Holidays & Festivities
President John Adams (b. 1735) passed away on the 4th of July in 1826.
From the diary* of Reverend George Whitney, who on June 30, 1826, led a small delegation into the home of the 90-year-old feeble and frail former President:
“Spent a few minutes with him in conversation, and took from him a toast, to be presented on the Fourth of July as coming from him. I should have liked a longer one; but as it is, this will be acceptable. ‘I will give you,’ said he, ‘Independence forever!’” He was asked if he would not add any thing to it, and he replied, “not a word.”
*July Fourth Toast by John Adams, 30 June 1826,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-8030. [This is an Early Access document from The Adams Papers. It is not an authoritative final version.]
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.
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.
Valentine’s Day is almost here so it seems appropriate to share this little snippet I found among the many newspaper articles my grandmother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead clipped and set aside for safekeeping.
The clipping is about her great niece’s elopement at age 16, to William Bull, 20, in Cape Charles, Northampton County, Virginia. I found the marriage record, which shows the lovebirds got hitched on January 28, 1948. They gave their ages as 21 and 22, respectively. A Newark newspaper picked up on the story with its photo “Back from Gypsy Engagement”.
Obviously this fun-loving couple had a wonderful sense of humor:
Back in Newark NJ] after elopement to Cape Charles, Va., are Abby Sommer Bull, 16, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Sommer of 156 Heller parkway, and William Bull, 20, son of Dr. and Mrs. Louis M. Bull of 92 Heller Parkway. Bridegroom still wears earrings which helped them tell gypsy fortunes to finance trip home after they ran out of cash.
Abby and William were neighbors as you can see from the addresses, so perhaps the families knew that something like this was afoot.
Funny enough, when “googling” William’s name, I happened upon a small article in the January 24, 1914, issue of Horticulture reporting the January 13, 1914, elopement of William’s father Louis M. Bull!
Louis and his bride Gertrude Siebrecht, the daughter of a New York florist (which explains the article’s appearance in Horticulture), were the exact same ages as Abby and William at the time of their elopement–16 and 20. So something tells me that “family tradition” may have also been on young William’s mind as he planned his elopement with his young sweetheart.
And good news: Both marriages lasted a very long time!
Happy Valentines Day, all!
PS: A marriage ban was put into place in June 2018 in New Jersey that prohibited previously allowed marriages at age 16 with parental consent. In Virginia, until 2016, no minimum age for marriage had ever been set.
Another PS for family who may be wondering: Abby was a descendant of James and Wealthy Angus:
Another treasure has surfaced, this one found within a stack of extremely old newspapers and magazines. And I wanted to share it in the event it helps others locate an image of an ancestor (or two).
My grandmother, Fannie Bishop Woodruff, graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, on June 21, 1898, and the wonderful find is a fabulous and fascinating group photo of her with all of her classmates.
If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll see that I have labelled it with the names listed by my grandmother on the reverse side. I have marked her with a little red heart. A second red heart appears on her cousin Frank W. Russum whose mother was Cecelia Angus, a younger sister of Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, Fannie’s mother.
Every little detail makes this photo special—the expressions on the faces, the clothing, the architecture, the lettering on the sign followed by a period, the big wooden chair in the open window, the little flowers (dandelions?) on the lawn, the flower pot… A true slice of life from June 1898.
When it came to trying to match faces to the list of names, I was initially somewhat confused with regards to the order in which she listed the young men (starting from the left, but from the top or the bottom? Same question for the right side). I found a way to match them to her list by first finding photos of a handful of them in Rutgers College yearbooks (searching in the yearbooks for students from Elizabeth) and then matching the faces. That worked out well, so I feel quite confident that the young men are labelled correctly. (One young man – second from the left in the top row – is not identified—my grandmother left a space where his name should be; read further for my theory on him.)
By the way, those I found who went on to Rutgers were the following:
- Rutgers ‘02: Frank Winner Russum; Charles Ernest Pett; and Charles Warren Stevens Jr.
- Rutgers ’05: Emil Eisenhardt Fischer and Frederick Alton Price, Jr.
The yearbooks are available for free online via Rutgers (click the above links) and contain a wealth of information and images, Definitely worth a leaf through if you have time and are interested in getting a glimpse of college student life circa 1900, at what was once an all-male school.
With the ladies, identification was more cumbersome and not entirely successful. First, my grandmother refers to ‘rows’ with the 1st row being the top step and the 6th row being the bottom step. For me, it was difficult, if not impossible, to decide where rows 3, 4, and 5 start and end given the way the young women in those areas are not seated in neat rows. Second, you’ll notice that four are not labelled at all, and that is because my grandmother left empty space at the start of ‘row 5’ as if she planned to go back and fill in the names later. So, I have done my best guessing. (Names that are my best guess are in regular font; those I feel confident about are in bold.)
Two names of these ladies (Edith Denman and Ethel M. Hall) don’t appear in the commencement brochure (shown below), but they DO appear in the Elizabeth Daily Journal article about the 1897 graduation (that article is also below). Why that is, I have no idea.
There are names in the commencement brochure that likely match five of the people in the photo:
- Wilbur Van Sant Coleman* / Ora Kenneth Mizter / William John Millin / Richard Pollatschek / Ida Hand / Blanche Irene Hess* / Edna Winifred Lawson / Elizabeth Landrine Reeve / Elizabeth Winifred Roolvink* / Mary Elise ‘Sadie’ Fozard*
Pollatschek would have been a very unusual name for my grandmother to remember and write/pronounce, so perhaps the young man second from the left up top is Richard Pollaschek, who, I discovered, was born in Bohemia and emigrated from Austria to the US with his family.
