ELDER FAMILY. At the close of the revolutionary
war in the year 1782 Thomas Anderson and a man by the name of Cooper, of
Paxtang, Lancaster, now Dauphin, county, crossed the mountains and traveled
westward through the wilderness until they came to those valuable lands
in Derry township, Westmoreland county, formerly known as the „Rich Lands,š
where they erected a cabin and remained there that summer. They examined
the land and decided to locate and purchase; this was all government land.
Their food that summer consisted principally of game, bear, deer and wild
turkey, these being very plentiful. The Indians were there in great
numbers, and on several occasions they stole articles from their cabin.
Mr. Cooper, who had taken up three hundred acres of land, a portion of
which is now the property of James B. Patterson, gave his claim to Mr.
Anderson in return for one of his flint lock rifle guns. It was subsequently
learned that the reason for his hurried departure was that he had killed
These three hundred acres added to what Mr. Anderson already had made him the possessor of ten hundred and thirty-seven acres of this valuable land. Five hundred acres of this he gave to his sister Hannah, whose husband, David Elder, had died in 1753, and the remainder, five hundred and thirty-seven acres, to her son, Robert Elder, who had lately been mustered out of service, having fought seven years in the revolutionary war, entering when but eighteen years old. Thomas Anderson returned to Lancaster and the following spring, 1783, he, in company with his sister, Hannah Elder, her son, Robert Elder, his young wife, Mary (Whitesides) Elder, and their children, Hannah, aged two years, and Thomas, aged one year, crossed the mountains in a covered wagon and settled on the tract that Mr. Anderson had taken up, located two miles northeast of New Alexandria and halfway between Loyalhanna creek and the Conemaugh river. In earlier days it was covered with very large timber such as white and black oak, hickory and chestnut. It is underlaid with the Pittsburg and Freeport vein of coal, which was not discovered, however, until a much later date.
One of the first things Robert Elder did after settling was to build a block house, whither they and their neighbors repaired when the Indians visited that section. They also built a log dwelling house in the summer of 1783, which stood until 1820, when it was replaced by a larger log house, twenty-eight by twenty-eight, two stories high, with kitchen attached and with double porches in front, which made it in its day the most modern house in the country. It stood until 1881, a period of sixty-one years, when it was replaced by the present modern frame structure. In the first house Thomas and Mary (McConnell) Elder went to housekeeping in the year 1812; they built a log spring house that summer, which is still standing. In the second house there were fourteen deaths, which included all the original settlers and most of the children of Thomas and Mary Elder. They attended Congruity Church, Rev. Samuel Porter, pastor, which was located a distance of eight miles from their home, and they also went to old Salem on horseback, carrying a child in front and one behind. Thomas Anderson, aforementioned, was born in Ireland, 1718, emigrated to America, locating in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, fought through the revolutionary war when between fifty and sixty years old, died on the old Elder farm near New Alexandria in 1822, aged one hundred and four years, and is buried in Old Salem churchyard. After the death of Hannah Anderson Elder and her son, Robert Elder, Thomas Elder, the son of the latter, became sole owner of their property on the Rich Lands, which at his death in 1855 was divided among his surviving children, as follows: To Robert Elder one hundred and seventy-two acres; Harriet Eliza one hundred and sixty-eight acres; Thomas Elder one hundred and seventy-two acres; James Elder one hundred and seventy acres; John Elder the old homestead and on hundred and eighty acres. Mary Elder, wife of Thomas Elder, survived him thirty-five years; she died in 1881, aged ninety years, buried at New Alexandria.
John Elder, son of Thomas and Mary Elder, resides on the old homestead at the present time (1906), in the seventy-fourth years of his age. His wife, Margaret (Brown) Elder, died in 1871. He has been a lifelong member of the Reformed Presbyterian church of New Alexandria. He was drafted into the service of the army at the outbreak of the rebellion, but as his family consisted of his aged mother and young wife, he felt as though his duty was at home and accordingly paid the government three hundred dollars exemption money. He relates of having heard from his home the cannonading at the battle of Gettysburg. John Calvin Elder and family also reside on the old homestead. Thus we see from this history that his children are the sixth generation of the same name that have lived in succession on this farm. So one generation passes away and another comes.
For we are the same our fathers have been;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen;
We drink the same stream; we view the same sun;
And run the same course our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think;
From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink
To the life we are clinging they also would cling,
But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.
They lived, but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned, but the heart of the haughtiest is cold;
They grieved, but no wail from their slumber will come;
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.
They died, ah! they died; we things that are now,
That walked on the turf that lies o‚er their brow,
And make in their dwelling a transient abode,
Meet the same things on their pilgrim way road.
őTis the wink of an eye; tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossoms of health to the paleness of death;
From the gilded saloon to the bier and shroud,
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud!
