Honeywell, Martha Ann

Amazing Things Come in Tiny Packages

Among the same papers I went through that contained the Trowbridge brothers’ Civil War letters was this tiny strange piece of memorabilia:

Like the Trowbridge letters, we saw this little tiny item sporadically through the years and had no idea what it was or who made it. At one point we’d magnified it and realized it was the Lord’s Prayer in minute script. Well, the other day, I took a closer look since I was wondering if somehow this came to Uzal Trowbridge in a letter. After all, it would seem normal for someone in his family to send him something small and special like this so that he could keep it with him during his military service.

As I looked at the bottom, I made out “Written without [could not make out straight away] by MA Honeywell”. Well, my first reaction was to be disappointed that it was created by someone named Honeywell and not an ancestor of mine. Then I was wondering what the word next to “without” was. And as I looked more closely, I thought it said “hands.” Well that’s strange, I thought–“without hands”–someone without hands made this?! Amazing. So, of course, I was keen to figure out who MA Honeywell was. So I searched for him/her on Google, and imagine my amazement to get hits on the name straight away. I was even more amazed to read who MA Honeywell was.

It turns out that MA Honeywell was Martha Ann Honeywell of Lempster, New Hampshire, who was born in 1787 without hands, forearms, and a foot. On the one foot she did have, she only had three toes. With her toes and mouth, using pens and scissors, she created silhouettes for which she became quite famous. She also did needlework and paper cutouts and specialized in writing the Lord’s Prayer on dime-sized circles of paper which she placed in elaborate cutout paper frames, like the one seen here.

From 1798 to 1848, Miss Honeywell traveled around the United States and even Europe, making public appearances during which she demonstrated her talents and sold her creations. For a mini-bio of Miss Honeywell, see the Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. Apparently there were a small number of other armless silhouette artists working during that era, but Miss Honeywell was one of the few women doing so.

Now, I still don’t know to which of my ancestors this small piece of art belonged. I tried to find out information on any Union County, New Jersey, performances but was not successful. But I did come across a book by Robert Bogdan, Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit
(on Google Books), that provided what could be a clue: “In August 1828 she began a long run at the Peale Museum in New York, lasting until 1830.” New York City is just across the river from Union County, NJ, so perhaps one of our ancestors ventured into the city to see her at the museum. In any case, neither Uzal nor Henry Trowbridge, who were both born after Miss Honeywell’s passing, appear to be linked to this amazing little piece of artwork. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful slice of history and I am so glad to have discovered it.

Below are some resources containing information about Miss Honeywell:

Silhouette Artists Born Without Arms blog

The Virtual Dime Museum: Adventures in Old New York blog [sorry – think link does not appear to work anymore; the blog is still worth a visit, however–lots of great info]

Blumenthal, M.L. “Martha Ann Honeywell Cut-Outs.” Antiques (May 1931): 379

Carrick, Alice Van Leer. Shades of Our Ancestors. Boston, 1938.

Groce, George C., and David H.Wallace. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564–1860. New Haven, Conn., and London, 1957.

Rifken, Blume J. Silhouettes in America, 1790–1840: A Collectors’ Guide. Burlington, Vt., 1987.

Rumford, Beatrix, ed. American Folk Portraits, Paintings, and Drawings from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center. Boston, 1981.

Categories: Honeywell, Martha Ann, Trowbridge, Woodruff | Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress.com.

Dusty Roots & Forgotten Treasures

Researching, Preserving, and Sharing Genealogical Information For Future Generations

WitzEnd Family History

Adventures in Genealogy of the Witzel and Kroening Families

American in Korea

Everything International

The Genealogist's Craft

My aim is to tell interesting stories of how genealogical information comes to be. Please pull up an armchair ...

omordah.wordpress.com/

Art by Susan M. L. Moore

Lee's Birdwatching Adventures Plus

Birdwatching from a Christian Perspective

Story_Trails

Family history in stories recalled by Edie and Leo. Edith GAYLORD Allen, Leo ALLEN, Jr

Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Teaching children values and giving them the opportunity to excel is essential to good parenting. However, I feel I must also provide my children (and myself) insight into the ones who came before us: our ancestors whose lives and stories have shaped us into who we are. This is my journey; these are their stories…

Myricopia

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Buddha walks into a wine bar ...

Sits down with The Two Doctors and .....

MarileeWein.com

DOUBLE GENEALOGY: the ADOPTION WITNESS

Tastes of Health

Passionate about Health, Fitness and easily prepared Delicious Food

Applegate Genealogy

Helping others discover their roots

allenrizzi

Sempre in Movimento! Published Every Monday and Friday at 12 PM EST

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

THEVYPEFFECT

all about travelling in korea

My Descendant's Ancestors

Tips, Tools and Stories for the Family Historian

Smart Veg Recipes

Welcome to home made, vegeterian, healthy & kids friendly recipes

ICI & LA NATURE PICTURES

Walk and Bike in France and Europe www.walk-bike-camino.com

The Lives of my Ancestors

Lives, Biographies and Sketches of my Family History

Down the Rabbit Hole with Sir LeprechaunRabbit

Serious about Genealogy? Let this Olde Grey hare show you about

Diggin' Up Graves

Genealogy and family history, dirt and all.

Momoe's Cupboard

Low Budget Meals and Ideas

Generations of Nomads

On the Trail of Family Faces, Places, and Stories Around the World

Your daily Civil War newspaper [est. 1995]

All the Civil War news fit to re-print

Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained-Author Adrienne Morris

Books, Art and the Writing Life at Middlemay Farm

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

newarkpoems

350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy

WeGoBack

family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

Did I misplace my pince-nez again? Light reading on the 19th century.

Genealogy Technology

Family history for the 21st century

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family

RESEARCHING MY FAMILY TREE

Shaking the tree

musings on the journey towards knowing and sharing my family's stories

A Hundred Years Ago

Food and More

Scots Roots

Helping you dig up your Scots roots.

Root To Tip

Not just a list of names and dates

%d bloggers like this: