Samuel Ruggles Henderson - Martha M. Harris Family Group

Parents   Parents
  Joseph Henderson Catharine McDonald   Thomas M. Harris Mary Oliver Lemaster
  b. 25 Mar 1799 in Philadelphia b. 1831 in Philadelphia   b. 1832 in Marblehead, MA b. 7 Jun 1835 Marblehead
  d. 19 Jul 1873 in Philadelphia d. 12 Oct 1875 in Philadelphia   d. 28 Apr 1913 Atlantic City, NJ d. 20 May 1917 Atlantic City
Samuel Ruggles Henderson Martha M. Harris
b. 29 May 1865, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania b. 17 Jun 1867, Marblehead, Massachusetts
d. 23 Mar 1927, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania d. 23 Jun 1899, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Relationship Events
Marriage 4 Feb 1885 Samuel Ruggles Henderson to Martha M. Harris in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Marriage 2 Nov 1910 Samuel Ruggles Henderson to Anna Julia Porter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  Samuel Ruggles Henderson. Jr., b. 10 Apr 1886 in Philadelphia; m. Elyse Mae Wicks 7 Mar 1916 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; son Samuel Ruggles Henderson III; d. 20 Oct 1946 in Highland Park, Michigan.
Died Young Harris Henderson, b. Dec 1887 and died 17 Sep 1888 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Direct Ancestor Joseph Harris Henderson, b. 28 Jun 1888 in Philadelphia; m. Florence Rosina Kuehnle 30 Apr 1914 in Philadelphia; four children: Joseph Harris, Jr., Catherine Louise, Florence Emma, and Gloria Jean Henderson; d. Mar 1971 in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.
  Martha "Marto" Catherine Henderson, b. 7 May, 1895 in Philadelphia; m. Charles Hugg Cox May 1914 in Philadelphia; three children: Charles Hugg, Marto H. and William S.; d. 25 Jan 1963 in Maumee, Ohio.


What We Know About This Family


Samuel was named for his father's cousin, Samuel G. Ruggles, who was the son of Sherman and Hannah Henderson Ruggles and was Philadelphia's first police chief. Samuel and his brother, James, both named a son Samuel Ruggles Henderson, and each of them in turn named their sons the same. In addition, Alice Ruggles Reed (sister of Samuel Ruggles) named her first son Samuel Ruggles Reed. He didn't have a Samuel, but he did have a Ruggles Reed and a Sherman Ruggles Reed. Her other son, John Reed, named his son Samuel Ruggles Reed. The family stayed in touch through three generations and were obviously proud of the Ruggles name. If you're ever doing research on the name, be aware that many "Samuel Ruggles" exist. Our Samuel has a sixth-generation Samuel Ruggles Henderson.

An Overview of Their Lives

The marriage of Martha Harris and Samuel Henderson connects what I have labeled the Marblehead and the Philadelphia branches of this family tree. Martha's paternal grandfather, ,Joseph Harris, owned a shoe factory in Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts, where both sides of her family had dwelled for generations. Her father worked in the factory along with his father and several brothers. At some time after Joseph died in 1873 and by the 1880 census, Martha's parents had moved their family from Marblehead to Philadelphia, where Thomas started his own shoe factory.

Samuel's life was filled with tragedy. He was the fifth of seven children born to Joseph and Catharine McDonald Henderson, both of Philadelphia. His oldest sister died before he was born and the sister born two years after he was died when he was four. His father was 32 years or so older than his wife, and died at age 75 when Samuel was eight years of age. Seven months later, his 12-year old sister and three-year-old brother died of scarlet fever on the same day. Samuel and his brothers Joseph and James remained. Their mother remarried several months after the two children died, and then she herself died with a lumbar abscess when Samuel was only ten years old. She was 44.

