Losing Certain White American History
In 1904 the town of Mt. Pleasant , with funds from the state of Pennsylvanis, disinterred the long neglected graves of Samuel Meredith and his wife and constructed a large memorial to the First Treasurer of the constitutional United States.
Samuel Meredith had served in the American Revolution and loaned the fledgling nation hundreds of thousands of dollars; he received huge tracts of land. One of those tracts crossing Wayne, Susquehanna and Lackawanna Counties; a tract of land that included coal deposits. He died in Wayne County in 1817. His only surviving son, Thomas Meredith, filed one of, if not the first PA state charter to mine coal near his cottage in Carbondale. The Meredith land holdings stretched all the way to what today is Forest City and beyond. The original deed for the author's property bears Thomas Meredith's signature. The Meredith family originated in Wales and were Quakers.
The author has tried to solicit help to preserve the Thomas Meredith cemetery in what had formerly been called Meredith Corners near Carbondale. Thomas was the only surviving son of Samuel. The sorely neglected cemetery is directly adjacent to a well kept Jewish cemetery and adjacent to the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Trail. Thomas Meredith filed numerous law suits against the monopolization of land, railroads and coal mining by the D & H Railroad. Samuel Meredith had been one of the planners and financiers of the first canal ever constructed in the United States: The Conewego Canal, near what is today Three Mile Island. The final nuclear reactor will be shut down in 2019; the dismantling will take up to ten years. See:http://www.history.com/topics/three-mile-island
The following from an article from Honesdale, the county seat of Wayne County dated June 7, 1877.
'In a wild spot, on the southern slope of the Moosic Mountain, in the northwestern part of this country, neglected and sunken, hiddenly rank growth of underbrush and briars the grave of Samuel Meredit the first treasurer of the United States, and that of his wife Margaret. Mr. Meredith was appointed Treasurer by General Washington, when he became President in 1789. Meredith was the son of Reese Meredith, a wealthy Welsh nobleman, who aided the American cause with both counsel and treasure. One occasion presenting the Continental Government with $25,000 to ameliorate the condition of the then suffering army. The elder Meredith and Washington had been intimate friends before the breaking out of the war. Samuel Meredith served as the treasurer under Washington eight and under Adams for four years. In the meantime, he became interested in extensive real estate speculations both in Wayne and Susquehanna County, having purchased 30,000 acres of land. His idea was to found a town near the Susquehanna County line, and he obtained a charter for one. It was called Belmont.
Welsh Genealogy of Samuel Meredith:
Richard Meredith of Prestegree, was in 1683 the representative of the ancient line of Merediths of Radnorshire to whom Queen Elizabeth granted the right to bear arms of demi-lion rampant and sable, collared and chained.
John Meredith, youngest son of Richard Meredith, was a woolen merchant of Leominster,
Herefordshire, Wales. He died in 1729.
Reese Meredith, son of John Meredith born in 1708 in Leominster, educated in Oxford, at his father's death came to the American landing in Philadelphia in February 1730. He entered the counting house of John Carpenter, second son of the well known Samuel Carpenter, member of the Provincial Council Treasury of the Province.
Reese Meredith married his employer's daughter, Martha Carpenter, in 1738. Martha died Aug. 26, 1769. During the dark hours of the Revolution, Reese Meredith gave 5000 pounds to help feed and clothe the soldiers at Valley Forge.
Samuel Meredith, first Treasurer of the United States, was a son of Reese Meredith. He was born in Philadelphia in 1741, at the corner of Second and Walnut Streets, in a house built by his grandfather, Samuel Carpenter.
(Taken from Encyclopedia Americana, Copyright 1949, Vol. 18)
Samuel Meredith married Margaret Cadwalader on May 19, 1772 at Arch Street Meeting House, by the Society of Friends. In 1776 he first took an interest in politics, served a term or two on General Assembly. He attended the first meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, who were at that time protesting against the rule of Great Britain. He was a Junior Major in a Battalion formed to defend their lives. He was made a Lt. Col. later on. His wife was the daughter of one of the leading surgeons of Philadelphia. They had six children. In a letter written to Col. Meredith by his wife, she says in part; 'General Washington invited himself to take breakfast with me yesterday. The children were at the table and behaved themselves exceedingly well.'
The friendship and intimacy between Gen. Washington and the Merediths was of long standing. Reese Meredith used to relate the anecdote as to its origin, which has been handed down to us in successive generations.
