Eva Wilder McGlasson & Henry C. Brodhead – Part IV – ‘Til death do us part

Henry C. Brodhead (image from Wyoming Valley in the 19th Century. Art Edition by SR Smith, Vol I, Wilkes-Barre Leader Print, 1894)

A couple of months ago, while on eBay, I managed to buy a small book called Las Animas County Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by F. Dean Sneed (published in 2000). It had caught my eye because I remembered that this was the southern Colorado county in which the Brodhead mine is located, the mine I mentioned in a post about Henry C. Brodhead (1848-1922) and Eva Wilder McGlasson Brodhead (1870-1915). So, I guess this accidental find was a sign that I needed to finish writing about this couple’s final years together, in Colorado.

Eva Wilder Brodhead (The Book Buyer: A Summary of American and Foreign Literature, Volume XIII, February 1896 – January 1897 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons) – page 457)

As a reminder, previous posts on the pair include:

In Part III, I had left off with this: Two years before marrying Eva, Henry’s business interests had shifted from Pennsylvania to Colorado—he and his two younger brothers, Albert Gallatin Brodhead and Robert Sayre Brodhead, had set their sights on the coal riches of that state, ultimately founding the town of Brodhead, Las Animas County, Colorado (today a ghost town), and locating several mines in and around that place. Close to Brodhead is the small town of Aguilar (“Gateway to the Spanish Peaks”); if you look it up on Google maps you will see ‘Brodhead Canyon’ nearby. Aguilar is 178 miles south of Denver.

Brodhead can be spotted in the middle of this map, above Hastings. Rand, McNally & Co.’s Colorado. Rand McNally & Co., Map Publishers and Engravers, Chicago, 1912 (Source: http://www.davidrumsey.com)

The book Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania (1906) offers some insight into the brothers’ activities out West: “In October of the same year [1893] Albert Gallatin Brodhead and his brothers, Henry C. and Robert S. Brodhead, journeyed through Colorado, making careful investigation of its mineral resources. Having prospected coal lands in Las Animas county, they purchased two large tracts, one of 4,000 acres at Brodhead, Colorado, and 600 acres at Walsenburg, near the foot of the Spanish Peaks, which rise to an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet. The Brodheads have leased both their coal tracts, one to the Green Canyon Coal Company, and the other to the Las Animas Coal Company. They market their output in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Indian Territory. Expert authority has passed upon the quality of the coal, and grade it as semi-anthracite. It is distributed in six workable veins, and the quantity capable of being mined is estimated at millions of tons. The Brodhead properties are held by an incorporated company, of which the officers are: Henry C. Brodhead, president; Robert S. Brodhead, vice-president; and Albert G. Brodhead, secretary and general manager, with the principal office in Denver, Colorado.”

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Eva and Henry had married on December 5, 1894. The following April, they returned from a winter honeymoon spent in the Mediterranean. A small Covington, Kentucky, newspaper article, published on July 12, 1895, described Eva as being “most delightfully located on a ranch in Southern Colorado” that summer and “busy writing… She is culling material in a new field for a story…” From volume 2 of the book Kentucky in American Letters: 1784–1912 by John Wilson Townsend (Cedar Rapids: The Torch Press, 1913, pp 267–69), we know that Eva subsequently spent a great deal of time over the ensuing decade traveling from Colorado to New York City and many parts of the US, as well as overseas to Europe, in order to keep up with her career interests.

Subsequent to publishing that Part III post, I found the below 1896 news item in Colorado Journal of Commerce and Metal Industries, and it provides a quote from Henry about the quality of the coal in Colorado and gives a glimpse of what his hopes and plans were. Much depended on transportation costs, and evidently those eventually got resolved. According to Wikipedia, between 1896 and 1899, the brothers operated a mine in Gonzales Canyon, Aguilar, Colorado. On a map, this appears to be very close to what is today known as “Brodhead Canyon.” I assume the mine the brothers were operating was one of the ones that eventually became known as a Brodhead mine.

