Early texting, 1938 edition

From the College Heights Low Down, Vol 2, No 9, March 6, 1938:

WANTED: A THESAURUS. What with the crowded life of today and its rapid tempo, abbreviations are necessary all along to get the days work done. Old timers sometimes have difficulty in understanding the modern idiom, and when abbreviated the task is hopeless. Recently the editor was confronted with a letter containing “S.S.&G.” in it. After much research he found the meaning. To help others (which is our mission in life) we are listing a few common terms with definitions and each week this will be a regular department. Send in your queries.[...] read more

Grandpa effects an Arctic rescue

First two month of 1938 have been added to the Low Down files. Sure wish I’d gotten to know our grandfather longer. I think this is my favorite excerpt so far. (I’m guessing Uncle Lyman wasn’t much of a communicator when he was at Harvard…)

ASLEEP ON AN ICE FLOE. In the darkness of an arctic dawn amid swirling snow flurries the relief party detrained at the South Station and battled their way through redcaps and penguins to the tunnel to the North. At the Northern end of the tunnel the relief party ran into extreme conditions. Snow drifts 15 to 20 feet deep, natives on skis and the party didn’t even have rubbers. After five miles of slow progress not over a quarter of a mile an hour the party finally located the explorers hut. Inside we found the sole survivor buried under a two foot blanket of snow. Hastily he arose to dress without a word as befitting in the presence of his senior. Our emotions were near the bursting point. We said simply, “Mr. Josephs I believe.” With the emotion of six months pent up silence of the North, he barely whispered in reply, “HIYA POP.”
– LCJ. Jr., “College Heights Low Down,” Feb. 20, 1938[...] read more

Grandpa explains the mosquito

From “The College Heights Low Down,” Vol 1, No. 8, Dec. 5, 1937, by LCJ, Jr.:

A mosquito is designed with a small fuselage, light undercarriage and landing gear, and monoplane wing structure, motor mounted forward and running at high speed resulting in a sound approaching high C, and in the forward cowling is mounted a powerful machine gun deadly at short range. A mosquito is essentially a pursuit ship quickly maneuvered, fast in landing and taking off. So far no sure defense has been developed against these devils of the air. General Gorgas however did much to put down their production.[...] read more

Memories of Stottville: dogs, donkeys, ducks & other critters

These are all stories that we might have heard growing up if our grandmother had been born just ten years earlier. Her older sisters Kate and Jessie joined in some of these memories. But by 1900, when Dorothy was old enough to play with her cousins, Stottville’s heydey was mostly over. -KPJ

“Your mother will remember Schuyler, a little mongrel pup, which your Uncle Will picked up somewhere. Schuyler became a great pet and learned tricks easily. His best one was to sing. Whenever anyone played the piano Schuyler would sit underneath and sing as long as the playing continued.”[...] read more

Memories of Stottville – Kitty Jenks

Kate Oakley Pearson Jenks (1878- ?)

I can shut my eyes now and hear the mill bell ringing before daylight. Bill Hill pumping the well water, the hum of the mill machinery, the horses coming down the hill from the church and over the bridge, and the creek rushing over the dam.

I can smell the wool and grease in the mills, the sulphur water I went with Bill Hill to draw at the springs, the lilac by the north parlor window, the yellow rose bush.

Grandma’s beds of heliotrope and verbena, the buffalo robes in the big sleigh and the ole-kuchen baking in Auntie’s basement kitchen.[...] read more

The 6th Regiment, or: how Sgt. Stott defeated Napoleon and underestimated the Americans

Found some original notes yesterday in the files: reminiscences collected by three Stott cousins and written up by “H.S.F.,” a granddaughter of Jonathan Stott, sometime after World War I. I’m pretty sure H.S.F. must be Grace Helene Stott Franchot (1867-1939), who was Grandma’s aunt. Still trying to figure out who everybody else is but the contents of the files are gold.

Here’s more background on Jonathan Stott’s family and military career. The story of his mother’s funeral is particularly arresting.[...] read more

The rise and fall of Stottville

A story in three generations

Two of the former Stott mills, ca. 1900

We last left Jonathan Stott operating a single hand-powered mill in Hudson, New York,  and looking for a source of power nearby. He found it in Springville, three miles up the road, where Claverack Creek drops 58 feet and the Van Rensselaer family at one time owned all of the waterpower rights. In 1828 he bought the rights of a fulling mill and a small woolen factory there and built his first water-powered factory. It had two sets of 36 inch cards and a dozen looms and was dedicated to the production of flannel.[...] read more

Jonathan Stott, 1793-1863

Jonathan Stott, 1793-1863

Born at Failsworth in Lancashire, as a boy Jonathan Stott learned the weaving trade in his father’s silk mill. But he chose to follow the military example of his older brother Joseph, who enlisted at 17. (Joseph was killed only two years later, probably in India.) Jonathan joined the Sixth Foot Regiment, now known as the First Warwickshire Regiment of Foot. Formed in 1674, it’s one of the oldest in the British Army.

