Understanding Luxury

Joanne Dickinson:

We all could use more than a few moments to occasionally ponder what luxury is and is not in our lives and how we can help others in need… The Howard Family (Mark and Tracy and their three young children, Kai, Riley and Jordan), are beautiful examples of people living their lives to help glofiy God through their intentional relationships and services to the poverty-stricken people who live in Comayagua, Honduras. Mark and Tracy, while working with the El Ayudante Missions are Chesapeake Church’s staffing extension there. Regularly throughout the year, Chesapeake Church members visit the Howard Family and support El Ayudante’s efforts. This year, it’s our turn, and I am so looking forward to my eminent few moments to lend a hand painting, digging latrines, setting up water filters, providing vacation bible school for the children, attending their local church services, and most of all sharing loving experiences in a culture who’s luxury is so very different from ours. Thank you, El Ayudante, The Howards, Chesapeake Church, and the people of Comayagua, Honduras.

Originally posted on howardsinhonduras:

I am doing research for a class the doctor at Clinica El Ayudante is doing for parents of malnourished kids in our area.  I am sitting here reading about what it is like to try and eat healthy when you don’t have many resources.  I pause, and realize I am hungry.  I had a good workout with a friend this morning, and apparently I didn’t eat enough breakfast.  Something to do with three little guys wanting to play soccer, and trying to take a shower within the small window where they are happily playing together.  I go to my kitchen and open the cupboard, which is full of healthy and yummy choices.  Maybe I’m not hungry, I’m thirsty. So I go to my water cooler and fill my clean bottle with crystal clear, filtered, cold water.  All this time, my mind is processing what I have been reading.

I have…

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Coincidence or Destiny?

Census records from 1870-1900 reveal that my maternal great grandfather, John Carpenter Ford (1864-1961)–one of the last of 2 survivors of 19th Century Indian Wars and infantryman of Company D., 17th Infantry–was born and raised just off of Forestville Road in Forestiville, NC –known since the beginning of the 20th century as Wake Forest.

Forestville NC Baptist Church 1860

In 1960, nearly 100 years after great grandpop John’s birth in Forestiville, NC,  and one year after his death at the United States Airmen’s and Soldier’s Home in Washington, DC, my family (unaware of John’s birth location), moved to Forestville, MD–just a hop, skip, and a jump off of Forestville Road, MD.

Fifty-five years later, my parents are the last of our family of five to remain in Forestville and in their home that still shows good as new!

Both Forestvilles made for great beginnings and very likely a final neighborhood for our very senior parents who still have one couple of old-time friends just outside of their backyard.

UPDATE: The First Ever Global Family Reunion–Saturday, June 6, 2015

One World. One Family. One Extraordinary Event to Benefit Alzheimer’s Research:

AJ Jacobs Global Family Reunion Organizer

A. J. Jacobs – Author and GFR Organizer– Photo By New York Times , Brian Harkin

A. J. Jacobs organized the 2015 Global Family Reunion to celebrate the premise that essentially everyone on earth is related. 

MAY 8, 2015

“I called his chief of staff and explained that I was a long-lost cousin,” he said.

It was not exactly a fib. Mr. Jacobs and the 41st president can be found 21 genealogical steps from each other, through marriage, on interlocking family trees, according to data Mr. Jacobs unearthed on genealogy sites likeGeni.com, he said. He used the same “we’re cousins” approach with Ludacris (39 steps) and Daniel Radcliffe (29).

“It’s one of the best icebreakers,” Mr. Jacobs, 47, said. “It’s the new LinkedIn.”

Mr. Jacobs’s relation to these notables, however tangential, was the precise reason he was reaching out: He was inviting them to participate in the Global Family Reunion, a celebrity-dotted, convention-size mega-reunion he is organizing for June 6 in New York in celebration of his family, and your family — in short, everyone’s family… (To read the full article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/style/aj-jacobs-seeks-the-world-record-for-largest-family-reunion.html)

First Global Family Reunion held at Hall of Science
By Madina Toure, Times Ledger Newspapears - June 11, 2015

More than 3,700 individuals participated in the reunion, held at the museum at 47-01 111th St. in Flushing Meadows Corona Park June 6, featured talks from genealogists, scientists and entertainers covering everything about families, including personal stories, ancestry and DNA.

Several thousand more individuals participated in more than 40 simultaneous parties worldwide.

The reunion also included comedy, games, exhibits, music and genealogy booths. Performers included Tuelo & Her Cousins and Sister Sledge singing “We Are Family.”

Speakers included Morgan Spurlock, director of the “Supersize Me” documentary and D. Joshua Taylor, genealogist and president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. There were also video presentations by actor Daniel Radcliffe, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and comedian Nick Kroll.

Proceeds from the event will go toward research, training and education for Alzheimer’s disease. The Global Family Reunion is partnering with the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

About 47 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and that number is expected to rise to 76 million by 2030, according to Julie Jacobs, wife of author A.J. Jacobs, the founder of the Global Family Reunion.

“We cannot have that happen to our family tree,” Julie said.

Recordsetter.com said the Global Family Reunion is the Biggest Worldwide Family Reunion and that it set a record for biggest family hug and most people singing “We Are Family” at a family reunion.

Chicago resident Geneva Norman, 67, whose big family has been meeting in Ohio for 95 years, is related to Ronald Bell of Kool and the Gang, actress and singer Dorothy Dandridge, baseball player Jackie Robinson and singer John Legend.

She recently discovered that she has Finnish and Cameroonian roots.

“This just appealed to me automatica­lly,” Norman said.

Jamaica resident Natasha Rupan, a member of the Hall of Science who attended the reunion with her daughter, said she appreciated the reunion’s emphasis on all individuals being related.

“The fact that we all come together and understand that we’re all the same,” Rupan said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

The Evolution of the Word “Dude”

I’m one of those mothers/grandmothers who still uses the words “dude” or “dudes” when I’m feeling connected or playful with younger family members. And, in keeping with my research of familial and social history, I happened upon the following from mentalfloss.


“It Shines Like Liquid Gold–Sparkles Like Amber Dew”

Many of the men in our family in their younger days were beer drinkers.  Today, not so much.  In fact, at our family gatherings for the past 30 years we have had only non-alcoholic beverages.

The Beginning of My Family’s Beer Drinking Days

My dad was an attractive but scrawny child, who in 1949, three years after marrying my mom at age 18, asked his doctor what he could do to gain weight.  Dr. Brainin, our family doctor, suggested that he drink one beer a day with his dinner each night.  And, that began his beer drinking days that lasted until 1985 when he suffered his first stroke at age 57–30 years after his first drink and 125 years after the Busch family came from Germany to settle in St. Louis, Missouri and to sell beer.

Budweiser’s Story

Budweiser’s story began in ­­1857 when a young man, Adolphus Busch, with his meager inheritance —he was one of 22 children—bought a brewery supply company.
In the mid-1800s, most Americans preferred robust, dark ales. And Busch, after traveling Europe to observe and study the latest brewing techniques, became the first person in the United States to pasteurize beer and to make a lighter and tastier ale. His pasteurization also allowed the ale to remain fresh during cross-country trips. He owned the company that built the railroad cars that transported his beer; owned the company that made his bottles; and, even owned a coal mine that fired his plant.

Ebert Anheuser, on the other hand, owned a failing brewery. He was one of Busch’s buyers and was a wealthy soap manufacturer. His Bavarian Brewing Company produced such horribly tasting beer that “people would spit it back across the bar at bartenders,” so says National Public Radio’s investigative reporter, William Knoedelseder.

Eventually Busch took over the company, changed the recipe, changed the name, and Anheuser-Busch was born.

Anheuser-Busch introduced this light bohemian lager in 1876 under the brand name Budweiser. Beer became the national drink, and Anheuser-Busch was reeling in the profits, “They were selling a million barrels a year, which was just unthinkable back then,” says Knoedelseder.

And, just over 50 years after coming to America, about 10 years before prohibition laws (1919-1933) in the United States,  we can see below an example of Budweiser’s novel marketing in newspapers around the country where they claimed Budweiser was the end-all, be-all, and the King of All Beers.

Clipped from Daily Industrial News, Greensboro, NC,  20 Aug 1908, ThuPage 6George Washington and Budweiser

And, in the 1980’s, 72 years after “The King of All Bottled Beers,” appeared in the Daily Industrial News on 20 August 1908, Budweiser changed its beer title to “King of Beers,” and that title stands today.

In 2008, after four generations of the Busch family owning the company, it was purchased through a hostile takeover by a recently new company in the industry, InBev, and  the reign of the Busch family was over.  Yet, its appealing targeted marketing still makes its brand one of the highest selling beers in the United States, and available in over 80 markets worldwide.  In fact, many fans of football’s Super Bowl tune in just to see the highly expensive, highly creative, commercials–always among the top:  Budweiser’s “King of Beers.”     Budweiser produced the following tribute commercial after 9/11. They only aired it once so as not to benefit financially from it – they just wanted to acknowledge the tragic event …

Tobacco Warning From 17th Century (1606)

Smokers in an Inn (1650) by Mattheus van Helmont

Smokers in an Inn (1650) by Mattheus van Helmont

I find it awesomely amusing and astonishingly amazing that we as a world of people ignore history, despite evidence that had we heeded its details, we could have avoided much pain, suffering, and loss.  And, I say this, despite my lineage back to Pocahontas and her husband, John Thomas Rolfe through the marriage of their granddaughter, Jane Poythress Rolfe to Colonel Robert Bolling, my 9th great grandfather.

You see, it was John Rolfe (1585-1622) who emigrated in 1610 from England and settled in Henrico County, Virginia.  In 1612 he imported tobacco seeds from Trinidad and cultivated a new strain of mild tobacco.  He shipped part of his harvest to England in 1614, and by 1619, tobacco had become Virginia’s major money crop.

Yet, is was in 1606 that Dr Eleazar Duncon ‘s published letter revealed to medical professionals of his concerns about tobacco smoking affirmed that there were similar concerns about the issue that date back four centuries.

The following is the article as it appeared in BBC News| UK|Scotland on Saturday, September 19, 2009:

BBC News Header

Letter written by Dr Duncon

Letter written by Dr. Duncon

Doctors in the 17th Century were worried about the dangers of young people smoking, a recently unearthed letter has revealed.

The letter, written in 1606 by Dr Eleazar Duncon, said tobacco was “hurtful” to the nation’s youth.

It was found by library staff at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).

The Scottish Parliament will this week debate new proposals to curb tobacco and cigarette sales to youngsters.

Dr Duncon’s letter reveals medical professionals were similarly concerned about the issue four centuries ago.

