Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uncle Jess

McCormick Theological Seminary: 1951-1954
by the Reverend Orville E. Lanham, Ph.D.
(M.Div., Class of 1954)
I think the most outstanding faculty member during my junior year was Dr. Jesse Halsey. "Uncle Jess," as he was so fondly called, had been pastor of the 7th Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati before being called to the Seminary. During World War I he was an American naval chaplain on a British destroyer on the London-Murmansk run. He knew about subzero-degree weather, ice and snow. During the early years of World War II he toured the United States recruiting pastors as chaplains for the 13 million men and women who would be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. He was small of stature, and seemed very frail. Some said his travels recruiting chaplains had caused a deterioration in his physical health. But he had a great energy. We really looked forward to his classes. He taught us the importance of worship, and the elements of worship. ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. He authored many types of books to help in planning funerals and other services.

Dr. Halsey was the only faculty member that any student felt comfortable calling on after 8 o'clock in the evening. Two students had been assigned as their field work to one of the neighborhood houses operated by the Presbytery of Chicago. They were working with the young people at the house. Two of the young men had been going down an alley when they found a shotgun. They later found the shotgun had been used in the murder of a congressman. They were afraid to turn it in to the police for fear of police brutality and arrest, as they were innocent of the crime. So, they talked with the two students back to the Seminary. The students thought that Uncle Jess would know what to do. So, about midnight (or some late hour) they rang Uncle Jess's doorbell. He came downstairs (for he lived in the upper apartment). He was in his bathrobe and slippers, and immediately said, "What's happening boys? Can I help? Come in, I will get the coffee going."

So after hearing the story, Uncle Jess called a federal judge and a prominent Chicago attorney and told them the story. They came to the campus, talked with the boys, and said, "Don't worry."

Our class was the last to sit under Uncle Jess's mantle. He retired at the end of the 1951-52 year. He died two years later.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"a job for the boys"

From "On Building A House" by Rev. Jesse Halsey, circa 1930
Hoover says that building a house, under modern conditions in Ameria, is as difficult as negotiating a foreign treaty. Having gone into Russia and Poland on diplomatic errands during the war for the State Department, I agree.

I had been having miserable headaches. "No cure;" "Vacuum;" "Inherited," "Grin and bear it;" said a procession of doctors. But from one, "Exercise and serum."

The inoculations each morning at the hospital made me more miserable than ever, and work in the study became impossible. I don't like golf, so I bought some back lots at the top-notch prices of three years ago and, after the morning visit to the hospitil, would get into overalls and go to gardening in these lots five miles from where I live.

Summer was coming on. I have two boys in their late teens with some practical ability. They wanted excercise, but don't like gardening.

Charles Henry Halsey, 1932

I neglected to say that I am a preacher, in a church in the quarter of our city considered fashionable. But, having been a missonary with some responsibilites for business and building enterprises, I am not altogether ignorant of construction, and the problems connected with building. Having grown up on a farm, the use of a saw, axe, shovel, pipe threading tools, and a soldering iron has for a long time been in my equipment, though seldom useful in the sort of parish that I now serve.

Frederick Isham Halsey, 1932

I needed more violent exercise to combat the 'misery' induced by the serum, and a job for the boys, so we set out to build a house on one of our vacant lots. My more-or-less crude sketches an architect friend put into drawings would be intelligible at the City Hall; and then we started.

Herrick's Camp - Whalebone Landing, circa 1927

Photo courtesy of Con Crowley, from a collection belonging to his grandfather, Captain Ed White, Jr., a copy of which is also available in the archives of the Southampton Historical Museum and Research Center.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"for time out of mind"

from The Halsey Family and the Gaddesden Estate

No one knows where the Halseys came from. There are villages called Halse in Somerset and Northamptonshire, and over the North Sea the surname Hals occurs in the Low Countries. Halseys have lived on the hilly ridge between Hemel Hempstead and the Chiltern Escarpment for time out of mind. In the 1300s the name emerges from the mists of the Middle Ages. The earliest legal document in the family archives dates from 1458, recording that Richard Halsey, with other parishioners, covenanted with the Prior of King’s Langley to pay 10 shillings (50p) to the poor of Great Gaddesden, a payment which is still made annually to the Vicar.

The third William Halsey applied for the grant of a Coat of Arms. This regularised the arms he had been recorded as using. It is described as an: ‘argent on a pile sable three griffins heads erased of the field, the crest a dexter forearm proper, sleeved gules, cuffed argent holding a griffin’s claw erased or.’

In the early 1600s a Thomas Halsey sailed to Lynn in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He eventually settled in Southampton, Long Island, New York, where his family still live. The house he built in 16[66], now a museum, is [one of] the oldest ‘saltbox’ house in New York State. Apart from the cedar shingles, it is a typical English seventeenth century farmhouse.
*Renovations done to the Halsey House in 2003 determined the home was built in 1666 by Thomas Halsey's son Thomas Halsey, Jr., and not, as long believed, in 1648 by the English-born Thomas Halsey.

"well known for its progressive methods"

from A Handbook of Private Schools for American Boys and Girls: An Annual Survey (1936) by Porter Sargent

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. Pop 3055 (1920} 6387 (1930).
N.Y.C.R.R. Motor Route 22 from Mt. Vernon.
Bronxville, reached from the city by the Bronx River Parkway, has had notable development. Formerly given over to large estates, today apartment houses are numerous near the center. Former Supt. Beatty made the public school system as well known for its progressive methods as has Washburne at Winnetka. The Brantwood Hall houses are on a hillside near the center, the Country Day School in Lawrence Park West. Sarah Lawrence, now a standard four year college, opened in 1928 in a section of elaborate estates.

BRANTWOOD HALL Girls Ages Bdg 12-18, Day 2-18.

Mary T. Maine, A.B., Wellesley, Principal. Est 1906.
Enr: Bdg 35, Day 200. Fac: 20. Tui: Bdg $1600, Day $175-400.
Courses 13 yrs: Bdg, Grades VII- VIII High Sch 1-4; Day, Pre-
Sch. Kindergarten Grades I-VIII High Sch 1-4 Col Prep.
Scholarships 2, value $700.

Patterned after the New England schools of the nineties, Brantwood Hall is in sharp contrast to the modernity of the neighborhood. Under the close and very personal supervision of Miss Maine, the girls lead a quiet life with considerable latitude in the selection of courses, though college preparation is available.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"She trained that little Charles to perfection"

Presbyterian Theological Seminary
2330 North Halsted Street
Department of Pastoral Theology

Nov. 5, 1943

Mrs. Henry S. Comstock
95 Walnut St.
Winsted, Conn.

Dear Laura-
Your letter of Oct. 27, 1940, may have remained unanswered all this time; I came across it last night in going through my desk.

Two years ago we moved here after being 29 years in one Cincinnati church. I teach in this Seminary and supervise the work of the boys on the field; AND have responsibilities in camps in three states (for the war effort). So I am busy; have just spent three weeks in hospital getting patched up and feel fine again. My wife is very well; the younger girl Abbie graduates from Holyoke next month; the older girl is married and has a baby and lives near us.

