Get our newsletters

Heralding Our History: How a Fallsington Quaker became Civil War hero


Since our beginning in 1953, Historic Fallsington Inc. (HFI) has been the depository of thousands of objects and archival records. They all help tell the narrative of Fallsington’s past and the people that helped create this village and how they lived.

In our collection is one group of items that stepped out of the boundaries of the historic village and into one of our nation’s darkest moments in history: the American Civil War.

In the early 1960s, HFI received a donation of personal effects associated with Captain Samuel Comfort Jr., a native Falls Township son born May 5, 1837. At an early age Samuel showed signs of being gifted in math, science, and mechanics and later attended the Trenton Academy.

By the age of 24 he held over 12 patents in the United States and Great Britain. His inventions included a sewing machine that he developed with his cousin as well as numerous agricultural improvements of mowing and reaping machines.

In the spring of 1861, as the nation plunged into Civil War, Comfort went against his Quaker upbringing and joined the Union Army on Oct. 8 as part of the “Anderson Troop” under the command of Captain Palmer of Philadelphia. The men served for 18 months at the headquarters of Generals Don Carlos Buell and William Rosecrans in Louisville, KY. After the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, Comfort became disabled from typhoid fever and was honorably discharged in September.

But, heeding the call by President Abraham Lincoln for more enlisted men, Comfort again volunteered in the Union Army in June 1863, this time as a captain of an independent cavalry unit.

At his own expense, Comfort recruited men from Bucks and Montgomery counties and the city of Philadelphia. A notice in The Intelligencer accounts the event:

“Flag Presentation — Capt. Comfort’s Bucks County Troop, which has had its rendezvous at Fallsington, received on Friday evening a present of a beautiful silk flag, from the ladies of that place. An appropriate and patriotic speech was made upon the occasion by A.[sic.] S. Cadwalader, and responded to Capt. Comfort in behalf of the company.”

The framed flag is on prominent display in the Burges-Lippincott House in Fallsington.

Comfort and his men were involved in several battles and he was promoted to Major in 1865, while serving under General Charles Devens’ 2nd Brigade of General Wesley Merritt’s 1st Division of General Philip Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps. Comfort’s regiment was involved in the pursuit and resulting surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, thus ending the war.

Comfort was mustered out and honorably discharged from military service in July 1865 at the age of 28. In October 1866 he married Elizabeth Jenks Barnsley (1845-1932), of Newtown, with whom he had a daughter, Emma Walraven Comfort.

After the war Comfort, worked for a couple of manufacturing companies in the Newtown/Yardley area. In 1871, he joined the Keystone Petroleum Refinery in Titusville, which later became part of Standard Oil Trust.

While working in the oil industry, Comfort was appointed to serve as a diplomat in Bombay (1896-98) and Calcutta (1900-03) and, in 1905, retired before moving to London. In August 1923, while visiting family in Newtown, Comfort became ill. He died on Oct. 11 at age 86 and was buried in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Newtown.

Seven items in our collection represent Comfort’s military career and professional pursuits, plus a few other family pieces. These objects that once belonged to Samuel Comfort help us tell the narrative of Fallsington’s past.

Robert W. Sands, Jr. is museum assistant of Historic Fallsington Inc.

“Heralding Our History” is a weekly feature. Each month, the Herald delves into the history of one of its towns.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.