Fallows Family

1796 - 1950

The Fallows' came from England, around the area of Oldham, which at the time was in the county of Lancashire but is now in Greater Manchester. The surname Fallows was most commonly found in Lancashire with 41% of all Fallows' living there. Its meaning may originate from "someone who lived by a patch of fallow land" or from the Old English word "fall" which could indicate someone who lived near either a waterfall or a meadow. The introduction of the name into England dates back to the Norman Conquest of 1066 which suggests the name may also derive from an area in Normandy called Falaise.

Our Fallows line begins with weaver John Fallows and his wife Elizabeth Low who were married December 9, 1756 in Middleton, Lancashire. Not much else is known about them but they had seven children:

  1. Thomas (bp. May 29, 1757)
  2. Susanna (bp. Feb 2, 1759)
  3. Josiah (bp. Feb 15, 1761)
  4. Hannah (bp. Mar 4, 1763)
  5. Mary (bp. May 29, 1765)
  6. James (bp. Aug 2, 1767, bur. Apr 28, 1770)
  7. Edmund (bp. Aug 20, 1769)

        The family was alternately residing in Boarshaw, Touchethole, or Stackhill while the children were born. Touchethole is probably another spelling of Touchet Hall, which for some time was a farm and hall in Thornham. It’s location was probably near where Touchet Hall Road can now be found. Thornham was once a township within the parish of Middleton and now straddles Middleton, Royton, and Rochdale. Stackhill is now spelled Stakehill and was once a hamlet within Thornham, likely near where Stakehill Lane now exists. Touchet Hall Road and Stakehill Lane are only one street apart, illustrating how the historical locations were in the same immediate area. Boarshaw Lane (Boarshaw being where Thomas was born) also runs parallel to Touchet Hall Road and joins with Stakehill Lane.

Josiah Fallows, a weaver like his father, was baptized February 15, 1761 in St Leonard Church in Middleton, Lancashire County, England. He married Alice Schofield on March 4, 1783 in St Leonard Church in Middleton, Lancashire County, England, a mere five miles west from Oldham. They had at least six known children:

  1. James (bp. May 11, 1783)
  2. Mary (bp. Feb 4, 1787)
  3. Ann (bp. Feb 14, 1790)
  4. Joshua (bp. Jul 10, 1791)
  5. John (bp. May 22, 1796)
  6. Elizabeth (bp. Mar 24, 1799)
  7. Josiah (bp. Jun 6, 1802)

        James was baptized a mere two months after his parents were married, which means Alice was either heavily pregnant when married, or had recently given birth. We don’t know which since James’ exact birth date is unknown.

All the children were baptized at the same church in Middleton that their parents were married in, but the baptism records alternately say the family live in Middleton, Thornham, and Chadderton. Thornham is a neighborhood in between Middleton and Royton, about four and a half miles northwest of Oldham, and historically was within the township parish of Middleton. Chadderton is just west of Oldham in between it and Middleton.

The younger Josiah (born 1802) was married to a Nanny Chadderton in 1823 and had at least 10 children with her in Oldham, but sadly, most of them died before reaching the age of majority.

        John married a woman named Martha Beswick (nicknamed "Matty"), who was born about 1791 in Oldham. Her parents are unknown. They married September 12, 1819 and had five known children:

  1. James (b. Dec 25, 1820, bp. Mar 4, 1821)
  2. Mary (b. Feb 18, 1823, bp. May 18, 1823)
  3. John (bp. Jan 23, 1825)
  4. Ellen (bp. Feb 11, 1827)
  5. Josiah (b. Mar 10, 1830, bp. Jun 26, 1831)

It’s worth noting that Josiah’s birth date is from secondary sources and therefore may be incorrect. There is a long gap between his birth and baptism, which is unusual. His other two siblings were baptized 3 months after their birth, and if Josiah was actually born in March of 1831, then his baptism would have been 3 months later.

It’s possible there were more children since Matty was around 29 when she gave birth to James, and John would have been 24. Around this time, John and Matty lived in Chadderton, a town now in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham (formed in 1974) but by the time Mary was born, they were living in Hollinwood, which at the time was considered a part of Oldham. It was originally a part of Chadderton, showing how near the areas are to one another, but in 1713 it was decided to be within Oldham and today is still included within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham. While living in Hollinwood the family resided at Chamber Hall, the land of which had been owned by the Tetlow family since the days of Edward II until the 17th century. By the 1820s, it was owned by the daughters of Edward Gregge Hopwood and/or their heirs and probably, the Fallows’ lived not in the Hall itself but in another house on the estate where they likely farmed a portion of the land for the owners, since John was a farmer at the time. In 1831, the family abode was recorded as “Woodpark” which may have been a part of the Chamber Hall estate. Unfortunately, the Hall was torn down sometime in the 20th century.

