A brief history of the descendants of Thomas Trowbridge (1482-1525) of Taunton, England who came to American about 1630 and eventually to Virginia and West Virginia

Trowbridge Family History

Quick Summary of Fifteen Generations of The Family Tree Most of this summary information is from Francis Bacon Trowbridge's TROWBRIDGE GENEALOGY. I have borrowed information from the fine web site of Arthur Steele (see my Trowbridge links page) on the earliest Trowbridge's down to Thomas who came to America. Please see his web site for proofs I have not included on my site. 

1. Thomas Trowbridge, born about 1482 in Brushford, Somersetshire, England and died about 1525 in Taunton, Somersetshire, England. Married Ann about 1510 in Brushford. Note that Thomas was born ten years before Columbus stumbled onto the West Indies.

2. John Trowbridge, born in 1512 at Shalford, Essex, England and died about 1545 in Taunton, Somersetshire, England. Married Alice about 1537 in Brushford, Somersetshire.

3. Thomas Trowbridge, born in 1542 in Taunton was a wealthy merchant in Taunton, Somersetshire, England. He died on February 20, 1619 in Taunton. Thomas was once the mayor of Taunton. He married Joan Hutchins Lawrence about 1569 in Somersetshire. 

4. John Trowbridge, born March 25, 1570 in Taunton, Somersetshire, England where he spent his entire life. John was a wealthy merchant engaged in the woolen trade. He married Agnes Prowse. He died on July 5, 1649.

5. Thomas Trowbridge, probably born about 1600 in Taunton, England. He married Elizabeth Marshall on March 26, 1627 in Exeter, Devonshire, England. Thomas came to America with his wife Elizabeth and two sons. A third son was born in America. Thomas returned to England after the death of his wife but left his three sons, first in the care of a servant. Later a friend, Thomas Jeffery, raised them to manhood. Thomas Trowbridge never returned to America and died in England in February 1672/73.

6. William Trowbridge was born about 1633 in Exeter, Devonshire, England and died in November 1688 in West Haven, Connecticut. He married Elizabeth Lamberton on March 9, 1656/57 in Milford, Connecticut. William had ten children.

7. Joseph Trowbridge was born in 1676 in New Haven, Connecticut and died in May 1715 in Stratfield, Connecticut. He married Anne Sherwood about 1708 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Joseph had three children.

8. David Trowbridge was born December 30, 1709 in Stratfield, Connecticut and died November 17, 1768 in Morristown, New Jersey. He married Lydia Holmes on July 3, 1735 in Bedford, New York. David had thirteen children.

9. Samuel Trowbridge was born February 23, 1741/42 in Morristown, New Jersey and died about May 1823 in Frederick County, Virginia. He married first Jane Ruble about 1768 probably in Morristown, New Jersey. Jane died in November 1785 in Frederick County, Virginia and Samuel married second Christianne Dumire. Samuel had fourteen children.

10. David Trowbridge was born in 1772 in Frederick County, Virginia and died on April 7, 1864 in Kingwood, Preston County, West Virginia. He married Mary Grady in 1797 in Frederick County, Virginia. David had six children.

11. Samuel Grady Trowbridge was born July 2, 1801 Frederick County, Virginia and died on April 16, 1887 in Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri. Samuel married Jane McGrew on February 17, 1825 in Brandonville, Virginia. He had ten children.

12. James McGrew Trowbridge was born in Kingwood, Preston County, (West) Virginia on January 24, 1826 and died in Kingwood on April 3, 1909. He married Sarah Ann Snider on November 18, 1850 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. James had eleven children.

13. Luvenia Margaret Trowbridge was born probably in Kingwood on November 3, 1863 and died in Wadsworth, Ohio on November 8, 1940. She married Nathaniel Jonathan Westfall on June 20, 1880 in Lewis County, West Virginia. Luvenia had seven children.

14. Osa B. Westfall was born April 24, 1899 in Lewis County, West Virginia and died in Fort Smith, Arkansas on July 15, 1992. Osa married Arthur Edmond Corbett September 12, 1919 in Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland. Osa had six children.

15. Clara Luvenia Corbett was born January 8, 1921 in Copley, Summit County, Ohio and died November 26, 1990 in Wagon Wheel, Arizona. She married first Vivian Arlie Wall on June 14, 1941 in Copley, Ohio. Clara had three sons.

