Author Archives: Chips Off the Old Block

About Chips Off the Old Block

Someone who enjoys history, genealogy, antiques, and general sleuthing. Have traveled the world but always seem to come back to my roots.

1905: Ironing while memorizing passages from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”

The play Hiawatha being performed circa 1920 – NARA – 285367, by Unknown or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17160440

Going through some old books a few weeks ago, I came across Longfellow’s Hiawatha, and inside was this wonderful and curious little note left behind by my grandmother Zillah Trewin. I don’t know when she wrote this note; it was probably some time later for the benefit of my mother who would eventually inherit it:

Zillah from Mother, 1905.
Mother memorized the introduction, first 5 chapters, also 10, 11, 12, 19, 20 and 22, largely while ironing.

If you are familiar with Hiawatha, you’ll know that this was no small feat! I try to envision my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent Trewin standing over her iron and simultaneously memorizing Longfellow’s verse. An image definitely emerges–now if only I could hear her voice. That would really be something!

Elizabeth Sargent Trewin, 1904, before traveling abroad

Zillah Trewin, 1904 (age 19)

Longfellow

Categories: Reading literature, Trewin | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

The Greatest Generation — Dad’s photos with ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines — Pacific Theater

Charles D. Brodhead (enlisted as a Private and left service as a Sergeant)

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my father’s passing, and also, of far less significance, the 6th anniversary of this blog. I started it with him in mind, knowing how much family history meant to him. It’s a shame he has not been here to help me fill in pieces I can’t quite pull together or celebrate the discoveries I make with me. But I know he is here in spirit, and, perhaps, it was he who steered my hands last week toward a faded and plain, nondescript envelope containing the below photos from early on in his service during WWII. As you may recall from a past post, he served in A Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. It looks like the photos were all taken on Guadalcanal except one, a view of Samoa.

Pacific Theater – WW II – 1941-1945 (Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

The photos are an amazing find. I was especially delighted to see the faces of a few of the men my Dad spoke so highly of while I was growing up, especially 1st Sgt Frank DaVanon. So this post and the photos are dedicated to Dad (Charles D. Brodhead), these men, and all the others who served alongside him.

I have included all of his captions (Thank you, Dad!) both on the images and written out separately below so that search engines can find them. Perhaps someone ‘out there’ will find a photo of their greatest generation family member. And if you recognize someone, please feel free to leave a comment below.  Thank you, and Happy Easter, All.

I am repeating the captions below so that search engines can pick them up for any family members who may be searching for their servicemen.

Photo 1: “A” Company specialists at Guadalcanal. Front row left to right: Grier, Co. Property Sgt; Stein, cook; Coleman, runner; DeMarco, Asst. Property Sgt; Rear row left to right: Black, buglar; Butkiewicz, jeep driver; Edwards, signalman; Fiands, cook

Photo 2: Some of ‘A’ Company men with Japanese flag at Guadalcanal, 1943.
Front (left to right): Rothberg, Gresko, Standley, and Wilshere Rear (left to right): 1st Sgt DaVanon, Tezack, Wilson, and Urbanovitch

Photo 3: ‘A’ Co. group at Guadalcanal, 1943: Front (left to right): Murphy, Vaught, Morris, and Callentine Rear (left to right): Morris, Phillips, Kaier, and Thornton

Photo 4: ‘A’ Company Staff NCOs and company commander after Bougainville operation, 1943.
Front (left to right): Gunnery Sgt Rowley; Captain C.F. Quilici; and Gunnery Sgt Urbanavitch
Standing (left to right): Gunnery Sgt Wilson; 1st Sgt DaVanon; and Platoon Sgt Morris

Photo 5: ‘A’ Co. 1st Bn, 3rd Marines – Group of Mortar and Machine Gun Sections, Taken at Guadalcanal after Bougainville operation, 1943 Front (left to right): Fansler, mortar squad leader; Low, mortar gunner; Watson, mortar gunner; and Cort, machine gunner Rear (left to right): Logan, machine gunner; Trott, machine gunner; Rowley, Gunnery Sgt; Colarulli, machine gunner; and Brown, machine gunner

Photo 6: ‘A’ Co. after Bougainville operation, 1943. Sorting accumulated mail and Christmas packages.
Foreground, sitting, 1st Sgt DaVanon; Kneeling, back to camera, Brodhead (Dad)

Photo 7: Taken at Guadalcanal before Bougainville operation, in front of property storage tent.
Front (left to right): Teofilo Romero (killed at Bougainville); Grier; and Rice
Standing (left to right): DeMarco, Steger, and Fiands

Photo 8: On beach at Guadalcanal, 1943. Some of the ‘A’ Co. gang. Note palm trees torn by shellfire.

