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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two Roads: Do McEntee and MacEntee Converge or Fork? Part 2

[Editor's note: I appreciate all the support from my fellow genea-bloggers on this series of posts. This has taken about 40 hours of research and writing over the past week - that is why I haven't been posting very much!]

The Famed McEntees of Ulster County, New York

Besides resolving the confusion over the last name being McEntee or MacEntee, which has raged for about 120 years now, there is another motivation: aligning the MacEntees with the famous and well-regarded McEntee clan in Kingston. This group of men and women include a famous Hudson River School landscape painter, by marriage the co-designer of Central Park in New York City, a woman famous for her still life paintings, a writer of children’s stories, a famous civil engineer instrumental in the cement used to create the base for the Statue of Liberty, and many Civil War soldiers of high rank - including one man responsible for provisinf vital tactical information allowing the Union to stop Lee's army at the Battle of Gettysburg.

James S. McEntee (1800 – 1887)

James S. McEntee, the patriarch of the McEntee family was born on March 21, 1800 in the town of Westernville in Oneida County, New York.[1]

He married Mary Susan Swan (Abt. 1805 - 1826) of Westernville about 1825 and around that same time they moved to Kingston, Ulster, New York. On February 1, 1826, Mary Swan McEntee died while giving birth to an unnamed infant who died as well. Both are buried in the same coffin at the Westernville Presbyterian Cemetery in Westernville, Oneida, New York[2].

On July 29, 1827, James remarried, this time to Sarah Jane Goetschius[3] of New Paltz, Ulster, New York. She was born in New Paltz on January 23, 1808 and died on November 2, 1893 in Kingston, Ulster, New York. James and Sarah had the following children, all born in Rondout (now part of Kingston), Ulster, New York[4]:

Jervis McEntee, born July 14, 1828
Jane McEntee, born 1829
Mary Swan McEntee, born 1830
Augusta McEntee, born 1833
Maurice Wurts McEntee, born January 30, 1836
Sarah McEntee, born 1837
Lucy McEntee, born 1840
Girard Lindsley McEntee, born June 8, 1847

James S. McEntee was a civil engineer by trade and he helped lay out the Erie Canal as well as the Union Canal of Pennsylvania. In addition, he helped survey the Delaware and Hudson canal which would later serve to ship coal from Honesdale, Pennsylvania down to New York City. Other projects with which he was involved: his company mined the first coal from the Lackawanna Valley in 1830; he built the Tarrytown to Irvington section of the Hudson River Railroad in 1847; and he surveyed the Ulster and Delaware Railroad.[5]

Although somewhat in dispute, it has been stated that James S. McEntee was responsible for the discovery of “natural cement” in Ulster County. While blasting rock for the D&H Canal, laborers noticed a type of rock similar to limestone which was used to balance the pH in soil. One test to see if it was indeed limestone, was to burn the rock in a blacksmith’s forge, then apply water. If the rock, which was at that point a soft chalky material crumbled it was truly limestone. However, with a great deal of disappointment, the material instead “seized up” and after a few hours became harder than the rock found in its original form. What was one man’s disappointment was McEntee’s surprise: he realized through his earlier work on the Erie Canal that the laborers had in fact discovered natural cement and not agricultural limestone. In the ensuing years, many cement plants would be established in the Rosendale area and the product would be included in the construction of the base of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan Bridge as well as many reservoir projects in the Hudson Valley.[6]

James S. McEntee died on June 30, 1887 in Rondout with only his wife Sarah, Jervis and Girard surviving him.

Jervis McEntee (1828 – 1891)

Jervis McEntee was born on July 14, 1828 in Rondout, the eldest son of James S. MacEntee and Sarah Jane Goetschius. In 1854 he married Anna Gertrude Sawyer[7] who was born on January 29, 1834 in New York, New York, the daughter of a well-known Universalist minister, Rev. Thomas Jefferson Sawyer and his wife Caroline Fisher[8]. In his later life, Jervis McEntee suffered periodically from Bright’s Disease, especially during the Winter of 1876-1877 during which time his wife, known as Gertrude, nursed him back to health. This put a strain on Gertrude’s own health and she died in October, 1878[9] in Rondout. Jervis would later die on January 27, 1891 also in Rondout[10].

While the name Jervis is not very common (with Jarvis being a bit more so), it is interesting to read about the colleagues of Jervis’ father, James S. McEntee:

Looking to the success of the Erie Canal, the Wurts brothers hired civil engineer Benjamin Wright and two surveyors, John Mills and Edward Sullivan to conduct a survey to determine the feasibility of a canal from Pennsylvania to the Hudson River. In December 1823, at the suggestion of Wright and his soon to be successor John B. Jervis, the survey team began plotting the course from the Hudson River near Kingston, New York to the present day town of Port Jervis, to the Delaware River, then up the river to the Lackawaxen Creek and onto Honesdale, Pennsylvania.[11]

One can easily deduce that Jervis was named after John B. Jervis while his brother Maurice’s middle name, Wurts, was after one of the Wurts brothers.

Jervis had become a well-known landscape painter and a member of the Hudson River School after studying with Frederic Church beginning in 1850. In 1885, Jervis decided to dedicate himself fully to his art work and opened a studio in New York City in 1858. Most of his time painting was spent in the Rondout and Catskill regions of upstate New York. During his career, Jervis’ painting style would change from the more traditional style of his colleagues to one incorporating the brushstroke techniques of the Impressionists.[12]

The paintings of Jervis McEntee often differed quite a bit from the other Hudson River School artists: they were small in size, depicted melancholy or dark scenes with dark cloudy skies, and when exhibited they often included passages of poetry that he had written. While others would paint landscape scenes of Spring and Summer, those of Jervis McEntee often depicted Autumn, and the season at its end before the cold and snow of Winter set in. In his diaries, he wrote, "Some people call my landscapes gloomy and disagreeable . . .They say I paint the sorrowful side of nature...But this is a mistake...Nature is not sad to me but quiet, pensive, restful."[13]

Photo credit: Seward R. Osborne Collection
Maurice Wurts McEntee (1836 – 1883)

Maurice Wurts McEntee was born on January 30, 1836 in Rondout[14]. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1855 and later served in the United States military during the Civil War. During the war, he attained the rank of 1st Sergeant, 1st. Lieutenant and Adjutant, 20th New York State Militia, April-August, 1861. He also served as Acting Master in United States Navy under Admiral David Farragut[15].

Maurice was honorably discharged on May 14, 1867 at which point he began to pursue a career in writing. He became a reporter for Kingston’s newspaper, The Daily Freeman and later served as its editor. In addition, he penned stories of the sea for youngsters, under the pen name, Uncle Blue Jacket (an obvious reference to the Union side of the War of the Rebellion). Tales such as “How Uncle Blue Jacket Captured the Picket-Boat[16]" and “Uncle Blue Jacket's Duck-Boat[17]” appeared as part of Harper’s Our Young Folks series (1865-1873).

A review of census records from 1850 to 1880, indicates that Maurice remained a bachelor all his life and lived with his parents up until his death[18]. Maurice McEntee died on June 14, 1883 in Kingston.[19]

Girard Lindsley McEntee (1847 – 1913)

Photo credit: Seward R. Osborne Collection

Girard Lindsley McEntee was born on June 8, 1847 in Rondout[20]. He enlisted in the United States Army at the young age of 14 as a drummer for Company F, 20th New York State Militia, from April to August of 1861.

He married Mary Nichols of New York who was born on March 20, 1851and died in Kingston on May 18, 1925[21]. He owned a successful insurance agency in Kingston for many years and also served several years on the Kingston Board of Supervisors.

Mary Swan McEntee (1830 – 1892)

Mary Swan McEntee was born in 1830 in Rondout[22]. In 1854 she married Calvert Vaux who was born December 20, 1824 in London, England. Vaux was an architect and was one of the founders of the American Institute of Architects in 1857. Vaux also became fast friends with his brother-in-law Jervis McEntee.

In 1858, Vaux collaborated with Frederick Law Olmsted on the design of Central Park, having won the commission based upon Vaux’s skills in landscape drawing as well as his “before and after” sketches of the proposed park. In the ensuing years, they would form Olmsted, Vaux and Company and go on to design Prospect Park in Brooklyn as well as Morningside Park in Manhattan.[23]

Sarah McEntee (1837 - abt 1902)

Sarah McEntee was born in 1837 in Rondout[24]. At this point in my research, not much has been discovered about Sarah but at age 37, she received her degree as a Doctor of Medicine from the Eclectic Medical College of the City of New York on February 4, 1874[25]. Her death date is unknown but like her brother Maurice, a review of census records from 1850 to 1880, indicates that she never married and lived with her parents their deaths.[26]

Lucy McEntee (1840 - aft 1880)

Lucy McEntee was born in 1840 in Rondout[27]. Again, like many of the McEntee daughters, not much is known about her including when she died. She married John Newman Andrews, born September 16, 1838 in Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, about 1860 after he had graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Andrews went on to serve in the Civil War and was made a Captain and a Major at Cedar Mountain and a Lieutenant Colonel at Franklin, Tennessee. He would later serve in the Indian Country[28] and in the Spanish-American war, finally retiring on April 1, 1899[29].

