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Sarah (Jennings) Bookman


Ream Cemetery, Ursina

Sarah (Jennings) Bookman was born on May 28, 1846 on her father's farm on the banks of Laurel Creek in Ursina, the daughter of Thomas and Christina (Ream) Jennings.

She never learned to write her name and signed documents with an "X." Her first cousin Thomas Flanagan once wrote that "She is a funny kind of a woman and I have paid little attention to her as she appears to have some mental weakness." At the age of 25, she was considered an "old maid" and lived with her father on a farm between Ursina and Confluence.

At the age of 26, on Sept. 29, 1872, three months after the death of her father, Sarah was united in marriage with 49-year-old Civil War veteran and preacher Samuel Bookman (1822-1902). The ceremony was performed at the Ursina Church of God by Rev. William J. Davis. The sanctuary "was so full they could not all get seats," she recalled. Among the known attendees were Jane Hyatt, Frederick Dull and his son Frederick Wilson Dull,  Jerome B. and Mary Adaline (Rhodes) Jenningsand John Gehring present as witnesses. Gehring remembered taking dinner with the couple afterward at the Jennings residence. Many in the community gossiped about why he was marrying again so soon after the death of his wife. 

Sarah was 23 years younger than her husband and was his third wife. Samuel was a native of Lee's Cross Roads, Cumberland County, PA, and as a young man stood five feet, five inches tall, with a sallow complexion, hazel eyes and black hair.

Sarah and Samuel had four known children and perhaps more -- Eli Abbott Bookman, Ida May Bookman, Noah Scott Bookman and Margaret Bell Bookman. Records of family births and deaths were kept in a family Bible, published in 1873.

Early view of Ursina, PA 

~ Samuel's Earlier Two Marriages ~

Samuel's first bride was Catherine "Katie" Bishop (1817-1870), a native of Adams County, PA. They were married at Fayetteville, Franklin County, PA on June 8, 1847. They had five children -- Mary E. Dougherty (born 1848), George Andrew Buckman (1850), Susannah J. Bookman (1852), Barbara E. Bookman (1856) and one other who died young. Only Mary and George survived to adulthood.

During their years together, they apparently lived in Green Springs, Washington County, MD, where Samuel preached and sold Bibles. He also operated a shoemaker and repair shop, and rented a room to William Albright. In all, they were in Maryland for eight or nine years. Sadly, Katie died on March 2, 1870 in Cranesville, Preston County, WV, with burial in a cemetery in Salisbury, Somerset County. As their daughter Mary was in Ohio and had a newborn to nurse, she was unable to travel to the funeral. Katie's dresses, quilt and some chairs were shipped to Mary at around that time.

Portrait of an unknown youth, taken at Samuel's studio, Ursina 

His second bride was Annie (Nahn) McCloskey ( ? -1872), a native of McCloskey's Factory near Salisbury, Elk Lick Township, Somerset County. The ceremony took lace on Dec. 18, 1870, in Salisbury by the hand of justice of the peace Sam Myer. They made their home in the rear of a photography gallery in Ursina but were only together a short time. 

Heartache came again when Annie died of measles in Ursina on Valentine's Day 1872 and was prepared for burial by family friend Jane Hyatt. Annie was laid to rest at McCloskey's Fulling Mills in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, with Leroy Forquer helping transport the body on the train for Myers Mills and assisting in the burial. During this time, Samuel also earned income as a daytime watchman at a railroad tunnel and  traveled with portable photography equipment in order to make ends meet. Friend Forquer remembered him taking photographs in Petersburg (a.k.a. Addison), Somerset County, using a portable tent with wooden walls.


~ Civil War Injuries and Ailments ~

During the Civil War, Samuel served in two regiments -- the 2nd Battery of Maryland Volunteers, Company C which was merged into the Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Independent Battery C. He joined the Maryland regiment on Nov. 2, 1861 at Clearspring, Washington County, MD for a term of three years. On March 25, 1862, while on duty one night near Blue Ridge Mountain in Pennsylvania, he was injured when an ammunition wagon he was walking beside collided with a fence, with a rail swiveling and striking his head. 

