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Here is a lithograph of the Boyhood Home of Auguste Berthold Ewing, an ancestor of mine. Built in 1825 on the Northwest corner. That is where the Met Life building is now located! Artist- Charles Overall
A while ago, somehow I stumbled across this print on Ebay and bought it! It is a plate from The Brickbuilder- a monthly trade magazine. The picture is of 5 Brentmoor Park, Clayton, MO that my great grandfather, Ira E. Wight built. See an old blog post about it HERE.
Here is a painting in the Missouri Historical Museum of my Great Grandmother- Marie Ewing Wight (Mrs. Ira E. Wight) The Lady of the House!
During my recent time away in New York and Pennsylvania, we made a trip to Gettysburg. Gettysburg was pretty amazing and powerful. I knew there were battlefields, though was surprised by the shear volume of monuments. There must have been at least 500 large monuments scattered across the whole park. 45,000 people died in the battle.
When we went to my brother's house in Corning, NY, he showed me some family items from Alabama that just arrived from a distant relative. The box contained pictures, letters and certificates. In reviewing letters and looking at pictures, I was reminded what is was like to be a Southerner after the Civil War. Pictured below, is something my great grandmother needed to sign after the war to get a pardon. "Whereas Virginia Jones of Perry County, Alabama, by taking part in the late rebellion against the Government of United States, has made herself liable to heavy pains and penalties......This pardon to be of no effect until the said Virginia Jones shall take an oath prescribed in the Proclamation of the President dated May 19th, 1865. To be void and of no effect if the said Virginia Jones shall hereafter, at any time, acquire any property whatever in slaves, or make use of slave labor." I think these words are very powerful and drive home what it was like after the Civil War.
"After Lincoln's death, President Johnson proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all who would take an oath of allegiance, but required leaders and men of wealth to obtain special Presidential pardons."
I also think the pictures below from the 1930's tell a story...the plantation house that is sort of rundown.....the African American boy playing with my relatives....though note the old slave cabins in the background. We all like to think that our ancestors had nothing to do with slavery...though most did to some degree. Boston business owners made fortunes importing slaves with their ships....and all the mills of the East were kept in business with Southern cotton.
(In case any of my Wight-side relatives are reading this.....this all has to do with my mother's side.)
I was too young to miss all of the fun on Nantucket when our entire tribe would go there each Summer for a month. My stylish grandmother (pictured below) would arrange everything. She passed away shortly after I was born. Notice her Nantucket Basket perched beside her.
In my house I have a water color of an ancestor's ship- the Caroline Ellems Mastered by Ira Brewster Ellems. My first name is really Ira....so this is where my name originated. He was a direct decendant of William Brewster who headed the pilgrim church.
The caption on the painting reads:
This is on the bottom of my Aunt's Nantucket basket with a depiction of the boat on the top.
The bottom of the basket shows the signature of the famous Jose Formosa Reyes who created the basket in 1963
The Wights originally were from Maine and after the Civil War my Great Great Grandfather, Pearl Wight, moved to New Orleans to start a hardware business catering to the shipping industry. Their company was Woodward and Wight, LTD. He became a beloved and respected citizen of New Orleans. A couple of the buildings from the business still stand in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. They are now loft apartment buildings.
Pearl's son, Ira Edward Wight, married a Ewing from St. Louis. In the early 1900's they sold the business and Ira moved to St. Louis. I think his wife did not think New Orleans was a good place to raise a family.
A Loving Cup that I have from when the business was sold and both Pearl and Ira retired in 1904.
Pearl's house on Prytania St. Now owned by the New Orleans Opera Guild.
And Pearl's mausoleum in Metarie Cemetery. There is room for more family members is any of them want to have this as their final resting place.
A full day yesterday in New Orleans. We visited 3 plantations... Pictured is Oak Alley. We saw our old family mausoleum in Metarie graveyard...I think there are 6 spots left in it for family. Dinner at Commander's Palace and then we drove by the old family home on Prytania. They were filming a movie there with Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer. I went up and asked if I could meet Shirley and was told no.
Here is another wonderful family photo that was recently rediscovered. It is my grandfather, aunt and late uncle having a picnic in the woods at our farm in Pike County. I love that my grandfather is in a jacket and tie. Do you remember the days of the thermos?
My brother found some photos on my late father's computer that he shared with us this Christmas. This one is of my paternal grandmother on Nantucket sometime in the 60's. So stylish! She died shortly after I was born. Notice the large Nantucket basket next to her.
Yesterday I took my Aunt Bunny over to see 4 Clermont Lane in Ladue that is for sale. She had lived in the home as a young girl when she was attending Mary Institute. She said that it was unsettling through a house 70+ years later that has occupied her dreams for so long. From her stories, I can tell that she was a handful....and still is! She said that she put ribbons in my father's hair and paraded him down Clermont Lane, introducing him as her sister.
