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Christina (Ream) Jennings
(1811- ? )


Ream Cemetery, Ursina
Christina (Ream) Jennings was born in about 1811 in Draketown, Somerset County, PA, the daughter of Thomas and Barbara (Haines) Ream Sr.


She was united in holy matrimony with Thomas Jennings (May 1, 1805-1872), one of a dozen children of Capt. Benjamin and Rhoda (Spencer) Jennings. Thomas is believed to have been a twin with his brother William.

In a section about the family, the 1884 book History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties said that: "Thomas was born in 1805, and died in 1872. He married Christina Ream...."

Thomas' father was a Revolutionary War veteran who served in a number of regiments and was involved in the Battle of Saratoga, NY; a skirmish near Brunswick, NJ; and the surrender of British General John Burgoyne on Oct. 17, 1777.  He then was transferred to the command of Col. Daniel Brodhead, where he was stationed at Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh and later helped to construct Fort McIntosh in Beaver, PA and Fort Laurens in Bolivar, OH.

Thomas himself grew up on his parents' farm located between Ursina and Confluence in southern Somerset County. The tract was described many years later, in 1926, as located "on the banks of Laurel Creek, now owned by C.L. Groff."


Above: the surrender of British Gen. John Burgoyne, Saratoga, NY, 1777, at which Capt. Benjamin Jennings was present. Courtesy Wikipedia. Below: Fort McIntosh in Beaver, PA, which Benjamin helped to build.


Christina and Thomas produced three known children -- John Rayman Jennings Sr., Jerome B. Jennings and Sarah Bookman.

Thomas and his brothers Jesse and Israel signed an agreement with their father on Feb. 9, 1837 to buy the family's 332-acre farm for the sum of $2,000. At that time, the property adjoined the lands of John Ream, Jacob Rush, Stewart Rowen and Jonas Nicola/Nicklow. Payments were to be made in installments of $100 each year until the debt was entirely satisfied. The language in the deed allowed Benjamin and his wife Rhoda to retain their dwelling-house and "also the garden south east dwellign house & free liberty ... to run on the premises for himself & his wife use for & during their natural lives."

In 1840, at the death of Christina's father, an estate sale was held and Thomas purchased a number of items for their farm. Among these were a box of brimstone, crock and oil jug, two stone hammers and a lathe.

Thomas' father died on May 12, 1845 and the mother on Feb. 6, 1849. It is believed that Thomas and Christina then took possession of all or part of the property.

He held an account at the John McMillan tannery in Listonville, and entries from the years 1844 to 1850 are recorded in the tannery's business ledger which is preserved today. The entries read as follow:

...a damaged side of up at $1.37 and a side of SL weight 8 lbs., cost 2.57, Dec. 20, 1844 a side of SL weight 11 lbs., cost $3.59, Dec. 25, 1846 a side of SL weight 11 lbs., cost $3.67, Dec. 18, 1848 a side of SL weight 9, cost 50 cents, finishing murren up at 50 cents, 2 bridle rains + 2 harnes wings, 60 cents, Nov. 20, 1850.

Jennings farm (circled) next to William Ream's distillery and Levi Ream's farm, at Ursina, 1860. The blue line marks the Casselman River. Library of Congress


When the 1850 census was enumerated, the family dwelled in Lower Turkeyfoot Township, where Thomas was a farmer. Tragically, though, the census-taker marked Christina as "insane." The nature of her disability is not yet known. Among their neighbors that year were kinsmen Israel and Susan Jennings. 

Sadly, Christina is believed to have died during the decade of the 1850s. Her burial site is not known. If she rests in the Ream Cemetery in Ursina, the grave is unmarked.


Somerset Herald, 1872. Library of Congress

In 1860, federal census records show Thomas heading a household with his three children including his 18-year-old daughter in law Martha Jennings, a "spinster." Their neighbors in 1860 included William and Sarah Ream, uncle and aunt Samuel W. and Mary (Rheims) Ream and first cousin Levi and Hily (King) Ream.

By 1870, when the census enumeration again was made, the 65-year-old Thomas dwelled in the Lower Turkeyfoot Township home of his son and daughter in law, John Rayman and Martha (Knight) Jennings and their four children. Thomas had no occupation that year although his son John was marked as a farmer. As the son was in the midst of a tumultous marriage which later ended in divorce, the living arrangement must have been very uncomfortable for the old man.

With only six months to live, Thomas wrote his last will and testament in December 1871. He stated that his estate was to be divided between his son Jerome (two-thirds) and daughter Sarah (one third). He also said that "My son John has already received what I consider equal to his share, hence I exclude him from any further part or portion of my estate." The document was witnessed by Judge William J. Baer and Israel Rhoads, with Baer later writing that Thomas "was of sound mind, memory and understanding" when he spelled out his terms.

On June 24, 1872, Thomas passed away at the age of 67 years, five months and 19 days. A short obituary was printed a month later in the Somerset Herald. Later that year, their son John advertised in the Herald that he was serving as estate administrator, calling in IOUs and offering to pay an outstanding financial claims.

Records on file today in the Somerset County Courthouse show that the inventory of items in his estate were  cooking stove and utensils, table, desk, iron kettle, wagon iron and old metal.

Thomas was named in a section about his father's Revolutionary War pension in the March 1942 edition of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Mrs. Melvin A. Jennings researched this family in the 1970s.


Thomas' last will and testament, dated 1871 (Will Book 5, page 478 - Estate #11 of 1872). Courtesy Somerset County (PA) Register of Wills


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