Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jesse Ludington - Fair Haven Oyster Man - Portrait by artist George Henry Story


Jesse Ludington (1805-1886) - Oil on Canvas
- artist George Henry Story
(Smithsonian American Art Museums)
(public domain)

I have to wonder if the portrait of Jesse Ludington (1805-1886) by George Henry Story - if the subject is in his best and probably only Sunday suit and posed in best possible light or if his attire is the everyday attire of a man in the oyster business of harvesting, inspecting, cleaning, packaging, selling and shipping of the product in a major nineteenth hub of the Oyster business in America, Fair Haven Connecticut.

The direct verifiable genealogical history of the American artist George Henry Story is sketchy in the public records of the Internet.

No doubt more exact records exist on paper and in private family hands to this day but not yet scanned into the new global culture represented by that Internet.

Of the records available and researched thus far, it is a good possibility that the subject Jesse Ludington pictured above was married to George Henry Story’s older sister Julia Ann Story.

No exact record of Julia Ann as being George’s sister is documented at present. Julia is born 1810 and George's parents marriage date is listed as 1806 - a possible family tie and timeline fit.

I have researched and George’s father James died about a month after his birth in January 1835. As such and in world without social government safety nets, there was the family. That George’s vague personal history presented here and there in records is one that he himself may not have been personally aware of or saw no need to present considering he never knew his father and a great deal of personal knowledge of a family history and legacy was lost by being raised without that father. 

But then again, his mother may have raised him in separate living conditions or moved in with a daughter in a larger extended family situation and George had many adults in place to act in place of a missing deceased parent. "It takes a village..." and or a large extended family sometimes to raise a child.

Jesse Ludington married Julia Ann Story in New Haven Connecticut on March 23, 1829 and was married by Baptist minister Benjamin M. Hill.

Other sketchy records indicate that George story may have had another sister from the marriage of his father and mother, James Story and Clarissa Barnes Story. Her name is Elisabeth Story (Armstead) with dates 1826-1864.
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That tagging Jesse Ludington as a possible brother in law of George Henry Story ties in with the name of their daughter Clarissa Barnes Ludington, Clarissa Barnes being George’s mother’s first and maiden name as a point of continuity and a possible genealogical audit trail.  Daughter Clarissa Barnes Ludington by the way married a Duane Epaphroditus Newton later on.

Research shows that Fair Haven, not yet a mere “neighborhood” or district within a later in date greater New Haven Connecticut, was heavily invested in the business of oysters. That many genealogical records reference the move of some Ludingtons from other parts of New England because of the growing oyster production and harvesting industry there.

In the New Haven Directory of Inhabitants 1874, Jesse Ludington is listed as “oysters” by profession at 88 E. Pearl Street as opposed to “oysterman” by other inhabitants of his neighborhood.  I take this to mean that he is more in the upper end of the business as opposed to the dirty everyday hands on business of extracting the product from the waters about New Haven and the northern end of Long Island Sound.

Many genealogical references point to the fact that a “Ludington Buoy” still sits in the waters of New Haven to mark designated territory and state sanctioned by law harvesting rights of a product long extinct from the present region and habitat.

Not to say that Jesse Ludington did not start life in a fisherman’s life or in an oyster boat in his younger days.

That the artist George Henry Story started out his young working life as an apprenticed wood worker in the local shipping industry before moving on to his desired apprenticeship with a portrait painter.  No escaping the local economy of the sea, of fish and oysters, ships and boats I would imagine back then. No escape except by luck, karma or the tyranny of chance.

Jesse’s portrait speaks of a man who has worked with his hands and has the forehead wrinkles of a man closely related to the sea and its many distant horizons.

Also in that pose and time it is difficult to guess the age of the subject which I guess to be at anywhere from mid-fifties to mid-sixties. As such, the portrait would likely have been painted somewhere around the early 1860s and current with G. H. Story’s painting career picking up in Washington DC at the beginning of the American Civil War before his moving onto, with his wife Eunice, into the Bohemian life of a young artist amidst the glamor and excitement of the New York City in little Bohemia centered around Broadway and Bleecker Street then – part of the then "in" - “Pfaff Cellar” - crowd.

That that 1874 New Haven Directory of Inhabitants also has George H. Story, an artist, listed to 276 North Front Street right on the waterfront. The house in Google Satellite view is a rather modest wood structure with a street front that suggests a onetime shack attached to the front of the house, on the waterfront of that house and perhaps a onetime small scale Oyster processing, cleaning and packaging affair to support a young fatherless child by a strong independent self-sufficient Yankee mom? 


                                                                                                                                        (Original Copyright Expired)


That spending the summers in Fair Haven out of New York in the family house was a good time to reconnect to friends and family and during the off season of harvesting Oysters.

That possible brother in law Jesse Ludington was a father figure, or an uncle figure considering age differences etc. Family is sometimes an awkward thing to describe but perhaps George Henry Story has expressed it in a way that he was uniquely talented to express – in his painting.

