Submitted by Glenn Ramsey
969 Spruce St.
Winnetka, IL 60093
Sept 2002

     Family of William Ramsey

     His paternal grandparents were William Ramsey b 1770/75- d c 1845/50, and Sarah Botts, who moved from the future Harrison Co OH area between 1808 and 1812 to Merrittstown, Fayette Co, PA. William was either born in PA or foreign-born, and Sarah may have been born in Harford Co, MD. William was on the tax rolls in the Merrittstown area from 1815 to 1833. William is said to have died in Fayette Co, and Sarah died in 1853 in Coshocton Co, OH. Their children were Jesse 1808-1891 and Delilah 1812-1881, who stayed in western PA, and Sarah 1816-1872, James 1820-1881, and Lewis 1823-1909, who all moved to Ohio by 1850. (The author is descended from Lewis.)

     Our subject William Ramsey’s father was Jesse Ball Ramsey, b 7/23/1808 Harrison Co (then in Jefferson Co) OH-d 9/23/1891 Uniontown, PA. In Merrittstown, PA area 1830-1834, Wayne Co, OH-Holmes Co, OH c 1834-1841, back to Brownsville and Merrittstown, Fayette Co area c 1841-1855. Militia cavalry captain, 1851. Uniontown, PA 1855-1860’s, newspaper publisher 1855-57, burgess (mayor) of county seat Uniontown 1858-61, Civil War officer 1861-64, 1st Lt., Co. G, 8th Reserves (aka 37th PA Infantry Regiment). After the war, "asst marshall" (federal marshall for census-taking) in Pittsburgh in 1870, and in charge of Pittsburgh Central Police Station 1872-74. He lived with his sister Delilah near Brownsville, PA after 1875, and then boarded at a hotel in Uniontown from 1886 until his death.

     Jesse’s wife was Mary __?__, born c 1808 in Westmoreland Co, PA, and died in Pittsburgh between 1870 and 1875. Their 1850 census children were George b c 1832, William (nicknamed "Judge" in adulthood) 1833-1905, James Duncan c 1836-1899, Amanda V. c 1838, Elizabeth c 1841, Mary c 1843. James and William also served in the Civil War: James in the 8th PA Reserves, in his father’s company, and later in the 101st PA Infantry, and William in the 1st WV Cavalry. James was also burgess of Uniontown in 1866-67. A George S. Ramsey was a teacher in 1854-55 and became an attorney in 1860, both in Fayette Co; whether he was Jesse’s son George is unknown.

