The Welch Family

Portrait of the John Baynum Welch family, ca. 1897; standing in back row, left to right, are William, Clarence and Fred; in the middle, from left, are Elizabeth Reynolds Welch (seated), Eliza, May, Lottie, and John Baynum Welch, holding Edgar in his lap; child to the right and in front of mother Eliza is Walter Columbus; John and Arthur are in the foreground;
(MHS Collection, gift of Ellen Graves)

I have written about J. B. Welch before (follow this link to read his full story). He was a druggist, jeweler and watch repairman, but his avocations of poet and composer were his true passions. To this day, I receive communications from descendants and others who have kept the sheet music to some of his hymns and have heard them performed.

This is the first time, however, that I’ve had a formal portrait of him and his entire family to show. The two portraits in this post were brought to MHS by Ellen Graves, who also brought us the amazing cabinet card photograph of William G. Fearing. That Ms. Graves should have had these photos in her possession is not surprising, as she is a descendant of Elizabeth Reynolds, J. B. Welch’s wife, who was also the sister of Lydia Reynolds, William Fearing’s wife. The two sisters were next door neighbors on Union Street, just above Chandler. Only the Welch family home survives; the Fearing house was demolished decades ago.

The portrait of J. B. and Eliza below was made much earlier, sometime around 1871 to 1875 based on their youthful appearance.

Eliza Reynolds Welch and John Baynum Welch, ca. 1871 (MHS Collection, gift of Ellen Graves)

38 thoughts on “The Welch Family

  • Donna Ritter

    You have brought me up tears!!! I am the granddaughter of John B Welch Jr… bottom row right in your family portrait. I have never before seen a picture of the entire family together… there was always a picture of Eliza Welch in my grandparents home. I so remember my aunts and uncles as I was growing up. I grew up in New Jersey but we made many trips a year “Downhome” to see the family. My parents, sister, and I, along with my grandparents, spent summers on Broadkill Beach. Such good memories of swinging on Aunt Lottie Wagons front porch swing. When I was growing up Uncle Edgar Welch and Aunt Edna owned a boarding house on Rehoboth with a cottage behind it. I so remember staying in that cottage. My husband and I are summer residents at Lighthouse RV Resort in Millsboro and I absolutely love times we spend in Milton.

    • Phil Martin

      Ms. Ritter, thank you so much for your interest in this blog post. Hearing from relatives of the people I write about is one of the most gratifying things about doing this research, and it also results in surprises such as the one Ellen Graves brought to me. With a family as large as J. B. Welch’s, there are a LOT of descendants, and I am hoping this brings as much pleasure to them as it did to you.

    • Conrad Welch

      Hi Donna,
      Ed and Edna are my grandparents and my father was Edgar Welch the eldest son of 4.
      I too have fond memories of Milton and the Ocean Lodge onBrooklyn Ave.
      My Brother Dean and I would hang out if the 3rd floor window and people watch, ( of course supposed to be sleeping ).
      Would love to connect if possible, just let me know.
      Regards
      Conrad Welch

      • Donna Ritter

        Conrad… my husband Frank and I visited with you about 20 years ago in Rehoboth. We were in touch for a brief time and I would so like to be in touch with you again. I am on fb and sent you a message.

        • Conrad

          That’s right now I remember, sorry I’m getting old😂
          Thank you for responding. I know very little about our gg grandfather but I can send you a pic of there gravesite in Milton if you’d like?
          I’m in touch with Dee now and then through phone and sometimes text.
          Your grandfather is in the front row on the right???
          We definitely reconnect😎

          • Donna Ritter

            Thanks so much for the offer of sending a picture Conrad… but Frank and I have an RV in Lighthouse Beach in Millsboro and are down there every weekend April to November. Would love for Welch decedents to all get together. We have dear friends living in both Lewes and Millsboro.. in fact we will be visiting this weekend. My cellphone number is 856-905-5221.

  • Carole Sherr

    Which Mrs. Welch wrote the “Memoirs?”

    • Phil Martin

      Honestly, I don’t know. Let’s put the question out there and maybe we’ll get an answer.

