While growing up in California, I occasionally found myself at a large family gathering of the Travers clan.  There could be six or seven individual family units in attendance and always a few kids my own age.  I never really thought about how, or if, we were related.

Much later, when I started researching family history, I learned that my Grandma Harding’s mother was Ellen Agnes “Travers” and her grandfather was John “Travers”.  I also discovered that Ellen and most of her 11 siblings were born in Traverston, Ontario, Canada.

What a coincidence!  That there would be so many people named Travers in Traverston!  There had to be a story there and this is what I found:

John Travers and Margaret Marie Cronan (my 2Gr-Grandparents) were married in 1856.  They settled and began their family in Glenelg Township, Ontario, Canada (100 miles northeast of Toronto) where he built and operated a sawmill on the banks of the Rocky Saugeen River.

Around that same time, a couple of land speculators were attempting to create a new town in the area.  The proposed community was to be called Waverley and according to an 1856 plot map of the town it included many small industries including a tannery, a machine shop, a sawmill, a cabinet and chair factory, and a flour mill.

In truth, however, the only enterprise that likely actually existed was Travers’ sawmill.   As for the fate of all the other prospective residents and landholders of Waverley, that remains a bit of a mystery.  No land was registered to anyone other than the would-be developers.  Whether any money traded hands is unknown. Rumor suggests that there may have been some kind of swindle but nothing more is known for sure .

At some point, John Travers bought the entire one hundred acre Lot including the site of Waverley.  In about 1962 he built a store and added it to his enterprises.

In 1870 a rural post office was established in Waverley .  From 1872 – 1882 Travers served as Postmaster and operated the office from his store.  As part of his official duties as Postmaster, he elected to renamed the town after himself.  Hence, Waverley has ever since been known Traverston. 

By 1871, Travers had added a large grist mill to augment his sawmill.  Although Traverston never grew as large as hoped, it did become a thriving hamlet.  And, as we have seen, the birthplace of a lot of Travers children.  Unfortunately after the railroad came through, and passed it by, Traverston dwindled.

Traverston can still be found on Google Maps along with a photo of a mill built in 1870 that has since been converted into a residence.

Looks like a lovely place to visit someday.

Tintypes of Roth Sisters

I went looking for a particular picture of my wife’s grandmother today.  I did’t find it but I did run across a couple of neat old tintypes.

Tintypes were an early form of photograph made by creating a direct positive image on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the  photographic emulsion.  Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century.

My tintypes are 2 1/2″ X 3 1/2″ and .010″ thick.  I believe they were made around 1890 and they look pretty good for being 127 years old

I sometime see old pictures like these in antique malls and I think it’s a shame because they were probably discarded just because no one knew who the subjects were.  Fortunately, someone taped a label to the back of one of mine identifying the subjects (the handwriting looks like Aunt Ann’s).Roth 006

Roth 006 back

So apparently, the two ladies are my Gr-Gr-Aunts Barbara Roth Hopf and Mary Roth Fleischman.  I never knew either of them.  But the little child is my Gr-Aunt Elizabeth Rauch, better know to me and Keith as “Aunt Lizzy”.  We saw a lot of her when we were growing up in California, of course, she looked a lot older then.  She was also one of the little girls sitting in front of the wagon at the Rauch Family Picnic which I posted about earlier.

Unkn 002

The second picture falls more towards the unknown category.  I can make a good guess about one of the gentlemen though.
If you look at the background carefully it is easy to assume that the two pictures were taken on the same day in the same place.
If we also assume that all of the subjects are related, then two of the men are probably the ladies’ husbands, Andrew Hopf and Bernhard Fleischman.  The third man would be George Rauch, the little girl’s father.
By comparing this to other pictures I have of George Rauch, including the one from the Rauch Family Picnic, I am ready to say that the man in the middle is George Rauch (1860-1932).  He was Aunt Lizzy’s father and my Gr-Gr-Grandfather.

