The Wife of Richard Stockton

Annis Boudinot Stockton

1736 – 1801

Wife of  Richard Stockton


Annis Boudinot, who became the wife of Richard Stockton, one of the most prominent young lawyers of New Jersey in 1762, was a woman of far more than ordinary intellectual ability and of a high character and patriotic spirit that made her a fitting companion for the man whose devotion to the cause of independ-ence brought him to his death before his time.

She was of French Huguenot descent, her family having come to America soon after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1686. Her father, Elias Boudinot, was for a time a silversmith in Princeton and her brother, who bore the same name as their father, studied law in the office of Richard Stockton and married his sister, Hannah Stockton.

Richard Stockton was highly successful in the practice of his profession and had added mate-rially to the large estate he inherited from his father, when he married Annis Boudinot and took her to “Morven,” his handsome Colonial home, near Princeton. “Morven” was known for its hospitality and as a gathering place for some of the brightest minds of the day. They were living here, when Mr. Stockton was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, and it was here that she performed a service which was made historic. When the British under Cornwallis came to Princeton in 1776, Mrs. Stockton secured and secreted a number of important state papers as well as the rolls and records of the American Whig Society of Prince-ton College, an act for which her name was added as an honorary member of the Society. Congress was then sitting in Baltimore and Mr. Stockton hastened home to conduct his family to a place of safety. He hurried them out of Princeton to Monmouth County, about thirty miles away, and then returning, went to spend the night with a friend, a patriot named Cowenhoven. That night a party of Tories came and arrested the two men. They were dragged from their bed at a late hour and half clad carried away and thrown into prison. Mr. Stockton was first taken to Amboy where he was confined in the common jail, suffering greatly from the cold. From there he was carried to the prison in New York, where he was most inhumanly treated. All the comforts and many of the necessities of life were withheld from him, notwithstanding the delicate condition of his health, and his high and honorable standing as a man. At one time he was left for twenty-four hours without food and then supplied only with the coarsest and not enough of that. Through the efforts of Mrs. Stockton, Congress was informed of these facts, and General Howe was given to understand that unless Mr. Stockton received better treatment in the future, retaliation would be taken on British prisoners. His condition was somewhat improved after that, but it was too late. The seeds had been sown of the dis-ease that was eventually to carry him to his grave. The British plundered his beautiful home, burned his splendid library and papers, and drove off his stock, much of which was blooded and highly valuable. The devastation of his estate, especially all that portion that could in any way be productive, taken together with the depreciation in value of the Continental cur-rency, so embarrassed Mr. Stockton financially that he was obliged to apply to friends for temporary assistance in order to supply his family with the necessaries of life. This caused a depression of spirits from which he never rallied and hastened the ravages of the disease that brought him to an untimely death in 178I, in the fifty-first year of his age.


Mrs. Stockton, who was three years younger than her husband, continued to live at “Morven” until her son Richard was married, when she relinquished her home to him and took up her residence in a house at the comer of Washington and Nassau streets, Princeton. Her youngest daughter, Abigail, lived with her until her own marriage to Robert Field of Whitehill, Burlington County, a brother of the wife of her brother Richard.

Richard Stockton left two sons and four daughters. Richard, the eldest son, born April 17, 1764, became one of the most eminent lawyers of the day. He left a number of children of whom the late Robert P. Stockton was one. The other son was Lucius Horatio, who also became a prominent lawyer and was appointed Secretary of War in 1801, by President Adams.

Richard Stockton’s eldest daughter, Julia, mar-ried Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Susan Stockton, the second daughter married Alexander Cutbert of Canada. Mary married Rev. Andrew Hunter, D.D., who was a chaplain in the Con-tinental Army and a professor in Princeton.

Annis Boudinot was well known throughout the Revolution for her patriotic verse. One of her poems drew a courtly acknowledgment from General Washington to whom it was addressed. Another, Welcome, Mighty Chief, Once More! was sung by the young women of Trenton while Washington was passing through Princeton on his way to his first inauguration.

Mrs. Stockton wrote the following upon the announcement of peace in 1783:

“With all thy country’s blessings on thy head,
And all the glory that encircles man,
Thy deathless fame to distant nations spread,
And realms unblest by Freedom’s genial plan;
Addressed by statesmen, legislators, kings,
Revered by thousands as you pass along,
While every muse with ardour spreads her wings
To our hero in immortal song;
Say, can a woman’s voice an audience gain;
And stop a moment thy triumphal car?
And wilt thou listen to a peaceful strain,
Unskilled to paint the horrid wrack of war?
For what is glory–what are martial deeds–
Unpurified at Virtue’s awful shrine?
Full oft remorse a glorious day succeeds,
The motive only stamps the deed divine.
But thy last legacy, renowned chief,
Hath decked thy brow with honors more sublime,
Twined in thy wreath the Christian’s firm belief,
And nobly owned thy faith to future time.”

