written by Charlotte Chapin Crowninshield, b.1868 d.1967
with an introduction from her daughter Sarah Eden Browne
The Brownes and the Coxes
1952 – 1960
During my short summer visits with Mother in her little house at Chocorua, New Hampshire, I used to ask her questions about our family history. As soon as was possible I would write down all that I could remember of our conversations, and because I did so I think I captured the spontaneous manner with which it was told. It was not until we were well along in Crowninshield history that I began to take notes openly.
Mother has been patient in answering endless questions correcting- me when my memory became hazy. Carey has spent valuable hours going over this manuscript, helping to clarify points which to him were not clear but which to a person more familiar with the family history might not seem so obscure.
So this is the product of all three of us for our family with our love.
Sarah Eden Chamberlin
This I wish you to know, Sally. You remember the house (pulled down in 1955 for parking lot of Full's funeral establishment, which was Dr. Phippen's handsome house!) by the Salem Common where Eleanor Lawson used to live - the one behind Dr. Phippen's? That house, a lovely old house, was brought from Kittery, Maine, by boat by your great-great grandfather, Joseph Vincent. He was the Vincent who owned the ropewalk and who helped supply the rigging for the "Essex". He had a powerful personality. It was said that you could hear him sneeze even across the Common.
His daughter, Lydia, married James Browne and they became the parents of Vincent, Albert Gallatin, George, John White, Charles, and Lydia. The Vincent forebear had been a Florentine - ropewalk Vincent's father.
James Browne was a friend of Dr. Bentley - both ardent Jeffersonian democrats in Federalist Salem. Dr. Bentley it was who christened James' and Lydia's second son, Albert Gallatin Browne, much to the disapproval of most Salem people, for Albert Gallatin was at that time Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury, and Jefferson was not popular in uptown Salem.
Those Browne boys were a vigorous lot. Charles became a wealthy chemist in Boston and lived on the water side of Beacon Street. He was one of the large benefactors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You remember his daughter, Cousin Rebecca Greene, do you not? She was a rare and lovely person. I used to take you to her house - she inherited her father's house - when you were a little girl. She had no children, as you know. Her husband was a somewhat retiring New Bedford lawyer, so we rarely saw him. Your father used to call him "Invisible Greene". But Cousin Rebecca was a warm, outgoing person whom we all loved, Lewis Gannett's father had been in love with her at one time.
George went to New York and became a Wall Street banker. He became wealthy also. His son, the father of Belmore and Ralph Browne, was also a George and went out to Tacoma, Washington. A daughter, Georgianna, married the brother of John LaFarge. Whatever happened to that family, I do not know, but Evelyn Browne perhaps could tell us.
Albert Gallatin Browne, of course, you know all about — your grandfather.
Vincent — Uncle Vince — became the founder and treasurer of the Salem five Cents Savings Bank "to encourage the spirit of thrift among children and adults". He married a Hodges from North Andover. He never had any children. Some lovely old things left to him by his Bother went to the Kittredge family, consequently, and never came back to the Brownes.
John White Browne was Charles Sumner's classmate and close friend at Harvard. He became a law partner of Governor Andrew but he died in the late 1850's while still fairly young, before the Civil War. You have a memorial monograph of him written by your Uncle Albert. (It is interesting to know that Albert G. Browne, Jr., became Governor Andrew's military secretary during the Civil War. Robert F. Bradford, when he was the governor's secretary, and later as governor himself, showed us A. G. B.'s hand-written state records kept in the Massachusetts Governor's office. S. E. C.)
John White Browne married Martha Lincoln of Hingham where he lived after his marriage. Their only daughter, Laura, was some-what of a recluse and remained unmarried.
I have a photograph somewhere of the old chair which the original Florentine Vincent brought to this country. It finally went to California, taken there by one of the Brownes, I think.
I told you yesterday that the Florentine chair was owned by one of the Brownes. I have been thinking about that and I am sure I was wrong. I am sure now that it was inherited by a Vincent son and then by his daughter who married a Narbonne — a French Huguenot family. Old Mrs. Narbonne had the chair. It was her grandson who took it to California. Matthew Vincent was the name of the Florentine. His sons were Joseph and Matthew. Joseph married a Hart for his first wife. His second wife was Lydia Nowell. It was said that Lydia could not make up her mind. Joseph showed her his watch one day and told her he would be back in exactly one hour for her answer. That worked, for she married him and they became the parents of Lydia Vincent, your great-grandmother.
Besides five boys, James and Lydia had one daughter. She was Lydia, also, and became Mrs. Gardner of West Roxbury. She was an ardent Unitarian. It is interesting to know that when I became engaged to your father she told me that the Roxbury church was so undecided about whether it wished to call my father or Mr. DeNormandie that each was invited to fill the pulpit for two or three months. It was this invitation and another letter from the Belmont church, calling my father to that pastorate, which arrived in the mail the day after he died.
I do not know where the Brownes came from but I have supposed it to be London. You are wrong about Peterborough; it was the Coxes who came from there,
Elder Browne was the original Browne to come to this country, in 1636. The Tory Brownes are an entirely different family, I think; at any rate at the time of the Revolution they were, and very well-to-do at that. It was that family which built a house on Folly Hill — Browne's Folly — so-called because they found there was no water to be had once the house was built. That family went to Halifax at the outbreak of the Revolution. It was also that family which founded the Harvard scholarship for any boy by the name of Browne from Salem, and, if none, for a deserving boy of any name. It was this scholarship which George Browne in Tacoma tried to get for his son, bat it was then being used by Manuel and Sidney Fenollosa, the father and uncle of the present Manual and Sidney. The Ernest Fenollosa, who became an authority on Oriental art, was a half-uncle to these boys. They needed aid more than the Tacoma Brownes. Your father went to see Dean Briggs about it and learned this than.