Patriot Stephen Harding (1723-1789)

My application for membership to the Sons Of The American Revolution states that my 5th Gr-Grandfather, Stephen Harding, “assisted in the establishment of American Independence while acting in the capacity of Captain of the 7th Co., 24th Regiment, Colonel Zebulon Butler Connecticut Militia in1775 and he was in command of Fort Jenkins in Wyoming Valley, PA when he was captured on July 2,1778 by the Tories and the Indians.”

That is all true, of course, but there is so much more to the story…

Stephen Harding Jr. was born March 11, 1723 in Warwick, RI.  His 4th Gr-Grandfather, Richard Harding, had emigrated from England a century earlier making Stephen a fourth generation American.

His father, Capt. Stephen Harding, was a mariner, building and sailing his own ships.  Capt. Stephen must have gained considerable wealth for in 1732 he purchased a highly improved 400 acre farm that included a sawmill in what became Waterford, CT.  The family moved there when the younger Stephen was perhaps 9 years old.

Little else is known about Stephen Jr. until May 31, 1743 when he married Amy Gardner (daughter of Stephen & Frances Congdon Gardner).  Together they settled in Colchester, CT where they resided for over 25 years and raised 9 sons and 4 daughters.

During the French and Indian War Stephen Jr. served in Captain Thomas Pierce’s Twelfth Company of the Second Connecticut Regiment.  He served as a private for about six months and was involved in the Campaign of 1760.

“From the lips of those who were acquainted with them during their lifetime, we are told that (Stephen) was a man of means, and a prominent man in the town of Colchester (Connecticut), from whence he had come; and that both he and his wife had been members of the Baptist Church there. He was a man of great will power and energy, of more than ordinary physical stature, and always ready to act upon every emergency.”  (Source: Luscomb, J.S. (1998). Genealogical Outline of the Richard Harding Line. Wyoming Historical Society collections.)

Stephen’s name appears several times among those from Connecticut who, beginning in the 1760’s, attempted to establish a settlement in the Wyoming Valley in NE Pennsylvania.  This very fertile valley was formed by the Susquehanna River which flows from upstate New York through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and into the Chesapeake Bay. We are primarily interested in the 30 mile stretch just north and east of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The problem with settling the Wyoming Valley was that it was embroiled in a border dispute between the Colonies of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  King Charles II had unwittingly granted the area to both Colonies; and neither wanted to give it up.  The result was a series of Yankee-Pennamite Wars that raged, off and on, for 25 years.  That is a great story for another time.  But for now, suffice to know only that Stephen Harding believed that he was settling in Westmoreland, Connecticut.  All of his civic and military service was for Connecticut.  Even though the area is now part of Pennsylvania.

Stephen was living in the Wyoming Valley in 1772 when Pittston Fort was a built by the  Connecticut settlers.  The fort contained about 35 cabins within a triangular palisade.  The settlers owned and occupied their cabins until such times as they were ready to live on the farms which they had located.  One of these cabins, #33, belonged to Stephen Harding.

April 19, 1775 – The American Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

May, 1775 –  The Connecticut Legislature enacted “that the town of Westmoreland shall be one entire regiment distinguished and called by the name of the 24th Regiment” Zebulun Butler was appointed Colonel.

Fall of 1775 – Stephen sold his interest in Pittston Fort and presumably moved into his house in Exeter Township.  Located on the west side of the Susquehanna river, near Falling Spring the settlement later became the village of Harding. (it’s on Google Maps)

October, 1775 – The 24th Connecticut Militia Regiment was organized into nine companies.  The Line Officers for the Seventh Company, located around Exeter Township, were Stephen Harding, Captain; Elisha Scovell, Lieutenant; John Jenkins, Ensign (Harding & Jenkins were brothers-in-law; their wives Amy Gardner Harding and Lydia Gardner Jenkins were sisters.)