'In the fall of 1775 I happened to step into a coffee house to lunch. While sitting there, I noticed a genteel looking stranger sitting apart from the rest, reading a paper. I took the liberty of a friend to approach the young man and inquire his name. He replied that his name was George Washington of Virginia and that he was I Philadelphia on business in relation to the Indians. I invited him home to dine with us on fresh venison.'
This friendship lasted through life and was only broken by Washington's death in 1799.
On April 5, 17?? Col. Meredith was made a Brig. General. His military service ended Jan. 9, 1778 when he resigned his commission and returned to Philadelphia on account of the ill health of his father, Reese Meredith.
General Meredith took the oath of allegiance to the new State Government of PA August 7, 1777. In Nov. 1778 he was elected to the Assembly from the city of Philadelphia and was reelected in Nov. 1781. In the fall of 1779 he helped fit out the sloop named 'Mariah' -- commanded by John Lord, carrying 8 guns and 20 men. In the spring of 1780, he was one of the subscribers to a fund of $25,000 to help support the army. He was a director of the Bank of North America in 1781.
In August 1789 he was elected President of the Welsh Society of Philadelphia, which bore the title 'Royal Society of Ancient Britons.' On Nov. 26, 1786 Samuel Meredith was elected to Congress of the Confederation, serving until 1788 (two terms). On Aug. 9, 1789 he was appointed by Washington, surveyor of the port of Philadelphia, Sept. 11, 1789, appointed comptroller of the Currency, or treasurer, which office he held for 12 years and 6 months. During the first years he resided in New York, in a house on Broadway, opposite the Presidential Mansion. Resided in Washington in 1800-1801, when he retired, due to ill health and financial embarrassment. His private affairs had been sadly neglected during his official life.
Sept. 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Samuel Meredith commending him for his integrity and propriety to his duties.
General Meredith retired to an estate in Wayne County, PA, called Belmont. His estate was 20 miles in length and 2 miles in breadth and contained nearly 26,000 acres -- purchased in the years 1796 to 1812. He erected a dwelling on it, about a mile from Mt. Pleasant, at a cost of $6,000. Here he spent the remaining 16 years of his life in agricultural pursuits and developing his vast estate.
With his brother-in-law, George Clymer, he purchased vast tracts of wild land situated in Bradford, Luzerne, Sullivan, Pike, Susquehanna, Delaware and Schuykill Counties, also in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky -- in all about 500,000 acres. He died at Belmont on Monday, Feb. 10, 1817. He was 76 years old. His wife survived him nearly 4 years, dying Sept. 20, 1820. They were both buried in private grounds of the family on the Manor Tract, where now a monument in the General's honor stands over their graves.
We know of no better personal description of the General than the following; taken from a letter written by the venerable Alvah Norton of Aldenville -- a great grandson of Gen. Meredith. The letter was dated June 30, 1877. Mr. Norton was then 81.
'Received your letter dated June 20, 1877, concerning Samuel Meredith. In reply to your first inquiry, I remember an elderly gentleman attired in dress coat and knee breeches of navy blue broadcloth, shoes and silken hose, gold buckles at the knees and shoes, buff or white vest, ruffled shirt front and ruffles at the wrist, falling over dainty hands, hair powdered and worn in a queue and tied with a ribbon the color of his coat. In height about 5 feet and 10 inches, straight as an arrow, spare of flesh, a well balanced head, bright restless blue eyes under a well developed forehead, an aquiline nose, a firm mouth and a decided chin. I have often seen him walking the porch of his residence, hands linked behind him, with nervous movements oftentimes thinking aloud.
There hung, in the old days, in the parlor at Belmont a portrait of him taken, I judge, about the age of forty, which was considered by the family to have an exacting likeness.
Of his habits in like, I may not be a competent judge. He kept a colored housekeeper named Rachael, who I think came with the family from Philadelphia. She always insisted that after his death 'Old Massa' visited the sleeping rooms after the occupants were asleep to see if the lights were out -- an invariable habit of his as long as he lived.
His daughters were expected to take such care of their personal appearance as though living in Philadelphia. They were always in full dress at dinner. Three hours were occupied at the dinner table daily and ceremony was observed.'
One of Gen. Meredith's sons, Thomas, was a lawyer by profession.