     William "Judge" Ramsey, 1833-1905

     William "Judge" Ramsey’s obituary from the 11/14/1905 Pittsburgh Post was obtained from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s obituary search service. It was lengthily and warmly written by an unnamed author who knew him well, and has a photograph of him. The headlines were: "JUDGE" RAMSEY DEAD - One of Pittsburg’s veteran newspapermen expires in Dayton institution - Half century as writer - Had record as soldier and for years aided visitors to Highland Zoo." By his own previous account to the writer, he was born in 1833 "in an old log house by the mill" in Merrittstown, graduated from Dunlaps Creek Academy of that town [not mentioned by that name in Ellis’ History of Fayette Co PA, 1881, although the Dunlaps Creek Presbyterian Church had a Latin school established by Rev. Johnston--GR], and went to Uniontown in 1850 where he learned to be a printer at the Genius and Liberty newspaper. William went to Baltimore and Jersey City, NJ (Jersey City Union newspaper), then in 1853 went to New York and "started to work on the first issue of the New York ‘Times’." [Today’s New York Times started as the "New-York Daily Times" on 9/18/1851-GR.] Then "went with his uncle selling horses in Elizabeth City, NC, for about a year" (Pasquotank County, northeast NC on the coast). [Who was this uncle? On mother’s side? There were no Ramseys in the 1850 census index for Pasquotank Co, NC, or its neighbor across the river from Elizabeth City, Camden Co-GR.] Back to Uniontown and then to Pittsburgh in 1855 as a printer at the Daily Union. Became reporter at Commercial Journal in 1856, then went to Omaha and was editor of the Omaha Times. [The Omaha Times was founded in 1857 according to The Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Record, Vol XV, at rootsweb.com/ ~neresour/OLLibrary/Journals/NMGR/Vol15/nmgrp004.html.] William was elected probate judge in Nebraska (which later led to his nickname of "Judge" bestowed by friend John Neeb). In fall 1857 William was offered the editorship of a paper in Dakota City, NE [just south of Sioux City, IA], but fell sick on the way and returned to his family which had moved to Uniontown by then. (His father Jesse was co-publisher of a Uniontown newspaper, 1855-57.) Read for the law there, then came back to Pittsburgh in 1860 to be reporter for the Gazette. Tried to enlist in 8th PA Reserves [his officer father and his brother were in Company G--GR] but was turned down for weak lungs, so then went to Wheeling, WV, and joined the First WV Cavalry under Custer, Sheridan, and Grant. (Although West Virginia was not formally created until 1863, the western counties of Virginia formed a new government in June 1861. The 1st WV Cavalry was organized July-Nov 1861.) He was present at the surrender of Lee and the grand review at Washington. Returned to a number of Pittsburgh newspapers 1865-1873. Went to Cincinnati for a short time, but returned to Pittsburgh Commercial until its merger with the Gazette in 1876 as city editor, then from 1877 to 1879 was city editor on the Dispatch and Gazette. Last active newspaper work 1891. Worked at Highland Park Zoo since its opening [about 1896-GR], where he was remembered as the big man who would answer any question, who invariably pointed out to the youngsters the wonderful monkey "Goosti," who used to talk with the Post reporter every Sunday afternoon, and was willing to be interviewed on any subject. Met with an accident at the zoo several months before death, was taken to Homeopathic hospital, then requested transfer to the Soldiers Home in Dayton, OH, where he died Nov 12, 1905. Was a Mason and Odd Fellow. Survived by one daughter [see below]. Buried in Dayton with military honors.

     The Dayton veterans hospital opened in 1867, and became known as the Central Branch. This was one of the first three veterans hospitals in the US, from a law signed by Lincoln just before his death. William Ramsey is listed online in the burials at the Dayton National Cemetery: d 11/12/1905, residence Pittsburgh, PA, buried 11/12/1905, plot O 2 11. A virtual museum of the Dayton hospital is at www/dayton.med.va.gov/museum.

     (He apparently connected with animals, as a horse trader, cavalryman, and later zoo attendant and monkey fan. His grandfather William Ramsey had an 1820 Fayette Co PA tax listing for an animal that may by handwriting have been "monkey".)

      William Ramsey was a member of Company F of the 1st WV Regiment Cavalry, on the roster at www.lindapages.com/wvcw/1wvc/1wvc.htm, a web site devoted to the unit. He is also listed by National Park Service at www.itd.nps.gov/cwss, and is on film no M507, roll 10. The 1st Cavalry was indeed at Appomattox Court House at Lee’s surrender, and at the Washington victory review, as well as at numerous other battles. At Gettysburg (before William joined), it "was conspicuous for holding the low gap at the left of Round Top the last day’s fight…against vastly superior numbers, " and then they charged and penetrated the enemy lines near the Devil’s Den. A monument to the 1st WV Cavalry is 5 miles south of Gettysburg on Rt. 134 or Taneytown Rd, on the right, about 75 feet back from highway (picture at above rootsweb web site). In 1864-65 they were part of Sheridan’s cavalry in Virginia, and George Armstrong Custer was one of their commanders.

      His Civil War pension file, No. C-2529-257, has additional information. He was born 12/11/1833. His War Dept. records showed enlistment 9/3/1864, absent from company 12/31/1864-4/30/1865 in Brigade Band, mustered out 6/3/1865. He said he enlisted at Wheeling, WV, and that in addition to his unit service, he was a member of the mounted band of Capehart’s Brigade, Custer’s Division of the Corps of Cavalry. (Dr. Henry Capehart was the regimental commander. The regimental history at the above web site says "Prof. Carl Colby’s famous silver cornet band" was part of the 1st W Va Cavalry.) He was discharged at Cloud’s Mills near Alexandria, VA.

      He gave his marital status in 1903 as widower, and although the form asked for his wife’s name, he did not provide it. A 1904 form was stamped "marriage circular not on file." He said he was married by a forgotten clergyman in Cleveland, OH, in 1871, and had one daughter, Mary L. Ramsey, born 6/30/1872. (She wrote a letter to his pension board in 1904 saying she was his only child, and dependent on him for a living.) After the war, he lived in Pittsburgh except for June 1872-November 1874, when he lived in Cincinnati. (Thus, Mary L. Ramsey may have been born in Cincinnati-or perhaps William left town before she was born. Fayette County does not have birth records back to 1872.)

     William Ramsey was the assistant city editor for the Pittsburgh Daily Commercial newspaper, as of 8/1/1876, according to Samuel W. Durant’s 1876 History of Allegheny County, PA, p 128 (online at digital.library.pitt.edu). None of the other 1870 or 1880 Ramsey household members are mentioned in this account of the newspaper. This newspaper was founded in 1863 by Republican interests, and in 1876 moved to a new office at 70 Fifth Ave, on the south side between Wood and Smithfield (1872 map shows location of addresses); a picture of the building is on p 124. This publisher also printed the Pittsburgh Commercial weekly. In 1877 the Pittsburgh Daily Commercial was taken over by the Pittsburgh Gazette, and the new paper became the Commercial Gazette. (George H. Thurston, Allegheny County’s Hundred Years, 1888, on line at above).

      Two Pittsburgh books from the 1910’s mention newspaperman William "Judge" Ramsey (online as above). In Percy F. Smith’s 1918 book, Memory’s Milestones, under the heading Half a Century with the Newspapers, the author recalled his days with the Pittsburgh Dispatch, its owners O’Neill and Rook, and "the trained lieutenants as workers and business managers, etc, among whom I can mention as personal friends, viz.:". The list includes William (Judge) Ramsey [Smith’s parentheses] and two other assistant editors from Durant’s 1876 listing of Daily Commercial staff, Frank Case and James F. Hudson (Smith, p 6). (The Dispatch was founded in 1846 and was run by O’Neill and Rook between 1865 and 1877; it was at 99 Fifth Avenue in 1876, and was still independent in Thurston’s 1888 book.)

     Arthur Gordon Burgoyne’s 1914 book, All Sorts of Pittsburgers, has a page on George A. Madden, then-editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, which says that Madden worked for a year at the Commercial Gazette on the local staff under "Judge" Ramsay [Burgoyne’s quotation marks and spelling]. The year is not specified, but was sometime between around 1873 and 1885 in his narrative. Presumably this was after the 1877 takeover of the Daily Commercial by the Commercial Gazette. (The original Gazette was founded in 1786. The Dispatch must have taken over the Commercial Gazette later, because the current Post-Dispatch claims to be the oldest newspaper west of the Alleghenies, with roots back to 1786.)

      William’s brother James D. Ramsey, age 34, occupation city editor, real estate 0, personal estate $1000, was living in the 3rd ward of Allegheny City in 1870, just across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh. (Allegheny City was taken into Pittsburgh in 1907. Its third ward on the 1872 map was where Allegheny General Hospital and the new Pirates baseball stadium is now.) Also in the household were Annie E., age 23, William Ramsey, age 1, and Ada Covert, age 20. Perhaps Ada was Annie’s sister.

      The 1872 plat maps for the 3rd wards of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City do not show any Ramseys at high-resolution display, but the maps show property owners, and none of these Ramseys owned any real estate according to their census entries.

