bartram

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When naturalist William Bartram was exploring Florida in the 1770s, he described a bird that he called the painted vulture.  Originally believed to be a misidentification of the crested caracara, more recent studies of Bartram’s notes have realised that the description of the painted vulture is identical to that of the king vulture, with the exception of the colour of the tail feathers.  It is now theorised that perhaps the king vulture’s range once expanded up into Florida, with the population being killed off by a cold snap, or that Bartram’s painted vulture was a subspecies of the king vulture that has since gone extinct.

anonymous asked:

Do we have any pictures or any hints of what Laurens's childhood home looked like?

John’s first home was located in St. Michael’s Alley (south of Broad Street in Charleston, SC).  I haven’t come across any descriptions of this home other than this description of the nursery:

By the time little Martha arrived in 1759, if not long before, an imported cradle was a central fixture in the parental bedroom, which was also equipped with necessaries such as a candle stand, a warming pan, and a bedpan passed along from grandfather Laurens. Because Henry and his wife, Eleanor, anticipated extensive use for that nursery item, the cradle was probably one that rocked, featuring a ‘gauze pavilion’ with turned posts at its four corners to support mosquito netting. (The Life and Times of Martha Laurens Ramsay)

In June 1762, Henry Laurens purchased Mepkin plantation and then bought land in Ansonborough, SC about three months later.  The Ansonborough property was on the outskirts of Charleston whereas Mepkin was about 30 miles out.  Ansonborough appears to have been the main residence at this time while Mepkin may have been used moreso in the summer months (particularly to escape the diseases in the city).  The home in Ansonborough had “its own wharf and creek, four acres that included a green called Laurens Square, and [was] bounded by Pitt, East Bay, Centurion, and Anson Streets” (The Life and Times of Martha Laurens Ramsay).

Here’s a pretty thorough description of the Ansonborough property, provided in The Life and Times of Martha Laurens Ramsay:

Papa Henry’s pleasure in the new house glowed in his letters.  “Mahogany is the thing by all means for your Stair case.  You would agree in opinion with me if you saw mine.” Though the darker wood was costly, “in time it becomes abundantly cheaper as it is firm, durable, and gains beauty whether you will or not, with age, whereas Cedar is brittle, splintery and without an excess of rubbing and waxing fades and loses its colour in a very few years.”  He enjoyed careful oversight of every step.  “Cypress is the best and cheapest wood for wainscot, but your [English] oak in my judgment is infinitely preferable.  I have painted one room in my house Wainscoat color and pattern upon a coat of brown Plaister.  It stands very well and is much admired.”  His used of the magisterial “I” meant, of course, that he supervised the task, not actually performed it.

Henry Laurens wanted their new home on East Bay Street to be “worthy…to be occupied by a merchant,” to reflect his cosmopolitan horizons.  Spacious, roomy, and open rather than ornate, and somewhat unimaginative externally, the house was a “plain barn-like building” of brick, almost “square to the winds,” 38 and ½ ft. x 60 ½ ft.—pretentious not in ornamentation or iron grillwork but in acreage and gardens, “with a wall all upon the front of my garden [Wall Street].” Henry had purchased a “Mulatto” slave bricklayer, Samuel, that spring especially to create elegant garden paths around the house.  One feature visible from those bricked walks was a jerkin-head roof—a hipped roof cutting flat angles at the corners of the house.

Inside, the house from cellar to roof featured heavy-hewn timbers.  Two floors had four large rooms each, downstairs and upstairs, plus several small “apartments”—rooms topped by a “spacious attic” with room for wine storage in the hipped-roof corners.  Near the front door was a small hallway, “little more than a vestibule” on the south side of the structure, and a stairway on the left led to the upper story while a door on the right opened into the library.  (Surprisingly, Henry Laurens had omitted the wide central hall great Charles Town houses usually featured in hopes of luring every possible breeze.) But the library was a huge room (18’ 8” x 17’ 2”) with two hundred running feet of shelves, and the books were protected by beautiful decorative glass doors embossed with geometric shapes—octagons, squares, and triangles.  Behind the library was an equally hospitable dining room (17 ½’ x 17 ½’) with a paneled ten-foot-wide chimney all the way to the ceiling.  Immediately above, on the second floor, was the same size ballroom. Some of the fireplace mantels were marble, others elegantly carved wood—all in the highest tone of simplicity and dignity.  The mantels were undoubtedly imported from England, like the ones Henry had ordered for the house of his neighbor Charles Pinckney.

