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,
ancestry.com, owner jonathanmcraig.
Catharine Craig Sarmiento (1761-1841).  Source of image: The Craig Family Public Member
Tree, ancestry.com, 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::  ancestry.com.  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, ancestry.com,
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: findagrave.com.
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.
Ancestry.com 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!
Ancestry.com 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.