     The 1880 Pittsburgh census for the third ward has W.R. Ramsey, age 46, reporter, roomer, b PA, street Fifth Ave. (But his middle initial was given as A. in 1890 directory below.) Other 1880 household members were Jas Nicholas 22, M Nicholas 19, J.W.Doughett 44, Wm M. Nimick 33, A. Carsile 45, E.R.Gashes 45, and John Patterson 44. None of them were the owner of the building. There was no child in the household, and there was no Mary Ramsey, age 7-9, in the 1880 Pittsburgh census.

     The 1880 census on CD for "Allegheny", Allegheny Co [Allegheny City?], has James D. Ramsay, 41 b OH, Anna E. 29 (b 1851?), and sons William P., 11, and James A., 2. (But Anna was 5 in the 1850 census.)

      [The Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh has microfilm of the Pittsburgh Commercial from 1864 through 1876, and the Daily Commercial from 9/1863 to 6/1864. The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and the Hillman Library of the Univ of Pittsburgh both have microfilm of the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette from 2/15/1877 (after the merger with the Daily Commercial?) to 11/2/1901; alternative titles are Pittsburgh Gazette-Commercial, Gazette and Commercial, Commercial and Gazette, and Commercial Gazette.]

      Delilah M. Ramsey Thornton’s death notice in the 7/28/1881 Republican Standard of Fayette Co had the following:

      "Messrs. William and Duncan Ramsey, of Pittsburgh, attended the funeral of their aunt, whose death we chronicle above. William is a successful newspaper man, employed on the Commercial Gazette, at present. Duncan is a rising young lawyer. We noticed that these gentlemen as they walked our streets perused the signs with some eagerness, as if endeavoring to find some familiar names, for they were Brownsville boys in the years agone. We hope they were not entirely disappointed."

      In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Directories 1888-1892 in the Ancestry.com database, Wm A. Ramsey was the proprietor of the Sunday Globe at 64 Diamond (now Forbes Ave downtown) in 1890. His location #2 [residence?-GR] was 512 Smithfield. Although the middle initial is different than the 1880 census (R.), this is most likely William (Judge) Ramsey. The Sunday Globe was described by Samuel W. Durant in 1876 (History of Allegheny County,Pennsylvania, p 130) as the only illustrated Sunday paper in the city, a thirty-two-column sheet, independent in politics and devoted to local affairs to a great extent. It was founded in June 1876 by J.W. Breen, editor and publisher, and was then in "Mellon’s building," 116 Smithfield St. Thurston’s 1888 book briefly mentioned the Sunday Globe in his section on the history of Pittsburgh newspapers, saying that J.W. Breen was the editor. So perhaps William Ramsey took it over between the writing of Thurston’s book, c 1888, and the 1890 city directory. In the 1872 plat map now online, 64 Diamond was on the south side midway between Wood and Smithfield. The Smithfield numbers in 1872 do not seem to go up to 512, but in today’s addresses, 512 Smithfield Ave is just north of Fifth Ave. The 1903 plat map online does not show street numbers.

      Also in the 1890 directory was J.D. Ramsey, attorney, 138 Fifth Ave, location #2 "33 Taggart, A". The ",A" in the address column of these online listings may be the cut-off beginning of Allegheny City. This was William’s brother James D. Ramsey, who was admitted to the bar in Fayette Co in 1867, and the James D. Ramsey, city editor, living about a mile southeast in the third ward of Allegheny City in 1870. Taggart Ave. is on the 1890 online map for Allegheny City. It was in west-central Allegheny City, running north-south just southeast of the Uniondale Cemetery. 33 Taggart was a brick structure on the west side of the street, midway between Ford St. and Nixon St. On a 1980’s Pittsburgh street map, this area is a mile due north of the former site of Three Rivers Stadium. Taggart St. is no more, but appears to have been about where Charles St. N. is now, north of California. The other Ramsey whose address was "33 Taggart, A" in the 1890 city directory was Wm P. Ramsey, shipping clerk. This was James D. Ramsey’s son William b c 1869 in the 1870 Allegheny City census. J.D. Ramsey’s address at 138 Fifth Ave. appears to be the Allegheny County Courthouse on the 1872 map. This suggests that he was a county attorney in 1890. (The current Allegheny County Courthouse was built in 1883-88 on the same spot, and is an architectural landmark today.)

