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
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