Colorado Journal of Commerce and Metal Industries, Volume 69, p. 15, 1896

In the 1900 census, Henry’s brother Robert S. Brodhead’s household at 132 Park Avenue in Wilkes-Barre, PA, included himself “Harry [Henry] Brodhead” (52), and their parents Daniel D. Brodhead (83) and Mary Brodrick (73). Robert’s occupation was listed as a coal operator; brother Harry—a mining engineer; and father Daniel as a ‘capitalist’.  Business partner brother Albert was in Aguilar, Colorado, for the 1900 census, so perhaps Eva was away in Europe. I could not find a trace of her anywhere.

In 1902, the three brothers incorporated more of their activities in Colorado. The Denver Rocky Mountain News reported on December 21, 1902: NEW INCORPORATIONS […] Green Canyon Land company, $200,000: Las Animas and Huerfano: Henry C. Brodhead, Robert S. Brodhead, Albert G. Brodhead. In the summer of that year, the brothers’ sister Emilie Linderman (Brodhead) Honeyman visited them out West. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette (June 28): Robert B. Honeyman and wife [Emilie L. Brodhead], Miss Lassie Honeyman, Master Laddie Honeyman, and maid, of New York City, are stopping at the Barker House. Mr. Honeyman is a prominent attorney of New York and was one of the counsel for the defense in the Molineaux trial which claimed the attention of the courts of that city for several months. Robert Brodhead, a brother of Mrs. Honeyman, is part of the party and expects to spend part of the summer with them. Mr. Brodhead has extensive coal interests in the southern part of that state. (As an aside, the Honeymans lived at 106 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, a 7-bedroom, 7 bathroom townhouse with over 8,000 square feet of living space. For a glimpse into what their lifestyle was like, you can view the recent real estate photos posted on Realtor.)

In 1909, Robert, then 48, died of endocarditis, inflammation of the inner wall of the heart. The below news snippet about his passing appeared in Fuel Magazine, The Coal Operators National Weekly. From that moment on, the Colorado mining venture was in the hands of Henry and Albert. (Long-time blog readers may recall the post I did on the Thanksgiving Day tragedy that took place at Robert’s home in Stafford, Pennsylvania in 1904. Perhaps, due to family obligations, Robert had remained based on the east coat to handle his part of the brothers’ Colorado venture. He had children, and his brothers did not.)

Fuel Magazine, The Coal Operators National Weekly, Volume 14, 1909

Fuel Magazine, The Coal Operators National Weekly, Volume 14, p. 267, 1909

In the 1910 directory for Trinidad, Colorado, a town 23 miles southeast of Brodhead, there is a listing for brother Albert. The town of Brodhead was described as having a population of 300, being 2 1/4 miles north of Aguilar, and having a doctor, a public school, a general store, and a hotel. Stage coach fares to Aguilar were 25 cents and fares to Lynn, an express shipping point 3 1/2 miles to the east—50 cents. Albert was listed as the mine owner. Per Wikipedia, the population was largely comprised of Mexican and European immigrants, including a large number of workers from Stafford, England.

Mining is not a business for the faint of heart, especially not for the miners themselves. As everyone knows, this is a very dangerous occupation, and accidents did occur at the Brodhead mines, occasionally with lethal consequences. Below is a sampling of articles mentioning Brodhead.  Not far from Brodhead was the Ludlow mine where a horrific massacre of 21 people, including some striking miners’ wives and children, took place on April 20, 1914. That event came at the end of what was known as the Colorado Coalfield War, a major labor uprising that had begun in September 1913. The April massacre was followed by a 10-day rampage of revenge that spread to areas, including Brodhead, dispersing families and wreaking havoc until the situation could be brought under control by federal troops.

Herald Democrat, 9 May 1905, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Walsenburg World, 16 February 1911, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Chronicle News, 25 July 1912, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Las Animas Leader, 2 February 1912. Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Chronicle News, 23 April 1914, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

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Eva Wilder Brodhead (image from her last book, The Prairie Infanta)

I do wonder how those events impacted Henry, Albert and Eva. It was a tumultuous time that must have only been made worse by Eva’s ongoing health issues.

A decade prior, her acclaimed work, A Prairie Infanta, had been published in the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion. Two years after that, according to the Townsend book (p. 269), she was stricken with a very severe illness, followed by her physician’s absolute mandate of no literary work until her health should be reestablished, which has been accomplished but recently. She has published but a single story since her sickness, Two Points of Honor, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly for July 4, 1908.

