Monthly Archives: January 2019

Elizabeth, NJ, circa 1849: Life at the Angus home on Elizabeth Avenue

Yummy quince preserves from France found at our local Tuesday Morning store

A few days ago, I made an unexpected discovery at our local Tuesday Morning store: jars and jars of quince preserves, not a common sight here. And that reminded me of a very interesting post I’d planned to do a while back but never got around to.

Many descendants of the Angus family may already be familiar with the information I am about to disclose, but on the off-chance these details never found their way down your branch of the family tree, I will go ahead and share.

Lovett’s illustrated catalogue of fruit and ornamental trees and plants for the autumn of 1891. Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection.; J.T. Lovett Company. Credit: www. biodiversitylibrary. org/page/42764492

A while back, I did a post mentioning the fact that almost every yard in America within the right growing range would have once featured a quince tree; it was a fruit that was essential to the process of canning and preserving food. Well, a letter reveals that in addition to numerous other types of fruit trees, my/our second-great-grandparents Angus had a quince tree on their 927 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey, property. I know this because I came across a copy of a letter that mentions the trees and a few more interesting things about the Angus family’s life in the mid-1800s.

Thomas F. Russum, son of Thomas and Cecelia (Angus) Russum and one of the many Angus grandsons, copied the letter on February 24, 1934, on his letterhead stationery (address 6 Seneca Avenue, White Plains, New York). The original letter had been written circa 1849 by a roughly nine-year-old Isaac G. de G. Angus to his godmother in Mexico. Thomas copied the letter before passing it on to Isaac’s son Addison Clark Angus, who was then living at 1833 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.

I surmise that Thomas must have found the letter among old family papers and decided to send the original letter—which evidently the godparents returned to Wealthy Angus after learning of Isaac’s 1885 death at age 45—to Addison, Isaac’s sole surviving child. (For some background on the Mexico connection, please refer to this past post.)

Angus family home at 927 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey, from 1848-1871; the house was torn down a long time ago. A law office occupies this land today.

Isaac’s letter, though brief, is absolutely wonderful. Nowhere else have I ever seen/heard/read anything about the Angus household at that time. So, if you have never seen this letter before, I hope you will enjoy reading it. (I have retained the spelling but have added some punctuation for readability and some bracketed information.)

My dear Madrina [Godmother],

My Ma has just written you a letter so I think I will follow her example and write one too. We are all pretty well. We have another little brother. His name is George Welsh. I wish you could see him. He is a very nice little baby and we like him very much. My Pa and Ma wishes very much that you was here. They talk of you and Dona Margarita and Pepa everyday. Jacob [Jacob Baker Angus, 1844-1850] has forgotten all his Spanish and they are afraid that Jimmy [James Winans Angus Jr. 1841-1897] and I will too. Ma hears us read and gives us a lesson almost every day. Won’t you come and live with us. You would like this country. I like it very much. My Pa has got a big house and a very nice garden with apples, pears, plums, quinces and other fruit in it. And he has got a very pretty carriage and horse and some chickens and two little pigs. Give my love to Dona Margarito a Pepa. Tell my Padrino [Godfather] I think he might write me a letter if he ever thinks of me. Give my love to him and all my other friends such as Don Bernardo’s mother. We live in the next house to my Grandpas [Isaac Jaques] and we go there every day. I have no more to write now. You must answer this soon.

Your affectionate godson
Isaac Gabriel de Guadalup Angus

Still Life: Fruit, Bird, and Dwarf Pear Tree by Charles V. Bond, American, 1856

The letter was written after the birth of George Welsh Angus (13 May 1849) and before the death of Jacob “Jimmy” Baker Angus (8 June 1850 – scarlet fever).

The family had departed Mexico in early 1849, after a roughly seven-year stay, due to father James’s health issues. It seems likely that young Isaac wrote this letter in summer/fall when the thought of fruit trees would have been top of mind for a child.

Isaac writes about liking his new country. Even though he was born in Elizabeth, he’d spent the bulk of his life thus far in Mexico City. Returning to daily life in Elizabeth must have been a huge adjustment for him and his siblings. Certainly they must have enjoyed being next door to their grandfather Isaac Jaques and grandmother Wealthy Cushman Jaques who would have been in their mid- to late-50s at that time and, no doubt, delighted to have daughter Wealthy and her growing family back in their midst.

