George Hares (1834-1867)
Elizabeth Williams (1844-1915)

copright ©2003 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Parish records from St. Leonrad's church, Shipham, Somerset, England, reveal that George Hares was christened on 31 Aug 1834. He was one of several children of Israel Hares and Mary Ann Collins, his father also being a native of Shipham, while his mother was a native of Bedminster, also in Somerset. He appears in his first census in the returns of Shipham for the year 1841, where he is listed as 7 years old. Strangely, in the next census ten years later he is listed as only being fourteen, and from that point forward it appears that George adopted an incorrect birth date of 1838 for the remainder of his life.

Shipham is a parish in the county of England, and is briefly described below by the book, "The Heart of Mendip," by Francis A. Knight. In the fifty pages devoted to Shipham, we learn about the social and cultural history of the parish and its people, with much of the text devoted to a discussion of the mining industry.

"Shipham was in the heart of the Mendip mining country; and the broken and uneven ground which occupies much of its area, the hillocks and hollows, the more of less grass-grown heaps of stone, the deep trenches left be surface-working in the innumerable mine shafts, furnish ample evidence of the former importance of a calling which, for many centuries, was the chief occupation of the inhabitants; and, at the same time, give to this, as to many other parishes along these hills, a peculiar and distinctive character."

Below: view of the Parish church of St. Leonard's, Shipham, Somerset, May 2006.


George Hares makes his first census appearance in 1841, as follows:

1841 Census, Shipham, Somerset, England

Name Age Occupation Born in County>
Israel Hares 40 Miner, Lead Ore Yes
Mary Hares 45   Yes
Hannah Hares 15   Yes
Mary Hares 9   Yes
George Hares 7   Yes
Elizabeth Hares 3   Yes
Susannah Hares 1   Yes

This is the first indication we have that the Hares family followed the mining trade, as Israel is listed as a miner of lead ore. Absent from the family is oldest son Samuel, who may have already been working elsewhere.

Sometime in the later half of the 1840s, the Hares family moved from Shipham to Brynmawr in Breconshire, Wales. Beginning in the early 19th century, men and their families began pouring into Brynmawr to find work in the region's booming coal and iron industries. The first wave of immigrants into Brynmawr were from Breconshire, which was followed by an inflow of Welshmen from counties to the west and south of Breconshire, which was closely followed by the arrival of families from England, many from Somerset. In her book, "Brynmawr: A Study of a Distressed Area," Allenson & Co., London, 1934, Hilda Jennings provides a description of the town's development:

"Brynmawr stands at the extreme northern edge of the South Wales Coalfield on the border of Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire. A few miles to the north lie the fertile valleys of the Usk, while in the more immediate vicinity coal and iron outcrop on the mountain side. Up to 1800 it was practically uninhabited. Iron-ore was the first mineral, the value of which was recognized in the district, and the Clydach Valley leading up to Brynmawr is still made beautiful by the thick line of beech trees planted to serve as charcoal for the Iron Works. With the discovery of the use of coal for smelting and its general adoption towards the end of the eighteenth century came the opening out of small coal levels by the ironmasters The coal produced was both used in the iron works and taken on the backs of mules and later by canal for sale as house-coal in Brecon and Abergavenny. Many workers at the Clydach, Nantyglo and Beaufort Iron Works made their homes at Brynmawr, but the industry of the town itself was the gathering of the raw materials, iron-ore, blackband and coal."

Our first glimpse of George Hares and family in Wales comes from the 1851 census, where we find the family living on Orchard street in Brynmawr, as follows:

1851 Census, Brynmawr, Llanelly, Breconshire, Wales

Street - Place Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Sex Occupation Where Born
Orchard Street Israel Hares Head M 52 M Cinder Tipper Shipham, Somerset
  Mary Ann Hares Wife M 50 F Cinder Tipper's Wife Bedminster, Somerset
  George Hares Son U 14 M Iron Miner Shipham, Somerset
  Elizabeth Hares Daur U 12 F Coke Filler Shipham, Somerset
  Susana Hares Daur U 9 F Cinder Tipper's daughter Shipham, Somerset
  Jane Hares Dau U 6 F Cinder Tipper's daughter Shipham, Somerset
  James Haines Son-in-law M 20 M Limestone Breaker Frome, Somerset
  Mary Ann Haines Dau M 20 F   Shipham, Somerset

The return give us quite a bit of information about the family. First, it confirms that George was an iron miner and that his father and sister Elizabeth also worked in the iron industry. Present with the family is George's sister Mary Ann, who had recently married James Haines (Haynes). In addition, with youngest daughter Jane born in Shipham in 1845, that means that the family moved from Somerset to Brynmawr sometime between Jane's birth and the 1851 census. We will pick up the story of the Hares family in a later essay, but for now we will continue with the story of George Hares.

