Saturday, November 17, 2007

History of the War With Mexico - John S. Jenkins

I have had this book in my possession for almost thirty years. My wife Jeri bought it for me at the old Pomona Gun Show at the Pomona Fairgrounds in 1979. It is of particular interest to me because it was through this war that my family became Americans. It is in reasonably good shape considering it was published in 1851 by Auburn, Derby and Miller Publishing Company. It has some old style personalized handwriting in it that adds to its character. I have other old vintage books but this one is my pride and joy. It is a small piece of history and for me, a physical link to the past.
There is a bit of trivia to go with this book. I have finally (today) solved the mystery of the handwritten names on in the book and I just find it amazing that this book was published in 1851, was a family possession for a number of years in the 1800's and then found it's way to me, and that 156 years later I have it.

There are three signatures on this book; Orry A. Taft Jr. May 25/59, Orray A. Taft Sr., (both middle names are Augustus). The third notation is, Augustus Reed Taft , from Grandma Taft, Oct 16, 1894. Grandma Taft is Elizabeth White, Orry Jr's. mother. Augustus is the son of Orry's younger brother, George Taft. So we know that the book was passed around the family a bit and was owned by at least three generations of the Taft family.

Orray (Orry) A. Taft Jr. was born in 1842. His parents are Orray A. Taft born in 1818 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Mass. and Elizabeth White Taft also born in 1818. They are both listed in the 1880 census as 62 years old and he is listed as a hotel proprietor . Orry married Lydia B. Edwards on April 24, 1879. Orry Jr. is listed in the 1880 census as 38 years old and living in Boston, Suffolk, Mass. His occupation is listed as starch manufacturer. He is living in his father in law’s household. His father in law is Edmund J. Baker.. At the time of the 1880 census they have no children, however also listed in the household are five children with the surname Edwards, presumably from a previous marriage of Lydia. The children’s names are Lydia B. Edwards 12, Mary E. . Edwards 10, Ellyn L. Edwards 8, Edmund B. Edwards 5 and Elizabeth R. Edwards 4. Also living in the household are four servants, three of them are from Ireland, and one of them was born in Mass. All of them are Irish. Presumably, the family was well off. It's amazing what you can find from a signature.

The complete name of the book is: The History of the War with Mexico from the Commencements of Hostilities to the Ratification of the Treaty of Peace.

(click on any photo for a larger view)

Above Photo: President Zachary Taylor

"The war with Mexico constitutes an episode, and by no means an unimportant one, in the history of the American Union. Its brilliant scenes and stirring incidents have long attracted unusual attention, and they must long continue to be remembered."
- Historian John S. Jenkins,1850

In 1808 Russell Sturgis bought rights to Point Shirley and in 1811 opened a salt works, which continued operation until about 1840. Orray Taft built his famous Taft’s Hotel and Restaurant in 1830 where Maryland, Townsend and Otis Streets are now. Following a fire in 1851, the main structure was rebuilt and the business flourished until 1889 when the remaining buildings were then used as The Point Shirley Club up through the 1920’s. A Greek Club/Restaurant then occupied the building until it was razed in the early 1950’s for house lots. A picture of the old Taft Hotel is provided below.

The following is from: History of the Military company of the Massachusetts now called the Ancient and honorable artillery company of Massachusetts, 1637-1888
by Oliver Ayer Roberts

Orray A Taft Jr 1877 manufacturer of Boston Mass and Providence R.I. son of Orray A and Elizabeth White Taft was born in Cornhill Coffee House now Young's Hotel June 26 1841 He married April 24 1879 Mrs Lydia Baker Edwards He spent his boyhood in Boston attended the Chauncy Hall School and completed his school education at Middleboro Mass Academy After leaving school he became a clerk for Thomas Liversidge starch manufacturer at Milton Mass Later he went into business on his own account as a manufacturer of gums and starch having offices in Providence R.I. and Boston Mass In the State militia he rose to the grade of lieutenant Lieut Taft 1877 was a member of the Masonic Fraternity being a member of Union Lodge of Dorchester from 1865 to 1872 and of Boston Commandery Knights Templars of Boston He died Feb 12 1889 and his remains were buried in the Milton Burial Ground Milton Mass

History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts, Now Called the Ancient ... By Oliver Ayer Roberts

Amazing what you can find from a signature.
Perhaps the descendants of Orray Augustus Taft will find this helpful.


Quanda said...

You write very well.

Joseph Valles said...

A clever bit of history detecting, cousin! This propensity obviously runs in the family, as you'll find in many a description along the same lines in the books I have made available:

Joseph Valles