas Downing (pictured right)
Email Concerning Downing family
August 6, 1999





Monday, June 16, 2014

Continuing With the Odd Things of Me History

BROWNS
Brown is one of those-seem-to-be-everywhere surnames, too common and too generic to easily climb the branches of the right family tree. I do not know where the root may have sprung up or when any seeds spread across the pond to America. My best guess is my line of Browns is Irish.
Certainly the Browns were long-time residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania and Quaker at one time, so perhaps they were Welsh also. They drifted off to the Methodists at some point of history. There is a link to former President Richard M. Nixon, whether that is something I should say or keep to myself is the question. Nixon may fall into the category of skeletons in the closet. Should anyone admit to a man who’ll do a ye-haw on a tractor with a cowboy hat while dressed in suit and tie?
Families who have dwelled in Chester County from the 1700s as Quakers are all pretty much relatives now. I’m related one way or the other to Darlingtons, Brintons, Downings, Dunlaps, Thomases and of course the Milhouses.
Case in point: Joshua Baldwin was a son of John Baldwin, an immigrant from Oxfordshire, England to Aston, Pennsylvania prior to 1689. Joshua was born at West Chester in 1721 and in 1747 at a Quaker Meetinghouse in Goshen married Miss Mercy Brown. Mercy was my 5-Great Grand Aunt, sister of my 5-Great Grandfather George H. Brown. Joshua and Mercy had among their seven children a girl named Hannah. Hannah Baldwin married William Milhous in 1767 and you might say some history was in the making. William Milhous was Richard Nixon’s Great-Great Grandfather and like it or nor this made me a fourth cousin to the disgraced President.3
Joshua Baldwin stands proof of the intertwining of we Chester County families. He had three wives, Mercy being number two after his first wife, Sarah Downing died. After Mercy’s passing he took a third spouse, Ann Meredith. Brown, Downing and Meredith are all family antecedents of yours truly.
George H. Brown was the Grandfather of Francis Fizz Brown (1855-1911). By this time the family were members in good standing at the Grove Methodist Episcopal Church. The contractors 4
Morgan Ruth and Richard Templeton Meredith constructed the present church building in 1888-89 at a cost of $7,000 (yes, $7,000, no missing zeros). It is a small world this Chester County for Richard Templeton Meredith is my Second Cousin.
Francis Fizz Brown was a builder of barns. He took a fatal fall off a slippery barn roof in Phoenixville and died after some hours of suffering. He was 56 years old.5 Forty-six years later his Grandson and namesake, my maternal Grandfather, was to die at 57 years of age.
My Great Grandfather Millard Charlton Brown also was a builder, taking the business a step further and constructing many of the homes that dotted his corner of the county, especially along Boot Road in West Whiteland Township. Millard died in one of the houses he built, broken-hearted after the death of his wife, Sara Anne Smiley. Millard and Sara had four boys and a girl. Millard trained the boys in aspects of the building trade, Millard Jr. (known as Bus) was an electrician, Ralph did plumbing and Paul kept books. My Grandfather, Francis (known as Brownie) was a carpenter. (Pictured on left are Millard Charlton
Brown Sr. & Sara Anne Smiley. On the right is the home where Millard died.)

Footnotes:
3. Records of Goshen Meetinghouse
Ray Downing
The Downing Family
1999

4. Martha Leigh Wolf and Diane Sekura Snyder
A History Of West Whiteland
West Whiteland Historical Commission
Exton, Pa.
1982

5. Daily Local News
West Chester, Pa.
November 2, 1911

Stored in the Chester County Historical Society Library

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Little Odd and Ancient History of Me Family

Families can be a royal pain, quite literally. There are red-blooded Americans and Blue Bloods and sometimes we find our selves stained by a bit of ancient purple.

This is the legend of Meredith.

In the fifth and sixth centuries AD, many tribal chiefs and princes ruled the country of Cymry, what we know today as Wales. Each and all were in constant struggle to dominate. Maelgwn (pictured right)
 one of the stronger princes was attempting to bring some order and unite the varied warlords under one chief, hopefully himself. He gathered all the most powerful princes together. This council made a proposal. Each prince would sit upon a seaside chair. The king would be he who sat the longest as high tide covered the shore.
Maelgwn visited Maeldav the Old. Many believe Maeldav was the same wizard known as Merlin in the King Arthurian Myths. (Actually, there are those who propose Maelgwn was the model of King Arthur.) Maeldav prepared a chair constructed from waxed bird wings. Maelgwn sat upon his chair the longest since it rose and floated above the tide. They declared him Chief Prince with the title Maredudd. The exact meaning of this name is not certain, but may mean Protector of the Sea.1

