Famous Historical Figures

The Brodhead Mansion in Washington, DC

The Brodhead-Bell-Morton Mansion (Image from Wikimedia Commons – license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en; uploaded by AgnosticPreachersKid on June 27, 2008)

Brodhead family members, next time you are in our nation’s capital, stop by 1500 Rhode Island Avenue NW to have a look at the exterior of this Beaux-Arts-style mansion built in 1879 for Detroit-born John Thornton Brodhead (1851-1904) and his wife Jessie Maude Willis (1858-1929). A photo currently on eBay reminded me that several years ago I had come across a reference to the “Brodhead Mansion” in DC and had always meant to go back and research which specific Brodheads had once lived here. And now, I know.

The architect of the mansion was Scottish-born John Fraser; later renovations (1912) were overseen by architect John Russell Pope.  Subsequent occupants of the “Brodhead Mansion” included: Alexander Graham (and Mabel) Bell, US VP Levi P. Morton (President Benjamin Harrison’s administration), the Russian Embassy, and US Secretary of State Elihu Root (President Teddy Roosevelt’s administration). Beginning in 1939 and for many years thereafter, the National Paint and Coatings Association occupied the building. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building has served as the Embassy of Hungary since 2016.

Married in 1877, John T. Brodhead and Jessie Maude Willis did not live in this large home for very long. John, who had been actively serving in the US Marines at the time of his marriage, resigned his commission in 1881, after turning down a three-year assignment in China in order to stay in the US with his family. The couple, together with their three small children (more would follow), returned to Detroit where they both had family and John started a real estate business.

John T. Brodhead was a descendant of Daniel Brodhead and Hester Wyngart and their son, Revolutionary War hero Captain Luke Brodhead. His grandfather was Reverend John Brodhead (m. Elizabeth Harrison), and his father was Colonel Thornton Fleming Brodhead (1820-1862; m. Archange Macomb (1870-1891)) who was mortally wounded during the second battle of Bull Run in August 1862.  After his father’s death, John (age 11) was sent to Washington DC to live with his Uncle John Montgomery Brodhead (1803-1880), Thornton’s older brother who was then serving as Second Comptroller for the Army and Navy services. Perhaps his arrival in his Uncle’s household was a blessing given the uncle and his wife had already lost their two only children, Alfred, d. 1853, and Thomas, d. 1855. (Side note: Mary Rebecca Brodhead Pike, featured previously on this blog, was the sister of Colonel Thornton F. Brodhead and John Montgomery Brodhead.)

Some photos of John T. and  Jessie Brodhead appear on Find a Grave and Ancestry.com. I haven’t found any that I can use here without requesting special permission or paying a newspaper archive (e.g., Detroit Free Press). Scroll down for links to those pages and for a family tree showing John’s descent from Daniel and Hester Brodhead, who were among the original European settlers of Pennsylvania’s Minisink Valley.

I will leave you with the abundant biographical information on the John T. Brodhead family that is included in the below publication. You will learn that John’s wife and her family were equally as interesting and impressive.

Biographical information from pp. 600-606 of The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Volume V, Illustrated (Detroit & Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922): 

JOHN THORNTON BRODHEAD. The history of the Brodhead family is closely interwoven with the annals of Detroit, through connection with many of the prominent families of the city and with many, of the leading events which have shaped Detroit ’s record and marked her development. In the old home stead on Jefferson avenue, where once stood the Sacred Heart Seminary, John Thornton Brodhead was born on the 12th day of September, 1851. His father, General Thornton Fleming Brodhead, a colonel of the First Michigan Cavalry during the Civil war and an oflicer during the Mexican war and afterward owner and editor of the Detroit Free Press, was born at South New Market, New Hampshire, in 1820. There the old Brodhead homestead still stands. His father was the Rev. John Brodhead of the old Granite state and Thornton Fleming Brodhead was the youngest of a family of twelve children. He came to Detroit in 1816 and when a young man of twenty-six years was mustered into the military service of the country on the lst of March, 1847, as a member of the United States infantry, serving throughout the Mexican war under General Winfield Scott. Early in his military experience he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant and adjutant and on the 20th of August, 1847, was brevetted captain for gallant conduct and conspicuous bravery in the engagements of Contreras and Cherubusco, Mexico. On the 2nd of December, 1847, he was regularly commissioned captain and was mustered out with that rank on the 3rd of August, 1848. Again making his way to Detroit, he became postmaster of the city in 1853, under the administration of Franklin Pierce, then president of the United States and an own cousin of Mr. Brodhead. In the meantime he had purchased the Free Press and was the owner and editor of the paper for a number of years. He married the widow of William Abbott, son of Judge Abbott, her maiden name having been Archange Macomb, daughter of William Macomb, and a niece of General Macomb.

