1870s

“Broadhead Worsted Mill” in Jamestown, New York

A Broadhead Worsted Mill advertisement – http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.09486
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-09486 (digital file from original print) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

If you stroll around eBay long enough looking for memorabilia related to the Brodhead family and make use of alternate spellings to increase your odds, you’ll eventually run into advertising posters for Broadhead Worsted Mill in Jamestown, New York.

No, as the spelling strongly suggests, a descendant of Captain Daniel Brodhead and Ann Tye (arrived on these shores in1664, and both from Royston, West Riding, Yorkshire) was not involved in the Mill’s founding. Nonetheless, at some point it seems likely that we, the descendants of the Captain and his wife, share a common ancestor given the Mill’s founder, William Broadhead (1819-1910), also hailed from Yorkshire (from a town called Thornton). Royston is a very tiny village located to the northeast of Barnesley, and Thornton is a bit to the west of Bradford. The two are just about 25 miles apart.

Thornton and Royston are about 25 miles apart (cropped from the “New and improved map of England & Wales ” London : William Darton, 16th April 1823; Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650)

Per the Jamestown, New York, website, William had worked in Thornton as a blacksmith before emigrating to the US in 1843. He would have been about 24 years of age when he undertook that great adventure. It appears that initially he took up similar work in Jamestown, but eventually became interested in the textile industry.

“Wm. Broadhead” Image from The History of Chatauqua County, New York, Illustrated, Boston: W.A. Ferguson & Co., 1894, p. 808

Follow the website link above for the brief version of his life and career (or read the long version below). His was a fabulous success story. Like many who’ve achieved “the American dream,” he made significant contributions to his community. His two mills “employed thousands of persons”. The impact this one ambitious immigrant had was clearly exponential.

See Find a Grave for the grave of William Broadhead and other family members
See this listing on Realtor to view the home mansion William built for his family at 130 South Main Street in Jamestown, New York

Biographical information from The History of Chatauqua County, New York, Illustrated, Boston: W.A. Ferguson & Co., 1894, pp. 808-811




Categories: 1870s, Advertisements, Broadhead, England, Jamestown, New York, Royston Yorkshire, Thornton Yorkshire | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Florida Friday: The house that cowboy hats (and lots of other hats) built

The John B. Stetson House in DeLand, Florida; photo by Ebyabe, 1 March 2008 – Permission granted to copy, use image under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license – see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

I love old houses, and I’m sure I am not alone in that regard.

Here in Florida, it can be a challenge to find homes over a certain age, depending on where you live, of course, especially the further south you go.

Because truly old homes are not as plentiful as up north, I periodically search for ones for sale on websites like Realtor, etc., where you can filter out results based on age and other criteria. It’s fun (IMO) to look at old home interiors you would otherwise probably never get to see. I was doing that a few days ago when I came across the John B. Stetson mansion at 1031 Camphor Lane in Deland, Volusia County, Florida. We’d been in that area a couple of times in recent years, visiting nearby De Leon Springs and Blue Springs, but had no idea the Stetson mansion, celebrated for its history and its architectural mix of Moorish, Gothic, and Tudor styles, would have been within such easy striking distance.

John Batterson Stetson (1830-1906) portrait. Wikipedia – public domain image

Who was John B. Stetson? If you have not heard of him, you may still be familiar with the Stetson hat.

Born in 1830 to a New Jersey hatter and his wife, Stetson, while still a young man, was diagnosed with tuberculosis and told he may not have much longer to live. He took off for the West, wanting to lay his eyes on that expansive majestic land while he still could. That’s when he came into contact with the region’s settlers and cowboys, who until then had largely been wearing caps made of coonskin and other furs, not very practical. Returning home to Philadelphia, he came up with the Stetson hat, and started turning them out in 1865. They sold like hotcakes and became known as “the boss of the plains.”

The Holly Standard, March 8, 1883 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Stetson lived well into his seventies and along the way became known for his generosity as an employer and a philanthropist. His hat-making business had treated him well. His company survived and thrived, and it’s still going strong today: https://www.stetson.com

Seeing as how Stetson’s Florida mansion, built in 1886, is up for sale (for $4.7 million), this is an ideal time to get a look inside at the interior without paying an admission fee and without having to physically go there. The sellers purchased the house a decade ago and completely restored and renovated it.  The result is stunning, and although this is a private residence, they have generously been permitting people to tour the estate and experience this very interesting piece of history. In fact, it’s the #1 Deland attraction on Trip Advisor. Hopefully the eventual buyers will want to keep this up.

To go to the listing and its 122 photographs, click here: John B. Stetson house. For the Stetson Mansion website, click here.

The Boone County Recorder (KY), October 28, 1875 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The Rockdale Messenger (TX), 9 September 1904 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

From the New York Daily Star, May 24, 1929 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The New York Daily Star, 20 September 1929 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The New York Daily Star, 16 May 1930 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The Evening Telegram (NY), 30 September 1904 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Categories: 1870s, 1890s, 1900s, Advertisements, Deland, Florida, Stetson John B | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“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

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