By 1841, the Fallows' now lived in Ashton-Under-Lyne, which was a good three miles from Hollinwood. It’s unknown why the family moved from their Oldham area homebase, but at the time both areas were thriving on the cotton industry. We can see the influence this had on the Fallows' as young Ellen, aged only 12 years old, worked as a cotton weaver. Her father was still a farmer, however, while her brother John was a male servant and sister Mary possibly a school teacher (census is unclear). James was already married by this point, to Maria Rayner, and living in Royton, another town within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, which is about 25 miles northeast of Manchester. James had been married in the Manchester Cathedral, which was unusual since the rest of the family married in churches closer to home.

The family were all born in or near Oldham so it's not surprising to see them move to Royton by 1851. John Sr. continued to farm, owning 6 acres of land, this time joined by his two sons, John and Josiah. Mary and Ellen had moved out after marrying, Mary to a man named Joseph Bird on October 27, 1844 and Ellen to John Stansfield on May 28, 1848 at St. Mary's Church of England in Oldham. Typically though, the Fallows probably attended St. Paul’s Church of England in Royton since it was closer to where they lived. Ellen had 3 children before she died at only 33 years old, but Mary and Joseph moved back to Ashton-Under-Lyne (perhaps they met when the Fallows' lived there) where they produced a nest of 7 children.

Two of the Fallows' neighbors are now mentioned in Royton's local history. Deborah Travis, who sang in cathedrals, London concert halls and the royal court; and Oliver Sutcliffe, who quarried the nearby Brownlow Hill. In 1851, we can see 6 year old Oliver living only a few houses away from our Fallows. Likewise, in 1861, Deborah Travis was living in Hey Cottage which is still standing today. The nearby pub Duke of York, which is still standing today, was built before 1820 and therefore was likely a place where the Fallows' and their neighbors frequented.

In 1861, although aged 36 by this point, John Jr. can still be found unmarried and living with his parents. Whether or not he ever married and had children later in his life is unknown. His father had seemingly sold the farm and now worked as an outdoor labourer while John Jr. worked as a "labourer for masons".

In September of 1856, Josiah Fallows immigrated to America, probably in hopes of better prospects from the hard working lifestyle his family had to endure in England. Until his marriage, he lived with another family, the Coburns, in the Germantown area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Charles Coburn, who was about ten years older than Josiah, was also from England and they were both working as laborers in 1860.

He was reputed to be a stern, unloveable man (perhaps because of his hard working background) but on April 18, 1861 when he was 31 years old, a 22 year old woman named Sarah Elizabeth McBride was willing to marry him in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Their seven children, all sons born in Pennsylvania, were named:

  1. John Henry (b. April 1, 1862)
  2. William G. (b. June 1864)
  3. Joseph (b. May 1865)
  4. George E. (b. Jan 1867)
  5. James (b. May 1869)
  6. Howard (b. January 1872)
  7. Walter Edwin (b. October 1, 1879)

Josiah became a farmer after his marriage, initially residing in Germantown but by 1880, the family had moved slightly north to Springfield Township, Montgomery County.

On August 1, 1869, Josiah’s father John died of “decay” (Victorian for natural causes) in the Union Workhouse, a place where people who were not able to be self-sufficient for various reasons and had no other place to go were able to work and/or live. Workhouses existed since the Middle Ages but reached a peak during the 19th century. Originally, most residents were the destitute poor unable to find work and were given hard manual labor jobs but towards the later half of the 19th century, they increasingly became refuges for the elderly, disabled and ill. John might be buried at St. Paul’s Church of England in Royton but the cemetery has since been removed.

In contrast, Josiah’s bold choice to move to the States in hopes of better prospects paid off: the Fallows' farm was doing well enough by this point that they could afford a "chambermaid" to live with and work for them. Her name was Annie Custon, an 18 year old whose parents were from Ireland. By the time of Josiah’s death, he owned 56 acres of land on the southwest corner of what is now Stenton Ave and Militia Hill Road. On it sat two houses, one was the family home of 10 rooms and the other a tenant house suitable for two families. There was also a large barn of part stone and part wood frame, and a wagon house, corn crib, and chicken house. His hard work obviously gave his son’s good opportunities in life and perhaps left much for them to inherit as well since all seven of them went on to be considered members of high society with frequent mentions in the society section of the Ambler Gazette.

