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.