History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, 1887

Reading Family - THE READING FAMILY Biography

(I) Colonel John Reading, the founder of the New Jersey family of this surname, was without doubt of gentle birth, and enjoyed in his youth the advantages of a good education. It is thought that he was of London, England, or of that vicinity, where a family of that name had been seated from at least the Thirteenth century. The date of his emigration is not known, but was probably about the year 1684, in which year he is found in Gloucester, New Jersey. For some years prior to his coming to West New Jersey, he was interested in the movement to promote the settlement of the province, and in 1677 made his first purchase of lands there, consisting of one-sixth of a propriety (a propriety was one equal, undivided hundredth part of the province). The deeds for the same are not of record, but the fact is shown in later conveyances.

On his arrival in the province, he located at what is now Gloucester City, and here resided many years. The following year, 1685, he was elected a member of the assembly, and attended its sessions at Burlington. He became the owner of the majority of the eighty-eight lots into which Gloucester town was divided. In 1688 lie was chosen clerk of the county, the most important office within the gift of the people, and held the same until 1702, being annually re-elected. In 1693 he was granted the ferry franchise over Gloucester river, and on the Delaware river from Gloucester to Wicaco, Philadelphia. Colonel Reading was one of the largest landed proprietors in the province.

In 1681 a complete colonial government was established and a legislative assembly chosen, which body assumed the power to manage the landed interests of the proprietors. This continued until 1687, when the assembly declined further superintendence of the interests, especially belonging to the proprietors, and signified to them that they might choose a convenient number from among themselves to transact the business of the proprietors. John Reading is named in the agreement as one of the first cousellors, then styled commissioners and trustees, and nine others were chosen on the board. At a meeting of the council, held the following year, Colonel Reading was chosen a commissioner " to examine all deeds, take a minute of the same, and issue warrants to the surveyor general for the surveying and taking up of lands and keeping a record of the same," for the inhabitants of Gloucester county, or to any others as occasion may require. He was elected a member of the assembly of 1697, and attended its sittings at Burlington, and in 1701 was again chosen to the assembly, serving as clerk of that body.

In 1702, the proprietors of East and West New Jersey surrendered to the crown their claim to the right of government, whereby the two provinces became united in one, under the style of Nova Caesarea, or New Jersey. In the year 1703 the council of proprietors concluded to increase their landed possessions, and appointed John Reading, John Wills and William Biddle, Jr., their agents, to treat with the Indians, above Trenton Falls, for the purchase of lands. In pursuance thereof they negotiated with the chiefs, Himharnmoe and Caponnochon, and from the former they purchased a tract of land lying on both sides of the Raritan river, and from the latter land fronting on the Delaware river, amounting in all to about one hundred and fifty thousand acres. Some time between 1704 and 1709 Colonel Reading removed from Gloucester county to what was then the northern part of Burlington county, but which later became Amwell township, Hunterdon county. His estate lay on the Delaware river, covering what is now the towns of Stockton and Prallsville. His residence was at Stockton, where he established a landing known as John Reading's landing.

In January, 1712, he was commissioned by Governor Hunter as one of the judges of the supreme court of the province. December 5, 1713, he entered on his duties as one of the queen's council. He became an active member and continued so until his death. His life, which was always active and honorable, came to a close at his seat in Hunterdon county, in October, IM. His age was uncertain at his death, but it is assumed that he was over sixty-one. According to family records, Colonel Reading's wife was Elizabeth, maiden name not known. Their children were : John, mentioned hereinafter, and Elsie, who became the wife of Captain Daniel Howell.

(II) Governor John Reading, son of Colonel John Reading, and his sister Elsie were sent with their mother to England to be educated; they remained there several years. The education of the son appears to have been of a superior character, from the fact that he was a member of the governor's council at the age of thirty-two, and that he rose to greater distinction than did any other of the native born sons of the early New Jersey colonists. Little is known of the early life of Governor Reading, but it is thought that he probably assisted his father in the management of his extensive landed interests. He inherited a large patrimony, especially in lands, which with the estate he had previously acquired in his own right made him the wealthiest man in Hunterdon county.

November 3, 1718, he was nominated by Governor Hunter to a seat in the provincial council, and while the nomination was pending before the king he was named by the governor one of the commissioners to run the north boundary line between New Jersey and New York, and also to run the lines between East and West New Jersey. In July, 1719, Governor Hunter went to England and never returned. His Majesty commissioned William Burnet governor, and he began his administration September 22, 1720. On March 25, 1721, Mr. Reading was sworn in to the governor's council, which office he retained until 1758, when he resigned. On February 10, 1727, he was commissioned colonel of ye military regiment of foot. On August 14, 1727, he was commissioned surrogate for Hunterdon and Summerset counties, and November 6, 1728, was appointed by the crown one of the judges to try pirates. In addition to these he was justice of the peace throughout the time of his councillorship. April. 8, 1740, he was appointed one of the officers for Hunterdon county to enlist men in the king's service in the war then raging against Spain. He was also one of the commissioners chosen to fix the boundary line between the colonies of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

On the death of Lewis Morris, governor of the province, May 21, 1746, he was succeeded by Colonel John Hamilton, who remained until his death, June 17, 1747. Mr. Reading then became president of the council, and as such succeeded Colonel Hamilton as acting governor and commander-in-chief. He was the first native born Jersey man to govern the province. His administration was a brief one, being succeeded by Jonathan Belcher, of Massachusetts, who continued until his death, August 31, 1757. President Reading was still the senior member of the council, and the administration of right devolved upon him. Early in 1758 he received a letter from his Majesty's secretary of state, setting forth the purpose of his Majesty to vigorously prosecute the then pending war and calling upon the provincial governments to raise troops to unite with the King's forces in offensive operation against the enemy. He responded immediately to the King's calls and summoned a special meeting of the assembly for March 23, when he issued a proclamation for the raising of a regiment for immediate service. He also appointed a day of fasting and prayer. He proved equal to the emergencies, giving to the work his best efforts, and exhibited a degree of patriotism and fitness for executive service unsurpassed by his predecessors or successors in office. June 15, 1758, he was succeeded by Hon. Francis Bernard. On his release from public office, President Reading retired to private life, in which he remained until his death, November 5, 1757.

President Reading married, November 30, 1720, Mary, daughter of George and Anna (Schoub) Ryerson. She was baptized July 29, 1696, at the Old Dutch Reformed Church, New York City, and (lied in Amwell township, Hunterdon county, New Jersey, April 11, 1774. Their children were : John, born March 30, 1722, married Isabella Montgomery, died 1766; Ann, baptized July 21, 1723, became the wife of the Rev. Charles Beatty, and died March 22, 1768; George, born February 26, 1725, married Rebecca Mullen, and died August 12, 1792; Daniel, born February 2, 1727, married Euphemia Reid, and (lied October 15, 1768; Joseph, born November 23, 1730, married Amy Pierson, died November 15, 1806; Elizabeth, baptized January 31, 1732, married John Hackett, Esq., died in 1781; Richard, born December 8, 1732, married Catherine Reid, died in 1781; Thomas, born September 27, 1734, married Rebecca Ellis, died December 14, 1814; Mary, baptized August 8, 1736, married the Rev. William Mills, died April 4, 1794; Sarah, baptized October 29, 1738, married Augustine Reid, died July 10, 1809; and Samuel, born October 25, 1741, died August 18, 1749. Elsie, the only sister of Governor Reading, was born in Gloucester, Gloucester (now Camden) county, New Jersey, and died in Hunterdon county, New Jersey. By her marriage to Daniel Howell the following named children were born: Elizabeth, Daniel, John, Joseph, Benjamin, and Mary.