By November 1894, Josiah was 64 years old and his physical and mental health were declining, possibility beginning to show signs of dementia. He started threatening his wife Sarah’s life and accused her of robbing him and of strange things like swapping his shirts with their son’s. It got to the point where Sarah was forced to call a hearing of a lunacy commission. It was discharged after Josiah and Sarah came to an agreement of separation. It was said his behavior was due to the “grip” (influenza) and epileptic fits. The case made the news in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and it must have been quite a scandal since the Fallows’ were considered “well-to-do” member of their community.

By 1900, they were still living separately as Sarah was living with their son George in Whitemarsh and making social calls without her husband. Josiah, wherever he was, cannot be found on the 1900 census.

Josiah died at 6pm on February 15, 1901 when he was 70 years old. He died a US citizen, having been naturalized on October 8, 1877. Despite the troubles between him and his wife, in his will, he left one third of his entire estate to his “beloved wife Sarah” and the remaining two thirds to be split among his seven sons. He names his friend Henry Biddle as executor of his will and instructs Biddle to sell and dispose of his estate as soon as after his as possible and for “the best price he can reasonably obtain”. This was probably done because despite being a large estate, to be split among seven sons would not have left much for each of them and therefore he perhaps thought it best that the whole thing be sold and the money from it split among his family. Additionally, all the boys were grown by this point and most had established their own homes. Probably, it just made sense to sell it and split the profits. The will was dated from July 31, 1900, which supports the idea that in the year before his death, he knew he was unwell. After Josiah’s death, Sarah lived with their son Walter and his wife and children in Upper Dublin until her own death on March 8, 1911. Though they had married in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, they are buried in the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery (also known as Union Cemetery of Whitemarsh) in Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County.

Our line continues with Josiah's son John Henry Fallows, possibly named after his grandfather. John Henry was born in Pennsylvania on April 4, 1862 and went by his middle name, often nicknamed "Harry" as well so we will refer to him as such.

On February 2, 1887 at the age of 24, Harry married Mary Ann Rorer and settled in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. They had two children:

  1. Emma Sarah (January 21, 1888)
  2. George Howard (b. August 6, 1889)

George tragically died before he was 2 months of age on September 21, 1889. He may have been named after two of his uncles, Harry’s brothers George and Howard, which suggests that Harry might have been particularly close to these two of his many brothers. George is also the name of Mary’s father so it may have had dual meaning to the couple.

Harry and Mary Ann's only surviving child, Emma Sarah, was born January 21, 1888 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She may have been named after her aunt, Emma G. Aiman (nee Rorer). Before Emma Sarah’s marriage, she was a teacher and later, in 1911, the Assistant Principal at Wyndmoor Elementary School. In July of 1907, Emma suffered a serious accident while riding in a carriage during a visit to Tyrone, PA. The horse was spooked by a passing automobile and threw her from the carriage. She was badly bruised and cut up which left her unable to move about for days. Emma was quite the social butterfly, a member of the Tennis club, frequently attending and hosting parties, and going on trips with her friends. She once even went camping for two weeks in western PA with some friends. At age 26, Emma married Chester Harold Godshall on November 11, 1914 at Grace Lutheran Church. The ceremony began at 6 o’clock in the evening and the reception afterwards was held at the Fallows’ home on E Willow Grove Ave where 300 guests attended. The bride wore “white crepe-de-chene trimmed with brocaded velvet and pearls” (Wedded. (1913, Nov 13). Ambler Gazette, p. 2) and her flowers were white lillies of the valley and orchids. Her maid of honor, Florence Sretd of Bucks County, wore brocaded pink messaline and carried pink snapdragons and heliotropes. The bridesmaids similarly had on pink messaline but trimmed with lavender chiffon and fur, carrying more snapdragons and heliotropes. The bridesmaids included Francis Klein, Lillian Brooke, Margaret Dubree, and Emma’s cousin, Pearl Aiman (Emma was later Pearl’s matron of honor in return). Margaret may have been a distant cousin since we know Emma’s great grandmother Jane Sutch had a sister who married Homer Dubree. Dorothy Fallows, another cousin of Emma’s, was the flower girl dressed in embroidered white with pink ribbons. The best-man was Harold’s brother Leon Godshall and the other ushers were Ernest Burrows, Hart Hill, brother-in-law Richard Chapman, and Lindford Drake. Harold and Emma’s story after the wedding continues in the Godshall Family Chapter.

