Title: Builder, carpenter
Death Date: April 27, 1889
Plot Location: Section 149, Lot 119
A fascinating story should accompany one of Mount Moriah’s more notable monuments, but in this case the story may not seem as impressive as the structure. Not that William Galbraith didn’t live a good and apparently successful life, but there just aren’t many details available to paint a more complete picture.
Both he and his wife, Martha, were born in Ireland, but there is no information about parents or siblings. They married on April 3, 1857 at Southwestern Presbyterian Church. It was a young congregation without a building of its own so services were held at a fire station (then called a “hose house”), and that was probably the Galbraiths’ wedding venue. Their first child was a son, followed by four daughters. The youngest, Annie, died at 18 months.
There was no 1860 census located and no war record for William. His first mention in a city directory was in the mid-1860s as a stonecutter. In the mid-1870s he was listed as a builder. A number of Sheriff’s Sales mentioned his name as the purchaser of some properties. This would have been where he made a good income during a boom in home-building. In the late 1880s he just called himself a carpenter.
William died from a lung abscess when the three oldest children were in their 20s and the youngest was 15. Martha must have chosen the monument and had the extra-wide plot in Section 149 bordered with neat walls (known as “coping”) and an ornate front entrance. Of course she never envisioned all these slender trees growing within the walls, but they seem to complement the grand lady atop the monument who appears to be rising with them to reach the sky.
The 1900 census finds her and her three grown daughters living in Atlantic City, New Jersey at a home with no mortgage and two live-in servants. None of the girls listed an occupation and Martha listed hers as a “capitalist.” Her son, Robert, married in 1894 and was a real estate agent in suburban Sharon Hill, just to the west of Mount Moriah.
Martha was buried beside her husband in 1905. Her three daughters never married, and each of them are buried here along with Robert (but not his wife or two daughters). The names of two others, John and Willie, are on the same marker as Annie, indicating they died in infancy as well.
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