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

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

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

Family history in New Jersey

P A T E R S O N Great Falls National Historical Park. Site of the Great Falls raceway and power system begun by Pierre L’Enfant…

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

Family history in England

B E D F O R D S H I R E Odell. All Saint’s Church. Home of the Rev. Peter Bulkeley until he was kicked out…

The fevered swamps of New Hampshire

Site of the Brackett’s Lane Massacre, 1691, Rye, NH

As we head into fall weather, what better time to poke around the fevered swamps of New Hampshire looking for Pearson forebears? Especially when – count them – FOUR of our Pearson ancestors were murdered in said swamps within three years and six miles of each other.

To wit:

In June 1689, Isabella Craddock Holdridge was murdered by “Negro Jack” in the Mast Swamp of Exeter, New Hampshire. Negro Jack was hanged in Boston the following year. There is no explanation put forward for her murder, but Mrs. Holdridge seems to have been less than charming. In 1659, in Salem, she was the principal witness in the first witchcraft trial against John Godfrey of Andover, Massachusetts, who endured three trials in all. It seemed she owed Godfrey money. Two days after Godfrey appeared at their house demanding payment, she testified that she was tormented with shape-changing animals: a bumblebee, a bear, a great horse, a black ox, and a black cat three times as big as an ordinary cat. Clearly he was practicing sorcery. (Godfrey was acquitted.) The Mast Swamp no longer appears on maps, but it was said to lie where “Exeter, Stratham, and Hampton come together.” In a deed of 25 Aug 1710, James Sinkler sold to James Dudley a piece of land in Exeter “nigh a way that formerly went into the Mast Swamp nigh where Goodwife Holdrig was killed.” Isabella Holdridge was our 9G grandmother.  [...] read more

Hartford: blecchh, but still

Seth H. Clark, Emigration of Hooker and his party to Hartford – Connecticut Historical Society

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT, is one of my least favorite metropolises on the East Coast – homely, pinned under two interstates, and full of insurance companies. Moreover, in 1940 they buried their meandering Park River in a crosstown sewer. However, the city is old, important, and plays a critical role in American history. And our family was deeply involved.

The city was founded in 1636 when the Rev. Thomas Hooker broke with the Puritans over the issue of voting and led 100 faithful through the wilderness to a new settlement on the Connecticut River. Because they were outside Massachusetts authority, they wrote up their own constitution establishing what some consider the world’s first democratic, representative government.[...] read more

Schenectady, taproot of American history

(From E. S. Ellis, History of Our Country. Vol. 1 (Indianapolis, IN: J. H. Woolling & Co.) .

Just found a terrific short piece on Schenectady by John Leland at the University of Houston, here. He says:

Schenectady nests in a bend of the Mohawk River at the head of the Mohawk Valley, just west of the confluence of the Mohawk and the Hudson. In the seventeenth century, this is where Indian and Colonial trade goods moved by canoe.

By then, New York was the home of the vast Iroquois Federation of five nations: The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. The Tuscaroras would soon move up from North Carolina and become the sixth. French, English, Dutch and other colonists were living along the Hudson and Mohawk. The name Schenectady came from a Mohawk phrase for beyond-the-pine-plains — S’quan-ho-hac-ta-de.[...] read more

The Hugh Wilson house

1741 Coliseum, New Orleans

Notes from Johanna:

My recollection from what Dad has told me about Hugh Wilson is that he was a cotton broker.  They had some property outside of town (where they stashed the silver during the war)  as well as the house we all remember from the picture on Coliseum Place in the Lower Garden District.  Dad told me that they had to buy the house back from the Union when the war was over.  (N.O. fell early on and was occupied for most of the war by the Union)  You know that the house was used in the movie A Murder of Crows starring Cuba Gooding Junior and that Mom and Dad visited N.O. to try and learn more.  Dad told me that A.K. was friends/business associates with Hugh Wilson and that is how Alice Wilson was introduced to Lyman.  Alice’s brother, Hugh never married.  Aunt Mary told me (one of the several times we visited her in Balto.) that she loved to go to her grandparents house in N.O.  She said, very proudly, that they always had Irish servants only.  (What?!) Anyway.[...] read more