The 1851 census would be the last time we see George in Wales, as by the middle of 1854 he had emigrated to America. His naturalization petition, which is found at the courthouse in Wilkes Barre, Luzerne Co., Pa., states that that George (George Hears) arrived at the port of Philadelphia on June 18, 1854. The petition does not name the ship George arrived on, and, to date, I have been unable to identify him on any ship's passenger lists. At this point in time I have not determined whether or not George was accompanied by any family members on his journey to America.

The document that George Hares signed on September 29, 1860, using only his mark (X), indicates that he was a native of Wales, had lived within the borders of Pennsylvania for a period of five years, and had otherwise completed all the necessary requirements to become a citizen. It was on September 29th, 1860, then, that George Hares became a U.S. citizen. A man named Thomas Thomas stood as witness at his citizenship ceremony. Today, the actual citizenship certificate for George Hares is found at the Lackawanna County Historical Society in Scranton, having been donated by descendant Betty Ahearn Barret several years ago.

Although George first set foot in America in Philadelphia, he eventually settled in Hyde Park/Scranton in Lackawanna County Pennsylvania, where he became a coal miner. Being only sixteen when he arrived in America, we can be sure that George had not been a miner in his native Wales, although he certainly could have worked in other mining-related jobs that were reserved for boys.

By the mid-19th century the mining of anthracite coal was becoming big business in eastern Pennsylvania. The rich veins of coal that stretched from Minersville and Pottsville in the southern coal region, to Scranton in the north, created tremendous opportunities for Welsh miners, whose expertise in deep-coal mining was very much in demand by the burgeoning industry. Although the bulk of Welsh immigration to this part of Pennsylvania occurred in the later part of the 19th century, our Thomas ancestors were among an earlier group of immigrants who were mining Pennsylvania anthracite coal before the Civil War. A publication titled, Area History: History of Hyde Park 1852 - 1952: Lackawanna County, PA, provides a brief history of Hyde Park and Scranton at the time of the Thomas family arrival:

The increase in population following the locating of the iron works in Slocum Hollow and the development of the mining industry caused the residents to agitate for the creation of a borough. Providence had been organized in 1849. A borough charter was applied for and granted. The date of the borough's incorporation was May 4, 1852. Scranton was not incorporated as a borough until 1856.

In 1866 Hyde Park, Providence and Scranton united to form the City of Scranton. A quasi borough existence, however, was continued by Hyde Park until 1887 to collect the bounty tax.

The development of the mining of Anthracite not only made Hyde Park, but Scranton. Today, although the mode of transportation and living has changed with the influx of other industries, mining is still of great importance. Prior to the opening of the steel mills in the Hollow, building of Leggetts Gap (northern division of the `D.L.&W' ) railroad and beginning of mining, Hyde Park was little more than a name.

No section of Scranton has furnished more coal than Hyde Park. Mining was the main industry at the turn of the century and until a few years ago, with 12 or more colleries in operation. Even today with only the Bellvue breaker in operation, Hyde Park would be hard hit without its mining and related industries. Hyde Park is proud of the part mining has played in building up the City of Scranton.

The next record for George Hares should be a listing in the 1860 census, however as of this date (August 2003), I have been unable to find our ancestor in the returns for that year, most likely due to the problem with the name "Hares" mentioned above. Instead we have to wait until the outbreak of the Civil War for our next glimpse of George.

The Civil War service record of George Hares is found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The file indicates that less than a year after becoming a citizen, George enlisted in Company I of the 52nd PA Volunteer Infantry, one of two Civil War regiments raised at the start of the war with men primarily from Luzerne County. George enlisted in Scranton on August 22, 1861, and was mustered into service in Pottsville on September 23 of that year for a full three year term. Over the course of the next three years, the 52nd PA took part in many memorable battles, and would earn the nickname "the Fightin' Luzerne," for its fierce brand of combat. George's war record indicates that he served his entire enlistment, was present at all company roll calls, and was honorably discharged on November 5th, 1864, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by reason of the expiration of his term of service. At one time his Civil War discharge certificate was held by the Lackawanna County Historical Society in Scranton, however a recent trip to that archive (July 2003) revealed that the original certificate has been replaced by a photocopy.