And Charles, after all his ups and downs, is settled on a farm near my old home. His wife is an old family friend and semi-neighbor and his in-laws the salt of the earth kind who have several farms and lots of hard work, which Charles seems to thrive on. Yesterday, Charles and his wife had their first baby--a boy.

I see them occasionally when I get east and Charles is happy and contented, he didn't like the Laundry machinery but he loves farming.

Justine & Charles, Jr., circa 1938, Winsted, CT
I wonder how it goes with you and Justine (I often think of her). She trained that little Charles to perfection in the little time she had him (I forget nothing and forgive whatever there is--I can understand her leaving Charles, but not that little kid). He spoke of her to me last summer. He has grown, gets good care, but not the meticulous kindergarten kind that Justine knew about. His 'new mother' does well by him and her parents treat him like he was their own. I had him with me the few days I was in Southampton last summer; once I have had him out here for a month. He is happy there, goes to the such-as-it-is district school within walking distance; isn't a super scholar, but is coming along in reading and can write me a letter.

I should appreciate hearing about yourself and Justine.

With sincere regard,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

the Ishams in America

Grandfather Frederick Asher Isham pictured with (clockwise from upper right): Charles Henry II, age 9; Helen Augusta, age 6; Wilmun (Billy) Haynes, infant; and Frederick Isham, age 8; c. 1920

"Nor have the babies been forgotten"

For more than a year, April 1, 1921, to July 1, 1922, Abigail Fithian Halsey (aka Aunt Babbie, sister of Lizbeth May Halsey White & Rev. Jesse Halsey) served as secretary of the Women's Community Building in Ithaca, planning and directing the various activities of the center and, according to the organization's board of directors, successfully fostering "the growth of a real community spirit in Ithaca."

The Women's Community Building housed the City Federation of Women's Organizations, created in 1910 and comprising clubs such as the Women's Club, League of Women Voters, Child Study Club, and Cornell Women's Club. The WCB took as its purpose the provision of "opportunities that enrich the lives of women of all ages and their families through its diverse services." According to the WCB's official history:
The need for a building had been evident from the federation's inception. In 1920, the year the Nineteenth Amendment became law giving women the right to vote, the federation purchased the Winton-Brooks mansion on the corner of Seneca and Cayuga Streets in downtown Ithaca. The mansion served as the federation's center until 1959, when, because of the demand for additional space, the women of the federation raised the funds to build the present Women's Community Building on the same site.
Beginning her work at the WCB shortly after it opened, when the building had "only recently been taking over by the women, and the project had hardly formed," Abigail created a
...home where girls and women from all parts of the city and county have felt free to come for recreation, rest, or meetings, with sleeping accommodations for 14 permanent residents and three or four transients, with recreation rooms for the use of all the girls in the city, a public restroom which, during the first three months it was open, was used by 2,800 women and children, and rooms where 22 organizations have met... -Ithaca Times, June-July 1922
During Abigail's tenure, approximately 500 women and girls participated in classes at the WCB in subjects including sewing, hat making, home making, home nursing, swimming, dance, and drama. Abigail also organized a Young Women's Community Club, the members of which were described as mostly "working girls." She directed the Dramatic club, presenting plays for various audiences around the city; wrote and produced two historical pageants, one at the Tompkins County Fair, the other at the Ithaca City Hospital; conducted a popular Saturday afternoon story hour for the "little tots"; and created an exhibition and discussion series entitled Baby Week.

Prior to working at the WCB, Abigail taught in public and private schools around the country and worked for the Red Cross, Camp Fire Girls, and Girl Scouts.
Upon her resignation from the Community Building in July 1922 to pursue study "of the work in which she is particularly interested" at Columbia University, an article in the Ithaca Times reported this about Abigail's directorship at the WCB:
Girls away from home, working women and their friends have learned to find at the Community Building a home where they can become acquainted, a place where there is always welcome and where special suppers and entertainments are always held on holidays to which new comers in the city are particularly welcome. Then men, too, are learning that they are not to be excluded from the building and many have been attending the musicales and entertainments.

Halsey Family Tree

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Halseys at Shinnecock, summer 1953

Front: Rev. Dr. Joseph Haroutunian, Wilmun Halsey, Sophie Haroutunian, Cynthia Van Allen, Joe Haroutunian; Middle: Peter Haroutunian, Helen Augusta Halsey Haroutunian, Abigail Fithian Halsey Van Allen, Sarah Van Allen, Margot Van Allen, Dr. James Van Allen; Back: Charles Henry Halsey, Jr., Charles Henry Halsey II, Helen Isham Halsey, Rev. Dr. Jesse Halsey, Frances Jean Raynor Halsey

"we all have a crook in the elbow"

Melvina Dunreath* Terry Halsey |
B: Jun. 5, 1840,
D: Jun. 2, 1887
(*I just discovered the D. stands for Dunreath & she had 9 siblings)

from "
Hatchment" by Jesse Halsey
With this recurring justification or alibi or reminiscence, we start again. A new England kitchen, big fireplace, brick oven, Saturday night and baked beans and brown bread. A red damask spic and span table cloth on a square walnut table; four persons seated. Kerosene lamp, flickers from the smoldering fireplace; the lazy hum of the tea kettle, now that the tea is brewed. A boy maybe twelve, and his older sister back to the wall, facing the fire; bewildered father at one end of the table, elderly aunt at the other.

Father seemed old to the boy whose mother was dead, he himself as one born out of due time; father seemed old, he was old, looked old, felt old (rheumatism; its antidote a jug of hard cider with whittlings of barberry in it; the boy often went a mile down the lane to Uncle Harvey's barberry for twigs and bark for the decoction). Mother had died, quite young, when boy was five or less; father lived ever under its shadow; older sisters always thought that if father had been less stubborn (loyal) and had the new doctor who had come fresh from Ann Arbor and never lost a case of pneumonia, likely mother would have lived--who knows.

Aunt Gussie's (her husband father's brother, she was mother's sister) husband, Uncle Will, our favorite out of a baker's dozen, at least, of uncles, had taken the boy, od six, his adult brother (and a neighbor's boy of five--Lewis Hildreth--on a clamming expedition. One horse box wagon, two wash tubs with ropes attached and down to Sebonac "gut" where the tide cuts in and out between the big bay and the cold spring, scallop bond--Ram Island and other ramifying creeks. (They say cricks down east, our way.) . . .

. . . No levity; but much wisdom in the meagre conversation. Meagre is the gossip ("Gossip" says father, who studies the dictionary and knew his Latin from Academy days, "'Gossip' was once a good word akin to Gospel"--let's make it that and when some really unpleasant sure enough bit of unsavory morsel of truth filtered in, Father would say, "As Biney (his wife, my mother) used to say, 'Maye, for we all have a crook in the elbow.'" Then he would add as was his Scriptural custom, "Charity covereth a multitude of sins."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Winter of Our Discontent

Captain Henry Halsey (b. Aug. 19, 1803, d. 1880), known as Cap'n Harry of North End, was married to Eliza Halsey (b. 1803, d. 1878) of Long Island. They lived at Southampton.

from "The Wrecking Master" by Jesse Halsey, p.10-11
He was the oldest of a family of five. His father, the owner of the local water mill, died when he was nine. Energetically he set himself, under his mother's direction, to help about the farm and assist his uncle at the mill. When they were old enough, his mother, to give them an education, moved to New York, kept a boarding house and put the children in school.

