Monday, August 30, 2021
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Plant Collector Elizabeth Emerson Atwater (1812-1878)
Elizabeth E. Atwater (born in Norwich, Vermont) started her education in Norwich until she was fourteen, and then attended the distinguished women’s school, Mrs. Emma Willard’s Seminary, in Troy, New York. Emma Willard, both a famous school and education reformist was also the sister of the famed botanist Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps.
Elizabeth married Samuel T. Atwater who worked closely with Abraham Lincoln during his presidency & who was an executive in the insurance & railroad industries (Eckel 2003). The couple married in 1839, lived in Buffalo, New York until 1856, & then moved to Chicago. Samuel's business dealings required significant travel & Elizabeth accompanied him frequently (Clemmer 1879).
Though Elizabeth was plagued by fragile health, she commonly used the trans-America trips with her husband to collect plants & other natural history specimens from across the United States (see chapter 5 in Clemmer 1879). Mrs. Atwater developed an association with the Buffalo, Chicago, & Maryland academies of science, to each of which she donated many specimens & historical artifacts (Eckel 2003). She is acknowledged as the collector of record in publications on the flora of various regions of the United States (e.g. Hall 1878, Wood 1876). Though many specimens she contributed to the Chicago Academy of Sciences were tragically destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, other collections made by Mrs. Atwater were given to the Chicago Academy of Sciences by her husband following her death in 1878.
Twenty-two plant specimens collected by Atwater east of the Mississippi River are present in the Putnam Herbarium. They are part of a donation to Putnam from the Clinton Herbarium in Buffalo, NY. Another baker's dozen specimens collected by Ms. Atwater from Massachusetts to California may be examined via the iDigBio specimen database.
Eckel, P. M. (ed.) 2003. The Correspondence of Elizabeth Atwater (1812-1878) & George William Clinton (1807-1885). Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri.
Clemmer, Mary. 1879. Memorial sketch of Elizabeth Emerson Atwater: Written for her friends. The Courier Company. Buffalo, New York. 66 pp.
Hall, James. 1878. Additions to the state museum: botanical. in 29th Annual Rpt. New York State Museum Nat. Hist. Albany, New York. p. 21 of 357.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. 2015. Notable People: Elizabeth Emerson Atwater (1812 - 1878). Chicago Academy of Sciences. Chicago, Illinois.
Wood, Alphonso. 1876. American Botanist & Florist. A.S. Barnes & Company. New York City, New York. p. 200 of 448.
Saturday, August 28, 2021
Thursday, August 26, 2021
A Few Words On Soup
“THE researches of Liebig offer a simple and convenient method of preparing, in a few minutes, a broth of the highest nutritive properties. Finely chopped lean beef is mixed with an equal weight of cold water, and left, if possible, to macerate for a short time, and the whole then slowly heated to ebullition; after gentle boiling for some minutes, the clear broth separates from the coagulated albumen and from the muscular fibre, which has now assumed a sinewy appearance. After straining, it requires only to be seasoned, and slightly colored with burnt onions, or with caramel (burnt sugar). The coloring of broth is nothing but a concession to the common prejudice, which cannot, however, be well dispensed with.
Lilly Martin Spencer (1822 –1902) The Young Wife First Stew
“By evaporation in a water-bath, or at a still lower temperature, the broth becomes spontaneously colored, and leaves behind a brown extract, possessing a delicate odor of roasted meat; it may be preserved for any length of time. This extract, when dissolved in about thirty parts of water, and flavored with salt, yields, at any moment, a most excellent broth. The advantage of extract of flesh for the nutrition of invalids, its use in hospitals, or in field service, as well as in domestic economy, is sufficiently obvious. We see, likewise, that bone broth, broth tablets, etc…, being preparations entirely different from a true broth from flesh, cannot compete with it as articles of food.”
The delicate and proper blending of savors is the chief art of good soup-making. Be sure to skim the grease off the soup when it first boils, or it will not become clear. Throw in a little salt to bring up the scum. Remove all the fat. Be careful to simmer softly, and never allow a soup to boil hard.
