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.

 

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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.

 

 

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Happy Juneteenth (Freedom Day)!

Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, from whose front balcony General Order #3 was read on 19 Jun 1865

Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, from whose front balcony General Order #3 was read on 19 Jun 1865

Today is the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the USA. The occasion is marked in many places by the holiday known as Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. The Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln was issued 22 Sep 1862 with an effective date of 1 Jan 1863. It declared all slaves to be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands. Ironically, this excluded from emancipation many slaves in parts of Tennessee, Virginia and Louisiana occupied by the Union armies, as well as slaves in Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland and Missouri, whose states were not in rebellion.

Juneteenth, a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”, was first celebrated on 19 Jun 1865 (following the end of the Civil War and almost 3 years after the Proclamation), when the slaves of Galveston, Texas formally learned they were free. On that day, General Order #3 was read at Galveston from the front balcony of Ashton Villa. There had been other emancipation days throughout the United States since Lincoln’s proclamation. but Juneteenth was the culminating moment when all American slaves were finally given their freedom. For the first time in American history, black people were legally considered equal to white. They were legally afforded all the rights that their former slave owners enjoyed – the right to marry, the right to own property, the right to assemble and worship. And yet today’s celebration 150 years later holds a bittersweet quality, especially following by only a couple of days, the assassination of nine African Americans in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We are reminded by this and by so many other daily observations, that ongoing racism still plagues America.

 

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Remarks by President Obama at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches (7 Mar 2015)

Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama, 7 Mar 2015     2:17 P.M. CST AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, President Obama! THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know I love you back. (Applause.) It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes. Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John […]

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Cogswell William F

William F. Cogswell (1819–1903), 4th cousin 5x removed The following article was posted 12 May 2008 by Michael Coppress on the East of Allen blog (“Life in East Pasadena – Past & Present”): Artist William F. Cogswell was an east Pasadena pioneer and founded the world-renowned Sierra Madre Villa Hotel.  He was also a noted portrait artist.  The best known of his […]

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Seabrook #7474

Robert Seabrook (1563-1650) Born in England.  Arrived in _______ in _______ and Alice Goodspeede (1576-1638) Born in England. [Keep checking back… More information will be posted as it becomes available].   Research Notes: I am descended from two daughters of Robert & Alice: Mary (born 1601?) and Emma (or Faith?) (born before 1620?).  Lots of family connections among the families […]

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On Martin Luther King Day: Thoughts on Robert E. Lee, my cousin in more ways than one

“It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

— General Robert E. Lee, at the battle of Fredericksburg, 13 Dec 1862

General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, the most successful of the Southern armies during the American Civil War (1861-65)

General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, the most successful of the Southern armies during the American Civil War (1861-65)

Today, the nation observes a holiday to remember the contributions of Martin Luther King.  It is also the birthday of Robert E. Lee (in 1807), which has been and still is observed officially in some states and remembered by many across the country.  There is an uncomfortable tension that arises from the proximity on the calendar, and the way the holidays are understood so differently by different people and in different places.  If there is a cautionary lesson to be drawn from the coincidence, it may have something to do with how even a man like Lee, with honorable intentions and superior intellect, can land so decisively on the wrong side of history.

Few figures in American history are more divisive, contradictory or elusive than Robert E. Lee, the reluctant, tragic leader of the Confederate Army.  Times change, and as history unfolds, those who make history are not always judged not by the standards of the world they lived in, but by the standards of the world as it forms in their wake.  At the heart of Lee’s story is one of the monumental choices in American history: revered for his honor, Lee quit the U.S. Army to defend Virginia and fight for the Confederacy.  “If Virginia stands by the old Union,” Lee told a friend, “so will I, but if she secedes, then I will follow my native State with my sword, and, if need be, with my life.”  The decision was honorable by his standards of honor — which, whatever we may think of them, were neither self-serving nor complicated.  The North viewed Southern secession as an act of aggression, to be countered accordingly.  When Lincoln called on the loyal states (including Virginia) for troops to invade the states of the Deep South, Southerners saw the issue as defense not primarily of slavery but of homeland.  A Virginia convention that had voted 2 to 1 against secession, now voted 2 to 1 in favor, and the die was cast.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, delivered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., 28 Aug 1963, is among the most acclaimed in U.S. history. His soaring close “to let freedom ring” still resonates today and inspires those who are moved by his dream.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, delivered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., 28 Aug 1963, is among the most acclaimed in U.S. history. His soaring close “to let freedom ring” still resonates today and inspires those who are moved by his dream.

