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

December 1, 2014

A Tale of Two Bears. No-Make That Three!

Lynda was sitting in front of her computer a couple of weeks ago watching the status of bidding on a silk quilt top featured on eBay.  The interesting things about this top were its possible Quaker origin and its exposed paper-piecing that included parts of old letters, newspapers, flyers, ledgers, and other material.  It looked like a great research piece.

While waiting for the bidding to end, Lynda started "surfing" eBay for inscribed quilts.  There was nothing of interest there, but up popped a photo of two ratty little bears that had been made using blocks of an extremely worn, mid-nineteenth century, inscribed quilt.  Lynda had no choice but to buy them!

The Bears.  All photographs of the bears by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.

The bears measure 9 inches tall by 4 1/2 inches across.  The fronts of the bears are covered with quilt blocks displaying deteriorating Turkey-red-type fabrics, sturdy shirting, and an inscribed square en pointe.  The batting used in the quilt can be seen where the red fabrics have worn away.

Exposed quilt batting.
The backing of one of the bears is a new, heavy cotton or muslin fabric.  Quilting stitches and the discoloration of the fabric on the back of the other bear indicates it came from the old quilt block used on the front.  (The stitches average 7 per inch.)  Foot pads of an indigo, resist dye fabric appear to have been added to the quilt block fabric when the bears were made.
Quilting stitches on the backing of one of the bears.
One bear is inscribed with the name Jane Biddle followed by the word Philadelphia.  The other is inscribed with the name Abigail R. Clement followed by the word Haddonfield, a borough located in New Jersey not far from Philadelphia.  These nineteenth-century inscriptions have been annotated with "c. 1844".  Much more will be said in our next post about the information these bears have revealed and the quilt from which they were made.  Today's post, however, is concerned with who made them, why they were made, and where they were made.
An ink inscription found along the seam line on the back of both bears gives the critical clue as to their origins and provenance.  It reads: "CNPHS 6/99 BN".  A quick Internet search revealed that CNPHS stands for Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society located in Port Washington on Long Island, New York.  Another search turned up the Society's web site with address, phone number, and information about the Society.
The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society was founded in 1963 and is located in the historic Sands-Willets House which the Society purchased from Miss Eliza Willets in 1967.  Only two families inhabited this house over a period of 232 years: the Sands family who lived there from 1735 until 1845, and the Willets family who lived there from 1845 until the property was sold in 1967.
Sands-Willets House, 336 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington, New York.
Photograph courtesy of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society.
The Society's web site describes the Sands family as "merchants, farmers, and Patriot leaders."  This family was among the early settlers of Sands Point and seven of the members actively participated in the American Revolution against England, including Colonel John Sands II who served with George Washington's army.
Map showing Sands Point and Port Washington, New York.  Source: Wikimedia
Edmund (or Edmond) Willets bought the Sands property and house in 1845.  Edmund was born on April 6, 1800 and his family were prominent members of the Westbury Monthly Meeting. He married Martha Whitson, the daughter of another prominent New York Quaker family, in 1829 and they had eight children between 1830 and 1852.  Like many Quakers of his time, Edmund was imbued with strong anti-slavery sentiments and he went on to become a noted abolitionist and active in the Quaker affairs of New York.
Edmund was also a wealthy farmer and merchant.  The 1870 census lists the value of Edmund's land at $35,000 and his personal property at $150,000.  His wife and three of his daughters were shown with personal property of $5,000 each, his son, Thomas, with $5,000 worth of land and another $5,000 of personal property, and his son, Edmond R., who was in college at the time, with personal property of $4,000.  (The total of these amounts equates to $4,158,176.90 in 2013 dollars.)
Edmund annually spent some of his wealth upgrading and maintaining his house, out-buildings and land.  That burden now falls to the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society, a non-profit, educational organization, which has been refurbishing and renovating the house since its purchase almost fifty years ago.  This has been a slow process for an organization that derives its funds from membership dues, small educational programs for children and the public, exhibitions of the Society's collections, fund-raising events, and up-to-three Fairs a year where books, crafts, and other items are sold.
The mention of the Society's Fairs brings us back to the bears. Joan DeMeo Lager, the Society's Curatorial Administrator, answered the phone when Lynda called to inquire about the bears.  She confirmed that toys were made for some of the Fairs by the "Craft Ladies", a group of generous volunteers who make quilts, aprons, stuffed animals, and other items to be sold in support of the Society.  She did not recall the bears but was willing to distribute a picture of them to the Craft Ladies who would be at the Society the next day.  The following day she sent an email saying that one of these ladies, Peggy Podstupka, had some information about the bears and would call in a couple of days.
Peggy remembered seeing, if not the two bears, a bear like them in the storage area of the Sands-Willets barn. She graciously looked through the storage boxes in the barn and found the bear!  When she called Lynda she offered to send her the third bear to go with its "sister-bears" in California.  She was unable to make out the full name inscribed on this bear but could see that the first name was Harriet.  The word Haddonfield was also inscribed on this bear.  In addition, Peggy knows the identify of the woman whose initials, BN, appear on the backs of the bears with the date 6/99.  She has volunteered to try to contact her so that Lynda may speak to her directly.
Baxter Pond, Port Washington, New York.  Source: Wikimedia Commons.
With help from Joan and Peggy, Lynda was able to discover who made the bears, why they were made, and where they were made.  The discovery of the third bear reveals another block and inscription from the old quilt used in making the bears.  Although it is doubtful that a sufficient number of bears will be discovered to enable us to reconstruct the quilt, we wish we could - bear by bear!  Lynda will try to find out more about the quilt from BN, the bear maker, and will add that information to our next post.
Meanwhile, Jane and Abigail eagerly await a reunion with their sister-bear, Harriet, who is making her way to California through the U.S. Postal system.
Sources: census and Public Member Trees, accessed November, 2014. (Web site of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society.)
Personal conversations with Joan Lager and Peggy Podstupka, November, 2014.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2014.