ABSALOM K. TOWNSEND is descended from the highly respected Townsend and Ulam families of Armstrong county, and his life is an illustration of the many good qualities of his worthy ancestors. He was born in December, 1826, on the old Townsend homestead, in Kiskiminetas township, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, and is a son of Henry and Catherine (Ulam) Townsend. His paternal grandfather, Isaac Townsend, was born in England about 1760. He was a farmer, whose father was a large land-holder, who by bailing out his friends lost all he had.
Isaac Townsend came to America about 1775, settled in what was then Westmoreland county, now Kiskiminetas township, Armstrong county, where he bought four hundred acres of land from George Wolfe, for which he paid about seventy-five cents per acre. It is now one of the most fertile farms in the county. He could do almost anything. He was active and energetic and was a man of good judgment. He was a democrat and was successively auditor, assessor and road supervisor of his township. He was reared a Quaker, but after his marriage united with the Lutheran church, in which he was an elder for a number of years. In 1780 he married Rachel King, of German extraction and a native of Northampton county. They had ten children: John, Henry, Isaac, Robert, Joseph, William, Polly, Susan and two infants which died. Mr. Townsend died in 1838 and Mrs. Townsend in 1847.
Absalom K. Townsend's maternal grandfather, Daniel Ulam, was born in eastern Pennsylvania about 1745 and moved to Westmoreland county in 1805, where he bought and farmed a large tract of land. He was a democrat, a member of the Lutheran church and an upright man. In 1775 he married and had eight children: Jacob, a hotel-keeper, married Catherine Lippincot; Peter, a hotel-keeper and cabinet-maker; Daniel, a cabinet-maker, married Susan Townsend; Elizabeth, wife of Barney Cline; Catherine, Hannah, wife of Jacob Hill; and Martha, who married Joseph Townsend. Mr. Ulam died in 1815 and Mrs. Ulam in 1839.
Henry Townsend (father) was born on the home farm about 1795. He followed farming, but in early life he drilled several salt wells and manufactured salt. He was a democrat, and a member of the Yockey's Lutheran church. He was a man of high standing, and on February 2, 1829, married Catherine Ulam, by whom he had ten children: Rachel, wife of James Leech; Martha, wife of James Young; Linus, married Mary Brown; Caroline, wife of John Whigham; Absalom K., Leonidas, married Nancy Brown; Abner (deceased); Willamina, wife of James Jackson; Harry, married to Margaret Sipes; Bethma F. (dead); and Hannah P., wife of Geo. Wilson.
Absalom K. Townsend attended the old subscription schools and is a well-read man, who is acquainted with all the current topics of the day. He has increased his farm (which is one of the best in the county) by successive purchases, until he now owns four hundred acres of choice land. He is a Jacksonian democrat, an influential citizen and a member of Elder's Ridge Presbyterian church.
On November 6, 1851, Mr. Townsend married Mary J., daughter of John Gamble, a salt manufacturer, who resided at Kiskiminetas saltworks. Mr. and Mrs. Townsend have been the parents of ten children: Linus E., born October 29, 1852, married Margaret Dunmire; Fannie C., born March 30, 1854, wife of Mitchell Steward; Henry B., born April 9, 1856, married to Jennie Fairman; Anna M., born March 4, 1858, wife of Henderson Lafferty, M.D., and is now dead; Margaret E., born March 11, 1860, was killed in a railroad wreck; Caroline W., born March 21, 1862, wife of James Neely and now dead; John F., born January 8, 1864; James L., born July 5, 1866; George W., born November 20, 1868; and Absalom H., born October 2, 1874.
source: "Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia Of Indiana And Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania"; Published By, John M. Gresham & Co., Managed By, Samuel T. Wiley, Historian And Editor, Nos. 1218 and 1220 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, 1891, pp 629-630