Put your meat into cold water, and let it grow warm slowly. This dissolves the gelatine, allows the albumen to disengage, the scum to rise, and the heat to penetrate to the centre of the meat. But, if the meat be put into hot water, or the soup over a hot fire to boil, the albumen coagulates, and the external surface of the meat is hardened; the water is prevented from penetrating to the interior, and the nutritious part of the meat from disengaging itself. The broth will be without flavor, and the meat tough, if so managed. Allow two tablespoonsful of salt to four quarts of soup, where there are many vegetables; and one and one—half, where there are few. One quart of water to one pound of meat is a good rule.
Soup made of meat not previously cooked is as good, perhaps better, on the second day, if heated to the boiling point. If more water is needed, use boiling water, as cold or lukewarm spoils the soup. Some persons have thought potato-water to be unhealthy; do not, therefore, boil potatoes in your soup, but, if required, boil them elsewhere, and add them when nearly cooked.
The water in which poultry or fresh meat is boiled should be saved for gravies or soups for the next day. If it is not needed in your own family, give it to the poor. The bones, also, of roasts, with a little meat, make a soup; and, if not required for this purpose, you may save them for the grease they contain. But this preparation, be it remembered, is entirely different, in its essential properties, from soup made from flesh; and it should never be given to an invalid or convalescent as an invigorating or nutritive repast. In boiling out the bones in water, not only the fat present in all bones, but also the gelatine (which is tasteless, and can impart neither flavor nor any nutritive property to the soup), is extracted. It follows, therefore, that the fat is the only matter obtained for the soup, the flavor of which must depend entirely on the vegetables and spices that may be added. As fat is both difficult and slow of digestion, would it not be quite as well to keep the grease for soap, and use the vegetables without it?
Keep the vessel covered tight in which you boil soup, that the flavor may not be lost. Never put away soup in metal pots. It is much better to boil your soup the day before wanted, and allow the liquid to cool, that the fat may be all removed. Thickened soups require more seasoning than thin soups; nearly twice the quantity is necessary.
In France few dinners are served without soup; and the pot-au-feu (soup-kettle) is a necessary utensil in the kitchens of both rich and poor. It might be termed the national dish, so constantly is it used by all classes. The white, thin soaps are intended only to commence a set dinner. The substantial, thick soups might, with vegetables, form a dinner satisfactory to any laboring man.
Clear soups should not be strong of the meat flavor and should be of a light-brown, sherry, or straw-color. All white or brown thick soups should be rather thin, with just sufficient consistency to adhere lightly to a spoon when hot; such as soups of fish, poultry, or game. Simple brown soups, no matter whether of meat or vegetables, require to be somewhat thicker.
If good housekeepers could bring themselves to give up the old notion of boiling for five and six hours, to obtain “the extract” of meat, and follow the advice of chemists, they would be able to serve up a nice soup in a short time, and with comparatively little labor. At the commencement of the French Revolution, public attention was directed to the improvement and management of food for the poor and the army. The scientific men of France were called upon for an opinion; and the government, led away by enthusiastic reports, were induced to send forth such language as the following: “A bone is a tablet of soup formed by nature; a pound of bones gives as much soup as six pounds of meat; bone soup, in a dietetical point of view, is preferable to meat soup.” It would seem that even cookery, at that time, was looked at through the same exaggerated medium as political matters. These expressions were soon found to be the grossest exaggerations, and the apparatus which was put up to convert the bones into soup was soon found to be useless, and totally abandoned. The medical officers of the Hotel Dieu drew up a report, which declared such soup to be of bad quality, and indigestible. Therefore, we may conclude soup made from bones of meat and poultry, to be nothing more than the stone soup of old, which, with plenty of vegetables and seasoning, made quite a delicious repast."
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
An American artist who was able to combine all of the elements of Impressionism into purely American paintings was Richard (Edward or Emil) Miller (1875–1943). Here we have it all--Asian robes, parasols, taking tea, the milliner, goldfish, women at ease, fans, gardens, & dressing tables--all the subjects so dear to the hearts of the Impressionists. He also uses all the components of Japonisme in his works. Miller studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, then he sailed for Paris to study at Academie Julian (1898–1901).
In the decades after the Civil War, Paris became an irresistible attraction for thousands of American artists and art students, both men and women. They came to study the old masters hanging at the Louvre. They came to examine the modern art on display at the annual Paris Salon and at smaller exhibitions, among them the eight shows organized by the Impressionists. They came to learn, at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts and at many private studios. They came to make new contacts, immersing themselves in the city's vibrant artistic life. Boston painter May Alcott described the experience as being plunged into an "art atmosphere" where the whole city seemed to be "one art studio."