      • Carole Sherr

        Thanks! A Mrs. Welch wrote several interesting pages about the Atkins’ brothers.

        • Donna Ritter

          When was this written? Going back to my childhood memories my Grandfather spoke of his best childhood friend as Charlie (Taterbug) Atkins. I have one of three jewelry boxes Mr Atkins made … one for my grandmother, one for my Aunt and one for my Mother. They are beautiful boxes with inlaid wood on top. I also remember a very nice woman coming up to me at my grandfather’s funeral at the Odd Fellows cemetery introducing herself as Charlie Atkins sister.

          • Carole Sherr

            I don’t know when it was written, Donna. Please see my comment re: pages appearing in the ATKINS genealogy by Marilyn Blanck, a copy of which was given to the Milton library. In the green Milton History there is quite a lot about the different Atkins family. I am descended from Peter Edward Page Atkins, the ship carpenter and phrenologist.

        • Phil Martin

          Where did these pages appear? A newspaper? Sussex Countian, or other?

          • Carole Sherr

            I saw them in the book, I believe in the Dover Archives years ago. The pages appear in Marilyn Blanck’s ATKINS genealogy, a copy of which was given to the Milton Library.

          • Donna Ritter

            What is he name of the book in the Milton Library? I would love to look through it when I am down this summer. Is there a section in the library about Milton’s ancestry?

          • Carole Sherr

            Donna, I live in Lancaster, PA and have not been in the Milton Library for many years. They did have a genealogy section years ago. I would advise you to go online to see what books are available or to call the library.

          • Phil Martin

            I’ll check what they have and let Donna know. They have some paper genealogy binders in a locked reference section which I’ll look for. In addition, the Lydia B. Cannon Museum may have the same article in its collection.

          • Carole Sherr

            Thank you, Phil! I have a copy of the green book, Milton’s First Century 1807-1907 by Hancock and McCabe and the Atkins Genealogy by Marilyn Blanck. I do not have the Memoirs of Mary Parker Welch by her son, George published around 1900. I have donated a schoolhouse clock to the Cannon Museum but left it in the hands of Milton’s clock doc to make it ticking again. I do not believe he has repaired it. My grandfather Peter Franklin Atkins, who died in 1948 told me that it was originally from the Milton Academy. His parents, Peter Edward Page Atkins and Sarah “Sallie” Burton Atkins lived on Union Street in a home which has been renovated and lived in. Captain Conwell told me in the1980s in San Francisco that he used to sled down the hill in front of the house with other children and Sallie Atkins would invite the children in for cookies and milk. Captain Conwell was in good health at the time. He is buried in Milton.

          • Phil Martin

            I know the “Green Book” well; it should be required reading for anyone living in town! The clock has been repaired and we will be hanging it in the museum soon.

          • Carole Sherr

            Thank you, Phil! I have a photo of my grandfather that I took from a portrait of him. I must email it to the woman in Rehoboth who works part time as a curator in the Museum. My grandfather was quite a character in Seaford, Delaware when I knew him. He was still riding a “victory” bike in his early eighties and “preaching” abstinence” to young male teenagers on High Street. He traveled to Stockley to volunteer for many years as his sister and brother-in-law, Lucille Primrose and her husband, had a handicapped daughter there. The Primroses are buried in the cemetery on Savannah Road in Lewes.

  • Donna Ritter

    I would love to have copies of these pictures for my sister, cousin and I. I am not able to download them from this blog. Is there anyway they could be emailed to me?

  • Debra Bradshaw Romano

    Thank you! This is wonderful! I remember some of the sons and two of the girls, as elderly family members we met when we were children and went to Rehoboth and Broadkill Beach. They would come and visit my grandfather. We would also visit Aunt Lottie in Milton. Great memories!

    • Phil Martin

      Debra, I am very gratified that this story brought back pleasant recollections and good feelings. One of my primary objectives in publishing the blog is to elicit reactions just like yours, with the hope that new information surfaces. Even if there are no new revelations, the fact that i’ve made someone’s day a little brighter is a reward in itself.

