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Genealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) online

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guage to express was bestowed upon him
on the day of his funeral by the assembling
around his coffin to perform the last sad
duty of friendship of as great, if not a
greater, number of citizens than ever at-
tended the funeral ceremonies of anyone
who had died within the limits of Fayette
county. Among that vast assemblage were
both the patriarchs of the county and the
rising youth who came to give their testi-
mony to the lofty worth in life of the dis-
tinguished dead. A few days after his death
a large meeting of the citizens of Fayette
county, irrespective of party, convened at
the court house for the purpose of bearing
suitable testimony to his memory and char-
acter. The following gentlemen were
chosen officers : Hon. Nathaniel Ewing,
liresident ; Hon. Daniel Sturgeon fex-
United States senator), and Z. Ludington,
vice-presidents ; John B. Krepps and R. P.



Flenniken, secretaries. On motion of Hon.
James \'eech (later author of "Mononga-
hela of Old") a committee of resolutions,
composed of leading citizens, was appointed,
which committee presented the following
preamble and resolutions, which were unan-
imously adopted :

"When a valuable citizen died, it is meet that
the community of which he was a member mourn
hif loss. A pub'ic expression of their sorrow at
such an event is due as some solace to the grief of
the bereaved family and friends, and as an in-
centive to others to earn for their death the same

"In the recent death of William Searight, this
community has lost such a citizen. Such an event
has called this public meeting, into which enter no
schemes of political promotion, no partisan purposes
cf empty eulogy. Against all this, death has shut
the door. While yet the tear hangs upon the cheek
of his stricken family, and the tiding of death are
unread by many of his friends, we his fellow-citi-
zens, neighbors, friends, of all parties, have as-
sembled to speak to those who knew and loved him
best, and to those who knew him not, the words of
sorrow and truth, in sincerity and soberness. There-
fore as the sense of this meeting:

"Resolved, That in the death of William Sea-
right, Fayette county and the commonwealth of
Pennsylvania have lost one of their best and most
useful citizens. The people at large may not realize
their loss, but the community in which he lived,
over whose comforts and interests were diffused
tie influences of his liberality and enterprise, feel
it, while his friends, of all classes, parties and
piofessions. to whom he clung, and who clung to
him, mourn it.

"Resolved, That while we would withhold our
steps from the sanctuary of domestic grief, we mav
be allowed to express to the afflicted widow and
children of the deceased our unfeigned sorrow and
svmpathy in their great bereavement, and to tender
them our assurance that while in their hearts the
nicmory of the husband and father will ever be
clierished, in our hearts will be kept the liveliest
recollections of his virtues as a citizen and friend.

'Resolved, That among the elements which must
enter into every truthful estimate of the character
■^f William Seariarht are a warm amenitv of man-
ner, combined with great dignity of deportment
which were not the less attractive by their plain-
ness and want of ostentation ; elevated feelings
were pure than passionless : high purposes with rn-
tiring energy in their accomolishment : an ennobling
sense of honor, and individual independence, which
Ictpt him always true to himself and his engage-
ments: unfa'tering fidelity to his friends: a lib-
erality which heeded no restraint but means a"d
rrerit: great promntness and fearlessness in the dis-
charge of what he believed to be a dutv, private or
rr.blic, guided by a rigid integrity, which stood all
tests and withstood all temptations; honesty and
truthfulness in word and deed, which no seductions
could weaken or assaults overthrow, in all respects

the architect of his own fortune and fame. These,
with the minor virtues in full proportion are some
of the outlines of character which stamped the man
whose death we mourn, as one much above the
ordinary level of his race.

"Resolved, That while we have here nothing to
do or say as to the loss sustained by the political
party to which he belonged, and whose candidate
he was for an office of great honor and responsi-
bility, we may be allowed to say that had he lived
and been successful with a heart so rigidly set as
w^s his, with feelings so high and integrity so firm,
and withal an amount of practical intelligence so
ample as he possessed, his election could have been
regretted b)' no citizen who knew him, and who
placed the public interests beyorrd selfish ends and
party success. As a politician we knew him to hold
tc his principles and party predilections with a ten-
acious grasp, yet he was ever courteous and liberal
in his deportment and views toward his political

'Resolved, That in the life and character of
Vv'illiam Searight we see a most instructive and
encouraging example. Starting the struggle of life
with an humble business, poor and unbefriended,
with an honest mind and a true heart, with high
purposes and untiring industry, he by degrees
gained friends and means which never forsook him.
He thus won for himself and family ample wealth,
and attained a positon among his fellowmen which
those who have not had the best advantages our
country affords, might well envy. That wealth and
that position he used with a just liberality and in-
fluence for the benefit of all around and dependent
upon him. Though dead, he yet speaketh to every
man in humble business : 'Go thou and do likewise,
and such shall be thy reward in life and in death.'

"Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting
be furnished for publication in all the papers of
the county and a copy thereof, signed by the officers,
be presented to the family of the deceased."

Stidger — One of the later and most
powerful of the races of the human family
is the English ; and the making of the Eng-
lishman can be traced from the cradle ard
nursery of the human race in Central Asia
away into five great climate zones around
whose settlement centers grew race masses.
Three were in Asia, one along the Nile, the
other on the shores of the Mediterranean,
where civilization had its birth and the two
great groups of modern nations, the Latin
and the Greek, had their rise.

Of the fierce Northland German races
that swept from the Mediterranean to the
Baltic, one was Teutonic, whose unconquer-
able tribes settled largely along the north-
ward waterways from the heart of the great
German forest. Three of these tribes, the
Angles, Jutes and Saxons, stretched west-



ward along the North Sea coast from the
mouth of Elbe river to that of the Weser.
The Angles gave their name to the country,
the Saxons theirs to the language, while the
Jutes were so few in numbers as to stamp
their name in no prominent way, and were
even denied meniton in the name of the
new race, which at the time of their con-
quest by the Normans was called Anglo-
Saxon. The Anglo-Saxon had driven the
Briton from the land, but when in turn they
were conquered by the Dane and Norman,
they remained, and in one hundred and fifty
years had so largely absorbed their last con-
querors that there were an Anglo-Saxon and
Norman Dane people that became known as
English when they aided the Barons, on
June i6, 1215, to compel King John to sign
the Magna Charta, which secured many lib-
erties for all the people of England, which
country had formerly been called Angle-
land. From the granting of the Great
Charter, the Englishman rapidly developed
those magnificent and powerful traits of
character for which he is noted all over the

From this wonderful English race was
descended Mrs. Rachel (Brownfield) Sea-
right-Stidger, born in the village of Gains-
boro. Frederick county, Virginia, February
7, 1805, died at her home at the west end
of Main street, Uniontown, Pennsylvania,
January 3, 1893. Her lineage is traced back
to the origin of the Society of Friends in
the early part of 1600. From thence, through
equally reliable sources, in parish and other
records, her lineage can be traced into the
same family of Fishers of which John Fish-
er, Bishop of Rochester, who was beheaded
by Henry VHI. in the early part of the year
1535, was a member. Through her grand-
mother, Mary Butler, her lineage is also
traceable through the same reliable sources
into the family of which Bishop Butler, of
"Butler's Analogy" fame, was a inember.

Her great-grandfather, Thomas Butler,
was born at Hanley on the Thames, Eng-
land. His first settlement in America was
in Middletown, Bucks county, Pennsylva-
nia, after which he removed to Chester, Del-
aware county, same state. He married, sev-
enteenth day, fourth month, 1731, Rebecca
Gilbert, in the Middletown meeting house.

Children : Joseph and Mary. Mary married
Barak Fisher, and they removed from Bucks
county, Pennsylvania, to Frederick county,
Virginia, in 1763, where they raised a large
family, one of whom, Elizabeth, married
Thomas Brownfield, a native of Frederick
county, Virginia, and they were the parents
of Rachel, aforementioned. Barak and
Mary (Butler) Fisher settled on Back
creek, near the village of Gainsboro, A'ir-
ginia. The ruins of the old house in which
they lived when they first removed from
Pennsylvania to A^irginia can yet be seen,
and the old farm upon which they originally
settled is still in possession of some of their
descendants. Barak Fisher died in 1784, and
his wife in 1800. Barak Fisher was the
eighth child of John and Elizabeth TScar-
borough) Fisher.

