Sunday, July 25, 2010

Knowing Your Neighbors

I've heard it said in genealogical research that one should pay attention not just to the family you're researching, but to their neighbors as well, who often turn out to be family members. I'm also reading Buzzy Jackson's book, Shaking the Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist, and Jackson emphasizes the same point a couple of times. Nevertheless, a basic genealogical research tip I should be well aware of came sneaking up on me.

So last week I mentioned in my post on mapping Windyside that one of Richard and Adeline Greenleaf's neighbors with whom he agreed on the situating of the residences was Henri Braem. I found out recently (well before writing the post last week, but still recently -- within the last month) that the Braems were in fact relatives of the Greenleafs.

My research into Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf's family has focused almost solely on the Stones - her paternal line. Mrs. Henri Braem, nee Emily M. F. Bridge, was Adeline Greenleaf's aunt -- the sister of her mother, Adeline Bridge Stone.

I really haven't paid much attention to the Bridge family, but they've recently sucked me into a bit of a research challenge which I'm greatly enjoying. But that's another post (or several).

So what's my point here? I'm not sure there is one, but there were a few related things niggling at my brain that I needed to put down:
  1. Windyside
  2. A recent connection with a distant relative through the Bridge family
  3. Buzzy Jackson's book and the tip on neighbors
I guess I feel like the connection to the Braems is something I should have mentioned in my last post, since I knew about it, but failed to take in all the details of what I was writing about. I'm not sure I'm explaining myself very well, but maybe this is enough of a mental jolt so I'll remember to take a better rounded view of the individuals next time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Visualizing History - Mapping Windyside, Lenox, Massachusetts

Last night I wrote about the music room at Windyside, so tonight onward with a little more about the Greenleaf ancestral home, Windyside, in Lenox, Massachusetts. I was tempted to title this post for "Madness Monday," largely because I'm frustrated in not being able to better organize my thoughts in my posts on Windyside than for any other reason.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned one of the first books in which I read about the Greenleaf cottage in Lenox, Jackson and Gilder's Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. [1] The book has a nice chapter on Windyside, which among other things, contains the following tidbit:
"Windyside was one of three neighboring houses constructed along the newly created Yokun Avenue in 1874-75. A gentlemen's agreement between the three new owners--Greenleaf, Danish consul Henri Braem, and New York lawyer John E. Parsons--accounts for the positioning of these houses at staggered intervals, allowing each an unobstructed southern view"--p. 40.
Not long ago, release the U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918. [2] An 1894 map illustrates nicely the three properties -- Parsons, Braem, and Greenleaf -- and shows the staggering of the houses.

Judging from the positioning of the properties, I'd guess that south is to the left. I rotated the orientation of the map to make the wording more readable, and in the original image, what is now the left side was at the bottom, though there was no key indicating direction on the original image.

[1] Jackson, Richard S, Jr., and Cornelia Brooke Gilder. Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. New York: Acanthus Press, 2006.
[2] U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various publishers of County Land Ownership Atlases. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - The Music Room at Windyside, Lenox, Massachusetts

I wrote in an earlier post about my mother's family ties to Lenox, Massachusetts, which I'd known about for as long as I can remember. What I discovered a little more than a year ago was that my father's family also had ties to Lenox, and were "cottagers" about the same time as members of my mother's family. This spring I returned to the Greenleaf ancestral home at Lenox and was able to walk in spaces I'd read about and researched in the past year.

Richard Cranch (1845-1913) and Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf (1849-1936) lived much of the time in Lenox at a cottage on Yokun Avenue called "Windyside." The Lenox Greenleafs are one of my favorite family groups to research, largely because the New York Times covered much of Lenox society in their day, bringing these people to life in a way I haven't found in other sources.

Among the events covered in the Times were concerts and musicales given by the Greenleafs in the music room at Windyside. One notable architectural feature in the music room is a huge terra-cotta fireplace. I discovered this feature first in Jackson and Gilder's Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, where they describe the fireplace as "a notable ornament in the history of terra-cotta ornament in America." [1] American Architect and Building News published a photograph of the fireplace in the January 31, 1885 issue:

The fireplace is described as "16 feet wide, 12 feet high, and 8 feet deep, ... executed in terra-cotta by the Boston Terra-Cotta Company." [2]

In September 1890, the New York Times reported:

"Mrs. and Miss Greenleaf gave one of the most enjoyable and successful germans of the season at the great Greenleaf cottage to-night. The house was beautifully decorated. The great music room was decorated with palms and tropical potted plants. The great fireplace and mantel, the largest and most elegant in Lenox, were decorated handsomly with autumn flowers and foliage." [3]

In September of 1883, the Times mentions a morning musicale and the only piece I've found thus far to mention the music room's organ:

"Mrs. Richard C. Greenleaf gave a musicale Wednesday morning, when Adamowski played. He was assisted by Mrs. John I. Kane and Mr. R. C. Dixey. This is the first time that Adamowski has been in Lenox this season. Among the selections that he played were a gavotte by Carl Berg, Hungarian Dance by Natchez, novelette composed by himself, prelude to the 'Deluge' by Saint-Saens, and barcarolle by Sitt. The large organ in the Greenleaf music room was presided over by Mr. Dixey, and Mrs. Eames played the piano." [4]

[1] Jackson, Richard S, Jr., and Cornelia Brooke Gilder. Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. New York: Acanthus Press, 2006.
[2] American Architect and Building News 17 (no. 475 : 31 January 1885). Online. Internet Archive : Accessed: 18 July 2010.
[3] "Society Still at Lenox," New York Times, 30 Sept 1890, pg. 4. Online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers : Accessed 18 July 2010.
[4] "Not Ready to Leave Lenox," New York Times, 24 Sept 1893, pg. 17. Online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers : Accessed: 18 July 2010.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - I Write Like...

From Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, this week's fun is to submit a piece of writing that exemplifies the best of your work to the web site: The site will analyze your writing and return a badge to post on your blog.

I decided to analyze two things. First, I copied 4 or 5 paragraphs from my most recent blog post, American Revolutionary War Relics?, and received the following:

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Next, I took 4 paragraphs from an email I'd written recently, topic being family and genealogy, and received the same result, James Joyce. I find this fairly amusing since I'm not sure I could read Joyce, so for an analytical tool to think my writing is like his is interesting.

So to see if I could get a different result, I took another blog post, Thomas and Margaret McCormick, and copied 4 paragraphs... James Joyce again.

So finally, abandoning analysis of my genealogical writing, I copied 4 paragraphs from an email to my friend Lisa -- no genealogy, just typical daily life update stuff, and got...

I write like
Margaret Mitchell

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

For Margaret Mitchell, who I have read, I feel like my life should be much more interesting than it was in the email I copied.

Anyway, it's fun to play with. My genealogy writing must have a certain pattern to it that matches Joyce in the analysis tool. I'm sure if I analyzed more blog posts, I'd eventually get someone else.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

American Revolutionary War Relics? The William and Mary Brown Greenleaf Portraits

Some months ago, while searching for information on possible family portraits, I stumbled across this book, Catalogue of the Revolutionary Relics Exhibited at No. 56, Beacon Street, June 1875, in the Internet Archive noting the existence of portraits of my 5th great-grandparents, William Greenleaf (1725-1803) and Mary Brown Greenleaf (1728-1807). [see p. 5.]

I noticed a couple of interesting things in the entries (no. 43 and 44) on page 5, listing the Greenleaf portraits. In this scan from the University of Michigan original, someone scratched out the artist name "Copley" and wrote in "Blackburn". I wondered if this was simply a typo, or if the portraits were ever actually attributed to Copley.

The second interesting point is the notation under Mary Brown Greenleaf's portrait regarding piercing by a British bayonet. I presume that to mean there is at least one hole in the canvas. How it got there is anyone's guess, but given that the family came from Boston, I suppose there could have been a British bayonet in its vicinity at some point.

Further searching turned up this book in the Google Books collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings, by Bryson Burroughs (6th ed., 1922). Entries for the William and Mary Brown Greenleaf portraits on page 18 indicate both that the portraits are signed by Blackburn (not Copley) and attribute the holes to "bullet holes, which according to tradition were made during the Revolutionary War."

I found copies of the portraits in the book, Early American Costume, by Edward Warwick and Henry C. Pitz. But the black and white plates don't show enough detail to tell me if there are bullet holes. Both the William Greenleaf portrait (plate XXVIII-A, facing p. 129) and Mary Brown Greenleaf portrait (plate LI, facing p. 232) have specks that might be holes, but there's no way of knowing. I don't know where the portraits are today. This work also attributes the Greenleaf portraits to Blackburn.

It's probably safe to say that the works are by Blackburn, but there will likely never be a definitive answer about the bullet or bayonet holes. In any case, it still makes for a great story, made even better by finding it in print in a couple of places.

[1] Ladies' Centennial Commission (Boston, Mass.) Catalogue of the Revolutionary Relics Exhibited at No. 56, Beacon Street, June, 1875. Boston: Ladies' Centennial Commission, 1875. Online. Internet Archive. : Accessed 4 July 2010.
[2] Burroughs, Bryson. Catalogue of Paintings. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1922. (6th ed.). Online. Google Books. : Accessed 4 July 2010.
[3] Warwick, Edward, and Henry C. Pitz. Early American Costume. New York: The Century Co., 1929.