Over the past few weeks, I have been working on the papers of the Brown and Johnson families that are included in the Chew Papers. Mary Johnson Brown Chew's family and ancestors owned large sections of what is now the First Ward of Philadelphia, Southwark, Passyunk, the Navy Yard, and Tinicum. David Sands Brown, among others, developed land along the Delaware River to accommodate his growing manufacturing businesses, which were headquartered in Gloucester City, New Jersey.
This is the third in a series of blog posts devoted to the conservation being performed on the documents, books and manuscript materials in the Chew Family Papers Collection. See the first post on enclosures, here, and the second on paper conservation, here.
When one thinks of the 'Revolutionary War,' it is natural to recall the stirring renditions of its various battles & participants, but such recollections generally invoke famous officers and soldiers, not female heroines.
The records pertaining to Whitehall, a plantation the Chews owned in Kent County, Delaware, have garnered significant attention because of the detailed records the Chew family kept about the operation of the farm and the treatment of the slaves who worked there. Though there are deeds indicating that Benjamin Chew took ownership over this property in the 1760s, the majority of records that document the plantation's operation date from the period of 1780-1803, when Benjamin Chew sold the property.
This is the second in a series of blog posts devoted to the conservation being performed on the documents, books and manuscript materials in the Chew Family Papers Collection. See the first post, on enclosures, here.
During the decade of the 1820's, John Fanning Watson, the intrepid antiquarian of early Philadelphia history, interviewed 'Billy' Brown, a free & aged Black man in his 93rd year, residing within the Frankford section of the city, whom he describes as being "quite intelligent," as well as being "possessed of an observing mind & good memory."
The term 'hermit,' generally conjures up in one's mind, a recluse, a person whose self-induced isolation has occurred primarily as the result of mental instability or enhanced eccentricity. Yet individuals have become 'hermits' for a variety of reasons throughout the ages. Those in America's past often became such out of tragedy, in an attempt to flee from those sites and individuals which reminded them of their loss, pain, or crime.
I began processing Mary Johnson Brown Chew's materials yesterday. As I was working on a rough sorting, I was leafing through the various journals and diaries that she kept. The first one I opened was begun on Christmas Eve 1886, when her husband Samuel seemed to be moving closer toward death.
Many individuals like myself, have various souvenirs or mementos, which have been found or passed down through the family, relative to the American Civil War. These may come in the form of oral traditions, letters, diaries, journals; or they are artifactual in nature, items such as saddle-bag 'rosettes,' swords, minie-balls or other heirlooms.
However, there were many Civil War soldiers, who carried with them, for many years after the conflict, unintentional 'memorials' of the service rendered to their country or cause.