Washington sent an answer to this ode and the letter which she wrote enclosing it. Her letter is lost, but we have the ode given above and his reply which is as follows:

ROCKY HILL, Sept. 24th, 1783.
You apply to me, my dear madam, for abso-lution, as though you had committed a crime, great in itself yet of the venial class. You have reasoned good, for I find myself strongly dis-posed to be a very indulgent ghostly adviser on this occasion, and notwithstanding you are the most offending soul alive (that is if it is a crime to write elegant poetry), yet if you will come and dine with me on Thursday, and go through the proper course of penitence which shall be pre-scribed, I will strive hard to assist you in expiating these poetical trespasses on this side of purgatory. Nay, more, if it rests with me to direct your future lucubrations, I shall certainly urge you to a repetition of the same conduct–on purpose to show what an admirable knack you have at confession and reformation; and so without more hesitation I shall venture to recommend the muse not to be restrained by ill grounded timidity, but to go on and prosper. You see, madam, when once the woman has tempted us and we have tasted the forbidden fruit, there is no such thing as checking our appetite, whatever the consequences may be. You will, I dare say, recognise our being genuine descendants of those who are reputed to be our progenitors. Before I come to a more serious conclusion of my letter I must beg leave to say a word or two about these fine things you have been telling in such harmonious and beautiful numbers. Fiction is to be sure the very life and soul of poetry. All poets and poetesses have been indulged in the free and indisputable use of it–time out of mind, and to oblige you to make such an excellent poem on such a subject with-out any materials but those of simple reality would be as cruel as the edicts of Pharaoh, which compelled the Children of Israel to manufacture bricks without the necessary ingredients. Thus are you sheltered under the authority of prescription, and I will not dare to charge you with an intentional breach of the rules of the decalogue in giving so bright a co louring to the service I have been enabled to render my country, though I am not conscious of deserving more at your hands than what the poorest and most disinterested friendship has a right to claim: actuated by which you will permit me to thank you in a most affectionate manner for the kind wishes you have so happily expressed for me and the partner of all my domestic enjoyments. Be assured we can never forget our friend at Morven and that I am, my dear madam, your most obedient and obliged servant,

Source: Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Orignaly Published in 1912 as volume 3 of The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons). Pages 132-139. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

Morvan at Princeton NJ

Morvan at Princeton NJ by Dan Beards.

Richard Stockton and his wife Annis Boudinor Stockton built Morven
during the 1750’s in Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Stockton was a signer of the
Declaration of Independence and his wife Annis was an accomplished poet.
Welcome to Morvan in Princeton by Dan Beards.

Morven is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It was the home of the Stockton family for 5 generations as well as the home of General Robert
Wood Johnson.

Annis Boudinot Stockton


Birth: Jul. 1, 1736 – Death: Feb. 6, 1801

Fieldsboro, Burlington County, New Jersey, USA

A Poet. One of the most prolific and widely published women writers in 18th Century America, Stockton’s poems in the English Neoclassical style remain the best known of her works, which also include a play, and numerous articles written for the leading newspapers and magazines of her day. A friend and correspondent of George Washington, and the wife of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, she was the only woman to be admitted to the American Whig Society, a tribute, in part, to her safekeeping of vital political documents during the Revolutionary War. Born Annis Boudinot in Darby, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of Elias Boudinot (d.1770), a wealthy merchant and silversmith of Huguenot descent, who later moved his family to Princeton, New Jersey. There the young Annis thrived in the town’s stimulating academic atmosphere, published her first poem at age 16, and in 1757 married the brilliant young lawyer Richard Stockton, a friend of her brother Elias, who would also distinguish himself in American politics. The Stocktons made a strikingly attractive couple, and their marriage was a happy one which produced 6 children. Their elegant Princeton home, which Annis named “Morven”, became a gathering place for the nation’s founders, and still later, a residence of the governors of New Jersey. The Stocktons paid dearly for their revolutionary activities, however. Forced to flee from the British, who had captured her husband and destroyed both his health and estate, Annis was widowed by his untimely death in 1781. Despite grief and impoverishment, she continued to devote her pen and her energies to the American cause. Her final years were spent at “White Hill”, a mansion overlooking the Delaware River in present day Fieldsboro, New Jersey, where she had resided with her daughter Abigail Stockton Field. After her death at age 64, her body was taken across the river to Philadelphia and laid in the plot of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who had married another Stockton daughter, Julia, in 1776. Among other distinctions, Mrs. Stockton was the mother-in-law as well as the wife of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. (Bio by: Nikita Barlow)



Biography of a Founding Father and Relative: Richard Stockton

Statesmen with Declaration of Independence

The following biographical sketches of America’s founding fathers are taken from the 1829 book, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, by the Rev. Charles A. Goodrich.

