March 17, 2015

Quaker Causes and the Women's Rights Quilt

Members of the Religious Society of Friends generally supported the abolition of slavery in this country from the time they first emigrated to American shores in the 17th and 18th centuries, up to and through the Civil War, and until the Fifteenth Amendment to our Constitution was ratified on February 3, 1870.

1870 print celebrating the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment.  Source of
image:  Wikimedia Commons.
The Fifteenth Amendment was the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments enacted after the Civil War.  It states:  "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Quaker women were among those who founded and joined the ranks of female anti-slavery societies prior to emancipation.  They, and most other women who joined the cause, strongly empathized with the overall condition of the slave population.  Not only were they enslaved, they were considered chattel who were denied the freedom to own property, to vote, and to participate openly in society -- freedoms that women, who shared a similar status economically, socially, and politically at the time, were also denied.
Women's rights had, in fact, been considered by William Lloyd Garrison as part of the platform when he founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.  The issue of women's rights, however, was rejected by the members of the Society as a distraction from the Society's purpose. 
Women working for the anti-slavery cause did not let the issue of women's rights die.  In 1840, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an apostate Presbyterian, and Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott attended the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London with their husbands.  Prevented from speaking and forced to sit behind a curtain with the other women attending, they resolved to organize a convention to advocate for women's rights when they returned to America.
In 1848, after the Genesee Yearly Meeting in New York decided to terminate its Michigan Quarterly Meeting for advocating more freedom to pursue women's rights, Lucretia Mott, her sister Martha Coffin Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met for tea at the home of Jane Hunt.  All of these women, save Stanton, were Quakers, upset and annoyed by the action of the Genesee Yearly Meeting.  Around the tea table that day, these women planned the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention ever convened.  One of the results of the convention was a Declaration of Women's Rights signed by one-hundred attendees.  Among the rights declared by this document was the right to vote.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Source of image:  Wikimedia Commons.
Lucretia Mott.  Source of image:  Wikimedia Commons.
The first drafts of the Fifteenth Amendment to grant suffrage without regard to "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" surfaced in 1865 and clearly revealed that this Republican-sponsored amendment pertained only to black men.  In reaction, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and fellow-abolitionist and women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony formed the American Equal Rights Association in May of 1866.  Its purpose was to work to gain suffrage for both black men and white women.  Lucretia Mott was chosen to head the organization.
Susan B. Anthony.  Source of image: Wikimedia Commons.


It wasn't long before quarreling broke out between the long-time abolitionists in the organization, who felt that black men should have precedence and receive the vote first, and the women's rights activists who wanted the Fifteenth Amendment to address both groups at once.  After the May 1869 meeting of the American Equal Rights Association, Stanton and Anthony "surreptitiously" broke away from the group and formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) for women only, "believing that the presence of men in the Equal Rights Association had led to their betrayal."  (Bacon, 127.)
The split in the suffrage movement was final when, after Lucretia Mott and others failed to bring peace to the two factions, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and others formed an opposing organization called the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) that pulled its membership from the states and worked to establish women's suffrage throughout the country at the state level.
The schism created by earlier disagreements was healed in 1890 when the NWSA and the AWSA merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association with Susan B. Anthony, who was raised as a Quaker, as its primary force.
In about 1875, when the split in the women's rights movement was still unresolved, a quilt was made in the Midwest that is now a holding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Women's Rights Quilt, made in the Midwest ca. 1875.  Photograph courtesy of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The quilt measures 70 inches by 69.5 inches and is made of cotton fabrics that are appliqued, reverse-appliqued, embroidered, and quilted.  The quilt was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011.  When it was published by Sandi Fox in 1990 and Deanna V. Boone in 1994, the quilt was owned by Nancy Livingston and her daughter, Elizabeth Livingston Jaeger of Ripon, Wisconsin.  Their understanding was that the quilt had been made by Emma Civey Stahl of Elgin, Illinois, and had passed to Stahl's daughter who eventually gave it to Martha Livingston, Nancy Livingston's mother-in-law.  Boone cites Roderick Kiracofe as having said that it is "the only quilt known to date that pictorially depicts the issue of women's rights and suffrage before 1990."  (Boone, 16 and 18.)
The quilt's blocks are decorated with fruits, vegetables, birds, and flowers surrounded by square borders, as well as a number of scenes in circles depicting, among other topics, a women's rights advocate engaged in various activities.

