Wednesday, September 5, 2012


The following is a profile of the first Fleming to settle in Chester County, Pennsylvania
FLEMING, WILLIAM, the earliest member of this family in Chester County, was a native of Greenock, Scotland. It is related that he had an uncle who, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, sailed a ship from Greenock to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for tobacco and wheat. Once while in port at Greenock he persuaded his nephew, William Fleming, to make a voyage with him to America. He consented, and arriving in the Chesapeake in the harvest-time, went ashore at the instance of his uncle to help the farmers, as it would be some time before the ship would be ready to make the return voyage. While thus engaged the ship sailed without him, and he then learned that his uncle had bound him as a servant. He took the matter philosophically, served the farmer faithfully for the time agreed upon, and then made his way to the settlements on the Delaware. Here he resided with an Englishman, Richard Moore, in Concord township, (now) Delaware Co., and married Mary, one of his daughters. In 1714 he removed with his family and settled in East Caln township, Chester Co. The family possessions were at first on the east side of the west branch of the Brandywine, at and near the present Coatesville. Here he erected a dwelling, about where the rolling-mill of Huston & Penrose now stands. The first survey to William Fleming is dated May 29, 1714, and was for 207 acres and allowance, and he soon thereafter became the owner of a tract of 400 acres. The family subsequently became the owners of large tracts on the west side of the creek, in Sadsbury and West Caln, and their possessions extended along the valley on each side of the stream for a considerable distance. William Fleming died before 1733, leaving
sons— John, William, Henry, George, James, and Peter— and daughters, Mary, wife of David Cowan, and Susannah, daughter of William Cowan.
George Fleming, one of the sons, became the owner of a tract in West Caln, containing 230 acres, by warrant dated June 14, 1744, and, as recited in a subsequent conveyance, "built and erected a water corn-mill, bolting-mills, mill-house, and other improvements upon the same land." He died unmarried, and the land descended to his nephew James, the eldest son and heir-at-law of his brother John, then also deceased, who was the oldest brother of George. Peter was the youngest son of William Fleming. He and his sons after the Revolution removed to Washington Co., Pa.
James Fleming, son of William Fleming, the emigrant, died May 3, 1767, at the age of sixty-four years, and was buried at Upper Octorara, leaving a son, John Fleming, who was born in 1731. This John Fleming, known in after-life as John Fleming, Sr., resided on a farm a short distance west of Coatesville, where he erected a large stone house, in the gable end of which is a stone bearing his initials and date of erection. He was an officer in the provincial service, member of the Constitutional Convention of 1776 to frame a constitution for Pennsylvania, and in 1778 one of the Representatives from Chester County in the General Assembly. He was one of the patentees of the land belonging to Octorara Church, of which he was an elder as early as 1762. He died Sept. 2, 1814, at the age of eighty-three, having been a church elder fifty-two years.
John Fleming, Jr., was a son of John Fleming, Sr. He was engaged as a wagon-master in the army during the Revolution, and was present at the battle of Brandywine. He became an elder in Upper Octorara Church in 1799, and died in December, 1832. It will be noted that he and his father served as elders in the church at the same time, about fifteen years.
Another son of John Fleming, Sr., was the ancestor of John Fleming, who was for many years an associate judge of Lycoming County, and of Gen. Robert Fleming, of Williamsport, a leading lawyer, who served in the Senate of Pennsylvania and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1838. Another John Fleming, called, to distinguish him from the others of the same name, "John Fleming of East Caln," died June 16, 1830, at the age of sixty-nine years.
Henry Fleming, Esq., in after-life of West Chester, was a son of John Fleming, Jr., and was born in Sadsbury township. For many years he was acting magistrate, selected by common consent, less for sought-for popularity than for acknowledged private worth, strict integrity, and inflexible character. When a young man he was a volunteer in the war with England of 1812–14, was made captain of a company, marched to Canada with Gen. Brown, was captured and taken to Quebec, where he remained a prisoner of war for the period of eighteen months. Returning to his home at West Chester, he carried on the business of a currier, taking a lively interest in all local and public affairs. A man of few words, he was a person of much thought; he read the newspapers of the day, and few were more familiar with modern and ancient history, with the high virtues of ancient Greece and Rome, of which he was a student and great admirer, evinced as well by his own stern virtues as in the names of his children, among whom we find a Solon, a Marcellus, a Fabius, and a Lucretia. The inspired songster of Israel was not more devoted to sacred music, a science which he cultivated from youth to age. He was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church of West Chester, of which he was a pillar, and remained a faithful member until, "like a shock of corn fully ripe, he was gathered into the garner." He died in 1865, at the age of eighty-two years. His wife was Letitia Parke, a daughter of Joseph Parke, Esq., of Sadsbury township. She died Dec. 20, 1858, in the eightieth year of her age.
George Fleming, another son of John Fleming, Jr., resided in West Brandywine for many years. He was a much-esteemed elder in the Fairview Presbyterian Church.
The descendants of William Fleming, the original settler, are numerous and widely scattered, but none of them now possess any part of the landed estates of their ancestor.