July 4th

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

John Hancock
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Matthew Thornton

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New York
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas M’ Kean

Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carrol

George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

North Carolina
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward
Thomas Lynch
Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton


Family history tells us that we are related to Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, one the the greatest documents of our Nation. Here is some very interesting information on one of our own.  Notice in the post on his wife (that follows this post):  as a poet, she has addressed a poem to a “Mary Stockton!”


Richard Stockton


Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton: From the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol

The first of the New-Jersey delegation, who signed the Declaration of Independence, was Richard Stockton. He was born near Princeton, on the 1st day of October, 1730. His family was ancient and respectable. His great grandfather, who bore the same name, came from England, about the year 1670, and after residing a few years on Long Island, removed with a number of associates to an extensive tract of land, of which the present village of Princeton is nearly the center. This tract consisted of six thousand and four hundred acres. This gentleman died in the year 1705, leaving handsome legacies to his several children; but the chief portion of his landed estate to his son, Richard. The death of Richard followed in 1720. He was succeeded in the family seat by his youngest son, John; a man distinguished for his moral and religious character, for his liberality to the college of New-Jersey, and for great fidelity in the discharge of the duties of public and private life.

Richard Stockton, the subject of the present memoir, was the eldest son of the last mentioned gentleman. His early education was highly respectable, being superintended by that accomplished scholar, Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley, in a celebrated academy at West-Nottingham. His preliminary studies being finished, he entered the college of New-Jersey, whose honors he received in 1748. He was even at this time greatly distinguished for intellectual superiority; giving promise of future eminence in any profession he might choose.

On leaving college, he commenced the study of law with the honorable David Ogden, of Newark, at that time at the head of the legal profession in the province. At length, Mr. Stockton was admitted to the bar, and soon rose, as had been anticipated, to great distinction, both as a counselor and an advocate. He was an able reasoner, and equally distinguished for an easy, and, at the same time, impressive eloquence.

In 1766 and 1767, he relinquished his professional business, for the purpose of visiting England, Scotland, and Ireland. During his tour through those countries, he was received with that attention to which he was eminently entitled, by the estimable character which he had sustained at home, and his high professional reputation. He was presented at court, by administer of the king, and had the honor of being consulted on American affairs, by the Marquis of Rockingham, by the Earl of Chatham, and many other distinguished personages.

On visiting Edinburgh, he was received with still greater attention. He was complimented with a public dinner, by the authorities of that city, the freedom of which was unanimously conferred upon him, as a testimony of respect for his distinguished character.

A short time previous, the presidency of New-Jersey college had been conferred upon the Reverend Dr. Witherspoon, a distinguished divine, of the town of Paisley, in the vicinity of Glasgow. This appointment Dr. Witherspoon had been induced to decline, by reason of the reluctance of the female members of his family to emigrate to America. At the request of the trustees of the College, Mr. Stockton visited Dr. Witherspoon, and was so fortunate in removing objections, that not long after the latter gentleman accepted the appointment, and removed to America, where he became a distinguished supporter of the college over which he presided, a friend to religion and science in the country, and one of the strong pillars in the temple of American freedom.

The following instances in which Mr. Stockton narrowly escaped death,. during his absence, deserve notice. While he was in the city of Edinburgh, he was waylaid one night by a furious robber. He defended himself, however, by means of a small sword, and even succeeded in wounding the desperado. He was not materially injured himself, but was not so fortunate as to prevent the escape of his assailant. In the other case, he was designing to cross the Irish channel, and had actually engaged a passage in a packet for that purpose. The unseasonable arrival of his baggage, however, detained him, and fortunate it was that he was thus detained, for the packet, on her voyage, was shipwrecked during a storm, and both passengers and crew found a watery grave.

The following year he was appointed one of the royal .In judges of the province, and a member of the executive council. At that time he was high in the royal favor, and his domestic felicity seemed without alloy. He possessed an ample fortune, was surrounded by a family whom he greatly loved, and held a high and honorable station under the king of Great Britain.

But the time at length arrived, when the question arose, whether he should renounce his allegiance to his sovereign, and encounter the sacrifices which such a step must bring upon him, or continue that allegiance, and forfeit his character as a friend to his country.

Situated as was Mr. Stockton, the above question could not long remain unsettled; nor was it for any length of time doubtful into which scale he would throw the weight of his influence and character. The sacrifices which he was called upon to make, were cheerfully endured. He separated himself from the, royal council, of which be was a member in New-Jersey, and joyfully concurred in all those measures of the day, which had for their object the establishment of American rights, in opposition to the arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British ministry.

