Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of historic sites, and events, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Events - Upcoming and in Review

AND another NOTE: This just in from Harry Schaeffer, organizing volunteer of the volunteers who work at Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield:
Nathaniel Philbrick will be speaking at 11am on March 23rd in the Student Center on Rowan’s Campus. The title of the lecture is: “From Plymouth Rock to the Little Bighorn: Leadership in American History.”

NOTE: Just added today, Tuesday, March 22, 2011, this info from Loretta Kelly, head preservationist at White Hill:
White Hill's Archaeological dig starts on May 27th and runs on consecutive Saturdays until July 2nd. The address is 217 4th St. Fieldsboro, NJ. You can contact: lorettakelly3@yahoo.com for more info.

On Saturday, March 26, I'll be driving down to Hancock House in Salem County for a favorite event, the re-enactment of the battle at Hancock House, also called a "massacre" because, in fact, the Loyalist Militia, under the command of, I think it was Major Simcoe, that attacked the Tavern in the middle of the night, slaughtered the sleeping patriots. This was one of the many skirmishes that took place in the struggle to gain control of the 'breadbasket' that was Salem County during the Revolutionary War.

Fields were burned, cellars and barns were raided, by both sides, and it was also the place where the famous Cattle Drive of Mad Anthony Wayne took place. It's a fine event and one of my favorite parts of it is the spinner who works in the old out building. She has home-dyed yarns and is both knowledgeable and interesting on Colonial fabric. She made me want to learn to spin!

Tomorrow, I'll be sending out checks to two upcoming events with great anticipation of a good time: #1Burlington County Historical Sites Related to the Civil War - tour, Saturday, May 21, 2011. The registration deadline is May 10, but I'm not taking any chances that it may be filled up. The link for more info is www.BurloCoHistorian.com and you should save this link anyhow because they have so many great events!

#2The Outdoor Club of South Jersey annual trip to Washington D.C. on May 7. It's worth the membership fee to go on this trip, but also, they have so many excellent hike trips, bike trips, kayak trips and other events in this club, you should check it out. The trip costs $30 and the bus lets you off in front of the SMithsonian. You're on your own (which I like) and since this year is the sesqui-centennial of the Civil War, you may want to go to the American History Museum. Last year, my friends and I very much enjoyed the new Early Man exhibit at the Natural History. We had a long itinerary but ended up spending the entire day there, it was that interesting.

I just received an e-mail from Linda Stanton about the May 15 Classic Car and Decoy show with a musical performance from Jim Albertson at Batsto. You can be sure that I'll be there. And since I'm on the subject of Linda Stanton, she is to be congratulated along with everyone else who made this year's Lines in the Pines one of the BEST! Valerie Vaughan sang along with a British friend, Branwell Taylor, Paul Schopp and Dr. Robt. Emmons gave a very interesting presentation, "A Distant Memory: The Rusty Trail of the Blue Comet." Authors (such as Nelson Johnson of Boardwalk Empire), were there signing books, artists had paintings and photographs on display, and there was something for everyone. It was held at Frog Rock Golf and Country Club.

The historic houses will be opening their doors for events again within the next couple of months after a long quiet winter for most of them.
Today was the first of the new spring session of the Sewing Guild of the Whitall volunteers. Joyce Stevenson kindly offered her expertise to those of us who are trying to make our own Colonial clothes. Don't get me wrong, I actually buy most of mine from Sue Hueskin, and in fact a week ago, I bought two new short gowns and aprons, but I'm sewing my own short gown, the old fashioned way, by hand, just for the experience.
The Whitall House officially opens again for tours on April 6 at 1:00, but the History and Conversation Club will have its first meeting there April 1st.

Robert Fischer Hughes will host the regular meeting of the Griffith-Morgan House group at 7:30 on the site of the house which is off River Road in Pennsauken, 243 Griffith Morgan Lane. Check out this site for more information on the house - http://historiccamdencounty.com/
He sent me an e-mail that Professor Howard Gillette will present a lecture, "Between Justice and History" on May 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the Rutgers/Camden campus, 326 Penn St.
http://miller2011eventbrite.com

Betsy Ross will be visiting the Indian King Tavern on May 14, www.indiankingfriends.org, and the address is 233 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033, 856-429-6782.

Hope to see you at one or all of these places! Jo Ann

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Irish Girls

Once, when touring Paulsdale in Mount Laurel, I passed the servants' staircase and the guide said, "Alice Paul used to call the servants "the Irish Girls." It was an innocent comment, and who knows if Alice Paul really said it or what the context was. Anyhow, every time I toured a historic mansion such as the Wharton mansion at Batsto, for example, and saw the servants' staircase and their cramped little quarters in the attic, I imagined those young girls, full of hope, gossiping, laughing, and, I hope, getting married, leaving service, and having families of their own.

