Posts Tagged With: genealogy

Dad’s good friends lost during the invasion of Bougainville

The landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Island of Bougainville, British Solomon Islands. By Unknown or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53319

My Dad’s memoirs, which he wrote while in his early seventies, include some details of his service with Company A, Third Marine Division. Here he talks about Bougainville: Orders came for an invasion of Bougainville, British Solomon Islands. So we started to hustle once again, packing gear, cleaning weapons, etc. We all went aboard a LCVP (landing craft vehicle personnel) hove to the beach. There were dozens of them to accommodate our entire division. The staging area for the operation was a few hundred miles north of Guadalcanal. Our firepower consisted of two battleships, 1 heavy cruiser, 3 destroyers, a supply ship and a hospital ship, plus many landing craft. We were offshore from Empress Augusta Bay. At around 0500 the Navy began shelling the beach. At about 0700 we all went over the side on cargo nets to the waiting boats below. We landed on Cape Torokina. We experienced light opposition while some of our division down the coast by the Piva River ran into stiff fighting. The entire division consisting of approximately 10,000 men was involved in this operation. My very good friends “Tiny” Owens (Congressional Medal of Honor winner), Jimmy Carrick and Carl Martin were all killed at Piva River. Also Teofilo Romero—one heck of a nice guy. Of the estimated 28,000 Japs on the island, only about 300 surrendered. The rest were either killed or committed suicide. Ten days after the landing, Bougainville was considered secure.

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The names of my Dad’s lost buddies stood out to me, of course, and I wanted to see what information I could find out about them. For three of them, I only found Find a Grave entries recording their burial places. Not surprisingly, much more can be found about Sgt. Owens. I can’t begin to imagine how deeply their loss was felt, not just by my father (then 22), but by all of Company A. They were so young, and gave all. May they — and my Dad (d. 1992) — rest in peace.

Sgt. Robert A. Owens (September 13, 1920 – November 1, 1943) – age 23 – hometown Drayton, SC; nicknamed “Tiny”, but there was nothing tiny about what he did at Bougainville on November 1, 1943. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, his father accepting the medal on August 12, 1945, at the family home from Major General Clayton B. Vogel, Commanding General at Parris Island at that time. Here is Sgt. Owen’s story. He lies in rest at the Manila American Cemetery. Other links:

PFC Carl Osteen Martin (May 29, 1924 – November 2, 1943) – age 19 – buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Mt. Olive, North Carolina.

PFC James Purcell Carrick (August 19, 1925 – November 20, 1943) – age 18 – buried in Section 34, Site 1131, Arlington National Cemetery.

PFC Teofilo Romero (March 7, 1925 – November 1, 1943) – age 18 – buried in Puerto Rico National Cemetery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico (Section F, Site 2856). Teofilo appears in the front left of the below photo my father had in his photo collection.

Categories: Bougainville, Brodhead, WWII | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

“Rocking Cradle” — An update on my Mayflower Society membership “quest”

L0057479 Savoyard baby’s rocking cradle, 18th century, viewpoint show
Credit: Science Museum, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Savoyard baby’s rocking cradle, 18th century, viewpoint showing the inside of cradle, graduated grey background.
Published: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

I had an email the other day from someone representing the local chapter of the Mayflower Society, asking me how things were going with my attempts to link my third-great-grandmother Wealthy Ann (Cushman) Jaques with Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton.

I had not worked on this since before my mother fractured her leg two years ago, and I recalled that there had been some formidable-looking brick walls to hurdle. I advised her of such and then spent a day refreshing my memory and retracing my steps to see if I had missed anything or anything new had surfaced online.

Pretty much everything was as before with the remarkable exception of the appearance of Eleazar Cushman’s 1795 will on Ancestry.com. As you may recall, my theory has been that this Eleazar Cushman was the son of Seth Cushman and Abiah Allen, baptised on 17 July 1768 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and that he and his wife Mercy (Marcia) Toocker are Wealthy’s parents. (See my previous posts on this topic by typing “Mayflower” into the search box.)

Eleazar (Eleasur) died on 9 August 1795 at age 27 and is buried in the Center Church Ancient Burying Ground in present-day downtown Hartford, CT. Per the Mortuary Notice, Connecticut Courant, Mon., 10 Aug 1795, he was a ship carpenter and died suddenly of “…drinking too freely of cold water.” For an interesting post “Drinking Cold Water and Other 19th Century Causes of Death,” which cites a famous doctor’s observations from 1805—not long after Eleazar died, click here.

Eleazar’s estate’s executors were James Hillyer and Joseph Toocker. This Joseph Toocker was either Mercy’s father or brother, both named Joseph, probably her father.

The materials include a statement submitted by Mercy:
“Hartford April 2nd, 1796 / This Certifies that it is at my request and desire that James Hillyer of Hartford should undertake as Administrator of the Estate of My husband Eleazar Cushman Late of Hartford (illegible word) witness my hand. Mercy Cushman”

The Administrator’s account of the estate, dated April 9, 1796, is not entirely legible to me. It includes an inventory page and an expenses page.

