Fleming Family Notes


This writing came from Ruth Brown Fleming. It is an essay of the history of the Fleming family reunions and history.  -- (Dated July 1990)


The Fleming family reunions were begun to celebrate the birthday of Freegift R. Fleming who was born August 12, 1803 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Freegift was the son of Malcolm and Sarah Rounsaval Fleming.

Freegift grew up in Hunterdon County in the vicinity of Pattenburg, now in the town of Union, three or four miles west of the old Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. In the early 1820s, Freegift left New Jersey and came to New York State where his sister lived in Tompkins County near Jacksonville. His sister was Mary Rittenhouse, wife of Benjamin Rittenhouse. Freegift worked on farms and on boats on the Erie Canal and the Hudson River.

Freegift met Matilda Mary Mix, daughter of Amasa Hotchkiss and Asenath Wilcox Mix, in Tompkins County and they were married on January 11, 1829. Matilda was born (probably) in Connecticut where her parents lived in the area of New Haven, on December 31, 1811. Freegift and Matilda lived in the town of Ulysses, Tompkins County, N.Y. or thereabouts until about 1842-1844. By then, they had a family of seven children. They moved from Tompkins County, New York to Bradford County, Pennsylvania where Freegift bought 54 acres of land in Granville township. This was in 1845. In 1868, Freegift bought about 1 1/2 acres of land in Leroy township. He had sold the land in Granville township to two of his sons -- 15 acres to Joseph in 1857 and 39 acres to William in 1865. In 1878, Freegift bought nine acres of land in Leroy township from his son, David Fleming. In March 1886, Freegift sold a small plot of land -- less than an acre -- to his son David.

Freegift and Matilda had a family of eleven children. These children held family picnics or reunions to celebrate their father's birthday which was on August 12. After his death on October 8, 1892, the children and grandchildren continued to hold reunions to honor their father. Matilda lived five years after the death of her husband, dying on October 9, 1897.

The Reunion Book was begun in 1904. In it, an account of each reunion was recorded, including dates and names of events such as births, marriages, and deaths. The reunion book was recovered by Ernest and Mildred Haflett some years ago, possibly in the 1940s. Over time, the book had become worn and the binding was broken. In 1986 or 1987, Ed and Hazel Wright got the book rebound with a red cover and gold lettering "Fleming Reunion".

Nobody knows just when the reunions were started, but the reunion book states that the 1929 reunion was the 58th annual reunion which indicates they were begun in 1870.

The early reunions were held at the homes of the various family members. A tent was purchased and used each year for many years. Most of the family members who hosted the reunions lived on farms where there was ample space. During those years, tableware which was nickel-plate, was bought to be used at the reunions. Eventually the tent was sold after the reunions began to be held at public parks, etc.

Often, close to 200 family members attended the reunions which were held on the Saturday nearest the 12th of August. Later, the reunion was changed to the second Sunday or the Sunday nearest the 12th of August. When the number of relatives attending the reunions was 100 to 200 or more, entertainment was planned, including singing, recitations, etc. and generally a minister was invited to bless the group. Each year a committee was chosen to plan the reunion for the next year and officers were elected also. During those years, a collection was taken to cover the costs of buying butter, sugar, coffee, ice cream, and for paying one or more women to help serve the meal and clean up afterward.

In 1927, the reunion was held in Riverside Park (now Brand Park) in Elmira, N.Y. 209 (sic) members of the family and their guests sat down to dinner that day. A long picture of the group was taken and copies sent to those who wanted one. Bob Fleming has one in his possession. At that reunion, a banner was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Haflett and is still used each year on reunion day.

Reunions were still held at the homes of some of the family members at times, but generally for the past thirty or more years, the annual get-together has been held at Grove Park and Eldridge Park in Elmira.

If the Fleming reunions were indeed begun in 1870, 1990 would be the 120th reunion. There was a break in the reunions during World War 2(sic). No reunion was held in the years 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945. But, they were resumed in 1946 with a much smaller turnout.

Sometime during the 1950s, the tableware was sold and the members decided to discontinue providing ice cream. Collections were discontinued because there was no longer a need to buy butter, sugar, etc. Each family provided the beverage, silverware, dishes and whatever else was needed for their own group. One or two dishes of food were brought to be shared with the others who attended the reunions.

