Posts Tagged With: elizabethtown

Elizabeth, NJ, circa 1849: Life at the Angus home on Elizabeth Avenue

Yummy quince preserves from France found at our local Tuesday Morning store

A few days ago, I made an unexpected discovery at our local Tuesday Morning store: jars and jars of quince preserves, not a common sight here. And that reminded me of a very interesting post I’d planned to do a while back but never got around to.

Many descendants of the Angus family may already be familiar with the information I am about to disclose, but on the off-chance these details never found their way down your branch of the family tree, I will go ahead and share.

Lovett’s illustrated catalogue of fruit and ornamental trees and plants for the autumn of 1891. Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection.; J.T. Lovett Company. Credit: www. biodiversitylibrary. org/page/42764492

A while back, I did a post mentioning the fact that almost every yard in America within the right growing range would have once featured a quince tree; it was a fruit that was essential to the process of canning and preserving food. Well, a letter reveals that in addition to numerous other types of fruit trees, my/our second-great-grandparents Angus had a quince tree on their 927 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey, property. I know this because I came across a copy of a letter that mentions the trees and a few more interesting things about the Angus family’s life in the mid-1800s.

Thomas F. Russum, son of Thomas and Cecelia (Angus) Russum and one of the many Angus grandsons, copied the letter on February 24, 1934, on his letterhead stationery (address 6 Seneca Avenue, White Plains, New York). The original letter had been written circa 1849 by a roughly nine-year-old Isaac G. de G. Angus to his godmother in Mexico. Thomas copied the letter before passing it on to Isaac’s son Addison Clark Angus, who was then living at 1833 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.

I surmise that Thomas must have found the letter among old family papers and decided to send the original letter—which evidently the godparents returned to Wealthy Angus after learning of Isaac’s 1885 death at age 45—to Addison, Isaac’s sole surviving child. (For some background on the Mexico connection, please refer to this past post.)

Angus family home at 927 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey, from 1848-1871; the house was torn down a long time ago. A law office occupies this land today.

Isaac’s letter, though brief, is absolutely wonderful. Nowhere else have I ever seen/heard/read anything about the Angus household at that time. So, if you have never seen this letter before, I hope you will enjoy reading it. (I have retained the spelling but have added some punctuation for readability and some bracketed information.)

My dear Madrina [Godmother],

My Ma has just written you a letter so I think I will follow her example and write one too. We are all pretty well. We have another little brother. His name is George Welsh. I wish you could see him. He is a very nice little baby and we like him very much. My Pa and Ma wishes very much that you was here. They talk of you and Dona Margarita and Pepa everyday. Jacob [Jacob Baker Angus, 1844-1850] has forgotten all his Spanish and they are afraid that Jimmy [James Winans Angus Jr. 1841-1897] and I will too. Ma hears us read and gives us a lesson almost every day. Won’t you come and live with us. You would like this country. I like it very much. My Pa has got a big house and a very nice garden with apples, pears, plums, quinces and other fruit in it. And he has got a very pretty carriage and horse and some chickens and two little pigs. Give my love to Dona Margarito a Pepa. Tell my Padrino [Godfather] I think he might write me a letter if he ever thinks of me. Give my love to him and all my other friends such as Don Bernardo’s mother. We live in the next house to my Grandpas [Isaac Jaques] and we go there every day. I have no more to write now. You must answer this soon.

Your affectionate godson
Isaac Gabriel de Guadalup Angus

Still Life: Fruit, Bird, and Dwarf Pear Tree by Charles V. Bond, American, 1856

The letter was written after the birth of George Welsh Angus (13 May 1849) and before the death of Jacob “Jimmy” Baker Angus (8 June 1850 – scarlet fever).

The family had departed Mexico in early 1849, after a roughly seven-year stay, due to father James’s health issues. It seems likely that young Isaac wrote this letter in summer/fall when the thought of fruit trees would have been top of mind for a child.

Isaac writes about liking his new country. Even though he was born in Elizabeth, he’d spent the bulk of his life thus far in Mexico City. Returning to daily life in Elizabeth must have been a huge adjustment for him and his siblings. Certainly they must have enjoyed being next door to their grandfather Isaac Jaques and grandmother Wealthy Cushman Jaques who would have been in their mid- to late-50s at that time and, no doubt, delighted to have daughter Wealthy and her growing family back in their midst.