Miller became a member of the “Giverny Group,” the 2nd generation of American artists to study & paint near Claude Monet's magnificent garden. He lived in France until 1914, working in various Paris studios in the winters and teaching summer classes at Giverny & Normandy. His subjects were almost exclusively women enjoying a moment of quiet reverie. On his return to America, Miller became a founder, along with Edmund Greacen, of the Provincetown Artists Colony.
Richard Edward or Emil Miller (1875-1943) The Milliner
Richard Edward or Emil Miller (1875-1943) Chinese Statuette
Richard Edward or Emil Miller (1875-1943) Morning Sunlight
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
By April 1813, Lewes had been bombarded from the Delaware and British Rear Admiral George Cockburn had begun raiding towns along the Chesapeake starting in Norfolk, and working his way up the Eastern Shore to Havre de Grace. His strategy was to weaken any defenses here that might come to the defense of raids happening on the Western Shore at the same time, which later resulted in the burning of Washington D.C.
When Admiral Cockburn got to the Sassafras River most the region was in such a state of fear they could not effectively fight back against the invading force. Imagine living there on the shore at that time and hearing that British forces were surrounding and attacking the peninsula. Many people packed u p their valuables and headed to the Delmarva interior to hide and wait out the invasion. But Kitty Knight was not most people.
Catherine Knight, who was known as Kitty, was born in 1775 to a prominent Cecil County family. For several generations both sides of her family had held positions of authority and prominence in the region. Her father John Leach Knight was a justice of the peace, and her uncle Dr. William Matthews served in the Maryland General Assembly and the US House of representatives. She was reputed to be a great beauty. She once visited Philadelphia and attended a ball and danced with (by then former) President George Washington and many of the other congressmen and dignitaries in attendance. She was escorted by the father and grandfather (respectively) of Presidents William Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. She was the belle of the ball and several other events of that social season in Philadelphia.
By 1813 Kitty would have been 38 and because she was unmarried, she would have been considered a spinster. She was however, in her words "single by choice" and because she came from a wealthy family she was able to live comfortably in a lovely brick home she rented on a hill in Georgetown, Maryland. But her quiet life was disrupted on May 6, 1813 when British forces attacked and burned Fredericktown and Georgetown on either side of the Sassafras River. She watched in horror as troops setting fire to the town made their way up the hill to her house.
Kitty somewhere found the courage to confront Admiral Cockburn who was himself leading the raid. In an article published in 1908 by the Maryland Historical Society her nephew William M. Knight quoted Kitty's own description of the incident.
That second house was Kitty's home. She is said to have put that fire out herself with a broom. She eventually bought that house in 1836. The gash in the door remained for many years as a badge of courage under fire. The two brick houses and a church were the only buildings in the town left unscathed by the raid. Local legend has it that a traveler from Kent County was touring in England twenty-five years later where he met Admiral Cockburn's aide. The aide hearing that Miss Knight was still living requested that his "sincere compliments" be sent to her. Kitty was known throughout the community not only for this story but because of her beauty and intelligence. Though she had almost no formal education she was known for to quote extensively and accurately from literature and history books.
When she passed away in 1855 she left everything she owned to her brother's children, with the Georgetown home going to her nephew William. She requested that on her tombstone her name be written "Miss Catherine Knight." And so it was with an inscription which reads:
The house is now joined with a hallway to her elderly neighbor's house. One side is the Kitty Knight Inn which is still in operation today. The other side is a tavern named for Admiral Cockburn; which seems a little odd to me but I suppose helps to perpetuate the heroic tale of Miss Kitty Knight who beat back British fires with her broom.
Another Article from The Salisbury Times (now called The Delmarva Times), Salisbury, Maryland - December 1, 1958 from the Delmarva Heritage Series, by Dr. William H. Wroten, Jr.
On the banks of the Eastern Shore's Sassafras River lie the twin villages of Fredericktown and Georgetown - the former on the north bank in Cecil County and the latter on the south bank in Kent County. The tranquility of these charming villages was upset by fire and when British forces made one of their invasions of the Eastern Shore during the war of 1812.
During crucial periods such as war, individuals of great courage and leadership often come forth when the occasion demands. Such a person during the War of 1812 was the heroine, Catherine Knight. Better known as Kitty Knight, this brave woman was to become well-known all over the Eastern Shore for her display of courage in the face of the British army.
Kitty Knight was the daughter of John Leach Knight and Catherine Matthews Knight, who lived for sometime at Knight's Island before moving to Georgetown in Kent County. The father was a prominent and active citizen of the area, and her mother's twin brother, Dr. William Matthews, had served in the General Assembly of Maryland and was also a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1797 to 1799. Miss Knight, who became a celebrity in her own right, was born about 1775.
When the approach of British forces was rumored (Miss Knight was then about 38 years old) in the Sassafras River area, and for that matter all over the Eastern Shore, worry and excitement prodded men into collecting guns and arms in hopes of repelling an invasion. The old men, women and children remained at home to guard personal items, but with the arrival of troops, many of these inhabitants fled to the interior seeking safety for themselves, and hiding places for their valuables.
After the British forces landed, they proceeded to burn Fredericktown and the lower part of Georgetown, coming finally to two brick houses atop a hill overlooking the river. In one of these lived an old woman, destitute and ill to the extent that she was unable to flee. The torch had already been applied to her home, when Kitty Knight arrived at the scene to plead with Admiral Cockburn to put out the flames to avoid burning the old woman alive. Although he complied with her wishes the soldiers then fired the neighboring house which was only a few feet away. Miss Kitty again pleaded with them not to burn the house, as it would surely ignite the old woman's home.
According to one version, she twice stamped out the flames, and the young officer in charge finally gave the command to leave the house standing. But as the soldiers trooped out of the house, one struck his axe through a panel of the front door, leaving a mark which was pointed out to visitors for years to come. Kitty Knight later purchased this house, which probably accounts for the story that one of the houses she saved was her own.
Frederick G. Usilton, in his History of Kent County, wrote that 25 years after this event, a gentleman from Kent County was touring in England when he met Admiral Cockburn's aide. Learning that Miss Knight was still living, the aide requested that his "sincere compliments" be sent to her.
In the twin towns, the sum total of property destroyed has been recorded as $35,625.88¼. About the only buildings in Georgetown which were not totally or partially destroyed by this invasion were the two brick houses on the hill and the church. A local newspaper of Nov. 22, 1855, in an article referring to Miss Knight's recent death, printed that "by her heroism at the burning of Georgetown ... she saved several families from being made homeless and friendless by the fire and sword ...her appeal so moved the commodore that ordered the troops to their barges and left unburned a church and several houses now standing there as monuments to her memory for this noble and hazardous act ..."
In 1899, a steamboat which for many years operated upon the Sassafras River and in the Chesapeake Bay, was rebuilt and named the KITTY KNIGHT, the owners doing so to honor her role in the defense of Georgetown.
Kitty Knight, the Eastern Shore's own heroine of the War of 1812 died in 1855. She is buried in the Knight's family plot in the graveyard of St. Francis Xavier Church, Warwick, Cecil County.
Monday, August 16, 2021
Born in Alexander, New York, Noah North was a relatively unknown portraitist whose art career seems to last only during the 1830s in the areas of Alexander, Holley, & Rochester, New York. He also journeyed into Ohio offering his services as a portrait painter and may have traveled as far as Cincinnati. He may have painted in Kentucky as well. No signed portraits from Noah North have yet been identified from the 1840s. Many naive painters saw a serious decline in the demand for their services with the development of photography in the 1940s. Another problem with Noah North's portraits is that they are similar to those of his colleague Milton W Hopkins, and often misattributed.
Saturday, August 14, 2021
Brief History of Almshouses
Almshouses first appeared in Colonial British America during the 1660s. Maryland founded its initial almshouses in the 1760s, with most counties setting up their own during the nineteenth century. Though the demographics of the inhabitants changed over time, these institutions persisted until the 1960s when government assistance programs made them obsolete.
Pre-Almshouse Poor Relief
During the Colonial British period, poor relief in Maryland was coordinated on the individual county or local level. The Levy Court of each county supervised the payments for the care of the poor, the dependent, and the mentally ill. Persons without family or relatives to provide care were boarded with community members. In certain cases, a direct payment allowed the poor to remain within their own homes.