Charles McEntee (1806 – 1876)

Charles McEntee, the brother of James S. McEntee, was born in 1806 in Western, Oneida, New York and like his brother, produced some notable offspring. He married Christina Tremper of New York in . Charles and Christina had the following children, all born in Rondout:

Julia McEntee, born 1834
John McEntee, born June 23, 1835
Charles H. McEntee, born January 21, 1842
Anna McEntee, born 1848
Lilly McEntee, born 1851

Charles McEntee was a flour merchant [30] in the Ulster County area and for a short period in his life, moved with his family to Brooklyn[31]. Charles McEntee died on December 12, 1876 but not before moving back to Ulster County[32]. Christina Tremper McEntee died on March 6, 1889 in Rondout[33].

Julia McEntee (1834 – 1919)



Julia McEntee was born on March 1, 1834 in Rondout[34]. She married John Dillon in 1866. John Dillon, co-owner of the McEntee & Dillon Ironworks company, was born in New York in 1831 and died at Kingston in 1873.

Julia studied art in Paris as a student of Georges Jeannin, a floral painter, and she would later focus solely on still life subjects, mostly floral arrangements. She also spent time working with her first cousin Jervis McEntee in his Rondout studio. Her technique and brushstroke show a great influence of the Impressionist movement.

After her husband’s death in 1873, despite having to manage her husband’s part of the family business, she still managed to pursue her painting. She lived in New York City during the 1870s and 1880s although the census reports for that period show her home as being in Ulster County. It was likely that, like her cousin Jervis, she spent her the winter months in the city and moved up to the “country” of the Rondout area in the warmer months.[35]

Julia McEntee Dillon attained a level of skill and a large following which allowed her to paint at the famous East 10th Street studio and exhibit her works in shows at the National Academy of Design (New York), the 1893 Columbia Exhibition (Chicago), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Brooklyn Art Association.

Julia returned to live full-time in Kingston and set up her studio on Pearl Street. When not painting, she was involved with raising monies for Kingston’s first hospital, other charitable endeavors and was seen as a “liberated woman.” Julia McEntee Dillon died in 1919 in Kingston and is buried along with many other McEntee family members in the Montrepose Cemetery.

Charles H. McEntee (1842 – 1862)

Photo credit: Seward R. Osborne Collection

Charles H. McEntee was born on January 21, 1842 in Rondout, the youngest son of Charles and Christina McEntee. In August of 1862 Charles was responsible for raising Company H of the 120th Regiment of the New York Volunteers[36] and served as Captain. He died on December 21, 1862 in Falmouth, Virginia, after being stricken with “brain fever” and leading his company for less than four months.[37]

Charles’ body was brought back to Rondout and his body was buried in Montrepose Cemetery in Kingston where his parents erected a broken column to mark his grave.




John McEntee (1835 – 1903)



John McEntee, pictured above on the far right, was born on June 23, 1835 in Rondout and while at this time there is no much known about his personal life, his public life and service during the Civil War have been documented extensively. John McEntee’s pivotal role in gathering military intelligence for the Union is a subject that I intend to write about, in much greater depth, in future posts.

John enlisted at Kingston as a Quartermaster Sergeant on September 24, 1861 at the age of 26 and was part of Company S, 80th Infantry Regiment New York. On February 18, 1862 we was promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant with Company K. On September 22, 1862 he was promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant. On October 5, 1862 he was promoted to Full Captain with Company A. On December 19, 1864 he was promoted to Full Lieutenant Colonel and was discharged from Company S on April 16, 1866.[38]

His rapid ascent from Sergeant to Lieutenant Colonel is due to his work during that period with the Bureau of Military Information and the Army of the Potomac. John McEntee’s skill was interrogating prisoners of war, reviewing captured documents, and determining the different between rumor or “camp gossip” and fact. One example when on June 11, 1863:

. . . he nailed down one elusive fact, the location of Albert Jenkins’ cavalry brigade, a part of Stuart’s command that was still west of the Blue Ridge. Some of the prisoners taken at Brandy Station were likely to know where Jenkins was, but these men, McEntee found, were very unlike infantry prisoners. They were gentlemen’s sons, well educated, veterans of the considerable scouting experience, and hence “familiar with all the different means of pumping.” But one of them, a lieutenant in the 12th Virginia Cavalry, was “wise beyond his own conceit.” The prisoner asked what the losses in the recent battle were; McEntee replied that Benjamin F. Davis, a well-known colonel in Pleasonton’s command, had been killed (true) and that General Jenkins was also killed (a fabrication). Falling for this ancient ruse, the Virginian replied that “that was a damned lie , that Jenkins was in the Valley in command of all the forces there, infantry and cavalry.”[39]