Robert Elder, born 1679, in Scotland, emigrated
to America in 1730 and located in Paxtang township, then Lancaster, now
Dauphin county, Pennsylvania, on a tract of land near the first ridge of
the Kittanning mountains, five miles north of Harrisburg. He married
in 1703, Eleanor --, born in 1684, died October 25, 1742, and their children
were: Robert, born 1704; John 1706; Thomas, 1708; David, 1710; James, 1712;
Ann, 1713. Robert Elder died July 28, 1746, in Paxtang, and was buried
in the old churchyard.
1. Robert Elder, eldest son of Robert Elder, born in Scotland, 1704, came to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, with his parents in 1730. At the close of the revolutionary war he emigrated to Elders Ridge, Indiana county, Pennsylvania, and became the father of ten children. His second wife was Margaret (Taylor) Elder. His descendants are quite numerous in Indiana county; they intermarried with the Colemans, Robinsons, Nesbits, Russels, Lairds and Barnetts. Robert Elder died in 1790.
2. John Elder, second son of Robert Elder, Sr., was born in Edinburg, Scotland, 1706. John Elder won distinction as a colonel in the revolutionary war. He received a classical education and graduated from the University of Edinburg. He subsequently studied divinity, and in 1732 was licensed to preach the gospel. In 1836, four years afterwards, he followed in the footsteps of his parents and came to America. The Paxtang church gave him a unanimous call, which he accepted, but trouble soon arose. The Whitfield excitement or revival spread over the Presbyterian church and Mr. Elder preached against it. He was accused of preaching false doctrine; he was tried by the presbytery, which sustained him. The Whitefield followers separated from him. Following these ecclesiastical troubles came the French and Indian war. Associations were formed throughout the province of Pennsylvania for the defense of the frontiers, and the congregations were prompt to embody themselves. Rev John Elder became their leader and captain, and they were trained as scouts. He superintended the discipline of the men, and his mountain rangers were known as the Paxtan boys. During two summers at least, every man who attended church carried his trusty rifle with him, also the minister took his. Subsequently he was advanced to the dignity of colonel by the Provincial authorities, his commission being dated July 11, 1763. He had charge of all the block houses from Easton to the Susquehanna river. At the outbreak of the revolution, when the British army overran New Jersey, driving before them our half-starved soldiers, Rev. Elder went to church one Sabbath as usual. He began with a hasty prayer, then called upon the patriotism of all effective men present and exhorted them to aid in the spirit of liberty‚s cause and defense of their country. In less than thirty minutes a company of volunteers was formed, Colonel Robert Elder, the pastor‚s son, was chosen captain, and his son John, then sixteen years old, was the first to enlist; they marched the following day. His son John was a lieutenant and afterwards judge of Mifflin county. The Historian of Wyoming county says that Colonel John Elder was beyond doubt the most extraordinary man of eastern Pennsylvania. He had great influence, was full of activity and enterprise, and was a learned, pious, fearless and ready writer. Over his grave is a marble slab dedicated by his friend and neighbor, William Maclay, the first United States senator from Pennsylvania; it bears the following inscription: „The body of John Elder lies under this slab, born 1706, died 1792, aged eighty-six. Sixty years he filled the sacred character as minister of the Gospel, fifty-six of which he officiated at Paxtang.š
3. Thomas, born 1708, married Mary Patterson.
4. David, born 1710, in Paxtang, died 1753, buried in the old church graveyard. He married Hannah Anderson, born 1716, in Donegal, Ireland, died 1811, aged ninety-five, on the old Elder farm near New Alexandria, buried in old Salem church graveyard. She was a sister of Thomas Anderson, who took up the rich lands in Derry township, 1782. They had one child, Robert, born 1751, in Lancaster, married Mary Whiteside, daughter of Captain Thomas Whiteside, who fought in the revolutionary war. Martha, another daughter, married David McConnell, of Colerain township, Lancaster, who with his wife and family in the year 1800 emigrated to and settled in Salem township. Robert Elder died 1837 on the old Elder farm near New Alexandria, aged eighty-six, buried in old Salem churchyard. Mary (Whiteside) Elder died 1823 at the same place and was buried at the same place. They had two children: Hannah, born March 23, 1780, at Lancaster county, where the town of Gettysburg now stands, died September, 1855, aged seventy-five years, buried at old Salem church. She married James Richards, born in Northumberland county, died 1833, in Indiana county, Pennsylvania. Previous to his settlement in Derry township he, in conjunction with his brother Alexander, introduced the first machine for carding wool in west Pennsylvania. They established a small factory in Westmoreland county, opposite Saltsburg, and lived where the summer resort now stands. They sold the business in 1815. They had issue as follows: 1. Mary, born 1809, married James Smith, of Erie county, issue: James, Emma, Austin and Ella. 2. Martha, born 1813,
died unmarried. 3. Eliza, born November 4, 1815, married Samuel Homes,
born April 8, 1809, died February 21, 1877, issue: Hannah married James
Pearce, of Livermore, Pennsylvania, had three children: Ona, Hilda, Orpha
Elder; Mary, Jennie, married James Craig, of Clarion county, Pennsylvania;
Martha, died September 3, 1872; Kate, unmarried. 4. James, born 1818,
married Annis White, in 1859, died 1880, issue: James, Robert, Martha,
Annis,William, Lucinda, Eliza, Mary, Emma and Ella. 5. Robert, born 1821, died 1857; married Rosanna Thompson, issue: Emma, James, Hannah, William, John and Anna. Mrs. Richards, the mother of these children, resides in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. 6. Lucinda, born 1825, married Thomas Richards, a distant relative, who died in 1870. Lucinda died February 28, 1901. They had issue: James, Robert, Anna, Elizabeth, Jennie. They reside in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Thomas Elder, son of David Elder, born 1782, in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, died April 25, 1855, on the old Elder farm in Derry township, buried at New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. He married Mary McConnell, born August 24, 1792, in Lancaster county, died October 3, 1881, in her ninetieth year, on the old Elder farm, buried at New Alexandria. She was a daughter of David and Martha (Whiteside) McConnell, of Lancaster county, who with their children crossed the mountains in a covered wagon in the year 1800 and settled in Salem township. Her brother, Daniel McConnell, born 1794, was the grandfather of Judge A.D. McConnell, of Westmoreland county, whose father was the late Kirk McConnell, of Salem township. Thomas and Mary (McConnell) Elder had children: Violet Whiteside, born March 13, 1813, died November 9, 1831; Martha Maria, born September 27, 1815, died September 18, 1820; Robert Anderson, born September 22, 1817, died October 16, 1850; Harriet Eliza, born December 27, 1820, died September 12, 1890; David, born September 4, 1823, died January 30, 1832; Thomas McConnell, born March 24, 1826; Mary, born November 6, 1828, died November 8, 1828;
James Marshall, born November 14, 1829, died January 4, 1857; John Morrison, born December 22, 1832; William Porter, born April 12, 1835, died March 4, 1849.
Robert Anderson Elder, eldest son of Thomas and Mary (McConnell) Elder, born September 22, 1817, died October 16, 1850, buried at New Alexandria. He married Mary Currie in 1835; she was born in 1817, died March 17, 1887, buried at Blairsville. Their children were: Mary Violet, born November 9, 1838, died December 23, 1874; Harriet Elizabeth, born 1845, died January 28, 1874, unmarried, buried at Blairsville; James Cameron, born March 3, 1848, died December 3, 1865, buried at Blairsville. He was drafted into service the last year of the civil war and served until the close. Mary Violet was married in 1863 to John Miller, of Ohio, born February 3, 1824, died February 3, 1901; they had three children: 1. Lulu, born August 6, 1864, married, September 10, 1884, William Rush, of Ohio, born October 9, 1861, four children: Clarence Vernon, born March 16, 1887; Delmer Raymond, born March 23, 1890; Archie Elder, born November 7, 1891; Mary Ardella, born June 4, 1897. 2. Elizabeth Blanche, born May, 1868, died February, 1869. 3. John Elder, born April 1, 1872, married, August 13, 1891, Bertha Jane Hawk, born 1873, three children: Lola Blanche, born May 22, 1892; Boyd Raymond, born April 3, 1900; Mary Mildred, born July 25, 1902.
Harriet Eliza Elder, third daughter of Thomas and Mary (McConnell) Elder, born December 27, 1820, died September 18, 1890. She married, February 15, 1849, John N. Cannon, of Derry township, born July 2, 1819,
died February 27, 1886, four children: 1. Mary Elder, born December 23, 1849, died June 13, 1864. 2. Sarah Jane, born September 8, 1852, married, October 11, 1877, Samuel Alexander McCleod Steel, born August 4, 1852, two children: Samuel Cannon, born May 7, 1879; James Elder, born August 14, 1881, married Dessa Mable Long, October 11, 1905. 3. Tirzah Melvina, born May 9, 1855, married, June 9, 1876, Rev. James Alexander Black, born
June 11, 1838, seven children: John Cannon, born September 9, 1877; Robert Alfred, born April 18, 1879; Violet Marie, born April 1, 1881; Agnes Anderson, born January 3, 1884; James Alexander, born August 29, 1889; Waldo Knox, born April 19, 1893; Rhea Edwin, born May 5, 1897. 4. Violet Mariah, born May 29, 1858, unmarried.
