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.


  1. Seems people never change. This is better than a soap opera!!!! Hahaha!

  2. John and Lucinda are about a decade older. In the New York State Census in 1865, he is listed as 40 and she as 44. Reading this story, no wonder she had to quilt! We all quilt through our troubles, but she quilted a masterpiece.

  3. A very interesting read. I've always wanted to hook sections of Lucinda's Quilt.

  4. Abut 18 months ago I started genealogy and find myself confused at times when reading your blog.... as it sounds like you do a lot of genealogy digging with your research. And TODAY it is genealogy for sure.... people are people.... will see tomorrow what else you have found.

  5. Oh my gosh! I can't imagine having my family's disagreements spread before the world this way! The quilt pictures you've shown of the quilts are just wonderful. Theirs was certainly not a smooth road. Thank you for sharing this. I enjoy digging around in genealogy and turning names in my family into people, but this is not the kind of thing I've ever found. We must be a dull lot! =)

  6. It's like a John Wayne film with Maureen O'Hara! I wonder if we will get the bar room brawl! We've had a street one! And still she quilted. What a tale!

  7. Times change; human nature does not. "There's no fool like an old fool"has more than a kernel of truth.

    Nuff said!

  8. Hello Still not sure who's image is on my quilt Jackson or Lafayette. It's a whole quilt image on both sides/Users/berniemorlock1/Desktop/IMG_3411.jpg/Users/berniemorlock1/Desktop/IMG_3416.jpg/Users/berniemorlock1/Desktop/IMG_3414.jpg/Users/berniemorlock1/Desktop/IMG_3132.jpg/Users/berniemorlock1/Desktop/IMG_3134.jpg/Users/berniemorlock1/Desktop/IMG_3135.jpg I need help Thank You

  9. Bernie. That link did not work. send a photo to MaterialCult@gmail.com