His spirit is not dead
Though here his body lie
But freed from sin and from toil
To dwell beyond the sky
The Greenfield Family is extraordinarily lucky to have had preserved over 100 documents and letters from its history- covering the period from the mid 1800s until early 1900s. Most of the documents are letters that were written to Samuel K. J. Greenfield, my great-great grandfather, during his stay in Ohio. They were saved by his wife after his death and were kept, along with letters to her over the next 50 years, in a trunk in the attic of the farm in Wilna.
Samuel Kennedy Jennings Greenfield was apparently named for a famous local preacher, Samuel Kennedy Jennings. In all the letters that we have preserved his full name appeared only once in an adolescent love note to a girl friend. In all the remaining correspondence he is referred to simply as Samuel K. J. Greenfield. He lived and worked in the area of Fork, Maryland in Baltimore County. In March 14, 1853 he moved to Massilon and Greenville Ohio and lived there near his Uncle Zachariah Greenfield. In 1856 he returned home to Baltimore County and married Mary Elizabeth Sanders.
Below are excerpts from a few of his letters on the subject of his trip to Ohio, his religious beliefs, his work, his social life and his family. In each selection there is a link to a page which shows the entire letter and its transciption.
The letters also show interesting information about the trip from Maryland to Massilon and Samuel’s life there. Before the trip Uncle Zachariah wrote giving directions:“The best route to come is by railroad, you can come from Baltimore to Massilon for 12 dollars, take a through ticket, you can come to Massilon in 2 days, so your boarding would not cost you much. I live 8 miles West of Massilon near Greenville, if you come to Massilon inquire for C.B. Cummin’s store and they can direct you right to me.”In his journal Samuel recorded the following detailing his trip:“The Rev. Dashiell's farewell address at the Fork, and on that day I got my certificate of membership and then made preparations to go to Ohio, this being completed, I started for the West on the 14th of March, left Baltimore on the evening at seven o'clock, travelled as far as Cumberland on the cars then took the stage and went across the mountains, stayed too on the night of the 15th in a town on the Allegheny River (1 think) by the name of West Newton, the house at which I staid bore in my mind a very suspicious aspect on the next morning (16th) I took the steamboat for Pittsburg, stayed there all night, the next morning (17th) I took the cars again and came to Massilon from thence to Uncle Zachariah, there was no public conveyance, I therefore had the eight miles to walk to his house, I arrived there safe on the evening of the 17th and there was welcomed by my Uncle and Aunt. ... East Greenville is in Stark County, Ohio. Dalton in Wayne County, those two towns are about three and a half miles apart. The County line running North and South divides them. I must now close and go to bed for it is nearly ten o'clock.”
Religion was at the center of Samuel’s life. He kept a separate journal recording his thoughts and the sermons he had heard. He began the journal with this entry: “I purpose henceforth keeping of the converts at the Fork Meeting House: while I am a member thereof stating first my own conversion, it took place on the 14th of September 1849, but with regret I now say that I did not join church until the Fall of 1850, the reason why I regret not joining is because I did not let my light shine before the world and I did not enjoy religion as well as was my privilege of doing, but I now make the last resolve to serve the Lord, my God with all my heart, with all my strength and with all my mind, my neighbor as myself and will God being my helper, this shall be a witness thereto.”
The picture is of the Fork Meeting House Methodist Church in that time period.
Although life was quite different then, to Samuel and his bachelor friends their “love life” was as important to them as it would be to a young man today.
In 1850 Mary Ann Parks wrote to Samuel apparently trying to convince him of her faithfulness:“I received your letter this morning and I was very much surprised when I had read it, at the way you had reprimanded me without any cause at all, as I always respected you to highly to be guilty of any such charges as you have brought against me be assured they are all false, but I would like very to see you once more to get a fair explanation as yours was so much in meaning that I could scarcely apprehend the meaning of it, from what I can understand you accuse me of deserting you which is surely false and you also accuse me of intending to marry a man by the name of Freeland, a man I have no acquaintance with whatever, but jealous minded people will always harbor such opinions. As for you saying that there was a good fish in the sea as ever was caught I consider with you therefor I believe there is and better too for me.The slang for young women at that time was “ducks” as can be seen in the quotes that follow.
You say that I have deserted you, I don't know what cause I have gave you for to say so. Tell Ellen Carter if she comes up I will go down with her. You said you neither loved nor respected me at all, as for that I expect you tell the truth, but that as it may I still have the same respect for you that I always had but if you wish to listen to other tales and not to me you are at liberty to do so. No more at present but still remain your affectionate friend and lover.”
In June 1854 his brother Isaiah wrote :“There are four ducks a buzzing around me but Mary has her arm around my neck, giving me a hug now and then. I wish you was here to see me and them, you would look wild I know, but I having nothing to do so Mary and me are going to Annapolis this evening and then we will bob around. Times are very dull here now and all I do is hug. I got a hug 30 minutes after I got in town on Thursday, Mary and me are a going to Magnolia one day this week, she pays all expenses and that is hot.”Samuel’s sister Anne wrote:“Elizabeth Leaf sends her love and wants to know if she cannot have the likeness in case I die first. Amos says that it is possible that Miss Carter who lives near Salem Church would like to have a likeness also, how is that?”After he had returned to Maryland in July 1855 A.G.Heath, a friend from Ohio wrote:“I should be happy to see you all there but sir I am, I must say better contented at the present time that I have been for one year past and do enjoy myseif very well as all takes very well here now especially among the feminine gender, but that is nothing strange, as a stranger always takes well at first, but if I play the right card (and if I can't who cares) and don't get drunk and whip somebody's husband and behave myself perhaps I can, who knows. I perhaps, may find another Sarah or somebodies girl, what will perhaps and perhaps not havoooooocation, don't you Sam. Well enough on that subject.”Uncle Zachariah wrote Samuel after he returned to Maryland and married:“It is the grates times this winter for loves babys and many the married and unmarried ladys a good many comes in six months after marriage. Perhaps you will have baby when it comes summer. Mark the above line out before your wife see it Sam. Write as often as you can and let me now how you are getting along. Sam bee faithful and try to meet me in heaven.”
Samuel was a Wheelwright. We know this from several sources. One is the vocation listed on the 1860 census but his journal and letters also verify it.
Before he went out to Ohio Uncle Zachariah wrote: “I think it is as healthy here as any place In this little world. In reference to your trade, wagon makers can make a good living if they work, some folks is got into the nation except they can make 2 or 3 dollars per day.”
Samuel wrote in his journal:“Under favorable circumstances I am this evening permitted again to write. The reasons why I did not write before are on the evening of the 24th I was at prayer meeting, after it was out I was too tired to write, on the evening of the 25th, I was at Uncle Zachariah's, during the day of the 25th I worked on the road for everybody is taxed two days work and in consequence of working in the sun I had a very bad headache. The 26th being Saturday and not being very well I only worked until noon, (this half days works was done in the shop)”
The letters show family relationships haven’t changed much in 150 years. There was love, but there were misunderstandings, advice, and requests for money. His brother Amos, who was the Methodist minister, wrote most often asking for money. On May 20, 1856 Amos wrote:
“ I write this morning to say that if you have any money in the hands of Mr. Watkins which you can possible get will please draw it and bring us all you can spare this week as we are very much in want of money at this time. Please do all you can for us and as soon as you can. I would not ask you for money if I did not want it bad.”On another occasion he wrote:“ I am very much in need of funds at this tie, so much so that I am forced to make every effort to obtain what I need. If you can possible raise me the amount of your bill I will be particularly obliged. I have a very large amount to pay this week.”Amos also gave Samuel some brotherly advice as seen in the letter in July 1855 in which he said:You say that if you ever return to Maryland that you intend to change your manner of living. This remark is so general that I cannot possibly understand it, it may be applied to various ways. I suppose you mean that you intend to marry, well if that is it, I am sorry, particularly if you intend to marry that Daughter of Salem, or near Salem, I have no personal ill feeling toward her, but do think if you marry her you will regret it, yes, regret it all your life, I have my reasons for speaking this.”One’s imagination can only speculate on his reasons for saying this. This could be the young lady that his sister had written wanted the likeness of him.