Thomas and Elizabeth (Fisher) Brown-
field, with their children, Catherine, Re-
becca, Sarah, Mary, Ewing, Rachel, re-
m'oved from Virginia to Uniontown, Fayette
county, Pennsylvania. They traveled over
what was known as the old mail route road,
the old Braddock road, and the old Nema-
colin road. At this time Rachel was about
six weeks old. She received the education
the schools of that day afforded. In her girl-
hood days she sang in the Methodist church
choir, and she was one of the young girls
selected to strew flowers in the pahtway of
General Lafayette when he visited Union-
town in 1825. On March 25, 1826, she mar-
ried (first) William Searight, of Menallen
township, to which place she removed im-
mediately after her marriage. She married
(second) in 1858, Harmon Stidger, M.D.,
of Canton, Ohio, and removed with him to
that city. She resided in Canton during
the civil war, and watched its progress with
great interest. She resided in Canton until
i86q, at which time she purchased what is
known as the "Roberts property," situated
at the west end of Main street, Uniontown,
Pennsylvania, and returned to the old town
in which she had passed her earlier years,
to live the remainder of her life amongst her
old friends and early acquaintances, and
from that year until her death lived within
one hundred feet of the spot on which she
landed in 1805, an infant in her mother's

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Soon after her first marriage and removal
to Menallen township to Hve, she became a
memlier of Grace Episcopal Church, in Me-
nallen township, and continued, a faithful
member of the Episcopal church during her
entire after life. She was confirmed by
Bishop Onderdonk, whilst the Rev. Mr.
Freeman was rector of Christ Church. Be-
fore the building of the present Grace
Church at Menallen, services were frequent-
ly held at her home. Mrs. Searight-Stidger
was quiet, gentle and patient, never neglect-
ing a duty, nor'failing in an act of kindness,
or lacking on any occasion in any courtesy
of life. Her life spanned one of the most
wonderful periods in human history. At her
birth there was not an iron ploughshare in
the entire world, nor was there a steamboat,
steamship, locomotive nor railway train ;
telegraphing and telephoning were un-
known ; most of the inventions in machinery
and nearly all the appliances for comfort
and convenience were also unknown. The
improvements in agriculture, mining, manu-
facturing, etc., were all made during the
span of her life. What a privilege and yet
what a responsibility to be permitted to live
so long and witness so much. Her remains
were interred in Grace Church burying
ground, January 7, 1893, and the funeral
services were conducted by the rector of
St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Uniontown,
and the rector of Christ's Church, Browns-

flV) Colonel Thomas
SEARIGHT Brownfield Searight, eldest

son of William (3) (q. v.)
and Rachel (Brownfield) Searight, was born
at Searights, Menallen township, Fayette
county, Pennsylvania, February 20, 1827,
died in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, April 3,

He was reared on his father's farm, and
successfully prosecuted his academic studies
at Dr. Wilson's Academy and Madison Col-
lege at Uniontown. He entered Washing-
ton and Jefiferson College, May i, 1844, and
was graduated in the class of 1848. Among
his classmates was Judge Slagel, of Pitts-
burgh, Hon. John Murray Clark, and James
G. Blaine, later the famous statesman, who
was one of his most intimate friends, and

who graduated one year earlier. He read
law with Judge James Veech, a learned his-
torian and able jurist, author of "Monon-
gahela of Old," and was admitted to the
Fayette county bar in 1850. In the follow-
ing year, his father being the proprietor of
the Genius of Liberty, the organ of the Fay-
ette county Democracy, Thomas B. Sea-
right assumed charge of the paper as editor,
and conducted it until the beginning of the
war against the south, a period of ten years.
In 1857 he was elected prothonotary, re-
elected in i860, in 1881 and in 1884, at that
time being the only man in the county who
had ever served four terms in that ofifice. In
1863 he represented Fayette county in the
house of representatives of the state legis-
lature, and was re-elected in 1864. Two
years later he was chosen state senator from
the district composed of Greene, Fayette and
Westmoreland counties. He was a leading
member, as well as one of the acknowledged
leaders of his party on the floor of the house v
and senate, serving on many of the import-
ant committees, took a prominent part in all
important legislation, and was generally suc-
cessful in securing the passage of meaures
that he favored and advocated. Active in
behalf of the interests of the people of his
district, he received many manifestations of
regard from Governors Curtin and Geary,
and, on the proposition to ratify the four-
teenth and fifteenth amendments to the con- ..^
stitution of the United States, his speeches
in all the debates arising thereon were both -s
able and conspicuous against their ratifica-
tion by the legislature of Pennsylvania. He
was a delegate to the Pennsylvania Demo-
cratic state conventions of 1857-60-63-69-92,
and also to the National Democratic conven-
tions at Chicago that nominated General
George B. McClellan and Grover Cleveland
for the presidency, in 1864 and 1884. In all
the political campaigns since 1848 he took
a leading part in Fayette county, and in va-
rious parts throughout the state. Without
solicitation on his part, he was appointed in
1873 by President Grant surveyor-general
of Colorado, and served as such for three
years. In 1883 he received the Democratic
nomination for the judgeship of the Four-
teenth Judicial district, but opposing influ- "^
ences in an adjoining county and dissen-


sions in his own party in Fayette count-
prevented his election.

