WHO DO YOU HONOR ON THIS DAY OF REMEMBRANCE? An apt question for the day, but those who fight to keep others free need honoring every day. Hopefully, setting aside a special day will improve the chances that will happen.
One of my childhood memories is visiting the Media Cemetary on Memorial Day to put little flags on the grave of my great-great-grandfather and my grandfather. Both served their country. My great-great-grandfather served briefly during the Civil War–as a Yankee: my grandfather served in the Spanish American War. Some facts about each, then my thoughts.
John Martin Broomall, my great, great grandfather was born on January 19, 1816 in Upper Chichester, PA. His father John Broomall came over with William Penn’s group and was most likely an indentured servant. One story traces him back to a John Broomhall kidnapped from either England or Wales at about the time Penn’s group was coming to Pennsylvania. Another story says the name Broomall was taken from the family he served as an indentured servant. He was married four times, John Martin Broomall was his third child and second son, he was a twin to Elizabeth Marin Broomall. John’s mother was his father’s third wife, Sarah Martin, she died three years after John and Elizabeth’s birth. Here is his obiturary, taken from One Hundred Years, the Delaware Count National Bank of Chester, Pa. He was a Director of the Bank.
Hon. John Martin Broomall , son of John and Sarah (Martin) Broomall, was born in Upper Chichester, Delaware county, January 19, 1816. His primary education was obtained in the schools in the neighborhood of his parents’ residence, and the higher branches he acquired at the noted boarding school in Wilmington, Delaware, of which Samuel Smith was principal.After graduation, for a time he followed farming as an occupation, but finally entered the office of Hon. John Bouvier, of Philadelphia, a prominent lawyer and noted legal author of recognized authority. On August 24, 1840, Mr. Broomall was admitted to the bar of Delaware county, where he rose rapidly in the profession and soon became a leader in the political affairs of this section. He was elected to the Legislature, and in the session of 1850-1 acquired a reputation throughout the State as a ready debater and exact reasoner. He was re-elected to the session of 1852-3 and in 1854 was appointed a member of the State Revenue Board. During the Fremont campaign in 1856, he was one of the most effective stump speakers in the Commonwealth, and was an elector on the Lincoln ticket in 1860, a place he held eight years later during the first Grant Presidential campaign of 1868.During the interval, in 1862, he was elected to and served in the Thirty-eighth Congress, and was reelected to the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses. During the stormy days of reconstruction Mr. Broomall took an active part in the debates in the House, in which his sarcasm, quickness in repartee, clearness in stating propositions, and logical deduction in argument brought him into national prominence. He was a member of the State Constitutional Convention of 1873, and in the spring of 1874, he was appointed by Governor Hartranft, the first President Judge of the newly created Judicial District comprising Delaware county. He received the Republican nomination for the bench, but at the election of that year he was defeated by Thomas J. Clayton, in one of the bitterest political campaigns ever known in the history of this county.During the summer of 1862, when Lee invaded Maryland, Governor Curtin called the Pennsylvania militia to the field. John M. Broomall was appointed captain of Company C, Sixteenth Pennsylvania Emergency Regiment, and was in command of his company at Camp McClure, Franklin county, where the troops were assembled, subject to the call of the National Government.When Lee invaded Pennsylvania in 1863, Mr. Broomall, then a member of Congress, was appointed captain of Company C, Twenty-ninth Regiment, Emergency Troops, and encamped at Greencastle, Franklin county, subject to the orders of General Meade. With the defeat of Lee, the United States mustered these auxiliary soldiers out of the service, but their presence had no little influence in thwarting the aggressive campaign the Confederates contemplated when invading the State.John M. Broomall’s enterprise in the development of Chester from a sleepy old borough into a thriving, pushing center of industrial activity, is a part of the history of this section. As a lawyer, he ranked with the leaders of the State bar; as an author he was epigrammatic, clear and comprehensive. As an all ’round man, he was conspicuous in his day. Literature, science, art were at his command in illustrating an argument or adorning his spoken sentences. He was an originator of the Delaware County Mutual Insurance Company, and served as its president. As a man of science, he was elected president of the Delaware County Institute of Science, a position he held at his death, June 3, 1894, aged 78 years, 4 months and 15 days.
Great-great-great grandfather was buried in the the Media Cemetery in Media, Pennsylvania. His name along with many other family members is on the picture of the tombstone above taken at the Media Cemetary. The community of Broomall, Pennsylvania (in Marple Township, Pennsylvania) and a small lake in Media, the town of my birth, are both named for him.
Other facts not reported above, his first job was as a school teacher. He also became a successful land speculator and this supported him and allowed him to practice law independently and to pursue a career in politics. Most of his work as a lawyer was pro-bono. He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Booth and had four children by her. Of those children one became well known in her own right as one of the first women doctors (Anna Elizabeth Broomall). Her picture is on the left.
My great-grandfather John M. Broomall, III died when only 28. He served in no wars. He was a lawyer and worked in his father’s office. He was married once to Elizabeth M. Cook, had four children, three survived. The youngest of his children was my grandfather. The only picture I have of my great-grandfather is as a boy.
My grandfather, John M Broomall III known to the family as Nonfather in deference to his wife’s dislike of being thought old enough to have grandchildren. He was born on June 26, 1878. He followed in the family tradition and was also a lawyer and at the time of his death was a common pleas court judge in Pennsylvana’s 32nd District. He served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. I don’t remember him as he died when I was three. His picture is below. I am trying to find a copy of both John M. Broomall II and III’s obituary. So perhaps more later.
The Spanish American War is thought by many to be a war of acquistion and aggression. Just as many think the same of our current wars. Those who served thought otherwise, and were serving a country they loved and wanted to keep safe. I honor them for that.
This has been a long day or trying to put together this post sandwiched between some other writing and a visit to Dan and Amy’s for dinner and a bit of child care, while they work on renovating their master bathroom. So forgive its incompleteness. It will serve more as a post for MY LIFE THEN which I am trying to put together for the next several generations.
Two other members of my family served state side during the Korean war, but both are still living and I did not get their permission to post their names, so another time.
Share, care, and stay strong.
IMAGEs by various professional photographers of the time and family members.