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.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Face of Joseph Corré

Yesterday I left Joseph Corré in 1803 with his Mount Vernon Gardens theater closing. He advertised that real estate for rent for many months in the New York newspapers. All of the other ads from him that I’ve seen in the 1800s are for real estate, not theater or catering services, suggesting he didn’t go back to those businesses.

The 14 Aug 1823 National Journal reported:
Yesterday afternoon, in the 76th year of his age, Joseph Corré, a native of France, and for many years a resident of this city. His friends and those of his family, are requested to attend the funeral this afternoon, at 5 o’clock, from his late dwelling No. 49 Lespinard st.
The 18 August Boston Daily Advertiser also reported that Corré had died in New York, aged 76.

More information appears in the Genealogy of the Bostwick Family in America, published in 1901, but it’s not fully reliable. That book says:
Joseph Corré was born in Montpelier, France, May 26, 1748. He married in Manheim, Germany, June 15, 1777, Barbara Baker. She was born in Manheim, Germany, Nov. 27, 1759.

The family name was originally spelled Corréard, and on his arrival in this country, having left his native land at the outbreak of the French Revolution, Joseph Corréard changed his name to Joseph Corré.

He died in New York City, Aug. 14, 1823, and his wife died there Apr. 4, 1845.
The couple had eleven children between January 1778 and September 1799, and the second-youngest daughter married into the Bostwick family in 1822.

That family tradition conflicts with William Dunlap’s recollection, quoted yesterday, about meeting Corré first in the winter of 1777 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, cooking for a British army officer. (At the time, the impressive white-wigged cook was apparently not yet thirty years old.) A plethora of newspaper advertisements show that Corré was in business in New York well before “the outbreak of the French Revolution.” But it might have been easier for the family to picture their ancestor as a refugee from the French Revolution than as part of the British military force.

Given that Joseph Corré was in America by early 1777, when and where did he marry Barbara Baker (whose name might originally have been Biekert or the like)? Her reported native city, Mannheim, is right beside modern Hesse, so perhaps she came to New York in 1776 attached to the king’s Hessian troops. Did the couple emigrate together? Or did they meet in New York and marry there? Their first child arrived seven and a half months after the wedding.

The Bostwick family also owned the portrait of Joseph Corré shown above, painted alongside one of Barbara by James Sharples (1751-1811). They were sold at Sotheby’s in January 2010 and at the Leighton Galleries in May 2010, if I read Artfact correctly.


Barbara Wells Sarudy said...

You may find more Corre information in the dissertation of Thomas M. Garrett, “A History of Pleasure Gardens in New York City, 1700-1865,” Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1978.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the reference, and for sharing your detailed description of the attractions at Corré's gardens and his rivals' around 1800.

g. Lovely said...

Any records of 'camp followers' arriving with the Hessians in 1776? or perhaps the Corre grobmutter was soldier's dependant?