Brother Thomas was apparently the care provider for their unmarried sister Ann. Like many siblings today, he felt that his brothers weren’t doing their fair share. He wrote in one letter:“I take this opportunity to inform you that your Sister Ann is very low and if you wish to see her before she leaves this world you had better come to Baltimore at once. She thinks very hard of you not coming up to your promise, you promised to come in on Saturday last. You ought to have come in on Monday, your promises are something like pie crust, very easy broken.
I felt very much hurt when I heard that you intimated that I either was too poor or to mean to take care of her now that she is sick by telling her to borrow money from Louis Hutchman, if she wanted any before you come to Baltimore it looks very little. I have taken care of her for the last 20 years without your help or any of her Brothers and I can do it for 20 more years if she and I lives. I think you have acted very much out of place at this time, but I am use to bad treatment from relations, it is nothing strange to me.”
Samuel married Mary Elizabeth Sanders (Saunders) on November 22, 1856. The minister was Henry Caleb Cushing of the Deer Creek Circuit. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of William A. Sanders and Mary Ann Brambill married on 01/18/1836. According to a receipt in the papers Samuel was leasing his wheelwright shop from his father-in-law.
Mary Elizabeth’s parents were buried in the cemetery of Goodwill United Brethren Church on Hess Road. The church is no longer there, but the cemetery remains. There is a headstone for her mother only there with a large cleared area around it, indicating the existence of other unmarked graves.
MARY ELIZABETH SANDERS GREENFIELD TAYLOR WELSH
We are able to know all we do about Samuel and his generation and his life because she kept his letters for over 50 years after his death. She remarried twice after his death. The first time was in 1866 to Robert Taylor who, we know from the documents, was divorced and from Canada. Any trail as to how she met him or what he was like is lost, but his divorce papers and two letters to him remained.
In 1870 Mr. Taylor had died and by 1888 Mary Elizabeth remarried again to Mr. Welsh. Family stories hint indicate this was not a happy relationship, that Mr. Welsh had a drinking problem and that they were separated when he died. Divorce papers were filed, but never finalized. Apparently, she did come into some money as a result of his death. Because shortly after that, in 1910, she was able to purchase the plot of land on Hollingsworth Road in Wilna that she lived on with her son Samuel Beauregard and her grandson Howard, to whom she left the property.
Howard Greenfield’s daughter-in-law, Evelyn, found the letters Elizabeth kept in a box in an old truck in the attic of the farmhouse before it was torn down. Also included in the box were letters to Mary Elizabeth from her relatives. Many referred to her as “Aunt Lizzy”. Those I could place included the following: Hannah Snodgrass – Sister – her children James and L.(niece), Fanny Norris – Sister – her children Maude and Gertie, Jennie Landis – Sister, George Sanders – Brother – his children Missouri and Sam, William Sanders – his daughter Ida (I think)
Samuel K. J. Greenfield -Died Feb 2 1861- Aged 33 years
Samuel’s will doesn’t tell us much. Perhaps the most important clue is that he left a will at all. As the will was dated January 29 and he died on February 2, 1861, it would seem to indicate that he knew he was about to die and was thus suffering from some sickness. It could have been one of the common contagious diseases such as cholera that was prevalent at the time.
The saddest thing is that because his son Samuel Beauregard, was born exactly eight months after his death, he probably didn’t even know he had a child on the way before he died.
Samuel K. J. Greenfield was buried at Deer Creek Methodist Church which was formerly called Ward’s Chapel at Chestnut Hill.
|Origins in England -1530-1668||Settlers in Maryland - 1668-1715|
|Long Green Valley - 1715-1800s||Samuel K. J. Greenfield -Letters|
|Baltimore/Harford - 1860s On||Family Photos 1860s on|
|Genealogy Reports||King Family|