This biography of William Elder is from History of Frederick County Maryland, Vol. 2, by T. J. C. Williams, published in 1910, page 835-836.

THE ELDER FAMILY— William ELDER, a Catholic, who emigrated from St. Mary's County, Md., to Frederick County, was the first white man who settled in Emmitsburg district, and he gave the name of "St. Mary's Mount" to a portion of Carrick's Knob. He located at the foot of Blue Ridge [mountain] in 1734, then the abode of numerous Indians and the haunt of wild beasts. He called his place "Pleasant Level." Here he built a house, reserving one room for religious services which he called a chapel. This room was equal in size to all the rest of his house. He was there joined by his family and a few friends from St. Mary's County. Mr. Elder was a devout Catholic and his chapel was the home for all weary travelers, and a delightful resort for all professing his faith. Hospitality was religiously practiced by this good family and their descendants. The little congregation was taken care of by priests from St. Mary's, and later from Conewago and Frederick, while sometimes Father Mathew Ryan, from Path Valley, Pa., visited them. In 1807 St. Mary's Church was built. The old mansion stood until about 1852.

William Elder was born in Lancashire, England [see our previous writings about his birth place-DYL], in 1707, and emigrated to St. Mary's County, Md., not earlier than 1728 and not later than 1732. In 1739 death invaded the home of this pioneer, taking from him the mother of his five children. Her maiden name was Ann Wheeler, and she was married to Mr. Elder in England. She bore him four sons and one daughter. The first son William, married a Miss [Sabina] Wickham. The second, Guy, was twice married, and by his second wife was the father of thirteen children: Joseph, Judith, James, Polly, Benjamin, Guy, Priscilla, Edward, Thomas and George, of whom the first four went to Kentucky. Charles, the third son of the immigrant, married Julia Ward, of Charles County, Md. The fourth child, Mary, married Richard Lilly, of Virginia, and through her children the family became connected with the McSherrys of Virginia. The fifth child, Richard, married Phoebe Delovier [sic-should read Delozier]. In 1794, William Elder was married to Jacoba Clementina Livers, daughter of Arnold Livers.
[…Here there is a paragraph on the LIVERS family.]

William Elder's second wife bore him four sons and two daughters: Elizabeth, Arnold, Thomas, Ignatius, Anna and Aloysius. It was from the second named that the title for the farm upon which now stands the structure known as Mount St. Mary's College was derived. In the old Catholic Cemetery, about a half mile below St. Mary's College, and near the town of Emmitsburg, three stone mark the graves of William, Ann Wheeler and Jacoba Clementina Elder. The inscriptions, which are still distinct, record their names and dates of births and deaths: William Elder, born 1707, died April 22, 1775; Ann Wheeler Elder, born 1709, died August 11, 1739; Jacoba Clementina Elder, born 1717, died September 19, 1807.

Thomas Elder, the third child of William Elder by his second wife, was born January 4, 1748, and was married in 1771 to Elizabeth Spalding, a sister of Basil Spalding, of Charles County. Shortly after that event he removed to and occupied a farm in Harbaugh's Valley, where he lived for twenty-eight years, and where his family of eleven children were born. The names of these children were: Anne or Nancy, was born July 1, 1772, and died unmarried in 1844; Basil Spalding Elder, who was born October 22, 1773 and died October 13, 1869, in Baltimore City, was married November 18, 1801, to Elizabeth Snowden, who died January 29, 1860; Catharine, who was born March 7, 1776, was the second wife of Joseph Gardiner, of Nelson County, Ky., three of whose daughters by his first marriage became Sisters of Charity of the Nazareth Community, and of these the late Mother Francis Gardiner was for many years Superior of the sisterhood; William Pius, was born May 4, 1778, and died in Baltimore, August 22, 1799; Clementina, who was born June 16, 1780, and died July 21, 1782, was married to Richard Clarke; Ignatius, was born July 21, 1782, and married Monica Green; Theresa, was born March 1, 1785, and died unmarried, December 19, 1816; Thomas Richard, who was born June 14, 1789, and died July 11, 1835, was married to Caroline Clements; Christiana, who was born October 30, 1791, became the wife of John B. Wright; Mary Elizabeth, born May 15, 1794, married John Tarboe; and Maria M., who was born April 11, 1796, was the wife of John Howard [see Note below - Donna]. In 1799, Thomas Elder broke up his establishment in Harbaugh's Valley and removed to Kentucky, accompanied by all his children, except Basil Spalding.

Basil Spalding, the second child of Thomas and Elizabeth (Spalding) Elder, was married to Elizabeth Snowden. To them were born thirteen children, three of whom died in infancy. Of the other ten, Eleanora became a sister of Charity. Another daughter, Mrs. Jenkins, died in Havana in 1846, and another Mrs. Baldwin, in Baltimore in 1772. Of the sons, Frances W. settled in Baltimore; Basil T., in St. Louis, Mo.; James C., in Baton Rouge, La., Joseph E., in Denver, Col.; Thomas S., of New Orleans, La.; William Henry, became Bishop of Cincinnati, O.; and Charles D. of New Orleans.

James Elder, the first Catholic of his name to emigrate to Kentucky, was born in Emmitsburg district, Frederick County, in 1760, and was the son of Guy Elder and grandson of William Elder, the American progenitor. He married Ann Richards and immediately went to Kentucky, where he settled on Hardin's Creek. His brother William, joined him a few months later. James Elder died August 15, 1845, and Ann, his wife, January 8, 1857.

The book "History of Western Maryland" has almost this identical history of the Elder family, but at the end of the account the following paragraph was added: "Ann Wheeler, the wife of William Elder the emigrant, died in her thirty-fourth year, of Consumption, the hardships of her husband's pioneer life proving too much for her frail constitution. There being no undertakers, necessity compelled them to hollow out a chestnut tree, and in this rude coffin the remains of this good woman were deposited."


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This article originally appeared in the Elder Family Newsletter, Vol. 1 #3, July, August, September 1993. We recently provided the article to add to their web site. Be sure to check out this wonderful web site as there is lots of history contained on Mike Hillman's pages.

Note: William's history stated that Maria, daughter od Thomas, married John Howard but a descendant of hers that lives in Bardstown Kentucky has corrected this - his name was John Horrell. -- Donna

"Clairvaux House and Some of its Occupants"


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