View Near Elizabethtown, N. J., oil painting by Régis François Gignoux, 1847, Honolulu Museum of Art

The contrasts between Mexico City (oldest capital city in the Americas, with a population probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 by 1850) and Elizabeth (1850 population: 5,583) must have made a big impression on the family, as I’m sure did the difference in climate. New Jersey winters are usually cold and bleak. The painting on the left, painted two years before the Anguses returned home, shows just what wintry conditions may have awaited them. For Wealthy and James especially, their Mexico life and their adventures there during the US-Mexico War must have lingered in their minds for a very long time. And, until they’d fully acclimatized themselves, daily life in Elizabeth may have seemed a bit boring. Of course, the city of Manhattan, with its population of ~500,000 was close by, so perhaps they were happy to come home and get caught up on all the changes that had taken place in their absence. This was, after all, HOME.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of reception the family received from the community when they returned to live in Elizabethtown.  There must have been a lot of curiosity about these somewhat “exotic”” neighbors with their unique international experiences and ability to speak Spanish.

Bird’s-eye view of Mexico City as seen from convent of San Cosme (1847). Panorámica de la ciudad de México desde el convento de San Cosme (1847). Artist: N. Currier (Wikimedia Commons: In Public Domain in US (70 years) and Mexico (100 years)

From the letter, we can see that Wealthy was tutoring the children daily, trying to make sure the children would not forget their Spanish; young Isaac does not mention his younger sister Mary Martha who was probably about three at the time. (Another six children would make their appearances between 1850 and 1861, one of them being my great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff.)

Photograph of Isaac G. de G. Angus, Princeton 1860 grad, from the collections of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton, NJ. Reproduced here in low resolution with their permission. Call number AC-104, Box 117.

Obviously the family had warmly embraced their Mexican friends and now, with such distance between them, only had letter-writing as a way of remaining in touch. The fact that the godparents returned this letter to mother Wealthy Jaques Angus after Isaac’s death in 1885, some 35 years after they’d left Mexico, indicates that the families remained in contact.

It would be fabulous to know who these godparents and friends in Mexico were. Unfortunately I have not come across those details yet.

If anyone out there has more information about anything related to this post, please do share. Thank you.

 

 

 

Advertisements
Categories: Angus, Elizabeth, Union Co., Mexico, New Jersey, Russum | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Inside the house Francis Woodruff built, circa 1845

Francois Gignoux, View near Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 1847

If you’re like me, you occasionally look up the addresses of ancestors to see if their homes are still standing; and if they are and they happen to be for sale or have sold in the not-too-distant past, you can get a glimpse inside, thanks to all those online realtor photos, many of which seem to linger long after the sale has been made.

Last fall I found a listing for the house my second-great-grandfather Francis Woodruff built circa 1845 in Elizabethtown, NJ, on what was then farmland and in what is now the town of Hillside. Frenchman Régis François Gignoux (1816–1882) painted the above scene around that time. As you can see, it must have been a very bucolic setting in the summertime; Francis and his family made a living off the land, something many living in that part of New Jersey today might find hard to imagine.

I contemplated flying up to NJ to take a look inside but scrapped that idea after all of us in the family contracted type A flu, an event we did not rebound from quickly. Of course, now I regret not getting up there—who knows when the house will be for sale again?

In any case, the house was sold, but many photos remain on Realtor dot com. To look inside, visit this link: Conant Street house. I wrote about this house once before in a post about my grandmother’s wedding in which I included this information from the six-page PDF Eight Colonial Homes, an undated publication put out by the staff of the Hillside National Bank:

A third Woodruff house, while appearing to be the same vintage as the others, was erected about 1845. […] …it is frequently the subject of artists’ paint brushes because of its picturesque setting. It was built by Francis Woodruff, a descendant of Enos Woodruff. A letter from Mathias Woodruff in 1843 to his brother, another Enos Woodruff, comments that he is planning to return from Louisiana to help his cousin, Ezra Woodruff, erect a house for Frank. The letter jokingly said in part: “Frank will want him to put up a house next summer. I have advised him to find out from the neighbors what kind of house he wants, sort of architecture, on which side to put the kitchen, dog house, pig pens. If all parties are satisfied, it will save a great deal of talk.” Oddly enough it was constructed sideways to the road, but when the Westminster section was developed by Edward Grassman in the 1930’s, Revere Drive was placed in front of it, so today it faces a street.