August, 1776 – Two Independent Companies of the 24th Regiment were established for Continental Service .  At least three of Stephen Harding’s sons, Stephen III, Thomas (my ancestor), and Israel, enlisted in the First Westmoreland Independent Co.

January, 1777 – The two Independent Companies left the Wyoming Valley and marched off to join General Washington at Morristown, NJ.  Their departure left primarily women, children and old men to defend the Wyoming Valley.  Stephen was then 54 and one of the men that stayed behind.  One of the children was Stephen’s son, Elisha, who later gave this testimony:

“In answer to your request, I will begin with the building of Jenkins fort. In the month of June, 1777, it was thought proper to commence building forts, for defense against the enemy.  We went to work I, but a boy, could do but little, except driving oxen to haul logs ; the logs were about eighteen or twenty feet long, and placed in a ditch of a sufficient depth to stand against any thing that could be brought by the enemy against it ; the corners so constructed as to rake any thing on the outside of the fort that should attempt to assail it.”

So, Fort Jenkins was actually built by Harding, Jenkins, Gardner and their families. It was nothing more than a log stockade built around the house of Judge John Jenkins.  Other forts in the area were larger.  I’ve already mentioned Pittston Fort; and Forty Fort occupied almost an acre.  But Fort Jenkins was small and only able to accommodate a few families in times of danger.

.Fort Wintermoots, another stockaded house, was also small and only a mile away from Fort Jenkins.  But it had been built by Tory settlers from New York who were sympathetic to the British.

Spring of 1778 – Butler’s Ranagers began wreaking havoc in the Susquehanna Valley.  Major John Butler (no relation to Zebulun Butler) was a Connecticut Tory, loyal to the British Crown, with extensive knowledge of Indian languages and customs.  He had at his command as many as 500 Mohawk Indians and 400 local Tories.  The Susquehanna was a strategic waterway and food source and they meant to take it by any means.

May, 1778 –  Sensing the danger, the Hardings, Hadsalls, John Gardner and perhaps others moved into Fort Jenkins.  But they were still farmers. They had to go out and tend to their crops or they would have nothing to eat come winter. 

June 30,1778 – A work party, including Stephen’s sons Benjamin, Stukley, & Stephen III (apparently back from his tour with Washington) went up river five or six miles to work in their corn fields.  Toward evening, as they were beginning to make their way back to the fort, they were ambushed by Indians.  Benjamin and Stukley were killed, mutilated, and scalped.  Stephen III fled and after wandering through the woods all night made it back to the fort the next morning.

July 1, 1778 – A force from Forty Fort marched the 11 miles to the site of the murders seeking retaliation.  They also recovered the bodies of Benjamin and Stukley. Amy Gardner Harding, their mother, prepared them for burial and they were laid to rest outside of the fort. These were the first burials in the Jenkins-Harding Cemetery.

July 2, 1778 – I again quote Elisha Harding’s testimony:

“In the course of the after noon, Butler sent a flag to our fort, demanding a surrender thereof; Captain Harding and Esquire Jenkins met Butler; and there being but five able-bodied men, and two old men, and three boys, left in the fort, and the Indians in possession of Wintermoots, it was thought most advisable to surrender on the following conditions: that nothing should be taken from the inhabitants of the fort, except such things as were wanted for the army, and that to be paid for; the inhabitants to have liberty to return home and occupy their farms in peace, but not to take up arms during the war.”

July 3, 1778 –  All the Companies of the 24th, except for Harding’s 7th Co.,which was captured the day before, were gathered in Forty Fort for a war council.  Colonel Zebulun Butler was there; and troops from the Independent Companies were on their way.  Smoke could been seen on the horizon as Forts Jenkins and Wintermoots were being destroyed. Some of the men at Forty Forty insisted that they must go out immediately and confront the enemy to protect their farms and families.  Col. Zebulun Butler advised that they should stay in the Fort and wait for reinforcements. But he eventually relented and the men of Wyoming left the Fort and went out in pursuit of the enemy.