Founding of Almshouses
With a growing population, the need for assistance and the financial burden on the counties increased accordingly. In 1766 about 40 percent of Worcester County's expenditures went for housing the poor in private homes. Almost one-seventh of the families in Anne Arundel County received aid by the late 1760s. In 1765, a bill was proposed in the General Assembly to found institutions for the poor and "houses of correction" for the confinement of "vagabonds." Legislation finally passed in 1768 to establish the first almshouses in Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Worcester, Frederick, and Charles Counties.
Besides being places to aid the poor, almshouses served as a mechanism for social control by removing what the public considered undesirable persons from the greater community. The 1768 law gave unconditional power to the county's Trustees of the Poor "for setting the poor to work, and punishing vagrants, beggars, vagabonds and other offenders." Inspired by a 1697 English law, the act stipulated that all almshouse residents must wear the letter "P" (for poor or "poorhouse") on their clothing under the penalty of whipping. Authorities in Maryland (as elsewhere in America) sometimes arrested and placed homeless or unruly people they considered a "public nuisance" in their almshouses.
Almshouses were often located on the outskirts of a town or a rural part of a county on farmland of considerable acreage. The farm employed and provided food for the almshouse inhabitants (called "inmates"). Some almshouses featured a workhouse, where certain residents might weave cloth, sew clothing, or perform other labor to help pay for their upkeep. During the late 1830s, several Eastern Shore almshouses planted stands of mulberry trees, as habitat for silk worms, so that the almshouse farm and its residents might defray the cost of administration by harvesting raw silk. The Maryland climate ultimately proved hostile to the enterprise, and it was abandoned.
The county Trustees of the Poor or a grand jury empowered by the county circuit court periodically examined the conditions of the almshouse. The 1874 founding of the Maryland State Board of Health led to the first regular state inspections. Officials during the 1890s found that almshouse conditions varied in the different counties. Generally speaking, more modest accommodations were found in the less wealthy counties. Yet, fancy brick facades often hid the same troubling circumstances inside.
Lax administration characterized the sparsely furnished settings of most almshouses. Superintendents, often local farmers appointed through political influence, sometimes changed yearly. Inspections speak of the "almshouse diet," a subsistence diet of hominy or oatmeal as the daily fare for residents. A local doctor would call on an "as needed" basis only, with few medicines kept on the premises in case of sickness. Though most institutions in Maryland practiced racial segregation at this time, certain county almshouses did not bother because two separate buildings created an additional expense.
Reform movements in the late 19C and early 20C centuries helped to improve conditions and remove certain individuals from the almshouse setting. Children were transferred to orphanages. A protracted campaign of some 30 years by the Maryland State Lunacy Commission prompted the state legislature to pass a law in 1910 to move the mentally ill into hospitals. Yet this left the developmentally disabled and epileptic individuals to languish in the almshouses.
Otto Henry Bacher (American painter, 1856–1909) Portrait of Mary Holland
George Goodwin Kilburne (English painter, 1839-1924) A Game of Tennis
Francis Sydney Muschamp (British artist, 1851-1929) A Game of Tennis
John Lavery (Irish painter, 1856-1941) A Game of Tennis
Leopold Franz Kowalski (French painter, 1856-1931) A Game of Tennis
John Strickland Goodall (British artist, 1908–1996) A Game of Tennis
Horace Henry Cauty (English genre painter, 1846-1909) The Tennis Match
Arthur Hacker (English Pre-Raphaelite painter, 1858-1919) The Artist's Sister 1882
John Strickland Goodall (British artist, 1908–1996) A Game of Tennis
Max Liebermann (German Impressionist Painter, 1847-1935) Tennis Player by the Sea
Tom Simpson (British artist, 1877-1964) The Tennis Party
John Strickland Goodall (British artist, 1908–1996) A Game of Tennis
James Wallace (British artist, 1872-1911) A Game of Tennis in Battersea Park
Max Liebermann (German Impressionist Painter, 1847-1935) Tennis Court with Players
Samuel John Peploe (Scotland artist, 1871-1935) Game of Tennis, Luxembourg Gardens, c 1906
Tom Simpson (British artist, 1877-1964) Edwardians at Tennis
Tom Simpson (British artist, 1877-1964) The Tennis Party, c 1930s
John Lavery (Irish painter, 1856-1941) Tennis