Osage artist creates façade for Crystal Bridges arts complex

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Osage artist Addie Roanhorse took inspiration for the design for the facade of the Crystal Bridges Museum’s new performing and visual arts complex from a finger-woven belt, which is part of Osage women’s regalia.

Roanhorse was the guest speaker at the first ArtNight of 2019 Tuesday at the Bartlesville Art Association Design Center, 500 S. Dewey Ave.

The complex, Roanhorse said, is located between the Crystal Bridges Museum and the town square in Bentonville, Ark.

“Closer to the town square is an old Kraft cheese plant. They’re keeping the structure … but they are completely gutting it,” she said. “I was asked if I could design a pattern to be etched on glass that would go on the façade of this building. … I’m honored to do it.”

She went to Bentonville, and the director said, “I just want to honor the people who were here pre-colonial. … It felt really good that they wanted to honor Osage people. That was our hunting territory way before any of this.”
She named the design “sway,” explaining her intention that the design would suggest movement and be based on the finger-woven belt worn in Osage women’s regalia.

The belt is fixed at the waist of Osage women’s regalia, and flows down the back.

“Women wear it, and when you dance, it starts swaying. When I was a little girl, I used to think that was the coolest thing. I’d be with my aunties, and we’d be dancing. … it’s just this moment and this feeling that, again, only Osages would truly understand,” Roanhorse explained.

In creating the design, Roanhorse used graphic art principles, simplified the design in the belt and created the suggestion of movement.

“The entryway of the design will actually go up and over in a very large scale. Then there’s the façade on this side, and it goes up five stories. So, it will have the design, really tiny, going all the way up. … At night they’ll shoot movies on it,” Roanhorse said. “When I went and saw it, it was amazing what they’ve done. I got to work with architects in Chicago. … It’s just been a great experience. … They plan on opening February 2020.”

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Addie Roanhorse at Bartlesville Art Association’s ArtNight, February 2019.

Roanhorse is a graphic designer and photographer for the Osage Nation.

Roanhorse delivers on gallery experience

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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Addie Roanhorse at Bartlesville Art Association’s ArtNight, February 2019.

A few months before the P.W. Mercantile opened, Osage artist Addie Roanhorse purchased a two-story, 105 year-old building in downtown Pawhuska with a business partner.

Roanhorse converted the first floor into event space called “Partake,” which she used to create a youth art event in 2018. The second floor is an Airbnb called “The Little Rainsong Loft.”

Roanhorse decided to use the space to have an exhibit featuring the work of children and on the second night an art auction of work by her artist friends to raise money for teachers.

Roanhorse delivered 100 12-by-12 canvases to the elementary and high school students and said, “get these back to me in the next four weeks, and we’re going to have a gallery showing with every one of you.

“We called it the gallery experience,” Roanhorse said.

Because so many wanted to participate in the elementary school, the teachers suggested having the students write paragraphs about why they would like to participate. She received 68 paragraphs from fourth- to sixth-graders.

On the second night they held the art auction. The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce director, who is also an auctioneer, auctioned the pieces. “It lasted 18 minutes, and we raised $1,875,” she said.

With the funds raised, Roanhorse gave Amazon gift cards to the 57 teachers at the public schools in the area.

“We don’t have art in our schools, and I think that’s a big reason why kids have anxiety. They have stresses in those paragraphs. I started crying when I read them. … you have football and then, you have basketball. But, what about the kids that don’t get that stress reliever out of that or are not very good at it. I know I was terrible. I think it’s important for our kids. Our society is producing very one-sided kids. We can’t send them out into the world and say ‘be successful’ with one-side of your brains.

“But, again, I grew up in this environment where I just, I don’t want to say I took it for granted, but I just didn’t realize. When I had a kid say, ‘well, where do you paint?’ At my studio. ‘Well, what’s a studio?’ ‘What’s this?’ ‘It’s a paint brush.’ ‘Well, where do you get this?’ They really didn’t know. So, just slowly kind of trying to spread the event where we can.

“We’re definitely doing the event again this year,” Roanhorse said with a smile.

Addie Roanhorse speaks about the importance of family, her connection to Osage murders, her art and work for the Osage Nation

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

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Addie Roanhorse at Bartlesville Art Association’s ArtNight, February 2019.

