On names Tuesday, May 7 2013 

and genealogy. Esperanza is so inextricably linked to the first two generations (Julie Palmer/Morris Smith) and Helen Yale Smith/William Webster Ellsworth) that it is weirdly easy to overlook the next ninety odd years of influence. I was flipping through some documentation relating to one of my long term projects, the transcription of the Mavourneen‘s logs, when I hit an amusing factoid. George Creevey, who married Lucy, the daughter of Helen/WWE, had a motor yacht named Mavourneen. His brother William had a motor yacht by the name of Eileen in 1912. Now the question arises, did William name the yacht after George’s daughter, Eileen born in 1910, or was George’s daughter named after the yacht? The problem being that I don’t know how old the yacht was… In either case, that George and William were close to their Scots-Irish roots, despite several generations in the Adirondacks seems clear.

On ancestors Tuesday, Jan 1 2013 

The family that this house belongs to or vice versa…has a respectable number of over-achievers in its ancestry.  Yale figures rather prominently a few generations back.*  To the outside world, those are the important people and they are important, even interesting if you enjoy the history of Connecticut and New York in the 1600’s-1900 centuries.  The house comes after the really ‘big’ names, though the over-achievers continue.

Yet, they aren’t actually the people who are important to the house or not the only people. Because, of course, the house, the family reflects everyone.  It still exists because some of the family have put themselves into it, entirely, sometimes with grave reservations.  In the history of the house Lucy Creevey, who does not show up in the newspapers, is far more significant than her husband, George, who was something of a pioneer in the field of anaesthesia and does get in the news.  Lucy did a great deal of work on the house, as well as writing a history of it, shaping future perceptions to a great degree. 

And then, of course, in every generation there is the critical influences of the ‘out-laws’.  A living house does not exist as a mausoleum for some historic ancestor generations past.  It’s culture and outlook change with each generation as new connections are made through these ‘out-laws’: the Catskills, Canada, Kentucky and the Ohio River, Germany, Cincinnati, and the New England coast**  The house’s weight shapes and warps these connections of course, an accumulated pile that is larger than the individual, but it cannot ignore or erase them.

When dealing with the history of a place, it may be the house-wife or the farmer who truly shapes it, and not the name blazing in lights.  What lesson is there in that? Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything.

*Websters, Ellsworths, Wolcotts, think lawyers, governors, dictionaries, so forth.

**Of course family members also marry out, creating another set of connections.  For the alert family members who puzzle over Canada: the marriage of Elizabeth Ellsworth to Frederick Shand Goucher, circa 1910.  The Canadian influence pops up in the oddest places.

Cast of Characters Tuesday, Mar 27 2012 

I figure that I probably ought to quickly sketch the family line for Esperanza.  Through the accident of biology, the family name has changed repeatedly.*  This has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with matriarchies and everything to do with a preponderance of daughters. 

In any event, it is easiest to think of overlapping groups.  Group one is Julie Palmer Smith and Morris Smith, 1870’s-1880’s, and their four daughters: Carlotta, Fannie, Helen, and Lucy. Julie dies in 1883, Morris dies in 1901.

Helen and Lucy marry: William Webster Ellsworth and Fred Davis respectively.  Lucy dies shortly after giving birth to her son Carl, 1881.  While Carl Davis does visit as a child, we have lost track of that branch completely.

Helen and WWE begin to take over Esperanza in the late 1880’s, WWE dies in 1936, Helen in 1945.  Esperanza as we know it is largely their creation.  However, Fanny and Carlotta also lived at Esperanza throughout their lives.

Helen and WWE had: Lucy, Bradford, Helen Adelaide, and Elizabeth.

Lucy married George Creevey in 1901, they would continue the ‘Esperanza’ line.  Bradford married Juliet Inness and had a son, George, from that marriage but we have lost track of that line.  Helen Adelaide married Maurits van Loben Sels in 1905, starting a vibrant family of their own in California.  Elizabeth married Frederick Goucher in 1913, but died childless in 1917; however Frederick Goucher (Shandy) as his second wife, Louise, remained close friends, frequently staying here during the summer.

Lucy and George Creevey overlapped with Helen and WWE for much of their marriage.  George died in the 1940’s, Lucy in the 1960’s.  It was after WWII, under Lucy’s guidance, that the house slowly transitioned from a summer house to a year-round house.  George’s sister, Elizabeth (Beth) Creevey Hamm (married but widowed in WWI), was along with the Gouchers a frequent presence at Esperanza.  Lucy and George had: Carlotta, Kennedy, and Eileen. 

Carlotta married Francis Harrison and had three children, all still living.

Kennedy married Margaret Brundadge and had three children, all still living.

Eileen married Newman Hall and had two children, still living.  Eileen and Newman take over Esperanza in the late 1960’s.  They lived here until c.2003 when it was passed along to the present two generations.

*Starting with Eileen and Newman Hall the last name stops changing, as the title passed to their son, Jamie.

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