Washington DC

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

Job W. Angus (1821-1909) — temporary custodian of a Lincoln cane

Abraham

Abraham Lincoln by Nicholas Shepherd, 1846, based on the recollections of Gibson W. Harris, a law student in Lincoln’s office from 1845 to 1847. Library of Congress image in public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Prior to becoming President, Abraham Lincoln was given an orangewood cane at a July 4, 1859, Atlanta, Illinois, rally organized to celebrate the nation’s birthday. The cane was a gift of an old friend of his named Sylvester Strong. Lincoln was asked to speak at the event, but declined, recommending someone else. This orangewood cane with ‘knots inlaid with silver’ and ‘inscribed with Lincoln’s name’ later went with Lincoln to Washington, DC1.

Of course, Lincoln likely owned a number of canes through the years, as canes/walking sticks were very popular back then. Some were probably given as gifts as this one was. Eventually, this particular cane went out of the Lincoln family’s possession—I found evidence that my second-great-grandfather’s brother Job W. Angus (b. 1821) was the cane’s caretaker between 1895 and 1906. (Job died in 1909.) Ultimately, the cane found its way into the Smithsonian Institution’s collections. Whether or not it is still there, I do not know. I attempted to find out, but came up empty-handed.

As you may recall from previous posts, Job was a well-known and highly regarded building contractor and superintendent, based in Washington for much of his life. One of the construction projects he oversaw was of the iconic Smithsonian building known as ‘The Castle’. Job was a friend of Lincoln’s, providing the venue for the first inaugural ball and erecting the catafalque on which Lincoln’s body lied in state. While Lincoln himself did not give Job the cane, I am sure it was a possession that Job treasured immensely for the short period it was in his hands.

I learned of the cane’s existence on the Internet Archives site, after coming across a booklet entitled Curios and Relics. Clothing Accessories. Canes Owned by Lincoln. It contains excerpts from newspapers and other sources that are held by the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection. The booklet contains a letter dated June 4, 19742, that was sent by Herbert R. Collins, Associate Curator, Division of Political History, Smithsonian Institution, to Mr. Mark E. Noely, Jr., Editor of the Lincoln Lore newsletter, Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The cane, located within the Smithsonian’s collections, was allocated Accession no. 203979, and was donated by Samuel J. Prescott. The description of the cane was given as follows:

The cane is made of orangewood and painted black but has since been sanded down and refinished in natural. The wood is studded with U4. knots, each having a top of silver upon which one letter of Lincoln’s name is engraved, so that the whole name is engraved, so that the whole series of letters from the handle to ferrule spell “Abraham Lincoln.”

There is a slight indenture on the top of the cane before the bend of the handle which indicates that a medal band was once there. Although this has been sanded extensively it is still visible. Two tacks and a rough unsanded end at the very end of the handle indicates a medal plate has been lost from that location.

This cane fits the description of one given to President Lincoln on July 4, 1859, when the city of Atlanta, Illinois asked him to speak for their celebration at Turner’s Grove for the Nation’s birth. Lincoln did agree to come but refused to speak. On the occasion Mr. Sylvester Strong, an old time friend of the President presented him with an orangewood cane with knots topped in silver spelling “Abraham Lincoln.”

First of all, the cane before it was sanded down and refinished would have had the appearance of buckthorn. Although, the stories of the owners of this cane since Lincoln are conflicting, it seems most unlikely that Abraham Lincoln would have owned two canes so unusual and yet so similar.

By the omission of the original plates, it seems as though someone might have gone to great effort to destroy the original documentation of the cane.

An account by Mr. Prescott states the cane was sold in Washington, D.C. in 1906 to Samuel J. Prescott for $50.00. Another account states it was sold at auction to H.H. Wibert for $145.00. The latter newspaper article seems to bear out the facts best as it states President Lincoln gave the cane to Frank B. Carpenter, the artist who spent six months in the White House studying Lincoln’s likeness. Carpenter died in the early 1890’s and the cane was auctioned by Fannie Mathews on at that time. Miss Mathewson held the cane as security for a loan she had made to Carpenter.- In view of these facts the newspaper article must date prior to 1895. The fact which now needs documenting is the transfer of the cane from Wibert to Job W. Angus sometime between 1895 and 1906. This would establish that the cane in the Smithsonian Institution is indeed the cane presented to Lincoln by his friend Sylvester Strong on his visit to Atlanta, Illinois on July 4, 1859.

Page 42 of the publication contains a black and white photographic image of the cane. A link is provided below (see endnote 2), if you would like to view it.

