Rogers home, Huntsville, TX

The home of Col. George Washington Rogers and his wife, Lucinda Benson Gibbs - built abt. 1845 in Huntsville, TX. View shows north portico. He was my grandfather's grandfather.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

History of Newport RI (Part 3)

While the Swasey family probably moved to Newport, RI after this depression had already begun, they were certainly affected by it.  A mariner in the family, and a wood carver...this information gives some of the background to their lives.

The Post-Revolutionary-War Depression

Slater's Mill
Slater Mill in Warwick, Rhode Island

      Scholars have previously argued that Newport's fall from prominence was largely based on economic factors. Elaine Forman Crane blamed Newport's decline on the disruption in trade caused by the years that the city was occupied during the Revolution. She argued that the six year disruption in Newport's commercial economy, and the simultaneous rise of the abolitionist movement in New England and Britain, caused a financial crash that Newport merchants could not emerge from. Lynne Whithey also focused on economic factors in her comparative history of the fortunes of Newport and Providence. She situated Newport's economic troubles during the Revolution in a broader context, arguing that Newport's colonial economy was founded on a mercantile model that was not sustainable after the Industrial Revolution arrived in Rhode Island in the 1780's. Newport did not have the waterways to power looms, and as a result, Providence eclipsed Newport as the primary city in Rhode Island. [82]

Newport in Decline

  In some cases, the people who left Newport actually had sided with the Crown. Loyalists were especially numerous in Newport's Episcopalian community...who left Newport when the British evacuated in October 1779.

      The effects of the war on Newport's Quakers were more subtle. The community initially seemed to rebound in the post-war period. The New England Yearly Meeting, traditionally held at the Great Friends Meeting House in Newport, was able to resume there in June 1782. The meeting was also rejuvenated by the return of many of the Friends who had left the meeting during the years of the city's occupation.

 The Quakers had permanently renounced their posts in government in the years leading up to the war, and their forfeiture of political power, coupled with their refusal to openly support the patriot cause during the Revolution, meant they also now occupied a much lower rung within Newport's social hierarchy. Even after the Revolution, many Newport residents still continued to harbor ill will towards the Quaker community for their actions during the war. Newport's Quakers would never regain the same level of power or respect they had held before the Revolution. [91]

      Like the rest of the groups in Newport, the Congregationalists also suffered in the post-war recession, though they seem to have fared somewhat better than many of the other religious groups did. The Second Congregational Church was deprived of the leadership of Ezra Stiles, who, despite a desire to resume his post, left his congregation in Newport after he was offered the Presidency of Yale College at the war's end. 

      The Jewish congregation was the group that was most dramatically affected by the war. Some of its members were Loyalists, while others were ardent Patriots, and this divide, coupled with the community's relatively small size, created a situation in which the choices of a few prominent members of the community affected the entire group. Aaron Lopez created a huge amount of business for colonial Newport, and his position was similarly respected within Touro Synagogue. When he left Newport in 1776, he took nearly seventy members of Newport's Jewish community with him, and settled them in Leicester, Massachusetts. [94] Several other prominent Jews including Benamin Meyer, Isaac Hart, Myer Polock, Moses Michael Hays, and Isaac Touro, the synagogue's hazzan, held Loyalist sympathies. These individuals left Newport when the British evacuated Newport, and this further fractured the small community. In the census of 1782, only six Jewish families, out of the original thirty, remained in Newport, and by 1809, only Moses Lopez remained in Newport. [95] It is not known exactly why, when they had a perfectly good synagogue to go back to in Newport, so many members of the Jewish community remained in Leicester even after the war ended, but this pattern does seem to fit with the actions of members of other religious groups whose behavior had provoked suspicion and hostility from the patriots during the war.

The Role of the Merchant Elite in Newport's Fortunes

      The evidence from Ezra Stiles diary makes a powerful case that Newport's colonial culture of religious diversity created a hostile environment for those merchants who belonged to religious groups that were judged as disloyal to the American cause during the Revolution. It is likely that these tensions continued after the war ended, and the post-war experience of Newport's merchant class, coupled with the broader demographic evidence of the city's religious and social dissolution after the war, supports this conclusion. The majority of Newport's merchant elite did not return following the war, either because they were Loyalists or because they belonged to groups which had been branded as Loyalist. Most of the wealthiest merchants in Newport fell into one or both of these categories  some were Loyalists, and most were either Episcopalian, Quaker, or Jewish. Altogether, only forty percent of Newport's colonial elite remained in the city by 1789. [98]
      There were only two merchants who ranked at the top of Newport's tax list in both the pre-war and post-war years: William and Samuel Vernon. Both were Congregationalists and both had been ardent patriots during the war. The Vernons, and the less-wealthy merchants who remained, tried to restart the maritime economy after the war, but they met with little success. [99] Without the help of the strong network of established Jewish, Episcopalian, and Quaker merchants, the Vernons were unable to stop the city's decline. This removal of most of Newport's colonial merchant community ultimately created an economic domino effect to which even the Congregationalists were susceptible.


      When the events of the Revolutionary period are examined from the point of view of the people who experienced them, it becomes clear that economics were only part of the story. The city that emerged after the end of the war was radically changed, socially as well as economically. Newport would never regain its prominence as a center of intellectual and religious diversity. Ironically, though freedom of thought and religious practice became law across the new nation in 1781, Newport's own culture of pluralistic pride and religious toleration did not survive the American Revolution.

Many of the footnotes refer to: Ezra Stiles. The literary diary of Ezra Stiles,: Ed. under the authority of the corporation of Yale university (New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1901), 1:166.

Monday, September 1, 2014

History of Newport RI (part 2)

Newport has a very different reputation today than it did in the nineteenth century.  Commerce had brought it riches quickly, then a Revolution in which it was occupied by British and French, and then an economic downturn.  Following these times, the Swasey family lived on 11 Franklin St., Newport, RI. 

So this is my second look at the foundations of Newport...before the Swasey's moved there around 1807.

After Image

44 Pelham Street
Newport, Rhode Island
The Daniel Vaughn House stands on the original site. Built c.1785-1800, it has the shape and scale of a typical mid-eighteenth-century, five-bay house, yet land record evidence indicates no building stood on the site until at least 1795. The fanlight doorway is a feature of the Federal period, as are many details on the interior, which lends credence to the c.1800 build date. The Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) purchased the property in 1969 and utilized the building as its office space until 1972 when the offices were moved to the Comstock Court complex on Mill Street. The Daniel Vaughn House was then restored in 1972-73.

The land the house now occupies was confiscated from Thomas Bannister in 1781 by the Rhode Island General Treasurer. Bannister was a loyalist and it was not uncommon for the state to grab lands of a known loyalists after the Revolution. (Many loyalists fled to safer areas during the unrest leading up to the war and more sought safer conditions when the British occupation of Newport began.) Daniel Vaughn, listed as a victualler (one who purveys food & drink for payment), bought the land in 1785. Ten years later, in a 1795 survey, the property was still noted as a "lot of land," but without mention of any structure. The next recorded information of the property appears in 1813 when it is listed as a "house & land."

To date, little information on Daniel Vaughn has been discovered. He may have run an eating house, inn, or tavern since there were several businesses of this sort just down Pelham Street in the bustling area of Thames Street and the busy wharves.

As originally built, the Daniel Vaughn House was a sizable two-and-a-half story building with a gambrel roof. Sometime in the mid-nineteenth century, the third-floor space was converted into a full third floor with a shallow pitched roof. During this period, Pelham Street had become a favored location for boarding houses and many buildings on the street made this expedient change for more space and more business.
SOURCE: Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF)

-------------------------- (the following is from "Politics of Pluralism"
 In most cities in the American colonies, the dominant religions played an important role in shaping the style of governance. This was not the case in Newport. Rather, the members of these many sects came together in the secular pursuit of wealth

Beginning in 1747, Newport also possessed an intellectual center in the form of the Redwood Library. [18] The library was founded by the wealthy Quaker merchant Abraham Redwood and the "Deistical Baptist" politician Thomas Ward. Both men desired that the library should be "catholic & without respect of Sects," and for the most part it was, counting Baptists, Congregationalists, Quakers, and Moravians in its membership lists. [19]

 51 Touro Street (on the left), looking down Clarke Street at the 2nd Baptist Church. The house was purchased by William Sherman in 1877. SOURCE: Rootsweb.ancestry.
The photo was taken by Joshua Appleby Williams when he had a studio on South Touro (possibly 1860-75), before opening one on Bellevue Avenue. Williams began his business in 1847, and died in 1892.