I suppose what bothered me about the comment in the proximity of the servants' staircase was the idea of these young women cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, and raising the children of these families and being referred to in a generic term like the Irish girls, rather than by their names. Maybe there was a high turnover rate.

Anyhow, for Women's History Month and St. Patrick's Day, I decided to find out who the Irish girls were who were domestic servants for the family of Alice Paul, the tireless Suffragist who wrote the Equal Rights Amendment. This isn't going to be about the Paul family, or their farm, though if you check back in my blog entries, you'll find some information on those topics. This is only about the Irish girls!

My search began and ended with ancestry.com and a big surprise. The first of the Irish girls I found living with the Pauls was Bridget Mulkerm. She was listed on the 1900 census. Naturally, I tried to find out more about Bridget, but you can't imagine how many Bridget Mulkern, Mukerrin, Mukearne and many other variations on the name there are and with the same birth year! You could almost hear the brogue in the spellings. One, whom I found particularly intriguing was a Bridget Mulkern who was a "prisoner" at Maine General Hospital, along with 98 other people listed. She, too, had been born in 1881 in Ireland and had emigrated 2 years before the census of 1900. But, I can't digress into the fascinating stories of all the other Bridget Mulkearnes I found.

Bridget's predecessors were listed on the 1895 census as Mary Kerrigan and Mary Harrison. I found local families with the same surname, and it may be that these girls were hired out by their parents.

Along the route, I found out some interesting observations such as that domestic service was the largest category of Irish female employment in the US at the turn of the last century (19th to 20th). Until I read up a bit on this situation, I felt kind of sorry for these young women, however, as it turns out, domestics earned 50% more than saleswomen and 25% more than girls working in textile mills and factories. Added to that is the benefit that they didn't have to pay for their lodgings or transportation AND they lived in nice houses, not squalid tenements. That made it possible for them to save up and send money to Ireland to help their families still reeling from the devastation of the Great Hunger and the barbarous evictions.

The unexpected bonus of my attempt at honoring these young women who cleaned and cooked and took care of the children, and saved and sent the money home to help their families, was that I found an ancestor of my own.

As is often the case, a little clue from searching for the Irish girls took me to Lavinia Johnston, born in 1810 in Ireland, and living in the 1880 census, two doors down from her daughter, Lavinia Johnston McQuiston, son-in-law Hiram McQuiston, and their children, Mary Lavinia, William J., Sarah A., Effie, and Hiram, Jr. Lavinia and Hiram McQuiston were the great-grandparents of my mother, and Lavinia Johnston was her great-great-grandmother. My mother's name was Mary Lavinia and my daughter's name is Lavinia. By the way, although Hiram McQuiston was born in Ohio, his parents were born in Ireland also.

A web site where I found some interesting facts was the Mayo County Library web site. The web site that provided the photos was:
xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/SADLIER/Domestic.htm
The photographs aren't of the Paul family servants, but they are of Irish domestics, and the photo of the Paul farm is from the period.

To all of you out there who have Irish ancestors, Eirinn Go Brach! Jo Ann

Monday, March 7, 2011

Elizabeth Fenwick Adams - Did she or didn't she? A family history mystery.

Twice this past week on gloriously sunny days that smelled of spring, friends and I headed down the highway on the trail of the mystery of Elizabeth Fenwick Adams and her alleged connection with the family that founded Gouldtown, a unique and remarkable tri-racial community in South Jersey.

Elizabeth FEnwick Adams and Gouldtown were not my only reasons for heading as far south as Greenwich, however. This year is the sesqui-centennial of the Civil War and I was also still on the hunt for the Underground Railroad and South Jersey's fascinating AfroAmerican history including the Ambury Hill Cemetery.

The first of the two days, a friend and I researched Othello and Springtown.
Once we'd arrived at Greenwich, the only town in New Jersey that I could actually imagine myself moving to, we stopped in at the Cumberland County Historical Society Library. The people there are kind, generous and friendly. Armed with their directions, maps, and knowledge, we drove to the "head of Greenwich" on Ye Greate Street, and up on a lonesome bluff, we found Ambury Hill, home of some veterans of the Civil War and the "Colored" Regiment from Cumberland County.

All month, I'd been reading Parallel Communities, the Underground Railroad in South Jersey, by Dennis Rizzo which is a fabulous read - conversational, full of fascinating facts and interesting observations. Although I make regular pilgrimages to my favorite SJ town, Greenwich, this time I was using Rizzo's book as my inspiration. His comments about the origins of the AfroAmerican towns of Othello, Springtown, and Gouldtown had whetted my history appetite and I wanted to see these places for myself.

A year or two ago, I'd happened onto the Othello cemetery on the side of the road on one of my drives to Greenwich and I had always wondered about it. An interesting side note for those of my fellow history buffs who are also interested in the history of the Still family: Levi and Charity Still had escaped from slavery and hid out for a time in Springtown. Charity and her sons were kidnapped there by slave catchers and taken back down South. Different stories tell this differently, some say only the boys were taken. Anyhow, Levi Still moved further north to the Medford area. James Still, his son, became the famous "Black Doctor of the Pines." Eventually Charity made her way back to her husband and, her son, William found his way to Philadelphia where he became one of the most famous Station Masters of the Underground Railroad. I've visited his house there, the Johnson House, and it has an interesting Underground Railroad Museum. William went on to write the first and most comprehensive account of the stories of the self-emancipators helped by him and the other brave Abolitionists in that dangerous time.

Well, for Elizabeth's story, we have to go back much further, to the arrival of the Fenwick family on the ship Griffin. This story stirs up a lot of debate over oral history and documentary history. The document that exists and gives the oral history some credibility is the will of John Fenwick, the original proprietor of the area. Written just before his death, in 1683. Variations on the quotation of the paragraph in the will exist in different web sites and books, but the gist of it as written in Rizzo's book is:
"Item: I do except against Elizabeth Adams of having any ye least part of my estate, unless the Lord open her eyes to see her abominable transgression against him, me and her good father, by giving her true repentance, and forsaking yt Black yt hath been ye ruin of her, and becoming penitent for her sins; upon yt condition only I do will and require my executors to settle five hundred acres of land upon her"

Genealogical accounts have Elizabeth Fenwick Adams marrying an other colonist, Anthony Windsor, several days after grandfather's will. Oral tradition of the Gouldtown residents has it that she and the original Gould had five children. No information remains on what happened to the three daughters, and one son died, which left Benjamin Gould, who married a Finnish woman and founded Gouldtown. It is said that their graves, Benjamin and his Finnish wife, are in the cemetery at Gouldtown. Information on the succeeding generations plus a really fine large group photo of the Goulds is available on-line in The Southern Workman, Vol 37, by the Hampton Institute via a google search.

At the time of the Fenwick's arrival and colonization, there were a number of Lenni Lenape still in the area. Gouldtown history has it that the Murray families are descendants of Lenni Lenape. Also, the Pierces are descendants of two African American brothers who came from the West Indies, John and Peter Pierce, paid the passage for two Dutch sisters whose last names were Von Aka, and married them. Benjamin Gould, said to be the son of Elizabeth Fenwick Adams and the original Gould, whose first name is lost to history, married a Finnish woman and founded Gouldtown. The names of Pierce, Gould, and Murray represent Lenni Lenapi, African American, Dutch, Finnish and, possibly, English ancestry.

On August 23, 1683, Elizabeth Fenwick Adams married Anthony Windsor under the care of the Salem Meeting. Her brother, Fenwick Adams married Ann Watkins in August of 1687. http://dunhamwilcox.net/nj/newton_nj_marriages.htm
"Marriages solemnized in open court at Salem, New Jersey, as recorded in the Minute Book thereof, No. 2, on file in the office of the Secretary of State at Trenton, N. J."

What does this mean? Did she obey her grandfather and return to the family and marry Anthony Windsor? We have here two documents, one which states that her grandfather is cutting her out of his will if she won't leave the "Black" man who has been her "ruination" and another which has her marrying another English colonist a few months after the will. I'm mystified.

Nonetheless, the story was a great reason to make the trip to my favorite
historic town, Greenwich. On my second trip, it was my great pleasure to introduce another history pal of mine, Loretta Kelly, head preservationist at White Hill, Fieldsboro, NJ, to the numerous beautiful houses starting with the Sheppard's Landing house on the Cohansie River, the two Friends' Meeting Houses, and a stop at the Prehistory Museum where the two museum volunteers treated us to coffee and Danish and a tip on where to hunt for arrowheads. I'll keep that secret to myself and when I get there, if I find anything, I'll write a blog entry about it.
These two kind history buffs also told me that they help to maintain Ambury Hill cemetery. Thank heavens for volunteers - where would history be without them.

Now that African American History month is over, and Women's History Month has begun, I'll be turning my attention to new mysteries, including, of course, historic sites that figure in the Civil War Sesqui-centennial. By the way, there was a great display at the Cumberland County Historical Society featuring Civil War history and a 34 star flag from 1861-1864.

I hope some readers will spend a few hours following the trail of the mystery of Elizabeth Fenwick Adams and her grandfather's will and let me know if you think she ran off and married the first Gould of what later became Gouldtown, or if she had an affair and returned home to marry Anthony Windsor, or if there is some other explanation available to a creative thinker or avid researcher. Also, I'd like to know the name of "Ann, the Finn" who married Benjamin Gould.

Happy Trails! Jo Ann