Artist Addie Roanhorse spoke for the first ArtNight of 2019 in February at the Bartlesville Art Association’s design center.

Roanhorse, who works for the Osage Nation as a graphic designer and photographer, gave a slide presentation highlighting the breadth of her work in graphic design, painting, photography and mixed media.

She covered too much ground to be written in one article, so in the E-E, the articles were split into several columns. Here, three are combined into one. However, there will be one more to be published next week.

Roanhorse began with the importance of family.

“My family is obviously number one for me. My family is why I’m an artist. The Killers of the Flower Moon book — I have a relation in the book,” said Roanhorse.

Slides provided examples of her work in progress and completed pieces.

“Family is the most important thing as an Osage. We’re always taught that our elders and our children are the most coveted thing. They’re precious and we can learn from both. So, of course I would start out with my family.

“My mom, her name was Gina Gray. She went to the Institute of the American Indian Arts, and she also went to CalArts,” she said.

Roanhorse grew up mainly in Santa Fe but traveled back to Pawhuska to see grandparents.

She moved back to Oklahoma to finish her degree at Rogers State University in Claremore. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Roanhorse moved in with her to care for her. Gina Gray died three months later.

“I believe everything happens for a reason. … I would never in a million years think oh, I live in Pawhuska, but here I am living in my mom’s house.

“It was kind of therapeutic in a way because I got to work on the last projects in college. It was bittersweet. …”

Upon graduating she went to the Osage Chief and pointed out that the tribe had no artistic position — no graphic artist. Chief Standing Bear agreed that there was a need.

“He said, ‘when do you graduate?’ I said, ‘on Saturday.’ He said, ok, be here Monday and I started work on Tuesday. They literally created the position for me, and I’ve been there ever since,” she said with a smile.

She showed slides of her mother’s art. “She did watercolors,” Roanhorse said. “She did a lot of warriors. … Now I actually do a lot of strong women. … She always represented parts of our culture — different bands and clans and just kind of brought our people into our artwork. That’s a huge indicator of my artwork too. It’s who I am. If I were a writer, I’d be writing about the Osage people and our culture.”

She described her daughter, Anya, age 11, as the Tiny Indian. “That’s her nickname.”

She showed her work at the SantaFe art market. She got a ribbon and sold out and this was at age 10. Anya has also taken up photography.

“The local newspaper pays her $40 per print so any big event she’s always out there being the on the beat person.”

“This is [Anya’s] latest venture. She’s doing embroidery on canvas. She put a little bit of black paint on the canvas and said, ‘it’s mixed media.’ So, she’s learning, but I’m super proud of her.

“My brother Danté, he’s an artist as well. He’s an oil painter. It’s almost like if you took my mom’s artwork and split it in two. I took one side, and my brother took the other. His artwork is very — it’s dreams.

“He’s a combat vet from Afghanistan, and we’ve had him home now for four years so it’s really nice that he’s started to paint again. I believe Pendleton Blanket has picked up this piece. …”

Her grandfather, who passed away when she was about 10, was a full-blood Osage.

“Everything I remember about him is just so vivid. Everything he taught us about Pawhuska, our culture and being a small business owner. He was a really great guy.”

She showed a photo of him in regalia during the In Lon Shka dances held each June in Pawhuska.

Her grandmother was mostly Osage but a little bit French, she said.

“Her mother was Grace Roan and Grace’s father was Henry Roan. … that’s the connection to Henry.”

He was one of the Osages written about in the book “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann.

“We went to the book signing of David Grann in Pawhuska … he looked up at me and said ‘…I just want you know there are going to be things in this book you probably have never heard’ and he was absolutely right. It took me several months just to get through the first section of it. I’m glad the story is finally out there.

She saw a friend in who had read the book and said, “I’m sorry. … Being just in Bartlesville, this close, and nobody’s ever talked about this. No one knew about this. …”

Recently, while acting as the Osage Museum’s acting director, museum she received questions about her great-great grandfather.

“It’s uncomfortable sometimes … because people want to know uncomfortable things about what happened. … I want to educate them, but it’s gone a little too far sometimes with the questioning. I just try to be polite, and do the best I can.”