While in Warrington Junction, VA in May 1862 he became ill with diarrhea. Capt. John Thompson of the regiment recalled that their camp was "in a very unhealthy camp covered over with offal of cattle slaughtered by the troops who previously occupied the ground and the water we used was obtained by sinking empty barrels in the swamp ground, consequently nothing but surface drainage and filthy." Samuel became so ill that he was left behind on May 29, 1862 when the unit marched from Centerville to Front Royal. He was moved to Carver Hospital in Washington, DC on June 1, 1862 and was treated there for three months until about Aug. 31, 1862. He then was shipped to an army hospital on David's Island, NY, where he remained stricken with diarrhea and hemorrhoids for 12 weeks. 

He received a disability discharge on a surgeon's certificate on Nov. 4, 1862, in New York City, and returned home to Green Spring Furnace, MD. On Sept. 28, 1864, he was drafted back into the army and assigned to the 5th Maryland Volunteers, Company C. During a heavy march near Richmond in April 1865, he was afflicted with a hernia on his right side. At the end of the war, at Fortress Monroe, VA, he received an honorable discharge on June 14, 1865.

After the war, in the spring of 1866, he was named minister in charge of the Salisbury Circuit of the Evangelical Association of North America. One of his duties was to travel in the Preston Circuit of the Pittsburgh Conference. Leroy Forquer, who would meet him again in Somerset County a few years later, heard him preach in Possum Hollow in Preston County, WV, five or six miles from Cranberry Summit. One of his parishioners was B.A. Fichtner, M.D., who later became the family physician. During their years of friendship, Dr. Fichtner wrote that Samuel "was a sufferer from muscular rheumatism and occasional diarrhea both of which greatly interfere with the performance of manual laborer." Another friend, Samuel M. Baumgardner of Elk Lick Township, heard Samuel complain about his health. Samuel preached for three years after the war. 


~ Sarah and Samuel's Rocky Marriage ~

After the death of his second wife, Samuel began to call on Sarah. Recalled her sister in law Mary Jennings: 

I first knew Samuel Bookman when he came to this town with his second wife and lived with her here and was taking pictures and she had not been here long when she died. I can not give the date of her death, but I knew of the fact that she died here and it was not long after she died, I could not tell you how many months, when Samuel Bookman came to see Sarah who was then living with us.

The couple dwelled in 1876 in the photography studio at the corner of Park Street and Maple Alley. They were just two buildings away from a drug store, a block from the Lutheran Church and two blocks from the North Fork Creek. The location is shown in Beers' 1876 Atlas of Somerset County.


Bookman residence in Ursina, from the 1876 Somerset County Atlas



Detail, 1876 Somerset County Atlas

In 1876, four years into their marriage, Samuel's daughter came from Ohio for a visit of less than a day during the nation's centennial celebration. Sarah recalled the visit: 

I did not tell Mary when she came to our house in Ursina that I was married to her father and her father did not say to her in my presence that I was his wife. I did not try to keep from Mary the knowledge that I was her father's wife and did not represent to her that I was employed by her father in any capacity whatever. I do not know whether as fact Mary was then and there informed that I was her Father's wife but previous to that time she had been written to by her father that he had married me and moreover at the time Mary called ... at our house and remained there from 4 o'clock one afternoon until 12 o'clock at night I had three little children there at home with me.

That same year, unable to keep up with their debts, the Bookmans moved from Ursina to a farm. When the federal census count was taken in 1880, their residence was in Lower Turkeyfoot, where 57-year-old Samuel was a laborer, and the family name spelled "Bookman." They rented a small farm from Thomas Kylar of Confluence in about 1879 and another farm from Hiram Frantz in 1881. They also lived for a time in nearby Addison. Kylar commented about Samuel that he "could not be depended on to work. If you would ask him to work for you he would say that he would come and work for you the next day if he was able. Some days he would feel poorly and then maybe the next day he would not be able to work." Frantz noted that Samuel "could not pitch hay" but had helped "gather his crop of corn." Samuel claimed that the wartime head injury caused a dull pain in his head, ringing in his ears and giddiness. 