Colonel Thornton F. Brodhead – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Archange Macomb, wife of General T. F. Brodhead, First Michigan Cavalry, and mother of John T. Brodhead of Detroit, was born in the old homestead on Grosse Ile. She was the daughter of William Macomb, and granddaughter of Commodore William Macomb, the original owner of the island. She spent many years of her life in Detroit with her distinguished husband, after his death returning to the old home with her six young children, to spend her last days there. She died in 1891, at the age of seventy-one. Her life and her devotion to her children were most beautiful, as she was both father and mother to them. There were six children of this marriage, the eldest being the wife of Hon. William D. Balfour, M. P. for Ontario. Her son, Edward Blake Balfour, was a first lieutenant in the Canadian army in the World war and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, having saved a thousand lives of his country men by destroying a gun which was turned on the British and was in process of loading. Another son, Major Thornton Balfour, is still in the Canadian army. The second of the family of General Brodhead was John Thornton Brodhead of this review. The third of the family is Mrs. J. Kearsley Webster, whose late husband was a great-grandson of Major Samuel Kearsley, to whom George Washington presented his sword in appreciation of his bravery, at the time of Braddock’s defeat. This sword is now in possession of Mrs. J. Kearsley Webster. A notable fact is that since the sword was worn by Washington, it has changed hands but three times. Eleanor Macomb Brodhead was the fourth member of the household and with her sister, Katherine Julia Brodhead, was living in the old homestead on Grosse Ile until it was destroyed by fire in the summer of 1921. Because of the pleasant memories and the sweet associations arising from years of occupancy of the old homestead by the different generations of the family, the sisters are now erecting a bungalow on the site of the old home. In the garden there are pear trees which were planted more than a hundred years ago and are still in perfect condition, bearing fruit in the year 1921. The sixth member of the family of General Brodhead is Mrs. F. B. Howard, whose husband is a civil engineer of Detroit. Mrs. Howard has one son who served in the Marine Corps in the World war and was wounded at Belleau wood. The story of the brilliant advance of the American troops has been graphically told in the work published by the commanding oflicer there under the title, With the Help of God and a Few Marines.

Not only was General Brodhead closely associated with the military affairs of the country and with news paper publication in Detroit but also with the legislative history of the state. In 1855 he was state senator at Lansing and although a stanch democrat was a warm personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil war Mr. Brodhead organized the First Michigan Cavalry company of fifteen hundred Wayne county men, receiving his orders directly from President Lincoln because of his past military experience. He took his fifteen hundred men to Washington, where they were thoroughly equipped. Here he was joined by his little son, eleven years old, and together they rode through the battle of Harper ’s Ferry. He was made a brevet general for bravery but two weeks later was killed at the second battle of Bull Run, before his title had been confirmed. Following his demise his wife spent her last years on the old Macomb homestead on Grosse Ile. General Brodhead was but forty-one years of age when he passed away on the 30th of August. Laying down his life on the altar of his country, the last words of his dying lips were: “The old flag will triumph yet.” His son, John T. Brodhead, was a lad of but eleven years when his father died. He had been attending the public schools up to this time and afterward went to Washington to the home of his uncle, John M. Brodhead, who was a comptroller in the treasury department through appointment of President Pierce and served in that position through several successive administrations. In the national capital John T. Brodhead attended the public schools for a time and later was graduated from the Polytechnic School in New York city. He was then appointed to the Marine Corps of the United States Navy by General Grant and was assigned to duty at the Charles town navy yard at Boston. Later he was in service at Pensacola, Florida, and from there went to Annapolis, where he remained for but a brief period, having in the meantime been tendered the opportunity to join the Marine Corps with the rank of second lieutenant under Admiral Worden. He joined the Mediterranean fleet as officer on the flagship Franklin, and while the ship was stationed at Nice, France, he met Miss Jessie Willis of Detroit, who later became his wife. About this time the ship proceeded under orders to Spain to bring the notorious Tammany chief, “Boss” Tweed to New York. Lieutenant Brodhead had personal charge of Tweed on the trip and learned a good game of cribbage from him. Lieutenant Brodhead was the youngest oflicer on the flagship but at all times proved his capability in the faithful discharge of every duty devolving upon him.

New York Evening Post, 14 May 1877 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

In New York city on the 12th of May, 1877, he was united in marriage to Miss Jessie Willis, a daughter of Richard Storrs Willis, of Boston, who had settled in Detroit. He was a brother of the poet, N. P. Willis. Following their marriage Lieutenant and Mrs. Brodhead maintained their home in Washington, where three of their children were born, enjoying all of the charm and advantages of the brilliant Washington life in oflicial circles. An opportunity to go to China was offered Lieutenant Brodhead but since this would necessitate leaving his family for a period of three years he declined and resigned his government position, returning with his wife and children to Detroit, where resided both his own and his wife’s relatives. Here he established a real estate business and as the years passed he prospered in its conduct. He was very popular in social and business circles and was also a most devoted husband and father, his love for his mother and his consideration for the members of his immediate family being beautiful to see. His memory is fragrant with loving thought, free from every discord and of most kindly and generous acts. He was ever chivalrous, loving and tender to womankind and strong and manly among men.