"Elder" John Browne may be the same as "Lawyer" John Browne who had returned to England in 1632, saying that he "preferred the prayers of the Church of England to hearing Parson Skelton pray and preach". (Quoted from Samuel Eliot Morison.) At any rate Elder John Browne settled on what is now Elm Street next to Henry Bartholomew. His son, James, married Hannah Bartholomew and went to live in what is now Peabody, near two ponds, later known as Browne's Pond and Bartholomew Pond. His son, James, married Elizabeth Pickering, so the original John Pickering is your ancestor also.
Very early in the sixteen hundreds the Brownes were ship-owners and carried on a coastwise trade with Virginia and Maryland. They also owned plantations or land in Maryland. The son of Elder John Browne was murdered in Maryland by a negro. No, I don't think that they traded in slaves, but I think that they traded in rum and molasses. They were an adventurous, independent line of men.
James Browne, year great-grandfather, was a ship-chandler and sea-captain. He may have had an interest in the Vincent ropewalk, but I am sure the Brownes ware ship-chandlers themselves, supplying many articles besides rope.
Your grandfather's business was in Boston with the firm of Whitin, Browne and Wheelwright. They were ship-chandlers and had their office on the old milldam somewhere in the vicinity of where Beacon Street and Charles Street now meet. I do not know where it was exactly and have always meant to look that up. As a younger man he had been in business in Salem and Uncle Frank Cox, as a teenager, had been in his employ, but when Boston became the shipping center he moved his business there.
Your grandfather was impulsive and not always practical. It was said in the family that he gave away to someone in need some new shirts, which his wife had just laboriously made. During the Civil War, at great sacrifice, he became an agent of the United States Treasury, valuing contraband and properties which fell into the hands of the Union. There had been no provision by Congress to pay these civilian agents and Congress never got around to pro-viding pay for them even after the war was over. So Grandfather, having resigned from his firm to take this arduous business, came back quite depleted financially.
There were other sorrows connected with the Civil War. His headquarters were established in Beaufort, S. C. He hated to be separated from his family and finally induced his wife to bring the two girls, Nellie and Alice, and your father — then a little boy about ten years old — to Beaufort to be there with him. Nellie was an unusually lovely young person, beloved by all the family and her friends. She became engaged to Colonel Lewis Weld whose family were Philadelphians and whom I later came to know. (Incidentally, Lewis Weld's cousin was Lily Van Rensselaer, who married Mr. Burd-Grubb, one of our ministers to Spain. Her young cousins affectionately called her, "Mrs. Canary Seed".) Lewis Weld, as a young lawyer, had gone out to Colorado, becoming the first governor, or, I suppose, commissioner, of that territory. He organized the regiment of which he became colonel. Nellie had already known some of the Weld family through her Cambridge schoolmate, Sally Howard (later Mrs. Hayward). Plans ware made for the wedding, but Nellie, who had been nursing in a military hospital, came down with "southern fever" — I suppose typhoid fever — and died in June, 1864 when she was twenty-three years old. Lewis died of wounds received at Petersburg six months later. It was he who designed the stone at Nellie's grave, in Harmony Grove, Salem.
The family — both families — never really recovered from this shock and it left an indelible scar upon your father who was a sensitive, lonely little boy through those tragic years. It was a sad and ill family which finally returned to Salem. Grandfather never recovered from malaria contracted at that time, although he lived until 1885. Grandfather and Grandmother Browne died within two weeks of each other, Grandmother having been an invalid in her room for six or seven years.
Your wedding-dress, made over from my wedding-dress, was of the material originally brought in a Salem sailing-ship from China, which was to have been for Aunt Nellie's wedding-dress. It was laid away again until I was engaged to your father many years after. I was deeply moved when he gave it to me to be mine.
I never knew your grandmother but I was repeatedly told that she was a rare, sweet woman, eager to help others and patiently bearing her own burdens which were many. She had lost two baby boys during those second summers, fateful for many babies in those days. You can read the sweet strength of her character by looking at the old photographs.
I have spent mach time when I had physical ability, in looking up the first Brownes in this country. I used Felt's Annals, Samuel Eliot Morison's "Maritime History of New England", papers and documents at the Essex Institute and the Boston Public Library. I have various notes and sketches to put together some day to hand on to you children. There is a record also in the old Browne Bible, brought to this country in 1628, carefully compiled by Benjamin Browne, a cousin of your grandfather, who died in 1862.
You asked how Lawyer Browne and Elder Browne could be the same person. Your father never thought they were, but Morison thinks so. Lawyer Browne came over to this country with his brother William, representing the English company which had financed the colony at Salem. Lawyer Browne was one of two brothers sent back in 1632 by Endicott as "undesirable" because he was a Church of Englander. He must have changed his interest and sympathies to have come back again in 1636 to become Elder John Browne. Morison thinks he had to pretend loyalty to the Church of England while representing English interests. However that may be, all this is Massachusetts history and can be had from books.
I came across an old map of Salem in its early days — 1650. This showed that the harbor came in vary close to the foot of what you knew as Creek Street, where ships used to be built. It also came almost up to old Elm Street. The map shows John Browne's house next to Henry Bartholomew's house there, with the land sloping down toward their wharfage and the high ground of the Old Point Burying Ground — now the Charter Street Burying Ground — jutting out into the water.
John Browne was repeatedly chosen as Elder. He was loath to assume this responsibility because he was a merchant and a mariner trading with Maryland and Virginia. He was received as an in-habitant of Salem in 1636.
His son, James, was born in 1640 and married his neighbor, Hannah Bartholomew. He was murdered by a negro in Maryland.
Their son, James, was born in 1675. He married Elisabeth Pickering, the original John Pickering's granddaughter. They went to live in what is now Peabody near the two ponds named Browne's and Bartholomew Ponds.
Their son, William, born in 1710, was captured by the French and was drowned while trying to escape. He had married Mary Frost.
Their son, William, was born in 1735 and died in 1812. He married Mercy White, who died in 1785. This is where John White Browne acquired his name.
Their son, James, was born in 1759 and died in 1827. He married Lydia Vincent and became your great-grandfather.
His son, Albert Gallatin, was born in 1805 and died in 1885. He married Sarah Eden Cox (1810-1885).
Your father, Edward Cox Browne, was the eighth generation. He was born in 1853 and died in 1911. He married me! — Charlotte Chapin Crowninshield, born in 1868.
Theodore and Ted make the ninth and tenth generations, and Ted's sons the eleventh.
Before we go on about the Brownes, I should like to mention Henry Bartholomew, who settled next to John Browne on what was later Elm Street. Henry Bartholomew came to Salem in 1635, with five brothers, from Ipswich, England. Henry was made a "freeman" in 1637 and became the clerk of court. He was fearless and independent and became an important man in the community. His interest was in the local mill. It was his daughter, Hannah, who married Elder John Browne's son.
Your great-grandfather, James Browne, married twice. He had two daughters by his first marriage, Nancy who never married, and Elizabeth (Aunt Betsey she was called) who married a West from Haverhill. Her daughter, Sarah, married a Palfrey, cane to Boston to live and went to James Freeman Clarke's church. When a young man James Freeman Clarke lived with them as a boarder.
James Browne married Lydia Vincent for his second wife and, as I have already told you, had five sons and one daughter. Vincent was the oldest (Uncle Vince), then Albert, George, John, Charles, and Lydia. George was Belmore Browne's grandfather, all of which means so much more to us after this winter's lovely friendship with Belmore and Agnes.
The James Brownes want to Dr. Bentley's church, which was on the corner of Essex and Bentley Streets. The golden rooster weathervane is now all that remains of that church and is now, or was, on the Bentley School.
In those days Salem was divided politically. All downtown Salem was Democrat — I think the term was used then — and all uptown was Federalist. There were no half-ways about the division, just as a generation or two later Salem was divided into the anti-slavery group, "Antislaveryists", and Copperheads. Feelings ran high at both periods. Dr. Bentley was an ardent Democrat, as were most of his parishioners. I know that you know about his christening your grandfather "Albert Gallatin" much to the surprise of many people and without the foreknowledge of the parents of the new baby, who had asked Dr. Bentley to name him. However, the parents heartily approved.
Bentley Street was, of course, named for Dr. Bentley. Sometime you should read his old diary to catch the spirit of those times. The Brownes lived nearby. I remember your father showing me a brick house where Mercy White was born, James's mother.
As I said, Salem was divided in those days, as it always has been, in one way or another. The names, "Hamilton Hall" and "Federal Street", suggest the leanings of the people in that part of the town. Incidentally the hymn tune, "Federal Street", had nothing to do with Federal leanings. General Oliver, who wrote it, wished to name it for his wife, whose name had been "Cook". However, she insisted on the more formal name, "Federal Street", where they lived at the time.
A brother of James Browne was Benjamin and his son was a "chemist", Dr. Benjamin Browne. He really held some sort of a degree and had a chemist shop where experiments were carried on and where drugs were dispensed. When he was a boy of seventeen or so, he had been impressed into the British navy and finally was thrown into Dartmoor Prison. Now I don't remember whether he was exchanged or whether he escaped, bat later he returned to Salem and married into the Bott family, whose house was on Essex Street at the end of Hamilton Street, and whose land ran along Bott's Court. Nathaniel Hawthorne was then living in "the house on the marsh", on what is now Chestnut Street, the house in which Rebecca Pickering Bradley now lives at the other end of the lane. Hawthorne used to elude his unwanted visitors by escaping up the court to Dr. Benjamin Browne's house to talk to his old friend. From these conversations grew Hawthorne's story, "The Prisoner of Dartmoor". I have always thought that was interesting.
By the time your grandfather, Albert Gallatin Browne, married in 1833, Salem was again divided, this time into Antislaveryists and Copperheads, as I have said. The Coxes were quite divided in their own family. Aunt Eliza, Grandmother's oldest sister, was very lively intellectually though not as well educated as your grandmother, who used to curl herself up in the wing chair Rebecca Bradford new has in her living-room and study the Virgil her older brother, Benjamin, later "Uncle Doctor", was studying at Harvard. She had an inquiring mind and educated herself well. Aunt Eliza would have been a feminist in our day. She subscribed to William Lloyd Garrison's paper, "The Liberator", much to the disapproval of her father who was inclined toward being a Copperhead.
No, Grandfather Cox did not own ships, I think. Perhaps he would have been called a merchant. I think he supplied ships with lead, hemp, and the countless things needed in shipbuilding. His house on Morgan Street you remember in its sad old days, but it had been a handsome large gambrel-roofed house much like ours at #40 Summer Street. It had a terraced garden, pretty with fruit trees, sloping down to the creek where his skiffs were tied. I think that his supplies came and went in those skiffs. He must have had some sort of warehouse but I have never thought of that.
Grandfather Cox was very well-to-do. He made his wealth through real estate also. He owned many properties in Salem. The house at #2 Broad Street, next to ours, he brought from upper Summer Street near Essex Street. Its end, like some Salem houses, faced the street. Grandfather saw that it would fit the piece of land on Broad Street and had it moved there. It fitted into place like the piece of a picture puzzle. Your father, I remember, said that the house belonged to someone by the name of West. It just occurred to me that since Thomas Eden's wife was Mary West (George and Arthur West were descended from that West family) this house might have been some Eden property coming down through the female line to the Coxes. I have never thought of that before. I did come across one time the notice of the death of a George Eden West born in 1825, who died in Worcester an old man.
Grandfather Cox had a restless brood. Aunt Eliza and your grandmother became Unitarians. "Uncle Doctor" also became a Unitarian and always went to the North Church. Uncle Frank became an Episcopalian when he married Ellen Barr. He went to St. Peter's Church which was rather high church, and I, who was very fond of him, sometimes want with him. Aunt Hitty (Mehitable) Pickering, of course, was Unitarian like all the Pickerings. It is a wonder they all were so close and devoted to one another with such varied interests in a day of rapidly changing thought. There were tremendous changes then just as there have been recently.
Grandmother and Aunt Eliza went to the Barton Square Church. Grandfather Browne joined Grandmother there when they were married in 1833. They began to go to the North Church when Mr. Willson came in 1853. Mr. Willson was a member of the Legislature and a great friend of Horace Mann. They fought long and hard for free books for school children. He was always greatly interested in social reform.