To throw an additional spanner into the works, the above individuals marked with an asterisk also appear in the newspaper article for the previous year’s graduation… (as do names of some of the others in the photo)… Why that is, I don’t know. What makes things stranger is that Blanche Hess is listed as a participant in the ceremony in the 1898 brochure.
It occurred to me that the group photo could have been taken in 1897 when my grandmother was a junior, but that would not explain the presence in the 1897 newspaper article of so many names of people who aren’t in the group photo. If anyone out there has a theory as to the overlap, let me know.
Anyway, what matters most is that the photo exists, and we are still far ahead of the game of identification thanks to my grandmother who wrote down the names she did, and to my parents who kept the photo since her death in the mid-1960s.
Grandmother’s graduation ceremony was held on Tuesday, 21 June 1898, at 7:45 p.m. at the Star Theatre (which later became Proctor’s Theatre and had numerous other names over the years; it was eventually demolished and replaced by the Ritz Theatre) located at 1146 East Jersey Street, less than a mile from the school. At the time she lived on the family farm on Conant Street, Hillside; this must have been a big night out for her parents and five sisters, and of course, for the many other families whose children had grown up together in, what was then, a quickly evolving city.
You can read the article about the 1897 graduation (credit: Digi-find) to get a sense of what the 1898 ceremony may have been like. Apart from the article, below you will also find the 1898 commencement brochure and an excerpt about Battin High School from the 1889 book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated which contains hundreds of interesting photos and descriptions of Elizabeth during that period.
You may have noticed the two young black students in my grandmother’s group photo—James Morris and Mattie Thomas. James looks exceptionally scholarly in his spectacles and student attire. He is listed in the 1897 article as one of the students who was graduating. The article further stated: “As the graduates went forward to receive their diplomas each received applause. There were two young colored people in the class, and they were especially favored with the expression of the delight of the audience.” That was very gratifying to read and I have no doubt that Mattie and James were just as warmly received in 1898.
A-ha! Lightbulb moment! I noticed that James appeared in the 1897 list as a student in the Commercial Course and in the 1898 brochure as a student in the Regular Course. If I am not mistaken, the same appears to be true of the other students who appear to have graduated twice. So, perhaps, it was common for students to take an extra year to complete the regular course after graduating from the commercial course. That seems like a possible explanation.
I hope you find this post interesting and enjoyable. Please leave a comment if you have anything to correct, add, or share. Thank you!
Update: As luck would have it, I just came across the Elizabeth Daily Journal article for the 1898 graduation. It is included below at the very end. Unfortunately it is not entirely legible, but I can make out my grandmother’s name, and many of the others.
A Florida Friday: Enjoying our painted buntings’ return and treasuring Mom’s childhood Christmas decorations
Well, I have been laid low with a nasty cold this past week and haven’t had the energy to do much of anything. So this will be a quick post. First, I’m happy to say that “our” painted buntings have returned from the Carolinas to winter with us. They are elusive little critters, but I catch them pretty regularly coming to the feeder. They always wait for all the other birds to disappear before making their dash to the seeds. Sometimes they try to compete with the cardinals but the latter usually swat them away. Below is a little video of one of the males. And, second, I’m posting some photos of Mom’s surviving childhood Christmas decorations. They must be from the 1920s and 1930s. Her father used to build a little village out of them every Christmas that went up a ‘mountainside’ to the family Christmas tree in the house’s big bay window. Too bad no photos exist of that scene, but at lease some of the decorations have survived. Mom is enjoying seeing them on display again all these years later. Have a great weekend, all!
My great-grandfather William Trewin’s first marriage (1868) ended tragically on December 7, 1879, when his wife Edith H. Fry died in childbirth. He remarried and his two sons Bert and Clarence became the beloved sons of my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent. I’d never been able to find an exact date of William and Elizabeth’s marriage until earlier this summer when I found an envelope containing the original marriage certificate. The William Sargent listed as a witness was probably Elizabeth’s father rather than her brother who shared the same name. It appears that her brother Samuel, a Methodist minister, performed the ceremony. These new details, as few as they are, combined with images we have of these four, help paint a faint picture of the happenings of July 31, 1882, in the lives of these ancestors and those closest to them.
This is to Certify
That William Trewin of Elizabeth, NJ
and Elizabeth Sargent of Jersey City, NJ
were by me joined together in
in Jersey City according to the ordinance of God and the Laws
of the State of New Jersey on the 31st day of July 1882
Samuel Sargent, Minister of the Gospel
Lavinia Pratt Angus, youngest daughter of James Winans Angus and Wealthy Ann Jaques, was married briefly to John Philip Marthaler, who went by his middle name. They wed in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on 24 May 1879. Lavinia (“Vean”) was twenty years old and Philip was about 28 at the time. I have come upon a labelled photograph of Philip who died sometime before 1885. It was taken at Bogardus’ Souvenir Card, at 872 Broadway in New York City. He was a very handsome fellow with very kind eyes, and I think this solves the mystery for me of who the fellow was in one of my past posts in which I thought perhaps the man shown was a Jaques family member. No, it’s Philip—sans beard! Now I just wish I could find a photo of Aunt Vean…