John McEntee was also heavily involved in the Dahlgren Affair (concerning partially-forged papers found on the body of a Union soldier indicating an assignation attempt on President Jefferson Davis) and more importantly, he played an important role in the Battle of Gettysburg. In brief, McEntee’s intelligence gathering and work with a young black man named Charlie Wright allowed General Hooker to realize that General Lee’s army was moving towards Maryland. Hooker’s army then shadowed Lee’s troops, undetected on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountain. For this reason, the battle was not just an “accidental collision” of both sides – it allowed the Union Army to protect Washington from Lee’s forces and to foresee that the Confederates would group at or near Gettysburg.[40]

John McEntee died in Kingston on December 19, 1903 at the age of seventy-eight.

Coming up: Part Three - The Not So Famed MacEntees of Ulster County, New York

Notes:

[1] Heidgerd, William, The Goetschius Family in America, (New Paltz, New York: The Elting Memorial Library, 1984), p. 83.

[2] Last, Kathleen L., Inventory of Westernville Presbyterian Cemetery, October 1999 - February 2000, <http://www.interment.net/data/us/ny/oneida/western/western_lp.htm>, examined for any reference to "McEntee," accessed February 28, 2008.

[3] Heidgerd, William, The Goetschius Family in America, (New Paltz, New York: The Elting Memorial Library, 1984), p. 83.

[4] Id.

[5] “Obituary of James S. McEntee,” New York Times, July 1, 1887.

[6] The Century House Historical Society, Natural News, Rosendale, New York: online <http://www.centuryhouse.org/>, Spring 2002, "Living on Hollow Ground - The Natural Cement Industry of Rosendale, New York" by Brenda L. Wood.

[7] 1860 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed February 27, 2008, citing Census Place: Kingston, Ulster, New York; Roll: M653_870; Page: 0; Image: 347.

[8] Eddy, Richard, The Life of Thomas J. Sawyer . . . and Caroline M. Sawyer, Boston, Massachusetts: Universalist Publishing House, 1900, p. 288.

[9] Id., p. 290.

[10] MacEntee, Jervis, Jervis McEntee Diaries, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, <http://www.aaa.si.edu/guides/site-jervis/>, accessed February 28, 2008 citing entry for November 1, 1890, upon which someone else had written the following, "Died January 27, 1891 at 11 a.m. of Bright's Disease. Was in bed sixteen days. (emphasis in original)"

[11] The Century House Historical Society, Natural News, Rosendale, New York: online <http://www.centuryhouse.org/>, Spring 2002, "Living on Hollow Ground - The Natural Cement Industry of Rosendale, New York" by Brenda L. Wood.

[12] Falk, Peter Hastings, ed., Who Was Who in American Art, (Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1999)

[13] MacEntee, Jervis, Jervis McEntee Diaries, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, <http://www.aaa.si.edu/guides/site-jervis/>, accessed February 28, 2008.

[14] Heidgerd, William, The Goetschius Family in America, (New Paltz, New York: The Elting Memorial Library, 1984), p. 83.

[15] Naval Historical Center, Officers of Navy Yards, Shore Stations, and Vessels, 1 January 1865, Washington, D.C., <http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/cw/wgsquad1.htm> accessed on February 28, 2008. Listed as part of West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Octorara, (3d rate.), as an Acting Master.

[16] Trowbridge, J.T. and Lucy Larcom, eds., Our Young Folks: An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls, Boston, Massachusetts: Fields, Osgood & Co., 1870, Vol. VI, pp. 248-254.

[17] Id., Vol. IV, pp. 154-162.

[18] 1880 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed February 27, 2008, citing Census Place: Kingston, Ulster, New York; Roll: T9_939; Family History Film: 1254939; Page: 272.1000; Enumeration District: 132; Image: 0546.

[19] New York State Department of Health, Vital Records, (Albany, New York), <http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~mwalters/NYVitalStatsDeaths.html>, accessed February 27, 2008, citing Death Certificate #9809 for Maurice W. McEntee, June 14, 1883.

[20] Heidgerd, William, The Goetschius Family in America, (New Paltz, New York: The Elting Memorial Library, 1984), p. 83.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Rosenzweig, Roy and Elizabeth Blackmar, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1998.

[24] Heidgerd, William, The Goetschius Family in America, (New Paltz, New York: The Elting Memorial Library, 1984), p. 83.

