My Fitzwater Genealogy: Then to now
No real excuses for not posting to the Time Machine for so long, except to say that my attentions wandered. But as there’s been a clamor for the Fitzwater lineage in black and white, here you go at long last. Attached is a pdf that is probably much more than you ever wanted to know about the Fitzwaters (and associated Lukens, Lightkeps, Halloways, Niblocks, etc. and at least one signer of the Declaration of Independence). There are some amazing stories in here from Europe, the Wild West — and good old Philadelphia, of course.
Then, following from George and Anna White you get to my great-grandfather, Thomas Halloway White (1871-1935) and his wife Anna Elizabeth Mergner White (1878-1966). (I wrote about them and the mill where my grandfather was born in this introductory post and then part 2 and part 3, the dramatic conclusion.)
Then to my grandparents, Paul Mergner White (1905-2002) and Minnie Clair Diefenderfer (1908-2003). To my mother and father, to me, and to my sons. They are the g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandsons of Thomas Fitzwater, who tipped a cup with William Penn aboard the good ship “Welcome” in 1682. Pretty cool, huh?
My grandfather was the first in that long line to leave Pennsylvania to live elsewhere. (There’s a magnet under the soil here, I suspect.) And even then, he ended up almost coming back — retiring to the Jersey Shore, which, as we all know, is simply an extension of Philadelphia on summer weekends.
You can download the pdf of the genealogy and read it all for yourself. My dad has dug up lots of little anecdotes from places like the Ambler Gazette, and family letters and ancestry forums. Fair warning — it’s 72 pages.
For example, there’s a wonderful transcription of an August 23, 1912, letter that my grandfather, Paul White, received from his cousin Violet Belz who was traveling in Germany. She describes getting up at 4am, walking two miles to the train station, catching a train and then walking to the parade grounds to see Kaiser Wilhelm (who was, to point out the interconnectedness of European politics of the era, the grandson of Queen Victoria). It must have been quite a sight with a parade ground filled with 25,000 soldiers (Artillery, Infantry, and the Dragoons on horseback) and all the attendant pageantry. Cousin Violet wrote “We had a good view of the Kaiser, he passed very near us on horseback… Papa says we would not go to half that much trouble to see our President of our good old States, but that is the way with people. They are always anxious to see things in other countries.”
The remark about “seeing our President” amused me in this election year. 1912 was also an election year — quite a remarkable one, as it happens — with a rare choice of four politicians in all.
Incumbent President William Howard Taft was the Republican Party candidate. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called his own convention and created the Progressive Party (nicknamed the “Bull Moose Party”). Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the highly contested Democratic Party nomination. And Eugene V. Debs was the nominee of the Socialist Party of America. No pop quiz here. Woodrow Wilson won.
- Wilson became the only elected president from the Democratic Party between 1892 and 1932.
- He was the second of only two Democrats to be elected president between 1860 and 1932.
- This was the last election in which a candidate who was not a Republican or Democrat came second in either the popular vote or the Electoral College.
- 1912 was the first election in which all 48 of the contiguous United States participated.