Detail, Women's Right Quilt made in the Midwest ca. 1875.  Photograph courtesy of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Boone noted that a botanist at Ripon College felt the fruits, vegetables, birds, and flowers depicted on the quilt "were not then commonly known in the Illinois region."
Sandi Fox has provided, verbatim, some commentary about the pictorial blocks that had accompanied the quilt.  (It is not known if this commentary was provided by the quilt maker or by one of those through whom the quilt passed.)  Three of the blocks are described in this manner:  "1. Man is in the kitchen doing dishes.  He is owlish and cross.  Represented by Owls.  2. The woman has gone to lecture on Womans Right.  How important she is driving.  3)  She is lecturing to all men only 1 woman and that is her Pal [. . . ].  Fox goes on to describe a block not covered by the commentary.  "A child kneels in prayer in the presence of a chair empty save for a bit of red and white cloth.  These are the colors assigned to the mother in the quilt, seen in her skirt and in the sash of her dress.  Has the child lost her mother to death -- or perhaps to the cause?"  (Fox, 110 and 111.)  Portions of a banner inscribed "WOMANS RIG . . ." appear on three of the blocks.
Some of the pictorial blocks seem to offer a satirical, nineteenth-century view of the woman's behavior.  It is not clear whether the quilt was meant to laud or to ridicule women seeking equality and their civil rights.  Given the opposition to women's suffrage before, during, and after the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment granting the vote to black men, it would not be surprising to find a quilt of the nineteenth-century with negative or mocking portrayals of a woman who fought for this right.
The nineteenth-century women who labored long and hard for women's suffrage were later joined by other dedicated women, many of whom were Quakers, who persisted in the struggle until women were finally granted the vote by the Nineteenth Amendment.  This amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920 -- seventy-two years after the Seneca Falls Convention in upstate New York.
Bacon, Margaret Hope.  Mothers of Feminism, The Story of Quaker Women in America.  Philadelphia: Friends General Conference, 1986.
Boone, Deanna V.  "Suffragette Quilt Documents Historical Change" in Quilt World, Vol. 19, No. 1 (January 1994), pp. 16-18.
Constitution of the United States of America.  New York: A.C.L.U., no date.
Fox, Sandi.  Wrapped in Glory, Figurative Quilts & Bedcovers 1700-1900.  London: Thames and Hudson and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990. 
Hedges, Elaine, Pat Ferrero and Julie Silber.  Hearts and Hands, Women, Quilts, and American Society.  Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1987.
(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.

March 2, 2015

A Generous New Clue and Traveling Bears: Epilogue (at least for now ...)

Our last two posts about the possible identity of Jane Biddle and the Craig and Biddle families were greatly enhanced by the information and images posted on The Craig Family Public Tree on  The owner of the family tree is the Reverend Jonathan M. Craig who found our postings while searching the Internet and wrote to tell us that he enjoyed them and was glad his work was useful to us.  Not only that, he generously forwarded something he thought might help to determine whether or not Jane Josephine Sarmiento Biddle was the Jane Biddle represented by the inscription on the c. 1844 quilt block used to cover one of the bears.  That something was two examples of the signature of Jane Josephine Biddle, one written in 1853 and the other in 1856.

Signature written in 1853.  Courtesy of the Reverend Jonathan M. Craig.
Signature written in 1856.  Courtesy of the Reverend Jonathan M. Craig.
When we compared these two signatures with the inscription on the Biddle bear, we detected similarities as well as many differences.  Interestingly, upon looking more closely, we noticed the rendering of the capital "B" on the Biddle block is unlike either of the two examples above but does seem to match the capital "B" found in the inscription of Harriet H. Bispham's name on one of the other bears.  This may indicate that all three bear inscriptions were written by a single hand rather than by the people named.  Since handwriting analysis is not our area of expertise, we welcome comments from our readers.
Signature photographs by Mary Holton Robare.
While we were pondering the new evidence of the signatures via email correspondence, the bears themselves were spending time in Winchester, Virginia, getting "up close and personal" with Mary.
A package from California had arrived at Mary's house several weeks before.
Although Mary knew what it contained, she could not contain her curiosity about the wrapped objects inside.
She removed the tissue enclosing the bears and one by one she met, for the first time, the three little bears whose tummy inscriptions had been providing us with the research opportunity to develop our recent posts.  These bears introduced themselves as:
Abigail R. Clement;
Harriet H. Bispham; and,
Jane Biddle.
The bears all enjoyed stretching their legs after their long journey to Virginia via UPS.  But then they spotted Stranger Danger!! and certainly didn't need to experience more wear and fabric tears than already caused by age.

Immediate precautions had to be taken and the little bears were whisked back into their box and sent high aloft a bookshelf in Mary's office.
After the danger passed, the little bears settled in as guests in a cradle bedded with a quilt, both made by Mary's great-great (non-Quaker) grandparents. There, they awaited the research being conducted by Lynda across the country in California.
We both know many people who would wring their hands about any quilt being cut up, but the delight brought by these three little bears - and all the stories we have been able to tell on their behalf - is appreciated, as is the person who did not toss out an old, c. 1844, used-up quilt.  At least a portion of it was used to good purpose to raise funds for the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society on Long Island that assuredly deserves support.  Our thanks to Joan DeMeo Lager and Peggy Podstupka of the Society for their support and for finding the third bear to add to our "data base".
Tomorrow the little bears will travel back to California where the research they've inspired will undoubtedly continue.  How can we resist?!  As they make their way from snow-packed northern Virginia to the warm and sunny wine country of California, please remember to support your local historical societies.  They need you and we need them.
(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.




February 15, 2015

A Bit of "Biddle-Mania" Part 2

Our last two posts concerned women who might have been the Jane Biddle named on the quilt block covering one of our stuffed bears.  (Refer to our prior posts of December 1, 2014, December 15, 2014, January 1, 2015, January 16, 2015, and February 1, 2015.)

We introduced you, last time, to Jane Margaret Craig Biddle, the daughter of John Craig and Margaret ("Peggy") Murphy Craig, and the wife of Nicholas Biddle.  This time we tell the story of Jane Josephine Sarmiento Biddle who married Jane's and NIcholas' eldest son, Edward Craig Biddle.

