Monday, December 7, 2020
Friday, September 25, 2020
Memorabilia and Elusive Manuscripts: A Civil War Soldier's Letter Home (?), A Teacher’s Letters From A Baltimore Under Siege, 1814-1815
Memorabilia and Elusive Manuscripts:
A Civil War Soldier's Letter Home (?), A Teacher’s Letters From A Baltimore Under Siege, 1814-1815
Manuscript archive of three handwritten letters from Mr DH Beardsley of Baltimore Maryland to his friend and attorney Mr John Gardner of York Pennsylvania.
This grouping of letters have been in the Gardner family since they were written.
[The] author of [the] letters … David Hamlin Beardsley born in 1789. [He] came to Baltimore from Connecticut. He was unsuccessful in his attempt at running a school and moved to Ohio, where he became the Collector for the Ohio Canal. He held that position for 23 years. In 1840 he became Mayor of Cleveland [sic]. He died in 1870 and was married to Cassandra Hersh. His father was Squire Beardsley and mother was Hannah Hamlin.
Baltimore Aug 29, 1814
My Good Friend,
I send enclosed a ten dollar note (it is not present) on the York Bank which I wish you to get (?) for and send it to me the first safe opportunity. Nothing can be purchased here without (?) No person will take bank notes of any kind and silver has almost entirely disappeared. Please to send the money by some person of your acquaintance and one who will deliver it to me in person at Schaffir's tavern sign of the Buck, North Howard Street.
I have no news. The fortifications about Baltimore are progressing rapidly. An intrenchment nearly three quarters of a mile in length was thrown up yesterday (Sunday) on Hampstead Hill and it is said that 10,000 men are now in Baltimore under arms. The British will not attack this place in my opinion till reinforcements arrive. There present form (5000) will never succeed considering this very advantageous situation in which the Americans are posted(?)
I hardly believe that the British intend to attack Baltimore at all. What can be their object? They do not wish to destroy private property and and there is very little public property here. Not enough to pay for the sacrifices of men which it will cost to take the city. It appears that at Washington andAlexandria the British did not destroy any shipping but that which belonged to the U.S. It is not known for a certainty where the British are but it is believed that they have not returned to theChesapeake. It is said that there is a sharp contention between Genl Winder and Gnl Smith which (?) have the command and the executives have not influence enough to settle the dispute. It is also said that the command of the Artillery is to be taken from Col Harris & given to Com Rogers.if this should take place it would give very general dissatisfaction. Pray write to me immediately and send the money the first opportunity.
If ever the time shall come when you will need a friend I shall then prove myself
[William Henry Winder 1775-1824 American soldier and Maryland lawyer was a controversial general in the War of 1812. General Samuel Smith 1752-1839 was a U.S. Senator, mayor of Baltimore and a general in the Maryland Militia. Letter written just weeks before Battle of Baltimore September 12-15, 1814 when Francis Scott Key composed The Star Spangled Banner]
Condition Browning foxing, hole from wax seal. Very Readable. A few ink smudges. A chunk of paper torn from blank- front cover top not affect text
Baltimore Oct 10, 1814
half past 10 o'clock pm
I have commenced my school and have scholars enough. They have not all returned yet from the country; but they are engaged.
You will have heard of the arrival of the Adams before this reaches you but you may not have heard the result of the negotiations of which is that there is no prospect of a peace that that the demands of the British are such as can not be (?) to; such as the giving up of the Fisheries, the ceding of Louisiana to the Spanish, the establishment of a new boundary line so as to give part of Massachusetts and New York to Canada etc.
This information may be relied on as it comes direct from Washington in a semi official form. At the sailing of the Adams the negotiations wanted nothing but the formalizing (?) of closing all hopes of an accommodation are at an end.
I am in great haste and must bid you a good night!
Pray write soon and inform me how Miss H Capat (?) does and everything else which you think will be interesting
J Gardner Esq. DH Beardsley
[ship the John Adams? Returned to the USA 5 September 1814.]
