Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

Well, hello!  I've been doing a fair amount of work on this whole project and I just found out something exciting.  Phebe Taylor's granddaughter, Catharine Elizabeth Taylor, in 1813 married Clement Moore, author of the famous poem, The Night Before Christmas.  Cool, right?
Clement C. Moore

Catharine Elizabeth was the daughter of Phebe's son William.  He at one point was the Lord Chief Justice of Jamaica and, oddly - to me, anyway - he came back to New Jersey at the end of his life and is buried in the St. Paul's cemetery in Perth Amboy.  My son and I just found William's grave.  Photos to follow in a later post.

Apparently, Catharine was involved in the creation of the famous poem.  The following passage is from this link:

An anecdote on the origin of the poem goes as follows:
“On Christmas Eve 1822, Reverend Clement Moore’s wife was roasting turkeys for distribution to the poor of the local parish, a yearly tradition discovered that she was short one turkey, she asked Moore to venture into the snowy streets to obtain another. He called for his sleigh and coachman, and drove “downtown” to Jefferson Market, which is now the Bowery section of New York City, to buy the needed turkey. Moore composed the poem while riding in his sleigh; his ears obviously full of the jingle of sleigh bells. He returned with the turkey and the new Christmas poem. After dinner that evening, Moore read the new verses to his family, to the evident delight of his children.”

Moore and his family are buried in the Washington Heights section of New York City.  I should go visit Catharine's grave too.  She died at thirty-six, leaving behind nine children.  Clement lived to eighty-four and never married again.

So, right now, we have a few well-known descendants of Phebe:  Commodore William Bainbridge (grandson), Mrs. Clement Moore (granddaughter) and Professor John Maclean, President of Princeton (great-grandson).  Oh and Mrs. Clement Moore was said to be "talented and lovely."  She even wrote a poem, "Clement C. Moore - My Reasons for Loving" which I will be searching for on google.

So from now on, thanks to the anecdote above, I will be thinking of Catharine and her turkeys and Clement on his sleigh ride when I read The Night Before Christmas.  Which is overall, pretty great.

Update:  I thought that last bit was a little sappy of me.  So I'll include these extra bits of information:  1. The poem might possibly have not been written by him, but by Henry Livingston, Jr. and 2.  Clement Moore was against abolitionism, meaning pro-slavery.

Alrighty then.  I still like the anecdote, even if it is fiction.

Update Number 2:  Although I wasn't able to find the poem by Phebe's granddaughter to her husband Clement, I did find the illustrated copy Phebe's great-granddaughter made in 1855 for her father's poem.  The great-granddaughter's name was Mary Ogden, and I rather like the illustrations.

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