John Craig (1754-1807), the original owner of the Andalusia estate described last time and father of Jane Margaret Craig Biddle, had three sisters:  Anne born in 1757; Jane born in 1759; and, Catharine born in 1761.  John was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant in the import/export business who engaged in a number of mercantile ventures with Don Francisco Caballero Sarmiento - the husband of John's youngest sister Catharine.  Don Francesco was the Consul General of Spain who lived in Philadelphia and held concessions from Spain that enabled him to engage in trade with Mexico and South America.  His trading association with John Craig was lucrative for both.  However, John Craig terminated his business relationship with Don Francisco in the early 1800s due to a growing distrust of the man and his dealings.

Miniature of John Craig.  Source of image: The Craig Family Public Member Tree,, owner jonathanmcraig.
Catharine Craig Sarmiento (1761-1841).  Source of image: The Craig Family Public Member
Tree,, owner jonathanmcraig.
We do not know when Catharine and Don Francisco married but they had a son in 1784 whom they named James ("Jim") Craig, presumably after Catharine's father.  Don Francisco proved unable to support even this small family.  Through various dealings he lost all of his money, prompting several creditor law suits against him.  He eventually left Catharine and his son, spent some time in debtor's prison, and was involved in at least one fight in a coffee house where he was badly beaten by a creditor.  Don Francisco was last listed in a Philadelphia Directory in 1818 as a colonel associated with the Spanish legation.  He returned to Spain soon after and was assassinated.
James Craig Sarmiento spent time in 1804 and 1806 traveling by sea and is described in  1804 on a U.S. Seamen's Protection Certificate as nineteen years of age, five feet eight and a half inches tall, "black hair, has a large scar on his left cheek, blind in his left eye, has a scar on his left hand between the forefinger and thumb, thin biceps, slender make [. . . ]."  His 1806 Certificate says he "has a scar on his face occasioned by a stab wound and in consequence thereof lost his left eye."
Seamen's Protection Certificate dated August 14, 1804 describing James Craig Sarmiento. 
Source::  Note that the document is signed by Clement Biddle as Notary Public.
A later portrait of James showed him "in hunting garb, with dog and gun, patch over one eye, and tall hat set rakishly on his head."  (Wainwright, 22.)
Mary Rogers Sarmiento, wife of James Craig Sarmiento.  Artist: B. Otis,
1816.  Source of image: The Craig Family Public Member Tree,,
owner jonathanmcraig.
Sometime between 1806 and 1816, James married Mary Rogers and had three children by her:  Ferdinand, Louis, and Jane Josephine (born 1816).  His marriage was described as an unhappy one and eventually James simply disappeared, never to be heard of again.  James' son Ferdinand was considered "a not very promising youth who conveniently died at the age of twenty-four."  His other son, Louis, was rumored to have "met with a violent death."  (Wainwright, 22.)  Jane Josephine, however, went to live with John Craig's spinster sisters, Anne and Jane Craig, after the family broke apart.  With them, she was raised under the influence of the Craig family in well-to-do circumstances, was tutored by Nicholas Biddle's wife, Jane Margaret Craig Biddle, and spent much of her time at Andalusia while she was growing up.
Nicholas B. Wainwright describes Jane Josephine Sarmiento as follows:  "The girl grew up to be one of Philadelphia's three most beautiful women, her beauty enhanced by her vivacity and charm of manner.  Her changing, expressive face and ready wit rendered her most attractive to young and old alike."  (Wainwright, 22-23.)
Jane Josephine Sarmiento (1816-1884).  Miniature by George Freeman, c. 1838.
Private collection.  Source of image:  Wainwright.
Jane married her cousin John C. Craig, the brother of Jane Margaret Craig Biddle, on Aril 29, 1833 at the age of sixteen.  On a trip to Europe during 1835-1837, Jane, her husband, and their infant son met up with her husband's 'second cousin, Edward Craig Biddle, in Italy.  (Edward was the son of Nicholas and Jane Margaret Craig Biddle.)  They spent time in Florence and then moved on to Milan where John C. Craig fell ill and passed away on April 18, 1837.  Edward Biddle assumed the sad duty of accompanying Jane Josephine and her son back to Philadelphia after John's death.

Edward Craig Biddle (1815-1872).  Source of image:  Wainwright.  Courtesy
of General Nicholas Biddle.

