Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lone Wolf

I realized last night that Phebe is like an imaginary friend for me. I think about her a lot. I imagine what she was like, what her life was like. And I don't even have that many facts, so it's almost completely speculation.

I think about the Crucible a lot, although she would've lived slightly later than that was set, it's what I picture. It's probably more like the Madness of King George (good gah, Mr. Pitt in that was to die for, no?) but less less less wealthy and in America. Hmmm. Maybe the John Adams series. Yea, probably something between John Adams and the Crucible. Man, it's lame that I need movies so much to visualize historical periods. Typically American and lame. But I'm working on correcting that.

As to Phebe, what were her clothes like? What was her relationship with her husband like? Was she bossy? Or demure? Or both, depending on her mood? Pretty or homely? Or just average? Did she take care with her appearance? Was she religious? Did she like celebrations or find them too much work to really relax? Could she read? And of that whole list of questions, only her clothes could ever possibly be answered.

I think about her walking along King's Highway from her house to the graveyard to visit her children there. It's about a mile. I see her walking it, though. And my heart aches for her. Three children, ages 4 years old, 1 year old and not even one day old died in 1745 and 1746. I want to learn everything I can about Monmouth County and the events of those two years.

Maybe she never went. Maybe she couldn't. Maybe she just went once a year, or only on holidays or the sad anniversaries. Maybe she went every day.

The title of today's post refers to the movie the Hangover. Zac Galifanakis plays the brother of the bride Alan. He gives a speech on the roof of their hotel to the guys while at a bachelor party. He talks about how he's always considered himself a "lone wolf." I loved it. I love anyone brave enough to portray social awkwardness truthfully. (There's a special place in my heart for Michael Cera too.)

In any case, I realize since I've moved to this particular town in New Jersey, eight months ago, that I've become a true lone wolf. Maybe I was always like this. I know I was as a child and my mother fought and fought and fought against it. She just doesn't know what to do with introverts. It's mystifying to her. And shameful. I fought it for years and years too and now, I'm trying to accept it. It's ok. If I don't stress out about how it appears to other people, it's not a big deal, really. I like reading. I have my kids. I like working on my house.

And Jesus, I'm depressing myself again. Ahhhh, it's good to get this out, though, right? Right now I can just remember that really no one is noticing me and my lone-wolf status. Next I really need to work on not caring what people think at all, should they stop to think about my life. That's one advantage of being new in a place that's pretty unfriendly - anonymity. Won't last forever. Eventually I'll have to do PTA type stuff. And a big sigh on that.

There are a few people I'm starting to become friends with here. And I have some friends from high school and college I'm still in touch with. One friend from college I correspond with every day, nearly (hey C!) and she's the one who inspired me to start this whole blog in the first place. And maybe I'm not giving the people around me enough of a chance. It has been only 8 months. (Another big sigh)

Oh, and don't forget about my imaginary friend, Phebe. It's always in the back of my mind that I'll find out something that will somehow change how I feel about her, and that's worrying. But I should get over it and forge ahead. I just want to know as much as I can. And I'm choosing to make her someone strong and beautiful and kind. She's my imaginary friend, after all. That's my right. What was I saying the other day about Julie Crazy-Pants? Penelope Crazy-Pants, more like.

S'OK. Lone wolf.

Monday, June 28, 2010

So I'm having a problem figuring out who all the Edwards and Johns and Georges are. Getting them straight. There are several in every generation. It's crazy. There's a great geneology written by a descendent only a couple of generations away from the Taylors I'm interested in and I need to really delve into it and make some sort of a chart for my time period. The descendent was Asher Taylor and his geneological record, researched and written over a span of forty years, was published in Hiram Deats' The Jerseyman. Ahhh, the internet. Here's the link:

I'm specifically trying to figure out who the John and Edward Taylor were who lived in Marlpit Hall. They were brothers and this Edward died in 1783. Pretty sure it wasn't Squire John Taylor who was in the house, or else that would be mentioned, right?

All this is a stark contrast to what my husband and I did regarding our son's name. We purposefully chose a name that had no relation to either family. No one else has had our son's name. Fresh start. That was the main reason. The other was that we knew he was going to be our last child (I'm frickin exhausted) and we didn't want to choose one side over the other. So two new names - first and middle. I'm guessing this wasn't even an option back then.