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Our Family Trowbridge Legend

One of the unpleasant circumstances that can arise when researching your family history is to discover that a cherished family tradition is without foundation. It is even more unpleasant to have to tell this to family members who have invested a lot of pride in that tradition. Such is the case with my Trowbridge family history. My grandmother, Osa (Westfall) Corbett, believed that her grandfather was English Lord James Trowbridge, and that he was born and married near Trowbridge, England. When I first started investigating this branch of my family I fully expected to find evidence of the English birth, if not the title, of Grandma’s grandfather Trowbridge. As I began my research, it quickly became evident that such was not to be. All evidence pointed to a long ancestry in America and at least three generations of Trowbridge's in West Virginia before the birth of my Great-great-grandfather James McGrew Trowbridge, who supposedly was the Lord Trowbridge.

At first I was hesitant to draw any conclusions based on my research, knowing the depth of personal pride Grandma Corbett had for this story of her ancestry. If she remembered accurately what her mother, Luvenia (Trowbridge) Westfall, had told her, it did not seem possible that the story could become so distorted in only two generations. After all, Luvenia should have known something about her parents’ histories, and probably even her grandparents. The question was settled, for me at least, when I found the Trowbridge genealogy in the Library of Congress.

Grandma told me that someone compiled a genealogy on the Trowbridge's many years ago and that some of the family in Akron, Ohio might have it. I decided to call the Summit County library in Akron on the chance that they might have a copy. In one of those coincidences that seem to border on the supernatural, the librarian that answered my call was also a Trowbridge descendant.

Yes, she said, she knew of the genealogy. It was compiled by Francis Bacon Trowbridge and published in 1908. Armed with this information I made a trip to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (we lived in nearby Fort Meade, Maryland at the time). The library had the book. It is a very large volume, probably five or six inches thick. I made several visits to the library and spent hours extracting the information I needed. The book contains over one thousand descendants of John and his son Thomas Trowbridge in the male line. My line extended nine generations in America to my great-grandmother Luvenia Trowbridge who married Nathaniel Westfall, my grandmother’s parents. The book makes no mention of English titles in our family line.

Why and how did the story of Lord Trowbridge originate? I can only guess that it was based on several things. There is actually a Troubridge title (one variation of Trowbridge) in England, created in 1799 to honor a naval hero. It is likely that Lord Troubridge of England was descended from the same remote ancestor as our family, and it may be that the Preston, West Virginia Trowbridge family knew about it. As late as the 1960’s, there was still an English Troubridge title, a baronetage, and the man who carried it was a member of the House of Lords.

It is certain that James M. Trowbridge knew of the genealogy published in 1908, a year before his death. The information on his family could only have come from him or an immediate family member. A casual reading might lead you to believe that the early Trowbridge's were aristocrats – they were not. They were members of the wealthy merchant class. So, where did my grandmother’s story of Lord Trowbridge come from?

Grandma told me that her mother often said that her father did not care much for hard work. Even though he was not wealthy, he dressed in fine clothes, rode in a fine carriage, and generally "lorded it over everybody." It is possible that people sarcastically referred to him as "Lord Trowbridge." My grandmother was only about eight years old when her grandfather died, but she did have brief memories of him. A seven or eight year-old would probably take those words literally. The mystery is why her mother did not correct this misconception, if my grandmother ever spoke of her grandfather as Lord Trowbridge.

I do not believe that we have suffered from the loss of a Lord in the family. We have traded a counterfeit English Lord for some real American heroes; ancestors who were in the American colonies only sixteen years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and who were very much a part of the building of this country. I firmly believe that the truth is the best foundation for family traditions and it is certain to avoid the embarrassment of a myth as easily refuted as this one was. I also believe that we owe it to our ancestors to know the truth about them, some of what they did, and what they handed down to us – especially if we desire that our descendants do the same for us.

Having said this, I have to admit that I never had the courage to tell my grandmother the truth about her grandfather. She was so proud of the tradition and so certain of the truth of it that I just could not bring myself to tell her it was a myth. I did not lie to her about it; I simply managed to avoid the topic until her death in 1992. I think I can be forgiven for this small transgression.