Five years later, Jane Josephine and Edward informed his parents that he and Jane wished to marry, thus producing another possible "Jane Biddle" inscribed quilt block identity.  This news was welcomed by the family who had watched Jane grow up and loved her dearly.  They married on June 21, 1842 and, after an extended trip to Europe, the couple spent their time at Andalusia, eventually taking up residence in the estate's cottage in 1854.  During this time, they produced six children of their own while raising Jane's son by her former marriage to John C. Craig.
Watercolor depicting the Delaware River fa├žade of Andalusia.  Artist:  Thomas U. Walter,
c. 1834.  Source of image:  Wainwright.  Courtesy of Mr.and Mrs. James Biddle.
Jane and Edward departed for Europe in 1856 where they intended to take up residence for an extended period of time.  They returned that summer upon hearing of the death of Edward's mother, Jane Margaret Craig Biddle, stayed the winter in the estate's cottage, and by March of the next year planned to return to Europe for a lengthy residence.  Before they sailed, much of the contents of Andalusia were auctioned.
Jane and Edward lived for seven years in Geneva and Dresden before returning to Philadelphia and taking up residence in Germantown.  In 1865, Andalusia itself went on the auction block but no buyer came forward with sufficient funds to keep the estate intact.  Instead, it remained in the family and was shared equally by Edward and his five siblings.
Edward and Jane continued to live in Germantown until Edward died of pneumonia on March 12, 1872.  Jane moved to a house in West Philadelphia after Edwards's death and passed away of a stroke in that house on March 15, 1884.
Biddle grave marker.  All Saints Episcopal Church Cemetery, Torresdale,
Pennsylvania.  Source:
Was Edward Craig Biddle's wife, Jane Josephine Sarmiento Biddle, the woman represented on the quilt block that covers one of our bears?  We have no way of knowing.  She is, however, a possible candidate along with the other "Janes" we have researched and introduced to you.  We hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of their lives.  We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.
Sources: Public Member Trees (especially The Craig Family tree owned by jonathanmcraig), census records, and U.S. Seamen's Protection Certificates.
Wainwright, Nicholas B.  "Andalusia, the Countryseat of the Craig Family and of Nicholas Biddle and His Descendants" in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 1 (Jan. 1977), pp 3-69. 

February 1, 2015

A Bit of "Biddle-Mania" Part 1

The true identify of the Jane Biddle whose name appears on the quilt block covering one of our bears has been nagging at us.  (Incidentally, to date we have found no fewer than twenty-two other "Biddle" names inscribed on blocks of nineteenth-century quilts but, for now, our "Biddle-mania" is focused on "Janes" in search of the one whose name is on the bear.)

We introduced you, last time, to Jane Marsh Biddle, wife of John Rowan Biddle, who may or may not have been the Jane represented on the block.  Although this Jane is perfectly fine as a possibility, we just couldn't leave it alone.  We kept asking ourselves:  What about the other Jane Biddles who appeared in the 1850 Philadelphia census?  (Those of you who have researched names inscribed on quilts will recognize this obsessive behavior as perfectly normal!)
The Jane we're featuring today provides more than a glimpse of upper-class society in nineteenth-century Philadelphia.  This Jane is Jane Margaret Craig (1793-1856), the daughter of John Craig (1754-1807), a wealthy Philadelphia ship owner and import/export merchant, and Margaret (Peggy) Murphy Craig (1761-1814) who was raised and highly educated by her uncle, Caldwell Craig, a West Indian sugar planter living in Tobago.
Margaret (Peggy) Murphy Craig.  Private collection
Source of image: Wainwright, "Andalusia, Countryseat of the
Craig Family and of Nicholas Biddle and his Descendants."
John and Peggy, as she was called, married in 1780 in the West Indies and soon sailed for Philadelphia where John's business resided.  In 1795, John bought a farm near Philadelphia on the Delaware River that would later be called Andalusia.  This property became the country seat of the Craig family during John's and Peggy's lifetimes.
Drawing of Andalusia.  Source of image:  Wainwright.  Courtesy of
General Nicholas Biddle.
Jane Margaret Craig was two years old when her father bought the property that would become Andalusia and she grew up watching him transform an ordinary farm into one of the grandest properties of the region.
At the age of eighteen, Jane married Nicholas Biddle (1780-1844) at Andalusia.  The date was October 4, 1811.  Her mother Peggy referred to Nicholas in her 1811 almanac as "[...] the best, the most virtuous of men."  (Wainwright, 20.).  Peggy passed away fewer than three years later in 1814 and, shortly thereafter, Nicholas bought her estate for $17,000 (a sum of $185,850 in 2013 dollars).  With this purchase, Jane Margaret Craig Biddle became the second mistress of Andalusia.
Over the next fifteen years, Nicholas and Jane produced six children:  Edward born in 1815;  Charles John born in 1819; John Craig born in 1823; Margaret "Meta" Craig born in 1825; Adele born in 1828; and, Jane born in 1830.  All of these children lived to adulthood and into old age.
Jane Margaret Craig Biddle three years after her marriage to Nicholas Biddle.
Artist: Bass Otis, 1814.  Source of image: Wainwright.  Courtesy of General
Nicholas Biddle.
Nicholas Biddle.  Engraved by John Surtain, 1831.  Source of image:
Just who was this man Jane had married - this man who would spend a large fortune over the years expanding the farming activities of Andalusia and converting its residence into a premiere example of Greek Revival architecture?
Nicholas Biddle was the son of Captain Charles Biddle, who served in the Quaker Light Infantry (called the Quaker Blues) under Joseph Cowperthwait and held various political offices in the late 1700s, and Hannah Shepard Biddle of Beaufort, South Carolina.  He was also the great-great-grandson of Quakers William Biddle (1630-1712) and his wife, Sarah Kempe (1634-1709) who emigrated from England to America in 1681 where William had acquired rights over 43,000 acres in Quaker West Jersey.  The first generation of Philadelphia Biddles began with William Biddle III (1698-1756), Nicholas' grandfather, and William's brother John (1707-1789) when they moved from Mount Hope, Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia in the 1720s and 1730s.  (John Rowan Biddle, of our last post, was a descendant of John Biddle.)
Nicholas had a long and, until the very end of his life, illustrious career.  He was an extremely intelligent child, having enrolled in what-is-now the University of Pennsylvania at the age of ten where he rapidly completed his studies in Classical languages, history, literature, and architecture.  When the University refused to award a degree to a teenager, Nicholas transferred to Princeton where he studied law and graduated in 1801 as class valedictorian.  He was fifteen years old at the time.
Between his graduation and his marriage to Jane, Nicholas spent time traveling in Europe and in a variety of capacities including as Secretary to James Monroe when the latter was the U.S. minister to the Court of St. James in Great Britain.  Back home in 1807, he practiced law in Philadelphia, helped prepare the Lewis and Clark report of their expedition up the Missouri River for publication, and wrote for several different publications.
After his marriage to Jane, aside from overseeing the agricultural, horse breeding, and architectural renovation activities at Andalusia, Nicholas served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1810-11) and in the Pennsylvania State Senate (18140).  He is best known, however, for his involvement with and Presidency of the Second Bank of the United States which President Andrew Jackson, who greatly opposed the idea of a national bank, refused to recharter.  The bank's charter expired in 1836 provoking widespread inflation and the economic panic of 1837.  The bank continued operation for some time thereafter and, when Nicholas retired from its Presidency in March, 1839, he was convinced that its affairs were in order and that it would remain prosperous.  Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the case and the bank eventually failed.  Although Nicholas had retired before this failure, he was blamed by many for the bank's demise.  He was arrested and charged with fraud but was acquitted.  After these events, he quietly retired in disgrace to the seclusion of Andalusia where he spent the year 1843 suffering from a heart condition that required four doses of digitalis a day.  Nicholas passed away on February 28, 1844, leaving everything to Jane.
Nicholas Biddle c. 1830s.  Artist:  William Inman.  Image courtesy of
Wikimedia Commons.
Jane's life at Andalusia and the Biddle's Spruce Street residence in Philadelphia was filled with the daily activities of raising children and the many social events demanded of a man of her husband's standing.  Described by her mother as a shy girl of "excessive modesty" and no desire for attention (Wainwright, 25), Jane nonetheless carried out her duties as hostess to a parade of distinguished Americans, including John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster, and foreign dignitaries (who included the older brother of Napoleon, the Compte de Survilliers, formerly King of Spain, and his daughter Charlotte).
Each winter the Biddles hosted a grand ball and Jane frequently gave musical parties.  Hosting so many social events could not have been easy for Jane who reportedly preferred tending to her children and watching them grow and play at Andalusia.
Jane Margaret Craig Biddle.  Artist: Thomas Sully, 1826.  Source of
image" Wainwright.  Courtesy of  Mr. and Mrs. James Biddle.
After Nicholas' death, Jane's health rapidly deteriorated.  Her doctor prescribed a sea voyage and she sailed to Europe on the ship Great Western, taking her family with her.  On return, she took a house in Philadelphia near her sons who worked there and resided at Andalusia only in summer.  As time went on, Jane returned to Andalusia where she suffered continuously from weakness and fainting spells that often led to unconsciousness.  Members of her family attended her day and night until she passed away quietly in her room at Andalusia on August 12, 1856.  She was sixty-three years old.
We have no way of knowing whether or not Jane Margaret Craig Biddle is the woman represented by the inscription on the quilt block used to make one of our bears.  Jane's daughter, Jane (1830-1915), was fourteen years old in 1844, the estimated date of the quilt, and might have been the Jane referred to by the inscription.  Again, we cannot know if either of these women is the one represented on the quilt without knowledge of all the names inscribed on the quilt and the relationship of these people one to another.  But, we do love speculating about the "real Jane" and discovering life stories along the way!
Sources: census, church records, and Public Member Trees (especially The Craig Family Tree, owner jonathanmcraig).
Baltzell, E. Digby.  Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, Two Protestant Ethics and the Spirit  of Class Authority and Leadership.  New York: The Free Press, 1979.
Wainwright, Nicholas B.  "Andalusia, Countryseat of the Craig Family and of Nicholas Biddle and His Descendants" in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 1 (Jan. 1977), pp. 3-69.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.

January 16, 2015

Bear Tales - Jane's Story (Maybe . . .)

Our last three posts focused on information gleaned from three stuffed bears covered with inscribed blocks from a mid-nineteenth century quilt.  The first two bears display the names of Harriet Bispham and Abigail Clement who lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey, at the time the blocks were inscribed.  The last of our three bears is inscribed with the name Jane Biddle and the city of Philadelphia.  Like her sister-bears, the date "c. 1844" is inscribed beneath her name and city, but in this case with red rather than black ink.

