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Descendants of William and Janet Thomson Ramsay

24. MORRIS4 RAMSAY (WILLIAM3, ROBERT2, WILLIAM1) was born Jun 4, 1848 in Fordell, Dalgety, Fife, Scotland163, and died Dec 29, 1892 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co, PA164. He married SADIE MARIAH HELMAN GREER May 15, 1870 in Westmoreland Co, PA165, daughter of JACOB HELMAN and MARIA LONG. She was born Jan 1, 1853 in Larimer, N. Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland Co, PA166, and died Jul 12, 1927 in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland Co, PA167.

Notes for M
Birthplace: Fordell, a village located in the parish of Dalgety, Fife, had "an extensive colliery...employing nearly half the population,'' according to Westwood's Directory for the Counties of Fife & Kinross, published in 1862, when Morris was 14 years old. My husband and I visited Fordell in 2000. The local pub owner greeted us and his patrons told stories about the mines in Fordell that have now been exhausted. The only evidence of the once-thriving colliery was the former superintendent's cottage. The miners' pitiful housing had long since been torn down. The graveyard adjacent to the church at Mossgreen was in poor condition since most of the stones were either too weathered to read or had sunk into the ground. Giant black bulls grazing behind a stone wall seemed to be the only guardians of the cemetery. There was, however, a spectacular view of the downward slope, of about five miles, to the shores of the Forth and the magnificent bridge that spans the waters there.

Mentor: Morris was a mentor to his nephew, Erskine Ramsay, who became a millionaire. Erskine's biography makes numerous references to the part Morris played in his nephew's life, including his serving as a math tutor to the boy who would eventually donate over five million dollars to educational and other causes.

Occupation: "Morris Ramsay, after completing a common school education, began learning the trade of machinist at Dunfermline, his birthplace, and completed the same at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in which city his parents located upon their arrival in this country in 1852. From 1864 to 1869 he worked in the mines of the Westmoreland Coal Company, and in the latter year was appointed mining boss at the Shafton coal mines, in which capacity he served for ten years. He then removed to Houtzdale, Clearfield county, Pennsylvania, and was superintendent of the Kittanning Coal Company's mines for two years. In 1882 he became superintendent of mines at Morewood; he was transferred two years later to the position of mining engineer for the Frick Coke Company, his services in this capacity being of great value to his employers. In 1886 he was made superintendent by the above company of their coke plants at Morewood, Warden, Dillinger, Alice and Tarr's. The ovens at these works numbered 1151, of the eight thousand owned or operated by the Southwest Coal and Coke Company....Among the works of Mr. Ramsay's engineering in the Connellsville coke region are: The Rist tipple, the air shaft at Morewood, the Trotter plant and the new Henry Clay coke works near Broad Ford, Fayette county, Pennsylvania." (Jordan, pp. 334-335) Morris and his brother Robert also held management positions during the Morewood Mine Riot in 1891.
His death: In Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait, by Martha Frick Symington Sanger, the author notes about great-grandfather's death: "The H.C. Frick Coke Company's Morewood Superintendent, Morris Ramsay, who had named his infant daughter after Frick's wife, Adelaide, was fatally injured in a carriage accident....Although Ramsay was sent by Frick to a Pittsburgh hospital, he died in surgery. Frick served as a pallbearer at Ramsay's funeral and offered financial aid to his devastated widow." (p. 231) For some years, this version of Morris Ramsay's death was an accepted family fact and as shown above, found its way into print.

However, in 2002, I obtained a copy of Morris' death certificate from the Allegheny County coroner's office. I was stunned to learn that the cause of his death was listed as cancer of the pancreas. In September 2002, I returned to Greensburg and searched through the microfilm of the then-weekly Tribune-Herald. I did not find an obituary but did find two other mentions. "Morris Ramsey [sic], Superintendent of the Morewood Works, was taken to Dr. Sutton's private hospital, Pittsburg, to have an operation performed in hopes of benefiting his health, which has been on the decline for some months. The operation will be performed Thursday." This item was reported on Jan. 4, 1893. The following week, the paper reported that Morris had died while undergoing an operation. Then in January 2003, Marjorie Ramsay Laing sent me two obituaries from the Mt. Pleasant Journal that clearly state that Morris died of cancer. How the carriage accident story got started I do not know but it was clearly a myth.

