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A curiosity shop is a place of odds and ends in a wide range of categories. One never knows what one will find on any visit, and that is the goal of this blog. Here you'll find postings on doings around Easton, the world's environment, history, recipes, fly fishing, books, music, and movies with many other things thrown in as well. Hope you enjoy it and keep coming back.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

There once was a man from Nantucket…

And his name was Reuben Meader. Born in 1795 when Meader was a middle-aged man, he moved here and lived on Main Street. He was a prominent businessman and an ally of the Ames Family. Why anyone would move from Nantucket to Easton is a puzzle, Throw in the fact that future Governor Oliver Ames married a maid from Nantucket, Anna Coffin Ray, in 1860 and you have a mysterious connection between the island and the mainland. Here's a picture of old Reuben:
I was doing some genealogical work to see if there was a connection between Reuben and Anna recently, but that proved futile. It was a very small island and everyone was related to everyone else often with disastrous results. However, something interesting turned up, a "lost" painting of Anna C. Ames. Here's a photo of Anna from around the turn of the century when she opened the Ames Gymnasium (1902) and became the grandmother of our town's successful music and athletic programs
Oliver and Anna had six children including Borderland founder Oakes Ames.  Their third daughter, Susan Eveline married Thomas Taylor. In 1903 Taylor's parents were living or perhaps wintering in Columbia, South Carolina. Anna Ames came for a visit, and Tom Taylor arranged for William Merritt Chase, then probably the most distinguished painter in America, to come for a visit and paint everyone's portrait. A letter reveals that Anna was not happy with this idea and refused to sit for Chase. Undaunted the painter set up an easel in his room and painted her from memory. When nearly complete he showed the painting to Anna who was so charmed that she agreed to sit for the final touches. The painting now resides in a very well appointed museum in Columbia. Unfortunately, the Taylor's portraits are featured in the museum's online catalog so the following picture of Anna is not as large as it could be:
 
 I love the warmer expression of the painting.

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