The contradictions posed by King and Lee are emblematic of the divisions that continue to animate our national life 150 years after the Civil War’s end.  The divisions are etched into the DNA of the very different English societies that were founded in Virginia and New England more than 400 years ago, and which grew to encompass a continent.  The foundations of the Republic are aspirational and idealistic (the Declaration of Independence), but deeply rooted in the compromises necessary to ensure unity (the Constitution).  As such, American history is always a story of “becoming” — approaching ever more closely the promise of liberty and equality, but always falling short.  If Lee was a man who could not change and accommodate to a world that was changing rapidly around him, Martin Luther King was an agent of change for those who were left out of the nation’s founding vision.  This is “the Dream” that King shared before a crowd of thousands at the Lincoln Memorial in the “March on Washington” of August 1963.  King’s words communicated a powerful message of hope for those left behind by unfulfilled promises (those he called “the veterans of creative suffering”).  But it also spoke to the hesitant majority, clinging to the status quo or the comfort of gradualism, with “the urgency of Now”.  In doing so, he offered the Nation a liberating possibility: to “rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed”.

Many who embrace King’s vision have trouble with the “old values” represented by Lee.  However, both men gave their utmost to the cause of right as they saw right, putting duty, service and faith above all else.  Lee’s decision to quit the U.S. Army and serve in the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War came with great personal sacrifice — federal troops crossed the Potomac and took possession of his 1,100-acre estate shortly after Virginia seceded from the Union.  The estate is today the site of Arlington National Cemetery, perhaps the saddest place in America, although it provides inspiration and hope.  More than 300,000 tombstones and memorials stand in the green rolling hillsides of Arlington.  Many of their inscriptions testify to young lives cut short by war.  At a time when there’s so much talk of terrorism and other outside threats to American values, it’s easy to forget that the greatest losses were not inflicted by the “enemies” of America, but by Americans upon each other, who disagreed on the path forward.

For more information on Gen. Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) and how I am related to him, click — > HERE.

Robert E. Lee is the 3rd great grandson of my ancestor, Richard Lee (1617-1664).  Richard Lee “the Immigrant” was born in England and arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1639.  For more information on the family line of Richard Lee, click — > HERE.

King’s speech wasn’t long, but it was memorable and powerful.  Follow the link —> to my “I Have A Dream” page to see, hear & read the speech in various formats.

Arlington House is the mansion on the former estate of Robert E. Lee, which is now the site of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, a few miles from the U.S. Capital.

Arlington House is the mansion on the former estate of Robert E. Lee, which is now the site of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, a few miles from the U.S. Capital.

 

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An African visitor today makes 100 countries!

Flag pf Kenya, superimposed on a map of that country

Flag pf Kenya, superimposed on a map of that country

This morning at 10:05 AM (Pacific standard time, USA), I welcomed a visitor from Kenya to this website.  This is a significant milestone, as Kenya is the 100th country represented among visitors since I began tracking shortly after the site became “live” in its current form in May 2012.  The page that my visitor from the Nairobi area accessed is the article on the family of Robert Carr (1614-1684) & Elizabeth Lawton (1623-1718).  Robert was born in England.  He arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in May 1635, with his brother, Caleb.

Both Robert and Caleb were close associates of William Coddington who came from Boston, Lincolnshire, England as one of the original members of the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 and was a leading merchant in Boston, Massachusetts during this period.  Early in 1637, a group of people led by William Coddington left Boston because of religious differences with the Puritan leadership there.  They went to Providence, Rhode Island and conferred with Roger Williams (my paternal 10th g-grandfather) as to settling in those parts.  With the active aid of Roger Williams, the group purchased from the Indians the large island of Aquidnick and immediately founded the town of Pacassit (later called Portsmouth).  In 1639, William Coddington and a small group of leading men removed to the south end of the island to lay out a new settlement, Newport.  Robert embraced the religion of the Religious Society of Friends and was known as a Quaker.

Less is known specifically of Robert’s wife, Elizabeth Lawton.  She was also born in England and settled in Rhode Island by about 1648 (probably earlier), when the couple was married in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  They had a daughter, Mary, who is my paternal 9th g-grandmother.  She was born in Newport, Rhode Island and died at Leicester, Massachusetts in 1757.  She married (1st) a man by the name of John Hicks, who died young, and she married (2nd) Ralph Earle (1606-1678).

I am also descended on my father’s side from a different Carr line that was established in Virginia by Sir Thomas Carr (1655-1724).  Both of these Carr families are related to a large Kerr clan that was numerous in the borderlands of Scotland from early times, and are associated with the area around Firniehirst Castle.  The castle was built around 1470 to hold the gate for Scotland and to serve as a base for military raids and cattle-lifting forays.  This landmark is still standing today and was purchased for a residence and restored in the 1980s.

Lying in a picturesque setting two miles south of the historic town of Jedburgh, Ferniehirst Castle is the ancient seat of the Clan Kerr, believed to have arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066.

Lying in a picturesque setting two miles south of the historic town of Jedburgh, Ferniehirst Castle is the ancient seat of the Clan Kerr, believed to have arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066.