Morris Ramsay died at 11 P.M. on Dec. 29, 1892 at Dr. R.S. Sutton's private hospital at the age of 44 years, 6 months, 25 days. He had filed his will only a month previously. Pictures of Morris Ramsay and his family, home and colleagues may be viewed on my website ( in the photo section. In the text section, there is the full text of his biography, obituaries and his will.

More About M
Burial: Jan 2, 1893, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Cause of Death: cancer of the pancreas
Census: 1870, N. Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland Co, PA
Immigrated: Apr 23, 1852, sailed from Glasgow. Scotland, arriving in New York in June168
Immigration 2: 1863, from Scotland via Liverpool, England, to Philadelphia, ship Tuscarara169
Namesake: his forename is surname of his grandmother, Elizabeth Morris
Naturalized: Sep 30, 1869, Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co, PA
Occupation: Chief Engineer for the H.C. Frick Coke Company170
Religion: Presbyterian
Residence: 1892, Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland Co, PA
Will: Nov 2, 1892, date filed; No. 12 of 1893, Westmoreland Co, PA

Notes for S
Parentage: Sadie's natural parents were Maria Long and Jacob Helman. Sadie's mother died two days after giving birth to her. Apparently, her father felt that he could not care for her properly. The Greers, next door neighbors of Jacob in the 1850 census, agreed to raise Sadie as their own since they were childless. The 1860 census shows Sadie, aged seven, living with the Greers in Larimer, N. Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland Co., as Sadie Helman. Her natural father had moved elsewhere by that time. Years passed, and during that time Sadie was provided with every advantage including her own piano, recalls Marjorie Ramsay Laing.

George Greer was born in 1817 in Westmoreland Co, PA, and died after 1880. His first wife, Sadie's adoptive mother, was Sarah Ewing, born in 1827 in PA, and died on Nov. 18, 1869. In the census for 1870, the year Sadie was married, George Greer, recently a widower, listed his occupation as "gentleman" and declared his property was worth $10,000. (George would marry twice more, to Harriet Baughman and then after her death, to Hannah Unknown. Hannah died after 1900 in Greensburg, PA.)

On the occasion of Sadie's marriage to Morris, George Greer legally adopted Sadie, then just over the age of 17, so that she could be his heir. After being told that the man she had known as a family friend was indeed her natural father, Sadie became reacquainted with the Helmans. Jacob had since remarried and fathered several other children. The Helmans, Longs and the Greers had all lived in the Larimer area and each family accepted Sadie equally, it was said. (Sadie's death certificate lists her father as George A. Greer.)

Marriage: As her husband pursued his ascending career in mining, Sadie was left to care for the children. Of her thirteen children, only nine were alive at the time of the 1900 US census. Two babies were stillborn. Two more young daughters died in a diphtheria epidemic. In fact, within a two-year period, Sadie had lost three children, her first grandchild and her husband. Prior to those deaths, the family had at least enjoyed a sense of luxury in the Victorian "Big House" in Mount Pleasant that still exists today. The current owner, a non-family member, is said to have restored the house consistent with the period in which the Ramsays lived there.

Moving: The Ramsay family bible, through the record of births of the children of Sadie and Morris, shows clearly where the family lived in PA: Shafton, Penn Twp, Westmoreland Co., 1870-1878; Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, 1880; Loyalhanna, Derry Twp, Westmoreland Co,1881; Monastery, Unity Twp, Westmoreland Co.,1882; Trotter, Fayette Co, 1884-1887; Morewood, E. Huntingdon Twp, Westmoreland Co., 1887 onward.

The 1880 Household:
Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace
Morris RAMSEY Self M Male W 31 SCOT Supt. At Coal Mines SCOT SCOT
Sadia M. RAMSEY Wife M Female W 27 PA Keeping House PA PA
William RAMSEY Son S Male W 9 PA SCOT PA
Sadia M RAMSEY Dau S Female W 7 PA SCOT PA
Lizzia A. RAMSEY Dau S Female W 5 PA SCOT PA
Hannah G. RAMSEY Dau S Female W 3 PA SCOT PA
George RAMSEY Son S Male W 2 PA SCOT PA
Harriet DAVIS Other S Female W 20 WALES Servant WALES WALES
Census Place Houtzdale, Clearfield, Pennsylvania

Sadie and Morris had 40 grandchildren, only two of which were born during Morris' short lifetime. Their first grandchild, Morris Byers Ramsay, died just a few days before the death of Morris.

The census data at the turn of the century shows that Sadie was living with daughters Alice and Adelaide at 242 Walnut Street, Mount Pleasant. Sadie had owned her home, free of mortgage, for seven years. "Mrs. Sadie M. Ramsay, widow of Morris Ramsay, resides in a comfortable home in Mount Pleasant, is highly esteemed in the community, and enjoys the acquaintance of a wide circle of friends." (Jordan, p. 335) Sadie continued to live with Adelaide until her death that occurred at 3:30 P.M. on July 12, 1927. She had outlived her husband by 35 years. She died at the age of 74 years, 6 months, 13 days.

Her obituary read: "Mrs. Sadie Greer Ramsay, widow of the late Morris Ramsay, died late Tuesday afternoon at her home, 729 Walnut Street. She had only been sick since the previous Saturday. Deceased was 74 years of age on last New Year’s Day. She is survived by one brother, William Helman, of South Greensburg and by the following children: William Ramsay, Bethlehem; Mrs. Sadie Eaton, Brownsville; Mrs. John L. Shields, Walnut Corner; George Ramsay, Bradenville; Mrs. Christena Stahl, Brownsville; Robert Ramsay, Greensburg; Miss Alice I. Ramsay, 729 Walnut Street; and Mrs. John P. Clarke, Jr., Dormont. Her descendants numbered 40 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at the home at 2 o’clock Friday afternoon followed by internment in the family lot in the Union cemetery located at Irwin."

Pictures of Sadie and her family and the text of her will and obituaries may be viewed on my website at:

More About S
Alternate spelling: Sadie Maria; Sarah
Burial: Jul 15, 1927, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Cause of Death: stroke
Namesake: of her adoptive mother, Sarah (Sadie) Ewing
Occupation: homemaker
Religion: Presbyterian; Reunion Presbyterian Church, Mt. Pleasant, PA
Will: Oct 30, 1925, date filed; No. 443 of 1925, Westmoreland Co, PA

More About M
Marriage: May 15, 1870, Westmoreland Co, PA171
Children of M
40. i.   WILLIAM5 RAMSAY, b. Nov 23, 1870, Shafton, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. Apr 13, 1943, Easton, PA.
41. ii.   SADIE MARIA RAMSAY, b. Mar 16, 1873, Shafton, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. Apr 4, 1946, Brownsville, Fayette Co, PA.
42. iii.   ELIZABETH SHARPE RAMSAY, b. Aug 14, 1874, Shafton, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. Feb 5, 1904, Fairmont, W. VA.
43. iv.   HANNAH GREER RAMSAY, b. Jun 17, 1876, Shafton, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. Aug 20, 1968, Greensburg, Westmoreland Co, PA.
44. v.   GEORGE MORRIS RAMSAY, b. Mar 25, 1878, Shafton, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. Oct 3, 1934, Bradenville, Westmoreland Co, PA.
  vi.   INFANT RAMSAY, b. Jan 29, 1880, Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA172; d. Jan 29, 1880, Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA173.
Burial: 1880, Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA

45. vii.   MARY CHRISTINA RAMSAY, b. Apr 13, 1881, Loyalhanna, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. May 8, 1968, Hempfield Twp, Westmoreland Co, PA.
  viii.   JANET ROBERTA RAMSAY, b. Sep 20, 1882, Monastery, Westmoreland Co, PA174; d. Sep 16, 1891, Morewood, Westmoreland Co, PA175.
Burial: 1891, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Cause of Death: diphtheria
Misc: died in the epidemic