On the twenty-first of June, 1776, he was elected by the provincial congress of New-Jersey a delegate to the general congress, then sitting in the city of Philadelphia. On the occurrence of the question relating to a declaration of independence, it is understood that he had some doubts as to the expediency of the measure. These doubts, however, were soon dissipated by the powerful and impressive eloquence of John Adams, the great Colossus on this subject on the floor of congress. Mr. Stockton was not only convinced of the importance of the measure, but even addressed the house in its behalf, before the close of the debate. It is needless to detain the reader by a particular mention of the many important services which Mr. Stockton rendered his country, while a member of congress. In all the duties assigned to him, which were numerous and often arduous, he acted with an energy and fidelity alike honorable to him as a man and a patriot.


On the thirtieth of November he was unfortunately taken prisoner by a party of refugee royalists. He was dragged from his bed by night, and carried to New-York. During his removal to the latter place he was treated with great indignity, and in New-York he was placed in the common prison, where he was in want of even the necessaries of life. The news of his capture and sufferings being made known to congress, that body unanimously passed the following resolution:

“Whereas congress hath received information that the Honorable Richard Stockton, of New-Jersey, and a member of this congress, hath been made a prisoner by the enemy, and that he hath been ignominiously thrown into a common goal, and there detained-Resolved, that General Washington be directed to make immediate inquiry into the truth of this report, and if he finds reason to believe it well founded, that he send a flag to General Howe, remonstrating against this departure from that humane procedure which has marked the conduct of these states to prisoners who have fallen into their hands; and to know of General Howe whether he chooses this shall be the future rule for treating all such, on both sides, as the fortune of war may place in the hands of either party.”

Mr. Stockton was at length released; but his confinement had been so strict, and his sufferings so severe, that his constitution could never after recover the shock. Besides this, his fortune, which had been ample, was now greatly reduced. His lands were devastated; his papers and library were burnt; his implements of husbandry destroyed; and his stock seized and driven away. He was now obliged to depend, for a season, upon the assistance of friends, for even the necessaries of life. From the time of his imprisonment his health began to fail him; nor was it particularly benefited by his release, and a restoration to the society of his friends. He continued to languish for several years, and at length died at his residence, at Princeton, on the 28th of February, 1781, in the fifty-third year of his age.

His death made a wide chasm among the circle of his friends and acquaintance. He was, in every respect, a distinguished man ; an honor to his country, and a friend to the cause of science, freedom, and religion, throughout the world. The following extract from the discourse delivered on the occasion of his interment, by the Rev. Dr. Samuel S. Smith, will convey to the reader a just account of this distinguished man:

“Behold, my brethren, before your eyes, a most sensible and affecting picture of the transitory nature of mortal things, in the remains of a man who hath been long among the foremost of his country for power, for wisdom, and for fortune; whose eloquence only wanted a theatre like Athens, to have rivaled the Greek and the Roman fame; and who, if what honors this young country can bestow, if many and great personal talents, could save man from the grave, would not thus have been lamented here by you. Behold there ‘the end of all perfection.’

“Young gentlemen, (the students of the college,) another of the fathers of learning and eloquence is gone. He went before in the same path in which you are now treading, and hath since long presided over, and helped to confirm the footsteps of those who were here laboring up the hill of science and virtue. While you feel and deplore his loss as a guardian of your studies, and as a model upon which you might form yourselves for public life, let the memory of what he was excite you to emulate his fame; let the sight of what he is, teach you that every thing human is marked with imperfection.

“At the bar he practiced for many years with unrivaled reputation and success. Strictly upright in his profession, be scorned to defend a cause that he knew to be unjust. A friend to peace and to the happiness of mankind, be has often with great pains and attention reconciled contending parties, while he might fairly, by the rules of his profession, have drawn from their litigation no inconsiderable profit to himself. Compassionate to the injured and distressed, he hath often protected the poor and helpless widow unrighteously robbed of her dower, hath heard her with patience, when many wealthier clients were waiting, and hath zealously promoted her interest, without the prospect of reward, unless he could prevail to have right done to her, and to provide her an easy competence for the rest of her days.

“Early in his life, his merits recommended him to his prince and to his country, under the late constitution, who called him to the first honors and trusts of the government. In council be was wise and firm, but always prudent and moderate. Of this be gave a public and conspicuous instance, almost under your own observation, when a dangerous insurrection in a neighboring county had driven the attorneys from the bar, and seemed to set the laws at defiance. Whilst all men were divided betwixt rash and timid counsels, he only, with wisdom and firmness, seized the prudent mean, appeased the rioters, punished the ringleaders, and restored the laws to their regular course.

“The office of a judge of the province, was never filled with more integrity and learning than it was by him, for several years before the revolution. Since that period, he hath represented New-Jersey in the congress of the United States. But a declining health, and a constitution worn out with application and with service, obliged him, shortly after, to retire from the line of public duty, and hath at length dismissed him from the world.

