Monday, September 12, 2016

Thomas Hughes, Pioneer to Northumberland Co. Pennsylvania

Thomas Hughes may have been born  in Windsor Twp., Berks Co., Pennsylvania about 1740.  His exact birth date has not been found. What is known is that he died September 16, 1807 in Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania.  As a member of the group of pioneers who settled in the  Catawissa area, it is known that Thomas was a Welsh Quaker. Therefore it is unlikely that he would have fought in the Revolutionary War and no evidence has been found to show that he did serve in the war.

Thomas  immigrated to  the area of Danville, Pennsylvania near Catawissa and was one of the  original settlers thereabouts.  A number of men named Hughes came from  the Maiden Creek area of Berks Co. to Northumberland County in this time period. He and several of his brothers,  who may have been George, John  and James, were involved in the early settlement of land along the Susquehanna River  near Northumberland.
 WPA Mural by John W. Beauchamp in the Muncy, Pennsylvania Post Office.
The year 1778 was known  as "The Big Runaway" when the Native Americans in the Pine Creek Area caused the pioneers to  flee their homesteads.   This painting is a mural of Rachel Silverthorn's ride to warn settlers along Muncy Creek of impending attacks.  These were turbulent times to be living on the edge of the Pennsylvania frontier.  

I have not been able to determine the parents of Thomas Hughes.
 Thomas Hughes, the father of Jeptha Hughes, pioneer ancestor in Tioga Co. PA,  died on  Sept. 16, 1807    Census records help to determine his whereabouts as an adult and of his birth year being prior to 1755.  (census 1800).  
Census Records 1790 - Thomas Hughes - Northumberland Co.; 1 male over 16 ; 3 males under 16;  4  females.
Census Records 1800- Thomas Hughes - Northumberland Co.;  4 males under 10, 1 male between the ages of 10 and 16, 1 male between the ages of 16 and 26, 1 male over 45. (therefore, Thomas born before prior to 1755)

Early land records show him living in the area of   Maiden Creek, near Reading, PA. Deed dated Aug. 17, 1773  (Vol. A 416 Bloomsburg, PA)  for a 300 acres tract on the west side  of the Northeast Branch of the Susquehanna  in what is now  Northumberland, Co.  "Thomas  Hughes, Maiden Creek twp. in Berks Co.,  carpenter."   From this source it can be determined that he  was a carpenter and that he was living in Maiden Creek Twp., Berks Co. PA.  Also a reference  to the same land is given in Vol. K 399, 1 Mar 1775, Northumberland CO PA, Sunbury  PA. "Thomas Hughes of Augusta Twp., Northumberland Co. Carpenter (original Purchase 1769) 1 and 1/2 miles from the mouth of Catawesy Creek on the Nescopeck Path." 

A petition was filed by Evan Hughes to settle the estate of his father for the sale of a tract  of land containing about two hundred and thirty two acres in 1809.  It stated that Thomas Hughes was the father of nine children: "Thomas Hughes died leaving a widow named Mary who is  yet alive and nine children to wit:Rebecca, intermarried with Jesse Doughtery; Sarah,  intermarried with Benjamin Prall; Evan Hughes, your petitioner; Mary  Hughes; Rachel Hughes; Isaac Hughes; Jeptha Hughes; Jesse Hughes; and Jonathan Hughes according to the order of their   birth and seniority..."

It would appear that Thomas' death was unexpected 
since he did not leave a will. This petition is the only record official of his children that has been located. In 1958, Phoebe Hughes Button, Hughes  family historian,  named  the children of Thomas and Mary Stevens Hughes as:  Sally Hughes (Sarah), Eben Hughes (Evan), Becky Hughes (Rebecca), Rachel Hughes,  Polly Hughes (Mary), Isaac Hughes and Jeptha Hughes. Sons Jesse and Jonathan are not  accounted for in Phoebe's records. Names in parentheses are as given in the Northumberland Co.  Orphans Court reference which named the children in the order of their births which is:  Rebecca, Sarah, Evan, Mary, Rachel, Isaac, Jeptha (born in 1791), Jesse, and Jonathan.  Rebecca and Sarah were married by 1809.  The petition says the  last four of  the children  were still minors.
"A Settler's Cabin"
Thomas Hughes married Mary Stevens around 1773.  Mary was born about 1755 and died after 1812.
 The parents of this frontier women are unknown. She lived on the edge of civilization in  the wilderness of Pennsylvania at a time when your very livelihood hung on a shoestring. Her husband, Thomas came to the area where the East and West  Branches of the Susquehanna River  come together to form the Susquehanna River.  He came to homestead as early as 1773 and it is likely that she  came with him from the Maiden Creek area. No official birth or death dates are known for her, but  it  is known that Mary Stevens Hughes out lived her husband.

Her death  date has to be some time after 1812, since the court  records indicate that she was alive when the  petition was filed to settle the estate. In addition there is a record,  Vol. Q 798, 21 April 1812, 7 Aug. 1812, abstract:  Release Hughs, Mary to James Laughead, lot of land to son Isaac Hughes, Mary Hughes relect  and widow of Thomas by Orphans court of Northunberland Co. PA.

Thomas and Mary Hughes were my great,great,great, great grandparents. I grew up learning the stories of their son Jeptha, who pioneered to Tioga Co.  And of their grandson Frederick and his wife Harriet Van Wey Hughes, who lumbered and farmed with the aide of his large family.  And of Simeon and his wife Fannie B. Westlake Hughes, my great grandparents, who dairy farmed in Tioga. All renowned and honored ancestors in the Hughes family tree.