‘Fascinating insight’

The letter, which was published at the time by Dr Duncon’s employer, concluded that tobacco “is so hurtful and dangerous to youth that it might have the pernicious nature expressed in the name, and that it were as well known by the name of Youths-bane as by the name of tobacco”.

Professor Sir Neil Douglas, the president of the RCPE, said it gave a “fascinating insight into historical concerns” about smoking and young people.

It would be easy for politicians to think that the problems associated with tobacco have been dealt with
Professor Sir Neil Douglas
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

He added: “This letter from our library collection provides a fascinating insight into historical medical concerns about the addictive nature of smoking and young people, and shows that this issue has been of concern for over four centuries.

“The Scottish Parliament has already taken a political lead, and demonstrated its commitment to tackling the harm caused by tobacco, by introducing smoke-free legislation for public places.

“However, it would be easy for politicians to think that the problems associated with tobacco have been dealt with and to lose sight of the fact that the proposed bill includes critically important measures aimed at reducing smoking in young people.”

The professor urged MSPs of all parties to take the “historic opportunity” to back the proposed bill, which would end point of sale advertising and tobacco vending machines, which he said encouraged and influenced young people to smoke.

If it is passed by Holyrood, the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill would also introduce a registration system for tobacco retailers.

MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament), on the health and sport committee have also urged the government to include a provision in the proposed legislation that would make it a criminal act for adults to buy tobacco for under-age youngsters.

A Forgotten Story Resurrected…

Resurrecting Forgotten News

My world explorer+ ancestry.com membership includes, among other things, a subscription to newspapers.com.  Newspapers.com has searchable, digitized articles from 3,600 newspapers that date back to the 1700’s and span into the 21st century.   I am amazed at the navigation and intuitiveness of the application and the variety of  manipulation techniques and output available.

Today’s Find

Amidst my searches today, I happened upon a female author of short stories whose articles appeared in various newspapers across the country from as early as 1846 and into the 1900’s.  I really had to do my homework because when I searched for a biography of the author it wasn’t easy to find.  Turns out, she had published her articles using a couple of pseudonyms, and it appears, she and her family never made much of her talents and skills during her life or even in her obituary.

Lucy Ann Randall – This is Her Story

Lucy Randall Comfort photo

AKA Author:                              Helen Forrest Graves              1836-1914

Born February 23, 1836, in Norwich, New York, Lucy Ann Randall was the daughter of Samuel Sidwell Randall (1809-1881) and Sarah Bassett Hubbell–the second of five children. Her father, an educator, served from about 1848 to 1870 as superintendent of several school systems in and around New York City. It must have been his editor’s role from 1845-1852 for the  District School Journal that encouraged Lucy to become a writer. Her earliest work, a poem, “The Consumptive,” appeared in the August 1849 issue of District School Journal, and several of her stories and poems were published in the 1850 volume.

Within the next few years, Lucy’s poems and stories appeared in several publications including Moore’s Rural New-Yorker, Knickerbocker, and The Olive Branch. Short pieces also appeared in Street & Smith’s columns in the New York Weekly. In 1860, they purchased her serial “Amy Rayner; or, The Tangled Path” and advertised it in newspapers across the country.  They also outed two of her pseudonyms “Helen Forrest Graves,” which  she had used for Weekly sketches, and “Mrs. George Washington Willis,” in an unidentified “contemporary journal.” Besides her work for the Weekly, during the 1860s, she also wrote for Robert Bonner’s New York Ledger and for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly.

On 23 May 1867, she married John Elijah Comfort (1837-1901), a doctor and health officer, but continued writing — all that changed was her name on the stories, now Lucy Randall Comfort. In 1868, she published her only children’s book, Folks and Fairies: Stories for Little Children.John E. Comfort photo

The 1870 census showed Lucy and her husband living with her parents.  She was also writing stories for George Munro’s Fireside Companion. In the early 1870s, her serials were nearly regular features in the paper.

In the midst of her writing,  Lucy gave birth to son Randall on 27 April 1871. She had a second son, Frank, in 1878 but he died before 1900.

The 1880 census showed Lucy, John, Randall, and Frank together with three servants, living next-door to her parents and two of her siblings. Her brother Sidwell was an attorney; her father had retired. Lucy’s occupation was shown as “keeping house.”

Twenty years later, the 1900 census indicated the couple were still enjoying prosperity: they now shared their home with their son Randall and with Lucy’s sister Martha (erroneously labeled a step-daughter by the census taker), as well as two servants and a coachman. John was a doctor; Randall, a lawyer; and the space for Lucy’s occupation was left blank. By then, she was contributing to few, if any, periodicals — though her serials were being reprinted as paperback novels by Street & Smith and F. M. Lupton.

John Comfort died on May 29, 1901. Lucy continued to share her home with her son and her sister; the three of them, along with one servant, are recorded there in the 1910 census.

On 11 December 1914, Lucy Ann Randall Comfort died at her home in Pleasantville, New York. Her New York Times obituary noted that she “had lived in [that house] since the beginning of the civil war.”

One of Helen Forrest Graves stories that appeared in the Thursday, February 7, 1895 edition of The Chatham Record Newspaper caught my eye:  A Righteous Retribution for four reasons:  1) it included a name of more than one of my family members; i.e., John Ford, and; 2) it was based in North Carolina from which our Ford family came, and; 3) I used to climb apple and peach trees and get caught by my grandmother, Loretta Ford; and, I still love writing short stories.  I hope you like Helen’s:

A Righteous Retribution

“Miriam Green, I am astonished!” said Aunt Jane.

