Gen. George P Scriven: can you trace ancestors back beyond his father, Charles

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General George Percival Scriven[ [Scriven-391]] is credited by some as being the father of the modern airforce. That may be giving him too much credit, but this West Point graduate led a pretty interesting life. I'd like to put him on my tree (Scriven-11), but I only have his father, Charles H. Scriven [[Scriven-392]] and his mother, Elizabeth Schuff [[Schuff-33]]. George was born February 21, 1854  in Philadephia, PA and died about March 7, 1940 in South Pines, Moore Co, N. Carolina. His father was probably born around 1830 in Pennsylvania. George's wife was Bertha Bragg, but that gets me nowhere back past Charles. I suspect that George's father Charles (or his parents)  may have come from one of two places: Rensselaer County, NY (in which case he is my relative) or New York City, where there are a lot of unrelated Scriven, probably immigrating just before or after 1800 from England.

WikiTree profile: George Scriven
in Genealogy Help by Bob Scrivens G2G6 Mach 1 (19.2k points)

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Haven't tracked down the parents yet, but have a number of other records and facts not already reflected in the profiles.

The earliest records I have found for George P. Scriven, b. ~1854, Pennsylvania, Occupation: Officer U.S.A, is in Census 1880, while he is boarding at the Lemly household at Edgewater, Richmond, New York. His father's birthplace is given as England (not Pennsylvania) in this and subsequent census records.

After Bertha Bragg passed away in 1914 it appears George Scriven remarried an Elizabeth McQuade on 6 Oct 1915 (as reported in New York Times)

Other records I have found are Line 18 of Census 1900, Line 14 of Census 1920, and Line 92 of Census 1930, and the indexed death record.

As an aside:

In the profile you linked, under sources it says: "FamilySearch lists the same date for marriage, but says it occurred in New York."... the FamilySearch record I can find gives Wisconsin

I find it Interesting that he wrote "The Story of the Hudson's Bay Company", wonder if it was simply a personal interest or if he had some connection to them.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
selected by Mags Gaulden

Continuing the search for Charles Scriven... we assume he was living in Philadelphia when George was born in 1854 so let's chase him through the Philadelphia city directory to see when/where he is listed.

1850 and 1851 have a Scriven, Thomas, Cigar Maker - but no Charles. According to Census 1850 and 1860, Thomas Scriven is born about 1803/1804 in Philadelphia and therefore not likely a (close) relation to Charles.

1852 - No Scriven's listed.

1853 - Scriven, Charles, Bookseller, 50 Walnut

1854 and 1855 - Scriven, Charles H., Bookseller, 50 Walnut, h 284 Race

1856 - No Scriven's listed... A new bookseller (Thomas Leidy) is now at 50 Walnut.

Going from the above information I make a big leap of faith (and speculation that needs more research)... and over to Chicago

1855 - No Scriven's listed.

1856 - Scriven & Gallagher, advertising agents, 63 Dearborn

1863 - Scriven, Charles H., advetising agt. 63 Dearborn, h. 497 Wabash Av.

1866 - Scriven, Charles H., advertising agency and dealer in printing inks, 51 Dearborn bds. Tremont House.

Now what really caught my interest about Chicago.

1871 - Scriven, George P. 145 21st Street

In looking to confirm the above Chicago Scriven's are the same I found an 1876 report from the Supreme Court of Illinois (Campbell et al v. Benjamin et al) that is promising and (if the correct family) gives a death for Elizabeth of 1865 and indicates George was Elizabeth's only child:

P.S. the way I read the case report it was Elizabeth that died in 1865 and not Charles.

Charles the advertising agent is also mentioned a few times in this work:

Appears that Charles was a freemason as he was listed in the Universal Masonic Record for at least a few years:  1857 1859 1860


Also ran across this information that seems to conflict with the Bertha Bragg profile:

This article gives Bertha Bragg's place of death as Washington (vice North Carolina as currently listed in the profile)


More sources (or mentions) relating to George that I found while looking for Charles:

Mention of Lieut. Scriven in connection of 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

He was also mentioned in connection with this event in the Chicago Daily Tribune on 20 December 1890 (page 7); it is claimed that all the officers mentioned in the article are fluent in French.

1903 in connection with the St. Louis World Fair in 1904.

New York Times (5 May 1897) reported: "Constantinople, May 4.- Capt. Scriven of the American Embassy at Rome, has arrived here, en route to Thessaly to watch the operations." 'Operations' is referring to the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 (aka Thirty Days' War)

Another article (3 Dec 1917) about George being shelled.

An interesting 1915 article relating to the future of the aeroplane.

Here is a link to the 'official' Cullum register from USMA already mentioned in the profile.

Again, a great job of research. (I wish I had access to your sources!) That was interesting getting to Chicago. I had seen these references before but discounted them in spite of the name. I assumed a New York or Philadephia connection got him to West Point (and I wonder, do they have accessable records of parents, place of birth, etc.?)

Are you drawing the conclusion that Philadephia is just plain wrong for a DOB? (That record you sent me which said father Charles Scriven was from England did list Charles' wife as being from Pennsylvania, I noticed.)

Tell me, since I had only moderate experience with city directories: if you can't find someone listed in them within a reasonable time frame, can you assume with near 100% certainty that he was not there? (I was looking up my wife's mother recently at a local city hall and couldn't find her at first--until we found an alternate spelling.) Not challenging your conclusion, just wondering.

Also wondering if George's father is from England (have you seen how many Charles Scrivens there are in that time period?), how did he end up in the mid-west? I went to EllisIsland. com and found nothing for him getting here. I had seen Charles the advertising agent before and the Illinois Supreme Count listing; a Chicago residence makes a lot more sense here. The Chicago World's Fair also is good collaboration for an educated guess. Plus, though I can't quite remember as I write here what it was, I seem to recall some other reference in the Midwest; a wedding perhaps?

I'll view all your links a.s.a.p. and get back to you if I have any more thoughts, Rob. You've done a fine job with this! The 1915 article, to me, is what makes this man worth the time (even if he doesn't share my lineage): if politicians followed his lead, who knows if the United States might have intervened earlier in the Battle of Britain with an established air corps? As it was, it seemed to take FDR forever to commit (but given the state of US readiness and isolationist opposition, you can see why).  "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which describes this pre-war period, is a good read if you like history. I learned a lot from it.

Thanks for the compliment Bob,

USMA West Point AOG (Association of Graduates) does allow access to some files from the Cullum Files for genealogy purposes - you would have to contact them: The files they have *may* contain some tidbits about George's early life; for example it is usual to have a next-of-kin on record so before he was married it would normally list some blood relative. As we might assume both his parents were deceased before he enlisted his next of kin might be a grandparent, uncle/aunt, or cousin. It would also likely have a record of where he resided when he enlisted.

George's birthplace of Philadelphia is apparently in his AOG obituary and also his Wisconsin marriage to Bertha Bragg, so I would accept that as correct barring any evidence to the contrary. I think Charles is however born in England (Not Pennsylvania) as that is what unvaryingly appears in every Census record I have looked at. George's father's name, given in the indexed death registration, corresponds exactly to one of only two people with that surname listed in the city directory for Philadelphia at the time of George's birth so I think that is a valid connection. I think George's annual visits to England in later life (the passenger lists you have already seen on familysearch) also suggest a family connection rather than just 'vacationing'.

As far as the city directories, there were no telemarketers and much less (if any) junk mail, so people had less reason to go 'unlisted'; I would say the majority of adult males, and some women (especially widows) were typically listed. If someone is not listed at all, they may be choosing privacy, but if they are listed, they tend to be listed every year they reside in an area. While directories will inevitably contain some errors such as incorrect spelling of surnames, they are usually more accurate than other sources - the publishers made their profit from having correct names and addresses.

I think the fact that a 'Scriven, Charles H.' is listed in Philadelphia 1853-1855 then disappears and a "Scriven, Charles H." appears in Chicago starting in 1856 - combined with the fact that the lawsuit in Chicago mentions Charles, Elizabeth and George P. are persuasive. Also consider the first directory entry I have found for George P. Scriven at Chicago is in 1871; General George, born in 1854 would have been ~17 years old: an 'adult male'.

As for how Charles ended up in Chicago/mid-west? Probably saw a business opportunity: the railroad connecting Philadelphia and Chicago was under construction with the Fort Wayne Bridge completed in 1857.

Another record: In Illinois state Census 1865, a C.H Scriven is in Ward 3, Page 124: unfortunately this is only a partly nominal (head of household census)

A few minutes with Ancestry and I have rounded out some other details.

Partial transcription (by me, from a digitized copy); capitalized portions are the handwritten parts of a form letter.

Passport application: 10680; issued Nov. 20/89

I GEO. P. SCRIVEN... Solemnly swear I was born at PHILA. in the state of PA. on or about the ___ day of FEB 1854, that my father is a NATURALIZED citizen of the United States... my permanent residence being at CHICAGO in the state of ILL where I follow the occupation of U.S. ARMY...

This document has a signature and a physical description: age 35, forehead SQUARE, eyes HAZEL, nose STRAIGHT, mouth MOUSTACHE, chin ROUND, hair BROWN, complexion FAIR, face OVAL

Source: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 341

A later passport application in 1897 states that "my father is not living" raising the question was he living when the 1889 application was filled out? Still later another passport application of 1917 states specifically that Brigadier General Scriven's father CHARLES H SCRIVEN was BORN IN ENGLAND.

Also viewed an image of General George's death certificate - it actually specifies that his father Charles was from Yorkshire, England.

The various military register's confirm that George enlisted to the Military Academy from Illinois.

Oh, and I forgot to reply to your earlier PM comment about the Wisconsin marriage making more sense with George being in Illinois - I don't think geography figures into this marriage - Bertha is the daughter of General Edward S. Bragg, I expect they met through military social functions and were married at Fond Du Lac because that is where the Bragg family lived.

Also on Ancestry Sam Fink's Chicago Marriage and Death Index. has three entries of interest:

Death: Scriven, Eliz. 4-10-65.

Marriage: Scriven, Chas. H. & Brundred, Eliza 6-14-67

Death: Scriven, Chas H. 8-15-67 and

Maybe one final question, Rob. I entered the information you gave me on the General and his wife and turned to Charles H. Scrivens and his wife. (One of the sources, the one about the advertising agencies, proved very interesting. Charles seems to be the original "Madmen" of Chicago. But my question is this: how about Charles' wife's maiden name? I originally had Schuff, I think from George P.'s record. But Eliza Brundred checks out on [] There she has a listing of her parents and siblings, including a same-named infant who died at birth or very soon, I'm guessing. I wish I knew what source originally gave me the Schuff last name, but I haven't dug that up yet.

So, do you feel pretty confident about Eliza Brundred? Was she the Elizabeth from Philadelphia or did Charles H marry a second woman with basically the same name (the marriage date you provided, 6-14-67, would be about a dozen years after George P's birth)? There were other listings on FamilySearch for "Elizas" also married to "Charles Scriven" and they have three different female children listed (I recall reading that George P. wa an only child.) Any opinion on all this? (I'd like to get this as right as I can before I move on.)

Hi Bob,

I am fairly confident that Charles H. Scriven married two women named Elizabeth.

George's mother's last name is indexed as Schuff based on the Wisconsin Marriage registration of Bertha Bragg and George Scriven. As George would have provided this information himself at the time of his marriage, I would accept what is given on this registration as correct, but I have not seen an image of the original so I do not know the accuracy of the transcription:

An image of George Percival's North Carolina death registraton is available on Ancestry, and to my eyes his mother's surname reads as Huff or Hoff - but this information is the recollection of George's wife (who would have never met George's mother) so I would have to consider it less reliable.

This Elizabeth (Schuff/Huff/Hoff) I associate with the death given in Sam Fink's Chicago Marriage and Death Index for Scriven, Eliz. 4-10-65 a supposition supported by the supreme court case which says "In 1865 Mrs. Scriven died, leaving an only child, Geo. P. Scriven, a minor."

Elizabeth Brundred who, according to Sam Fink's married Charles H. Scriven on 6-14-67, would have been a second wife for the two months before the death of Chas H. Scriven given as 8-15-67. This date of death makes sense with the comments in Forty Years an Advertising Agent where the author says Charles H. Scriven died soon after a reception at Helmbold's in New York - which puts it after 1863 (when the New York store opened) and likely before 1871 when the business was starting to decline.

Also... just dug up a newspaper entry from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (10 Jun 1867), p.3, col. 2:

Scriven - Brundred - At St. John's Church, Brooklyn, by the Rev. [?H. H.] Cole, Rector of St. Luke's, Chicago, Charles H. Scriven of Chicago, to Eliza, the daughter of the late Benj. Brundred, Esq., of Paterson, N.J.

In later city directories for Paterson, N.J. there appears an Eliza Scriven, widow of Charles H. - which makes me think this is the right Find a Grave Entry: particularly with Benjamin Brundred also buried there.

I have looked at Paterson, N.J. directories some more... The Widow Eliza Scriven (sometimes Scrivens) is listed by 1870.

I would also consider adding these "further research notes" to the relevant profiles.

1. Examine a copy of the marriage records for George Percival Scriven and Bertha Bragg to confirm if the transcription of Schuff is accurate.

2. Check for more details in the obituaries in the Chicago Tribune for Charles (15 August 1867) and Eliza (Schuff/Huff/Hoff) Scriven (10 April 1865) which were indexed in Sam Fink's Index. I should clarify the dates from Sam Fink's may be the dates the marriage or obituary was published in a Chicago Newspaper, and are probably a few days after the actual event.

3. Check the Cooke Directories for Chicago in 1859 and 1860 to determine if Charles and family can be found there.

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