“In his private life, he was easy and graceful in his manners; in his conversation, affable and entertaining, and master of a smooth and elegant style even in his ordinary discourse. As a man of letters, be possessed a superior genius, highly cultivated by long and assiduous application. His researches into the principles of morals and religion were deep and accurate, and his knowledge of the laws of his country extensive and profound. He was well acquainted with all the branches of polite learning; but he was particularly admired for a flowing and persuasive eloquence, by which lie long governed in the courts of justice.

“As a Christian, you know that, many years a member of this church, he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Nor could the ridicule of licentious wits, nor the example of vice in power, tempt him to disguise the profession of it, or to decline from the practice of its virtues. He was, however, liberal in his religious principles. Sensible, as became a philosopher, of the rights of private judgment, and of the difference in opinion that must necessarily arise from the variety of human intellects; he was candid, as became a Christian, to those who differed from him, where he observed their practice marked with virtue and piety. But if we follow him to the last scene of his life, and consider him under that severe and tedious disorder which put a period to it, there the sincerity of his piety, and the force of religion to support the mind in the most terrible conflicts, was chiefly visible. For nearly two years be bore with the utmost constancy and patience, a disorder that makes us tremble only to think of it. With most exquisite pain it preyed upon him, until it reached the passages by which life is sustained: yet, in the midst of as much as human nature could endure, he always discovered a submission to the will of heaven, and a resignation to his fate, that could only flow from the expectation of a better life.

“Such was the man, whose remains now lie before us, to teach us the most interesting lessons that mortals have to learn, the vanity of human things; the importance of eternity; the holiness of the divine law; the value of religion; and the certainty and rapid approach of death.”


Marker in Cemetery of the

Quaker Church, Princeton, NJ

Marker in Cemetery of Quaker Church, Princeton, NJ by Ken Kuhl.
Grave marker of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence in the cemetery of  the Princeton Society of Friends (aka Quakers) church built in 1726.
Quaker Church, Princeton, NJ by Ken Kuhl.Cemetery of the Princeton Society of Friends (aka Quakers) church built in 1726.
Cemetery of Quaker Church, Princeton, NJ by Ken Kuhl.Cemetery of the Princeton Society of Friends (aka Quakers) church built in 1726.

See also:

The biography of Annis Boudinot Stockton, Richard Stockton’s wife

The Religious Affiliation of Richard Stockton

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 204-211. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

Wikipedia on Richard Stockton


Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

NOTE:  If you have ever received an e-mail describing what really happened to the signers of the Declaration of Independence that describes their many tales of woe, don’t believe it! The “how the signers suffered” or “the price they paid” spiel contains numerous errors. (SOURCES: Click here for the full story that debunks the Internet e-mail hoax. Need more proof?  Click here.)

For the record, here’s a portrait of the men who pledged “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” for liberty many years ago.

Note:  Snopes on Richard Stockton

Richard Stockton of New Jersey was the only signer taken prisoner specifically because of his status as a signatory to the Declaration, “dragged from his bed by night” by local Tories after he had evacuated his family from New Jersey, and imprisoned in New York City’s infamous Provost Jail like a common criminal. However, Stockton was also the only one of the fifty-six signers who violated the pledge to support the Declaration of Independence and each other with “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,” securing a pardon and his release from imprisonment by recanting his signature on the Declaration and signing an oath swearing his allegiance to George III.

Fifty-six men from each of the original 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Nine of the signers were immigrants, two were brothers and two were cousins. One was an orphan. The average age of a signer was 45. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate at 70. The youngest was Thomas Lynch Jr. of South Carolina at 27.

Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Twenty-two were lawyers – although William Hooper of North Carolina was “disbarred” when he spoke out against the king – and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been governor of Rhode Island. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures.

John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend. (Indeed, he wore his pontificals to the sessions.) Almost all were Protestants. Charles Carroll of Maryland was the lone Roman Catholic.

Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four at Yale, four at William & Mary, and three at Princeton. Witherspoon was the president of Princeton, and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary. His students included Declaration scribe Thomas Jefferson.

Seventeen signers fought in the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was a commanding officer in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a major general in the Delaware militia; John Hancock held the same rank in the Massachusetts militia.

The British captured five signers during the war. Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton were captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780. George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists. He died in 1781.

Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy – compelled to remove my family five times in a few months.” Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war.

Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was razed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson, both of Virginia, lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort but were never repaid.

Fifteen of the signers participated in their states’ constitutional conventions, and six – Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Franklin, George Clymer, James Wilson, and George Reed – signed the U.S. Constitution.

After the Revolution, 13 signers went on to become governors. Eighteen served in their state legislatures. Sixteen became state and federal judges. Seven became members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Six became U.S. senators. James Wilson and Samuel Chase became Supreme Court justices. Jefferson, Adams, and Elbridge Gerry each became vice president. Adams and Jefferson later became president.

