William F. Cogswell, early settler of Pasadena, California: His portrait of President Lincoln hangs in the White House

Abraham Lincoln by William F. Cogswell, 1869 (The White House Historical Association)

Abraham Lincoln by William F. Cogswell, 1869 (The White House Historical Association)

While researching my Cogswell family line, I discovered a cousin who has an interesting connection to the early history of Pasadena, California (just a few miles west of where I currently live in Monrovia).  William F. Cogswell (1819-1903) is descended, as I am, from Samuel Cogswell and Susanna Haven (discussed under the heading of John Cogswell, who was shipwrecked on the coast of Maine in 1635).  William was a portrait artist from Fabius, New York.  In the 1830s, while working in a Buffalo, New York color factory, he taught himself painting.  During the 1840s, he worked in New York City as a professional portrait artist.  He lived in California from 1873 until his death in South Pasadena in 1903, with the exception of several trips to the Hawaiian islands between 1878 and 1897.

Cogswell, a self-trained painter, created portraits of many of the most prominent men and women of his era, and he is best known for his life-sized portrait of Abraham Lincoln.  In 1864, he was invited to the White House to make sketches of President Lincoln, and Cogswell used the sketches and possibly a photograph of Lincoln to create his famous Lincoln portrait.  After Lincoln’s death, Congress issued a call for artists to submit portraits of Lincoln and appropriated $3,000 to be awarded to the winning artist.  Cogswell submitted his portrait (completed in 1869) and won the competition. The Lincoln portrait became part of the White House collection, where it remains to this day.

Though well established on the east coast, at the age of 54, Cogswell moved west, and in 1873 he purchased 473 acres of land in what is now Pasadena, California.  The wild foothills setting offered unimpeded views that likely captured the artist’s eye and imagination.  The property extended east of Eaton Wash from north of the modern Eaton Canyon Golf Course to present day Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue (near the Gold Line Metro light rail station).  Cogswell’s purchase also included rights to half the water flow over a waterfall located north of present day Pasadena Glen.  With the aid of 70 Chinese laborers, Cogswell’s land was cleared and planted with citrus trees and grape vines.  Water was transported from the waterfall downhill by flume or clay pipe to irrigate the land.  A beautiful Victorian home was built on the northern edge of the property (see photo below).  In 1876, Cogswell and his son-in-law, William Porter Rhoades, founded the Sierra Madre Villa Hotel on the site, and for a brief time, the Villa was the premier winter resort west of the Mississippi.

Obituary - The Pasadena Evening Star, 26 Dec 1903

Obituary – The Pasadena Evening Star, 26 Dec 1903

There is a mystery involving a copy that Cogswell made for the city of Pasadena of his Lincoln portrait.  Cogswell’s obituary, which ran on page 1 of the Pasadena Evening Star (26 Dec 1903), refers to a Cogswell painting hanging in the Pasadena Public Library that was a replica of the famous portrait.  The enterprising Cogswell appears to have painted at least three copies (possibly more) of his White House Lincoln portrait.  One hangs in the California State Capitol in Sacramento, overlooking the Assembly Chambers.  In 2008, a Pasadena resident who publishes a local blog, Michael Coppress, reviewed notes and letters contained in a Pasadena Public Library folder on Cogswell, which indicated that a third portrait was hanging in the Royal Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii. (In 1890 Cogswell travelled to the islands to paint Queen Liliuokalani and Hawaiian royalty).

It seems the library had trouble finding a suitable place for the life-sized portrait of the 6″4″ tall Great Emancipator.  Sometime after 1903, the library’s painting was removed from the library walls, placed in storage and forgotten.  Decades later, a Los Angeles Times article dated 7 Feb 1932 reported the painting had been found.  Under the headline “Rare Lincoln Portrait Found — Rare Oil Painting Discovered in Pasadena,” the Times reported that the portrait had been found in the library’s storage loft.  The article stated the painting was in perfect condition and in a heavy gold frame.  The article also announced that the painting would be displayed at the upcoming opening of the new Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

A few decades after that, a 1961 letter to the Pasadena Public Library and correspondence with the Library of Congress and Frick Art Reference Library stated that Cogswell’s Lincoln portrait belonged to the Pasadena Historical Society and was hanging in the Pasadena Public Library.  Therefore, it appears that a copy of the Lincoln portrait was hanging (off and on) or in storage at the library from at least 1903 to 1961.  Then, sometime after 1961, the portrait seems to have vanished again.

After learning Cogswell’s story and that of Pasadena’s Lincoln portrait, Michael Coppress wanted to see the portrait, but discovered after contacting the library, Pasadena Historical Museum and the city government, that there was no painting to be found in Pasadena.  He also emailed the Hawaiian State Archivist asking about the Lincoln portrait in Hawaii, but the archivist emailed back stating they had no record of Cogswell’s Lincoln portrait either.