The Townsend book, published in 1913, went on to say: At the present time Mrs. Brodhead is quite well enough to resume work; and the next few years should witness her fulfilling the earnest of her earlier novels and stories, firmly fixing her fame as one of the foremost women writers of prose fiction yet born on Kentucky soil.

That same year (1913) the following was published on February 17 in the Lexington Leader – p. 8 – Interesting notes in the New York letter of the Cincinnati Enquirer: Nearly 300 natives of Kentucky, who now live in New York, held their ninth annual banquet at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday night. For the first time, famous Kentucky women joined “the Kentuckians” at their dinner, and fully half of those present were women… The purpose of the night’s program was to give recognition to Kentucky’s literary geniuses, and at the speaker’s table were these writers: [ list of names, including “Mrs. Eva Wilder Brodhead”]. That may have been one of Eva’s last trips East. Tragically, her illness returned, or perhaps it had never completely gone away. In mid-1915, she died at the young age of 45; her death reported in many of the nation’s newspapers. Who knows what may have been had she lived longer, how many more celebrated works she could have created. Had she survived to a ripe old age, she perhaps would have been quite famous today.

  • August 7, 1915 Lexington HeraldKentucky Author Dies in Colorado – A telegram received by John Wilson Townsend yesterday announced the death at Denver, Col., of Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson Broadhead [sic.], one of the most distinguished of modern Kentucky novelists and short story writers, after a lingering illness of about 11 months.  Mrs. Broadhead [sic.] was born in Covington about fifty years ago [45 actually]. She was the author of the following novels: “Diana’s Livery,” which is said to have as its background the Shaker settlement at Pleasant Hill, KY; “An Earthly Paragon,” “The Ministers of Grace,” “One of the Visconti,” “Bound in Shallows,” and her last book, “A Prairie Infanta.”  She was the wife of Henry C. Broadhead [sic.], a wealthy civil and mining engineer of Wilkesbarre, Pa., and Denver, Col. In addition to the many novels she wrote, Mrs. Broadhead was a contributor to practically all the leading magazines of the country and the New York newspapers.

Fairmont Cemetery, Denver, Colorado (Photo credit: Debra Brodhead)

With Eva’s passing, Albert and Henry were on their own in Colorado. I did not find much news of them in the ensuing years. Both brothers died in 1922—Albert (54) in January and Henry (74) in December. That left sister Emilie L. (Brodhead) Honeyman the sole survivor of the Daniel D. and Mary (Brodrick) Brodhead family.

  • January 25, 1922 – Denver Post – p. 21 – Funerals – Brodhead – Jan. 23, at the University Club, Albert G. Brodhead. Funeral services from the Rogers mortuary, Thursday, at 2 p.m. Interment Fairmount.
  • February 12, 1922: Denver Post p. 3; Albert G. Brodhead [Harvard class of 1889] left his $34,000 Estate to Brother – On June 4, 1921, Albert G, Brodhead sat in his apartment at the University Club and penned a will on the club stationary. He sealed it in an envelope and four days later gave the envelope to his brother, H. C. Brodhead to be kept unopened until the writer’s death. On January 23, 1922, Albert G. Brodhead died and on opening the envelope, the brother discovered that he was sole heir to the estate of his deceased relative, amounting to $34,000 [$522,911.95 buying power in 2020]. H. C. Brodhead, the surviving brother, lives at the Shirley-Savoy Hotel. He offered the single sheet of club stationary bearing the will of his brother in county court for probate Saturday.
  • November 10, 1922 – Denver PostColorado Geologist, H. C. Brodhead, Finder of Coal Vein, Dead – H. C. Brodhead, 74 years old, geologist and one of the discoverers of the Brodhead coal vein of the Walsenburg District, died at St. Luke’s hospital Thursday after an attack of asthma. He had been making his home at the Shirley-Savoy Hotel. Brodhead and his brother, Albert G. Brodhead, came to Colorado thirty years ago from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the Brodhead vein in the Walsenburg District, said to be the biggest coal producer in Colorado. The brother died in Denver last winter.  He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Emilie Honeyman of New York. Funeral arrangements have not been completed.
  • November 13, 1922 – Denver Rocky Mountain News – p. 4 – Funerals – Brodhead – Funeral services for Henry C. Brodhead will be held at the Rogers mortuary Monday at 10 a.m. Interment at Fairmount Cemetery.
  • November 18, 1922 – Denver Post, p. 11 – Brodhead Estate Valued at $71,000 – The estate of Henry Brodhead, who died a few days ago in Denver, is valued at $71,000 [roughly $1.1 million in 2020], according to a petition for letters of administration filed in the county court by the heirs. A will was lodged in the court providing for bequests of $5,000 [roughly $77,000 in 2020] to William [son of William Hall Brodhead and Mary Van Tassel] and Clement [son of Daniel Dingman Brodhead Jr. and Leonora Hubbard] Brodhead, nephews, and $5,000 each to Maude, Leonore and Margaret [this must be Mary Ann], nieces [the daughters of Daniel Dingman Brodhead Jr. and Leonora Hubbard]. The residue of the estate [$715,000 in 2020] goes to Emilie B. Honeyman, sister of the testator.
  • November 30, 1922 – Coal Age, Volume XXII – H. C. Brodhead, 74 years old, geologist and one of the discoverers of the Brodhead coal vein in the Trinidad district, died recently in Denver. Mr. Brodhead and his brother, Albert G. Brodhead, came to Colorado thirty years ago from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the Brodhead vein, one of the biggest coal producers in Colorado. The brother died in Denver last winter.

Miss Lassie Honeyman (left) with 1st cousin Mary Ann Brodhead (center), Jamestown Evening Journal, April 17, 1928. Credit: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The Las Animas County Ghost Towns and Mining Camps book that prompted me to write this post has no images or photos of Brodhead, unfortunately. Long since abandoned, Brodhead is located 23 miles NW of Trinidad and 2 miles NW of Aguilar along an abandoned C&S railroad spur. The land is now in private hands. Only a few foundations remain at the Brodhead town site, wrote the author. In 1903 it had a population of 75 and was home to the Clamp Mercantile Co. and the A. I. Lindsay Saloon. The Las Animas Coal Company and the Green Canyon Coal Company were the major mines. [para] By 1904, the population had risen to 125 and the D.R. Hindman & Co. Store was established. The population continued to grow (250 in 1905) and in 1910 saw the opening of the Howell & Bennett Boarding House. [para] The Green Canyon Mine closed for unspecified reasons in 1913 and the Las Animas Coal Company soon followed. By April of that year Brodhead lost its post office and a majority of its inhabitants. [para] In 1914, the outbreak of war in Europe brought a renewed demand for coal overseas. Brodhead, now operated by the Temple Fuel Company, began to thrive once more. Its P.O. was reestablished in 1915 and the population grew to over 300. [para] In the 1920s and early 30s, the need for metallurgical, or bituminous, coal declined. Brodhead, like other mines found throughout the region, slowly withered and was abandoned in 1939. Per the author, the mine was established on August 14, 1902 and was in operation until May 1939. However, per Wikipedia, multiple mines in Brodhead operated into the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s.  That is the extent of the information found in the book.  My second cousin, Debra Brodhead, who resides in Colorado, attempted to locate the Brodhead ghost town several years back but without success given that the land is privately owned, something she did not know before bravely setting off to try to find it.

Well, that’s the extent of what I know of Henry and Eva, and Henry’s youngest brother Albert. More could probably be gleaned by making a trip to the Colorado state archives, but I will have to save that journey for a later date. I hope you have enjoyed learning about them as much as I have. If you have more information about this interesting trio, please let me know. Wouldn’t some photos of them, taken during their Colorado years, simply be amazing to see?

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Full text of John Wilson Townsend’s section on Eva Wilder Brodhead in Kentucky in American Letters: 1784–1912 vol. 2 (Cedar Rapids: The Torch Press, 1913, pp 267–69):

MRS. EVA WILDER (McGLASSON) BRODHEAD, novelist and short-story writer, was born at Covington, Kentucky, in 187-. Her parents were not of Southern origin, her father having been born in Nova Scotia, and her mother at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She was educated in New York City and in her native town of Covington.

She began to write when but eighteen years of age, and a short time thereafter her first novel appeared, Diana’s Livery (New York, 1891). This was set against a background most alluring: the Shaker settlement at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, into which a young man of the world enters and falls in love with a pretty Shakeress, Her second story, An Earthly Paragon (New York, 1892), which was written in three weeks, ran through Harper’s Weekly before being published in book form. It was a romance of the Kentucky mountains, laid around Chamoum, the novelist’s name for Yosemite, Kentucky. It was followed by a novelette of love set amidst the salt-sea atmosphere of an eastern watering place, Ministers of Grace (New York, 1894). Hildreth, the scene of this little story, is anywhere along the Jersey coast from Atlantic City to Long Branch. Ministers of Grace also appeared serially in Harper’s Weekly, and when it was issued in book form Col. Henry Watterson called the attention of Richard Mansfield to it as a proper vehicle for him, and the actor promptly secured the dramatic rights, hoping to present it upon the stage; but his untimely death prevented the dramatization of the tale under highly favorable auspices. It was the last to be published under the name of Eva Wilder McGlasson, as this writer was first known to the public, for on December 5, 1894, she was married in New York to Mr. Henry C. Brodhead, a civil and mining engineer of Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Brodhead’s next novelette, One of the Visconti (New York, 1896), the background of which was Naples, the hero being a young Kentucky man and the heroine of the old and famous Visconti family, was issued by the Scribner’s in their well-known Ivory Series of short-stories. Her last Kentucky novel, Bound in Shallows (New York, 1896), originally appeared in Harper’s Bazar. That severe arbiter of literary destinies, The Nation, said of this book: “No such work as this has been done by any American woman since Constance Fenimore Woolson died. * * It was founded on material gathered at Burnside, Kentucky, where Mrs. Brodhead spent two summers.

Her most recent work, A Prairie Infanta (Philadelphia, 1904), is a Colorado juvenile, first published in The Youth’s Companion.

Aside from her books, Mrs. Brodhead won a wide reputation as a short-story writer and maker of dialect verse. More than fifty of her stories have been printed in the publications of the house of Harper, the publishers of four of her books; in The Century, Scribner’s, and other leading periodicals. Many of her admirers hold that the short-story is her especial forte. Five of them may be mentioned as especially well done: Fan’s Mammy, A Child of the Covenant, The Monument to Corder, The Eternal Feminine, and Fair Ines. She has written much dialect verse which appeared in the Harper periodicals, The Century, Judge, Puck, and other magazines. Neither her short stories nor her verse has been collected and issued in book form.

Since her marriage Mrs. Brodhead has traveled in Europe a great deal, and in many parts of the United States, traveled until she sometimes wonders whether her home is in Denver or New York, and, although she is in the metropolis more than she is in the Colorado capital, her legal residence is Denver, some distance from the mining town of Brodhead, named in honor of her husband’s geological discoveries and interests.

In 1906 she was stricken with a very severe illness, followed by her physician’s absolute mandate of no literary work until her health should be reestablished, which has been accomplished but recently. She has published but a single story since her sickness, Two Points of Honor, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly for July 4, 1908. At the present time Mrs. Brodhead is quite well enough to resume work; and the next few years should witness her fulfilling the earnest of her earlier novels and stories, firmly fixing her fame as one of the foremost women writers of prose fiction yet born on Kentucky soil.

Daniel Dingman Brodhead & Mary Brodrick family tree

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Old news clippings from the mid-1800s

Below is a smorgasbord of old newspaper clippings, found in various 1852-1853 issues of The West Jersey Pioneer, a Bridgeton, Cumberland County, NJ, paper that existed from 1851-1884. Bridgeton, for those who don’t know, is in the southern part of New Jersey, about half way between Wilmington, DE, and Cape May. I’d gone online to the Library of Congress’s digital newspaper archives in search of some old Perth Amboy newspapers, and somehow ended up here! These curious little snippets must have amused and entertained many of the paper’s readers back then. As you sit, sipping your Saturday morning coffee before heading out for the day, perhaps you, too, will crack a smile or two and find in them a small moment of escape.

