My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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THOMAS W. STRETCHER. In noting the early pioneers of Cedarville Township, introduce this biographical outline can by no means be properly omitted from the list. He is the son of Thomas and Ann J. (Warner) Stretcher, and was born next door to the old Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, September 19,1811. He lived there with his parents until the fall of 1832, in the meantime learning the trade of a gilder and decorator. Having now reached his majority he, with his brother Joseph, sought the West, and made Hillsboro, Ohio, his stopping place. He went to Cincinnati, and for a year thereafter followed his trade there. Then being thrown out of employment by the burning of the shop, he repaired to Dayton, and for five years thereafter was in the employ of a Mr. Hatfield. Afterward he returned to Cincinnati.

In the spring of 1835 Mr. Stretcher was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary Warner, who became the mother of four children, and died in April, 1868, at their home in Cedarville Township. His eldest son, Wilson, is married and lives on an adjoining farm; he has one child. Alonzo Clarence is attending Antioch College at Yellow Springs; Abner was married, but his wife died leaving three children — Clinton M., Carl and Laura E. Mary A. is the wife of Parker P. Fisher, and they live in Clinton County; Theodore is married and living in Springfield; he has one child, a daughter, Anna.

Mr. Stretcher, in 1872, contracted a second marriage, with Mrs. Lavina (Gill) Baker, widow of Miller Baker, who died in Clark County, Ohio, and they became the parents of two children. Rowena A. was married to James B. Cross, who was killed in Resaca, Ga.; they had two children — Ada and Della. She was then married to Dr. Holmes, and there was born to them one child. Mrs. Holmes died on Thanksgiving Day, 1888. The eldest daughter, Ada B., married Charles E. Begget, a grain dealer of Paris, Ill.; Della C. is the wife of George E. Sperry, a dry-goods merchant of Hamilton, N. Y.; they have two children — James Edgar and Blanche. J. Clarence Holmes is now a resident of Boston, Mass., being employed as a book-keeper in in the large shoe firm of Adolph Myers & Co. James G. Baker, the son of Mrs. Stretcher, died in 1879, leaving a wife and four children; Clinton died in Springfield, Ohio; Malcolm M. is a resident of Tacoma, Wash., where he works at his trade of a printer for $100 per month; Homer C. is learning the trade of a printer with his brother Malcolm; Harriet E. lives with her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Baker, in Springfield, and is attending school. Of this marriage of Mr. Stretcher there were born no children. Carl Stretcher makes his home with them.

John Gill, the father of Mrs. Stretcher, participated in the War of 1812, and witnessed Hull’s surrender. He married Miss Elizabeth, daughter of Richard and Ann (Gregory) Bloxom, who came from England. The paternal grandparents of Mrs. Stretcher were James and Martha (McWilliams) Gill, the latter of whom was a sister of a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The Gills were Irish and the McWilliams of Scotch descent.

When Mr. Stretcher went to Dayton, upon the occasion heretofore mentioned, the only hotel in the place was a log house. In 1841 he purchased one hundred and forty-three acres of land where he now lives, and which he has brought to a fine state of cultivation. There was then upon it only a small log cabin, which they occupied for many years. Mrs. Stretcher can remember when visiting there before her marriage to her present husband, bearing the rain patter on the clapboard roof. The floor of the cabin was of puncheon.

Mr. Stretcher during his younger years was a mechanic and artist of no mean skill, and has some fine specimens of his work, including a couple of fruit pieces done in water colors, and an ornamental carved letter box. Among other relics which he carefully preserves is a badge which he frequently wears, and which he calls his “cosmopolitan badge,” symbolizing the civilization of the whole world, and uniting all nations and all churches. The design is two disks, two and one-half inches in diameter, an eight-pointed star in a circle fastened together with a wire around the rim. The whole is composed of silver, and was plowed up by one of his hired hands on the farm. It is undoubtedly of Indian origin, and similar to those frequently seen in pictures as a decoration of the wild savage. Mr. Stretcher paid his man twenty-five cents for it, and fastening through it a red, white and blue ribbon wears it upon all occasions. He maintains that the sixteen points are designed to extend to the four quarters of the globe, and the tri-colors are typical of the unity of all nations — thus the name, cosmopolitan badge.

Educated in the doctrines of the Quaker faith Mr. Stretcher held to these during his early years, but is now a pronounced spiritualist, a medium, and has often talked with his spirit friends, they sometimes shaking him by the shoulder and waking him at night. Upon one occasion a cousin, a young lady who had been a great singer, came and sat on the side of his bed and sang for him. Mr. Stretcher has a clock over one hundred years old, and which was purchased in Philadelphia by the mother of his first wife. Another relic is a fifty-shilling piece, which was used in the reign of King George III, in 1773. On one side is inscribed the words “to counterfeit is death.” Mr. Stretcher when a young man took a ride on the first railroad train which went out from Philadelphia to Germantown. It will thus be seen that he is a man of large experience, and has kept his eyes open to what was going on around him in the world. He cast his first Presidential vote for John Quincy Adams, remaining with the old Whig party until its abandonment, and has since been a cordial supporter of Republican principles.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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