This was unusual. In that neighborhood most boys, as soon as they were able, went to sea and engaged in the whaling trade. Harry and his brother, after a couple of years' schooling, began to learn a trade and became expert builders. Then, after a couple of voyages whaling, they settled down in New York and began building operations.

During the early 30s of the last [19th] century they amassed a considerable fortune, only to lose it through a crooked partner in a "depression" in 1840. Cap'n Jim, the younger brother, went back to the sea and made an enviable reputation and snug fortune from the whaling industry.

Cap'n Harry, however, with his young wife and child, went back to the old farm. The mill had been sold to pay for his sisters' schooling. Rebuilding the old farmhouse and introducing some of the refinements that he had built into city developments, he settled down to work the farm and carry on his mason's trade.

Dozens of fireplaces in that now-fashionable community burn to this day and no one that he fabricated was ever known to smoke. He was short and stocky, broad shouldered and rather portly, but quick on his feet, and his grandchildren remember how he could out-run them and, at eighty years of age, hold a broomstick in his hands and jump over it.

He saved the wreck of his New York fortune and rehabilitated it. When the Civil War broke out, though far from a young man, he volunteered his services, but was rejected. His heart was not sound, they said. Forthwith he organized a company, drilled it on the village green and sent it away to the war, feeling that he had done his bit, saving from the wreck of his own disappointment his patriotic usefulness.

The Memory of the Just is Blessed

Charles Henry Halsey
B: Oct. 10, 1830
D: Aug. 9, 1906

Melvina D. Terry
B: Jun. 5, 1840
D: Jun. 2, 1887
His Wife

Joanna Augusta Halsey
B: Dec. 25, 1845
D: May 27, 1929
Widow of Wilmun Halsey

Wilmun Halsey
B: Jan. 12, 1836
D: Aug. 2, 1889

Harry T. Halsey
B: Nov. 12, 1864
D: Sept. 30, 1903

Abigail Fithian Halsey
B: Oct. 2, 1878
D: Oct. 14, 1946

Rev. Jesse Halsey D.D.
B: 1882
D: 1954
A Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ

Frederick Isham Halsey
B: 1912
D: 1239
Be Thou Faithful

Wilmun H. Halsey
B: 1920
D: 1928
The Child Ministered unto the Lord

Monday, September 7, 2009

Among the Deep Sea Fishers: II

Volume 10, Issue 4 (January 1913): Items from the New England Grenfell Association:
  • "St. Anthony is losing this year the services of our beloved friend, chief of outside workers, and "private parson," the Rev. Jesse Halsey. His house stands empty, and we lament his absence every time we look at it. We have never had any man whose Christ-like spirit in everything he touched has more gripped the love and imagination of our men. It is only a question of finances which makes us obliged to cut down this small salary. The price of a single dinner in so many of the large houses would add a year of his invaluable work.
  • "The coming of the schooner Geo. B. Cluett for the winter supplies was anticipated by Boston friends with more interest than usual. Her passenger list was a large one for this time of the year, among the passengers being Dr. and Mrs. John Mason Little, Jr., with their infant son of three months; Mrs. Halsey and her two boys (the youngest two months of age), and two native children whose father is a reindeer herder at St. Anthony and whose mother is not living. These two children (a girl and a boy) Mr. and Mrs. Halsey are to shepherd: the girl being old enough to act as a nursery maid, and both will attend school in Southampton, N.Y., which is the home of the Halseys this year!
The voyage was the longest and most tedious ever reported by any of the Mission schooners, because of the constant and continuous head winds, and occupied twenty-one days between St. Anthony and Boston: the boat arriving on October 15th at noon . . . Beside a small amount of freight, the Cluett brought from St. Anthony a young black bear in the hold. The bear was for the Zoo in the Franklin Park of Boston. It was no small amount of labour to take the bear from the schooner to the park, and although it was all done in a scientific manner, by three of the men from the Zoo, the time occupied was no less than three hours, and young bruin showed some fight before he was finally placed behind bars in the cage brought in which to transport him.

  • Rev. Jesse Halsey returned early in November after superintending the building of the little home for the medical officer at St. Anthony, which was begun early in the season. The house was roofed before Mr. Halsey left, and the work in the interior will go on early in the spring. It is hoped that it will be ready for Dr. Little upon his return in the coming summer. Mr. Halsey's three years of service have increased the possibilities for greater efficiency not only in the hospital but also the school, the orphanage, and the homes for the general workers. He has been the one man able to teach the native men about the plumbing, etc., etc. He is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary with a decided turn for mechanics--indeed, he might be called the Christian plumber of the Mission, for he has put furnaces into the orphanage and hospital at St. Anthony and has constructed a reservoir from which he has brought running water into these buildings. Skillful as he is in the mechanical line, he was no less successful when acting in the capacity of Christian teacher, in the absence of Dr. Grenfell, on Sundays in the church and hospital, and in teaching winter evening school, preparing the young men coming to Pratt Institute. It was a fortunate happening for both the Mission and the man when Mr. Halsey heard Dr. Grenfell lecture as he was graduated from Union Seminary, and he at once decided to join the volunteers in the Mission.

Volume 11, Issue 1 (April 1913): Items from the New England Grenfell Association:
  • Because Dr. Grenfell is in charge of St. Anthony Hospital this winter, deep in surgical and medical work and the running of his various institutions, while the regular doctor at St. Anthony is having a much needed vacation, the Rev. Jesse Halsey, who has served as a helper at St. Anthony of four years, has been helping at this end of the line this winter by giving lectures with and without the lantern slides. Dr. Grenfell has so many responsibilities in the North that he can do nothing about raising money this winter at such along range and under such a handicap. Mr. Halsey has proved himself a real friend to the Mission and is an earnest man with long experience at St. Anthony. He has spoken at Dartmouth and Wellesley Colleges and before a few Men's Clubs as well as the Women's club in Dudham, Mass. He is available still by making appointments a few weeks in advance.

Volume 12, Issue 4 (January 1915): The Candy Lady, short story by Jesse Halsey, winner of a $25 Satterlee Prize

  • "One day in mid October, when the rush of early monthly accounting was over . . ."
Volume 16, Issue 4 (January 1919): The World Wide Influence of Grenfell by Jerome Davis
  • I have just come back from service in Russia, which would be one of the last regions that one would expect to find influenced by Dr. Grenfell. Yes here we find American men who have caught the vision of service to others in work with Dr. Grenfell who are now translating this same spirit into deeds of love and kindness for the Russian people.
  • Dr. Halsey, a former Grenfell man, was up in the North, amid the darkness and the ice and snow, working for the English, French, American and Russian men. He was rendering a typical Association service to men who had no other place to go except the Association, and incidentally he was showing the same spirit of friendship which he had seen demonstrated by Dr. Grenfell in the North.
  • This little illustration of how the spirit of Jesus Christ, as it has been translated into action by Dr. Grenfell, has permeated even the throbbing life of the far off Russian revolution, is typical as showing how Dr. Grenfell's spirit is coming in every country throughout the world.
  • The wealth of man is the number of things he loves and blesses, which he is loved and blessed by.
Volume 38, Issue 2 (July 1940): Alumni News
  • The REV. JESSE HALSEY was host to Sir Wilfred during the latter's visit to Cincinnati in April. Though he did not accept the position, Dr. Halsey was recently offered a Professorship of Practical Theology at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Chicago.
Volume 38, Issue 4 (January 1941): The Adventure (In Memoriam, Sir. Wilfred Grenfell, from the Presbyterian, October 24, 1940), by Jesse Halsey

  • "It started in a Moody meeting, "his Adventure," as he called it.

October 5, 1939, cont.

Letter: Charles Halsey to Justine Comstock Halsey (14 pages total)

Thursday night
October 5, 1939
CHH : 552 Riverside Dr, NYC
JCH: 435 Riverside Street, Reno
Page 12

This vacation you’re on is the best for all concerned that it true, but darling not a permanent separation; not that. If you want a month–right. But tell me in three weeks that you will be back. You’ll make us both so happy and when you return I will make you doubly happy.

I almost feel that [this] has been brewing and finally culminated and acted upon in order to open my eyes and to make me realize more fully my duties as a husband and a father. I hope that is it, I still love you. I’ll hang on if you will—

Will you take another chance[?] I can promise you you won’t regret it.


Unfortunately for you and fortunately for me you took his keys from your bureau which are of no value to you and which are the keys to the garage in Southampton. Dad had to use my * to break the lock and put a new one in its place. You have the keys. You need not send them but bring them with you when you return on the October 19th or 20th. I’ll have the spotted calf killed. They are attached to a small metal ring. Yours are on a string and are larger.

In deep thought and concentration,
from this we have strayed far a field
and thus our trouble
To see thee more clearly—
Love the more dearly.
Follow thee more nearly.
--Richard of Winchester

Apart from thee all gain is loss
All lack or vainly done
The solemn shadow of the cross
Is better than the sun.

To such belongeth the kingdom of heaven. Matt 19:14

Quote—the little boy of eight had transgressed one of the major roles of the household code. Straightforwardly he confessed it, and held out his hand for punishment. After three sharp blows from the razor strap, the father was washing the boys hand in soap suds and warm water. “That’s the way we do it, isn’t it”? ventured the little fellow, chocking back his sobs.” That’s the way: wash it off and begin again.” So let us begin again together in a deeper relationship. Are you willing—I am—not you.

“Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love: Therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee:” end quote.

“he called him a little child, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye turn, and become as little children ye shall not enter in the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever there for shall humble himself as this little child, the same in the great in the kingdom of heaven. And who so shall receive one such child in my name recureth me.” Matt 18: 2-5

We have received our child, darling, but we have not received God—Let’s try over again with God helping us. It can be done, I know it can. Will you try, please for our sakes. Don’t give up yet you can’t. You must give us a chance, one more chance, to make a comeback.


Writing you has been like talking, it has helped—thank you.

2:15 AM Still sleepless **
Sleep came at 2:30 or 2:45 AM and at 5 o’clock Cameron cried out something but it woke me up he was crying and I heard Sheff leaving it is now 6:30. Oh! Darling Please tell me where you are you must I beseech you. If you won’t tell me and I have to endure one more week of this I will be a nervous wreck. I have tried to face it bravely, but it is slowly getting me. Can’t you see darling that you are the only one. You you you. May God bring you safely back to us again. You and you alone can mend my broken and distraught heart. Won’t you try---

"It must have weighed heavily on her"

Mt. Vernon-Lisbon Sun
Family, 'Net results in successful sibling search for longtime Mt. Vernon resident
by Dave Morris
December 10, 2008

It has all the elements of a good mystery: a boy whose mother left when he was young, a trunk of photos and letters stored in an attic and a meeting with a relative the boy never knew he had.

That boy grew up to be Charles Halsey, longtime Mount Vernon High School science teacher and volleyball official.

Now retired, but still active in the Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service, Halsey knew there was a hole in his past, but he never knew the details.

The search
After using the genealogy website www.ancestry.com that involved input from daughters Anne Helgeson of Chicago and Gail Bertram of Oshkosh, Wis., as well as Halsey’s wife, Linda, a half-sister, Laura Lynch of Cape Cod, Mass., was located.

But the story is not as simple as that.

What Halsey learned about his past was this: His father, Charles Henry Halsey, worked on a farm in Southampton and his mother was a kindergarten teacher. His mother, whose maiden name was Justine Comstock, left his father and him and their New York home in October 1939, when Halsey was 3.

“Dad (came home and) found me playing on the living room floor,” Halsey said. “A woman who we think was a nanny was there. My mother was gone. It was the last time I saw her.”

His mother went to Reno and obtained a divorce in November 1939 so she could marry a man named Myron Smith, who was an old college friend.

“Smith didn’t want anyone to know she’d been married and had a child,” Halsey said, noting that the man felt it would hurt his career as a sales manager with a company known as General Radio.

“My father never told me of this,” Halsey said. “I knew my mother’s name from my birth certificate.”

His father was remarried to a woman named Frances Raynor, who Halsey always believed to be his birth mother. When he was 6 or 7, he was told by a friend’s mother that that was not the case, but he had few other details.

Sixty-plus years later, on July 13, 2008 – the Monday after Mount Vernon Heritage Days – turned out to be a turning point in the search. Linda suggested that the online search should include Myron Smith’s name. When his name was entered in the search, up popped information on his and Justine Comstock’s dates of birth and death.

It was a match.

The information had been submitted to the website years earlier by a woman named Laura Lynch. The Halseys’ daughter Anne e-mailed Laura, and it became clear that there was indeed a connection. Soon, the e-mails were flying between Cape Cod-based Laura Lynch, 66, and Charles Halsey, 72, in Mount Vernon. Laura is the daughter of Halsey’s mother and Myron Smith. Another daughter, Bonnie, died about 10 years ago.

To say that Halsey was surprised to find a living relative might be understating it.

“I had no inkling – zip, zero,” he said.

It apparently wasn’t as big of a surprise to Laura as it was to Halsey. She had seen her mother occasionally going through a trunk in the attic reading letters and looking at photos. After her mother’s death, Laura and her sister opened the trunk to find pictures of a little boy, a boy’s outfit, letters from the elder Halsey and a bank book with young Halsey’s name and her mother’s on it. When the daughters asked their father if their mother had been married before, he would only answer “maybe.”

It also turned out that it was during the year of Justine Comstock’s death – 1971 – that Halsey’s father briefly mentioned her to him.

Halsey has few memories of his earliest days, but one in particular had stuck with him: It was a long car trip in a Willys to a big white house with a turret. Laura, too, had memories of that home, which was their mother’s parents’ (their grandparents) home in Winsted, Conn.