Somerset Herald, Oct. 4, 1882

Tragedy enveloped the family in the fall of 1882. The Somerset Herald issue of Oct. 4, 1882 reported from Ursina that "The family of S. Bookman gathered and ate poisonous mushrooms. Two of the children have died and Mrs. Bookman and another child are not expected to recover from the fatal dose. Mr. Bookman has recovered, having vomited immediately after eating the poisonous dish." Whether or not the poisonings were intentional, or suicidal, is not known. Many years later, in 1926, the Meyersdale Republican reported erroneously that the three children and father had "died of poisoning, the [father] having gathered toadstools and mistaken them for mushrooms."

Later that year, they moved to nearby Addison Township, and thence to Buffalo Mills and Boydstown, Bedford County.

By 1884, it was clear that the Bookmans were not profitable in farmwork, and friends noted that it was Sarah whose work supported the family. They lost the farm, and in April 1885, the couple was admitted to the County Home of Bedford, PA. They were transferred three months later (in July 1885) to the County Home of Somerset, PA. During the time they were in the Somerset County Home, their friend Leroy Forquer paid a visit, and friend Mitchell McClintock saw Samuel "a dozen times a day," often while running to the privy. The bowel problems contracted during the war continued to plague Samuel, and he applied for a military pension as compensation for his wartime ailments. Noah Scott and B.F. Snyder of Ursina and alms house friends Mitchell McClintock and John F. Walker of Somerset wrote affidavits supporting his claims of debility.

About that time, Samuel was awarded a pension for his Civil War service, and evidence suggests he was not about to share any of it with his wife. On Sept. 20, 1885, he and Sarah separated and left the Poor House, she returning to Ursina, and he going to see his children in Columbus, Ohio. They apparently never communicated again. He stayed for a year with his daughter Mary Dougherty, and then returned three more times during the balance of his life. He told his daughter that his wife's "mind had failed her and it was on account of the accidental poisoning of their two children from poisonous mushrooms -- that he had gone with her to the Poor House where he did the cobbling etc., and she left him there and that they never lived together again."


Somerset County Poor House where Samuel and Sarah were admitted in 1885


~ Marital Separation and Final Years~

In December 1887, he filed for divorce, but the request was not granted when she would not sign her consent. He tried a second time, sending constable George Menhart to her home in Bear Run/Mill Run, Fayette County to serve her with papers, but again she refused.

When interviewed by a government investigator in June 1887, Samuel was described as being "looked on as a good harmless old man."

In January 1886, the Herald reported that 40-year-old "Sarah Bookman" formally had been admitted to the Somerset County Poor House, with their three-year-old daughter Margaret Bookman having entered the facility the previous July. The Herald noted on Dec. 15, 1886 that Sarah "eloped Jan. 24 '86." 

Records show that once Sarah left the poor house, she then returned to Ursina and stayed with her brother Jerome for a time. Several decades later, Jerome's wife Mary recalled that "she said she had left as she did not want to stay there any longer and I went back there with her to get some of her clothes, I don't know why she did not bring her clothes when she left there first, and then she went to work, worked out...." Sarah then lived in a variety of places, among them Ursina, Grantsville, Garrett County, MD, Greenbrier, Fayette County, PA and Bear Run/Mill Run, Fayette County, PA (1897). She remained in Mill Run at least through 1904. To earn a living, she said, "I have worked wherever I could get anything to do, and am at present living with a family by name of McCuens [McCune] near Mill Run.... I have no income and have no personal property of any description. I have to depend upon my own labor for support." 

After separating from Sarah, Samuel made his home in many places, as recorded by government investigators: Columbus, OH (1890), West Jefferson, Madison County, OH (1890), Walnut Bottom, Cumberland County, PA (1891-1894), Caprivi and Carlisle, Cumberland County (1898-1902). At Walnut Bottom, he made his home with a nephew William C. Bughman and at Caprivi/Carlisle with another nephew, farmer S. Park Baughman. In noting the spelling variation between Bookman and Bughman, a government investigator said that "Bughman" was "probably the original German spelling of the name."

Samuel spent his final time on earth at the home of his daughter Mary in Galloway, OH. There, he died on Oct. 4, 1902, at the age of 80. His remains were placed into eternal rest in Prairie Township Cemetery in Alton, OH. A military-issue stone was set at the grave. [Find-a-Grave]

Once she learned that her husband was dead, Sarah filed an application to receive his Civil War pension payments. Writing affidavits of support were her brother Jerome B. Jennings, lifelong friend LeRoy Forquer (of the family of Frederick and Margaret "Peggy" [Faidley] Dull) and cousin Thomas Flanigan (of the family of Thomas and Barbara [Haines] Ream Sr.). One investigator noted that she "has a 'screw' loose."