"Colonial farmhouse cape beautifully appointed with charm and character throughout. This home was carefully crafted over the years with a floor plan offering great utility while retaining a gracious flow of generously sized rooms. First floor center hall design offers a living room, sunroom, bar room, 3 season porch, gorgeous dining room, kitchen, large family room & 4th bedroom w/full bath. Completing the 1st floor is a large mud room w/laundry & charming powder room tucked under the main stair. All rooms with the exception of beds and baths have hardwood floors. Included throughout are beautiful windows, and many rooms with chair rail, crown molding, wainscote and original millwork. This is a striking house with beautiful patios & walkways surrounding the house, large drive with plenty of parking and pretty lawns with many flowering trees. This is a wonderful opportunity for a Buyer to live in one of the original residences of Ladue in a home with heart, character, grace and charm." $1,050,000
Listed by Meg Couglin, Dielmann Sotheby's International Realty, 314-607-5555
The other day I was contacted by someone who was selling an old plate on E-bay from The Brickbuilder magazine. It was printed in 1913. The house was built in 1911 by Howard Van Doren Shaw for my great grandfather, Ira Edward Wight. My real name is Ira Edward Wight also....I get "Ted" from the Edward, though most people can not figure that out. I even named my son Ira Edward to keep the name alive. Ira was "in" about 1900 and has been losing popularity ever since. We think that my great grandfather knew Howard from Yale. Howard graduated in 1890 and my great grandfather in 1893. Click HERE to see a current of view of the house from one of my previous posts. Someone was feverishly bidding against me to get this picture. If it was the current owner of the house, contact me and I will make you a copy.
My recent family vacation to Maine started with two poems that we had hanging in our farmhouse. They were drafted and given to my great grandfather when he was there on a hunting/fishing trip in 1909. I knew that we wanted to go to Maine again this year and thought ....why don't we go to the same place our great grandfather went. On each poem the place of record was Birch Island, Maine. I googled Birch Island and found it. I also found a wonderful lodge to stay- Attean Lake Lodge. The lodge brochure mentioned that people had been coming to the lodge since the late 1800s. I thought...this is it and my great grandfather must have stayed in the same lodge. Well we arrived at the remote lake, located only minutes from the Canadian border, and arrived at our lodge. That night at dinner we were speaking to one of the other guests and he told me that we were at the wrong Birch Island. This Birch Island was on Attean Lake and our Birch Island was on Holeb Lake. Oops...after so much work to get there. Well it turned out that Birch Island on Holeb Lake was just the next lake over. There are some hunting cottages on it, though not a lodge to stay. The next morning I spoke with the owner of the lodge and he put us on course to see the other Birch Island. We motor boated across our 7 mile lake....hiked 1.5 miles through the woods and arrived at the shore of Holeb Lake. Our lodge hides two canoes in the woods for guest to use on this lake. We pattled 5 miles and finally arrived at our destination....Birch Island! Two construction guys greeted us at the shore. We were the first people they had seen on the island in 3 weeks. Birch Island on Holeb Lake used to be a fancy destination owned by an exclusive Boston country club for its guests. My great grandfather lived in Kansas City and was in the cattle business. He must have had a business associate that invited him. Birch Island has seen better days and was a little run down...though enchanting. Sorry for the long post....though look at the pictures and descriptions below for an illustration of our journey. (This is my last vacation post....sorry to my readers who are bored by this and want more local St. Louis posts.)
The poem below was printed on birch paper. My grandfather's last name was Forrest...thus the cute way of incorporating the last name into the poem.
Traveling to our destination....
And canoeing in Holeb Lake to Birch Island... being chased by storms periodically
Last November my father died after a long struggle with colon cancer. He got it back in the late 80's when colonoscopies were not standard. Over the years he had a little bit of his colon and intestines snipped here and there. The last five years were bad...the last year was sad. He was no longer able to eat solids and as we say..."had a bag going in and out". The day or two before his final hospital stay for problems, we found receipts for meals at Steak and Shake, Popeye's and a Chinese restaurant. I think I would have binged at Niche, though his mix was more of a killer for the tummy.
On Sunday morning when it was raining and cold, I went to Calvary with my mother and son to pick out a plot and decide on a gravestone. (He was cremated...that is why we could take our time.) We scoped out the Berthold/Ewing plot where my father's side of the family is buried. See the pics below...a cold, rainy day was perfect to be in a cemetery.
I told my son that if this plot ran out of room, we had a nice mausoleum in New Orleans that had room for twelve and only two spots were filled! See a pic HERE.
Our farm is a great place to hang special family items for everyone to enjoy. When I was at our farm yesterday, I took special notice of some framed poems written on birch bark. Imagine spending the summer on an island in Maine and having the time to write a poem.These were written by a friend to my great grandfather. Notice that in the rhyme below they misspelled "forest"....my great grandfather's last name was Forrest.
A highlight of my recent trip was visiting one of my ancestor's farm, Mont Clair. Mont Clair was built by Nathaniel Ewing around 1806 and was fancied-up in 1911 when the neo-classical columns were added. The 500 acre farm has been in the Ewing family for seven generations and was recently put in a land trust to preserve it in its present state.
Mark and Becca Ewing were so gracious to receive us and give us a tour.
My sons, Teddy and Nicholas, giving a drink to the massive great danes
The top hat owned by former St. Louis mayor, William L. Ewing, Sr. He left St. Louis after losing his reelection and returned to the family home at Vincennes, IN. Many of his possessions are still at the house.
Gracious hosts and current owners of Mont Clair, Mark and Becca Ewing
Before swinging into St. Louis for Easter, my brother made a visit to New Orleans for a little family pilgrimage. After the Civil War, when the South was rebuilding, my great great grandfather moved there from Maine and started a successful shipping hardware business. Although he was probably first viewed as a "carpet bagger" from the North when he showed up in town, he became an important citizen of New Orleans.
Here are some interesting pics from my brother's trip"
This is my great, great grandfather's house on Prytania street. Believe it or not, his name was Pearl Wight
Here is a plaster model of the Wight mausoleum located at Tulane University.
Here is the architectural diagram located at Tulane.
This lovely window is in the back of the mausoleum. You can see some of the damage to it from the hurricane.
Here is the actual mausoleum. I understand that there are eight spaces in it and only two used. I think it would be fun to be put here....though no one would visit me.