Condition Foxing, browning, minor loss bottom edge. Loss from seal not affect text
Baltimore Jan 19, 1815
I have no news to communicate which you will not have received before this reaches you. I am anxiously watching the times for some prospect of peace. The hope that you have created of enabling me to serve you in the capacity of clerk in some mercantile business at the close of the war is my only support. I pray that this hope may in due time be realized.
I hear that you are "enjoying the moments as they fly"and that no one is more lively in the ballroom this winter than yourself. Pray how comes on your ------but I am perhaps intruding too much upon your generosity to ask. I hear with a great deal of pleasure that Miss Hannah Caprat(?) has entirely recovered. Do not I entreat you forget
Your friend, DH Beardsley
PS Saturday evening Jan 21 perhaps you may not have heard that intelligence has at length arrived from New Orleans but it is said that much later accounts may be expected tomorrow. The intelligence received is as late as Dec 23 at midnight. The British had landed a force differently estimated at from 3-6 thousand which had been met by the Americans under Jackson and a battle was fought in which it is said the Americans had the advantage. The action continued from 7 o'clock in the morning till a quarter past 9. A number of British prisoners were taken away which were two Majors. The British force engaged consisted only of the advance of their army which is said to amount to 1400 men. This battle it is not pretended, was any wise Decisive but a great battle was expected the next day.Jackson had been reinforced by Genl Coffee and Carroll with a force of 4000 men and greater reinforcements were expected every hour.
The Bill establishing a national Bank has passed both houses of congress and wants only the Presidents signature. The senate have recorded (?) from their amendments. The capital of course is 30 millions and there is no power granted to suspend (?) payments
Condition Browning foxing, hike from wax seal. Very Readable. Minor splits at creases.
[John Coffee 1772-1833, commanded troops under Jackson in the Creek Wars and in the Battle of New Orleans. William Carroll 1788-1844 governor of Tennessee joined the Tennessee militia in 1812 rose to Major General.]
David Hamlin Beardsley did indeed operate a school in Baltimore, advertising in the local newspaper:
Having experienced the War of 1812 in Baltimore, Beardsley lived through the Civil War dying in 1870. The former school teacher from Baltimore was concerned about the economic costs of the war to both sides but also cautioned his friend, a firm supporter of the Union to not be too optimistic.
 1860 Census; Census Place: Abington, Plymouth, Massachusetts; Page: 280; Family History Library Film: 803518. Jonathan’s son Moses Noyes was 16 in 1860. He volunteered to serve in the 12th Massachusetts Regiment and served at Antietam and Gettysburg. https://babel.hathitrust.org/
Another son, Thomas, died in 1923. In 1860 Thomas was listed as four years old in the Arnold household. Two of his sisters are mentioned in his obituary: North Abington, July 27—Thomas Arnold, a member of the firm of M. N. Arnold & Co., shoe manufacturers, died today on a train from Boston. His body was removed from the train at Quincy, and taken to his home. Mr Arnold was a native of Abington. He was 67 years old and a son of the late Mr and Mrs Jonathan Arnold, one of the oldest families in the town. He leaves a wife, two sons, Eugene of North Abington, and Harold of Bayonne, N J; a daughter, Miss Alice of North Abington; two brothers, John P. of Brockton, superintendent of the Huntington School District in Brockton, and Wallace E. W., of Wollaston, also a member of the firm of the Arnold Company, and two sisters, Miss Emily of Southbridge, and Miss Sarah Louise of Boston, former dean of Simmons College. He was a member of John Cutler Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Abington, and the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Co. of Boston, and a number of Masonic bodies. Funeral services will be held in the home, 372 Adams st, North Abington, Monday afternoon at 2 p m. [Source: The Boston Globe, Boston, MA, Saturday, July 28, 1923, p. 14]
 Historical Data Systems, Inc.; Duxbury, MA 02331; American Civil War Research Database on Ancestry.com and https://babel.hathitrust.org/
 described as War Of 1812 Manuscript Archive 3 Handwritten Letters From Baltimore, the link, http://www.ebay.com/itm/War-
David Hamlin Beardsley was one of the unique characters of Cleveland, and for 23 years perhaps the best known man in the city, for his public position as Collector of the Ohio Canal brought him into daily contact not only with the merchants of the town but with business men the whole length of the state. He was the son of Squire and Hannah Hamlin Beardsley of New Preston, Conn., and was 37 years old when he came here in 1826.