The meeting
After many e-mails and phone calls, Laura Lynch arrived on Sept. 12 at the airport in Cedar Rapids. Charles and Linda were there holding a sign that simply read “Laura.” They spotted each other from a distance, and before they could even say hello, Laura shot a photo of Halsey with the sign. After a big hug, they spent a few days getting to know each other. On hand were the Halseys’ daughters and their families. The visit happened to coincide with a memorial service for Halsey’s aunt, Abigail Fithian Halsey Van Allen (widow of James Van Allen), so Laura met many of Halsey’s relatives.

“We had a remarkably wonderful time. She brought lots and lots of letters and pictures that were in the trunk,” Halsey said. Laura also confirmed that a photo given to him by his aunt was indeed his mother.

While here, the Halseys took Laura on a tour of flood-ravaged parts of Cedar Rapids. This was of particular interest to Laura, since she and her husband travel in their RV to disaster-stricken areas of the nation as FEMA employees.

The Halseys also showed her around the Mount Vernon area, but the time was mostly spent getting to know each other.

“We really had a good time,” Linda said.

“It was just a wonderful experience,” Halsey added. “It answered a lot of questions I’d always had. I’d always wondered what my birth mother was like. It closes one chapter of my life and opens a brand new one.”

Halsey understands why his mother made the choices she did.

“I hold no animosities whatsoever. Justine did whatever she felt she needed to do,” he said. “It must have weighed heavily on her – I hope it didn’t hurt her in any way.”

The future
The Halseys continue to communicate by e-mail and phone with Laura, who currently is with her husband in Texas doing FEMA work.

Plans are brewing to attempt to meet again in March and to perhaps get the two families together this summer.

“It’s been a rather remarkable, interesting and fun experience,” Halsey said.

DRAFT 2: Oct. 31, 1939

DRAFT 2: Justine Comstock Halsey to Myron Barbour, Esq.
Oct. 31, 1939
JCH: 435 Riverside Street, Reno
MB: Cincinnati, Ohio

Dear Myron—
Thank you for your letter of the twenty-third and for your again taking an interest in us. Now I will be waiting for more definite news from you and hoping that Charles signs the power of attorney soon as the case is scheduled for November sixteenth. [Deleted: All of my expenses have run higher than I had planned upon so additional days, beyond the six weeks will be difficult to finance and I am asking aid of no one in that respect.]

I do not understand there being any difficulty regarding the custody of the child, [Deleted: I am willing to cooperate with the Halseys.] All I want is to safe guard Cameron in case anything should happen to both Charles and Dr. Halsey.

Charles said in a letter to me that he was considering coming to Reno. I certainly hope he does not and in case he did I would see him only in the presence of Judget Lundsford—and only to discuss legal questions.

Thanking you again for your interest—I will never forget your share in trying to start us off right.


DRAFT 1: Oct. 31, 1939

DRAFT 1: Justine Comstock Halsey to Myron Barbour, Esq.
Abt Oct. 31, 1939
JCH: 435 Riverside Street, Reno
MB: Cincinnati, Ohio

Yesterday I was in Judge Lundsfords office and [he] suggested my writing to you.

Can you advise me in regard to the delay in Charles['s] signed power of attorney? Time is passing so quickly and the sixteenth will soon be here.

It is very important that [I be freed] I am free to reestablish myself as soon as possible because living and other expenses have been far higher than anticipated and any added expense will be hard to meet.

October 5, 1939

Letter: Charles Halsey to Justine Comstock Halsey (14 pages total)

Thursday night
October 5, 1939
CHH : 552 Riverside Dr, NYC
JCH: 435 Riverside Street, Reno
Page 10, last paragraph:

P.S. God Bless you darling and don’t do anything you will be sorry for later. Come back to us when you are rested and then decide the next step after we have tried to make another go of it. Read the clipping enclosed. It might have happened to ours once. But if could be worse now if his mommie doesn’t come back. He knows, and he doesn’t forget easily. I wish our little baby* could talk. I’ll bet he could reveal a lot. Don’t you think so. How is Florida weather--or perhaps you wouldn’t know. Maybe it is Colorado or Georgia or it might be right here in New York. I have had that feeling all week. But one never knows, does one. I hope I will soon tho dearest for the suspense is driving me batty. I feel shaky all over—do at least that for me and then on the 19th come back and we will be waiting. I pull[ed] the wish bone on that. The [other] one [is] too green to break, [from] Friday of last week. The other one I have saved for us both to pull when you come back.

May God guide you and keep you and bring you home to Cameron and me in a short time. The days will be eternities but well worth surviving just to see you and know you are here again. No one else will take your place for a long long time and Margaret is no exception.

Cameron says “I love my mommie. Mommie come home pretty soon.” Charles says, “I love you Justine my darling wife. Please return to two children that need a mother like you our hearts are open and so is our door.” May God grant you safe return.

Still your adoring and bewildered, but still loving husband,

P.S.S. I kiss your lips and hand madam, take one from Cam too. xxxxx

P.S.S.S. I will reread your farewell note: I wish I could believe you darling “This is for the best of all of us. Believe me.” It will be the best for all of us if I you come back to us mommie. You love Cameron so very much—I know you do—Prove that you do dear one, try returning. We want you. I’ll take care of him, but I can not do it all. It takes both of us together – I”ll fight for him and do all in my power, but I will also fight for fury on ‘came(?) you can and have to do that which I can’t. It takes two to bring them into the world. It takes two to raise them and you are the only one who can rightfully do that at my side. Mrs. Van Dorn still thinks you’re home* [and will be] mighty surprised. Incidentally I have mail here for you—where do I send it? Please tell me--I’ll be grateful to you if you will—

It will get easier, but easiest when you have come back.

I have some good pictures to show you if you will return—one enclosed to make you think you will miss him if you can’t watch him grow—Came home honey. God will help you to come back to us. Just give him a chance.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

N.Y. Herald Tribune 1954

Dr. Halsey, 71 Dies; Teacher of Theology
New York Herald Tribune
Jan. 12, 1954

SOUTHAMPTON, L.I.- The Rev. Jesse Halsey, seventy-one, retired professor of practical theology at the McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, died today at Southampton Hospital. Since his retirement in 1952, he lived here on North Main St.

Born in Southampton, Dr. Halsey was educated at Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary and Wooster College. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1910, and for the next three years was a member of Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell's Labrador Medical Mission.

In World War I, he was sent to Murmansk, Russia, by the Y.M.C.A. and he remained as consular agent in that city during the Bolshevik Revolution representing the United States and British governments.

After the war he returned to his pastorate at the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, a post he held until 1940. In 1953, the church dedicated a chapel to him.

In 1941, he joined the faculty at McCormick Theological Seminary.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Helen Isham Halsey; a son, Charles Henry Halsey, of Westhampton, L.I., and two daughters, Mrs. Joseph Haroutunian, of Chicago, and Mrs. James Van Allen, of Princeton.