Troy Daily Times, May 26, 1877 (Credit: fultonhistory.com)

The children of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Brodhead are as follows: The eldest daughter, Jessie, became the wife of Robert Wagner, a prominent California artist, and died leaving two children, Leicester and Thornton. The eldest son and second child of the family was Thornton Brodhead, who served as a member of the Naval Reserves during the Spanish-American war and won distinction in the battle of San Juan, when he and two others were summoned before their superior officer and complimented for their fine marksmanship in the handling of the gun of which he had charge. He was but nineteen years of age at the time and was under fire for the first time. Following the close of hostilities with Spain he was for three years in the service of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and he is now lieutenant commander of Michigan Naval Militia stationed in Detroit, holding the rank of lieutenant commander in the World war. He married Elise Moran, a daughter of John V. Moran of Detroit. Archange Macomb, the second daughter, is with her mother at the family home on Lodge avenue. John, affectionately known as Jack Brodhead, lives in St. Louis, where he is general manager of the Ford agency. He married Dorothy Farrish of that city. Alexandrine Cairns, became the wife of Duncan J. McNabb, a broker, who during the World war was in the Navy Aviation Corps. Willis, unmarried, the youngest of the family, is in St. Louis with his brother, being president of their concern. He is a graduate of the State University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, having taken an engineering course and during the World war was a captain in the Marine Corps.

The father of this family, John Thornton Brodhead, was a member of the Loyal Legion, also a member of the Detroit Club and his personal qualities made for popularity wherever he was known, causing his death, which occurred in 1904, to be greatly deplored by all who knew him. The old Brodhead home on Grosse Ile on the banks of the Detroit river was called Archdale, in memory of the mother, Archange Macomb. Mrs. J. T. Brodhead has presented a large crayon portrait of Colonel Thornton F. Brodhead to the post office to be hung in the gallery.

While the later generations of the Brodhead family have every reason to be proud of their ancestry in the paternal line, they have equal reason to cherish the records of their ancestors on the distaff side. The mother, Jessie Willis Brodhead, is the daughter of Richard Storrs Willis, a representative of an old and distinguished family, prominent in connection with early American annals, the name figuring potently in relation to events of national history as well as in the world of art and letters. One of his biographers has said of Mr. Willis: “He was possessed of the finest musical and literary talents and his scholarly attainments, as well as his patrician bearing and gracious personality, endeared him to all who knew him.” He was born in the city of Boston, February 10, 1819, a descendant of Nathaniel Willis, one of the Puritans, who came to America from England in 1626 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he became a deputy to the general court in 1638. During succeeding generations the prestige of the family name has been maintained at the same high standard associated with that of the progenitor of the family in America. In 1776 the Independent Chronicle was first published by Nathaniel Willis, grandfather of Richard Storrs Willis, who occupied the same building that had been used by Benjamin Franklin when he was a printer. His son, Nathaniel Willis, Jr., and his wife, Hannah Parker Willis, were the parents of John Storrs Willis, who was n journalist of distinction and became the founder of three papers, the Eastern Argus of Portland, Maine, the Boston Recorder and that most universally popular and admirable periodical for young folks, the Youth’s Companion.

Richard Storrs Willis attended Channing Hall, a. preparatory school and later was a student in the Boston Latin school. In 1837 he entered Yale and soon became prominently identified with its literary and musical societies. He was elected president of the Beethoven Society and during his second college year wrote compositions for the college orchestra and choir and arranged the scores for many songs of German students. It was at this time that Mr. Willis composed the Glen Mary Waltzes, which enjoyed a long period of popularity. He was graduated from Yale in 1841, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Immediately afterward he went to Germany, where in the next seven years he perfected himself in harmony under Schuyler von Wurtensee and in counterpoint and instrumentation under the celebrated Professor Hauptmann of the Conservatory and conductor of the Thomas Schule. Mr. Willis had as friends and companions the leading literary and musical geniuses of the day. On a trip to Europe he was accompanied by the great Mendelssohn; Gutzkow, the dramatist; Freuligrath, the poet; Bayard Taylor, American author and traveler; and Professor Hofiman von Fullersleben, the poet. Mr. Willis learned to speak the German language quite perfectly and this enabled him to do considerable literary work for the reigning Landgrave of Hesse Darmstadt, who created and bestowed upon him the title and diploma of Doctor of Music. At the close of this seven year period of study in Europe, Mr. Willis returned to Yale, where he was instructor in the German language. Later he went to New York, where he became a contributor to the Albinon, the Musical Times, the Tribune and the Catholic World. About this time he founded a magazine devoted to the fine arts which he called, Once a Month. He also wrote an admirable treatise on church music, which was most favorably commented upon by many periodicals. Later he wrote many student songs, sacred songs, patriotic songs and lyrical compositions. This lyrical gift seemed to be a family trait since Nathaniel P. Willis, the well known poet, was a brother of Richard Storrs Willis and his sister was familiarly known to the public under the nom de plume of Fanny Fern.