School-teaching, his first occupation, took him to Baltimore, Md., where he assumed charge of a select school and incidentally met Miss Cassandra Hersh, sister of David Hersh, who became a Cleveland pioneer. The following year, 1817, they were married. His next venture was at Sandusky, Ohio, where he bought 315 acres of land, became an associate judge, and was elected a state senator. To become auditor and recorder of Cuyahoga County would seem like a retrograde of honors, but probably Mr. Beardsley had other things to take into consideration when he accepted the office. He worked in the
old log-courthouse on the Public Square, and his beautiful penmanship is preserved in the early records of the city. When the Ohio canal was opened as far as Akron, his integrity and accuracy were recognized, and he was made collector of it, and for 23 years, through all administrations, he held his position, beginning at a salary of $300, and ending with one of $1200. He was a man of simple tastes and sterling qualities, and best known for scrupulous honesty even to the value of a cent. It is claimed that in all the years he served as collector of the canal, during which time he had handled over a million dollars, he could account to a cent of all money passing through his hands. Many amusing stories have been told of his exactness regarding small change. Judge James Cleveland quaintly refers to this trait in an address before the Old Settlers' Association in 1896:
‘‘The canal collector, D. H. Beardsley, regarded the statutes and canal regulations as the laws of the Medes and Persians, and sometimes reminded a canal-boat master that he owed the state of Ohio a half cent on tolls, and should remember it at the next settlement. Whereupon the canal-captain would, with great anger and profanity, chop a copper cent in two with the cook’s axe, on the canal-lock scale, and tender it to the old collector. Then the captain would be fined $5 for his violation of the law which forbade the axe on the state’s property, and he didn’t think the joke was much on the collector when he saw his face darken like the face of Jove, and knew that fine must be paid before he or his canal-boat could
leave the port.“ Collector Beardsley was the very type of integrity, honesty, and honor, and under his official mask there dwelt a gentle and scholarly nature that loved his fellow-men and was loved by all who esteem' purity, justice, and the gentle ways of wisdom and peace.” Mr. Beardsley died at the age of 82, and was buried in Erie street cemetery. Mrs. David Beardsley was an invalid for many years. She had three sisters, all charming women who resided near her, on the south side of St. Clair street between Seneca and Ontario, and their mother, a dear old lady, always quaintly and beautifully dressed, lived with them. They were all born house and home-keepers, and though they lived simply and in small houses, as all Cleveland people did in that day, they were very popular, and their society much sought for by the cultured element of the town. Their brother, John Hersh, was then a bachelor. In after years he removed to Chillicothe. Sarah Hersh was the second wife of Thomas Brown. He was the editor of the Ohio Farmer. Julia Hersh married Mr. Bolles. All three sisters were fine-looking, had dark eyes and dark brown Hair. from Wickham, Gertrude Van Rensselaer. The Pioneer Families of Cleveland, 1796-1840. Cleveland, Ohio: Evangelical Publishing House, 1914, pp. 330-331.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Putting America Back to Work:
The Legacy of the National Research project, the Federal Writers Project, and The Historical Records Survey
Whittaker Chambers & Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss (1904-1996), born into privilege in Baltimore, did not need a job during the Great Depression (1929-1940), but his nemesis, Whittaker Chambers, did.
Between 1929 and 1940 National unemployment remained above 14% with the highest rate in 1933 at 24.9%. With the New Deal came the prospect of Federal jobs for unemployed liberal arts majors like Chambers who was a struggling translator and author in 1937 without sufficient income to support his family. Living in Baltimore on Mount Royal Terrace, he found employment in Washington as an editor with the National Research Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) investigating employment in the railroad industry. The National Research Project created in 1935 was one of the many employment agencies created by the New Deal, the goal of which was to investigate new industrial technologies and their effects on employment.
This photograph by Lewis Hine sells today for $2400, many times the monthly salary of either
Hine or Chambers when they worked for the National Research Project.
