Samuel Boorem was the youngest of the Boorem brothers and was born on the family farm in Paradise Valley, Monroe county, Pennsylvania in 1842. When he was only two years old his father John died in an accident in the woods near the family farm. Family tradition claims that following their father's premature death, sons Joseph, Jacob and young John Boorem assumed the responsibilities of running the family farm. By the time of the 1850 census we see that Jacob or "Jake" Boorem had taken over as the head of the household, although mother Elizabeth still retained ownership of the farm. Young Samuel makes his first census appearance that year as an eight year old child. Ten years later in the 1860 census, Samuel is still living on his mother's farm in ParadiseValley. This time he's listed as a 19 year old "Day Laborer."
Sometime in early 1860 Samuel married Ellen Smith, and their only child Steward was born in Paradise Valley on 11 March 1862. At the time of this writing, I have been unable to find Samuel and Helen's marriage date or location, nor have I been able to identify Samuel and family in the 1870 census. Fortunately a biography of his brother John found in a 1900 publication titled, "Biographical Record of N.E. Pennsylvania," provides a vital clue about Samuel, by telling us that, "Samuel married Ellen Smith. He was a railroad conductor in Scranton for over 30 years, where he died, leaving one child."
In the 1880 census we get our first glimpse of Samuel Boorem and family living in Scranton's 5th Ward, however the entry is quite confusing, as follows:
Samuel BOOREN, Head, 38, Conductor
Ellen E. BOOREN, Wife, 36
Stewart BOOREN, Son,17, Brakeman
George BOOREN, Son ,14, at school
Nettie BOOREN, Dau, 10
Alma MASTERS, Other,19, Servant
As you can see the returns list Samuel, wife Ellen, and son Stewart. The problem is that there are also children George and Nettie Boorem listed as Samuel's son and daughter. This presents a problem because other records indicate that Stewart was Samuel and Ellen's only child. Nor is there an indication of anyone else in the Boorem family named George or Nettie. The other possibility is that George and Nettie were Samuel's children, but they died before reaching adulthood. Locating the family in the 1870 census might very well answer these questions.
In 1886, Samuel's son Steward Boorem married Hattie Rhinehart in Scranton, and their only child Helen was born 7 March 1891. Unfortunately Steward Boorem died of "Consumption" on February 11, 1894 one month short of his 32nd birthday. His short will was written two days prior to his death, and reads as follows: (punctuation added for clarity)
In the name of God Amen, I Steward Boorem of the City of Scranton County of Lackawanna and State of Pa, railroad conductor, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make and declare this to be my last will and testament in manner following. That is to say I order that all my just debts, funeral expenses and charges of proving this my will be in the first place fully paid and satisfied. And after payment thereof and any part thereof, I give and bequeath to my wife Hattie M. Boorem, all of my goods and chattels, debts, ready money, effects and other (of) my estate whatsoever and when so ever (?) real and personal. I give and bequeath the same and any part and parcel thereof. And I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my wife Mrs. Hattie M. Boorem administrator of this my last will and testament, and declare this only to be my will and testament. In witness whereof I the said Steward Boorem the testator have to this my only will and testament set my hand and seal this 9th day of February A D 1894Steward was buried in an unmarked grave in Forest Hill cemetery in nearby Dunmore, in a six-grave plot purchased by his wife Hattie. Today the plot at Forest Hill contains the remains of Steward Boorem and four members of a family named "Vipond," whose relationship (if any) is unknown. In the 1900 census we find the widowed Hattie (Harriet) Boorem and daughter Helen living in Stroudsburg with the family her sister Emma and her husband Charles Reever (?). Hattie eventually remarried a man named Ralph Wescott and had at least one child by her second husband, a son named Roy born circa 1904.
Steward Boorem (seal)
Sometime in the late 1800s, Samuel Boorem purchased a house located at 1742 Monsey Avenue in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, and it is here that we find Samuel and his wife Ellen in census returns for 1900 and 1910. In 1900, Samuel and Ellen are the only individuals present in the household, Samuel's occupation listed as R.R. (Railroad) Conductor. The returns indicate that Samuel was unemployed for five months during the previous year.
On June 7, 1905, Samuel Boorem composed his last will and testament. Like his son Steward's will, the document was short and simple, Samuel leaving everything to his wife, with the exception of $5.00 for his granddaughter Helen, and naming his wife executor of his estate.
I Samuel Boorem of Scranton in the County of Lackawanna and State of Pennsylvania, being of sound mind, memory and understanding do make my last will and testament in manner and form following. I give devise and bequeath to my wife Ellen E. Boorem all personal property and Real Estate. I give to Helen Boorem, my granddaughter five dollars. I hereby appoint Ellen E. Boorem my wife Executive (executor) of this my last will and testament.
Signed Sealed and Declared by the above named Samuel Boorem as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who have hereunto Subscribed our names at his Request as Witnesses thereto in the presence of the Said Testator and of each other.
Geo W. Harrington
June 7, 1905
The 1910 census indicates that the 68-year-old Samuel was no longer working, an indication that by that time he had retired from the railroad. It would be his last appearance in the census.
Samuel Boorem died of Pneumonia on 2 Feb 1913, and was buried in Forest Hill cemetery in a single grave that was purchased by his first wife Helen shortly thereafter. He was 71 years old at the time of his death, and joined his son Stewart and sister Sarah Boorem Robbins at Forest Hill. Samuel Boorem rests in a section of several hundred, single, mostly unmarked graves, lot number 2614. His grave is unmarked. We do not know why his first wife Helen, who Samuel had apparently divorced years earlier, purchased her ex-husband's burial plot, however, since I have been unable to locate 2nd wife Ellen in the 1920 census, it is possible that she pre-deceased her husband. If so, with both his son and his second wife already dead, perhaps it fell to Helen to purchase the single grave for Samuel.
It's a shame bad that more family tradition concerning Samuel Boorem has not survived to the present. He appears to have lived in Scranton for most of his life, where he was near at least three of his sisters along with various nieces, nephews and cousins. Nevertheless, the research mentioned in this paper has begun to reclaim some of this lost family tradition, so that Samuel Boorem, can take his rightful place among his better-known brothers and sisters.
Below: single grave lot No. 2614, Forest Hill Cemetery, Dunmore, Pa.
Final resting place of Samuel Boorem.
Death certificate of Samuel Boorem
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Text and photographs copyright © 2003 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved