Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the earliest map of Manhattan

The "Castello Plan", the earliest known map
of what is now New York City, drawn by
Jacques Cortelyou in 1660.
My ancestor Jacques Cortelyou was half-French and half-Dutch and was born and raised in the city of Utrecht, in what is now the Netherlands.  In his youth, he studied at the University of Utrecht.  He spoke French, Latin and Dutch, and was a mathematician, land surveyor, and was well-grounded in medicine. 

In 1652, Jacques (aged about 27) crossed the Atlantic and settled in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (now Manhattan).  In 1657, Jacques was appointed Surveyor General for the colony of New Netherlands (in 1670, after the colony had been acquired by the English and renamed New York, he was again appointed Surveyor General).  As Surveyor General, Jacques founded and laid out two new towns.  First, in 1657, after buying the land from local Indians, Jacques surveyed and platted the town of New Utrecht (now in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of southwest Brooklyn).  Then in 1660, Jacques laid out the townsite of Bergen (now Bergen Square in Jersey City, New Jersey).  Jacques was also instrumental in helping to build the wall in New Amsterdam to guard against Native American attacks, for which the present day Wall Street derives its name. 

Jacques is most famous for his 1660 map and survey of New Amsterdam, which details what is now the southern tip of Manhattan.  His survey is the earliest known surviving map or plan of what is now New York City.  In 1667, the map was sold to Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and it remained in Italy for several hundred years.  The map is today called The Castello Plan because it was discovered in the Villa de Castello near Florence, Italy in 1900. 

It has been argued that the lands Jacques surveyed and platted are today among the most expensive real estate in the world.

My descent from Jacques:

Jacques Cortelyou
-Maria Cortelyou
--Jacques Barkeloo
---William Barkelow
----James Barkelow
-----Flora A. Bartlow
------Mary E. Murray
-------Vera V. Merriman
--------Ben Plymale
---------Barbara Plymale
----------Ryan Wadleigh

Saturday, May 28, 2011

atheism and liberalism in the 1800's

My great-great-great-great-grandfather Reuben Thurston was born in 1806 in Vermont.  As a child, he moved with his family to Ohio, where he later married and began raising his family.  In 1856, he moved to Minnesota, where he remained until his death in 1880.  Throughout his adulthood, he was a successful farmer.

Reuben's parents were devout Methodists (his father, Peter, was a deacon in the church).  The religious upbringing of Reuben and his siblings apparently did not bide well for all of them.  Several of them remained with the Methodist church, but others rebelled against the teachings.  Reuben's brother Thomas Thurston became a Mormon in the 1840's and later a polygamist and a pioneer of Utah.

Reuben's religious beliefs went the opposite way, and he became what could today be called an atheist, agnostic or spiritualist.  He was referred to by his contemporaries as a "free thinker" and "independent."  Specifically, he "discredited the Bible as a revelation but held to the great first cause, God, as revealed in nature only."  He and his family attended no church and identified with no particular Christian denomination, a position that might be unremarkable today but in the mid-1800's would have been controversial and peculiar.  Instead of religion, Reuben advocated morality.

While living in Ohio, Reuben was a member (or at least a supporter) of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, which was intent on not only abolishing slavery in the United States but also establishing laws to protect African-Americans after they were free.  This particular stance required courage and conviction, since most Ohioans were against them.  On one occasion in 1836, the group was having its annual meeting in Granville, Ohio (near where Reuben lived) but they were refused to have the meeting in the town, so instead held it in a barn outside the town limits, which was subsequently mobbed and attacked.  Members of the group were over time killed by mob violence.

Reuben was acknowledged as peculiar and liberal by his contemporaries, but in spite of disagreements on issues, he was well-respected.  He apparently excelled at debating and upholding his moral positions.  It was later said that "in the days of his full mental power, there were few indeed who cared to encounter his keen logic."