The dining room, with fancy mirrors and a very large “chimney glass,” boasted sconces on the wall, handsome pewter serving dishes, silver tureens, a brass warming pan, and a tinned Japanned waiter—to say nothing of elegant china for entertaining (family meals were served on earthenware).  Martha’s father knew his merchandise: he ordered mirrors “truly elegant and worthy of a place in a Dining Room occupied by a merchant.” But he returned the first ones: “their fault was their fineness.  They are too fine, I will rather say too large for my dining room.” Unfortunately, in the shipping from England to Charles Town, faulty packing had damaged some of the gilded ornamentation and scraped some of the “Quick Silvering.”  “The packer or workman ought really to be answerable,” he demanded. Upstairs in the drawing room, a harpsichord for Martha’s arpeggios and sonatinas held a place of honor, flanked by elbow chairs, a card table, a tea table, settees, and portraits.  To five-year-old Martha, the new home was a palace.

Since the locale and climate of Charles Town allowed a twice-yearly harvest, vegetables and many exotic trees—peach, apricot, mulberry, walnut, chestnut, fig, bitter orange, and pomegranate—flourished. British gardener John Watson was employed to cultivate the new Laurens acres into a charming botanical cornucopia. Henry and Eleanor wanted the kind of beautifully laid out English garden that was rare in the colonies, a display of the useful and ornamental plants that Carolina produced or that Henry could import.  In that sense, landscaping was a more overt statement of the Laurenses’ affluence and sophistication than the house itself.  Neighbors like Eliza Pinckney, who also prided herself on gardening, noted that “only 2 squares from her house, the rich merchant HL was filling his extensive grounds with every rare plant and shrub his numerous connections enabled him to collect.”  Little sisters Nelly and Patsy and their numerous cousins could fashion snapdragon dolls and chant the evocative flower names “foxglove,” “sweet alyssum,” and “periwinkle” as their mother instructed.

Philadelphia garden historian John Bartram, named royal botanist by the king in 1756, came for a visit the year after the Laurenses moved in.  He noted a remarkable “grape vine 7 ½ inches in circumference” at the new home of “Col Laurance [sic] in Charles Town.”  It “bore 216 clusters of grapes, one almost 11 in. long and over 16” in circumference, the grapes large “and as close set in the bunch as they could possibly grow.”  In addition, he admired “a fine young olive tree 15 ft. high, luxuriant.”  By contrast with this luxuriant green, Charleston streets were deep and dusty at a child’s eye level.  Laid out in regular, unpaved, and widely spaced design to allow breezes to reach the building from all sides, the soft sand made its choking way into noses and eyelids.  Narrow paths at each side would one day become sidewalks, but not yet.

The following are some paintings of Mepkin as done by Charles Fraser in Charleston Sketchbook, 1796-1806 (descriptions also from said book):

“Mepkin, the Seat of Henry Laurens, Esq.”

Mepkin was among the several tracts of land granted at the very commencement of the Colony to the three sons of Sir John Colleton, one of the eight Lords Proprietors.  It comprised 3,000 acres and lay nearly opposite Mepshew (now Pimlico), another grant of the three brothers.

John Colleton of the County of Middlesex, England, sold Mepkin in 1762 to Henry Laurens.  Vital affairs of the Colony, of the Revolution, and of the new state, all had a hearing there.  After the destruction of the house during the Revolution Henry Laurens built the one that is shown in the sketch, and in which Henry Laurens, Jr., was living.  As the latter had married a daughter of John Rutledge, Fraser was again among relatives, seeing familiarly a scene where history was made.

“Another View of Mepkin, May, 1803″

“A View on Mepkin”

The Avenue at Mepkin leads from the road along wooded ravines to the bluff close by the river, overlooking the rice-fields and the winding stream.  There stood the house of Henry Laurens.  Mepkin had great natural beauties, and throughout his life Henry Laurens had added to these by continuous attention to the possibilities of agriculture in South Carolina.

The following is “The House of Henry Laurens (1763-1914)”, a pencil drawing done by Alice R. H. Smith in 1911:

None of the buildings remain standing today, but you can visit the streets where the St. Michael’s Alley and Ansonborough properties once stood in Charleston, SC, and you can visit Mepkin Abbey (previously Mepkin Plantation) in Moncks Corner, SC.

a cool and good musical!!

(im reposting this because it needs more attn!!)

HEY GUYS so i love this musical called the theory of relativity by neil bartram and brian hill!! it’s kinda new and it’s just?? amazing?? i don’t even know what the plot is because it’s like five different plots intertwined but like i think the whole underlying moral is that having someone to rely on, whether romantically or platonically, is extremely important and there’s this whole “i am nothing without you” theme that’s really nice and heartwarming and i just?? i wish more people would listen to it so ahem

here it is on spotify

here’s a performance of it (warning i haven’t watched it so the quality may be bad or not who knows)

spread this around please!!! i have an immense love for this musical and i’ve seen absolutely no one talking about it so i’d really like others to get to know about it!

anonymous asked:

So you've shown us what a couple of your Rogues look like with descriptions and sketches and real life photo examples, but one person I can never properly visualize is your Waylon Jones. There's been so many versions of him over the years that my brain can't seem to pick one. Could you describe (or possibly sketch) your version of him for us? Like, does he look human with a skin condition, or more reptilian with a tail and snout? Does he tend to be shirtless or does he hide under a coat and hat?

Waylon Jones was born with green scaled skin, crocodile eyes, and a semi-functioning tail (albeit only approximately 8″ long [full-grown]). He is 6′6″, and 330lbs.

During his time with Bartram & Topps (Travelling Circus) as “The Crocodile Man”, Waylon was injured quite a few times through various stunts - most noticeably losing the end of his nose to a crocodile when a previously rehearsed fight went bad.

The circus was going to foot the bill for reconstructive surgery, but Waylon liked the look. He never felt truly human, but hadn’t considered going “Full Croc” until now. With some help from his fellow performers in the circus, Waylon became obsessed with Body Modification. He had his ears removed (which admittedly was only one ear – a particularly rough youth has cost him the other already) and removed the remnants of his nose, giving a snouted look to his face.

He had his tongue bifurcated next, and then proceeded to get various facial piercings (two on each brow, one chin (labret), and a hoop through what remains of each tragus). His teeth were filed into more distinct points (despite already having been more fang-like than regular teeth).

As for wardrobe, Waylon wears a pair of khaki cargo pants (that are basically tatters beyond the side leg pockets), and a Gotham Goliaths (Basketball) hoodie with the sleeves torn off. His hands and feet are wrapped with linen (the wraps help keep Waylon’s skin lotioned as the scales are very dry and uncomfortable around his fingers and toes. If left untreated, it becomes very uncomfortable to move his various digits, often resulting in bleeding). He always has clothes with pockets, as he leads a very nomadic lifestyle.

Being less than subtle, Waylon had informed Edward Nygma of how much he loved Ed’s overcoat. Knowing he would never ASK for one, Edward had a replica coat made for Waylon to wear when he walks around town (with the proportions altered to fit, obviously). It’s not in the best of shape anymore (given Waylon’s living conditions), but he will never give it away.

I hope that gives a better idea on Waylon’s appearance. I’ve probably missed some points, and will update as things pop into my bizarre little mind.

“Hux rolls against him when he can’t wait any longer, pressing his body to Kylo’s and slipping his arm around Kylo’s chest. He moves Kylo’s hair so that it won’t be in his face, sighs against the back of Kylo’s neck, tucks his knees in behind Kylo’s legs.

Explanation for this behavior: Hux wants warmth, comfort, company in his misery. He’s a greedy, spoiled, needful person who will drag Kylo down to the depths of his own vulnerability if Kylo lets him.

Correction, undeniable: Hux isn’t trying to get comfort, he’s trying to give it.

Observation: That’s laughable.”

Colonial American Birthdays!

It’s Alexander Hamilton’s birthday today, so I thought I would look into the ways in which Americans celebrated birthdays in the late 18th-century. I found very, very little. So, I dug through everyone’s favorite website, Founders Online, and found any mention of birthdays I could. Royal birthdays were traditionally marked by large balls and other public celebrations, and after the colonies declared independence they began to celebrate George Washington’s birthday this way instead. Since Washington’s birthdays were outliers, I ignored them.

In general, it seems that personal birthdays were widely celebrated. Benjamin Franklin’s wife, Deborah, wrote him in 1765 to say that their friend Mr. Bartram (presumably John Bartram) “asked us to celebrate his Birthday.” Celebrating a birthday in someone’s absence seems to have been relatively common: Eleanor Morris, Mary Hewson, and Sarah Bache all wrote Franklin to let him know that they would be keeping his birthday, in 1768, 1779, and 1783 respectively. Morris says that she and her cousins celebrated his birthday (“that Happy Day”) by having plum pudding with their dinner and drinking tea to his health. Bache, his daughter, claims to keep Franklin’s birthday “in the most festive Manner in my power,” and invited sixty children over for a dance.

Birthdays for children were certainly celebrated. Franklin’s illegitimate grandson, William Temple Franklin, wrote to his cousin to say that he would be visiting a friend to celebrate their son’s first birthday. In 1771, Benjamin Franklin wrote to Deborah to say that he celebrated his grandson’s birthday with friends: "At Dinner, among other nice Things, we had a Floating Island, which they always particularly have on the Birth Days of any of their own Six Children.” A floating island is a French dessert, basically meringue floating on crème anglaise. Apparently, fancy desserts were considered an acceptable way to celebrate a birthday.

I found two instances of personalized poems written in honor of someone’s birthday. In 1767, Benjamin Franklin wrote a poem for Mary Stevenson, the daughter of his London landlady, which included the line “You’d have the Custom broke, you say, That marks with festive Mirth your natal Day,” which also implies that birthday parties were considered customary. On February 21st, 1793, George and Martha Washington sent a birthday greeting to Elizabeth Willing Powel and expressed their regrets that they were unable to attend her 50th birthday party that evening. They also enclosed a personalized birthday poem. In 1814, John Quincy Adams’s seven-year-old son wrote from Saint Petersburg to say that he had performed in a French play at the birthday dinner of a Mr. Krehmer (presumably Sebastian Krehmer, a banker). The dinner ended with a dance.

John Adams, in true New England fashion, marked his 37th birthday by writing this in his journal: “Thirty Seven Years, more than half the Life of Man, are run out.—What an Atom, an Animalcule I am!—The Remainder of my Days I shall rather decline, in Sense, Spirit, and Activity. My Season for acquiring Knowledge is past.” Slightly more optimistically, he writes, “And Yet I have my own and my Childrens Fortunes to make. My boyish Habits, and Airs are not yet worn off.” Two years later, he noted his 39th birthday but wrote nothing else about it and seemed to have spent most of the day traveling.

If we sometimes caricature Ben Franklin as our most bacchanalian founder, and John Adams as a bit of a Puritan stick-in-the-mud, I feel like these examples provide a good range. There are many other examples of letters that simply begin with a birthday greeting, or dates that note that it’s the author’s birthday. Most people seem to have kept track of their birthdays and mentioned them to friends and family, and quite a few seem to have celebrated with dinners, poems, special desserts, and even dances. 

So, what about our birthday boy, Alexander Hamilton? Well, he never mentions his birthday in any of his surviving letters. On January 10th, 1772, the day before his 17th or 15th birthday, he wrote to his employer, Nicholas Cruger, to let him know how business was going. At the end, he thanked Cruger “for the Apples you were so kind as to send me,” but there is no other personal information. It seems extremely unlikely that these apples were some sort of birthday gift, since the last letter he’d had from Cruger was from December 20th, 1771. The only notable thing about Hamilton’s birthday seems to be that he didn’t take a break. There are plenty of work-related letters sent on the 10th, 11th, and 12th of January throughout his life. On his 34th or 36th birthday, he wrote a particularly lengthy one to Thomas Jefferson, entirely concerned with politics. So if you were curious about how Hamilton celebrated his birthday…he might not have. 

Happy 259th/261st birthday, Hammy!

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To discover the new frontier of urban farming, you’ll have to look up — and look sharp — for hanging fruit.

Urban orchards are dropping everything from apples to persimmons to avocados on Seattle, Bloomington, Ind., Boston, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other North American cities. Groups like the Portland Fruit Tree Project advocate for public access to existing fruit trees so that people can glean crops that would otherwise go uneaten — an idea some are calling radical. Other groups are more interested in planting new groves of fruit trees on previously fallow city land.

Fruit trees produce food, but also provide shade, keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, improve water quality and may even deter crime. Advocates say they also have a longer lasting impact on communities than vegetable beds.

Urban Food Forests Make Fruit Free For The Picking

Photo credit: Courtesy of Philadelphia Orchard Project