Mary Ann had inherited money (probably from her uncle, Clinton Rorer), enough that she and Harry never had to economize and even went to Florida every winter. They usually left in January, after the holidays, and stopped in Fredericksburg, Virginia on the way. They also frequented Kingston, NY where Harry’s aunt and uncle, Griffin Hart and Isabella Jane Hart (nee McBride) lived, as well as Atlantic City, Wildwood and Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey. Occasionally, they also visited New Hope, PA and Delmar, Delaware and numerous other places such as Gettysburg, Boston, Baltimore, and Coney Island. They enjoyed attending nearby fairs such as the Trenton fair and Allentown fair and once went as far as Jamestown, Virginia for the Jamestown Exposition (World Fair). Brother-in-law and travelling companion Arnold Aiman said that he’d “never struck a hotter place in his life” while in Jamestown. Emma attended teaching school at Millersville Normal School and her mother often made trips there to visit her.

Once, in May of 1911, Mary Ann suffered an illness severe enough to be mentioned in the Ambler Gazette after her recovery. Fortunately, there were no reports of the Fallows family suffering illnesses during the 1918 Flu epidemic, though right in the midst of it, Harry and Mary did take a reprieve to Lake Hopatcong, possibly to escape risk of infection by staying in a remote area.

Harry and Mary Ann were involved members of the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wyndmoor, despite both having come from Presbyterian families. Before the 20th century, there were no congregations in Wyndmoor and residents had to travel, mostly to Chestnut Hill, to attend services. This explains the family’s conversion to from Presbyterian to Lutheran; when the Grace Lutheran Church was built in 1903, it was probably too convenient to resist. And being involved in the community as they were, it was probably the right choice socially as well. Harry took over as treasurer for the church in 1904 when his brother-in-law, Arnold Aiman, (his wife’s sister’s husband) stepped down. Harry and Mary occasionally held church social events in their home and Mary was involved in the Ladies Auxiliary. She also kept busy by looking after her 30 fine White Leghorn hens. Harry was elected Vice President of the Springfield Township School Board in 1912 and 1915 and was a Director of the Wyndmoor Building and Loan Association from 1894, where Arnold Aiman served as President and his son-in-law, Chester Harold Godshall, was also a director by 1944. Harry and Arnold were also involved in the creation of the Wyndmoor Association, a movement for the improvement of Wyndmoor and Harry was secretary for the Whitpain and Whitemarsh Horse company.

In addition to their own original home, the Fallows also inherited property from Mary Ann's mother where they then lived in a five bedroom 3,680 square foot stone house on 1410 East Willow Grove Ave. Their original home next door probably became a tenant house and Harry also seems to have owned another tenant house on Pleasant Street. With three properties and only one child, it's not surprising that they filled the space with several boarders and servants living with them throughout the years. In 1900, Harry's brothers James, Howard and Walter lived with them and Howard likely worked with Harry too. Howard was a "dairer" and Harry a "dairyman" and James also later became a “milk dealer” (meanwhile Walter staunchly refused to join what seems to be the family business, going so far as to publicly deny rumors that he was interested in the milk industry in 1914. By 1910, the brothers had moved out but lived next door (probably in Harry’s tenant house) and further down the road with their own wives (and where Walter also provided a home for their mother, Sarah Elizabeth). In later years, Harry would become an automobile agent and finally, a farmer (possibly a dairy farmer given his experience with it). By 1930, he may have been unemployed during the depression but by 1940, he was back to working in the dairy industry as a producer of milk, putting in 40 hours a week and making $1,100 a year (about $18,600 today), which suggests their inherited money may have been beginning to run out.

In addition to Harry's brothers residing with him, the family had a few servants and boarders living with them throughout the years. Hannah Watson was a 32 year old black woman living with and working as a servant for the Fallows' in 1900.

