the earth much?
of all poems,
of suns left,)
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in
ning and the end,
braced in the beams,
“Sewing was an essential task for women in the 19th Century. Little girls were taught their first sewing skills at the age of three, and many of the initial sewing projects were doll quilts. The child was able to choose her fabrics from the scrap bag, measure and cut the pieces for a simple quilt block, and hand sew with small and regular stitches. This “practice” was made more enjoyable by the prospect of having a cover for a beloved doll.
During the pioneer era, quilting was popular due to the expanding textile industry and the availability of inexpensive fabric. Quilts were needed for the westward journey and would adorn beds once the pioneers were settled. Young girls brought their treasured dolls for the journey while the women packed quilts made by friends and family as going away gifts.” quiltingboard.com
Items from CHAPMAN MUSEUM
Kate Chase’s mother died when she was five. Her father Salmon P. Chase had the unlucky habit of marrying women who up and died. Kate was named after Salmon’s first wife when Kate was born to his second wife. After the death of Kate’s mother (the second wife) he married yet again. A bunch of Salmon’s kids died young so he was happy when another girl was born. Kate was not. Jealousy and unresolved grief made Kate a difficult child and so off she was sent to a rigorous New York City boarding school. (Difficult girls must be sent away).
Eventually the hated stepmother died too and Kate came back to her father an intelligent and stylish young lady with shared political ambitions for her father. Is it surprising that Mary Todd Lincoln hated her? Kate threw fantastic parties. She was young and pretty.
“She was about eighteen years old, tall and slender and exceedingly well formed. . . . Her little nose, somewhat audaciously tipped up, could perhaps not have passed muster with a severe critic, but it fitted pleasingly into her face with its large, languid, but at the same time vivacious hazel eyes, shaded by long dark lashes and arched over by proud eyebrows. The fine forehead was framed in waving, gold-brown hair. She had something imperial in the pose of the head, and all her movements possessed an exquisite natural charm. No wonder that she came to be admired as a great beauty and broke many hearts. After the usual commonplaces, the conversation at the breakfast table, in which Miss Kate took a lively and remarkably intelligent part, soon turned itself upon politics.” Carl Schurz Wikipedia
Yet her wit and beauty could not save her from herself. Was it the tragedy of not having a mother and being hated by the other women in her life–including that horrible Mary Todd Lincoln that led her to marrying a loser? Her father was busy. Did he not notice the hearts she broke including that of a married man? This was before William Sprague.
Young William Sprague a newly elected senator from Rhode Island caught Kate’s eye in his dashing uniform. He’d made a name for himself at Bull Run and his family had heaps of money. The press loved their tumultuous relationship and then their wedding (Mary Todd Lincoln refused to attend).
I imagine that Kate fancied herself a good judge of character. She thought she knew best–for who else was there to mind her? Perhaps she cried herself to sleep at boarding school lonely and afraid of the city noise outside her window. Pretty girls with intelligence usually have more enemies than friends amongst their peers and the matronly and bitter old women who resent reminders of their wrinkles and lost dreams.
I imagine Washington society women vying for invites to her galas while secretly loving every new whisper about William Sprague’s drinking and open affairs. Ha! See how the mighty have fallen and wasn’t that tiara Kate wore ridiculous? Behind Kate’s enormous appetite for expensive shoes and furniture lurked the worst sort of self-loathing. With all my wit and beauty I’ve gotten no where, she may have thought on sad and rainy days in her mansions.
Her husband arrived home early to find her lover in their living space. It was rumored that Kate’s last two daughters where not William’s. They divorced. The daughters stayed with Kate, but the son went with daddy. When Kate’s son was 25 he killed himself. Was that the final straw? Kate lived out her days as a recluse (except for when her poverty forced her to sell eggs door to door).
What if women didn’t see women as rivals? What if we looked at the co-worker through the lens of mother, of fellow lonesome traveler, of a sympathetic daughter? What if Kate had a mother?
Thanks to Kate Loveton for introducing me to Miss Chase.
I’m not sure about this one. When I find an old book I REALLY want, my mind goes to mush and my limbs shake as I grab my credit card and punch in the numbers on the computer, but this book I’ve known and loved was pretty expensive and worth every penny: The Look of the West.
Probably Wallace Stegner. His books are what I’d want my books to be if I was a brilliant writer. I love his characters, his style, his themes–basically everything about him as a writer. I hate him because he’s great. While reading Angle of Repose after writing my first novel I thought: I’m so glad I didn’t read this book before I attempted novel-writing. I would have been too demoralized!
I have two childhood series that I’ll never grow out of: The Great Brain Series by John Fitzgerald about a scheming and lovable scam-artist boy and his exploits and The Little House books.I love the seeming simplicity of the books and the bittersweet memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
War and Peace. My daughter and I started reading it together, but got distracted by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
I don’t talk to most people in real life about books–for fear of sounding like an intellectual ;) I do talk to my family ad nauseum about anything I’m researching and for a while I was obsessed with Middlemarch by George Eliot.
Men with strong minds and physical bravery. They need to be a little troubled (except for Pa Ingalls–he was perfect in the books–not the show).
My own books–fully edited, proofread and with brilliant covers–all done by professionals. I enjoy doing these things myself, but if I had more cash I’d delegate to people with a lot more experience.
I’m tagging a busy and wonderful writer Kate Loveton. Her short stories are amazing and the lady herself is quite nice. Dear Kate, don’t worry if you haven’t the time. I just wanted the world to know about you!
Couldn’t resist this beauty!
Originally posted on The Beautiful Blog:
Title: Portrait de Gabrielle Cot
Artist: William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 – 1905)
Completion Date: 1890
Media: Oil on Canvas
Location: Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross
“In the United States, fly fishermen are thought to be the first anglers to have used artificial lures for bass fishing. After pressing into service the fly patterns and tackle designed for trout and salmon to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, they began to adapt these patterns into specific bass flies. Fly fishermen seeking bass developed the spinner/fly lure and bass popper fly, which are still used today.
In the late 19th century, American anglers, such as Theodore Gordon, in the Catskill Mountains of New York began using fly tackle to fish the region’s many brook trout-rich streams such as the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Creek. Many of these early American fly fishermen also developed new fly patterns and wrote extensively about their sport, increasing the popularity of fly fishing in the region and in the United States as a whole. The Junction Pool in Roscoe, where the Willowemoc flows into the Beaver Kill, is the center of an almost ritual pilgrimage every April 1, when the season begins. Albert Bigelow Paine, a New England author, wrote about fly fishing in The Tent Dwellers, a book about a three week trip he and a friend took to central Nova Scotia in 1908.” Wikipedia
Do you ever sometimes wish 19th century asylums still existed for those troublesome relatives who make family gatherings so trying?
My great grandmother was sent to an asylum because she had lucrative properties in Jersey City, NJ. Her evil daughter (my grandmother’s sister) wanted the brownstones and vacant squares as an early inheritance so she had her mother put away. My great grandfather tried to have her released, but somehow couldn’t, so after his wife committed suicide in the asylum, he did the same.
My grandmother was offered a piece of the inheritance but preferred to live poor as a church mouse with her husband and 9 children a few towns away in a haunted house.
Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (The Joan of Arc of the Union) came from Philadelphia Quaker stock. Her father died when she was two and the family could have used a few Jersey City properties to get by, but instead the community of Friends took care of them. Elizabeth never let poverty cloud her active and opinionated mind. She read voraciously, took a job at the US Mint and got fired at the age of 15 for proclaiming Civil War General George McClellan a traitor to the Union.
William Lloyd Garrison the famous editor invited her to speak in Boston after hearing her oratory (favorite subjects for her were abolition, temperance and women’s rights). Still a young girl, she became an instant sensation and toured the nation.
First she spoke highly of Abe Lincoln, but soon after meeting him she publicly and tactlessly found fault, not only with his policies, but with his appearance and mannerisms. Biting the hand that feeds you never ends well, does it?
The war finished and so did her popularity. Like a washed up celebrity of today on Dancing with the Stars Elizabeth turned to bad acting gigs and suffered the spears of critics until one day the men in white suits came to take her away.
The reasons for this are sketchy at best. There’s some evidence she did not go insane. A kind family in Goshen, NY took care of her for the last forty years of her life. They sought no early inheritance. I imagine Goshen was not such a bad place to live out one’s life in obscurity.
The history of me is one of procrastination and perfectionism. It kept me from writing until well into my thirties. That black and white checkerboard floor in my Brooklyn apartment had to be just so before I’d pick up a pen. I also had to sew homemade toys for the children, take long walks to stay in shape and be up on the latest environmental news–before writing.
But that’s history, for the most part. I get enough exercise carrying 40 pound buckets of maple sap over slushy, uneven paths through the woods. The kids can make their own toys if they want to and for 15 years I’ve managed to write most days. My writing doesn’t pay bills or land me on talk shows. I still have to do most of my own editing and designing (with mixed results) but it sure is been fun.
This morning I felt put upon and antsy. The dogs splashed through every puddle on their morning walk (after I just bathed them), my daughter’s car broke down (so I have to drive her to work) and a friend in need called wanting a lunch date at a trendy coffee shop (and I have this foster kid meeting this evening that I just don’t feel excited about).
DOESN’T EVERYONE KNOW I’M A SPOILED WRITER? When my husband went on the road for his high-stress job I felt sorry for him, but also figured before gardening this spring I’d easily edit all 4 books I’ve written, design the 4 covers and possibly start a new series. That didn’t happen of course. Occasionally I had to actually speak to family members and bond with them. I had to wash dogs and shovel snow. I secretly wished for no house guests and no sleep.
All of this set me up for trouble this morning as I nudged the dog (almost kicked) out of a muddy patch. Didn’t the dog know I was busy? I came in the house. I thought about the idol of performance. I read Charles Spurgeon and remembered how I got here; how I finally took up the pen in the first place. I didn’t set aside months in a cave as a hermit. I didn’t throw away relationships. I didn’t complain that if only I had a laptop . . . I just dipped my metal nib into the blue/black ink a little each day. After three pages I stopped. And I lived.
“In the 19th Century, a common educational goal was to produce intelligent citizens able to function in a democratic society. Throughout the century, the expansion of immigration demonstrated the need to educate children that would be functional in English, understand and participate in the democratic process, and develop a morality consistent with virtuous behavior.” READ MORE
From “Schooling and Poor Children in 19th Century America.” READ MORE
“No different back then than in the 21st century there were parents who wanted a better education for their children.” READ MORE about the establishment of PRIVATE SCHOOLS in the US.
**Quote from Andover Academy’s 1778 Constitution
Photos courtesy Chapman Historical Museum