So, the mystery remains. Based on Cogswell’s obituary, the 1932 Times article and 1961 library correspondence, we know that from at least 1903 to 1961 Cogswell’s replica of his famous Lincoln portrait was either hanging or stored in the Pasadena Public Library.  Based on the 1961 correspondence from the Hawaiian Historical Society, we know that Cogswell left another replica of his famous Lincoln portrait in the Royal Palace.  It wouldn’t seem that such paintings could just vanish, but that is what seems to have occurred.

So, where is the Lincoln portrait that hung for so many decades in the Pasadena Public Library?

Subsequent research has revealed that the Albion Castle at Hunter’s Point in San Francisco has a replica of Cogswell’s famous Lincoln portrait, and it may well be the portrait that hung in the Pasadena Public Library for so many decades.  If it is, no one knows for sure how it got there.  If it was the picture that was originally in Pasadena, it means that the City has lost it three times (at least)!

I’ve posted a photo (below) of the Albion Castle portrait — > the original image was found HERE.

Lincoln hangs in Albion Castle living room. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/albion-castle

Lincoln hangs in Albion Castle living room.

The main residence at the Sierra Madre Villa was this Victorian home built in 1874 by noted artist William Cogswell and his son in law, William Porter Rhoades. Back in the late 1800’s, “the Villa” was world famous as a resort hotel. The hotel and the Cogswell/Rhoades house are long gone from Pasadena. In the mid-1940s, the Cogswell/Rhoades house was sold to the up-and-coming Walt Disney Studio in nearby Burbank. Disney moved the house up to Porterville where it was used on the set of "So Dear to My Heart", a 1948 movie. They modified the old Victorian into a general store and the house appears in the movie as Grundy’s Mercantile. After the film, Disney removed the decorative Victorian trim from the old Cogswell/Rhoades home and placed in storage for later use. Eventually, the trim quickly found a place on the turn of the century buildings that lined Disneyland's Main Street.

The main residence at the Sierra Madre Villa was this Victorian home built in 1874 by noted artist William Cogswell and his son in law, William Porter Rhoades. Back in the late 1800’s, “the Villa” was world famous as a resort hotel. The hotel and the Cogswell/Rhoades house are long gone from Pasadena. In the mid-1940s, the Cogswell/Rhoades house was sold to the up-and-coming Walt Disney Studio in nearby Burbank. Disney moved the house up to Porterville where it was used on the set of “So Dear to My Heart”, a 1948 movie. They modified the old Victorian into a general store and the house appears in the movie as Grundy’s Mercantile. After the film, Disney removed the decorative Victorian trim from the old Cogswell/Rhoades home and placed in storage for later use. Eventually, the trim quickly found a place on the turn of the century buildings that lined Disneyland’s Main Street.

 

 

(458)

Mary Dyer statue (Earlham College)

Julie Esker Dishman posted a nice photo on Facebook that she took yesterday of the Mary Dyer statue on the campus of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. I’m posting it here with her permission, and THANK YOU, Julie! The college was founded by Quakers in 1847, and Mary Dyer was a Quaker martyr and champion of religious freedom in colonial New England. I believe this is a casting of the same statue that sits in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Check out the linked page for more information about Mary (Barrett) Dyer (1611-1660), my 9th g-grandmother. I am descended from two of Mary’s grandchildren. As a result, she is also my 10th g-grandmother.

Mary Dyer statue, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana (photo credit: Julie Esker Dishman)

Mary Dyer statue, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana (photo credit: Julie Esker Dishman)

 

(48)

The “Preston-Foster House” of Ipswich, Massachusetts

The "Preston-Foster House", 6 Water Street, Ipswich, Massachusetts

The “Preston-Foster House”, 6 Water Street, Ipswich, Massachusetts

I’ve located another historic home to add to my list of “Family Homes” connected to my ancestors. This one is located at 6 Water Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and the house currently on the site was built in approximately 1690. In 1658, a man named Roger Preston sold the land on which it sits (and the house that occupied the site at the time) to my paternal 9th g-grandfather, Reginald Foster (1595-1681).

The home is described on the website of the Historical Ipswich Historical Commission as having a typical original first-period floor plan in the original front structure. In the right half are two massive quarter-round chamfered summer beams typical of the late seventeenth century, which would date the house to 1690. The very sharp-pitched roof and purlins add additional evidence of the early date. In the first-floor right side room is fine rich-hued and unpainted horizontal feather-edged paneling, whereas later Federal style features are seen in the central hall and upstairs fireplace. The house currently standing on the site, therefore, was possibly constructed after (and replaced) the home where Reginald Foster dwelt during his lifetime. The Ipswich Historical Commission would welcome more information about the date.

My complete, illustrated listing of “Family Homes” can be found —> HERE.