Colonel Searight was a humanitarian in
the broadest sense, his benefactions often
being in excess of his ability to give. He
was a member of St. Peter's Episcopal

In politics he believed in the prin-
ciples of Jefferson, as enunciated by Jack-
son, and after a careful study of all polit-
ical parties his early principles became
his mature convictions. As a Democrat, he
advocated state sovereignty, but did not be-
lieve in secession, and was as liberal in the
financial support of his party as he was fear-
lessly outspoken in his political views. As
a political organizer he had no superiors in
Fayette county, which he controlled largely
according to his will during the thirty years
of his active life, most of which was spent
in holding important offices whose every
duty he discharged efficiently and satisfac-

He was a magnanimous political op-
ponent when the smoke of battle cleared
away, and, while other men of Fayette coun-
ty held higher offices, none made a greater
impress as a potent factor in the political
life of the county. Colonel Searight's ag-
gressiveness was doubtless hereditary, as
well as his qualities of leadership, inherited
from his ancestors of the warlike clan of
Hamilton of Scotland. Colonel Searight's
tastes were more political and literary than
legal, yet he practiced successfully before
the different county, district and supreme
courts of Pennsylvania. He was a member
of Fayette Lodge, No. 228, Free and Ac-
cepted Masons, and also of Fort Necessity
Lods;e, No. 254, Independent Order of Odd

A grand page in the history of the new
world is Colonel Searight's story of the
"Old Pike, or National Road," which great
thoroughfare was so important to the early
development of his country, and so power-
ful in strengthening the bonds of the Union,
and around which cling a wealth of ro-
mance and many facts stranger than fiction.
There are but two great hiehwavs noticed
in history, one of the Appian Way, the "Queen
of Roads," of which no account has been
preserved, and the other, the "National

Road," whose history is only told by Col-
onel Searight, who was born and reared on
its line and who spent his entire life amid
scenes connected with it, some of which
were very familiar to his fellow college
student, James G. Blaine, whose letter con-
cerning a trip over the "Old Pike" is given :
Stanwood, Bar Harbor, Maine,

September 8th, 1892.
Hon. T. B. Searight,
Uniontown, Pa.

My Dear Friend : I have received the sketches
of the "Old Pike" regularly, and have as regularly
read them, some of them more than once, especially
where you came near the Monongahela on either
side of it, and thus strike the land of mv birth
and boyhood. I could trace you all the way to
Washington, at Maiden, at Centerville. at Billy
Greenfield's in Beallsville. at Hillsboro (Billy Rob-
inson was a familiar name), at Dutch Charley
Miller's, at Ward's, at Pancake, and so on — familiar
names forever endeared to my memory. I cherish
the desire of riding over the ''Old Pike" with you,
but I am afraid we shall contemplate it as a scheme
never to be realized.

Very sincerely your friend,

James G. Blaine.

The "Old Pike" has been favorably re-
ceived and highly commended by the book
reviewers and the reading public, and it
deals with every character and phase of
life of fifty years ago, while its historic
pages are rich with incident, accident and
anecdote and sometimes relate tragic events
as well as humorous incidents. \\'hile re-
membered in the future as a strong political
leader and recollected as an able lawyer,
yet the memory of Thomas B. Searight will
ever be kept bright through the future as
the author of the "Old Pike," which will be
his monument — enduring and indestructible
— for all time to come.

Colonel Searight married, October 29,
1857, Rose, only daughter of Hon. Robert
P. Flenniken, who was born in Greene
county, Pennsylvania, 1804, died in San
Francisco, California, 1879. Mr. Flenniken
was minister to Denmark under President
Polk. Children: Emily, William, Robert,

Colonel Searight's remains, after beauti-
ful and impressive funeral services at St.
Peter's Church, were entombed in a taste-
ful spot selected by himself in Oak Grove
cemetery, and near the "Old Pike," whose
history he wrote so well and about which he
loved to converse so much.