I found a further description of the cane in a book3 published in 1911 about the history of Logan County, Illinois, the county in which Sylvester Strong presented the cane to Lincoln:

LoganCo

In the overall scheme of things, I realize that Job’s association with the cane is an infinitesimally small footnote in history, but I thought it worth sharing this information with the Angus descendants who are among this blog’s readers. When it comes to researching one’s family history, even the smallest of details can be interesting, I think!

Have a great weekend!

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

1. Mr. Lincoln’s Country, from Illinois by Lincoln Financial Foundation, 1965, p. 111.

2. Curios and Relics. Clothing Accessories. Canes Owned by Lincoln. Excerpts from newspapers and other sources. The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, 1865, p. 39-42.

3. History of Logan County, Illinois: A Record of Its Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Volume 1, by Lawrence Beaumont Stringer (Logan County, IL: Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911), p. 227.

Categories: Angus, Lincoln, President Abraham, Washington DC | 2 Comments

Job Angus & President Lincoln’s catafalque

Lincoln's funeral procession on Pennsylvania Avenue on April 19, 1865. Lincoln was being moved from the White House to the Capitol rotunda. Photo is attributed in some places to Alexander Gardner.  Wikipedia: his image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Lincoln’s funeral procession on Pennsylvania Avenue on April 19, 1865. Lincoln was being moved from the White House to the Capitol rotunda. Photo is attributed in some places to Alexander Gardner. Wikipedia: This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

A while ago, I published a post about Job Angus’s friendship with President Lincoln, and specifically Job’s role in the inauguration, both as a participant in the procession as Assistant Marshall and as the supplier of the location for the inaugural ball.

Photograph of the Lincoln Catafalque in the United States Capitol, taken by Rebel At, on June 30th, 2007. Wikipedia.

Photograph of the Lincoln Catafalque in the United States Capitol, taken by Rebel At, on June 30th, 2007. Wikipedia.

Reading the article “Maryland man may have found two lost or forgotten photos of Lincoln’s funeral procession” online over the weekend reminded me of an article I’d stumbled on some time later, after posting that piece about the ballroom. In it was another mention of Job W. Angus (brother of my second great grandfather James W. Angus), this time about his role on the exceedingly sad occasion of Lincoln’s funeral.

From the Washington Evening Star, 20 April 1865:

The corps was laid on a catafalque, which was designed by B.B. French, Jr., erected in the center of the rotunda by Mr. Job W. Angus and others. The base is one foot high, eight and a half feet long, and four feet wide, and is covered with fine black cloth. The dais is two feet high, seven feet long, and two and a half feet wide. At each corner of the dais is a sloping union column, representing bundles of fasces tied with silver lace. This dais is also covered with black cloth and heavy festoons of the same material, which is edged with silver fringe hung on either side, being gathered in the center with a black rosette of satin ribbon, with a silver star, and from this falls a fold of cloth, the end of which containing three stars. On either side of the dais are two muskets with bayonets, two carbines and two sword bayonets crossed.

(For the full text of this and other articles related to Lincoln’s funeral proceedings, visit abrahamlincolnonline.org.)

Now here’s something I never knew, and it completely blows me away, knowing that Job had a hand in erecting President Lincoln’s catafalque: The very same catafalque has been used for all those who have since lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda* as well as for those who have lain in state elsewhere in the Capitol. That just astounds me. Angus descendants can feel very proud to have such a weighty connection to our nation’s history, a connection that is ongoing! Amazing!

 

*In the Capitol Rotunda (For more information on the catafalque, visit: Architect of the Capitol)
Abraham Lincoln April 19-21, 1865
Thaddeus Stevens August 13-14, 1868
Charles Sumner March 13, 1874
Henry Wilson November 25-26, 1875
James Abram Garfield September 21-23, 1881
John Alexander Logan December 30-31, 1886
William McKinley, Jr. September 17, 1901
Pierre Charles L’Enfant
(re-interment) April 28, 1909
George Dewey January 20, 1917
Unknown Soldier of World War I November 9-11, 1921
Warren Gamaliel Harding August 8, 1923
William Howard Taft March 11, 1930
John Joseph Pershing July 18-19, 1948
Robert Alphonso Taft August 2-3, 1953
Unknown Soldiers of World War II
and the Korean War May 28-30, 1958
John Fitzgerald Kennedy November 24-25, 1963
Douglas MacArthur April 8-9, 1964
Herbert Clark Hoover October 23-25, 1964
Dwight David Eisenhower March 30-31, 1969
Everett McKinley Dirksen September 9-10, 1969
J. Edgar Hoover May 3-4, 1972
Lyndon Baines Johnson January 24-25, 1973
Hubert Horatio Humphrey January 14-15, 1978
Unknown Soldier of Vietnam Era May 25-28, 1984
Claude Denson Pepper June 1-2, 1989
Ronald Wilson Reagan June 9-11, 2004
Gerald R. Ford, Jr. December 30, 2006–January 2, 2007
Daniel K. Inouye December 20, 2012