The 88 East Pearl Street house of Jesse Ludington is one that speaks of a successful later nineteenth business man in the Second Empire style with its Mansard style roof that we here in America or the English speaking world would label as Victorian, like much of Story’s work – dated but a rare glimpse into a bygone and perhaps not examined closely enough as it should have been age – especially in working class Fair Haven Connecticut.






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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bundy #WelfareCowboy Sparks Lying Man Festival in September on his Cows Grazing Land – Post-Burning Man "Woodstock In Nevada"




The Organizier of Burning Man Festival has invited the whole planet to a month long Lying Man Music festival across from Ted Cliven Bundy’s ranch in September as the next Burning Man Festival ends. Pass the word. Hee-Haw!



Behold the newest interesting twist in the Cliven Bundy case: the Nevada rancher will be getting some new neighbors soon. Burning Man organizer Sean Shealy is putting together a month-long BundyFest to take place across the street from the Bundy ranch.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The (Benyon) Family - Brighton Massachusetts - Auburndale Mansion - 1872 - Artist George Henry Story


The Family - by George Henry Story
(Public Domain)


The great 19th century successful American Middle Class grand family portrait painting – “The Family” by Artist George Henry Story is said to be of the Boston banker Abner Ingalls Benyon's family, and said to be painted in 1872 in the Benyon Mansion in Auburndale Massachusetts.

Public records show the Benyon family situated in Brighton Mass. where all their children were born.

The year 1872 seems to be highpoint in Abner Ingalls Benyon’s banking career with a listing at the National Exchange Bank as both president and a director in 1872, having working his way up through the ranks first as a Paying Teller in 1856 at this same bank and along the way working as a Cashier, next step up in the banking business, in 1862 at the Brighton Market Bank in Brighton Mass..

The year 1872 saw Abner Benyon named as Vice President of a new Homoeopathic Medical School also operating as the Medical Department of Boston College. This alongside his other duties as one time Treasurer and long term Trustee of same college / university 1872-1883.

Abner Benyon, with a middle name of Ingalls that matches a middle name of the brother in law of the artist, Hannibal Ingalls Kimball, the commission for the painting may have come through a family connection.

Mr. Benyon was all the talk of the east coast in 1882 when he quickly migrated to Canada and Mexico and back to Canada after indictments of embezzlement against him were about to be delivered on him in his then position as president of the Pacific National Bank Boston.

Abner Ingalls Benyon born 1832, died in Toronto in 1888 and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery Cambridge Mass..

 
In Brighton –
 
Abner Ingalls  Benyon married to Ruthanna J Towne
 
Children:
 
George Henry Benyon  1857-1926
Carrie L Benyon  Dec 4 1860 – Apr 5 1866
Arthur Ingalls Benyon  Mar 17 1863 - 1903
John W Benyon – dates ?
Elizabeth Benyon – dates ?
Luther Benyon – dates ?
Abner Benyon – dates ?
 
 


Presumed Tags to Figures in Painting Above:
 
1 - George Henry Benyon
2 - Abner Ingalls Benyon 
3 - Arthur Ingalls Benyon
4 - John W Benyon
5 - Ruthanna J Benyon
6 - Baby Abner Benyon (?)
7 - Elizabeth Benyon
8 - Luther Benyon (?)
9 – Unidentified Relative
10- Unidentified Relative
11- (Presumed) Grandmother Towne (?) or Benyon (?)
12- (Presumed) Carrie L Benyon Dec 4 1860 – Apr 5 1866


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Lincoln's Favorite Humorist Artemus Ward and His Wartime Bohemian New York Crowd 1864




The long island of Manhattan seems at every point in history to have staked a claim on the horizon and built its boulevards and structures toward that point towards the rising, setting or noonday New York City sun. And later upward to that very same star itself.

I would guess that around the middle of the American Civil War, that Manhattan was headed toward that turn in Broadway at Grace Church around Tenth Street and headed further uptown to Union Square and uncharted points beyond, and toward those then great sheep meadows and cow pastures of Central Park.

The literary and artsy cognoscenti of the day, the then Bohemians of New York in a watered down crowd, thinned out by the ranks of war, kept up the spirits and voice of culture around the hub of Broadway and Bleecker Street and referenced below.

The spirit or flavor of the moment, the "in" people of the moment, might have been best described by a favorite of the Walt Whitman’s Pfaff cellar crowd Ada Clare defining a Bohemian as a:

 "cosmopolite, with a general sympathy for the fine arts, and for all things above and beyond convention"
                                                                                       http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu/pfaffs/p23/


“…The De Soto, a restaurant on Bleecker Street just
east of Broadway, was his favorite dining-place. Here
there was usually a coterie of choice spirits to aid in
enjoyment of the meal. One of these survives in the
person of George H. Story, the eminent artist, long
curator of paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, whose wife, Eunice Emerson Kimball, had been a
fellow-member with A. W. in the Thespian Club at
Norway, Maine, long before.

Dining here one day with Story, David Wambold,
the minstrel, Dan Bryant, and some others, one of
the unknown persisted in making some boresome, child-
ish remarks in competition with the genuine wits.
He became a nuisance, but was silenced at last by
A. W., who took out his note-book and gravely inquired,
"What is your age, sir?"

Mrs. Story was a relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
who had been a familiar figure in Waterford, and was
a sister of Charles P. and Hannibal I. Kimball, both
men of note in Norway when young and who later in
life had distinguished careers, the first as a great
manufacturer in Chicago and the second as the recreator
of Atlanta, Georgia.

One night the Storys went to the show, sitting well
up front. Cracking a joke that elicited much applause,
Artemus explained, much to the confusion of the lady,
that it was an old one, first used in Norway, Maine,
when he and "Eune Kimball played together in the
Thespian Society!" …

[169]

- Artemus Ward (CHARLES FARRAR BROWNE) A Biography and Bibliography BY DON C. SEITZ 1919 - https://archive.org/stream/artemuswardchar00seituoft#page/169/mode/1up



http://archive.org/stream/artemuswardchar00seituoft/artemuswardchar00seituoft_djvu.txt




(Photos - Above Link)
 
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

George Henry Story - American Artist (1835-1922)


George Henry Story - Self Portrait 1902 - Gift to Metropolitan Museum of Art by Mrs. George Henry Story 1906


George Henry Story. Born Fair Haven, New Haven Conn. January 22, 1835, son of James Story, a sea captain and Clarissa Barnes Story. 

Died November 24, 1922, the Hubert Co-op Apartments 230 West 59th Street New York City.

Started his career apprenticed as a wood carver for three years 1849-1852 to a Mr. Northrop. Studied art under Charles Hines 1852-1855.  Then studied art in Europe for one year.

Set up a portrait studio in rented space in a corner of the photographer M.B. Brady’s business space in Washington DC in 1860 and 1861. Was subsequently asked as a favor by Brady’s assistant to help pose president-elect Abraham Lincoln for a photograph. 

From there he gained access to White House for several days to sit in on Lincoln at work to make pencil sketches which later were worked into his famous series of Lincoln portraits over the years, some 12 or so in total, one of which is now in the Oval Office, West Wing of the White House. He also painted a portrait of Lincoln's Secretary of Treasury Salmon P. Chase.



Abraham Lincoln by George Henry Story


Married Eunice Berry Emerson Kimball June 5, 1856 in New Haven Conn.. Eunice, born June 9, 1835, daughter of Peter Kimball, a carriage maker in Norway Maine and Betsey Emerson, first cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Died Jan 14, 1908.

- Eunice was sister to a whole family of brothers, carriage makers including C.P. Kimball of Chicago and Hannibal Ingalls Kimball, the “recreator of Atlanta” in post-civil war Georgia.

- Father of adopted son Paul Story Kimball born January 28, 1872 in Newtown Mass., a nephew of wife Eunice and original child of George Franklin Kimball, a carriage maker of Boston Mass. and Lucretia J. (Wright) Morton Kimball. Died June 20, 1896, aged 24. Was model for Story painting "Dutch Cavalier".

Exhibited at 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia received a – Gold Medal – for his showing of three paintings, “The Young Mother” (a first version, lost, as opposed to a later 1881 version at the Wadsworth), “The Young Student” (then owned by Wall Street broker financier David Groesbeck), and “Echoes of the Sea”.

Curator of Painting at Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC 1889-1906, Acting Director of same museum 1904-1905, Curator Emeritus after 1906.

Curator of Painting at Wadsworth Athenaeum Hartford Conn. 1899-1922.

Buried in Green-Wood Cemetery Brooklyn with wife Eunice and son Paul.



Story Family Plot Green-Wood Cemetery Brooklyn New York
(Photo by Bob Collins)


April 21, 2014 - Many Thanks to Bob Collins who has provided Inscription below of above stone, a presumed final statement of love by husband George Henry Story :

Green-Wood Cemetery
Section 145, Lot 29429.
----INSCRIPTION, top and front:'


This memorial was erected to perpetuate the grateful sense of pleasure I had in the conversation of an accomplished woman, a sincere friend, and an agreeable companion.



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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Moses King New York Guide Book Cover – Inspiration for O.Henry’s short story The Lady Higher Up?




New York World Sunday Magazine, July 24, 1904, The Lady Higher Up by O.Henry


I have to thank the Internet for the coming together of ideas. Researching the latter part of the nineteenth century New York I came across the Moses King Photographic Views of New York originally published in 1892.

I cannot but help to think in the last twenty four hours looking at the cover of the King’s Tourist Guide that Bill Porter hanging around pool halls, billiard parlors and rummy saloons around Fourteenth Street, fingered his King’s Guide to New York to inspire a story for a much needed sawbuck to pay his bar tab and some back rent on a furnished room. 

That about a year and a half to two years into residence in New York City he may have been ready to toss that book - feeling like a native NYer - but instead fingered that guide for inspiration, in a copy newly purchased when he has first arrived or in a dime used copy at a bookstore outdoor stall – with the cover image of Diana the Saint Gaudens sculpted weathervane on top of Madison Square Garden - pointing an arrow at Lady Liberty - may have just been the visual inspiration trigger for the story mentioned above.  

Just a thought.







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Walt Whitman 1887





Walt Whitman 1887 - presumably in his Camden New Jersey home.

Photograph attributed to the Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins - (Library of Congress)



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