Photo 9: Pvt. Charles D. Brodhead, US Marines Sept 1943, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands

Photo 10: Islanders fishing

Photo 11: Guadalcanal, 1943: Sgt. H.B. Grier and a couple of natives

Photo 12: Samoa, 1942

Photo 13: Gunnery Sgt W.W. Wilson, Jr. and BoBo (an orphaned native boy of Guadalcanal)
Photo taken in 3rd Division bivouac area in Lever Bros. coconut plantation.

Photo 14: Guadalcanal, 1943. 1st Sgt DaVanon and two natives.

Photo 15: Photo taken on beach at Guadalcanal showing members of ‘A’ Co., 1st Bn, 3rd Marines digging foxholes of

Categories: Bougainville, Brodhead, Guadalcanal, WWII | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Calling card left for Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Jaques

Isaac Jaques (1791-1880) Courtesy of San Benito County Historical Society

A calling card left for Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Jaques by Mr. & Mrs. John A. Gunn. Given it is undated, the Mrs. Jaques could have been Isaac’s first wife Wealthy Ann Cushman (1793-1856; m. 1812) or his second wife, widow Rebecca Gold Robinson (1804-1886; m. between 1856-1860).

We know nothing of the circumstances, obviously, but after reading up on calling card etiquette, I believe this may have been an invitation to some sort of party / special social gathering. The envelope is quite decorative. Experts, feel free to weigh in.

I looked for a John A. Gunn and came up with one born in New York in 1820, so perhaps this was a friend of Isaac’s from his days in Manhattan where he was once a well-known and highly successful tailor before retiring across the Hudson River to his Elizabethtown country estate. (For more on Isaac, visit this past post.)

Below are some calling card etiquette resources, in case you want to brush up 🙂 — our ancestors who lived during the 19th century when they were in custom would have been well versed in all the nuances of their use. Personally I find it quite fascinating. It was indeed a much different time–no doubt they would find today’s varied forms of communicating and interacting rather head-spinning to say the least!  Bonne fin de semaine!

Calling Cards for LadiesMass historia website
Calling Cards for GentlemenMass historia website
The Gentleman’s Guide to Calling CardsThe Art of Manliness blog

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Jaques | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

William Trewin & St. James Methodist Church in Elizabeth, NJ

William Trewin, b. 21 March 1847; son of John & Mary Ann Trewin; year unknown.

St. James Methodist Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, celebrated its 80-year anniversary in 1957, and a church program I recently came across commemorating the occasion indicated that my great-grandfather William Trewin was one of eight people who were on the committee that agreed to found the church, which was the result of two churches (Elizabeth Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church and St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church) coming together in a building that was acquired through an exchange with the Broad Street Baptist Church. The first service was held on April 15, 1877.

At the time of the committee meeting, October 23, 1876, my great-grandfather was 29 years old and married to his first wife Edith Fry with whom he was raising two sons, Bert and Clarence.  The commemorative program is included in this post for anyone curious about some of the history of the church during its first 80 years. Today, the building is occupied by the Haitian Bethany Baptist Church.

Image from City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Methodist, New Jersey, Trewin | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Barksdale family heirloom

It’s almost a year ago that I found in a box an old button hook that belonged to my grandmother Elizabeth Sargent Trewin’s sister-in-law Sarah Bowley Sargent. I put a poll up asking how folks would handle an item like that—one that was more distantly related to them. Most respondents were happy to put the item back in the box and hand it down. I chuckled when I saw that.

Poll.JPG

I was confronted with a similar situation again recently when I  came across a small prayer book dated 1849; on the cover appear the initials “A. M. Barksdale” and the street address “2204 Monument Avenue” is written inside. The opposite side of that page contains a line from Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian and English: “Down through the world of infinite bitterness.”

Clueless as to whom the book once belonged, I must admit that discarding it crossed my mind. But, I was too curious and ended up putting my detective hat on.

