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A Florida Friday: Some thousand-year-old oaks

For this “Florida Friday” post, I’m sharing a few scenes from a recent visit to the 9,000-acre Highlands Hammock State Park, which is located outside the town of Sebring in lower central Florida. Established in 1931, it was one of the first state parks in Florida. Here, some of the oaks are said to be over a thousand years old. The Civilian Conservation Corps was responsible for building many of the structures and the numerous boardwalks and trails. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. Though it is off the beaten path for most visitors to this state, it is well worth a visit—as are all the Florida state parks, actually! Have a great weekend.

 

Categories: Florida, Hiking, Nature, Trees | 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

A Florida Friday: Flowers, flamingos, and a feeling of serenity…

Some images from a recent stroll through the historic Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, Florida. It was the end of the day, and I had this small zoo/botanical garden to myself. Nothing like nature to lift one’s spirits and relieve the stressors of the day.  I hope you have a chance to spend some time this coming weekend in the great outdoors.

Categories: Bonita Springs, Florida, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Irene Bell Wait of Perth Amboy, New Jersey—my new theory

Irene Bell Wait (b. 1764) married my fifth great-grandfather David Wait (b. 1754, Edinburgh, Scotland) on 21 April 1874. They lived in Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

A recent comment left on my post Irene Bell Wait, one of my brick walls, which I wrote nearly 7 years ago, prompted me to go back and re-read it. You know, whenever I read my old posts, which isn’t very often, I kind of come away amazed that I managed to come up with so much information. Maybe some of you fellow family history bloggers feel the same way: “Did I write all that??!”

Anyway, that first post mentions an Andrew Bell, a witness to David Wait’s will, which was executed on October 29, 1810, shortly before David succumbed. His wife Irene Bell had died in 1804 at age 39, leaving him with 11 children, many of whom were still very young when he died. Twenty-year-old daughter Margaret was left a house in which she was to raise her younger siblings.

I wanted to try to connect Andrew Bell with Irene Bell as this was the first time I actually sensed I had a lead as to her possible identity, but my attempts to link the two failed.

My latest theory, and it’s only a very loose theory at the moment, was spawned by a reexamination of materials I’d already read and the discovery of a few new ones, and that is that Andrew Bell (b. 1757) and Irene Bell (b. 1764) were half-siblings.

This hinges on “Andrew Bell” being the Andrew Bell who was born in 1757, in Philadelphia, to English-born John Bell (cir. 1725-1778) and his first wife Hannah Smith, daughter of Frederick Smith of Philadelphia, hatter.* One other child, Cornelia Bell, was born in 1755. She eventually married William Paterson, one of the signers of the Constitution. She is mentioned on the website www.constitutionfacts.com under the heading “The Women Behind the Signers of the U.S. Constitution” (note: the birth and death dates are incorrect).

Andrew Bell and his father John Bell were Loyalists, while Cornelia was pro independence. How the family dealt with these divided loyalties is reflected in the numerous letters Cornelia wrote to her brother during the war years. You can read about this in the book Past and Present: Lives of New Jersey Women

At some point, the marriage between John Bell and Cornelia and Andrew’s mother Hannah Smith ended, and John Bell remarried on 27 April 1763, to widow Annaatje “Anna” Meyer Tilden (1731-1819, daughter of Johannes Pietersz Meyer and Elizabeth Pell**; Find a Grave memorial #16213136). Anna Meyer’s first husband Captain Richard Tilden had died in October 1762 in Philadelphia. They had been married for roughly 11 years and had had two children:

Richard, who died in infancy, and John Bell Tilden, December 1762-1838 (Find a Grave memorial #16213149). Obviously, given the second son’s name was John Bell Tilden, the Tildens had some very close connection to John Bell. And, clearly, John Bell did not hesitate to leave Hannah to go take care of the Captain’s widow and her infant son.