  • Mural "Rachel Silverthorne's Ride" (1938) by John W. Beauchamp in the Muncy Post Office, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Online,_Pennsylvania.JPG. visited Sept. 10, 2016.
  • Meginness, John Franklin (1892). History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania , Chapter 8, (1st ed.). Chicago, IL: Brown, Runk & Co. 
  • Thomas Hughes. Will Book 2, p. 55, Northumberland Co. PA, Sunbury PA.
  • Petition to settle the estate of Thomas Hughes. 1809 Orphans Court of Northumberland Co. PA, Sunbury PA , p. 38 and others.  Researched and recorded by Cynthia Hughes Smith, July, 1993. 
  • "A Settler's Cabin", illustration, p.67. Visited 9.12.16
                                          Copyright This page  © 2016, Cynthia H. Smith

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Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. It is with pleasure that I am able to present this information here for you to see. If you discover a relationship here, I would very much enjoy hearing from you.    

Saturday, September 3, 2016

John Good, Sr. (1787 -1872) Mystery solved

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times: "Talk to the old forks before it is too late and never, never toss out any research you collect along the way."  Maybe I should throw in, "Leave no stone unturned." And "not every notation is fact until you can prove it so."
Here is a handwritten note given to me by Arvilla Good Stevens of Lower Mt. Bethel twp., Northampton Co., PA several years ago before she passed away in 2000.  The note was written by Henry Good (1841-1919), Arvilla's grandfather.   It is a wealth of information about the Good family.  First, Henry records that he believes his grandfather, John Good Senior, lived to the age of 87 years, 1 month and  29 days.  John, Sr. was born in Nockamixon on Feb. 2,  1787,  the son of Henry Good and his wife Catherine Schick. His birth is recorded in the Nockamixon, Bucks Co., PA  Church records.  Henry's note is a good place to start to learn more about Old John's demise.  What is missing is where he is buried, a fact I have been searching for for many years. 

Next, Henry put down the name "John Good, Jr."  who was his father and then he has written "Uncle Williamsport".   Under that Henry wrote "George Good  65 y - 1 mon".  This is John Good, Junior's brother George (therefore Henry's Uncle George) who was born Sept. 13, 1810 in Mount Bethel twp., and whose record of baptism is recorded in the Upper Mt. Bethel Church records.  Combining these facts, a death date of October 13, 1875 can be calculated for George. The rest of the persons listed on the little slip of notepaper seem to be members of the family of George and Polly, his wife.

Using this information I was able to find a cemetery record for George on Find A Grave.   And this is where the fun began.  George is buried at Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pa.  The entry lists several children and the wife of George, Mary (who is listed above as Polly, a popular nickname for Mary back in the day). These are names that match what was written almost 100 years ago by Henry Good on this little torn off piece of paper.  Thank you Aunt Arvilla, for saving this and passing it on to me.  You trusted me that I would cherish it as you had done. Today, I am grateful to you for doing so. I have held onto it for over 16 years and now it has proven to be the key to unlocking the mystery of where John Good Senior is buried.

And how for the big reveal--- TA DAH...   Check out the first line on that tombstone!
"JOHN GOOD 1787 -1872"  Here's our Grandpa!  He must have gone to Lycoming Co. to live with his younger son George.  He had  out lived his oldest son, John Jr., who died November 10, 1871 at the age of 63 and is buried in Lower Mount Bethel, Northampton Co. PA.  Younger son, George, only survived old John by a few years.
Used with permission of Karin Randall, photographer.
John Good, Senior lived to be 85 years old, (I know Henry jotted down 87 years, but he was probably doing that from memory.)  This memorial is a great example of multiple family generations recorded on one stone.  Seen here, after John, is his son George and his wife Mary Smith Good.  Next is George's daughter, Josephine, who died at age 24 and her unnamed infant daughter.  Finally, Laura Good Johnson, another daughter of George and Polly Good.
One last thing, I wrote to the Lycoming Co. Historical Historical Society in search of an obituary for the old boy.  They found his will which was probated on August 26, 1872, Will Book number 3, page 533.  Awesome!  In the will John provides for the children of his son John.  One more proof of the family relationship. The Historical Society also told me "we have an original copy of the "Sexton Records and Death Records" of Lycoming county.  In this book, it is detailed that John Good was buried on August 24, 1872 in Wildwood Cemetery in Section 6."

So there you have it.  Sometimes it takes years to put all the clues together.  But I have finally proven the birth and death dates for this ancestor. This family is full of men named Henry, John and George.  I have told the story of  Henry Good (1764-1829) our Revolutionary War Veteran.  Here you have read about his son John, Sr. Our line of descent continues from John, Sr. to John, Jr. (1808-1871) of Lower Mt. Bethel.  From there we have another Henry (1841-1919) of Civil War fame, whose son George was Ron's Great Granddad.

  • Saint Luke's Union Church, Ferndale, Nockamixon Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania : known as Nockamixon Church, Pa, B.F. Fackenthal, Jr., 1933
  • Church record of the Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, 1774-1833 / copied by Wm. J. Hinke, 1934. 
  • History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania, edited by John F. Meginness; ©1892. "George Good" visited Nov.3, 2004. 
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 114625864, George Good
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 114675452, John Good, Senior
  • Lycoming Co. Historical Historical Society, Williamsport, PA
This page  © 2016, Cynthia H. Smith

Send email to
This site may be linked, but not duplicated in any way without consent. The copyright on this page must appear on all copied and/or printed material.

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. It is with pleasure that I am able to present this information here for you to see. If you discover a relationship here, I would very much enjoy hearing from you.