They found the enemy, established a line, and fired a couple of volleys.  But then they realized that they were outflanked by Indians hiding in the woods.  Savage hand-to-hand combat with spears and tomahawks ensued and within 45 minutes the Battle and Massacre of Wyoming was over.

Numbers vary, but roughly 200 Patriots were killed, tortured, and/or mutilated that day.  The Wyoming Monument lists the names of 182 men known to have died.  When Col. John Butler left the Valley a few days later he took with him 227 scalps for which the British paid him $2270.

By being captured on the previous day, the Hardings escaped the horror of the Battle & Massacre.  But they surely suffered tremendous loss among friends and neighbors.

Despite the surrender agreement at Jenkins Fort, it was not safe to remain in the valley.  The Hardings fled to Colchester for the duration of the war.  In 1778, they returned to the Wyoming Valley and resumed living on their farm in Exeter.  Stephen Harding died Oct 11,1789 and Amy survived him until June 4,1804.  They are both buried in Jenkins-Harding Cemetery in West Pittston, PA along side of their sons, Benjamin and Stukley.

Jenkins-Harding Cemetery, West Pittston, PA

Wyoming Monnument

3 Harding Politicians


Warren G. Harding (1865 – 1923)

We Hardings probably all get asked if we are related to the President?  The truth is that we are, but it is so distant that you need a computer to figure it out.  Warren G. Harding is my  6th cousin once removed and our common ancestor is Stephen Harding Sr. (1681 – 1750).  The main advantage to having a president in your line is that once you get past that common ancestor, any research  done on him, taking us back in to England, is valid for us too.

Benjamin Franklin Harding

Benjamin Franklin Harding (1823 – 1899)

A slightly closer yet still distant relative is Benjamin Franklin Harding.  Acccording to the computer, he is my 2nd cousin 4 times removed.

B. F. Harding was born in Tunkhannock, PA.  He studied and became a lawyer in his hometown and in 1849 he migrated to the Pacific Coast.

In 1850 he was chosen a member of the legislative assembly of the territory of Oregon; and was again a member and also speaker of the house in 1852.

In 1853 he was appointed by President Pierce U.S. district attorney for the territory and in 1854 was made its secretary, which office he held till Feb. 14, 1859, when Oregon was admitted as a state.

He was a representative in the state legislature, 1859-62, being speaker the last two years.

He was then elected as a Union or Douglas Democrat to the U.S. senate to complete the unexpired term of Edward D. Baker, who was killed at the battle of Ball’s Bluff. He took his seat Dec. 1, 1862, during the third session of the 37th congress and served to March 3, 1865, when he returned to Oregon and engaged in the practice of law.

He died at Cottage Grove, Oregon, June 16, 1899.


William Lloyd Harding (1875 – 1934)

Closer still is my 1st cousin twice removed, William Lloyd Harding.   I never met him, of course, but I think I have talked to people that did know him.

After graduating from Morningside College in 1905 he established a law firm in Sioux City, Iowa.

He entered the 1906 campaign, and was elected to the Iowa State Legislature by an impressive majority.

In 1912, he sought and won the Lt. Governorship, serving two terms with Governor G.W. Clarke.

In 1916 he received the Republican nomination for Governor, and in a campaign which the state historians have said overshadowed the second election of Pres. Wilson, Harding swept into office with the election of Nov. 7, 1916. He served 2 terms in office as Governor during the years of 1917-1921.

Rauch Family Picnic

This photograph was found among my Grandma Lueders’ things and I’ve always thought it was a real treasure.  The three little girls are:
my Grandmother, Barbara Rauch Lueders
my Great-Aunt, Anna Rauch Matthewson
my Great-Aunt, Elizabeth Rauch Knatzke
missing is my Great-Uncle John Rauch
I believe the folks on the right are there parents:
Elizabeth Roth Rauch and George W. Rauch
I don’t know who the others; probably the girls’ aunts & uncles.