Photographs by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Although Jane Biddle lived in Philadelphia at the time her block was inscribed, Philadelphia is fewer than nine miles from Haddonfield and located just across the Delaware River.  We do not know if Jane personally knew Harriet and Abigail, but all three of these women knew the quilt recipient, the quilt maker(s), or both because their names all appeared on the same friendship quilt.
In researching the name Jane Biddle, we discovered that there were several Jane Biddles listed in the 1850 census as living in Philadelphia.  (Census data prior to 1850 does not include the names of any members of a household except the heads of household who were predominantly male.  The women and children in the household were simply represented by their number, by age group, so earlier census information provides no help.)
The inability to identify which Jane Biddle was the one represented by the inscription on the third bear poses a real problem that one often encounters while researching the names on inscribed quilts.  Without further blocks and more names, it is virtually impossible to determine which Jane Biddle was part of the community of friends and relatives represented on the quilt.
Never daunted, however, why let that insurmountable fact get in the way of a good story?!  Research into several Jane Biddles did turn up a candidate with a story worth telling, whether she is the one represented by the inscription or not.
This Jane was born in Sadsbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania on May 26, 1795 to James (1779-1843) and Lydia Moore Marsh (1772-1850). James was fifteen years old in 1794 when he married Lydia, an "older woman" of twenty-two. Jane was their first child, born the year after their marriage. She was followed over the next seventeen years by six siblings - five sisters and one brother.
On November 1, 1821 at the age of twenty-six, Jane married twenty-two year old Philadelphian John Rowan Biddle at the Sadsbury Monthly Meeting in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Early photograph of Sadsbury Meeting House and cemetery.  Source of
image: freepages/
John Rowan Biddle was the son of Owen Biddle, Jr. (1774-1806) and Elizabeth Rowan Biddle (died 1832) and a descendant of noteworthy and historic Revolutionary War Quakers who, against the teachings of their faith, supported the American war for independence.  These ancestors were his grandfather, Owen Biddle (1737-1799), and his grandfather's brother, Clement Biddle (1740-1814).
Clement and Owen Biddle were partners in the shipping and importing business in Philadelphia and Owen was also a clock and watch maker.  Clement Biddle became a Colonel in the Revolutionary War and was a close personal friend of George Washington.  He served in many military capacities during the war, earning the title "Quaker Soldier".  John's grandfather, Owen Biddle, was also a patriotic supporter of the war.  He was active in providing American troops with supplies, a delegate to the Provincial Congress and a member of the Committee of Safety in 1775, a delegate to the Constitutional Congress in 1776, and President of the Board of War in 1777.  For his part, he gained a reputation as the "Fighting Quaker".
Both Clement and Owen were disowned by their Philadelphia meeting for their wartime involvement in the revolutionary conflict.  Their response to disownment was to join with Samuel Wetherill and other disowned Quaker supporters of the war, including Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross Claypoole, to form their own Philadelphia meeting.  The meeting became official with the publication in 1781 of "The Discipline of the Society of Friends, By Some Styled the Free Quakers."  A Free Quakers meeting house was built in 1783 on the corner of Arch and Fifth Streets and the meeting continued until 1836 when diminishing membership and shifting interests forced it to shut down.
Sunday Morning in Front of the Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia. 
Artist: John Lewis Krimmel (1786-1821).  Courtesy of Wikiart.
(This is not the Free Quakers meeting house but rather the meeting house on Arch and Fourth Streets built
in 1803 according to a design by Owen Biddle, Jr., John Rowan Biddle's father. Members of
this meeting included abolitionist Lucretia Mott and the painter Edward Hicks.)
As for descendant John Rowan Biddle and his new wife, Jane, they moved to Philadelphia after their marriage.  There they attended the Orthodox Frankford Monthly Meeting until 1829 when both were disowned.  They were possibly disowned because they, along with a large number of Frankford Meeting members, joined the followers of Elias Hicks (the Hicksites) after the schism in 1827 that separated the faith into Orthodox and Hicksite factions.
Frankford Monthly Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Photograph
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Our next glimpse of Jane and John comes from the 1850 census.  By this time they had moved from Philadelphia and were residing in Lower Makefield, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  John was fifty years old at the time of the census and Jane was fifty-five.  John's occupation is listed as farmer and two people, a male laborer named Thomas Kelsoe and a nineteen year old Irish girl named Fanny Canningham, are living in the Biddle household.  No evidence has been found to indicate that Jane and John had any children.
John passed away four years later on October 26, 1854 in Falls Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Six years later, Jane is shown in the 1860 census as living alone in Falls Township.  She is listed as a "Lady" and has real estate worth $2,500 and personal property worth $1,500.
Also living in Falls Township at the time of the 1860 census was a man named Benjamin Headley who was living with a woman named Rachel Headley.  Rachel, age seventy-four, was eleven years older than Benjamin and may or may not have been his wife.  Benjamin was a farmer with considerable wealth, being shown in the census with $16,000 in real estate and a personal worth of $2,500.
Two years later, in 1862, Benjamin Headley married the widow Jane Marsh Biddle.  Sometime after their marriage, Benjamin seems to have sold his farm land and they moved to Bristol in Bucks County.  The 1870 census shows Benjamin as a "Gentleman" with real estate worth $5,000 and a personal worth of $15,000 (perhaps from selling his farm land).  Benjamin was seventy-six at the time of the census and Jane was seventy-four.
Jane lived another ten years.  The March 13, 1879 edition of the Bucks County Gazette, page 3, column 5, contained a notice which read:  "Died HEADLEY - in Bristol, Pa. on First-day, the 9th inst., Jane, wife of the late Benjamin Headley, in the 84th year of her age."
Schofield Ford Covered Bridge, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  One of the many
extant covered bridges in the county where Jane Biddle lived most of her life.
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  Author: Esrever.
Sources: census, Public Member Trees, and U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935.
Wetherill, Charles.  History of the Religious Society of Friends Called by Some The Free Quakers, in the City of Philadelphia.  Philadelphia, printed for the Society, 1894.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.




