Sunday, February 28, 2010

rastling with the dialect

Bin more 'n a hunred year ago this guy with the uppity name — Maximilian Schele de Vere — put out this book — Americanisms: the English of the New world — in which he tells the rubes how us Amuricans talk.

Here's 2 bits out o' it:
Allow, to, is constantly used in the Middle and Southern States in the sense of affirming a statement. "I allow that's a good horse," in Southern parlance means, I assure you." Mother is perfectly ridiculous," a young South Carolina lady said; "she allowed she'd switch me if I didn't go home, and she picked up a bit of brush. I up with another, and told her to come on." (Putnam's Magazine, June, 1868.) It is frequently, also, used in a more vague sense, corresponding with the "guess" of the East and the "reckon" of the South, as in John Hay's recent lines:
But I come back here allowin'
To vote as I used to do.
-- (Banty Tim.)
Peert — frequently written peart, and in all probability a corruption of pert — is common in all parts of the Union. It is one of the good old words, used once upon a time by English writers, but now obsolete in England, while surviving vigorously in America. "You shall know them by their very gate; they walk so peartly about." (Burroughs, On Hosea, p. 115 : 1652.) "Fust rate, never felt pearter in my life. Tell ye what, that was a busting medicine." (Lippincott's Magazine, March, 1871, p. 246.) "He observed that the master was looking peartish, and hoped lie had gotten over the neuralgia and the rheumatism; he himself had been troubled with a dumb ager since last conference, but he had learnt to rastle (wrestle) and pray." (F. B. Harte, Luck of Roaring Camp, p. 166.) Perk, pronounced peerk, is probably but another corruption of the same root.
Bonus for Yankee speakers:
Pandowdy, a dish consisting of stewed apples, into which the crust covering them has been stirred, and "bearing," it has been said, "to apple-pie the relation of the vulgar to the well-bred," is, no doubt, the descendant of Halliwell's pandoudle. The word, like the dish, is known only in New England.

{the real dowdy stuff; source: Gourmet(!)}

See also: History and Legends Cobbler - Crisps - Crumble - Brown Betty - Buckle - Grunts - Slumps - Bird's Nest Pudding - Sonker -Pandowdy

Friday, February 26, 2010

extraordinary finds

If you don't know about the blog, Ordinary Finds, you should. Its author, Bent Sorensen gives celebrates the cultural milestones of each day — the day's births of artists, photographers, musicians, writers, and actors along with the works for which they're known. The blog's posts give vivid images of the creators and their works. There is in it both beauty and enlightenment.

Here are recent images. Visit the blog to read their descriptions and explanations.

Bent is a professor in the English Dept of Denmark's Aalborg Universitet. He has another blog, A rare, rare find..., "cultural studies — all day, every day which is more text heavy. Ordinary Finds is more visual with just enough text to establish the context for each entry.

{Bent Sorensen; from his rare find blog}

{another photo of the man from his academic home page}

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a courageous act of defiance

I wrote yesterday about one member of my family tree who confronted the society in which he lived. Today I write of another. Both men were forced to stand before local magistrates to answer for their actions and both were condemned by the court in harsh language. After trial, both were convicted of crimes against society. Both served out sentences the courts imposed. And finally, both were shunned by neighbors, though in neither case is this a matter of court record.

Despite these similarities, the gulf that separates the two men is enormous.

They lived four centuries apart and on different continents and they belonged to different religions. The one was cantankerous, aggressive, and, I'm pretty sure, annoyingly ego-centric. His crime was attempted seduction of a woman in the neighborhood where he lived.

There are no reports that the other man shared the same character traits or ever broke the law for personal gratification. Apart from one courageous act, he was an unaggressive and undeserving victim of an overwhelmingly powerful and wholly evil political regime.

The first is Henry Lennington.

The second is Salomon Windmüller. I'm not a direct descendant of him as I am of Henry: Salomon's great-great-grandfather was brother to the great-grandfather of my great-grandfather Louis.

{Salomon Windmüller; source:}

The heroic act of resistance for which Salomon is known concerned an anti-Jewish poster. The contents of the poster aren't known, but the level of rhetoric in that time and place is conveyed by a song the Nazi storm troopers sang as they marched through the streets of places like the town of Beckum where salomon lived: "Wenn das Judenblut vom Messer spritzt, geht’s uns noch mal so gut!" (We shall rejoice when Jewish blood will squirt from the knife…)*

The story of the poster's removal is conveyed in this document:

{This is the court sentence in the case against Salomon Windmüller; source: The Holocaust in Beckum}

It says Salomon Windmüller instructed one of his employees, Franz Becker, to take down an anti-Jewish poster that had been stuck on the wall of his house. He told Becker that the one poster already plastered on his gate was enough. Here's the court's sentence translated:
In the Name of the German People

Criminal Case Against:
          The Merchant Salomon Windmüller, Beckum, Weststrasse 19
          born 11 March 1862 in Beckum,
          concerning offense according to Par. 134 of the Penal Code.