Follow this link for a history of the 52nd Pennsylvania Regiment

Following the war George returned to Scranton and resumed his life as a miner, and on May 11, 1865 married Elizabeth Williams, daughter of William C. and Mary Williams. Elizabeth was born in 1844, in Monmouthshire, Wales. Her only sibling was her brother David C. Williams, born in 1846. The Williams family eventually emigrated to America, settling initially in Danville, Montour County, Pennsylvania, before finally settling in Hyde Park/Scranton sometime before 1860. George and Elizabeth's wedding ceremony took place in the Williams home in Hyde Park, and was officiated by the Rev. John P. Harris, pastor of the Welsh Baptist Church. Other details concerning the marriage of George Hares are found in his Civil War pension file, which will be discussed in greater detail below.

The following year on April 11, 1866, George and Elizabeth's only child Mary Jane was born. Unfortunately, less than a year later, on March 8, 1867, George Hares died and was buried in the Washburn Street cemetery in Hyde Park. At this point his cause of death at age 27 or 29* has not been determined, but was likely the result of an accident or illness. A check of the available mining fatality records for that year fail to list George as a casualty, and the local newspapers carried no notice of his death. The simple inscription on his stone (which today is practically illegible) reads as follows:

George Hares
Died March 8 1867
Aged 29 years

His cemetery marker in Washburn Street today is almost illegible; the stone is a typical white Civil War veteran's marker, and for years was accompanied by a GAR emblem and U.S. flag. Unfortunately the flag and GAR emblem had been removed the last time I visited the cemetery in 2001.

For many years there existed family tradition explaining George's death, that today must be largely discounted. The story goes that during the war George was wounded in the leg at the battle of Gettysburg, a wound that later required amputation, and that complications from the amputation ultimately caused his untimely death. There are several problems with this theory. First, George's regiment was not present at the Battle of Gettysburg, and, (as mentioned above), our ancestor made it through his three year enlistment without serious injury, and was simply discharged at the expiration of his term of service. No Gettysburg, and no wounded leg. Moreover, any such wound or disability incurred during the war would have been noted in his widow's Civil War pension application, yet the file makes no such claim. If George Hares did die from a leg wound or amputation, such an accident would have occurred after the war and after his marriage to Elizabeth Williams. Although it is conceivable that such an accident could happen in the always-dangerous mines, however at this point in time we must reject the above family tradition.

Although George's widow eventually remarried, in the 1870 census we find that Elizabeth and her daughter Mary Jane were living with Elizabeth's parents in Hyde Park, as follows:

5th Ward, City of Scranton, Luzerne Co., Pa.

Name Age Occupation Place of Birth
Williams, William 58 Procurer? Retired Wales
Mary 68 Keeping House Wales
David 24 Carpenter Wales
Hares, Elizabeth 27 at home Wales
Mary 5 at home PA
Sanders, William 16 Teamster Wales

Elizabeth's father William is shown as owning real estate valued at $4,500.00, and personal property valued at $1,000.00, an impressive sum for those days. His listing in the Scranton city directory and the 1880 census indicate that William was a grocer, and obviously a successful one.

On November 9, 1870, Elizabeth Hares remarried William B. Morley, a coal miner living in Hyde Park. William was born in Wales in 1846, and over the next sixteen years Elizabeth gave birth to at seven additional children, who became daughter Mary Jane's half brothers and sisters. The Morley family lived in a duplex at 538-540 North Hyde Park avenue, which is where we find them in census returns from 1880 to 1910. Elizabeth and her children lived at 540, and eventually her son-in-law and daughter, William and Mary Jane Thomas and their family moved next door to 540. William Morley died on August 5, 1901, and was buried in the family plot in the Washburn Street cemetery. His obituary appeared in the local paper the following day:

Scranton Times, 7 Aug 1901

William B. Morley, an old and respected resident of this side, passed away at an early hour yesterday morning after suffering for many years from miner's asthma. Mr. Morley was well known on this side, having passed forty years of his life here, and he is mourned by a host of friends and relatives. He was a veteran of the Civil War and a member of some of the local societies. The surviving members of his family are his widow and the following children: Mrs. William Thomas, Catherine, Minerva, Ellsworth, David and Daniel. The funeral services will be held from the late home tomorrow at 2 o'clock.

Following the death of her second husband, Elizabeth applied for a widow's pension based on the Civil War service of her first husband, George Hares. Elizabeth wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions on February 25, 1905:

540 N. Hyde Park Ave.
Scranton, Pa.
February 25, 1905

To The Commissioner of Pensions
Washington D.C.

Dear Sir,

I am a widow and believe I am entitled to a pension and I need it. I am the widow of George Hares - a soldier who served in the Army of the Rebellion. He died in 1867 - and in 1870 I married Wm. B. Morley and he died in 1901. I hear that this second marriage does not debar me from having a pension as the widow of Hares. If so, will you kindly send me blank application suitable to the case - and say if in applying I should call myself after the soldier's name "Hares" or my last husband's name "Morley".

Yours very truly,

Mrs. Wm. B. Morley

An affidavit was taken from a Martha Davis of Minersville, who was present at and a witness to Elizabeth's marriage to George Hares. This document supplies the date of the marriage, the name of the pastor, and the fact that the ceremony took place at the home of Elizabeth's parents. These documents are the only two in the file dated 1905. The rest of the documents are from 1910 and 1911. This seems odd, and my assumption is that in 1905 Elizabeth was not eligible for her husband's pension. As such, the 1910/11 documents were likely the product of Elizabeth applying or perhaps reapplying for her first husband's pension based on a new Pension act passed April 19, 1908.

On March 18, 1910, Elizabeth appeared before her local alderman in Scranton to give testimony regarding the relevant facts in her new pension application. Elizabeth signs the affidavit using only her mark (X), indicating that she was unable to write.

State of Pennsylvania
County of Lackawanna

On the date hereinafter set forth, personally appeared before me an Alderman in and for the 17th ward, Scranton, Lackawanna County, Penna., Elizabeth Morley, aged 60 years, a resident of the City of Scranton, Pa., at No. 540 N. Hyde Park Abe., who being duly sworn according to the law, makes the following declaration in order to obtain the pension provided by Act of Congress granting pensions to widows, approved April 19th, 1908. To wit:

That she is the widow of George Hares, who served during the Civil War under the name of George Hares, from the 22nd day of August, 1861 to the 5th day of November 1864, as a private in Company "I" 52 Pa. Vol., and who was honorably discharged from the serving having served at least 90 days therein, and who died in the 8th day of March, 1867, at Scranton; that she was married under the name of Elizabeth Williams to the said George Hares on the 11th day of May 1865, by John P. Harris, Pastor of the Welsh Baptist Church of Scranton, Pa., at Scranton, Pa., there being no legal barrier to such marriage as to any former marriage. That Elizabeth Hares has remarried since the death of the said George Hares to William B. Morley on the 9th day of November 1870 and who died on the 5th day of August 1901; that she has not remarried since the death of the said William B. Morley; That she has not heretofore applied for pension. She hereby appoints with full power of substitution and revocation herself as her true and lawful attorney to prosecute this claim.

Elizabeth X Morley
(her mark)

The statement that this was Elizabeth's initial application seems to be at odds with the two above-mentioned documents from 1905, but again, it appears likely that until the act of 1908 widows were ineligible for their husband's Civil War. pensions.

On April 20, 1910, Elizabeth was sent a reply from the Bureau of Pensions.

Eastern Division, Wid. Orig. 938 433,
Elizabeth Morley, Formerly widow of George Hares, Co. I. 52 Pa. Vol. Inf.

Mrs. Elizabeth Morley,
540 North Hyde Park Avenue,
Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Your above entitled claim for pension under the Act of April 19, 1908, is rejected on the grounds that you remarried prior to the date of filing your application for pension thereunder.

Very respectfully,


Elizabeth's pension application had been rejected for the reason that many Civil War widows were declared ineligible. She remarried, and filed her claim only after the death of her second husband. Her official application contains the notation "rejection on the ground(s) that (there is) no title under Act of April 19, 1908, claimant having remarried prior to the date of filing pending application. Other points not considered."

More than a year later, on July 15, 1911, Elizabeth's congressional representative, John R, Farr, wrote a letter to the Bureau of Pensions inquiring about the status of the claim. It seems unlikely that Elizabeth would have reapplied for her husband's pension so soon, and it's more likely that for some reason she never received the initial rejection letter of April 20, 1910. Representative Farr received a reply to his inquiry two days later on July 17th. The letter repeated the reason for the rejection. Elizabeth had remarried prior to filing her initial claim. The pension file ends here.

One additional item in the file is a description of George Hares, a valuable record. According to the paper George was 24 years old at the time of enlistment, 5' 4" tall, with blue eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion. His place of birth is given as south Wales, occupation, miner.