 

(143)

Trial Over Touro Synagogue, The Nation’s Oldest Jewish House Of Worship, Begins In Rhode Island

In 1677, the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island purchased land for a burial place from my 8th g-grandfather, Nathaniel Dickens (1614-1690).  The city’s Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building in North America and the only surviving synagogue in the U.S. dating back to the colonial era. It is considered by some to be the most historically significant Jewish building in the United States. You can read more about my connection to this bit of history in a post that I wrote earlier this year —> HERE, and you can read more about Nathaniel Dickens and his family line — > HERE.

The following article on a legal dispute involving the historic synagogue is from the Associated Press, by Michelle R. Smith (published on the website of HuffPost Religion, 1 Jun 2015):

Touro Synagogue, the nation's oldest, is seen from the "ladies gallery" in Newport, Rhode Island.(AP photo / Stephan Savoia, 28 May 2015)

Touro Synagogue, the nation’s oldest, is seen from the “ladies gallery” in Newport, Rhode Island.(AP photo / Stephan Savoia, 28 May 2015)

A bitter struggle for control over the nation’s oldest synagogue goes to trial this week, with lawyers saying they may use more than 1,000 exhibits dating as far back as 1733.  The congregation that worships at the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport says its very existence is at stake.  The congregation that owns it accuses the Newport congregation of lawlessness for agreeing to sell a pair of ceremonial bells valued at more than $7 million.  The lawsuit and countersuit, brought by the nation’s first Jewish congregation, are being heard in a bench trial beginning Monday in U.S. District Court in Providence and rely on centuries of history.

Dedicated in 1763, the Touro Synagogue sits on a hill in this seaside town of Colonial homes and cobblestone streets. It is a National Historic Site and has been visited by three presidents: George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.  In 1790, the congregation received a letter from Washington in which he wrote that the government of the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” The letter, sent before the Bill of Rights was ratified, is held up as an affirmation of the fledgling government’s commitment to religious liberty.

In the years that followed, Jews left the city, and the synagogue closed. Touro’s contents were transferred to the nation’s oldest Jewish congregation in New York, Congregation Shearith Israel, established in 1654.  In the late 1800s, Jews re-established themselves in Newport and began worshipping there again. Congregation Shearith Israel sent the items back, including two pairs of rimonim (pronounced rih-moh-NEEM’), bells placed on the handles of a Torah scroll. They were made by Myer Myers, among the premier silversmiths of the Colonial era.

Around the turn of the century, there was a lawsuit and struggle for control of Touro.  In settling it, the congregation that worships there, Congregation Jeshuat Israel, ultimately signed a lease in 1903 to rent Touro from Congregation Shearith Israel for $1 per year.

The Newport congregation acknowledges in its lawsuit that the New York congregation owns Touro, but argues it holds it in trust for the Newport congregation’s benefit.  It wants them removed as a trustee.  It also says that it owns the rimonim outright.  The Newport congregation says it decided to sell reluctantly, and only because the congregation, which has around 100 families, needs the money.  Although tens of thousands of visitors come through its doors every year, it says it barely has the money to pay for its expenses.  It has tried and failed to raise the money for an endowment, it said.

“Jeshuat Israel is just one unforeseen expense away from financial disaster,” its lawyers wrote in a pretrial filing.

It says it chose to sell to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston because thousands of people would be able to see them.  The museum offered $7.4 million for the bells in 2011.  That offer was rescinded amid the ownership dispute.

The Newport congregation says that before the New York congregation “came out of the woodwork” to claim it owned the bells, it had abandoned Touro.  It says the last time the New York congregation provided any financial help was likely in 1983, when it gave $100.  Before that, it says, the last time was the 1960s.

But Congregation Shearith Israel, which overlooks Central Park on New York City’s Upper West Side, says that it is not the trustee of Touro, but rather a “benevolent landlord” that has overseen the property for nearly 200 years, since long before a “new” group of Jews came to Newport and began worshipping at Touro.  It says any financial problems there are the result of poor management.  It also says it owns the bells and accuses the Newport congregation of trying to steal the bells and then sell them secretly.

Its lawsuit says it wants to evict Congregation Jeshuat Israel from Touro.  In a pretrial filing, it told the judge it does not want to eject any congregant, but rather wants to replace its leadership.  To sell the rimonim would be to “sell a piece of Newport’s history to further its narrow self-interests,” it says.

“Shearith Israel wants future generations of worshippers to be able to experience these historic treasures and the fullness of Touro Synagogue’s rich history,” its lawyers wrote.

The trial is expected to last two weeks, but the judge will issue a decision later. The state of Rhode Island, which intervened in the case, will weigh in with the judge after the trial concludes.

 

(134)

Alden House Historic Site – Duxbury, Massachusetts

This short history of the Alden property was written by Curator James W. Baker, and is a revised version of that was published in Alden House History: A Work in Progress (Duxbury, 2006). It appears on the website of the Alden House Historic Site. The original link is — > HERE.   The events associated with the Mayflower voyage and […]

» Read more

Earle #5600

Ralph Earle (1606-1678) Born in England.  Arrived in Rhode Island by 1634 and Joan Savage (1609-1679) Born in England.  Arrived in Rhode Island in 1634. I am descended from Ralph Earle (1606-1678)[1] and William Earle (1635-1715)[2] in more ways than the path summarized above.  Specifically, I am descended from Ralph Earle (1606-1678) and Joan Savage (1609-1679) through two of their sons, William and Ralph.  In addition, I […]

» Read more

King Philip’s War began 340 years ago today at the home of my 9th g-grandfather

Dr. William Brackney (co-author of Baptists in Early North America-Swansea, Massachusetts) standing at the monument near the site of John Myles’ Garrison House in Swansea, Massachusetts. Location: 41° 46.37′ N, 71° 17.13′ W. Marker is at the intersection of Old Providence Road and Barneyville Road, on the left when traveling east on Old Providence Road. The text of the plaque reads: “MYLES GARRISON HOUSE SITE Near this spot stood the John Myles Garrison House. 1st place of meeting of the troops of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies commanded by Majors Thomas Savage and James Cudworth, who marched to the relief of Swansea at the opening of King Philip’s War, A.D. 1675. There fell in Swansea, slain by the Indians, Nehemiah Allin, William Cahoone, Gershom Cobb, John Druce, John Fall, William Hammond, John Jones, Robert Jones, Joseph Lewis, John Salisbury, William Salisbury. To mark this historic site, this monument was erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts A.D. 1912.” (photo credit: FBC in Swansea / Rev. C. Hartman)

Dr. William Brackney (co-author of Baptists in Early North America-Swansea, Massachusetts) standing at the monument near the site of John Myles’ Garrison House in Swansea, Massachusetts. Location: 41° 46.37′ N, 71° 17.13′ W. Marker is at the intersection of Old Providence Road and Barneyville Road, on the left when traveling east on Old Providence Road. The text of the plaque reads: “MYLES GARRISON HOUSE SITE Near this spot stood the John Myles Garrison House. 1st place of meeting of the troops of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies commanded by Majors Thomas Savage and James Cudworth, who marched to the relief of Swansea at the opening of King Philip’s War, A.D. 1675. There fell in Swansea, slain by the Indians, Nehemiah Allin, William Cahoone, Gershom Cobb, John Druce, John Fall, William Hammond, John Jones, Robert Jones, Joseph Lewis, John Salisbury, William Salisbury. To mark this historic site, this monument was erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts A.D. 1912.” (photo credit: FBC in Swansea / Rev. C. Hartman)

One of the deadliest wars in American history, known as King Philip’s War, literally began at the home of my 9th g-grandfather, Rev. John Myles in Swansea, Massachusetts. On 20 Jun 1675, the first Indian attack of King Philip’s War had all 70 settlers confined to their stockade when the Indians attacked Swansea, Massachusetts at the time of worship. Many were wounded, one was killed, and much of the town was burned. John Myles‘ house was made a fortification. John Myles subsequently repaired to Boston and became a leader in the Baptist church there for a few years. After the war, the Swansea church erected a new house of worship in 1679, and a parsonage was built for John Myles about the same time, where he dwelt until his death in 1684.

King Philip’s War (sometimes known as Metacomet’s War or the First Indian War) was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78. The war is named for the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet (c. 1638-1676), who had adopted the English name “King Philip”. Metacomet was the second son of Wampanoag chief Massasoit, who had coexisted peacefully for decades with the original Mayflower Pilgrims of Plymouth and their descendants.

However, the peace was first shattered by the Pequot War in 1637, and by the 1660s, English settlers had outgrown their dependence on the Indians for wilderness survival techniques and had substituted fishing and commerce for the earlier lucrative fur trade. From 1640 to 1675 new waves of land-hungry settlers pushed into Indian territory, particularly in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Indians fought back to protect their homelands.

The war began with various atrocities, insults and attacks between the Native American Indians and the English settlers, and resolved itself into a series of ruthless Indian raids on frontier settlements from the Connecticut River to Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay, followed by brutal retaliatory assaults on Indian villages by the colonial militia. One of the first garrisons that was attacked was Swansea, MA, where the English sought refuge in the garrison house of John Myles. By the end of 1675 many frontier towns had been devastated, and the Narragansett had been wiped out in what was called the Great Swamp Fight. The Indians maintained a distinct advantage in the fighting until the spring of 1676, when their efforts were undermined by the threat of starvation after the destruction of their crops and when the English began to use “Praying Indians” (those who had converted to Christianity) as scouts. Following Metacomet’s death in August, Indian resistance collapsed, although Articles of Peace were not signed for two years.