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(IV) Ewing Brownfield
SEARIGHT Searight. second son of
William (3) (q. v.) and
Rachel (Brownfield) Searight. *vas born at
Searights, Menallen township, Fayette
county. Pennsylvania, September 5. 1828,
died February 26, 1902. He was educated
in the common schools, and grew to man-
hood on the home farm. He engaged in
agricultural pursuits, which he followed
successfully throughout the active years of
his life.

He was also connected with the "( )1(1
Pike" as superintendent, his tenure of office
being noted for efficiency, served Men-
allen township as auditor for ten years,
school director from 1869 to 1875, and was
for three years a director of the Fayette
County Home. He was the owner of farm
and coal lands, and was a man of high
standing in the community. He was a
staunch Democrat, and with his wife an
ardent member of Grace Episcopal Church,
near the front door of which he is buried
near his father and mother.

Mr. Searight married, February 3, 1859,
Elizabeth, only daughter of Zadoc and Ly-
dia Jackson. Children: i. Rachel, born Au-
gust 26, i860, died August 11, 1882; she
married Charles J. McCormick and left a
son, Searight Ray, born August i, 1882. 2.
William, born August 11, 1863; married,
February 20, 1890, Miss Jennie Louise Pat-
terson, a beautiful and accomplished
daughter of Sidney Patterson, ex-president
of a Dunbar bank. William still lives on
the "Old Homestead," and is a very highly
respected citizen.

(IV) Jean, daughter of Will-
SHUMAN iam (3) (q. v.) and Rachel

(Brownfield) Searight, was
born in Menallen township, Fayette county,
Pennsylvania, September 15, 1830. .She re-
ceived her education at Washington Female
Seminary, then under the charge of Mrs.
Sarah R. (Foster) Hanna, who was a well
known teacher and a prominent member of
the Seceder church, of Western Pennsyl-

She married. .April 25, 1849. Captain
Thomas Shuman, of Brownsville, who
died February 11, 1878. Soon after her hus-

band's death, Mrs. Shuman removed to
Uniontown, where she has resided ever
since. To the union of Thomas Shuman and
Jean R. Searight were born eight children :
William Searight, Florine, Emma Virginia,
George Bowman, Thomas, Elizabeth Sea-
right, Rachel Searight and Samuel Ramsey,
all living excepting William Searight.

(IV) Captain William Sea-
SEARIGHT right, third son of William
(3) (q. V.) and Rachel
(Brownfield) Searight, was born at Sea-
rights, Menallen township, Fayette county,
Pennsylvania, June 28, 1834, died July 31,

He was educated at Dunlap's Creek Acad-
emy, and Washington and Madison Colleges
(Pennsylvania), and in 1853 was appointed
cadet at the United States Military Acad-
emy, West Point, from which he resigned
one year later. He then took a thorough
commercial course, after which he entered
the employ of Governor Black, of Nebraska,
as clerk, and also served in that capacity for
his brother in the prothonotary's office at
Uniontown, Pennsylvania. In 1861, at the
beginning of the civil war, he enlisted in
Company G, Eighth Pennsylvania Reserves,
Captain Oliphant. He was made first ser-
geant, and became a popular drill officer, his
West Point schooling now bringing results.
Upon his captain's promotion, leaving a
vacancy, he was advanced over the senior
officers and elected to the rank of captain.
Sickness compelled him to resign, but upon
regaining his health, he again enlisted as a
private in the Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania
Regiment, serving until 1865. Under Presi-
dent Johnson's administration he served ef-
ficiently as a departmental clerk at Wash-
ington, D. C. In 1869 he became local edi-
tor of the Genius of Liberty, and made
that paper one of the best known, ablest,
and most popular papers in W^estern Penn-
sylvania. From that time until his death.
Captain Searight (familiarly known as "B")
was prominently connected with the Union-
town and Pittsburgh papers. He was a
member of the Grand Army of the Republic,
and of other local organizations. He was
kindly-hearted and generous, having a wide
circle of friends who cherish his memory.



(IV) Tames Allison Sea-

SEARIGHT right, fourth son of Will-
iam (3) (q. V.) and Rachel
(Brownfield) Searight, was born on the Sea-

Online LibraryJohn Woolf JordanGenealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) → online text (page 34 of 57)