Monday, March 29, 2010

Handsomest Man in New York Wins Philadelphia's Richest Woman

Found on

I found this article on and love the headline and image at the top of the article in the Chicago Tribune (Jan. 11, 1898, p. 8) announcing Sarah Drexel Fell's engagement to Alexander Van Rensselaer. I especially love the images of the couple and her yacht below them. The article spins the yacht and yachting as the main reason for their meeting and calls their relationship a "love match". The article also gives a decent amount of information about Sarah's yacht, the May, and mentions her rare place as a woman in the yachting world.
"Mrs. Fell is one of the half-dozen first class yachtswomen in the United States."

"She is one of six women members of the New York Yacht club. The privileges of such members are only available when they are on a cruise. They cannot use the clubhouse, and they cease to be members when they cease to be yacht owners."
I found this article while looking for items to create a Footnote page for Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer for Fearless Females.

Fearless Females - Day Twenty-Nine - Footnote Pages

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Create a free Footnote page or Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. ... Tell us who you've selected and why and then post a link to what you've created."

I opted for the Footnote page. I've played a little with Footnote pages, but was intrigued (and a little intimidated) by the challenge of creating one from scratch. The other Footnote pages I've contributed to have all been automatically generated by Footnote and then I've added to them.

I created a page for my great-great grandmother, Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (1860-1929). I selected her for a couple of reasons. First, I've mentioned her several times during Fearless Females month, so it seemed appropriate, and second, I thought there was a decent chance she wouldn't have a page already.

I didn't find lots of information right off the bat, but will keep poking around Footnote and trying to enhance the page.

Footnote page for Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Twenty-Three - Jane McFarlane Stone

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link."

I like free tools. I really like good free tools, and I had fun with this one. I have no shortage a female ancestors to try this with (limited of course to those whose birth and death years I know). And I was tempted to try this with someone who died young -- to make display easier in case I had to use screenshots.
The custom timeline I created was for Jane McFarlane Stone (1793-1854). I chose Jane for one main reason -- she died in a tragic event -- the sinking of the SS Arctic off the coast of Newfoundland on 27 Sept. 1854. (see also Fearless Females Day Eleven) As she died at age 61, her timeline was quite long. I've captured only the first and last screens.
A few notes:
1. In looking at the bottom of her timeline, I was particularly struck by an event in 1848, "NY allows women to own real estate" (age 55). Her husband, Asaph, was a merchant, doing business in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, so this seems like something that might have impacted her personally.
2. The timelines are rather US-centric. Not completely, but this particular timeline has a lot of US history, politics, expansion, invention -- those were the times. But Jane was born in Scotland, immigrating to the U.S. in 1795. [1] So while she lived most of her life here, and most of these events are probably relevant, I can see that it might not work for all ancestors.

But I can see this tool coming in handy -- mainly to give me a better idea of events happening while my ancestors were living, and what might have impacted their lives.

[1] History of the Clan Macfarlane, Macfarlan, Macfarland, Macfarlin, by Mrs. C. M. Little (1893), p. 193. Available online: (Accessed: 23 Mar 2010)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Twenty

Yeah, yeah, a few days late on this one too...

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information."

I have a variety of female ancestors who are brick walls. But one of the more recent walls (one I hit so hard it knocked me off course for a while) is my great-great grandmother, Helen Coolidge Adams (1849-1929).

Helen married William Adams (1840-1888) on 14 May 1867 at Madison Square Church in New York, New York. I know from a marriage notice in the New York Post (accessed via that she was the daughter of "the late Henry Coolidge".

Other genealogical sources she appears in mention her as "Helen Coolidge" -- no daughter of whomever, from wherever. Example from A Genealogical History of Henry Adams, of Braintree, Mass., and his descendants; also John Adams, of Cambridge, Mass., 1632-1897.
"William, b. Jan. 31, 1840. m. May 14, 1867, Helen Coolidge. He d. at Searsdale, N.J., 14 July 1888."

So I know her father's name was Henry, and that as of her marriage in May 1867, he was deceased.

I also have copies from Descendants of John and Mary Coolidge of Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630. In this genealogy (p. 188) there is listed:
"Henry (Coolidge), b. Oct. 17, 1815, a merchant of New York; m. at Ridgefield, Conn., Nov. 3, 1847, Margaret Hawley, b. 1824; d. 1906. Of four children known William, Henry, Helen and Fannie..."

But I'm not sure this is the right family.
1. In reading the content of the above entry, first of all I'm not sure if Henry died in 1906 or his wife, Margaret, died in 1906. If Henry, this is the wrong family since Helen's father died prior to 1867.
2. But, Ancestry has a U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index entry for a Henry Coolidge, a merchant born in New York, who died in 1860 at 44 years of age in Fairfield County, Conn. The birth year fits the Henry Coolidge married to Margaret Hawley, as does the profession. Further, Ridgefield, Conn., where Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley were married is in Fairfield County.
3. 1870 Census. Lists Helen Adams as the wife of William (with 2 young children) in Scarsdale, New York on 21 July 1870. But there is also a Helen Coolidge listed with her mother, Margaret, and siblings William, Henry and Fannie, in New York, New York on 12 July 1870. Could be the same woman visiting her mother and family? Attempts to find the Coolidges in the 1850 or 1860 censuses have not turned up anything (and I'm not sure it'd tell me anything, anyway).

So I'm trying to prove or disprove the relationship between Helen Coolidge Adams and Helen Coolidge, daughter of Henry and Margaret Hawley Coolidge. Where to look next? Marriage and/or death records for Helen Coolidge Adams. Probate records for Margaret Hawley Coolidge.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - St. Thomas' Church

St. Thomas' Church, Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania. Six tombstones lined up along the (south?) wall of the church, visible from the approach from the parking lot. These are members of the Fell-Van Rensselaer family, my great-great grandmother Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (1860-1929), both of her husbands, John R. Fell (1858-1895) and Alexander Van Rensselaer (1851-1933) and at least one of her children. (See also my post for Day Three of Fearless Females.)

Just One Thing: Basic Chinese Sauce Recipes

From Eat Close to Home, "Just One Thing: Basic Chinese Sauce Recipes"...

I've been in a sauce slump. I love Asian food and can usually do a decent stir-fry sauce without much effort, but have been coming up empty of late. So I Googled "Chinese spicy brown sauce" and turned up this trio of basics. Thank goodness!

I made the white sauce for dinner tonight, with shredded pork and broccoli florets, but made a few adaptations. I did not make the brown sauce as I don't have molasses, and ingredient-wise was looking at the white. So I tried stepping it up a bit by using tamari for the soy sauce, a larger amount of chopped garlic, and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, and was really pleased with the results. I'm looking forward to doing more experimenting with these sauces.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Eleven - Loss of the SS Arctic

Yes, I'm behind -- and I skipped a few posts. I got behind on posting last week, so elected to skip the posts for which I didn't have some easy answers. I may go back and revisit the post on religion (day ten), but for now, onward.

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?"

I've already told the story of Marion Constance Greenleaf who died young, from Typhoid Fever at age 29. This story is about Marion's great-grandmother, my 4th great-grandmother, Jane McFarlane Stone (1793-1854).

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of the SS Arctic until about a year ago.

Jane McFarlane Stone, her husband, merchant Asaph Stone, and their youngest daughter, Mary all died September 27, 1854. Some time ago now, I stumbled across a resource in Ancestry, Simon Stone genealogy : ancestry and descendants of Deacon Simon Stone of Watertown, Mass., 1320-1926, and in looking up my Stone Family ancestors, discovered that Adeline Emma Stone's father's father, Asaph (1786-1854) perished, along with his wife and daughter, on the steamship Arctic.