King Philip’s War was the single greatest calamity to afflict seventeenth-century New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in American history, when casualties are compared to the overall population of the time. It is believed that more than half of the 90 settlements in the region had been attacked and a dozen destroyed. The colony’s economy was all but ruined, and both the English and Native populations were decimated, with the English settlers losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. Whole Indian villages were massacred, entire tribes were eradicated, and indigenous refugees fled westward and northward. Thereafter settlers felt free to expand without fear into former Indian territory across southern New England.

A statue of Massasoit overlooks Plymouth Harbor in 2013. (Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty)

A statue of Massasoit overlooks Plymouth Harbor in 2013. (Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty)

 

 

(267)

800 Years Ago Today: Magna Carta

An original version of the Magna Carta on display at Sotheby’s auction house in New York is shown on 17 Dec 2007. An edition of the document from 1300 was discovered in a town archive in England. (Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

An original version of the Magna Carta on display at Sotheby’s auction house in New York is shown on 17 Dec 2007. An edition of the document from 1300 was discovered in a town archive in England. (Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Magna Carta, or “The Great Charter of the Liberties of England”, was originally issued on this date in the year 1215.  The charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no “freeman” (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.  It was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges.  It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited. Despite its recognized importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses currently remain part of the law of England and Wales, however, and it is generally considered part of the uncodified constitution.  Lord Denning described it as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”.  In a 2005 speech, Lord Woolf described it as “first of a series of instruments that now are recognized as having a special constitutional status”, the others being the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the Petition of Right (1628), the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701).

I can trace a direct line of descent from four of the so-called “Sureties” of Magna Carta, and the details can be found — > HERE.  Popular perception is that King John and the barons signed Magna Carta.  There were no signatures on the original document, however, only a single seal placed by the king.  The words of the charter – Data per manum nostram – signify that the document was personally given by the king’s hand.  By placing his seal on the document, the King and the barons followed common law that a seal was sufficient to authenticate a deed, though it had to be done in front of witnesses.  John’s seal was the only one, and he did not sign it.  The barons neither signed nor attached their seals to it.  However, the names of the Barons, Bishops and Abbots who were party to Magna Carta are known from other sources.

In February 2015, the PBS Newshour published an article on a forgotten copy of the Magna Carta that was discovered in 2014 in a Victorian-era scrapbook in Kent County, England.  A link to the original article is — > HERE.

For decades, the document, which dates back to 1300, lay forgotten in archives belonging to the town of Sandwich, which intends to keep the charter as a tourist attraction.

Dr. Mark Bateson, a Kent archivist, found the document late last year while looking for a copy of the Charter of the Forest, another medieval legal document, which granted common people access to royal lands, among other things. The two documents were found together in a scrapbook from the late 19th century. The only other such pair in the world belongs to Oriel College, Oxford.

Although the copy of the Magna Carta has been damaged by moisture and is missing about a third of its original text, it has historical and monetary value as one of just 24 known copies of the legal code, which Sotheby’s auction house has called “the most famous document in history.”

Nicholas Vincent, a professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia in England, who authenticated the discovery, estimates the document is worth up to 10 million British pounds ($15.2 million).

The mayor of Sandwich Town Council, Paul Graeme, told the Guardian: “On behalf of Sandwich town council, I would like to say that we are absolutely delighted to discover that an original Magna Carta and original Charter of the Forest, previously unknown, are in our ownership.”

“To own one of these documents, let alone both, is an immense privilege given their international importance,” he said.

The original Magna Carta, written entirely in Latin, was the result of a compromise between the king and a group of rebel barons in 1215.

The famous charter established several important legal principles, including the rule of law and the notion that everyone–including the king—is subject to the law. It also codified the right of habeas corpus, stating that no free person should be imprisoned without a lawful trial.

Today (15 Jun 2015) marks 800 years since King John sealed the Magna Carta near London in 1215.  The occasion will commemorated by a year-long series of events across the United Kingdom, including an initiative, planned for the eve of the anniversary, called LiberTeas, in which parliament will encourage citizens to “sit down to tea to celebrate, debate or reflect on their liberties.”

 

(180)

My 9th g-grandmother Was A Quaker Hanged For Civil Disobedience 355 Years Ago Today

Mary Dyer statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)

Mary Dyer statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)

Another in my occasional series entitled “Bad-Ass Women in History”: 355 years ago today, my 9th g-grandmother, Mary Dyer, was executed by the colonial Massachusetts government for practicing her religion.  She was a Quaker, and she was killed for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay colony.  She is one of the four executed Quakers known as the “Boston Martyrs”.

Mary was born in England in about 1611.  She and her husband, William, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1635.  Mary and William Dyer left Massachusetts for the new colony of Rhode Island in 1638, following in the footsteps of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson (both are my 10th g-grandparents), who were excommunicated and exiled for their unconventional views by the Puritan Church of  Massachusetts Bay colony in 1635 and 1638.  You can read more about her biography and details of my family connections —> HERE.

Christine K. Robinson reminds us, in an article from 2012 on her excellent website, of several important points to keep in mind, of which I include excerpts here (her full post, to which Christie K. Robinson retains the copyright, is available here: “Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Mary Dyer”):

  • First-AmendmentMary Dyer’s death contributed to the constitutional freedoms of all Americans: The sacrifice of Mary Dyer’s life in 1660 had direct bearing on the Rhode Island Charter of 1663 which legally granted liberty of conscience (religious freedom), and eventually on the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, and used as a model for many governments around the world. When you hear the words “First Amendment” rights, remember Mary Dyer.  She and her cause were the motive for separation of church and state in America, and freedom to worship (or even not worship!) and speak according to your conscience.  Government and religion must be kept separate, and religious beliefs must not determine laws.  Mary Dyer knew that, and she was ahead of her time.
  • Mary Dyer was not hanged for “being a Quaker”:  Thanks to the Quaker missionaries from England, there were hundreds of Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) converts in New England in the late 1650s and early 1660s.  They were subject to persecution and physical torture because they represented anarchy to the church-state government formed by the Massachusetts Bay founders.  Not one person was hanged for religious beliefs in their hearts and minds for “being a Quaker,” but because they were intentionally disobedient to anti-Quaker laws.  Mary was very definite in her intention to die, if necessary, to bring attention and bear witness to the cruelty of the theocratic governor and magistrates and their unjust laws, and to raise public outcry against them. Although she had left Massachusetts for safety in Rhode Island, her conscience required her to return to Massachusetts, to finish, as she expressed it, “her sad and heavy experience in the bloody town of Boston.”
  • Civil_DisobedienceMary Dyer committed civil disobedience: The four Quakers who were hanged, including Mary Dyer, chose to die, rather than agree to permanent exile from Massachusetts and their preaching and religious support there. They were given the opportunity to leave – and live – and chose instead to take a stand for liberty of conscience in the hope that their deaths would be so shocking that the persecution would end.  They were hanged for civil disobedience.  Mary Dyer’s letter to the Boston magistrates shows that she was opposed to their “bloody” laws of religious intolerance and persecution, and that she rejected their conditional offer of release.
  • Mary Dyer was the mother of a “monster”: Mary’s third pregnancy ended in the premature stillbirth of a girl with anencephaly (having only a brain stem) and spina bifida deformities.  Six months after it was buried, Governor John Winthrop ordered the exhumation and examination of the baby, calling it a monster, and proof of God’s judgment on Mary’s heresy to the puritan beliefs and lifestyle.  In 1644, he published a book in England about Anne Hutchinson’s heresy trial that described the Dyer baby’s appearance.  In the 17th century, there was a common belief that women who preached, or even listened to a woman preacher, bore monsters.  Mary bore eight children, six of whom lived to adulthood.  She has many thousands of living descendants, including me and all of my cousins on my father’s side, who are descended through her son Samuel and Anne Hutchinson (the granddaughter of the famous Anne Marbury Hutchinson – the woman who is known to history as “Anne Hutchinson”) and two different grandchildren.  Mary’s life was cut short by the ignorance and fears of the superstitious times she lived in.  Since those dark times, we’ve come a long way, but we need to guard against the ignorance, fear and superstition that are still with us.
  • Mary Dyer was co-founder of two American cities: Mary came to Boston in 1635 with her husband.  In 1638, she was a pioneer who walked from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband, small child and other families connected with Anne Marbury Hutchinson.  Mary’s husband William Dyer signed the Portsmouth Compact that united the founders of the new colony, and he was among the purchasers of Rhode Island from the Indian sachems.  One year later, Mary and William and others established the town of Newport, Rhode Island.
  • inner_lightMary Dyer heard God’s voice: In her twenties, Mary was a close friend and student of Anne Marbury Hutchinson, who claimed divine revelation and visions, and by doing so, incited the fury of the Boston Puritan leaders who believed that God only communicated in that way with men.  Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop said that Anne and Mary were “much addicted to revelations.”  When Mary studied Quaker beliefs in the 1650s, she learned that they called divine revelation the “Inner Light”.  Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians today would recognize it as the Holy Spirit speaking to one’s heart.  Secular people would term it a conscience.

 

You can read more about her biography and details of my family connections —> HERE.

 

(270)

Dabney Carr & my connection to Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello

Monticello - Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia

Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia

Dabney Carr, my 1st cousin 8x removed, is the man buried next to Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Family Cemetery at Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia.  Carr and Jefferson were leaders in the American cause leading up to the Revolution of 1776.  Carr was also the brother-in-law of Thomas Jefferson, having married Jefferson’s sister Martha, in 1765.  Although Dabney Carr is largely forgotten by the history books, except for a little microbe (“bilious fever” the doctor called it), he would surely have been one of the giants of the American Revolution.  As it was, Dabney Carr’s contribution to the formation of the American democracy is subtantial, even though he died young.