The Little Church around the Corner – Postcard published before 1920 by The American Art Publishing Co., New York City; H. Finkelstein & Son (Wikimedia Commons: Public domain)

In 1854 Mr. Willis was married to Miss Jessie Cairns of New York, who died in 1858. At the time of her marriage she was singing in The Little Church Around the Corner, one of the famous old churches of New York, and Mr. Willis was organist under Dr. Houghten. Mrs. Willis’ mother was spiritually and financially one of the pillars of The Little Church Around the Corner, and she owned much property in that locality and gave Mr. Willis and his wife the old homestead just opposite The Little Church. There the three daughters of the family were born. They spent the summer months at their grandmother’s country seat on Long Island near the home of William Cullen Bryant, with whom the daughter, Jessie, afterward Mrs. Brodhead, was a great favorite. Mr. Willis, who in 1861 married Mrs. Alexandrine Macomb Campau, numbered among his intimate friends Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and their contemporaries. Later Mr. Willis took his family to Europe, when his daughters were grown and there they spent four years. The daughters attended the convent of the Sacred Heart at Orleans, France, and also the Sacred Heart convent just outside of Brussels. While sojourning at Nice his three daughters married officers of the United States flagship Franklin. Annie, the eldest, became the wife of Lieutenant Aaron Ward, who later was a rear admiral of the United States navy. Blanche became the wife of Lieutenant William H. Emory, who later commanded the Bear on the Greely relief expedition and was commander of the Yosemite during the Spanish-American war, while the third daughter, Jessie, became the wife of Lieutenant John T. Brodhead. After the marriage of their daughters Mr. and Mrs. Willis returned to Detroit, where Mrs. Willis had extensive property interests, owning one-third of Belle Isle. They built their summer home, Insulruhe, on Belle Isle and spend the winter seasons in New York. Mr. Willis passed away in 1900, while Mrs. Willis survived until 1910, both dying in the faith of the Catholic church, of which they had long been devoted members. Mrs. Brodhead has inherited much of the literary talent of her distinguished father and has made many contributions to periodicals, besides being the author of a number of published volumes. She is a Daughter of the American Revolution, prominent socially and is identified with many of the leading charitable organizations of the city.

Find a Grave Links
John Thornton Brodhead
Jessie Willis Brodhead

Tree Information
1-Capt. Daniel Brodhead b. 20 Apr 1693, Marbletown, NY, d. 22 Jul 1755,
Bethlehem, PA, bur. Old Moravian Cemetery, Bethlehem, PA
+Hester Gerritse Wyngart b. 1697, c. 14 Mar 1697, d. After 1743
|—-2-Capt. Luke Brodhead c. 22 May 1741, Shawnee RDC, Smithfield Twp (Monroe
| Co.), PA, d. 19 Jun 1806, Stroudsburg, Monroe Co., PA, bur. 20 Jun 1806,
| Shawnee Presb. Church Cemetery, Shawnee on Delaware, Monroe Co., PA
| +Elizabeth Harrison b. Cir 1745, Bridesburg, Philadelphia Co.,
| Philadelphia, PA, d. Bef 1797
| |—-3-Rev John Brodhead b. 5 Oct 1770, Lower Smithfield, PA, d. 7 Apr
| | 1838, Newfields, New Hampshire
| | +Mary Dodge b. 1789, d. 1875
| | |—-4-Col. Thornton Fleming Brodhead b. 5 Dec 1820, Newmarket
| | | (Rockingham County), NH, d. 2 Sep 1862, Alexandria, Alexandria
| | | City, Virginia, bur. Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne Co.,
| | | Michigan
| | | +Archange Macomb b. 1817, d. 30 Oct 1891, bur. Elmwood
| | | Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan
| | | |—-5-John Thornton Brodhead b. 12 Sep 1851, Detroit, Wayne,
| | | | MI, d. 1 Mar 1904, Detroit, Wayne, MI

The children of John T. and Jessie Brodhead were: Jessie Willis Brodhead (1878-1906), Richard Thornton Brodhead (1879-1947), Archange Macomb Brodhead (1881-1971), John Brodhead (1888-1970), Alexandrine Cairns Brodhead (1889-1971), and Ignatius Loyola Willis Brodhead (184-1977).

Categories: Brodhead, Bull Run VA, Civil War, Detroit, Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Harrison, President Benjamin, Roosevelt President Teddy, Washington DC | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Remembering President John Adams’ 1826 Independence Day toast

President John Adams (b. 1735) passed away on the 4th of July in 1826.

