McBride Family - Illustrious Stock

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HERALD - Wednesday, October 4, 1911

McBride Family is Decended From Illustrious Stock

      Americans aregenerally spoken of as a people too busy in their mad pursuit for fame and money, to find time to gather together their family connections, make merry and reminisence over the times of the long ago.  So it is with great pride that members of the McBride family which through the bustling war times, the times of death and the times of peace have clung together and met annually for the past 47 years.  Their annual reunion was held this week, when the following history was read, that had been perpared by Mrs. Mary G. McBride Beisel of Wallace Avenue.
      Alexander and Mary Armstrong McBride are the ancestors in honor, and to the memory of whom the McBride family, their children and children's children gather annually in token of the love and reverance in which they are held.
      A history of the family and lives of these revered ones, seem fitting, that the younger generations being well informed of their memory as well as to become better acquainted, and to foster friendship among the present members of the family.
      Alexander McBride was born in Londonderry, county Tyrone, Ireland, December 20, 1795.  When a young man of 18 *, he came to America and located on the Slipperyrock, in Worth Township, Butler county, and continued to live in that county until 1850.  Data of his early life and family in Ireland is lacking except that it is known they were strict Presbyterians and that he left parents, brothers and sisters behind him when he emigrated to the new world of America, and for his age he was finely educated.
      An incident of his arrival in this country, as told by himself in after years, is worth repeating.  After the long, tedious journey in those days on shipboard, the first thing sought upon his arrival in New York was an eating house.  It is said of some people that "they do not know beans," but our young Irish ancestor "did know beans," but he had never seen green corn in the ear, and as he had arrived just at the season for tis delicious American delicacy, he was served with a luscious speciman, which he ate - as he saw others doing - with a relish, and when he had finished, he - who was nothing if not polite - turned to the waiter and requested him to "please sor, put some banes on my stick."  He thought it was a new way of serving beans and that he could have the stick, as he called it, refilled upon request.  But it did not take him long to fall into and adopt American customs.  To the end of his days "he was the real old Irish gentleman," and had a warm love for his father-land, the green fields of Erin," and would speak lovingly of the dear parents and family he had left in his young manhood and whom he never saw again.
      For many years devoted his time to school teaching and bore the appellation of "The Irish Schoolmaster".  While teaching one of these many schools, he found himself sucessfully "barred out" - as was a custom of the times - and his scholars in defiant possession of the house.  After endeavoring in vain to get in at the door, he provided himself well with good tough rods, climbed to the roof and descended the chimney into the school room, in spite of the smoke, and the boys in their desperate efforts to drive him back up and out.  It is supposed that before a final adjustment of the trouble was reached, the boys were sorry the door had been so thoroughly barred that they themselves were unable to speedily open it.  Their irate "school master" was in and had his "Irish" up, and they themselves could not get out.  Imagination will redily picture the scenes that followed.
      About sixty-five or seventy years ago he taught school in New Castle in a building where the electric light company is now located.  It had formerly been a log church, and was one of the early churches of what is now the First Presbyterian church of New Castle.  No doubt there are others of his old "scholars" here yet, the only ones we have personal knowledge of are C.C. Bamkey of New Castle, and his brother Henry, who acn relate interesting tales of those early days.
      He was a military man and at one time was a Colonel of a military organization, and that appalliation was given him through life by older persons.  It was said of him "that in uniform and on horseback on muster days" his searing and tall commanding appearance showed him "every inch a soldier."
      Alexander McBride erected the first flouring or "grist mill" in that section in 1827.  It was a frame structure and had two runs of common stone.  After he got the grist mill in operation, he attached a sawmill and operated both until about 1850.  In the earlier days, in that section, the majority of families provided for the grinding of their own grains by means of horse power, or hand mill, the process in either case being very unsatisfactory.  Hence the building of a grist mill was a matter of common interest and the man of enterprise who erected one was looked upon as a public benefactor.  He was a prominent man for many years and was sought as an adviser in various matters.
      On September 26, 1839, he was ordained elder in the Plaingrove Presbyterian church, one year after Rev. Munson resigned, and five months after Rev. Robert Walker was installed pastor.  It is worthy of note that during the time he was elder (which was remainder of his life) five churches were organized from the mother church of Plaingrove, being Harlansburg, North Liberty, Rich Hill and Leesburg.  To these are worthy of their mother.  The old church as most of us know it, was built in 1834, the year R.M. McBride, the now senior member of the family was born.
      In 1852, Alexander McBride removed from Butler Co., to Harlansburg, Lawrence Co., and kept a dry goods store, which was discontinued in 1869.  Associated with him were his sons, D.A. and Thomas.  Between 1857- 1860, during James Buchanan's administration he had charge of the Post Office at Plain Grove, one mile north of the Presbyterian church and in connection with a general store, a branch of his store in Harlansburg.
      He was Justice of the Peace in Scott Township for many years and was known as Esquire Mcbride until his death.  He was truly a "Just" and a "Peace" man.  Whenever it was profitable to do so, he would try to bring the parties in litigation together and have an amicable settlement, which in those advanced days would be called "arbitration" and which he called "Justice from a Christian Standpoint."
      Alexander McBride died October 14, 1878, at the residence of his son Robert Munson McBride, plain Grove, Lawrence Co., Pa., aged 82 years. 9 months and 24 days.
      But this history will not be completed without the early history of the family from which the wife and mother came.
      David Armstrong, with his son George, and his daughter, Rebecca, came to what was afterward North Township, Butler County, about 1794, from Westmoreland county.  They accomplished their journey on horseback, bringing with them in this way as many household implements as was possible.  It was impossible to travel with wagons, for at that time there were no roads, only bridle paths through the forests.  They lived in a tent or sort of wigwam, such as the Indians built, until they constructed a cabin.  In the fall of that year David and his daughter Rebecca returned to Westmoreland county after the remaining family, consisting of the mother and five children, whose names were Archibald, Thomas, Roland, Polly and David.  Anna, Samuel and Elizabeth were born after they came to Butler county.  These eight, with George and Rebecca previously mentioned, made a family of ten children; and I will just mention for the information of the present generation, who think they cannot live in less than ten or twelve rooms, three stories high, that this family among their ancestors, consisting of twelve persons, lived in a house of not more than two, possibly one, room.
      David Armstrong was the one of the most prominent men of the old pioneers.  He was the first to suggest the establishing of a church in that section.  The day was set for the people to meet to talk it over and arrange for the place to meet, David knew the meeting was to be held some place on the open, bushy plain, but he guessed where on that plain, for the plain was wide and long.  So he came to the top of what was and is known as "Armstrong's Hill," and tried to see from there where the people were gathering, but he could not see out of the dense forests, so he climbed into the top of a tall tree and looked out over the intervening foliage, and sure enough, there, away to the north he saw the people, dodging around among the bushes, assembling.  He descended from his squirral height to the bottom, and hastened to the meeting.
Suffice to say, the church was established, and when they looked about for a name, the two oldest settlers present, David Armstrong and Thomas Taylor, were chosen a commitee to bring in and recommend a name for the church.  They selected "Plain Grove," on account of the location, and "Plain Grove," it is to this day, and all succeeding generations of these said, old pioneer Christians have worshipped in it, but not they sit on cushioned seats instead of oak puncheons, standing on sound wooden logs.
      This David Armstrong, the moving spirit in those days, of whom we speak, was no stranger, but he was the grandfather of the McBride family, and great great grandfather to us all.  His sons and daughters married into pioneer families like their own, whose names are household words.
      George, the eldest married, Elizabeth McCune, and settled near Centerville and died there.  Rebecca married James McCune, the father of David McCune, and Rebecca Clark, recently deceased; Archibald married Elizabeth Wallace.  He died at Plain Grove in 1869, 84 years old, and his wife, known as "Aunt Betsey Armstrong," died at the age of 100 years.  Thomas married Fanny Drake.  He lived and died on the farm where his father built his cabin.
      Roland married, and after living in various places, he finally located in Pittsburgh, and died there soon after the Cival War.  His last child, Aunt Mary Boyd, died within the year, aged 85.  David married Jane Jack, and was the father of our venerable and much esteemed cousin, Esther Pardon, who is the last of a large family.  Anna married Samuel Jack, and was the mother od Lizzie Jack Ewing still living at a good old age.  Samuel was married twice and died at Youngstown, Ohio.  His youngest daughter Nancy is still in Youngstown.
      Elizabeth married William McNees and was known as Aunt Betsy McNees.  She died not far from the old homestaed, where she was raised.  Polly or Mary Armstrong was the link between the Armstrong and the McBride families and the old Bible contains the record that:
      On May 20, 1820, Alexander McBride and Mary Armstrong were married by Rev. John Munson at Slipperyrock, Butler County, Pennsylvania.
      After her death April 21, 1847, he wrote in the family record of the old family Bible that "We lived together 26 years, 10 months and 6 days in an agreeable happy manner.  A loving tribute from the husband to the dear wife and mother, that was the helpmate and inspiration of his aspirations and enterprises and to this day to the children living, and as long as the others lived.  "Mother" is and was a loved name to them.  Unhapply no grand children ever knew her, and no son, or daughter-in-law and except the two sons, Robert and George D. present none who have come to honor her memory today, do so, from a personal knowledge, but from the reverence and love due a noble woman.
      We have prepared and if time permitted would read the record of all births, marriage and death dates that have occured in this family of nine children, the fruit of a happy marriage.
      Of the nine children, but three are living at this writing.  These are Mrs. Sara Anna McBride Gill, on account of infirmities of age unable to be present; Robert M. of New Castle and George D. of Gallipolis, Ohio.  Of these related by marriage, but two are living being Mrs. Thomas McBride of Jacksville, Butler Co., whose health will not permit her presence, so that where in early days eighteen or twenty of the 1st and 2nd generations would be present but three are with us today.
      These children were the fathers and mothers of the children and grand children comprising this reunion.  To our mind it is eminently fitting that these fathers and mothers of the 2nd generation should be alike honored with the 1st generation, and each one as we come together at these meetings that they do so, in honor of their own dead parents, who have passed on, in the same loving spirit that they pay tribute to the beloved grand-parents.
      The history of the past few years indicates that where many more pass the celebrating of this annual trust, will devolve entirely on the "Children's Children."
      If we do this, these meetings will continue to increase in interest and each one will have the effect of drawing the family nearer together, heal all differences and bind with a stronger bond the ties of kinship.
      This is as our grandfathers and mothers would wish it to be and if it can that they can see an undivided family one and inseparable, meeting annually to their memory, it may be an added happiness to them.  It is now almost a century since these reunions were instituted by father McBride.  Let us hope that the Golden reunion of the 50th year will all those present who are with us today.
* Mary G. McBride Beisel, Historian, July 13, 1911 *

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