- summer of 1765.
     In the summer of that year, the British government passed the Stamp Act. The Royalists, as might be expected, were enthusiastic supporters of the new taxes, but the majority of Newporters were not. The Stamp Act would be particularly onerous for Newport, because so much of its wealth came from imports. The expressions of disapproval began as protests, which were then given official expression when the General Assembly voted to pass a resolution of disapproval. Meanwhile, the Royalists continued to argue loudly for support of the Act throughout the summer of 1765.

    On August 17, Newporters got word that a group of Bostonians had hanged an effigy of Andrew Oliver, the man appointed to be the stamp distributor for Boston. A few weeks later, two of Ezra Stiles' good friends and congregants, William Vernon and William Ellery, organized a similar event in Newport. On August 27, Vernon, Ellery, and a group of other "Sons of Liberty" constructed a gallows on the parade in front of the colony house. On the gallows, they hung effigies of Augustus Johnson (the stamp distributor for Newport) and the Royalists Martin Howard Jr., and Thomas Moffat. [36]

     Johnson, Howard, and Moffat left town for the day, hoping that tensions would die down in their absence. The following day, they thought that it was safe to return. There had been no violence in the proceedings before now, but they were mistaken in thinking that the populace had calmed down. The sight of Johnson, Moffat, and Howard in town touched off a six-hour long riot. As the three Royalists ran for their lives, taking refuge on a British man o' war in the harbor, a mob of Newporters raged through the streets, burning, ransacking, and pillaging the homes of Johnson, Howard, and Moffat. The next day, the three men quickly packed up what remained of their belongings and left Newport. [37] Stiles did not leave a record of how he felt about Moffat's role in these events, but following the physician's departure, Stiles found someone new to share his love of meteorology with. This time, however, he chose a Congregationalist, Dr. John Bartlett, who shared his own political views. [38]

     Newporters' reactions to the Stamp Act make it clear that by 1769, the city was far from politically neutral. The Stamp Act Riots also showed how easily Newport's careful social balancing act could be disrupted by political disputes. They seem to have taken the events of 1765 as a cue to avoid politics in their social lives. While Rhode Islanders seem to have been quite opinionated on the issue of British control, Stiles diary suggests that they mostly kept their opinions to themselves. It is certain that animosities did not go away, but the evidence of Ezra Stiles social circle indicates that, while the events of 1765 probably influenced social networks to some degree, many Whigs and Tories continued to socialize together despite their political differences.

      Ezra Stiles' diary abounds with examples of the Newport elite socializing across political and religious lines. One of the best examples of Newport's pluralistic social culture in action is the observation of the Transit of Venus, an astronomical phenomena which took place in June 1769, and which seems to have caught the interest of nearly everyone in Stiles' social circle. The Transit of Venus across the Sun took place only once in a century, and if one observed the transit very carefully, noting exactly when the silhouette of Venus entered and exited the Sun's disc, the observer would theoretically be able to use that measurement to calculate how far away the Earth was from the Sun. To Stiles and the other aspiring philosophes in his circle, this event was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to contribute their own knowledge the scientific understanding of the cosmos. [39] It could not be missed. The event also provided another purpose, however: it gave Stiles and the other educated men of the Newport an opportunity to side-step political and religious tensions in order to come together in the name of science.

 In anticipation of the event, Stiles convinced Abraham Redwood to provide funds to buy a sextant for the Redwood Library. Before the observation could happen, however, a group of men in Providence got an order from the government to get the Redwood Library's sextant delivered to them. Benjamin King, Stiles good friend and the builder of this particular sextant, was furious, but with the help of the Episcopalian architect Peter Harrison, they were able to get hold of the sextant a few days before it was to go to Providence so they could get a measurement of Newport's latitude. On the day of the Transit, it was decided that the men would convene at Ezra Stiles' house for the observation. The men present included: Stiles' congregants, William Ellery, William Vernon, Henry Marchant, Benjamin King, and Caleb Gardner, as well as the visiting Congregationalist minister Punderson Austin, the Quaker Christopher Townsend, and the Episcopalian Edward Thurston (the colony's official sealer of weights and measures). [40]

     Getting the correct measurements was no easy feat, and required a huge amount of cooperation on the part of everyone involved. Stiles, Marchant, Vernon, Thurston, and King were all positioned by Stiles garret windows with three telescopes between them. Stiles and Vernon were the first to see the disc of Venus begin to cross the sun. At this point, they shouted loudly to Ellery, Austin, Townsend, and Gardner who were standing downstairs intently observing two clocks. They observers watched the transit, until the disc of Venus touched the outer-edge of the sun. A second shout downstairs told the clock-watchers to record the time. [41]

      This event illustrates several things about the culture of late eighteenth century Newport. The collaborative nature of this event reflects Newport's larger dependence on economic collaboration. It also presents a picture of the vibrant intellectual life that existed in Newport's social sphere. Finally, it illustrates a type of group interaction, where members of several different religious and political groups put aside their political differences to come together within the same social circle  which would disappear when the Revolution reached Newport. Ellery, Vernon, and Marchant were all members of the Sons of Liberty, while Harrison and Thurston would later come out as ardent Tories. [42]
      The Stiles-led observation of the Transit of Venus is also illustrative because it inadvertently foreshadowed how miscommunications and differences of interpretation would cause Newport's social networks to break down during the Revolution: King and Harrison's latitude measurement was ten minutes off; the clocks refused to be synchronized; and at the observation itself, the men forgot the signal for the beginning of the transit rather than shouting the agreed-upon "now," Stiles, who was the first one to see the indentation of Venus on the edge of the Sun, shouted "take notice," which only served to confuse everyone else. None of the men involved in the observation could agree on the timing of the transit and the whole thing devolved into arguments, with no usable data to show for their effort. [43]
Ezra Stiles house, location of Transit of Venus observation in 1769

Despite their best efforts, the residents of Newport could not ignore the political conflict forever. On December 18, 1773, Ezra Stiles reported that there were "extraordinary Doings at Boston 30 ult. in rejecting the East India Comp[any] Tea." [44] This event would come to be known as the Boston Tea Party, and it quickly became clear to Stiles and every other American that it marked a point of no return in British-American relations. The tensions which had been boiling under the surface for the past decade suddenly burst forth in a tumult of public action. In the week following the tea boycott in Boston, Stiles reported that crowds of protesters had prevented tea shipments from landing at New York, Charleston, and Delaware. "Amazing is the spread of the spirit Liberty thro' the Continent," Stiles remarked in wonderment. [45]

  Within the month, the British government responded, appointing General Thomas Gage the new governor of Massachusetts. To ensure that the residents of the colony behaved themselves, he arrived with an army. "Five Thousand Troops to be stationed in Massachusetts[,] 3000 at Boston[,] 1000 at Salem where the Courts & Customhouse removed & 1000 elsewhere & Port of Boston blocked up," Stiles reported. The next day, Stiles held a large "spinning match" at his house. [46] Spinning matches were held throughout the colonies in the years leading up to the Revolution as a way for women to protest British trade restrictions by promoting American homespun as a replacement for imported cloth and fiber. [47] It is probable that this event was held in protest to the just-begun Siege of Boston.

      From this point on, politics forcefully intruded into the social life of Newport. Stiles tried intermittently to engage in intellectual discussions with his friends, but the majority of his social interactions now centered around obtaining and disseminating the latest news of the conflict. In fact, Stiles' diary no longer included much mention of his friends at all. Previously, he was far more concerned with documenting the people he saw and talked with, but his documentary style shifted radically in December 1773. Now Stiles more often included only the topics of conversation, without mentioning who had been involved in the conversations. "We hear from Charlest[on] So. Carolina that they also are ready to joyn the general cause," he reported in a typical entry. [48]

      Perhaps Stiles began to focus less on the people in his life because Newport's social landscape had suddenly become far more complex. Beginning in 1774, a British man o' war was stationed in Newport harbor to dissuade Newporters from their usual business of smuggling and avoiding British duties. This new difficulty, added to the Americans' previously instituted British trade boycotts, created a near cessation of Newport's commercial activity and quickly dissolved the fragile bonds between the various groups in the city. Once Newport's trade network was disrupted, the social harmony between the economic collaborators began to break down as well. [49]