From the diary* of Reverend George Whitney, who on June 30, 1826, led a small delegation into the home of the 90-year-old feeble and frail former President:

“Spent a few minutes with him in conversation, and took from him a toast, to be presented on the Fourth of July as coming from him. I should have liked a longer one; but as it is, this will be acceptable. ‘I will give you,’ said he, ‘Independence forever!’” He was asked if he would not add any thing to it, and he replied, “not a word.”

John Adams, second President of the United States. Pendleton’s Lithography, ca. 1825-1828 (Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print)

*July Fourth Toast by John Adams, 30 June 1826,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-8030. [This is an Early Access document from The Adams Papers. It is not an authoritative final version.]

Categories: Adams John, Fourth of July | 1 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

Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus (1815 – 1892)

Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus – early in her marriage (m. 1839); image from my family’s personal collection.

Today’s post shares an obituary that must surely be familiar to many Angus descendants, but since some may never have seen it, I am including it in this blog. It was originally published in the Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal on March 7, 1892. My grandmother typed up the below copy for her two sons.

I have done numerous posts about the James and Wealthy Angus family, so if you are visiting this blog for the first time, you can use the directory on the side of the page to find all the posts relevant to the Angus family. You can also use the search box.

Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus, born on 15 December 1815, was the daughter of prominent Manhattan tailor Isaac Jaques and his first wife Wealthy Cushman. At age 23, she married 28-year-old James Winans Angus.

Piece of Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus’s wedding dress – plaid was quite common in those days. This dress would have been her “best dress” for only the most special of occasions. It was also worn by her daughter (my great grandmother) Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (fabric and accompanying note from my family’s personal collection).

Roughly five years into the young couple’s marriage, his coach-making business took him from New Jersey to Mexico City. Eventually she and their two young children joined him, sharing part of the journey—the trip across the Vera Cruz Mountains—with a young Ulysses S. Grant, who had just recently graduated from West Point.

James’s coach-making business took a back seat when the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) broke out. Appointed a commissary by General Winfield Scott, James was responsible for providing supplies to the US Army. The obituary contains other exciting details from their life in Mexico, and I will let you enjoy reading them yourself.

Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus, widow of James Winans Angus, circa 1890; image from my family’s personal collection.

Wealthy was widowed at age 47 and left with 10 children to tend to. Of the 10, only two were over the age of 18. Without James, the family breadwinner, finances naturally became exceptionally tight. Yet somehow she managed to keep the ship afloat, selling off bits and pieces of real estate James had purchased during their married years, and no doubt relying on her older children, once working, to help out on the home front. Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus died of kidney disease* in 1892. She was 74.

Angus family home in Elizabeth, NJ, from 1848-1871. It stood at 927 Elizabeth Avenue.

My grandmother Fannie B. Woodruff Brodhead (Wealthy Angus’s granddaughter via daughter Wealthy Angus Woodruff) was fiercely proud of her Angus roots. Born 11 June 1882 (137 years ago tomorrow!), she was nearly 10 when her grandmother Angus died—old enough to have many memories of time spent visiting her grandmother at the big Angus house at 927 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ.

Unfortunately, I was just a little 5-year-old when my grandmother died, so I never had a chance to ask her anything of importance. But, here I am a half century later, doing my bit to pass along family history details nonetheless; details she left behind in the hope someone would take up the mantle. Fortunately, someone usually does. I think she would be pleased to know this obituary still has an audience all these years later.

*One Line of Descendants of James Angus by Harriet Stryker-Rodda, Certified Genealogist, Elizabeth, NJ, 1969

Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus obituary – copied by my grandmother, a granddaughter via Wealthy’s daughter Wealthy Angus Woodruff, for her two sons.

Categories: Angus, Elizabeth, Union Co., Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Mexican-American, Mexico, New Jersey, Scott General Winfield | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Fowler T. Brodhead (1828-1902), famed linguist and foreign language teacher to President Grover Cleveland

New York. Grand ovation to Governor Cleveland in the city of Buffalo, October 2nd. Scene on Main Street / From sketches by C. Upham. 1884. (Credit Library of Congress digital archives http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c07331); Cleveland was 28th Governor of NY (1983-1985) and prior to that had been Mayor of Buffalo in 1882.

While perusing some old papers on Fulton History, I came across several exceedingly sad obituaries for the very gifted and talented Fowler Thayer Brodhead, who at one point in his life had taught foreign languages to a young Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), but in later years seems to have completely withdrawn from society. He died at 75 from what appears to have been a great deal of self-neglect, in spite of having substantial financial means at his disposal. While the articles seize strongly upon what became of Fowler after his mother’s passing in 1885, an event that supposedly sparked his mental and physical decline, his gifts and talents cannot be denied and deserve to be remembered, especially by those of us who share his Brodhead DNA.