Five signers played major roles in the establishment of colleges and universities: Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania; Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Benjamin Rush and Dickinson College; Lewis Morris and New York University; and George Walton and the University of Georgia.

Adams, Jefferson, and Carroll were the longest surviving signers. Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll was the last signer to die in 1832 at the age of 95.

Sources: Robert Lincoln, Lives of the Presidents of the United States, with Biographical Notices of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (Brattleboro Typographical Company, 1839); John and Katherine Bakeless, Signers of the Declaration (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969); Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989).

Herman Classics



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…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

A Nostalgic Test: Just for Fun

This is a test for all us ‘big kids!

The answers are below (don’t cheat).


01. After the Lone Ranger saved the

day and rode off into the sunset, the

grateful citizens would ask, “Who was

that masked man?” Invariably, some-

one would answer, I don’t know, but

he left this behind. What did he

leave behind? ___________________


02. When the Beatles first came to

the U.S, in early 1964, we all watched

them on ‘The_______________Show.’

‘Get your kicks, ______________.’

‘The story you are about to see is

true.  The names have been changed

to _____________________.’

‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle,


. After the Twist, The Mashed Potato,

and the Watusi, we ‘danced’ under a

stick that was lowered as low as we

could go in a dance called the _______ .’


07. Nestle’s makes the very best _____.

Satchmo was  America ‘s

‘Ambassador of Goodwill.’ Our parents

shared this great jazz trumpet player with

us. His name was ___________________.

What takes a licking and keeps on

ticking?   _______________________.


. Red Skeleton’s hobo character was

named ______________________ and Red

always ended his television show by

saying,’Good Night, and____________.’


Some Americans who protested the

Vietnam  War did so by burning their


The cute little car with the engine

in the back and the trunk in the front

was called the VW. What other names

did it go by? _________ & _________.


In 1971, singer Don MacLean sang

a song about, ‘the day the music died.’

This was a tribute to ______________.

We can remember the first satellite

placed into orbit. The Russians did it.

It was called __________________.

15. One of the big fads of the late 50’s

and 60’s was a large plastic ring that

we twirled around our waist. It was

called the  ______________________.






01. The Lone Ranger left behind a

silver bullet.

The Ed Sullivan Show

03. On Route 66

04. To protect the innocent

05. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

06. The limbo

07. Chocolate

08. Louis Armstrong

09. The Timex watch

10. Freddy, The
Freeloader and

‘Good Night and God Bless.’

11. Draft cards (Bras were also

burned.  Not flags, as some

have guessed)

12. Beetle or Bug

13. Buddy Holly

14. Sputnik

15. Hula-hoop


                Lee and Cheryl

Riding the Train

Daddy was a hard worker.  For about a dollar a day, Nathan Wright, worked as a “Watchman” for the Southern Railroad to support his large family.  For 30 years he went to work for the railroad.

watchman_watch-stationPhoto of a Railroad Watchman and crossing watchman shack (Unidentified Man)

There was a benefit to daddy working for the railroad.  The entire family was able to ride the train for free, mostly traveling to visit relatives.  They were able to ride as often as they wanted.   It was a lot of fun.  But then, the Wrights always had fun no matter what they did.


Buntyn Station was a suburban Southern station located at Southern Avenue and Semmes Street. The view below shows Buntyn Station, Circa 1949, looking west, SRR Forrest Yard and coal chute in distance (coal chute demolished 1950), Crossing watchman shack on left, Memphis Country Club entrance on right.

southern_buntyn-station-21Buntyn Station, Memphis, TN  (Photo property of Bill Strong)

Southern Railroad (Presently Norfolk Southern), the Southern Railway, forever remembered by its famous slogan, “The Southern Serves the South – Look Ahead, Look South” (it was also known for the slogan “The Southern Gives a Green Light To Innovation”), was created from a number of smaller railroads, which merged over the years to form the Southern Railway. Perhaps the railroad’s famous green paint scheme was fitting for the railroad as it became the most respected and arguably the best managed railroad of its day before it disappeared into a merger with the Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W) in 1982 to form today’s Norfolk Southern Railway (NS).


The modern Southern Railway system was formed in 1894 when the Richmond & Danville and East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia railroads merged. After this initial merger the new Southern Railway began to grow through consolidations with other smaller railroads. During the Southern Railway’s final form the railroad stretched from Richmond to Florida and west to Memphis and New Orleans and would be made up of some 125 smaller railroads. The Southern Railway’s most important main line stretched from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. and was entirely double-tracked.