JH bio on file @Princeton

Jesse Halsey
Father: Charles Henry Halsey
Mother: Melvina D. Terry Halsey
Date of Birth: May 3, 1882, at Southampton, Long Island, NY.

He studied at Southampton High School and joined the First Presbyterian Church there at age 12. He lived on and worked on his father’s farm from 1902 to 1906, covering his college subjects at home due to illness in the family. He came to Princeton, entering the seminary in September 1906 and also taking courses at Princeton University. After studying at Princeton from 1906-1908 he went on to complete his seminary education at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, from which he received his BDiv degree. He was ordained by the Nassau Presbytery on June 6, 1910.

Jesse Halsey served in the Spanish-American War; he worked as a missionary with the Grenfell Labrador Mission in the summer of 1909 and again after his graduation from Union from the summer of 1910 until the winter of 1912; he lectured in the U.S. on behalf of the Grenfell Labrador Mission from the winter of 1912 until June of 1913, and then was called to became pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served at the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati from September 1913 until December 1941, with the exception of a small break around the time of World War I when he served as a Chaplain at a British naval station and worked with the American Red Cross, and then spent some time working in Russia, with the YMCA in Moscow and with the American Consulate in Murmansk (1917-1918). In 1941 he received a call to be Professor of Pastoral Theology and Liturgics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where he taught until his retirement in May, 1952. He published articles in theological magazines, newspapers, and the McCormick Seminary official publications, and published two books, “The Living Hope” in 1938 and “Open Prayer” in 1951.

He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Wooster College in Ohio in 1927, and at various times served as a member of the Pension Board of the Presbyterian Church, USA; as Moderator of the Synod of Ohio; as Moderator of the Cincinnati Presbytery; as Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church; as President of the Cincinnati Council of Churches; as a member of the Board of Lane Seminary; as a member of the Board of Western College; and as a member of the Chaplain’s Board in Washington, DC. After his retirement he returned to Southampton, NY, where he lived until his death in 1954.

He married Helen Caroline Isham on March 28, 1910, at Lake Placid, NY. Children were Charles Henry Halsey, born April 6, 1911, and Frederick Isham Halsey, born August 21, 1912, both at St. Anthony in Newfoundland, Canada; Helen Augusta Halsey, born February 8, 1914, and Wilmun Haynes Halsey, born September 30, 1920, both born in Cincinnati; and Abigail Fithian Halsey, born August 9, 1942, at Southampton, Long Island, NY.

"His heart a skipper's Heart"

In Memoriam
The Rev. Jesse Halsey, D.D.
1882 - 1954

The sea was always in his eyes
As in his blood;
The English earth his heritage,
His sires, the skippers of proud ships
Out of Southampton's
New World port
Two hundred years agone.

He lov'd the salt-tang'd air,
The restless, rolling water drew him
From a thousand miles,
Like tides upon his heart
Toward home and rest and peace.

His hands were seaman's hands,
Busy, apt to any task
To build, to smooth,
To climb where few would dare,
To set a gentle flower,
To bind a wound,
To brush aside a tear,
To pray.

Like season'd oak, his heart,
Handwrought and mellowed,
Weathered fitting by the foul and fair;
He knew his craft - the hearts of men
And like his Master,
No stranger he to ax and plane,
Or storm-toss'd day,
The satisfying weariness of eventide;
His art - the ships he built -
The lives he sent out from his ways
Sound wrought and rigged,
To wrest and bring
A hard-won cargo safely home.

His heart a skipper's Heart,
The Master's Order, his;
And certain as a chart that fact
To all
Who signed on in his company.

No wonder to his mates,
The Master, satisfied,
Called out, "Cast off!"
And he obeyed.

--Dr. Samuel Gregory Warr, associate pastor to Dr. Halsey, Seventh Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1940-1941

A Labrador Doctor

The Autobiography of Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1919)
"Presentation copy with original mounted photographs. Inscribed and signed by Sir Grenfell on the half-title, with a mounted photograph of "The Doctor on board the 'Stratheona,'" (caption in another hand). Also, inscribed on the front pastedown, "W.J. Brown, Christmas 1919, Best wishes, Jesse Halsey." Halsey was an associate of Grenfell's at the Deep Sea Mission, and inserted before the frontispiece of the book is a 4-page illustrated program for "Illustrated Lectures by Rev. Jesse Halsey" at The Players in Boston."

"Other original photographs mounted on the front endpaper and flyleaves, all captioned, include "Dr. Grenfell greeted by the school children in St. Anthony"; "Jesse Halsey, Labrador & Northern Newfoundland, 1909 to Nov. 1912"; "The 'Boss' and the 'Gang' (boxes of food & clothing from the 'States' being unloaded by U.S. college students)"; "J.H. in Labrador 'dickey,"; and "Tuckamne Croft - Charles Henry & Helen I. Halsey" (a woman with dog sled in front of house)."

"Grenfell (1865-1940) was a noted English physician who had been the house surgeon at London Hospital and then in 1892 became a medical missionary and resident of Labrador, where he also founded hospitals and orphanages."

Pomfret Class of 1932

A Handbook of Private Schools for American Boys and Girls: An Annual Survey (1936) by Porter Sargent
  • POMFRET, CONN. Alt 389ft. Pop 1617 (1930).
  • Motor Route 101 from Providence, R.L
"This pleasant country town with its many old houses and churches is rich in memories of Israel Putnam. Pomfret School faces the green across from the old Ben Grosvenor Inn. The 140 acre estate of Rectory School is on Pomfret Street."

POMFRET SCHOOL Boys Ages 12-18 Est 1894.
Halleck Lefferts, Ph.B., Yale, Head Master.
  • Enr: Bdg 117. Fac: 16. Tui: $1450. Courses 5 yrs: Col Prep
  • High Sch 1-4 Grade VTIL Incorporated. Trustees 18. Prizes 45. Episcopal. C E B candidates '35, 45; 7 3o->34, 340.
  • Entered Col '35, 16; *3o- J 34, 117. Alumni 830. Approved by N E Col Ent Certif Bd. Member N E Assoc Col and Secondary Sch.

"William E. Peck, one of the great schoolmasters of the country, after twelve years as head of St. Mark's resigned to establish this school to more fully carry out his own ideals. William Beach Olmsted, his successor, worked unselfishly and joyously to secure the interest of people of wealth and social prominence, and created for the school a beautiful setting. The old order passed with him in 1029 and Mr. Lefferts, educated at Taft and Yale, was appointed head master. An ardent democrat, non-believer in conformity to type, Mr. Lefferts encourages independent thinking among his boys. He has created a new Pomfret."

"intent to give life all its due"

Because you live, though out of sight and reach,
I will, so help me God, live bravely too,
Taking the road with laughter and gay speech,
Alert, intent to give life all its due.

- Jesse Halsey

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a wee motherless bairn

Letter to Jesse Halsey, age 21, in Southampton
[from Mrs. Craven, wife of Rev. Walter Craven]

4 Perry St., Morristown, NJ
Oct. 25, 1903

My Dear Young Friend,
I have never lost interest in you since I saw you a wee motherless bairn trothing in & out the problem of your young sister's heart and life. How wonderfully God has cared for you & brought you to a true manhood.

