Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE LIFE,

Speeches, and Public Services

OF

GEN. JAMES A. GARFIELD

CHAPTER I.

GENEALOGY OF THE GARFIELD FAMILY. -EARLIEST MENTION OF THEM IN ENGLAND. — ASSOCIATED WITH ROBERT DUDLEY, EARL OF LEICESTER, FAVORITE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH. -THE FAMILY IN WALES. -THE HOME OF EDWARD GARFIELD IN CHESTER, ENGLAND. THE FIRST OF THE FAMILY IN AMERICA. THE COAT OF ARMS.-HISTORY OF CAPTAIN BENJAMIN GARFIELD. - -ABRAHAM GARFIELD AT THE CONCORD FIGHT, IN 1775. — EMIGRATION OF SOLOMON TO NEW YORK STATE. -DEATH OF THOMAS AT WORCESTER, N. Y.- BIRTH OF ABRAM GARFIELD. -HIS REMOVAL TO OHIO.- HIS MARRIAGE WITH ELIZA BALLOU.-BROTHERS MARRY SISTERS. THEIR REMARKABLE CHARACTERISTICS. EARLY MARRIED LIFE ALONG THE BIRTH OF THE FIRST CHILDREN.-SELECTION OF A HOME IN THE WOODS.

NEW CANAL.

[ocr errors]

xx

SHOULD the time ever come when it shall be proven by scientific investigators that man, as a being, is but "the aggregation of minute developments and of varied experiences," the genealogical history of his ancestors will be shown to be of the first importance in forming an estimate of his ability and

character. If it be true, as now claimed by scientific leaders of modern thought, that the child is born with all the experiences and mental accumulations of his progenitors, paternal and maternal, latent in his brain and system; then, to gain a knowledge of his physical mould and of his mental peculiarities, the student of biography would need to secure impossible information about the lives of the generations past in order to measure the physical power and mental capabilities of the man whose life he studies. Whether the writers and scholars who devote so much of their time to genealogical studies take this scientific view of the matter or not, it is certain that, for some reason, the study of genealogy is taking a prominent place in the pursuits of scholarly men.

Having, however, no faith in the theory that the men of to-day are but the aggregations of experiences and developments in the past, and giving but little credit to the aristocratic claim that ancestry makes the nobleman, we give the line of the Garfield family for the benefit of such as may deem it important. The tendency of this record is to show that all the individuals of the different races are born into the world with very similar characteristics and with much greater equality in mental endowments than aristocracy is willing to admit. It shows, too, that it is not what our fathers were so much as what we make of ourselves, that determines our right to nobility or praise. Ancestry and health wield a perceptible and sometimes a strong influence; but the capital we are born with may be increased a hundred

fold by our own exertions. It is this increase which constitutes the noblest claim to human greatness.

The

The earliest known mention of the Garfield family is in 1587, when it appears that one James Garfield (or Gearfeldt), was given a tract of land on the borders of Wales, near Chester, England, through the influence of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. A natural inference would be that he had performed some military service on the Continent, under that celebrated favorite of Royalty, or was of some special service to Robert at Kenilworth or London. estate thus conferred is said to be situated near Oswestry, and not far from the most beautiful and celebrated vale of Llangollen, on the border of Wales. What was the nationality of James Garfield, whether Welch or English, German or Dutch, does not appear. The most probable conjecture is that he was Welch, and was a warrior of some note, perhaps a descendant of the old Knights of Gaerfili Castle. The estate conferred upon him was either released by him, taken from him, or for some reason his children did not inherit it, and no mention of them appears, so far as is now known, in any record of the Garfield family until 1630, when Edward Gearfield, of Chester, England, came to America, in a company of colonists, who embarked with his family under the auspices of Governor John Winthrop.

The name appears again at Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, and is probably the same man. He was born in 1575. Of this Edward Garfield (or Gearfield) quite full accounts come down to us, and curi

ous searchers into the family history claim to have. discovered his Coat of Arms. If the following description of the family escutcheon be correct, as claimed by those who have given the matter study, it goes far to confirm the previous conclusion that the Garfields were a martial family of wealth and influence in the days of Queen Elizabeth, and perhaps in the Crusades. It had three horizontal bars of red on a field, or background, of gold in the center of the shield, and a red Maltese cross on an ermine canton or corner piece. The crest consisted of a helmet with the visor raised, and an uplifted arm holding a drawn sword. For a motto were the words: "In cruce vinco," (by the cross I conquer).

This Edward Garfield, from whom the present large Garfield family in America has descended, appears to have taken no great pride in his lineage or lordly titles, for he took a personal and laborious share in the manual labor connected with the clearing of his land in Watertown, and left but a meager trace of his armorial badge. His house was built on a beautiful spot in Watertown, overlooking the Charles River, and the site is still pointed out to visitors. near the railroad station of the Fitchburg railroad. In this house he lived but a few years before he was able to purchase a much larger estate in the western part of Watertown, near the present location of the Waltham town line. On this land he erected a capacious mansion, and surrounded himself with all the comforts and elegance of the "gentleman" of that period; and the estate now known as the "Gov. Gore

« PreviousContinue »