View Near Elizabethtown, N. J., oil painting by Régis François Gignoux, 1847, Honolulu Museum of Art

The contrasts between Mexico City (oldest capital city in the Americas, with a population probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 by 1850) and Elizabeth (1850 population: 5,583) must have made a big impression on the family, as I’m sure did the difference in climate. New Jersey winters are usually cold and bleak. The painting on the left, painted two years before the Anguses returned home, shows just what wintry conditions may have awaited them. For Wealthy and James especially, their Mexico life and their adventures there during the US-Mexico War must have lingered in their minds for a very long time. And, until they’d fully acclimatized themselves, daily life in Elizabeth may have seemed a bit boring. Of course, the city of Manhattan, with its population of ~500,000 was close by, so perhaps they were happy to come home and get caught up on all the changes that had taken place in their absence. This was, after all, HOME.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of reception the family received from the community when they returned to live in Elizabethtown.  There must have been a lot of curiosity about these somewhat “exotic”” neighbors with their unique international experiences and ability to speak Spanish.

Bird’s-eye view of Mexico City as seen from convent of San Cosme (1847). Panorámica de la ciudad de México desde el convento de San Cosme (1847). Artist: N. Currier (Wikimedia Commons: In Public Domain in US (70 years) and Mexico (100 years)

From the letter, we can see that Wealthy was tutoring the children daily, trying to make sure the children would not forget their Spanish; young Isaac does not mention his younger sister Mary Martha who was probably about three at the time. (Another six children would make their appearances between 1850 and 1861, one of them being my great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff.)

Photograph of Isaac G. de G. Angus, Princeton 1860 grad, from the collections of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton, NJ. Reproduced here in low resolution with their permission. Call number AC-104, Box 117.

Obviously the family had warmly embraced their Mexican friends and now, with such distance between them, only had letter-writing as a way of remaining in touch. The fact that the godparents returned this letter to mother Wealthy Jaques Angus after Isaac’s death in 1885, some 35 years after they’d left Mexico, indicates that the families remained in contact.

It would be fabulous to know who these godparents and friends in Mexico were. Unfortunately I have not come across those details yet.

If anyone out there has more information about anything related to this post, please do share. Thank you.

 

 

 

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

Family recipe Friday: “Yummy eggs” recipe from 1932 children’s cookbook

I love the cover of this 1932 children’s cookbook. The little girl looks so serious about getting her dough rolled out just right. I detect a tiny bit of frustration. My mother remembers trying out many of these recipes as a child in the kitchen with her mother. “Yummy eggs” is one she has mentioned through the years somewhat nostalgically, but this is the first time I’ve actually taken the time to look through the little book to review all the recipes on offer. In Mom’s honor I fixed her some of these eggs yesterday morning for breakfast. Super easy recipe but I never cooked eggs that way before. Anyway, her happy smile said it all.

Cover of my Mom’s well-worn copy of Kitchen Fun: A Cook Book For Children, 1932, by Louise Price-Bell

Recipe from my mother’s very well-worn copy of Kitchen Fun: A Cook Book For Children

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Isaac G. de G. Angus (1840-1885) – Part II

Photograph of Isaac G. de G. Angus, from the collections of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton, NJ. Reproduced here in low resolution with their permission. Call number AC-104, Box 117.

In April 2015, I posted quite an extensive write-up on Isaac G. de G. Angus, which included a fair amount of information about his parents, my second-great-grandparents, James W. Angus and Wealthy Jaques Angus. For that post, please click here. I’m publishing this “Part II” today, not that it is a continuation of that post, but rather simply a bit more information about Isaac, including a photo, and his time at Princeton University, information I found while visiting Princeton University’s digitized online archives.

Due to ownership/copyright restrictions, it’s best that you go to the site yourself to view these items/request copies for your own files. (See links below.)  I did pay for a high-resolution version of the image, but I am not permitted to publish it here.

Princeton’s archives include a letter dated September 5, 1859, written by James W. Angus. Isaac must have had some behavioral issues that barred him from returning for his senior year. The letter pleads with Dr. John Maclean to allow Isaac to return, vouching that he (Isaac) much regrets his inappropriate behavior (which appears to have involved alcohol) and seems a changed person who is ready to get back to business at Princeton. If Isaac were to fail again, James promised not to bother Dr. Maclean any further. Obviously Princeton agreed to take him back since he graduated in 1860.

Also available via Princeton’s archives is a small note with accompanying envelope, both written by Isaac’s wife Susan Robinson on December 9, 1986, advising Princeton that her husband had passed away.

I hope you enjoyed this little tidbit about the Angus family. Have a great day!

P.S. I believe this image of Isaac may be on Find a Grave, perhaps in higher res.

Princeton Links:

http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/AC339/c0008

http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/AC104.02/c4758

Categories: Angus, Elizabeth, Union Co., New Jersey | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Family recipe Friday: Sarah Nixon Boles’s custard supreme

Edward and Sarah (Nixon) Boles

This handwritten recipe came from my mother’s grandmother Sarah Nixon Boles about whom I have written previously. Whether she wrote this out for my grandparents Boles during their 1935 visit to Ireland or sent it to them in the mail at their Elizabeth, NJ, address, I don’t know, but this is her handwriting, and the recipe must have been a family favorite for it to get such special treatment.