The following participated at the 10 August 1935 Session of the Beckum District Court:
          Judge: Court Consultant Schrage,
          Official of the State Attorney: Inspector Redeker,
          Document Official: Advocate Knepper

The District Court has passed the following sentence:
          The accused is guilty of removing and damaging a public announcement
          and is sentenced to 6 weeks in prison. He also has to carry the expenses
          for the proceedings.


The accused has confessed that he ordered his employee Franz Becker to remove from his house a poster signed by Gauleiter (Party official) Meyer, with the heading "German People, Awake!”. He claims that he had not been aware of the contents of the poster. He admits, however, to have told Becker, one poster affixed on the gate next to the house will be sufficient. His claim that he was unable to read the poster because of the height of the place where it was affixed, is thus not credible. The accused saw the poster on the gate and could read it; he cannot pretend shortsightedness. Moreover, he should have taken into consideration that the poster originated from a Government and Party source. There was no alternative possibility. Undoubtedly, the accused was aware of this possibility, and should thus be deemed fully responsible.

Since the witness Becker, as an employee, only acted on orders of the accused, he cannot be held responsible. The accused has also acted with malevolence, by attempting to prevent the public from reading the poster.

In assessing the penalty it was duly taken into consideration that the accused is of Jewish descent. In view of the attitude of the State and the Party towards the Jewish race, the accused had all the more reason to avoid any provocative action.

A sentence of 6 weeks imprisonment was considered appropriate.

The costs for the proceedings will be carried by the accused, in accordance with Par. 465 of the Penal Code.

          (signed) Schrage, Court Consultant


                    Beckum, August 10, 1935

          (Stamp) Preuss. Amtsgericht, Beckum

Dr. Hagedorn, Attorney of Law, Beckum

{This translation was published in the Windmueller Family Chronicle (p 213). It is shown here with slight editorial changes. source:}
Salomon served his sentence and, very soon after, he died. His death in the northern Germany spa of Badenweiler suggests that he came of out jail a broken man and failed to recuperate in the health resort.

Here is a news account of the arrest:

It reads:
Priest and Jew Arm-in-Arm
Subversive agitators sentenced

Last Saturday several persons were sentenced at the Beckum district court, to several weeks’ imprisonment for damaging posters of the Westfalen-Nord district command. They were the following opponents of the National-Socialist movement and government: Mrs Franz Windhövel, Wilhelmstrasse 61 (three weeks imprisonment), the innkeeper Ferdinand Hagedorn, Weststrasse 45 (three weeks imprisonment), the Priest Stroetmann, Provost of the St Paulus Workers Association (three weeks imprisonment), and the last of this illustrious company; the 73-year-old cattle Jew Salomon Windmüller, Weststrasse 19 (six weeks imprisonment). All those sentenced were taken into custody. The Jew Windmüller was imprisoned immediately.

With this verdict, the Beckum district court has made it abundantly clear that the National-Socialist state will not be intimidated by anybody, not even by the Catholic clergy. All subversive activities will in future be severely punished.”

{Newsclipping, translation by Zeev Raphael, June 2007; source:}

{An actual Beckum windmill (Windmühle); source:}

{Beckum; source:}

{Salomon could probably see this house from his own at 19 Weststrasse; source:}

{SA troops in Beckum, 1936; source:}

{Nazi Storm Troopers with anti-Jewish posters, 1933; source: US Holocaust Memorial Museum}


*My main sources for this post are the Beckum pages on the web site. I highly recommend these pages and this site.



Salomon Windmüller's cousin, also Salomon, with his wife and sons, was a passenger on the ill-fated 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis. As wikipedia explains: "The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner most notable for a single voyage in 1939, in which her captain tried to find homes for more than 900 German Jewish refugees after they were denied entry to Cuba. The event was the subject of a 1974 book, followed by a 1976 motion picture Voyage of the Damned with the same title." The family eventually found refuge in a French town where they surived the war and, afterwards, emigrated to the United States.

{St. Louis surrounded by smaller vessels in the port of Havana, June 1939; source: wikipedia}

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

evil practices unto the disturbance of Christian order and peace

This is another in a series of posts on family history.1 There was a time when it was prestigious to have colonial ancestors, whether they be soldiers and sailors who fought in the Revolutionary War or religious extremists who set up theocracies in the American colonies. I'm pretty sure this quest for social distinction was the motivation behind "Aunt Minnie's" membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. I don't think she knew that she was probably eligible to join two other exclusive organizations that had been formed at about the same time, the The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and the The Colonial Dames of America.