Cousin Sarah Eden Smith, who was born in 1824, an own cousin of your grandmother, was the only one of all that family to remain a Congregationalist. She attended the Old South Church on Chestnut Street until she died.
Thomas Eden, so they said, was associated with "King" Hooper of Marblehead. "King" Hooper built in Danvers what was later called "the Lindens" about the same tine that Thomas Eden built in 1762 our house on Summer Street. The staircases in those two houses are identical. The Lindens, I think, was taken down piece by piece and moved to Washington, D. C, a few years ago. It had been the headquarters of the British General Gage for a time during the Revolution. "King" Hooper lived in a good deal of style, but in spite of his airs was a very generous man.
Thorns Eden, before he built #40 Summer Street, lived in the old house, still standing, opposite the cemetery further up the hill. This was the house queer Uncle Edward Cox, for whom your father was named, owned but he never lived there. Your father as a boy was annoyed that he had been named for that particular uncle.
You know, of course, the story of the christening of our house — how Thomas Eden broke a bottle of champagne over its ridge-pole with the words, "To the House of Mary and the Garden of Eden". The rafters and ridge-pole are shaped like inverted knees and keel of a ship for it and many similar houses were built by ship carpenters. In a fireplace in one of the front bedrooms is a fireback cast at the historic Saugus ironworks, representing Adam and Eve, the serpent and the apple tree in the Garden of Eden.
You asked if the staircase was of a later date, as David Barnes said it must have been. A certain refinement of background was transferred frost England to the workmen in this country, and English plans were carefully studied and adapted to American use. I am sure if the staircase were of a later date I should have heard of it, David Barnes' theory notwithstanding,
To Thomas Eden was issued the first certificate of the Salem Marine Society, the membership of which was limited to captains who had rounded the Horn. Theodore owns that certificate. The Society exists today and is limited to one hundred members, now all descendants of old sea-captains. I had hoped that Theodore would be interested enough to be a member.
Thomas Eden died in 1768 when he was only forty-two, so he lived in his new house only six years. He married Mary West and had two daughters, Mehitable and Sarah. Mehitable married Jonathan Neal. Her daughter, Mehitable, married a Choate, I believe. Jonathan Neal's second wife became the grandmother of Mrs. Robert Rantoul. That is where Neal Rantoul gets his name.
Sarah Eden married Captain Edward Smith and inherited the Eden house. She died there the day President Jackson case to Salem, making his formal entry through South Fields, the country which became Lafayette Street. Cousin Sarah Eden Smith, her granddaughter, remembered this old lady because she and her mother lived with her in the Eden house for a few years when Cousin Sarah was a tiny girl. Cousin Sarah's father, Commodore Jesse Smith, was lost in the ship "Hornet" which foundered in a Gulf of Mexico hurricane. Jesse Smith was no relation to his father-in-law. When the grandmother died, the widow of Jesse Smith and her little daughter, Cousin Sarah, went to live in the little house on Norman Street where you remember her as a very old lady. At that time your grandmother, Sarah Eden Cox Browne, came to live in the Eden house and remained there all her married life.
But I am getting ahead of my story. Sarah Eden and Captain Edward Smith had three daughters: Sarah, Mehitable and Mary. Sarah, your great-grandmother, whose portrait and shawl you have, married Benjamin Cox and lived in the Cox house on Norman Street which I have already described. Mehitable married Jesse Smith, and Mary remained unmarried, spending her life with either the Coxes or Smiths after her mother's death.
Sarah Smith and Benjamin Cox had seven children: Benjamin, the beloved physician of Essex County, whose children were Sally and Ben; Eliza (unmarried); Sarah, who married Albert G. Browne (your grandmother); Mehitable, who married John Pickering; Francis, who married Ellen Barr whose portrait you have; Mary Ann (unmarried); and Edward (unmarried).
"Uncle Doctor", so-called, married for his first wife Sarah Silver. There were no children by that marriage and he was a widower for several years. He then married Sarah Deland, niece of his first wife and the mother of Sally and Ben. After his second marriage he lived in the house on Essex Street which is now the Essex Institute.
But to go back, Cousin Sarah Eden Smith's father, Jesse Smith, commodore in the navy, was lost with his ship the "Hornet" and all the crew in the Gulf of Mexico in 1830. He was commander of the ship. His father had been a member of General Washington's body-guard. His son, Jesse, was a midshipman in the navy. He died of African fever off the coast of Africa when very young. Theodore has the portrait of Jesse, the son.
I forgot to say that Thomas Eden's daughter, Sarah, who married Captain Edward Smith, was left a widow quite early, for her husband was also lost at sea. It was said that she sat in the window of her father's house watching for him to come home, for many years. So Cousin Sarah lost her grandfather, her father and her brother all at sea. Your great-great grandfather Cox was also lost on a voyage, as you can learn by studying the gravestones at Harmony Grove:
"Benjamin Cox 1733-1778 Died at Martinique, aged 45."
I am glad I knew Cousin Sarah. She used to tell me many interesting things. She seemed fond of me. She left me the Pembroke table and the lustre ware tea set. She would give me tea at that table from the lustre ware tea set. She knew I admired them. She was happy that her name was being carried on in another generation and so she left you the bureau, twin of the one Rebecca has, both of which had been given by her grandmother (your great-great grandmother) to her two daughters: Sarah and Mehitable. The second bureau came to us through the Coxes. It pleases me to think that they are owned by two sisters once more. She also left you the six little teaspoons which you so treasure, one of which she had chewed when a tiny child. You thought that she also left you the six Windsor chairs. I do not think so. They came with the Eden chair which she left to your father.
I have thought it interesting that these things should have come back to the house where the old lady had lived who gave them to her daughters so long ago.
I am sorry that we have to jump around so in telling you these things, but it is impossible to think of everything without going back. I want to tell you a little more about the Coxes and then we can come a little nearer to our own time.