From p. 465-466  of Volume IX of The Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, we can read the following about Captain Richard Tilden and son John Bell Tilden (note that the latter’s birth year here is given as 1761; his tombstone says 1762):

The Tilden or Tylden family is one of great antiquity in England; as far back as the reign of Edward III. We find William Tylden paying aid for land in Kent, when the Black Prince was knighted. ( I ) The first Tilden of whom we have record in America was Captain Richard Tilden of England, who died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October, 1762. He married Anna Meyer, born in New York, August 31, 1731, daughter of John Meyer and Elizabeth (Pell) Meyer, and granddaughter of William and Elizabeth (Van Tuyl) Pell. She bore him two sons: John Bell, see forward, and one who died in infancy. (II) Dr. John Bell Tilden. son of Captain Richard and Anna (Meyer) Tilden, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1761, baptized in the Episcopal church, and died July 31, 1838, in New Town, now Stephen City, Virginia. He was a student at Princeton College at the time of the revolutionary war and left college to join the Continental army, receiving a commission as ensign. May 28, 1779, in the Second Regiment Pennsylvania line, commanded by Colonel Walter Stewart. He was subsequently promoted to second lieutenant, his commission to date from July 25, 1780. His regiment left York, Pennsylvania, for the southern campaign in the spring of 1781, and he was present at the siege of Yorktown and surrender of General Cornwallis.  At the close of the war he was honorably mustered out of service, and became a member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati. During his entire service he kept a diary, which is now in the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. Dr. Tilden settled in Frederick county, Virginia, where he practiced medicine until the close of his life. Some time prior to 1824 he was ordained to the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church, and during the agitation of the question of lay representation, he advocated the equal rights of the laity with the clergy in the legislative department of the church, for which he and other prominent members were expelled for so-called heresy. In 1872 the church admitted its error by adopting lay representation into its polity. Long before the subject of African slavery took a political shape, Dr. Tilden manumitted his slaves and sent them to Liberia with one year’s outfit. Dr. Tilden married August 9, 1784, Jane Chambers, born in York county, Pennsylvania, December 18, 1766, died May, 1827, (laughter of Joseph and Martha (McCalmont) Chambers, of York, Pennsylvania. [It goes on to list all the children and their progeny.]

******************************************

John Bell was 38 when he married Anna Tilden. She was 32, so it would have been highly plausible for her to have had more children. Was Irene Bell, one of my fifth great-grandmothers, a product of this union?

Irene Bell was born in 1764. When John Bell died in 1778 at his Bellfield Estate in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, New Jersey. Irene would have been about 14. The fact that she is not mentioned in John Bell’s will does not seem surprising to me given her age. Note to self to try to find Anna Bell’s will. Perhaps, Irene is mentioned in it.

John Bell’s will appears on page 40 of the New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 (accessible via Ancestry website, and probably Family Search). In his will, John leaves the following:

  • $500 to wife Anna Meyer Tilden Bell;
  • $200 to ex-wife Hannah Smith;
  • “a negro” to stepson John B. Tilden, who was anti-slavery (as per the Virginia biographical info above) and surely would have freed this individual;
  • “a negro woman, Delia, and her son Rory” to daughter Cornelia Bell;
  • “house and fifty acres of land in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County” to son Andrew Bell;
  • “All my lands in Earls Colne, in County of Essex, England” to friend Mark Grime of Witham, County Essex, England;
  • Residue of Estate to Anna Bell, Cornelia Bell, Andrew Bell, and John Tilden.

*******************************************

Last reflections:  Irene Bell married David Wait in 1784; it had struck me before that some of the names in their family Bible appeared to be the German/Dutch variants. If Irene’s mother was from a Dutch community and had a Dutch upbringing, as Anna Meyer did, this may explain why a few names in the family Bible sound Dutch. Also, her first two sons were named David and John. Perhaps, David’s father was also David.  If Irene’s father was John Bell, the name John would have been thoroughly appropriate for a second-born son.

In one of my past posts, I’d mentioned that there was some confusion as to which side of the Revolutionary War events David Wait was on. Given what I’ve learned recently—about Perth Amboy being a Loyalist stronghold during the War—the version of him coming to America as a member of the British forces and subsequently being captured now makes the most sense. It would also make sense that David felt comfortable marrying into a Loyalist family. The War had only officially ended a little more than six months prior to their marriage.

