Welsh Family Reunion in Philadelphia in 1936

I found a newspaper clipping tucked inside a copy of a terrific family history book printed in 1885, The Maris Family in the United States: A Record of the Descendants of George and Alice Maris, 1683-1885. The book is beautifully printed, and contains several high-quality images of family members, including John Welsh (my great-great-grandfather), as well as his ancestors and descendants. His mother was Jemima Maris (1775-1854), who married the elder John Welsh. The newspaper clipping, evidently from a Philadelphia newspaper, gives a good account of a reunion of Welsh family members on October 17, 1936 at “Spring Bank,” where John Welsh had lived until his death in 1886. The book also had a copy of the guest list for the reunion, a family tree chart that was drawn by the elder John Welsh, and the invitation to the reunion party. Following is the text of the newspaper article:

Welsh Descendants Hold Reunion at ‘Springbank’

By Judy Jennings

The Biddle Family—and they are legion—go in for reunions in a big way. And in 1931 the clans, descendants of William and Sarah Kemp Biddle who landed on the shores of New Jersey in the autumn of 1681, had a more than interesting get-together.

Now the Welsh descendants gather. This past week-end saw the first reunion of about 100 members of this family which long has been prominent in the annals of Philadelphia. It was held Saturday night at “Springbank,” the lovely old Colonial house at 6700 Wissahickon ave., now occupied by members of the family, Mr. and Mrs. J. Somers Smith, Jr.

To us, the most interesting thing of all is how the reunion got its start. It seems that last summer when Mr. Edward Lowber Stokes was coming down form Southampton by boat, one of his companions at dinner was introduced to him as Mr. Lawrence Perkins, of Newport, R.I. It wasn’t long before they discovered they were first cousins through their connections with the Welsh family of Philadelphia. And they had never even met before.

So Mr. Perkins decided to have a reunion and introduce cousins who never knew of each other’s existence. “Springbank” was chosen as the scene of the party because this old house is about 200 years old and was formerly the home of the Honorable John Welsh, a prominent member of the family and one of the three sons of John Welsh and Jemina [sic; should be Jemima] Maris who married about 1775 and lived on Market st. near Front.

John Welsh, Jr., was American Minister to the Court of St. James, appointed by President Hayes in 1878. He was married twice, his first wife being Rebecca Bass Miller and the second, Mary Lowber. From his brother-in-law, Dr. Edward Lowber, he purchased “Springbank” in 1840. Before Dr. Lowber had acquired the propery in 1820, the place was a sanitarium.

Mr. J. Somers Smith, Sr., inherited the place and now his son and daughter-in-law, the J. Somers Smith, Jr’s., live there while Mr. Smith occupies another house on the same estate. Mr. and Mrs. Smith assisted Mr. Perkins in receiving and among the large number of other guests who gathered for the reunion were Mr. and Mrs. Welsh Strawbridge, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lowber Stokes, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wood, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. C. Heatly Dulles, Miss Louise Strawbridge, Miss Anne Strawbridge, Mrs. William T. Tiers and her daughters, Miss Mary Lowber and Miss Alice Lowber, of Essex, N.Y.; and another daughter, Mrs. Houghton of Boston, the former Helen Lowber; Mr. and Mrs. Standley Stokes, Mrs. Harold Weeks, of New York; Mr. Russell Perkins, of Pomfret, Conn.; Mr. Howard Hitchcock, of Wakefield, R.I.; Mr. and Mrs. David Sharp and their son, Mr. David Sharp, Jr., of Berwyn, and Mr. and Mrs. Howard Myers.