    The Rhode Island Assembly, called for June 30, 1774 to be a day of Public Prayer and Fasting throughout the colony "on account of the threatening Aspect of public Affairs, the Acts of Parliament respecting America, and particularly on account of blocking up the Port of Boston." Stiles reported that "this day was kept in Town very universally, not above half a dozen Shops open in all the Town." But not everyone wanted liberty from the British. The Episcopalian minister George Bisset "preached a high Tory Sermon inveiging (by Allusions) against Boston & N. England as a turbulent ungoverned people." [50] Stiles had long suspected that the Episcopalians would side with the British, but Bisset's sermon represented the Episcopalians' first public declaration of their stance. The sermon probably increased the level of interpersonal tension in town significantly, especially within the merchant community, which included a large number of Episcopalians. [51]

War Arrives in Newport

Ezra Stiles' Meetinghouse
Ezra Stiles' Meetinghouse
     In the following months, the citizens of Newport continued to clamor for liberty, even as the British man o' war's cannons remained trained on the city. [65] On May 10, 1775, Ezra Stiles wrote that "they are beginning to enlist Men in Newport" to go to war against the British. That same day, the Rhode Island General Assembly, which was now controlled by the Whigs, passed an act "disabling" the Episcopalian Governor Joseph Wanton from "performing all acts of Government" after he refused to sign commissions for officers "in the new Levy of 1500 men" or to sign a proclamation for a public fast to protest the British control of the colonies.

   With the legislature now fully behind the movement for independence, and the British man o' war in the harbor threatening to "lay the Town in Ashes" if "Newport takes part with Providence and New Engld," many people began to flee the city. [67] "Two Vessels full of Passengers sailed this Morng for Philadelphia. The Town in great panic," Stiles wrote. [68] On July 18, 1775, Stiles heard from a friend who was "occasionally on board" the man o' war that the ship's crew had "ranged a Canon for my Meetinghouse which they determined to destroy." [69] Though it was only a threat, this action illustrated the deep connection between the Newport Congregationalists and the movement for American liberty.

      In the beginning of October, Newport got word that part of the British fleet had sailed south from Boston harbor, raising fears that it would come to occupy Newport. At this point, flight from the city began in earnest. "The Evacuation is incredible!" Stiles exclaimed. [70] The British fleet did not materialize in Newport harbor on that occasion, but periodic news of British troop movements spurred a continued exodus from town. On January 2, 1776, Stiles estimated that out of the usual population of 9,200, there were not now more than 2,500 individuals left in Newport. [71] At this point, even Stiles, who seemed to relish being in the thick of things, decided that leaving Newport was the most prudent course of action. [72] On March 13, 1776, Stiles took his family and possessions and set out on a ship bound for the town of Dighton. Stiles did not realize it then, but like many residents of colonial Newport, his exodus from Newport would be a permanent one. [73]

     Stiles managed to keep a close eye on the happenings in Newport from his new post in Dighton, Massachusetts.

The British Occupation

      Stiles left Newport just in time. On December 8, 1776, a fleet of British ships "landed about the middle of the West Side of the Isld, about Three Thousand Men: & marched into Newport, paraded before the Courthouse & there published the Kings Proclaimation, & formally took possession of the Town & erected the Kings Government & Laws." [77] For the next three years, Newport served as the base for the British fleet in New England. Very few Newport residents remained in the city by this point, but those that did were stuck there. [78]

      During the British occupation even the Jewish community began to be suspected by Ezra Stiles and the other patriots. Early on in the hostilities, several of the Jewish merchants had refused to sign onto the American boycott of British imports. Stiles expressed his irritation at the Jewish merchants for refusing to join the Americans in solidarity against the British, but it does not appear that he held a grudge against the Jews for their actions. Rather, Stiles had continued to spend large amounts of time with various members of the Jewish community  even with Aaron Lopez, who led the Jewish resistance to the boycott. During the British occupation, however, Stiles received reports that several Jews who remained in Newport were "very officious as Informing against the Inhabitants." [79] Summarizing Newport's situation, Stiles concluded that "the Inhab[itants] are cautious & fearful of one another," a statement which likely encompassed more than just the actions of the Jews. [80]

     No group seems to have been unaffected by the religious conflicts brought up during the war. Over the course of the Revolution, Newport had been transformed from an environment where many groups lived in social and economic harmony to an environment where religious differences become a reason for suspicion and a point of conflict.

      In December 1779, the British army evacuated Newport and were replaced by the French army, who arrived as allies to the Americans. At this point, many of the Loyalists who had remained in the city during the British occupation fled, while the Whigs who had been waiting out the occupation in the surrounding towns were able to return. Finally, in 1782, the war ended and the Americans claimed victory. At last the city could resume its normal business  pews and docks could once again be filled. Yet even after peace returned, many of the city's former residents did not.

 In 1782, the population of the city stood at only slightly more than than half the pre-war total. Even in 1800, the city's population had risen to only 6,999 people, 2,209 individuals short of the 1774 total. [81] These population statistics point towards other changes in post-war Newport. The war left a permanent mark on Newport's social landscape which made it impossible for the city to return to its former glory.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

History of Newport, RI home of Swaseys (part 1)

Several members of my family have birthdays in the next few weeks.  Here is some interesting (to me anyway) info about the Alexander G. Swasey's home town before, during and after the Revolution.  The connection to me is that my dad's mom was a Swasey.

LONG history follows:
Most of the following are excerpts from:
"The Politics of Pluralism in Newport RI 1760-1800"
by Crane

The colony of Rhode Island, unlike its neighbors Massachusetts and Connecticut, never had an official religion. Rhode Island's founders, made up of Baptists, Quakers, and others fleeing persecution in neighboring colonies, specifically intended the new colony to be a shelter for persons of distressed conscience. [6] In 1647, the General Court, which represented a central administration over the four separately founded towns of Providence, Warwick, Portsmouth, and Newport, laid out a body of laws, which concluded with the statement all men may walk as their consciences perswade them, every one in the name of his God." [7]

      In January 1769,  Ezra Stiles (minister of Newport's Second Congregational Church, and librarian of the Redwood Library. [23] ) began to keep a diary, which he would maintain for the rest of his time in Newport. The early years of Stiles' diary provide evidence about how the elite of Rhode Island reacted to the looming political crisis: they avoided it at least in the social sphere. While many members of Stiles' social circle, which constituted a large portion of the elite members of Rhode Island society, involved themselves in politics in the public sphere, Stiles diary indicates they strived to maintain a sense of normalcy within their social lives. Those who held the most wealth and power in Rhode Island likely had a large motivation to hold their social network together for economic reasons, but more than that, they seem to have enjoyed the chance to interact socially with people from diverse backgrounds.

     In this respect, the diary is most interesting for what it does not include. The near lack of political discourse before 1773, coupled with documentary evidence outside Stiles' diary of a very active political discourse in the public sphere, suggests that the residents of Newport were certainly conscious of the looming political schism, but they also knew that Newport's economic success depended on maintaining strong social ties between the members of the city's many religious and political groups.

  The clear separation between church and state left room for another force to take the central place in Rhode Island life: commerce. Rhode Island had almost no hinterland, but it did have an abundance of well-formed harbors. It did not take long for Rhode Islanders to realize that if the colony was to be economically viable in the long term, it would need to rely on what the sea could provide.[8] Fortunately, many of the Quakers and Jews who had fled from Europe to Newport in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had strong connections with other Jewish and Quaker refugees in the Caribbean. Rhode Island's colonial economy was founded upon these pre-existing networks. [9]

  By the second decade of the eighteenth century, the city of Newport had become the center of Rhode Island's economic life.[10] The secular nature of Rhode Island's founding principles were deeply integrated into the physical plan of this city. Newport curled around a wide and deep bay whose fortuitous geography allowed for both an easy exit to the ocean and protection from storms on three sides. Numerous docks thrust out into the harbor, and at the central point of the harbor's arc, an earth-work pier called the Long Wharf stretched more than a third of a mile into the bay, providing moorings for the large trade vessels that frequently docked at Newport.

Source: Hand-colored engraving. Geography and Map Division, G3774 .N4 1777 .B5 Am 6-5 (9). Charles Blaskowitz. A Plan of the Town of Newport in Rhode Island (London: Faden, 1777).

      For the convenience of these traders, a large two-story brick market stood at the point where the Long Wharf met the land. A wide cobbled square was laid out on a gentle incline between the Long Wharf and the Colony House, the seat of Newport's government, creating a striking contrast to the typical grass-covered common and white church that could be found at the center of most towns and cities in colonial New England. [11] From the moment visitors stepped onto the Newport docks, they would have been acquainted with the character of the town. There was not a church in sight. It was clear that secular politics and profit ruled this city.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Our Studebakers

A wonderful connection to my family is the car we drove...or rather all the cars of a certain make.
My father and mother, the year they married, on a camping/hunting trip in Texas.  Not sure if this is a Studebaker.

I don't know when they first came about, but before I was born, the Rogers guys were driving Studebakers.  OK, to be a good historian, I'll check over on the web.

 The Studebaker family had originally made wagons after immigrating from Holland in 1736.

The brothers Studebaker
My father in center, with Ada Phillips Swasey Rogers and George Elmore Rogers Sr. in front of their car.  They drove to Dallas Texas from either San Antonio or Houston when my sis and I were born in 1942 and 46.

After making an electric car, the Studebakers switched to gas, and for about 50 years made the cars that were well known for quality.  The troubles of car companies didn't miss theirs, even when they merged several times with others, and they closed in 1966.

Studebaker Champion first generation, 1939
 1949 Houston Texas, on my grandfather's birthday.

The battleship Texas at San Jacinto Monument.

Barbara's eighth birthday, Aug 23, 1950, St. Louis, MO

Studebaker four-door sedan

Our new Studebaker, 1955  Grandfather (Poppy) with Mary Beth and Barbara on left photo.  Barbara pretending to drive on right.

This was probably our last Studebaker, around 1957, St. Ann Missouri.  I'm on left, and dear Dad on right.

1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner, showing the streamlined design of the 1950s Studebaker

Since I didn't learn to drive until 1958, that meant I learned on a car that was several years old, and by the time I was in college, my father had found another brand to drive, but I learned on a Studebaker.

So when my friend, Phil,  posted this picture on FaceBook of an old (not refurbished) Studebaker in New Jersey, I had moments of my early car memories!

I also included the family Studebaker in a picture last week from our visit to Wisconsin cousins.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Who likes a beach?

OK, I did dig back a bit, and here are photos from a visit to Galveston Beach with my family. Top photos show Uncle Chauncey on left, me and sis on inner tube, and my dad, George Rogers making sure nobody tumps over into the water. The next pair of pics show Grandmother on log with myself and little sis (looks like I was around 6 thus 1948.) Love my Gummy's hat and dress! And gloves?

I'm sharing my beach photos with Sepia Saturday, as one of the keepers of the family mementos,  I thought it would be a nice collection.  Swim on over to see the rest of the Sepians' selections related to beaches HERE.

OK, having a granddaughter who's a gymnast kind of takes my own love of beaches in spirit and blows it - right out of the water!

Now this sheet of scanned photos says it is from 1954, but I'm pretty sure my little sister doesn't look 8, much closer to 4, in which I would have been around 8, thus placing it around 1950. Since we moved from Texas to Missouri that year, it's pretty likely we had one last visit to the beach.  I like that my grandmother and mother allowed their photos to be taken along with us.  This is by a pier which no longer exists in Galveston, TX.

Fast forward a few years, and here's the Atlantic rolling onto the shores of Florida...and what are those big blocky shadows?  Well, try 14-story condos.  That's where I was standing several years ago as a guest.  I sure enjoyed the visit.

My oldest son and 5 of my grandchildren (2 of whom are his)  OK, I admit it's not the beach.
There are frequent thunderstorms in beach areas.

But once the storm is past, the sun returns and it heats back up again

This is one of my favorite beaches, even in February, Myrtle Beach, SC

Another favorite beach is St. Augustine, FL
Don't miss the hardy surfer, this was taken in November, 2011

St. Augustine Beach attracts tourists, a few blocks from where I lived for 4 years, (many moons ago.)

Here is my gymnast granddaughter, all cool and cleaned up for dinner-out with the family, and sharing a lovely sunset over the inland waterway...(in 2012)

Poppy's birthday

Born August 28, 1877.  Died Feb. 1960. Age 82-1/2

George Elmore Rogers, Sr. was my beloved grandfather. He is survived by 8 grandchildren who are living as I write this, and most of them have children and even grandchildren of their own.  I celebrated his life a bit last year, (HERE) but wish to add more this year. 

I'm in an Easter bonnet here, with Poppy, (George Rogers Sr) then Gummy (Ada Rogers, then Uncle Chauncey.  Site is our home in Houstone, TX.  About 1946-7.

George Rogers Information
Listed in 1880 Willis, Montgomery County Census as age 2. George's father, William Sandford Rogers, died at the age of 29, leaving the family with some money, but at about the age of ten, they moved from Willis to Galveston and he had to leave school to go to work as an office boy to help support the family. Some land in Tennessee that Micajah Clack Rogers had owned and had been passed down to William Sandford Rogers, was sold at the time for his widow to live on. Ironically, the people who purchased it, later found coal deposits on this land, making them quite wealthy. Anyway, George learned bookkeeping and became one at the Gulf Fisheries Company in Galveston. After the Galveston Storm in 1900, which he survived, he was pressed into service to stop the looting and pick up the dead. This was about five years before he met Ada. He was a small man, a good dancer, loved to hunt, fish, and sail, but was not considered "suitable" by Ada Phillip's Swasey's family to marry her, but they did anyway.,.

George and Ada were married at the home of the bride's parents in Galveston, Texas, by Dr. Black, Episcopal minister of Grace Episcopal church. They resided in Galveston until 1918, at which time they moved to Meadowbrook Drive in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was employed by the Fort Worth Packing Company as office manager. This began a friendship with the company Manager, Norman Dumbel (sp) that lasted twenty-five years. The family home burned in about 1927, during a re-roofing project. Unfortunately, the insurance had lapsed and the house was a total loss. Among the cherished items lost was a silver-handled walking stick given to Micajah Clack Rogers by Sam Houston and had been handed down in the family. George did rebuild, but the new house as of stone with a slate roof! When the Swift & Co. bought out the Ft. Worth Packing Co. in 1933, Mr. Dumbel started a new Packing Company in San Antonio, and asked George to be his office manager, and so they moved to San Antonio, Texas and lived there until 1942, when they moved to Houston, Texas.

He never joined his wife's Christian Science Church, but he was a Thirty-Second Degree Mason. Source: cousin Patricia Rogers published 2001 on Ancestry DOT com.

 George Rogers Sr, 70th birthday in 1947, Houston, Texas.  Site, Brockton St. home of the Rogers. Some references to this photo say it's his 72 birthday, but that would have occurred in 1949, and I think this big crowd probably came out for a 70th.

This was an ablum of records that I believe was the Ferde GrofĂ©, Grand Canyon Suite.  As you can see, when you have a lot of relatives and friends for a party in Houston in 1947 in August, you gather outdoors, in the shade.  (Everyone must have been standing behind the camera at this shot)

But Houston wasn't always hot, as seen here the same house in 1949 while Poppy sweeps his steps of snow.

Cousins, Sandra, Barbara, Mary Beth, and Claudette, in 1949 snow in Houston at Gummy and Poppy's home
George and Ada Rogers in San Antonio in the 1930s.

Christmas Dinner, back row: George, Alex, Chauncey, James, and Poppy, front row; Mataley with eyes closed, Donah V, and Gummy (Ada Rogers) Site probably the Rogers home in San Antonio, probably 1930s.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A real treat

Two nights ago I was invited for a rare (only every 20 years) blooming event of a Night-blooming Cereus that belongs to a friend of mine, Linda Metzner.

  She told me it would be after dark.

 But I ended up being on the phone till 9:30 and then was about to go to bed, when I thought, what was I going to do this evening?  OK, better go see that flower of Linda's!

So off I go. There are no selfies in this post!

 Was I ever glad to join some friends and see the 4 different blooms over the next hour, in their glory as they opened fully.

  By the next day they all were closed.

We were a camera crazy bunch that evening!

My first picture with natural lighting...

This lone bloom was hanging off the porch over the railing, out in the wilds...

These three beauties opened before our eyes, getting wider and wider as we watched.  The closed one on the left had opened the night before, and didn't reopen.  This is indeed a once every 20 years bloom occasion!

Because it was night, we were trying every kind of setting with and without flash on different cameras.  We found a really neat technique of using the flashlight setting on one smart phone to illuminate, while another phone could take pictures.

The colors changed from natural lighting to the illuminated photos, or the ones with flash.

Besides my smart phone (used above) I had my trusty Nikon Coolpix L810.  I tried macros, but couldn't get them to work, night portraits, night landscapes, flowers, scenes, etc.  All the strange titled setting combos, and must have finally come up with something that satisfied.  The following are with different settings, and I think I deleted most of the out of focus ones.

What a wonderful experience!  Hail to the Cereus!