Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Charles Williston McAlpin (Another Charles) ~ 52 Ancestors #25

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Same Name.

There are several men by the name of Charles in my father's family. My father was a Charles, as was his father. I shared photos of them as children at Photos for Father's Day.

My father's mother was Elizabeth (known as Libby), and I have written about her many times. Libby's father and brother were both named Charles. Here is a photo of her father.

All of these men were known at times as Charlie, specifically spelled with the "ie" ending.

So who was Charley?

Based on some photographs I have of the McAlpin brothers, I believe this is Charles Williston McAlpin, born in September 1865, the ninth child and eighth son of David Hunter McAlpin and Frances Adelaide Rose. He was my second great uncle; his sister was Frances Adelaide McAlpin who married James Tolman Pyle (my great grandparents).

The first photo, taken at the Jordan & Co. photographers looks to be from the late 1860s, which fits with when Andrew W. Jordan was in business at 229 Greenwich Street, New York City. The second photo, where he was dressed in what looks like a Scottish kilt, was taken at one of the Bogardus photography studios in New York City.

He was a very interesting man and led a very interesting life. A Princeton graduate (class of 1888), he was Secretary of Princeton University from 1900 until 1914. In his later years, he was a philanthropist and collector of portraits of George Washington, which was given to the New York Public Library and can be found in their digital collections at C.W. McAlpin Collection. He died on February 2, 1942, at his home at 720 Park Avenue in New York, and was buried in Morristown, New Jersey. See his FindAGrave memorial.

Charles W. McAlpin married Sara Carter Pyle, sister of James Tolman Pyle. They had no children. I mentioned him in a very early blog post about Glen Alpin in Harding Township, New Jersey.

I wonder who wrote "Charley" on the backs of these photos? I wonder how my father acquired them?


  1. Hard to tell the boys from the girls from that time period. Boys wore long hair and skirts/dresses - I'm assuming since it was easier than replacing pants as they grew.

    1. This was a family proud of its Scottish heritage; I'm sure that's a dark green McAlpin tartan!

      You're right about it being hard to tell boys from girls - lucky these had 'Charley' on the back.