I cannot show independent proof of the Trowbridge line down to the Trowbridge's in West Virginia. Anyone interested in this proof should consult "The Trowbridge Genealogy" by Francis Bacon Trowbridge, New Haven, Connecticut (1908). I spent many hours extracting the information from this book and neglected to copy all the source references he gave. Mr. Trowbridge obviously spent much time and money on this genealogy. He used the services of researchers and genealogists in many parts of the country to gather his evidence, and interviewed family members now long dead. I could never hope to match his effort. I was satisfied, for my purposes, to "take his word for it." I do believe his word is about as accurate as one can hope for today, almost a hundred years later. However, I have included at the end of this history the sources that I collected when I first began this effort which support Mr. Trowbridge’s work.

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The Early History

In the early records there are numerous variations in the spelling of Trowbridge. They include such unlikely variants as Troubrugge and Troblebridge, even Sturbridge and Strawbridge. Today the most common are Trowbridge and Troubridge. People with the surname Strawbridge may also be descended from the same remote ancestors as our Trowbridge's

The surname may be derived from the town of Trowbridge in Wiltshire, England. It is just as likely that the town got its name from an early resident named Trowbridge. In either case, the first syllable of the name is probably derived from the word "trough," a natural channel in a stream and the second syllable is obviously from "bridge." The early English word for bridge is brugge, which helps to explain some of the strange variations of the name. If the surname did not come from the town, the first people to bear it probably lived near a stream running swiftly in a well-worn channel through the arches of a bridge. Or, perhaps the first Trowbridge male may have gotten his name because of some feat of daring at or near a bridge, or possibly because he took part in its defense during a time of war. Now, hundreds of years later we can only speculate.

In the early twentieth century Trowbridge, England was a thriving market town situated on a rocky hill, three miles long and one mile wide, rising from the valley of the Biss river. It was the largest town in Wiltshire. For centuries, it was an important center for the manufacture of woolen goods. Long before then, in A.D. 1100, the town was in the possession of Edward of Salisbury, a great Norman nobleman who was the sheriff of Wiltshire and who had an amazing thirty-eight manors in Wiltshire. In 1158 the town was an insignificant village but town records mention a John Troubrugge.

During the reign of Edward I (1272-1300) the Trowbridge family had long been centered in Devon and the town of Trowbridge in Crediton parish was in possession of the family. By about the early sixteenth century a Trowbridge clan was living in Taunton, Somersetshire. Thomas Trowbridge, the first Trowbridge to come to America, sprang from the Taunton branch of the family. Taunton lay between Exeter and Bridgewater, England. It is on the thoroughfare from Bristol and Bath to Exeter and Plymouth. Like the town of Trowbridge, the town of Taunton was a center for the woolen trade, which can be traced back to the reign of Edward III.

Born in Taunton in 1542, Thomas Trowbridge lived in the parish of St. Magdalene in Taunton. He was a wealthy man with considerable influence. He was also a very generous and charitable man and used much of his wealth to help the poor. In 1613, he established a trust with the churches of St. James and St. Mary Magdalene. The trust was to extend for a thousand years. The trust was still in existence in modern times. The wardens of the churches collected the rents amounting to six pounds a year when the trust was established, on two plots of land, one consisting of five acres and the other of one acre,. Twice a year, on St. Andrews Day and before Christmas on St. Thomas Day, the wardens of the churches paid a shilling apiece to 120 of the poorest, oldest, and most honest of the parish. At the time, this amount was the entire proceeds from the lands. The gift was to be used only for the poor and was not to be used for taxes. Thomas died in Taunton on February 20, 1619.

John, the son of Thomas Trowbridge, was born on March 25, 1570 and resided all of his life in Taunton. He was in business as a woolen draper. When his father died, he became the chief Trowbridge in Taunton. He was also a man of wealth and prominence. During his life he was elected mayor of Taunton, was a warden of St. Mary Magdalene church and a member of the board of trustees of the almshouse, founded in 1615. The almshouse (poorhouse) was one of the important institutions of Taunton. John Trowbridge was the father of Thomas, the first Trowbridge to came to America. John died on July 5, 1649 in Taunton.

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Thomas Trowbridge, Immigrant Ancestor

Thomas, the first of the family to come to America, was the son of John Trowbridge, a wealthy merchant and prominent citizen of Taunton, Somersetshire, England. His father and grandfather had long been involved in the woolen trade in Taunton and it was natural that Thomas would follow their example. As a young man, Thomas established a mercantile business in the neighboring city of Exeter in Devonshire. He found that the citizens of the town already knew and respected the Trowbridge name. The primary enterprise in Exeter involved thin woolen goods, such as serge, that was spun and woven in neighboring towns and finished and sold in Exeter.

In Exeter, Thomas found his bride, Elizabeth Marshall. The Marshall's were also a wealthy and well-known merchant family. Elizabeth was the daughter John Marshall and Alice Bevis Marshall and the fifth of twelve children. The wills of her father, mother and brother indicate that Elizabeth was kind and helpful by nature. Thomas of the parish of St. Petrock and Elizabeth of the parish of St. Mary Arches obtained a marriage license in the diocese of Exeter, recorded on March 24, 1627. They were married two days later in the parish of St. Mary Arches by parson Jeremy Short.

The register of the parish of St. Petrock’s in Exeter recorded the baptisms of four children of Thomas and Elizabeth Trowbridge. A daughter Elizabeth was baptized on March 6, 1628. She died almost two years later and was buried on May 10th, 1630. Son John was baptized on November 5, 1629, son Thomas was baptized on 11 December 1631 and son William was baptized on September 3, 1633. Baptisms usually occurred within one or two years after the birth of an infant.

Soon after the birth of son William, probably about 1634-35, Thomas decided to go to America, possibly to establish a branch of the family business in the American Colonies. He may not have planned to remove permanently to America because he left his oldest son John with his father in Taunton. Son John was only six or seven years old at the time. Thomas and Elizabeth took the other two youngsters, Thomas and William, with them when they sailed from England to Boston. After arriving in America, the family went to live at Dorchester, near Boston. They may have chosen Dorchester as their home at the urging of Thomas Jeffrey, a close friend who settled in Dorchester in 1634.

In the town and church records of Dorchester Thomas and Elizabeth are listed as "Mr." and "Mrs." Trowbridge. In the seventeenth century, this was a distinction reserved only for people of established gentility. Elizabeth was a member of the Dorchester church in 1637 or 1638 when son James was baptized there. James was most likely born in Dorchester shortly after the Trowbridge's arrived in America.

On the list of members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston dated in 1638 appears the name Thomas Strawbridge. It is highly probable that this was our Thomas Trowbridge. Despite its name, this organization was mainly a social club or fraternity. Thomas probably was inclined to join as an opportunity to enhance his business and social ties.

Thomas and Elizabeth must have found living conditions in the newly founded town of Dorchester crude, accustomed as they were to the comforts of a home in a city like Exeter. However, they lived only a short time in the town. Probably about 1638 Thomas moved his family to the plantation of New Haven, Connecticut. His name is not among those who subscribed to the articles of agreement at the organization of the church and political body there in June 1639. Thomas may have been absent from New Haven at the time, or, as this "Fundamental Agreement," as it was later called, required that only church members could be free burgesses (citizen officials of a town). There is no evidence that Thomas ever severed his connection with the Church of England and became a member of the Puritan Church, so he may not have been eligible to sign the document.

In the New Haven records his name is again nearly always prefixed with the title "Mr." His reputation followed him to New Haven, or perhaps the Trowbridge name was as well known in New England as it was back home in Taunton and Exeter.

The 1641 census of property owners in the New Haven plantation lists the Trowbridge family with five persons (Thomas, Elizabeth and their three sons). His estate is valued at £ 500, a large sum of money for that place and time. It was among the largest of the 123 estates mentioned in the schedule. Henry Rutherford, a prominent shipping merchant, was his neighbor on the south.

Thomas appears to have spent little time at home in New Haven. During his stay in New England, he was occupied with extensive trade between England, the West Indies and the Colonies. Elizabeth died while the family was living in New Haven and sometime before the fall of 1641, Thomas returned to England. He may have been recalled to England because of urgent business, or he may have returned to settle his wife’s estate. Before leaving New Haven, Thomas placed his lands, houses and estate in trust with his servant, Henry Gibbons, for the benefit of his three sons, whom he also left in Gibbons’ care. Gibbons was to manage Thomas’ business and give his sons a good education while Thomas was absent from the Colony. This turned out to be a terrible mistake.