The early Coxes and all the Smiths were sea-captains, but the
Brownes became ship-chandlers quite early, I think. The Cox children — your grandmother's brothers and sisters — were all so independent that they could not live together. Aunt Eliza lived in the Summer Street end of the Eden house. She died in 1888. The Brownes went to live in the Broad Street side in 1835, for what we knew as 40 Summer Street and 1 Broad Street has been first a single house, than a double house, and so on right down to the present. Aunt Mary Ann, who died in '88, lived where Aunt Rebecca Putnam lives at 34 Summer Street, and Uncle Edward, after his parents' death, lived all alone in the Cox homestead on Norman Street. He was somewhat eccentric, somewhat of a recluse. Your father was first named "Theodore" but after about six weeks your grandmother, who had a soft heart, changed the name to "Edward", realizing that she had left her brother Edward out. One little boy had been called ""Benjie" for her brother, Benjamin, and one had been named "Frankie" for her brother, Francis. As a child your father disliked his name because he considered Uncle Edward odd, but Uncle Edward loved us and the family really all loved him.
Now when Aunt Eliza died the Brownes bought 40 Summer street which had been the part of the house belonging to Cox and Pickering heirs. The large elm trees in front of our house had been little seedlings which Grandmother Browne brought in her handkerchief from the Storey garden on Winter Street. She started them in the garden first, later transplanting them. Did I say that Hannah Storey had been one of Grandmother's bridesmaids and that Caleb Foote was Grandfather's best man?
You say that you remember Uncle Edward as an old bent white-haired man. I am sure that you could not have because he died long before Uncle Frank, who died in 1898 on the night of the great storm when the steamship "Portland" went down.
Aunt Mary Ann at one time had been engaged to Dr. Haddock, the father of the Dr. Haddock who lived next door to the Chamberlins in Beverly on Lothrop Street. Cousin Sarah Smith's mother (Aunt Hitty) said, "I don't believe it because aha has not brought home a sample of him for her mother to see". Aunt Mary Ann always brought home samples for her mother's decision. As a matter of fact she decided not to leave her mother and did not marry. Your father was at Price's Drug Store — then called "Apothecary Shop" — buying medicines for Aunt Mary Ann the night before she died. He told the clerk the name of the patient for whom the order was. A stranger turned and said, "For whom did yon say? Miss Mary Ann Cox?" It was Dr. Haddock. Price's Drug Store long years before had been Dr. Browne's Apothecary Shop. The Price brothers were his apprentices.
People loved Uncle Doctor, Mrs. George Emerton, who had been his patient, told me. He had his office in the Choate house, next to the Cox house on Norman Street, where he lived during his first marriage. As I said, he married Susan Silver Deland for his second wife. Their children ware Benjamin and Sally who was just my age. Uncle Doctor had a very large practice all over Essex County. Family legend said that when he was a young man, during a smallpox epidemic in the area, he was the only doctor who would venture down to the "Pest House" on Salem Neck outside the town gates to care for the sick people there.
Your father used to tell this amusing story which I have remembered. When William, Uncle Doctor's coachman, was driving him in the vicinity of North Reading they came to a crossroad. William, very puzzled, asked, Dr. Cox, what is that sign "No Reading" doing way oat here?"
When the Deland parents died Uncle Doctor bought their house on Essex Street and lived there with his wife and two children until he died. That house is the Essex Institute today. In the early 70's he was fixing an open fire and struck his head on the marble mantlepiece. This injury led to his death. In the early eighties his widow, Aunt Susan, and the two children, Sally and Ben, moved to Boston. Sally was a lovely parson — just my age. She died of tuberculosis in Davos Platz, Switzerland, long years ago in 1902.
There was a passage through from the Cox garden to the Safford garden and the Cox and Safford children used to play together and were always intimate friends. The Safford house is the beautiful Federal style house on Washington Square.
Ben was two years older than Sally. He was a great friend of Neal Rantoul. He came to an early end also. He was worried over some financial troubles and also he had been unsuccessful in love. He committed suicide only two days after he had been in our house. His mother was a dominating person — nice, but no one you could love very much, and I suppose Ben had been nagged by her. Anyway, she was no one to whom he could turn for help and he had lost his father a good many years before. This was a tremendous sorrow to Uncle Frank because he had loved Ben dearly and Ben was the only one of the large Cox family who could carry on the name. Uncle Frank used to say that when Ned came to spend the night he was very orderly and good, and when Ben came everything was in a great mess and turmoil, in spite of which they loved him dearly.
I gave Uncle Doctor's Harvard Medical School diploma to Harrie because he was the only one in the family to follow Uncle Doctor's profession in well over one hundred years. I hope he will become just as beloved.
Uncle Frank Cox was five years younger than your grandmother. In 1840 ha married Ellen Barr whose portrait you have. She died ten years before Uncle Frank. They had no children of their own but their nieces and nephews became substitutes in their loving hearts and their house was a rendezvous for the family. Uncle Frank built the house at 1 Chestnut Street at the time of his marriage and lived there for nearly half a century, until he died in 1898. You must have memories of your baby visits; of his cookie jar which he commissioned Julia and Susan, his faithful housemaids, to keep filled for the new generation.
When Theodore was five Uncle Frank invited us to go with him to Crawford House for a week or ten days. He said, "Take the boy", and one of my cherished memories is of the tall stately man walking down the board-walk with a tiny lad holding on to a finger of a hand reaching down to lead him. This picture touched other hearts as well. The cinnamon-brown suit, which the little boy wore, was a gift from this great-uncle. Though he did not select it, Uncle Frank was as proud of that suit as if it belonged to his own wardrobe.
Uncle Frank had been president of the Naumkeag Mills, trustee, then president, of the Naumkeag Bank, trustee of the Plummer Farm School, Reader in St. Peter's Church. He was the only Episcopalian among his relatives, leaving the South Church Society, at the time of his marriage, in which he had been brought up.
There is a story that should not be lost about Uncle Frank's handyman, Hartnett. Every morning he hosed down the granite steps of Uncle Frank's house, the sidewalk and gutters. One of the high school boys loved to tease Hartnett by standing on the hose, sometimes drenching him with the sudden release of water. He complained to Uncle Frank, who told Hartnett to identify the boy and he would do something about it.