The Meyersdale Republican reported on her whereabouts for the remaining 24 years of her life, at the end of which she was drawing $30 per month in pension payments: "After the death of her husband, Mrs. Bookman lived at Ursina for a number of years at the home of the late Mrs. Sarah Sellers and daughter, Mrs. W.J. Boal. Since the ldeath of the former and the removal of the latter to Uniontown, she lived at the home of Frank May."

Suffering from senility and bronchial pneumonia, she died on March 18, 1926, at the age of 79. Interment was in the Ream Cemetery, following funeral services held at the Ursina Church of God, with Rev. L.H. Powell officiating. Mary Morrison of Ursina signed the Pennsylvania death certificate. [Find-a-Grave] In an obituary, the Republican reported that "Her parents and those of the late Norman B. Ream were the pioneer settlers of this section of the Turkeyfoot region. The late Squire Jerome R. [sic] Jennings, for many years a justice of the peace of Ursina, was her brother."


Ream Cemetery entrance, circa July 2016


~ Stepdaughter Mary Elizabeth (Bookman) Dougherty ~

Stepdaughter Mary Elizabeth Bookman (1848-1940) was born on March 17, 1848.

She married Jacob Keller Dougherty (1844-1915). They were farmers and resided in West Jefferson, OH and Galloway, Franklin County, OH. When her mother died in 1870, Mary was in West Jefferson and had a newborn baby, and was unable to return to Somerset County for the funeral. 

She did see her father again in 1876 when stopping in Ursina for a few hours while traveling during the nation's centennial celebration. During that visit, Mary met her stepmother Sarah and said "my relations with her that day were pleasant enough -- that is the only time I ever met her." 

From the mid-1880s to about 1902, her father came for visits at intervals of time, and Mary provided him with nursing and board. 

Stricken with obstruction of his bladder, Jacob died on Sept. 22, 1915 at the age of 70. 

In her final years, Mary resided in Galloway. Mary died on Jan. 13, 1940, at the age of 91, due to exhaustion of old age. She rests in the Alton Cemetery in Franklin County. Mrs. Carl Dellinger of Galloway signed her official Ohio death certificate.


~ Stepson George Andrew Bookman ~

Stepson George Andrew Bookman (1850-1905?), also known as "George W. Bookman," was born on March 21, 1850. In 1870, at the age of 24, he was a photographer and lived with his 47-year-old father in Salisbury, Somerset County. The Somerset Herald reported in early December 1873 that "Improvements still go on slowly in our town. Mr. Bookman will soon be ready to occupy his new house; he is pushing the work rapidly day and night. He intends opening a photographic gallery in his new building." 

As an adult, George resided in Columbus, Franklin County, OH and then in Carlisle, PA. 

He later went to St. Louis, MO. His last known address was 5576 Vernon Avenue in St. Louis. In 1905, he disappeared "mysteriously" in St. Louis when coming home from a nighttime lodge meeting. Friends found his coat, hat and watch chain and believed he had been murdered.

More will be added here when learned.


~ Stepdaughter Susanna J. Bookman ~

Stepdaughter Susanna J. Bookman (1852-1862) was born on July 27, 1852.

At the age of 10, she succumbed on March 9, 1862, presumably in Clear Springs, Washington County, MD, just four days after the death of her younger sister Barbara.


~ Stepdaughter Barbara E. Bookman ~

Stepdaughter Barbara E. Bookman (1856-1862) was born on Dec. 29, 1856.

She died on March 5, 1862 near Clear Springs, Washington County, MD, at the age of five.


~ Son Eli Abbott Bookman ~

Son Eli Abbott Bookman (1874-1882) was born on Feb. 20, 1874 in Ursina.

He died on Oct. 1, 1882, at the age of eight, apparently a victim of the poisonous mushrooms he consumed.

Burial was in Confluence Borough Cemetery. Dates of his birth and death were recorded in the family Bible.


~ Daughter Ida May Bookman ~

Daughter Ida May Bookman (1876-1882) was born on June 18, 1876.