Our family tree has branches for two settlers whose early arrival in America would presumably qualify Aunt Minnie to be a Colonial Dame: William Thorne and Lawrence Ellison. I've written about William Thorne on another occasion. Ellison landed in America sometime before June 1643 (he was in Connecticut in that month) and in 1644 became one of the founders of Hempstead, Long Island. In 1655, his daughter Catherine married a man named Henry Lennington who had come from England as a teenager, arriving not much later than her father. Henry and Catherine are direct ancestors of my family.2

Town records of Hempstead for that period give hardly any names of women. Consisting mostly of notes of town meetings, land transactions, and court cases, they give the names of the men who were participating in these events. That's the way it was then. However, there's a short court record saying that on "July ye 3 1667 the testimony of Catthorin Liniugton the wife of hinery linington this deponant affirms that she herd blows severall times and the boy Crie and beg into her owne house but shee did not see them:" This is how it reads, spelling and (lack of) punctuation as you see. The entry that follows is dated much later and concerns a matter of land measurement. The entries that precede are from the same sitting of the "Cort Held in hempsted by the Cunstable and Over-seres," but they cast no light on this matter of a beaten boy. The entry in which Catherine's name appears entry presumably concerns a case that was being heard over several days or a longer period, but my searches of the records turn up nothing more about it. This is not surprising because the records for this time are fragmentary.3

Unlike his wife's, Henry Lennington's name shows up frequently in the records. He bought and sold land, arranged for his cattle to feed in communal pastures, entered into business transactions concerning a mill, accused others of wrong-doing and was himself accused.

His name first appears in a record of cattle put on town grazing land in the summer of 1657: "Hinnery Linengton fower [i.e., 4 head of cattle]." A neighboring record says he has seven "Akers of medowe" among those that were "given out in Allottments unto the particklar Inhabitants of this towne of hempsted." The record reads "Akers Hinery Lennington hath seaven."

On May 7, 1659, his name shows up again. In this record, two men are suing Henry "in an action of accounts." A year later, June 5, 1659, a man accuses him of defamation. In between the two entries, on July 6, 1658, there's one saying that the court passed a sentence on Henry banishing him from the town. Months later, just before his alleged slander of yet another man, he was permitted to return to town "vpon promise of reformacon vnto ye Liberties of an Inhabitant."

The offense for which he was banished was succinctly stated (in text that has been rendered in modern English):
1658, July 6. - At a Court holden at Hempstead. Whereas, Henry Linington, besides other evil practices unto the disturbance of Christian order and peace, and to the violation of the laws, to the great dishonor of God and to the evil example of the nations under which we live, hath solicited Deborah Sturgis; Be it therefore ordered that he shall forthwith be committed to the Marshal's custody who is hereby authorized to apprehend him and in sure and safe manner to keep him in ward, until he shall give sufficient security in recognizance in the value of 500 guilders for his good behavior, in default thereof he is to be sent unto Manhattans, and within 3 months he is to be banished out of the town's limits.
In this case his father and brother-in-law stood bond for him. During court proceedings, Deborah Stugis testified against him:
I can say

1 that hinerry Linnington Came as I was aboute my worke at the well, and asked mee to lie w't him and would have me goe in to the Barne w't him for that purpose

2 that he offered me 10 S to yeeld to his desirers and so he fell from that sum by degrees to half a busheell of mault and I withstood him, and tould him that it was a greate sinne and shame for him that had so good knowledge to sollisit any woaman to soe great A sinn,

3 he tould me that hee offered Largely, and said that he used to give sarah but 5 S atime

4 seeing his importunity w't me to go into ye Barne with him, I bid him goe and stay till I Came, and that while I slipt over to timmothy holsteads.
This was not all that Henry Lennington did to disturb the peace of Hempstead, but it's enough to show that pride of ancestry carries with it a certain amount of potential for embarassment. I'm sure no one's linneage is lily pure and that most have a Henry or two lurking within.4


I don't have any images directly related to family members in the late 17th century. As substitute, here are some old pictures and maps. Most come from History of Queens County; I forgot to record some of the the sources of the others.

{This is an 18th c. drawing of St. George's Church, Hempstead, in whose graveyard many family members are buried.}

{Picture of a lumber and coal yard from Glen Cove in the 18th c.}

{This shows a house typical of the ones built by early settlers in Flushing and Hempstead; source: Horton genealogy on freepages}

{A very early map showing New Amsterdam including Long Island; family members all settled in western Long Island, the area outlined in violet; source: wikipedia}

{A 17th c. map of Long Island; family members lived in and around where the "L" is}

{The areas inhabited by 17th c. members of our family are all within Queens, shown as a green block on this modern map; source: wikipedia}


Main sources for this post:

Records of the towns of North and South Hempstead, Long island, New York [1654-1880, Vol. 1] ed. by Benjamin D. Hicks (Jamaica, N.Y. Long Island Farmer Print, 1896)

The early history of Hempstead by Charles Benjamin Moore (New York, Trow's Print. and Bookbinding Co. 1879)

Ancestors of Thomas Byron Brodnax by Christine Brodnax, Dallas, TX

Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of Boston and eastern Massachusetts, Volume 2, ed. William Richard Cutter (Lewis historical publishing company, 1908)

Annals of Hempstead by Henry Onderdonk Jr. (Jamaica, L.I.; June 1880) Courtesy of James Pearsall



1 Others:
2 His son John had a son Thomas who had another son Thomas who had yet another and this son, Ensign Thomas, fought in the War of Independence. His daughter Abby had a daughter Sarah who married Henry Lefman. These two were the parents of Annie Lefman Windmuller, wife of my great-grandfather, Louis.

