........ Conjecture, noun, the formation of judgments or opinions on the basis of incomplete or inconclusive information. Source: Encarta Dictionary

Monday, November 19, 2012

Penelope's Scar

In his 1916 book Historical and Genealogical Miscellany, Early Settlers of New Jersey and their Descendants, John Stillwell quotes Therese Walling Seabrook as follows:

"My grandmother, Helena Huff, told me how her grandfather, John Stout, had felt the wounds of Penelope Stout, and that he blushed like a school boy. She wished the knowledge of the Indian assault transmitted to her posterity and it has been done, for there are but two hands between Penelope and me."

The Monmouth County Historical Library in Freehold NJ has a large file of Seabrook family documents donated by Vera Conover, granddaughter of Therese Walling Seabrook. Here are two-a genealogy and a story—discovered by Kathleen Mirabella of Clarksburg, NJ.

According to Mrs. Seabrook, her genealogy is as follows [with some dates and spouses added by me for clarification]:

John Stout
Richard Stout of Nottingham, Eng. + Penelope van Prince of Holland
John Stout [-1724] + [Elizabeth Crawford]
Richard Stout [1678-1749/50] + [Ester Tilton]
John Stout [1701-1782] + Margaret [Taylor]
Helena Stout [1734- ] + John William Hoff
Helena Hoff (1771-1849) + Daniel I. Walling
Leonard Walling (1793- ) + Catherine Aumack
Therese Walling (1821-1899] + Henry Seabrook
Annie Longstreet Seabrook (1852-1943] + William Hubbard Conover
Vera Conover [1896-1977]

Before I begin the story, let me explain that Ethel Stout, mentioned below, was born in 1882, started a temperance newspaper, The Midget, when she was eight years old in Delaware, Ohio but lived in Melbourne, Florida in 1892. Her father, a newspaperman, agreed to print her journal if she set the type. Therefore, Mrs. Seabrook, a strong supporter of the The Women's Christian Temperance Union, wrote this account in 1890-92.

Also of note, this is the earliest record I have found of Kent or Lent as a last name for Penelope. However, Mrs. Seabrook offers the maiden name as Penelope van Prince with the last name of Kent or Lent belonging to her first husband, not to her father. [Personally I think these should be flip-flopped to agree with the Gravesend Town Records of 1648.]

Vera Conover typed her grandmother’s story (which differs somewhat from the account published 20 or so years later by Stillwell), ending with “This was copied from a very yellowed, single sheet of printing. 7-1-1961-vc”  With more clues from Kathleen Mirabella, I tracked down a copy of the original printed sheet, which appears to be Ethel Stout’s newspaper, at the Leatherby Libraries of Chapman University, in Orange, CA (thanks to Rand Boyd, librarian, for a copy)

Mrs. Therese W. Seabrook, of Keyport, New Jersey, prepared the following historical sketch for Ethel Stout, wee editor of THE MIDGET, of Delaware, Ohio. Mrs. Seabrook is doubtless the best authority on the continent for the early history of the Stout family, which she estimates now numbers 10,000, in America. The narrative, so full of interest to those who bear the name, is published by, and sent out with the compliments of the little editor and her parents.

    Penelope Van Prince was a native of Holland
married there and sailed for the “New World” with her husband, whose name was Kent or Lent, I have really forgotten the husband’s name, and as he was nothing to us, it matters little. As they approached the end of their voyage, a storm arose which cast the vessel upon the beach somewhere between Long Branch and Sandy Hook, I think it was at the Highlands as she was taken to Middletown, or near it and that is the nearest those points. The passengers and crew who were not drowned were said to have been murdered by the Indians, at least Penelope was the only one known to have survived. An Indian who went to the shore in the early morning after the storm, was attracted by the barking of his dog, to a “clump of bushes,” under which he discovered a naked woman, apparently dead.

    He walked backward to her side [for modesty?] and threw his blanket over her, and discovering that there was life still there, carried her to his wigwam.

    Her abdomen was cut open so that the bowels protruded. “He washed and sewed up the wound, using for thread the inside bark ‘withes,’ of a tree, and fishbones for needles.” She remained here until she was entirely recovered, the only white person, so far as is known in this (Monmouth) Co.perhaps many months. The Indian then took her in his canoe to New Amsterdam (now New York city) and sold her to the Dutch. She met Richard, son of John Stout, of Nottinghamshire, England, whom she afterwards married. He had wished to marry some girl in Eng. whom his father did not consider his equal, and in anger had enlisted on a man-of-war ship, and the seven years of service expiring while the vessel was in New Amsterdam he remained there. After his marriage to Penelope, they went to Gravesend, L. Island, to live, but Mrs. Stout sighed for a return to the Indian home in New Jersey, but not until she had two or three children was she able to come. Then she induced four other heads of families to come with her to this place. Their names were Hartshorne, Browne [sic Bowne], Lawrence and Groves. These five families purchased of the Indians immense tracts of land. Bartown is built on a part of the land owned by Andrew Browne [sic].

    The properties owned by the Stouts had the old village of Middletown on it and an extensive farming country known as Pleasant Valley. It was all known as Middletown for many years.

    Some say that these five white families came here in 1648 but I am inclined to think it was 1648 when the wreck occurred. Two or three years ago the Baptist Church of Middletown celebrated its bicentennial, and as Richard Sr. and Richard Jr. were among its constituent members, I think they made their permanent settlement in the latter part of the decade 1650 nearly 1660. What I give here is tradition history begins in 1667 when twelve men obtained a grant from Gov. Nichols. My tradition has come through only two persons from Penelope, herself, and I think it more correct than much that is told. The second son, Richard, had a son, John, who was therefore grandson of Penelope. When his grandmother was about 85 years old, he took her on his horse to visit one of her children and when he helped her to alight she insisted upon his putting his hand through the pocket hole of her garment to feel the seam which the Indian sewed up--he was young and bashful but she said, “Johnny, you can tell it to your grandchildren because you will know it’s true, and they can tell it to their grandchildren.” My grandmother was one of the grandchildren to whom he told the story, and when she told it to me, she would say “and so I tell it to you just as she said”; with an air of having descended from a prophetess. I am telling it to you in the language, chiefly, in which I heard it.
                                                                                                    Therese W. Seabrook

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