The passage in the Simon Stone genealogy reads (under the entry for Asaph Stone):
"After a year of European travel, Mr. Stone, his wife and their youngest daughter, all perished while homeward bound from Liverpool in the tragic sinking of the steamer Arctic off the coast of Newfoundland, 27 Sept. 1854. Of the two hundred and thirty-seven passengers in the ill-fated vessel only twenty-one were saved, the crew seizing most of the boats."--pp.306-307.

I read a little about the event and the Arctic after that. The Wikipedia entry for the SS Arctic points to 2 books written -- one in the early 1954, and one in 2002. I've read Women and Children Last (1954), and still hope to move on to The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic (2002). [Wikipedia can be a decent starting point for research when an entry has citations/bibliography.]

I've also looked at headlines from the New York Times near the incident. I forget, with today's era of instant information, that news did not always travel as quickly as in 2009. The New York Times has a series of small articles reporting no news of the Arctic, and counting its days delayed from arriving in port until news finally arrives of the ship's sinking. One of the earliest articles I noted was Oct. 4, 1854, which states (in part):
"The non-arrival of this vessel creates some interest in business circles ; but no alarm, owing to the heavy weather which she no doubt encountered on her voyage."--"The Steamer Arctic", New York Times, Oct. 4, 1854, p. 4.

By Oct. 9, 1854, the Times speculates that the ship, then 20-days out from Liverpool, might have met with mechanical failure and returned to England, with more time anticipated before hearing anything as to the ship's fate.[1]

It is finally on Oct. 11,1 854, that the Times reports "Loss of the Arctic : Collision Between the Steamer and a Propeller off Cape Race : Apprehensions of the Loss of all but Thirty-two Persons."[2]

In no way can I imagine what this event must have been like for those aboard. I think at the very least what I can do at present is be one more person who knows this happened, who has a personal connection to the event, and will not forget it in her own lifetime -- for what that's worth.

The Stones are listed in the Times as Mrs. Stone & daughter; Mr. A. Stone.

[1] "The Missing Steamer", New York Times, Oct. 9, 1854. Available online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Accessed 11 Mar. 2009.

[2] "Loss of the Arctic", New York Times, Oct. 11, 1854. Available online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Accessed 11 Mar. 2009.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Eight

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt."

I have some of my grandmother's travel diaries from the 1980s-1990s, which I love and am delighted to have. But for this post I'm going to highlight single letter from a bit farther back in the family history.

The letter is written on the exterior of an envelope, addressed to my great-great grandmother, Christine Williams Biddle Cadwalader (1847-1900), and states:

"Dear Christine-- I send you
these 3 old salt spoons,
marked L. M. C. Lambert
& Mary Cadwalader-- I thought
you might like to keep
them for Lambert,--& this
old spoon with the Cad=
Walader Crest. I had
put them away for Maria.
M. C. M."

Neither message nor envelope is dated. M.C.M. is probably Mary Cadwalader Mitchell (b. 1835, wife of Silas Weir Mitchell) whose daughter Maria Gouverneur Mitchell died in 1898, unmarried. Christine Biddle Cadwalader died in 1900, so the note was likely written between 1898-1900. Mary Cadwalader Mitchell survived her daughter and died in 1914. Christine's son, Lambert Cadwalader (b. 1882), probably the one referenced in the note as the intended recipient of the spoons, was the younger brother of my great-grandfather. The spoons' original owners were in all likelihood my 4th great-grandfather, Lambert Cadwalader (1743-1823) and his wife Mary McCall Cadwalader (1764-1848).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Seven

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother's kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? ..."

One the whole, my family (either side, really) isn't known for handing down shared recipes. Both of my grandmother's were good cooks, though at least one only developed the skill later in life -- after my mother had left home (or was at least away at school).

My grandmother's fish chowder is the one recipe I remember other members of my family wanting to replicate.

New England Fish Chowder

(Serves 8)

3 ½ to 4 lbs. of haddock or cod (with head and bones)

2-inch cube of lean salt pork (freeze to cut up easily)

2 medium onions, sliced

4 cups potatoes, sliced

4 cups hot milk

1 tablespoon salt

1/8th teaspoon ground pepper

bay leaf (optional)

Simmer fish head and bones with bay leaf in 3 cups water for ½ hour. Drain, reserving the stock. Simmer fish in stock until just done. Cut pork in tiny pieces and fry to a light brown; remove pork scraps. Add onion to fat and cook slowly for about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook about 3 minutes. Add fish liquor and enough water to cover potatoes, cook until potatoes are nearly done; add fish, hot milk and seasonings. Simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with warm pork scraps.

Foxcroft Cookbook, 1969, revised 1989

I remember watching her make this every summer in Maine. Though by the time I learned, the whole fish with head and bones had been replaced by fillets and bottled clam juice. I can make a passable version, though I use clams, since I'm not a huge fish fan. But I never need the recipe to make it. It's ingrained in me from many summers watching, helping, and learning.

Fearless Females - Day Six

Yes, I skipped Day Five. I've been having computer problems and now find myself a bit behind in posting for the "Fearless Females" series. For Day Five's theme, on marriage and how your parents or grandparents met, I do have a story in mind, but since telling it well will take some thought, I'm going to hold off for another time. So onto Day Six...

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Describe an
heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) ... "

I've got heirlooms -- various things my grandparents used to own. Some things they were the first owners of, others they inherited from their ancestors. But in thinking about all of these things, what would I consider worthy of description for a post? Probably the little things, the everyday items I remember them using mean the mos
t, are the things I treasure most. Like what?

The cocktail glasses. When we were going through my grandmother's house some years ago, all the everyday china and glassware was laid out on the dining room table for people to look over and take what they wanted. Because these were the everyday items, most of us already had stocked kitchens and didn't need more things. But I took the monogrammed old-fashioned glasses, most having either my grandmother or grandfather's initials. I remember these glasses, or similar ones
, throughout my childhood -- at family dinners or holiday parties. It's just a little thing, but I love having the occasional drink out of one. And I always think of them when I do. (Not to mention a single old-fashioned glass, rather than a double, is hard to find these days.)

The needlepoint. As early as I can remember, my grandmother was always doing needlepoint. Pillows, rugs, framed pieces, table tops, eye glasses cases... Each piece holds a different memory -- the summer she was working on a pa
rticularly challenging item, or the place the piece ended up living once she was finished. I have a few of her pieces, and love having them as everyday items in my home. The wall hanging of the Henley Regatta, the Social Register cover (yes, really), and the pillow. Pillows were what I remember the most, and one Christmas after my grandmother passed, my aunt Katie gave each of us one of my grandmother's pillows -- doing her best to match them to each of us.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Four

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one."

Sigh. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't have marriage records or photos for weddings of my grandparents or great-grandparents. That's not to say there isn't at least one story here.

So what do I know? Well, despite having spent my childhood growing up with my maternal grandmother (and grandfather until his death when I was 8), I actually know more details about my paternal grandparents and great-grandparents as I've done more research on them. My great-grandparents, Lewis Stone Greenleaf and Margaret Adams Greenleaf were married in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1898. Four years earlier, Lewis' younger sister Alice, married Margaret's older brother, William, on Jan. 1, 1894. I'm not yet sure to what extent Lewis and Margaret knew each other prior to the wedding of their siblings. My best guess at this point, is that given what seems to be the fairly small world of Lenox society, both families were acquainted with each other, but there's more work to be done here.

Details of the wedding of Alice Greenleaf and William Adams can be found in the New York Times, Dec. 30, 1893. (Not my great-grandparents, but at least it's close -- sort of.)

Cataloging Futures: Twitter cataloging sensation: FakeAACR2

Cataloging Futures: Twitter cataloging sensation: FakeAACR2

This one especially resonates with me:

"1.9A1. Describe supplementary items that are to be catalogued separately as separate items. Optionally: dump them; they never existed..."

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Three - Sarah and Sally

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you've come across in your family tree."

My maternal great-great grandmother was Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (1860-1929). Her granddaughter, my great-aunt, was Sarah Drexel Henry (1905-1977), called "Sally."

My mother told me that Aunt Sally always thought I was named after her. I don't think I was named after either Sarah, but my mother never told Aunt Sally that -- I think my parents just liked the name. It's odd really, I don't think of myself as having a family first name -- unless I have a reason to think about my name -- like now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Two

From The Accidental Genealogist: "March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?"

Edith Judkins Collins (1884-1945), photo taken December 1885. Edith was my great-grandmother. Of the handful or two of photographs I have of my female ancestors (where th
ey are the sole subjects), I like most for various reasons, but this is one of my favorites. It is because the subject is a baby, that I love this picture more than others in my collection. I am amazed that this baby is my great-grandmother, who I never knew, and from whom I, my immediate family, and more distant cousins are all descended. This photo reminds me that we were all this young once, and reminds me that there is wonder in the future that we can't imagine. When this photograph was taken, right around her first birthday, could her parents (Joseph Harrison Collins, 1853-1887 and Rebecca Sharpless Delany, 1861-1949) have imagined their descendants living in the 21st century? Seeing my great-grandmother as a baby simply reminds me that what I'm doing as a genealogist isn't merely uncovering facts and connections forgotten, but in some cases reconstructing lives of those who came before me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fearless Females - Day One

From The Accidental Genealogist: "March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check."

My favorite female ancestor at this point is [my great-great aunt] Marion Constance Greenleaf (1871-1900). I think a lot of that is that given what I've learned about her so far, I can relate to her. The oldest of our siblings we're each unmarried. Granted, she died at age 29, and I'm currently 39, but since it's 110 years later, I'm willing to put us both in the "spinster" category. I have a good deal of information about her immediate family, parents and siblings, one of whom is my great-grandfather, as well as their family home in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her obituaries described her as an accomplished singer and news articles I've gathered from society pages give me a sense of her friends and relationships. One of the reasons she's one of my favorites is that I have a better sense of her as a complete person than I do any other other ancestor. And I'm sorry to say that part of this is probably due to her short life. For a more complete summary, see my earlier Tombstone Tuesday post on Marion.

The Runners-Up:
  • Great-great grandmother, Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf (1849-1936)
  • 5th Great grandmother, Hannah Lambert Cadwalader (1712-1786)
So where do I go next? Well, it depends...
  • Marion. I know the basics. I'm curious to learn more about her life, both through society articles (of which there are plenty), but also through learning more about the world in the years she lived. Marion was born in Hamburg, Germany and died in Lenox, Massachusetts.
  • Adeline. Marion's mother, I know most of the facts and am now at the point of wanting to reconstruct more of her family relationships (with her children, spouse, parents, and siblings). As well as consider the world she lived in: Civil War through World War I.
  • Hannah. Hannah lived long enough ago that her identity is very much integrated with her husband and father. Given that she lived in he eighteenth century, I really don't know the best way learn more about who she might have been.
For all three, for as much as I've learned, I'll happily take ideas for where to go next. For Marion and Adeline I've got census data and some society column articles from the period. For Hannah, I'm not sure what the best course of action is.

Fearless Females - Prompts for Women's History Month | GeneaBloggers

Fearless Females - Prompts for Women's History Month | GeneaBloggers

One of the things I love about genealogy is giving voice to the women in my family who've come before me. Whether married women who've lost their identities once married or spinster ancestors that I want to bring to prominence, I love the idea of spending March highlighting my female ancestors.

Having glanced through the list, I probably won't do all (or may edit some to go back in time beyond my mother and grandmothers), but am eager to see what I come up with over the coming month!

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