“Oh, but, Aunt Jane, I couldn’t help it!” said Miriam laughing. But at the same time she colored very red and hung down her pretty head.

There was no denying this offense. It was patent to all the world–or at least to all that part of it who might happen to be on the edge of Raven Woods.

There was Miriam Green up atop of the old oak tree, which reared its proud crest, an Absalom among its gold-leaved brethren, her curls all tangled, her apron filled with treasures of dark green mistletoe.  There was Aunt Jane standing in the little open clearing, hands uplifted,  eyes opened in the widest of disapproving glares, and sun bonnet fallen over backward on her shoulders.

“Your frock’it all torn!” enunciated the old lady”

“I can easily mend it again.”

“And, your hair blown into a tangle.”

“Oh, Aunt Jane, it is nothing!” pleaded Miriam.

“And your bonnet hanging half way down the tree!”  gasped Aunt Jane, growing more indignant as the ful weight and extent of Miriam’s enormities dawned upon her mind.

“When you knew I forbade you to think of such a thing as climbing a tree!

“Dear Aunt Jane–” began the offender.

But the old lady would listen to no argument.

“You were seventeen yesterday said she.  You are old enough to know better and you shall be made to know better!  I will punish you for this inexcusable hoydenism!”

Miriam’s blue eyes grew big.  Surely Aunt Jane couldn’t shake her or shut her up in the garret with a page of “Watt’s Hymns” to learn, or–worst alternative of all–put her on a short allowance of applie pie at dinner.

For pretty Miriam was still child enough to regard any of these occurences as a serious misfortunate and one to be greatly deprecated.

But, while she was yet in the agonies of apprehension, the question was definitely determined by Aunt Jane’s advancing to the foot of the oak tree and pulling away the ladder that had served as a means to reach the first bough, a ragged mass of foilage some 20 feet up from the roots.  Below that, the trunk extended down as perpendicular, and free of side growth as a telegraph pole.

“There!” said Aunt Jane.  “Since you were so anxious to climb the tree after mistletoe, you may remain there and think it over at your leisure.  I will come back this evening and put back the ladder.”

Miriam uttered a little cry.

“Please, Aunt Jane, don’t go off!” she appealed.  “I’ll never do so anymore.  Please forgive me just this once!”

But, Aunt Jane was exorable. With slow majesty she strode out of the opening and was gone, even while Miriam’s piteous voice quivered on the air.

“Oh dear–oh dear, what am I to do?” said Miriam to herself.  I couldn’t jump down without breaking my arm, or ankle, or something; and here I am alone in this wilderness!”

There she sat, perched on a horizontal bough, clinging to the taper trunk of the tree, and swayed to and fro’ in the gentle breezes.  It had been a most fascinating position a few minutes ago; now it was frightful and perilous in the extremist degree.

Was it an hour, 10 hours, or possibly only 15 minutes?  Like the Prisoner of Chillon, the poor little captive lost all power of calculating time.

But just as the round sun hung like a ball or orange-flame above the western woods, there was the sound of quick footsteps crashing over fallen twigs and crips leaves below.

“It’s John Ford, coming home from hunting!” Miriam said to herself with a quick breath. “Oh, I do hope he won’t see me!”

She shrank close to the trunk of the tree, and tried to seem as much like a bunch of mistletoe as possible.

But it was useless.  John Ford’s keen eyes were too well used for woodcraft and all pertaining to it to overlook her.  He stopped short at the entrance to the glade.

“Miriam Green!” he exclaimed.

“Yes!” said the girl, laughing a little hysterically.  Zaccheus he–”

“Did climb down a tree.”

“And I am Zaccheus and now I can’t get down.”

“Oh!” said Mr. Ford.  “The ladder fell, did it?”

“Y-yes” said Miriam turning very red.  “The ladder fell down.”

“I’ll put it up for you” said Ford.

“Do!” said Miriam laughing to herself as should thought of Aunt Jane.

He sung the ladder promptly up against the trunk of the tree.

“Now, it’s alright,” said he.  “I’ll just go over to see that the dogs haven’t frightened Mrs. Morey’s young turkeys, and wait for you outside the woods.”

In five minutes, Miriam Green was by his side, rosy and breathless, still clinging to her apron full of mistletoe.

“Oh, I am so much obliged to you,” she said earnestly.

“It was rather an awkward predicament, wasn’t it?” smiled he.

“What will Aunt Jane say?” Miriam said involuntarily?

“She’ll be very much alarmed, what she?”

“No,” confessed Miriam.  “She–that is–  Oh, Mr. Ford, I can’t deceive you about it!”

And, she told him all.

“Of course it was very wrong to disobey her,” she added.

“My poor little Miriam!  My sweet, frightened darling,” cried John Ford passing his strong arm around her waist.  “She was a perfect dragoness to torment you so!”

“But, I belong to her said the girl, innocently.  I have no other home but her house.”

“Then, belong to me henceforward,” he said, tenderly looking down into her blue limpid eyes.  “Surely, you cannot have failed to discover how deeply I love you!   Hereafter, you are mine!”

Miriam Green, young as she was, had often dreamed of the pathway in which love should come to her, but it had never seemed like this.

“But,” she stammered.  “What will your uncle say?”

