Descendant of Rev. James MacGregor of Londonderry NH — World War One Heroine: Ruth MacGregor (1889-1918)

Ruth MacGregor from The News Journal, Wilmington DE of 10 Nov 1922 page 6

I was recently reviewing the list of “Gold Star Women” who had died during World War I service, and came across the name of a Delaware resident, Ruth MacGregor. Normally I would not be writing about her, then I discovered she just happens to have a connection to New Hampshire. She was the 3rd great-grand daughter of the Rev. James MacGregor of Nutfield (Londonderry) New Hampshire.

Another reason I chose to write about her is that several sources state she was buried at sea, and so there is no cemetery plot  where people can gather to honor her memory.  I hope this story will serve as a partial remembrance. 

The News Journal, Wilmington DE of 10 Nov 1922 page 6 reported: “MISS RUTH MACGREGOR WORLD WAR HEROINE //She was a Daughter of Mrs. F. P. MacGregor of 2305 Ridgeway Avenue.  “The name of Miss Ruth MacGregor, daughter of Mrs. Frank P. MacGregor of 2305 Ridgway avenue, appears among a list of 161 “gold star women” — American girls who gave their lives in the World War–compiled by the Women’s Overseas Service League as a feature for Armistice Day. Two Philadelphia girls are also on the list. Miss MacGregor, who was a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, enlisted in the Red Cross service, in which she was deeply interested, in the fall of 1918, and sailed for France from New York City in September. She planned to do hospital hut service in France and had gained experience from her work in Wilmington and New York city before enlisting. On the voyage over she became ill of influenza and died after a brief illness. It was necessary to bury her at sea. Most of the bodies of the 161 former service women rest beneath French soil, but a number of them are also buried in Siberia, Armenia, China, and Manila. Plans are underway for providing a perpetual testimonial to their bravery. ” [Editor’s note: I don’t believe any such memorial was actually built].

Photograph and autograph of Ruth MacGregor from her 1918 passport record.

Ruth MacGregor’s Red Cross Service Card adds some additional details: “Service for American Red Cross from July 1918 to death on 7 October 1918. “Miss MacGregor enlisted with the American Red Cross Hospital Hut Service. She was in Paris when the war started in 1914 and had hoped to be there when it ended. Photograph accompanies this record.” [Editor’s note: a later newspaper article reports that she was a telephone operator, which seems to be incorrect based on all the other reports closer to the time of her death].

Ruth MacGregor completed a passport  application just before that fateful trip to France that stated her date of birth. At that time her occupation was that of a teacher.  She planned to leave the United States by ship on September 19, 1918 (the ship is not named in the passport).   Her description: 29 years old, 5ft 9 inches tall, high forehead, hazel eyes, straight nose, medium mouth, round chin, dark brown hair, dark complexion, and oval face.

According to another newspaper article provided by Mt. Holyoke College Archives, the ship Vestrius (sic Vestris) was sailing with a convoy of eight ships, out of Quebec. “on the first day out … one girl died of influenza. It was thought that she had brought the influenza aboard the ship and during the voyage hundreds of persons on the eight ships died during the long and difficult crossing. Ruth MacGregor was the second one aboard the Vestrius to succumb to the disease. Her funeral was held at dawn on the ship’s lower deck. The captain and ship’s chaplain, along with a few other officers conducted the service. The burial was at sea. Miss Bacon who had not seen her friend on deck for a day or two, learned of her death and was the only one of the passengers to attend the funeral. After the services she wrote a long letter to the MacGregor family telling them of the service in as much detail as she could remember.

The News Journal newspaper, Wilmington DE on 21 Aug 1936 page 13 reported: “Miss Ruth MacGregor, hospital hut worker for the American Red Cross, died of influenza at sea while crossing for duty in France Oct 8, 1918 after being on duty in the service less than a month.”

Three decades later the newspaper reports on substantial gifts made by her only sibling to Mount Holyoke College in her memory.  In The Morning News newspaper (Wilmington, Delaware) 8 June 1965, page 2: “A Wilmington man has given $750,000 to Mt. Holyoke College in honor of his sister, an alumna of the school who died in 1918 during war service.
– The notation by Frank S. MacGregor of 2401 Pennsylvania Ave, was announced at the 55th reunion of his sister’s class, the class of 1910, over the weekend. His sister, Ruth MacGregor, volunteered for overseas service after the United States entered World War I. She was on her way to France as a bilingual telephone operator for the U.S. Army [Editor’s note, by all other accounts this appears to be incorrect] when she died during an influenza outbreak aboard ship and was buried at sea. MacGregor who retired in 1948 as general manager of the Electro-Chemicals Department of the Du Pont Co., and his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Marshall MacGregor, who is president of the 1910 class attended the reunion.
The donation which sent the women’s college over the top in its fund-raising driver to qualify for a $2.5 million grant, brings MacGregor’s gifts to the school at South Hadley, Mass. to nearly $1 million. Among his earlier contributions was the Ruth MacGregor Fund, which he estabished in his sister’s memory. After the latest gift the college’s president, Richard G. Gettell, announced a new dormitory would be named Ruth MacGregor Hall.

In 2016 a ceremony was held at the University of Delaware where the names of 270 men and women who lost their lives in WWI are inscribed on bronze markers.

**CAVEAT** note that the early records of Londonderry make it difficult to positively prove the descent of Ruth MacGregor.  Information from the 3rd generation down is well documented, however the 1st and 2nd generations are not.  If you can prove an error or an addition to this research I welcome your comments in that regard.

———————-First Generation——————–

Rev. James MacGregor/Macgregore of Ireland and Londonderry NH. He was born in 1677 at Londonderry Ire, and died 5 March 1729 in Londonderry NH. He married 29 Aug 1706 in Aghadowey Ire to Maryann Cargill, daughter of David & Janet (Smith) Cargill. She was b 1674 and d. 1 Jan 1736 in Londonderry NH. He arrived in the American Colonies in 1718 and he was the first minister to the town of Nutfield later called Londonderry NH. He is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, East Derry NH. [brief bio] [basic family tree] [Link to story about him on Nutfield Genealogy]. The widow Mary Ann McGregor was married January 9, 1733 by the Rev. John Moorhead of Boston to Mr. McGregor’s Londonderry successor, the Rev. Matthew Clark, a vigorous and picturesque preacher.
[1] The History of Londonderry comprising the towns of Derry and Londonderry NH by Edward Lutwyche Parker, 1851.
[2] Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America by Charles Knowles Bolton, 1910.
[3] Vital Records of Londonderry NH
Children of Rev. James & Maryann (Cargill) MacGregor [not in exact birth order]:
1. Elizabeth MacGregor, b abt 1695 Ireland, d. 1767 Londonderry NH; she married 21 Sep 1715 in Londonderry, NH to William Gilmore. Children [Gilmore]: William, John, Robert, Ann, James and Mary.
2. Margaret MacGregore b abt 1709 Ireland, died 6 Jan 1791 in Nottingham West, NH, buried Litchfield NH. She married Alexander Caldwell of Portsmouth, shopkeeper.  Children [Caldwell]: Thomas, Agnes, Mary, William and James.
3. +Rev. David McGregor, b 6 Nov 1710 Ire, d. 30 May 1777 Londonderry NH. He married Mary Boyd.  Children: Margaret, David (died young), Capt. David Jr., Mary Ann, James, Col. Robert Boyd, Jane, and Mary.
4. Daniel McGregore, b abt 1716 Ireland
5. Mary MacGregor, b abt 1722 Londonderry NH; married James Paul(l).
6. James MacGregore, of Londonderry NH, yeoman; “had a pew in the meeting house” in Londonderry NH.
7. John MacGregore
8. Jane MacGregore; m. Alexander Clark, physician.
9. Robert MacGregore
1o. +Alexander MacGregore, b abt 1711 Londonderry NH; moved to Rhode Island, schoolmaster.

———————-2nd Generation——————–

Rev. David-2 McGregor (Rev. James-1) b 6 Nov 1710 Ire. He married Mary Boyd, “a lady, who, having been left an orphan when in early life, was brought up his his mother. She was possessed of considerable property, and was distinguished for her personal appearance and accomplishments.” Mr. MacGregor died May 30, 1777 in Londonderry NH  aged sixty-eight [notice in Boston MA newspaper]. His wife survived him, and died September 28, 1793, aged seventy. They had nine children.
Children of Rev. David & Mary (Boyd) McGregor:
1. David, who died in infancy.
2. Robert McGregor, who married Elizabeth, daughter of General George Reid, and settled at first in Goffstown NH. He was a man of fine natural endowments and of great excellence of character he was quite a young man at the commencement of the revolutionary struggle, but he volunteers his services and in 1777 joined the troops mustered in New Hampshire. [ETC] He died in Londonderry Sept 16 1816 aged sixty-seven. He had nine children, namely David, George, Maria, Ellen, Robert, James, Mary Anne, John and Daniel
3. David McGregor pursued a collegiate course and graduated at Dartmouth in 1774. He entered the army of the Revolution and held the office of captain. He afterwards engaged in the business of teaching. [born 1756, d. 1828. Received a pension 1818 for service as 1st Lieut. and Captain in the NH Line. DAR No. 126179. He m. Elizabeth Holland (1764-1828). Their children were: Elizabeth, died in infancy; Stephen, born 1785, married Hulda Jones; David McGregor Jr (1789-1842) who m. 1818 to Clarissa Munson (1795-1868). ; Mary, married William Van Dusen. Captain McGregor was a member of the first Masonic Lodge, organized in Londonderry, N. H.
4. James McGregor, born abt 1748. He settled in Londonderry and married Margaret Holland, a daughter of Col Stephen Holland [see more] He died 23 June 1818, aged seventy. His wife died in December 1746 aged 78. He had six children namely: Daniel, James, Stephen, Jane, Mary and Nancy.
5. Elisabeth McGregor
6. Margaret McGregor, born January 1725 Londonderry NH; died 3 December 1793 (aged 68) in Fredericksburg, Ontario, Canada.  She married Lieut. Col. James Rogers, son of James & Mary Jean (?) Rogers. He was born 2 April 1728 in Dublin Ireland and died 23 Sep 1790 in Sandhurst, Ontario, Canada. Children [Rogers]: Mary (who m. John Armstrong), David McGregor, Margaret (who m. Aaron Greeley), James, David, and Mary Ann (who m. John Peters).
7. Mary Anne McGregor who married James Hopkins
8. Jane McGregor who married Robert Hunter
9. Mary McGregor, born 6 December 1752 in Londonderry NH and died 14 January 1838 in Boston MA. She married Col. Robert Means of Amherst NH, son of Dr. Thomas & Elizabeth (Mobly) Means. [Robert Means was a friend and cousin of Jacob McGaw of Merrimack NH]. Children (Means):  Mary (who m. Jeremiah Mason), Elisabeth (who m. Rev. Jesse Ripley Appleton), Nancy, David McGregor, Robert Esq. Isaac, Jane Adams Means, and Mary Ann.

James-2 McGregor (Rev James-1) ?? or Daniel, John or Robert.  [One of these] had a son, James-3 McGregor II.

Alexander-2 MacGregor (Rev James-1) born abt 1711 Londonderry NH, died abt August 1748 in Rhode Island; schoolmaster.  He married 4 January 1738 in Warwick RI to Susan Stafford, daughter of Major Joseph & Susannah (Gorton) Stafford. She was born 10 March 1722 and died 4 Jan 1809.  As a widow she m2d) Caleb Arnold, son of William & Deliverance (Whipple) Arnold.  He was born 26 May 1725 in Warwick RI and died 13 March 1799 in Pawtucket RI.
Children of Alexander & Susan (Stafford) MacGregor:
1. James McGregor, born 1 October 1740 in Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island
2. Susanna McGregor, born 1742 in Londonderry NH, died 1 September 1817 in Northumberland NH; she married Thomas Burnside, Esq. Children include [Burnside]: James, Alexander, David and Samuel McGregor.
3. Margaret McGregor, born 8 Sep 1745 in Providence RI, died 3 March 1807 in South Corinth, Saratoga, NY. She married Lt. Col. Adam Comstock. Children [Comstock]: Ruth, William, Susannah, Gideon, John, Mary, dau, Freelove, Samuel, Amy, Catherine, Sally, Oliver Cromwell, SLpha, James MacGregor, and Dr. Alexander MacGregor.
4. Mary McGregor, born abt 1748 in Rhode Island. She married John Stafford.
Children of Caleb & Susan (Stafford-MacGregor) Arnold (not in order of birth):
1. William Arnold
2. Samuel Arnold
3. Joseph Arnold
4. & 5. two daughters

———————-Third Generation——————–

James-3 McGregor II b — d –; m. Agnes Cochran [Editor’s note: in that in the 1851 History of Bedford, New Hampshire, the Rev David-4 McGregor below, who is known to be a son of James & Agnes (Cochran) McGregor,  is named in that book as a great-grandson of Rev. James-1 McGregor and grand-nephew of Rev. David-2 McGregor. Therefore we know that this James-3 McGregor II is a grandson of Rev. James but not the son of Rev. David-2].
Children of James & Agnes (Cochran) McGregor:
1. Jennet/Janet MacGregor; she m. Jonathan Ballou of Deerfield NH
2. Mary Ann MacGregor, unm.
3. +Rev. David-4 McGregor, born abt 1771; graduated Dartmouth College, Presbyterian clergyman, Bedford NH. He m. Mary Butterfield of Hanover, and after her death he m. Mary Orr of Londonderry NH.
4. Robert MacGregor who m. Mary “Polly” Havens of Rhode Island, later lived in Londonderry NH. Children include David McGregor, b abt 1817 Londonderry NH, d. 17 May 1891 Londonderry NH /and/ John A. McGregor b abt 1831, d. 2 April 1899 New Boston NH /and/ Mary Elizabeth MacGregor b 1 May 1834 Londonderry NH d 27 March 1909 Manchester NH, m. — Frieman.
5. Betsey MacGregor, never married
6. Polly MacGregor m. Jonathan Emerson
7. +James McGregor b 28 March 1777, d. 1825.

———————-Fourth Generation——————–

Rev. David-4 McGregor, (James-3 II) was born in Londonderry [Ed. note: born about 1771 based on his death information later]. “He was grand nephew of Rev. David McGregor, and great grandson of Rev. James McGregor, the first minister of Londonderry. After completing his collegiate course at Dartmouth College, in 1799, he devoted himself for some time to the instruction of youth. Among other places , he taught at Cambridge, mass., with great credit and success. About this time he was united in marriage, to Miss Butterfield of Groton, Mass, who was soon removed by death. After his settlement at Bedford [He was ordained to the Bedford Presbyterian Church on 5 Sep 1804], he was married to Annis, daughter of Hon. John Orr, and this connexion was soon sundered by death [Annis Orr b 22 Sep 1782, m. 1805 to Rev. McGregor, died 1806]. His third wife, who still survives him, was Miss Rebecca Merrill, of Falmouth, Maine. He had no children. Mr. McGregor, in the early parts of his ministry, was absent fro his people some months, on a missionary tour in the Northern section of the state, and was one of the first missionaries sent out by the New Hampshire Domestic Missionary Society. The writer of this notice heard Rev. Mr. Fairbanks of Littleton, N.H. say, that Mr. McGregor’s labors were blest, and that he had met with individuals in that part of the state, who retained a pleasant remembrance of his preaching. An account of his tour was published in a religious journal of the day. [more]. In 1831 he removed to Falmouth Maine, where he engaged in promoting the interests of learning and religion. He died there very suddenly, October 18, 1845, aged 74.” NO CHILDREN.

James-4 MacGregor (James-3 II McGregor) was born 28 March 1777 in Londonderry NH. He married 22 Dec 1803 to Rosanna Aiken, daughter of Samuel and Isabel Aiken. She was born in Chester March 2, 1784, and died in Londonderry on 23 Nov 1867. Her tombstone was erected by her sister, Mrs. Mary Whitney. The widow Rosanna (Aiken) MacGregor m2d) on 3 Jan 1827 to Dearborn Whittier of Hooksett. He was killed at Wilson’s Crossing on 26 Jan 1850.  Buried Forest Hill Cemetery, East Derry NH
Children of James & Rosanna (Aiken) McGregor:
1. Agnes “Nancy” McGregor b 10 Oct 1804 Chester NH, died 15 July 1811, buried Forest Hill Cemetery, East Derry NH
2. Isabella D. McGregor, b 7 Nov 1806 Lodonderry NH; married on 13 Nov 1823 to Edward Ballou, son of Jonathan and Janet (McGregor) Ballou. He was born in Deerfield NH on 5 Nov 1799. Willey’s Book of Nutfield says she had “her first child in her arms when she shook hands with Lafayette at East Derry in 1824.” They had 12 children. (photos)
3. Alexander McGregor, b 6 Nov 1809 Londonderry NH; married Sarah Wyse
4. +Lewis Aiken McGregor, b 12 Aug 1812 Auburn NH
5. Eliza Jane McGregor b 14 July 1820
6. John A. McGregor b 14 Oct 1822.

———————-Fifth Generation——————–

Lewis Aiken-5 McGregor, b 12 Aug 1812 Auburn NH, son of James McGregor & Rosanna Aiken. He died 8 March 1882 Londonderry NH. Buried Forest Hill Cemetery, Derry NH.  He married 1st by 1840 to Mary Whittier (per Willey’s Book of Nutfield).  He married 30 Nov 1843 in Hampstead, Rockingham Co. NH to Augusta Watts BLODGETT. She b 21 July 1818, died 6 June 1903.
Child of Lewis A. & Mary (Whittier) MacGregor:
1. Dearborn W. MacGregor, b. 1840 Derry NH; died 26 February 1895 in Bradford MA.
Children of Lewis A. & Augusta W. (Blodgett) MacGregor:
2. James L. MacGregor born 1847, died 9 December 1919 Londonderry NH; m. 3 Dec 1884 in Derry NH to Mary A. Heselton, dau of Jeptha & Mary Annis Heselton. They had at least one child, May Belle MacGregor born 8 November 1886 in Londonderry NH.
3. Isaac Blodgett MacGregor born 19 August 1850 Londonderry NH; he died 3 February 1932 in Houston, TX.
4. +Frank Pierce J. MacGregor 1852-1916
5. Henry Ferguson/Frederick MacGregor, b 25 Apr 1853; d. 3 Sep 1923 in Londonderry NH; formerly a resident of Houston TX.
6. Isabella Dale “Belle” Macgregor 1859-1923; m. Frank J. DeMeritt

———————-Sixth Generation——————–

Photograph of Ruth McGregor, courtesy of Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

Frank Pierce J.-6 MacGregor, born 27 Oct 1852 in New Hampshire, son of Lewis A. & Augusta W. (Blodgett) MacGregor/McGregor. He died 24 Oct 1916 in Wilmington Delaware. He was buried in Boston MA.  He married 29 Jan 1884 in Phillipston, Worcester Co MA to Lucia Sanderson, dau of Carelton & Lydia H. Sanderson.  He graduated from Dartmouth College class of 1875. Lawyer, teacher, publisher. He was a member of Orleans Lodge of Masons, Barton VT (Saggahew) 21 June 1893. occupation teacher.
1870 US Census > NH > Rockingham > Londonderry
Lewis A. McGregor M 57 NH
Augusta W. Mcgregor F 51 NH
*Frank P. McGregor M 17 NH
Henry F. Mcgregor M 15 NH
Isabella D B McGregor F 10 NH
1880 U.S. Census > NH > Rockingham > Londonderry
Lewis A. MacGregor self M 67 NH
Augusta W. MacGregor wife 62 NH
James L. Macgregor son M 32 NH
Frank P. Macgregor M 27 NH lawyer
Isabella D. MacGregor dau F 20 NH
Bethiah Blodgett sister-in-law F 61 MA
Ruth M E Blodgett niece F 35 NH
B. Izietta Blodgett Niece F 22 NH
1910 US Census > MA > Norfolk > Hyde Park
Frank P. MacGregor Head Male 57 new Hampshire
Luia MacGregor wie F 53 MA
Frank S. MacGregor son M 24 MA
Ruth MacGregor dau F 21 MA
Martha P. Davis companion F 18 Virginia
Children of Frank P.J. & Lucia (Sanderson) MacGregor:
1. Frank Sanderson MacGregor, b 2 August 1885 in Lawrence MA. He married 2 Aug 1948 in Wilmington DE to Elizabeth Marshall, daughter of Horatio A. Marshall & Ida A. Serven. He died 31 Dec 1976 in Polk Co., North Carolina. Cremation. aged 91 at death. He graduated in 1908 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
2. Ruth-7 MacGregor, b. 19 January 1889 Lawrence MA.  ***THIS STORY IS ABOUT HER, SEE ABOVE**.    Several newspapers of September 1918 reported: ” Miss MacGregor was formerly a teacher of French and ancient history at Pawtucket high school. She entered the hospital hut service, which includes writing letters for convalescent soldiers and assisting generally in making life comfortable for them. She spoke French fluently, resulting from her having studied the language while in Paris prior to the beginning of the war. She was a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, a member of the faculty of the local high school for about two years, her duties terminating last June at the opening of the summer recess.  A memorial service in her memory was held at the Pawtucket high school when the entire school gathered in memory of the deceased teacher. The service opened with the singing of “In Heavenly Love Abiding,” by the entire school, led by Mr. Ladd, instructor in singing. Following the Scripture reading, Principal Elmer S. Hosmer of the school read a brief sketch of Miss MacGregor’s life, eulogizing her varied life activities. Another hymn, “Cast Thy Burden On the Lord,” was sung and then resolutions of the Pawtucket School Committee and the Pawtucket Teachers’ Association were read, followed by a letter from Mt. Holyoke College where Miss MacGregor Attended.


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6 Responses to Descendant of Rev. James MacGregor of Londonderry NH — World War One Heroine: Ruth MacGregor (1889-1918)

  1. Pingback: 100 Years Ago: “Gold Star Women” Nurses of World War I | Cow Hampshire

  2. What a handsome woman and what an interesting life she had.

  3. Michael says:

    Another story – one of thousands, I’m sure – that detail the horrors of the influenza epidemic.

    What touching tributes that her brother Frank contributed in her honor years after her passing. Glad to see MacGregor Hall still stands, too. It looks quite picturesque. I wonder if the inside of the dorm has a plaque or some other commemoration for the residents.

  4. Lawrence Serven says:

    My grandmother, Elizabeth Marshall MacGregor, was Ruth’s roommate at Mt. Holyoke and was married to Frank. What a fantastic article.

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