« ZurückWeiter »
career of St. John de Crèvecæur traced out; and in this work he engaged the talents and research of one of the Columbia students, Miss Julia Post Mitchell, a relative of the astronomer, Maria Mitchell, who has now for some years been investigating St. John's adventures and writings, both in America and in Europe; making many discoveries, some of which I have communicated to the Society. Lately she has visited the site of St. John's farm in Blooming-Grove, Orange County, N. Y., and has found, as she believes, the very house (modernized) of which a sketch was given, from the Farmer's own drawing, in our Proceedings for 1906. The identification seems to be complete. She has examined the deeds of purchase and sale, and finds that he bought the farm under the name of Hector St. John, though perfectly aware that was not the name liy which he was baptized, married, and finally buried in his native France. His marriage certificate, signed by J. P. Tétard, a Calvinist pastor in the Province of New York, gives him his baptismal name, but adds, “commonly called Mr. St. John." His three children were all born at his Pine Hill farm, and his house (now called “Elmcote") was built by himself, near the ancient Crommelin house, -- the first one erected in that region, in 1716. Crommelin himself was a Frenchman born, as so many of the Huguenot ancestors of New York citizens were. Tétard was afterwards French instructor in Columbia College, after it dropped the name of "King's."
Miss Mitchell will include in her book about St. John many facts not before known, or forgotten, and will clear up some of the mystery still attaching to his youthful career, and to his brief visit to Ireland and England in 1780-81. From the latter date the course of his life, up to his death in 1813, is fairly well known, though somewhat disguised by his efforts to conceal his exact residence during the worst times of the French Revolution. The original of his letter to President Stiles of Yale, asking the freedom of the city of New Haven for his titled French friends, and for Target and Lacretelle, his literary sponsor in Paris, is among
the manuscripts of this Society, and may be reproduced, to show St. John's singular use of English and orthography, while French Consul at New York. This document was given to the Society about a century ago, by the son-in-law of
Dr. Stiles, Caleb Gannett, but seems to have been unknown to Mr. Winthrop, when he wrote his brief paper on St. John in 1874.
Lately a new source of information about St. John has been accidentally opened to American inquirers by a letter from M. Henri Cluzant, a landed proprietor in the Gironde, living at the Château de Cabazac but owning some share, now or formerly, in the old estate of Cagny, near Caen in Normandy, the province of St. John's birth. William Alexander, the older son of St. John, had married in 1798 Narcisse de Mesnage de Cagny, and after his early death his widow resided in the family home at Cagny, where her father-in-law often visited her. He seems to have sent her from Munich, where he long resided, or to have left in her care, many of his manuscripts, drawings and engravings, which were never reclaimed by his descendants now living in Paris, but remained in the old château. By descent from a sister of Mme. Ally de Crêvecæur (apparently), M. Cluzant, in no way related to the Crèvecours, has come into possession of these documents, which, in a letter to the librarian of Harvard University, he seemed to offer to Americans who might be interested in the residence and researches of St. John de Crèvecoeur. This letter being referred to me, I saw at once the value of this find, and suggested to Professor Trent that it might be acquired for Columbia University. He has since been corresponding, as I have, with M. Cluzant, in the hope that these papers and sketches may come to America.
Altogether the way seems open for a full account of one of the most interesting of the many Frenchmen who have temporarily resided in this country. His correspondence, which was incessant and gossiping, as well as concerned with important matters, social and historical, still exists in France and this country, and throws much light on a period of colonial history wherein we were not well informed before. His relation to the Revolutionary founders of our nation, Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, the Livingstons, etc., is a feature of his life not sufficiently known as yet: and his earlier relations with the New York loyalists (of whom for some years he seems to have been one) add to the value of his writings. His disguises of name and date and residence seem to bave been harmless, though vexatious to his readers, and his char
acter and experiences are worthy of the praise and the atten. tion which they are again beginning to receive after the silence of nearly a century.
Remarks were made during the meeting by the PresidENT, and Messrs. FORD, RANTOUL, SANBORN, Davis and Mead.
LIST OF DONORS TO THE LIBRARY.
Illinois . Continued.
Springfield. UNITED STATES.
Illinois State Historical Library. Bureau of Education.
Illinois State Historical Society. Department of Interior.
Iowa. Department of State.
Cedar Rapids. Library of Congress.
Grand Lodge of Iowa. Smithsonian Institution.
Des Moines. War Department.
Iowa Geological Survey. CALIFORNIA.
Iowa State Historical Society.
Topeka. State Library.
Kansas State Historical Society. Hartford.
General Conference of CongregaMiddletown.
tional Churches in Maine. Berkeley Divinity School.
Maine Baptist Missionary ConNew Haven.
vention. Society of Colonial Wars.
Maine Historical Society. Yale University.
Colby College. Litchfield County University Club. MARYLAND. DELAWARE.
City of. Delaware Historical Society.
John F. Slater Fund. District of COLUMBIA.
Johns Hopkins University. Public Library.
Maryland Historical Society.
Andover Theological Seminary. National Board of Trade.
Boston. Society of Colonial Wars.
American Board of Commissioners FLORIDA.
for Foreign Missions. Jacksonville.
American Congregational AssociaFlorida Historical Society.
American-Irish Historical Society. Savannah.
American Unitarian Association. Georgia Historical Society.
Bay State Historical League. Illinois.
Boston Athenæum. Chicago.
Boston Children's Aid Society. Chicago Historical Society.
Boston Children's Friend Society.
MASSACHUSETTS, Boston Continued. MASSACHUSETTS - Continued.
Ipswich Historical Society.
Nantucket Maria Mitchell AssociaCambridge Bridge Commission.
Historical, Natural History, and
Library Society, South Natick.
Historical Society of Old Newbury.
Towle Manufacturing Co.
Peabody Historical Society.
Berkshire Historical and Scientific
The Somerville Journal
vention of Cruelty to Animals. Mount Holyoke College.
Sutton. New England Historic Genealogi- Town of. cal Society.
American Antiquarian Society.
Worcester Board of Trade.
Worcester Musical Festival Asso-
Archæology and Ethnology. Detroit.
Michigan Pioneer and Historical
Minnesota Historical Society.