J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Follow by Email

Showing posts with label children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A Bite of Joel Christian Gill’s Strange Fruit

As I mentioned back here, I scripted one of the stories in the new anthology Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750. I wrote that script with the artist Joel Christian Gill in mind, and was lucky enough that he agreed to work on the project.

Joel is a professor and now chair of the Foundations Program at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. For years he was creating and publishing short comics about African-American history. As part of the process that led to Colonial Comics, the same publisher saw Joel’s mini-comics and signed him up for multiple books.

Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History came out earlier this year. It has a foreword by Prof. Henry Louis Gates and has been getting fine reviews. Its subjects include Marshall “Major” Taylor, a cycling champion; Theophilus Thompson, a child born into slavery who became a chess master; the Malaga Island community of Maine; and more.

One of those stories has its roots in Revolutionary New England: the career of Richard Potter, America’s first professional magician. Potter was a light-skinned African-American, able to portray a “Hindu” in his performances during the early 1800s.

According to traditions going back to the late nineteenth-century, Potter was raised in Hopkinton, son of a servant woman or slave named Dinah and a baronet, or hereditary knight. Hopkinton was home of the baronet Sir Charles Henry (Harry) Frankland, and in the past authors have suggested Frankland was Potter’s father. However, the magician’s gravestone indicates he was born in or around 1783, and Frankland died in 1768, so that’s out.

The 2004 book Black Portsmouth suggests that Potter’s father was Henry Cromwell, a young man in the Frankland household. Most sources identify Cromwell as Sir Harry Frankland’s illegitimate son (though one says he was the illegitimate son of the previous baronet, Sir Harry’s uncle). As for Henry Cromwell’s mother, most sources suggest she was Sir Harry’s mistress before he met the love of his life, Agnes Surriage, in a Marblehead tavern. In Marblehead’s Pygmalion: Finding the Real Agnes Surriage (2010), F. Marshall Bauer digs deepest into those relationships and concludes that Agnes, the future Lady Frankland, probably bore Henry Cromwell out of wedlock as a teenaged mother.

That still leaves the question of how Henry Cromwell might have fathered Richard Potter. Cromwell left America with Lady Frankland during the siege of Boston. At the end of the war, he was busy as a captain in the Royal Navy, participating in the Second Battle of Ushant. He was unlikely to be found in Hopkinton in 1782 or ’83.

Eventually Cromwell became an admiral and retired to the English countryside. In 1805 Sir Harry’s younger brother William left his estate to Cromwell on the provision that the retired admiral change his surname to Frankland, as he quickly did. Thus, although Henry Cromwell Frankland was never a baronet, he was the son of a baronet, an admiral, and a big English landowner, which added up to nearly the same thing.

So did Henry Cromwell leave Massachusetts with the enslaved woman Dinah, and they had Richard Potter far away from Hopkinton? Was Potter born in Hopkinton to another couple altogether, and did he later add an aristocratic pedigree? Did Potter shave a decade off his age, meaning he was really born in 1773? Firm answers are illusory. In Strange Fruit, Joel Gill focuses instead on Potter’s theatrical career, conjuring feats, and manipulation of racial identities within nineteenth-century America.

Joel’s second book this year, Bass Reeves: Tales of the Talented Tenth, Volume 1, tells the life of a highly successful Texas lawman. It makes some remarkable uses of the comics form, especially in conveying racist language without using it. That book makes its debut this weekend at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo in Cambridge. Right now, as I understand it, Joel is touring the Midwest, wowing audiences with his talks before returning to New England in time for that exposition. Richard Potter would be proud.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Short Look at the Vita Brevis Blog

Recently I came across the Vita Brevis blog from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, “designed to offer the reader short essays by the Society’s expert staff on their own research as well as news of the greater genealogical community.”

Entries include Alice Kane on “Mapping Vermont”:
Regardless of the jurisdictional dispute between New York and New Hampshire, much of the vital and land records remained with the Vermont towns recording them, while probate records are held by the probate district within the county – Strafford [a town moved from one county to another, based on different colonial grants] is covered by the Bradford Probate District, for which digital images may be viewed at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1807377.
David Allen Lambert on the families of color in eighteenth-century Stoughton:
By the early eighteenth century, the population of the Punkapoag Indians was diminishing. Marriages between Punkapoag Indians and former slaves were not uncommon. One particular Punkapoag Indian–Elizabeth Will (the daughter of Nuff Will and Sarah Moho)–married former slave Isaac Williams, a Revolutionary War soldier from Roxbury, Massachusetts. This African-American/Native American family would live in the northern part of Stoughton for over half a century. Williams collected a federal pension for his service during the war. His widow Elizabeth lived to be more than 100 years of age, dying in 1848.
And Lindsay Fulton took a look at family customs in the previous century when illegitimate births were rarer: What surname did such a child inherit?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

An Expert in Colonial American Literacy

Last week I was saddened to learn of the death of E. Jennifer Monaghan, author of Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America, a necessary source on the experiences of Revolutionary-era children.

Monaghan was eighty-one years old, an emeritus professor at Brooklyn College, and, like many female scholars of her generation, a latecomer to her specialty.

Prof. Monaghan was born in Cambridge, England. She earned a B.A. in classics at Oxford and, with a grant from the English-Speaking Union, an M.A. in Greek at the University of Illinois. Then she met and married Charles Monaghan, an American journalist, and they had three children.

Her obituary explains:
Spurred by her experience as a volunteer reading teacher at a local public school and a fascination with phonics, Jennifer decided to pursue a graduate degree in reading education, receiving an Ed. D. from Yeshiva Graduate School of Education with a dissertation on Noah Webster, which was later published as A Common Heritage: Noah Webster’s Blueback Speller. The book launched her career as a historian of literacy.

Author of dozens of scholarly papers and invited presentations worldwide, she was the founder of the History of Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association and edited the group’s newsletter for 25 years. Their annual best-book award is named after her.
Monaghan’s collection of antique reading textbooks is now at the University of Kansas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Incentives Behind the A.P. Test

Having discussed the economic incentives that might fuel some criticism of the new A.P. U.S. History guidelines, I feel I should acknowledge the other side of the coin: the economics behind that revamping.

Advanced Placement exams are administered by the College Board, the same company that handles the S.A.T. In the last decade, the company lost its dominant place in the market for basic standardized college-entrance exams to the A.C.T., or “Iowa Test.” Last year the College Board’s new president announced an effort to revamp the S.A.T.

The Advanced Placement tests remain a College Board exclusive. They also cost more to take. (There are financial-aid programs.) Thus, the firm has an economic incentive to see more high-school students taking A.P. exams.

Before 2011, U.S. History was the College Board’s most popular A.P. test. Even now, more than 400,000 students worldwide take it each year. At about $80 per test, that represents around $32 million in revenue.

The original design of A.P. classes was to provide high-school students with the equivalent of an introductory college course, so they could gain college credits or move on to higher-level courses. Under that purpose, it makes sense to periodically revamp the curricula to make sure they really do reflect the latest college scholarship.

However, these days students may take A.P. exams not to move through college quicker but to burnish their résumés for getting into college. And schools face pressure to offer more A.P. courses. College-application counselor Nancy Griesemer wrote on the Examiner website:
…instead of pushing students forward to complete college faster (an expensive proposition for institutions losing tuition revenue from early graduates), the AP has become the “gold standard” for proving academic excellence in high school and for measuring college readiness. . . . colleges use AP’s as a measure of course rigor. . . .

…ranking of high schools based on number of AP (and IB) classes offered, how many students take the exams and how well they do, feeds this frenzy by suggesting to school administrators that AP’s need to be increased—sometimes in place of more appropriate honors classes—and students need to be pushed into taking these classes earlier in their secondary school careers. . . .

Outside of the classroom and in a measure of self-motivation as well as academic excellence, colleges reinforce the message by appearing to reward students who appear to go beyond course offerings at their schools by studying for and taking AP exams on their own. As a result, a cottage industry of online classes and specialized tutors has developed targeted to preparing students to take AP exams without going through the rigor of taking the AP class.
All of those incentives nudge the associated enterprises away from what should be their goal: that students actually learn the subjects they’re being tested on at an advanced level.

U.S. History, like nearly every topic I know, requires knowledge both of many specific facts and techniques and understanding of concepts and principles. It’s important to know about significant events that led up to the American Revolution; it’s also important to be able to see the conflict from both sides, and to recognize how each group saw the other as escalating the conflict and thus felt justified in escalating as well.

Knowledge of facts is easy to gauge through a standardized test. The College Board’s S.A.T. or achievement test for U.S. History is an hour long and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions. (A little over 100,000 students take that per year.) That sort of test is also easier to cram for.

Understanding is much harder to assess on a massive scale, at least economically. The College Board has designed its A.P. exam to achieve that goal, using document-based questions and essays. The company has every incentive to convince us its methods work. Those methods may well be the best available. I’m just not sure that goal is really achievable.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Samuel “Rat-trap” Adams’s Revolution

According to Samuel “Rat-trap” Adams, the wire-worker and former town crier, he:

  • was six years old when the Stamp Act protests occurred, eleven in the year of the Boston Massacre, fourteen during the Tea Party, and sixteen in the first year of the war.
  • helped the Sons of Liberty, reportedly by guarding the door when they had their meetings along with other boys.
  • somehow served the Continental side during the Revolutionary War.
  • conducted a prisoner from Worcester to Boston Jail during the Shays Rebellion.
  • Ended up with a large striped banner that had been flown from a pole beside Liberty Tree when Boston’s Sons of Liberty had their meetings, which has since become known as the “Sons of Liberty flag.”
It’s good to know more now about this Samuel Adams’s life in the early 1800s, when he was a prominent character in Boston, but there’s still a frustrating dearth of information and evidence about his Revolutionary activity. I’d love to have a first-hand account of what it was like to be a teenager during the years leading up to the break with Britain. But the scraps Adams left simply offer more questions.

Liberty Tree was felled late in the summer of 1775, during the siege of Boston. That means this Samuel Adams’s connection to the tree has to date from his teens, well before he came of age. By what means did he become the keeper of the Sons of Liberty’s flag?

All signs point to Adams having grown up in the North End. Liberty Tree was far down in the South End. Rivalry between North End and South End gangs turned violent on most Pope Nights. So how easy would it have been for Adams to guard a door down on Essex Street?

Almost all the reports of a flag on the pole at Liberty Tree, mostly from the late 1760s, describe it as an ordinary British or “Union flag.” A Customs report said it was a “red flag,” which could have meant a red banner with the Union canton. No one described a flag with five red and four white stripes, which would have begged for interpretation.

When the Sons of Liberty raised their flag on their tall flagpole, sticking out above a tall elm tree, they were calling for a public meeting. They wanted masses of people. Often those gatherings were outdoors at the tree. The flag was not associated with closed-door strategy sessions that might need guarding.

Recent examination of the “Sons of Liberty flag” has found that it’s made from machine-woven cloth, which was rare in the 1760s and not made in America. Since a big part of the Boston Sons of Liberty tactics was to promote a boycott of goods imported from Britain, would they have chosen a rare British cloth for their banner?

Some descendants of this Samuel Adams said that he was the private of that name that Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors lists as serving in Capt. Josiah Harris’s company, Col. William Bond’s regiment, in late 1775. All we know about that Samuel Adams is that he joined up in Charlestown, like many of the regiment’s other men. But Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors has more than three pages of listings of men named Samuel Adams.

“Rat-trap” Adams lived long enough to apply for a federal pension based on Revolutionary service. We know he sought money from the state. But no Samuel Adams of Suffolk County appears on the lists of federal pensioners, and no one seems to have found an application from him describing his military experiences. So did he not serve long enough to qualify under any of the pension laws?

All told, Samuel Adams’s Revolution, how he came to possess the “Sons of Liberty flag,” and the origin of that flag remain shrouded in mystery. He and the banner definitely appeared at Boston historical commemorations and political rallies in the mid-1800s. They thus symbolize the radical reformers’ claim on the city’s Revolutionary heritage, along with every other political grouping. But “Rat-trap” Adams hasn’t convinced me we can say more than that.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Looking for Samuel Adams’s Family

I’ve been writing about Samuel “Rat-trap” Adams, a well-known character in Boston who died in 1855. He was honored as a survivor of the Revolution, and he owned a red and white striped flag that he said had been flown from a pole on Essex Street beside Liberty Tree.

Adams’s 1855 death notices say he was ninety-six years old, implying he was born around 1759. But I haven‘t found a period record of his birth or baptism. Boston vital records were unfortunately spotty.