Frequently, I wonder who's better off. My husband and I have no family within thousands of miles (with the exception of my sister who is sort of temporarily in New York City), which we did partly on purpose. This was the most logical place for us to come for his job and it was close to NYC, which I was excited about. The added bonus that we were thousands of miles from family was huge, I have to admit. I've been exhausted by family things for decades, and not in the good exhausted kind of a way brought about by taking care of babies. Just exhausted and emotionally spent and, really, angry.

Yea, angry is the predominant emotion for me regarding family drama recently. And, as an angry person, I'm very afraid that I will say something cruel after having been pushed too far. So to combat this, I limit how long I'm around some family members to hours. Per year. And I guess it works.

But I see people around me who are life-long New Jerseyans. Or their husbands are. And their children are growing up among cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. The mothers have more help, in that sense, although that never works out very well, I've noticed. But they're amongst family. And they seem happy. Happy and very self-contained. They're full.

And as an outsider, looking in, that's difficult to see for several reasons. A big thing is just jealousy on my part. I wish my children had that. Another big thing is that, because they're full, there is no room for us to squeeze in there. And I'm ok with it for myself (I'd have a hard time fitting in with the average NJ housewife regardless and that's fine), but I get upset for my children. My four year-old daughter wasn't invited to a single birthday party for six months after we moved here. Her classmates had birthday celebrations in class and then nothing. That was hard to watch. She didn't notice, thankfully. Oh, youth.

Anyway, this was recently brought to the forefront of my brain because my daughter's birthday is in a month and we're sending out invitations today. Sixteen of them. And I'm actually curious as to both how many people come and how many actual RSVP's we get. In general, my main problem with the people around me, in this town anyway, is that I'm pretty much invisible. So will they even acknowledge the invitation? The ones who have never even acknowledged my existence? This is for my daughter, after all. She's at school with their children and she likes them. I'm just praying that they remember that it's for children and are feeling generous.

Last thing, before I go dive into Archer's treatise - I'm also extremely worried because everyone seems to spend every weekend at their shore houses. Will they come back? Will they skip one day? I have no idea. Really. I tried calling two neighbors and asking them and the conversations didn't go as I had hoped. My questions weren't specifically answered, but they said their girls could most likely come. They just had to check their calendars. So that was nice, I guess. I tried calling more but haven't got a call back. Maybe they're on vacation.

Jesus, I'm depressing myself with this. And on a Monday morning. I need to focus on Phebe and her tough life. Cause hers was tougher than mine, I know that for certain and it helps me get some sort of perspective. Plus she's interesting. Plus I love researching things. Plus she lived where I ended up, kind of randomly. Where was she from? Not from here, I think. If she really is General Nathaniel Heard's sister, then she's from Woodbridge, New Jersey (more on that later, I think). But still, this wasn't her first home. I do want to know more.

OK, back to the geneology, then to do the dishes and get the day started by getting dressed, for a start. I'm planning on going to Marlpit Hall on Thursday afternoon. I'm really excited. Maybe as excited about that as I am about seeing Eclipse. And that's something!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Marlpit Hall is down the street from me!

So, I'm kind of an idiot. There's a house owned by her husband's cousins or maybe even brother right down the street from me. It was built in 1756 and was restored in 2001 at the cost of about $800,000. This is fantastic news. The house is only open for visitors from 1 to 4 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the summer.

I've lived here for eight months and have driven past that house hundreds of times, walked past it tens (yea, I'm lazy) and only now I think to look into it. She was inside that house. They were family. They had slaves. There's so much to learn.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Everything I Know about Phebe Taylor

I should list everything I know about Phebe right now. She died in 1791. She was reportedly 83 years old (although I also saw somewhere 81 years old - needs more research). So if we go with 83 years old, then she would have been born in 1708.

She married Squire John Taylor, Royal Sheriff of Monmouth County for the British and they had seven children, four of whom survived childhood. Three children are buried next to her in the Throckmorton-Lippit-Taylor burial ground. Her husband is not buried in this graveyard. I'm kind of sensing that it's because it was a Patriot graveyard, but that's just a feeling. That's another thing that interests me - their relationship. Maybe she was buried in Middletown even though she may not have died here so that she could be buried next to her children. I totally would do that. But then why not him? It's his family, after all - the Taylors. Needs more research, of course.

I need to list the birth years and names for all these children. Next post, I swear. She was 8 years older than John, which seems unusual to me. She also had her first child with John at the age of 34 (a daughter, Phebe, who passed away at age 4 was born in 1742).

