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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Often Heard about her Adventures When He Was Young

The previous blog entry discussed Therese Walling Seabrook. Among some hand-written letters to Therese found in the Vera Conover collection at Monmouth County Historical Association by Kathleen Mirabella is the one below from Joseph Harrison West, of Mercer County, NJ, a local politician and historian and genealogist as well as descendant of Penelope. The content under discussion is obviously the account of Penelope’s experiences, presumably similar to what Mrs. Seabrook published in the Midget (circa 1891) and what John Stillwell published in 1916.
What I find interesting are the memories of the writer’s father, Joseph L. West, who “never saw or read an account of Penelope Stout.” Mr. West, Sr. had heard many of stories but not the scar story.

“Hamilton Square, NJ July 8, 1886
“Cousin Therese:

“I venture to call you cousin, although we are beyond the third degree of consanguinity.
“I have been much pleased in reading your letter, and have read it two or three times. The tradition, as you have it, reads very much like the account in Smith’s, 1765, history of New Jersey, excepting the part which speaks of Penelope’s allowing her grandson, John, to pass his hand over the scar. There is no doubt but what it is all true, though I never heard that part before. Penelope must have lived to 1730, as John Stout was probably a young man about that time; and though I have doubted, a little, that she lived to be 110 years old, yet according to your accounts, it must have been a fact.

“My father, also, never saw or read an account of Penelope Stout, yet when I read to him the story as published in 1790, he said he had often heard about her adventures when he was young. I am a grandson of Annie Stout West. In her father’s bible it is spelled Anne and in the West bible Anna. It is likely that I am the youngest of all the great grand children of John Stout. My father was her youngest son, and I am his youngest.
“Grandmother was born in 1755, my father in 1798, and I in 1847.”

[skip sections]

“And now I come to grandmother Anne, who married William West, a son of Bartholomew, who was of the Monmouth Wests. I suppose you saw my “West” article in the Monmouth Democrat last April. William and Anne had nine children. They have all passed away. My father died in 1876, and he the next youngest, William S., died last spring aged 90 years and some months. Grandmother died in 1814.”
[no closing; missing page(s); but we know it is from Joseph West from the contents as well as from other complete letters in this handwriting and with his signature.]

The genealogy of Joseph H. West is as follows:

Richard Stout + Penelope
John Stout (-1724) + Elizabeth Crawford
Richard Stout (1678-about 1749/50)+ Esther Tilton
John Stout (1701-1782) + Margaret Taylor (about 1711-)
Anne Stout (1755-1814) + William West (-1850)
Joseph Lippet West (1798-1876) + Hannah Hammell (1804-)
Joseph Harrison West (1847-) + Mary Reed Appleton (-)

Thus Joseph H. West and Therese Walling Seabrook were 2nd cousins, one generation removed.

It’s nice to know that the various stories passed down through the generations in New Jersey substantially agree and that Penelope herself wanted her descendants to remember her adventures and survival. Next time, a family tradition that seems somewhat garbled.

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