Eleanor Armor Smith

Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer James Smith

Eleanor Armor of Newcastle, Delaware, was born in 1729. She was described as “a young woman of many accomplishments and good family connection.” James Smith was born in Ireland, the second son in a large family, most likely in 1719, and came to Pennsylvania as a boy of ten or twelve years of age. His family settled in York County, Pennsylvania, on acreage west of the Susquehanna River.

His father was a successful farmer, and James received a good education at Reverend Francis Alison’s academy in New London, PA, where he learned Greek, Latin, and mathematics, including land surveying. He later studied law at the office of his older brother George, in Lancaster PA.

American Patriot
Ole Erekson, Engraver, circa 1876

Smith was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar at age twenty-six, and set up an office in Cumberland County, PA, near Shippensburg, as a lawyer and surveyor. This was a frontier area at the time, so he spent much of his time engaged in surveying, only practicing law when the work was available. In about 1750, he moved to the more populated village of York, where he continued the practice of his profession for the remainder of his life. He was the first attorney to practice in York, and remained at the head of the bar of that county until after the Revolution.

Mr. Smith was quite an eccentric man, and possessed a vein of humor, coupled with a sharp wit and the gift of storytelling, which made him a great favorite in the social circle in which he moved.
Smith was endowed with wit and humor, given to storytelling and jovial companionship.

In 1760, when he was 41 years old, James Smith married Eleanor Armor, and they would have five children: three sons and two daughters. Only one of the sons and two of the daughters survived him. Their son James Smith, Jr. died a few months after his father’s death. The daughter, became the wife of James Johnson, a prominent citizen of York.

Read Article

Anne Morton

John Morton

Wife of Signer of the Declaration of Independence John Morton

Anne Justis was born in 1730 in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, a neighborhood in the southwestern section of Philadelphia. She was the daughter of Morton Justis and Brita Walraven Justis, Swedish immigrants. John Morton was born in 1724 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on a farm in Ridley Township. They were neighbors in the farmland of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, both of Swedish extraction, whose ancestors immigrated to the lower counties of Pennsylvania at the opening of the eighteenth century.

John’s father died a few months before his birth. When John was about seven years old, his mother his mother married an Englishman, John Sketchley. His stepfather was an intelligent and gifted man, who gave John a good basic education at home. Sketchley also trained John in the professions of farming and surveying, a useful trade that Morton would practice for the rest of his life.

When Anne Justis married John Morton in 1745, she probably had little idea of the honors the future held in store for her husband, even though he was already looked upon in their small community as a young man with a promising future. John was noted for his abilities and his habit of hard work. As a young man, he cultivated his own acreage, and alternated his farm work with surveying new lands. His integrity and his commitment to the community made him popular with the citizens. The family continued to reside in Ridley, where John was active in civic and church affairs.

Anne and John had twelve children, nine of whom survived into adulthood, three sons and six daughters: Aaron, the eldest child; Sketchley, a major in the Continental Army; Rebecca; John, who became a surgeon and died while a prisoner of war on the British ship Falmouth in New York Harbor; Sarah; Lydia; Elizabeth; Mary; and Ann, whose husband, Captain John Davis fought in the Revolutionary War as an officer in the Pennsylvania militia.

In 1754, at the age of thirty, John Morton turned his attention to politics. He was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1756, and for some time was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He sided with the Penn family proprietorship, and served on that body for eighteen terms, while also serving as a Chester County Justice of the Peace (1757-64 and 1770-74) and as a local sheriff (1766-69). Despite his lack of formal training, John served as an associate Justice of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court.

Morton’s service to the nation began in 1765 when he represented Pennsylvania in the Stamp Act Congress in New York. What gave the delegates the most trouble was whether to acknowledge the authority of Parliament to regulate trade. If they admitted that Parliament had the authority to regulate trade, it could be construed as an admission that taxes on the American colonies to raise revenue was acceptable. The delegates maintained that Parliament could not levy taxes on the colonies, since the colonies had no representation there.

Read Article

Elizabeth Montgomery Witherspoon

Wife of Signer John Witherspoon

Image: John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon was born on February 5, 1722, at the village of Gifford, near Edinburgh, Scotland. The males in his family were all clergymen, and he was trained to become a Presbyterian minister. At the age of four, he could read the Bible. He attended grammar school at the neighboring town of Haddington. At age 13, he entered college, and earned Master of Arts (1739) and Doctorate of Divinity (1743) degrees from the University of Edinburgh.

In 1743, the Haddington Presbytery licensed him to preach, and he was ordained two years later at Beith, Ayrshire, as a Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) minister. He occupied that pulpit until 1757, and there he met Elizabeth Montgomery, a woman distinguished for her piety and benevolence

Read Article

Deborah Hart

John Hart

Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer John Hart

Deborah Scudder was the only child of Richard Scudder from Scudder Falls, and she had a distinguished family history, going back almost to the Mayflower. Deborah’s great-grandfather, John Scudder, came to Salem, Massachusetts, on the James in 1635. With his brothers Thomas and Henry, John Scudder moved from there to Southold, Long Island, in 1651, to Huntington in 1657, and to Newtown in 1660, where he was prominent in town affairs.