“What should he say?” calmly retorted her lover.  “Ford Court is mine.  My uncle is only my beloved and honored guest. Besides, he loves me so genuinely that  my happiness cannot be but his.    And–but what is this?”

They had by this time, reached the solid stone wall which divided the grounds of Ford Court from the woods, and, there, perched up on its height–a feminine Stylites–was Aunt Jane, with a basket in her hand, half full of the barberries which she had gathered from the huge bushes that made a scarlet-dotted screen inside, while stretched prone on the grass at the foot of the wall lay old Major Ford’s monster bloodhound, Gelert.  He looked around and wagged his tail slowly at the sight of John, but did not stir otherwise.

“Aunt Jane,” said Miriam.  “What are you doing on top of the wall, there?”

“I-I only wanted a few barberries to put in my cucumber pickles,” stammered Aunt Jane, ready to burst into tears.  “And–and, I didn’t suppose there was any harm in gathering them here.  I’ve picked pecks and pecks of barberries off of them very bushes, and nobody said a word.  And, I was just reaching up for the finest when up comes a cross old savage and asks me what I mean by stealing fruit, and leaves me here with this horrid brute to watch me–just as if I was a tramp–while he goes for a constable!  I never was so treated in my life!  And, the more I try to jump off, the more the dog shows his teeth at me, and growls.  He’d tear me in pieces if I stirred a foot in any direction, I do believe!”

“My Uncle Ford, whispered John to Miriam.  “He is a positive monomaniac on the subject of fruit thieves!  The park bristles with man-traps and there is a dog chained under every apple tree on the premises.  But, it’s too bad that he should have taken your aunt for one of the village purloiners!  Gelert!  Come here this instant, sir!  I assure you, Miss Green” (to Aunt Jane who between her terror and fatigue was on the verge of fainting) “my uncle will be the most grieved on any one, when he learns of what a misapprehension he has been laboring under.  Allow me to help you down.  Take care, don’t spill the barberries!”

“Dear Aunt Jane!” soothed Miriam, receiving the old lady in her arms, “how frightened you must have been!”

“Oh, Miriam, forgive me!” sobbed the old lady, behind her sun bonnet.  “I didn’t know how dreadful it was, or I never, never would have pulled the ladder down and left you there!  It’s a righteous retribution on me, that’s what it is!”

“Oh, Aunty, don’t fret about it,” said Miriam, radiantly.  “It’s all right now.”  “Mr. Ford came along at put up the ladder again and–and, I’m engaged to be married to him! Don’t look so surprised, Aunt Jane!  I know I have told it in a jerky sort of way, but it all happened as naturally as possible.  Didn’t  it, John?”

And then followed congratulations and explanations, and finally, the humble apologies of Major Ford, a testy old gentleman of 60 odd years, who just then arrive on the scene, accompanied by the village constable.  “I’m sure I beg a thousand pardons!” said Major Ford.  “But how was I to know?  I’m a stranger in these parts, you know, and half the fruit trees were stripped last night!”

And, Aunt Jane received his acknowledgment in frigid silence.

“A lady is a lady, she said to her niece, afterword, even if she has climbed on a stone wall to gather barberries! And, no one but a semi-barbarian could mistake her for anything else!”

And, Miriam Green was too happy in her own newborn felicity to argue the question with her aunt.

William Langson Lathrop–“The Pennsylvania Impressionist”

Father of New Hope, Pennsylvania Art Colony

William Langson LathropMy sixth maternal cousin (2x removed), The Pennsylvania Impressionist”  William Langson Lathrop (1859–1938) was born in Warren, Illinois, and raised at his family’s farm in Painesville, Ohio, by his parents Byron P. Lathrop, a physician, and Isabella A. Langson Lathrop, who was of Irish descent and a lover of the arts.  He became known as one of America’s premier landscape painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Considered the founder of the New Hope Colony of Pennsylvania Impressionists, William primarily painted rustic landscapes of oil and watercolor.

1876 (Age 17) – 1871 (Age 22)

William or “Willie,” as he was called as a child according to Census records, graduated high school and traveled to New York to first study art at Cooper Union’s Free Night School of Art.

William returned to Painesville in 1877, and in 1880 started sending his illustrations to New York-based magazines. He landed a job at Harper’s magazine, where soon after, Charles Parsons, his editor, told him his real talents appeared to be in the fine arts not illustrations and he urged William to put brush to canvas instead.

“Cows Watering at Twilight” by: William Langson Lathrop

At age 22, Lathrop sold his first painting (of his neighbor’s cows) and then went back to New York to work at a photoengraving company on Park Place.  While in New York, he met artist Henry B. Snell, who would later join William’s “New Hope Pennsylvania Art Colony”. He next sold his first etchings to New York engravings and etchings publisher Christian Klackner, but earned little money doing so.

1887 (Age 28) – 1891 (Age 32)

William Merritt ChaseIn 1887 Lathrop went on to study with American impressionism teacher William Merritt Chase at New York’s Arts Student League.  The next year he visited England, France, and Holland. In November 1888, he met and married Annie Sarah Burt of England’s Oxford District.

In France, he visited the Louvre, and then in Barbizon, just south of Paris, France, he painted at The Barbizon School among other landscape artists.  (Barbizon School artists are often considered to have sown the seeds of Modernism with their individualism, and were the forerunners of the Impressionists, who took a similar philosophical approach to their art.)

