Geographical Locations

The Wills family connection to Sir William Pitt

The Wills – Capon tree

I’ve had a few people ask me recently whether I know anything more about Mary Capon’s (1789-1839) connection to Sir William Pitt. She was the daughter of Mary Pitt (dates unknown) and a man whose surname was Capon. My grandmother’s tree below suggests that Mary Pitt was most likely a cousin of William Pitt (1759-1806). If they were 1st cousins, the pair would have shared a grandfather—Robert Pitt (1680-1727).

Wills family tree – I’ve watermarked this since I’ve seen it posted on Ancestry without my permission or any attempt to provide attribution. 

Mary Pitt who married ? Capon

I currently do not subscribe to Ancestry’s UK resources, but I would think that the Pitt tree info must be readily accessible online given how famous the Pitts were. I will start looking into this, and perhaps those of you with access to UK genealogy databases would like to take a look-see around as well.  I’m sure we will eventually crack the case. Anyone with more ideas, thoughts, or information, including knowledge of a Pitt DNA project, please feel free to share in the “Comments” box.

If that approach fails, perhaps we can see whether Mary Pitt’s father was a brother or half brother of Sir William Pitt.  In that case the relationship may have been with William Pitt the Elder, who was also Prime Minister of Great Britain at one point. Or maybe, wherever the actual connection is, with Mary Pitt or her father, it involves a once-removed cousin relationship.

On a side note, for a while I had ‘Martha Nunn’ (m. ‘William Capon’ on 13 July 1779 in Newport Pagnell) in my tree as the mother for Mary Capon since I could find no evidence of the Pitt-Capon marriage, only the Nunn-Capon marriage. But just because I could not find it does not mean it’s not there. And given the Martha Nunn name was never in my grandmother’s tree, for the time being I am going to assume it does not belong there. But I will keep her on my radar in case evidence forces us to circle the wagons back around. Of course, it could be that Capon had a 1st and 2nd wife and had been married to both Martha Nunn and Mary Pitt. So when time permits, I will investigate that as well.

A random Pitt family tree found onlineWilliam Pitt the Younger (28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806) was the son of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, PC, FRS (15 November 1708 – 11 May 1778) who also served as Prime Minister of Great Britain

Categories: Capon, England, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Nunn, Pitt, Pime Minister William, Wills | Tags: , | 2 Comments

1882 Elizabeth, NJ, map showing Isaac Jaques Estate now on eBay

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

An 1882 map of the Isaac Jaques Estate in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is now available on eBay.  You can buy it now for $100. (Click here.)

I’m sure Rebecca Place was named after his second wife Rebecca Ann Gold Robinson (1804-1886). Of Isaac’s nine children, only two outlived him. One was my 2nd-great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus (1815-1892) and the other was John Barron Jaques (1822-1895), the black sheep in the family, unfortunately. I suspect Rebecca and Wealthy were the primary beneficiaries.

I took some screenshots for my files.

Just wanted to pass this tip along in case any Jaques-Angus descendants out there would be interested in buying it or taking their own screenshots.

Have a good day.

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

Eva Wilder McGlasson & Henry C. Brodhead – Part IV – ‘Til death do us part

Henry C. Brodhead (image from Wyoming Valley in the 19th Century. Art Edition by SR Smith, Vol I, Wilkes-Barre Leader Print, 1894)

A couple of months ago, while on eBay, I managed to buy a small book called Las Animas County Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by F. Dean Sneed (published in 2000). It had caught my eye because I remembered that this was the southern Colorado county in which the Brodhead mine is located, the mine I mentioned in a post about Henry C. Brodhead (1848-1922) and Eva Wilder McGlasson Brodhead (1870-1915). So, I guess this accidental find was a sign that I needed to finish writing about this couple’s final years together, in Colorado.

Eva Wilder Brodhead (The Book Buyer: A Summary of American and Foreign Literature, Volume XIII, February 1896 – January 1897 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons) – page 457)

As a reminder, previous posts on the pair include:

In Part III, I had left off with this: Two years before marrying Eva, Henry’s business interests had shifted from Pennsylvania to Colorado—he and his two younger brothers, Albert Gallatin Brodhead and Robert Sayre Brodhead, had set their sights on the coal riches of that state, ultimately founding the town of Brodhead, Las Animas County, Colorado (today a ghost town), and locating several mines in and around that place. Close to Brodhead is the small town of Aguilar (“Gateway to the Spanish Peaks”); if you look it up on Google maps you will see ‘Brodhead Canyon’ nearby. Aguilar is 178 miles south of Denver.

Brodhead can be spotted in the middle of this map, above Hastings. Rand, McNally & Co.’s Colorado. Rand McNally & Co., Map Publishers and Engravers, Chicago, 1912 (Source: http://www.davidrumsey.com)

The book Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania (1906) offers some insight into the brothers’ activities out West: “In October of the same year [1893] Albert Gallatin Brodhead and his brothers, Henry C. and Robert S. Brodhead, journeyed through Colorado, making careful investigation of its mineral resources. Having prospected coal lands in Las Animas county, they purchased two large tracts, one of 4,000 acres at Brodhead, Colorado, and 600 acres at Walsenburg, near the foot of the Spanish Peaks, which rise to an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet. The Brodheads have leased both their coal tracts, one to the Green Canyon Coal Company, and the other to the Las Animas Coal Company. They market their output in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Indian Territory. Expert authority has passed upon the quality of the coal, and grade it as semi-anthracite. It is distributed in six workable veins, and the quantity capable of being mined is estimated at millions of tons. The Brodhead properties are held by an incorporated company, of which the officers are: Henry C. Brodhead, president; Robert S. Brodhead, vice-president; and Albert G. Brodhead, secretary and general manager, with the principal office in Denver, Colorado.”

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Eva and Henry had married on December 5, 1894. The following April, they returned from a winter honeymoon spent in the Mediterranean. A small Covington, Kentucky, newspaper article, published on July 12, 1895, described Eva as being “most delightfully located on a ranch in Southern Colorado” that summer and “busy writing… She is culling material in a new field for a story…” From volume 2 of the book Kentucky in American Letters: 1784–1912 by John Wilson Townsend (Cedar Rapids: The Torch Press, 1913, pp 267–69), we know that Eva subsequently spent a great deal of time over the ensuing decade traveling from Colorado to New York City and many parts of the US, as well as overseas to Europe, in order to keep up with her career interests.

Subsequent to publishing that Part III post, I found the below 1896 news item in Colorado Journal of Commerce and Metal Industries, and it provides a quote from Henry about the quality of the coal in Colorado and gives a glimpse of what his hopes and plans were. Much depended on transportation costs, and evidently those eventually got resolved. According to Wikipedia, between 1896 and 1899, the brothers operated a mine in Gonzales Canyon, Aguilar, Colorado. On a map, this appears to be very close to what is today known as “Brodhead Canyon.” I assume the mine the brothers were operating was one of the ones that eventually became known as a Brodhead mine.

Colorado Journal of Commerce and Metal Industries, Volume 69, p. 15, 1896

In the 1900 census, Henry’s brother Robert S. Brodhead’s household at 132 Park Avenue in Wilkes-Barre, PA, included himself “Harry [Henry] Brodhead” (52), and their parents Daniel D. Brodhead (83) and Mary Brodrick (73). Robert’s occupation was listed as a coal operator; brother Harry—a mining engineer; and father Daniel as a ‘capitalist’.  Business partner brother Albert was in Aguilar, Colorado, for the 1900 census, so perhaps Eva was away in Europe. I could not find a trace of her anywhere.

In 1902, the three brothers incorporated more of their activities in Colorado. The Denver Rocky Mountain News reported on December 21, 1902: NEW INCORPORATIONS […] Green Canyon Land company, $200,000: Las Animas and Huerfano: Henry C. Brodhead, Robert S. Brodhead, Albert G. Brodhead. In the summer of that year, the brothers’ sister Emilie Linderman (Brodhead) Honeyman visited them out West. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette (June 28): Robert B. Honeyman and wife [Emilie L. Brodhead], Miss Lassie Honeyman, Master Laddie Honeyman, and maid, of New York City, are stopping at the Barker House. Mr. Honeyman is a prominent attorney of New York and was one of the counsel for the defense in the Molineaux trial which claimed the attention of the courts of that city for several months. Robert Brodhead, a brother of Mrs. Honeyman, is part of the party and expects to spend part of the summer with them. Mr. Brodhead has extensive coal interests in the southern part of that state. (As an aside, the Honeymans lived at 106 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, a 7-bedroom, 7 bathroom townhouse with over 8,000 square feet of living space. For a glimpse into what their lifestyle was like, you can view the recent real estate photos posted on Realtor.)

In 1909, Robert, then 48, died of endocarditis, inflammation of the inner wall of the heart. The below news snippet about his passing appeared in Fuel Magazine, The Coal Operators National Weekly. From that moment on, the Colorado mining venture was in the hands of Henry and Albert. (Long-time blog readers may recall the post I did on the Thanksgiving Day tragedy that took place at Robert’s home in Stafford, Pennsylvania in 1904. Perhaps, due to family obligations, Robert had remained based on the east coat to handle his part of the brothers’ Colorado venture. He had children, and his brothers did not.)

Fuel Magazine, The Coal Operators National Weekly, Volume 14, 1909

Fuel Magazine, The Coal Operators National Weekly, Volume 14, p. 267, 1909

In the 1910 directory for Trinidad, Colorado, a town 23 miles southeast of Brodhead, there is a listing for brother Albert. The town of Brodhead was described as having a population of 300, being 2 1/4 miles north of Aguilar, and having a doctor, a public school, a general store, and a hotel. Stage coach fares to Aguilar were 25 cents and fares to Lynn, an express shipping point 3 1/2 miles to the east—50 cents. Albert was listed as the mine owner. Per Wikipedia, the population was largely comprised of Mexican and European immigrants, including a large number of workers from Stafford, England.

