G. V. LAWRENCE. The genealogy of the Lawrence family, of which this gentleman is a member, is imperfect. Those of that name who became prominent in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania are supposed to have sprung from the brothers who came from England at an early day. A son of one of these settled in Adams county, Penn., about the year 1770, where he afterward died, leaving a family of ten children.
About the year 1788 his widow, with this large family, came over the mountains when there was only a pathway, the mother carrying the youngest son, Joseph (then three years old), on her knee on horseback. They settled on a small farm on the headwaters of Pigeon creek, eight miles east of Washington, in a cabin, and here the family seven daughters and three sons grew up. In time the daughters all married in Washington county, and raised families; and a numerous progeny of children and grandchildren and their descendants sprang from these excellent women, and some of the later generation are found scattered over the West. The oldest son, John Lawrence, married and moved to Beaver county, and was twice elected to the Legislature from that county; afterward moved to Delaware county, Ohio, and died there, leaving a family. One of his sons was educated at Washington College, studied law, became very prominent in his profession, and served in the Legislature of Ohio. His son afterward served in the Senate of the State.
Samuel Lawrence, the second son of the older stock, also moved to Beaver county, Penn., and was prothonotary of the courts for nine years. He was there elected to the Legislature, serving two sessions, and there died, leaving a large family. One of his sons was prothonotary of that county nine years, and afterward an associate judge.
Joseph, the third son, remained on the farm with his mother, to whom he was much attached, and to whom he clung with strongest affection until she died at the age of ninety-five years. This son was compelled to work hard on the farm to maintain the family, and only obtained a few months for improvement at school. He was married about the year 1812 or 1813 to Rebecca Van Eman, by whom he had four children: Joseph, George V., Sarah and Samuel. About the year 1823 the mother died, Samuel being then a babe, and when five or six years old he died. Joseph grew up and married Eliza Horner, and they both died in February, 1842, leaving four children, all of whom married, and three of them are still living. Sarah, the daughter, married Ard. Moore, an excellent man, and they raised five children, all of whom are married and very prosperous, living in Carthage, Mo., except one daughter who is in Portland, Oreg. The father of this family died about the year 1866; the mother is still in good health, and lives with the children in Carthage. Of George V. we will speak more in detail hereafter.
Joseph Lawrence, the elder, about the year 1826 married, for his second wife, Maria, a daughter of Judge Bucher, of Harrisburg, an excellent woman, as all who knew her bear testimony, and with her had four sons and one daughter. John J. Lawrence, the eldest son, was superintendent of the western portion of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad for years, and afterward of the Allegheny Valley Railroad; he was colonel of one of the Pennsylvania regiments in the army. He has a most interesting family, and is now retired, living in Allegheny, Penn. James K. Lawrence, the next son (now deceased), was a captain in the regular army; was efficient and brave, and had the confidence and esteem of every one in his company and regiment. He was very severely wounded at Fredericksburg, but recovered and died three years since at Reynoldsville, Penn., leaving a small family. W. C. A. Lawrence, third son, was educated at Washington College, and studied law with Hon. J. C. Kunkle, of Harrisburg. He was fine looking, very pleasant in manner, and possessed of excellent natural ability. He was succeeding to a fine practice at the bar in Dauphin county when he was elected to the Legislature in 1857. He was re-elected in 1858, and was elected speaker, obtaining the nomination over Hon. A. K. McClure, a man of unusual ability. He was perhaps the youngest man ever elected speaker in this State. In 1859 he was re- elected to same position, and was exceedingly popular and efficient. The labor in the law office, and in the speaker's chair, proved too much for his constitution, and he died in 1860.
Samuel, the fourth son, was well prepared by education, and studied engineering. He was a long time employed on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad when very young. He laid out and helped to locate and build the Oil Creek Railroad. He was very efficient, and popular with all classes of people, and was nominated and elected to the Legislature, from Warren, McKean and Elk counties, serving one winter, peremptorily declining a renomination. He died in Warren in 1862, leaving a widow but no children; she since died in Philadelphia. Susan M., the youngest, remained with her mother until her death which occurred in Harrisburg, in 1860, and during the long illness of her mother was ever with her, patient, considerate and kind. She afterward married Mr. Myron Sanford, of Erie, Penn., a retired and wealthy man of excellent character, who proved a most devoted husband. They raised one son a promising and intelligent young man, but both he and his father are dead; Mrs. Sanford still lives in her beautiful home, esteemed and loved by all who know her and can appreciate the highest womanly virtues.