Assuming the girls are 5, 9, and 10 years old then this picture was taken about 1898.  They lived in Milwaukee, WI and I have always liked to think that they loaded up the wagon and drove out into the country for a family picnic.   But the more I study the setting and all the other junk around the wagon it looks more like it may have been parked there for a while.  Wish I knew who played the accordion.

Stephen the First – Blacksmith

There is no shortage of Stephen Hardings in our family.  I currently have eleven of them registered in my family tree program.

Stephen the First (of our line at least) was born in Braintree, MA about 1624.  His father, Richard, had just emigrated from England and I believe Stephen was the firsts of our Harding ancestors to be born on this continent.

It is reported that Stephen was a blacksmith by trade.  When I hear “blacksmith” it takes me back to the TV Westerns I watched as a kid where the blacksmith shop was used mostly for making horseshoes, and hiding the bad guys before the shoot-out.

But in colonial times the blacksmith was perhaps the most important of artisans.  Few men had the skill to do his work but nearly everyone needed it.  A blacksmith could be called on to make nails, bullets, swords, hatchets, axe heads, anchors, chains, hooks, iron hoops, hinges, gates, locks, wheel barrows and, of course, shoes for horses and oxen. They would also make repairs to tools required by other tradesmen.

Blacksmithing was physically hard and dirty work done next to a very hot fire.  Stephen probably worked long hours 6 days a week and I doubt that he wore earplugs to protect his hearing from all that banging.

Around 1647, when Stephen was about 23 years old he removed from Braintree to Rehoboth, MA which is about 40 miles southwest of his homeland.

The likely reason suggested for the move is that he had  become a convert to the Baptist faith and wanted to live in the Baptist community of lower Rehoboth .  His father was a “freeman” which denotes membership in the Puritan church.  If Stephen forsook the Puritan faith in favor of the despised Baptist sect, and remained resident of Braintree, his life there would surely have been an uncomfortable one

There were many Baptists in Rehoboth and they probably held meetings in their homes.  But they must have gone across the river to Providence for communion and undoubtedtly were members of the Providence Church, the first of the Baptist faith in America. 

(sources: THE ANCESTRY OF PRESIDENT HARDING  by Clara Gardinier Miller; THE HARDINGS IN AMERICA by Wilber J. Harding)

About those portraits hanging on Grandpa’s Wall

This is my Grandma and Grandpa Lueders sitting in their living room on Walnut Grove Ave. in Rosemead, CA.

Notice the picture on the wall behind Grandma.  I believe it is an oil portrait and there was another one of a woman on the other side of the window to the left.  They were always there when I was growing up and they are hanging in my brother Keith’s house in Umatilla now.

We were always told that the folks in the pictures were Grandpa’s Great-Grandparents; and they were buried somewhere in Germany.  But that was all we knew about them.  Until now……

I learned that their son, Paul August Lueders, was born in Mecklenburg Germany and had emigrated  to Milwaukee in 1852.

This is his business card.  The fine print says “CONFECTIONERY, FRUITS, CIGARS AND TOBACCO.”  Apparently he ran an ice cream and cigar store.  I know all about his kids and grandkids all the way down to my own kids but nothing about the folks in the portraits that were buried in Germany. 

Recently though I re-read P. A.’s  Last Will & Testament and noticed he signed.   He had a FULL name

“August Theodore Paul Diedrich Lueders”.   No wonder he went by “P.A.”  But that’s a name I can work with.

As soon as I searched for his full name and date and place of birth I got a hit from  A Baptismal record from the Lutheran Church in Retgendorf, Mecklenberg, Deutchland with the full name and the right date.  His father was Heinrich Lüders.  His mother was Caroline Juilane Charlotte Lüders. A little more digging revealed that they were married Oct 13, 1826 in Retgendorf and the had at least four other children.  So here there are.  One more mystery solved!

Heinrich Lüders (1779 – 1838)

Caroline Juliane Charlotte Lüders (1779 – ????)