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, November 20, 1852

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, November 20, 1852

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, December 4, 1852

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, December 11, 1852

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, December 18, 1852

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, March 5, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, March 5, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, March 5, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, April 9, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, April 23, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, April 23, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, May 21, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, February 12, 1853

West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton, NJ, February 12, 1853

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Eva Wilder Brodhead’s short story, “Fan’s Mammy”

On December 5, 1894, Kentucky-born authoress Eva Wilder McGlasson married Henry Conrad Brodhead, a successful Pennsylvania coal mining engineer. I’ve written quite a bit about the pair in this blog already, as many of you know. That same month, Harpers New Monthly Magazine published Eva’s critically acclaimed short story, “Fan’s Mammy.” It’s a short read and the copyright is long expired, so I thought I would share it here with you today. Eva was truly a great story-teller.










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A weighty Wednesday courtesy of 1835 newspaper

I was roaming through some newspaper archives recently and this little blurb in an 1835 Boston paper caught my eye:

Saturday Morning Transcript (Boston, MA) – March 14, 1835 (Credit: Library of Congress newspaper archives)

Eleven people total, the heaviest one tipping the scales at nearly 300, which means the other ten weighed an average of 210 pounds. They don’t give the family’s surname or any additional details. We don’t know their ages or heights. Nor do we know what they or their parents did for a living that provided them with such hearty eating. In any case, their existence was remarkable enough to make it into the Boston paper, and no doubt they were well known in New Bedford (population ~10,000) at that time.

 

Categories: Miscellaneous | 4 Comments

More Martin family — photo finally ID’d

Four generations: Martin/Anness – Anness/Barry – Barry/Scantlebury + Baby Scantlebury

A number of years ago, I came across this photo (left) and the inscription on the back did not ring any bells for me. Just happened upon it again yesterday, and this time the bells did ring with the surname “Anness.”

Regular blog readers may recall that in April 2019, I did a post about the wedding of Alvira Anness, the daughter of Mary Marsh Martin Anness (1863-1955; sister of my great-grandmother Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead (image below) and brother of Charles Conrad Martin).

Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead (1859-1945)

So, as per the inscription, here is Mary as a great-grandmother with her daughter Alvira Anness Barry on the right, granddaughter Alvira Martin Barry Scantlebury on the left, and holding her great-granddaughter Alvira Judith Scantlebury (born 1948 in Monterey, CA).

Charles Conrad Martin – September 1930

Brother Charles died in 1943 and my great-grandmother died in 1945, so this photo (the first and only one of Mary I have ever seen) was probably given to my grandparents Brodhead by their Great Aunt Mary (or ‘Aunt Mame,’ as my late father said the family referred to her as). She outlived her siblings by 13 and 10 years, respectively. Three other siblings died young: Thompson C. Martin (1863-1881), Frank W. Martin (1868-1873) and Alvira Woodruff Martin (1870-1875).

Another photo finally identified… Have a peaceful weekend, everyone.

Categories: Brodhead, Martin | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Happy 4th of July

Fourth of July Scenes in celebration at Walter Reed; Harris & Ewing photographer; 1919. Library of Congress – No known restrictions on Publication

FOURTH OF JULY. GENERAL VIEW OF CROWD ON ELLIPSE FOR EXERCISES, 1919, Harris & Ewing Photographer – Library of Congress – No known restrictions on publication

The flag that has waved one hundred years–A scene on the morning of the fourth day of July 1876 / Fabronius ; E.P. & L. Restein’s oilchromo, Phila. ; National Chromo Co. pub., Phila. , c1876; Library of Congress – No known restrictions on publication

A Fourth of July celebration, St. Helena Island, S.C. Photographer Marion Post Wolcott; 1939; Library of Congress – No known restrictions on publication

Independence Day Celebration in Centre Square, Philadelphia, John Lewis Krimmel, 1819. Credit: Wikimedia Commons – US Public Domain image – published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US)

By Original by Thomas Jefferson et al.; Engraving & fascimile by William J. Stone (1798-1865). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: Fourth of July, Holidays & Festivities | 4 Comments

James Morris and Mattie Thomas – Battin HS graduates, 1898

James Arthur Morris – Battin HS graduate – 1898

Regular readers of this blog may remember that my grandmother’s 1898 Battin High School (Elizabeth, NJ) graduating class had two African-Americans among its ranks. Battin High School was recognized at that time as the best high school in the state.