Dabney Carr was born in 1743 at a thousand-acre Louisa County, Virginia plantation named Bear Castle.  He was the son of John Carr, grandson of Major Thomas Carr, and great-grandson of Thomas Carr (1655-1724), who held extensive land patents in Virginia from about 1701.  In their youth, Dabney Carr and Thomas Jefferson both attended the prestigious academy of Reverend James Maury.  Carr and Jefferson later enrolled in the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.  Although his legal education was interrupted in 1763 by militia service on the frontier with the Louisa County Volunteer Rangers, Carr was licensed to practice law only two years after leaving college.  In July 1765, Dabney Carr married Martha Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s sister).

Dabney Carr was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses in 1771 and 1772 and served on two House committees, including the influential Committee of Privileges and Elections.  He helped incorporate the Virginia Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge, a group “…dedicated to a discussion of geography, natural history, natural philosophy, agriculture, practical mathematics, commerce, medicine and American history.”

Contemporaries regarded Dabney Carr as a powerful orator and a serious challenge to the acknowledged master orator, Patrick Henry (my 3rd cousin 7x removed – Carr and Henry were 2nd cousins 1x removed through Cornelius Dabney, my 9th g-grandfather).  Of Carr, Patrick Henry’s biographer, William Wirt, said [Dabney Carr] “…was considered… the most formidible rival in forensic eloquence that Mr. Henry had ever yet had to encounter.”  Of Carr, Thomas Jefferson said he “…was one of the earliest and most distinquished leaders in the opposition to British tyranny.”

Friday, 12 Mar 1773 was a turning point in American history.  For the previous several years relations between the American colonists and Great Britain had steadily deteriorated.  The Stamp Act of 1765 brought “taxation without representation,” while the Townshend Act of 1767 further burdened ostensibly free colonists with “legislation without representation.”  In June 1772, an incident in Rhode Island added fuel to the simmering cauldron.  The British schooner Gaspée was burned off Newport (an incident that I have written about —> HERE).  In response, the British Parliament passed an act that allowed colonists to be shipped to England for trial.  The freedoms which the colonists cherished so dearly were in terrible jeopardy.

Sensing a severe threat to colonial liberties, several prominent Virginians elected members of the House of Burgesses secretly met together in Raleigh Tavern (Williamsburg) on 11 March 1773 and proposed formation of a network of Committees of Correspondence that would allow the colonies to keep in touch with each other, and to monitor British intentions. Several of the members in the meeting including Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee (both are my 2nd cousin 9x removed through my 10th g-grandfather, Richard Lee) and Dabney Carr (possibly others also) decided to offer the idea of the Committees of Correspondence to the assembled house.  The idea seems to have been Richard Henry Lee’s, with Thomas Jefferson writing the text of the formal resolution that would be offerred for vote.  But it was 29-year old lawyer Dabney Carr who was tasked to rise in the House of Burgesses and introduce the resolution.

The resolution was passed (although not without debate), and Carr, along with ten others, was appointed to the colonies’ first Committee of Correspondence.  By 8 Feb 1774 only one of the remaining twelve colonies had not established their own Committees of Correspondence.  By 5 Sep 1774 the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia…

…and as they say, “the rest is history.”

Grave of Dabney Carr, Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

Grave of Dabney Carr, Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

The road to the American Revolution was surveyed by Dabney Carr, but he unfortunately did not live to trod upon it.  On 16 May 1773, only two months after delivering the speech that resulted in formation of the Committees of Correspondence, and ultimately to the Continental Congress and the American Revolution, the youthful Dabney Carr died of fever.  He is buried at Monticello in the Jefferson family cemetery on the southwestern slope of Mr. Jefferson’s beautiful mountain.

According to legend, this graveyard had its beginning in an agreement between young  Thomas Jefferson and Dabney Carr.  The school-mates and friends had agreed in their youth that they would be buried under a great oak which stood on Jefferson’s plantation.  Carr, who married Jefferson’s sister, was originally buried elsewhere, but Thomas Jefferson caused his body to be disinterred and removed to a grave beneath their favorite oak at Monticello.  Dabney Carr’s was the first grave at the site, which Jefferson laid out as a family burial ground.  Jefferson was buried here in 1826.  The present monument is not the original, designed by Jefferson, but a larger one erected by the United States in 1883.  Its base covers the graves of Jefferson, his wife, his two daughters and of Governor Thomas Mann Randolph, his son-in-law.  The graveyard remains the property of Jefferson’s descendants and continues to be a family burial ground.

When you visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, the gravesite is behind, and down the hill from, the west garden.  If you stand on the porch of Monticello, the gravel path down the hill to the Jefferson family gravesite is on the left.  Follow the path along the west lawn, and then down the hill to the gravesite, which is  guarded by a wrought iron fence.  Follow the path around to the right, along the edge of the site, to the gate (it’s locked). Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone is right inside the gate.  Immediately to the right of Jefferson’s own tombstone is that of Dabney Carr.  The bronze plaque at the site is pictured below:

monticello-graveyard-sign

 

(491)

Webster Mary (Reeve)

Mary (Reeve) Webster (about 1620-1698), wife of 10th g-grand uncle Mary Webster, née Reeve, was a resident of Puritan Hadley, Massachusetts accused of witchcraft in 1684, and acquitted.  Later, she was hanged from a tree by some residents of Hadley.  According to one of several accounts, she was left hanging all night.  It is known that when she was cut down […]

» Read more

150 Years Ago Today: Abraham Lincoln was Assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Henry Reed Rathbone (1837-1911)

Maj. Henry Reed Rathbone (1837-1911)

Maj. Henry Reed Rathbone was the man in the Presidential box with Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the evening of 14 Apr 1865 when the President was shot.  He died early the next morning.  He is my 5th cousin 4x removed, on my father’s side.  Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris, had accepted an invitation to accompany the President and First Lady to see Our American Cousin performed at Ford’s Theatre. They are pictured in a famous illustration of the event by Currier & Ives (see below).

During the play, noted stage actor (and Confederate spy) John Wilkes Booth surreptitiously entered the Presidential box and fatally shot Lincoln in the back of the head with a Derringer pistol.  Rathbone attempted to apprehend Booth and, during the struggle, Booth slashed Rathbone’s left arm with a Bowie knife from the elbow to his shoulder.  After the attack, Booth leapt from the box onto the stage and reputedly cried out “Sic semper tyrannis,” (“Thus always to tyrants” – the motto of Virginia) as he fled the theater.  Booth remained at large for twelve days.  Meanwhile, the mortally wounded President was taken to a nearby house after doctors decided that Lincoln would not survive the journey back to the White House.  Despite his serious wound, Rathbone escorted First Lady Mary Lincoln to the house where Lincoln was taken, and shortly thereafter, passed out due to loss of blood.  Clara Harris arrived at the house soon after and held Rathbone’s head in her lap while he drifted in and out of consciousness.  A surgeon who had been attending the President finally examined Rathbone and realized his wound was more serious than initially thought.  Booth had severed an artery located just above Rathbone’s elbow and had cut him nearly to the bone.  Rathbone was taken home while Harris remained with Mrs. Lincoln during her vigil at the Petersen House for some nine hours.  This death vigil lasted through the night, until morning, when President Lincoln died at 7:22 AM on 15 Apr 1865.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln: from left to right: Major Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth. This Currier & Ives print gives the impression that Rathbone saw Booth enter the box and had already risen as Booth fired his weapon. In reality, Rathbone was unaware of Booth's approach and reacted after the shot was fired.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln: from left to right: Major Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth. This Currier & Ives print gives the impression that Rathbone saw Booth enter the box and had already risen as Booth fired his weapon. In reality, Rathbone was unaware of Booth’s approach and reacted after the shot was fired.

Although Rathbone’s physical wounds healed, his mental state deteriorated in the years following Lincoln’s death as he anguished over his perceived inability to thwart the assassination attempt.  He married Clara Harris on 11 Jul 1867, and the couple had three children.  Rathbone resigned from the Army in 1870, having risen to the rank of brevet colonel.  After his resignation, he struggled to find and keep a job due to his mental instability.  Rathbone became convinced that his wife Clara was cheating on him and became jealous of other men who paid attention to her.  He also resented the attention Harris paid their children and reportedly threatened his wife on several occasions after deciding that Harris was going to divorce him and take the children.  Despite his behavior, President Chester Alan Arthur appointed Rathbone as the U.S. Consul to the Province of Hanover in 1882.  The family relocated to Germany where Rathbone’s mental health continued to decline.

On 14 April 1883, Rathbone attacked his children in a fit of madness.  Rathbone fatally shot and stabbed his wife, who was attempting to protect the children.  Rathbone then stabbed himself five times in the chest in an attempted suicide.  He was charged with murder but was declared insane by doctors after blaming the murder on an intruder.  He was convicted and committed to the Asylum for the Criminal Insane in Hildesheim, Germany, where he died in 1911. The couple’s children were sent to live with their uncle, William Harris, in the United States.

Henry Reed Rathbone was the 4th great grandson of John Rathbun (1629-1702) and Margaret Acres (1633-1716), my 8th g-grandparents.  They left England and arrived in Massachusetts in about 1654.  In 1661, they moved again, and they become some of the “First Settlers” of Block Island, Rhode Island.

This is the historical marker placed at Cow Cove on Block Island, Rhode Island, the site of the first settlers' landing in 1661. Settler's Rock is the most northerly part of Block Island accessible to motorists.

This is the historical marker placed at Cow Cove on Block Island, Rhode Island, the site of the first settlers’ landing in 1661. Settler’s Rock is the most northerly part of Block Island accessible to motorists.

 

(200)

1 2 3 18