Charles James Jessop


CHARLES JAMES JESSOP, M. D., founder and organizer of the Kittanning General Hospital, at Kittanning, Armstrong Co., Pa., a physician and surgeon of eminence, was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Dec. 2, 1851.

The Jessop family, from which he is descended, was among the earliest settlers in America. There are as many as twenty-five ways of spelling the name, that used by this branch of the family being considered the older English form.

In recalling the notable deeds of members of the family, it is interesting to know that the first public railway in England was established by William Jessop and that the principal law adviser of the ministry during the reign of Queen Anne was Judge William Jessop, whose writings may be found among the Harleian manuscripts. To Richard Jessop of Broom Hall, son of William Jessop, of Rotherham, was granted a coat of arms July 17, 1675. The same has been in the possession of and used by the descendants of Edward Jessup in their various and widely separated branches for a century of more. It is a shield with six transverse bars, alternately silver and blue, each silver bar with three red stars. The crest is a dove standing on an olive branch, in natural colors. For the reason that the Jessops of Maryland spelled their name the same as Richard Jessop of Broom hall, using the older English form, they reason that their earlier ancestors very likely came from the same part of England as he to whom the coat of arm was granted, and so claim an equal right to the use of the same.

John Jessup was the first of the name in America. He came here prior to 1641 and was a landed proprietor in Wethersfield, Conn., where his name appears on the record as John Gossope. With about twenty others he founded the town of Stamford, which he helped to build. It is probable that he came from Yorkshire, England. Prior to 1649 an Edward Jessope settled in New England. Thirty years later William Jessop established himself in Maryland. One of the friends of William Penn bore the name of Joseph Jessop; he was of great assistance to Penn during his dealings with the Indians. A Thomas Sidney Jesup, Major General of the United States Army, was born in 1788, and although too late to take part in the Revolutionary war participated in the war of 1812. Gen. Winfield Scott said of him after the battle of Chippewa, "He deserved everything which conspicuous skill and gallantry can win from a grateful country.

William Jessop, great-great-grandfather of Dr. Charles James Jessop, probably came from Manchester (although it is also stated that he came from Sheffield), England, to Maryland while the latter was still a colony. He was a collier and so described himself, and became manager of the iron works of the Baltimore Company. This company owned extensive tracts of land in Baltimore county. In 1753 and by deed of June 11, 1756, he acquired title to two parcels of land on which he erected a dwelling. He married Margaret Walker, of Dorchester county, Md., who with six children survived him. He is described by his grandson as being tall and athletic, and of an impetuous nature. William and Margaret Jessop were the parents of six children: Elizabeth,born Sept. 17, 1750, married to George Teal in 1770, died Sept. 12, 1814; William, the date of whose death is unknown, was born July 28, 1755; Nicholas, born July 5, 1757, died Sept. 12, 1807; Charles, the great- grandfather of Dr. C. J. Jessop, and of whom more will be said later, was born Nov. 6, 1759; Esther, born May 21, 1762, married John Ford, and died May 11, 1803; and Abraham, born March 18, 1768, died July 30, 1831. Charles Jessop, the great-grandfather of Dr. C. J. Jessop, the subject of this sketch, was born Nov 6, 1759, and is described as being a man of remarkable beauty of the manly type. He married April 13, 1786, Mary, daughter of David and Elizabeth Gorsuch, and died April 2, 1828, survived by eight of fifteen children, the issue of the marriage. His widow died in 1830, at the age of sixty-five years. Of the eight children, Charles, the eldest, was Dr. C. J. Jessop's grandfather. He married Jemima Buck, by whom he had eight children. He died about 1884.

Charles Christopher Jessop, the eldest of these children and the father of the Doctor, was born March 20, 1817, in Baltimore, Md.

On May 6, 1847, he married Eliza Sin Clair, who was born in Carlisle, England, Dec 30, 1823. He spent his youth and early manhood in Baltimore, later locating in Pittsburgh, where he engaged in the tannery business at a place adjoining the present site of Mercy Hospital. Here his remained in business until 1854, when he came to Kittanning, where he bought property, the present home of his youngest son, Dr. S. A. S. Jessop. The remainder of his life he lived in practical retirement from active business affairs. His death occurred Nov. 7, 1887, when he had reached his seventy-first year. He was survived by his wife and three children, Mrs. Jessop dying June 12, 1895. Charles Christopher and Eliza Jessop were the parents of five children, four of whom were born in Pittsburgh, viz.: Mary J. and Samuel, who died in early infancy; Dr. Charles James Jessop, the subject of this sketch, born in Pittsburgh Dec. 2, 1851; Mary Jemima, born April 30, 1854, who died in Kittanning Dec. 21, 1909; and Dr. Samuel Adams Sin Clair Jessop, born in Kittanning Sept. 10, 1856. The latter is practicing medicine with his brother. The father o these children was a member of the United Presbyterian Church, while the mother was an Episcopalian.

Through his mother, Eliza (Sin Clair) who was a native of Carlisle, England, Dr. Jessop is related to one of the oldest families in the United Kingdom. She was a daughter of Samuel and Bettie (Adams) Sin Clair, the latter of the distinguished Adams family of Carlisle, England, where she was born. She was drowned at sea, in a shipwreck in the English channel, and six weeks later his body was found and identified on the coast of Scotland, where she was buried. Samuel Sin Clair was a great historian, a polished and cultured man, and a gentleman farmer of wealth and position, owning a large landed estate in County Derry, Ireland, known as the "Six town lands." He was a member of the Church of England. His brothers remained at the old manor house in County Derry, Ireland, near Tubermore, which is still standing, but he came to this county at an early day, first to Pittsburgh and thence to Armstrong county, Pa., where he bought several hundred acres of land near Kittanning at what is known as Blanket Hill. There he lived to vigorous old age, dying of pneumonia when ninety-three years old. He left a large estate, and was survived by six children, three sons and three daughters, all of whom lived to old age. A prized heirloom, a facsimile of the Sin Clair arms and crest done in gold and colored enamels, and which had been willed to him as a lineal descendant of the knight to whom the arms were granted (before the Conquest), was sold by an unappreciative son to a Pittsburgh jeweler, who had so little idea of its value that he destroyed it to use the material. Thus a rare and finely wrought specimen of the ancient craftsman's art was lost forever to those who esteemed it most.

We find that "of those athletic figures in armor on horseback around William, Duke of Normandy, on that famous October day, 1066, nine at least were Sin Clairs. They moved in the inmost circles of his gallant surroundings." Dr. Jessop is a member of the St. Clair family of Scotland which was founded in the middle ages by Sir Walderne de St. Clair, a Norman knight, who married Margaret, daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy. Their second son, William, became prince of the Orkney Islands under the king of Norway, and high chancellor of Scotland under the royal house of Bruce. The St. Clairs were among those who wrested the Magna Charta from King John. In 1741 the St. Clairs exchanged their lofty title and island domains for the earldom of Caithness, which they still hold under the anglicized name of Sin Clair. Two of the descendants of one of those earls, through a younger son, were Gen. Arthur St. Clair and his cousin James St. Clair, Sr., the former of whom was president of the Continental Congress in 1787 and commanded in chief of the United States Army in 1791.

James St. Clair, Sr., was a Revolutionary soldier and grandfather of former Senator St. Clair, of Pennsylvania. His parents were natives of the North of Ireland, and he was born in 1741 in eastern Pennsylvania. He lived nine miles from York, Pa., where he owned a valuable farm and mill, and he was not only a prosperous citizen of his time but an earnest sympathizer with the Colonial cause, serving throughout the Revolutionary war. His wife's maiden name was Miller. James St. Clair, Sr., died in York county in 1806, at the age of sixty-five years.

Dr. Charles James Jessop has thur far spent the greater part of his life in Kittanning. Hereceived most of his earlier education in the public schools and academies of that place. Having decided upon entering the medical profession, he went to Pittsburgh, where he studied medicine with Dr. John Dickson. Following this he entered Jefferson Medical College, of Philadelphia, where he was graduated with high honors March 11, 1874, taking the capital prize in anatomy. Dr. Jessop has specialized in this branch of his work, and as an expert is the equal of any anatomist in the State. After graduation, he spent on year as resident physician of Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, where he gained much valuable experience, and he is now the oldest surviving resident physician of that hospital. He began the independent practice of his profession in Kittanning in 1875, and has been unusually successful. Six years later he took his brother, who had lately taken up the profession, into the office with him, thus carrying out plans cherished by them for years. Kittanning General Hospital, now a very important institution of this part of the State, was founded by Dr. C. J. Jessop May 8, 1898. Dr. Jessop has been chief surgeon since the organization of the hospital, a well- merited honor, and his brother is also on the surgical staff. He was formerly president of the Armstrong County Medical Society; acted as president of the United States Pension Board for thirteen years; and also as president of the Board of Health for many years..He has likewise been surgeon for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for eighteen years. Always a public-spirtited man, he exerted himself to secure the abolishment of a toll over the Allegheny river, which resulted in the bridge being condemned and made free. Dr. Jessop is one of the five who donated the property upon which the Nealton Brick Works now stands; the company which operates same (Kittanning Brick and Fire Clay Company) manufactures the finest grade of brick, which find a ready sale in all the States of the Union.

On June 5, 1895, Dr. Jessop married Emily Clark Campbell, daughter of Judge James Campbell, of Clarion county, Pa. (now deceased). Two children were born to them; Emily Mary, born Aug 4, 1896, and Charles Hallock, born Nov. 2, 1898. The latter died two days after birth, being followed by the mother Nov. 12, 1898.

Fraternally Dr. Jessop is a member of the Blue Lodge No. 244, F. & A. M., and Orient Chapter No. 247, R. A. M., both of Kittanning, and also of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks in the same city. He presented this latter order one of the finest, if not the finest, collections of Indian relics in the State of Pennsylvania. This collection was secured by Dr. Jessop through untiring efforts and the expenditure of much time, money and energy. The Kittanning lodge is deservedly proud of same.

Both as a professional man and as a citizen Dr. Jessop has always had in view the betterment of humanity, and those who have come within the range of his influence have been benefited thereby. It is such men as he who maintain high standards of efficiency in medical circles and the professional work generally.

Aside from his professional interests Dr. Jessop is very fond of hunting and fishing. He is an enthusiastic sportsman in every sense of the word, and being one of the best shots in Pennsylvania is always sought after by all sportsmen at the various shooting tournaments, local and State.

Source: Page(s) PAGES 416-418,
Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914

Transcribed August 1998 by Caral Mechling Bennett for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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