Colleagues and Affiliations:

J Alden Weir

Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) American Impressionist

For a few months upon their return to the states, Lathrop and his wife Annie stayed at Julian Alden Weir’s (a fellow impressionist painter and member of the Cos Cob Art Colony near Greenwich, CT), Georgetown, Connecticut farm. The etchings market struggled in 1891 and the Lathrop’s were forced to return to farming back in Painesville.

Henry and Florence Snell were close friends with William and his wife Annie. They would have Sunday dinners together at Phillips Mill.

An Evening Walk 1886

An Evening Walk 1886

It was in 1896 when Henry Snell (left in the photo of two men below) entered six of William’s (right in the photo of two men below) watercolors in the Annual New York Watercolor Club Show and one of them won “The William T. Evans Prize”  in the prestigious New York show and his works received a glowing review in The New York Times–this event and its publicity launched William’s career as an American impressionist painter.

Much to my dismay I could not find an online copy of Lathrop’s “Twilight in Connecticut.”  However, below is a copy of the New York Times Article dated 15 February 1896 where the writer reviewed Lathrop’s artistry:

New York Times 15 Feb 1896

Snell and Lathrop

In 1899 Lathrop and his family moved to New Hope, PA on the Delaware River. Other artists began to settle in the area, some of them drawn by Lathrop’s recommendations. The Lathrop home soon served as the social focus of the growing art colony and he began teaching art classes in his home studio. Lathrop Home Studio                                           His wife, Annie entertained artists with Sunday afternoon teas which became a popular forum for exchanging ideas about art.  Lathrop was also a friend of physicist Albert Einstein of nearby Princeton, New Jersey. They shared the love of music and of sailing. Lathrop even built his own violin. He was also friends with fellow artists, John Folinsbee and Harry Leith-Ross.

Phillips Mill

In 1903, Dr. George Marshall of Philadelphia, owner of the early 18th Century Phillip’s Mill, sold the house and a four acre portion of the property to his boyhood friend, William Lathrop. The Mill became the playhouse for the Marshall and Lathrop children. The Lathrops’ Sunday afternoon teas, to which local artists and neighbors were invited, were the beginnings of the community association. These early “members” included the artists Rae Sloan Bredin, Fern Coppedge, John Folinsbee, Daniel Garber, Mary Elizabeth Price, Edward Redfield, and Walter Schofield.

Lathrop Hospitality

Lathrop Hospitality

William Lathrop was the first president of the Phillips Mill Community Association, 1929. His son, Julian L. Lathrop, was a founder of and taught at the Solebury School. Julian’s wife, Anne Goodell Lathrop, was educated at the Philadelphia College of Art and Design, (now Moore College of Art and Design).

In 1907, William Lathrop was elected an academician of New York’s National Academy of Design.  He served on the juries of the Carnegie Institute’s International Exhibits and  the National Academy of Design from 1910-1917.

He received a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915) in San Francisco, California, which showcased works by many of the major American artists of the time.

William Lathrop was a member of the group of painters, called the New Hope Group, along with Daniel Garber, Morgan Colt, Charles Rosen, Robert Spencer and Rae Sloan Bredin. The locals dubbed them the Towpath Group. They exhibited together from 1916-1926, and their exhibitions traveled to a number of cities throughout this country.

Published quotes by William Langson Lathrop

Unknown Newspaper Quote 1924Lathrop QuoteFor more than thirty years Lathrop pursued landscape painting at New Hope, exhibiting his works in galleries across the nation. During this time Lathrop’s painting style evolved from tonalist, characterized by darker colors and an emphasis on mood, to the brighter impressionist paintings for which he is best remembered today.

The Widge Sailboat

The Widge SailboatIn the late 1920s Lathrop hand-built a wooden boat in his backyard and named it The Widge. Measuring over twenty feet in length, Lathrop and his friends launched The Widge into the Delaware River in 1930. Lathrop, an able sailor, piloted the boat into the Atlantic coastal waters. He continued sailing for pleasure in his later years, painting scenes of the Atlantic shoreline and even once entertaining Albert Einstein on board as a guest.

Today, Lathrop’s paintings are in numerous museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

Hurricane of 1938

In September 1938, the 79-year-old Lathrop was piloting his 20′ wooden boat around eastern Long Island when word came of an approaching hurricane–“The Long Island Express” as it became known or “The Great Hurricane of 1938″. Far from safe harbor, Lathrop chose to ride out the storm in a sheltered bay. While The Widge survived the storm, Lathrop did not.  Below follows the storm’s description as provided by the Public Broadcast System’s “American Experience” series:

At 9 am on Wednesday, September 21, the storm was reported off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and the Cunard liner Carinthia passing close to the Virginia Capes and Cape Hatteras, reported a barometric pressure of 27.85 inches not even passing through the eye of the storm. If forecasters were more historically inclined, they would have recognized that this information suggested that the storm was not heading out to sea as usual, but was moving straight north — as similar hurricanes had in 1635 and 1815. Rain had been falling in the northeastern United States intermittently for days before September 21, representing a trough of low pressure or weakness in the atmosphere. The hurricane responded by moving rapidly in this warm moist pathway. A large high pressure system over the Maritimes of Canada blocked the storm from moving out to sea.

The earth was already saturated from the prior rainfall, with streams and rivers full to their banks across New England. The tide was astronomically high at the autumnal equinox — when both the sun and the moon’s gravity tug at the sea level. The stage was set for major impact from all aspects of the storm: wind, rain, and storm surge.

A decimated shoreline.

A decimated shoreline.

Even the best forecasters, however, would have been hard pressed to forecast the forward speed of this storm. The Hurricane of 1938 swept up the coast to northern latitudes at greater than 60 mph — at least twice as fast as normal. At 1 pm the storm was east of Atlantic City, New Jersey, where part of the Boardwalk was torn up. The eye came ashore at Bayport, Long Island, New York, at 2:30 pm when a barometric pressure was noted at 27.94 inches. When the hurricane and its accompanying tidal surge and surf hit Long Island, the impact registered on seismographs in Alaska.

The eye of the storm was about 50 miles wide at this time, and the storm continued traveling northward into New England at more than 50 mph. The east side of the hurricane — the “dangerous semicircle” — was scouring the countryside at speeds approaching 100 mph with higher gusts estimated at 120 mph on Fishers Island south of New London, Connecticut. In New York City, west of the eye, the top of the Empire State Building recorded winds of 120 mph, although at ground level in Central Park the winds were blowing at 60 mph. With each mile eastward on Long Island the damage worsened. There was nearly total devastation on the beach along Dune Road at Westhampton, where only 26 out of 179 homes stood after the storm and most of those were uninhabitable. The 125-foot steeple atop the Presbyterian Church in Sag Harbor fell, as did hundreds of other steeples that day.

On September 26, 1938, numerous national and local newspapers published the United Press release of the demise of William Langson Lathrop at sea:

Evening News - Harrisburg, PA:  26 Sep 1938

Evening News – Harrisburg, PA: 26 Sep 1938



Michener Art Museum. http://www.michenermuseum.org/bucksartists/artist.php?artist=141&page=655


Pennsylvania Impressionism. 2002;  By Brian H. Peterson, William H. Gerdts, Sylvia Yount

Phillips Mill Community Association.  www.phillipsmill.org

The National Academy of Design.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/25608025

Julian Alden Weir Biography (1852-1919) – Life of an American Artist totallyhistory.com


Back to the Future–Really?

back to the future--einstein quote

Yet another perspective into how our Past may help portray what’s in our future…

A few hours ago, Cousin Lyle posted publicly on FB:

We are going through a period of adjustment. Wage stagnation for most seems unending. Technology and automation and global trade and labor competition have labor on the ropes. Governmental policy can help, and people are beginning to demand it, such as increases in the minimum wage. But in the long-run how do we get out of this rut? Here is an economist with an optimistic outlook, based on similar conditions and periods in the past. I hope he is right. Sounds reasonable.

So, I thought I would reblog the post from Vox.com’s technology department that Lyle referenced to see just how you feel about its juxtaposing our recent booms in technology to similar booms in the 18-1900s which changed our work, our job skill requirements, and our associated wages.

Why history suggests that today’s wage stagnation is temporary

Updated by Timothy B. Lee on May 21, 2015, 8:00 a.m. ET tim@vox.com

Nissan Car Plant in UK


The past 30 years have seen amazing progress in computer technology, and that progress has transformed a wide variety of American industries. Yet that same 30-year period has been a disappointment when it comes to the incomes of ordinary Americans.A new book by economist James Bessen argues that it’s not surprising for new technologies to be associated with stagnant wages. Indeed, something similar happened in America’s first high-tech boom: the textile industry of the mid-1800s. From 1830 to 1860, cloth production skyrocketed; wages barely budged. But then weavers’ wages started rising. By 1900, they were more than twice their level from 40 years earlier. Bessen argues that this and other historical examples offer important lessons about the state of the labor market today. Some people, such as economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, have portrayed a future in which computers destroy more and more jobs, leaving millions out of work. Bessen is skeptical. Computers obviously do eliminate some jobs, but they almost always create other jobs in the process. The tricky thing is that these new jobs often demand different skills, and workers are struggling to keep up. Still, Bessen paints a basically optimistic view of a future in which technologies mature and create new, higher-paying jobs for ordinary workers.

Computers aren’t destroying jobs (on net)

In recent years, there’s been a lot of worry that increasingly sophisticated computers would replace more and more jobs, which could lead to a future where many low-skilled workers are unable to find a job at all. But Bessen argues that this is a misunderstanding of recent economic trends. “I just don’t see evidence of it,” he says. “There are very few occupations where everything has been automated.” Bessen points to bank tellers as an example. During the 1990s and 2000s, banks installed thousands of automated teller machines. Yet surprisingly, the number of human tellersactually grew slightly during the same period, as this chart from the Atlantic shows:

The Atlantic/BLS

BANK TELLERS & ATMS IN THE U.S. (IN THOUSANDS)          Datawrapper/BLS Contributor

Bessen argues that this is not an isolated example. “Voicemail systems and automated telephone systems dramatically reduced the jobs for telephone operators, but the number of receptionists increased,” he says. Government data shows that from 1999 to 2009, the economy lost 162,000 typists and 102,000 switchboard operators. But during that same period, there was an increase of 215,000 secretaries and 64,000 receptionists and information clerks. That adds up to a net gain of about 16,000 jobs.

In part, these workers handle tasks that are still too complex for automation. But these jobs have also persisted because people find it useful and pleasant to talk to other human beings. A human teller can answer basic questions about a bank’s services better than any computer program. This isn’t just an abstract issue for Bessen, an economist whose empirical research has had a big impact on the patent reform debate (and who created a card stack for Vox last year). In the 1980s, before embarking on a second career as an economist, Bessen founded a company that built one of the first desktop publishing systems. As he watched his software make some jobs in the publishing industry obsolete even as it created many others, Bessen became fascinated by the question of how technology transforms the labor market.

How technology creates new jobs

Bessen says today’s technological changes aren’t so different from those that happened in the past. “Over the course of the 19th century, technology took over 98 percent of the tasks required of a weaver,” he says. “But that 2 percent became more valuable.”


James Bessen

Bessen sees similar trends occurring all around him. For example, in 2013, 60 Minutes did a feature on a Massachusetts company that uses robots rather than humans to move products around its warehouse. “They figured out that each robot was doing the work of one and a half workers. And 60 Minutes concluded that this means we’re just headed for technological unemployment.” But Bessen doesn’t buy it. “If you talk to people in the industry, the managers of these warehouses, they’re saying they’re having difficulty hiring enough workers who have the appropriate skills” There are two big reasons for this. The obvious one is that introducing robots into warehouses creates new, high-skilled jobs building, programming, and repairing robots. But there’s also a more subtle effect that parallels the experience of the textile industry 150 years ago, where cheaper cloth induced consumers to buy a lot more clothing. As technology has made warehouses more efficient, companies have demanded a lot more from them. For example, Bessen says, “there’s been a huge increase in the variety of items stocked in a store. Today’s supermarkets carry over 50 times as many items as the grocery stores of 80 years ago. That’s been enabled by all these various systems that can keep track of things and ship them and restock them when inventories are getting low.” The astonishing variety of a modern grocery store would have been impossible using the information technologies available in the 1960s. That complexity means there are a lot more warehouse jobs than there would have been if companies had simply computerized the simpler supply chains they had in past decades. Bessen argues that the same dynamic was at work with growing bank teller employment during the 2000s. ATMs made it cheaper to open a bank branch, so banks opened more branches, which created additional jobs for tellers.

Standardization gives workers leverage

A British textile mill in 1914 (E.L. Hoskin)

A British textile mill in 1914.   (E.L. Hoskyn)

If technology is constantly creating new jobs, why aren’t we seeing more employment and wage growth? Bessen argues that many workers today face the same problem textile workers faced in 1845: until technology is standardized, it’s difficult to profit from investments in new skills. Early textile companies built their looms in slightly different ways, and they were constantly tinkering with them. These differences made job-hopping difficult. Someone who had mastered one company’s equipment wouldn’t necessarily be more productive at other mills in town. Each employer knew that other mills wouldn’t pay a big premium to hire an experienced worker because they’d still have to spend months training her to use their equipment. And that gave workers little leverage in wage negotiations. The strong bargaining power of mill owners provided healthy profits in the industry’s early years. But the situation wasn’t great for owners, either. Weavers’ low wages and lack of bargaining power meant that few treated it as a profession. Employers faced high costs every time they hired a new worker. A persistent shortage of skilled workers also limited opportunities to expand production. Everything changed after the Civil War, as mill owners began to standardize their equipment and production processes. Bessen writes that the “New England Association of Cotton Manufacturers was formed in 1865 to exchange technical and management knowledge. The first technical school for textile managers and workers opened in Philadelphia in 1884.” As weaving technology became standardized, workers could move from one job to another and take their skills with them. That gave them leverage to demand wages that reflected the value of their work. This isn’t an isolated case. Bessen points out that the market for typists took off around 1900, when the QWERTY standard became the dominant keyboard layout. Once all typewriters used the same keyboard layout, women (they were almost all women) became a lot more willing to pay for typist training knowing that they’d be able to choose from a wide variety of employers. Bessen argues that many industries today suffer from a similar problem. Rapid technological change means that workers’ skill investments become obsolete quickly. Bessen points to graphic designers as an example. “Desktop publishing replaced typographers in the 1980s. Graphic designers had to learn new skills. Then they had to learn web publishing skills. Then they had to learn mobile publishing skills.”

When will wages start rising again?

The most talented graphic designers have thrived in the digital age. Employers are willing to pay a premium for people who are able to master cutting-edge technologies. But ordinary designers have fallen behind. And the rapid pace of change discourages workers from investing in skills. “The graphic design schools have a hard time keeping up,” Bessen says. Why spend thousands of dollars learning Flash design skills that might be totally obsolete five years later? So when will wages start to rise again for average workers? Bessen’s theory suggests that it depends on how long it takes for new technologies — like online publishing and supply-chain management — to mature and standardize. Once that happens, it will become easier for ordinary workers to gain skills, for schools to teach them, and for workers to earn a living from them over long periods. But that might take a while. In past periods of history, new technologies tended to affect relatively narrow slices of the economy. By contrast, computers are changing almost every industry, and there’s reason to expect more dramatic changes ahead.


Several members of my family, friends, neighborhood, and biblical communities have recently lost or are in the midst of fighting to save someone or something we love or care deeply about. Our feelings can be very painful and difficult.  And, initially we feel like our extreme sadness will never let up.  Since I never seem to find just the right words to help me or others endure these times, I searched for others words that might comfort us.  I share these words below and pray that in some small way they may help give us hope to Hold on until the pain ends.

Safely Home

I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.

All the pain and grief is over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the valley of the shade?
Oh! but Jesus’ arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s Will.

There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth–
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.

When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you Home;
Oh, the rapture of that meeting,
Oh, the joy to see you come!

–By:  Unknown