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Object ID 2003.03.01
Title Troth family history
Object Name Memoir
Creator Lydia E. Troth
Description Troth family history by Lydia E. Troth

Full text:

Our Grandfather, John Simpson, Jr., was one of seven children; three brothers, the eldest of whom was Reuben, then Matthew and James. There were three sisters; Sarah (Collins), Mary (Laycock) and Emma (McKim). All were born in England.

Reuben was the father of one daughter, who to us children, was known as "Cousin Eliza," but in later years was spoken of as "M. Elizabeth."

Aunt Sarah Collins evidently had a flair for business, as she bought several houses on Capitol Hill and rented them. Our cousin, Ethel Bubb and Lillie laughed when Aunt Sarah told them that "many was the time that I scrubbed the kitchen floor with $500.00 in my apron pocket."
Grandfather's brother Matthew had one son whose name was Reuben.

James was the father of one son named William and one daughter who was known to us children as "Cousin Mattie", presumably her name was Martha.

We have no recollection of the children of the sister, except that Emma had one daughter who also was named Emma and who married Edgar Myers.

Our Grandfather Simpson married Harriet Horne, also of England. She, too, was one of a large family as is made known in a letter written to our sister, Mabel Troth, from Mrs. Rose Simpson (no relation to John) who was Harriet Horne's niece. She writes, as follows:

"Providence, R. I. May 30, 1943
Dear Cousin:

Thank you for your letter, but I fear I cannot help you very much. Your Grandmother was born in Nottingham the eldest of the family. Her father's name was Matthew and if I remember right her mother was named Harriet. She, as I said, was the first in the family, then came my father, Matthew. He passed on a few years ago at the age of 94. Then came William. Ile was Captain in H.M. Service went to India and passed on there. Then came the youngest, Thomas, he was a barber and fishing tackle manufacturer in Burton-on-Trent. He also has passed on. If there is anything further I can tell you I shall be pleased to do so. I was sorry to see so many of my cousins had passed on, especially Cousin Mary. She kept in touch with me and I owed her so much for her kindness to me when I first came to this country. But God pays those kind of debts so she has her reward. Wishing you success in your quest, I am,

Sincerely, your cousin
Rose Simpson."

We, Lillie Troth (Offutt) and I, who spent much of our childhood with our grandparents, wish that we had been more inquisitive about their life in England and their sojourn to the United States, but probably we were much more interested in our own little world to care. However, we do recall from our conversations with them a few sketchy- glimpses of their lives.
One such glimpse was of Grandmother telling us that she sat on her father's shoulders to watch Queen Victoria ride by on her way to her coronation. Grandmother must have been about the age of four at that time.

To begin with, times must have been very hard in England, as indeed they had been for sometime, due to wars there and on the mainland, when John Simpson together with his wife, Harriet Horne Simpson, set sail with their two small children, James and Mary Ann, to start a new life in America. This probably was in the year 1858. There is no record of the time of year the journey was made across the Atlantic, but our Grandmother mentioned to us children many times what a dreadful experience it was, what with two babies and very poor accomodations. It took seven weeks to make the crossing, and food ran out before they landed in Philadelphia where Grandmother was forced to pawn her wedding ring in order to buy food for the family. She must have boon very homesick for England as much of her conversation was taken up with describing the beauty of the gardens, hedgerows, etc., and it is sad to think that she was never able to return, even for a visit.

Just when or how they made the journey from Philadelphia to Virginia is not known, but it probably was with the help of Grandfather's brother, Reuben, who had preceded them to this country, and who had become quite prosperous in the truck-farming business. He, Reuben, at one time lived on the "Barlow Farm" in Chantilly, Virginia. He also had had a farm on Capitol Hill and then spent the last of his days on a farm in New Jersey. Grandfather and Grandmother lived in Chantilly, Virginia, on the same Barlow Farm, which is now known as the "Sully Place" until the Fall of the year 1879, when they moved to a farm on Jones Mill Road in Montgomery County, Maryland. Grandfather paid (presumably a "down payment") the whole sum of $40.00 and a load of hay for this property. Mr. Parker Jones, from whom he purchased the land said "It is alright, I'll soon have it back again," meaning that the Simpsons would not be able to make it pay. But he did not reckon with John Simpson's staunch determination and ability. Grandfather not only built a new house (and later two more houses, barns, carriage house, etc.) on this farm but built many more houses in Cleveland Park and the surrounding area. Ile also built "The Odean" or theatre and some of the sorority houses at the Forest Glen Seminary, a finishing school for young ladies, which has since been purchased by the Government and is now a rehabilitation center and an annex to Walter Reed Hospital.

Their first child to be born in this country and after they reached Chantilly, Virginia, was Emma Jane (our mother) who was born on January 26, 1859. They had six other children; these were Matthew Thomas, John, Jr., Frank, Hannah, Edward Percy, and Harriet.

It must be assumed that Grandfather and Grandmother Simpson became citizens of the United States, since we know that he consistently voted the prohibition ticket. However, Grandmother told of the time during the Civil War when some soldiers (whether Northern or Confederate it is not known) came and took Grandfather a prisoner. At the time he had been suffering from chills and fever and when Grandmother ran after them with his coat, one of the solders shouted to her "Go back or I'll shoot." When it was discovered that he was a British citizen he was released and he returned to his home. So it must have been after that that he took out his citizenship papers in the United States.

At the time of the Civil War John Simpson's father and mother (who had been brought over from England) were living in Alexandria, Virginia. When they came to this country is not known, but during that time our mother, Emma Simpson, then a very small child was taken to their home. A blockade was placed between Alexandria and Chantilly and she never saw her parents again until she was about six years old.

Our Great-Grandparents (John Simpson's father and mother) are buried in the Congressional Cemetery, but we have not been able to ascertain their first names. We do know that Great-Grandfather was a lay preacher.

We will always remember Grandfather as a very devout Christian and a pillar in the Methodist Church. He would never think of retiring to bed at night without family prayer, always ending with the memorable words "…fit and prepare us for the changes of life that await us." Surely, ours is a "goodly heritage."

Lydia E. Troth