I won’t bore you with the zigs and zags of my small bit of research. Suffice it to say that I am quite certain the book belonged to Agnes Morton Barksdale (1834-1908) and that the address is that of the home of “Francis D. Barksdale”, a cousin (once removed) who lived at that street address in Richmond, Virginia. The house, built in 1909, still stands.

I don’t think Agnes ever married or had children. She was the daughter of Dr. Claiborne Williams Barksdale (b. 1802) and his second wife Sallie Norment Whitlock. The family lived in Halifax Co., Virginia. Their children were:

  • Claiborne Whitlock Barksdale (1833 – 1902)
  • Agnes Morton Barksdale (1834 – 1908)
  • Judith Beverly Barksdale (1836 – 1891)
  • Mary Barksdale (1838 – 1854)
  • Sallie Claiborne Barksdale (1840 – 1916)
  • Achilles Whitlock Barksdale (1842 – 1916)
  • Thomas White Barksdale (1844 – 1902)
  • Howard Barksdale (1846 – 1907)


How did we end up with the book? That was the biggest question of all, and it took a while to figure it out.

In a nutshell, one of my grandmother’s sisters married a descendant of one of Agnes’s sisters, Sallie Claiborne Barksdale. That descendant died not long after they married, and my grandmother’s sister remarried and moved to California. Somehow this book remained behind in New Jersey with my grandmother.

I must say, my initial inclination was to dispose of it somehow, but I am glad I took the time to connect the dots and find the story behind this object. It was obviously used quite a bit by Agnes given the wear in the leather. I’ve sent a few emails to some folks I’ve found who appear to be bona fide descendants of Agnes’s siblings but have not yet heard back. I’ll have to wait and see where this little book’s fate takes it from here…

UPDATE 4/3/2017: I am pleased to report that this little prayer book is en route to a new home with a bona fide descendant of Dr. Claiborne Barksdale and his wife Sallie N. Whitlock.


Categories: Barksdale, Heirlooms, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The special trees in our American landscape

In the Berkshires, 1850 – By George Inness – Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza en depósito en el Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21148368

A belated Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you. There seemed to be green everywhere yesterday, and speaking of green, today I have trees on my mind, not all trees, just a certain kind of tree…

Have you ever looked out on fields and seen a tree that was just massive? You can tell it has been there for a very long time. Was it standing alone like a lone sentry or providing vast swathes of shade to a centuries-old farmhouse? If the answer is yes, you may well have come upon what is known as a “first-growth tree,” a tree that is described so beautifully in Our Vanishing Landscape, a 1955 book by Eric Sloane.

Such trees provide first-growth timber, the strongest and best timber of all, timber that our American ancestors were blessed with in abundance as they took to settling the land and harnessing its natural resources. Per Sloan, this was “wood grown from untouched earth with the humus and peat and the natural rot of age-old forests.” He describes how, today, seemingly dilapidated centuries-old barns made of chestnut may actually still be in exceptionally good shape, the wood in even better condition than any new wood that could ever be found to replace it.

Morning by George Inness – Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11006350

As you can imagine, in many parts of America today, first-growth timber is quite rare. Certainly that’s true in the East. Many of America’s forests and woods were cleared to make way for agriculture. But, says Sloane, America’s first farmers would leave some first-growth trees dotting the landscape to serve as navigational markers, and often they would choose their home sites based on the fact that a first-growth tree stood nearby, for shade, and as a reminder, he says, that “into that tree went the memory of all the forests of great trees that had disappeared around it.”

I grew up in a farmhouse that was built in 1774, and I often think of that place and its beautiful surroundings, and my mind always wanders to a maple tree—a gigantic maple tree—that stood to the rear of the house on the left, alongside a babbling brook. It’s only after reading Sloan’s book that I realized a first-growth tree in the form of that maple had quite possibly been in our midst all those years ago, and perhaps that is why, subconsciously, my mind, without fail, wanders back to that tree… There is something about nature that pulls us, captivates us, calms us, and has the power to make us feel whole. That tree was magnificent. I’ve been searching for a photograph of it, and I’m sure we have one somewhere. The closest I’ve gotten so far, however, is an image with just part of the tree in the background.