"Edintify", said Hartnett with his brogue, "what's that?"
"Mark him, catch him, and bring him to me", said Uncle Frank.
One morning Uncle Frank heard a great commotion in the vestibule. When he opened the front door, there was Hartnett collaring a boy and soaking him with his hose.
"What on earth are you doing, Hartnett?" shouted Uncle Frank.
"I'm Edintifying him, Mr. Cox. I'm Edintifying him and bringing him to you."
The boy was probably absent from school that day. He never troubled Hartnett again. He grew up to make quite a name for himself.
There is always so much that pops into my head that I wish to go back to the Brownes. Your father used to tell this story with such merriment. Your grandfather and his brother, John White Browne, had gone to Andover to an abolitionist meeting. Late that night they were driving home, when Uncle John noticed that they were going in the wrong direction. "Albert, the moon is on the wrong side of the buggy. This can't be the road to Salem." So they knocked at the door of a silent dark house and finally roused an old man who put his head, covered with a nightcap, out of the window. "Where are we?" Grandfather shouted. "In North Andover", was the reply. "We can't be", said Grandfather, "We left North Andover hours ago." "Damn it, young man, don't you suppose that I knew where I was born and brought up!" And with that he slammed the window shut.
Uncle John White Browne was brilliant. His older brothers helped to put him through Harvard College. Be became a successful lawyer. In college he was a classmate and close friend of Charles Sumner. Later he was asked to be a candidate for representative in Washington but he refused to have anything to do with a government which condoned slavery. All the Browne boys ware strong anti-slavery backers and became friends of Charles Sumner. Grand-father and John White were in the underground railway with John Greenleaf Whittier. That is how Grandfather's friendship with him came about and why Whittier wrote us a note when Theodore was born.
Charles Sumner disappointed his anti-slavery friends by com-promising — I think by supporting the Fugitive Slave Law. This led to absolute repudiation of Charles Sumner by the Brownes, and Uncle John's close friendship with Sumner was completely broken.
Uncle John's life is written up in a little memorial volume by your uncle, Albert G. Browne, Jr. It tails all this and much more. There was some question whether he committed suicide when he fell from a moving train between Hingham and Boston. It might have been so because he had withdrawn from all politics to his home and garden in Hingham. I think he was one of the uncompromising idealists of this world who either break or are broken. Your father used to say, when he was in the City Council in Salem, that he did not wish to be like Uncle John — uncompromising — that to be effective you sometimes had to choose the leaser of two evils.
Charles Sumner came to Uncle John's funeral, healing the open wound by shaking hands with his brothers.
Sooner or later we'll come nearer to your generation but after all there is no one left but me to tell you of these earlier times, and there is such to tell. You ask about your father's schools. Yes, he went to a dame school ran by Miss Frye at 18 Chestnut Street which is where Rebecca Bradley now lives. The water used to flow down from Essex Street during a storm and collect in the cellar, and it was there the children used to paddle around in tubs, as you say he used to tall you.
The next school for him was a boys' latin school — Oliver Carlton's, over the hill on Flint Street. I think the old brick building is still standing. Oliver Carlton was a great disciplinarian, using dunce stools and caps and switches and all the rest. You say you remember your father telling of the boy who kept tipping back in his chair. Yes, it was he who cut off the front legs of that boy's chair.
The next school was one run by Mr. Shepard Waters in the old Devereux house, a large square house on Pleasant Street very near Essex Street. This was an old Crowninshield house built by Clifford Crowninshield. Later Miss Devereux lived there, an aunt of James Waters. Mr. James Waters was blind and I used to go there to read to him. At the time that your father was a boy the Footes were being brought up in Salem. Old Caleb Foote was still the editor of the Salem Gazette. Arthur Foote, his son, the uncle of Mrs. Cornish and Dr. Henry Wilder Foote, used to play with your father. Arthur Foote was very bright and tall for his age. Mr. Waters sometimes would leave him in charge of the school but he was not equal to the task. The children used to raise cain while Mr. Waters was away and they would then threaten Arthur not to tell on them. He never did. For some reason the children called him "Doughnut". Arthur Foote became the musician and composer. Your father acquired a fairly good old-fashioned training at this school.
From there he went on to the Institute of Technology, graduating in 1874. There he made friends with three brothers known as "Big Dab", "Little Dab", and "No Dab at All". One day when your father was crossing Boston Common he saw Big Dab ahead of him. He ran up to him and slapped him heavily on the shoulder, and then stammered, "Excuse me, I thought you were my friend". A complete stranger turned to face him and said with a good deal of heat, "I hope that your friend is in good health". Dr. Webster who murdered Dr. Parkman, was these Dabney boys' own grandfather. That was a famous murder. I think Dr. Webster lived on Phillips Place in Cambridge because when your Uncle Albert boarded on Phillips Place, when he was reporter of the courts, he said that the grapevine was still growing on the fence between there and Dr. Webster's. Dr. Webster had burned some of it to kill the odor of burning flash.
After Technology your father did some surveying around Salem and later went to Texas as a construction engineer in bridge building. Shortly his father became an invalid and was very difficult. Your grandmother had been an invalid for a long time. Aunt Alice could not cope with all this burden so your father came home. From then on he stayed at home interesting himself in civic affairs. He loved history and had manual skills; consequently he had hobbies. There was enough money to keep them comfortable.
Grandfather was a vary impulsive man, feeling intensely any injustice which he saw done to others and becoming involved in situations which he considered caused by injustice. This made him an active antislaveryist. I fancy he was not an easy person to get along with, and, as I said, he was a difficult patient. He was by no means an unpleasant man but merely erratic. He was very generous, open-hearted, made life intensely interesting, was always in touch with significant people but he was exhausting.
Albert Jr. died in June, 1891 before we were married. His marriage had alienated him from his family. He married Mattie Griffith, a Kentucky woman of strong determined character who had freed her slaves and who was a friend of the literary liberals in New York. Albert was thenceforth under her thumb and she would have nothing to do with his family in Salem. In 1885 his father and mother died within two weeks of each other. After their funeral Mattie went around marking the things she and Albert wanted: books, the John Brown pike, the Browne family Bible, etc. This hurt deeply. When the packer came, Aunt Alice wanted to take the problem to law, but your father overrode her wishes and kept the peace. Albert, who had a good deal of money, took one-third of the property although he had had no care or responsibility for his parents. Uncle Frank talked to me about this and said, "Albert became selfish after he married that woman".
Albert was brilliant and had had a brilliant career. He had been devoted to his father and mother earlier. During the war he had bean Military secretary to Governor Andrew. His papers, interesting records and all his possessions, except the Browne Bible, went to his wife. She in turn left everything to her nieces, who felt that the John Brown pike and the five shield-back chairs, which Rebecca now owns, should go back to the Brownes. Where all the other things of family interest are, goodness knows.
Perhaps now is a good time to tell you about your fiddle-back chairs. The Coxes had six which went to Uncle Frank. Three came to us, which are now yours, and three went to the Pickerings, which are now Rebecca Bradley's. There are some interesting photographs of the old Cox house on Norman Street, showing many pieces of furniture which you children now have. The Coxes had taste and the sense not to discard the lovely old things in order to replace them with heavy Empire or Victorian pieces as so many people did.
Uncle Frank, who, as you know, lived nearby at the corner of Summer and Chestnut Streets, was very dear to me when I came into the family as a young bride. He gave us $300 for silver. I wanted to own a piano above all things and asked him if he minded my buying a piano with that money instead. Your father added another $300, and that is the piano I have always loved and which is in Theodore's house in Chocorua. Uncle Frank died in 1898 on the night the steamship Portland disappeared with all on board. The storm was so severe that it blew in the French windows of his house.
But to go back to Albert. In the Sixtieth Anniversary Report there is a good life of him written by his classmate, Robert Rantoul, of the Harvard class of 1853 — incidentally President Eliot's class also — the year your father was born. He was only eighteen when he graduated with distinction.
During his second year at the Dana Law School he was mixed up in the attempted rescue of a fugitive slave named Anthony Burns. During the fray an assistant of the U. S. Marshal was shot. Several persons were arrested, among them Albert. Uncle John went immediately to the jail to see Albert. He got word through to your grandmother in Salem, "Sarah, I have seen the boy. He is all right. Put on your brightest bonnet and go to church, holding your head high." The complaint became one of riot and the Grand Jury found no indictment.
After Law School he went to Europe and became a student at Heidelberg, gaining the degree of Ph.D. In 1856 he began his law practice with John A. Andrew at 19 Court Street, Boston. Albert's interest had been Journalism as wall as law. He accompanied the expedition against the Mormons under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston in 1857, as correspondent of the New York Tribune. Articles by him about this and the ordeal of near starvation appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly" in 1859 and are of great interest. Finally in 1861 he became Governor Andrew's military secretary, the office carrying with it the title of "Colonel", which he seldom used.
In 1874 he moved to New York to become managing editor of the New York Evening Post. Then he joined the editorial staff of the New York Herald, eventually becoming managing editor of the Telegram. In the late eighties — I don't know the year — Albert developed diabetes. He could not keep up the pace of work in New York. Uncle Charles urged him to come to Boston and help take care of his — Uncle Charles' — affairs. Mattie did not wish to leave New York, so perhaps for a year or two Albert lived with his Uncle Charles and was busy in some capacity with Cordley and Co. Finally Mattie decided to move to Boston. They took a house on Newbury Street where Albert died in June, 1891. His funeral was on the Saturday before our wedding on June 30th.
Albert and Mattie had come to a large reception given by Uncle Frank for me in February, 1891. Albert was most cordial but Mattie refused to be introduced to me. This upset Sally and Mary Pickering who were receiving with me and introducing me to the family friends. I could see that the incident annoyed Albert.
Uncle Charles died early in the nineties. He was always kind and pleasant. Mattie died about 1907, I think. The third of the Browne property which went to Albert in 1885 went to Mattie's nieces. After Albert's death Uncle Frank had been angry with Mattie for not giving back some of the Browne things since there were no children by that marriage. I remember that he spoke to me about this. He said that ethically she should have given them back to the Browne family.
This is a mere skeleton sketch of a very full, interesting life. For anyone really interested there is a good account of his life in the Sixtieth Anniversary Report of the Harvard Class of 1853. Looking at the portrait of the little seven-year old boy on your wall, one could scarcely guess all the history and events and changes which would come during his lifetime and in which he would have so large a share.
Louis Agassiz must have been a remarkable man. Mr. Morse told me that he was very interested in disseminating knowledge — a born teacher. Mr. Morse, of course, was one of his scientific students. Mrs. Agassiz had a school in Cambridge to which Nellie was sent and at which there were some interesting young women: Cousin Rebecca Browne (Greene), Lucinda Howard who later opened the famous Howard School for Girls in Springfield, Sally Howard, and several others. Sally Howard married a Mr. Hayward and became the Bother of Mrs. Andrews, whom you must remember in Cambridge, and of the lovely little dwarfed Miss Hayward. Mrs. Andrews' daughter, Betsy, has published some Howard and Hayward letters. Rebecca Bradford has them. In them Nellie and Albert Browne are mentioned. Sophie, Mrs. Hayward's sister, was in love with Albert at one time, so the Haywards told me. It was through the Howards that the friendship with the Welds started. Mr. Hayward was of Mayflower descent, and, my goodness, it bristled out all over him.
Nellie lived with Mrs. Estes Howe. I am confused as to who she was. She was a person of a good deal of personality. I used to think it was Mrs. Samuel Gridley Howe, but now I do not think it was. It would be interesting to know what other Howes were in Cambridge at that time. I think Julia Ward Howe lived in South Boston.
