In this issue of FOUNDERS, we continue the stories of our mariners and pirates, and the role of Philadelphia as a major seaport through most of the 18th century up to about 1815.
Jake and Betsy Roak were married 56 years. They died within 2 days of each other. They lived their lives fully and inspired in the service of others. Together they advanced a family legacy.
The inscription on Capt. Charles Sandgran’s headstone is now obliterated. But, a century ago, it was possible to read this terrible pronouncement: “the earth and the sea shall give up their dead.”
A large obelisk commemorating the life Capt. Robert Rae stands in the Gloria Dei churchyard. Rae was “lost at sea” somewhere along the River Nuñez in 1839.
Capt. Henry Sharp was “lost at sea” while on a voyage to Africa in 1836. What caused his demise? We may never know but many seamen of the time died from exposure to tropical diseases like malaria.
The words “lost at sea” are the most melancholy, and often the most mysterious, inscriptions on gravestones at Gloria Dei. In those cases, the stones are merely markers for a person who never came home and never saw their loved ones again.
Bill Isaacs, a South Philadelphia taproom owner and lifelong Mummer, founded the Downtowners Fancy Brigade. Within a decade, he changed Mummers history.
Jack and Margaret Dunn were a wonderful couple from Southwark who had long family histories in the community. The Dunn’s lived on the unit block of Fitzwater where they raised their twin sons before their home was demolished for I-95.
Joseph and Mary were lifelong residents of Southwark/Queen Village. Married for over 52 years, they raised their four children in their Front Street home. They were both dedicated to helping family and friends throughout their lives.
Frank and Margaret Moock both grew up near Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church in Philadelphia. Although they were not parishioners of this church, Gloria Dei held a special place in both of their hearts. Here Margie Moock Schernecke shares stories about her parents and their love for Old Swedes’.
Francis (Frank) Stermel was born on June 3, 1916 to Anthony Stermel and Helen Szymanski Stermel. He was a lifelong resident of South Philadelphia and a true mummer.
This issue of FOUNDERS Magazine is devoted to several early sea captains and their families who are buried in our churchyard. We hope you will enjoy the stories of the individuals and families resting here, how they lived and died, and how they contributed to the fabric of American life.
The Rectorship of Mr. Simes holds a unique place in the record of the Gloria Dei Church’s ministry. During his long tenure, the congregation grew, developed and prospered. He was the spiritual guide of more than a generation of affectionate parishioners.
Before her death in 1998, Catharine Marett donated the bulk of her life savings toward the 300th anniversary historic restoration project at Gloria Dei Church. Thanks to her generous endowment, the congregation was spared from financial ruin.
Sampson Harvey was born in Cornwall, England, on March 14, 1731. He was master of a number of merchant vessels in the 1760s and often sailed to the West Indies.
Members of the Stewart family, buried in the churchyard of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’ Church), had a long relationship with another important Philadelphia landmark—Carpenters’ Hall.
Caleb Cushing’s sea passages took him across the Atlantic as well as to the West Indies. His family traces its lineage in America back to Matthew Cushing, who had emigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1638.
In 1865, Rhoda McCoy, almost 90 years old, was buried in the Gloria Dei Churchyard. Rhoda must have had a strong constitution — she died of “old age” rather than an ailment or disease.
Lavinia Sheed never married and died at age 65 from rheumatism. She is buried near her father and several of her siblings in the Gloria Dei Churchyard.