Custard Supreme recipe, 1930s

I like custard; I know some people are not fond of it; but I find it to be great comfort food. Before publishing the recipe here, I felt compelled to give it a try, and I must say it came out very well and was so delicious my husband came back for more. I’m sure this is probably meant to be served in a somewhat warm and runny state over cake/with fruit, etc., but this is SW Florida, and it seemed more fitting to chill it for several hours to serve with fresh strawberries.

As for recipe tips, when it says to cook until spoon is coated, basically just insert a metal spoon and see if a film gathers on it. It does not have to be thick. And it takes quite a bit of time to completely fold in the egg whites at the end, so maintain your patience there.

Custard supreme with strawberries

As an aside, several years ago, I made a request on the Find a Grave website (which sadly (IMO) was taken over by Ancestry) for someone to photograph the graves of Sarah Nixon Boles (1855-1938) and her husband Edward Boles (1855-1940), and finally someone managed to do it in late 2016, right before my annus horriblis (2017) got underway so I never managed to mention it here until now. They are buried in the Kentstown Churchyard Cemetery, Balrath, County Meath, Ireland, alongside their son John who died in a road accident in December 1935. Here is a link if you are interested in “visiting” their final resting place.

Categories: Boles, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Nixon | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

“Walking” around the 1870s and “bumping into” two amazing sisters

Business card from the Chiropodal Institute, operating at 208 Broadway, at the corner of Fulton Street, New York City

I found Dr. W. E. Rice’s business card on the floor of my mom’s garage when I was clearing it out last spring. I have no idea whose it was or why they chose to keep it, or why nobody in the last 149 threw it out. And, seeing as how it’s been “here” so long, I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to do it. Besides, it’s kind of fun to look at, warts and all. Imagine all the feet shuffling along Broadway in agony in the 1870s only to enter No. 208 to have their “lives” transformed.

As you can see, I managed to trace this podiatry business back to the 1870s. It was not hard to do (but what came next was a big surprise). My quick Google search brought up two copies of Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, a publication I’d never heard of. One issue from February 14, 1874, and the other from September 13, 1873. Expecting it to be an average, mild-mannered magazine from that period, I quickly realized this was an entirely different animal, for along with the masthead’s proclamation:

P R O G R E S S ! F R E E  T H O U G H T ! U N T R A M M E L E D  L I V E S !
BREAKING THE WAY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
…my visit to the ad pages at the end of each issue turned up ads for the services of clairvoyants and mystics, and an illustrated mail-order book about sexual physiology, mentioning words one never would expect to find on the pages of any Victorian-Era publication.

Dr. Rice’s ad in the September, 13, 1873, issue of Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly

My first thought was: why did Dr. W. E. Rice decide this was a good place to advertise?! Assuming there was method to his madness, I decided to do a bit of research on Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, initially thinking, of course (given the time), that this was a paper named after two gentlemen. Two eccentric gentlemen? Perhaps, my mind wandering, this Woodhull was some descendant of Abraham Woodhull, the Washington spy…? (Watch the AMC TURN series, if you have not already.) But, no, what I found was something even more interesting: amazingly this was a publication, a highly controversial one, produced by two sisters: Victoria California Woodhull and her younger sister Tennessee Celeste Claflin.

From the February 14, 1874 issue; the sisters had many followers and no doubt made a small fortune from these sales.

Way ahead of their time, and perhaps even ahead of our time in some ways, the two tackled all sorts of subject matter, including women’s suffrage, free love, supposed scandals (some of their own invention), vegetarianism, and spirituality, and made their mark in some then men-only careers. They were among the first women to run a publication; they were the first women to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street; they were leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, and Victoria even ran in the presidential election of 1872. The running mate she named? Frederick DouglassWoodhull & Claflin’s Weekly did not last too long; at its height, 20,000 issues were sold, but over time, the controversies associated with its content (mostly written by the two sisters, Victoria’s husband Colonel Blood, and an anarchist by the name of Stephen Pearl) and its own scandals dragged it down. Advertisers fled. By 1876, it was breathing its last.

Cabinet photograph of Victoria C. Woodhull. Albumen silver print on card. Date between 1866-1873. Source: Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Historical Photographs and Special Visual Collections Department, Fine Arts Library; Author Mathew Brady (1822-1896). US PUBLIC DOMAIN – Wikimedia Commons

Fortunately for me (and you, if you are interested in learning more), the Museum of the City of New York has a blog that has published a two-part story about these Ohio-born sisters, the children of a snake oil salesman father and a religious fanatic mother, and how they ended up in Manhattan befriending Cornelius Vanderbilt, and I encourage you to give it a look when you have time. Their lives were truly fascinating. (For Part I, click here, and for Part II, here.)