While the photographs of Lewis Hine, the chief photographer of the National Recovery Program, are well known, the project Chambers edited has received considerably less attention. It was one of a number that contributed to the understanding of unemployment on the railroads and associated industries that Lewis Hine documented through his remarkable photographs.
Chambers's time with the National Research Project provided him with a living wage for fifteen weeks, a time in which he also gathered (perhaps created?) evidence against his erstwhile friend Alger Hiss. All that time he lived in Baltimore and commuted to his job in Washington on the B & O Railroad, but, given the nature of his editorial work, he probably also worked at home, the equivalent of teleworking today.
The resistance to “handing out the dole” especially to those who were on the liberal spectrum of Americans (Chambers later argued without evidence that he received some financial support from the Communist Party in 1937-38) was widespread. While gathering considerably useful information, the National Research Project found it necessary to reduce the work force on the project for which Chambers was hired and he was “furloughed without prejudice.” The evidence he helped edit, lives on, however and can be found in the widely consulted Historical Statistics of the United States.
The “Stuff” of the Federal Writers Project of the WPA was prodigious and employed many authors including Zora Neale Hurston, shown here, and John Steinbeck. Who contributed to the initial publication of Maryland in the American Guide Series is as yet unknown. It fell to the staff of the Maryland State Archives to update it for publication by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1976.
Another WPA undertaking that affected employment in Maryland was the Federal Writers Project. The “Stuff” of the Federal Writers Project of the WPA was prodigious and employed many authors including Zora Neale Hurston, shown here, and John Steinbeck. Who contributed to the initial publication of Maryland in the American Guide series is as yet unknown. It fell to the staff of the Maryland State Archives to update it for publication by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1976.
Another employment project of the Works Project Administration (WPA) of the “Second New Deal,” 1935-1941, is the Historical Records Survey (HRS). The HRS was to have a profound effect on the cataloguing and availability of an important segment of the American Memory which otherwise would have been lost to neglect, left deteriorating in court house attics and basements of the nation. Through its auspices a whole generation of Archivists would be trained and a wealth of documents illuminating every corner of American History would be unearthed and in time made accessible. Indeed more budding archivists would be employed in the task of documenting America than ever before and ever since.
Morris Leon Radoff with the Maryland Hall of Records in the Background
Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives
Maryland would benefit enormously from the careful inventorying and explanation of its record heritage by the work of the Historical Records Survey under the guidance of Morris Radoff whose experience with the Survey would lead to his appointment as Maryland State Archivist in 1939.
Radoff had been let go by Johns Hopkins University, perhaps because he was a Jew, but possibly because he was discovered bringing bourbon to class. Regardless of the reasons for his dismissal, he was unemployed and in need of a job in 1937, when he was hired by the Historical Records Survey in Maryland to work out of the Baltimore office. There as a scholar of the French Renaissance, who in 1931 published his first article on the origin and usage of the word “nincompoop”, he proved an able editor and manager of the inventory goals of the Survey.
Radoff supervised a staff of the Maryland Historical Records Survey that between 1936 and 1940 encompassed 344 people. Most worked for less than a year for the Survey, which like Whittaker Chambers’ job and all the employment projects of the New Deal, were intended to be temporary until the economy was revived and near full permanent employment returned to private industry.
Despite the high turnover in staff, the results as edited by Radoff were accurate and comprehensive for all the 23 counties of Maryland and Baltimore City.
In Baltimore City alone, not only did the HRS meet the high standards set by the Survey, they also included a multi-volume indexed item inventory of almost every scrap of paper found in the storage rooms of City Hall which would prove of immense benefit to the future histories of the City such as the recent Baltimore by Matt Crenson.
Historical Records Survey forms from St. Mary’s County Maryland
The State Archives published an updated version of these forms in 1963 in the award winning The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part Two: The Records. Pay particular attention to the description of the content of the records and especially “Decree Record” JFF No. 3 which has no index. Today that volume and the others on the list are housed at the Maryland State Archives with their content described, and those particular volumes on line available to researchers
The guidelines for inventorying the records found in the attics and basements of courthouses and churches were straight forward and carefully laid out in simple to complete forms. An example among thousands of pages is the inventory of the records in Maryland’s first county, St. Mary’s. Take note of the informative description of this particular series and of “Decree” volume J.F.F No. 3 circled in red.