Landscape by George Inness, 1878; Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to be in a place where the majority of maples were that size. Unfortunately, history and human circumstances have denied us of the possibility to see such trees en masse in many parts of the country. We have to seek out our sequoias and redwoods and travel to mountain and forest places left largely untouched by human hands and natural disasters. We can dig into historical records to find traces of giant trees, and examine paintings by artists of previous centuries to catch glimpses of past American landscapes. As I look at paintings by 19th-century American artist George Inness (1825-1894), for instance, I see what I think must be at least the occasional first-growth tree dotting his landscapes. Whether they were there in reality or his imagination conjured them up, I don’t know. But, for instance, go back to the top of this post and look at the tree hiding in the background on the right in his painting In the Berkshires. That tree looks absolutely gigantic.

Credit: Flickr user Rocor, Hackensack Meadows, Sunset, 1859, by George Inness. Oil on canvas NY Historical Society. LACMA – Creative Commons non-commercial 2.0 generic license – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

Interestingly, Sloane points out that it is documented that trees the size of California’s redwoods once existed in the East. He cites an 1841 record of a walnut tree that once stood in Forestville, New York, a mile above the mouth of a creek, named Walnut Creek after this tree. The giant tree was “36 feet in circumference at its base, gradually tapering 80 feet to the first limb. Its entire height was nearly 200 feet, and was estimated to contain 150 cords of wood, or 50,000 feet of inch boards. The bark was a foot thick. The tree was entirely sound when blown down in 1822…”

When I went on the Fulton History website to look into the existence of other giant trees reported in the press, I discovered an article in The Album of Rochester, New York, dated December 1, 1825: “An Elm in Hatfield, Mass. is supposed the largest tree in New England, It measures in circumference 34 feet at two feet from the ground; at the height of five feet, the smallest place in the trunk, the circumference is 24 feet 6 inches. There is a cut in the tree four feet from the ground, which tradition says was made by the Indians, for the highest rise of water in Connecticut river.”

By George Inness – The AMICA Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20146490

The December 12, 1826, issue of the Franklin Herald and Public Advertiser (Greenfield, Mass.) contained an article on large trees. Some excerpts include: “The Charter Oak in Connecticut — From the best information that we can obtain, says a Hartford paper, this tree is no less than four hundred years old; it is 23 feet in circumference near the ground, and at the height of 7 feet, it is 17 feet in circumference; the height of the tree, is about 70 feet; some of its branches extend 20 feet. […] In May, 1826, there was an Elm blown down in Wells, (Maine,) which measured 27 feet and 4 inches in circumference, making the diameter something over 9 feet; and was 40 feet from the foot to a crotch; from thence it was 20 feet to the first limb, running to the height of 60 feet from bottom before it had any limbs, when it expanded to an immense size. The exact height of the tree could not be accurately obtained, as the top was much broken, but was computed to be upwards of 100 feet. […] The Lexington, Ky. Public Advertiser says, that there now stands on the bank of the Ohio river, in the State of Indiana, opposite the mouth of Salt river, a Sycamore tree, which has stabled fourteen head of horses at one time, with ample room. It takes 75 long paces to go round its trunk, and you may with perfect ease turn a fourteen foot pole in the inside of its cavity.”

By George Inness – ArtDaily.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49327263

The New Jersey Fredonian on April 11, 1827, reported that a giant poplar in perfect health had [very sadly] been felled by a Mr. Moser on his land in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It was 117 feet high with a circumference at the base of 20 feet 7 inches. The first limb appeared at 64 feet off the ground. It was estimated to be at least 300 years old by those who examined it’s circles. The article’s author, lamenting the poplar’s demise, referred to it as the “largest solid tree” ever seen or heard of, and a “giant of the forest.”

Painting by George Inness; image uploaded by Noroton at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3051470

The Onondaga Register of Onondaga Hollow, New York, on 28 July 1827 included an article originally reported by the Allegany [sic.] Democrat of a massive sycamore tree that had provided a winter residence to a family of seven: “There is now on the farm of Mr. Andrew Beggs (painter) of Pittsburgh, a sycamore tree, in which a family of seven persons, resided all winter, having been detained by the freezing over of the river while ascending it. In this tree they found a comfortable asylum from the storms of a severe winter, with room for all the necessary furniture and cooking utensils, having a fire in the centre Indian style), the smoke of which ascended through a whole in the trunk occasioned by the breaking off of a large limb from the tree. This giant of the forest is about fourteen miles below Pittsburgh, and directly on the Ohio River.”

