Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday - John & Ruth Negley, Not Available in Kodachrome

These "pictures" of my Third Great Grandparents John and Ruth Negley are photocopies of photocopies of I don't know how-many-times-removed from the original sketches.   A fellow researcher sent them to me several years ago and I'm very grateful to have them.  They are probably the best I can hope for.  Photographs may have been against their religion.  I haven't found any mention of a church affiliation for the Negley's until their son Josiah Negley was married in the Methodist church in Illinois, which may have been his wife's church.  John's Great Grandfather, Hans Rudolph Negley, was a member of the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, a strict religious community.  The Foster family were mostly Methodists.  When John and Ruth married in Pennsylvania, they may have gone with either a Dunkard or Pennsylvania Dutch denomination or possibly Methodist.  They may not have stayed with the same church as they moved to Illinois, then Iowa.

Ruth Foster Negley has half of a chapter devoted to her in the book "The History of the Foster Family", (1902) written by D. I. Foster -- she shares a chapter with her brother Josiah.  Her parents were Richard Lewis Foster and Charity Johnstone.   An exerpt from the book about Ruth: 
"When she was ten years old that "Hog Pen" school house was built and she got some little schooling.  She went to school to "Praying Pascoe" a celebrated teacher of the time who knew much more about using the rod than teaching the rule of three.  Our grandfather, the late Thomas Foster, told the writer many years ago that this man Pascoe would compel one of the pupils to return thanks at noon each day and it was recognized fact that the larger the boy the poorer the thanks.  Ruth Foster grew to girlhood on the mountain, and we are told that even in early girlhood, she evinced an aptitude for caring for the sick, and was the solace of many a sick room."  
"Another thing Ruth Negley could say, she was named for a great aunt, Ruth Foster Lewis, who was born in Massachusetts about 1730 and died in Madison county, Ohio about 1820.  The first female Foster child that our family have any record of." 
Ruth is also said to be an Aunt of Stephen Collins Foster, the song writer who wrote "My Old Kentucky Home", "Oh Susanna" and others, but I haven't found that exact connection yet.

With John I don't have as much success finding his name in print online anywhere.  Better access to land records would be great.  Again, from the book by Foster: 
"John Negley laid a warrant on a piece of land about three miles north of Hopewell, Pa., where he built a house and where the young couple started house-keeping and where several of their children were born.  The writer lived on this old farm from April 1st, 1858, to April 1st, 1867.  About 1850 John Negley and family moved from Broad Top Mountains over into Woodcock Valley, settling on the north bank of the Juniata River about three miles from Saxton, Pa., where they resided until the Autumn of 1863, when they sold out and moved to Buda, Bureau Co., Illinois, where Mrs. Negley had two sisters living, Mrs. Thomas Horton and Mrs. Septimus Horton.  Here the family resided for about ten years, and the Buda people will bear us out when we say that they were splendid people.  Here most of their children were married.
In the spring of 1873 the family again pulled up stakes and this time set their tent in Decatur Co., Iowa, where they resided until death claimed the old people.  Uncle John Negley died December 8th, 1884, aged 75 years, 10 months and 15 days.  Ruth Foster Negley died December 27th, 1895, aged 87 years, 6 months and 23 days.  She was the last child of R. L. Foster and wife to depart this life..."
There is another book that I want to add to my old trunk in the attic someday written by Floyd R. Negley, "Negley, USA History & Genealogy" (1986).  I was given copies of the pages from the book that cover my ancestors.  In this book, Mr. Negley pretty much echoes the same information that D. I. Foster had:  
"John and Ruth started farming near Broadtop in Bedford County, but around 1850 they moved into Woodcock Valley and settled on the north bank of the Juniata River about three miles from Saxton, Pennsylvania.  In the fall of 1863 they sold that property and moved to Buda, Bureau County, Illinois where two of Ruth's sisters were living.  John and Ruth lived there for about ten years and most of their children were married in that area.  In the spring of 1873, the family moved again, this time to Decatur County, Iowa where they resided until their deaths."
Jacob Negley and Phoebe Hale were John's parents.  Jacob lived his entire life in the same area.  Phoebe was born in Virginia, and with her family, escaped to Pennsylvania to avoid Indian wars.  They are buried in St Paul's UCC Church Cemetery, Russellville, PA.

John was a Farmer in census records from 1860-1880, listed as a "Laborer" in 1850. Probably a farm laborer.  He was a few years too old to serve in the Civil War.  His son David served in the 76th Regiment, Co. E, Pennsylvania Infantry. 

John & Ruth were married September 15, 1836 in Bedford County, celebrating 48 years together before John's death.  Seven children were born to them, two sons died in infancy in Pennsylvania.
  • David Foster (1837-1917)
  • George (1839- died before 1850)
  • Susanna (1841-1922)
  • Amon (1842- died before 1850)
  • Catherine  (1843-1870) 
  • Josiah Foster  (1846-1922)
  • John Calvin  (1850-1916)
This marker is in the Decatur City Cemetery for John & Ruth.  It was placed many years after their deaths.  I checked visiting their grave off my bucket list this summer.


  1. I think I know you to feel, Laura, to get even the worst photocopies of ancestors rather than have no images at all, and really, these seem pretty clear. I'm glad I didn't have to go to school at Ruth's school!

    1. You're right, it really is nice to have a true mental picture to go with a name! I am grateful to have these copies. Thanks, Nancy!

  2. You are fortunate to have access to TWO books about your family. That is so cool. The personal stories are very interesting.

    1. Always hopeful though, right Wendy? ;) Thanks!!