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An Uncommon Man of Pennsylvania

Thomas A. Appleby




     Thomas A. Appleby was born on 2nd of May 1843, in Dublin Township, PA.  He died at the age of eighty-one on the 12th of July 1930 in Mount Union, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

      Within the boundaries of those years, he lived a life based on the principals of "love of God, love of Country, love of Family".

      As a former publisher and editor and later, as a writer and historian, Thomas Appleby wrote a column for the Mount Union Times, titled, "Annals of the Common People".  Including himself  in this category, he wrote a brief analysis of his life.  On September 13, 1928, he was the keynote speaker at the Appleby family reunion.  With these two sources, it is possible to walk the road with him as the farm boy matures into a highly respected gentleman.

      He wrote of his love of family: "Ours was a very happy home, well- governed and orderly.  Father was the ruler absolute, and mother was the good angel of the home.  We were very happy until July 14, 1856, when father died from being kicked by a horse.  Thus suddenly all was changed.  We were orphans and too young to know what it meant.  

    Through the goodness of our Mother and the goodness of God we grew up."  He wrote at length of his brothers with great love and admiration.

      My great-grandfather, John Appleby, came over from England, about the middle of the eighteenth century.  

There seems to have been three brothers" John, William and James.  Their first residence was in the Cumberland Valley in the neighborhood of Newville and the Big Spring Presbyterian Church.  From this section they separated,  John coming into what is now Huntingdon County,  and William and James going south, following the same great valley.

      John Appleby was a farmer, carving out his farm from the vast forest.  He was one of the founders of the Shade Gap Presbyterian Church and his body was among the first to be buried in the nearby cemetery.  His grave is unmarked."

      John, jr. and Priscilla (Montague) Appleby were the parents of Daniel, born 1840; Thomas A., born 1843; John 3d, born 1847; James, born 1850 and George, born 1853.   He and his wife were the parents of two sons; John, jr and Alexander, and daughters, Margaret, Jane, Nancy and Martha. Thomas A. was first married to Martha McNeal, daughter of James McNeal of Shade Gap area. Martha died six years after her marriage, leaving two children, John and Catharine.  His second marriage was to Martha's sister, Kate C. McNeal.  Kate, having cared for her sister's children prior, married the widower, Thomas A. and they became the

 parents of five children; Donald, Martha, Robert, Janet and Nellie.

      He wrote of his love of Country:  "I enlisted in Company 'K', 202nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers in September 1864 and was discharged in August 1865."

      "I heard Lincoln make his second inaugural address in 1864 and grieved at his untimely death.  I have twice shaken  hands with General. U.S. Grant, the Conqueror of the Great Rebellion.  I have exchanged military salutes with General

 William Sherman and General Philip Sheridan.  I have met President Grover Cleveland, once, and President Woodrow Wilson many times, and Theodore Roosevelt, I especially loved.  I believe him worthy to be named with Washington and Lincoln as the three greatest Americans."

      He wrote of his love of God:  "I have tried to lead a life in harmony with God's plan.  To me the great pattern for guidance has been that of Christ and His teachings."  Thomas A. Appleby was a Member and Sunday School Superintendent for fifty-nine years at Mount Union Presbyterian Church.

      To those gathering at the Appleby Family reunion in 1928, Thomas Appleby, spoke, "We should know each other better.  We are brethren of the same tribe.  Our history is common to all.  Our ancestors were good people and worth of remembrance.  Let us cherish their memories and practice their virtues.  They were industrious and they were honest. 

    They had a faith in God that was sublime.  This is our heritage and it is good, better than silver or gold."


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revised:  14 May 2001

reviewed:  05 March 2005