Friday, July 16, 2010

Marlpit Hall and Garage Man Continued

So the big news is that on Tuesday I hired a babysitter for my two-year old and went to the library. Of course this was only after I had spent almost an hour at Toys R Us picking out the numerous birthday gifts for kids. God, that place is horrible. Anyway, I perused the New Jersey and specifically Monmouth County history sections for loan and in the reference section for the remaining hour of my babysitter time. I only discovered the small special access New Jersey history section right before I left. It's a room with special older texts that you have to give your ID to get into. Ten minutes before I left!

The best thing in that room, which I could spend hours and hours reading, and may yet, is the First Town Book in Middletown. It is an itemization of all the official town events - anything that came up in town meetings - from about 1667 to 1695. I found a copy of it online- transcribed as a chapter of John Stillwell's second volume of Historical and Genealogical Miscellany. I need to go back and read the Second Book. I saw it in the reading room and just about had a heart attack. So, many many hours need to be spent on this, obviously. The Second Book covers the 18th century - 1699 to 1800. Her whole lifetime plus a few years. I'm curious as to when they moved.

After all my reading and re-reading the other day, I thought I had a handle on the fact that John Esquire and Phebe built Marlpit Hall in 1756. Or most of it. It was not finished (which is supported by recent dating of the house) completely by them, but was sold as some sort of debt release. The house was referred to as the "Grandfather Homestead" next to the bigger house built in the 1800s which is now the Taylor-Butler House. It was bought by Barnabus Rider of Long Island who finished it, with an inferior carpenter, and who lived in it until 1771. At that time it was bought by John's brother Edward and then it was kept in the family for generations. So I read that a few different places and came to believe it was true. This is from Asher Taylor's comprehensive family history.

What's interesting about his family history is that, as it's published by H.A. Deats in the Jerseyman, it's in non-sequential chapters that overlap. So a history of a person is told sometimes two or three times. And, oddly, each version is slightly different, it seems.

And I don't have a printer. Or one that works correctly. I'm working on it. And gdamn if that isn't frustrating. I only have an hour or two to myself here and there and I have very little paper in the house and yet I have to mess around (cleaning up the language a bit, as I was just talking about Asher, who most definitely would not approve) with a cheap printer and trying to get it to function even minimally. So I need more time.

To top it off, a fifth volume of Stillwell's Historical and Genealogical Miscellany is also online and also transcribes Asher's work and throws yet another wrench into things. I'll quote from his passage on John Taylor, Esquire: "He owned a farm of some two hundred acres, which he sold before the Revolutionary War, reserving about a dozen acres, upon which, in 1752, he erected a large, handsome house, at the head of Main Street in Middletown, at the commencement of the Deep Cut, which was denominated by his neighbors as "Taylor's Folly."
In 1782, this house was bought by George Crawford, Esq., from whom it passed to the Beekmans, and recently, December 1891, was destroyed by fire."

So there's that confusing thing. Also confusing is that at another point, Asher says that John flees to New York, as a Loyalist during the War and I know two of his sons ended up there. As did his daughter, Mary too. I believe that he was arrested in 1777 for his role as Sheriff in Monmouth County. Confusing. All from one person's work, too. But a different version has the whole Taylor's Folly thing. Confusing!

I need a gd printer and I need to highlight and record what Asher says in which version to try to cobble together at least a consistent picture from his point of view. I'm old fashioned. I can't just skip around web pages doing it. I need a hard copy.

I also need to focus on primary sources as much as I can. This is why I want to spend days and days with the Second Book. I believe that they built Marlpit Hall, though. Maybe I just want to believe. They being John Esquire and Phebe.

The other news is that I just found "Garage Man" again and ended up finishing it. And the thing is that it's only about 1500 words. And it's a character sketch, more or less, not much happens. Or anything that happens isn't really developed because it's so short. Once I got past the coke whore thing it wasn't too bad, just really really incomplete. A brief sketch. To me not even worth submitting in a creative writing class, but what do I know.

Must run, more on that later. Made me want to finish my romance novel, though. To spend more time on it and actually make it something. I would not have guessed that that would be what I took away from Garage Man, but so it was. I think my dad went for the initial shock. Draw the reader in, kind of a thing. Just words, after all.

And maybe he should've written more of them. If he'd have put his mind to it, it could've become something. That's sort of it with him. He was good with us, but up to a point. If we argued with him or challenged him in any way, it was done. That happened to me twice, and yes, it was done. Painfully so. He wasn't too good with criticism and with working on things. One of his many character flaws, I suppose.

I don't want to be like him, in that sense, but I suppose I already conquered that demon by going to chemistry grad school and having to write and rewrite papers forty times with my very frustrating professor. I also don't want to be like him in that I didn't finish something clearly important to me. So I've decided to be sure to finish my little romance short story. I want to keep doing it. Plus I'm going to keep up with this project and with this blog. I'm having a great time.

More later. I'm still a bit in shock about how not a big deal Garage Man turned out to be. Weird. And I'm still a bit angry with Asher. Confusing!

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