Harman Updegraff & Margaret Miller

Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library
1850’s Pennsylvania Freight Locomotive (Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library)

Two things I can tell you about my ancestors: there are a lot of Margarets and a lot of accidental deaths.

Harman Alexander Updegraff was born 28 August 1821* in Somerset County, Pennsylvania to Harmon Updegraff and Rachel Howard.  He was a farmer in his early years and later became a conductor of a freight train of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Updegraff Residence
Updegraff Residence

Harman’s wife, Margaret Miller, was born 15 February 1820 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  The two were married in March of 1845* and had eight children.  They lived in downtown Johnstown near the Baltimore & Ohio station, on Washington Street.

The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser, 5 Dec 1860, p. 1
The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser, 5 Dec 1860, p. 1

On November 29, 1860 while working somewhere between Derry and Latrobe, Harman fell from his train onto the tracks and was killed. He was only 39 years old and left his five young children and newly pregnant wife (two of their children had passed years earlier).  Harman was buried at the Levergood Cemetery but was later exhumed and interred in Grand View Cemetery.

As Margaret’s children grew up and got married, she permanently moved in with her daughter Margaret Angelina Williams. Her son William had moved to Harrisburg, George to Chicago, and Henry to New Castle, but James and Margaret Angelina stayed in Johnstown.  She was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church and survived the Great Johnstown Flood in 1889.

On March 11, 1898 Margaret set off to walk from her daughter’s house to her son’s a short distance away.  Her daughter was concerned about her walking by herself, but she insisted that she did not need help as she had just walked from the train station the day before by herself. Just minutes after leaving the house, Margaret was struck by a Pacific Express Train, 37 years after her husband’s tragic death.  She was buried with her husband in Grandview Cemetery.

Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 March 1898
Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 March 1898

Source List

Aged Lady Killed by a Train.” Undated clipping, ca. 1898, from unidentified newspaper.

“Killed on the Railroad.” The Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser, 5 December 1860. Digital images, http://newspaperarchive.com/adams-sentinel : 2012.

“Updegraff.” The Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 March 1898.

Grandview Cemetery.  Internment file, database. http://grandviewjohnstownpa.com/interment-search.php : 2012.

Pennsylvania. Cambria County. 1850 – 1880 U.S. census, population schedules. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2012.

Pennsylvania. Cambria County. Death Certificate. Clerk of Orphans Court, Johnstown.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS].  “Pedigree Resource File,” database.  FamilySearch.  http://www.familysearch.org : 2012.

*Note: Harman’s exact birth and marriage date came from the Pedigree Resource File.

Related Posts:

Loretta (Zillifro) Hutchinson & Oscar Hutchinson

Margaret (Davis) Updegraff

Updegraff Page

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