Pelham Genealogy - William Pelham (1759-1827)
William Pelham was born on August 10, 1759 in Williamsburg, Virginia, the eighth child of Peter and Ann Creese Pelham. At age 19 he was an apprentice at the Pasteur and Galt Shop in Williamsburg. For the last three years of the Revolution, he served as a Surgeon.
Following the war Pelham lived in London for quite a while. Stating that the English climate would break the constitution of a man of iron, he came back to the United States.
In 1800 he changed his profession, opening up a bookstore and publishing house on 59 Corhil1 Street, Boston. In 1801 he married his first cousin, Penelope, the daughter of his deceased uncle, Thomas Pelham. In 1802 their only child, William Creese Pelham, was born.
In 1811 Pelham sold his bookshop and the family lived in Newark, New Jersey for a time. Obtaining lands for his Revolutionary War service in Ohio, he moved his family to Zanesville in 1816. There he edited the "Ohio Republican" and he was appointed postmaster in 1818.
"William Pelham was a scholarly man," wrote Caroline Creese Pelham, "a deep thinker, delicate in mind and constitution; his long life as a servant of the public had wearied him of the grasping ways of the world... " If his brother Peter found peace within religion, William Pelham found it in the utopian dream of Robert Owen.
After much correspondence, he moved to New Harmony, Indiana in 1825 to become an active participant in the communistic community. At New Harmony, he worked in the accounting department of the community store and served as assistant editor of the "New Harmony Gazette." His son, William, later joined him. He later moved to a farm at Mount Vernon and died on February 3, 1827, two months before the dissolution of the experimental community of New Harmony. William Pelham's descendants stayed in New Harmony. His granddaughter, Caroline Creese Pelham, wrote a children's history of New Harmony in 1914.
This article first appeared in Volume 2, No. 3 of The Cannoneer.
Caroline Creese Pelham, "William Pelham," William and Mary Quarterly, Series II, Vol. 8, No.1, January 1928, pp. 42-43.
Mentor L. Williams, "Paulding Satirizes Owenism," Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. XLIV, No.4, Oecember 1948.
Letters of William Pelham describing his experiences traveling to New Harmony and life in the community are preserved in Letters of William Pelham, Lindley, Indiana Historical Collections, III.
Many books exist on the history of New Harmony, Indiana.