Posts by Geri Walton

Edward Austen Knight and His Fairy Tale Life

Edward Austen Knight’s fairy tale life began after Thomas Knight II* and his wife, Catherine Knatchbull of Chilham in Kent, adopted him. “Neddy,” as Edward was affectionately called, was the son of George and Cassandra Austen and born on 7 October 1768. He was their third son and described as a sweet, lovable, easy-going blond-headed…

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Rutherford Birchard Hayes: America’s 19th President

Rutherford Birchard Hayes is considered the first of the five presidents to be elected during the Gilded Age, a period that involved serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding and generally recognized as existing from the 1870s to 1900. Hayes won the presidency in 1877. His victory was highly unusual as he was…

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Hetty Green: The Witch of Wall Street

Born on 21 November 1834, Hetty Green was nicknamed the “Witch of Wall Street” probably because of her miserly and frugal ways, her severe Quaker dress, and the stiff competition she brought against her male counterparts. Henrietta “Hetty” Howland Robinson was the daughter of Edward Mott Robinson and his wife Abby Slocum Howland. She born…

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Rotten Row Accidents in Hyde Park in the 1800s

How Rotten Row acquired its name seems to be shrouded in controversy what is not controversial is the fact that it became a popular meeting spot for London’s upper classes, who in the eighteenth century frequented it on weekends on horseback. In addition, the adjacent South Carriage Drive also soon began to be used by…

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John Paul Jones: Pirate, Sailor, and Hero

John Paul Jones was the son of John Paul Sr. and Jean McDuff. He was born on 6 July 1747 at the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean on the southwest coast of Scotland and was christened John Paul, but later added Jones as his surname. At the age of 13 Jones began his maritime career…

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Celia Holloway: Murdered by Her Husband John Holloway

Celia Holloway met her future husband John William Holloway, as he was christened, at the coastal town of Brighton on England’s southern coast located some 47 miles south of London. Brighton was a hot spot from about the 1730s onward for improving or curing one’s health by drinking or bathing in seawater. Those who patronized…

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Inspector Thomas Byrnes: 19th-century American Policeman

Inspector Thomas Byrnes was an Irish-born American police officer who served as head of the New York City Police Department from 1880 until 1895. He was born in Dublin, Ireland on 15 June 1842 to James and Rose Byrnes, and he immigrated to the United States while he was a child. He had a limited…

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Blind Tom Wiggins: The African-American Piano Prodigy

Blind Tom, as he was called, was an African American musical piano prodigy born on 24 May 1849 on a plantation owed by Wiley Edward Jones in Harris County, Georgia, to Charity and Domingo “Mingo” Wiggins. From birth Thomas Wiggins was blind* and in 1850, when he was three, he was sold with his enslaved…

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Eliza de Feuillide: Jane Austen’s Cousin and Sister-in-Law

Eliza de Feuillide was born on 22 December 1761 in Calcutta, India, and christened Elizabeth Hancock, but affectionately called “Betsy.” She was the daughter of Tysoe Saul Hancock and Philadelphia Austen, sister to George Austen, Jane Austen’s father. However, even before Eliza was born controversy surrounded her.

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Edward Maynard: Dentist and Firearms Inventor

Edward Maynard was a dentist but became famous for his firearm designs and inventions. He was born in Madison, New York, to Colonel Moses Maynard and Chloe Butler on 26 April 1813. His surname comes from Old French derived from the Germanic or Teutonic name Maganhard or Meginard with Magin meaning “strength” and hard meaning…

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