Sunday, May 19, 2013

Where Does the Time Go?

Kathleen and Preston
In my case, it's gone into planning and taking a trip to New York to hang out with my cousin Preston and to attend the Annual Owner's Meeting of the Marble Cemetery. It may sound a bit macabre, but if you consider that your ancestor's final resting place (in our case, Goold Hoyt, our 4th great grandfather) deserves respect, you may see it differently. One of the most surprising things I've learned since beginning to work on my family history is that cemeteries do not receive any funding from city, county or federal governments. Obviously, then, they rely on the descendants of the interred, and the public, for support. 


But that's not all that we did during my time as a New Yorker. We traveled to Newport, Rhode Island, where three generations of our family lived. The owners of their home on Kay Street, Pat and Mary Beth, kindly allowed us to tour this lovingly kept treasure, built in 1835. We felt honored to be sitting in the same rooms that our 4th great grandmother, Julia Montaudevert Lawrence, our great-great grandmother, Mary Lawrence Griffin Redmond, and our great-grandfather, William Preston Redmond, inhabited once upon a time. 

Entrance hallway with resident cats, Ricky and Lucy

New Jersey


We also traveled to a few sites in New Jersey. We started out at the birthplace of our 4th great grandfather, Captain James Lawrence, in Burlington, where the Burlington County Historical Society's Education Director, Jeff Macechak, gave us a most informative tour. 

Captain James Lawrence display at the Burlington County Historical Society

Liberty Hall Museum

From there, we went to the Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University in Union. Primarily known as the home of New Jersey's first elected governor and signer of the Constitution, William Livingston, it was also where the second wife of our 3rd great grandfather, Christine Alexander William Kean Griffin, grew up. Bill Schroh, Jr, Director of Museum Operations, and his assistant, Kathy, gave us a personalized tour of this magnificent home and museum. 
One of the many beautiful rooms in the museum

South Orange

We ended our New Jersey day in South Orange, where the owners of a home purchased in 1850 by our 3rd great grandparents, William Sr and Sabina Hoyt Redmond, graciously gave us access so that we could see the original structure as well as the add-ons. According to the history of South Orange, this home, built in 1774, was part of the Squier Farm. We were happy to see it so well-loved and cared for. 

Renovated Squier Farm homestead. Original stone structure on bottom left.
Just down the street, we enjoyed a sunset dinner in the dining room of the Orange Lawn Tennis Club, established in 1880 in the brownstone building, "Hillside", that William Sr and Sabina built in 1848 as a home for their family of eleven children.

While we decried some of the architectural changes, I'm happy to know that Althea Gibson played her first important grass court tournament here. Other tennis greats listed as players include Arthur Ashe, Fred Perry, Rod Laver, Guillermo Vilas and John McEnroe.   

Orange Lawn Tennis Club, 2013

New York Historical Society

I spent a few hours one day at the New York Historical Society, taking photos of documents from the Eugene H. Poole Collection in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library. Eugene Poole was a great-nephew of Captain James Lawrence who amassed a great deal of Lawrence memorabilia as a labor of love after the battle flag of Lawrence's ship, the U.S.S. Chesapeake, was given to England in 1908. Among this collection are documents and artifacts, some acquired after negotiation with my great grandfather in Wyoming. I was especially interested in James' letters to his family members, including the last letter he ever wrote, to his brother-in-law, James L. Montaudevert, asking him to look after his family. Unfortunately, James was "taken off" as he referred to in his letter.

Kearny Cottage Museum

On my last day as a New Yorker, I detoured to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, on the way to the airport. Here, I visited the Kearny Cottage Museum, once the home of Elizabeth Lawrence Kearny, aka Madame Scribblerus, and her husband, Michael Kearny. Elizabeth was James' half-sister, eldest of her father's family of eleven children. James was the youngest, and was raised by Elizabeth until he began a study of law. It is said that she passed on her love of poetry to him during this time. Michael and Elizabeth became the parents of eight sons, the youngest of whom, Commodore Lawrence Kearny was, like his uncle James, an officer in the U.S. Navy. He is famed for opening China to U.S. trade in the early 1840's. Curator Paul Wang generously opened the museum early, providing me with a very interesting tour. 


In the crowded airport gate waiting area, I sat next to Sam and Suchada Johnson and their adorable little daughter. Exchanging pleasantries, Sam offered the fact that he and his family live in Jackson, Wyoming, the town that was homesteaded by my great-great grandparents, John Porter and Margaret Sullivan Simpson. Sam invited me to their restaurant, Teton Thai, next time I'm in Jackson. Looking it up on the internet, I find that it has earned 4 stars on Yelp, and has lots of fantastic write-ups. Talk about the serendipity of travel!

Note to my readers: due to a technical glitch, I accidentally deleted my original post, forcing me to rewrite and re-post this synopsis of my trip to New York. It may differ slightly from the original, and I apologize for any inconvenience to you.

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