January 1, 2015

Bear Tales - Abigail's Story

Last time, the bears revealed the story of Harriet H. Bispham (1829-1910), a resident of Haddonfield, New Jersey, whose name was inscribed on a quilt block used to make one of the bears.  We stated, at the end of Harriet's story, that she was "undoubtedly" acquainted with Abigail R. Clement (1826-1882) who also lived in Haddonfield and whose name was inscribed on another block used to make a second bear.

All photographs of the bears by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
The conclusion that Harriet knew Abigail is based on the facts that they both lived in the small town of Haddonfield at the time their names were inscribed, their names appear on blocks from the same "friendship quilt", and Abigail's father, John Clement, may be the John Clement of Haddonfield who, as a Justice of the Peace in Gloucester County, New Jersey, married Harriet's parents on January 25, 1812.
Without the benefit of extant correspondence between them, there is no way to know if Abigail and Harriet were close friends or merely acquaintances.  Abigail was three years older than Harriet.  By the time their names appear on the same quilt around 1844, Abigail would have been eighteen yers old and Harriet would have been fifteen.  Abigail married in October of 1845 at the age of nineteen and moved away from Haddon field.  Harriet didn't marry until five years later, at the age of twenty-one, and appears to have remained in Haddonfield her entire life.
A house in the historic district of Haddonfield.  Photograph courtesy of
Wikimedia Commons.
Abigail Rowand Clement was born on July 25, 1826 to John Clement and Hannah Chew Hand Clement, the last of their three children and their only daughter.  The family lived in Haddonfield and Abigail spent her childhood and teens in this small town where her father was a prominent citizen.  (One record on refers to him as a judge but it appears that more than one John Clement in Haddonfield served as a judge or Justice of the Peace over time.  Abigail's grandfather was a John Clement, her father was named John Clement, her brother was named John Clement, and one of her sons was named John Clement Doughten.)
We were unable to locate a picture of Abigail, but we did find images of her parents.
Abigail's father, John Clement (1769-1855).  Image courtesy of dkbakerjr, the
Doughten-Clement Family Tree, Public Member Trees,
Abigail's mother, Hannah Chew Hand (1784-1834).  Image courtesy of
dkbakerjr, the Doughten-Clement Family Tree, Public Member Trees,
On October 1, 1845, Abigail married William Simpson Doughten (1811-1881).  William, the son of Isaac and Ann Harrison Sparks Doughten, was a resident of Gloucester City located approximately ten miles west of Haddonfield on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia.  Over the next thirteen years, Abigail and William had four children: John Clement born in 1846; Isaac born in 1851; Anna D. (formally known as Hannah) born in 1855; and, Abigail born in 1859.
Abigail and William first settled in Gloucester City but by the 1860 census had moved to Camden, New Jersey, where William and Henry B. Wilson, the father of Admiral Henry Braid Wilson (of World War I fame), established a large lumber mill and timber yard on the Delaware River.  To provide greater access to their waterfront business, they also incorporated The Stockton and Newton Turnpike Company.  Business must have been good because the 1860 census lists William as a lumberman with assets totaling $30,000.  (This figure is equivalent to $766,881.29 in 2013 dollars.)
Census data from 1870 show William's occupation as a sash and door manufacturer, an occupation also shared by his son, John Clement, who was then twenty-three years old.  The assets recorded for the two of them totaled $32,000 so the family business was still flourishing.  John's younger brother, Isaac, was working as a clerk in a store at the time, further adding to the family income.  Isaac would later have his own dry goods business.
Abigail was forty-three in 1870 and the census records show that her niece, Mary Hand, probably the daughter of her half-brother George Rufus Hand, one domestic servant, and a seamstress were living at her residence.  Mary Hand's occupation was also listed as seamstress.
By the time of the 1880 census, Abigail and William had moved across the river to Philadelphia.  William was sixty-nine years old and listed as a retired lumberman.  Abigail was fifty-three and their son, John Clement, listed as a lumberman, was still living with them at age thirty-two.  Daughters Anna and Abbie were in their twenties.  Isaac was no longer in the household which was still being assisted by one domestic servant.
William passed away the next year on May 8, 1881.  His body was transported from Philadelphia to Haddonfield where he was buried.  Abigail followed the next year at age fifty-seven, dying in Hammonton, Atlantic County, New Jersey, on August 9, 1882.  She, too, was taken to Haddonfield where she was buried in the Haddonfield Baptist Cemetery.
Abigail's grave marker in the Haddonfield Baptist Cemetery, Haddonfield, New
Jersey.  Image courtesy of Robin Rowand who posted it on the Find a Grave web site.
Sources: census, message board, and Public Member Tree records, accessed December 2014.
Find a Grave web site at
"Gloucester County Register of Deeds, Marriages, 1795-1907" (FHF#846905).
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.


December 15, 2014

Bear Tales - Harriet's Story

At the time of our last post, Lynda was awaiting the arrival of a third bear made by a member of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society using an inscribed quilt block to cover its front.  This bear arrived shortly thereafter to join her sister-bears who had preceded her to California.  (Refer to our last post dated December 1, 2014.)