Categories: Angus, Death, Lincoln, President Abraham, Washington DC | 6 Comments

Job Winans Angus (1821-1909) and Lincoln’s lost inaugural ballroom

Smithsonian Headquarters Building, 1847; Architect:

Smithsonian Headquarters Building (“The Castle”), 1847-1855; Architect: James Renwick, Jr. (Wikimedia – public domain image)

Job Winans Angus (1821-1909) was the younger brother of James Winans Angus (1810-1862), a second great grandfather of mine; the former born in Elizabethtown, NJ, and the latter in New York City. Job was 11 years younger than James but outlived him by some 36 years, attaining the ripe old age of 88. Job’s life was replete with extraordinary experiences, something one would never guess looking at the simple marker that adorns his grave* in Glenwood Cemetery, where he rests alongside his wife Antoinette G. Hopper and their three daughters.

James and his wife Wealthy Jaques Angus, who settled in Elizabethtown, NJ, went on to name one of their seven sons after Job**, and their son James W. Angus Jr. (1841-1897) is actually believed to have gone to work in Washington for Job prior to the start of the Civil War, remaining there  until 1867 when he (James-age 26) was stricken with a stroke that tragically left him permanently paralyzed.

James W. Angus, older brother of Job W. Angus

James W. Angus, older brother of Job W. Angus

James Renwick, Jr. (Wikimedia - public domain image)

James Renwick, Jr. (Wikimedia – public domain image)

Job, who came to Washington DC with the Odd Fellows to help lay the cornerstone of the Washington Monument, was the construction superintendent for the Smithsonian Institution’s main building (“The Castle”, 1847-1855) which was designed by famed architect James Renwick Jr. Other projects Job supervised included Washington DC’s Metropolitan Hotel and Trinity Church, Lake Winnipesaukee’s Governor’s Island Club, a building in San Antonio, TX, and a number of government buildings throughout the US. He was architect of the American Mosaic Company Building in Washington DC, which has since been torn down, though this photo remains. At the time of his death, on July 1, 1909, he resided at 11 Ninth Street NE in Washington.

Job’s Washington Times obituary notice of July 2, 1909, stated that Job “was a friend of President Lincoln, and had charge of the Executive Mansion during that administration.” It also mentioned that he was present at the Washington Monument ceremony (December 6, 1884), celebrating the placement of the monument’s capstone.

Regarding Job’s relationship with President Lincoln, the following newspaper clipping*** shows that he participated as an Assistant Marshal in the inauguration of President Lincoln on March 4, 1861 (see bottom of third column).

National Republican newspaper, 4 March 1861

national_republican_2

national_republican_3

And, evidently, the inaugural ballroom in which celebrations took place that evening was built by none other than Job Winans Angus. The fate of the ballroom is described in detail on the Greater Greater Washington website which ran a fascinating article in June 2011 by David Rotenstein: Lincoln’s Lost Inaugural Ballroom. Click the link to go to the article which includes some great images.

Angus family home in Elizabeth, NJ, from 1848-1871

Angus family home in Elizabeth, NJ, from 1848-1871

It’s a true honor to have had a very distant uncle who had a friendship with President Lincoln, and who worked so diligently to undertake such impressive projects. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of the Angus family’s home in Elizabethtown to listen in the family’s conversations about Job’s experiences and accomplishments if and when he ever managed to visit. It really must have been quite a thrill.

*Find a Grave: Job Winans Angus; Antoinette G. Hopper Angus; daughters Emma, Louise, and Nettie are also buried at Glenwood and are linked to their parents on the Find a Grave site.

**Job Winans Angus, 1856-1936

***National Republican newspaper, 4 March 1861, from a Montour Falls, NY, paper (retrieved on 10/30/13 from http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Categories: Angus, Glenwood Cemetery Wash DC, Lincoln, President Abraham, Washington DC | Leave a comment

More on the tragic Tracy family house fire of February 1890

Last April I did two posts on the Brodhead/Catlin/Tracy families (Post 1, Post 2). You may recall that Delinda Catlin Tracy, wife of Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy, and her daughter Mary perished in a house fire at the Tracy residence on February 3, 1890. Delinda was the daughter of Nathaniel Catlin and Jane Dingman Brodhead.