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register has published two items about “Rat-trap” Adams’s ancestry, both hearsay rather than original records, but at least they’re starting-points.

In the mid-1800s a man named John Haven Dexter wrote in a copy of the 1789 Boston directory beside the name of Samuel Adams, a “truckman” on “Elliot-street”: “the well-known Wire Worker, brother of Abraham—was the father of Mrs. Wm. Fenno, confectioner and keeper of a Hotel.—Died [blank]. He kept a wharf bottom Cross Street 1794.—Town Crier 1800.” The same directory listed Abraham Adams as a leather-dresser.

And shortly after Adams’s death the Register published a death notice that said: “Mr. Adams was a wire-worker by trade, and born at the North End, as we have heard from himself. His father (Benjamin) was of the Newbury family of Adams, and his mother was Abigail, dau. of Capt. Caleb Kendrick, of West Newton.”

Both Boston and Newton vital records show Benjamin Adams and Abigail Kenrick married in 1747. A 1753 mortgage to James Bowdoin identifies Benjamin Adams as a cordwainer, or shoemaker. The 11 Nov 1788 Massachusetts Gazette ran a death notice for Benjamin Adams, aged sixty-four (other papers said sixty-five), and said that the funeral would be from the home of his son Abraham Adams on Newbury Street. Abraham Adams was a leading leather-dresser in Boston at the end of that century, dying in 1806 at age fifty-six. So those two Register statements fit together with period sources.

Complicating matters, the Newton records also show a Benjamin Adams marrying Sarah Burridge (or Burrige or Burrage) in 1755. A Genealogical History of Robert Adams, of Newbury, published by a descendant in 1900, assumes that’s the same Benjamin Adams. That author concludes that Abigail died before 1755 and that Samuel’s mother was Sarah, his father’s second wife. Notably, that book also says “Rat-trap” Adams died in 1796, which we know is untrue, and that his children were born in Newbury rather than Boston. Weighing the evidence, it looks like two different men named Benjamin Adams came to Newton and married two different women eight years apart. As for that book’s statement that Samuel was born 7 June 1759, it would be nice to know the source since its other statements are so unreliable.

There’s a stone in the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground (shown above, courtesy of Find-a-Grave) memorializing Abigail and Eunice, wife and infant daughter of Benjamin Adams, who died 17 Jan 1764. That matches a town report of “Mrs. Adams” contracting smallpox. So was that Samuel’s mother, dying when he was four years old? The Register did say Adams claimed to have been born in the North End, where that burying-ground is.

The 1796 Boston directory lists Samuel Adams as a “truckman and lighterman”—someone in the business of moving goods, either in trucks or in small barges. That matches with his reported ownership of a wharf. By 1800 Samuel was listed as “town-crier” and living at “No. 71 Newbury Street.” Abraham was at number 72. There’s also a record of them doing a real-estate transaction together in 1798.

We do have records of:
  • Samuel Adams’s marriage to Catherine Fenno on 8 Mar 1781.
  • Catherine’s baptism at Old South on 6 Feb 1763, making her eighteen at her wedding.
In addition, the genealogy mentioned above lists their children as Benjamin Franklin (1782), Catherine (1783), Catherine Noyes (1785), Nancy (1787), John Fenno (1789), Samuel (1791), Elizabeth (1793), and Harriet (1796). Boston records show Catherine Noyes Adams married her cousin William Fenno in 1806.

Unfortunately, what I’m really looking for is a record of Samuel’s birth. Boston’s published town records and the Churches of Boston CD-ROM don’t contain any baptism or birth records for Benjamin Adams’s family.

As it is, we have only Samuel Adams’s own statements in the mid-1800s about how old he was. That number did creep up for some other survivors of the Revolution. George R. T. Hewes believed he was over one hundred when he revisited Boston, and he was still in his early nineties. Newspapers said Samuel Whittemore was ninety-nine when he died, and he was really ninety-six. A few years’ difference doesn’t mean much when you’re ninety, but it means a lot when you’re in your teens. Samuel Adams’s stories about being part of political meetings in pre-Revolutionary Boston would be hard to believe if he was only, say, eleven years old in 1773 instead of fourteen.

TOMORROW: Samuel Adams’s petition to the state.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“Rat-trap Adams’s argumentation”

(I keep finding mid-nineteenth-century stuff about Samuel “Rat-trap” Adams, putting off my promised discussion of his youth in the Revolutionary period. But I’ll get to that topic eventually.)

In changing their form of government from a town to a city in 1822, Bostonians deprived political orators without office like Samuel Adams of a forum. (In fact, that might have been one goal of the change.) But he could still speak at other gatherings, or outdoors.

For decades Bostonians remembered Adams and some other town-meeting regulars. In fact, in 1842 he became internationally known with this stanza from the parodic “Rime of the Ancient Pedler” published in The Great Western Magazine in London:
And then burste out a thundering shout;
I thought the earth was quaking.
Such a clatter sounds in Funnell-Halle
When rat-trap Adams tries to bawle,
And the cits for funne immensely squalle,
Their sides with laughter shaking.
Ten years later, James Spear Loring published The Hundred Boston Orators, which profiled most of the town’s statesmen from the Revolutionary and Federalist periods. The Boston Transcript published a response by “A Friend of Neglected Genius,” claiming to make the case for two more well-known orators. That essay was reprinted in the 23 Oct 1852 Cambridge Chronicle, which has been digitized.

The “Friend” wrote:
A perfect book is an impossibility. It is not surprising, therefore, that the able and industrious Editor of “The Hundred Boston Orators” has overlooked two of our public speakers who have high claims on the admiration of posterity. He has exhumed from the grave of the past many orators whose efforts were forgotten in a month after delivery; but he has neglected to mention two gentlemen who during the last half century have often delighted the “solid men of Boston” with their exquisite fancy, and instructed them with their profound wisdom. As I write the names of William Emmons and Samuel Adams, (not the “Sam Adams” of revolutionary fame,) what a throng of recollections rise to my memory! I seem once more to hear the walls of Faneuil Hall echo with the stirring eloquence of the one, and to catch upon the breeze that floats across our beautiful Common the silver tones of the other. . . .