I wrote at length about the class photo I found that included them and went to great lengths to label everyone as best I could; I also posted newspaper articles on the graduation event itself. Click here for that post. I did not, however, look beyond that event to see what was happening at that time in the field of education for members of the African-American community. So I thought I would try to see if I could find out what happened to these two students and also look at newspapers of that period using the Library of Congress’s digital newspaper archives.

Mattie Kenyon Thomas – Battin HS graduate – 1898

As for trying to learn more about the students:

I found a James Morris (b. June 1878, VA) in the 1900 census who was 22 at the time and living with his wife Nannie and two small children, Margaret and Harold, at 10 1/2 Center Street in Elizabeth. His occupation was listed as ‘coachman’; this census asked all citizens whether they could read and write. Both this James and his wife checked ‘yes’. Whether this was the same James, I don’t know. If it was, perhaps he was working as a coachman while going to college. He has such a scholarly look about him, I am inclined to think that he went on to pursue a profession requiring a degree or two.

I found a Mattie Thomas (b. Jan 1879, VA) in the 1900 census who was living and working in the home of a physician and his wife, Harry and Daisy Washington, in Middletown, Monmouth Co., NJ, which is 30 miles south of Elizabeth. I found the same Mattie in the 1880 census as a 1 year old living in Samuel Miller, Virginia, with her parents Alexander (laborer) and Lucinda (homemaker) Thomas and 4 older siblings. At some point she probably got married and changed her last name so finding her in records further down the road may be difficult.

My quick newspaper search resulted in a variety of articles, many from African-American newspapers. Did you know there were 400 in existence across the country by the end of the 1800s?

Some interesting stats from the Wisconsin Weekly Advocate, August 10, 1899, are bulleted below. Note: dollar amounts have NOT been converted to today’s dollar; but bear in mind that in 1898, $1,000 would be $30,072 in today’s currency; also, I have substituted ‘black’ for ‘n—-‘:

  • Blacks had reduced their illiteracy rate by 45% in just 35 years
  • 1.5 million black children were enrolled in the common schools
  • 40,000 blacks were enrolled in higher educational institutions
  • 30,000 black teachers were at work in schools
  • 20,000 blacks were learning trades
  • 1,200 blacks pursuing classical courses
  • 1,200 were pursuing scientific courses
  • 1,000 blacks were pursuing business courses
  • Black libraries held 250,000 volumes
  • There were 156 black higher educational institutions
  • 500 black doctors
  • 300 books written by blacks
  • 250 black lawyers
  • 3 black banks
  • 3 black magazines
  • 400 black newspapers
  • Value of black libraries: $500,000
  • Value of black church property: $37 million
  • Value of black-owned farms: $400 million
  • Value of black-owned homes (besides farms): $325 million
  • Value of personal property: $165 million
  • As of this date in 1899, blacks had raised $10 million towards their own education.
  • Blacks “are more eager for their education than whites. The whites enrolled 14 percent of their population in 1870, and only 22 percent in 1890”; blacks enrolled “3 percent in 1870 and 19 percent in 1890.”
  • Whites “have .61 of 1 percent divorces; blacks .67 of 1 percent…”
  • “In the whole country, there are 25 blacks to 75 whites who own their own homes. The proportion should be 1 black to 6 whites.”
  • “Of the black homes, 87 percent are freeholds; of the white homes but 71 percent.”
  • “Of farms owned by blacks, 89 percent are unencumbered; of those owned by whites but 71 percent.”
  • “Forty-one percent of blacks are engaged in gainful pursuits, while only 36 percent of whites are thus engaged.”
  • “Government reports show that the [black man] is the best soldier in the regular army.”