I’ve come across a couple more extensive articles on the fire which are rich in biographical information about the family’s members. The articles were found on the Fulton History website, so thankfully, I am able to post them here. Another interesting article “Ladies of the Cabinet” was published the year prior, on 16 March 1889. It contains an interesting profile of Delinda Tracy and her family. However, I found it on Genealogy Bank so I am unable to include it here. Those with access to old Washington DC newspapers can find the article in The Evening Star on that date (page 7).

Article 1. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 4 February 1890 (credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com):

FOR BETTER READING, CLICK EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE

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Article courtesy of www.fultonhistory.com

Article courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com

Article 2. The New York Herald, 4 February 1890 (credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com):

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Categories: Brodhead, Catlin, Death, Green-Wood Cemetery Brooklyn NY, Tracy, Tracy, Benjamin F. Sec Nav, Washington DC | 2 Comments

Jane D. Brodhead’s spouse dies; daughter & granddaughter perish in fire; President Benjamin Harrison comes to call

Coincidentally to yesterday’s post on Isaac S. Catlin, a grandson of Garret Brodhead (b. 1733), I discovered an obituary for Isaac’s father Nathaniel Catlin. Nathaniel was married to Jane Dingman Brodhead (1805-1876), daughter of Samuel Brodhead (b. 1779) and Hannah Shoemaker. Interestingly, Jane’s brother Daniel (b. 1798) was married to Nathaniel’s sister Phoebe.

Nathaniel outlived Jane by some 17 years, dying at the ripe old age of 97. What particularly struck me about the obit was the last line about his daughter Mrs. Benjamin F. Tracey having died several years before, perishing in a fire in Washington DC. That definitely piqued my curiosity. I managed to find a newspaper article describing the horrific tragedy which took her life and that of her daughter in February 1890. More below.

NY Herald Tribune, 28 September 1893 (permission from www.fultonhistory.com)

NY Herald Tribune, 28 Sept. 1893 (permission from http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Catlin_Nathaniel

NY Herald Tribune, 28 Sept. 1893 (permission from http://www.fultonhistory.com)

AN AWFUL CALAMITY, the headline about the deadly fire, appears on the front page of the Gloversville, NY, Daily Leader, of 4 February 1890. Nathaniel’s daughter (Isaac’s sister) Delinda E. Catlin (b. 1826) was married to Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy who served in the administration of President Benjamin Harrison. The article describes how the Tracy home in Washington DC was consumed by fire, killing Mrs. Tracy, her unmarried daughter Mary, and a French nurse named Josephine. The home was located at 1684 I Street NW which would have placed it on Farragut Square. The cause of the fire was deemed to be a defective flue. Mrs. Tracy (Delinda), who jumped from a second floor window, could have survived the fire had she waited just moments more for the ladder that was being raised to her. The Secretary, who had evidently passed out in the room his wife had just leaped from, was rescued and carried through the window and down the ladder.

Tracy was taken to someone’s home to recover. He was called on there by President Harrison, and Harrison had Tracy removed to the Executive Mansion (the “White House”). It was Harrison who broke the news to Tracy about his wife and daughter. The entire article is included below.

Gloversville, NY, Daily Leader, 4February 1890 (used with permission of www.fultonhistory.com)

Gloversville, NY, Daily Leader, 4 Feb. 1890 (permission from http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Calamity, section 1

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Calamity, section 2

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Calamity, section 3

3

Calamity, section 4

4

Calamity, section 5

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Calamity, Section 6

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The article goes on to describe how, due to the tragedy, the President and his cabinet called off a planned visit to NYC. The Senate voted to adjourn out of respect. All in all, a terribly tragic story, and I was sorry to come across it. Without a doubt other family tragedies — some known and many still unknown to us — “adorn” our family trees; this is one of the most striking examples I have come across so far. May all those impacted be resting in peace.

Links to Find a Grave memorials:
Delinda E. Catlin Tracy
Mary Farrington Tracy
Benjamin Franklin Tracy
Emma Louise Tracy Wilmerding

White House in the Civil War era 1860s (photographer unknown; photo in public domain*)

White House in the Civil War era 1860s (photographer unknown; photo in public domain*)

President Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president (photo in public domain)

President Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president (Pach Brothers, 1896; photo in public domain*)

Calamity, section 7

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*This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923. See [http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/ this page] for further explanation. This image might not be in the public domain outside of the United States; this especially applies in the countries and areas that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for US works, such as Canada, mainland China (not Hong Kong nor Macao), Germany, Mexico, and Switzerland.

Categories: Brodhead, Brooklyn, Catlin, Green-Wood Cemetery Brooklyn NY, Harrison, President Benjamin, Shoemaker, Washington DC | 2 Comments

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