WICKERSHAM, Thomas, of Bolney, in Sussex, England, came to Pennsylvania in
1700, bringing a certificate from the Monthly Meeting held at Horsham, in
that country, 7,11,1700. This ancient document is now in possession of
Caleb P. Wickersham, of Kennet Square. He settled in East Marlborough, and
there died in the 4th month (June), 1730. His first wife, Ann, was
probably related to Humphrey Killenbeck, who gave land to her children.
His second wife, Alice Hogg, came with him, but her children were born here.
The children of Thomas by both wives were as follows: Humphrey, b. 1687,
died young; Thomas, b. 7,19,1691, m. Abigail Johnson, and died in 1726,
leaving children; John, b. 9,4,1693, married and left children; Ann, b.
2,27,1696; Alice, b. 7,14,1701, m. William Wilton; Richard, b. 8,11,1703,
m. Catharine Johnson, 7,16,1730, and Elizabeth mcNabb, 1,14,1740; William,
b. 2,3,1706, m. Rachel Hayes, 3,26,1730; Elizabeth, b. 11,13,1708/9, m.
Hugh Harry, 1,4,1731; James, b. about 1712, d. 4,12,1804; Rebecca, b.
4,1,1715; Isaac, b. 1,28,1721.
James Wickersham, of East Marlborough, inherited the homestead on payment
of legacies. He married 2,22,1736, Ann Eachus, of Springfield, daughter of
Robert, deceased, and Elizabeth, of Goshen, by whom he had the following
children: Abel, Enoch, Jesse, James, John, Thomas, Samson, Abner,
Priscilla, and Elizabeth.
William and Rachel (Hayes) Wickersham had sons,--William, b. 7,20,1740,
d. 8,2,1822, and Peter, b. 2,16,1743. William Jr., married Elizabeth
Pusey, daughter of William, of West Marlborough, and settled in Newlin
township. His children were Caleb, Mary, Rachel, William, Amos, Thomas,
Enoch, Hannah, Reuben, Elizabeth, and Jane. Caleb, the eldest, born
2,25,1765, married 11,5,1789, Rachel Swayne, of East Marlborough, daughter
of Samuel and Hannah. Their children were Hannah, Joshua, Ann, Caleb, b.
12,10,1796, d. 1874, m. Abigail Pyle; Phebe, Esther, Samuel, Nathan, Eliza,
Caleb and Abigail (Pyle) Wickersham had children,--James P., Henry N.,
Louisa, Charles B., Swayne, Sarah, William H., Lydia B., Morris, and Edward.
James Pyle Wickersham, LL.D., was born in Newlin township, Chester Co.,
March 5, 1825. He is the son of Caleb Wickersham, the fifth in descent
from Thomas Wickersham, who bought a tract of land in Marlborough township
in 1700, and soon after settled upon it and built a house, which is still
standing, one of the oldest, if not the oldest house in the county. His
mother was a daughter of James Pyle, also of old Quaker stock. His
education was obtained mainly in common schools and at the Unionville
Academy. At the age of sixteen he began to teach school, and while he
taught he worked harder than any of his pupils, and by the time he was
twenty he had become a good general scholar, being well versed in
mathematics and in some of the natural sciences, and reading with facility
several of the ancient and modern languages.
As a teacher, Mr. Wickersham's success was marked from the beginning.
The common schools he taught were considered among the very best. In 1845
he became principal of the Marietta Academy, Lancaster County, in which
position he was very successful, and remained ten years. Upon the
establishment of the office he was elected county superintendent of schools
in the county where he lived, and a year thereafter founded the Normal
Institute, at Millersville, out of which has eventually developed the first
State Normal School in Pennsylvania, and, in fact, the whole normal school
system. In 1856 he became the permanent principal of this school, and made
it, in the ten years he remained at its head, one of the most flourishing
institutions in the county, running the number of students in attendance up
to a thousand. In 1866 he accepted the position of State superintendent of
common schools, tendered him by Governor Curtin, and until the present year
remained in charge of the school affairs of the Commonwealth, receiving
appointments successively from governors Geary, Hartranft, and Hoyt, and
always being confirmed unanimously by the Senate. During his
administration Pennsylvania has made great progress in her school affairs,
and is now the acknowledged peer in this respect of any State in the Union.
The educational exhibition made under his direction at the Centennial was
unequaled by that of any other State or nation. While holding his place as
State superintendent, he has been repeatedly offered positions of an
honorable and lucrative character in other States and abroad, among them
that of Minister of Public Instruction in the Argentine Republic, under
President Sarmiento, who was his personal friend.
Mr. Wickersham helped form the Lancaster County Teachers' Association,
the Pennsylvania State Teachers' Association, the National Education
Association, and the National Superintendents' Association, of each of
which he was among the earliest presidents. Some of his addresses before
these bodies have been widely circulated in this country and translated
into other languages and published abroad. The two works he wrote while
principal of the Normal School, "School Economy" and "Methods if
Instruction," have been more widely read at home than any other books of
their class, and the "School Economy" has been translated into the French,
Spanish, and Japanese languages. In addition to these works, he has
written largely for the educational press, and has prepared and published
fifteen volumes of common school and nine volumes of orphan school reports.
Since 1870 he has been editor of the 'Pennsylvania School Journal,' the
most widely circulated educational magazine in the country.
Mr. Wickersham has been active outside of his chosen field of labor. In
1863 he raised and commanded a three months' regiment of soldiers. Soon
after his return from the army he prepared, at the request of Governor
Curtin, the original bill providing for the education and maintenance of
the destitute orphan children of soldiers; and in 1871 the Legislature
placed the whole care of the soldiers' orphans in his hands, and he has
expended in their behalf four millions of dollars. He is a member of the
State Board of Agriculture, a trustee in the boards of three or four
colleges, and a director of several large business enterprises.