3 The entry after this one is dated december 4 1667 and concerns a land measurement. The ones just before it, from the same day in court, read as follow:
The testimony of John Chue this Deponant Doth af-firme that when wee went Downe to South there was a hors of Adam Motts and I said Adam Mott Gave me leve to take him up and wee Came up both to gether said Daniell Bedle I will take him up ses John Chue soe you may if you vnll and John Chue helpe mee to Cach the hors

Att a Court held att Hempsted the 3 of July 1667 By the Justis of pece the Cunstable and overseres Daniell Beddle plaintive doth Enter An Action of y'e Case Against Adam Mott Defendant this Action Depending Betwene Daniell Bedle plaintive and Adam Mott Defendant is Eeiserved till y'e Next Court held att Hempsted
4 Here are a few more entries in Hempstead records for this ornery individual.

a) First, one in which he was plaintiff rather than defendant. In December 1682, Henry Linnington successfully sued Matthew Beadle for the cost of wintering a heifer, being awarded 16 shillings plus court costs. Among those who testified was Jonathan Smith, Sr.:
The testimony of Jonathan Smith Seeneer this deponant testifeth that I being at the mill and heniry linintun tould me that there was a stray Beast and he asked me if I knew hose it was and I tould him I thought it was mathu bedls and he desired me to telle mathu bedle of it and whin I cam hom I tould mathu bedle of it and mathu bedle desired me to desier heneri linintun to give har a little meat whil I com for her and I did so and severall tims hinnery ased me when matheu would com for and I tould him that matheu sayd he would com as sone as ever he could and the nex winter leat in the winter heneri linintun desired me to speack to mathew bedle to fetch his beast away and pay him for wintring of har for he could not tell whether it was his or no becas she was not marked and I tould mathu bedle again and he sayd he would fetch har as sone as he could and satisfi him for his pains: and farther saith not...
b) In 1684, Henry Linnington was accused of slander:
The deposetion of Thomas Smith of Jemeco [Jamaica, New York] in the case betwen daniel bedle plentive and Henery linintun defendant this deponant testifieth that he being at Henere linintuns mill I heard here linintun charg daniel bedle with staling a swine but whether it was a hog or a bore that he charged him with I cannot tell for thay ware discorsing of both and daniel bedle answared that he heard that he had often charged him but he could not prove it but now he could prove it and he would sue him for a slander and farther saith not...
c) This one is an offense against the regulation of flour mills.
There was a law against bolting flour except in New York, as it was too difficult to regulate the quality of flour made in distant parts, but there were so many illegal bolting mills that the monopoly was rescinded in 1680. Hempstead had a number of such mills and was astonishingly well supplied with grist mills. Tide mills and wind mills were augmented by watermills which made use of every likely stream. Mill-rights were granted by the townmeeting, often including a tract of land and permission to build whatever ditches or sluiceways might be necessary. The miller was required to be ready for business within a given time, and was occasionally required to build a bridge over the stream. He received as payment one eleventh or one twelfth of the grain he ground, with the stipulation that if ever he should fail to keep a good mill the grant should revert to the town. Henry Linnington, intractable even in his own age, scorned to submit the projects inspired by his rugged individualism to his fellows' approval, and built himself a mill without applying for the right to do so. The meeting [June 16, 1690], at once sensitive to its prerogatives and eager to foster new enterprise, decided to offer him an agreement, which, in case of a refusal to sign, would be granted to someone else.
-- source: From Colonial Hempstead, by Bernice Schultz, 1937, page 138

Monday, February 22, 2010

Whigs & Tories, associators & refusers, patriots & loyalists

I've done a few posts on family history1 and have mentioned "Aunt Minnie's" quest for membership in the DAR. She was able to join that organization on the strength of her descent from Ensign Thomas Lennington who enlisted in the rebel army, fought the British in Canada, was captured and exchanged, was promoted to ensign, and then served out the rest of the war in command of a quartermaster's supply boat on the Hudson. He's credited with keeping an orderly book which survives.