Then I came across this 1842 article (page 72 of the Farmer’s Monthly Visitor, Vol. 3-4) describing a gigantic maple, a tree very dear to my heart, as you know ;-). Perhaps, best of all, at the end it contains a list of the largest trees known to exist in the US at the time. (Bear in mind that at this point in history, the United States had only 26 states.) Scroll down for an image of what was probably the giant sycamore in Ohio with the 60-foot circumference, and an article that may refer to the New York sycamore.

One thing is for sure: if you see a BIG tree, it always leaves a BIG impression. And it’s clear that big trees made a big impression on our ancestors too!

So as you go about your travels, keep an eye out for any first-growth trees—elm, maple, sycamore, poplar, chestnut, oak, hickory, pine, etc.—you see (or think you see) in your neck of the woods. Feel free to report back here in the Comments box. Better yet, email me a photo, and I’ll post it here for others to enjoy and try to imagine the glorious age-old forests that greeted our early American ancestors. And/Or consider posting your find on the Monumental Trees website so that even more people can learn of your discovery. Let us treasure those giant trees in our midst and do everything we can to assure their survival.

Some amazing and memorable trees I’ve seen down here in the south:
The Big Oak, Thomasville, GA – 329 years old
The Angel Oak Tree, Charleston, SC – 400-500+ years old

The New York Herald, November 17, 1901 (Credit: FultonHistory dot com)

The Bolivar Breeze, December 21, 1922 (Credit: FultonHistory dot com)

Categories: Miscellaneous, Nature, Trees, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ireland circa 1911: Photo of my grandfather outside the R. Boles shop

I recently discovered this wonderful old photo taken circa 1911 of my grandfather William Boles standing outside his Uncle Robert Boles’s shop in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland. He worked there as a clerk before emigrating to the United States in October 1912 at age 20. He is fourth from the left. The photo was very faded but with the help of Photoshop, I managed to add a bit more definition and contrast to it. The shop is still in existence today and has remained a family business all these years later. Not an easy feat in an era of big box stores, shopping malls, and the Internet! The 1911 census lists George Riley (19), John Patrick Filmore (15), Edith Margaret Beacon (22), and Caroline H. White (21) as shop assistants, so they may well be among those who appear in the photo alongside my grandfather.

R. Boles shop in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, circa 1911

Categories: Boles, Co. Roscommon, Ireland | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Daguerreotype of brothers William Earl Woodruff and Matthias Woodruff, circa 1853

Sons of Mary Jane Trowbridge and Francis Woodruff, circa 1853

I was thrilled to come upon this old daguerreotype of my great-grandfather, William Earl Woodruff (b. 1848, right), and his little brother Matthias (b. 1851, seated on the left and holding what appears to be a rifle/sword). William has his hand on Matthias’s shoulder; apart from showing his brotherly love, he was perhaps doing his best to keep Matthias from fidgeting while the image was being recorded. Was having Matthias hold the rifle/sword a way to keep his hands still? I suspect so. This is the only image I have ever seen of Matthias, who eventually grew up to marry Mary S. Ayers and, in his 30s, headed out alone to the Dakota Territory to farm wheat. He died an accidental death in Chatham, New Jersey, when in his early 40’s.

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff (1820-1883)

I think Matthias resembles his mother Mary Jane, while William looks more like his father Francis. From previous posts you may remember that the family lived in a farmhouse built by Francis on Conant Street in present-day Hillside.

For more posts on this family, enter ‘Francis Woodruff’ in the search box on the left. Enter ‘Matthias’ for those posts chiefly related to him. As always I recommend reading the posts in chronological order.

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff (1820-1883)

On a different note, I have seen a few trees on Ancestry that show a son named John for this family, and Family Search corroborates this:

“New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FC1S-YHV : accessed 23 March 2015), John Woodruff, 27 Jun 1851; citing Union Twp., Essex, New Jersey, reference v 1 p 132a; FHL microfilm 493,712.