The inventory, which contains 26 items valued at £8.46, includes “one feather bed. under bed and pillows,” sheets and pillowcases, “one old jacket,” “one pair old shoes,” “one old cotton jacket,” “one cravat,” “eight earthen plates”, “stone jugg,” “frying pan,” “shovel & tongs,” “looking glass,” “one set of silver teaspoons,” “chest of drawers,” “9 knives & forks very old,” “iron teakittle” and a few other things.

The expenses page includes items totaling £8.46: burial and grave digging (90 p.), coffin (£1.90), 60p for one doctor and 36p for another, and what appears to be monies (£4.06) for “household furnishings allowed the widow” and “provisions for the family.”

One other thing in the inventory, which really caught my eye, was “rocking cradle” valued at 30p. Could this be the cradle in which my third-great-grandmother spent her earliest of days???

The “quest” continues… It’s not something that keeps me up at night by any means, but I do hope to connect the dots someday for the sake of the young ones in the family and those in my family tree who back in the 1930s tried, but failed to link their great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Cushman to the famed Mayflower passenger.

Categories: Angus, Cushman, Jaques, mayflower, Mayflower 1620 | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

January 1876 autograph album: A gift to Elizabeth Sargent Trewin from her Sunday School class

Elizabeth Sargent Trewin (Image from my family’s personal collection)

In January 1876, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent (b. 15 September 1854 in Northampton, England) was given an autograph book by her Jersey City, New Jersey, Sunday School class. She was 21 years old and evidently was a teacher to students not much younger than she. This was six-and-a-half years before she married widower William Trewin and became a second mother to his two sons, Bert (10) and Clarence (12). My grandmother Zillah arrived in June 1883, 11 months after they walked down the aisle. I have written numerous posts about both these families so if you are new to this blog and want to know more about them, it’s here! Just use the search box, or scroll down a bit and click on the relevant link in the directory on the left side of this page.

This autograph album captures autographs she acquired over the years and includes a couple of entries made by my mother who was 3 when Elizabeth died in February 1926.

Some of the entries are very faded, and I have tried to adjust those for some degree of readability. The entries that stand out to me are those made by family members:

Lulu Ludey, a niece by marriage, who wrote on November 26, 1885, at age 10: “Aunt Lizzie – When you are Old and Drinking your tea, put on your specs and Think of me. Your niece, Lulu Ludey”

Betty Boles, granddaughter, who wrote on November 27, 1933, at age 10: “For get me not. The violet loves a sunny bank, The cowslip loves the lea – The scarlet creeper loves the elm. But I love only thee. Your loving Granddaughter, Betty Boles”

Elizabeth Sargent’s autograph album (From my family’s personal collection)

Albert (Bert) Trewin, stepson, wrote on April 12, 1883, at not quite age 11: “Mamma, Lost yesterday somewhere between sunrise and sunset two golden hours each filled with sixty golden minutes, No reward is offered for they are gone forever. Your son, B. Trewin”

Zillah Trewin, daughter, who wrote in 1892, at age 9: “Mama – When after years when this you see I wonder what your name will be, Yours truly, Zillah Trewin”

Betty Boles, granddaughter, wrote in January 1933, at age 9: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, Sugar is sweet, and so are you. With love your granddaughter, Betty Boles”

Zillah Trewin, daughter, wrote on January 2, 1897, at age 14: “Dear Mama, Six little words I have for thee, Be happy and think of me. From your loving daughter, Zillah M. Trewin”

I “got lost” in this little album yesterday and must say reading through the entries lifted my spirits. Apart from my 96-year-old mother, all of these people are long long gone, and yet they seem very near to me today.

Presented to Miss Sargent by her Sunday School Class as a token of love. January 1876

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Categories: Boles, Heirlooms, Jersey City, Hudson Co., Memorabilia, New Jersey, Sargent, Trewin | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Annual Reunion of DePuy and Brodhead families – August 24, 2019; ‘Wheat Plains’ GoFundMe page available

“Wheat Plains,” the old Brodhead Homestead, Pike Co., Pennsylvania – Image from my family’s private collection

If you are a DePuy or Brodhead descendant and have not heard, the Association for these two families is holding its annual reunion on August 24th this year. It starts at 9 AM at the National Park Service’s Bushkill Meeting Center at 6414 Milford Road (Rte 209) in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. There will likely be a voluntary service project followed by dinner the day before – places still TBD.

To register your participation, you first need to join the Association ($20/year) so that you can receive its quarterly newsletters. The reunion fee is $12.50 per individual or $20 per couple. Funds go towards lunch & meeting room costs.  Contact:  DePuy/Brodhead Family Association, 9031 11th Place West, Everett, WA 98204-2694. Email: depuy.brodhead.family.assoc@gmail.com

By the way, I also just noticed that a GoFundMe page was set up a while back to raise funds for the renovations needed at the historic Brodhead ‘Wheat Plains’ house. There is a $100,000 goal. Click here. The Association is working on other ideas that could help raise funds and build awareness. The house and its grounds certainly mean a great deal to Brodhead descendants and the descendants of other families who settled in that part of Pennsylvania way back in the early 1700s; hopefully a broader base of support will emerge over time, however. As word spreads of the need to preserve this house and others like it in the area, I sure hope people start opening their wallets, if only to give a small gift.

Anyway, back to the reunion, if you’ve never been to this part of Pennsylvania, especially in the summertime, you are in for a treat if you go!

Categories: Brodhead, De Puy (De Pui) | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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.]

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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

Fowler T. Brodhead (1828-1902), famed linguist and foreign language teacher to President Grover Cleveland

New York. Grand ovation to Governor Cleveland in the city of Buffalo, October 2nd. Scene on Main Street / From sketches by C. Upham. 1884. (Credit Library of Congress digital archives http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c07331); Cleveland was 28th Governor of NY (1983-1985) and prior to that had been Mayor of Buffalo in 1882.

While perusing some old papers on Fulton History, I came across several exceedingly sad obituaries for the very gifted and talented Fowler Thayer Brodhead, who at one point in his life had taught foreign languages to a young Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), but in later years seems to have completely withdrawn from society. He died at 75 from what appears to have been a great deal of self-neglect, in spite of having substantial financial means at his disposal. While the articles seize strongly upon what became of Fowler after his mother’s passing in 1885, an event that supposedly sparked his mental and physical decline, his gifts and talents cannot be denied and deserve to be remembered, especially by those of us who share his Brodhead DNA.

From the Illustrated Buffalo Express, February 16, 1902: “Fowler T. Brodhead, famed as a linguist, teacher of Grover Cleveland, later a hermit, was buried in the Brodhead family plot in Forest Lawn last Friday. […] The story of his life is a tale of sadness. His father came to Buffalo from Hudson in 1830, a lawyer and graduate of Williams College, whose wife was Miss Nancy Thayer of Lee, Mass. The first American Brodhead was Captain Daniel Brodhead of the Yorkshire Regiment that came from England in 1664 and wrested New Netherlands from the Dutch. The Brodheads lived at Washington and Huron streets in 1837 and for years thereafter. The father was a law partner of Judge Masten. Fowler Brodhead was born in Hudson in 1828. He attended Fay’s Academy at Washington and Huron streets and then went to Albany to study medicine. He returned to Buffalo without finishing his course and studied French and German. He taught in the high school and gave private lessons. He became known as a proficient linguist, speaking several languages fluently. It, was related of him that be once sat down with a Frenchman, German, Italian and Spaniard and conversed with the four, each in his own language, fluently, and with ease. He wrote poems in several languages and wrote a play, The Burning of Buffalo, for the old Metropolitan Theater.”

I checked the online records for Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo and found Fowler and his parents William W. Brodhead and Nancy Thayer Brodhead. I went ahead and created memorial pages for them on the Find a Grave website. The three are located in Section: BB Lot: 143-N PT Spaces 1, 2, 3.

Volume 4 of The Brodhead Family has William listed on page 303. William Wheeler Brodhead (F-401) was the son of Luke Brodhead (1777-1845); Luke was a son of Daniel Brodhead and Hester Wyngart and a brother of my fifth-great-grandfather Garret Brodhead. William was baptized on 10 September 1797 at Linlithgo RDC, Livingston, Columbia County, NY, and married Nancy Lucretia Thayer on May 25, 1825 in Westfield, MA.  William “lived in Red Hook, NY at the time of his marriage and later lived Buffalo, NY where he was an attorney in 1850 and a private school teacher in 1860.” Fowler is listed as G-1226, but no information is given for him.

The newspaper articles point to Fowler’s withdrawal from society as coinciding with the death of his mother Nancy in 1885; he died with $4,000 to his name which was a substantial sum in 1902 (about $111,000 today). He lived at 82 10th Street in Buffalo; where the house once stood is now a vacant lot.

A notice of sale that appeared in the Buffalo New York Courier on October 24, 1903, offers the names of several Brodheads: two of Fowler’s nieces and a great-nephew. Charlotte Brodhead and Mary Gertude Brodhead (b. 1829 and 1837 respectively) were daughters of James Oliver Brodhead (1803-1841; Brodhead Family F-404) and wife Caroline Wackerhagen. James Oliver Brodhead was the brother of William W. Brodhead. Francis Reynolds Brodhead (b. 1863) was a nephew of the two sisters via their brother Thomas C. Brodhead (1835-1877), son of James Oliver Brodhead.

As sad as Fowler’s end was, clearly his was a life well lived at least up to a certain point. I’m glad I came upon his story. I do not want him to be forgotten especially since he had no wife or children to pass his story down along the line to today’s generations.

Illustrated Buffalo Express – 16 February 1902 (Credit: FultonHistory dot com)

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Buffalo Morning Express, 12 February 1902 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

Buffalo Morning Express, 12 February 1902 (Credit: Fulton History dot com)

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Buffalo NY Courier 12 Feb 1902 (Credit: Fulton History)

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Buffalo New York Courier, 24 October 1903

Categories: Brodhead, Cleveland Grover, Death, New York, Obituaries | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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