Mining is not a business for the faint of heart, especially not for the miners themselves. As everyone knows, this is a very dangerous occupation, and accidents did occur at the Brodhead mines, occasionally with lethal consequences. Below is a sampling of articles mentioning Brodhead.  Not far from Brodhead was the Ludlow mine where a horrific massacre of 21 people, including some striking miners’ wives and children, took place on April 20, 1914. That event came at the end of what was known as the Colorado Coalfield War, a major labor uprising that had begun in September 1913. The April massacre was followed by a 10-day rampage of revenge that spread to areas, including Brodhead, dispersing families and wreaking havoc until the situation could be brought under control by federal troops.

Herald Democrat, 9 May 1905, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Walsenburg World, 16 February 1911, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Chronicle News, 25 July 1912, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Las Animas Leader, 2 February 1912. Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

Chronicle News, 23 April 1914, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. Colorado State Library.

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Eva Wilder Brodhead (image from her last book, The Prairie Infanta)

I do wonder how those events impacted Henry, Albert and Eva. It was a tumultuous time that must have only been made worse by Eva’s ongoing health issues.

A decade prior, her acclaimed work, A Prairie Infanta, had been published in the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion. Two years after that, according to the Townsend book (p. 269), she was stricken with a very severe illness, followed by her physician’s absolute mandate of no literary work until her health should be reestablished, which has been accomplished but recently. She has published but a single story since her sickness, Two Points of Honor, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly for July 4, 1908.

The Townsend book, published in 1913, went on to say: At the present time Mrs. Brodhead is quite well enough to resume work; and the next few years should witness her fulfilling the earnest of her earlier novels and stories, firmly fixing her fame as one of the foremost women writers of prose fiction yet born on Kentucky soil.

That same year (1913) the following was published on February 17 in the Lexington Leader – p. 8 – Interesting notes in the New York letter of the Cincinnati Enquirer: Nearly 300 natives of Kentucky, who now live in New York, held their ninth annual banquet at the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday night. For the first time, famous Kentucky women joined “the Kentuckians” at their dinner, and fully half of those present were women… The purpose of the night’s program was to give recognition to Kentucky’s literary geniuses, and at the speaker’s table were these writers: [ list of names, including “Mrs. Eva Wilder Brodhead”]. That may have been one of Eva’s last trips East. Tragically, her illness returned, or perhaps it had never completely gone away. In mid-1915, she died at the young age of 45; her death reported in many of the nation’s newspapers. Who knows what may have been had she lived longer, how many more celebrated works she could have created. Had she survived to a ripe old age, she perhaps would have been quite famous today.

  • August 7, 1915 Lexington HeraldKentucky Author Dies in Colorado – A telegram received by John Wilson Townsend yesterday announced the death at Denver, Col., of Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson Broadhead [sic.], one of the most distinguished of modern Kentucky novelists and short story writers, after a lingering illness of about 11 months.  Mrs. Broadhead [sic.] was born in Covington about fifty years ago [45 actually]. She was the author of the following novels: “Diana’s Livery,” which is said to have as its background the Shaker settlement at Pleasant Hill, KY; “An Earthly Paragon,” “The Ministers of Grace,” “One of the Visconti,” “Bound in Shallows,” and her last book, “A Prairie Infanta.”  She was the wife of Henry C. Broadhead [sic.], a wealthy civil and mining engineer of Wilkesbarre, Pa., and Denver, Col. In addition to the many novels she wrote, Mrs. Broadhead was a contributor to practically all the leading magazines of the country and the New York newspapers.

Fairmont Cemetery, Denver, Colorado (Photo credit: Debra Brodhead)

With Eva’s passing, Albert and Henry were on their own in Colorado. I did not find much news of them in the ensuing years. Both brothers died in 1922—Albert (54) in January and Henry (74) in December. That left sister Emilie L. (Brodhead) Honeyman the sole survivor of the Daniel D. and Mary (Brodrick) Brodhead family.

  • January 25, 1922 – Denver Post – p. 21 – Funerals – Brodhead – Jan. 23, at the University Club, Albert G. Brodhead. Funeral services from the Rogers mortuary, Thursday, at 2 p.m. Interment Fairmount.
  • February 12, 1922: Denver Post p. 3; Albert G. Brodhead [Harvard class of 1889] left his $34,000 Estate to Brother – On June 4, 1921, Albert G, Brodhead sat in his apartment at the University Club and penned a will on the club stationary. He sealed it in an envelope and four days later gave the envelope to his brother, H. C. Brodhead to be kept unopened until the writer’s death. On January 23, 1922, Albert G. Brodhead died and on opening the envelope, the brother discovered that he was sole heir to the estate of his deceased relative, amounting to $34,000 [$522,911.95 buying power in 2020]. H. C. Brodhead, the surviving brother, lives at the Shirley-Savoy Hotel. He offered the single sheet of club stationary bearing the will of his brother in county court for probate Saturday.
  • November 10, 1922 – Denver PostColorado Geologist, H. C. Brodhead, Finder of Coal Vein, Dead – H. C. Brodhead, 74 years old, geologist and one of the discoverers of the Brodhead coal vein of the Walsenburg District, died at St. Luke’s hospital Thursday after an attack of asthma. He had been making his home at the Shirley-Savoy Hotel. Brodhead and his brother, Albert G. Brodhead, came to Colorado thirty years ago from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the Brodhead vein in the Walsenburg District, said to be the biggest coal producer in Colorado. The brother died in Denver last winter.  He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Emilie Honeyman of New York. Funeral arrangements have not been completed.
  • November 13, 1922 – Denver Rocky Mountain News – p. 4 – Funerals – Brodhead – Funeral services for Henry C. Brodhead will be held at the Rogers mortuary Monday at 10 a.m. Interment at Fairmount Cemetery.
  • November 18, 1922 – Denver Post, p. 11 – Brodhead Estate Valued at $71,000 – The estate of Henry Brodhead, who died a few days ago in Denver, is valued at $71,000 [roughly $1.1 million in 2020], according to a petition for letters of administration filed in the county court by the heirs. A will was lodged in the court providing for bequests of $5,000 [roughly $77,000 in 2020] to William [son of William Hall Brodhead and Mary Van Tassel] and Clement [son of Daniel Dingman Brodhead Jr. and Leonora Hubbard] Brodhead, nephews, and $5,000 each to Maude, Leonore and Margaret [this must be Mary Ann], nieces [the daughters of Daniel Dingman Brodhead Jr. and Leonora Hubbard]. The residue of the estate [$715,000 in 2020] goes to Emilie B. Honeyman, sister of the testator.
  • November 30, 1922 – Coal Age, Volume XXII – H. C. Brodhead, 74 years old, geologist and one of the discoverers of the Brodhead coal vein in the Trinidad district, died recently in Denver. Mr. Brodhead and his brother, Albert G. Brodhead, came to Colorado thirty years ago from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the Brodhead vein, one of the biggest coal producers in Colorado. The brother died in Denver last winter.

Miss Lassie Honeyman (left) with 1st cousin Mary Ann Brodhead (center), Jamestown Evening Journal, April 17, 1928. Credit: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The Las Animas County Ghost Towns and Mining Camps book that prompted me to write this post has no images or photos of Brodhead, unfortunately. Long since abandoned, Brodhead is located 23 miles NW of Trinidad and 2 miles NW of Aguilar along an abandoned C&S railroad spur. The land is now in private hands. Only a few foundations remain at the Brodhead town site, wrote the author. In 1903 it had a population of 75 and was home to the Clamp Mercantile Co. and the A. I. Lindsay Saloon. The Las Animas Coal Company and the Green Canyon Coal Company were the major mines. [para] By 1904, the population had risen to 125 and the D.R. Hindman & Co. Store was established. The population continued to grow (250 in 1905) and in 1910 saw the opening of the Howell & Bennett Boarding House. [para] The Green Canyon Mine closed for unspecified reasons in 1913 and the Las Animas Coal Company soon followed.

Train travelling through Las Animas Canyon, Colorado – postcard

By April of that year Brodhead lost its post office and a majority of its inhabitants. [para] In 1914, the outbreak of war in Europe brought a renewed demand for coal overseas. Brodhead, now operated by the Temple Fuel Company, began to thrive once more. Its P.O. was reestablished in 1915 and the population grew to over 300. [para] In the 1920s and early 30s, the need for metallurgical, or bituminous, coal declined. Brodhead, like other mines found throughout the region, slowly withered and was abandoned in 1939. Per the author, the mine was established on August 14, 1902 and was in operation until May 1939. However, per Wikipedia, multiple mines in Brodhead operated into the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s.  That is the extent of the information found in the book.  My second cousin, Debra Brodhead, who resides in Colorado, attempted to locate the Brodhead ghost town several years back but without success given that the land is privately owned, something she did not know before bravely setting off to try to find it.

Well, that’s the extent of what I know of Henry and Eva, and Henry’s youngest brother Albert. More could probably be gleaned by making a trip to the Colorado state archives, but I will have to save that journey for a later date. I hope you have enjoyed learning about them as much as I have. If you have more information about this interesting trio, please let me know. Wouldn’t some photos of them, taken during their Colorado years, simply be amazing to see?

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Full text of John Wilson Townsend’s section on Eva Wilder Brodhead in Kentucky in American Letters: 1784–1912 vol. 2 (Cedar Rapids: The Torch Press, 1913, pp 267–69):

MRS. EVA WILDER (McGLASSON) BRODHEAD, novelist and short-story writer, was born at Covington, Kentucky, in 187-. Her parents were not of Southern origin, her father having been born in Nova Scotia, and her mother at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She was educated in New York City and in her native town of Covington.