My descent from Reuben:

Reuben H. Thurston
-Irvin H. Thurston
--Julia M. Thurston
---Neil F. Bixby
----Patricia J. Bixby
-----Barbara A. Plymale
------Ryan J. Wadleigh

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nashville gangsters

My great-grandmother Louetha Jones was raised on a farm near Hopkinsville, Kentucky but decided to leave her family and become a nurse. In about 1918, she moved by herself to Nashville, Tennessee and began working as a nurse in St. Thomas Hospital. In the early days of January 1920, a man named Manulis Hosse was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound and Louetha was his nurse. The nurse and patient soon developed a “whirlwind romance” and were married within weeks, on January 26, 1920.

Manulis "Scutter" Hosse
Little did she know (or perhaps she did), Louetha had just married a notorious gangster. Manulis Hosse was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee and came from an established crime family that became even more successful during Prohibition. The Hosse family owned various speakeasies, brothels, and gambling houses in Nashville and Louisville. They also had a large business of smuggling (bootlegging) alcohol in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Manlius controlled the family’s business interests in Nashville. His gang included various relatives and in-laws, a judge, a lawyer, a newspaper reporter, a firefighter, and two black “laborers.”

Manulis owned a popular speakeasy in Nashville (which was probably the legitimate “soft drink stand” that had been busted for selling contraband whiskey). Perhaps most dangerously, Manulis and his gang were involved with political racketeering in Nashville. They competed with rival gangs to elect and “buy” their own corrupt mayors or city politicians, the process of which earned them many enemies. Manulis, nicknamed “Scutter”, and was said to be relatively brutal. A former Nashville police officer once said “If crossed, Scutter would shoot you as soon as look at you.”
Louetha Jones Hosse

Louetha apparently took well to the lifestyle and was happily married. It was said that she and Manulis “were very much in love, and liked to laugh a lot.” Despite their wedded bliss, their exciting life together was cut short. On January 30, 1921 (4 days after their first anniversary), Manulis was shot and killed in a restaurant by a police officer hired by his one of his political enemies. He was 28-years old.

Louetha had no children during her brief marriage to Manlius. After her husband’s murder, Louetha moved to Louisville to live with Manulis’ mother Carrie Hosse (who was the real head of the crime family). There, she met her second husband (my great-grandfather) Newell Brown and they were married in 1922. Louetha’s second marriage was much less criminal and probably even normal. They were happily married until they died 13 days apart in 1963. Louetha apparently rarely talked about her first marriage to any of her family.

Most of the above information comes from Paul Hosse, Manlius' great-nephew.

Part of the article about Manulis' death
in The Tennessean, January 31, 1921
My descent from Louetha:

Louetha Jones
->Bettye Brown
--->Randy Wadleigh
----->Ryan Wadleigh

Monday, May 23, 2011

armpit hair and fainting

Vera at about the time she
began shaving her armpits
The practice of women shaving their armpits came into vogue in the mid-1910's in the US.  My great-grandmother Vera Merriman of Medford, Oregon was then a teenager and began to follow the trend.  She started to shave her own armpits but was unsuccessful because she would faint whenever she tried to do it herself.  Her remedy was to have her younger brother Sharon (then about 12) shave her armpits for her.  Thankfully, her brother shaving her armpits kept her from passing out.

Vera's propensity for fainting was apparently a genetic trait that she passed to both of her children, and several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her son Ben (my grandfather) was apparently diagnosed at one point with "borderline epilepsy" because of his fainting problems.  Our family has a variety of humorous stories of family members fainting at inopportune times, such as when Vera's daughter Mary Jo fainted onto the steering wheel while sitting in the driver's seat of her (parked) car, thus continually compressing the horn; or, multiple occasions when my mom or her sister would faint during Catholic church services and had to be dragged or carried out out of the

Most of the above comes from Vera's granddaughter Maggie.

My descent from Vera:

Vera Merriman
->Ben Plymale
--->Barbara Plymale
----->Ryan Wadleigh

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Scarlet Letter

In 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter, a work of historical fiction that has since been acclaimed as a classic and has been taught in many American schools.  The story is set in 1642 in Massachusetts and focuses on the character of Hester Prynne, who has a child as a result of an adulterous affair and is sentenced to wear a scarlet-colored letter "A", to publicly denote her sin and her shame.