The conditions for undertaking the survey, however, were less than ideal. Records were largely ‘stored’ in cluttered chaos and unhealthy environments. Sorting out what they found and describing it accurately was a daunting task. Nevertheless they persevered, producing not only an inventory of what they found, but also describing the records in an organized framework that included introductions to why they were created in the first place and a general description of their contents to guide future researchers.
In Maryland and elsewhere, the inventories provided by the HRS were instrumental in prying loose those records from their jumbled and inhospitable storage for deposit in appropriate archival storage. That objective was not an easy one to accomplish. The clerks of court and local historians resisted the move of the original records to a central safe and appropriate location.
It took the persuasive powers of Dr. Radoff who promised photostatic and microfilm copies of the most heavily coveted records to get everything to safety in Annapolis. On becoming Archivist of Maryland in 1939, Radoff used the HRS inventories to good effect, while his microfilming of a large segment of the inventoried records would lead to unpredictable consequences of widespread benefit.
The Maryland State Guide to Government Records entry for Saint Mary’s county “Equity Record” J.F.F. N0. &
the page for St. Mary’s County land records, both of which are on line
With the advent of the Web and the relatively inexpensive means of posting scans of the microfilm online, property mapping and all of the land records were made available through http://plats.net and http://mdlandrec.net. Indeed both projects proved more comprehensive in Maryland than anywhere else in the Nation because the HRS and Morris Radoff had done their work so well. In addition, without the HRS inventories, indexes, and identification of records such as those related to Slavery, including manumission of slaves and estates containing slaves, such worthwhile projects such as Maryland’s Legacy of Slavery Project would not have been concievable.
The genius of Dr. Radoff and others like him, lay in taking the HRS inventories and expanding on their value to historians and the public at large. In 1963 he and his staff published their extension of the HRS analysis of Maryland Court records in the widely acclaimed and useful The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland. The Records Part Two.
The work inspired by the Historical Records survey is far from over, however. While the Maryland State Archives incorporated the HRS and subsequent inventory of the records into its extensive online Guide to Government Records and Special Collections, it still remains the task of the Archives to better explain and provide informed access to the records in its care. For example, take the inventory of the “Decree” volumes found in the St. Mary’s County Courthouse in 1941. Further descriptive work is required including an index to all names and specific examples of the contents of the volumes.
In addition to including names and specific topics in the descriptions of individual volumes it is also important to to link the records to any secondary works that cite them, thus further encouraging future research and writing. In other words the online guide needs to be interactive between what the archival staff and any Federal Employment Project has time to do, and the work of those who use the records. As Dr. Radoff proved in person, anyone can be a helpful archivist if given the opportunity to be so.
The 1859 drawing of Point Lookout development by E. G. Lind,
Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society
The J.F.F. No. 3 entry in the inventory sheet is a case in point. The very first case in the volume cries out for a fuller description and a link to the work of author and editor Edwin Beitzel, the premier historian of St. Marys County. This first case entered in the volume not only provides insight into the previous history of what became a well known prisoner of war camp during the Civil War, but also the development that preceded it, and the failed efforts to establish a disabled Union soldiers home there after the war.
The Point Lookout resort as a Prison Camp and Hospital during the Civil War, 1862-1865,
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Just the exploration of the case involving Point Lookout as recorded in over two hundred handwritten pages, leads to the work of a prominent Baltimore architect E. G. Lind and the Baltimore builder, W. H. Allen, who executed the Lind & Murdoch plans for Point Lookout as a “bathing” resort on the eve of the Civil War. Indeed the development provided a Hotel and cottages that housed such prominent Baltimore residents such as Reverdy Johnson, Jr., a Baltimore lawyer and trustee of Johns Hopkins Hospital. The case also helps to understand the failed efforts of Delphine P. Baker and her many Congressional Friends after the War to establish a Disabled Soldiers Home for Union Soldiers at Point Lookout.