To my African friend who stopped by this morning, I hope you found what you were looking for, or at least I hope what you found was useful or interesting.

 

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Fairchild #3736

Thomas Fairchild (1610-1670) Born in England.  Arrived in Connecticut in about 1639 and Emma Faith Seabrook (1623-1658) Born in England. Arrived in Connecticut in about 1639.   New content is coming soon… Keep checking back!   Research Notes: English Origins: lots of good material at: Fairchild, W. Bruce.  Thomas Fairchild: Puritan Merchant & Magistrate: The Life & Times of an American Colonizer & […]

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“Split Rock”: Site of the Hutchinson Massacre of 1643

“Split Rock” is the name for a huge boulder that was transported by the glacial ice all the way from Canada to the northwestern corner of what is now Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx (New York City).  Tradition says this is the spot where my ancestor, Anne Hutchinson, was killed by Siwanoy Indians during a time of especially tense relations between Native Americans and the Dutch in 1643.  The site is just southeast of the overpass where the New England Thruway (I-95) crosses the Hutchinson River Parkway.

My photo gallery of “Split Rock” is — > here.

Split Rock

Split Rock

To imagine the scene, one must recall a time when the Dutch settlement of lower Manhattan was still a scarcely populated farming community.  It was around this time that the Dutch were constructing fortifications in the area of modern-day “Wall Street”, where a stockade wall was placed to protect the Dutch farms from Indian attacks.  The island of Manhattan north of these defensive works, the outer boroughs of today’s New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island), New Jersey and eastern Long Island remained an inhospitable wildness to the European settlers.

In August of 1643, the Hutchinson massacre took the lives of Anne Hutchinson and most of her family, marking the tragic end of a remarkable and significant life.  She is one of the most important figures, man or woman, in the history of the struggle for religious liberty in colonial New England.

Anne is my 10th g-grandmother.  She was born Anne Marbury in England in 1591.  In 1634, she arrived with her husband William and their family in the fledgling colony of Massachusetts Bay (Boston).  Although she was steeped in the religious tradition of the Puritans, she became an outspoken and controversial figure in the religious development of Massachusetts Bay Colony.  She ran afoul of the religious leaders of the community by organizing weekly meetings to discuss recent sermons, in which she also expressed her own unorthodox theological views.  It seems the feisty, intellectual Anne dared to interpret the bible her own way!  In particular, she stressed the individual’s relationship with God as opposed to reliance upon the authority of ministers.  These “radical” views were considered a threat by the civil and religious leaders of the colony, especially Governor John Winthrop, who considered Anne’s opinions to be blasphemy.  She was tried by both civil and religious courts, excommunicated and banished from the colony in 1637.  Eventually she settled in the colony of Rhode Island, which was founded about the same time by my ancestor Roger Williams, another religious exile from whom I am descended through both a son and a daughter.

Anne Hutchinson Memorial at Massachusetts State House by Cyrus Edwin Dallin.

Anne Hutchinson Memorial at Massachusetts State House by Cyrus Edwin Dallin.

Anne lived in Rhode Island until her husband died in 1641, then in 1643 moved to The Dutch New Netherland colony.  That’s where this defender of religious freedom met a terrible end.  Local Indians, long mistreated by the Dutch, had been fighting back, and in August 1643, a group of Indians murdered Anne and almost her entire family, who were living in the area around “Split Rock”.  The only survivor of the attack was Anne’s daughter Susannah.  According to legend, she wriggled into the crevice of “Split Rock” and hid herself, saving her life.  Susannah was, however, later discovered and taken captive by the Indians, who held her for four years until she was ransomed.  One of Susannah’s descendant’s was Stephen A. Douglas, who famously debated Abraham Lincoln in the Illinois campaign for U.S. Senator in 1858.

“Split Rock” is of enough historic importance that in the 1950s officials were persuaded by the Bronx Historical Society to move the planned I-95 New England Thruway a few feet north to save Split Rock from being dynamited.

In 1987, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis pardoned Anne Hutchinson, revoking the order of banishment by Governor Winthrop 350 years earlier.  There is also a statue of Anne on the grounds of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

 

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Chase Salmon P

Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873), 5th cousin 6x removed Salmon Chase was born in 1808 in New Hampshire.  His family could trace its American origins to the early years of Massachusetts settlement in the seventeenth century.  The eighth of eleven children of a tavern-keeper and local officeholder, Chase received his early education in a local district school and a private institution. When […]

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Bryant William Cullen

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), 5th cousin 5x removed William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post. Bryant developed an interest in poetry early in life. Under his father’s tutelage, he emulated Alexander Pope and other Neo-Classic British poets.  “The Embargo”, a savage attack on President Thomas Jefferson published in 1808, reflected […]

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