The third bear.  All photographs of the bears by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Unlike her sister bears, this one, displaying the name Harriet H. Bispham and the name of the town Haddonfield, has fabric that has not suffered the deterioration seen in the Turkey-red-like fabrics on the other two bears.  In common with the other bears, however, her inscribed block is annotated in ink with "c. 1844".  Having been unable to speak with the woman who made the bears, Lynda speculates that she annotated the blocks based on a range of dates that may have appeared on other blocks in the same quilt. (Inscribed quilts frequently have a range of dates on them reflecting when the blocks were inscribed.  For example, the Sarah Wistar quilt, described in our post of October 30, 2012, contains blocks with dates ranging from 1842 to 1844.)  Alternatively, the bear-maker could have known the origin and approximate date of the quilt.
Lynda had begun to research the names on the first two bears even before the third arrived.  When the third did arrive, we had two bears with inscribed blocks naming women who lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Haddonfield, itself, is worthy of a blog post.  The community was founded by Elizabeth Haddon (1680-1762), a young Quaker woman who came to America to take possession of 500 acres of land her father, John, had purchased in the English colony of New Jersey in 1698.  Her father being in poor health, Elizabeth sailed to the New World in his stead.  She arrived in 1701 and named their property Haddonfield.
Elizabeth married a Quaker minister named John Estaugh in 1702 and in 1713 they built a three-story brick home they called New Haddonfield Plantation.
New Haddonfield Plantation.  Source of image: The Friend, 1889.
Elizabeth and her husband had no children but both kept busy with Elizabeth running the plantation and devoting time to the sick, while John practiced his ministry wherever it took him and later managed his father-in-law's affairs in America.
In 1721, Elizabeth's father gave her the deed to an acre of land for use in establishing a Quaker meetinghouse and burial ground.  This act solidified Haddonfield as a community.  The meetinghouse was completed about 1723 and was the site of the Haddonfield Monthly Meeting until 1760 when a larger, brick meetinghouse replaced it.  Elizabeth was a member of this meeting and served as the clerk of the Women's Meeting for nearly fifty years.
Friends Meeting House, Haddonfield.  Source of image:  The Friend, 1889.
Harriet H. Bispham (1829-1910) and Abigail R. Clement (1826-1882), the Haddonfield residents named on the bears, appear to have had ancestors who attended the Haddonfield Monthly Meeting.  Both of their family names are prominent in Haddonfield Monthly Meeting records of the early and mid-nineteenth century.  However, neither of these women were Quakers at the time that they married.
Harriet H. Bispham was born in Haddonfield on May 15, 1829, the daughter of Benjamin and Ann (also called Nancy) Ivens Bispham.  No record could be found indicating that Harriet or any of her immediate family were members of the Religious Society of Friends but Harriet definitely had connections with the Quaker community.  In August of 1850, at the age of twenty-one, she married Thomas Hodgson Albertson (1825-1864), a member of the Haddonfield Monthly Meeting.
Thomas was the son of Josiah and Abigail Cooper Hodgson Albertson.  Before his marriage to Harriet, Thomas had been in trouble with the Haddonfield Monthly Meeting for attending meetings of the "separatists" (the Hicksite faction of the Religious Society of Friends).  He was subsequently removed from membership in the Religious Society of Friends by the Orthodox meeting on April 8, 1850.  This trouble was followed by that caused by his marriage to Harriet, a non-Quaker.  In 1852, he was disowned by the Hicksite meeting for having been married "by a Priest or hireling minister" outside of the Quaker faith - an offence defined then as a "diviation".
Harriet and Thomas went on to have four children between 1852 and 1861:  Josiah Bispham; Alfred C.; Adelaide Watson; and, Winfield Scott.  (Needless to say, none of these children were raised as Quakers.)  Thomas is shown in census data as having supported Harriet and their children as a bricklayer (1850 census) and a storekeeper (1860 census).  In 1863, at the age of thirty-eight, Thomas registered for the Civil War draft.  He passed away on April 25, 1864 in Philadelphia, leaving Harriet alone with four children to raise.  We do not know if the cause of his death was related to service in the war.
After Thomas died, 1880 census data show Harriet living with her mother, Ann Bispham, her sister Rebecca, a house keeper, and her sons Josiah and Winfield in Haddonfield.  (Her son, Albert C., passed away in August of 1864 at the age of nine, five months after his father's death.  Her daughter, Adelaide, had married in 1877 and was living elsewhere.)  An 1884 Haddonfield City Directory lists Harriet's address and lists her son Josiah as a carpenter, and her son Winfield as a printer.
At the time of the 1910 census, Harriet was eighty years old, still in Haddonfield, and living with her daughter Adelaide and her husband, John P. Downs.  Harriet died on April 25th that same year, forty-six years to the day after her husband's death.
Harriet's daughter Adelaide Watson Downs with her daughter,
 Eva C. Downs. Photograph from Public Member Tree, Barton Family Tree,
Harriet undoubtedly knew Abigail R. Clement, the second Haddonfield resident whose name is inscribed on one of the bears.  Haddonfield was a small town and both Harriet and Abigail appear on blocks from the same quilt - which usually means that they both knew the quilt recipient and were among the family and friends of the community represented on the quilt.  Our next post will explore  Abigail's life and that of Jane Biddle of Philadelphia.
Sources: census and Public Family Tree records, accessed December 2014.
History of American Women, "Elizabeth Haddon" at
"U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935" accessed on, December 2014.
Willets, Harriet O. Redman.  "Incidents in the Life of Elizabeth Haddon" written for the 200th anniversary of the settlement of Haddonfield New Jersey, 1913.  This article can be seen at