Thomas McConnell Elder, third son of Thomas and Mary (McConnell) Elder, was born March 24, 1826. He taught several successful terms of school in Westmoreland and Indiana counties, Pennsylvania. He commenced the study of divinity under the late Rev. James Milligan, D.D., and finished his course in the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Allegheny City. He was licensed to preach in 1858, ordained and installed over churches in Indiana and Armstrong counties, was afterwards called to Boston, Massachusetts, and finally located in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, where he has resided for forty-seven years. He was one of the most progressive men of Armstrong county, and in 1866 founded and became first superintendent of the Pennsylvania State Soldiers Orphan School, from which he resigned in 1871. He also became part owner and editor of the „Dayton Weekly News.š He married (first) Tirzah Mason, of Salem township, born December 24, 1823, died 1851; had one son, McCleod Mason, born July 12, 1849. He married (second), October 10, 1854, Mary Parker Lindsday, of Philadelphia, born May 25, 1826, died September 12, 1868; two children: Tirzah Theresa, born December 10, 1855; and Argyle Worriston, born September 25, 1861.
McCleod Mason Elder married, September 2, 1873, Hannah Knox, born July 11, 1851, four children: 1. Thomas Lindsay, born November 22, 1874; 2.
Edward Knox, born March 9, 1877, married Mayme Charles, November 5, 1905; she was born June 24, 1885; 3. Mary Elder, born November 21, 1879, died February 8, 1896; 4. Alice Woodring, born January 3, 1886, died October 23, 1895. Tirzah Theresa Lindsay Elder married, July 9, 1879, Curtis Sylvester Marshall, born November 20, 1854, five children: Wilda Anna, born May 22, 1880; Winnifred Theresa, born August 11, 1881, died September 15, 1882; Elder Watson, born September 28, 1883; Brenda Eleanor, born July 30, 1885; Virginia Gilmour, born October 13, 1887. Argyle Worriston Elder married, March 25, 1890, Edith Cora Ellinburger, born April 1, 1866, issue: Walter Thomas, born January 30, 1893; Elva Leonore, born December 5, 1897; Stanley, born October 9, 1904.
John Morrison Elder, fifth son of Thomas and Mary (McConnell) Elder,
born December 22, 1832, lives on the old homestead near New Alexandria.
He married, November 12, 1861, Margaret Erskine Brown, born March 3, 1837, died May 23, 1871, buried in New Alexandria. She was a daughter of the late Thomas and Nancy Beatty Brown, of Salem township. David Brown, father of Thomas Brown, was one of the early settlers of Salem township, coming with his family from Green Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1800. Margaret E. (Brown) Elder was a direct descendant of the Covenanters of Scotland, who died for their faith during the killing times. A sword is still in the possession of the Brown family that was used at the battle of Bothwell Bridge. On the old Brown farm, in the corner of a field, is a stone which marks the spot where a young man by the name of Freeman lies buried. He was killed by the Indians. John and Margaret Erskine (Brown) Elder had four children: 1. John Calvin Brown, born October 24, 1862, married, September 20, 1885, Nettie Jane Love, born September 20, 1864, a daughter of Robert and Sarah (Holstein) Love, of Loyalhanna township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. James and Nancy (Hutchinson) Love, parents of Robert Love, were born and married in Ireland, came to America and located in Butler county, Pennsylvania. Sarah (Holstein) Love was a daughter of Sarah Holstein, who in company with her parents removed from Philadelphia to Westmoreland county in the year 1800. She was a direct descendant of Matthias Holstein, who came from Sweden, 1644, and located and owned the ground where Philadelphia now stands. John Calvin Brown Elder and his wife live on the Elder farm, and their children make the sixth generation in succession which have lived on this farm. Their children are: James, born and died July 2, 1887; Robert Brown, born December 23, 1888; Mary Helen, born April 27, 1892; Sarah Love, born November 2, 1896, died February 4, 1897; John Calvin Knox, born March 8, 1901. 2. Tirzah Mary, born April 9, 1864, married, September 18, 1888, John Renwick Steele, born February 4, 1859, son of the late Samuel Steele, of Salem township; they reside in Salem township and have two children: Marguerite Elder, born January 28, 1891, Samuel Alfred, born February 10, 1893. 3. Agnes Viola, born April 10, 1866, married, September 21, 1898, John William Pollins, they live in Greensburg and have four children: John William Elder, born May 27, 1900; Elder McConnell, born April 17, 1902, died August 20, 1902; Calvin Elder, born October 6, 1903; Renwick Dwight, born April 9, 1905. 4. Harriet Cannon, born March 21, 1869, died April 29, 1899, married, May 29, 1885, John Baird Patterson, born June 16, 1867, son of the late Robert Patterson, and they had one son, Robert John Elder, born April 10, 1899.