The Fallows’ were good friends with the Ellis’, who were from Delmar, Delaware, and the families frequently visited one another in their respective states so it’s not surprising to find at least one of them living with the Fallows’ in 1910. May Melson Ellis was a 23 years old teacher at the same Wyndmoor public school alongside Emma Sarah Fallows when she was living with them. The girls were good friends and often socialized together, in addition to being co-workers and living together during this time. They may have even met at Millersville Normal School when they were learning to become teachers. May’s parents were Jackson Lee Ellis and Ida Gazelle Melson. She had moved back to her hometown by 1913 but she and Emma stayed in touch and continued to visit one another. It’s unknown whether there is any relation but thirty-four year old Mrs. Mary Ellis and her nineteen month old daughter, Ethel, were living with the Fallows’ in 1910 as well (though married, it’s unknown where her husband was living). Mary was reported as born in Pennsylvania and working as the Fallows’ cook though and it would be unusual that a cook would be married into a high society family like the one May Ellis came from. Plus, she is not from Delaware like May so it’s probable that their surname is just a coincidence.

Some of the Fallows boys were car enthusiasts; James owned at least three cars (though not necessarily at the same time) from as early as 1906 and had one repainted at one point. He and his cars had several mentions in the Ambler Gazette but of course, so did George’s patch of asparagus which he obviously prided himself on. Harry was a member of the Quaker City motoring club and won the Salem Cup in the Wildwood Auto Races on July 4, 1912 when he represented the Chase Car company. There are also several surviving photographs of various automobiles owned by the Fallows brothers.

In February and March of 1916, James was seriously ill for several weeks and Harry had to take over his milk dealing business temporarily until he recovered. There are numerous mentions of Harry, George, Howard, James and later on when he got older, Walter, paying social calls and spending time together. So the bulk of the Fallows brothers were obviously very close nit and could rely on each other for support, as also evident from Harry welcoming James, Howard and Walter into his home to live for a time. Joseph died prematurely in a railroad accident in the same year their father died (1901) so there is less information about him but the Ambler Gazette reports that several of the Fallows brothers did make calls on Joseph’s widow and children after his death so this too supports the idea of a bonded family. William seems to be the only one who wasn’t quite as involved with the rest of the family but this may have just been because he lived a little further away in Philadelphia. He very briefly lived in Montgomery County near his brothers from 1906 to 1909 when he got a job at the Wissahickon Electric Company but moved back to Philadelphia.

Harry and Mary Ann were also good friends with Mary’s sister Emma and her husband Arnold Aiman. Not only did Harry and Arnold get involved in many organizations together as previously mentioned but the Fallows and Aimans also frequently vacationed together and were next door neighbors. Also a close friend of family was Henry C. Biddle, a real estate agent who sold Josiah Fallows’ estate after his death. The Fallows often socialized with the Biddle family as well.

By 1942, Harry and Mary had obviously lived a full life and their ages were beginning to show when they both suffered from pneumonia in February and March. By the time of their deaths, they had used all their capital and had only a few thousand dollars left. Harry died on April 2, 1950 and Mary on October 1 of the same year. They are buried in the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, as is Mary’s sister Emma and her husband Arnold Aiman. It’s unknown how the wealth of the other Fallows brothers fared but Emma and Arnold’s daughter Pearl became a successful artist and married Lloyd VanSciver, the son of a very wealthy furniture maker who has a lake named after his family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

© Robin Bauer 2010-2013


Fallows Photos and Documents

A photograph of Josiah Fallows (1830 - 1901), possibly taken during the 1870’s.

Josiah’s wife, Sarah Elizabeth McBride (1838 - 1911)  

Satellite map showing outline of Josiah Fallows’ estate based on an 1893 land ownership map.

Advertisement in Ambler Gazette detailed Josiah’s estate after his death.

A Google Street View screenshot of the original Fever Ward of the Oldham Union Workhouse, now the Breast Care Unit. Though John Fallows, who died in the workhouse, may not necessarily have been resident in the Fever Ward, it shows the style of architecture at the time.

John Henry “Harry” Fallows (1862 - 1950), probably taken sometime in the 1880s.

A tintype of some of the Fallows brothers. Harry Fallows (back left), Joseph Fallows (far right), possibly George Fallows (middle front). Others unknown.

A photograph from the Fallows’ collection of their home on East Willow Grove Ave.

A photograph of the Fallows’ home on East Willow Grove Ave how it appears today.

Harry Fallows and his daughter Emma Sarah Fallows with one of their automobiles.

A tintype of Harry Fallows and wife Mary Ann Rorer (both front right). Others unknown but woman in matching dress might be Mary’s sister Emma G. Rorer.

Emma Sarah Fallows as a young girl.

Emma Sarah Fallows as a young woman.

The Fallows’ cemetery plot at Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery.