ROSS REYNOLDS

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ROSS REYNOLDS, late of Kittanning, was a brilliant representative of a family which has been foremost among the leading residents of the place from its earliest days. His grandfather, David Reynolds, was one of the first hotelkeepers in that place, and the family has been in that line there continuously to the present, Harry Reynolds, present proprietor of the �Reynolds House,� being also a grandson of David Reynolds.

The family is of English extraction, and the names is one of very ancient Saxon origin, in its early form a combination of two words � Rhein, meaning pure, and Hold, the Saxon for love. Arturs's Etymological Dictionary of Family Names says it signifies sincere and pure love, but may also signify strong or firm hold. The name appears as Reynold, Reynolds and Reynoldson (son of Reynolds). There are various Reynolds coats of arms and crests, that of George Reynolds, the first of this line in America, being: Azure, a chevron ermine, between three crosses, crosslet, fitched argent. Crest: An eagle, argent, ducally gorged and lined.

George Reynolds, the first ancestor of Ross Reynolds to come to this country, his great-grandfather, was born in 1730 in England, and came to America in 1753. He was a soldier in the French and Indian war, serving in 1755-57, and was with Braddock at the latter's defeat, at which time he was wounded, being shot in the neck. He held his finger in the wound to stanch it while he lay concealed from the Indians all night in the underbrush. For his military services he received a tract of land in Huntingdon County, Pa., part of the town of Huntingdon according to family tradition, being now on his holding. By trade he was a tanner. His first marriage was to a Miss Davis, but whether he married her before or after coming to America is not known. She left three children, namely: John, who died at the age of twenty; Esther, Mrs. Mann; and Elsie, Mrs. Ross.

In 1777 George Reynolds married (second) Margaretta Stopp, daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Fleming) Stopp, of French and Dutch Flanders, Belgium (now west and east Flanders). She was a native of Maryland. George Reynolds died suddenly in Huntingdon County, at a neighbor's where he had eaten noon-day dinner, in April, 1796. His widow, Margaretta, married a widower by the name of Alexander Moore, and by him had one child, Jane, born Feb. 22, 1803, in Huntingdon, who was married to John Williams, in Kittanning, where she died Feb. 25, 1883. Mrs. Margaretta S. (Reynolds) Moore died in Kittanning in December, 1823, and is buried in the �Old Graveyard.� It is related that one day when her eldest child, Mary (afterward Mrs. Henry Roush), was a young babe and George Reynolds had �gone to mill the grain,� she saw a file of Indians coming, and snatching up her baby fled to the creek, hiding under a footbridge. Her little dog that followed her she wrapped in her skirts, and say there in terror while the Indians ransacked the house, set it on fire and passed over the bridge. Fortunately the dog did not bark and the baby did not cry. When Mr. Reynolds returned he took them to the blockhouse, where they the neighbors who had suffered like misfortune lived together until conditions made it reasonably safe for them to build on their own land again. One boy who had been in a cornfield lost both his parents as well as his home, and Mr. Reynolds received him into his family, taking care of him until he was able to look after himself.

George Reynolds was of the English type, having light hair and blue eyes, while his wife Margaretta had black hair and eyes, her son David favoring her in appearance and coloring. With the exception of George (the eldest son and second child) all of the children of George and Margaretta Reynolds came to Kittanning, Pa. George lived and did at New Alexandria, Westmoreland County, Pa.; he was the father of Mrs. Nathaniel Henry. Thomas, the seventh child, lived and died at Columbus, Ohio; Richard, the eighth child (grandfather of Mrs. Maud Whitworth), lived and died at Red Bank, Armstrong County; William, born in 1783, a tanner, settled at Kittanning in the first decade of the nineteenth century. In an account of �The town of 1820� we find he had a leather store then on lot No. 93, later occupied by the widow of George Reynolds, his son. On July 4, 1846, at the home of George Reynolds on Water Street, the young ladies of Kittanning presented to the military company known as the Washington Blues, organized about 1845, a beautiful silk flag. William Reynolds acquired considerable property, married and had several children, one of whom was George W., born in 1808 in Kittanning. He passed all his life there and died in November, 1869. He was the father of Dr. Francis Reynolds, of Kittanning.

Ann, the sixth child in the family of George and Margaretta Reynolds, married James Pinks; she lived on the present site of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

David Reynolds, fifth son of George and Margaretta Reynolds, was one of the most prominent citizens of Kittanning and Armstrong County in his time. Born Jan. 17, 1785, in Huntingdon County, Pa., he was only in his twelfth year when his father died. When he was nineteen he was sent to Kittanning by his guardian, Alexander McConnell (after whom his son Alexander was named, his daughter Judith, Mrs. Dull, being named after Mrs. McConnell). He was with a trading post situated on land long since carried away by floods, nearly opposite where the Williams home now is, on the bank of the Allegheny River. Gong back and forth to Huntingdon he always stopped at Absalom Woodward's and falling in love with his second daughter, Mary, usually called Polly, married her. His name appears on the first assessment list, dated Dec. 21, 1804, as storekeeper, lot 221. In 1820 his �inn� was one of the eight buildings on Market street, on lot No. 121. Armstrong County was organized for judicial purposes in 1805, and the first court was held in December if that year in a log house standing of lot No. 121, the present site of the �Reynolds House.� At that court David Reynolds was one of the petitioners for tavern licenses recommended, and he and Philip Mechling were the first hotelkeepers. Mr. Reynolds first built a small log house where the �Reynolds House� now stands, but so many strangers traveling asked for a night's lodging that he was induced to enlarge his house and make a charge for accommodation. He called it the �Kittanning Inn� and it was the principal hotel of the town in its day. It was a frame structure on the north side of Market Street, near the corner of Jefferson, and its large front room was the chief social hall of the place and frequently used for public meetings in the early days. Many men of importance stopped there. Mr. Reynolds became wealthy for his day, acquiring the ownership of large tracts of land outside the city, and there were few residents of Armstrong County held in such high esteem, for he was not only energetic in the prosecution of his own affairs but a leader in public life. For some years he was postmaster at Kittanning. He was a member (elected) of the first board of county commissioners and in 1818 was serving as county commissioner with Isaac Wagle and Joseph Rankin, as shown by a document dated the 21st of that year. Other records remain to show that he was an enterprising and energetic man, and interested in the most important activities designed to promote the general welfare. An act of Assembly approved April 2, 1821, provided for and authorized the �establishment of an academy or public school for the education of youth in English and other languages, in the useful arts, sciences and literature, by the name style and title of the 'Kittanning Academy,' under the direction and government of six trustees,� of which David Reynolds was one. None was to serve as trustee longer than three years without being elected by the citizens of the county. The first meeting of the trustees was held the first Tuesday of September (the 4th), 1821, at the house of David Reynolds, who (when lots were cast as require to ascertain how long each member should serve) was chosen with Samuel Matthews to serve until October, 1822; Mr. Reynolds was again chosen by appointment, April 2, 1824. He was a Whig in politics.

A paper dated Feb. 17, 1815, in Mr. Reynolds handwriting, showing subscriptions to the amount of $76, states that �we, the subscribers do hereby promise to pay the sums annexed to our respective names for the yearly support of Re. John Dickey, as a minister of the gospel, for the part of the Associate Presbytery denominate Kittanning.� This was practically the beginning of the Associate reformed (now United Presbyterian) Church at Kittanning, which, however, was not organized until 1845. Mr. Reynolds did at Kittanning July 20, 1845.

On Nov. 7, 1805, Mr. Reynolds married May Woodward, daughter of Absalom Woodward. She was born in Huntingdon County, Jan. 13, 1788, and was but three months old when her parents moved to Plum Creek Township, Armstrong County. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds had their home in Huntingdon until after the birth of their three older children. Mrs. Reynolds died July 7, 1826, the mother of ten children, namely: (1) Alexander, at one time an iron manufacturer and banker of Pittsburgh, purchased the residence of Dr. John Gilpin, on the site of the old fort at Kittanning, and had his home there at the time of his death, Oct. 7, 1881, when he was seventy-two years, ten months old. The place was inherited by his son Alexander, who made additions to the old mansion and called the �Alexander Hotel,� under which name it is now being conducted; Alexander, Sr., married Martha Denniston, who died Oct. 22, 1888, aged sixty-seven years, four months. (2) Isabella married George W. Smith and moved to Maryland. (3) Woodward married Amelia Ross and they lived at Reynoldsville, Jefferson County, Pa. (4) Margaretta, born in Kittanning April 25, 1813, married Peter Weaver of Freeport, Armstrong County, Pa. (5)Mary married John Watson and they moved to California, where he died. Mrs. Watson returned to Kittanning, where she died. (6) Harriet married John Leech, of Leechburg, Armstrong County. (7) Absalom, born in 1818, did in 1881. His wife Margaret H. Mechling, daughter of Sheriff John Mechling, was born in 1825, and did in 1908. He inherited the �Reynolds House� now conducted by his son, Harry Reynolds. The latter has in his possession the old grandfather clock of David Reynolds, and also a desk, in one drawer of which is written and signed: �This desk was the first piece of furniture made in Kittanning, and was made in the year 1804, by Isaac Townsend.� (8) Eliza married David Patterson, a merchant of Kittanning. (9) Washington, M.D., a physician and surgeon of Kittanning, married Mary Ann Leech, of Leechburg. (10) Franklin was the father of Ross Reynolds.

Mr. Reynolds married (second) Jane Ross, who was born June 1, 1801, daughter of Judge George Ross, and died April 23, 1888. Five children were born to this marriage. (1) Ross, a farmer, never married. (2) Jefferson, and attorney at Kittanning, married Mary Gates. (3) Jane married Joseph Graff, a business man who came from Worthington, Armstrong County, where he was born (he was a brother of J. Frank Graff, State Senator). (4) Judith married A.J. Dull of Harrisburg, a retired capitalist. (5) Sallie never married.

Franklin Reynolds, son of David, was born at Kittanning in November, 1823, and did April 11, 1900. By occupation he was a farmer, and his son and daughter, Franklin and Lorena Reynolds, now live at his old home place, in the white house on the hill near the cem3tery. He built the home and moved there in 1855 and was engaged in farming at this place. In May, 1853, Mr. Reynolds married Mary Jane Patterson, of Carrollton, Ohio, who was born there in 1832, and died July 13, 1905. They had a family of five children: Ross is mentioned below; Maggie died Nov. 25, 1897, unmarried; Franklin, a farmer, has never married; Isadora became the wife of A.C. Bailey, and died Jan. 18, 1906; Lornea, who never married, resides with her brother at the paternal home.

Ross Reynolds was born April 4, 1854, on in-lot No. 128, Kittanning borough, and received his literary education at Lambeth College, Kittanning. He read law with the late E.S. Golden, was admitted to the bar of Armstrong County Sept. 3, 1877 and was actively engaged in practice thereafter until his death. He was also connected with business as one of the officers of the Armstrong County Trust Company, of which he was vice president at the time of his death, which occurred suddenly Oct. 1, 1908. Mr. Reynolds great success in his chosen profession entitled him to be recognized as one of the foremost practitioners at the Armstrong County Bar, and he was one of the most influential citizens of Kittanning, where he always made his home. His brother lawyers paid him the high compliment of consulting him frequently, appreciating his clear-sightedness and excellent judgement as only members of the profession could. We quote from an article which appeared in the Kittanning Free Press at the time of his death:

�Whatever he said, on any subject, was well worth listening to. His clear insight penetrated the most difficult and intricate problems very quickly and he had the faculty of dissecting any legal question brought before him rapidly and ably. His legal acumen was developed to a high degree . . . His learning extended beyond his professional studies, as many who have conversed with him on theological and medical questions can attest. His mind was versatile, making him a rare conversationalist; his reading was broad, making him an easy speaker; his studies were thorough, making him a user of choice language, pregnant with solid facts. He was a man who gained and held the love and esteem of all, and in his passing away we deeply feel the loss that all have sustained.�

�When the news was flashed over the town and county . . . . that he had died, there were few of those who knew him who did not feel that he had received a stunning blow. Right in the prime of his life, when his career never seemed brighter, when his great learning and ripe experience in his profession had advanced him easily but naturally to the front rank, death came to him; and with his taking away there exists a vacant place that will be hard to fill�. It seems incredible that we will see Ross Reynolds no more, that we will no longer have the sincere pleasure of his sociability; for to his fellows no characteristic of his shone more brilliantly than this. His keen shafts of wit, seasoned with sarcasm, only served to make him better loved by those with whom he associated."

Such was the high opinion of his professional attainments and personal character held by the members of the Armstrong County Bar and the citizens of the county generally. The funeral services were held at the residence, corner of North McKean Street and Union Avenue, Rev. F.C. Hartshorne, the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, officiating, and the remains were buried in the Kittanning cemetery. The court officers and members of the bar attended in a body.

On March 10, 1885, Mr. Reynolds was married to Harriet Hallock Campbell, daughter of Judge James and Nancy Jane (Hallock) Campbell, of Clarion, Pa., and they had two children, both of whom survive, namely, Emily Campbell (wife of Oliver W. Gilpin of Kittanning) and Isadora Hallock. Mrs. Reynolds, who died March 17, 1909, was a Presbyterian in her early life, but after her marriage she became a member of the Episcopal Church, to which her husband belonged; he served as vestryman.

Source: Pages 369-370, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed March 2002 by Helen B. Miller for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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