On July 1, 1894, the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad merged with the Richmond and Danville Railroad to form the new Southern Railway. Southern later acquired many more companies and within a decade was one of the most extensive railway systems in the nation. Of the three railway companies serving Johnson City, the Southern was the largest and offered more connections. At full build out the Southern, Clinchfield, and ET & WNC lines brought a combined 20 passenger trains daily into Johnson City. As the railroads brought prosperity to East Tennessee, the areas largest cities – Johnson City and Bristol – became rivals of sorts for new industry and business from the Southern Railway and other smaller railway lines.

Southern Railway suspended passenger service to Johnson City in 1970 and the brick depot originally constructed in 1912 was dismantled in 1973. The main line of the Northfolk Southern Railway presently operates along the original route of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad through downtown Johnson City and westward to Jonesborough and Knoxville.

Sid Davies Photo, Louis A. Marre Collection

Southern Railway Forrest Yard

Southern Railway Improvements at Memphis Railway Age Gazette, June 19, 1914, page 1554

Southern Railway has begun construction of a large classification yard and engine terminal at Buntyn, six miles east of Memphis, and the contract for grading the grounds has been let to C.W. Lane & Co., of Atlanta, GA. The new terminal will be named Forrest. Two groups of tracks will be laid, a receiving yard and a distributing yard, with an aggregate length of track of about 15 miles. The eastbound classification yard and the westbound receiving yard will have 12 tracks with a capacity of 60-65 cars each, while the eastbound receiving and the westbound classification yards will be of about the same extent. The roundhouse will have 18 stalls and a 90-foot turntable, to be worked by power. The coal plant will be of reinforced concrete and have a capacity of 1,000 tons. There will be a small machine shop and a shed for freight car repairs. A two-story office building and a track scale of large capacity will complete the plant.

southern_buntyn-mps-10-14-491(Property of Bill Busler, one of the kids in the photo)

southern_arrival_departure-board1Southern Railway Train Arrival and Departure Bulletin

unionstathroatUnion Station

southern_head-end_no461Southern Railroad Head End #46

Southern Railway is the product of nearly 150 predecessor lines that were combined, reorganized and recombined since the 1830s.

The nine-mile South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Co., Southern’s earliest predecessor line, was chartered in December 1827 and ran the nation’s first scheduled passenger service to be pulled regularly by a steam locomotive — the wood-burning “Best Friend of Charleston” — out of Charleston, S.C., on Christmas Day 1830. When its 136-mile line to Hamburg, S.C. was completed in October 1833, it was the longest continuous line of railroad in the world.

As railroad fever struck other Southern states, networks gradually spread across the South and even across the Allegheny Mountains. Charleston and Memphis, Tenn., were linked by 1857, although rail expansion halted with the start of the Civil War.

Known as the “first railroad war,” the Civil War left the South’s railroads and economy devastated. Most of the railroads, however, were repaired, reorganized and operated again. In the area along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, construction of new railroads continued throughout Reconstruction.

Southern Railway was created in 1894, largely from the financially-stressed Richmond & Danville system and the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad. The company owned two-thirds of the 4,400 miles of line it operated, and the rest was held through leases, operating agreements and stock ownership.

Southern also subsequently controlled the Queen & Crescent Route (Alabama Great Southern; New Orleans & Northeastern; Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific; and for a time the Alabama & Vicksburg), and the Georgia Southern & Florida, which were operated separately.

Samuel Spencer

Southern’s first president, Samuel Spencer, drew more lines into Southern’s core system. During his 12-year term, the railway built new shops at Knoxville, Tenn., and Atlanta, and purchased more equipment. He moved the company’s service away from an agricultural dependence on tobacco and cotton and centered its efforts on diversifying traffic and industrial development.

By the time the New Orleans & Northeastern (Meridian-New Orleans) was acquired in 1916 under Southern’s president Fairfax Harrison, the railroad had attained the 8,000-mile, 13-state system that marked its territorial limits for almost half a century.

The Central of Georgia became part of the system in 1963, and the former Norfolk Southern Railway Co. (Norfolk-Charlotte) was acquired in 1974.

Southern and its predecessors were responsible for many firsts in the industry. Its predecessor, the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Co., was the first to carry passengers, U.S. troops and mail on regularly-scheduled steam-powered trains, and it was the first to operate at night. In 1953, Southern Railway became the first major railroad in the United States to convert totally to diesel-powered locomotives, ending its rich history in the golden age of steam.

From dieselization and shop and yard modernization, to computers and the development of special cars and the unit coal train, Southern often was on the cutting edge of change, earning the company its catch phrase, “The Railway System that Gives a Green Light to Innovations.”

