Saturday, April 15, 2017

WOODIN | Will Woodin's Oxford, Conn. Ancestors

William H[artman] ("Will") Woodin, FDR's first Treasury Secretary, was born in Berwick, Pa., but before his family settled in Pennsylvania they lived in Oxford, Conn.

His ancestor David Woodin left England because he did not conform to the Church of England. Being a dissenter was, for a time, a treasonous way of life.

The English dissenters with which the first Woodins identified appear to have been Congregationalists. Having first  tried settling in the Netherlands, the dissenters migrated in large numbers to New Haven.

Why New Haven Was a Magnet for Puritans

New Haven was founded in 1638 by John Davenport and some 500 other Puritans who left Boston to create a theocratic colony. Unfortunately there were lapses of discipline in Boston and immigrants to New England chose to go to a new colony that permitted only fellow dissenters. Called the New Haven Colony, it was originally independent of the Connecticut colony to the south.

The Congregational churches or meetinghouses in the United States broke more definitively with the Church of England than the Presbyterians, who were at times allied with the Anglicans. The distinctive feature of the Congregational Church is that each church runs its own affairs; there is no hierarchy. The Presbyterians, however, elect not only their elders but higher regional levels of church leaders—the American Constitution is modeled on the Presbyterian church organization, using some of the language of Free Masonry. 

The Congregational churches put great emphasis on learning and they founded some of the first colleges and universities in America, first Harvard and then Yale, then Dartmouth, Williams, Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Amherst—and later, Beloit, Carleton, Grinnell, Oberlin, and Pomona. 

The Congregational churches led the migration to America and later the revolt by Oliver Cromwell and others against Charles I. In 1630, Puritans founded the first American Congregational Church in Watertown, Massachusetts, under the leadership of Sir Richard Saltonstall. They chose Rev. George Phillips from Norfolk County, England, as their first pastor.

Five years later, in 1635, seven of the Watertown Puritans left the Boston area and settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut, becoming the second church organized and located in Connecticut (the first being in Windsor, earlier in the same year). In 1641, the New Haven Colony, at Rev. John Davenport's suggestion, offered land to 28 Wethersfield families within New Haven and they became the First Congregational Church of Stamford, six years before Stamford itself formally existed. Rev. John Sherman served as first pastor in Wethersfield (1635-1641) and Rev. Richard Denton, originally from Halifax, England, served as first pastor of the church in Stamford (1641-1644).

William Woodin Migrates from England before 1642

Records of the First Congregational Church in New Haven indicate that three Woodin generations lived in New Haven at least part of their lives. The first William Woodin arrived three years after New Haven was founded, in 1842. He married Sarah Clark, who may have been the reason he chose New Haven, because she seems to have had family in the Colony. She died in 1691, seven years after her husband. Almost surely he or she had family or business connections in New Haven. They were members of the growing Congregational church, which would found Yale University in 1701, ten years after Sarah died. 

The first two American generations of Woodins appear to have sought security and lived long lives. The two Woodins born in New Haven to William and Sarah Woodin lived to an average age of 70. Will Woodin's g4[gggg] grandfather, Benjamin Woodin (1670-1738), was born when his father was 29. Benjamin married Mary Wilmot and he lived to be 67. His wife was five years younger and lived four years longer.

Benjamin and Mary Woodin had a son William in 1718. He married Katherine Harrington and moved to Oxford, Conn., He lived to 73 and his wife to 80.

The Oxford Woodins

Oxford, Conn. is located midway between Waterbury and Bridgeport, nestled between the Naugatuck River to the east and the Housatonic River to the west. The two rivers create an opportunity for good farmland and woodlands. Oxford, Conn. has a sawmill that would have been an Oxford export and generated the raw materials for builders of homes and boats in the region. Today there are many Woodins living in Oxford, with first names Alvin (connected with the Trowbridge family), Donald, Heidi, Lisa, and Pin Dylan.

The two Oxford-born Woodin ancestors were adventurous. Both had shockingly short lives. One Woodin died at sea as a young man and his son died of an illness in the same year his wife died.