Your strong desire for the ministry was very precious to me, & since then the inhibitions to your plans have greatly touched me. There is nothing more perplexing than those times in life when we come to a stand still saying "Lord what wilt thou have me to do?" & hear no answer.

That we are guided if we truly desire to be I am sure. But the Guidance is not always along the line of our plans & our desires. If God has called you to the ministry of the Gospel you will be a minister of the Gospel though no man lays hand of ordination on your head.

When we were in Southampton my Husband often longed for an assistant, a young man who could aid him in gleaning tho comes of the field. He used often to say if I could send & c-- But there was no one on whom he could depend for more than occasional work. God loves a tired & tested instrument.

He wants you to know your self as He knows you. A young man came to Mr. C one day to say, "I want to be a minister." Mr. C soon found he wanted the ministry as a Profession & God has little use for such men in the great harvest field of the world. So the question every man should answer is Why do I want to be a minister. My Husband answered that, "Because I want to win souls to X." His Father said "You will make a very good business man & a very poor preacher, here is a good business offer." Mr. C answered "I w'd rather live on $300 a year & preach X, win souls to Him, than gain the greatest fortune earth ever saw."

God gave him every whole souls for his hire. --

Do you want soul? Is the cry of your heart "Souls of men, why will ye scatter like a crowd of frightened sheep? Foolish hearts! Why will ye wander from a love so true & deep?" I never cross in a crowded ferry boat, but these lines come to me followed by a prayer for the multitudes over whom Jesus wept.

Souls are every where. There is great need in your own scattered places. North Sea, was a bit of our Parish we longed to do more for. Ask Lord to give you access to that neighborhood. Hold a prayer meeting there every week, add a S.S. we began with the S.S. Prepare carefully for that meeting. Make it a model meeting. Take some real gospel meat to them not so full or deep a dish that no one else will dare to speak. Take some congenial friend with you who can help with singing. Hold gospel meetings, ask for an out pouring of the Holy Spirit & expect it, & God can give you the first prints of your ministry then & there. The first revival Mr. C ever enjoyed was in meetings held when he was yet a young man in his Mother's house while he taught here in NJ between col. & sem. The fire of that little meeting spread, rooms, hall stairs were full. Later it spread out into the church & finally thru the town. That was between college and Sem. God tested & answered thru too worldly Father's injury. Father C was a X man, but he had great ambitions for his children.

Do not be afraid of God's testing times. See God not only as your loving Heavenly Father, your unerring Guide, but the Great Irresistible God -- Read Job. God's answer to Job. See that He has His place & work for you. Put your self absolutely in the Alter of His unchangeable love, to be Molded into His uses for your life. Do not say my plans have been thwarted because God does not want me in His ministry, rather say I will be His minister what ever comes in what ever way is open to my hand. I will begin to serve to the full of my power in the Gospel here & now. The need is so great for souls that turn for Christ. We knew & loved your dear Mother, & your Bro. Mr. C felt him to be his most helpful young man. So I need not apologize for writing you out of a very full heart of interest in you and in the Gospel.

If you feel like writing I shall be most happy to hear from you. Please give my love to your father & believe me very truly your friend.

Mrs. Walter C

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Saranac Lake

This photo shows the First Baptist Church in Saranac Lake, the church in which I believe my great grandfather Jesse Halsey met my great grandmother Helen Isham. According to one account, between 1907-1909 Jesse made trips to Saranac Lake to attend to his sister Lizzie who was taking the cure, and to speak about the mission work in Labrador. He gave such a talk in a Lake Placid church, in which Great Grandmother Helen played the organ.

From "Historic Saranac Lake and Rachel Bliven, New York State Historic Preservation Office," by Mary Hotaling,
  • The hilly open pastures which lay east of Church Street, between the riverside core of the village and the Old Military Road (Pine Street), were next divided to create the first large residential subdivision in the village. In 1892 Frederick A. Isham, a Lake Placid attorney, formed a partnership with the Orlando Bloods to divide 21 acres of sheep pasture into 174 "Villa Sites." This became Helen Hill, named for its central artery, Helen Street, which climbed straight up the steep slope. Soon the hill was covered with houses, many of them private homes for prominent local citizens and/or wealthy health seekers. Over the next twenty years, as the original owners died or moved away, many of the houses were converted into commercial private sanatoria, growing and changing to suit their new use, a pattern repeated along Church Street below.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Citations of Rev. Jesse II: Kerensky Files

From "Russian Sideshow: America's Undeclared War, 1918-1920," by Robert L. Willett, 2003, p. 5.
  • Then came a change: In February 1918, Germany reattacked Russia in the Ukraine, although Germany was still in negotiates with Bolshevik Soviet . . . The threat of German attack brought some harmony to the three diverse Murmansk groups--the government, rebellious military, and allies--as they recognized the need for British defense and supply. At this time, an American, Lt. Hugh Martin, a passport control officer, was the senior U.S. representative on the scene. A few other Americans were there also: Allen Wardell of the Red Cross had made his second appearance in the new city, while YMCA official Reverend Jesse Halsey was a more recent arrival.
"The Decision to Intervene," by George Frost Kennan, 1989, p. 36.
  • But by this time all was turmoil and confusion in Petrograd. Robins had left the city before the message was received. There was no immediate reply. For the moment, therefore, Wardwell continued to reside in his car in the railroad yard. Martin and a representative of the American Y.M.C.A., the Reverend Jesse Halsey, both lacking adequate accommodations, moved in with him. On March 4, the little party was joined by another member of the Red Cross Commission, Major Thomas D. Thatcher accompanied by the commisioner's Cossak interpreter, Captain Ilovaiski.
  • Life took a sort of colorful course in the railway yards where the Americans were residing. From time to time trainloads of refugees, in boxcars, lumbered in from the distant south. Cosmopolitan Petrograd was now disgorging, in its extremity, all those international elements that had no place in the world of Bolshevism. No other quarters being available in Murmansk, the refugees remained in the boxcars, in the snow-covered yards. There were among them all shapes and sizes of humanity. The scenes recall, to the contemporary mind, the Lisbon of WWII. "We have nearly every nationality here now," Wardell wrote on March 5.
From "America's Secret War Against Bolshevism," by David S. Foglesong, 1995, p. 225.
  • On September 20, 1918, Wilson received a caution from a Red Cross worker in north Russia that "unless the Allies [sic] program of intervention is made strong enough not to appear ridiculous, it is fore-doomed to failure." Jesse Halsey recognized that "intervention is not the word to use," and he noted approvingly that "the troops have paid attention to the feelings of the people." However, friendly relief work was not sufficient. Substantial foreign forces were needed, in part because of the disheartening fact that "the moderately well to do classes hold aloof from everything that is going on in Russia except what is immediately before them."
  • Wilson thought enough of Halsey's statements to take a copy of it with him to Paris. He was undoubtedly more sympathetic to the ideas of avoiding the word "intervention" and attending to Russian feelings than to the recommendation of stronger foreign military forces. Only a few days before receiving Halsey's memorandum, Wilson had ruled out sending reinforcements to north Russia. In late September and again in October Chaikovskii appealed for more American troops to enable him "to form a serious Russian army" and to strengthen the faltering "struggle against Bolshevism." However, discouraged by the reported apathy of anti-Bolsheviks and later troubled by the rise of nationalist support for the Bolsheviks, Wilson refused to expand the size or scope of American intervention.
From "Alternative Paths: Soviets and Americans, 1917-1920" By David W. McFadden, 1993, p. 144.

  • The treaty--signed July 6 by Rear Admiral Thomas Kemp, British commanding officer of Allied troops at Murmansk; French Captain Petit, and the Reverend Jesse Halsey, United States YMCA representative in Murmansk--assured Alexei Yuryev, the Chairman of the Murmansk Regional Soviet, of Allied support against both Germans and Bolsheviks. Despite the unorthodox nature of its negotiation and the rather shaky basis of U.S. representation in its signing, it was officially approved by the U.S. government in October 1918, and served as legal basis for U.S. intervention in the Murmansk region.

Citations of Rev. Jesse I: "Men of Thought"

From "Men of Space: Profiles of the Leaders in Space Research, Development, and Exploration, Vol.1," by Shirley Thomas, 1960, p. 118.
  • Abbie had grown up in the stimulating surrounding of a home where 'men of thought' were frequent visitors. Her father, the Reverend Jesse Halsey, was the minister of the Seventh Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati; Abbie recalls with pleasure that among the guests in their home were novelist Thomas Mann and the Labrador missionary-doctor-explorer, Sir Wilfred Grenfell--who once remained with them for two weeks.
From "The Big Red House Next Door: Other Stories, Verses, and Miscellany," by Ada Gregg Williams, 1915, p. 5, 192.
  • Among those who have given the 'Sons of Shapur' their hearty endorsement and pledges of earnest support may be mentioned the Reverends Jesse Halsey, Archdeacon Charles G. Reade, David Philipson, Charles W. Donaldson, George A. Thayer, Justin N. Green, Louis Grossman, Louis G. Hoeck, and Jacob W. Kapp.

From "A Survey of the Ishams in England and America: Eight Hundred and Fifty Years," by Homer Worthington Brainard, 1938, p. 672.
  • Helen Caroline, b. at Saranac Lake, N.Y., May 18, 1889; m. Mar. 26, 1910, Rev. Jesse Halsey, b. Southampton, N.Y., May 3, 1882. They spent four years after their marriage at Dr. Grenfell's Labrador Mission, but now reside in Cincinnati. Children: Charles Henry, b. Apr. 16, 191 1, in Labrador, m. Nov. 29, 1936, Justine Comstock, of Winston (probably Wilton), Conn.; Frederick Isham, b. Aug. 21, 1912, in Labrador; Helen Augusta, b. Feb. 8, 1914, in Southampton, N.Y.; Wilman Haynes, b. Sept. 30, 1920, d. ---; Abigail Lillian, b. August 9, 1922, in Cincinnati, O.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The House at 88 Grove Street

This house in the West Village was built in 1827, by my Great-Great-Great Grandfather Henry Halsey, a mason, and his brothers Jesse and Edward.

According to a letter written by my Great-Great Aunt Babbie in 1936 to the then owner of 88 Grove Street, Henry's father, Charles Fithian Halsey, had died in 1814 and his mother, Phoebe Rogers (daughter of Capt. William Rogers of Bridgehampton), "unable to give her boys a college education although she owned much land here, [left Watermill and] took them to New York and apprenticed them to a master mason. They built 88 Grove Street for themselves, buying Lot No. 52 from Thomas R. Mercein at the time, I think, when Greenwich Village was taken into the city. Henry brought his bride [Eliza Halsey] there, and his mother, brothers and two sisters [Elizabeth and Mary] lived on one floor, he and his wife on the other."

Aunt Babbie goes on to say that her father, my Great-Great Grandfather--the first Charles Henry Halsey--was born in the Grove Street home in 1830, as were his siblings Amanda in 1833, Wilman in 1836, Mary in 1839. A third son, Jesse, was born in Southampton in 1845. In an interview I conducted in December 2005, Aunt Abigail, however, contended that 49 North Main was built in 1832 and Amanda was the first child born in that home.

(A note on the progression of Jesse Halseys.)

In 1843, Jesse and Edward Halsey would become whaling captains and go to sea, while Henry (known as Capt. Harry of North End) would return with Eliza and their children to Southampton in 1832 and build the family home on North Main, employing many of the same architectural devices (including interior cornices and trim) that are found in the house at 88 Grove Street.

After the Halseys had returned to Long Island, the house at 88 Grove Street played a notable role in the history of 20th century social change.

In 1902, 88 Grove Street was owned by Ferruccio Vitale, a landscape architect, and rented to 5 staff members of the nearby Greenwich House settlement, serving as the colony's men's annex. The 5 residents were deemed "only the first among many well-to-do social progressives to occupy either 88 or 90 Grove Street over the next decade."

In 1903, former headworker of the University Settlement Robert Hunter and his wife, Caroline Stokes, moved in. They purchased the home in 1907. The house next door, No. 90, was purchased by Caroline's unmarried sister, the painter and social activist Helen Stokes, and let to various friends in her upper-middle-class socially progressive circle.

Starting in 1907, Grove Street housed various members of the A Club, a "more or less radical" writers' collective and "residential community in which gender roles did not divide along the conventional lines of men doing the 'real' work and women taking care of the the kids, meals, and the laundry." A Club member, social reformer, novelist, and journalist Ernest Poole took up residence in the house for a year, along with his family. In 1910, following the death of her first husband, another A Clubber--suffragist, writer, labor activist, witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and single mother of three who was written out of her own wealthy mother's will for her bohemian ways--Mary Heaton Vorse moved into the home with her aged father and small children.

In 1915, Helen Stokes's brother, James Graham Phelps Stokes, bought 88 Grove Street and moved in with his wife. J.G., and sisters Harriet and Caroline, were the scions of New York merchant and banker Anson Phelps Stokes. After a short but successful stint with the railroads, J.G. made headlines in 1902 when he left his parents' Madison Avenue mansion to become a settlement worker in the East Village. A frequent name on the city's Socialist ticket, Stokes would make headlines again in 1905, when we became engaged to Rose Harriet Pastor, "a young Jewess, who until two weeks ago was a special writer on The Jewish Daily News, and prior to that worked in a Cleveland cigar factory."

Quite the rabble-rouser, Rose Stokes would garner significant press attention for her presence at the 1918 trial of Eugene Debs and, according to the New York Times: "While the Stokeses lived at 88 Grove Rose Stokes risked arrest by passing out birth-control literature at Carnegie Hall in 1916 and was convicted in 1918 of Federal espionage charges for antiwar statements, although her 10-year sentence was set aside." The charges ultimately would be dropped, but on the night of November 3, 1918, police raided 88 Grove Street and arrested Rose for registering to vote in New York while under bail in Kansas for seditious utterances.