Their father's youngest brother, James, who had been born and raised in West Virginia and had retired from his farm to Philadelphia a few years earlier, was granted custody of Samuel and his brother James. John Reed (see the "Noteworthy" section above) was granted custody of their brother, Joseph. The Orphan's Court transferred custody of James from his uncle James Henderson to his cousin John Reed a year later. Samuel, however, stayed with his uncle until he married at age 20. His Uncle James remained in Philadelphia a few years after his nephew married before returning to West Virginia to live out the rest of his life close to his daughter and her family.

In her eighteenth year, Martha Harris had a small autograph book that was signed by some friends. Below is a floral bouquet drawn on one of the pages. Since it was not signed by a friend, I assume Martha herself was the artist. Her signature was written on the back binder.


Not long after, Martha and Samuel were married. Below is a photo of Martha in her parents' home on their wedding day. The accompanying photos of a woman I assume is her mother and one of her eldest son were discovered by her great-granddaughter (granddaughter of Matha and Samuel's daughter Marto) with the wedding photo.

Samuel and his brothers each inherited a sizable estate from their father, and it appears Samuel used his to purchase a home and invest in businesses. The couple lived with Martha's parents for the first two years of their marriage. Their three sons, Samuel, Harris, and Joseph Harris were born in the first four years of their marriage. Sadly, Harris died at the age of ten months. His death certificate shows his address as 1405 Jefferson, where his mother lived until her death and his father for several years after. By 1890, Samuel joined his father-in-law as a partner in the Thomas M. Harris Shoes firm. In 1890, Samuel applied for a passport and sailed to Europe. My guess is that he was learning about and/or setting up the logistics for a cut-glass factory. He and Thomas Harris were partners in the S.R. Henderson and Harris Manufacturers Company that manufactured and sold cut glass for a few years until Thomas retired. During these years, it appears from newspaper listings that Samuel bought, sold, or leased some properties. One of them was a three-story store with an apartment.

Samuel and Martha's daughter, Martha "Marto" Catherine Harris, was born in 1895. When Marto was four, Martha Harris Henderson died of typhus at the age of 32. My grandfather was ten tears old, his older brother "Ruggles," 13. Their grandfather Harris retired and moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in about 1903. Oral history from family says the younger kids were at Friends School in Philadelphia and were looked after by various family members. I discovered two Help Wanted ads for housekeepers to "go to the shore" placed by Samuel in 1900 and 1905. The ad doesn't give the length of the employment. Martha's younger sister, Mary Oliver Harris, moved to Atlantic City when their parents did, and in 1904 married Edward Lee. I suspect they were often in her care. The Philadelphia Directory shows the home address for Samuel to be the same as where they lived when Martha died and remained that up until 1910. The census for that year shows Samuel and 14-year-old Marto living as guests of Mrs. Anna Porter and her two grown children, Anna "Jr," and Daniel. Our grandfather spoke of living in boarding houses. We thought he was referring to a time during his childhood, but I couldn't find evidence of that unless he was referring to the home of his future step-mother. I did find a Joseph Henderson living in a Philadelphia boarding house and employed in "art glass" in 1910. I suspect this was our grandfather and that he was working with his father. Samuel and Anna Jr. were married later in the year 1910 and continued to live in the Delancey Street house until their deaths. My mother, Samuel's granddaughter, lived with her "Aunt Anna" for several months when she was engaged to my dad and wanted to be in Philadelphia where he was finishing school until their marriage. I visited with her as a youngster, and remember a romantic Victorian brownstone. Samuel's children were fond of her and visited her often in the many years she outlived her husband.

In 1908, Samuel placed an ad seeking 8000 square feet of factory space. I don't know whether that was for his own factory or on behalf of Liberty Cut Glass Works. That was the last reference to his own factory that I found, and I suspect it was gone (along with his father's legacy) about the time he showed affiliation with Liberty. That would be consistent with the decline of American cut glass, which had a "brilliant," but short life (1876 to 1917). The product needed highly skilled artisans, of which many could be found among immigrants, but the labor costs were high, and the high price of the pieces limited the customer base to affluent households. Inferior imitations had begun infiltrating the market, and the vogue was waning to an extent that only 100 of the 1,000 firms that existed in the "brilliant" period were still in business in 1908. The American Cut Glass Association has historic information about the industry, which became extinct by the end of the Depression. In 1911, the Pottery, Glass, and Brass Salesman publication identified Samuel R. Henderson as the local agent for the Liberty Cut Glass Works company that opened in Egg Harbor City in 1904. The Philadelphia Directory of 1918 lists him as "Mgr. Liberty Cut Glass Works."

Samuel Ruggles Henderson died in Philadelphia in 1927, only 58 years old. His widow, Anna, remained in the Delancey Street home until her death many years later in 1970. My mother didn't remember her grandfather, but my sense is that her father and then she herself inherited his integrity and a keen sense of responsibility. In reconstructing his life history, I'm struck by how quickly he assumed adult responsibility early in his life - married at 20, the part owner of two factories, father of three sons (one buried) by age 24; father of three surviving children when he was widowed at age 34.


Proof of Relationship

The primary proof of relationship started with the oral history of family members. My aunt had a copy of the wedding invitation for Samuel's and Martha's wedding that revealed her maiden name and the name of her father. Census information led me quickly to her Marblehead roots, and over the next few years, I traced her family to their points of immigration. Samuel's side was a little more difficult to trace. Starting with his name, I found the LDS record showing his father's name and his mother's first name. I placed their names on a tentative public tree, and Marto's granddaughter contacted me. She had information and photos of Samuel, Martha and their children. The great-granddaughter of Samuel's brother, James Hill Henderson, then made contact and confirmed with family records the identity of Samuel's mother as Catharine Wright McDonald. I had found the announcement of their marriage in the paper, but could not confirm they were our ancestors until I made contact with his other descendant trying to put together what turned out to be a mutual segment of our tree. A professional genealogist discovered records from the Philadelphia Orphan's Court related to the guardianship of the minor children after the death of their mother, Catharine McDonald Henderson Ott. With all this valuable family help and the resources at, the pieces gradually came together. An added benefit was discovering the cousins I didn't know existed.

About the Children

  • Ruggles (Samuel, Jr.) and Elyse Mae Wickes were married in Pittsburgh on 7 May 1916. On the 1920 census, they had a toddler S.R. Henderson III; Dad was a millinery merchant; and they owned their home free and clear of mortgage. They lived in Pittsburgh many years after their marriage until they moved to Michigan where their son dad been a student at the University. Ruggles died there in 1946.

  • Nobody still living has any idea how J. Harris ended up in Egg Harbor City. He might have become acquainted with it during visits to his maternal grandparents in nearby Atlantic City. More likely, his father introduced him to it through his work with Liberty Cut Glass Works. At any rate, he settled there, temporarily raising chickens, and met his future wife. Florence Kuehnle, who left home the day of 30 Apr 1914 for Philadelphia where they were married. She sent a telegram to her surprised parents announcing the event. The elopement was reported in the Inquirer. Harris, as he was called by family and friends, was working at Liberty later that year in October when a nail flew into his eye from a box he was opening, damaging it beyond repair. I was 16 when I learned he had a glass eye. Their marriage endured happily, and as long as I knew him, he owned his own print shop, which he operated from the basement in their home. He and "Flossy" had four children, a son and three daughters. He died in Egg Harbor City in 1971.

  • Marto had a more traditional wedding when she married Charles Cox at Delancey Street a few weeks later on 10 Jun 1914. She and her husband settled first in New York. They had two sons and a daughter. She and her husband developed tuberculosis, and Marto was widowed fairly young. She recovered after a stay in a treatment facility when her children were still young, causing some hardship in the family. She died in 1963 in the Ohio city where she lived with her married daughter.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the actual or inferred dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is complete.


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