Milo Woodin was born in 1774 in Oxford but decided to make his career on the open seas as a whaler — a dangerous but exciting profession. He was successful, rising to become captain of his own whaling ship, an Ahab (but presumably nicer) of his day. He married someone named Lucy (her last name is not recorded anywhere). Sadly, he was lost at sea as a young man of 28, in 1803.

Five years before he died, in 1798, Milo had a son, Will Woodin's great-grandfather, David Charles Woodin. David was an architect, and the last of the Woodins born in 1798 in Connecticut.

Pennsylvania, Ho!

David Woodin most likely left Oxford, Conn. in search of work. Pennsylvania was well-suited for the industrial revolution that was under way in the early 19th century, with ample coal and iron and rivers to carry them on. He was married in 1819 to Sarah Hartman (1792-1825), who was born in Catawissa, Columbia County, Pa., six years before her husband. David died, like his father, a very young man, on October 21, 1825, just 27, a month after his wife. Sarah’s brother Casper Hartman and his son and daughter-in-law were felled by an illness called the “flux”. The same illness seems to have killed David Woodin and his wife. It is considered today to have been a form of dysentery caused by bacteria or a parasite.

David and Sarah's children were William Hartman Woodin — Will Woodin's grandfather and co-founder of the Jackson & Woodin foundry — and two younger siblings, Joseph B. Woodin, and a daughter whose name is lost. All three of them were orphaned in 1825, the eldest being just five years old and the daughter aged two. These toddlers appear to have been brought up by Sarah’s brother Casper Hartman, and his wife Deborah Carr. Casper was born in Catawissa in 1777, the son of a pioneer German immigrant, Johann Wilhelm Hartman (1748-1831) from Baden Baden, Germany and a Quaker, Frances Reemy, so that there may have been some Quaker influences in the home of David Woodin.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

KENYA | Olga Marlin with Mboya Family (Updated Apr 10, 2017)

At birthday party (photo says 1975) with Alphonse, brother of Luo Leader
Tom Mboya (1930-1969) and Tom's widow Pamela and children, behind
whom is Olga. (Another Luo leader's son was U.S. President, 2009-2016.)

Tom Mboya was a fervent apostle for Kenya's freedom, following Jomo Kenyatta. However, Mboya sought to achieve independence without violence, and did not join in the Mau Mau uprisings against the British. Mboya led Kenya's second-largest tribe, the Luo, which included many Catholics and Anglicans and some Muslims like Barack Obama's father.

When Pamela Odede was engaged to be married to Tom Mboya, she attended classes at the Kianda cooking school. A graduate of Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio (now part of Miami University in Oxford) — also attended by Donna Shalala who now heads the Clinton Foundation — she decided to convert from the Anglican faith to her husband's Catholic faith. She came to several classes in Catholic doctrine with Olga Marlin.

Olga and Pamela became friends and the Mboya children called her "Auntie Olga".

JFK and Tom Mboya, assassinated six years
apart. JFK was 46 in 1963, Mboya 38 in 1969.
In her memoir, To Africa with a Dream, Olga writes about getting to know Tom Mboya. He told her several stories of how he was treated during pre-independence days (pp. 124-125, 2nd edition).

Prior to independence, Mboya worked on major documents for a future independent Kenya, including its constitution.

He also pleaded eloquently for a Marshall Plan for Africa and was appointed Minister of Economic Planning and Development in the first coalition government led by Mzee Kenyatta.

On July 5, 1969, a quiet Saturday afternoon, Mboya, was shopping downtown. He stepped into Chhani's Pharmacy to buy a bottle of lotion. When he came out, an assassin opened fire, escaping in the ensuing confusion.

Mboya was struck in the chest. Blood soaked his suede jacket. He died in an ambulance on the way to Nairobi Hospital.

Grieving Kenyans soon gathered in such numbers at the hospital that police with batons were called out to keep the crowd under control with batons.

In her memoir, Olga vividly describes how Tom Mboya's death affected her (pp. 160-162, 2nd edition).

Only 38, the handsome, articulate Tom Mboya embodied many of the qualities so urgently needed by the fledgling nations of black Africa. He saw beyond his tribe to Kenya's detribalizing urban classes. He made them his constituency. His loss was a big blow to Kenya.

Friday, April 7, 2017

PORTSMOUTH | Priory (Abbey) School 1958 and Today (Updated Apr 11, 2017)

Portsmouth Priory (as it then was called) had a community of 24 Benedictine monks when I was there in 1955-58. All but two of the monks are in the photo above. The year before, Fr Aelred ("Barney") Wall, Headmaster, was in the photo; he switched to a more contemplative monastery in my senior year. The strength of the monastery may have peaked a few years later when Luke, Paul, Anselm and Gregory became novices.

The lay faculty numbered 16 in 1958, as indicated in the photo below. So of a total teaching pool of 30 (24 monks and 16 lay), three-fifths was monastic.

As vocations to monastic life have fallen off, and older monks have gone to their eternal reward, the ratio of monks to lay staff has reversed. The lay faculty today outnumbers the monks. On the Abbey web site five monks are shown as actively involved in the school, while the Portsmouth directory shows 116 on staff.

Since 1958, the number of seniors has grown from 35 to 94 in the Class of 2017. The teaching faculty has grown from 30 to 50, supported now by, it appears, 66 listed non-teaching staff.

Similar trends are observable in other monastic institutions. Ampleforth Abbey and College in England is one of the houses of  in the English Benedictine Congregation (along with Downside) that founded Portsmouth. Ampleforth is one of the largest religious college-preparatory schools in the country. The number of monks has fallen at Ampleforth, from more than 100 when I was there in 1952-55 to about 30 today. 

At Ampleforth today, according to its Headmaster Fr Wulstan, who was in New York City this past week, monks are placed in roles where they can have a maximum influence on the spiritual life of the boys and girls at the school. Almost all of the teaching is now assigned to people who recruited for their teaching skills and academic background.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

VERO BEACH | Mar 12–Day of FDR's 1st Fireside Chat

Charlie Miner (Seated) and L to R: Alice Tepper
Marlin, Suzanne Hyatt, John Tepper Marlin and
Charmaine Caldwell. We were celebrating John's
75th birthday and Charlie's 95th.
Mar 12, 2017—Earlier today, on the 84th anniversary of FDR's first Fireside Chat, Alice and I were the guests for brunch of Charles Miner, Jr. in Vero Beach, Fla.

Charlie, as he calls himself (his cousins have called him Chas, pronounced Chaz), is one of three surviving grandsons of FDR's first Treasury Secretary, William H. Woodin. 

Charlie's mother Mary was the eldest daughter of Will and Nan Woodin. Mary married Charlie Miner Sr.

FDR was able to devote the time to perfecting his first Fireside Chat because he delegated the calming of the panicked financial markets entirely to Will Woodin, an unjustly forgotten Republican member (one of three recruited by FDR from the GOP) of FDR's first Cabinet.

Joining us at lunch were Charlie's daughter Charmaine Caldwell and his niece Suzanne Hyatt.

I picked up some new stories from Charlie about his life. His late wife Mary Mae (Maisie) was from the south. He had previously told me that marrying her opened up to him a part of America with which he was unfamiliar, and which he came to know more about, appreciate and love. He gave some examples and ended, as he often does, with some dry humor:
We had a man in East Hampton named George who would take care of things for us. When we had a problem, Maisie would say: "Let George do it."
Back then, the main job of girls in the south was to look pretty... nice hats, you know. We played tennis but she was more of a spectator at sports. When I stopped playing tennis I started playing golf more. 
Maisie is buried in the John's Island cemetery. It's on the river side. I asked them whether I could get a few more spots in the cemetery and they said I couldn't get as many as I wanted. I guess people are dying to get in.
Besides the first FDR Fireside Chat, we were celebrating retrospectively Charlie's 95th birthday in December and John's 75th birthday earlier in March.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

BIRTH | Mar 11—Douglas Adams ("Hitchhiker") Would Be 65

Mar 11, 2017—This day would be the 65th birthday of British humorist and science fiction writer Douglas Adams, born in Cambridge, England.

He died in 2001 of a heart attack in Montecito, Santa Barbara County, Calif. He was resting from his regular workout at a private gym. He had been suffering from an undiagnosed gradual narrowing of the coronary arteries, which led to a myocardial infarction and fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

His five-part "trilogy", The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is told by a Candide-like character named Arthur Dent, who is saved from Earth's imminent annihilation by catching a ride on a spaceship operated by an alien travel journalist. It was originally produced in 1978 as a BBC comedy.

Arthur meets many interesting inhabitants of space, including
  • the two-headed Galactic President, 
  • a pathologically depressed robot,
  • the other human survivor in the universe, a woman Arthur had met once at a party in England, and
  • the Vl'Hurgs.
The Vl'Hurgs are of special interest because Arthur ignited their outrage with his statement, carried to the Vl'Hurgs by a wormhole (possibly, given where the news is taking us these days, facilitated by Russian cybertappers), "I seem to be having difficulty with my lifestyle." This phrase happens to be, in the Vl'Hurg language, the most dreadful insult imaginable.

The insult was attributed by the Vl'Hurg negotiators to the G'Gugvunts and they immediately declared war. Vl'Hurgs typically wear black, jewelled battle shorts as part of their uniforms. The Vl'Hurg mathematical system is based on entrails and a dried velohound penis.

The events described in the trilogy have presumably not yet occurred, since more than two humans are for the moment alive. The self-certified Emperor of the Vl'Hurgs is meanwhile living in Oxford and goes by the name of Chris Oakley. A 30-year-old photo of him punting on the Cherwell River is the best I can come up for the moment as further identification.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

BALDWIN | Feb 27—Dr Porges Comes to Vero Beach, Fla.

Feb. 27, 2017—Baldwin's new Head of School, Dr Marisa [pronounced Ma-RISS-uh] L. Porges, was guest of honor in our home.

A group of eight alumnae and five spouses convened in Vero Beach, Fla.

1. Baldwin Alumnae at Vero Beach. Front row: Ann Pierce Roberts, Dr Porges.
Row 2: Barbara Dunlop Hauptfuhrer, Mary Scott McElroy, Helen Milne Justi.
Row 3: Alice Tepper Marlin, Diana Hole Stickler, Cathy Yates Woofter
(Photo by your blogger JT Marlin.) 
Photo 1 from the event shows the eight alums, including Dr Porges, on the steps. Photo 2 adds the five spouses who attended.
2. Baldwin Alums (8) and Spouses (5). L to R, Front Row: Jay McElroy, Dr Porges,
John Tepper Marlin, Dick Roberts. Row 2: Ann Pierce Roberts, Helen Milne Justi, Richard Strickler, Pete Justi. Row 3: Mary Scott McElroy, Cathy Yates Woofter.
Top Row: Barbara Dunlop Hauptfuhrer, Alice Tepper Marlin, Diana Hole Strickler.
Dr Porges is the first Baldwin alum to become Head of School. She is the eighth head of school, which will be 130 years old next year.  She graduated from Baldwin in 1996 and went on to Harvard College, where she enrolled in ROTC and graduated in 2000. For graduate studies she attended the London School of Economics (M.A.) and King's College, London (Ph.D.).

Her bio below includes a sentence on her being a Naval Flight Officer. To make sure the implications are clear, she sat next the pilot as navigator on a missile-equipped anti-cyber-attack Navy airplane. Who knew that Baldwin alums did things like that?*
Baldwin Bird, our new parakeet, got named
 the evening of the alumnae event.
The evening of the alumnae event we came up with a name for our blue parakeet—Baldwin.

*Personal note: We owe a lot to our flying officers. My uncle Willem van Stockum piloted an RAF Halifax on six missions the week of D-Day, 1944. He was shot down June 10, and is buried in Laval, France where Alice and I went in 2014 to an unveiling of two monuments to the 14 airmen who perished. A book was written about him.

Other Baldwin Posts: 125th Anniversary . P. L. Travers Portrait at Baldwin . Alumnae Awards (in 1982 lists Alice)