Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084

The Wildrick Family

Contributed by Gene Kerrick | January 2012

John Wildrick (1707-1793), immigrated from Bravaria, Germany, to the United States and settled in New Jersey. He had a son Michael (1753-1840), who fought in the American Revolution. Michael begat Samuel (b.1775) who, in turn, begat Samuel, Jr. The latter is the first Wildrick family member to settle in Pennsylvania.

Samuel Wildrick Jr. was born in 1793. He married three times and was widowed three times. His wives gave birth to 23 children, according to the obituary in a newspaper. He died on the night of February 4, 1892. It is coincidental that his daughter Ruth and her husband, Harmon Herd, all died that same year. They are all buried in Stoddartsville Cemetery and, amazingly, the grave stones are still standing. His third wife, Sarah, was born in 1857, being 64 years younger than Samuel, Jr.

The first wife of Samuel, Jr. was Mary Saxe. Her father, Conrad Saxe, located to Buck Township, Luzerne County (just north of Tobyhanna Township) from New Jersey. She died in 1839.

By his first wife, Samuel Jr. fathered two children important in the history of Tobyhanna Township.

The first notable child, Ruth, married Harmon Herd, a German immigrant. One of their children, Margaret Ruth, married Alfred Kerrick. Margaret Ruth and Alfred settled on a farm in Stoddartsville in 1893 and it has been in possession of the Kerrick family since that time.

A son of Margaret Ruth and Alfred, Howard Kerrick, had eight children, three of whom settled permanently in the township while two others left the area, but later returned. Howard did a lot of construction work in our area. Ruth is the great-grandmother of the author of this history, Eugne Kerrick.

An amusing sidelight is that one child of Harmon and Ruth Herd wanted to marry the school teacher in Buck Township, but the teacher objected to his last name as referring to a group of cows. He therefore changed the spelling to a “u” instead of an “e." The Hurds have been an important family in Buck Township, Luzerne County.

Another notable child of Samuel Jr. and Mary was Henry Wildrick (1828-1916). He married Mary Jane Adams, a girl living across the Wilkes-Barre-Easton Turnpike (Route 115) from him. They then lived in the approximate area where Interstate 80 now intersects with that road.

Henry served late in the Civil War as a private in the 214th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company K, from March 11, 1865, being mustered out with his Company on March 21,1866.

Henry and Mary Jane Wildrick had 14 children, some of whom settled in the area. Prominent among them was Johnson Jacob, better known as Jack Wildrick. Like Howard Kerrick, Jack Wildrick constructed many of the structures around us.

Henry and Mary Jane Wildrick are the great-grandparents of June Kerrick, still active in today’s community.

Jack and his wife Emma Starner bore 13 children. Two children are now nonagenarians, and continue to live in Tobyhanna Township. One of them, like the children of Jack and Emma, have numerous descendants, many still living in this vicinity.

It is interesting to note that Henry Wildrick is buried in the Blakeslee Methodist Church Cemetery while his wife, Mary Jane, is interred in the Stoddartsville burial ground. The Blakeslee cemetery was not opened until 1903 when one of Jack Wildrick’s children was the first person buried there.

Samuel Wildrick Jr.’s second wife was Mary Everitt. Apparently after having their first seven children, she died in giving birth to Elizabeth in1860. Elizabeth survived to the age 105. She married Jeremiah (Jerry) Wood and had three children.

After Jerry Wood’s death, Elizabeth married a much younger Charles Harrison Blakeslee (1880-1952) in 1900. At the age of 43, in 1903, she gave birth to (Joseph) Thurston Blakeslee, a well known resident of Tobyhanna Township. (She made the remark that if she knew she would give birth again, she would not have married the second time.)

Thurston built and owned a gas station circa 1927-1928, with a very small grocery store attached, located next to the Blakeslee United Methodist Church. He also had a small farm, cut and sold mine props and for 35 accident free years, Thurston drove school bus for the Tobyhanna Township school district and its Pocono Mountain successor. His mother lived with him in her later years.

Thurston died in 1975 and is buried in the Blakeslee Methodist Church cemetery, along with his wife, Anna Melinda (Hamill), and his mother and father.

A special note here is that not many, if any, school bus drivers for the Pocono Mountain School District could cite a grandfather being born in 1793! A grandfather that was born while George Washington was president!

Another child of the second marriage of Samuel Wildrick Jr. to Mary Everitt held the unique name of Samuel Wildrick Jr. II. In late years he changed it to Samuel W. Wildrick.

As descendants continued to marry local residents, the original Wildrick family descendants are now included within many families of Tobyhanna Township, such as Burger, Warner, Kerrick, Henning, Hawk, Blakeslee and Waltz.

Her children with Samuel included two people important to the Kerrick family. Ruth was the grandmother of Howard and his siblings. Henry was the progenitor of Dan Kerrick’s wife, June.

Margaret Ruth Kerrick was born in1860. Twenty years later she married Alfred Kerrick. According to family lore they worked in lumber camps for a while, but she wanted to settle down in a home of their own. They bought the farm where George Ellis Kerrick now lives in 1893. One story says that Alfred told her he would agree if she would do the work.

Sometime, I am not sure when except that she was a young woman, she was affected by arthritis. Her feet were curled over, her fingers all gnarled and twisted, but she worked as long as she could into the 1940s in her garden and in the house where she would peel potatoes, etc. by putting the paring knife in between those crippled fingers. In addition she wrote letters to this grandson in California. She had to sleep on a very hard bed.

Near the end of her life she broke her hip and died on October 13, 1948. Her daughter Ruth and her son Alfred lived with her for many years in the family home.

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