Francis’s father was John Woodruff (1795-1857; husband of Mary Ogden Earl) and  Francis’s older brother was Matthias Woodruff (1818-1844, died of Yellow Fever in Louisiana), so I can see where the names ‘John’ and ‘Matthias’ came from. I am however wondering whether there were two sons by those names or if there was one son named ‘John Matthias’ who was known by family and friends as ‘Matthias’. I have not yet found an exact birth date for Matthias but other information I have places him as being born in 1851 (1860 census, death certificate—aged 42 on day of death April 6, 1893, etc.) So, if there was a John, perhaps he was a twin who died very young? (He is absent from the 1860 census). Personally, I am much more inclined to think that ‘John’ and ‘Matthias’ were one in the same person. Blog readers, please feel free to weigh in!

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Grandma’s Class of 1898: Battin High School, Elizabeth, Union Co., New Jersey

fbw_1898

Fannie Bishop Woodruff, HS graduation photo, June 1898

Another treasure has surfaced, this one found within a stack of extremely old newspapers and magazines. And I wanted to share it in the event it helps others locate an image of an ancestor (or two).

My grandmother, Fannie Bishop Woodruff, graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, on June 21, 1898, and the wonderful find is a fabulous and fascinating group photo of her with all of her classmates.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll see that I have labelled it with the names listed by my grandmother on the reverse side. I have marked her with a little red heart. A second red heart appears on her cousin Frank W. Russum whose mother was Cecelia Angus, a younger sister of Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, Fannie’s mother.

Every little detail makes this photo special—the expressions on the faces, the clothing, the architecture, the lettering on the sign followed by a period, the big wooden chair in the open window, the little flowers (dandelions?) on the lawn, the flower pot… A true slice of life from June 1898.

battin_hs_1898_labelled

Battin High School, June 1898

When it came to trying to match faces to the list of names, I was initially somewhat confused with regards to the order in which she listed the young men (starting from the left, but from the top or the bottom? Same question for the right side).  I found a way to match them to her list by first finding photos of a handful of them in Rutgers College yearbooks (searching in the yearbooks for students from Elizabeth) and then matching the faces. That worked out well, so I feel quite confident that the young men are labelled correctly. (One young man – second from the left in the top row – is not identified—my grandmother left a space where his name should be; read further for my theory on him.)

By the way, those I found who went on to Rutgers were the following:

  • Rutgers ‘02: Frank Winner Russum; Charles Ernest Pett; and Charles Warren Stevens Jr.
  • Rutgers ’05: Emil Eisenhardt Fischer and Frederick Alton Price, Jr.

The yearbooks are available for free online via Rutgers (click the above links) and contain a wealth of information and images, Definitely worth a leaf through if you have time and are interested in getting a glimpse of college student life circa 1900, at what was once an all-male school.

Battin High School, Elizabeth, NJ - image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Battin High School, Elizabeth, NJ – image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

With the ladies, identification was more cumbersome and not entirely successful. First, my grandmother refers to ‘rows’ with the 1st row being the top step and the 6th row being the bottom step. For me, it was difficult, if not impossible, to decide where rows 3, 4, and 5 start and end given the way the young women in those areas are not seated in neat rows. Second, you’ll notice that four are not labelled at all, and that is because my grandmother left empty space at the start of ‘row 5’ as if she planned to go back and fill in the names later. So, I have done my best guessing. (Names that are my best guess are in regular font; those I feel confident about are in bold.)

battin5

Joseph Battin who donated his mansion to the city of Elizabeth for the high school – image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Two names of these ladies (Edith Denman and Ethel M. Hall) don’t appear in the commencement brochure (shown below), but they DO appear in the Elizabeth Daily Journal article about the 1897 graduation (that article is also below). Why that is, I have no idea.

There are names in the commencement brochure that likely match five of the people in the photo:

  • Wilbur Van Sant Coleman* / Ora Kenneth Mizter / William John Millin / Richard Pollatschek / Ida Hand / Blanche Irene Hess* / Edna Winifred Lawson / Elizabeth Landrine Reeve / Elizabeth Winifred Roolvink* / Mary Elise ‘Sadie’ Fozard*

Pollatschek would have been a very unusual name for my grandmother to remember and write/pronounce, so perhaps the young man second from the left up top is Richard Pollaschek, who, I discovered, was born in Bohemia and emigrated from Austria to the US with his family.

To throw an additional spanner into the works, the above individuals marked with an asterisk also appear in the newspaper article for the previous year’s graduation… (as do names of some of the others in the photo)… Why that is, I don’t know. What makes things stranger is that Blanche Hess is listed as a participant in the ceremony in the 1898 brochure.

