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


  1. What an interesting post. Who knew that three scrappy little bears - darling as they are - could tell such a rich story!

  2. Incredible history.... love how you find it!!