She passed away on Sept. 30, 1882 (though erroneously written as "1872" in the family Bible) at the age of six.

Her death occurred in Addison Township, Somerset County, with burial in Confluence Borough Cemetery.


~ Son Noah Scott Bookman ~

Son Noah Scott Bookman (1878-1896) was born on Dec. 7, 1878 in Ursina or nearby Addison Township. He appears to have been named for a neighbor of the family's from Ursina.

When two of his siblings died of poisonous mushrooms in 1882, he would only have been three years of age. It's believed that his mind was badly damaged by the toxins in the mushrooms. 

Demonstrating unstable behavior, he was admitted at the eight of eight to the Somerset County Poor House and later transferred on June 12, 1887 to the Feeble Minded School at Elwyn, Delaware County, PA. There, at Elwyn, he remained for nine years. Noah's name was printed annually in the Somerset (PA) Herald as the county contributed more than $20 a year for his support.

In 1892, Noah wove "several yards of beautiful Torchon lace" which the Elwyn school superintendent sent to the Somerset poor house directors. Said the Herald, "The lace had been made by Noah Bookman, a feeble minded lad from this county, who has been an inmate of that institution for several years, and is an evidence that the latent sparks of intelligence in his mental make up are being aroused." 

Sadly, Noah died in the school on Aug. 13, 1896, at age 14. His remains were placed into rest in grave no. 264 in the Elwyn Training School Cemetery. It's located on the south side of Baltimore Pike west of Ridley Creek in Middletown Township. Circa 1936, laborers with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) recorded its location. More of his tragic story will be added when learned.


Margaret's grave marker,
Christ Casebeer Cemetery

~ Daughter Margaret Bell Bookman ~

Daughter Margaret Bell Bookman (1883-1889) was born on Jan. 28, 1883.

Her mother Sarah was pregnant with Margaret when she tried to poison her husband and children with mushrooms in the fall of 1882.

During her first few years of life, Margaret moved with her parents from Ursina, Somerset County to nearby Addison Township, and thence to Buffalo Mills and Boydstown, Bedford County. Then when she was two years of age, in 1885, Sarah and her parents were admitted to the Bedford County Poor House and shortly afterward moved to the Somerset County Poor House. The parents separated about that time, with the mother remaining in the home and the father leaving for a visit to his children in Columbus, Ohio.

Upon her parents' separation, Margaret was left behind, still breastfeeding at age two. The mother went back to Ursina. Authorities found a home for Margaret with the family of John Kline in or near Sipesville, Somerset County.

Sadly, she expired on Jan. 13, 1889, as she neared her sixth birthday.

Her remains were placed into repose in Christ Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery in Sipesville, Somerset County. A marker was erected at her grave. It still exists in its rightful place, but is off its base and lies flat, with the lettered side facing downward. Margaret's name appears in an index in an enclosed cemetery sign structure standing in the grounds. The marker was photographed by the founder of this website in July 2019.


Above, Christ Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church. Below, Margaret's grave marker propped up to catch the shadow in the lettering.


~ To Avoid Confusion~


Somerset Herald, Feb. 3, 1886

Samuel is not to be confused with Samuel Buckman, also of Somerset County, a bridge builder, said to have constructed 127 railroad and other bridges throughout the United States, including seven in Somerset County. In about 1881, the other Samuel had relocated to Rockwood, where kept the Eagle Hotel and built Merchants Hotel in 1882 for an astonishing $10,000, "an ornament to the town," said the 1884 book History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties. Samuel later built a hotel and bar known as the Buckman House. 

Sadly, his first wife Maria died on April 7 or 8, 1884. His second wife was Mary A.E. (Critchfield) Meyers (1849-1916), daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Critchfield. The produced two children -- Lucy Burnworth (born in February 1890) and Samuel Buckman Jr. (died on Aug. 24, 1893 at one month of age). 

Afflicted with cancer, Samuel contracted pneumonia and died on Feb. 3, 1905. Eulogizing him, the Meyersdale Commercial said: "We doubt if there was a more widely known man in this county than was Sam Buckman, as he was commonly called." Mary died on Jan. 8, 1916. They are buried together in the Berlin IOOF Cemetery. [Find-a-Grave]



Rockwood's Buckman House operated by un-related Samuel "Buckman"


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