Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great-nephew 1: Joseph Lodowick Sutherland (1834-1901)


When Joseph Lodowick Sutherland (1834-1901) arrived in the United States, the Civil War was already in full swing. He enlisted for the Union almost immediately, serving in Company M of the 1st Vermont Cavalry Regiment. Not surprisingly the war was eventful; while fighting at the battle of Gettysburg he was wounded and taken prisoner. After some time he was released on parole and returned to Washington, working in the war office. There his auburn hair and grey eyes must have caught the attention of Frances McNeal, whom he married in May of 1865. A few months later he was mustered out. Sometime around 1873 they relocated to Illinois, eventually settling in Chicago. In Edinburgh Joseph had been a clothier’s assistant and then a law clerk; likewise, in the U.S. he tried his hand at a variety of occupations—soldier, shirt manufacturer, news dealer—but ended up as the register of the Water Department of Chicago. We know that at his death he had recently relocated to a comfortable home and affluent neighborhood, suggesting the family was respectable and financially secure.

A Fun (and possibly random) Note on Methodology
Independent of probate records, how do I know Joseph Lodowick Sutherland was doing well at the time of his death? Namely, because his obituary mentions his address, 2255 South Park Avenue, Chicago. Just two years before the address had appeared in the news as the home of Dr. H. A. Cross, a dentist. Cross “caused the arrest of Benjamin F. Foster and his wife, Emma Foster, whom he accused of having duped him and sadly shaken his faith in Spiritualism.” Apparently in a séance held at his home “the spirits appeared, one of whom represented himself to be Theon, an ancient Greek god, the father of Hypatia. To Theon he handed $550, and Theon informed him that in return for the gift, he should never want for money.” Cross responded positively to this message giving “the generous Theon a small diamond ring, and three gold lockets.” After which Cross gave Theon jewelry crafted of diamonds and gold. From Cross’s wealth and possessions it is easy to deduce he did not live in poverty, and his home would have undoubtedly reflected his economic status.
While I never cease to be surprised at the variety of known figures who embraced spiritualism in the late nineteenth century, I have the feeling Thomas Sutherland probably agreed with the judge, who dismissed the suit as “out of his jurisdiction and [thus] should be brought against the spirits.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scotch Relations: Joseph Sutherland (1808-1865)

We know that Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850) actively recruited new settlers to his Ontario settlement, placing ads in The Scotsman in 1836, and sending letters to Edinburgh extolling Canadian life which were intended to be circulated among potential emigrants. And we also know TS, Jr. wrote home. One of them –I’m not sure which, though I’d bet senior—even sent a specimen of black walnut, later exhibited at the Edinburgh Museum of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. Therefore it is also plausible to envision both men mailing missives to family in Scotland and England, all about the triumphs and trials of “roughing it in the bush.” In particular, one can imagine letters being written to Joseph G.H. Sutherland (1808-1865), the son of Thomas, Sr.’s brother, Lodowick (1773-1832). 

Lodowick, a year younger than Thomas, also relocated to Edinburgh, and had a butcher shop on Charles Street. It seems not all of Lodowick’s sons were interested in the family business, as Joseph was apprenticed to his Uncle Thomas, becoming in turn a merchant tailor. When TS announced his intent to sell his business in 1833, it is improbable that his nephew was secure enough to purchase it. That said, Joseph was established at 93 George Street as a tailor at some point before 1841, and by 1851 had ten men in his employ.

Depictions of Joseph Sutherland appear to coincide with what we know about his uncle TS. Namely, it is written of Joseph:

“Although he began business is a very humble way, he was successful in life, and at the time of his death had established an extensive business, which he carried on successfully for nearly forty years, and was long and honorably known as a man of good business capacity and of the strictest honour and integrity. He was in many respects a remarkable man. His mental agility was of a high order, and he was possessed of great originality and force of character, freedom of speech, sterling independence, and a wonderful amount of humour, combined with a power of mimicry which I have rarely seen surpassed and not often equaled. He was capital company and could tell a good story well with excellent histrionic embellishments, and sang many humourous songs with vigour and telling effect.”

Given this characterization, it is not surprising that so many of his grandchildren had careers on the North American stage.