Elizabeth Morley composed her last will and testament on May 13, 1910. The details of her will seem to be at odds with how Elizabeth is depicted in her pension application, poor widow very much in need of assistance:

Last Will & Testament of Elizabeth Morley
Written 13 May 1910
Filed 22 Jan 1915, Lackawanna Co. Courthouse, Scranton

Know all men by these presents, that I, Elizabeth Morley of the City of Scranton, County of Lackawanna and State of Pennsylvania, being of sound mind, memory and understanding, do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner following, to wit:

I direct my Executor, hereafter named, to pay all my just debts and funeral expenses as soon as convenient after my decease.

I hereby give my machine to my daughter Catherine McWilliams, that is, my sewing machine.

I hereby give all my household furniture, bedding, and my piano, to my daughter Minerva Morley.

I hereby give Mary Jane Thomas, my daughter, One Hundred Dollars, Minerva C. Morley, my daughter, One Hundred Dollars, my son Ellsworth Morley, One Hundred Dollars, my daughter, Catherine McWilliams, One Hundred Dollars, and my son Daniel E. Morley, One Hundred Dollars.

All the residue and remainder of my property, whether real, personal or mixed, I hereby give, bequeath and devise to my children to wit: Mary Jane Thomas, David E. Morley, Minerva C. Morley, Ellsworth Morley, Catherine McWilliams and Daniel E. Morley, share and share alike.

I hereby make, constitute and appoint Frederick Davis of North Sumner Avenue, Scranton, Pa. The executor of this, my last will and testament.

I hereby revoke any former will by me at any time heretofore made.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Thirteenth day of May Anno Domino, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ten (1910),

Elizabeth Morley (Seal)

In 1910 did Elizabeth really have the financial means to give five of her children $100 each upon her death? If so, this is a far cry from Elizabeth's desperate circumstances as reported a decade earlier by documents in the pension file of George Hares. We know that she owned her house at 538/540 North Hyde Park avenue, and perhaps she was counting on the funds coming from the sale of her home. There are no final administration documents in Elizabeth's estate file, so we don't know how her estate was finally settled, no how much Elizabeth was worth at the time of her death.

Elizabeth Williams Hares-Morley died on January 15, 1915 at age 70. She was buried in the large Williams-Morley plot in the Washburn Street cemetery, joining her parents William and Mary Williams, and her two husbands, George Hares and William Morley. Notices regarding her death and funeral appeared in Scranton newspapers in the days that followed.

The Scranton Times, January 17, 1915

The funeral of Mrs. Elizabeth Morley, of 540 North Hyde Park avenue, will be held at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon from the late home. Services will be conducted in the First Baptist church at 2:30 o'clock. Burial will be in Washburn street cemetery.

The Scranton Times, January 19, 1915

The funeral of Mrs. Elizabeth Morley took place yesterday afternoon from her late home, 540 North Hyde Park avenue. A brief service was held at the home, after which the cortege moved to the First Welsh Baptist church, where services were conducted by Rev. T.T. Richards and Rev. George W. Wellburn. Burial was made in Washburn street cemetery. He pallbearers were David Parry, Fred Davis, Thomas M. Jones, John W. Jones, Rowland Thomas and James A. Evans.

George Hares had come to America as a young man. He became a citizen, and soon thereafter answered his country's call to arms in the early days of the Civil War. His record shows that he served honorably during the war, returned home to Hyde Park, resumed his career as a miner, married and started a family. Unfortunately, for reasons not yet known, he died in his early 30s, and we are left to wonder what George, Elizabeth and their family might have accomplished had he survived.

Elizabeth Williams had arrived in America as a young girl, settled in Scranton and married two Welsh coal miners, and two Civil War veterans, George Hares, who died prematurely at age 29, and William Morley, who became one of Scranton's many industrial causalities, dying from "miner's asthma" at age 55. She raised a family through the turbulent times of Scranton's labor unrest, and today the success of her descendants are a tribute to her and her two husbands.

Jeffrey L. Thomas
Revised October 2004

Below: The William-Morley-Hares plot at the Washburn Street Cemetery, Scranton, Pa.


Documents & Sources mentioned in this essay:

History of Shipham Parish, from The Heart of Mendip, by Francis A. Knight
Christening Record - 21 Aug 1834, St. Leonard's, Shipham
Photos & history of St. Leonard's Church, Shipham
1841 Census, Shipham, Somerset, England
1851 Census, Brynmawr, Breconshire, Wales
Naturalization Documents: Paper of Intent
Naturalization Documents: U.S. Citizenship Papers
Civil War Discharge Papers
History of the 52nd Pennsylvania Regiment
Marriage details from Civil War Pension File
Cemetery Marker, Washburn Street Cemetery, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Death certificate of Elizabeth Williams Hares-Morley, January 15, 1915
George Hares' father-in-law, William C. Williams of Scranton


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