Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday Treasures - Martha Colleen Elfrank's Rocker

This rocking chair is one of many special pieces of furniture that I consider to be true family treasures. This chair originally belonged to my maternal grandmother, Martha Colleen Elfrank. When I was asking my mom about the chair she shared special reason behind the purchase with me. See my grandmother purchased this chair so she could rock me whenever I was visiting. The chair looks the same as it did when she got it and won’t change a thing. Now some would say it's an antique, but that would make me an antique, lets not go there. I hope she knows that I loved using it to rock my children and I will make sure that I continue to rock my grandchildren in the same rocker. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday's Cemetery - Charles Stark Mystery

Published in July of 1903 in the Patriot out of Harrisburg, PA
Body of a Man Who Died in Albany Filled With Straw
By Associated Press to The Patriot
Schenectady, N. Y., July 16 – The authorities are investigating a case that appears to be most mysterious. The remains of Charles Stark, who died in the Albany City Hospital on December 29, were disinterred to-day in the Polish Roman Catholic cemetery and it was discovered that the trunk had been stuffed with straw. A dissecting knife with bloodstains on it was found among the straw inside the body.
     The case opened with the discovery by George Stark, a brother of the deceased, of blood upon the face of the dead man while the remains were at a local undertaking shop. The inquiry which followed was taken into the Albany Courts, but the physicians at the hospital insisted that an autopsy had not been held. The matter, accordingly, was dropped by the Albany authorities.
     The case will be reopened legally when an attempt will be made to ascertain the exact cause of Stark’s death. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Spotting - Cupid and Cash

Published in November of 1898 in the New York Herald out of New York, New York
Sued for Breach of Promise, Abraham Levy Demands $300 as a Preliminary to Marriage.
Miss Messinger Says She Is Still Ready to Wed, but That Her Feelings Are Lacerated.
Bride Elect, Who Became a Valentine, Asks a Golden Salve for Wounded Feelings.
As an indication of the ruling market price for husbands, no less than of the devious methods of Cupid in some instances, certain statements made by Abraham Levy in an affidavit may be of value. Annie Messinger has, brought suit against him for breach of promise of marriage. In answer he admits the promise, but sets up breach of contract, declaring that Miss Messinger had agreed to pay him $300 four weeks before the date set for the wedding. Failing to receive this, Mr. Levy declined to fulfill his promise.
     That a mere matter of finance should thrust itself between two hearts which seemed destined to beat as one, is sad enough, but the papers in the case breathe such a unified desire that the separation, not to speak of the young woman’s demand for $50,000 damages, seems a hollow satire. Both parties proclaim their willingness to enter matrimony, but each points to the others obduracy and calls for judgment.
     According to Miss Messinger’s lawyer, Jacob S.  Straht, the young persons met at an entertainment two years ago. Miss Messinger is twenty-three years old and Mr. Levy is twenty-six. There was from the first a mutual attraction and the courtship flourished.
     Ignoring those early days when all the world seemed gay, Miss Messinger, in her complaint, speaks of February 14 last as the day when she intrusted her heart, a fluttering valentine, to Abraham’s keeping on his promise of marriage. Upon consultation, she says, June 7 was named as the date for the ceremony, and preparations were made with that in view. And when that summer day dawned and faded, she declares, she was “ready and willing” to approach the altar with Abraham Levy, who “neglected and refused” to redeem his alleged pledge, to her distress of mind and the laceration of her feelings. Wherefore she prays $50,000 damages.
     There is no evidence that Mr. Levy is possessed of this sun; indeed, there is ground for believing that he has it not. But gallantry, or something, forbids him to deny the possession of such wealth. He contents himself with denying Miss Messinger’s allegations, as stated, and then begs her to hark back to the roseate days of August, 1896.
HE WANTS $300.
     There was then, he says, an agreement in writing that they two should marry, and “in consideration of that promise,” he declares. Annie “agreed to give him, at least four weeks prior to the date set for the marriage the sum of $300,” which she refused, and, he adds plaintively, “still refuses.”
     Just why the bride to be was to pay $300 cash in advance is not disclosed, but Mr. Levy’s perseverance in demanding it is noteworthy. To further illustrate his adherence to principle, he declares that he is “ready and willing,” using Miss Messinger’s precise terms, to contract the marriage, should the lady comply with her agreement and give him “said sum.”
     Speaking for Miss Messinger, Mr. Stahl denied the existence of any monetary agreement. Mr. Levy once before, he said, broke his promise to Miss Messinger, but renewed it at the solicitation of his own family. So far had matters progressed he asserted, that a hall at No. 62 Pitt street had been engaged for the ceremony and a joint bank account was started by the young persons.
     But now, alas, Miss Messinger wants nothing less than $50,000 to remain single, and Mr. Levy demands at least $300 to become married.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Treasures - 1979 Tole Painting

My maternal grandmother, Martha Colleen Elfrank, took a tole painting class back in 1979. This is one of the pieces she painted, yes its apples. What you don’t know is my grandmother went through this black phase, where she painted almost every piece of furniture in the house black. So I’m guessing it took place in 1979, since that is the date on the bottom of the painting with the edges painted black. Now when I say she painted the furniture black I’m talking chairs, end tables, coffee tables if it could be painted it was. I have this setting up in my office help remind me that no matter what your age is you can always try new things, just like grandma did. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday's Cemetery - Mausoleum Mystery