Southern Railway HospitalitySouthern Railway Hospitality

memphis-railroaders Memphis Railroaders

friscobridge2Frisco Bridge

memphis-train-centsta-overhead-sOverhead View of Memphis Central Train Station

memphis_train_kcmbt1w_ticketRailway Ticket

A major reason why the Southern Railway became so successful was because its innovative nature and sound business practices (and the company very much lived up to another slogan it used, “The Southern Gives A Green Light To Innovation”), especially in the railroad’s later years. The Southern was quick to adopt new technologies that improved efficiencies such as Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) and began double-tracking lines to improve operations (it would eventually finish double-tracking its entire main line between Atlanta and Washington, D.C.). Because of its innovative nature it probably comes as no surprise that the Southern was quick to make the switch from steam to diesel locomotives as well, completely dieselizing its locomotive fleet by 1953.

Regarding the railroad’s steam fleet it rostered a wide range of wheel arrangements, from large to small. While the Southern rostered impressive power such as 2-8-8-2s to haul coal out of the mountains in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee (known as the Appalachia Division), the railroad is perhaps best known for its fleet of Ps4-class Pacifics, which were built by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) in 1926 and used to carry the very best passenger trains the company had to offer. The Ps4s are best remembered for their days hauling the Southern’s finest passenger train, the Crescent. They were adorned to match their trains in the company’s beautiful green, white, and gold-trimmed livery and are argued to be the most beautiful (from an aesthetic standpoint) steam locomotives ever built. Fortunately one has been saved, #1401, which today resides at the Smithsonian and is proudly on display in her original green, white, and gold-trim.

The Southern Railway employed an efficient use of passenger locomotives on their trains into Memphis. The longer trains were Numbers 45-46 “The Tennessean” and normally operated with two locomotives.

The secondary train on the line were numbers 35-36, oddly named “The Birmingham Special”, since you could not go to that city on this train. At Chattanooga a Memphis section used to split off the New York to Birmingham train, however, by this juncture the only through cars were one or two express cars. Passengers had to make an across the platform change at Chattanooga. This train carried a smaller number of cars into Memphis, therefore only one locomotive was required into Memphis.

After train 45 “The Tennessean” backed into MUS, in the morning, the two locomotives were quickly uncoupled and sent to the Engine House. The lead unit was uncoupled, fueled and serviced and then became the lone unit on outbound train 36, the eastbound “Birmingham Special”. Likewise, in the afternoon, the procedure was reversed. The lone unit from inbound 35 was fueled and quickly serviced and then added to the “lay over” engine which was sitting all day at the Engine House. Together, they now formed the outbound power for train 46 that evening.

 A view of the head end of the last No. 46 to depart Memphis Union Station (Lyle Key Photo)

View of “the head end of the last No. 46” to depart Memphis Union Station.  This unit had arrived earlier that afternoon on train 35, “The Birmingham Special.” “The last Tennessean” left Memphis with the 4139 and 2914 on the head end on that day.  (Lyle Key Photo)


Above  is a view of the train crew of the last Missouri Pacific train 37 to Little Rock, Ark. on March 31, 1964. By this date, no through passenger or mail cars operated beyond Little Rock. The passengers had to make a change of platforms and the mail and express had to be trans loaded onto the other connecting trains in the Arkansas capital city.  (Lyle Key Photo)

southern_conductor_waving1The Conductor gives one last wave before he and his brakeman board train 108 for the last time at Union Station. This train still carried a heavy volume of mail and express on its leisurely overnight trip to Nashville. The train operated over the old “Nashville, Chattanooga & St.Louis” line out of Memphis via Jackson and Bruceton, TN.  (Lyle Key Photo)

The conductor is pulling the cord" to give the engineer the Highball to leave Union Station for the last time. He is residing on the Pullman car named "Wauhatchie Valley", a 14 Roomette 4 Double Bedroom car. Also note the red kerosene lantern near his foot and the elaborate train sign listing the major cities along this route. Memphis Union Station No. 10, and SW-1, is parked on Track 8.

The conductor is “pulling the cord” to give the engineer the Highball to leave Union Station for the last time. He is residing on the Pullman car named “Wauhatchie Valley”, a 14 Roomette 4 Double Bedroom car. Also note the red kerosene lantern near his foot and the elaborate train sign listing the major cities along this route. Memphis Union Station No. 10, and SW-1, is parked on Track 8.(Lyle Key Photo)


While the company is no longer with us it will forever be remembered its famous slogans, “The Southern Serves The South” and “The Southern Gives A Green Light To Innovation,” both of which the railroad very much lived up to.  For an excellent pictorial history of the Southern and a general history of the railroad consider the book, Southern Railway, from Tom Murray.


The L & N train 108 has left Union Station on its overnight trek to Nashville.  Not one, but a pair of kerosene marker lamps are lit on the rear of the lone coach. How railroading has changed over the years.

Wouldn’t you love to turn the clock back…  to ride aboard this local train into the night… to hear that whistle blow “just one more time!”

railroad-stationPeople waiting at a train station to board.



Memphis Station Evolution


Last Day of Memphis Union Station


Other Memphis Passenger Stations