But to go back to Nellie. Cousin Rebecca Greene used to say that Nellie was a lovely person, the loveliest girl in the school. She may have been prejudiced, of course, but I think that it was true. There was a splendid group of young people in Cambridge and Boston then, just before the Civil War. Many of the young men never came back from the war. When Robert Could Shaw's colored regiment — the 54th — left Boston, it assembled on the Common. Luis Emillo, from Salem, was commissioned captain that day and Nellie Browne pinned the captain's bars upon his shoulders. He became the author of "The Brave Black Regiment".
Perhaps you would like to be retold a few stories which had to do with the Brownes. When the tunnel for the railroad was being dug in Salem in 1836 or '37 Grandfather was going to his business on Derby Street one day when he saw an overseer abusing a young Irishman who was digging in the excavation. Grandfather interceded, saying that if things did not improve for him to come to see him. This was very characteristic of him. The lad later did come and a good job on a milk route was obtained for him. He was a gifted person so Grandfather kept in touch with him and finally helped him to buy a farm in Lancaster, N. H. Robert Jaques was his name. Robert sent to Ireland for his brother, John, and soon they were successfully raising horses and livestock. It was at their farm that Grandfather used to visit and did much tramping in the surrounding mountains. At one time he was lost all night on the Stratford Peaks.
When your father and I were at Sugar Hill many years later we learned that John's daughter was the telephone operator in Lancaster. In 1906 a black sheep in the family tried to get your father to lend him some money. Your father gave him ten dollars which was never returned — a sad ending to the tale. Grandfather's old war horse, Maydoc, lived his last years at the Jaques' farm. It was on one of his trips to Lancaster that Grandfather came home without his shirts which Grandmother had made for him.
I tell you this tale because it was a long one from 1837 to 1906.
You ask about the two silver spoons which were evidently a premium or prize. Uncle Edward Cox used to go to Illinois on business about hemp, whether growing it or buying it, I do not know. He employed Abraham Lincoln for one or two law cases. Grandfather visited Chicago and he and Uncle Edward tried to persuade your great-grandfather Cox, unsuccessfully, to buy some land there upon which later one of the important buildings of Chicago was built. The silver spoons came from Chicago and may have been a prize for Uncle Edward's hemp.
Speaking of hemp — in the forties Grandfather was engaged by the government to investigate the possibilities of growing hemp in this country, so he went to Kentucky to get in tough with Henry Clay about it. The two men became friends. It was from "Ashlands" in Lexington, Ky., Henry Clay's hose, that the ash logs, Henry Clay's gift, were sent to Grandfather, probably most of the way by river and canal, and from which the six not too beautiful ash chairs were made. Your Carey has two which should be labeled some day because of the historical interest. So far as I know, hemp has never been grown successfully in this land.
Here is a little story which I think you do not know. Do you remember a portrait in the Pickering house of a young girl — an early portrait? She was Alice Flint and was an ancestor of the Brookses. She came from North Andover. Her daughter married a Browne, a son of Hannah Bartholomew and James Browne who went to live near the Browne and Bartholomew Ponds — of course named for them. When she married, her mother gave her a dowry. She liked pretty clothes and dressed well. Church laws than limited the amount of money which could be spent on oneself. Her clothes displeased the magistrates and her case was brought before them. She pleaded her case well, — that she had been given a dowry to do with as she liked and that she had a right to spend it as she saw fit. I should say that she was an early example of a feminist or "woman's rightser". She won her case, too.
Yes, I should love to tell you once more about your father's portrait, for it has always seemed a lovely story to me.
Before Grandfather Browne went south, during the Civil War, he commissioned an artist, as a surprise for his family, to paint a portrait of your father, probably from a little photograph because he did not remember sitting for it. Grandfather bought an oval frame for it and put the frame away. When he came back the artist, Mr. Southard, had died and his studio had been dismantled. The portrait could not be traced. So the frame remained in its green cover hanging in the storeroom, where it remained for many years after I was married.
It may have been in 1904 or 1906, for at both those times I was ill in bed, first, when Rebecca was born and, second, when I was recovering from the long siege of peritonitis during which I nearly died. Hew clearly I can place certain events, — in the hospital December, January and February, Aunt Margaret's marriage in March, and Dr. Putnam's funeral in early April. I went to it In Danvers in the electric car. How weak I was! I read headlines on people's newspapers on the way about the San Francisco earthquake and fire.
Well, to go back, I was ill in bed when your father came and stood at the foot of the bed and said, "The most astonishing thing has happened. I have found my portrait!" Whenever the storeroom had been cleaned I had always wondered where the portrait of the little boy was which should have been within that frame. This news I could scarcely believe, for the portrait and frame had been separate for over forty-five years. Your father then told me that he had gone into Judge Holden's office and was led into a back office where he had never been before. He was an alderman at the time and he probably was there about city affairs. There on the wall was the portrait of himself. He exclaimed, "Judge Holden, where did you get that portrait?"
The Judge replied, "I bought it when Southard's studio was broken up and his pictures were being auctioned off. I took a fancy to this one."
Your father then told Judge Holden the story of it and asked if he could buy it. The Judge wished to give it to your father but he insisted upon paying a small sum for it. It is unfinished. Cousin Sarah Smith, who was an artist, said not to touch it. I have always loved it just as it is. So the frame was brought downstairs, the portrait was fitted into it, and the two parts, waiting so many years, were now a completed whole.
Your father was very active in civic affairs. He was a member of the City Council and, later, a member of the Board of Aldermen. He was on the Water Commission or Board. He was a very active trustee of the Salem Hospital for many years, until the time of his death. He was a trustee of Harmony Grove for a long time. At one time ha was president of the Salem Fraternity, one of the first boys' clubs in America; president of the Essex County Unitarian Association, having been its treasurer earlier. He was on the standing committee of the North Church, treasurer of that Society, and one of its four deacons. He was a member of the Civic Club and made a study of all the shade trees in the city, their condition and their need. This was a splendid study, full of information, which after his death someone borrowed and never returned to me.
I prize a letter Mr. Arthur West wrote to me after your father's death, concerning his usefulness as a trustee of the hospital and of his comradeship with the members of the board. He was a lovable man and I have many happy memories of the years we spent together.