****************************************

If you have read this far, you are probably someone interested in this family line. Please let me know if you ever find anything that corroborates (or refutes) my “theory”; I will certainly keep chipping away at this. Hopefully we can all get this figured out some day!

PS: I will say that I am very confused by the fact that John Bell had two wives and took the second one while the first was still living. I’ve been doing some reading on marriage, etc. during the pre-Revolutionary Colonial period. Divorce was very uncommon. I will have to look into this some more, but from what I’ve read thus far, the laws in place would likely only have condoned divorce in cases of abuse, adultery, cruelty, or abandonment, and would not have awarded the guilty party the opportunity to remarry while the wronged party was still alive. So was Hannah Smith the guilty party here? Did her actions lead to a divorce and John Bell’s remarriage to Captain Tilden’s widow?

John Bell Tilden was born in December 1872, two months after his father Captain Richard Tilden died. Did Anna name the baby John Bell Tilden because John had been supporting her financially and morally? They married four months after the baby was born.

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*See page 40 of the New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817

**Ancestry.com. New York City, Compiled Marriage Index, 1600s-1800s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Categories: Bell, Loyalists, New Jersey, Perth Amboy, Presbyterian, Revolutionary War, Wait, Woodbridge | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

New book published on General Daniel Brodhead’s daughter Phebe, her husband and their descendants

Author Curtis Dewees recently notified me that his book Joseph and Phebe Dewees of Grayson County, Kentucky and Their Descendants has just been published. It can be ordered from the Grayson County Historical Society, via their Facebook page.  Paypal is accepted; or the book can be ordered by mail at the Society’s address: Grayson County Historical Society, PO Box 84, Leitchfield, Kentucy 42755. The cost is $26.05, including state sales tax and shipping costs.

Congratulations, Curtis!

Categories: Brodhead, Kentucky, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

November 17, 1917: Wedding of Alvira Anness, niece of Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead

Last week, while browsing articles on Fulton History, I came across this one in The Yonkers Statesman (November 19, 1917) describing the wedding of Alvira W. Anness, daughter of Mary Marsh Martin Anness and the (then) late Winfield S. Anness, in the Anness family home at 223 Warburton Avenue in Yonkers, NY. The house still stands! Click here.

Winfield S. Anness (b. 1861, Stamford, CT) was a widower when he married Mary M. Martin. He had a son with his first wife Mamie E. Valentine (b. 1864): Harold W. Anness (b. 1885). Winfield died in November 1899. I don’t know anything about Harold. If he was still alive in 1917, he was not at this wedding.

My Dad always referred to Great Aunt Mary as “Aunt Mame”, and apparently she was quite a pistol. Born in 1863, she was a younger sister of my great-grandmother, Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead (b. 1859).  This wedding was in November; Margaret had lost her husband Andrew Douglas Brodhead six months before, in May. Margaret, Alvira’s aunt, is named in the article as one of the attendees.

Woodruff M. Brodhead, b. 1912, with his mother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead

Giving the bride away was my Dad’s Great Uncle Charlie (Charles Conrad Martin); my Dad’s older brother Woodruff, then age 5 1/2, wore a little sailor suit and carried white baskets filled with yellow asters.

Woodruff’s parents (my grandparents) were also present at the wedding, of course. To the left is a photo of Woodruff (“Woody”) and his mother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead. At that stage, he was their only child. He’s wearing a little sailor suit here, so perhaps this photo was also taken during that period. I’m a bad judge of ages, but I’d say he looks about 5 here?

According to the family tree information of Ancestry user “KrehT,” the newlyweds, Alvira and Walter Douglas Barry, eventually had two children: Alvira Martin Barry (b. 1920) and Walter Douglas Barry (b. 1923). Interestingly, this user shows Alvira’s middle name as “Woodruff,” but did not provide any clues as to where that middle name came from. I’d love to know since my grandmother was a Woodruff, one of the original Elizabeth, NJ, families.

