Matthias W. Baldwin: Family

Matthias W. Baldwin took his first breath in 1795 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He drew his final breath in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia in 1866. In the intervening years he has become best known as a locomotive builder, as discussed in our article on the Baldwin Locomotive Works here. This article will look at Matthias the family man.

A good place to get our bearings is in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. Baldwin, with a few other well-known names like Widener, Disston, and Carson, is in eternal rest on what is known as Millionaires' Row in the cemetery. It has an ideal location: on a hill side with a beautiful view of the Schuylkill River and only a short walk from the steps that lead from that river. Matthias W. Baldwin is buried there, along with his wife Sarah, his daughter Mary Louisa, and another daughter Cecelia, who was his last living descendant. Yet there are sixteen other bodies in his family plot, six generations worth, with the most recent burial in 2010. Some of these eternal co-inhabitants connect Matthias Baldwin to the painter Thomas Sully, to a Philadelphia mayor, to our own neighborhood's Coleman Sellers, and to a descendent of the Mayflower's John Howland. They also sprinkled the Baldwin name, at least as a middle name, down several generations.

I will first present as a reference the pertinent Matthias W. Baldwin family tree, color coded to show the locations of graves in Laurel Hill Cemetery and elsewhere. The key person in the tree is Anna Colton (1820-1890). She was the daughter of Matthias' sister, Mary Ross Baldwin (1791-1872), and Oren Colton (1791-1855). Anna Colton was adopted by Matthias Baldwin and his wife, and took the surname Baldwin. From her were descended most, but not all, of those with the middle name Baldwin.
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A portion of Millionaires' Row in Laurel Hill Cemetery, looking down the Schuylkill River toward the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. The obelisk in foreground is that of Matthias W. Baldwin, and the stones in front left are those of the McElroy clan. The Disston mausoleum is behind the Baldwin obelisk and the Robert N. Carson mausoleum is on the right. Carson lived at 2013 Spring Garden Street, just blocks from Baldwin's factories.
Note for later the decorative sphere on top of the Baldwin obelisk.
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Starting from the top of the tree:

BLUE
As mentioned in our article on the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Matthias Baldwin came to Frankford, just outside the city of Philadelphia, in 1911 to serve an apprenticeship as a jeweler with the Woolworth Brothers. The Woolworth brothers, Richard Champion Woolworth and Danforth Woolworth, were the nephews of Thankful Woolworth by her brother Richard Woolworth IV. Oren Colton had come to Philadelphia from Longmeadow, Hampden County, Massachusetts, to serve as an apprentice to his first cousins, the Woolworth brothers. Oren became Matthias Baldwin's brother-in-law, and this may be the connection that got Matthias the apprenticeship.

The lives of Oren Colton and Matthias were intertwined in their early Philadelphia days. Oren finished his apprenticeship first and by 1818 set up a jewelry business in his home at 133 South 11th Street. Between 1819 and 1825 Oren and Matthias shared workspace as jewelers at 1 College Street (east of 10th between Market and Chestnut, now gone). By 1825 Matthias was into bookbinding tools and Oren was a shuttle maker, as in shuttles for looms. Matthias also set up Oren's brother Simon in a grocery store at 102 South 2nd Street under the name Matthias W. Baldwin and Company. Simon went off to open his own grocery store in 1839, and the addition of Oren's brother Sabin allowed Baldwin & Colton Grocers at 244 High Street (now Market Street) to keep the same company name. Matthias by this point was heavily involved with his expanding locomotive business at Hamilton and Spring Garden Streets. As you can see, the Baldwins and the Coltons were tight, and through marriage would become tighter, as discussed below.

Those persons coded with the blue color are buried in one plot in section N 36 of Laurel Hill Cemetery. The nine persons buried there have only one remaining headstone, that of Mary Rowena Thomas, Matthias' niece.
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This is the sole grave marker in the Oren Colton family plot in section N 36 at Laurel Hill. Presumably the markers for others have deteriorated.
RED
The graves coded in red are in section M 45 in Laurel Hill Cemetery. Buried there are Matthias' mother Phoebe and his two sisters, Catherine and Sarah. Matthias' father William Baldwin had died in Elizabeth, New Jersey, when Matthias was four years old. Matthias was the youngest of five children, and the only male. He had an older sister Cornelia who died when she was 20 and a sister Phoebe who had died at 3 months of age.

When Matthias finished his jewelry apprenticeship, and started work as a journeyman for the prestigious firm of Fletcher and Gardiner, he made a decent wage. His mother moved to Philadelphia around 1816 and started running a boarding house at 15 Powell Street (now Delancey Street).  She switched to running a millinery shop on 4th Street from 1821 to 1833, finally earning her retirement as a "gentlewoman" at 71 South 6th Street per the Philadelphia City directory of 1833. She died in 1841. There was another Baldwin, a widow by the name of Mary, who took over the boarding house at 15 Powell Street in 1818, while Phoebe moved to 11 Powell Street. I have not been able to determine this Mary's relationship to Matthias, but she did live with him in 1821-1822 at 129 South 11th Street. There is an entry for 56-year-old Mary Baldwin's interment on September 15, 1825 in the First Presbyterian Church records. 

Catherine Baldwin died at age 93 in New York while in the home of her married daughter Cynthia Baldwin Simpson. Her remains were transported to Laurel Hill for burial. 

Sarah Baldwin was unmarried. She died at age 86 at her home at 1721 Walnut Street in Philadelphia.
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Well-worn marker for Phoebe Baldwin, mother of Matthias, in section M 45 in Laurel Hill. His sisters Sarah and Catherine each have a one-foot-tall marker nearby.
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PINK
Matthias W. Baldwin (1795-1866) married his distant cousin Sarah Crane Baldwin (1797-1883). Cousin marriages were not unusual; his sister Catherine mentioned above had married distant cousin Silas Baldwin. Mary Louisa Baldwin, who never married, is buried in the family plot, as is Matthias' other biological daughter Cecelia. In 1868 Cecelia married Francis Thomas Sully Darley, grandson of Philadelphia portraitist Thomas Sully (buried in Laurel Hill A 41). It may be that the Baldwin and the Sully families became acquainted through the United Bowmen of Philadelphia, a social and athletic club to which Thomas Sully and Matthias Baldwin belonged (manuscript from 1888 with history here). Francis Darley was a renowned organist, and was the organist at Calvary Presbyterian Church until his marriage. This is the same church from which Matthias Baldwin was buried in 1866, so Francis probably played at his funeral. The Darleys had no children.


Matthias Baldwin and his wife had the above-mentioned two children that lived into adulthood. They had four other children that died by the age of three, all buried through the First Presbyterian Church:
  • a baby girl that died at birth on July 8, 1826.
  • a child of unspecified sex that died of "debility" at three hours of age in December of 1831
  • a son who died of scarlet fever at the age of three in February of 1835. His name was Hampden Sydney Baldwin, the Hampden possibly after the county in Massachusetts from which the Coltons originated. 
  • a child who died the day of birth in August of 1836.
     
 
These four burials, according to First Presbyterian records, are noted to have taken place at the First Presbyterian burial ground at 5th and Pine Streets. Due to the migrations of the physical buildings and churchyards of the First Presbyterian Church, 1,500 remains from the earlier Market and Bank Street church were removed to Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1847, as explained in the outside article here. The Baldwin children should still be in the Pine Street grounds.
And now for a medical history sidebar in relation to the child mortality in the Baldwin family:

As discussed in our article on the Preston Retreat maternity hospital, which was at 2001 Hamilton Street from 1840 to 1963, childbirth has always been risky for mothers. The second most fatal single day of a woman's life is the day she gives birth to her first child. But the most fatal single day of anyone's life, male or female, is the day of birth. Half of Matthias and Sarah Baldwin's children died on their day of birth. The next few years held further risks. In 1800 in the United States almost half of infants born would not live to see their fifth birthday. There were no vaccines; no antibiotics; no respirators to save premature babies; and no oral solutions to replace the loss of electrolytes with diarrhea (and filthy drinking water made for a lot of diarrhea). For example, in developed countries today most women receive a tetanus vaccine. The vaccine given to the mother supplies immunity to the newborn. Today, newborn tetanus infections on the stump of the umbilical cord still account for 1 in 7 infant deaths in countries without resources to make tetanus vaccines readily available. Illnesses that we never hear of today in the United States were killers in the 19th century United States and in underdeveloped countries today.
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United States data over two centuries.
The almost 50% child mortality (child < age 5) of Baldwin's day has improved dramatically.
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Data specific for Philadelphia for 1829, about the mid-point of the time the Baldwins had children. Almost half the deaths that year were in children from birth to age 5, close to the national data.
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Obelisk in the family plot
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Another face of the obelisk with Cecelia and Darley
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Jane Sully Darley was a painter in her own right. Her portrait of Clementia Somers, circa 1825, hangs at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
1840 portrait by Thomas Sully of his daughter and grandson.
Sully's daughter Jane is seated while Matthias Baldwin's future son-in-law Francis leans on her. This hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (photo credit here)
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Photo from 1898 of the Darley residence, "unquestionably the handsomest residence on South Broad Street." This would later become the residence and galleries of lawyer and collector John G. Johnson as discussed in outside article here. This house would become an issue in a legal decision very similar to the Albert Barnes decision discussed in our article here. Johnson was the legal counselor for the Baldwin Locomotive Works.
These buildings were demolished in the 1950s to build a medical clinic. Photo credit here.
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PINK
Anna Colton was adopted by Matthias Baldwin and his wife for reasons that evaded me in my research. She married John Clayton in 1845 and the two of them kept the Baldwin name spreading down the next two generations as a middle name. She is the matriarch of representatives of four generations resting in the Baldwin family plot. One daughter, Anna Baldwin Clayton, married JGR McElroy, and the two of them and their descendants make up most of the graves in the Baldwin family plot. Anna Baldwin Colton was married a second time to Camden real estate agent John Speigle in 1895, five years after the death of her first husband, and is buried elsewhere.
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Anna (Colton) Baldwin Clayton is the link between Matthias Baldwin and most of the population of the family plot.
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The grave of the tiniest namesake in the Baldwin family plot. He died at birth. The nephew of this little guy, George Baldwin McElroy, died at age two and is also buried in the family plot.
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The McElroy section of the Baldwin family plot.
The most recent burial, in 2010, is in the upper left, that of US Air Force Captain Francis Barron McElroy.
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ORANGE
Another daughter of Anna Baldwin Clayton was Louisa Baldwin Clayton, who married the son of Philadelphia mayor Charles Gilpin. Mayor Gilpin was the mayor in 1854 who supervised the consolidation of the City of Philadelphia and the County of Philadelphia. He was the last mayor of the two-square-mile City of Philadelphia. Washington and Louisa Gilpin had eight children. Their first-born was a stillborn in 1875. Another, Washington Hood Gilpin Jr., died at 14 months of age. Both of these infants are buried in the Baldwin family plot. A surviving son, John Clayton Gilpin (1881-1963), married Lucy Fleming Disston, the grand-daughter of saw magnate Henry Disston. This marriage would unite the Baldwin clan with the Disston clan across the road on Millionaire's Row in Laurel Hill Cemetery. John Clayton Gilpin and his wife Lucy Fleming Disston Gilpin are themselves buried at St. Thomas Episcopal Cemetery in Montgomery County.