When I come upon such interesting historical figures, whether I agree with their thoughts and views or not, I wonder why I’ve never heard of them before and realize, in the overall scheme of things, I know very little about American history beyond what I learned in school. Discoveries like this always make me want to learn more.

Tennessee Celeste Claflin. Author Geo. Stinson & Co., publishers, Portland, ME. Source: Wikimedia Commons – US PUBLIC DOMAIN

I was somewhat surprised to learn that later in life these two firebrands walked back and even reversed many of their positions, and that they eventually moved to England and lived out their lives there…  I was expecting a much more fiery finish in this country for these ladies. But, nonetheless, they made their mark, and are worth knowing about in this 21st century of ours.

Anyway, I hope you’ve learned something new by stopping here today.

I am now tucking Dr. Rice’s business card away for one of the younger crowd to find some day.

Categories: 1870s, Advertisements, Claflin Tennessee, Woodhull Victoria | 1 Comment

A Florida Friday: Relax and watch some manatees float by…

For a little Friday relaxation, you may enjoy watching some manatees floating down the springs at Blue Spring State Park on their way to the St. John’s River. On cold winter days, manatees are typically abundant here as the springs remain a constant 72 degrees year round. Blue Springs State Park is in Orange City, Florida, an easy drive from Orlando, if you ever happen to visit the area. We did not see many on the day we were there, even though it was very chilly, but the sight of these three floating by made our trip especially worthwhile.

To see what’s happening right now, check out the live webcams! In 2018, 485 manatees spent the winter here–imagine that!

Dr. Charles B. Jaques, son of Isaac Jaques and Wealthy Ann Cushman, and brother of my second-great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus

On a family history note, these springs (of which there are many in central and northern Florida) are not far from Enterprise, FL, the place my second-great-grandmother’s nephew, Charles Jaques Jr., passed away on May 10, 1886, at age 22. He was the son of Dr. Charles Jaques and Katherine Louise De Forrest.

Enterprise is just 7.5 miles from Orange City, and I can’t help but wonder whether Charles came upon these springs in his travels around this area, which back then (mid-1880s) would have been frontier land and just starting to get populated.

From the 1850s – 1880s, the St. John’s River was an important transportation route, and steamboats would have landed regularly at Blue Springs Landing. It seems possible that Charles would have made his way here via a St. John’s River steamboat, and I’d like to think that he saw manatees in the springs and the river along the way, sightings he would surely have reported back to friends and loved ones, and hopefully he had a chance to do that.

There is something very special and memorable about manatees, and if you ever get a chance to visit Florida in the winter, do your best to try to see some.

Categories: Florida, Jaques, Manatees, Miscellaneous | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Memories of the Woodruff farm, “sugar bread,” and picking daisies…

Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (5 August 1850 – 27 May 1927) with grandsons Dick Brown and Charles Brodhead, circa 1924, at the old Woodruff Farm on Conant Street in Hillside, NJ. The house still stands, but the barn and fields are no more.

The old wooden bucket used in my great grandmother’s kitchen to hold sugar

Last year I came upon the above photo of my great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff. She is pictured outside the barn of the old Woodruff farmhouse in Hillside, NJ. The house still stands, but the barn and surrounding fields were eventually lost to development. This is the only old photo I’ve seen of the premises there, and the fact that it includes my father and his cousin Dick Brown makes it even more special.

When my late Dad retired in the late 1980s, he set out to write down his recollections of the years in his life leading up to his marriage to my Mom; his logic for stopping there was that we all knew what came next. At the time that bothered me, but all these years later, I can see his point. Why potentially ruffle the feathers of your kids and other family members by writing something they may read some day and take the wrong way?

Wm Earl Woodruff & Wealthy Ann Angus on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary

Of course, I am exceedingly grateful for the details he left us about his growing up years. Here are some recollections of 1927 that pertain to the old Woodruff family farm house and the wooden sugar bucket (photo, right):

…Grandma Woodruff died. A real blow to everyone. I remember seeing her in her casket in the living room of the old farmhouse on Conant Street in Hillside, NJ. I remember going into the field and picking some daisies and bringing them in the house and placing them in her stone cold hands. I remember the old barn. One day the young hired hand dared me to eat horse feed. I did and got sick as a dog. I remember an old horse-drawn wagon in the yard. Dick Brown (my cousin) and I used to play on it and pretend we were driving. Grandma used to make me ‘sugar bread’. Homemade bread, home-churned butter with lots of sugar on it. She also fed me lots of sweet tea. Nothing not from scratch!…

My Dad’s Grandma Woodruff had six daughters with her husband William Earl Woodruff. I have no contact with descendants of the sisters of my grandmother but, of course, would be pleased to hear from any of them at any time.

Categories: Angus, Death, Heirlooms, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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