Categories: Anness, Brodhead, Martin, New York, Weddings, Woodruff | 1 Comment

A Florida Friday: Arcadia — old rodeo town & antiques graveyard where resurrections occur daily

Last month we drove an hour northeast of here to visit the historic town of Arcadia (population about 8,000). We’d driven through there before on a few occasions, stopping for lunch but never sticking around to check out all the antique stores—something for which Arcadia is famous. I must say, I am not a big antiques shopper, but I have never in my life seen so many antiques and so many vintage items and so much crazy STUFF!

We got there pretty early and after perusing a few cavernous antiques malls, had a delicious lunch at Mary Margaret’s Tea and Biscuit Restaurant where the wait staff dresses in period outfits. When it was time for dinner, we stopped at the Magnolia Street Seafood and Grill Restaurant, which is the top-rated place in town. It did not disappoint; in fact, it was honestly some of the best seafood I’ve had; the hush puppies were amazing.

In our wanderings, I saw loads and loads of old unlabelled photos and CDVs—I know this is a common phenomenon all over the country, but that kind of thing saddens me to no end.

However, there was a bright spot in all this lost family history since I was able to reunite one massive mid-nineteenth-century family Bible that originally belonged to a Long Island Civil War veteran with a living descendant I tracked down via Ancestry.com.  I connected him with the shop owner, and for $50, this Bible (complete with loads of handwritten names in the middle under Births/Marriages/Deaths) was heading back into that family. I felt good about that, and it wasn’t hard to do, so I am glad I made the effort. The last family member to own it died in 1986, so it had been floating around “out there” in the universe for quite some time.

The only other thing I saw that was actually labelled was the below wedding photo of Mae and Victor Falsitta. I found someone I believe to be a descendant on Ancestry, but they never responded to my message. Perhaps, someone will find the photo here. I do remember which shop I saw it in, so any Falsitta family member reading this, feel free to contact me.

Plenty of people were shopping and buying, giving lots of old items a fresh start with a new owner. By and large, shoppers were on the older side, which is understandable. However, I could not help but wonder what will become of all this stuff once those of us over a certain age are no longer around. But that’s neither here nor there, really. Some other stuff will eventually replace all of this stuff or add to it. (Somehow I can’t imagine these places being even more packed.)

What did I buy? Just a few cookie cutters and a couple of kitchen gadgets that intrigued me. I learned that my grandmother’s mouli grater is not one of a kind, nor is my Dad’s old cake cutter. My grandmother’s old meat grinder that we use every Christmas to make cranberry and orange relish also has plenty of “siblings”… So anyone out there with a particular nostalgia about a certain item has a pretty good chance of finding it, or one like it, in Arcadia.

State of Florida; base map – 1940 (Library of Congress digital ID: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3930.ct000499)

Arcadia is packed with history, and all these antiques stores are mini-museums and an education in themselves. I would definitely recommend a visit; its an old town with that old Florida feel—something you don’t get to experience much when you stick to the coastal towns and cities in the southern part of the state. Arcadia is also famous for being a rodeo town. The first one took place in 1928 as a fundraiser to get a building constructed. The most recent rodeo event was held earlier this  month and attracts fans and competitors from all over the US. Perhaps, we will try to go next year just to have that experience.

Anyway, happy Friday, everyone! Here are some photos from our travels…

Categories: Arcadia, Florida, Memorabilia | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Continuation of January 9 post: More Woodruff farm photos from mid-1920s

I forgot I had these two other photos when I did my January 9th post on the Woodruff farm.

My great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (5 August 1850 – 27 May 1927) with her grandsons, Charles Brodhead (my Dad) and Richard Angus Brown, outside the barn on the Woodruff farm off Conant Street in Hillside, New Jersey

I have no idea who these ladies and the little girl are, but I’m assuming they worked on the Woodruff farm as this photo was together with the other two.

I offer the below as a comparison; you can see the boys all grown up and ready to go to war. They appear in reverse order in the second photo.

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

A Florida Friday: Watch out!