John Hart was born, probably in 1711, in Hopewell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Edward Hart, John’s father, was a Justice of the Peace, a Public Assessor, and a farmer. He arrived in Hopewell about 1710, at the age of twenty. He married Martha Furman on May 17, 1712, and they had five children, one of whom was John.

Read Article

Christina Livingston

Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer Philip Livingston

Image: Philip Livingston

Christina Ten Broeck was born in Albany, New York, on December 30, 1718, the daughter of Albany civic leader Dirck Ten Broeck and his wife Margarita Cuyler, and the great-granddaughter of Albany mayor Dirck Wesselse Ten Broeck. She was the third of twelve children, and grew up in Albany with her sisters and brother in a comfortable home on Market Street.

Philip Livingston was born January 15, 1716, at his father’s townhouse in Albany, and spent most of his childhood there or at the family manor at Linlithgo on the Hudson River, about 30 miles to the south. He was born into the well-to-do and prominent family. His father, also named Philip Livingston, was of Scotch descent and the Second Lord of Livingston Manor, and controlled a large landholding grant near Albany. His mother, Catharine Van Brugh, was of Dutch lineage. His maternal grandfather was Albany mayor Pieter Van Brugh. While he was growing up, Philip divided his time between his father’s townhouse and the Manor House built in 1699.

Read Article

Grace Growden Galloway

Loyalist in the American Revolution

Image: Growden Mansion
Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Joseph Growden built this home which was later expanded upon by his son Lawrence, Grace Growden Galloway’s father. Grace later inherited this home, but since married women at that time were not allowed to own property, her husband Joseph Galloway automatically became the owner.

One of the most interesting diaries written during the American Revolution was written by Grace Growden Galloway, while the world as she had known it was completely destroyed. Her family history was typical of colonial American families. Her grandfather settled in Pennsylvania and accumulated a large amount of property. His second son Lawrence sought his fortune as a merchant in England, where he got married. Lawrence’s second child, Grace, was born in England in 1727.

Read Article

Ann Savage Taylor

Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer: George Taylor

Image: George Taylor
And his signature on the Declaration of Independence

Ann Savage was born in Ireland in 1718. Ann’s grandfather came to Pennsylvania from Wiltshire, England in 1684, and became Surveyor General of Chester County, which then accounted for about one-third of the colony. Later, her father served as Chester’s Deputy Surveyor General. Ann’s family belonged to the Society of Friends or Quakers, but she was disowned as a Quaker in 1733 for marrying Samuel Savage, a non-Quaker.

George Taylor was born in Ireland, and came to America in 1716, when he was about twenty years of age, landing in Philadelphia in 1736. He was the son of a respectable clergyman, who gave to his son a better education than other young men received at that time. At his father’s suggestion, George began to study medicine, but the subject didn’t suit him, and he soon set sail for America.

Read Article

Susanna Farnham Clarke Copley

Wife of American Portrait Artist John Singleton Copley

Susannah Farnham Clarke was born on May 20, 1745, in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Richard Clarke and Elizabeth Winslow, both of whom were of high social position. Richard had graduated from Harvard College in 1729, and became one of the most prominent merchants in Boston, later under the name of Richard Clarke & Sons. Elizabeth Winslow’s ancestry goes back to Mary Chilton, who came from England on the Mayflower in 1620.

John Singleton Copley was born July 26, 1738, son of humble Irish parents, Richard and Mary Singleton Copley, recent Irish immigrants, who lived in a very simple home and ran a tobacco shop on Long Wharf in Boston. Long Wharf was home to approximately 40% of colonial American shipping, and a center of trade, with exports such as lumber, beef, and furs, and imports such as textiles, glass, sugar, and rum.

Read Article

Sarah Hopkins

Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer: Stephen Hopkins

Image: Stephen Hopkins
By John Hagen

Sarah Scott was born on June 24, 1707, the daughter of Silvanus and Joanna Jenckes Scott, and a great-granddaughter of Richard Scott, said to be the first Quaker in Rhode Island. Richard Scott’s wife was Catharine Marbury, sister of Anne Marbury Hutchinson, who was driven from Boston during the period of religious intolerance in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the seventeenth century.

Stephen Hopkins was born in Providence on March 7, 1707, in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of William and Ruth (Wilkinson) Hopkins. He was descended from the Thomas Hopkins who emigrated to Plymouth Plantation in 1635, and he was raised in his mother’s Quaker religion. He grew up in the small agricultural community of Scituate, west of Providence, RI. He was reared to be a farmer, and had inherited his father’s estate in Scituate, but he was chiefly employed as a land surveyor.

Read Article

Frances Montresor Buchanan Allen

Wife of Patriot Ethan Allen

Image: Ethan Allen

Frances Montresor, also known as Fanny, was born April 4, 1760, and grew up in New York City. She was very interested in botany and was an accomplished musician. She was likely the biological daughter of Captain John Montresor. Her stepfather was Crean Brush, a colonel in the British army, who had served under General John Bradstreet at Albany, where he met and married Margaret Montresor, Frances’ mother.

Crean Brush was born about 1725 in Dublin, Ireland, and came to America between 1758 and 1762 and settled in New York City. He was a lawyer and for some time he held the office of Secretary of the Province of New York. He held various offices under the government of New York. He was a representative to the General Assembly of New York from 1773 to 1775, and had large influence in the house.

Read Article