Monday, December 10, 2018

Lucinda Honstain's Civil War #4

I've changed my mind after looking at these top two pictures. This bearded man with a middle aged paunch may indeed be a portrait of Lucinda Ward Honstain's husband John Baptiste Honstain in her 1867 sampler quilt. Despite their public fighting after he returned home from soldiering in North Carolina in the summer of 1865, this figure does look like the portrait below.

Lucinda Ward Honstain's husband John Baptiste Honstain is unlikely to have been one of the soldiers  pictured on her 1867 sampler quilt as they had been publicly fighting since he returned home from soldiering in North Carolina in the summer of 1865.

See previous posts in the last few days on the Honstain Family War as reported in the Brooklyn Eagle.

This may be a portrait of Lucinda's husband.

In April, 1866 the Eagle explained:
"The matter has created a lively interest throughout the Eastern District [the neighborhood], where all the parties and their past and present grievances, both matrimonial and otherwise are very well known. Honstain has been associated with too many scrapes, which have been adjudicated in the lower Courts...."
What kind of scrapes? Well, it's a long story and hard to figure out as John B. Honstain seems to have been a first-rate liar.

Here he is in the 1865 state census at age 40, recorded as living with wife Lucinda, their daughter Emma and son-in-law Hamilton Bingham. He declared he was born in Canada, which is probably the truth. Honstain seems to be a German name; his mother was Mary Jane Meyers (1797-1877) from Quebec; his father, another John Honstain, was a Prussian immigrant. The family moved to New York some time after John Baptiste's birth in 1821.

He was a soldier. Suzanne Antippas finds references to the New York State Militia, where he may have met Lucinda when they were in their early 20s near her home in Sing Sing (Ossining.) In later life he said he fought in the Florida Seminole Wars and the Mexican War of the late 1840s. Before the war he is listed in directories as a tailor and a clothing seller.

Soon after the Civil War began John Honstain joined the 4th New York Infantry. His sword was auctioned on eBay a few year ago with a good deal of paperwork about him. The auction copy is muddled but mentions he "was dismissed from the military in August of 1862 for personal reasons."

The actual reasons seem to be a disagreement with a superior and his effective desertion during which he was captured by Confederate troops and held in prison for a few months. Some sources indicate he was exchanged although he denied this all his life, saying he disguised himself as a Confederate doctor and escaped.

An 1889 military history says he was "cap [tured]. at Tarborough, N.C. July 22, 1863, held in Libby Prison until October 24, 1863, when he escaped; never exchanged." Or maybe it was Andersonville Prison he escaped from, according to records at his gravesite in Ohio.

I can see him muttering "No exchange! No exchange" for the rest of his life. He doesn't mention his discharge after the desertion, when he went back to New York and in the summer of 1862 raised a Company (I) for Spinola's Empire Brigade, the Hillhouse Light Infantry, encouraging recruits to come by the house in Brooklyn in the evenings to sign up.

July, 1862 ad in the New York Herald

We then find him in the fall in of 1862 in the 132nd New York Hillhouse Infantry as a Major.  He was injured in an ammunition explosion at the Battle of Batchelder's Creek near New Bern, North Carolina in June, 1864.

The 132nd Regiment's Colors

Block from Lucinda's quilt

I go into detail here because it does give us an idea of Lucinda's wartime experiences worrying about her husband (I bet he was quite a charmer) and because these facts were replaced with so many alternate facts by John Honstain after the war.

As we have seen their marriage did not survive the war by many months. They separated, fought, spent time in court and he soon left New York, moving first to Wisconsin where brother Edward lived and then to Ohio where he obtained a divorce. He remarried at least twice, fathering several more children, half-siblings to Emma back in Brooklyn. He changed his name variously to John B. Housteau and Jean Housteau, living under Housteau until the end of his life in 1911.

Hannah Lamira Housteau St. John's grave.
She married again after John left.

His second wife was a Wisconsin relative Hannah Lougue Lamira (1846-1888), married January 1, 1867, according to Melissa Jurgena's findings. They had a daughter Jennie (1868-1910).

His third: Stephenia Siefert, born in Germany in 1850, married April 19, 1870, with whom he had five children. In Youngstown, Ohio he was again a tailor and a clothing retailer, partnering with George E. McNab for a few years. He and Stephania were active in the Union Veterans' organizations the Grand Army of the Republic and the  auxiliary Women's Relief Corps. He was successful, building a large house at 1011 Mahoning Avenue in 1886.

Suzanne Antippas read his pension records, writing: "Honstain tried many times to secure a Civil War pension but in a miracle of coordination of military paperwork, the Pension Office put his two regimental records together and denied the pension because of the court martial. He even petitioned his congressman, who did the same."

John wrote a biography published in the 1903 Genealogical & Family History of Eastern Ohio, which I will post here just to give you an idea of his personality. Lies in yellow.
"John Baptiste Housteau, a merchant tailor at Youngstown, Ohio... was born on the Rhine, in France, June 15, 1821, and is a son of John Housteau, who was born also in France, in 1749, and died at Toronto, Canada, aged one hundred and fourteen years. Our subject escaped from his home in Paris as a stowaway on a ship, when only nine years old. 
In the spring of 1831 he landed at New York, and he can recall the time when the present site of Castle Garden was but a swamp and morass. He attended the laying of the corner stone of Bunker Hill monument, and he can recall the time when not a single railroad crossed the state of New York. His life has been full of adventure, and he has seen much military service.  
He belonged, as lieutenant, to Company I, Thirteenth New York Regulars, in the Seminole war in Florida, and was captain of the first Zouave regiment organized in New York for service in the Civil war, and raised the first company. He served all through the war and arose to the rank of colonel and acting brigadier general, being promoted for gallantry. "

They bought it all in Youngstown and supposedly erected a statue of him there.

Lucinda seems to have been well rid of him. I tell you all this just to emphasize that even if she missed some good times, it seems quite unlikely   SEE ABOVE.  If he is any of the soldiers portrayed on her wonderful quilt which seems to have been stitched during the months of their separation, he is probably the unflattering depiction of the horseman at the top of this post.

Obituary for "Colonel Housteau," 1911

That's the end of the Honstain posts for now. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Lucinda Honstain's Civil War #3

Block from quilt by Lucinda Ward Honstain in the collection
of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum
Two men and two bottles. Perhaps drinking homegrown wine?

The public fights in the Honstain family, which began in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the summer of 1865, wound up again in the courts in March, 1866. John B. Honstain had agreed to return to his wife Lucinda Ward Honstain but family relationships were in terrible shape. Honstain had been living with neighbors the Dales but at this point he must have moved on.

More details of "This somewhat complicated and interesting case."
"Mrs. Honstain gave bond to keep the peace towards Mrs. Dale...(Eastern District) who had charged her with using abusive language and saying that Mr. Honstain had improper intimacy with her (Mrs. Dale's) daughter."
I believe Mrs. Dale was also suing Mr. Honstain over the improper intimacies....The cases drug on. At any rate we hope that court dates were the last that Lucinda saw of her husband.

Jonathan Gregory found a record of an Ohio divorce instituted by John Honstain in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in March, 1866. The 1870 census lists Lucinda as a widow, in which category she was classified for the rest of her life, a life that seems to have calmed down enough to escape the gossip columns in the Brooklyn Eagle. Lucinda's s best public record is probably in her quilt, which looks to contain many scenes around the family home on Leonard Street.

Lucinda's Ward family continued to maintain land and houses in Westchester County, where Lucinda was born, so some of the images may reflect the country home---although Brooklyn was rural at the time.

The quilt has one block dated November, 1867 when Lucinda's only grandchild was almost two and it seems likely the quilt was made for Hamilton Wesley Bingham with its pictures of sailors like his father, his grandmother's house and family, pets and the neighborhood businessmen selling ice cream and dry goods (his Uncle Thomas Ward.)

There are also images of current events, such as the end of slavery, 
Jefferson Davis and this man...

An officer in a top hat?

General William T. Sherman
Brady Studio, 1865

Perhaps General Sherman

Sherman's hat

Is the sailor a portrait of Wesley's father?

Hamilton Wesley Bingham (known as Wesley) was daughter Emma's only child and Lucinda's only grandchild. He married Charlotte Bailey and they had three children, Madeline (Ricard), Devoe and Hamilton III.

 Some sources indicate Emma and Lucinda raised 
Wesley Bingham in the 183 Leonard Street House.

Lucinda apparently remained in the Leonard Street/Devoe Street nighborhood until she died on February 15, 1904.

Daughter Emma's husband Hamilton Bingham (1835-1908) did not remain with the family long. By 1869 he was in Virginia where he married Jane Elizabeth McClintock. The story takes another strange turn when we see that Ralph Bingham, his eldest son by Elizabeth, achieved childhood fame as "The Boy Orator," quite a success from the age of six thanks to the management of his father. See a link to Emma's ex-husband's obituary at the bottom of the page.

The Boy Orator at 7; Wesley Bingham's
half brother.

1904 probate record for Lucinda's will,
which states she had no property worth more
than $1500. 

When Lucinda died in 1904 Emma gave her own address as 133 Devoe. (Note Emma's grandson was named Devoe Bingham.) Emma, her son and his wife Charlotte Bailey Bingham are buried in Chappaqua in Westchester County at Fair Ridge Cemetery and there is rumored to be a monument to Lucinda there. She is actually buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery with no monument.

 Cypress Hills Cemetery

From the gossip and the public records we learn a little about Lucinda Ward Honstain. She was probably fairly comfortable financially in her Brooklyn neighborhood. She helped raise a grandson, for whom she might have made a quilt. According to the mean-spirited article in the Brooklyn Eagle she was blond and fair "and cannot be called a good looking woman."

Why so mean? Perhaps the reporter had it in for her husband. More about HIM tomorrow.

Link to her son-in-law's obituary with information about his sailing career:

Picture of Hamilton Bingham late in life, published 1907.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lucinda Ward Honstain's Civil War # 2

Detail of the central block in Lucinda Honstain's pictorial quilt
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum

When Lt. Colonel John B. Honstain came home from the Civil War to his Brooklyn home the family reunion was short and probably not too sweet. He returned to a house with Lucinda, their pregnant 22-year-old daughter Emma and her husband Union Sailor Hamilton Bingham living there. Within a few weeks his domestic problems were in the New York newspapers on both sides of the East River. He was charged with abandonment and assaulting his wife.

Three-story house in the center of Lucinda Honstain's quilt,
likely a portrait of her home on Leonard Street.

Honstain was described as "owner of four houses on Leonard Street near Devoe and...building another." The public fight erupted over a check Honstain wrote on a family account. Lucinda and Hamilton Bingham had him arrested for forgery. He did not deny that but said the bank account was essentially his, money sent home from his army pay, which Lucinda "spent in a reckless manner" and deposited in her own name.  He and Bingham disagreed and he ejected his son-in-law, accusing Bingham of theft.

The quilt pictures several soldiers and sailors;
here a New York Zouave and a sailor. Lucinda's son-in-law
may be the same Hamilton Bingham who served first on the Fort Henry and later 
 on the Navy blockade enforcer USS Dumbarton. His obituary elevates his
Navy service to Commander.

I find my gossip in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1865 and 1866. We are told in the spring of 1866:
 "Several weeks ago [Honstain] left his home in Leonard street, on the ground that he did not intend to support his son-in-law Bingham any longer, which he had been doing and obtained board at the house of a Mrs. Mary Dale, No 102 Ainslie Street."

The neighborhood today: Leonard Street at the corner of 
Devoe from Google Earth

Mary Dale lived around the corner in Williamsburg and she had a "good-looking" 18-year-old daughter. The Eagle's gossip columnist was not kind to the Honstains.
"Mr H is a man of about 30 years of age, with a face bronzed by exposure to all varieties of weather, and dresses very plainly. Mrs. Honstain is about 22 years of age, light hair and complexion, and cannot be called a good looking woman."
He also was not very accurate. Lucinda was 35 and her husband about 34. The implication here might be that they were working class people, certainly not Brooklynites of any social status. (UPDATE---she 45; he 44---bad addition.)

A striped cat

"The couple are middle aged, have been married for some time, but always disagreed...." 
From another story on the "Honstain Family War."

By the spring of 1866 the Honstains daughter Emma had given birth to her son Hamilton Wesley Bingham who was about 6 months old when his grandfather moved out again.

The Honstain Family War Renewed
Honstain, "a man of considerable means" soon "returned to his former residence in Leonard street, for the purpose of removing some furniture. This the belligerent Mrs. Honstain did not intend to allow, as she summoned a party of friends, male and female, for the purpose of preventing her husband, if possible, from removing the furniture.....Wm Brownell---then had some words with [Honstain], and finally, it is alleged, struck him. A general fight between all parties ensued, during which the furniture was knocked from the cart, while curses and shouts rent the air."

Honstain left with his broken furniture and obtained warrants for "arrest of Brownell and one Mrs. Amanda Scripture for breaking his furniture....Mrs. Mary Dale, with whom Honstain has been boarding, has preferred a complaint against him for alleged improper intimacy with her daughter, a good-looking young girl of about 18 years....There are some words about a divorce."

Pair of tulips from Lucinda's two quilts. The floral pattern seems to be New York style,
 as is the use of design elements in block corners.

More gossip tomorrow.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Lucinda Ward Honstain's Civil War # 1

Another messy celebrity divorce!

Quilt dated 1867

You may be familiar with Lucinda Ward Honstain's pictorial quilt in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum thanks to Ardis & Robert James. The quilt holds the record for the most expensive quilt ever sold.

Imagery is obviously related to the Civil War.

"Jeff Davis & Daughter"

Lucinda did not leave us many text messages.

"Master I Am Free"

So the 41 blocks are open to interpretation based on what we know about Lucinda. 

In 2003 Melissa Stewart Jurgena and Patricia Cox Crews published "The Reconciliation Quilt: Lucinda Ward Honstain's Pictorial Diary of An American Era" in Folk Art the magazine of the American Museum of Folk Art. Jurgena's research into Lucinda's life gave us much information.

IQSCM has two quilts by Lucinda, this one dated 1867
and initialed E.B., probably for Emma Honstain Bingham.

"ICE Cream
Done Nov th. 18, 1867"
Does the date refer to her finishing the whole quilt or just to the block
with the ice cream vendor?

Lucinda was "born in Ossining, [Sing Sing at the time] Westchester County, New York on July 24, 1820 to Thomas and Phoebe (Edsell) Ward. Her father's family had lived in the City now known as Lower Manhattan. Her father become involved in the dry goods business and eventually owned his own company...in Manhattan and Brooklyn.... Lucinda married John B. Honstain, probably in mid-1842...had one child Emma C. Honstain, born June 2, 1843."

See the link to the Folk Art magazine article below.

And in the IQSCM's recent catalog Quilts in the Industrial Age, Assistant Curator of Exhibitions Jonathan Gregory found more information, including a record of the Honstain's divorce in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in March, 1866.

Jonathan also found clues to the meaning of the man on the right
in an image from the New York Public Library--- a street
entertainer like an organ grinder with a hurdy-gurdy instrument
hanging from his neck.

It's easy to trace someone with the unusual name of John Baptiste Honstain in the military records  and we find that Lucinda's husband did indeed serve in the Union Army. And here is where the plot thickens. Suzanne Antippas, who comments on this blog with helpful genealogical information, found out quite a bit about Lucinda's husband. She read his military records, pension records, etc.

We also found out quite a bit about the Honstains' post-War marital woes. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published at least five accounts of the end of the marriage in 1865 and 1866. It was not pretty, involved the whole neighborhood and a few arrests.

1866 map with the Honstain home a red star on Leonard Street between 
Devoe and Ainsley in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The corner is still there and the house may be too.

The newspaper gossip column took notice in August, 1866. About six weeks after John was mustered out of New York's 132nd Infantry Regiment in North Carolina and returned to his Brooklyn family he wrote a check for $600 on an account at the Williamsburg Savings Bank. The account must have been in Lucinda's name and he probably forged her name on the check. She and her son-in-law had him arrested.

The New York papers across the East River also took note of the arrest.

More tomorrow.

Folk Art magazine article.

See a large photo of the IQSCM quilt here: