Reading Alicia Crane Williams’s post on Sex in Middlesex reminded me of another great work by Roger Thompson – Cambridge Cameos – Stories of Life in Seventeenth-Century New England, which contains forty-four sketches from the period 1651 to 1686. They are fascinating stories involving mostly ordinary people. Some of the more colorful chapters cover Brutality or Bloodsucking; Town versus Gown; Witchcraft or Madness; and A Subversive Physician. These vignettes are based on thousands of original documents Thompson examined that provide a rare chance to hear firsthand accounts of many seventeenth century New Englanders. Continue reading Cambridge Cameos
Americans tend to reject the notion of operating within a “social class” structure, although it is sometimes easier to see ourselves as “better than” one person as opposed to “lesser than” another. At the same time, we consume (and relish) the higher gossip associated with European royal families and Hollywood movie stars, and Cleveland Amory – one among a number of authors on the subject – devoted a whole book to the question “Who Killed Society?”
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Americans treated “Society” as a kind of blood sport. Continue reading A twinkling star
Following up on correcting the charts in my Seeing double blog post, the chart showing my ancestor Anna (Salisbury) Slade was a recent disappointment and involved removing some ancestors from my charts. The chart identified Anna’s parents as Daniel Salisbury and Anna Hale, and had Anna as the child of Rev. Moses Hale (Harvard 1699) and Mary Moody of Newbury, with several early Newbury ancestors including Henry and Jane (Dummer) Sewall, who were the parents of Judge Samuel Sewall (1652–1730), known for his involvement in the Salem witch trials. Continue reading Bye-bye-bye
An entertaining story about an American man claiming to be the rightful “King of Wales,” and a claimant as well to the throne of Great Britain, made the rounds last week after Allan V. Evans of Colorado posted a lengthy claim to the Welsh throne, noting the “injustice of history” that kept him from the British throne, to which he is heir by an “unbroken primogeniture line…”
Agnatic primogeniture dates back to early France and is known as Salic Law, where succession is obtained through kinship through the male line only. On a few occasions in France the king was succeeded by a distant male-line cousin, even when the deceased king had surviving daughters or sisters who had male children. Continue reading ‘Unbroken primogeniture’
[Author’s note: This series, on Mrs. Gray’s reading habits, began here.]
In her diary, Regina Shober Gray notes occasional instances where (usually at the behest of a friend) she assumed a more public profile. Her literary efforts were prized by her contemporaries; one set of her verses was published both in Boston and in Philadelphia in 1862. That Mrs. Gray could feel competitive about her work, even with her friend Mrs. W. B. Richards, may be seen in the diary.
This first entry also refers to the diarist’s friend Emily Adams, newly-wed to Caleb Agry Curtis, whose father had died in late March, drawing them back to Boston from a European honeymoon.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 10 April 1864: A wet afternoon; I joined Emily Adams after church and walked home with her, glad of the chance to see her for a few minutes without feeling myself an intruder in her mother-in-law’s house of mourning. Three weeks ago, to-day, they were in Venice, preparing for a trip to Sorrento, with the Gordons next day – when the sad news came to hurry them home. Continue reading ‘In cold blood’
In the first year of Kenny and Alice McLean’s daughter’s life, labor strife at the Telluride mines was affecting the community.
On 1 September 1903, difficult and scary times came to Telluride. Union members demanding an eight-hour rather than a twelve-hour workday walked out of Telluride’s ore processing mills. This shutdown caused the closing of area gold and silver mines. When the Tomboy gold mine tried to reopen with nonunion workers (strikebreakers or “scabs”), the union posted armed picketers to prevent the new workers from entering. Continue reading Turbulent times
[Author’s note: This series, on Mrs. Gray’s reading habits, began here.]
By the winter of 1861, an American civil war loomed. Regina Shober Gray – a native of Pennsylvania with Southern connections – was disposed to some sort of emancipation for the South’s slaves, with due respect for slave-owners’ existing property rights, but her views (and emphases) would change over the course of the next four years.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 3 March 1861: A summer’s day – absolutely oppressive. Sorry to hear from Aunt Sarah Bradlee how very sick Henry [Bradlee] seems. There was some talk of sending him on a long voyage, but he is too ill for that. Continue reading ‘A free citizen’
My photography collection recently took a decided step into new territory when I started acquiring vernacular photographs – images characterized, generally, by their lack of provenance and offering limited opportunities for identifying the subject. When I bought one large lot, though, I was surprised and pleased to find quite a lot of information on the reverse of the prints, enough that I am hopeful more can be learned about the people shown.
For starters, the (presumably female) scribe who wrote neatly on most of the prints dated them precisely: most are from 3 September 1944, with one or two from four days later. The focus of her interest is clear: Wayne Ehler, whose gymnastic endeavors she much admires. Two photos are marked in another hand, and perhaps this one is male, since he subtly denigrates Wayne and boasts of his own comparable accomplishments (not shown). Continue reading Friendly rivalries
In the Early New England Families Study Project sketch for Joseph Andrews of Hingham, I included a commentary about the problem I was having establishing the birth order for Joseph’s children. Recently, an inquirer wondered why I had not used the order the children are named in Joseph’s will.
Heirs can be listed in a will in any way the testator wants, but there are legal precedents that encourage listing children by birth order. Sometimes all the sons are named first, then all the daughters, and sometimes they are intermixed. Sometimes the testator specifies “eldest son, second son,” but others do not, and while we might assume birth order, it is not guaranteed. Continue reading Birth order vs. will order
Rhonda McClure’s Tuesday post on finding the correct death date of Martha Babcock Greene Amory in Paris reminded me that Regina Shober Gray (1818–1885) mentions her in several entries in the early years of her diary. A sharp-eyed chronicler of her contemporaries, Mrs. Gray’s words bring Martha Amory to uneasy life.
1 Beacon Hill Place, Boston, Monday, 16 January 1860: Fanny Gray came to take tea – [she] played some sweet airs on the piano, with a great deal of feeling – and described a number of fancy ball dresses for Mrs. C. Amory’s next Thursday.
Sunday, 22 January 1860: Have heard of little else than the [Amorys’] fancy ball – it was a grand success and kept up until 5 a.m. Continue reading “A good many sharp speeches”