(III) John Reading, eldest son of Governor Reading, was born in Old Amwell township, Hunterdon county, New Jersey, March 30, 1722, and died there prior to March 21, 1767, on which day his will was probated. He was collector of his native county during the years 1745 and 1747. He died before his father, and the latter in his will made ample provision for the widow and children of his son. John Reading married, November 21, 1746, Isabella, daughter of William Montgomery, Esq., by his wife Susanna, widow of John Wood, and daughter of Samuel Furnis, of Burlington county. Their children were: John, born 1751, married Elizabeth Hankinson, and died in 1820; Charles, born 1753, married Abigail Hunt; Rebecca, married William Bennett, Jr.; Montgomery, born April 3, 1758, married Sarah Reid, died March 12, 1815; Alexander, born 1759, died December, 1820; and Mary, born 1761, died October 26, 1837. Mrs. Reading, the mother of these children, was born in Upper Freehold, Monmouth county, New jersey, in 1727, and died in Hunterdon county, January 9, 1800. After the death of her first husband she became the wife of Henry Bailey, who died in June, 1807.

(IV) Captain John Reading, eldest son of John Reading, was born in Hunterdon county, New jersey, in 1751, died there in 1820. He was known as "valiant John" and is believed to have been so styled on account of service in the Revolutionary army. In 1776 he was ensign in the company commanded by Captain Thomas Reading, was promoted second lieutenant in Captain Doughty's Company, Third Battalion, Second Establishment, and January 1, 1777, first lieutenant in Captain Cox's Company, same battalion. He retired from the army September 26, 1780. Later, possibly after the Revolution, he held a captain's commission, and in a suit in the Supreme Court of New jersey, November ii, 1788, was styled Captain John Reading, Esq. His will, dated October 20, 1815, was proved October 18, 1820. He married, April 7, 1772, Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Hankinson, Esq., of Readington, Hunterdon county, New Jersey, by his wife Rachel. She was born November 27, 1748, died June 19, 1817, and both she and her husband are buried in the graveyard of Amwell Presbyterian Church. Their children were : Mary, born 1772, died May 4, 1825; William, born 1773, died December 10, 1793; John, born 1775, died May 9, 1821; Ann, born January 29, 1777, died April, 1861; Joseph, born August 12, 1778, died October 2, 1853, married Eleanor Grandin.

(V) Joseph Reading, youngest son of Captain John Reading, was born near Flemington, Hunterdon county, New Jersey, August 12, 1778. He was a merchant and farmer. He served in the county board of chosen free holders, and was for many years one of the trustees of the Flemington Presbyterian Church. He was a man of unimpeachable character, and possessed the confidence of all who knew him. He transacted much public business, performed much in the way of settling estates and in aiding his neighbors and friends, and was always ready to espouse the cause of the weak or oppose the encroachment of the strong. He married, November 6, 1804, Eleanor Grandin, born September 15, 1786, at Hamden, Hunterdon county, daughter of Dr. John Forman and Mary (Newell) Grandin, the latter named being a daughter of Dr. Newell, of Allentown, New Jersey. Their children were: James Newell, born August 8, 1808, married Sarah Celia A. Southard, and died June 8, 1884; Mary Ann, born June 23, 1810, became the wife of William Woodhull Hedges, and died May 2, 1869; John Grandin, born May 12, 1812, married Sarah F. Woodhull, and died January 27, 1881; Joseph Hankinson, born August 25, 1814, married Sarah Anderson Evans, and died January 11, 1866; Philip Grandin, born November 13, 1816, married Eveline Evans, and died January 13, 1885; Elizabeth H., born 1821, died October 19, 1828; William R., born April 3, 1822, married Sarah M. Capner, and died December 29, 1897. Joseph Reading (father) died in Flemington, October 2, 1853, his wife died in Philadelphia, December 2, 1873.