The youngest child of Louisa and Charles Gilpin, Anna Baldwin Gilpin (1889-1920), married into the Winpenny family, whose plots are adjacent to the Gilpins. Anna Baldwin Gilpin Winpenny had become engaged, married, widowed, and deceased within the span of two years. Her husband had shipped out to France a few days after their wedding in 1918 and died there of pneumonia a few weeks after arrival. Anna di
ed of heart disease just shy of what would have been their second anniversary.

By the way, another connection shows how the elite of the city moved in the same small circle. The sister of mayor Charles Gilpin, Abigail Gilpin (1798-1859), was the wife of the very same Richard Champion Woolworth for whom young Matthias W. Baldwin served his apprenticeship. Abigail and Richard are buried in Delaware.
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Louisa B. Gilpin and her husband Washington Hood Gilpin are buried in the Gilpin family plot in Woodlawn 120 in West Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Anna Baldwin Gilpin Winpenny is buried in the Winpenny family plot in Woodlawn 118.
Mayor Charles Gilpin is buried in section 9 in Laurel Hill.
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PINK
JGR McElroy and Katherina Allgaier McElroy Capp, father and daughter, share one tombstone in the Baldwin plot. Eighteen-year-old Katherina eloped in 1899 with Seth Bunker Capp. Seth was a descendant of the Mayflower passenger John Howland; a descendant of the man who lent his name to Bunker Hill in Boston; and part of a still-prominent family. In order to avoid the need for parental permission for their marriage in Pennsylvania, JGR and Katherina were married in New York. The elopement of two members of prominent families made page one of the New York Times, as seen here, although below the fold to mitigate the schadenfreude.

Seth Bunker Capp died in 1958 and is buried in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. His death certificate has him marked as "divorced," which may explain his burial separate from his wife. Katherina and Seth had only one child, Matthias Baldwin Capp, who died at age three. He is buried in section C 298 at Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia.
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Capp-McElroy elopement news
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Father and daughter in the Baldwin family plot
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Sole (and soul) marker at the Capp family plot in section C 298 in Woodlands cemetery in West Philadelphia. The name Matthias Baldwin Capp does not appear to be on the gravestone. He died at least 20 years before his grandparents and aunt, whose names are there.
There is at least one other namesake of Matthias Baldwin buried locally. Matthias Baldwin Colton (1839-1915) is buried in the Sabin Colton family plot in Summit 120 in West Laurel Hill.

The brother of the above-mentioned Oren Colton, Sabin Colton (1783-1857) moved to Philadelphia from Hampden County, Massachusetts in 1825. His son was Sabin Woolworth Colton Sr., who himself was the father of a long line of Sabin Woolworth Coltons and also of Matthias Baldwin Colton (1839-1915). The latter was a Civil War soldier who collected his notes and letters from the war into a limited-edition book. 

As another neighborhood connection, Matthias Baldwin Colton's brother, Sabin Woolworth Colton Jr., married Jesse Sellers, daughter of Coleman Sellers. Coleman was in business with his cousin William Sellers in the machine shop at 17th and Hamilton Streets, as discussed in our website article on the Sellers here. Jesse was the editor of the Civil War correspondence for Matthias Baldwin Colton's collection. She died in 1932, one year after the book was published.
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The marker for Matthias Baldwin Colton is on the lower left in the photo of the Sabin Colton family plot in Summit 120 at West laurel Hill Cemetery. On the right are the markers for Sabin himself, as well as those of five generations of Sabin Woolworth Coltons. 
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Photo circa 1863 from the 400-page book Journal and Correspondence of Matthias Baldwin Colton, who himself is on the left in the photo. He is the last man bearing the name Matthias Baldwin in the Baldwin extended family. He never married and had no known children.
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Closer view of the sphere atop the Baldwin obelisk.
Do those parallel lines represent railroad tracks encircling the globe?
authored by Joe Walsh: June 2022