Having seen the interior photos, I can try to picture the family members living there and going about their daily lives. This is where Francis and Mary Jane Trowbridge raised their four children: William, Matthias, Emma, and Phebe. This is where William, who took over the farm, raised his six daughters with wife Wealthy Ann Angus. The house remained in the family until 1928, the year William (b. 1848) died. (Wealthy predeceased him.) By then the six daughters were married with children and living elsewhere. Farmland in Elizabethtown was becoming non-existent as the county’s towns expanded. The Woodruff farm was swallowed up and became part of a housing development in Hillside.

I now read some of my old posts in a slightly new light, better able to imagine the happenings inside the home—this is where Mary Jane got her small children up and dressed in the morning; these are the stairs the Woodruff children, grand-children and great-grandchildren ran up and down through the years; this in the fireplace Francis sat down next to to write his grown children letters while they temporarily lived elsewhere or where he retired to to read their letters—letters to and from William when he was out West sheep farming or letters to and from Matthias when he farming wheat in the Dakota Territory; this is the home in which a teen-aged William wrote letters to his uncles Trowbridge while they were serving in the Union Army; this is the parlor in which the family entertained guests and marked my grandmother’s wedding in 1908 and William and Wealthy’s golden anniversary in 1922, etc.

Of course, the house has been altered through the years, there’s no denying that, but original features remain as you can see in the photos—the wood flooring, the beams, the fireplaces, and the windows, including the diamond-shaped window in the attic.

It’s wonderful to see this house still standing after 170+ years. For that I thank all of its past and present occupants and all of those local citizens who through the decades have appreciated its important heritage.

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, Woodruff | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Powered by WordPress.com.

Story_Trails

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

Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

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

Myricopia

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Buddha walks into a library ...

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

Elves Choice

Holiday Bargains & Recipes

MarileeWein.com

DOUBLE GENEALOGY: the ADOPTION WITNESS

Tastes of Health

Passionate about Health, Fitness and easily prepared Delicious Food

Applegate Genealogy

Helping others discover their roots

allenrizzi

Sempre in Movimento! Published Every Friday at 12 PM EST

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

destined2delve.wordpress.com/

Whether triumphant or turbulent, every piece of history has something to tell us. The question is... Will we listen?

THEVYPEFFECT

all about travelling in korea

My Descendant's Ancestors

Tips, Tools and Stories for the Family Historian

Smart Veg Recipes

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

ICI & LA NATURE PICTURES

Walk and Bike in France. www.icietlanature.com

The Lives of my Ancestors

Lives, Biographies and Sketches of my Family History

Down the Rabbit Hole with Sir LeprechaunRabbit

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

Diggin' Up Graves

Genealogy and family history, dirt and all.

Momoe's Cupboard

Low Budget Meals and Ideas

Generations of Nomads

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

Your daily Civil War newspaper [est. 1995]

All the Civil War news fit to re-print

Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained-Author Adrienne Morris

Books, Art and the Writing Life at Middlemay Farm

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

newarkpoems

350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy

WeGoBack

family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

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

Genealogy Technology

Family history for the 21st century

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family

RESEARCHING MY FAMILY TREE

Shaking the tree

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

A Hundred Years Ago

Food and More

Scots Roots

Helping you dig up your Scots roots.

Root To Tip

Not just a list of names and dates

Food Perestroika

Adventures in Eastern Bloc Cuisine

Being Em | From Busan to America

this journey is my own, but i'm happy to share.

TWISTED LIMBS & CROOKED BRANCHES

Genealogy - Looking For "Dead People"!

Cemeteries of Brunswick, Maine

To live in the hearts we leave behind, is not to die. ~ Thomas Campbell

%d bloggers like this: