Philip Park: Practical Plumber

Throughout Invisible Immigrants by Charlotte Erickson, I became increasingly curious about English immigrants who went into professional and clerical occupations and became town dwellers (as opposed to rural or industrial occupations). According to Erickson, these immigrants “broke more ties in emigrating”[i] than other English immigrants and neither held professional qualifications nor white collar jobs prior to emigrating.[ii] One English immigrant in particular that fits this category is Philip Park. I found him first using census data sorted by occupation and value of property. I was looking for someone like Park, an English immigrant who holds a profession and has some property. He appears on the U.S. Census in 1860 as a 38 year old plumber with a property value of $150.[iii] He again appears in the 1870 U.S. Census with an increased value of $4,400 and alongside his wife, Catharine, and his three daughters, Virginia, Gertrude, and Catharine.[iv]

This rise in wealth had to be addressed, but first I had to get a better understanding of Park and his family. Using Ancestry.com, I found that he and Catharine were married in 1856 in Alexandria.[v] This means Philip came to America a single man, which, according to Erickson, is true for other English immigrants entering professional positions. His three children were all born in the United States.[vi] In Figure 1, from Don De Bats project “Voting Viva Voce,” we can see where Philip and Catharine Park lived on the corner of Prince and S. Pitt Street in front of the bank and across the street from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.[vii] He lived in the middle of town, which is where he also conducted his business.  Considering his wealth and advertisements in the Alexandria Gazette (see Figure 2), he was a well-known plumber.[ix]

philip-park-map-voting-viva-voce

Figure 1

(Courtesy of Don DeBats, Voting Viva Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics, University of Virginia, accessed September 20, 2016, http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/.)

alexandria-gazette-advertisement-philip-park

Figure 2

(Courtesy of “Philip Park, Practical Plumber” Alexandria Gazette, July 14, 1868. Accessed September 21, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.)

There is a lot we cannot understand about Philip Park and his family due to the limitations of data. However, as typical in history, there are things about Park that can be explained although not proven. Park’s considerable rise in wealth between 1860 and 1870, from $150 to $4,400, is striking. In comparison to other business owners on the 1860 U.S. Census, Park held much more property value in 1870.  I tried finding him in tax records or any mention of his involvement with the Union in newspapers and I could not. However, it is possible that his ties to the Union, if they existed, allowed him to be successful in a time of war.

[i] Charlotte Erickson, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaptation of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century America (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1972), 395.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] 1860. U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria,Virginia, Philip Park, line 17, digital image, accessed September 22, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[iv] 1870. U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Philip Park, line 7, digital image, accessed September 22, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[v] Ancestry.com. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?viewrecord=1&r=5542&db=FS1VirginiaMarriages&indiv=try&h=4208629.

[vi] 1870. U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Philip Park, line 7, digital image, accessed September 22, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[vii] Don DeBats, Voting Viva Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics, University of Virginia, accessed September 20, 2016, http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/.

[viii] “Philip Park, Practical Plumber” Alexandria Gazette, July 14, 1868. Accessed September 21, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.

Portrait of an Upper Class English Immigrant Family in 19th Century Alexandria

One migrant community in the United States who not many people think of as migrants are the English.  Their help in colonizing and founding colonies in North America has made their continued migration over the centuries nearly imperceptible. To understand these invisible immigrants, I used the 1860 U.S. Census to investigate a family of English immigrants and observe how they integrated into their new home. One such family were the Bells. Robert and Mary Greenhalgh Bell, both English immigrants, were wedded and had their first child by the winter of 1832.  They had nine children total.[1] Also included in the Bell family was Robert’s 90-year-old mother, Elizabeth Bell, who migrated from England and lived as a dependent of Robert.[2] This structure gives us an idea of how the households of English migrants would have been organized–a couple who either married in England or the U.S. and created a household, that included possible three generations and extended kin.

Photo taken of St. Paul's Episcopal Church as a garrison in 1862 (Picture Courtesy of St. Paul's Episcopal Church retrieved at http://www.stpaulsalexandria.com/about-st-pauls/history/)

Photo taken of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as a garrison in 1862 (Picture Courtesy of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church retrieved at http://www.stpaulsalexandria.com/about-st-pauls/history/)

The patriarch of the family, Robert Bell Sr., seemed to have integrated quite thoroughly, participating in many facets of American life such as business, church, community, and politics. Robert was deeply involved in his community.  He acted as a member of the vestry and the superintendent for the preschool at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria.[3] Robert was also an active voter who participated in elections, both national and local.[4] This community and political activity illustrates how some English immigrants quickly found their own niche in American society.    

Advertisements for Robert Bell's stationary store circa March 14, 1860 (courtesy of the Library of Virginia, retrieved at http://virginiachronicle.com/cgi-bin/virginia?a=d&d=AG18600314.1.1)

Advertisements for Robert Bell’s stationary store circa March 14, 1860 (courtesy of the Library of Virginia, retrieved at http://virginiachronicle.com/cgi-bin/virginia?a=d&d=AG18600314.1.1)

As a businessman, Robert was a successful bookseller and stationer, being one of the city’s prominent merchants of books and educational supplies since the early 1840’s.[5] As an English migrant, Robert sold many of his items in advertisements using British provenances, such as “EXCELSIOR SCHOOL PENS” manufactured in Birmingham and religious lectures from Liverpool.[6] At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, Robert’s wealth was recorded as $22,000, a very handsome sum for the time and is an indicator that–at least this English immigrant–found little trouble in adapting to his new surroundings.[7]

Another member of the Bell family who played an active role in the community was Robert’s son, Robert Jr. Robert Bell Jr., a first generation American, followed his father in many ways, voting for the same candidate, taking the same profession, and going to the same church as his father.[8] One area in which Robert Jr. and his father differ was the ownership of slaves. According to the census, Robert Bell Jr. owned a female mulatto slave. It is not clear whether Robert Bell Sr. did not own sells because he disagreed with the practice or that he felt that he could not afford one.

From the example of Robert Bell and his family, one can see how an English immigrant family is structured and how they became involved in their community. Within one generation, the Bell family established themselves economically and politically in their community and their new country. This integration reflects the ease with which many English immigrants found adjusting to life in the United States; without a language barrier, culture shock or radical division, integration for English immigrants came easier than for other migrants.

[1] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Alexandria, Virginia, sheet no. 7, Robert and Mary Greenhalgh Bell & Family, line 3-14, digital image, accessed September 29, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Harold W. Hurst, Alexandria on the Potomac: The Portrait of an Antebellum Community (Lanham, MD:University Press of America 1991), 76.

[4] Voting Viva Voce,  http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/node/14?name=robert%20bell&sex=&race=&bg=&data_set=alex_people&contains=1 (accessed 9/27/16).

[5] Hurst, 22, 77.

[6] Alexandria Gazette, Volume 61, Number 63, March 14, 1860. A1.

[7]1860 U.S. Federal Census, Alexandria, Virginia, sheet no. 7, Robert and Mary Greenhalgh Bell & Family, line 3-14, digital image, accessed September 29, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[8] 1850 U.S. Federal Census,  Alexandria, Virginia, Cecilia Nelson, line 41, digital image, accessed September 29, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/

 

English Immigration: James Green’s Mansion House

The prevailing image of immigrants to the United States in the 19th-century has often been one of people fleeing poverty and tyranny in Europe and seeking opportunity in the U.S. After studying detailed U.S. census data, English immigrant James Green of Alexandria, Virginia emerged as someone I wanted to investigate further. Green’s wealth and property made him an outlier among his fellow English immigrants, many of whom wanted to buy land and pursue farming in the Midwest.  They were not poor, but did not have the assets that Green had.

mansion-house-hotel

Andrew J. Russell’s photo of Mansion House Hospital (n.d.). City of Alexandria, VA. Alexandria City Hall, 03 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

James Green was born in the city of Sheffield in southern Yorkshire, England to William and Mary Green on November 24, 1801.  We know nothing about his childhood or how he came to reside in the United States.  In 1823, he appears in the City of Alexandria according to records on Ancestry.com at the age of 22. Soon, he married Jane Muir on November 21, 1825 in the District of Columbia. Presumably, the Green’s were a hard working, close-knit, family consisting of James and Jane along with nine children (their daughter Alice Green died on March 17, 1860, at the age of fourteen).[1]

In 1847, James Green purchased three-quarters of an acre from the estate of a Scottish merchant, John Carlyle, sold by his heirs after his death. Green completed the sale with the purchase of the actual Carlyle home in 1848, converting it to the Mansion House Hotel, one of the largest and most luxurious hotels on the East Coast. In consulting Charlotte Erickson’s Invisible Immigrants, Green fits the last of the three groups that she analyzes–professionals and artisans.[2] Union troops occupied the City of Alexandria in May of 1861 and took possession of the Green’s hotel for a hospital, evicting the family by November.[3] The Union Army  offered him a sizable rent for his property, but only if Green agreed to take the Oath of Allegiance to pledge his loyalty to the Union.[4] Green never appears on the loyalty oath list and to date the rent remains unpaid. [5]

Don Debat’s website, Voting Viva Voce, shows that prior to Union occupation the hotel was teeming with energy. In addition to the family members, there were a number of borders, domestic servants, and slaves housed there. Slave schedules provided by ancestry.com confirm Green owned one slave and fifteen others were rented by him to do the work of the hotel. [6]

The marriage of James and Jane lasted 54 years until her passing on March of 1880.  James died six months thereafter. The two rest peacefully together in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia.

james-green-1801-1880

Photo courtesy Ancestory.com

By relative James Green residing in Georgia, shared 21 December 2014. [10]

Researching English immigration has expanded the narrative away from the one-size fits all model that is often viewed through the lens of American exceptionalism. In the case of English immigrants, they were looking to improve their economic situation by coming to the United States as opposed to fleeing tyranny or poverty.

[1] Voting Viva Voce | Social Logic. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/

[2] Charlotte Erickson, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaptation of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century America   (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1972), 7.

[3] Henry B. Whittington Diary, Accession #11, Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections. Alexandria, VA.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Voting Viva Voce | Social Logic. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/; 1860 U.S. Federal Census (Slave Schedule), Provo, UT, USA, James Green, lines 1-18 digital image accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[7] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Provo, UT, USA, James Green, lines 1-18 digital image accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cogan Family

As Charlotte Erikson discusses in her book, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaption of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth Century America, mostly English immigrants with professions or artisanal skills settled in cities.[1] According to the 1860 U.S. Cenus, William Cogan was one such immigrant who made a life for himself in Alexandria, Virginia. Cogan was listed as a twenty-nine year old gas fitter, with a property value of $4,500.[2] He was married to twenty-three year old Virginian named Virginia Barton with whom he had three children: Virginia, John, and William.[3] In addition, according to Don DeBats’s Voting Viva Voce project, Cogan was an independent head of household owning his own home, and was financially well-off.  His household was in the next to top category for both declared and taxable wealth[4].

Upon further research, Cogan was named on the passenger manifest list for General Victoria (unable to determine if the ship was British or American) for the departure leaving London and arriving in New York City on May 28, 1845.[5] He was 15 years old at the time. Cogan does not show up in many archival records until his marriage certificate to Virginia Barton on October 4, 1853, in Alexandria.[6] Cogan and his wife remained in Alexandria through the duration of their marriage although they moved around the city. What is interesting is that in different censuses and city directories, the family was listed as living at different addresses. According to DeBats’s Voting Viva Voce project, they lived at 38 South Pitt Street.[7] In 1880, they lived on 115 East Royal Street.[8] In 1900, Virginia was a widower; however, she and her eleven children lived on King Street[9].  In 1912, according to the city directory, Virginia and her children then lived on 1012 Prince Street[10]. One possible explanation for the family’s constant moving could be that the family was continually growing and was looking for more adequate housing or improved housing.

The most intriguing aspect of the Cogan family’s lives gleaned from the census data and other archival sources was that the Cogans did not lose money during the American Civil War. Instead, Cogan actually increased his wealth by a significant amount. As mentioned previously, the 1860 U.S. Census listed him as having a property value of $4,500[11].  Adecade later, Cogan had a property value of $10,000.[12] His increase in wealth could have been the result of many factors, such as he did not own any slaves and therefore did not lose property during the war; however, after some digging, I believe that William’s wealth increased because he was a successful business man.[13] Cogan’s Gas and Steam Fitter Establishment appeared to be a well-established company and was advertised throughout the 1860s in both the Local Paper and the Alexandria Gazette. The Cogan’s wealth may have also been an additional reason the family moved around throughout Alexandria.

The following images are samples of William Cogan’s advertisements in the local papers.

 

 

local-paper

Image 1: Local Paper [14]

 

 

Image 2: Alexandria Gazette [15]

Image 2: Alexandria Gazette [15]

[1] Charlotte Erikson, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaption of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth Century America (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1972).

[2] 1860 U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, William Cogan, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016. Ancestry.com

[3] Ibid.

[4] ”William Cogan,” Voting Viva Voce. http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/node/14?name=William%20Cogan&sex=1&race=1&bg=4&dta_set=alex_people&contains=1. (accessed September 21, 2016).

[5] General Victoria Passenger Manifest; Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,  William Cogan, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016. Ancestry.com.

[6] 1853 Marriage Certificate; Ancestry.com. Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940.  William Cogan and Virginia Barton, digital image, accessed September 16, 2016. Ancestry.com.

[7] 1860 U.S. Census, Alexandria; and DeBats, Voting Viva Voce

[8] 1880 U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, William Cogan, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016, Ancestry.com.

[9] 1900 U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Virginia Cogan, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016, Ancestry.com.

[10] 1912 Alexandria City Directory; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. Virginia Cogan, digital image, accessed September 16, 2016.  Ancestry.com.

[11] 1860 U.S. Census, Alexandria

[12] 1870 U. S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, William Cogan, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016, Ancestry.com.

[13] DeBats, Voting Viva Voce.

[14] “William Cogan’s Gas and Steam Fitting Establishment,” The Local News [Alexandria, VA], January 24, 1862, 1; Image provided by: Library of Virginia;  Richmond, VA. Accessed through chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. (Accessed September 21, 2016).

[15] “Gas and Steam Fitting,” Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA), January 05, 1866, 1; Image provided by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA. Accessed through chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. (Accessed September 21, 2016).