Watson Worthington was born on November 17, 1839, the son of Benjamin Worthington and Lydia Groom. His parents moved around, and Watson grew up in both Bucks County and Philadelphia County. In 1860 he was still living with his parents, at age 21. He married Elizabeth Cornell about 1867. She was the daughter of Alfred Cornell and Rebecca Jane Van Buskirk. Her lineage was quite different from his English Quaker background. She was from Dutch families that came from New York to Bucks County in the early 1700s, kept their own church and language for several generations, and only gradually married outside of their culture.
In 1870 he and Elizabeth were living in Warrington, Bucks County, with two children, Henry and Benjamin. in 1876 Watson’s father Benjamin died; Watson renounced the administration. In 1880 they were living on the Welsh Road in Bustleton, and had added Nellie to their family.1 In 1900 they were living on the Somerton-Bustleton Pike, with their daughter May.2 Watson was a gate keeper. They were renting their house.
At first Watson was a farmer or farm laborer. Later he became a toll gate keeper, first on Bustleton Avenue (earlier known as the Philadelphia Road), then on York Avenue at the Hatboro Gate. The life of a toll gate keeper was not an easy one. Typically they lived in a house next to the road. The gates were closed at night and opened early the next morning. On some mornings they were opened at two or three o’clock so that the farmers could deliver produce and animals to the city. In return for the toll which the users paid to ride on the road, the turnpike company maintained the road, which was an unpaved surface. The wagons wore deep ruts in the road, which needed to be smoothed periodically.
He was a toll gate tender for 25 years, first at Somerton gate, then at Hatboro gate at County Line.3 There must not have been any more need for him in Somerton when the Bustleton Pike was made a free road. Elizabeth died in June 1906, and Watson moved in with his youngest daughter.4 He died in 1919 and was buried in William Penn Cemetery, in Somerton.5
Children of Watson and Elizabeth:
Harry Clayton, b. 5 May 1867, d. 26 March 1935.7 He married Isabella Allen, born in Scotland, the daughter of James Allen and Elizabeth Louthers. Harry and Isabella lived in Lower Moreland and had daughters, Elizabeth, Gertrude, and Daisy. Harry was a mailman.8 Isabella died July 21, 1933.9 Harry died two years later.
Benjamin Franklin, b. 1870, d. 1943. In 1895 he married Elizabeth Scott, the daughter of James F. Scott and his first wife Jennie. The story came down through the family that Jennie died when Elizabeth was an infant, and James’ second wife did not want the baby, who was then sent away to be raised in an orphanage.10 Unfortunately the story did not tell how Benjamin met Elizabeth. They lived in Lower Moreland and had three known children, plus one probable (the infant Joseph born in mid-1896). Benjamin worked as a farmer, and later as a night watchman.11 In 1911 Elizabeth died, leaving him with two children, Helen and William Emmor.12 By 1930 Benjamin was living with his son William in Horsham, close to the Tyson family. Benjamin is buried at Hatboro Cemetery, but has no tombstone.13 Children: Joseph (possible), Helen, William Emmor, Thomas.
Nellie, b. ab. 1877 or 1878, d. January 1964, m. William Pierce; he was a printer of magazines in Philadelphia, according to the 1910 census.14. In the 1920 census they were on Sickles Street in Philadelphia, where he was a publisher. They are buried at William Penn Cemetery.15 They had no children.
Edna May, known as May, b. 1885, d. 1952, m. Wilmer Craven. In 1930 census Wilmer was the superintendent at a water company. They had children Walter, a knitter in a hosiery factory, and Shirley, 8 years old.16 In 1920 they were in Hatboro with a daughter Elizabeth Ann, age 13 and Walter, age 11. Wilmer died in 1969 and is buried in Hatboro Cemetery with Edna.17 Children: Elizabeth Ann, Walter, Shirley.
? Joseph Watson, b. 1896, died Jan. 1897, age 7 months. He was buried at William Penn Cemetery. This is a very late birth for Elizabeth, and is more likely a grandchild born too soon after the parents’ marriage and buried as a child of the grandparents. I suspect he was a son of Benjamin and Elizabeth, since in 1900 they told the census-taker that they had two children, one living (Helen). Joseph could have been the other.18
- Federal Census, 1880, Philadelphia County, Ward 23, Dist. 461, I 14, Watson, age 41, farm laborer, Lizzie, 34, Harry, age 13, Benjamin, age 10, Nellie, age 4; near Wm. Potts, John VanHorn, Franklin Margerum. ↩
- Federal census 1900. Watson was indexed as Walten Worthington. He was 62, born in born in November 1837; Elizabeth was 53, born in September 1846. They had been married for 25 or 26 years and had four children, all living. ↩
- His obituary, sent from a web source. ↩
- His residence at death is from his obituary. In 1910 Wilmer Craven was living in Moreland Township, Montgomery County. ↩
- Records of William Grant Funeral Home, on Ancestry, Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, image 3221. Watson was widowed, a retired toll gate keeper, the son of Benjamin Worthington and Lydia A. Groom. He was born Nov 17, 1839, died May 31, 1919 at Abington Hospital and buried June 4 at William Penn Cemetery, with “an auto instead of a horse for the hearse”. The funeral service was at Somerton M. E. Church and the funeral cost $153.20. ↩
- Personal communication, Helen Worthington Tyson. ↩
- Pennsylvania State Death Certificate. ↩
- Federal census 1910 through 1930, Montgomery County. ↩
- Pennsylvania state death certificate for her. ↩
- This was from my grandmother Helen Worthington Tyson, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth. It has not been substantiated, although James F. Scott did live in Philadelphia, where he was married three times. ↩
- Federal census 1930. ↩
- Joseph died at age seven months; Thomas died the day after his birth. ↩
- Personal communication from his daughter Helen Worthington Tyson. ↩
- In the 1910 census her name is given as Ella. ↩
- Burial records of William Penn Cemetery, in Ancestry, PA and NJ Church and Town Records, Phila County, Somerton, image 381. ↩
- Federal census 1930, Montgomery County, Hatboro, district 43, image 39. Helen W. Tyson remembered the youngest child as Dorothy, but in the census she is Shirley. ↩
- Findagrave, with a photo of their shared tombstone. ↩
- 1900 census, Montgomery County, Moreland Township, ↩