Tombstone Tuesday: Absalom Baker Scattergood

AbsalomScattergoodGraveAbsalom Baker Scattergood was born on July 11, 1822 in Dolington, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  I was unable to definitely determine who his parents were, although one source lists his parents as John Head and Catherine (King) Scattergood.  I believe, based on the history of the area encompassing Bucks County, Pennsylvania and across the river to Burlington, New Jersey, that Absalom’s family would have been Quakers more than likely. According to the records of the First United Methodist Church of Mount Holly, New Jersey, Absalom married Rachel King on August 12, 1843, so at some point Absalom had left the Society of Friends and joined the Methodist Church.  According to church records, he was a member of the First United Methodist Church in 1840. PennsylvaniaChurchandTownRecords1708-1985ForRachelKingTheir first child, John, was born in 1844.  James, was born on October 19, 1848, but he died at the age of four years old and one month on November 24, 1852.  Their third child, William, was born on November 27, 1854, and daughter Catherine (Kate) was born on October 9, 1858. In 1842 an organization called “Sons of Temperance” was founded in New York and quickly spread throughout the country.  It was a brotherhood of men who supported the temperance movement.  There was a two dollar initiation fee and a weekly membership fee of six cents (and secret passwords, handshakes and regalia).  The official pledge was: “I will neither make, buy, sell nor use as a beverage, any spirituous or malt liquors, wine or cider.”  On January 23, 1845 the Mount Holly Division, No. 8 of the Sons of Temperance was instituted.  Absalom was listed as a “Past Worthy Patriarch” so we know that he did not consume alcohol. For the 1850 Census Absalom and Rachel, for some reason, were not at the same location.  Baby James was with his father at the home of James Pearce, aged 84 years.  Absalom was a carpenter so perhaps he was working that day at Mr. Pearce’s home.  Rachel was enumerated  with son John (5) at her mother Sarah’s home (Sarah was widowed and listed as owning the property). In the 1860 Census, Absalom and Rachel were enumerated with their children John, William and Kate.  Rachel’s mother Sarah, now 69, was living with them and listed her occupation as “weaver”.  Son John (16) was listed as an apprentice carpenter and Absalom as a master carpenter and the family is living in the Northampton Township of Burlington County, New Jersey. In response to the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861, Absalom volunteered for a three-month assignment on April 24, 1861 – mustered in as a private in Company B of the 4th Regiment of the New Jersey Militia.  His regiment first served to defend Washington, D.C. and later in July as a reserve unit at the first Battle of Bull Run.  He was mustered out on July 31. ABScattergoodMilRecJust over a year later, Absalom would again volunteer and join the 23rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry.  He was mustered in as First Sergeant on September 13, 1862 and promoted to Sergeant Major on March 10, 1863.  He fought in the Fredericksburg Campaign in December 1862, and after his promotion he was the top enlisted man in his unit in the May 1863 Chancellorsville Campaign.  He was honorably discharged and mustered out on June 27, 1863. After the war, Absalom continued to participate in civic affairs.  From 1866 to 1869 he served on the Township Committee of Mount Holly, Jersey.  According to the History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey, several Scattergoods were civil servants through the years, no doubt either family members or direct ancestors of Absalom.  On January 13, 1866, Absalom and his son John became founding members of the Washington Council of the O.U.A.M. (Masons).  Absalom was one of the first officers of the newly formed council and also a trustee. ABScattergoodCivil1For the 1870 Census, Absalom is still employed as a carpenter.  Their son John was 26 (and at his parents’ residence when enumerated) and had a son, Charles, aged 4.  William and Catherine are 16 and 11, respectively.  Absalom and Rachel still reside in the Northampton Township of Burlington County, New Jersey, and Rachel’s mother Sarah, now 79, is living with them. On January 29, 1871 Rachel died – engraved on her tombstone is this epitaph:  “Am going home to die no more.”   According to at least one source, Absalom married his second wife, Mary, on September 24, 1871.  For the 1880 census, Absalom and Mary appear at different locations in Northampton and he continues to be employed as a carpenter. RachelScattergoodGrave In July of 1879, Absalom and John were charter members of the General A.E. Shiras Post No. 26, G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), an organization of honorably discharged Union Army veterans.  General Alexander E. Shiras was born in Mount Holly in 1812 and a West Point graduate who served in the Civil War as a Brigadier General.  He also served on the United States Sanitary Commission, a forerunner to the Red Cross. ScattergoodGARAccording to the History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey, Mount Holly had only three stores, four shops and four or five taverns in 1800.  By 1882, the town had grown to over two hundred businesses.  Absalom Scattergood is listed with prominent business owners, being the only cooper in town. On February 11, 1893, Absalom Baker Scattergood died at the age of 69.  He is buried in the Mount Holly Cemetery, as are his first wife Rachel and second wife Mary (she died in 1899).

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.

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