Isaac Broome’s Baseball Vase

Base-Ball Players vase, designed
and modeled by Isaac Broome
for Ott & Brewer

A year before the nation’s centennial, Joseph Ott and John Hart Brewer, proprietors of Ott & Brewer’s Etruria Pottery Works, engaged the services of sculptor Isaac Broome (1835-1922) to create a series of works in Parian bisque porcelain for the forthcoming exposition.

As The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States (Barber 1893) notes, “One of the most spirited designs of the series is the base-ball vase, which was suggested by Brewer and worked out by Broome. It is suggestive throughout, in all of its harmonious design, of the American national game. From a pedestal rises a gradually tapering vase, of which the lower portion is formed of a series of bats banded together by a strap, while the upper portion is embellished with figures of ball-players in low relief. The cover represents a base-ball, surmounted by the American eagle, and around the projecting ledge of the base are arranged three players [a pitcher, a striker, and a catcher] in life-like attitudes. The modelling is faultless and the figures are full of action.”

Broome created two identical Base-Ball Players vases for display at the Centennial Exhibition, which opened in Philadelphia on May 10, 1876. The pair was displayed in Ott & Brewer’s exhibit in the manufacturers’ ceramics area in the Main Exhibition Hall but within a month, owing to their popularity, one of the vases was moved to the Art Annex which was constructed adjacent to Memorial Hall to accommodate an overwhelming number of art submissions. This marked the first American ceramic work to be recognized not simply as a ceramic figure, but as a sculptural work of art.

Sometime afterward the first vase, now in the collection of the New Jersey State Museum, joined Brewer’s private collection; the second vase was given as a trophy to the Detroit Wolverines for their defeat of the St. Louis Browns in the 1887 World Series and is now in the collection of the Detroit Historical Museum.

Both vases have been reunited for the second time (the first being an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1980s) and are the centerpiece of New Jersey on Display: World’s Fairs and the Garden State, an exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton that opened June 21 and runs through January 4, 2015.

Broome is interred in Section B, Lot 396.

Edited September 30, 2014.

An Unusual Motif of Cattail and Sneezeweed

Monument for Mary H. Multop and Ada L. Kenner
Folks taking a casual stroll on the grounds will sometimes pause to take a closer look at a monument with an unusual motif of cattail and sneezeweed, both of which are widespread throughout the United States and can be found along the high tide margin of the wetlands in the Trenton-Hamilton-Bordentown Marsh just south of the cemetery.

It memorializes Mary H. Multop (1847-1909), wife of Peter Multop, and their 17-year-old daughter Ada L. Kenner (1888-1905), wife of Charles Kenner Jr.

The Common Cattail, or Typha latifolia, is the most common species of cattail. They have flat blade-like leaves, a dense, dark brown flowering spike, and reach a height of five to ten feet. Sneezeweed, or Helenium autumnale, is a member of the genus named by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in honor of Helen of Troy. With yellow, daisy-like flowers and slightly serrated, six-inch-long lanceolate leaves, they reach a height of three to five feet.

The monument is located in Section K, Lot 904.

Whither Mahlon Stacy?

Monument for Mahlon Stacy, ca.1950
Photograph from the historical
collections of Riverview Cemetery

Though the origin of Trenton’s name is derived from William Trent, a Philadelphia manufacturer, who built a country estate here, Mahlon Stacy is recognized as establishing the first European settlement on the banks of the Delaware River at the Assunpink Creek in 1679.

Stacy, born in 1638 in Yorkshire, England, having acquired a one-tenth interest in the Province of West Jersey, sailed to the colony with many other families of note on the Shield from Hull, arriving in Burlington in 1678. They wintered over in the town and ventured further up the river to “Ye Falles of Ye De La Warr” the following spring, and it was here they cleared farmland and built log cabins. Stacy built his home and a grist mill on the south bank of the creek.

In the pages of History of Trenton, New Jersey: The Record of Its Early Settlement and Corporate Progress (Lee 1895) it is noted that Stacy was an influential and faithful member of the Society of Friends and that “he held, one year to another, nearly every office of profit and trust in the Province.”