The character of Hester Prynne and many of the elements of the book are said to be based (loosely) on the life of Mrs. Mary Batchelder, who was the fourth wife of Rev. Stephen Batchelder, my direct ancestor.  Stephen moved to New England in 1632 and was a prominent pioneer and minister in what is new Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.  (I descend in 6 different ways - all on the Wadleigh side - from Stephen Batchelder, see below.)  Stephen married his fourth wife, a widow named Mary Beedle, in 1650, when he was very old (probably in his 80's) and she much younger (perhaps in her 20's or 30's).  In 1651, she was discovered to have had an affair with a man named George Rogers and to have become pregnant by him.  In October 1651 in York, Maine, both were tried and convicted of adultery.  Mary was sentenced to have 40 lashes and to be literally branded (probably on her forehead) with the letter "A".  Her sentence was carried out about 6 weeks later, after she had given birth to her child. 

At the time of the trial, both Stephen and Mary tried to obtain a divorce, but were denied one and were told to live together as husband and wife.  Instead, Stephen fled to England and never returned.  In 1656, Mary was finally granted a divorce by claiming that Stephen had taken another wife while in England.  (Ironically, Stephen died a week or two later in England.) Mary later remarried and apparently led a respectable, married life.

Interestingly, in 1641 (long before his marriage to Mary and the subsequent adultery and trial) in Hampton, New Hampshire, Stephen ran into his own scandalous  trouble.  At that time, he was married to wife #3 (Helena) who was described as a "lusty, comely woman".  Stephen apparently was not interested in his wife and instead solicited his neighbor's wife for sex.  She refused and told her husband.  Stephen then complained to the town magistrates that the woman and the husband were slandering him, but when the church got involved, he confessed.  Stephen received no punishment, except to be excommunicated by the church.  He was reinstated into the church a few years later.


I descend from Stephen Batchelder in 6 different ways, all through his first wife Ann.  All 6 lines of descent from Stephen are on my father's side of the family, the Wadleighs.  Specifically, my great-great-grandfather Oscar Wadleigh is the descendant of all 6 of these lines.

My lines of descent from Stephen to me:
Stephen Batchelder
 Ann Batchelder
   William Sanborn
     William Sanborn
       John Sanborn
         Anna Sanborn
           Mary Dearborn
             James Wadleigh
               James Wadleigh
                 John Wadleigh
                   John B. Wadleigh
                     Oscar S. Wadleigh
                       Odin F. Wadleigh
                         Paul C. Wadleigh
                           Randy Wadleigh
                             Ryan Wadleigh
Stephen Batchelder
 Ann Batchelder
   William Sanborn
     Mehitabel Sanborn
       Samuel Tilton
         Josiah Tilton
           Josiah Tilton
             Josiah Tilton
               Jeremiah D. Tilton
                 Abigail R. Tilton
                   Oscar S. Wadleigh
                   (see #1)
Stephen Batchelder
  Theodate Batchelder
    Mary Hussey
      Mary Page
         Bathsheba Robie
            Joshua Lane
              Sarah Lane
                Ruth Stearns
                  Abigail S. Freese
                    Abigail R. Tilton
                    (see #2)
Stephen Batchelder
  Nathaniel Batchelder
    Nathaniel Batchelder
      Samuel Batchelder
        Mary Batchelder
          Jeremiah Dearborn
            Sarah Dearborn
              Jeremiah D. Tilton
              (see #2)
Stephen Batchelder
  Nathaniel Batchelder
    Nathaniel Batchelder
      Mercy Batchelder
        Nathaniel Dearborn
           Jeremiah Dearborn
           (see #4)
Stephen Batchelder
  Nathaniel Batchelder
    Nathaniel Batchelder
      Nathaniel Batchelder
        John Batchelder
          Ruth Batchelder
            Sarah Lane
            (see #3)