Why did he leave his three small sons in America with a stranger? Perhaps Thomas planned to return soon; or, he may have felt that the boys were safer in America than back in England. In 1641 England was in the grip of a bloody civil war between the armies of the English Parliament and King Charles I. This Civil War lead to the rise of Oliver Cromwell and the English Commonwealth.  Eventually, the monarchy was restored with a strengthened English Parliament controlling the purse strings of the Kingdom. There is some evidence that Thomas took an active part in the rebellion as a captain in the "roundhead" forces of the Parliament and may have later benefited from Cromwell's rule. The war may have kept Thomas occupied for several years explaining his failure to send for his sons or return to America.

Back in America Gibbons gave so little attention to his master’s affairs and was so negligent in the care of the boys that as early as November 1641, the Colonial court ordered a lien be placed on Mr. Trowbridge’s property to pay the town’s taxes and to pay his debts. The court placed the children under the care of Thomas’ good friend Thomas Jeffrey and his wife. The Jeffrey's were to keep the children in their home until Thomas returned or sent instructions concerning their care. In either case, the court would determine "what is equal for [Jeffrey] to have for the keeping of them and in the meantime he will take care that they be well educated and nurtured in the fear of God." Mr. John Evance bought the house, which Gibbons had allowed to decay into immediate need of repairs, for £ 100 and the court settled the claims of the creditors.

For the next several years, records of Thomas Trowbridge in New Haven consisted of matters dealing with complications arising from Gibbons’ malfeasance. Thomas remained in England and attempted to manage the problems in New Haven from there by letter. There must have been something of great importance to keep Thomas in England rather than returning to New Haven to bring his servant to account for his negligence. At first, the war certainly kept Thomas in England. In 1645 an army of ten thousand of King Charles II forces attacked the town and began the siege of Taunton.

In 1649, Thomas came into his inheritance after the death of his father, John Trowbridge. As the only surviving son, he succeeded his father as the chief Trowbridge in Taunton. Now, even greater responsibilities demanded his attention and probably prevented him from leaving England. However, he wrote often to the authorities in New Haven to bring Gibbons to account for his breach of trust, but Gibbons kept possession of the Trowbridge estates in New Haven for many years. The situation remained that way until Thomas’ sons became of age.

His sons passed their boyhood under the care of Thomas Jeffrey and Thomas Trowbridge was evidently satisfied with that arrangement. They received a good education under the instruction of Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, the noted colonial schoolmaster, who taught the first school in New Haven. The records of the colony note that Mr. Cheever was paid out of the Trowbridge estate for teaching his children. The course of instruction for students at that time was that, "after they are entered and can read in the Testament; to perfect them in English; and teach them their Latin tongue as they are capable; and to write."

Soon after he came of age, William Trowbridge tried to have an accounting made of what was left of his father’s estate in New Haven. He presented to the court two letters from his father. One was dated March 6, 1655, and the other was dated March 4, 1658, and in them his father wrote that he "marvels that there is not an account of it given." This attempt to recover from Gibbons was a failure, but finally, on January 19, 1664, Thomas sent his three sons power of attorney, giving them his property in New England, wherever it was found, to be equally divided between them. It empowered the sons to bring Gibbons to account and punishment.

The sons sued Gibbons for possession, but the situation was so muddled that the courts could not easily accomplish a settlement before Thomas Trowbridge died on February 7, 1673. Finally, Gibbons settled the suit in 1680, "for sundry good causes best known to myself" (perhaps his guilty conscience). Gibbons made a deed of the property to Thomas Trowbridge, the younger (the oldest of the three sons in America) to take effect after the death of Gibbons. The deed included his house and lot, and other property, "including the bed and bolster I lie on." Gibbons died six years later and his brother, William Gibbons, refused to take out letters of administration. The court appointed Thomas Trowbridge, Jr. administrator and since Henry Gibbons had no children the courts finally concluded the matter.