It occurred to me that the group photo could have been taken in 1897 when my grandmother was a junior, but that would not explain the presence in the 1897 newspaper article of so many names of people who aren’t in the group photo. If anyone out there has a theory as to the overlap, let me know.

Anyway, what matters most is that the photo exists, and we are still far ahead of the game of identification thanks to my grandmother who wrote down the names she did, and to my parents who kept the photo since her death in the mid-1960s.

startheater_1146_e_jersey_st

Prior to being known as Proctor’s, in 1898, this venue was known as the Star Theatre.

Grandmother’s graduation ceremony was held on Tuesday, 21 June 1898, at 7:45 p.m. at the Star Theatre (which later became Proctor’s Theatre and had numerous other names over the years; it was eventually demolished and replaced by the Ritz Theatre) located at 1146 East Jersey Street, less than a mile from the school. At the time she lived on the family farm on Conant Street, Hillside; this must have been a big night out for her parents and five sisters, and of course, for the many other families whose children had grown up together in, what was then, a quickly evolving city.

You can read the article about the 1897 graduation (credit: Digi-find) to get a sense of what the 1898 ceremony may have been like. Apart from the article, below you will also find the 1898 commencement brochure and an excerpt about Battin High School from the 1889 book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated which contains hundreds of interesting photos and descriptions of Elizabeth during that period.

You may have noticed the two young black students in my grandmother’s group photo—James Morris and Mattie Thomas.  James looks exceptionally scholarly in his spectacles and student attire. He is listed in the 1897 article as one of the students who was graduating. The article further stated: “As the graduates went forward to receive their diplomas each received applause. There were two young colored people in the class, and they were especially favored with the expression of the delight of the audience.” That was very gratifying to read and I have no doubt that Mattie and James were just as warmly received in 1898.

A-ha! Lightbulb moment! I noticed that James appeared in the 1897 list as a student in the Commercial Course and in the 1898 brochure as a student in the Regular Course. If I am not mistaken, the same appears to be true of the other students who appear to have graduated twice. So, perhaps, it was common for students to take an extra year to complete the regular course after graduating from the commercial course. That seems like a possible explanation.

I hope you find this post interesting and enjoyable. Please leave a comment if you have anything to correct, add, or share. Thank you!

Update: As luck would have it, I just came across the Elizabeth Daily Journal article for the 1898 graduation. It is included below at the very end. Unfortunately it is not entirely legible, but I can make out my grandmother’s name, and many of the others.

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Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Graduations, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Russum, Woodruff | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

1948 Photo of Lavinia Pratt Angus Marthaler – age 88

Seek and ye shall find. That’s true, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled upon something of value while seeking something else. Last week I was doing some more sifting and came upon a box of old slides from 1948. They were mostly scenes from my grandparents big train trip out west to California and the Pacific NW/Canadian Rockies. But there was a column of other miscellaneous photos, including one of my uncle Woodruff Brodhead and his family on Thanksgiving Day. My Dad was very fastidious about labeling and had terrific penmanship. Atop the slide were the unmistakable words ‘Aunt Vean.’ Having never seen a photo of her, I was thrilled to scan it in and get a look at her, albeit in her much later years (age 88) and with a hat obscuring part of her face. To her right is her housemate of many years, her cousin Elizabeth Booth. At this point they were sharing a home in Montclair, NJ. I still don’t know how they were related. And I don’t know where the photo was taken, but I presume it may have been in Elizabeth, NJ, at the Coleman residence, a distance not far from Montclair, and a home in which family and extended family were known to gather at the holidays. So, if you’re an Angus and have never seen a photo of Lavinia (‘Vean’) Pratt Angus Marthaler, youngest daughter of James and Wealthy Angus, here she is! (She lived to age 94.)

angus_laviniapratt_thanksgiving1948_withelizbooth

Elizabeth Booth (cousin) and Lavinia Pratt Angus Marthaler, Thanksgiving Day, 1948

For more on Aunt Vean (Lavinia Pratt Angus Marthaler), visit these old posts:
Lavinia P. Angus (1858-1940s)—geometry whiz; who knew?!
Lavinia Pratt Angus Marthaler outlived all 10 of her Angus siblings
Photo circa 1880: Jno. Philip Marthaler, husband of Lavinia P. Angus

Categories: Angus, Montclair Essex Co, New Jersey | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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