     In 1896 William Ramsey applied for a Civil War pension. His address was 92 Washington St, Pittsburgh, and his attorney was John K. Barbour of 430 4th Ave, Pittsburgh. He was 5’ 11 ½’’ and weighed 216 lb. He complained of chronic bronchitis, kidney disease, and difficulty with hearing and memory. His claim was rejected.

      J.D.Ramsey was a witness to William Ramsey’s pension application in 1896. His address was 1021 Rebecca Ave, Wilkinsburg, PA. This is just east of Pittsburgh.

      James Duncan Ramsey died in Pittsburgh on 4/10/1899 of Bright’s disease and uremia after five years of illness, according to his death certificate in his Civil War pension file. His parents were confirmed as Jesse and Mary Ramsey, b PA. James’ birthplace was incorrectly listed as PA. His occupation was attorney. His last residence was 305 Mayflower St, 21st Ward, for only 14 days. A brief death notice in the 4/11/1899 Pittsburgh Gazette adds to the above only that his death was at 8:30 am. The 1904 North East End map online at digital.library.pitt.edu confirms that this was the same as today’s Mayflower St. on a modern city map, in the East Liberty neighborhood in the northeast section of the city. Before that, his prior residence was on Brushton Ave. in the 37th ward. These maps locate Brushton Ave. on the eastern edge of the city, just north of Wilkinsburg. His burial place was Washington, PA (where they were married), on 4/11/1899, undertaker M.A. Hanlon, 110 Frankstown Rd, Pittsburgh.

      James’ wife Anna applied for her Civil War widow pension two days after he died. The witnesses were W.P. Ramsey, known to her for 30 years (their son William P., age 30 then per his 1870 census age) and J. A. Ramsey, known for 21 years (their son as given below, presumably 21 yr old). Her attorney, perhaps connected to James’ practice, was John K. Barbour (same as William’s 1896 application) of 606 Wylie Ave, Pittsburgh (would have been near present-day Civic Arena in today’s numbering, near County Courthouse).

      In January 1903 William Ramsey reapplied for a Civil War pension. His address was 6020 Center Ave, Pgh. This time he was approved for $8 per month. In July 1903 he asked for an increase, claiming dizziness after being knocked down by a bicyclist three years before, but this was denied. In November he wrote a letter to the pension office on Highland Park Zoo letterhead, saying he would supply more information.

      In April 1904 he and his daughter Mary L. Ramsey wrote another letter asking for an increase. He had fallen on ice in January, breaking his hip, and was in Homeopathic Hospital. His daughter said that his hip would never heal. Homeopathic Hospital was in downtown Pittsburgh, on Cherry Way between First and Second Ave., near the foot of Grant St. and the Monongahela River. 1903 map at digital.library.pitt.edu. (In 1910 this hospital built a new building at Center and Aiken Aves. (GT Fleming, Pittsburgh, How to See It, 1916, digital.library.pitt.edu.) This is where Shadyside Hospital is today.) Jesse transferred to the Central Branch Hospital in Dayton in May 1904, and was awarded $12 a month in June 1904 until his death there on 11/12/1905.

     James Ramsey’s wife Anna died on March 26, 1919. Her brief death notices in the Pittsburgh Press of 3/26 and 3/27/1919 said she was 73, or in her 73rd year, and died at 5:45 am in the Ladies’ G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic--Civil War veterans) home at Hawkins Station. Two sons, William P. and J.A. Ramsey, survived. Her funeral was in Washington, PA. According to the 1900 list of PA towns in the SW PA Genealogical Services booklet, Pennsylvania Line, Hawkins Station was in Allegheny Co, "Swissdale" Boro. This is Swissvale, a town on the eastern edge of Pittsburgh and north of the Monongahela River, 1-2 miles south of James Ramsey’s last residences.