46. ix.   ROBERT ALEXANDER RAMSAY, b. Sep 16, 1884, Trotter, Fayette Co, PA; d. Jun 29, 1970, Ligonier, Westmoreland Co, PA.
  x.   ALICE ISABELA RAMSAY, b. Mar 13, 1886, Trotter, Fayette Co, PA176; d. Sep 2, 1963, Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland Co, PA177.
Burial: 1963, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Census: 1910, Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland Co, PA
Misc: never married
Occupation: 1930, book keeper, bank

  xi.   NELLIE CATHARINE RAMSAY, b. Oct 4, 1887, the "Big House," Morewood, Westmoreland Co, PA178; d. Aug 12, 1891, Morewood, Westmoreland Co, PA179.
Burial: 1891, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Cause of Death: diphtheria
Misc: died in the epidemic

  xii.   INFANT DAUGHTER RAMSAY, b. Jan 5, 1890, Morewood, Westmoreland Co, PA180; d. Jan 5, 1890, Morewood, Westmoreland Co, PA181.
Burial: 1890, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA

47. xiii.   ADELAIDE FRICK RAMSAY, b. Feb 3, 1892, Morewood, Westmoreland Co, PA; d. Jul 14, 1982, Jefferson Boro, PA.

25. GEORGE SHARPE4 RAMSAY (WILLIAM3, ROBERT2, WILLIAM1) was born Sep 2, 1857 in Dunfermline, Landward, Fife, Scotland182, and died Feb 20, 1911 in St. Mary's, Elk Co, PA183. He married JEAN R. CAMERON 1880 in Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA, daughter of PETER CAMERON and UNKNOWN. She was born Apr 1859 in PA184, and died Aft. Apr 2, 1930 in St. Mary's, Elk Co, PA.

Notes for G
George was also previously: a blacksmith and a pit boss for Loyalhanna Coke Company and White Coal Company; coal superintendent at Morewood, PA, at the Colorado Coal and Mining Co. in Colorado, at the Davis Coal Company in West Virginia, and a company in Wyoming (Walter notes). In 1910, my grandfather, Robert Alexander Ramsay, Sr., was living with George in St. Mary's just prior to his marriage to Nina Allshouse.

More About G
Burial: Feb 24, 1911, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Census: 1870; 1900; 1910
Immigrated: 1863, from Scotland via Liverpool, England, to Philadelphia, ship Tuscarara185
Misc: 1900, his immigration date on census, like brother William's, conflicts with Childers
Occupation: General Superintendent, Shawmut Coal Co, St. Mary's, Elk Co, PA

More About J
Burial: 1930, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Census: 1930, St. Mary's, Elk Co, PA; N. Michael St.
Misc: parents born in Scotland; she lived in St. Mary's Twp, Elk Co

More About G
Marriage: 1880, Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA
Children of G
  i.   CHRISTINE CAMERON5 RAMSAY, b. Nov 12, 1881, Snowshoe, PA186; d. Jun 8, 1969, St. Mary's, Elk Co, PA.
Burial: Jun 10, 1969, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Census: Bet. 1910 - 1930, St. Mary's, Elk Co, PA; N. Michael St.
Education: graduate, Mansfield State Teacher's College
Member: Order of the Eastern Star
Misc: never married
Occupation: teacher for 40 years in St. Mary's, PA.
Religion: Presbyterian

48. ii.   ELIZABETH M. RAMSAY, b. Jul 1883, PA; d. 1968, PA.
  iii.   GRACE A. RAMSAY, b. Jul 1891, PA187; d. 1921, PA.
  More About GRACE A. RAMSAY:
Alternate spelling: Jeanne Grace C., 1900 US census
Burial: 1921, Union Cemetery, Irwin, Westmoreland Co, PA
Census: Bet. 1910 - 1920, Elks Co, PA.
Misc: never married
Occupation: teacher

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