Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084

The Hamill Family

Contributed by Gene Kerrick | January 2012

This family provides an example of how immigrants from Northern Ireland came to the Unites States and rose in economic and social status. Its family members had some means as they maintained a hardware and plumbing establishment in Westchester County, New York.

David and Elizabeth Hamill, both age 40, with their sons William, 18, and Thomas, 13, arrived in the Port of New York on the ship Ticonderoga on April 19,1851. The family settled in Westchester County, New York.

By the 1860 census, William had married Mary Dawson and was living in Ossining, N.Y. About 1858, Thomas wed Sarah Jane McKeen and was living a short distance away in Tarrytown, N.Y.

The brothers had a business named “T. Hamill and Brother“ at the corner of Maine and Easton, in what was then known as Sing Sing (before Sing Sing State Prison). They were listed as plumbers in an 1861 directory. This area along the Hudson River north of New York City was made famous by Washington Irving with his residence and writing of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

David died in 1854 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, as were many members of the family. His wife died on August 3, 1864 in New Jersey, and her body was ferried across the Hudson River. Her cause of death is listed as general disability, while his was of old age.

Because this story is concentrating on Tobyhanna Township, we will follow the Thomas Hamill branch of the family.

Thomas and Sarah lived at 39 Orchard Street in Tarrytown and conducted their business in that city. It involved plumbing, hardware, house furnishings, crockery and glassware, gas and steam fittings and copper, sheet iron and tin goods. The last directory to give evidence of the business is dated 1885-1886.

The couple had three daughters and a son, George Merritt, who was the youngest in the family. Family tradition has it that he was named for the owner of Lyndhurst, later the mansion of Jay Gould along the Hudson in Tarrytown. George Merritt was a corporate executive for whom apparently Thomas once worked. George was born on November 30, 1869.

In some way, apparently in part connected to pulmonary problems, the Hamill family relocated in western Tobyhanna Township. Sarah died nearby in 1900 and Thomas followed her two years later because of tuberculosis. The family found relief in the coolness of the Poconos in summer.

George was here by 1890. Evidence for this is that he married Clara Eunice (Stine) Blakeslee on November 3, 1890 at the Methodist Episcopal parsonage in Columbia, N.J. Young couples went there because the minister, Rev. Amzie L. Smith, was popular.

There are some known facts about George’s life. His main occupation was farming. In one census he was listed as a farm operator. He ran for the office of supervisor in Tobyhanna Township in 1913, but did not succeed. He joined the Blakeslee United Methodist Church in May,1903. He invested in the new telephone company that began in Pocono Lake, with Isaac Stauffer. He also participated in taking mountain laurel bushes to New York to provide landscaping. He made other business trips to New York as well, but their nature is not known. He stayed in touch with his family in Westchester County. Family lore says he enjoyed alcoholic beverages. He bought and sold several pieces of property around Blakeslee during his time here.

There are some stories about the human side of this man. Melinda, as a child of George and Clara, always wanted to know if her father gave her a kiss when he came home at night, if he was late. At one point Clara had a sick headache and asked Martha to ask her brothers and sisters, who had been up to all kinds of deviltry, to clean up for their father. When he came home, George remarked to his wife that Martha was such a good child as the eldest in caring for her siblings.

Clara was the daughter of Jackson and Mariah Stine. The latter was the daughter of William and Eunice Eboch who were early settlers in the Blakeslee area. Jackson Stine was a prosperous farmer and timber dealer who lived in the house by the pond about a mile north of Blakeslee.

Clara had previously married Howard Blakeslee, the son of Jacob Blakeslee, a farmer and store keeper and first postmaster of Blakeslee. It was he for whom the village is named. Howard was drowned in a lumbering accident on the Lehigh River.

The Hamills lived in three different homes around Blakeslee. The first was at Fern Ridge where Interstate 80 now intersects with Route 115. The house was near the home of the Wricks. Martha Hamill Henning remembered going to sit with old Grandfather Wrick during which both of them would sit silently. The second home was about two miles north of Blakeslee where the Millard Keiper family later resided. The third location was just north of Blakeslee, two houses north of the Texaco station, where the Walter Waltz family later lived. The family ran a tea room there. All of these houses were located on the west side of Route 115.

George and Clara had eight children, with all but one living to adulthood and all but one living to a ripe old age.

The children in order of birth were: Helen Martha; Daniel Paul; Thomas Jackson; Carl Erwin; Sarah Mariah; George LeRoy; Norman Uriah, and Anna Melinda. It is notable that five went by their middle names.

George died at the age of 47 of nephritis while visiting his family in Tarrytown. He was interred at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery because his Hamill family would not pay to return his body to Blakeslee. Clara carried on with her family until her death in 1923. The family moved to Tobyhanna where it ran a boarding house.

Several of the descendants of the family continue to live in the township and continue the name. Two of the George Hamill children settled here permanently. One was Sarah who married Howard Kerrick. Most of the Kerricks in the township are their descendants. Melinda married Thurston Blakeslee who owned the Esso (later Exxon and still later Texaco) service station north of the Blakeslee United Methodist Church.

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