The foregoing is a very brief and condensed history of the several children of Joseph Lawrence, the elder. A more extended notice of him and his son George V. Lawrence is appropriate, with a general reference to the public life of this family. It is seen here that the three brothers who were brought to Washington county, so early by the mother, poor and fatherless, were all members of the Legislature of their native State. Joseph, the youngest, was elected from Washington county in 1820, and served until 1826, being speaker of the House two sessions; was elected to Congress in 1826. He was for J. Q. Adams for President, but the tide for Jackson swept him down in 1828. In 1834 he was nominated for the Legislature and elected, and re-elected in 1835; was elected State treasurer in 1836. He ran for Congress in 1838, and was defeated by seventeen votes. In 1840 he was again the candidate of the Whig party and elected. He died on April 17, 1842, while a member, and his body lies in the Congressional Cemetery, at Washington, D. C. Mr. Lawrence was a man of fine physical and mental abilities; was a good public speaker, logical and clear in argument with an unusual memory and a very pleasant manner, and he had the respect and confidence of all who knew him. Like his mother, and all his extensive family, he was a Presbyterian, and when at home in the county generally walked three and one-half miles to church and sat in the Bible-class, his sons going with him to Sunday-school. He was firm in the Pauline and Augustinian faith, and a student of theology. His house was always open, and a kind of home for ministers who were fond of his company.
We have before referred to his sons William and Samuel as members of the Legislature, and now come to speak more in detail of the remarkable life of George V., his son by his first marriage. It is believed that no man in the State, and few anywhere, has had so many marks of public favor. He was born on November 13, 1818, named after his uncle, George Van Eman, a Presbyterian minister, and raised on a farm in sight of the old home of his grandmother. He went to the district school, then kept in a small log-cabin house, with a log on each side cut out, and the opening covered with oiled paper to give light. When about fifteen years of age he studied Latin grammar with Rev. W. C. Anderson, then boarding with his father, and preaching at Pigeon Creek Church; afterward went for a time to a small select school, opened a few miles off; then went one year to the English Department of Washington College. His health failing, and being threatened with pulmonary disease, his father, like any sensible man, took him back to the farm where he regained his health, and remained there until twenty-one years of age. He was fond of horses, and was a fearless and excellent rider, and still mounts his horse, takes his dogs and goes out to the country to run foxes. He has been an active politician since 1842. He was elected to the Legislature in 1843-'46-'58-'59. In 1848 he was elected to the State Senate over his opponent, the late William Montgomery. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1860, from counties of Washington and Greene (overcoming 1,000 Democratic majority), of which body he was speaker in 1863, and he was again elected to the Senate in 1874-'76-'78. In 1864-'66-'82 he was elected a member of Congress. In 1872 he was elected a delegate-at-large to the constitutional convention, and was again elected to the Legislature in the fall of 1892. Thus for fifty years he was identified with national and State politics, and it is a happy thought that his course in public life has always been devoted to progress and the right.
In 1829 he married Elizabeth Welsh, a daughter of the late William Welsh, Esq., of Washington county, and moved to a farm in Carroll township, near Monongahela City. About 1862 he came into the town, and has remained there ever since. His first wife died in 1855, leaving two children: Mary Virginia, still at home, and Joseph, who died when three years old. In 1857 Mr. Lawrence was again married, this time to a daughter of Rev. John Reed, of Indiana county, Penn., and she is still living. Three children were born to them, the youngest of whom died when very young. George R., the eldest, was educated at La Fayette College, studied law with G. W. Biddle, Esq., of Philadelphia, and after practicing some years in Pittsburgh, died leaving a widow highly esteemed and respected. Carrie Belle, the daughter, married Dr. C. B. Wood, a regular physician, and lives near her parents.
Text taken from page 94 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed April 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published April 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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