January 7, 2015

This Day in Tredwell Family History: Elizabeth Tredwell Dies

Elizabeth TredwellElizabeth Seabury Tredwell, the eldest child of Eliza and Seabury Tredwell, was born on July 23, 1821, and died on January 7, 1880, at the age of 59. According to her death record, she died of “exhaustion and suffocation from chronic bronchitis.”

She married Effingham H. Nichols, a Yale alumnus (Class of 1841) and successful attorney, on April 19, 1845, at St. Bartholomew’s Church, then located around the corner from 4th Street at Great Jones Street and Lafayette Place. St. Bart’s was built in 1835 to accommodate the influx of new residents to the fashionable Bond Street neighborhood.

Following their marriage, the newlyweds lived with her parents in the 4th Street house, as was the custom. Their only child, Elizabeth Howard Nichols, known as Lillie, was born in 1854. (It was Lillie Nichols who inherited the house after her aunt Gertrude Tredwell died in 1933.)

In 1859, the family moved to Brooklyn, then to Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, across from William B. Astor, Jr. and John Jacob Astor, III.

According to Elizabeth’s obituary, published in The New York Times on January 11, 1880, “Relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral from her late residence, No. 339 5th av. on Monday, Jan. 12, at 10 o’clock A.M. Internment at Woodlaw Cemetery, by special train from the Grand Central Depot immediately after the service.”

November 26, 2014

Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!

"Thanksgiving Day - The Dinner," by Winslow Homer, Harper's Weekly, November 27, 1858

“Thanksgiving Day – The Dinner,” by Winslow Homer, Harper’s Weekly, November 27, 1858

In 1844, writer and reformer Lydia Maria Child wrote the classic Thanksgiving poem, A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day. The poem, later put to music and also revised as a Christmas song, celebrated her childhood memories of visiting her grandparents’ house in Massachusetts.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood-
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow-
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood-
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one.”

Over the river, and through the wood-
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

At the time, Child was best known as the author of America’s first cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, which went through 35 printings between 1829 and 1850.  Think Joy of Cooking, 19th century-style.

Here’s her recipe for Pumpkin Pie:

“For common family pumpkin pies, three eggs do very well to a quart of milk. Stew your pumpkin, and strain it through a sieve, or colander. Take out the seeds, and pare the pumpkin, or squash, before you stew it; but do not scrape the inside; the part nearest the seed is the sweetest part of the squash. Stir in the stewed pumpkin, till it is as thick as you can stir it round rapidly and easily. If you want to make your pie richer, make it thinner, and add another egg. One egg to a quart of milk makes very decent pies. Sweeten it to your taste, with molasses or sugar; some pumpkins require more sweetening than others. Two tea-spoonfuls of salt; two great spoonfuls of sifted cinnamon; one great spoonful of ginger. Ginger will answer very well alone for spice, if you use enough of it. The outside of a lemon grated in is nice. The more eggs, the better the pie; some put an egg to a gill of milk. They should bake from forty to fifty minutes, and even ten minutes longer, if very deep.”

 

 

September 5, 2014

Back to School with the Tredwells

Classroom at Mrs. Okill's Academy, drawn by a boarding student in 1850, when the Tredwell sisters were students.

Classroom at Mrs. Okill’s Academy, drawn by a boarding student in 1850, when the Tredwell sisters were students.

The five older Tredwell girls were students at Mrs. Okill’s Academy, one of the most elite private female academies of the time.  Located at 8-10 Clinton Street (now 8th Street), Mrs. Okill’s offered a “fashionable education” to young ladies. The school was housed in two connecting buildings each with a floor plan similar to that of the Merchant’s House. Here boarding students from as far away as Ohio and Louisiana joined day students like the Tredwells in the study of academic subjects, including the French language, as well musical training, considered an essential accomplishment of refined young ladies.

Our current special exhibition, Lessons Learned: The Tredwell Daughters’ Schoolbooks, is on display through Monday, September 29, and features rarely exhibited schoolbooks from the Museum’s collection, some bearing the comments and signature of Mrs. Okill herself.

July 2, 2014

“Where Did the Tredwells Shop for Food?”

Following a recent tour, a visitor asked us where the Tredwells shopped for their food and how they kept it from spoiling, especially during the summer months.

The Tredwells no doubt purchased some of their food at Tompkins Market, a public market located at Third Avenue and Sixth Street, just around the corner. Until the 1860s, it was customary in some families for the man of the house to do the marketing, and so it may have been Seabury Tredwell himself who assumed this responsibility. At the market, one could buy butcher’s meat, poultry and game, produce, fresh fish, and according to a contemporary source, prepared food “cooked ready for parties, breakfasts, dinners or suppers, cold or warm.” (In case anyone thinks ‘take-out’ is new.)

Tompkins Market, 1860

Tompkins Market, 1860

tompkins market today

The same site today,
now part of The Cooper Union

To store food, ice boxes were available in New York City from about the time the Tredwells moved into the house in 1835. Ice boxes were zinc or tin-lined wooden boxes with a compartment that housed a block of ice. Ice was cut from the Hudson River, stored in ice houses along the river, and delivered to the city by wagon. However, it was scarce — and expensive. By the 1850s, ice cutting had become very efficient, and ice was widely available. The Tredwells surely had an ice box, which was kept in the extension outside the kitchen, or in the cellar, as recommended in domestic manuals.

The Tredwell Family

In the Beginning  . . .

Seabury Tredwell’s great-great-great grandfather, Edward Tredwell, came to Massachusetts from the county of Kent, England, around 1637. By 1649, he had settled in the village of Hempstead, Long Island, 30 miles east of New York City. On his mother’s side, Seabury was directly descended from Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, whose romance was immortalized in 1858 in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.”

Read on…