The descendants of Thomas Trowbridge, at least up until the early twentieth century, tended to have large families. Wherever they settled in groups of two or more families, they soon populated the area with Trowbridge's As a result, today there are literally thousands of Trowbridge descendants who have Thomas Trowbridge as their immigrant ancestor.

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Descendants of Thomas Trowbridge

Please see the family tree for dates of birth, marriage and death of Trowbridge descendants who are not our direct ancestors.

WILLIAM TROWBRIDGE was baptized on September 3, 1633 in Exeter, Devonshire, England. He died in November 1688 in West Haven, Connecticut. William married Elizabeth Sellivant, widow of Daniel Sellivant, on March 9, 1657 in Milford, Connecticut. Elizabeth was the daughter of Captain George and Margaret Lamberton. Elizabeth was born during the 1630’s in London, England and died in 1716 in West Haven, Connecticut.

William Trowbridge is usually described in the public records of that time as a "planter," and later as a "husbandman" meaning that he was a gentleman farmer. In 1664, he appears to have been master of the sloop Cocke, making voyages out of New Haven. Probably about that time, he became one of the first residents in the parish of West Haven. He built a house on that part of the Lamberton farm that came into his possession through his wife’s inheritance. His share was one-sixth of the Lamberton farm, and it included all the land between the present day Campbell and Washington avenues from Brown Street nearly to Long Island Sound. William also owned 144 acres on the Sound near Oyster River.

William was nominated a freeman (a person having full citizenship rights) of the colony of Connecticut on May 13, 1669. The "First Church" in New Haven admitted William and his wife as members on April 28, 1686. He lived on his farm in West Haven the remainder of his life. He made gifts to his children during this lifetime of much of his real estate, so that the inventory of his estate mentions only 55 acres of "second division" land and a small amount of personal property. He made no will. William and Elizabeth had ten children all born in New Haven. Those children were: William; Thomas; Elizabeth; James; Margaret; Hannah; Abigail; Samuel; Mary; and Joseph. They were born in that order between 1657 and 1676.

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JOSEPH TROWBRIDGE, youngest child of William and Elizabeth (Lamberton) Trowbridge, was born in 1676 in New Haven, Connecticut, and died in May 1715 in Stratfield, Connecticut. Joseph married Anne Sherwood about 1708 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Anne was the daughter of Captain Mathew and Mary (Fitch) Sherwood. After Joseph’s death in 1715, Anne remarried (about 1716) to Caleb Fairchild and the family moved to Hanover, New Jersey.

During most of his adult life, Joseph was a carpenter and farmer in the parish of Stratfield, near Fairfield, Connecticut. He and Anne were members of the Stratfield Congregational church. They had three children born in Stratfield: Mathew, baptized in 1709 who died as an infant; David, born on December 30, 1709; and Anne, baptized on December 13, 1713.

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DAVID TROWBRIDGE was the son of Joseph and Anne. He was born on December 30, 1709 in Stratfield, and died on November 16, 1768 in Morristown, New Jersey. He married on July 3, 1735, probably in Bedford, New York, Lydia whose surname was probably Holmes. She was born on January 21, 1716 and died on January 27, 1792 in Morristown.

After his marriage, David settled in Hanover Township in Morris County, New Jersey. He was a farmer and probably lived in the west part of Hanover, which became Morristown. David and Lydia were Baptists in religion.

Trowbridge Mountain, situated partly in Hanover and partly in Randolph, New Jersey, derives its name from the fact that David Trowbridge and several of his sons and grandsons had their farms on and near it. Much of what we know of his family was taken from his family Bible, which was found on Trowbridge Mountain apparently many years after his death. David and Lydia had sixteen children born in Morristown between 1736 and the early 1760’s. Their names were: Lydia, who died at the age of fourteen; Daniel; Shubael; Ann; Samuel; David; Caleb, who died at the age of fourteen or fifteen; Mary Ann; Tabitha, who died as an infant; Joseph; Absalom; Tabitha, who also died as an infant as had her sister of the same name; Job; Joseph; Ann; and Lydia, named for her older sister who died a few years before her birth.

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SAMUEL TROWBRIDGE, son of David and Lydia, was born on February 23, 1742 in Morristown, New Jersey, and died in May 1823 in Frederick County, Virginia. He married first about 1768, possibly in Frederick County, Jane Ruble, daughter of George Ruble. She was born in Frederick County about 1750 and died in November 1785. Samuel remarried about 1786 to Christiann Dumire.