Clearly the work begun by the Historical Records Survey and continued by the Maryland State Archives remains unfinished. Some of us hold out the slight hope that the Federal Government will resume its infusion of Federal Funds for archival employment, providing jobs and focusing on useful explanations of the records. To a degree that happened in the expansion of the National Historical Publications commission into the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, but to date adequate funding has not been forthcoming. Now that it is needed more than ever to offer employment and a means for putting the unemployed to work, a stimulus package for Archives could be launched, especially if the importance of such work is made clear to Congress as they consider the next round of funding for reviving an economy in deep trouble.
 For Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers see the writings of Alistair Cooke, A Generation on Trial: U.S.A. Vs. Alger Hiss. New York: Knopf, 1950, Allan Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case. New York: Random House, 1997, Samuel Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers: A Biography. New York: Random House, 1997, and most recently, Joan Brady, Alger Hiss: Framed: A New Look at the Case That Made Nixon Famous, 2017. It is distinctly possible that Chambers created in whole cloth, a brilliant , completely fabricated story of Hiss’s guilt as a spy which caused Hiss to lose his job. Hiss’s son Tony in Laughing Last, and stepson Timothy Hobson at a conference on Hiss and Chambers in 2007, defended his stepfather. According to a CBS news report
Timothy Hobson, Hiss' stepson, said Whittaker Chambers, whose bombshell allegations against Hiss broke the case open, had lied about his personal relationship with Hiss and had never visited the Hiss home as he claimed. Hobson, 80, said that during the time Chambers claimed to have visited the home, he was recuperating from a broken leg and met every person who came calling. Chambers was a former American communist party member who spied for the Soviets during the 1930s. He defected before World War II and accused others of being spies, but his claims did not attract FBI interest until after the war. He joined Time magazine in 1939 and as a writer and editor was a severe critic of communism. He died in 1961. "It is my conviction that he was in love with Alger Hiss, that he was rejected by Alger Hiss and he took that rejection in a vindictive way," Hobson said. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/
 Tanenhaus cites only Mt. Royal Terrace, but the Chambers family lived at several addresses in Baltimore and it is more likely they lived at Auchentoroly Terrace while he commuted to Washington.
 Lewis Harstrom, Alger Hiss, Whittaker chambers and the Case that Ignited McCarthyism, 2013, p. 145.
 Perhaps the most outspoken critics of the New Deal were a native of Bladensburg,, Maryland, John T. Flynn and the curmudgeon of Baltimore, H. L. Mencken. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
 Harstrom, ff., and Tannenhous, p. 156. “Owing to a reduction in work volume, the National Research Project was releasing newer staff. As of February 1, he would be “furloughed without prejudice”.
 A statistical abstract supplement. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1957. 1957. Especially Chapter W.
 See: Edward C. Papenfuse, Recent Deaths, Morris Leon Radoff, 1905-1978, in The American Archivist, April 1979, pp. 263-264, Marchia D. Talley, Morris Leon Radoff: The Man and the Monument, The American Archivist, Fall, 1981, pp. 327-339, and Aubrey C. Land, et. al., Law Society and Politics in Early Maryland (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970),
 Crenson, Matthew A. Baltimore: A Political History. 2019
 Radoff, Morris L., Gust Skordas, and Phebe R. Jacobsen. The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland. The Records Part Two. Annapolis: Hall of Records Commission, 1963.
 Edmund G. Lind’s obituary in the Baltimore Sun (July 16, 1909) fails to mention the Point Lookout development that he designed. Without looking at the estate inventories for Reverdy Johnson, jr, and the St. Mary’s county land records, both of which the HRS inventoried and the Maryland State Archives preserved, it is not certain how long Reverdy Johnson, Jr. held his lease to a cottage in the Point Lookout development. The drawing of the Point Lookout resort seems only to exist at the Maryland Historical Society although it once was an exhibit in this case.
 See “The Historian and Local Records: The Need for a Fresh Approach to an Old Problem” in the AHA Newsletter, Volume IX, Number 3, May 1971, pp. 24-28, and “Preserving the nation’s Heritage Through A National Historic Records Program” in the AHA Newsletter, Volume 11, Number 1, February 1973, pp. 19-23.