She began to write when but eighteen years of age, and a short time thereafter her first novel appeared, Diana’s Livery (New York, 1891). This was set against a background most alluring: the Shaker settlement at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, into which a young man of the world enters and falls in love with a pretty Shakeress, Her second story, An Earthly Paragon (New York, 1892), which was written in three weeks, ran through Harper’s Weekly before being published in book form. It was a romance of the Kentucky mountains, laid around Chamoum, the novelist’s name for Yosemite, Kentucky. It was followed by a novelette of love set amidst the salt-sea atmosphere of an eastern watering place, Ministers of Grace (New York, 1894). Hildreth, the scene of this little story, is anywhere along the Jersey coast from Atlantic City to Long Branch. Ministers of Grace also appeared serially in Harper’s Weekly, and when it was issued in book form Col. Henry Watterson called the attention of Richard Mansfield to it as a proper vehicle for him, and the actor promptly secured the dramatic rights, hoping to present it upon the stage; but his untimely death prevented the dramatization of the tale under highly favorable auspices. It was the last to be published under the name of Eva Wilder McGlasson, as this writer was first known to the public, for on December 5, 1894, she was married in New York to Mr. Henry C. Brodhead, a civil and mining engineer of Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Brodhead’s next novelette, One of the Visconti (New York, 1896), the background of which was Naples, the hero being a young Kentucky man and the heroine of the old and famous Visconti family, was issued by the Scribner’s in their well-known Ivory Series of short-stories. Her last Kentucky novel, Bound in Shallows (New York, 1896), originally appeared in Harper’s Bazar. That severe arbiter of literary destinies, The Nation, said of this book: “No such work as this has been done by any American woman since Constance Fenimore Woolson died. * * It was founded on material gathered at Burnside, Kentucky, where Mrs. Brodhead spent two summers.

Her most recent work, A Prairie Infanta (Philadelphia, 1904), is a Colorado juvenile, first published in The Youth’s Companion.

Aside from her books, Mrs. Brodhead won a wide reputation as a short-story writer and maker of dialect verse. More than fifty of her stories have been printed in the publications of the house of Harper, the publishers of four of her books; in The Century, Scribner’s, and other leading periodicals. Many of her admirers hold that the short-story is her especial forte. Five of them may be mentioned as especially well done: Fan’s Mammy, A Child of the Covenant, The Monument to Corder, The Eternal Feminine, and Fair Ines. She has written much dialect verse which appeared in the Harper periodicals, The Century, Judge, Puck, and other magazines. Neither her short stories nor her verse has been collected and issued in book form.

Since her marriage Mrs. Brodhead has traveled in Europe a great deal, and in many parts of the United States, traveled until she sometimes wonders whether her home is in Denver or New York, and, although she is in the metropolis more than she is in the Colorado capital, her legal residence is Denver, some distance from the mining town of Brodhead, named in honor of her husband’s geological discoveries and interests.

In 1906 she was stricken with a very severe illness, followed by her physician’s absolute mandate of no literary work until her health should be reestablished, which has been accomplished but recently. She has published but a single story since her sickness, Two Points of Honor, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly for July 4, 1908. At the present time Mrs. Brodhead is quite well enough to resume work; and the next few years should witness her fulfilling the earnest of her earlier novels and stories, firmly fixing her fame as one of the foremost women writers of prose fiction yet born on Kentucky soil.

Daniel Dingman Brodhead & Mary Brodrick family tree

Categories: Brodhead, Brodhead, Colorado, Denver | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

James Morris and Mattie Thomas – Battin HS graduates, 1898

James Arthur Morris – Battin HS graduate – 1898

Regular readers of this blog may remember that my grandmother’s 1898 Battin High School (Elizabeth, NJ) graduating class had two African-Americans among its ranks. Battin High School was recognized at that time as the best high school in the state.

I wrote at length about the class photo I found that included them and went to great lengths to label everyone as best I could; I also posted newspaper articles on the graduation event itself. Click here for that post. I did not, however, look beyond that event to see what was happening at that time in the field of education for members of the African-American community. So I thought I would try to see if I could find out what happened to these two students and also look at newspapers of that period using the Library of Congress’s digital newspaper archives.

Mattie Kenyon Thomas – Battin HS graduate – 1898

As for trying to learn more about the students:

I found a James Morris (b. June 1878, VA) in the 1900 census who was 22 at the time and living with his wife Nannie and two small children, Margaret and Harold, at 10 1/2 Center Street in Elizabeth. His occupation was listed as ‘coachman’; this census asked all citizens whether they could read and write. Both this James and his wife checked ‘yes’. Whether this was the same James, I don’t know. If it was, perhaps he was working as a coachman while going to college. He has such a scholarly look about him, I am inclined to think that he went on to pursue a profession requiring a degree or two.