There must be thousands of descendants of Freegift and Matilda Mix Fleming, but only a few who are descendents through William L., Francis E., and Rebecca M. Fleming have attended in recent years.

The Fleming family was from Ireland. Freegift was the son of Malcolm and Sarah Rounsaval Fleming of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Malcolm, in turn, was the son of Andrew and Rebecca Paterson Fleming. Malcolm was born in 1775 and died in 1847. He and his wife, Sarah, are buried at Mt. Pleasant, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Andrew Fleming was born in Cookstown, in the parrish of Derryloran in County Tyrone of Ulster Province, Ireland. He came to America about 1751 and settled near Bethlehem Church (Presbyterian) in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. It is said that Andrew served in the Revolutionary War. Andrew's father was named Malcolm Fleming and was a weaver in Ireland where he died in 1730.

The children of Freegift and Matilda Mary Mix Fleming were:
Asenath, who married M. Treat Shoemaker.
Joseph M., who married Joanna Fenton
Rebecca M., who married (1) Philander Foster (died in Civil War) and (2) William Haflett.
William L., who married Mary Eliz. (Lib) Holly.
Mary E., who married W.H. May.
Charlotte M., who married (1) William Mores (died in Civil War), and (2) Jared Ellis
Alden M., who married Susan E. Henson.
Francis E., who married Melissa H. Corby.
Julia Delphine (Del), who married George Crofut.
David B., who married Mary Cogansparger.
Asa L., who was an invalid with a spinal problem.

Freegift and Matilda Fleming were buried in Windfall Cemetery, Granville township, Bradford County, Pa. Their children: Asenath, Joseph, Rebecca, Mary, Alden, and David are also buried at Windfall Cemetery. William and his wife are buried at Leroy Cemetery and Francis and his wife are buried at Beech Flats Cemetery . . . all in Bradford County, Pa. It is unknown where Charlotte, Delphine, and Asa are buried.

Joseph, William, Alden and Francis (Frank) Fleming all served in the Civil War. The first husbands of Rebecca and Charlotte both died while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.

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William Lucius Fleming, born March 10, 1836, was the fourth child of Freegift R. and Matilda (Mix) Fleming. William married February 24, 1860, (in town of Newfield, Tompkins County, N.Y.) Mary Elizabeth . . . Lib . . . Holly. She was the daughter of George Holly and his wife, Elizabeth Rittenhouse. Mary Elizabeth Holly was born August 1, 1844.

Elizabeth Rittenhouse was the daughter of Benjamin Rittenhouse and his wife, Mary Fleming, (who was the daughter of Malcolm and Sarah Rounsaval Fleming.) Mary Fleming (wife of Benjamin Rittenhouse and mother of Mary Elizabeth . . . Lib . . . Holly) was the sister of Freegift R. Fleming and it was Mary and Benjamin Rittenhouse who first moved from Hunterdon County, New Jersey into Tompkins County, New York. Freegift visited them there and worked in the area of Jacksonville before he met Matilda Mix and married her.

The daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Fleming) Rittenhouse, Elizabeth Rittenhouse married George Holly on July 6, 1842 when she was just under fifteen years of ago. George and Elizabeth (Rittenhouse) Holly had only two children: Mary Elizabeth . . . Lib . . . who was born August 1, 1844; and Squire J. Holly (birthdate unknown).

Elizabeth (Rittenhouse) Holly died on July 6, 1847, five years after her marriage to George Holly. She was born on September 1, 1827. She was not yet twenty years of age at the time of her death.

Apparently following the death of her mother, Mary Elizabeth . . . Lib . . . Holly lived much of the time with her grandparents . . . Benjamin & Mary (Fleming) Rittenhouse. George Holly remarried a woman named Rosella -------- and they had several children.

The brother of Mary Elizabeth . . . Lib . . . Holly Fleming, Squire J. Holley, lived in the Midwest including Muskingum County, Michigan in 1870 and Chicago, Illinois later. Nothing more is known about him.

William Lucius Fleming and his wife, Mary Elizabeth . . . Lib . . . (Holly) Fleming had a family of eight children: Charles Earl, born Dec. 10, 1860; Amasa Lucius, born Feb. 22, 1864; Levi Walter, born May 10, 1866; Rosetta   (the narrative ends here).