When the roguish boys in the streets impolitely shouted “There goes old Rat-trap Adams,” they unconsciously did reverence to that extraordinary force of logic which in his public efforts attracted and surrounded as with a net-work of iron, whosoever came within the sound of his voice. Like a rat within a trap, the auditor could find no escape. It was easy to enter within the magic circle of his oratorical power, but impossible to escape from its thraldom. . . .

the calm steady flow of Rat-trap Adams’s argumentation [suggested that he had]…fasted for a day and a night that his mind might be clear and calm. . . . the ponderous logic of Adams, like the two-handed sword of the Lion hearted Richard, crushed whatever came in its path. . . .

My memory runs back to the days of my boyhood when I sometimes had the privilege of enjoying the private discourse of Mr. Adams. In the moments which were not devoted to public affairs he indulged the mechanical turn of his mind so far as to amuse himself by manufacturing divers articles of wire-work. He had a peculiar fancy for making rat-traps of that material. One of these dangled as a sign in front of the shop in which, for the accommodation of his fellow-citizens, he caused the products of his skill to be vended. This shop was kept in the first story of his mansion, in Federal street, near Milk street; a building which has long since been razed to the ground. For the benefit of the youth who were partial to piscatory pursuits, Mr. Adams constantly kept an assortment of canepoles in his yard; and I well remember often visiting his establishment after school hours and negotiating for the purchase of a fishing-rod.

Upon such occasions the venerable man (for Mr. Adams has seen the snows of ninety winters) was wont to address us urchins on the political topics of the day. My comrades, as well as myself, were more fond of achieving some practical joke at the good man’s expense than at profiting by his lessons of wisdom; and I have never forgiven myself for the levity which prompted me one warm summer afternoon to place a piece of cobbler’s wax upon the chair, just as he was taking his favorite seat. The consequences, when he endeavored to rise with his subject, were exceedingly embarrassing to Mr. Adams; and his feelings were still further wounded by the personally facetious comments of my thoughtless companions.
Cobbler’s wax was notoriously sticky in that circumstance.

It’s striking that the “Friend” shared those reminiscences when Adams was still alive. He didn’t die until three years later. On 30 Mar 1855 William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator ran a small piece headed “Death of a Veteran.” It said of Adams:
He was a participant in the Boston scenes of the Revolution. He has always been a radical in his political ideas, and an atheist in his religion. Latterly he has been associated with Mrs. Abby Folsom, and his venerable form has been conspicuous in spiritual and other conventions. He was a skilful and industrious mechanic, says the Post.
Most Abolitionists didn’t see associating with Abby Folsom (c. 1792-1867, shown above in a political cartoon) as a plus. She had become notorious in the 1840s for interrupting gatherings, including church services, anti-slavery meetings, and public debates about the new Mormon church, with long, semi-coherent speeches followed by complaints that her freedom of speech was being abridged. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wendell Phillips, Josiah Quincy, and others thought she was damaging to the cause, as well as personally annoying. Even after trying to see past the entitlement of Victorian gentlemen, I can’t help but suspect that Folsom was a bit mad. According to Kathryn Griffith, Adams wanted Folsom to have his “Liberty Tree Flag.”

As for the “spiritual” conventions where Adams had lately been “conspicuous,” Spiritualism had spread from upstate New York alongside reform movements and other religious ideas. Adams’s interest suggests that he wasn’t really “atheist” but just not interested in any existing church.

TOMORROW: Samuel Adams on Samuel Adams.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Child’s Memories of the Doctors’ Riot of 1788

A few days back I mentioned William Alexander Duer’s New-York as it Was, During the Latter Part of the Last Century, published in 1849.

Duer (shown here in a copy of a daguerreotype) was born in 1780, son of the British-born Patriot politician William Duer and grandson of the Continental general William Alexander, Lord Stirling.

Duer called the doctors’ riot of 1788 the “public occurrence that made the earliest, if not the deepest impression upon my memory.”

His retellings of events included details he couldn’t have been privy to at the time, and thus must have heard secondhand or taken from previous accounts. But he also described some dramatic moments that he or his family personally witnessed, recalled with the enthusiasm of a seven-year-old.

For example, the clash of an upper-class militia company on horseback and the crowd:
Never shall I forget the charge I saw made upon a body of the rioters by [Capt. John] Stakes’s light-horse. From our residence opposite St. Paul’s, I first perceived the troop as it debouched from Fair, now Fulton-street, and attacked the masses collected at the entrance of the “fields,” whence they were soon scattered, some of them retreating into the church-yard,—driven sword in hand through the portico, by the troopers striking right and left with the backs of their sabres.
And the wounding and care of Gen. Steuben:
The Baron de Steuben was struck by a stone which knocked him down, inflicted a flesh wound upon his forehead, and wrought a sudden change in the compassionate feelings he had previously entertained towards the mob. At the moment of receiving it, he was earnestly remonstrating with the Governor against ordering the militia to fire on the people; but, as soon as he was struck, the Baron’s benevolence deserted him, and as he fell he lustily cried out, “fire! Governor, fire!”

[Footnote:] Upon the occasion mentioned in the text, he was brought bleeding into my father’s house, accompanied by most of the cortege which had assembled at the gaol, and there being no surgeon to be had, my mother [Catherine Duer] staunched his wound, of which the old soldier made very light, and bound up his head. After his departure, Governor [George] Clinton amused the company by relating the above anecdote.
Duer thus left us both a delicious story about Steuben and the provenance for it: from Gov. Clinton to his mother and thence to him.

Another eyewitness, not so young, was William Dunlap (1766-1839), whose history of New York was posthumously published in 1840. He wrote that during the doctors’ riot, “The house of Sir John Temple, the British consul, in Queen Street, was with difficulty saved. It was said ‘Sir John’ was misinterpreted ‘Surgeon.’”

Temple was James Bowdoin’s son-in-law, a friendly Customs official in Boston before the Revolution, and the most likely conduit for Gov. Thomas Hutchinson’s letters to Benjamin Franklin. However, I can’t find any confirmation from Temple’s published papers for his house being mobbed in 1788.

TOMORROW: What about the medical student who started all the trouble?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The New York Doctors’ Riot of 1788

In January 2011 the Lancet published a brief article about protests in 1788 over how medical students in New York dug up corpses from the burying-grounds for dissection training.

Through juxtaposition that article suggests that the city’s African-American community, their petitions and newspaper letters ignored, finally rioted over the practice in April 1788. But this New York Magazine article on the same events makes clear that the riot occurred only after “students began digging up white graves, too.”

From the Lancet:
In April, 1788, a group of children playing outside the New York Hospital ventured near [Dr. Richard] Bayley’s rooms where a student named John Hicks was dissecting an arm. Hicks is said to have waved the arm out the window at the children, including one small boy who had recently lost his mother. Hicks supposedly called to the child: “This is your mother’s arm! I just dug it up!” The youngster ran home, his father enlisted help to exhume his wife’s coffin, which was found to be empty—and the riot was on.

Citizens began to mass around the hospital building. Hicks, with other medical students and professors, beat a hasty retreat. By the time the mob broke in, the hospital was abandoned except for [Dr. Wright] Post and four senior medical students, all determined to save a valuable collection of anatomy specimens accumulated over many years. But they were outnumbered, and although not harmed themselves all the specimens were taken and destroyed.

James Thacher, a physician who witnessed the riot, described it in his memoirs: “The concourse assembled on this occasion was immense, and some of the mob having forced their way into the dissecting-room, several human bodies were found in various states of mutilation. Enraged at this discovery, they seized upon the fragments, as heads, legs and arms, and exposed them from the windows and doors to public view, with horrid imprecations.”
Though the article doesn’t note this fact, most of its details about the start of the riot ultimately come from William Alexander Duer’s New-York as it Was, During the Latter Part of the Last Century, published in 1849.

Dr. James Thacher didn’t in fact witness the riot; he was home in Plymouth in 1788. Thacher wrote the passage quoted above for the section on the history of medicine in New York in his American Medical Biography (1828). That book includes the word “memoirs” in its subtitle because it contains memoirs—i.e., profiles—of eminent American physicians.

In that book Thacher described the career of Dr. Richard Bayley, in whose rooms the controversial dissection took place. Not only did Bayley train in Britain, but he returned there in the autumn of 1775 and then came back to America as a British army surgeon. Thacher wrote that taking that position had been “a step of necessity rather than of inclination,” and that Bayley resigned in 1777. Nevertheless, Dr. Bayley stayed in British-occupied New York throughout the war.

Evidently an experienced surgeon (known particularly for his treatment of the croup) was valuable enough to the community that Bayley felt he could stay in New York at the end of the war. His reputation also survived the doctors’ riot, and he became a Columbia University medical professor. Dr. Bayley died in 1801 of yellow fever. (His daughter Elizabeth Ann is better known as Mother Seton.)

TOMORROW: A real eyewitness account from April 1788.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Legend of Mme. Jumel

Ben Carp alerted me to this gossipy Gothamist article by Danielle Oteri about Eliza Jumel, long-time owner of the Morris-Jumel Mansion in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. A taste:
Eliza Jumel’s New York Times obituary [from 1865] states that her mother died shortly after giving birth and that she was placed in the care of “a good woman, and many clergymen visited her comparatively humble dwelling, so that the early years of the little one were passed amid good influences.”

In fact, Eliza “Betsy” Bowen was born in either 1773 or 1775 to a mother who worked as a prostitute for a black madam in a Providence, Rhode Island brothel.

Though the means of her ascent aren’t entirely clear, Jumel left Providence in the early 1790s for New York, then a town of 60,000 people. She worked as an actress, and seems to have used her considerable wit and beauty to gain access to many of the city’s elite.

However, her obituary claims that Eliza was brought into these circles when she eloped to New York with Col. P. Croix; that she attended the inauguration of George Washington, was best friends with Benedict Arnold’s wife, and inspired Patrick Henry to fall in love with her. The obituary also claims she was present at the first session of the Continental Congress in 1774, which would have made her exceedingly distinguished for a 1-year old.
Jumel did have some genuine top Revolutionary connections. Her house, abandoned by its Loyalist owner, was Gen. Washington’s headquarters for a short time in 1776. Her second (documented) husband was Aaron Burr; when that marriage soured, she had the dramatic sense to hire Alexander Hamilton’s son as her attorney.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Benjamin Franklin Leaves Boston in Style

Among the first generation of leading American statesmen, Benjamin Franklin is often said to be the only one who was ever in bondage to another person. Sure, he was an apprentice with a limited time until he became free, and his master was his older brother James, but he still chafed at that status.

Paradoxically, Benjamin was formally identified as the publisher of the New England Courant, a ruse to get around the authorities’ ban on James issuing a newspaper. But James was master of the shop.

Benjamin started to talk about working somewhere else. James reportedly went to the other printers in Boston and warned them not to hire his brother. Benjamin then started to talk about going to New York instead.

In Franklin’s autobiography, he described how he made it out of Boston this way:
I determin’d on the Point, but my Father now siding with my Brother, I was sensible that, if I attempted to go openly, Means would be used to prevent me. My Friend [John] Collins, therefore, undertook to manage a little for me. He agreed with the Captain of a New York Sloop for my Passage, under the Notion of my being a young Acquaintance of his that had got a naughty Girl with Child, whose Friends would compel me to marry her, and therefore I could not appear or come away publicly.

So I sold some of my Books to raise a little Money, Was taken on board privately, and as we had a fair Wind, in three Days I found myself in New York, near three hundred Miles from Home, a Boy of but seventeen, without the least Recommendation to or Knowledge of any Person in the Place, and with very little Money in my Pocket.
Such a classy start for the future Founder.

William Temple Franklin published the autobiography after his grandfather’s death, he substituted “had an intrigue with a girl of bad character” for “got a naughty Girl with Child.” That doesn’t really address the fact that it takes two to be naughty in that fashion. Furthermore, once he settled in Philadelphia, Benjamin proved himself fully capable of doing just what his friend Collins had described him doing back in Boston.

(Collins eventually followed Franklin to Philadelphia, but their friendship didn’t last.)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

First-Person Holder

Noah J. Nelson of Turnstyle via the Huffington Post recently profiled a new videogame—or is that the right term?
Thralled is an interactive experience about a runaway slave in 18th-century Brazil who becomes traumatized over the disappearance of her baby boy,” [Miguel] Oliveira told me as we met in the University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library in the week leading up to this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. “So the whole experience is about going through a historic representation of her memories and trying to find out what happened to the kid.” . . .

A game controller is used to guide the character Isaura through the Brazilian wilderness. As part of the story she carries her infant son, and a critical part of solving puzzles includes pressing the button that gets her to hold her child closer. This calms his cries, and prevents her from being discovered by a phantom that stalks her.

“You’re holding the baby yourself, in a way. By interacting with the character in such a way, by guiding and helping the character through those motions you’re really in it in a different way than in a novel or a film.”

Thralled also differs from game experiences in its intent. Others seek to entertain or educate, while Oliveira chases a different “e” word: empathy.

“It’s really an exploration of the relationship between mother and son, within this larger context of slavery and an exploration of how slavery—or what the extreme circumstances of slavery put this person through—affects that relationship.”

Thralled began as Oliveira’s senior thesis project, and was showcased at the annual Demo Day the Interactive Media & Games program puts on at the university. There it was seen by Ouya’s head of developer relations Kellee Santiago, one of the luminaries of the indie game scene. Santiago offered Oliveira a chance to create a fully realized version of the game in exchange for an exclusivity deal with Ouya.
The impetus for the game grew from Oliveira’s thinking about the history of his native country, Brazil. But of course the same scenario played out in the U.S. of A., on a somewhat smaller scale.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Searching for Mrs. Seaver

Yesterday I quoted from the page of the Hopkinton meetinghouse records shown above, photographed this week for the New York Times:
February 26th. 1763. The Church met at the meeting-house (pursuant to adjournment) and unanimously Voted, That the Charge brought against Mrs. Seaver, appear’d to them to be Sufficiently prov’d; and that therefore they could not Consent to her owning the Covenant, and receiving Baptism for her Child.
Who was Mrs. Seaver? What was the charge against her? Obviously her Hopkinton neighbors were convinced she’d done something wrong—but what?

The first place I went looking for Mrs. Seaver was in those same Hopkinton meetinghouse records—the part published within the vital records of Hopkinton for genealogists. They show that on 11 Sept 1763, or six and a half months later the church vote, two children of Moses “Sever” were baptized in that meetinghouse: Nabby and Amos Carril. A third Seaver baby, named Moses, was baptized in October 1765. The mother of those children isn’t named, but other baptism records from the same decade also omit the mother’s name, so that may not be significant.

The Westboro birth records say that Abigail (Nabby) Seaver was born 8 Mar 1761, so she was two and a half years old when she was baptized in Hopkinton. That delay points to her mother being the “Mrs. Seaver” whom the Hopkinton church didn’t want to admit.

It looks like Mrs. Seaver was born Lucy Carril(l) in Hopkinton in November 1737. On 21 Aug 1755, she married nineteen-year-old Hezekiah Johnson of Southboro, according to records from Hopkinton. This Johnson genealogy says Hezekiah died near Albany during the war against the French in 1756.

The Johnsons had a child named Miriam. Westboro records say she was born on 28 May 1756. But she was baptized on 5 September in Hopkinton, listed as “child of Lucy” with no father named. Evidently Hezekiah was no longer alive, or no longer present.

In May 1758, Lucy Johnson remarried to Moses Sever or Seaver, as recorded in the Hopkinton and Westboro records. Their first child, Lucia, was baptized in Framingham the following March. In 1762 they were living in Sudbury. During that period Lucy gave birth to Nabby, Amos Carrill, and Moses.

Sadly, according to this webpage, as of 1766 the family consisted of “Moses Sever from Hopkinton, his wife Lucy, Lucy’s daughter Merriam Johnson, and his daughter Naby.” So it looks like three of those five children died very young.

By that year, Moses and Lucy Seaver had gone back to Westboro, and they finally seem to have achieved some stability there. They remained in that town for the birth of three more boys and a girl, all of whom lived to adulthood. Moses Seaver died in 1809 or 1810. Lucy died in 1816.

What was “the Charge brought against Mrs. Seaver” that the Hopkinton church felt should bar her from admission? I couldn’t find a clear answer. One might lurk within the meetinghouse records, though more often such details were left out.

One common problem was sex outside of—usually before—marriage. For example, the Seavers’ first child, Lucia, might have been born well within nine months of their wedding. The surviving records don’t tell us her birthdate, so it’s possible the Seavers took her to Framingham to be baptized some months after she arrived.

Eighteenth-century New England congregations were quite used to dealing with brides who had been pregnant at the altar. They usually required one or both parents to admit that they had strayed before they were admitted into church membership, thus allowing their children to be baptized. And after that no one cared. Was that what ultimately happened in this case? Or was Lucy (Carrill Johnson) Seaver denying some greater scandal?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Meeting the Younger William Hunter

The Summer 2014 issue of the Colonial Williamsburg magazine includes an interview with William Hunter, as portrayed by Sam Miller. Hunter was one the the town’s Loyalists. Though he remained in town through the late 1770s, he gave up his role in the Virginia Gazette newspaper and eventually left town with the British military because he couldn’t support an independent America.

However, the Colonial Williamsburg podcast about Hunter is a lot more interesting since it goes into his backstory. He was born out of wedlock to the Williamsburg printer William Hunter and Elizabeth Reynolds. In 1761, when the boy was about seven, his father died suddenly, acknowledging in his will “my natural Son William Hunter who now lives with Benjamin Weldon.” Some scholars interpret this to mean that most people in Williamsburg hadn’t known about the boy before.

The elder Hunter had been well connected and financially successful; he shared the job of deputy postmaster in North America with Benjamin Franklin, and his Virginia Gazette newspaper was the colony’s leading news source. He left a half-interest in that business to his son and the other half, plus the responsibility of running it, to his brother-in-law Joseph Royle.

In the mid-1760s young Billy was sent to the Franklin family in Philadelphia for education and training. Since Benjamin was in London for much of that time, scholars say that his son William (also born out of wedlock) was the real mentor for the Virginia youngster. Accounts show Billy boarded with Benjamin’s older brother Peter Franklin, and in 1768 he wrote back to Benjamin’s wife Deborah with friendly regards and requests for textbooks.

After more schooling in Virginia, in 1774 the younger William Hunter became an active partner in the Virginia Gazette with one of its two recent proprietors, John Dixon. Dixon had married Joseph Royle’s widow, and was thus also Hunter’s uncle. The new partners promised subscribers “good Paper and new Type,” probably because they now had to compete with the other recent proprietor, Alexander Purdie, who was starting his own Virginia Gazette (making three in all).

Hunter married, and in June 1777 he and his wife deeded some land near the printing office to his mother, still Elizabeth Reynolds. He also supplied her with a small house, an annuity of £40, and a “servant maid fit & able to serve wait & attend” her. His father’s bequests and connections had allowed him to become an established young businessman in the Virginia capital. But he just didn’t agree with the way the colonies were heading.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Request to John Adams

In the same long letter from Abigail Adams that I quoted yesterday, she included these personal messages from the children to their father:
Our little ones send Duty to pappa. You would smile to see them all gather round mamma upon the reception of a letter to hear from pappa, and Charls with open mouth, What does par say—did not he write no more. And little Tom says I wish I could see par.

Upon Mr. [Nathan] Rice’s going into the army he asked Charls if he should get him a place, he catchd at it with great eagerness and insisted upon going. We could not put him of, he cryed and beged, no obstical we could raise was sufficent to satisfy him, till I told him he must first obtain your consent. Then he insisted that I must write about it, and has been every day these 3 weeks insisting upon my asking your consent. At last I have promised to write to you, and am obliged to be as good as my word.
At this time, Charles was five. (He’s shown above, considerably older though still in his youth.)

John Adams sent “Love to the children” in some of his letters home that month, but never specifically addressed this request.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Luther Little’s Low Point

Luther Little (1756-1842) was an American naval officer during the War for Independence. He was a lieutenant on the Protector, a Massachusetts ship that was captured by the Royal Navy in 1781.

Little escaped captivity, however, because he’d been assigned to command a vessel the Protector had captured previously on its voyage into a friendly port.

On a later voyage, however, Capt. Little’s ship was wrecked in a storm and he broke his leg. But eventually he made it back to his home town of Marshfield.

In 1841 Little dictated a memoir of his life to a relative, and in the 1910s the Journal of American History published that manuscript. This is the incident he started with:
At the age of ten years, 1766, I recollect going to swim in the North River, a stream that runs between Scituate and Marshfield, accompanied by several boys in the neighbourhood. While we were thus amusing ourselves the tide rose and took off my clothes. Aided by the boys, I chose the least conspicuous path home, two miles and a half; got into a chamber window, and instead of the fig leaves chosen by Adam and Eve for a similar purpose, I took to my bed and feigned myself sick. I lay there quietly until my mother came up, who, hearing my story, gave me herb-tea, &c, and by this means I escaped a good whipping.

The following sketch of my life will show that I have been exposed to danger, and eminently so, both by sea and land, but never have I felt any depression of spirits so sensibly as at the loss of this suit of clothes.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

“It has been copied so many times, for the last fifty years”

It’s no surprise that British soldiers composed a song about the Battle of Bunker Hill, as quoted yesterday. After all, they won the fight, and then they had several months in Boston to fill. What’s surprising is that the song was printed and preserved in American broadsides and archives.

It’s conceivable that the song was first printed inside Boston during the siege by one of the remaining Loyalist printers, and a copy of that remained after the evacuation. However, there’s strong evidence that Massachusetts youths of the Revolutionary generation passed along the song.

Complicating the picture a bit is that in 1811 the Boston printer Nathaniel Coverly reissued the verses on a broadside headlined “BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL. This Song was composed by the British, after the engagement.” That had the same text and punctuation as the earlier printing, but Coverly broke the long rhyming lines in two to produce twenty-four stanzas instead of twelve. That broadside could have reinforced and distorted people’s memory of the song from Revolutionary times, but people don’t seem to have noticed it.

After the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, Samuel Swett began to work on his History of Bunker Hill Battle. On 17 Apr 1826 a Quincy man named John Marston (1756-1846) wrote this to him:

Agreeably to your request, I send you a copy of the British song, on the battle of Bunker Hill. I will not vouch for its perfect correctness. It has been copied so many times, for the last fifty years, there are probably some mistakes and omissions.

You will observe a word is wanting at the end of the fourteenth verse, to rhyme with “danger.” I believe the meaning of the word wanting is, coward or cowardice. It was a favorite object of the British to represent us as cowards, and that we could not fight except behind stone walls and breast-works.
Marston’s handwritten copy was headed, “A song on the battle of Bunker Hill, composed by one of the British army, June, 1775, Tune—‘When Sawney up to London came.’” Compared to the previously printed texts, Marston omitted two stanzas and occasional words, and transposed two other stanzas.

In addition, in 1838 E. C. Wines wrote this about visiting Bunker Hill in A Trip to Boston, in a Series of Letters to the Editor of the United States Gazette:
I considered myself fortunate in having so excellent a guide as Major [Benjamin] Russell, who, he says, was on the spot the day when the battle occurred, and saw the whole of it, though, as he was but a mere stripling, he took no active part in it. Being, however, a “looker-on in Venice,” he is familiar with every locality and with all the incidents of the day. He gave me a minute and graphic account of the battle, specifying all the leading events, and pointing out the place where each one happened.

Among other things, he repeated a doggerel description of the battle, written by a common British soldier, who afterwards deserted to the Americans, and used to sing it in the American camp. It has no poetical merit, but as the Major declares it to be perfectly accurate in its facts, and as it has never yet appeared in print, I venture to transcribe it.
Wines then wrote out a ten-stanza version of the song. Despite being Boston’s leading Federalist publisher, Russell (1761-1845, shown above) apparently didn’t know that those lines had been published at least three times before.

Thus, Bostonians who were teenagers during the Battle of Bunker Hill preserved this British army song about the fight and helped it get into history books over half a century later.

TOMORROW: So who wrote those lines? And why do we remember a different version?

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Benjamin Russell Saved from Lightning

Benjamin Russell (1761-1845) was the publisher of the Columbian Centinel, Boston’s most powerful Federalist newspaper, and an employer or mentor of many printers in the early republic. He had great influence in state politics and even held political office himself.

In shifting from the printing press, where a man literally got his hands dirty, to offices traditionally reserved for gentlemen, Russell followed in the path of Benjamin Franklin. In fact, Russell might have owed not only his career but his life to Franklin.

The Printer Boy, or How Benjamin Franklin Made His Mark, authored by William Makepeace Thayer (1820-1898) in 1864, includes this anecdote about Russell as a lad:

A very little knowledge of electricity once saved the life of Benjamin Russell in his youth. He was an eminent citizen of Boston, born in the year 1761, and in his younger years he had learned from the writings of Franklin, who had become a philosopher, that it was dangerous to take shelter, during a thunder-shower, under a tree, or in a building not protected with lightning-rods.

One day, in company with several associates, he was overtaken by a tempest, and some of the number proposed that they should take shelter under a large tree near by, while others advised to enter a neighbouring barn. But young Russell opposed both plans, and counselled going under a large projecting rock as the safest place.

The result showed that a little knowledge of electricity was of great service to him; for both the barn and the tree were struck by lightning.
Obviously, Thayer or someone he spoke to had heard this tale from Russell. Alas, the surviving story doesn’t say how old Benjamin and his friends were when they had this experience.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Priscilla Hobart’s “happiest portion of her life”

Yesterday’s posting left Priscilla (Thomas Watson) Lothrop and the Rev. Noah Hobart reunited more than two decades after they had broken off their engagement because he was an indebted schoolteacher and she was being courted by a rich man. In the intervening years both had married, she twice. Both had become parents and then been widowed. Her Plymouth husbands had left her wealthy. He was established as the Congregationalist minister in Fairfield, Connecticut.

But when Noah came to ask Priscilla to marry him at last, she told him she’d promised her second husband she wouldn’t marry as long as his mother was alive—and presumably needing care. Priscilla’s great-grandson Benjamin Marston Watson continues the story:
Noah, disappointed, set out for home with a heavy heart & having reach’d Hingham, call’d on ye Revd. M’r [Daniel] Shute, who invited him to stop & preach ye Thursday lecture for him; to wch. he assented. After ye lecture was over, as they were going home, they met a traveller on horseback, of whom Mr. Shute enquired “where he was from?” — He answered “from Plymouth;” when they further enquired “if there was any news?”

He answered, “nothing particular, except that old Madam Lothrop died last night.”

Noah’s face brightened up on this announcement, & he turned his face again towards Plymouth; and without being able to state any intervening particulars, we know that in three weeks from that time, Priscilla married her third husband in ye person of her first lover, & was settled at Fairfield as “ye minister’s help-meet,” & ye wife of ye Revd. Noah Hobart.
The couple married in 1758, when he was in his early fifties and she in her late forties. What Watson wrote about their marriage is notable in that he was a descendant of Priscilla’s first husband:
The life of Priscilla at Fairfield was tranquil and happy; & it is said that she sometimes confessed to her children, in her old age, they being also ye children of her other husbands, that ye period she lived with Noah was ye happiest portion of her life. She had no children by M’r Hobart . . . Priscilla, however, was destined to be a widow for ye third time, as ye Revd. Noah Hobart died at Fairfield in ye year 1773, & left her in possession of his homestead there. . . .

After ye death of M’r Hobart, Priscilla remained at Fairfield, occupying his house & receiving ye manifestations of ye affection and respect of his late Parish for a period of six years, until July, 1779, when ye whole village of Fairfield was burned by ye English troops under ye command of Govr. [William] Tryon. Being now houseless she returned to Plymouth, & occupied ye house in wch. she had lived with her second husband, Mr [Isaac] Lothrop. . . .

In ye year 1786, when I was a child of about 6 years old, being on a visit to Plymouth with my Father, I well recollect visiting her, & being by her most cordially received & welcom’d, as ye first of her great-grand-children whom she had seen, & as a token of her satisfaction, & for a memorial of herself, she gave me a pair of gold sleevebuttons, as a keepsake. She was at this time 80 years old, her mental & corporeal faculties in perfection. Her carriage was exceedingly upright. Her person was small and well formed, she not exceeding in height 5 feet, 1 or 2 inches. Her countenance was animated & expressive & gave decidedly ye impression of having been handsome. . . . She lived until 1796, nearly 10 years after this interview, & died in June of that year, aged 90 years.
Other records indicate that Priscilla Thomas had been born in 1709, and was thus only in her late eighties when she died. Still, she’d enjoyed an impressively long and active life. And she’d married her first love at last. (A detail of her gravestone is above, courtesy of Sandra Lennox and Find-a-Grave.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Priscilla Watson “being left a rich widow”

Yesterday I started quoting from Benjamin Marston Watson’s story in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for 1873, describing how in the late 1720s Priscilla Thomas of Duxbury was courted by two men: Noah Hobart, the local schoolteacher whom she loved but who was still struggling to pay off college loans; and John Watson, a wealthy widower from Plymouth.

Not wishing to stand in the way of Priscilla’s good fortune, Hobart told her not to feel bound to him since he wasn’t sure when he would be in a position to marry. This is what happened next:
She then concluded to accept Mr Watson’s offer; and in a few weeks he married her [in 1729], & carried her to his home in Plymouth. In due time she bore him two sons, ye eldest, my great uncle William Watson; & ye youngest my grandfather Elkanah Watson; & soon after, in Septr. 1731, her husband died of a fever, and left his wife a handsome young widow, of about 25 years of age.
The gravestone of John Watson (1678-1731) appears above, courtesy of Sandra Lennox and Find-a-Grave. His death seems to leave the way clear for young Hobart, doesn’t it?
About ye same time that M’r Watson’s death occurred, the wife of Thomas [actually Isaac] Lothrop Esqr., one of their neighbours, died, leaving a young infant, w’h was frequently sent to Mr’s Watson to be nursed, she having also a nursing infant.

In ye meantime, Noah Hobart probably not having yet paid his college debts, did not now manifest any particular sentiments, or intentions in relation to her, perhaps also being influenced by ye contrast in their condition, she being left a rich widow.

The intercourse created between M’r Lothrop & Mr’s Watson by their mutual interest in his nursing infant, brought about a reciprocal interest in each other, & in due time he offer’d, & was accepted by her as her second husband. She lived with him happily for some years, & bore him three children, two sons & a daughter; viz. D’r Nathaniel Lothrop & Isaac Lothrop Esqr., of Plymouth, and Priscilla, married to Gershom Burr Esqr., of Connecticut; when M’r Lothrop died, & Priscilla became a widow for ye second time.
And here’s the gravestone of Isaac Lothrop (1707-1750). Priscilla actually bore him six children. And what had happened to her first suitor?
Noah Hobart, while ye incidents related in ye former chapter were occurring to Priscilla, having been settled in ye (Congregational) ministry at Fairfield, Connecticut, had married & his wife had died previously to the death of Mr. Lothrop. At a suitable interval, subsequent to these events, he concluded to make a visit to his first sweetheart & went to Plymouth, & again proposed himself for her husband.

She was very glad to see him, & received him very graciously; and much regretted that she could not accept his proposals, without breaking a promise that she had made to M’r Lothrop on his deathbed, not to marry while his mother lived.
Oh, come on!

TOMORROW: No, really—can this marriage be saved?