Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: James P. Skiles

You may not be able to read this stone. The writing on it is:


Died Jan. 27, 1885

In the 70. Year of His Life

He was my 3rd great-grandfather, born in somewhere in Pennsylvania, died in Washington County, PA--probably in the area of Thompsonville.

His wife was Martha Hair (or perhaps Hare), and they were the parents of 9 children, including my great-great-grandfather, James Hare Skiles.

At the time when I found his grave, I had never seen that hand symbol pointing up before, so I was interested in whether it had some special significance. I found this:

A hand with the index finger pointing upward symbolizes the hope of heaven
When he died, he left one of the most interesting will that I've found for a family member.

Will of James P. Skiles

(Willbook 14, FHL US/CAN Film 1318308)

I James P. Skiles of Thompsonville in the County of Washington and State of Pennsylvania, do _____(?) and declare my last will and testament to be as follows, viz: I bequeath to my wife Martha all my household goods, out of which she is to give to my son Ebenezer our bedstead, one featherbed and bedding therefor.

I bequeath to my daughter Rebecca the picture now in her possession of my deceased daughter Mary Anne.

I bequeath to my daughter Martha the picture of my deceased daughter Rachel now in the possession of Wm J. Wallace.

I will that my executor sell and convey in such manner and upon such terms as to him shall seem best, all my real estate and that the proceeds thereof, and of my personal property not specifically bequeathed be applied first in payment of my debts and funeral expenses, and that the residue after payment thereof be invested by him during the life of my wife in National State or Municipal bonds, or on first mortgage or real estate that the net income therefrom be paid to her for and during her life and that at her death the principal be divided among my children then living, or hereunto born of my children who are or shall be dead, Such children to take together such share as their parent would have taken if living. In case my wife shall elect to claim to have any part of my of my estate set apart to her by virtue of any statute allowing an exemption in her favor she shall take nothing under this will.

In case any legatee under this will shall present any claim against my estate, he or she so claiming shall receive nothing under my will but shall be excluded and not counted in the distribution.

I do hereby appoint Wm. J. Wallace to be my executor of this my last will and testament.

James P. Skiles {L.S.}

Signed sealed and declared in the presence of us in in the presence of each other and at his request this twenty fourth day of July one thousand eight and eighty-three.

George Guinn
H. D. Gilkison

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Washington County S.S.

Be it remembered. That upon this 5th day of February 1885 before me John F. Cooper, Register for the Probate of Wills and granting Letters of Administration within and for said county came Geo. Guinn and H. D. Gilkeson the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing attached will of James P. Skiles deceased who after being duly qualified according to law depose and say : That they were present at the execution of said will saw the testator sign the same, heard him publish it as and for his last will and testament; that they at his request, in his presence and in the presence of each other subscribed their names thereto as witnesses.

Sworn and subscribed before
John F. Cooper

George Guinn
H. D. Gilkeson

And now Feb 5, 1885; It being adjudged that the said will has been duly proved; it is admitted to probate and letters issued to Wm J. Wallace in said testament named who was qualified by

John F. Cooper

I still hope I can discover who his parents were. There was one man in Washington County, a Gideon Skiles who came there from Lancaster, PA, in the early 1800s who would have been the right age to be his father, but I haven't found any connection between James P. Skiles and Gideon Skiles. There is a fairly large Skiles family in the area around Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, but when going thru wills from that area, I have found that most of them had sons names James but none of them indicated that their James Skiles moved to Washington County. Maybe someone out there knows?

You can see an entry for James P. Skiles in my database at Rootsweb, and you can visit his entry on Find a Grave.

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