After fighting in Spain and France, his regiment was ordered to Canada to serve in the Niagara Campaign of the War of 1812. They landed in Quebec in June of 1814. By August, they were fighting the Siege of Fort Erie, the longest engagement of that campaign. For six weeks, the British battered the fort held by the Americans, suffering heavy casualties as well as illness and exposure in their rough encampment. On September 14, 1814, Jonathan Stott was captured by the Americans.[...] read more

The Great Falls at Paterson, New Jersey

Great Falls of the Passaic River, Paterson, New Jersey (Engraving after a drawing made by Thomas Pownall in the 1750s)

In 1778, right in the middle of the American Revolution, Alexander Hamilton took George Washington to see the Great Falls of the Passaic River in northern New Jersey. There the river drops 77 feet in a torrent 280 feet wide. The visionary Hamilton saw in this watercourse a dream of plenty: cheap energy to build industry and free the nation from foreign markets.

Three years after the war, in 1791, Hamilton lined up a group of patriots, industrialists, and financiers to form the “Society for Establishing Usefull Manufactures,” otherwise known as the S.U.M. It was America’s first industrial community. The S.U.M. hired Pierre L’Enfant – the military engineer who laid out the plans for Washington, D.C. – to build the first raceway and harness the Passaic River’s energy.[...] read more

John Colt the younger, ca. 1661-1751

John Colt the younger is our second Colt in America, son of the immigrants John Colt and Mary Skinner of Hartford and then Windsor, Connecticut. He was born probably in Hartford, grew up in Windsor, and spent most of his adult life in what is now known as Old Lyme. He may have worked as a shipbuilder, according to a Rhode Island history that got nearly every other fact about his life wrong – and why are they writing about John Colt anyway?

Somewhere, some time he married Sarah Lord, daughter of William Lord and granddaughter of Thomas Lord and Dorothy Bird, who emigrated with their family from Northamptonshire in 1635 on the Elizabeth and Ann. Thomas Lord was a Puritan and a blacksmith and one of the founders of Hartford. He and his wife are also Pearson ancestors through another son named Richard Lord.[...] read more

Sir William Lovelace, Knight of Bethersden

Sir William Lovelace of Bethersden, 1561-1629

Sir William Lovelace of Bethersden (1561-1629) was a soldier, knighted in 1599 for his role in suppressing an Irish rebellion. He was also a stockholder of the Virginia Company, a Kent magistrate, and a Member of Parliament for Canterbury. His life began on an uneven financial footing and ended in penury.

The son of Serjeant Lovelace, he was only 15 when his father died and left him with substantial property but also lots of debts and lawsuits. Worst was a payment of  £800 owed to Roger Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, tied to a lawsuit stemming from his father’s purchase of the Hospital of St. Lawrence in Canterbury. Manwood waited till after the Serjeant’s death to pounce. He did this despite having said at the time that “as the Serjeant was dead it was time their quarrels were forgotten.” Young Lovelace’s aunt, Margaret Cooke, pleaded with the Baron to settle the suit, as her nephew “was but young, fatherless and almost without friends.” Manwood replied “he might hang himself or sell his land” but clear the title he must.[...] read more

Thomas Baxter, a somewhat unpleasant person

“A Piratical Vessel destroying a Merchant Ship,” from The Pirate’s Own Book, by Charles Ellms, 2004

Mercenary, pirate, double-crosser, jailbird, bigamist, wife-abandoner. “Well, at least he didn’t kill anybody,” says one descendant.

Meet Thomas Baxter, born between 1626 and 1628, either in Shropshire or Norfolk. We don’t know how he got here but he may have come with his father George as part of the Winthrop fleet to Massachusetts in 1630. We don’t know his mother’s name for sure, but it might have been Mary Adams. The Baxters moved to New Amsterdam with a few other English families in 1635, and in 1641 were given a grant of farmland on the site of present-day Bellevue Hospital, on the East River. Thomas probably grew up on that farm. George worked for the Dutch West India Company, was secretary and translator for both governors Kieft and Stuyvesant, and also did business with the bloodthirsty Captain John Underhill (a Vail ancestor), but those stories are for another day.[...] read more

The first American Colt

John Colt, ca. 1630-ca. 1713

I kind of hate to write this boring post and burst any family bubbles. The truth is, we know very little about John Colt, the first immigrant to come here with that family name. And much of what we thought we knew turns out to have been spun in the 19th century to please Colt descendants. We don’t know his birth or death date, the names of his parents, or when and how he got here. We don’t know where he came from, or if he has any connection whatsoever to Colts Hall in Cavendish, Sudbury. Turns out he didn’t come here in 1633 on the Griffin as a ward of the famous Rev. Thomas Hooker, and he probably didn’t get here in 1638 on the Susan and Ellen as some have claimed, either. His first genuine sighting in the records is in 1656, when he was fined for playing cards in Hartford.[...] read more

Have a pedigree why don’t you

Elizabeth Aucher, 1561-1627

One day in 1580 or thereabouts, Elizabeth Aucher wed Sir William Lovelace of Bethersden, about whom I haven’t written yet, though I did recently profile his father. (Update: here’s young Wills.) All of these people lived in Kent, in or near Canterbury. They’re important to us because, within two generations, the Lovelaces would be mixing with the Gorsuch family and colonizing Virginia and Maryland.

I don’t know much about Elizabeth Aucher, but her grandfather and nephew, both named Sir Anthony Aucher, were interesting public characters cut from the same cloth. Specifically, they were both pretty good at making money but even better at spending it.[...] read more

The Oranjeboom expedition of 1625

Antique Dutch Delft ca. 1625-1650

In 1625, a small family from a town near Utrecht – Wolffaert Gerritsz Van Kouwenhoven, his wife Neeltgen Jacobsdochter, and their children Gerrit, Pieter, and Jacob – set out on a midwinter crossing from Amsterdam. They were part of a six-vessel expedition, organized by the Amsterdam Chamber, carrying hundreds of colonists and supplies to New Amsterdam. It was the largest colonizing effort yet undertaken by the Dutch. The six ships were called, in English, the Orange Tree, Cow, Black Horse, Sheep, Mackerel, and Rider. In addition to people the Oranjeboom carried most of the expedition’s farming tools, seeds, and live plants. The Koe and the Swaerte Paert carried hundreds of cows, horses, sheep, and hogs. The Schaep and Mackereel carried equipment and passengers, and the Ruijter held people and livestock.[...] read more

The oldest tallit in America

The oldest tallit in America, originally owned by Abraham Isaacks (d. 1743)

I can’t believe I left this out of my profile of Abraham Isaacks.

In 2006 a beautiful silk prayer shawl, called a tallit, was donated to the American Jewish Historical Society in New York. It’s been authenticated as the oldest tallit in America, and one scholar makes the case that it may be the oldest in the world.

The first owner of the tallit was our ancestor Abraham Isaacks. On his death in 1743 he passed it on to his wife, Hannah Mears Isaacks, who in turn passed it on to their son Jacob Isaacks, a merchant in Newport, in 1745. Jacob Isaacks and his wife Rebecca (who was also part of the Mears family) had eight children, and passed the tallit on to their eldest daughter. [...] read more

Serjeant William Lovelace, ca. 1527-1577

Serjeant William Lovelace in 1576

Back in 1247, the Lovelace family settled at Bethersden, in the Weald of Kent, and in 1367 purchased the property that was to become Lovelace Place. Two members of the family, possibly brothers, joined Cade’s Rebellion in 1450; another allegedly played a crucial role during the Second Battle of St. Albans in 1461 by withdrawing his Yorkist contingent from the fight. It was probably that man’s son, Sir Richard Lovelace, who served as marshal of Calais under Henry VII and was knighted after the Battle of Blackheath (1497).[...] read more

The man who owned Baltimore

The Story of Cole’s Harbor

Thomas Cole (1603-1679) was probably a passenger on the Transport, which sailed from London to Virginia in 1635. His age would have been about 32, which means that his wife Priscilla and their children Sarah, Rebecca, and Mary most likely traveled with him. Cole was the second son and third child of the Rev. Humphrey Cole, the Vicar of Tillingham in Essex. The Reverend’s oldest son, William, had already emigrated to Virginia in 1618, and would later move to Maryland.

Cole and his family settled first in Accomack County, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. By 1649 they had moved to Maryland, probably Baltimore County, and by 1656 they were in Anne Arundel County. By January 1657, Thomas, his brother William, and William’s son “William Coale” were all acknowledged Quakers, and the younger William was on his way to becoming a Quaker leader. The Reverend Humphrey had died in 1624, so we don’t know how he would have reacted to all this free thinking.[...] read more

Abraham Isaacks, d. 1743

When Abraham Isaacks arrived in New York from Holland in 1698, the total Jewish population in the colonies numbered two to three hundred. He may have been as young as 5 years old, in which case he was probably in the company of his parents, whose names are not known to us.

Like many of colonial New York’s Jews, Isaacks became a merchant. He was also a landowner and was actively involved in New York political life – both unusual traits for Jews of the time, even for prosperous ones like Isaacks.[...] read more

A house called “Louisiana”

The Lyman C. Josephs House, also known as Louisiana, is a historic home at 438 Walcott Avenue in Middletown, Rhode Island, now broken into apartments. Architect Clarence Luce designed the house, which was built in 1882 and is a well-preserved early example of the Shingle Style. The house received architectural notice not long after its construction, but is more noted for its relatively modest size and lack of ostentation than the summer houses of nearby Newport. It was built for the Lyman Colt Josephs family of Baltimore, Maryland.[...] read more