Undated image showing a man fishing in the pristine Blue Springs, Marion County, FL (public domain image – Library of Congress) – you can see how crystal clear the water is.

Undated image of settlers in Ocala, Florida- no plumbing, no AC, no electric

I often think about Florida’s earliest settlers and what it must have been like for them to experience the diverse and alien habitats within the peninsula. It was a harsh environment without all of today’s conveniences and navigational know-how. No signs to alert them to dangers that may lie ahead: alligators, bears, boars, panthers, fire ants, thorny plants, swamp land, poisonous snakes. No guidebooks. No weather alerts that a hurricane was coming. No hospitals. No experience with the tough and thorny flora.

On the other hand, these early arrivals got to see Florida in a pristine state, something denied most travelers today except those who venture into places that are protected by the state and/or hard to reach places that remain inhospitable and uninhabitable.

While you can enjoy Florida’s many beautiful state parks and national forests, which definitely have their pristine areas, you’re never far from signs of civilization and never far from help if you need it (which is a good thing, of course).

On a side note, a couple days ago I met a woman who grew up in the Everglades back in the 1950s and 1960s. Wow—the stories she can tell are unbelievable. She still spends time camping out in places 99.9% of today’s Floridians would never dare go. I admire her. A tough lady who has had a very unique life experience and knows the Ten Thousand Islands like the back of her hand.

I’ve been in Florida long enough to respect the land and wildlife habitats. Long enough to know to be wary of threats and dangers I may encounter along the way.

When I was very young, the The Yearling (Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman) made a deep impression on me for obvious reasons.  The film was on TCM a couple of weeks ago, and this time, seeing it through the lens of someone who knows Florida much better than I did 50+ years ago, it was still gut-wrenching during that one part of the film, but I marveled at the family’s fortitude, understood their decision making, and winced at Jody’s ability to run barefoot everywhere. I don’t know anyone who would attempt that today other than at the beach.

An 1839 map of the Florida territory shows just how sparsely populated Florida was, with virtually no development whatsoever south of Lake George.

For the entire map, with zoom option, go to: https://www.wdl.org/en/item/9598/view/1/1/

By 1895, things were much different, although south Florida, apart from its eastern edge, had yet to really be discovered. Below is a map from an 1895 publication called The Tourists’ and Settlers’ Guide to Florida.

From The Tourists and Settlers’ Guide to Florida, published 1895, Public Domain through the US Library of Congress.

Today with a 20 million+ population, there are plenty of signs around, telling us where to go and what not to do, which is not a bad thing. They no doubt deter many from engaging in reckless behavior. Sure you hear stories of people doing silly things from time to time, like the young man who thought he could swim across a stretch of Lake Okeechobee without any repercussions. Those types of things do leave you scratching your head.

Here are a few warning signs I’ve seen in my travels (and I’m happy they were there):

Sign by the Suwanee River – every morning we woke to the sound of giant jumping sturgeon pounding the water!

Saw this one somewhere in my travels – maybe in Winter Garden?

Swim with caution – is that an understatement or what? Not sure where I saw this one, but I think it was near one of the Florida springs

“Underwater hazards”… Really inviting, isn’t it? Seems to me I took this at Jonathan Dickinson State Park on the east coast of Florida.

Watch for turtles and skip the bare feet if you go in. I think I saw this one somewhere near Stuart, FL, but such turtle signs are a common site, not so much the one about the rocks.

By the Suwanee again… Do not enter. Wiser words have never been spoken.

Categories: Florida | 17 Comments

Brodhead Reunion in Kingston, New York, in June 1964

Some of you may remember the post I did several years ago on the 1964 Brodhead family reunion in Kingston, NY, which was held to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Daniel Brodhead and Ann Tye’s arrival in America. Click here to head back to it. Recently I found the below article and photo on Fulton History. I don’t recognize any of these folks, but I thought some of you may. Give a shout out in the comments section if you see one of your family members or want to comment on the reunion in general. Thanks!

Brodhead family reunion in 1964 – just a few of the many Brodheads present for the event

Categories: Anniversaries, Brodhead, Kingston, New York | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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