From the Illustrated Buffalo Express, February 16, 1902: “Fowler T. Brodhead, famed as a linguist, teacher of Grover Cleveland, later a hermit, was buried in the Brodhead family plot in Forest Lawn last Friday. […] The story of his life is a tale of sadness. His father came to Buffalo from Hudson in 1830, a lawyer and graduate of Williams College, whose wife was Miss Nancy Thayer of Lee, Mass. The first American Brodhead was Captain Daniel Brodhead of the Yorkshire Regiment that came from England in 1664 and wrested New Netherlands from the Dutch. The Brodheads lived at Washington and Huron streets in 1837 and for years thereafter. The father was a law partner of Judge Masten. Fowler Brodhead was born in Hudson in 1828. He attended Fay’s Academy at Washington and Huron streets and then went to Albany to study medicine. He returned to Buffalo without finishing his course and studied French and German. He taught in the high school and gave private lessons. He became known as a proficient linguist, speaking several languages fluently. It, was related of him that be once sat down with a Frenchman, German, Italian and Spaniard and conversed with the four, each in his own language, fluently, and with ease. He wrote poems in several languages and wrote a play, The Burning of Buffalo, for the old Metropolitan Theater.”

I checked the online records for Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo and found Fowler and his parents William W. Brodhead and Nancy Thayer Brodhead. I went ahead and created memorial pages for them on the Find a Grave website. The three are located in Section: BB Lot: 143-N PT Spaces 1, 2, 3.

Volume 4 of The Brodhead Family has William listed on page 303. William Wheeler Brodhead (F-401) was the son of Luke Brodhead (1777-1845); Luke was a son of Daniel Brodhead and Hester Wyngart and a brother of my fifth-great-grandfather Garret Brodhead. William was baptized on 10 September 1797 at Linlithgo RDC, Livingston, Columbia County, NY, and married Nancy Lucretia Thayer on May 25, 1825 in Westfield, MA.  William “lived in Red Hook, NY at the time of his marriage and later lived Buffalo, NY where he was an attorney in 1850 and a private school teacher in 1860.” Fowler is listed as G-1226, but no information is given for him.

The newspaper articles point to Fowler’s withdrawal from society as coinciding with the death of his mother Nancy in 1885; he died with $4,000 to his name which was a substantial sum in 1902 (about $111,000 today). He lived at 82 10th Street in Buffalo; where the house once stood is now a vacant lot.

A notice of sale that appeared in the Buffalo New York Courier on October 24, 1903, offers the names of several Brodheads: two of Fowler’s nieces and a great-nephew. Charlotte Brodhead and Mary Gertude Brodhead (b. 1829 and 1837 respectively) were daughters of James Oliver Brodhead (1803-1841; Brodhead Family F-404) and wife Caroline Wackerhagen. James Oliver Brodhead was the brother of William W. Brodhead. Francis Reynolds Brodhead (b. 1863) was a nephew of the two sisters via their brother Thomas C. Brodhead (1835-1877), son of James Oliver Brodhead.

As sad as Fowler’s end was, clearly his was a life well lived at least up to a certain point. I’m glad I came upon his story. I do not want him to be forgotten especially since he had no wife or children to pass his story down along the line to today’s generations.

Illustrated Buffalo Express – 16 February 1902 (Credit: FultonHistory dot com)

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Buffalo Morning Express, 12 February 1902 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

Buffalo Morning Express, 12 February 1902 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

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Buffalo NY Courier 12 Feb 1902 (Credit: Fulton History)

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Buffalo New York Courier, 24 October 1903

Categories: Brodhead, Cleveland Grover, Death, New York, Obituaries | Tags: , | 2 Comments

“Family” recipe Friday: 1904—Madame de Ryther writes about custards and blackberry pie

I’ve written so much about opera-singer-turned-food-writer Madame de Ryther, she almost feels like family, so I think it is safe to include her thoughts and recipes in this Friday’s post.

The Rome Citizen, October 1, 1884; Credit: Fulton History dot com

But before I do that, I wanted to mention that quite some time ago, blog reader Bill S., who also developed a bit of an obsession with Jule, alerted me to the fact that he’d come across information proving that Madame de Ryther had indeed once been married. Prior to that, I’d wondered whether she had adopted the name because it sounded somewhat exotic and would have been useful for her singing career.

Bill sent me a couple of obituaries for Jule’s husband John de Ryther, who died “at home” in his room at the Arlington Hotel in Rome, New York, on September 30, 1884. He was roughly 50 years of age. The cause of death was given as lung congestion and “asthmatic difficulty.”

The Rome Citizen article indicates that John had not been well for a number of years. I wonder whether a fall he’d taken in an elevator shaft the previous year had perhaps hastened his demise. Surely it could not have helped.

The Syracuse Sentinel, October 3, 1884; Credit: Fulton History dot com

The Utica Morning Herald, April 18, 1883, reported under the heading “Rome Matters”: “John De Ryther. who fell thro’ the elevator well at the Arlington yesterday, is much more comfortable this evening.” I found another article in the Rome Citizen dated July 13, 1883, that mentioned a little girl had fallen the same distance as John down an elevator shaft (24 feet), but that she came away unscathed, while he had been “disabled for weeks”. Such a fall certainly could not have helped someone who already had a history of health problems.

In any case, it’s clear from the obituaries that John was a highly beloved and popular citizen who had held many important positions. At the time of John’s death, Jule was in her late 40s and living in New York City, where her singing career was still going strong.

Bill also sent me a ton of links to loads of Jule’s food and recipe articles, and he even managed to find an image of Jule’s face in an old newspaper he found on Newspapers.com. Unfortunately, I cannot display it here until I find it on a website like Fulton History that places no restrictions on usage. Bill wondered why, given Jule’s success in life as an opera singer and food writer, that he could find no bona fide photos of her anywhere. I find that quite strange too. But hopefully one or more surface some day so I can include them here.

I found the two Jules De Ryther articles below on Fulton History; they are from 1904. The custard article, which includes instructions and ideas for custard pies and baked and boiled custards, would have been good to include in the post I did with my great-grandmother’s custard recipe, but, alas, that ship has sailed.

As for the blackberry pie recipe, it really sounds heavenly. I am going to give it a whirl when blackberries are in season and at their best (and the price is reasonable). Her recipe calls for 1.5 quarts per pie, and she insists that no lard be used for the crust and that the pie should be eaten immediately and never refrigerated.

Finally, for anyone planning to try Jule’s recipes that require baking, a reminder that oven temperatures were referred to differently back then:

  • Slow Oven = 325°F (163°C)
  • Moderate Oven = 375°F (191°C)
  • Hot or Quick Oven = 425 °F (218°C)
  • Bread or Pastry Oven = 360°F (182°C)

Happy Friday!

Custards_NY_Press_1MAY1904

New York Press, 1 May 1904 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

Blackberry_PIe_NY_Press_1904_FS

New York Press, 1904 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Madame Jule de Ryther, New York, Rome | 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

Linderman children info updated; October 1889: Albert Brodhead Linderman returns from quick trip to London and Paris

Sinking of the Cunrad Line's steamer SS Oregon, 14th march 1886, 15 miles off Long Island.

Sinking of the Cunard Line’s steamer SS Oregon, 14th march 1886, 15 miles off Long Island. Nathaniel Currier & James Meritt Ives, 1886 (Wikimedia Commons – Image in public domain in US due to publication in the US prior to 1923.)

One of this blog’s readers, Steve, is actively engaged in researching his wife’s Linderman & Brodhead ancestors. He recently emailed me some Linderman tree info I was lacking in my post on Rachael Brodhead, wife of John Jordan Linderman. To view that post, click here. Scroll down and you will find Steve’s tree showing the seven children of John and Rachael. Anyone with additional info to share, please, by all means, leave a comment.

Port Jervis Evening Gazette, 9 October 1889 (Credit: Fultonhistory.org)

Port Jervis Evening Gazette, 9 October 1889 (Credit: Fultonhistory.org)

Coincidentally I came upon an October 1889 article about one of the children, Albert Brodhead Linderman, who’d have been about 57 at the time of publication. It’s a brief article but is packed with interesting little details. Albert was just returned from a brief trip to London and Paris, and seems to have been heavily involved in the railway industry. He was described as “a great traveler and a great talker” (the gift of gab always seems to go to at least one member of a family!) and a survivor of an 1886 ship collision off the coast of Long Island, New York. I can imagine that that disaster, only three years in the past, was still very fresh in people’s minds. For a description of the fate of the luxurious 650-passenger SS Oregon whose last journey was from Liverpool, England, to New York, click here. Thankfully, all of the Oregon‘s passengers were rescued.

Yes, Albert definitely got around. Upon further investigation, I found evidence (see article on the right) of his plan to purchase the island of Cuba (!) and his involvement in draining Lake Okeechobee here in South Florida to make way for agricultural expansion:

The State authorities of Florida have entered into a contract with I Coryell of Jacksonville and A B Linderman representing capitalists of Philadelphia and San Francisco to drain Lake Okeechobee in Southern Florida. The scheme if successfully carried out will reclaim millions of acres of excellent sugar lands and result not only in the reclamation of the bed of the lake itself but it is believed in that of the two vast swamps known as the Everglades and the Big Cypress which lie south of the lake and cover the greater portion of the lower end of the peninsula. The Everglades is sixty miles in length and about the same width really constitute a vast lake from one to six in depth studded with thousands of small islands. (From The Friend, Volumes 54-55, The Society of Friends, pub. 1881)

To my knowledge, the lake—the seventh largest freshwater lake in the US—was never drained, however, due to devastation and loss of life in the 1920s as a result of some hurricanes crossing over the lake and creating a storm surge, a dike was built around the lake in the 1930s. I remember setting off with my husband to the east coast 8-9 years ago and deciding to travel in such a way as to travel along the west and north sides of the lake on our trip east and then drive along the east and south sides on our return. We’d no idea the dike existed and were expecting to see some scenic views of the lake on our journey. Boy, were we disappointed for there really were very few places to catch a glimpse of it. You have to climb up to the top of the dike to see down below. A 109-mile walking/cycling trail—the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail—goes around the perimeter of the lake, often on top of the dike, but you are fully exposed to the sun, something to take into consideration especially at the hottest time of year. One of the best viewing spots we found was in the town of Pahokee (with a name like that, you just have to stop to be able to say you have been there), but that is not saying too much since it’s not like you’re climbing up to any great elevation.

The fishing in the lake is supposed to be very good, and it seemed like every home along the water’s edge had a boat, but, of course, there are lots of gators in there too. We were in Boston several months after that trip and were chatting over a B&B breakfast with some German tourists who were heading down to Miami the following day. One of their top priorities was going to be to go off to swim in Lake Okeechobee. We nearly choked on our French toast, and once the powdered sugar dislodged from our throats, strongly advised them against that idea!!!

Anyway, I have gotten way off track… Back to Albert. I don’t know why he is called Colonel. Had he served in the Civil War? Anyone with some thoughts on that or anything else to do with the Linderman children, feel free to comment below. Have a good day, all.
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Update 7/5/16 – Some additional information kindly provided by aforementioned researcher Steve Hatchett:

  • Albert Brodhead Linderman patent1882 patent
  • Article on land deal in Florida involving Linderman and prominent men from Great Britain
  • Part owner of a business enterprise with brother HR Linderman – for the link, click here
  • Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States of America

    Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States of America – Public Domain image

  • Linderman meets President Chester A. Arthur Google Books link – Eve Bacon writes in Orlando: A Centennial History that when Arthur’s train reached Kissimmee, Colonel A.B. Linderman greeted the President and announced, “We flatter ourselves that we have among us not only the president, but the next president.” Arthur, in no mood to make a politcal address, answered, “We are not here to look after the next president. We are here for rest and quiet,” Bacon writes.
  • Hamilton Diston - Image in public domain - Florida Memory Archives call number Rc02832

    Hamilton Diston – Image in public domain – Florida Memory Archives call number Rc02832

  • Although Linderman is not mentioned by name, this Wikipedia article about Linderman’s associate, Hamilton Disston details some of the dealings in which Linderman was involved in Florida. AB Linderman was an agent and business associate of Hamilton Disston. Disston’s agents arranged the purchase of something like 4 million acres in Florida, one of the largest private land purchases at the time. This was related to the draining projects. Disston sold some of the land to Sir Edward James Reed of Great Britain. One of the articles above mentions Linderman involved in land deal with prominent Great Britain people including another Sir that was also an M.P. Reading some of the news articles about the draining made it sound like a flakey thing, but Disston was the real deal, and was moving and shaking in Florida. Note in the Wikipedia article the mention of President Arthur going to Kissimmee. That seems directly tied to the mention above of Linderman meeting Arthur in Kissimme.
  • H.R. Linderman, sometime between 1865-1880. Library of Congress image - No known restrictions on publication

    H.R. Linderman, sometime between 1865-1880. Library of Congress image – No known restrictions on publication

  • There is also a US Mint pamphlet that mentions him helping the Mint in reviewing contract bids during Henry Richard Linderman‘s term there. So ABL had his fingers in a lot of things.
  • Categories: Brodhead, Hamilton Disston, Linderman, President C. Arthur | Tags: , | 6 Comments

    Missionary Dan Crawford (1870-1926) – photo

    For some reason, my 2012 post on Dan Crawford, Scottish missionary to the Belgian Congo, has been attracting lots of views this past week, and serendipitously I just found a photo of him while continuing with my mission to clean out the garage. I’m sure it belonged to my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent Trewin who was a big supporter of his. The photo is undated, and the reverse side shows a Manhattan address, perhaps where he was staying at the time, or maybe this was an address through which his US correspondence was handled.

    Some interesting links:
    “The Diary and Notebook of Dan Crawford, Brethren Missionary in Africa” (blog post) – University of Manchester
    Bio – GFA Missions website
    Crawford_Dan2 Crawford_Dan3

    Categories: Africa, Belgian Congo, Crawford, Missionary Dan, New York City | Leave a comment

    Newspaper clipping of Nettie Angus Moulden’s February 1, 1955, meeting with President Eisenhower

    I recently discovered this Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal clipping of Nettie Angus Moulden’s February 1, 1955, meeting with President Eisenhower reported in this previous post. Thanks go to my grandmother for putting it in an envelope for me to find decades later. (Her handwritten date up top is a year off.) Perhaps, Angus descendants will learn something new here. Have a good week, all.

    NettieAngus1 001Nettie_Angus2 001

    Categories: Angus, District of Columbia, President Eisenhower | Leave a comment

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