[25] “Conferring Medical Degrees on Ladies,” New York Times, February 5, 1874.

[26] 1880 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed February 27, 2008, citing Census Place: Kingston, Ulster, New York; Roll: T9_939; Family History Film: 1254939; Page: 272.1000; Enumeration District: 132; Image: 0546.

[27] Heidgerd, William, The Goetschius Family in America, (New Paltz, New York: The Elting Memorial Library, 1984), p. 83.

[28] 1880 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed February 27, 2008, citing Census Place: Halleck, Elko, Nevada; Roll: T9_758; Family History Film: 1254758; Page: 82.2000; Enumeration District: 7; Image: 0168. The 1880 Census places them in Elko, Nevada which while not Indian Territory at that time but a state as of 1864, it probably served as a base for such operations.

[29] Leonard, John William, Who's Who in America, 1903-1905, Chicago, Illinois: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1905, <http://books.google.com/books?id=4nfOl6a6QSkC>, accessed February 28, 2008, p. 32.

[30] 1850 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed March 1, 2008, citing Census Place: Kingston, Ulster, New York; Roll: M432_607; Page: 40; Image: 82.

[31] 1870 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed March 1, 2008, citing Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 22, Kings, New York; Roll: M593_962; Page: 660; Image: 126.

[32] 1880 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed March 1, 2008, citing Census Place: Marbletown, Ulster, New York; Roll: T9_939; Family History Film: 1254939; Page: 361.3000; Enumeration District: 136; Image: 0724.

[33] “Obituary of Christina McEntee,” New York Times, March 7, 1889.

[34] General Records of the Department of State, U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007), <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed March 1, 2008, citing issue date July 24, 1872.

[35] 1880 US Census, <http://www.ancestry.com/>, accessed March 1, 2008, citing Census Place: Marbletown, Ulster, New York; Roll: T9_939; Family History Film: 1254939; Page: 361.3000; Enumeration District: 136; Image: 0724.

[36] Van Santvoord, Cornelius, The One Hundred and Twentieth Regiment New York State Volunteers, (Rondout, New York: Kingston Freeman Press, 1894), <http://books.google.com/books?id=LA9CAAAAIAAJ>, accessed p. 297.

[37] Id. p. 298.

[38] Fishel, Edwin C., The Secret War for the Union: The Untold Story of Military Intelligence, New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Books, 1998, p. 293.

[39] Id. p. 423.

[40] Id. p. 1.

9 comments:

Terry Thornton said...

Wow! Well done. What an interesting set of folks you are writing about. I'm looking forward to Part Three.
TERRY

Laura said...

This is just fabulous - and so interesting! I really enjoyed reading this so much. What a tremendous lot of work you have been doing - I can't wait to read the next installment.

Miriam said...

Incredible research and fascinating writing, Thomas! Bravo! I'm staying tuned for Part Three!

Sheri said...

Thomas you have done outstanding research. The variety of original sources is impressive. How long must we wait for Part Three?

Sheri Fenley
Stockton, California

Thomas MacEntee said...

Thank you all for the encouragement. I started the "non-famous" or "boring" MacEntee post last night and will try to finish today!

jhm said...

I just found your blog and typed in one of my more "odd" names - Goetschius. IT seems that we are very distantly related. Sarah Jane (aka Sally) Goetschius was the daughter of Henry, son of John Henry and his 1st wife.
MY line comes thru John Henry and his 2nd wife, to son Stephen, to daughter, Anna ELiza.
Small world.

Jackie

Ed said...

I also just found your blog, and it seems we, too, are very distantly related. My GGG Grandmother was Annatje(Hannah/Ann)Goetschius Rockefeller sister to your Sarah Jane Goetschieus McEntee. I'm still trying to discover the thread of relationship to Violetta Van Valkenburg - somehow she is a distant cousin.

It is, indeed, a small world.

Ed Barry

House Gallery said...

I am doing an appraisal for a family from Enid, OK. They had two original signed and dated pieces by Wm. McEntee and one by James Arthur. They also have an unsigned oil, slightly damaged that is similar in style to some of Jerves McEntee's work. I was wondering if William could have been a younger cousin of Jerves and the family might have had one of his oils. Would appreciate any information you might have. Kay Hubbard at House Gallery in Oklahoma City

Thomas MacEntee said...

Hello Kay

There was a William Hervey McEntee, first cousin of Jervis, born May 30, 1818 in Wyoming County NY and died December 26, 1894 (location unknown). This William also had a son William McEntee, born 1852 in Michigan.

See http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=27287041