I found a Mattie Thomas (b. Jan 1879, VA) in the 1900 census who was living and working in the home of a physician and his wife, Harry and Daisy Washington, in Middletown, Monmouth Co., NJ, which is 30 miles south of Elizabeth. I found the same Mattie in the 1880 census as a 1 year old living in Samuel Miller, Virginia, with her parents Alexander (laborer) and Lucinda (homemaker) Thomas and 4 older siblings. At some point she probably got married and changed her last name so finding her in records further down the road may be difficult.

My quick newspaper search resulted in a variety of articles, many from African-American newspapers. Did you know there were 400 in existence across the country by the end of the 1800s?

Some interesting stats from the Wisconsin Weekly Advocate, August 10, 1899, are bulleted below. Note: dollar amounts have NOT been converted to today’s dollar; but bear in mind that in 1898, $1,000 would be $30,072 in today’s currency; also, I have substituted ‘black’ for ‘n—-‘:

  • Blacks had reduced their illiteracy rate by 45% in just 35 years
  • 1.5 million black children were enrolled in the common schools
  • 40,000 blacks were enrolled in higher educational institutions
  • 30,000 black teachers were at work in schools
  • 20,000 blacks were learning trades
  • 1,200 blacks pursuing classical courses
  • 1,200 were pursuing scientific courses
  • 1,000 blacks were pursuing business courses
  • Black libraries held 250,000 volumes
  • There were 156 black higher educational institutions
  • 500 black doctors
  • 300 books written by blacks
  • 250 black lawyers
  • 3 black banks
  • 3 black magazines
  • 400 black newspapers
  • Value of black libraries: $500,000
  • Value of black church property: $37 million
  • Value of black-owned farms: $400 million
  • Value of black-owned homes (besides farms): $325 million
  • Value of personal property: $165 million
  • As of this date in 1899, blacks had raised $10 million towards their own education.
  • Blacks “are more eager for their education than whites. The whites enrolled 14 percent of their population in 1870, and only 22 percent in 1890”; blacks enrolled “3 percent in 1870 and 19 percent in 1890.”
  • Whites “have .61 of 1 percent divorces; blacks .67 of 1 percent…”
  • “In the whole country, there are 25 blacks to 75 whites who own their own homes. The proportion should be 1 black to 6 whites.”
  • “Of the black homes, 87 percent are freeholds; of the white homes but 71 percent.”
  • “Of farms owned by blacks, 89 percent are unencumbered; of those owned by whites but 71 percent.”
  • “Forty-one percent of blacks are engaged in gainful pursuits, while only 36 percent of whites are thus engaged.”
  • “Government reports show that the [black man] is the best soldier in the regular army.”

Surely this is history worth exploring and celebrating. I never knew James or Mattie or any of the American people behind all these factoids, but boy am I proud of what they were achieving! I encourage anyone wanting to get a true picture of what was happening at any given time in our history to go to the newspapers of that day. Here is one more gifted lady I discovered in an article published in Montana’s Republican newspaper, The Philipsburg Mail, dated October 7, 1898:

The Philipsburg Mail (Montana) – October 7, 1898

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

Some Friday levity courtesy of 1898 newspaper

The Omaha Daily Bee 17 July 1898 (Credit: US Library of Congress digital newspaper archives)

Categories: Death, Miscellaneous, Russia | Tags: | 4 Comments

A Florida Friday: Bok Tower Gardens

Edward W. Bok’s beloved Singing Tower; his grave is at its base.

On rolling hills south of Orlando not far from Lake Wales and amid abundant orange groves—perhaps, the last place you’d expect—stands a majestic “singing tower” surrounded by lush botanical gardens, the handiwork of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

First glimpse of the tower after you come up the hill from the entrance

This is Bok Tower Gardens—yet another Florida gem that is off the beaten path but more than well worth a visit. It was envisioned and founded by editor, author, and philanthropist Edward W. Bok (1863-1930), who emigrated from Holland to the US as a child and wanted to leave behind a place of beauty for Americans to enjoy as a way of thanking them for his success.

The base of the tower

Less than a year after the official opening to the public in 1929, Bok died of a heart attack within view of his beloved singing tower. He was buried at its base.

Since then over 23 million people have visited this place. Even today, it remains an oasis of calm in an oft-times troubled world. I’ve been here several times, always in the “off season” when the number of visitors declines to a trickle. I finally got my husband here last year, and he immediately understood why I was so keen for him to experience this place.

Garden scenes

Wandering up the hillside toward the tower to the sound of chirping birds, we passed underneath massive old oaks laden with ferns and dripping with Spanish moss. When we finally reached the top and arrived at the end of the reflection pool, the view of the tower was mesmerizing. Once we explored the areas around the base of the tower, we strolled to the edges of the gardens for a view of the surrounding lands; we were, after all, standing on one of Florida’s highest elevations—some 295 feet (LOL).