Samuel probably removed to Virginia in company with his brother David several years before the Revolutionary War. If he in fact married Jane in 1768 in Frederick County, he probably moved there shortly after the French and Indian War. Family tradition credited him with service in the Revolutionary War but I have found no record of this service. He may have served in a militia unit for a short time and if he never applied for a pension, no record of his service probably exists.

Samuel settled on a farm in Frederick County on Apple Pie Ridge, sixteen miles west of Winchester. He was a Methodist minister, the first of a line ministers in our Trowbridge family.

Samuel and Jane had six children born between 1770 and 1784: Elizabeth, who married John Lewis; Mary who married Matthew McGinnis of Kingwood; David; George; Jesse; Samuel Ruble Trowbridge. There were nine children born to Samuel and Christiann between 1788 and 1805: Bethuel; John; William; Absalom; Sarah; Lydia; Ocie; and Joseph.

Three of Samuel’s sons, David, Jesse and Samuel Ruble Trowbridge, moved to Monongalia County, Virginia between 1804 and 1808. They settled on the Cheat River near Kingwood. This area of Monongalia County became Preston County, (West) Virginia. At least one of the brothers operated a ferry on the river and the place became known as Trowbridge Ferry. These three brothers became prominent and respected citizens of Preston County.

Jesse married about 1806 Sarah Pugh, probably shortly before moving to the Cheat River. Sarah was from Pugh Town, Virginia and was born in 1790. She died in 1870. Jesse and Sarah had twelve children (see the family tree). Jesse died on April 4, 1865 in Kingwood.

Samuel Ruble Trowbridge was married twice, first to Margaret Grady, the sister of his brother David’s wife, Mary Grady. Samuel’s second wife was Susan Sheets. Samuel had ten children, apparently all by his first wife. In 1852 Samuel was one of the commissioners appointed by the General Assembly of Virginia to lay off the eight magisterial districts of Preston County. He was elected President of the proceedings at a county convention held in favor of Virginia remaining in the Union in 1861 in Kingwood. Samuel died in Kingwood in 1864.

Bethuel Trowbridge remained in Frederick County after his brothers had gone west. He died in Frederick County probably during the 1830’s. He had four children: Samuel; Isaac Scott; Lewis; and Lydia.

William Trowbridge moved to Ohio and died in London, Ohio on June 17, 1874. He had eight children.

John (or Jonathan) Trowbridge may have moved to Missouri about 1820.

Joseph Trowbridge moved to Ohio about 1836 and later to Frankfort, Indiana where he died on September 4, 1879. He was the father of nine children.

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DAVID TROWBRIDGE, eldest son of Samuel and Jane Ruble Trowbridge was born in 1772 in Frederick County, Virginia and died in Kingwood, Preston County, West Virginia on April 7, 1864. In 1797 he married Mary Grady, daughter of Michael Grady, possibly in Monongalia County (which later became Preston County). Mary was born in in 1774 in Dunkards Bottom, one of the first settled areas of present day Preston County. She died in Kingwood on May 22, 1849.

David probably left his home in Frederick County about 1804. His name appears on a petition, dated 1805, for the formation of a new county from Monongalia. His farm was near Kingwood adjoining those of his brothers Jesse and Samuel R. Trowbridge. In 1807, or perhaps a little earlier, David built a gristmill near Kingwood on the Cheat River. He was also a stonemason. At various times between 1818 and 1852 he was a justice of the peace in Preston County and served one term as sheriff. At that time in Virginia, the governor appointed county sheriffs for a term of two years. The governor usually appointed people of money and status, and the appointee paid a substantial fee for the privilege. Today the practice would be called bribery. At that time, it was a politically accepted method of appointing certain officials. This practice, however dubious, seems to indicate that David Trowbridge and his family were well to do, at least in comparison with most of his neighbors in Preston County.

The residents of Kingwood organized the first Methodist Episcopal Society shortly before 1815. A log church was built one mile east of the village and David was one of the trustees to whom the building and property was deeded. David served as a local preacher in the church for more than sixty years and his name appeared in the window of the church that replaced the log building.

