Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Jared Sparks

TL;DR -- Jared Sparks was born right after the Revolution and later served as Head of Harvard as the western expansion was getting into full swing to be derailed by the Civil War. This is a sparse post to set the framework which will be filled in as we learn more about Sparks. 


This time in our look at the Heads of Harvard (Wikipedia), we go back in time which was prior to the Civil War but down the pike with respect to the western expansion of the U.S. 

Jared Sparks (Wikipedia) was in the photo with Cornelius Conway Felton of five Harvard presidents, which photo also included Quincy, Everett and Walker. With this post, all will have been covered in a post, except for Walker.  

As we look at the Heads, we have done some research related to their families (mostly using WikiTree). Sparks was born in Connecticut which might suggest a New England pedigree. But, he had not been added to WikiTree, as of yet. We will look into that. 

At least, Wikipedia mentions the town of birth (Willington, CT) and that he grew up on an impoverished farm. On a further look, we found a book by H. B. Adams which has some interesting titles for sections in Chapter 1: Boyhood, New England character, and Youth. It is nice to see scholars take an interest in the personal part of someone's life. We expect that to be a continuing (growing even) trend. 
Later, we will post more about Spark's life. For now, let's look at the above book as a proxy representing some of his New England heritage.   

Sparks died in 1866. More later (see following notes).



1. So, the book? Great. Names his mother (read Locke) and one of his grandmothers. Quotes Emerson. You know, we have written elsewhere (John Gardner and the Merrimac) about classroom life versus facing reality (a theme of extreme importance now, where Harvard can weigh in with more than a top-down hammer supposedly conveying veracity to the masses). Then, we learn this: he married a Crowninshield. Great. We're back to Essex County of MA. ...

2. Oh yes, hardship. Rose above it. Which quiets a person (I never met a braggart who really went, successfully, through this type of thing). But, a good woman. His maternal aunt. ... 

3. Finally, on page 7 (did I miss any earlier reference), his father was Joseph Sparks. Now, on page 1, we learned that his mother was Eleanor Orcutt. On a quick look at the trough provided by modern technology, those two raise a slew of nibbles to look at further. ... 

4. Forgot to mention, the most important thing. He was a carpenter. Went to school when he could. Studies with whatever material he could find. Autodidact, in other words. ..., Finally, a Harvardite of substance?, .., 

5. The Harvard Square Library has an extensive bio of Jared Sparks which information about his life and various roles. Looking at this got an awareness of the North American Review which started in 1815. Sparks was editor for a while. The earlier editions are available on-line (Hathi Trust); this is the modern web site for the publication. 

6. The combo of Sparks and the next Pres, Walker, was interesting, for several reasons. For one, lots of parallels of the families over the years (including, btw, collateral relationships); in some cases, almost diametrically different, but not. View deals with the American Dream(s) in all of its variety. 


N. ..., When we have sufficient notes, we'll see about how to create or update WikiTree profiles for all of those that we have found whose information has been less than sparsely considered. 
Remarks: Modified: 09/03/2022

09/01/2022 -- One comment, prior to proceeding, seems apropos. With regard to #4, in a variety of was, this is a story of great significance. For now, the reference to 'carpenter' ought to be reflected upon since we are dealing with an epitome of the Judeo-Christian cultural heritage in which Christ is said to have worked with his hands. A hint, if necessary? Head and heart. Many cultures have this. But, intellect goes with the first with all of its rational facilities. One theme? Divorced from reality. As evidenced by? The whole of the computationally-framed notions which is very much in need of some overview that is not related to power, money, fame, ... Wait, we did mention veracity. Now, the second? Heart. Large affair which really outweighs the intellect, always has. Oh, that would be amenable to thinking associated with Harvard and its efforts at glory? Oh yes, athletics was a lame substitution for real stuff. As in? More than mere playing where ego stroking is the deal, not substantive production. Like, food for people? Or, presentation of modern topics in a manner that can be grasped by the minds that are other than intellectual (some of these people surpass in intelligence those who score well on tests which we will look at further - courtesy of cousin Conant. 

09/03/2022 -- Reading that Sparks edited the NAR for a bit, went looking (wrote a post). Was done in Boston; now, done in Iowa. The archives are digitized. So, what a gem? 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Recap, again

TL;DR -- There is a lot to technology which will always be on the table due to its importance. In terms of the sea, Cape Ann folk know a lot. But, plenty went west to the huge interior and beyond. There, technology has different emphases. The railroad is one theme that we run into quite a bit. Too, communications will be more on the table as we get the early years settled. In any case, as we move forward, we have plans for how things will expand, however we do need some feedback. 