The title Maredudd eventually became a surname and the spelling evolved through Maredydd to become Meredith. The proper pronunciation is Mare-Red-ith, not Mare-Dith. My family did use Mare-Red-ith when I was a child, but at some point my father surrendered to the more common use of Mare-Dith.
“I got tired ev’ry time I gave my name they said, ‘Spell it’. I spelled it and they’d say, ‘Oh, Mare-Dith,’ I jus’ got tired of spellin’ it.”
I discovered everybody still asked me to spell my last name, except in Dallas when Don Meredith was a hero.
Maelgwn, who is an actual historic figure (c.497 - c.560 AD), was my 43-Great Grandfather. He had at least two children, and probably many more not recorded, a son named Rhun and daughter Gwawr.
Gwawr may not be what you would name your daughter and I certainly didn’t name either of my daughters that; nonetheless Gwawr was my 42-Great Grandmother married to one Eliylt Llydanwyn ap Meirchion. This was a period long before surnames came into existence. The little word “ap” means “son of”; therefore, Eliylt was the son of Meirchion.
Eliylt and Gwawr begat Llywarch Hen ap Elidir (note the slight change in the spelling of Elitlt). Llywarch allegedly had 42 children. His wives are not noted. (It is an assumption on my part that with 42 children he probably had more than one woman in his life.)
My family is a web of odd relationships, because Rhun is also my 43-Great Grandfather, indicating he and his sister Gwawr began two separate lines of my father’s ancestors. (It also indicates Rhun shared a wife with his father, but the less said about such things the better. This is not the last of such entanglements and confusion couplings, but we will get to some more of that a bit later and in a more recent period.)
Meanwhile, Rhun begat Beli and so forth and after many permutations we reach my 32-Great Grandfather Rhodri “Mawr” (the Great) ap Merfyn, King of Wales, 855 AD-878 AD. From there we continued through a number of kings and princes until Gruffydd ap Cynan, Prince of Gwunedd in 1081. Gruffydd (Griffith) had a son named Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd, who was my 24-Great Grandfather and another son named Owain ap Gruffudd, King of Gwynedd (pronounced Gwenith), 1137 AD-1179 AD. (By the way, I refuse to change to the use of C.E. and B.C.E. [Current Era and Before Current Era]. Just because the cynics of the world fear God so much they want to eliminate any reference to his Deity doesn’t mean I’ll go along.) Owain was my 24-Great Grand Uncle and his grandson, my second cousin, was Llywelyn Fawr ap Iowerth. (Fawr is not a given name, but a descriptive add-on meaning “The Great”.)
Llywelyn Fawr was great enough in his day that he took as a wife the illegitimate daughter of John Lackland, known as Joan of England. John Lackland was the King of England at the time and is best known for signing the Magna Carta. As a result of this union I am a 24th cousin to Queen Elizabeth II. I suppose if enough people were to die, I would have a claim to the British crown.
All this is ancient history having little to do with who I am today. It is interesting to discover one has a bit of Royal DNA I suppose, but it doesn’t buy me any castles or put a farthing in my pocket. Yet there is an interesting tidbit, a coincidence of time, in this past.
Llywelyn Fawr had a son named Gruffydd who had a son also named Llywelyn (pictured left). th Cousin. Cousin Llywelyn the Last died at Buellt on December 11, 1282 during King Edward I of England’s conquest of Wales. As Fate often does just to have a giggle, the soldier who killed my cousin Llywelyn, was an ancestor of my friend, Ronald Tipton.
This was Llywelyn the Last, the final REAL Prince of Wales. He was also my 4
Of course much of history is full of uncertainty and it is disputed exactly who killed Llywelyn the Last and in what manner. According to legend, he was accidently chanced upon (which is basically true). A soldier completely unaware of who he was slew him. Sir Robert Brody was this soldier named in contemporary ballads of the time. Other accounts claim while the captured Llywelyn was kneeling in prayer Stephen Frankton of Ellesmere came behind and struck off his head. It is a fact Llywellyn’s head was carried to King Edward and then displayed 2
in the Tower of London.
King Edward then named his own son the Prince of Wales and ever since there has been an English pretender using that title.  Quite frankly, I have more claims to that title then Prince Charles.











Footnotes:
1. Owen M(organ) Edwards (Pictured right)
Hanes Cymru (History of Wales)
Company Publishers Cywreig
Wales
1901

Referenced by Charles Hoffman Thomas in a letter dated August 5, 1905 to my Great Uncle Benjamin Franklin Meredith II.


2. Paul M. Remfry
The Final Campaign of Prince Llywelyn
Castles of Wales Website
1998


Also genealogy research by this author and Ronald W. Tipton.