Oren F. Morton, author of "A History of Preston County West Virginia" (published in 1914) says, "David, a miller, was a man of great force of character. He was sheriff in 1828, a local preacher of the Methodist church for 60 years, and so uncompromising was his opposition to slavery that he was one of the corporal’s guard of Prestonians who voted for Lincoln in 1860."

Mr. Morton also says of the Trowbridge brothers, they "… were not much alike in personal appearance. A roving, venturesome spirit seems a trait of the [family]."

David and Mary Trowbridge had six children: Katherine, born in 1799 and died in 1886, married James Bucklew; Samuel Grady Trowbridge, born on July 2, 1801; Eleanor (Ellen), born about 1803-04 who married Michael (Peter?) Gilmore; Margaret, born about 1808, died in 1869 and married Reuben Morris; Jonathan, born about 1810, died when he was fourteen years old; Jane Brown Trowbridge, born on August 21, 1814 and died in 1888, married Thomas Gregg in 1833.

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SAMUEL GRADY TROWBRIDGE was the oldest son and second child of David and Mary (Grady) Trowbridge. He was born on July 2, 1801 in Frederick County, Virginia and died on April 26, 1872 in Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri. He married Jane McGrew on February 17, 1825 in Brandonville, (West) Virginia. She was the daughter of Colonel James and Isabella (Clark) McGrew. Jane was born in Brandonville on April 3, 1805 and died on October 30, 1883 in Cecil, Pennsylvania. She apparently returned to Pennsylvania from Missouri to be near her family after the death of her husband.

Jane McGrew was the daughter and granddaughter of two very important men in the history of Preston County (see the history of the McGrew and Clark families in a different section of this family history).

Samuel Grady Trowbridge was a farmer and miller. He and Jane settled near Kingwood to start their family. In 1836 he moved his family to Evansville, Preston County, Virginia and four years later to Tunnelton also in Preston County. After the close of the Civil War, he sold his property in West Virginia and moved to Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri, where he spent the remainder of his life. His children were all adults by that time and it seems that most, if not all, remained in West Virginia.

From an early age Samuel was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and like his father and grandfather, was one of its local preachers; however, he never traveled in that capacity. He was an energetic, hardworking man, and made his family comfortable and contented. He owned and operated mills near Kingwood and later near Tunnelton and was apparently relatively prosperous. It was said of him, "He was an earnest Christian, a good neighbor, a friend to the poor and distressed, and a kind father to his children, to whom he gave a good education."

Samuel and Jane Trowbridge had ten children: James McGrew; Mary Ann; David Boyd; Isabella; Edgar Clark; Minerva who died at the age of two; Martha Elizabeth; Harriet Virginia; Susannah; and Samuel Henry.

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JAMES MCGREW TROWBRIDGE was born on January 24, 1826 in Kingwood. He was named for his prominent grandfather, Colonel James McGrew. On November 18, 1850 he married Sarah Ann Snyder in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Sarah was the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Albright) Snyder. Sarah’s sister was the wife of James's younger brother, David Boyd Trowbridge (unfortunately, I have been unable to learn her name). Sarah Snyder was born on July 26, 1834 in Green Glades, near Terra Alta, West Virginia. James and Sarah lived most of their lives near Kingwood, although the family lived for awhile in Lewis County. James was a farmer and miller like his father and grandfather. James died on April 3, 1909 at his home in Kingwood. He is buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Kingwood. Sarah died on January 4, 1918 in Kingwood and is buried next to her husband.

James and Sarah had eleven children: Albert; Mary Ellen; Anzoretta Persis; Catherine Isabella; Charles Ira; Sarah Jane; Luvenia Margaret; Joseph Madison; Signora; Thurman W.; Georgia Pearl (see the family tree for details).

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LUVENIA MARGARET TROWBRIDGE was born probably in Kingwood on November 3, 1863 and died in Wadsworth, Medina County, Ohio on November 8, 1940. She married Nathaniel Jonathan Westfall on June 20, 1880 in Lewis County, West Virginia. Nathaniel and Luvenia Trowbridge Westfall had seven children. See the Westfall family history and family tree for more information.

Ronald N. Wall
Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 May 2011