In short: Go visit if you are ever in this part of Florida. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The 60-ton carillon still plays daily. Also on the grounds is Pinewood Estate—a Mediterranean-style mansion built in the 1930s for a steel magnate. And, there’s a wonderful museum and gift shop. If you have a botanical garden or museum membership elsewhere, check to see if you can take advantage of reciprocal agreements. You may be able to get into Bok Tower Gardens for free or at reduced cost.

The view from the hilltop on a steamy summer day with limited visibility 😦

That’s today’s “Florida Friday.” Thank you, Edward Bok, for leaving us all such a wonderful legacy.

P.S. Below are an article on the official 1929 opening with President Calvin Coolidge presiding (the original name was “Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower) and a January 1930 obituary.

February 2, 1929 – Jamestown Evening Journal (Credit: FultonHistory.com)

January 10, 1930 – The Schenectady Gazette (Credit: FultonHistory.com)

Categories: Bok Edward W, Coolidge Calvin, Florida, Lake Wales, Olmsted Jr Frederick W | Tags: , | Leave a comment

1812 marriage certificate for Isaac and Wealthy (Cushman) Jaques

Today I am posting a copy of the original 1812 marriage certificate that belonged to my third-great-grandparents, Isaac Jaques and Wealthy Cushman. It was among the numerous papers and clippings saved by my grandmother. I wish it contained details that would be helpful with connecting the Mayflower dots—e.g., the names of Wealthy’s parents. I assume the marriage took place in either New York City, where Isaac was making a career as a tailor, or Hartford, Wealthy’s birthplace. The couple and their children did not relocate to Elizabethtown, NJ, until 1843.

The pastor’s name was “N. Bangs”. This may very well have been Nathan Bangs, the self-taught itinerant theologian who was very well known at that time. He kept a diary of his travels and eventually wrote a history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada and the US.

Categories: Bangs Nathan, Cushman, Elizabeth, Union Co., Jaques, Methodist Episcopal, New Jersey, Weddings | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A glimpse of Madame Jule De Ryther

The Hamilton (Ohio) Evening Journal, 6 December 1913, page 12 (Used with permission of Newspapers.com, ‘erichardson’ 5-20-20)

An image of Madame De Ryther has at last surfaced.

It’s not the best image, but I’ll take it. I have to thank Bill Simpson of Charlotte, NC, for pointing out this image’s existence to me (quite a long time ago, actually). Because he found it on newspapers.com, he did not feel he could share it for me to post, and of course I agreed with him on that. While the copyright has expired, sites like Newspapers.com and Genealogy Bank have user agreements that prohibit users from sharing their finds willy-nilly. Some get around this problem by finding articles on those sites and then looking for those same articles on free digital archive sites. But this particular Ohio newspaper—The Hamilton Evening Journal (published between 1908-1933)—was only available on newspapers.com.

So I had put this image out of mind—until recently, when I decided to take a closer look at the user agreement and discovered that “public domain content” can sometimes be used in very small quantities publicly if proper permission is obtained. So I sent off an email to ask newspapers.com for permission to publish on a non-commercial family history blog.

As you can see, fortunately for me, they said “yes.” Timing-wise it’s kind of spooky since Jule is discussing cleanliness and germs (albeit bacterial); on the other hand it’s good to see such discussions were in the news at that time. Forewarned is forearmed. We all know what happened in 1918/19.

Jule, who was born in Little Falls, NY, died in NYC of pneumonia on March 14, 1915, at age 69, so this article’s publication came towards the end of her career. She was living in a hotel at the time. Bill told me that he had discovered information indicating that she had been evicted from her home of 30 years prior to her death. A very sad end for a woman of such tremendous talent.

This may well be the only image ever published of her. I hope I am wrong about that.  If anyone ever comes across another one, please let me know.

Past posts on Madame De Ryther:

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Health Matters, Little Falls, New York, New York City | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Monday miscellany: “Oatmeal as Human Food”

Augusta, Georgia, Chronicle and Sentinel, 10 July 1845 (Credit: Digital Library of Georgia – newspaper archives)

This 1845 article appeared in The American Agriculturist* before making its way into the newspapers. The Augusta (GA) Chronicle and Sentinel** is where it caught my eye while I was looking for articles on a different topic.

I’d forgotten that here in the US, oatmeal hasn’t always been considered an acceptable and even desirable food for humans. Back in 1845, oats were for horses and other animals, and farmers were focused on wheat and rye for human consumption. Today, many Americans appreciate its nutritious value, but it is still nowhere near to enjoying the popularity it experiences in a place like Scotland where it has been a staple for hundreds of years. The US is not among the world’s top oat producers, which include Russia, Canada, Australia, Poland, China, and Finland. Soybeans and corn are more profitable.

Perhaps, this article, which pulls on material published in Blackwood’s Magazine (Edinburgh and London), got some Americans talking about this subject especially since a challenge of sorts was laid down. Whether anyone took them up on that, I don’t know. Of course today, somebody would—you’d see Americans of Scottish descent loading up on “oatcakes, porridge, bannocks, and brose” and those of English descent getting their fill of “wheaten abominations” before fighting it out on YouTube or Instagram.

As superior and tasty as oatmeal may be, I did enjoy reading through the rather vast list of “wheaten abominations”, most of which sound delicious ;-):

Baking bread by Helen Allingham, English artist (1848-1926) – (Public domain due to expired copyright)

  • home made bread
  • baker’s bread
  • household bread
  • leaven bread
  • brown Georgies
  • fancy bread
  • raisin bread
  • baps
  • scones
  • rolls
  • muffins
  • crumpets
  • cookies
  • bricks
  • biscuits
  • bakes
  • rusks
  • Bath buns
  • Sally luns
  • tea cakes
  • saffron cakes
  • slim cakes
  • plank cakes
  • The Highland Shepherd by Rosa Bonheir, 1859 (Public domain image on Wikimedia Commons uploaded by “botautus”)

  • soda cakes
  • current cakes
  • sponge cakes
  • seed cakes
  • girdle cakes
  • singing hinnies
  • short bread
  • currant buns

**************************************************
Having lived in England a number of years, I recognized the baps, Bath buns and Sally Lunns. But some, like “brown Georgies” and “singing hinnies,” left me stumped. Turns out that singing hinnies are a kind of scone-like griddle cake that is popular in Northern England. Girdle cakes are thin scone-like griddle cakes cooked atop a stove rather than in the oven. I guess rusks are something you dip in your tea—like biscotti? No idea about plank cakes or brown Georgies. Please illuminate me, if you can.

Well, strangely enough, while I did enjoy oatmeal for breakfast this morning, I am suddenly feeling the need for a “wheaten abomination.” Best wishes to everyone for a safe and productive week. 🙂

*Volume 4, page 163.
**Published 10 July 1845.

Update 5/21/20: Meanwhile, another curious article from a test undertaken across the pond in 1852:

The Mountain Sentinel – Ebensburg, PA, 10 July 1852 (Credit: Library of Congress Digital Newspaper Archives)

Resources:
The Food of London by George Dodd (London: Longmans, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856) – click here
“Is Oatmeal Healthy? Hear What the Experts Say” by Markham Heid, TIME online, published August 15, 2018 – click here

Categories: England, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Scotland, United States | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

A Florida Friday: Solomon’s Castle

The entrance gates at Solomon’s Castle

Solomon’s Castle is on my must-see list of Florida’s quirkiest places.  Like many others on that list, it’s off the beaten path and getting there requires a bit of effort.  We were staying in Sarasota a couple of years back when the brochure caught our eye. Shall we go? Why not? Early the next morning we headed east and eventually found ourselves in Florida’s rural heartland in search of the “town” of Ona. It was a hot sunny day during the off-season. Few travelers on the road. GPS was patchy at times; we worried a bit about getting lost, but fortunately, we found our way there.

Hardee County, in which Ona and the “castle” are located, probably hasn’t changed much in the last century. Its 1930 population of 10,000 has almost tripled; but that’s nothing compared to Lee County , which is where we live. Here the population has gone from roughly 15,000 to 620,000 during that same time span. Few contrasts could better reflect the great divide between the pace of life in Gulf coast towns and cities and inland areas such as this.

Solomon’s Castle was the brainchild of Howard Solomon, who died in 2016 of heart troubles. He was 81. Howard spent many decades commuting from his 55-acre property to his St. Petersburg cabinet-making and boat-building business to earn the money that fueled his creative passions. Why base himself in a place like Ona? The land was cheap, and there was plenty of it.

Photography is not permitted within the “castle,” but YouTube has footage of tours Howard used to give to visitors (see link below).  You’ll quickly see why the folks behind the Weird US publication called him the “Da Vinci of Debris”.  For a great article on Howard, click here.

Resources:
YouTube video – 1 of 4 – Start here.
Google Images
Haven Magazine article: “Solomon’s Castle: A Visionary’s Legacy”

From here on down, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Have a great weekend, everyone.

The approach to the Castle whose walls are covered with aluminum printing plates from a newspaper business 

You can gaze at the turrets, towers, and stained glass windows as you await your turn for a guided tour. I kept expecting to see King Friday even though Mr. Rogers’ castle looks much different.

Pitchfork and quirky garden decor in the foreground

Fun idea for flower bed or small vegetable garden

Lots of massive staghorn ferns hang from the trees here

Yes, there’s a boat with a moat—complete with the occasional alligator. Howard built it all. Climb aboard, for here and beyond are the restaurant and gift shop.

Veranda seating overlooking the restaurant boat — it was still quite early so no diners yet.

More seating and a gift shop on the left. Note the fabulous live oak festooned with moss and ferns—a signature element in much of old Florida

Categories: Florida, Miscellaneous, Ona | Tags: | 7 Comments

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