Before he enlisted, Thomas Lennington signed a copy of the Articles of Association that had circulated where he lived. The Articles were a kind of loyalty test for colonial opponents of British authority. They were drawn up soon after the first shots were fired in Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1775. A "Committee of observation" in New York was set up "to carry out the measures adopted by Congress at Philadelphia" and, "so disturbed were conditions in New York after the battle of Lexington that this committee proposed the formation of an association to prevent mob-rule and to support the civil authority." The Articles were copied and distributed throughout New York State and the sponsors were careful to record the names of all those who refused to sign the articles in pages following the ones on which signatures appeared.2

In American history, those who signed have been called Patriots and those who did not have been stigmatized as Loyalists. At the time, the signers were often called Whigs and the refusers Tories. The Patriot Whigs are, of course, the the heroes of a great many American history books and the Loyalist Tories villains. The level of rhetoric can be somewhat extreme as when, at Lexington, "the blood of patriots" is seen to "nourish the infant tree of liberty" while the "ruthless elements of tyranny were warring for its destruction."3

Thomas Lennington was listed as an "associator", and thus Patriot, in Orange County, NY, along with quite a few other members of our family tree (for example, Thomas, Philip, Benjamin, Richard, and Daniel Thorne; Benjamin Kissam). Men who also seem to belong on our tree were listed among refusers — those who would not sign — including Robert, Jonathan, Gilbert, and Jesse Thorn in Duchess County, NY. Some of the refusers recanted and signed declarations of loyalty. One distant relative, Joseph Kissam, did this. Others remained opposed and came to be singled out as "principal Men among the disaffected."4

On Long Island, these disaffected men eventually proved to be more adept than their partisan opponents in swaying the views of the many local inhabitants. As one sources puts it, the Loyalists of Queens county "were better at conducting counterinsurgency operations than their opponents were at waging revolution."5

On the other hand, following the defeat of the Rebel army in Brooklyn and the British occupation of Long Island, many Whigs signed an oath of loyalty to the King, promising not to cause trouble in return for a promise that their possessions and crops would not be seized.6

Confusingly, one Daniel Kissam was a prominent Patriot7 while another Daniel Kissam was an equally prominent Loyalist8. They both lived in Cow Neck, Hempstead, Long Island; the former was Daniel Whitehead Kissam, a local political leader, and the latter was Daniel Kissam, Esq., a lawyer whose son John was a major in the Loyalist colonial militia. Daniel Whitehead Kissam is remembered for having led a movement to split Hempstead into two communities: one Whig and the other Tory.9 Daniel Kissam, Esq. is remembered because his son John was captured by privateers and in 1781 released in an exchange of prisoners.10

In October 1776, quite a few of our family's distant relatives in and around Hempstead signed statement to underscore their adherence to the British government and their allegiance to the King. Among these were the following members of the Thorne family: Charles, Samuel, Joseph, Samuel, Benjamin junior, John, Benjamin, Melancthon, Stephen, Thomas junior, George, Joseph, Philip, Stephen, Philip, Daniel, Stephen junior, Joseph, Thomas, Richard, John, Edward, and Oliver.11 Of these, the story of Stephen Thorne is an interesting one.

He was a Captain in the British Army who was forced by illness to become inactive before the final defeat. Although many Loyalists remained in the newly established United States, he refused to give his loyalty to the new American Government and in 1783 after the Peace Treaty was signed he left Long Island with his children, his servants and even his house (which he disassembled for transport). With other like-minded families, he accepted a British offer of land in Nova Scotia.12 He resettled in Granville, on the north shore of the island, opposite St. Johns, NB. As of the late 1990s, the foundation of the house which he reconstructed there could be found on the property which remains in the hands of the descendants of his second wife. With other local settlers he helped to found an Anglican Church there which, one of the oldest in the province, is still standing.13

{Originally called St. Paul's Church, construction of Christ Church, Anglican, Karsdale, was begun in 1790 and consecrated in 1793. The church plan is traditional in form and features a square tower capped with a bell-cast roof, a rectangular nave lit by eight gothic style pointed windows and an east end chancel having a round headed classic style window. The window was added later from an area church. The church is a Municipal Heritage Property in Nova Scotia. Source: Registered Heritage Properties in Annapolis County (pdf)}


1Previous posts on family history
2 On this subject, see, for example, History of New Paltz, New York and its old families (from 1678 to 1820) including the Huguenot pioneers and others who settled in New Paltz previous to the Revolution: With an appendix bringing down the history of certain families and some other matter to 1850, by Ralph Le Fevre (Genealogical Publishing Com, 1973)

3 Here's the passage:
On the 18th day of April, 1775, a detachment of British troops under Colonel Smith, was sent from Boston by General Gage, to destroy some American stores collected at Concord, then a small village, six miles north-west of Lexington, in Massachusetts. Upon Lexington Common seventy men were drawn up; on whom Major Pitcairn ordered the detachment to fire. The order was promptly obeyed, and seven men were killed and three wounded. There the blood of patriots was first shed; that was to nourish the infant tree of Liberty, during a seven years' struggle, while the ruthless elements of tyranny were warring for its destruction. On the 29th day of the same month and year, and eleven days after the bloody tragedy at Lexington, the inhabitants of the city of New York called a meeting of all who were opposed to the oppressive acts of the English Parliament, formed a general association, adopted a Pledge, and transmitted a copy to every county in the State for signatures.

The storm had burst, and every day was adding fearful intensity to its force.

The proud Lion of England had lapped the heart's blood of the descendants of the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims; and their brethren of the other colonies saw that, ere long, with a few more bounds, he would leap among them. Between submission and resistance they were called to choose; the former they had yielded to until it had ceased to become a virtue, and the latter was the only alternative left to men who were determined to wear the yoke no longer. The British Parliament and King had as zealous partisans and friends among us, as they had at home. It became necessary, in some way, to ascertain who were the friends of our own, and the mother-country.

-- source: REVOLUTIONARY PLEDGE, taken without attribution from: Title The history of Putnam County, N.Y.: with an enumeration of its towns, villages, rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, mountains, hills, and geological features : local traditions, and short biographical sketches of early settlers, etc., by William J. Blake (Baker & Scribner, 1849)
4 See Calendar of historical manuscripts, relating to the war of the revolution (Weed, Parsons & Co., Printers, 1868)

5 "A Revolution Foiled: Queens County, New York, 1775-1776" by Joseph S. Tiedemann; The Journal of American History, Vol. 75, No. 2 (Sep., 1988), p. 433

6 North Hempstead: the Cradle of Liberty?, by Vivian S. Toy, New York Times, September 18, 2005.

7 History of Queens County with Illustrations, Portraits & Sketches of Prominent Families and Individuals (New York: W.W. Munsell & Co.; 1882.)

8 The American loyalists or, Biographical sketches of adherents to the British crown in the war of the revolution; alphabetically arranged; with a preliminary historical essay by Lorenzo Sabine (C.C. Little and J. Brown, 1847)

9 See Kissams in the Revolutionary War and North Hempstead: the Cradle of Liberty?, by Vivian S. Toy, New York Times, September 18, 2005.

10 Here are documents that relate the story of John's capture and release. In June 1781, Major John Kissam was surprised at night, and carried off by the rebels to Connecticut. He wrote his father:
Wethersfield, August 16TH, 1781. To Daniel Kissam, Esq.

Honored Sir : — Mine of 27th July, if it got safe to you, must have informed you of my being at this place on parole, with a circuit of three miles from my lodging; since which I have remained in the same situation; and a day or two ago I was informed by Mr. Reed, who was last week brought away from East Hampton, that the Commissary of Prisoners here had made a proposal of a parole, exchanging Mr. Reed and myself for Colonel St. John and son, acquainting Governor Franklin that, should it not take place, he should be under the necessity of retaliating on us, which I cannot say but my fears are greater than my hopes will be the case. ...

If it is concluded I must stay any time, or winter here, I could wish to have some winter clothing sent to me soon, as the morning and evening already begin to be a little cool, and I expect by the first frost my pockets will be nipt pretty well of cash, and consequently a little of that commodity will be not disagreeable to me, as I find all places nearly alike — no living without money, and especially one in my situation, expenses running much higher than I expected. What way to get things to me, I cannot inform you of, but should wish that some friend might come with them in a flag. At present I quarter at the house of Captain Absalom Williams, in Wethersfield, and should I be removed from here, anything that can be left for me will be forwarded by him; and I could wish to hear from the family and friends, as I have not heard a word from any one there since my leaving the Island. Communicate my love to all and acquaint them I should have written to them, but the uncertainty of a safe conveyance renders it difficult. ...

I am, honored sir, your dutiful son, John Kissam.
Here is a copy of the promise John Kissam made not to escape (his parole) and of the document exchanging him for another prisoner:

"I, John Kissam, Major of Militia in Queens County, on Long Island, in British service, do hereby acknowledge myself a prisoner of war to the United States of America, and being now indulged the liberty of returning to the city of New York on parole, do pledge my faith and sacred honor that I will not say, do, or cause to be said or done, anything that can be in any shape construed to injure the welfare of the said United States; and that unless I can effect an exchange of myself for some officer of like rank or for some other such person as shall be agreed to and accepted by Abraham Skinner, Esq., the American Commissary of Prisoners, I will return by the way of Elizabethtown Point, on New Jersey, and render myself a prisoner to said Commissary General or to his order, or to some one acting under him, within thirty days of this date."

The within is a true copy of parole signed by Major John Kissam. Whereupon it is desired he may pass on directly to Norwalk and from thence to New York, in such way as shall be thought best by the Authority there, he behaving as becometh, &c.

Ez. Williams,
Deputy Commissary General of Prisoners.


To whom it may concern. I do certify that Major Kissam, of the Regiment of Queens County Militia, of Long Island, was regularly exchanged for Major George Wright, of the Pennsylvania Militia, at New York, the 20th of October, 1781.

Joshua Loring, Commissary General of Prisoners.

-- source: Documents and letters intended to illustrate the revolutionary incidents of Queens County, N.Y.: with connecting narratives, explanatory notes, and additions by Henry Onderdonk and John C. Smith (L. van de Water, 1884).
11 History of Long island, : containing an account of the discovery and settlement; with other important and interesting matters to the present time by Benjamin Franklin Thompson (E. French, 1839)


To his Excellency Sir Guy Carleton, Knight of the most honorable Order of Bath, General and Commander in Chief, &c., &c., &c.

The Memorial of The Subscribers Humbly Sheweith

That your memorialists having been deprived of very valuable Landed Estates and considerable Personal Propertys without the Lines and being Loyalty to their Sovereign and Attachment to the British Constitution and seeing no prospect of their being reinstated had determined to remove with their Families and settle in His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia on the Terms which they understood were held out equally to all his Majesty's persecuted Subjects.

That your Memorialists are much alarmed at an application which they are informed Fifty Five Persons have joined in to your Excellency solliciting a recommendation for Tracts of Land in that Province amounting together to Two Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Acres and that they have dispatched forward Agents to survey the unlocated lands and select the most fertile Spots and desirable situations.

That chagrined as your Memorialists are at the manner in which the late Contest has been terminated and disappointed as they find themselves in being left to the lenity of their Enemys on the dubious recommendation of their Leaders they yet hoped to find an Asylum under British Protection little suspecting there could be found among their Fellow sufferers Persons ungenerous enough to attempt ingrossing to themselves so disproportionate a Share of what Government has allotted for their common benefit and so different from the original proposals.

That your memorialists apprehend some misrepresentations have been used to procure such extraordinary recommendations the applications for which have been most studiously concealed until now that they boast its being too late to prevent the effect.-Nor does it lessen your Memorialists surprise to observe that the persons concerned (several of whom are said to going to Britain) are most of them in easy Circumstances and with some exceptions more distinguished by the repeated favors of Government than by either the greatness of their sufferings or the importance of their services.

That your memorialists cannot but regard the Grants in Question if carried into effect as amounting nearly to a total exclusion of themselves and Familys who if they become Settlers must either content themselves with barren or remote Lands Or submit to be Tenants to those most of whom they consider as their superiors in nothing but deeper Art and keener Policy-thus circumstanced.

Your Memorialists humbly implore redress from your Excellency and that enquiry may he made into their respective Losses Services Siturations and Sufferings and If your Memorialists shall be found equally intitled to the favor and protection of Government with the former applicants-that they may all be put on equal footing-But should those who first applied be found on a fair and candid inquiry more deserving that your Memorialists-then your Memorialists humbly request that the locating these extensive Grants may at least be postponed untill your Memorialists have taken up such small portions as may be allotted to them.

And your Memorialists as in Dutybound shall ever pray &c.

-- source: "Memorial of New York Loyalists" by Benjamin Rand, The New York Genealogical and Biographial Record, Volume 21 (1890): pp. 180-185, found in Staten Island, Richmond County, NY Genealogy Resources
13 Descendants of William Thorne by John Coutant Thorn, citing Richard & Lois Walsh Thorne who, in turn, cite:
NYGHS record 1889, 1962
Sands Family Register
Wilmot Census, 1806 1838
Rivington, New York Paper 1773-1783
"American Loyalists" by Lorezo Sabine
"American Loyalist Claims" by P.W. Coldman
Loyalists & Land Settlement in NS; PANS
Note that the Loyalists tended to be members of the Church of England while the Patriots and most neutrals belonged to other Protestant sects.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mulberry Street, again

A couple of years ago I did a post on a favorite photo. It shows Manhattan's Mulberry Street on a warm Spring day at the turn of the twentieth century (1899-1901). The photographer placed the camera on a support about twenty feet off the ground near the center of the street. He was placed about where Hester Street crosses Mulberry and he faced south toward "The Bend," where Mulberry turns to its terminus at Worth Street. The big cross street in the middle of the photo is Canal.

The photo I showed then was digitized from a print that had been prepared using the photochrom colorizing process. It was a one-off special prepared by the publisher, Detroit Publishing Co., to use in a catalog in its office.

This post shows a black and white version of the same view. It comes from an eight by ten inch glass negative and, having higher resolution, shows somewhat better detail.

Here's the photo. Click the image to see a larger version.

{Mulberry St., New York, N.Y. c1900; Detroit Publishing Co.; source: Library of Congress}

Here are details of this image paired with ones from the color print.
This first pair illustrates the main advantage of the monochrome version: it has much greater clarity.

This pair illustrates an obvious advantage of color: it's a colorful scene.

Here is a map from the same period showing the location of the camera and the direction in which the lens is pointed. Little Italy was then bounded on the north by Houston Street, on the south by Worth Street, on the west by Broadway, and on the east by the Bowery.

{The is from a ward map of Manhattan made in 1899; the dashed lines show ward divisions; click to view full size.}

Directly below you'll find more detail views from the monochrome image. There's much to see. The street has shops at ground level and in some cases offices on the second story. The buildings are mostly given over to tenement-type occupancy: high-density living quarters renting for small weekly sums.

Mulberry Street, then the heart of Manhattan's Little Italy, was being rapidly transformed by an immense volume of immigration. Many arrived and settled in, many quickly moved on to other parts of the U.S., and many spent enough time in New York to earn a bit of money, then returned home. Most kept their language and regional heritage alive in the new environment and in doing so transformed the environment so that it took on much of the character of the places they called home. This preservation of strong ethnic identity seems obvious to me from looking at this photo. Compare these images to the photos of nearby Fifth Avenue that I've shown recently;* the two places seem hardly to belong to the same nation much less same (relatively) small area of city blocks.

The people we see in this photo are mostly engaged in some form of commerce, both social commerce and the commerce of buyers and sellers. The density of people and the ease and cheerfulness they show one another are festive, but I don't see evidence that the photograph was taken on a holiday. Notice, for example, that boys have schoolbooks and that many adults seem to have work-day occupations, not just the hucksters, but the draymen and laborers, and the women in their work-a-day aprons and smocks.

Here are more detail images from the shot.

1. Look at the man entering the dry goods shop; with so much to see outside, it's surprising there's an inside to be explored. I suspect the young man seated below the boot sign is there to watch for shoplifters as well as to call out to passers by and haggle over prices.

2. It's interesting that the crowds have formed various affinity groups; this one is strangely focused on a boy holding what looks like a glass of beer. A few of the children in this detail have noticed the photographer; others seem to have something else in view, something that's presumably taking place at the intersection of Mulberry and Hester.

3. These guys are interested in what's going on below; notice the potted plants. If you look closely, you can see lots of flowers on fire escapes, window sills, and balconies.

4. The guy on the left is evidently about to toss something small, but you can't tell what his target is; I like the haircut and bow tie of his companion.

5. There's much to see here. The boy, not much older than a toddler at the curb, the woman seated with her back to us working on something in her lap, the polkadot blouse on the woman standing to her left, and to the left of her a pile of stuff outside the Banca Malzone. The men to the boy's right seem to be working on the box at which they stand. I can't tell what's being carried in the goods wagon whose back we see. On the left side of this image is a furniture store with chairs piled high, both on the sidewalk and on a curb-parked wagon.

6. Notice the modern touch: a sign advertising the local Bell System telephone and telegraph office; yet looking to its right yu can tell the street lamp hasn't yet been converted from gas to electricity. The teeming crowds continue into the distance as Mulberry makes its bend to the south at Bayard St. You can't miss the quilt hung out to air, but looking closely there are other buildings where laundry is hung out from the fire escapes.

7. On the left is a street salesman with a tray of small objects held by a strap around his shoulder; to his right is what appears to be a waiter from a nearby restaurant (white shirt and apron); It looks like the hand cart is displaying old books for sale. I like how the young girl in white is concentrating on something in her hands and ignoring the hubbub around her.

8. Here, a young guy gives the photographer a streetwise skeptical eye. The man next to him has a typical Sicilian or maybe Neapolitan mustache.

9. I like this view of women's heads, most engaged in conversation, but two standing a bit apart, observing.

10. Arms akimbo, this guy attracts the eye in both the color and monochrome photos. The world-weary expression on the face of his neighbor contrasts nicely with his challenging pose and the guy with the carefully blank face seems to complete this little triangular composition.

11. Looking a bit more closely at the kids around to boy with his beer glass, you see that most are looking back at the cameraman, including the boy with a big baby in his arms. It's an interesting mix of boys and girls.

12. Another baby; if you're looking for them you can see quite a few toddlers and babies.

13. With the tenement buildings out of sight, this looks more like Southern Italy than Manhattan.

14. Your attention leaps to the nose picker, but the guy brushing his derby is as interesting and I like the arty composition made by the heads of men, women, and baby.

15. A barefoot child and one with a handkerchief for headgear.


This image shows Mulberry Street from its turning, "The Bend," looking back toward Bayard and Canal. It was taken in the late 1880s by Jacob Riis and appeared in How the Other Half Lives.


See also:

How the Other Half Lives, Studies Among the Tenements of New York, by Jacob A. Riis, With Illustrations Chiefly From Photographs Taken By The Author (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890)

How The Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis (The Authentic History Center)


Here are some previous posts on Mulberry Street.

five-cent den on Pearl St.

a tenement on Mulberry Street

Mulberry Street 1900



* Here are links to recent posts that show fashionable Fifth Avenue in the period before World War I.