I had a difficult time deciding between two bearded ancestors for this post! Both were great in their own way, but I have chosen to showcase my 4x great grandfather Washington Preston’s beard. It is just great because it is so long, (maybe a foot long?!), and it’s completely white! Below is one photograph that nicely displays his beard.
This side of the family liked to take photographs, so one of his children probably snapped this photograph of him around 1900 when he was about 77 years old. I really love it because of how relaxed Washington looks. He is sitting in a rocking chair on his front lawn while reading his newspaper, and I can just imagine that it was a beautiful day outside.
Washington Preston, from all accounts of him, was a very nice, genial man. He was tall and slender with a straight nose. The tall and slender gene was passed down to his son Charles and is still apparent in my father and myself! Examining his photo has made me wonder if he had a beard his whole adult life, or if he began growing it as an older man. Either way, he beard is fantastic!
Washington was born on 2 December 1823 in the town of Beverly in Washington County, Ohio to Frederick and Joanna (Chapin) Preston. Both of his parents from New England families who had migrated west to Pennsylvania and finally settled in Ohio.
On 12 March 1846, Washington married Rachel Ann Jordan in Morgan County, the county just to the north of Washington County. Unlike Washington’s parents, Rachel’s were both born in Maryland. Both Washington and Rachel raised a large family on their farm in Beverly: George, Charles, Henrietta, Curtis, Marion, Lucy, Francis, Nora Bell, and Anna Louise.
Beverly, then as it is now, was a small town nestled on the Muskingum River. People who lived in this area of Ohio in the 19th century were farmers, coal miners, or worked in the iron industry. Washington Preston owned a farm, but his main trade was pattern making. (In the census, he was listed as a farmer, day laborer, carpenter, plow maker, and pattern maker.) A pattern maker worked in a foundry and created molds that would be cast in steel and used as parts of machines used in the milling industry. In my photo collection is one of the Beverly Star Foundry, which one of the places were I believe Washington worked. According to the obituary of his daughter, Nora, the family moved from Beverly to Marietta, Ohio in 1881 while Washington was working for the W. F. Robertson Company. Later, he left the company and began working for the Marietta Manufacturing Company.
Washington died on 12 December 1902 at the age of 79. A very long obituary was published in the local paper after he died. He was a member of the Odd Fellows, and according to the paper, Washington’s funeral was the largest ever held in Marietta. The Odd Fellows charted a steamboat to carry his body up and down the Ohio River prior to burial. He was laid to rest in Oak Grove Cemetery in Marietta where his wife Rachel joined him in 1912.