(VI) Philip Grandin Reading, fourth son of Joseph Reading, was born at Flemington, New Jersey, November 13, 1816, died at Frenchtown, New Jersey, January 13, 1885. He was for many years a merchant and manufacturer at Frenchtown, and the treasurer of that town during the years 1877-78. He was one of the founders of the Union Bank of Frenchtown, afterwards the Union National Bank, of which he was for many years a director, and for some years president. He married, October 3, 1844, Eveline Evans, born May 16, 1822, daughter of Samuel Evans, Esq. Their children were : 1. Mary Ann, born February 15, 1846, died March 7, 1848. 2. Joseph Hankinson, born July 18, 1849. 3. Samuel Evans, born June 9, 1851, died July 5, 1853. 4. Charles Newell, born January 7, 1854. He is a merchant at Frenchtown, was a member of the common councils in 1884-85, and mayor of Frenchtown in 1886-87. He served as a member of the county board of Chosen Freeholders in 1891-92, was elected on the Republican ticket to the assembly from Hunterdon county in 1893, serving in such capacity in the legislature of the two following years. He was a candidate for the senate on the Republican ticket in 1896, but failed of election. He married Ella Frances Hunt. 5. James Newell, born July 17, 1856. He is a merchant at Frenchtown, in partnership with his brother Charles N. Reading. He married, February 26, 1879, Lillian Mary, daughter of John W. and Mary (Leidy) Fox. One child has been born to them, Charles Nelson, born August 13, 1885. 6. John Grandin, born March 1, 1859, mentioned hereinafter. 7. Eveline Evins, born May 13, 1861, married Hon. W. C. Gebhart, of Clinton, New Jersey, a member of the state senate; they have several children. 8. George Evans, born October 15, 1863. He was graduated at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, April 2, 1885, and settled in the practice of his profession at Woodbury, New Jersey. He has been president of the Gloucester County Medical Society, and is now secretary and treasurer of the same, also a member of the Medical Society of New Jersey, and the American Medical Society. He served as collector and city treasurer of Woodbury from 1892 to 1897. He married, December 22, 1887, Clementina M. Bates, born at Burlington, New Jersey, March 16, 1864, daughter of Joseph M. and Emily (Williamson) Bates. Their children are: Helen Whitehall, born December 9, 1889, and Beatrice Howard, born January 30, 1891. 9. Philip Grandin, born March 11, 1866, married, April ii, 1888, Laura Miller Fow, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth (Knox) Fow. She was born at Trenton, New Jersey, October 7, 1864.

(VII) John Grandin Reading, fifth son of Philip Grandin Reading, was born at Frenchtown, New Jersey, March 1, 1859. He was graduated at Lafayette College in 1880, after which he took up the study of law, and in 1882 was admitted to the bar of Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, and is engaged in the practice of his profession at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He was a director of the Lycoming National Bank, and is now president of the Susquehanna Trust and Safe Deposit Company. He is a member of the Brandon Park Commission of Williamsport, president of the councils of that city, and a member of the State Bar Association.

Mr. Reading married, November 18, 1886, Clara Fleming Allen, who was born at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, October 13, 1864, daughter of Robert Porter and Ellen Evans (Fleming) Allen. Their children are: Ellen Allen, born February 6, 1888, and Evelyn Evans, born March 29, 1893.

Mrs. Reading is a descendant of Isaac and Lena (Paulhamus) Allen. Isaac Allen came from New Jersey about 1794, and settled in the Valley of Lycoming Creek, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania. The line of ancestry is traced through the several generations as follows : Charles Allen, born in Hunterdon county, New Jersey, September 24, 1791, died in May, 1882. Robert P. Allen, born in Armstrong township (now South Williamsport), Pennsylvania, February 6, 1835, was educated at Dickinson Seminary and Lafayette College, and was an eminent attorney-at-law. He was a Presbyterian in religion, a Democrat in politics, and a volunteer soldier during the Civil war. He was a member of the senate of Pennsylvania two terms, and president of the Susquehanna Trust and Safe Deposit Company at the time of his death, December 6, 1890. He married Ellen Evans Fleming, who was born at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1841, daughter of Robert and Esther (Evans) Fleming, and a descendant of the Evans family of Gwynedd. Robert Fleming was a descendant of the Fleming family of Chester county, Pennsylvania, afterwards of Clinton county, same state. Their daughter, Clara Fleming Allen, who was educated in the private schools of the Misses Wilson, in Williamsport, and of Miss Anable, of Philadelphia, and a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Williamsport, became the wife of John Grandin Reading, as mentioned above.

Source: Genealogical and Personal History of Lycoming County, John W. Jordan, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1906.

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