Theodore F. King
Morris Co. Up


Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.

A prominent citizen of Ledgewood, New Jersey, Mr. KING is one of the leading spirits of this place, and belongs to a family whose history is closely identified with that of Morris county, his father, the late Thomas L. KING, having occupied official position in the count for a number of years.

Thomas L. KING was born on the mountain near Drakesville, now Ledgewood, New Jersey, in 1809, son of John P. and Christina (WOLFE) KING, early settlers of that place, the father having located in Roxbury township when a young man of twenty-two. He engaged in farming on a portion of the London Land Grant, which he acquired by purchase, and on which he continued to reside, in spite of the fact that his claim was contested by other claimants, until his house and all his household goods were burned. Then he was compelled to seek other quarters. Thus handicapped, and with a large family, he was unable to provide his children with more than the rudiments of an education. But the spirit of determination to conquer obstacles was a prominent trait in his character, and this trait descended in a large measure to his children. When Thomas L. reached his majority his only capital was his strong arm, persevering industry, and the reputation for honorable and upright conduct. He was by the Democrats elected to the office of constable of Roxbury, the duties of which he assumed shortly after he was twenty-one, and so successfully did he fill the office that he was time after time elected his own successor, until he had been constable eleven years. After this, in 1843, he was elected county sheriff, and in this office also he made an excellent official, and when his term expired he was retained in that position to aid in straightening up matters that were unsettled and until his successor became familiar with his duties.

With the proceeds of his official earnings Mr. KING bought a farm, which is yet in the family, and devoted his energies to its cultivation. Also he started a store on his farm, and still later engaged in the lumber business, in which he dealt very extensively; and out of all his enterprises he profited and became a man of wealth. He continued his hold on politics after his retirement from the sheriff's office, and was for many years a leader in party affairs. At one time he served as freeholder, and he also filled other township offices. He was indeed a remarkable man in many respects, possessing superior intelligence, rare judgment and great originality, on his father's side coming from witty Irish stock, and tracing his maternal ancestry back to honest, industrious German origin. He could prepare any ordinary legal document with the accuracy of a trained lawyer, and his penmanship was remarkably good for one who knew not the first principles of Spencer. He was a man of superior abilities. As his educational privileges were very limited, he was sadly handicapped and compelled to rely almost wholly upon his own efforts in securing a knowledge of the ordinary branches; but, being a man of quick perception and strong mental power, he readily assimilated the intellectual nutriment he could reach and he became one of the best business men in this part of the country. At any time he could respond to a call to address an audience, and he could speak with ease on any subject. His success in life generally was a proof of mental capacity and moral force.

Thomas L. KING married Miss Jane HILTS, daughter of Samuel HILTS and Margaret nee CASKEY, Mr. HILTS being one of the prominent men of Roxbury township, owning and occupying a large farm on the mountain two miles West of Ledgewood. To Mr. and Mrs. KING were born children as follows:

  • Margaret, deceased;
  • Theodore F.;
  • Josephine, deceased;
  • William E.;
  • Franklin, deceased; and
  • Ellen, deceased.

Mr. KING died in 1881 and Mrs. KING passed away in 1877.

Returning now to the immediate subject of this review, Theodore F. KING, we record that he was born on a farm in Roxbury township, Morris county, New Jersey, November 14, 1843. The first five years of his life were passed in Morristown, where the family home was maintained during, his father's official life, and his youth was spent in the vicinity of his birthplace. He received his education chiefly in Chester Institute. During the whole of his business life he has been engaged in merchandising, beginning in his father's store above referred to on the KING homestead, and in 1874 succeeding to the business of his father-in-law in Ledgewood, which he since conducted, meeting with prosperity on every hand, and having a trade that extends into the country for miles in every direction; and in addition to this business he also carries on farming and dairying; he has a store at Hopatcong, and is interested in boating on Lake Hopatcong, being president of the Hopatcong Steamboat Company.

Theodore F. KING was united in marriage May 21, 1873, with Miss Emma L. RIGGS, daughter of A. R. and Nancy (STANBURROUGH) RIGGS, and one of a large family of children, her brothers and sisters being:

  • Jetur R., residing at Milton, New Jersey;
  • John S., Ledgewood, same state;
  • Mary E., deceased;
  • Nancy W., wife of W. E. KING;
  • Harriet, wife of Rev. Joseph L. POTTER, both of whom have been engaged in mission work in Persia the past eighteen years; and
  • Alberta, deceased, who married Sidney T. SMITH.
  • A. R. RIGGS was a native of Morris county, was for a period of thirty-five years engaged in merchandising in Ledgewood, and was one of the most prominent and influential men of the place. He was a large real-estate owner and established several furnaces and forges. A brother of his, Dr. Jetur RIGGS, was at one time a member of congress.

Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. KING,

  • Josephine, deceased, and
  • Emma Louise.

Mr. KING, like his father, is a stanch Democrat, and he, too, has been shown official preference. He was elected clerk of Roxbury township when be was twenty-one, was re-elected and served several years, and almost continuously since he attained his majority has he served as a committeeman.

Religiously he is a Presbyterian, and for many years he has been a elder and trustee in the church.

This biography was scanned and contributed by Catherine Smith DeMayo.


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