Published in February of 1911 in the Beaumont Enterprise out of Beaumont, Texas
Investigation Showed That One Body Had Been Carried Away by Six Men
     Erie, Pa. Feb. 9 – Following this discovery late last night that the family mausoleum of the late Congressman Wm. L. Scott had been ransacked and robbed and unusual mystery developed when it became known today that a body had been stolen from the vault. The identity of the body is held secret by the family and the police, but it is said to be that of Mrs. Anna McCollum, a sister of Mr. Scott. It is said that the vandals also intended to carry away the bodies of Scott, who was a millionaire, and Mrs. Scott.
     Newspaper men early this morning were ordered from the cemetery at the point of revolvers.
     Investigation showed that the casket containing the body of Mrs. McCollum had been carried away. It had been sealed in a wall and a chisel had been used on breaking the seals before the metallic box could be reached.
     Directly opposite on the second tier is the casket containing the body of Mrs. Scott.
     The seal here was also broken and this casket was half way out.
     Two other caskets were broken into but no attempt was made to carry either of them away.
     That Mrs. McCollum’s casket was carried away in a wagon is indicated by tracks in the snow about the tomb. The footprints of four and in some cases, six men, were discernible.
     An Italian settlement near the cemetery has become an object of scrutiny by the police and every dwelling being searched from cellar to garret.
     Two years ago the Strong family received “blackhand letters” demanding $10,000, with the alternative of having their summer home west of this city blown to atoms. Mrs. McCollum was a member of a prominent family of Philadelphia and her maiden name was Tracey.
     Mrs. Chas. H. Strong, daughter of Mrs. Scott and wife of the president of the Erie & Pittsburg railroad was one of the first members of the family notified of the grave robbery. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Spotting - Baltimore's Rare Copper Find

Published in June of 1904 by Baltimore American out of Baltimore, Maryland.
Copper Plates of 1702 in the Maryland Historical Society and Pratt Library.
As the result of investigation made by Col. George W. F. Vernon the presence in this city of two very rare old copper plate engravings has been brought to light. One is in the rooms of Maryland Historical Society, where it has laid with little or no attention for an indefinite period; the other, which is similar, is in the reading room of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
     The engravings are of exceedingly fine lines and is a copy of a painting in the Royal Academy, London, and was designed, engraved and published by James Barry, R. A., professor of painting to the Royal Academy, February 28, 1792. It is probably one of a series which the artist offered to paint gratuitously, allegorically illustrating the culture and progress of human knowledge. This offer was made to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. The painting was made to give credit to Cecilus Calvert as establisher of civil and religious liberty in America, and is peculiarly interesting to both historians and artists.
Description of the Antiques
     The engravings are on a large plat 2 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, and represent Lycurgus, King Alfred, William Penn and other lawgivers, civilians and clergy, the main feature of which exhibits as the central and most conspicuous figure Lycurgus in his Greek attire with a scroll in his hands, reading the name, which is apparently being unrolled by Cecilus Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, held up for the scrutiny of Lycurgus on which is inscribed “Religious and Civil Liberty Established in Maryland, 1649.”

The bottom of the engraving reads as follows:
In the Elysium one of the series of pictures on human culture in the Greek room of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc., at the Adelphia, a mistake was committed, owing to the illusion, that has been so generally spread of considering William Penn as the first colonizer who established equal laws of religious and civil liberty. This design is, therefore, added to the series in order to rectify the mistake in the group of legislators, by making Lycurgus looking at these exemplary laws as placed in the hands of Ceceilus Calvert. Baron of Baltimore, who was the original establisher of them in his colony of Maryland many years before William Penn and his colony arrived in America a copy his worthy example.
Mystery of Their Origin
     The manner in which the presence of the engraving was discovered is interesting. It is supposed that the only other copy is in the possession of Dr. M. H. Cryer, of the University of Pennsylvania. Recently Colonel Vernon met Dr. Cryer, and the latter interested him with the description of the copperplate. Upon his return to Baltimore Colonel Vernon called the attention of Maryland Historical Society to the existence of such a plate, when the copy was released from the obscurity in which it has been and given prominent place in the library of the Maryland Historical Society. It was impossible to find out how long the engraving has been in the possession of the society.
     The copy which is in the possession of the Enoch Pratt Library has been in the reading-room for some time, and from whence it came is also shrouded in mystery.
     Barry, the artist, was born in Cork in 1741. In 1777 he was made a royal academician, and 1782 he was elected professor of painting. Owing, however, to a certain turbulence of temper he quarreled with the president of the academy and in 1792 his expulsion took place. He died in 1806.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday's Cemetery - Cemetery Robbers

Published in February of 1911 in the Baltimore American out of Baltimore, Maryland
Casket Lifted From Grave, But the Corpse Still Inside
Stanford, Ky.,  January 31. – The coffin containing the body of George B. Saufley , who was a prominent lawyer, and whose family is prominent socially, was found above his grave in Stanford Cemetery early today. At first the authorities refused to allow anyone to approach it until the arrival of bloodhounds. One end of the lid was loose and the tracks of a man and woman in mud on it.
     A strange woman tried to get the body several months ago by having the caretakers of the cemetery exhume it but they refused.  The grave was afterward guarded for several weeks.
     When bloodhounds were taken to the cemetery the coffin was opened and the body was found undisturbed. The dogs immediately took the trail of the supposed robbers.