Washington A. Roebling II and the R.M.S. Titanic

Washington A. Roebling II, 1910
Special Collections and University
Archives, Rutgers University
Though 102 years have passed, the R.M.S. Titanic and the stories surrounding her foundering in the icy waters of the North Atlantic continues to captivate our imaginations.

Washington A. Roebling II, son of Charles G. Roebling, president of John A. Roebling Sons Company, and Stephen W. Blackwell, son of Jonathan H. Blackwell, a wholesale dealer of groceries and for a time state senator for Mercer County, traveled to Europe in the early months of 1912, accompanied by Roebling’s chauffeur, Frank Stanley.

After touring the countryside, Stanley returned home, but Blackwell and Roebling decided to delay their departure and book passage on the maiden voyage of Titanic.

They boarded at Southampton, England, from which she departed on April 10, 1912, destined for New York with ports of call at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland. The voyage was uneventful until April 14 at 11:40 P.M. when she struck an iceberg off the Grand Banks, near Newfoundland, Canada, buckling plates along the starboard side of the ship. The large gash rendered her watertight compartments useless, and she took on water for several hours before foundering at 2:20 A.M. on April 15.

Charles Carr and the “Swamp Angel”

Swamp Angel, ca.1907
Postcard from author’s collection
Charles Carr (1822-1877), proprietor of the Phoenix Iron Company, and a number of his employees who were Civil War veterans noticed that one of the scrap cannon slated for melting was the “Swamp Angel,” the long-range gun with which Major General Quincy Adams Gillmore and the soldiers under his command briefly shelled the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

As The Defense of Charleston, including Fort Sumter and the Adjacent Islands, 1863-1865 (Johnson 1890) tells the story, “The Swamp Angel, so called by the Union soldiers, was purchased, with a number of other condemned cannon at the close of the war by the late Charles Carr, founder, of Trenton, N.J. It lay at his foundry several years, and, being loth to melt such a historic relic, he united with a number of public-spirited citizens and took means for the preservation of the piece.”

Gillmore was tasked with taking Charleston in 1863. He determined that a long range gunnery was needed, but the nearest safe distance was five miles distant on Morris Island. Since the island was little more than a marsh, a battery was constructed in two parts. The parapet was built on piles driven into the marsh, a grillage bolted onto the pilings, and a layer of 800 tons of sand. Once the foundation was completed, the platform was built of a layer of marsh grass, canvas, and sand onto which was placed a plank deck.

Jacob Ruopp, Trentonʼs First Fallen Police Officer

Gravemarker for
Jacob Ruopp (1819–1875)
Jacob Ruopp, born December 31, 1819, was the first of Trenton's police officers to be killed in the line of duty. At a quarter past midnight on June 6, 1875, he and fellow officer Louis Hartmann came upon two rowdy men at the corner of Broad Street and Hamilton Avenue.

The officers told them the hour was early and it was time to go home, but one of the men, James Keenan, refused and struggled with the officers when they sought to arrest him for drunk and disorderly conduct. He subsequently pulled a handgun from his pocket and fired two shots, one of which struck Ruopp in the abdomen.

Hartmann and Ruopp took the suspect to the police station where he was booked and sent to the county jail, and Ruopp was sent home to be attended by a doctor. After twice probing the wound with medical instruments, several doctors were unable to locate the bullet, leading them to express their opinion that he was not likely to recover.

Ruopp succumbed to his injuries on June 14 and was interred in Section H, Lot 54-55, on June 16. The city's common council passed a resolution recognizing the fallen officer for the "faithful discharge of his duties" and voted in favor of paying the undertaker's bill for his funeral.

Keenan was indicted for murder, but convicted of manslaughter. After serving a ten-year sentence in state prison, he moved to Philadelphia and made a living selling produce, and where he also became a temperance advocate.

David W. Lenox and the Tugboat Adriatic

David W. Lenox
After spending much of his early life as a seafarer, David W. Lenox (1822–1911) and his brother William M. Lenox engaged in the steam-powered transport of cargo and timber rafts on the Delaware River between Trenton and Philadelphia. This proved a lucrative enterprise but the timber lands to the north were eventually depleted while the railroads took much of the cargo traffic.

The story may have ended there but for two newspaper articles: one in the Daily State Gazette on December 21, 1909, and the other days after his death in the Daily True American on February 23, 1911.

At the start of the Civil War, Lenox chartered his steam-powered tugboat Adriatic to the U.S. Government. The tug was sent to Fort Monroe, Virginia, where it remained for the duration of the war, and it was from this vantage point that he was thrice an eyewitness to history.

Samuel W. Gordon, Barber, Messenger and Antiques Dealer

Celtic Cross monument on the
Gordon lot
Samuel W. Gordon, an African-American, was born in Philadelphia on October 25, 1845. He learned barbering as a teenager, a trade in which he engaged throughout his life, and soon moved to Washington, D.C., where in addition to being a barber he was a messenger for the U.S. Supreme Court. While there he frequently shaved Abraham Lincoln and, as he must have been pleased to recollect, had the honor of accompanying the president on the occasion of his delivering his address at Gettysburg.

Coming to Trenton, for 46 years he served as the private messenger for 15 governors—Joseph D. Bedle, George B. McClellan, George C. Ludlow, Leon Abbett, Robert S. Green, George T. Werts, John W. Griggs, Foster M. Voorhees, Franklin Murphy, Edward C. Stokes, John F. Fort, Woodrow Wilson, James F. Fielder, Walter E. Edge, and Edward I. Edwards—from 1875 to 1920.

When Woodrow Wilson was elected president and left the governor's office for the White House, however, he invited him to return to Washington, but Gordon thought better of it and declined the invitation. That turned out to be a good decision for during his service to the governors he took an interest in antiques, first as a collector and later a dealer, and became a recognized authority in the field.

Charles Conrad Abbott, Archaeologist and Naturalist

Charles Conrad Abbott
Charles Conrad Abbott (1843-1919) was educated at the Trenton Academy and obtained his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He never practiced medicine, however, and instead engaged in archaeology and natural history.

Abbott made his home along the bluff overlooking the marshlands south of Trenton and it was here that he unearthed man-made implements in the "glacial gravels" of the marsh. In The Stone Age in New Jersey, published in 1872, and Primitive Industry: or, Illustrations of the Handiwork, in stone, bone and clay, of the Native Races of the Northern Atlantic Seaboard of America, published in 1881, he noted that a cache of stone axes had been unearthed during the excavation of the receiving vault at Riverview Cemetery in 1859 and elsewhere along the bluff about the same time.

As "assistant in the field" of Harvard University's Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, his collection of stone implements was placed in the museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and added to yearly until it reached some 20,000 specimens. The journal Science observed at the time that it was "one of the most important series of its kind ever brought together, and one which archaeologists will consult for all time to come."

James Francis Armstrong, Revolutionary War Soldier, Chaplain

Ledger marking the grave of
James Francis Armstrong (1750-1816)

James Francis Armstrong was born on April 3, 1750, in West Nottingham, Maryland. His father, an elder in the Presbyterian church, sent him to the academy of Rev. John Blair at Fagg's Manor near New Londonderry, Pennsylvania, for his preparatory education. He subsequently entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from which he graduated in 1773, then pursued theological study under the college's president, Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon.

He was accepted as a candidate for the ministry by the Presbytery of New Brunswick at the beginning of the American Revolution, but the presence of British troops near the town necessitated his examination being transferred to the Presbytery of New Castle. Even so, he took up a musket and joined as a private in the First Regiment, Hunterdon County, New Jersey Militia, but was shortly thereafter ordained a minister and appointed a chaplain assigned to the Continental Army's Second Brigade, Maryland. He served to the end of the war.

Armstrong was minister to the church at Elizabethtown in 1782 and 1783, and it was there that he met and married Susannah Livingston, the service being conducted by Witherspoon. He became pastor for thirty years of the First Presbyterian Church in Trenton in 1786.