  • Ellen Wagamon Graves

    I need to make a correction on the photo of the Welch Family. The photo that I have is a copy of one given to me by my cousin Dee (Dorothea) McIntosh granddaughter of John B Welch.

    • Phil Martin

      Ellen, I assumed it was a copy from the type of paper it was printed on and its appearance. No matter; it’s still of great value to us, and has elicited a great response from Welch members.

  • Conrad Welch

    Dear Phil,
    It’s been so long since we spoke.
    I am the grandson of Edgar Welch, the baby of the family sitting on John B’s lap.

    I would love to connect with Donna Ritter, Ellen Graves and others if ok with them.
    My memories of living in Milton as a teenager and visiting my grandmother as a child are close to my heart.
    As a little boy visiting with Aunt Lottie and Aunt Mae were wonderful.

  • Ellen Graves

    Phil I just got a call from my cousin Dee Welch McIntosh regarding family information. She is very excited about it and would like very much to talk with you. Among other things she has the family bible and information about some items that she gave to the Historical Society several years ago. She does not have email but I know she would very much like to speak with you. Her phone numbers are 318-644-2223 or 318–791-2359.

    • Phil Martin

      I will most certainly give her a call. BTW, who were your mom and dad? The available records I’ve looked at in ancestry.com fizzled out. I do trees on every family i research as far as I can get backwards and forwards.

      • Ellen Graves

        Thanks for your reply. Dee will certainly be happy to hear from you. My father was Arthur W. Wagamon, son of
        William B. Wagamon, Sr. and Lottie Welch Wagamon. He was one of three children of Lottie & Will. The others were William B. Wagamon, Jr.(married to Frances Shipley of Seaford) and Richard E. Wagamon (married to Lydia Barker of Harbeson). My mother was Anne Burton of Lewes area. All of the above are buried in Old Fellows Cemetery in Milton except Rich and Lydia who are buried in the cemetery at Harbeson, If you need info on children of these folks I can get it for you.

        Ellen

        • Donna Ritter

          So good to read what Ellen has written. My sister and I remember both Ellen and Dee. We are John Welch Jr’s granddaughters… Debbie Bradshaw Romano and Donna Bradshaw Ritter. Our mother was Nila Welch… John Jr’s older daughter. We both remember Ellen…. her brother Walt and Dee and her brother Bud.

      • Ellen Graves

        Thanks for calling Dee. I know she will be excited to hear from you. My father was Arthur Welch Wagamon second son of William Benjamin WagamonSr and Lottie Welch. They had two other sons William Benjamin Wagamon Jr (wife FrancesShipley of Seaford) and Richard Earl Wagamon (wife Lydia Barker of Harbeson). My mother was Anne Burton of the Lewes area.
        Let me know if I can provide anything else

  • Debra Romano

    This is all so cool! I have been with my sister, Donna Ritter today, and we were discussing and remembering. I remember visiting Aunt Lottie and Aunt May and also staying with Ellen and her family waiting for a hurricane. We were staying in Broadkill and had to leave. I remember Conrad and his brother and their dad was a favorite of my mother’s. My mother, Nila, was John B. Welch Jr’s daughter.

    • Ellen Graves

      I spoke again with Dee McIntosh and she is very much interested in talking with you and relating some information. Ellen Graves

      • Phil Martin

        Thanks for the reminder – I’ve been tied up with work the last few days. I’ll jump on it this morning.

      • Phil Martin

        Dee and I talked this morning, and it was a really nice conversation. She put me onto some material she had given to Melinda Huff some years ago, and then we talked about JB Welch quite a bit. I was also able to help her get a handle of JB’s second wife, Beulah Price [Creadick Fowler]. JB was her third marriage, and she would go on to marry a fourth time some years after his death. She was paid off to “go away” after JB’s death, and that she did.

  • Donna Ritter

    My Mother, Nila Welch (John B Welch Jr’s daughter), never gave a lot of details but told me John B’s second wife was not a good person.

    • Phil Martin

      Not surprising at all, given the pattern of serial marriages and who knows what else. But my interest has been piqued, and I hope something more detailed turns up about her.

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