Surely this is history worth exploring and celebrating. I never knew James or Mattie or any of the American people behind all these factoids, but boy am I proud of what they were achieving! I encourage anyone wanting to get a true picture of what was happening at any given time in our history to go to the newspapers of that day. Here is one more gifted lady I discovered in an article published in Montana’s Republican newspaper, The Philipsburg Mail, dated October 7, 1898:

The Philipsburg Mail (Montana) – October 7, 1898

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., New Jersey | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Some Friday levity courtesy of 1898 newspaper

The Omaha Daily Bee 17 July 1898 (Credit: US Library of Congress digital newspaper archives)

Categories: Death, Miscellaneous, Russia | Tags: | 4 Comments

A Florida Friday: Bok Tower Gardens

Edward W. Bok’s beloved Singing Tower; his grave is at its base.

On rolling hills south of Orlando not far from Lake Wales and amid abundant orange groves—perhaps, the last place you’d expect—stands a majestic “singing tower” surrounded by lush botanical gardens, the handiwork of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

First glimpse of the tower after you come up the hill from the entrance

This is Bok Tower Gardens—yet another Florida gem that is off the beaten path but more than well worth a visit. It was envisioned and founded by editor, author, and philanthropist Edward W. Bok (1863-1930), who emigrated from Holland to the US as a child and wanted to leave behind a place of beauty for Americans to enjoy as a way of thanking them for his success.

The base of the tower

Less than a year after the official opening to the public in 1929, Bok died of a heart attack within view of his beloved singing tower. He was buried at its base.

Since then over 23 million people have visited this place. Even today, it remains an oasis of calm in an oft-times troubled world. I’ve been here several times, always in the “off season” when the number of visitors declines to a trickle. I finally got my husband here last year, and he immediately understood why I was so keen for him to experience this place.

Garden scenes

Wandering up the hillside toward the tower to the sound of chirping birds, we passed underneath massive old oaks laden with ferns and dripping with Spanish moss. When we finally reached the top and arrived at the end of the reflection pool, the view of the tower was mesmerizing. Once we explored the areas around the base of the tower, we strolled to the edges of the gardens for a view of the surrounding lands; we were, after all, standing on one of Florida’s highest elevations—some 295 feet (LOL).

In short: Go visit if you are ever in this part of Florida. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The 60-ton carillon still plays daily. Also on the grounds is Pinewood Estate—a Mediterranean-style mansion built in the 1930s for a steel magnate. And, there’s a wonderful museum and gift shop. If you have a botanical garden or museum membership elsewhere, check to see if you can take advantage of reciprocal agreements. You may be able to get into Bok Tower Gardens for free or at reduced cost.

The view from the hilltop on a steamy summer day with limited visibility 😦

That’s today’s “Florida Friday.” Thank you, Edward Bok, for leaving us all such a wonderful legacy.

P.S. Below are an article on the official 1929 opening with President Calvin Coolidge presiding (the original name was “Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower) and a January 1930 obituary.

February 2, 1929 – Jamestown Evening Journal (Credit: FultonHistory.com)

January 10, 1930 – The Schenectady Gazette (Credit: FultonHistory.com)

Categories: Bok Edward W, Coolidge Calvin, Florida, Lake Wales, Olmsted Jr Frederick W | Tags: , | Leave a comment

1812 marriage certificate for Isaac and Wealthy (Cushman) Jaques

Today I am posting a copy of the original 1812 marriage certificate that belonged to my third-great-grandparents, Isaac Jaques and Wealthy Cushman. It was among the numerous papers and clippings saved by my grandmother. I wish it contained details that would be helpful with connecting the Mayflower dots—e.g., the names of Wealthy’s parents. I assume the marriage took place in either New York City, where Isaac was making a career as a tailor, or Hartford, Wealthy’s birthplace. The couple and their children did not relocate to Elizabethtown, NJ, until 1843.

The pastor’s name was “N. Bangs”. This may very well have been Nathan Bangs, the self-taught itinerant theologian who was very well known at that time. He kept a diary of his travels and eventually wrote a history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada and the US.

Categories: Bangs Nathan, Cushman, Elizabeth, Union Co., Jaques, Methodist Episcopal, New Jersey, Weddings | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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