Alright, must run. More on her and her famous brother, General Nathaniel Heard and on the names and birthdates of her children, those that I know, anyway in the next post. Then you all are dying to know more about me, I'm sure! Ha!

Most of what I know about her are from these two links, obtained from my very first Google search of Phebe Taylor:

Besides providing you with clear details (verified hopefully with first-hand evidence) about her life, I also plan to use this blog to talk about my thoughts, worries and plans. These are abundant. Especially worries. One of my big worries is that this has all been done before and that I'm kind of wasting my time. But that's all relative, right? Wasting my time doing this or wasting my time browsing Robert Pattinson sites, of which there are many - some of which are also fantastic.

Plus, so what, right? So what if someone's done all this before. I'm kind of out of practice with researching and this really is not even a week old, this idea. Calm down, me. Jeez. I mean, if Julie Crazy-Pants can do it, so can I, right? I'm a way better person than her, it turns out. Just write it. For God's sake. This is a problem I've had since childhood - anxiety about writing. I blame my mother. This whole project is going to help me out with this, though.

Essentially, I need to view this as a lab notebook and a diary combination. Maybe I should itemize my posts in that way? The lab notebook model to write down everything I learn and to source everything. A lab notebook is a legal document and if something happens and it's not in the notebook, then it didn't happen. Also it is strictly verboden to lie in a lab notebook, something I've tried to explain in the past to students of mine without much success. My view of the lab notebook is kind of religious, I'm noticing. Don't mess.

The diary aspect will involve my own thoughts about not just Phebe but about my family, my New Jersey experiences, such as they are, and other related things. Heck, why not non-related things? This is for me, after all. To get all this out of my head and to give me something worthwhile to do with my free time (such as that is too). Not that my children aren't worthwhile, but to be honest, my brain is rotting a bit and I've always loved library research, especially after I learned how to really do it in graduate school. I'm looking forward to that and have absolutely no idea both how to go about it and when I'll have the time. So there may be big breaks when I don't post, is what I'm saying.

In general, I'm extremely excited about this and, dear reader, whoever you are, I'm excited about sharing it with you. I'm going to need a lot of help and can't wait to meet others as excited about this time period and these people as I am. I know so very very little. I'll be reading as much as I can whenever I can and to be honest, this'll be slow. Just to warn you again. Who am I kidding, initially this'll be mostly diary and very little lab notebook. Until I really have more free time. Man, am I new at this blogging thing, or what? Until later, then...

Inaugural Post

So I came up with an idea for a project. There are lots of reasons behind it, which I'll itemize later, but in general the main reason is because I need to. Did that help? No? Well, alright then, I'll just tell you what it is and then when I have time later I'll write all the why's. There are lots and I want to do it right. Right now I'm expecting my son to wake up any minute and I want to post some links and photos and I'm new to this and that takes priority over me.

Really, she takes priority over me. She being Phebe Taylor. I've started researching her life. She was a relatively important person - from an important family, then married to an important man and I want to find out as much as I can about her. She's buried about a mile from my house in Middletown, New Jersey. In the, what should be "Historic" but isn't for some reason, Middletown Village section. Specifically she's buried in the Throckmorton-Lippit-Taylor Burying Ground on Penelope Lane off of King's Highway. She's buried next to two of her babies. There was another child of hers buried there too but the gravestone's gone.

Knowing about these losses and the few facts I do know about her life have led me to think about her a lot in the past few days. I want to know as much as possible. I have an idea in my head as to who she was but it is completely my fantasy. In the end, I realize there won't be much data one way or another as to her personality or even maybe her appearance, but that's ok. Right now I just want facts. I want to come up with a time-line for the major events in her life and in the lives of those around her.

So let's start with some photos of her gravestone, that of her children and some of her relatives by marriage. I'm confused at this point to their exact relationship to her but I'm working on it. I've only just begun, after all.

Oh, and if anyone knows of any research done on her in the past, please let me know. For all I know a complete biography of her has already been written and I'm rehashing. That's ok too. It'll narrow the scope of my research greatly but it'll satisfy my initial curiosity and then my blogging days will be over. And that's completely ok. Rambling now. On to the photos.

The gravestone for her two babies, William and an unnamed daughter

The gravestones for two close relatives by marriage, Col. George Taylor
and his wife Deborah