Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Revisiting the Diary of Elder Mott

Today, I remembered an old post from July of last year. In the past few months, I've had a fair amount of crap to deal with. And that's taken me away from Phebe research some. I'm starting back up again, but lately I haven't found out that much about her specifically. I've found out a fair amount about the men around her, though, which is, I guess, normal. Sad and normal.

But then, like I said, I remembered this old post. I found not just a reference to her, but re-reading it, I realized that therein were described some specific things she did and a direct quote by her. I don't think I understood the importance of Elder Mott's diary. This might be it as far as information about her personality goes. Everything. I thought it would be good to revisit the passage from his diary.

"June 1751 a Groundles Report Being Spred that John taylor Was Grate With Sarah thorne By Which Phebe taylor Was Stured Up to a Sperit of Jelosey: And did Much Abufe her hufband: for which he Came and Made Complant to Me of her: I Went to See her and told her the Sin She Was Gilty of But She Would Not hear I Used Indiuers (?) With her Several times But to No Purpofe. John thorn allfo Complained Unto Me: that Phebe Strove to Mak difrance Betwen: he and his Wife By Infifting her hufband and his Wife Ware Actually Guilty of the Charge Which Complaint I Laid Before Phebe With the Several Agrivating Sins She Was Gilty of In So doing: She Stil Continued obStinate and Juftified her Selfe In all She had done: Upon Which I told her She Should Not Be admited to her Place: With out Publick Acknolidgment: Which She Refented Very Much and told me I Ufed her Very ill And Watched Over her from Evel and Not for Good."

So she was publicly angry with her husband for supposedly cheating on her (possibly not true, I suppose) and she was chastised by the church elder for doing so. She told him that she had been "used very ill" and that the elder "watched over her from evel and not for good." Fantastic stuff.

Then in August, when she wasn't there, they suspended her until she could have a hearing.

Then in October 1751: "At a Church Meeting at Middletown Phebe Taylor Gave her Attendance Defiering to Be admitted to her Place Agane in the Church. I being Sik Could Not atend. The Church Redily admited her to her Place again In the Church. With out Examining the Complant laid Againf her By Me in Auguft."

Sounds like he was pissed at that last part. Also, in 1751 she gave birth to her seventh child (fourth child who survived childhood). So my thinking was she was fed up. I don't know. It was terribly exciting.

No more about them until the Revolution (1777) when her husband John was officially dismissed from the church for going against the Free States. That section is really interesting in the context of the Revolution, but doesn't mention any wives, much less Phebe, so less interesting to me.

Good gravy, but I found when I first read the elder's diary and it was almost one year ago. Bad amateur historian. Bad.

I plan on going here this week: The Proprietary House in Perth Amboy. Perth Amboy is also where Phebe's husband John Taylor was buried. Maybe I'll get a lead on that. Proprietary House was the residence of William Franklin, Royal Governor of New Jersey, illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, and the place where William Franklin was arrested at the outset of the Revolution. He was arrested by Phebe's brother, General Nathaniel Heard, head of the New Jersey militia. And damn it all, but I missed the reenactment. Damn it! Next year. Something to look forward to.

I should look into how much a Revolutionary era lady's costume costs. And I should just commit to being the kind of nerd, middle-aged nerd at that, who would dress up in a Revolution era lady's costume. Commit! I shall endeavor to commit.

Besides costumes, there's a lot more to do. I still haven't walked to where Phebe's house was, or found Cocowder Springs on Ruckman Hill, all of which is about two blocks away from me in Middletown. I could walk there. I should walk there. The problem is that going to Phebe's old house's foundation (adjacent to the new Luyster House property) involves me knocking on those people's door and asking for permission to trespass. Or to walk there without being arrested for trespassing, is I think what I mean. I am the kind of person for whom that is very difficult. Holy crap, but wearing a costume in public is nearly impossible. I also want to go back to the Monmouth County Historical Library and try to look more at original documents. They store them there.

I'm feeling better lately, kind of surprisingly, so I'm going to start making goals again. Get back into this a little. I still have very little time to myself, but damn it, Penny, "Make it work!" (Quoting Tim Gunn, a personal hero, not the least of which because he reportedly has lots of social anxiety problems. And yet is successful. My kind of dude.)

Wow, all over the place again. I guess I'm roller-coaster-y a lot lately. It is, apparently, how I roll.

Until next time...


  1. Daaaamn. Phebe wasn't afraid to throw down! She would have been on Real Housewives of the Revolution. (I've never actually watched any of those shows, but I hear they feature much drama/cheating/public fights - Phebe has all that on lock.)

    Am I alone in thinking Elder Mott was a douche?

    Shame on you for not going to Phebe's foundation yet. Didn't you promise me you were going to do that???

  2. You're here! Yay! Please don't say she's one of the Housewives. Please. She was soooo much classier than that. In my mind. I'm thinking more...Emma Thompson freaking out about Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter. Yes. I like it. Oh! Or her freaking out (fictionally) about Alan Rickman cheating on her in Love Actually. Best scene ever, that. God, she's awesome. Yea. What were we talking about?

    And yes, he was a douche. I like how they let her back in without consulting him. Now, *that* was awesome.

    I know, I know about the foundation. I have to work up the nerve. Maybe when my in-laws are here in two weeks. I'll need to get out of the house. A lot. A lot a lot. I'll probably be desperate enough for it.

    Oh and I'm trying not to look at my goals from earlier in the year. Too depressing. So far this year has been a total wash, health-wise. Things are looking up a bit, though. Thanks for remembering your password and visiting! I'm so happy!