Obadiah Newcomb Bush
Obadiah Newcomb Bush (1797-1851) was the son of blacksmith Timothy Bush, Jr. and Lydia Newcomb, and was born in Penfield, Monroe County, New York on January 28, 1797. He left home during the War of 1812 and married Harriet Smith (Cambridge, New York, May 12, 1800 – Cincinnati, Ohio, June 21, 1867), the daughter of Dr. Sanford Smith (Stonington, Connecticut, February 27, 1760 – Scipio, New York, June 15, 1815) and his wife Priscilla Whippo (Cambridge, New York, c. 1763 – Pottstown, Pennsylvania, August 26, 1838), in Rochester, New York on November 8, 1821. He and his wife had seven children.
Through his son Reverend James Smith Bush, he is the great-great-grandfather of former President George Herbert Walker Bush and the great-great-great-grandfather of President George W. Bush.
In Rochester, Obadiah was employed as a schoolmaster and was also a well known abolitionist. He served as vice president of the Anti-Slavery Society and was on a committee to nominate candidates for justice of the peace.
His brother Henry, a manufacturer of stoves, was also well known for his involvement in abolitionist activities. He was a participant in the Underground Railroad, and even petitioned the New York State Legislature to secede from the Union in a protest against slavery. The Rochester Daily Advertiser accused him of encouraging “anarchy.”
Eventually Obadiah, Henry and possibly another brother or two went off to find their fortunes in the California Gold Rush of 1849. After two years of toiling in California he began passage home, by ship, to retrieve his family in New York. He died, however, aboard ship and was given a sea burial.
According to the book The Faith of George W. Bush:
“[He] left his home during the War of 1812, became a schoolmaster, then caught gold fever and left for California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Two years later, he tried to return home to reclaim his family and take them west. He died in the attempt, though, and was buried at sea. leaving his wife and seven children alone in Rochester, New York.”