From time to time, we like to stop and look. Old folks would remember when we used to end 
that with listen, as in "Stop, look, and listen" which was an admonition to youngsters for the most part. It had to do with the railroad which cut through towns and created heavy traffic. Though, the train whistle at night did have some appeal. 

We have had a few railroad posts. Here are a few: 
  •  KATY, western railroad (2022) - looking at the middle of the country. 
  • South Danvers Church (2019) - had a copy of Dr. Frank's 1907 book in hand which brought the illustrations to fore. The area was near the bridge over Gardner's brook. Also, this church was featured in a painting referenced in the book. After some research, we learned some history. But, of interest to this theme, there was a choo-choo visible in the background of a later painting of the area. 
  • Which railroad? (2019) - turns out that there were two possible RRs that could have been painted in (prior post). One of Sidney's maps showed the railroads in the area. 
  • Alpheus P. Blake (2019) - while researching a veteran buried in the Saugus cemetery, we looked at the collateral families some of whom are relatives. One gentleman (uncle) had been involved with the founding of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn RR. 
Railroads, once they were established, were important to commerce and culture and a lot more. Several of the events that we have studied were prior to the incursion of the iron horse. For instance, clever New Englanders had created regular traffic across Texas and further west long before the Civil War interrupted the flow. Example: St. Louis MO to San Francisco CA

This is an example of technology helping to change the world which was unsettled already due to the times. We face similar issues, now, except they may have grown to be more complicated.  


Switching gears a little, we have a wide range of topics to cover. The following consists of two lists that contain the most read posts in a rank order. The timeframe differs. For one, it is all time; for the other, we look at the last 30 days. 

For the "All time, popular", these are older posts which have had more time to accumulate reads. The post that reported on our research about the marriage of Thomas and Margaret was from 2014 and has been on top, for a while. The 2011 post is interesting as it summarizes what we knew back then. The "Plus or minus the arrival" is one of those post dealing with origins which we report is still open, though we have a whole lot more information to weed through. 

 We have recently written of Essex County, mainly due to Gloucester's plans for 2023. The "400th finally" has a photo of a painting done by a Conant relative who lives in England and who was motivated by reading about Cape Ann and after. BTW, Caleb Haskell was with Benedict Arnold and so relates to the 250th of the U.S. which will be in our sight. Along with that is the 400th list (which is long) and the 800th (Magna Carta - 2025, Henry III attaining adulthood). The 8th generation involves the Civil War just like the 5th generation bore the brunt of the Revolution. 

And railroads, it was this and the 9th generation who did the majority of the work there. Despite continual influx of immigrants over the frontier century, New England had a long arm. We find that influence everywhere, including associations with the Cape Ann crew and Essex County and, of course, Massachusetts. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/30/2022

08/30/2022 --

Friday, August 26, 2022

Essex County timeline

TL;DR -- Starting with the Plymouth colony (2020), there will be celebrations until 2073 for settlements across Massachusetts. Weymouth followed that this year (2022); Gloucester will be next (2023) with a special focus since that was the location of the Dorchester attempt. Then, we will have Salem (2026) and more. Those last two are of Essex County; hence, we will use this focus to explore more closely the site of the start of the U.S. as this effort was a lead in to the Massachusetts Bay Colony which then formed the core of New England (arguable assertion, of course). Let's put it this way, lots of the other colonies were the result of friction with the Massachusetts way, even to the extent of what is now Maine being under the thumb of Boston. 


We posted last time about the Essex National Heritage Order and their Facebook page which shows two maps of Essex County, 1692 and now. This got us to thinking of the 400ths that are coming up. That 400ths post shows a timeline for Massachusetts (from Wikipedia) which covers all of the settlement's towns prior to 1673. We mentioned that Weymouth (Norfolk County) had their look back this year, 2022. Next up is Gloucester (Essex County) which has picked 1623 (some argue 1624) with respect to the arrival of Thomas Gardner's crew. The arrival particulars are still being researched as we continue to study information as it becomes available with digitization efforts. 

The 400ths list is fairly long, so this post pulls out Essex County locations so that we can track events specific to the County. This list is in process and will continue after the 1673 cutoff of the Wikipedia listing. 

That list indicates that there could be sixteen celebrations from next year until thirty years hence. Some will be in the same year, such as Lynn, Saugus, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Marblehead in 1629. There were latter starts of towns which split from those on the list. We will look at those, too. 

We are talking the context of early New England, in particular, the Cape Ann Settlement (Wikipedia) related to the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony which was the Dorchester Company venture lead by Thomas Gardner. 

 As this graphic shows, there were settlements prior to 1640 along the east coast. The English colonies are colored. Other colonies were of Swedish, France, and Dutch origins. Those of Spain are south of this area and not shown.  

Remarks: Modified: 08/26/2022

08/26/2022 -- We will compare New England north with the south, in several ways. Expect some look at population counts and such through these first few decades. The focus for this is the inception of the effort with discussion of pros and cons, successes and failures. Too, we need to bring in what was going on back in England and Europe. Then, expect a whole different look when DAR/SAR kick in for their 250th events in 2026. You know, before that, we'll have 2025 and Henry III of England's support of the Magna Carta. It all goes together with respect to talking intelligently about the American dream. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Essex County, then and now

TL;DR -- Little Essex gives unending reason for research. It was used for the purpose of discussing the gerry-mander phenomenon. This post looks at views of the county in terms of maps of its internal boundaries. There was a lot of shuffling in place, with lots of the changes happening early. We will be looking at that further. 


We have had a few posts about the subject, Essex County; two of the posts mentioned the Essex National Heritage Area. The latter has been sponsoring events related to the upcoming 400th, such as a photography contest which resulted in tremendous photos of the little county that nestles in the northeast part of Massachusetts. 

Expect that we will always include Essex County in our work as Thomas and Margaret started their American lives in Gloucester which celebrates its 400th next  year. So, there will no ending to tales of the county even when we look at the western part of the U.S. in all of its grandeur. Our work has shown us the long reach of Essex County, Massachusetts, and New England. 

Of late, we relooked, in a post, at the Gerrymanding theme which comes and goes from time to time, usually around election events. We had seen the graphic before and enjoyed knowing more about the subject. 

Today's theme is just that. Let's look at a graphic from FB. 

 For more detail on the map, see the FB images: then (1692) and now. When we were first researching the topic of Thomas Gardner (Salem Planter), we noted that the cities/towns of Essex County cover the whole thing. Out west? Many places have huge counties with cities/town sparsely around and about. So, one finds many lonely places (long roads to nowhere, some say). But, even back east, one can find the unpopulated areas. 

Back in the day, people went to the wilderness to pioneer. We have lots of examples of that, as western movement was there from the beginning: let's look at Virginia. Up north, we had Ipswich Canada fairly early. BTW, the theme of America's Lost Generation will be considered more thoroughly. It's related to the frontier and is seriously misunderstood. 

Now, back to Essex county. Notice how almost all of the larger areas were split. Salem grew into Peabody, Danvers, and Middleton. Lynn split into three. Ipswich, Andover, and Newbury were trimmed. Only Gloucester remained somewhat intact, though it lost Rockport. 

Salem suffered more loss in this sense? Not really, as the place still shines in the American imagination. Too, That was the 2nd place for Thomas and Margaret. So, many more things to look at and consider are there, awaiting attention. 

Some of the changes happened early enough that the resulting entity can celebrate their 400th no long after others. Some changes were done much later. Lots to look at.  

Remarks: Modified: 08/27/2022

08/26/2022 -- We need to mention the 400ths that are coming up, some of these have already started, such as Weymouth (Norfolk County) this year as the first one post Plymouth's celebration. Gloucester's starts in January of 2023. 

08/27/2022 -- Put link to the Lost Generation post related to the frontier. 


Monday, August 15, 2022

The English Language Project

TL;DR -- English. Has lots of French in it. But, post 13 Oct 1362, it was the language of England. So, let's remember that. We'll do our part. 


This might seem to be an unusual post, though, there was some thought behind it. We deal with New England as a proxy for England and its culture and languages, in part. Over time, we might add. Let's look. We split 250 years ago, or so; yet, intertwining will remain.  

Annual themes
We ran into a post while listening to music via Youtube's largess (with its experience of ads). The title was 41% of the English Language is French. Did not listen to the whole of the video, as 1066 and William was brought up early. Then, on looking at the provider of the videos, there were other themes of interest, such as the influence of the Vikings or English can save your life and more. There were lots of videos (one can spend their lives in that huge lake). This was a month ago (mid-July 2022). We saved some links and thought to get back to the theme. 

First, though, we looked at Alfred's influence which was earlier. And, found this site: The English Language Project (warning: retro but run by professors). Now, we actually liked the layout (look at our portal - as we know of many sites that started in the 90s and still have the same look. One of these is our favorite that continues but with a newer approach taking most of the focus - look at This week's finds in mathematical physics - John Baez (see arXiv and Azimuth). But, they had several posts on the subject - The First King's English: Alfred the Language Maker. This was from 2013. And, this one article suggests that the 'retro' look is not indicative of unawareness. No, there is much of substance to consume. 

And, now that we have time and motivation to get back to this, we have to make the effort known. The former has to do with duties and demands mostly being of greater quantitative scope than are those hours given us by the sun and its periods. The second has to do with their use of "October 13" as a day to honor English which is a series started in 2009, about our time of inception, too. 

The image on the right shows the themes since the beginning (use the "Annual themes" link). For 2022, they have a very interesting theme. 

    • For 2022, our lecture will be on or near 13 October, celebrating the date in 1362 when a Westminster Parliament was convened that approved a Statute of Pleading that permitted the use of the English language in Parliament on the grounds that French was 'much unknown' in England. The Normans, Angevins and Plantagenets had up to that time ruled England in French. Then English was a forbidden and a despised language, but 13 October 1362 saw English on its way to becoming the twenty-first century's Global Language. 

We will use 10/13 on our calendar, henceforth. About Alfred? The Great. These hits are the results of a search on Alfred at this site. Alfred hung around in the area where, later, Thomas came from. In 2015, the theme involved looking at the colony's use of English, say America

This site will continue to be of interest. As an aside, in 2015, there will an 800th anniversary of Henry III's involvement with the Magna Carta (our Gardner Annals' article). This topic is apropos to the U.S. (its history and future) as well to technology, in general. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/15/2022

08/15/2022 -- 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Cornelius Conway Felton

 TL;DR -- With Cornelius Conway Felton, we are at the start of the U.S. Civil War. By this time, too, we had the western expansion in full swing. Post the conflict, the railroad started to cover the whole of the country. One of Felton's brothers was involved in those events. So, our theme of Harvard and the U.S. continues. 


Last time in our look at the Heads of Harvard (Wikipedia), we brought in Nathaniel Eaton for several reasons. For one, our focus is 400 years. Then, there have been many changes over those years with respect to worldviews, some of which involve issues unresolved today. 

With Cornelius Conway Felton (Wikipedia), we deal with a time of major upheaval. His time in the position saw the start of the U.S. Civil War. Harvard writes that most southern students left and never returned. Our theme, of course, is heavily oriented to New England, however the scope covers area far beyond that little collection of colonies and New England was of the south, too. 

Quincy, Everett
Sparks, Walker 
As we look at the Heads, we have done some research related to their families (mostly using WikiTree). Felton was born in Massachusetts, but no other specifics are given. Actually, that was one reason that we waited to look at him. However, as we looked at the Dickens visit to Harvard, we saw that Felton was there, as well as was Josiah Quincy, III and Ralph Waldo Emerson

We started to look at Massachusetts records, but, thankfully, Rutgers provides details to start with. His parents: Cornelius Conway Felton; Anna Morse. Rutgers also mentions two marriages, 1838 and 1846. Then, West Newbury (Essex County, btw) put up a plaque noting his birth place.  One might wonder of our interest: the 400th, as mentioned; too, the 250 of the U.S. (D.A.R./S.A.R.(see Langdon), etc.). 
Later, we will post more about Felton's life. For now, a Morse uncle (Moses Morse - WikiTree) can serve as a proxy representing some of his New England heritage.   

Felton died in 1862 leaving, at least, one milestone: the 1860 Harvard class had "more than 100 graduates." 

Remarks: Modified: 08/13/2022

08/13/2022 -- 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

New Missouri

TL;DR -- Who has the longest river? Who cares? But, it's nice that these work horses get some attention beyond those worries like flooding or effects of droughts. For the U.S., these waterways were highways as well as inhibitors. Friends and foes. To be tamed. The dams of the west are an example. 


As in, Missouri River as the focus. Why was the Mississippi first? 

Recently, we asked, Who's on first?, with respect to the first Governor of Massachusetts and thereby a larger scope of the future U.S. Today, we were reminded that there is some issue of definitions with respect to the longest river in the world. Who cares? 

The New Missouri would be consider the upper part of the Mississippi River which would really be the southern part of the Missouri. Interesting. I ask, which longest rivers flows through the most arable land? That is important for several reasons. 

But, looking at this Quora answer reminded me of some work to be done.

When I was a kid I was taught that the Mississippi-Missouri was the world's longest river (I went to school in Belgium). Now it appears to be the Nile or the Amazon. What happened?

Answer by David Gray (not recent, but apropos). 

When we were looking at rivers, we showed a map of watershed where that of the Missouri filled the whole of the center of the U.S. reaching from Pennsylvania to Idaho. 

Watersheds, U.S.

The upper Missouri area had major flooding this summer at Gardner River. We will look at that further. 

 Remarks: Modified: 08/08/2022

08/08/2022 -- Added link to Gardner River and its flooding of the Yellowstone River.