She shifted topics to her paintings.

Roanhorse has integrated oil lease maps into her art.

She showed a painting of an Osage woman and said, “There’s nothing more of an indicator that connects Osage people to their land then oil. I’m also a seamstress so I decided to cut the maps up … I’m making a shirt out of it.”

The forehead of the woman’s face was red. Roanhorse used red tissue paper to create this effect. She used molding paste and acrylic paint applied in beads from a cake-decorating bag to give the art more dimension.

Roanhorse showed a slide of another piece that she said was reminiscent of screen printing.

She showed another portrait of a woman with Prismacolor on canvas with ledger paper from 1897 utilized for clothing.

“It’s pretty delicate but when I get it down, it’s nice.”

She showed another portrait containing actual Pawhuska phone book strips.

She explained, “in Pawhuska the first three digits are always 287. Growing up visiting Pawhuska, I just thought it was the funniest thing when somebody gave their phone number — they’d just give the last four digits.”

She showed a painting of her grandfather, which included Osage orthography.

“I created stencils and spray paint to kind of give it a different effect. And then that’s an actual photograph. …”

On the next slide, she showed a painting of her grandmother, which she described as “more calm” than the one of her grandfather. At the bottom of the painting were red hand prints in a row.

“Those are my daughter’s handprints from when she was five. “The red hand represents friendship on our blankets that we make,” she said.

She showed a painting of her great-great grandfather, Henry Roan.

“Now that you get access to everything on the internet, I stumbled upon the FBI files. You can literally pore through documents and so I started printing off documents … there are actual pieces of the story. Western Union communication back and forth with Hoover. So, I thought that was an interesting way to present it, and you have to get up close to it to see it — to read it.”

For another of her paintings she went to her elders committee to ask for permission to depict tattoos.

“My biggest fear is that someone will see it and be like, ‘oh yeah, I’m going to go get tattoos,’ but these are warrior tattoos. I got the clearance from them. … It’s another opportunity for me to talk about my people and get firsthand information. … With the internet people just assume they know what they want to know about us but if you open a dialogue with people that ask questions about it — I think that’s the best way you can.”

In another painting she uses stippling to create the look of a lazy stitch used in Osage beadwork.

“I just liked the effect … when we were in Santa Fe there were people who thought it was real and they came up and tried to touch it — like real beadwork.”

Regarding her graphic design, she said she does a lot of logos.

“There’s a lot that I have access to so I started to incorporate the photography in and again this is a flyer but if you look closely it’s actually the back of a girl’s shirt. There’s the stitching. It’s a ribbon that goes down and there’s the button that holds the ribbon together. So, it’s just kind of always trying to weave my culture into it.

She said that when Osages see it they recognize what is being depicted.
“It makes me feel good.”

For the Osage Attorney General’s logo she incorporated the scales of justice into the Osage orthography.

For the Oil and Gas Summit she included Osage ribbonwork.

“I get access to moments that most people don’t get to see. When the Killers of the Flower Moon production company came they were cedaring off everybody. She photographed a moment when Chief Standing Bear was being cedared off.

Another photo she had taken was of an eldest son, phonetically “ee-low-mpa” in the Osage language, going to the arbor to dance at In Lon shka for the first time.

“He had a little skip in his walk, and he was proud.”

One day she accompanied the Wildland Fire Department as they fought spring wildfires in the Osage.

She was in a fire truck between Hominy and Skiatook.

“There were fires all around, and it was quite the scene. It was exciting. This was kind of the aftermath.” Fire Chief Ross Walker was in the photo and through the landscape and smoke there was an oil rig in the background.”

Finally, she showed a photo from behind of Chief Standing Bear with his grandson talking to him about getting ready to enter the arbor and be roached, a ceremony in which an eagle feather is placed on the headdress. His uncle Joe Don Brave’s hands are shown assisting with the placement of the headdress.
Another photo she showed was of the first time they brought in the bison on Bluestem Ranch, which is owned by the Osage Nation, and prayed over them, she said.

“The sun was setting and the natural light worked with it.”

“This was at our dance as well. This is one of our elders about to lead all the men into the arbor into our dances — every June.”

Another photo was of the drum being brought to the arbor.

“Each district had their own drum and so it’s very poignant moment to see all the men coming with the drum.”

Crystal Bridges is building a new performing and visual arts complex. Closer to the town square is an old Kraft cheese plant. They’re keeping the structure … but they are completely gutting it.

The director contacted her.

“I was asked if I could design a pattern to be etched on glass that would go on the façade of this building. … I’m honored to do it,” Roanhorse said.

She went to Bentonville, Ark., and the director said, “I just want to honor the people who were here pre-colonial. … It felt really good that they wanted to honor Osage people. That was our hunting territory way before any of this.”
She named the design “sway” explaining her intention that the design would suggest movement and be based on the finger-woven belt worn in Osage women’s regalia.

The belt that is fixed at the waist of Osage women’s regalia, and flows down the back.

“Women wear it, and when you dance, it starts swaying. And when I was a little girl, I used to think that was the coolest thing. I’d be with my aunties, and we’d be dancing … it’s just this moment and this feeling that, again, only Osages would truly understand.

She simplified the design in the belt and created the suggestion of movement in the design.

“The entryway of the design will actually go up and over in a very large scale. Then there’s the façade on this side and it goes up five stories. So, it will have the design, really tiny, going all the way up. … At night they’ll shoot movies on it.

“It’s way bigger than I could ever … and when I went and saw it, it was amazing what they’ve done. I got to work with architects in Chicago. … It’s just been a great experience. … They plan on opening February 2020.

Barbie Turns 60: Fun Facts and Memories

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Sunflower Barbie in her Country Living Home
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Barbie in business attire in her Country Living Home living room

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

My favorite childhood toy, Barbie, turns 60 on March 9. To celebrate this milestone, I wanted to share some of my memories and some fun Barbie facts.

The first Barbie I received, at the age of four, was a hand-me-down Barbie with the eyelashes that were part of the mold. She always looked angry to me and her hair was curly and matted from years of use. I did not bond with her.
My second Barbie was much better in my opinion. She was Malibu Barbie. She was tan and had painted on eyelashes, bright blue eyes and she arrived in a one-piece light blue bathing suit with a yellow terrycloth towel. I have a vague memory that she also had round tinted sunglasses, which were soon lost. Malibu Barbie was my first, and forever favorite, Barbie. She was a reflection of what I wanted to be.

Soon I began accumulating other Barbie dolls and accessories. One that I recall being a favorite was Barbie Sweet 16, which came with a compact filled with real blush in tawny and rose colors, a brush, a comb, barrette and stickers. I also received Mod hair Ken, who had real black hair instead of molded hair and several stick-on mustaches and sideburns. So fun!

Life got even more exciting when my Uncle Bill departed from his usual robot Christmas gifts and gave my sister and me each our own Barbie campers when I was in 3rd grade. The just-out-of-the-box new plastic smell represented the scent of happy times ahead.

Opening that camper is still one of my best-ever memories. The orange camper had a fold out tent on one side, a folding camp-style chair and stickers to put on the camper.

My sister and I also got the Barbie Airship to share. When we found it recently going through my mother’s possessions, she claimed it, and I let her.

However, I proudly brought home the Barbie Country Living Home. The campers were nowhere to be found, I am sad to report.

When I was in 4th grade, a friend was moving to California and her mom put her Barbie Surprise House in their moving sale. Mom wouldn’t buy it for me but in the end the mother gave it to me. I was over the moon!

It was my first Barbie house, but I don’t recall much about it except that it had two rooms on the first floor and one on the second.

The next home I acquired was The Country  Living Home (or Country Livin’ Home) consisting of three rooms, which folded up and had a handle for easy carrying. This house had furniture for a living room, eat-in kitchen and living room.

During my childhood, I also acquired the Barbie Townhouse, which had three floors and an elevator, a Barbie pool and a Barbie bicycle.

Now, here are some fun Barbie factoids I found.

Barbie’s official birthday represents her public debut at the 1959 American International Toy Fair in New York.

However, many may not know that Barbie was based on a racy, grownup German doll, marketed to adults.

According to the website http://mentalfloss.com/article/21036/facts-about-barbie-doll, the concept for an adult doll came from Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler. While in Europe with her children, Handler came across the German Bild Lilli doll, a high-class call girl who began her life as a comic strip and was sold in smoke shops and adult toy stores.

Handler had pitched the idea of an adult doll to her Mattel exec husband before and although her husband had initially rejected at the idea, seeing the Lilli dolls changed his mind.

Bild Lilli’s manufacturer sued Mattel for patent infringement, and the case was eventually dismissed. Thereafter, Mattel officially bought the rights to the doll for $21,600.

The first Barbie retailed for $3. Today, the same Barbie, in mint condition, is worth $27,450, according to the mentalfloss website. The website also states that Barbie was created by an engineer who had previously worked for the Pentagon.

The engineer, Jack Ryan, is the so-called “Father of Barbie”—also helped design the Chatty Cathy doll, which my husband got as a Christmas gift — not his favorite but he adapted by making Chatty Cathy go fast in his fleet of toy trucks.

Here are some Barbie facts from the website the historyofdolls.com.

• One Barbie is sold somewhere in the world every three seconds.
• Barbie has three sisters Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea.
• The first clothing that Barbie had when she appeared on the market was a black-and-white striped swimsuit.
• Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and both Barbie and Ken were named after the son and the daughter of Ruth Handler — Barbara and Kenneth.
• Barbie’s parents are apparently George and Margaret Roberts from Willows, Wis. Other family members include her siblings: Skipper, Tutti, Todd, Stacie, Kelly, and Krissy. Tutti and Todd are twins — but so are Todd and Stacie, apparently (at least according to Todd’s box). She also has cousins named Francie and Jazzie.
• Only adding to that whole twin sibling mystery: Tutti mysteriously disappeared in 1971, so we can only assume that Stacie (introduced in 1992) is Tutti reincarnated.
• Mattel, manufacturer of Barbie, sued MCA Records, for whom band “Aqua” recorded song “Barbie Girl” because they allegedly violated the Barbie trademark. Mattel lost.
Over the years, there have been some Barbie missteps. Here are two.
• In 1963, Barbie came with an accessory book titled “How to Lose Weight” on the back of which was printed “Don’t eat.” In 1965, same book came together with accessory scales which were permanently set to 110 pounds.
• A doll that arrived on the scene in 1975, when I was 10, was Growing Up Skipper. Skipper, Barbie’s kid sister, had been introduced in 1964 by Mattel. This Skipper grew taller and sprouted breasts with the twist of her arm. Yikes!

When I was a child, Barbie’s focus was personal style and fashion and while it is true that her first career was as a teen model, in years since Barbie has pursued many loftier careers for which I am proud.

Here are a few of them — flight attendant, ballerina, tennis pro, executive, candy striper, astronaut, surgeon, Miss America, gold medal gymnast, actress, aerobics instructor, reporter, a rock star, a UNICEF ambassador, an army officer, a journalist, chef, police officer, baseball player, U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Squadron Leader, a paleontologist, a NASCAR driver, a pilot, a sign language teacher, a presidential candidate, an American Idol winner, a zoologist, a Space Camp instructor, teacher and Canadian Mountie. This list is by no means exhaustive. Barbie has had more than 100 careers so far.

 

Sutton Avian Center

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Lena C. Larsson, the executive director of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Center, spoke about the Center’s research and conservation projects at Arvest Bank’s Friday Forum in Bartlesville.

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Lena C. Larsson, Sutton Avian Center Director

The nonprofit was established in Bartlesville 35 years ago. The main facility is on Circle Mountain in Bartlesville on Gap Road on 40 acres.

“Our mission is to use science and education to make conservation happen. …,” she said.

It has set a goal of breeding Attwater chickens, an endangered species.
However, the Center doesn’t have Attwater chickens presently. Instead, it is practicing in-captivity breeding techniques on Greater Prairie Chickens using eggs from Nebraska.

Greater Prairie Chicken breeding
“These past two years we’ve been returning prairie chickens to the area so right now we have a surrogate. We collected eggs in Nebraska and that’s our surrogate breeder stock that we’ve been testing with. We’ve now returned them up to Nebraska these past couple of years,” Larsson said.
Before the prairie chickens are released into the wild, they are placed in acclimation pens for a couple of weeks. The staff camps out in tents near the pens to protect the chickens from predators.
The birds have leg-band transmitters when they are released to track them, she said. The females move outside the area when they breed to prevent inbreeding.
“We had one female that moved 20 miles,” Larsson said.

Masked Bobwhite Quail breeding
Quail are another endangered species breed at the center.
“It’s a cousin of the quail that we have here in Oklahoma. … the males have this rusty red plumage, and they have this dark face,” Larsson said.

The population of the masked bobwhite quail, indigenous to the Sonora Desert in Arizona and Mexico, dwindled beginning with the cattle runs in the late 1800s.
At the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge “they’ve restored the habitat, and we’re releasing birds there again. We have about a quarter of the known population here in Bartlesville,” she said.

After a building renovation in 2016, the Center received breeder stock in 2017 and in 2018 started getting eggs. The eggs are marked to track parentage, placed in an incubator and in 22 days they hatch.

“In quail the males take care of the chicks, and they will adopt baby chicks,” she explained.

After the chicks hatch, they are introduced to adult males and families are formed.

The family groups with 10-18 chicks and an adult are transported to Arizona, and released into the wild when the chicks are three weeks old.

Other projects
Other projects at the Sutton Avian Center are bald eagle projects, lead education, white-tailed ptarmigan research, bird surveys/atlases and outreach/education.

One such outreach/education effort, which Audra Fogle, Sutton Avian Center director of development, is most proud, is the Sutton Art Award.

The competition, currently underway, is open to 10th- through 12th-graders. Up to $20,000 is given in cash prizes to students, and their teachers, for telling the conservation story through art and essays.

The work of the top 20 honorees is displayed at NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show in Tulsa, where the art of professionals is also displayed. The Wildlife Art Show reception, which is open to the public, is from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 2 at The Hive Gallery in Jenks.

“If we don’t teach kids to care about our environment and the natural world, it won’t matter what we do because there won’t be any one out there who cares about it enough to save it,” said Fogle.

To learn more about the Sutton Avian Center, visit their website at https://www.suttoncenter.org/.

Hamilton courts, weds Schuyler

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

When Elizabeth “Betsey” Schuyler reached the age of 18, prospective suitors began to notice of her. An aide-de-camp of George Washington, Tench Tilghman, came to Albany to attend the Indian council early that summer and wrote in his diary that Elizabeth Schuyler was “brunette with the most good-natured, dark lovely eyes I ever saw, which threw a beam of good temper and benevolence over her entire countenance.”

Her father was serving as a general and a trusted friend of George Washington when another of Washington’s aide-de-camps took notice of her — none other than Alexander Hamilton. Elizabeth Schuyler was about 20 at the time.

Two years later, Hamilton met her again when “Gen. Schuyler had been appointed to Congress and had gone to live at Philadelphia with his family,” Brooks wrote.

During 1779-80, the army headquarters were in Morristown about 50 miles from Schuyler’s Philadelphia home, Brooks said. In November Elizabeth Schuyler visited her aunt, Mrs. Cochran, there. Her arrival was mentioned by Miss Kitty Livingston in letters and diaries, which indicated that she considered Elizabeth “a great addition to society there.”

According to Brooks, George Washington’s household was very lively at that time with two of his aides-de-camp seated at the heads of his table — Tench Tilghman and Alexander Hamilton. Washington and his wife always sat opposite one another in the middle of the table with guests all around them, including an “impetuous young Arron Burr.”

Elizabeth Schuyler appeared to be fond of both Tilghman and Hamilton, but over time she began to spend more of her time with Hamilton. Part of the reason this was possible was that her father, Philip Schuyler became a military adviser and moved his family to Morristown.

Tilghman wrote to his brother of his love for Elizabeth, “Hamilton is a gone man,” Brooks said.

The next summer the couple announced their engagement, and Philip Schuyler expressed his approval in letters to Hamilton. They were married Dec. 14, 1780, in the drawing room of the Schuyler Mansion in Albany where they had met three years prior.

Although the couple was not rich, they were popular. George Washington danced with Mrs. Hamilton and one other woman at his inauguration ball, Brooks said.

The Hamiltons, who lived on Wall Street, were always included in Washington’s dinner and theatre parties, she added.

“There are records of many elaborate dinners given by them, notably one in honor of Thomas Jefferson after his return from France,” Brooks wrote.

Theirs was a happy home. A letter written after the birth of Hamilton’s son, to Mead, one of his army friends, states: “You cannot imagine how domestic I am becoming. I sigh for nothing but the society of my wife and baby.”

Hamilton writes about his reason for resigning his position leading the Treasury Department in George Washington’s Cabinet: “To indulge my ‘domestic happiness’ more freely was the principal motive for relinquishing an office in which it is said I have gained some glory.”

Sadly, the peace of their happy home ended suddenly in July 1804 when Hamilton lost his life to political rival Aaron Burr in a duel.

Following his death, “the terrible sorrow of his family cannot be described,” Brooks wrote.

In an article from the New York State Museum website, http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/ Jenny L. Presnell wrote, “He left Elizabeth and his family virtually destitute.”

Mrs. Hamilton raised her children and never remarried. She spent the balance of her life defending her husband against his critics and preserving his papers and letters, which were published in 1850-51 by his son, John Church Hamilton, Presnell said.

“The death of her father four months after her husband’s provided her with some financial relief through her inheritance of property and money. She was able to repurchase The Grange, which had been sold at public auction. She also petitioned the government for her husband’s army pension that he had waived. Not granted until 1837 through a special act of Congress, her petition provided her with $30,000 and included land,” Presnell wrote.

According to Presnell, Elizabeth Schuyler founded orphanages in New York City and Washington, D.C., took orphans into her own home and held a position in the New York Orphan Asylum Society.

Elizabeth Schuyler lived in Washington, D.C. in her later years and died at the age of 97. She was buried next to her husband at the Trinity Church graveyard in New York City.

Colonial Women – Part II

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Due to the success of the musical about him, nearly everyone has been reintroduced to Alexander Hamilton. However, readers may not recognize the maiden name of his wife, Elizabeth Shuyler, who was born Aug. 9, 1757, and raised in Albany, N.Y.

Elizabeth, called Betsey, was the second daughter of Philip Schuyler and his wife Catherine Schuyler. When she was born, her father was a young captain under General Bradstreet, the quartermaster of the English army during the French and Indian War.

In her book “Dames and daughters of colonial days,” Geraldine Brooks writes “when she was only two months old, the frightful massacre of the German Flat occurred and the refugees fled to Albany.”

Brooks said that the Shuyler family sheltered the refuges in the barn of their home. After the war, they built their mansion, which still stands at 32 Catherine St. in Albany, N.Y. Brooks described the mansion, designed by Philip Shuyler, as magnificent and impressively placed on high ground with a view of the river. It was a long, two-storied home with a great large hall and rows of colonial pillars, Brooks said.

Philip Schuyler aspired to create a lovely country life in Albany for his family, and by Brooks’ account, he did.

“On all sides stretched the flourishing vegetable and flower gardens, the orchards and the vineyards, and the fields of flax and grain,” Brooks wrote. “The house overflowed with hospitality and generosity. … The Dutch kitchen was always redolent with the smell of delicious bread and cakes and pies.”

Brooks described candle dipping, cider making, soap making spinning, weaving and dyeing, orchard and crop harvesting along with outdoor festivities were part of the household’s seasonal routine.

However, education was also important to the family and when the time came, Elizabeth Shuyler and her sisters were sent to New York for school. Letters from relatives reveal they took to their studies, were healthy and made good progress there, Brooks said.

During her childhood, Elizabeth Shuyler had a close relationship with local Indians. In fact, she learned weaving, plaiting and other skills from them, Brooks said.

The high regard for Elizabeth and her family were evidenced by a story known to Brooks and retold in her book about Elizabeth Shuyler being named and adopted by the local tribe:

″‘All the chiefs and greatest warriors of the Six Nations,” says the chronicler, “had met in solemn council, row after row of fine specimens of manhood standing silently around an open space where a bit of greensward gleamed in the sunshine. Although they were dressed in all the barbaric pomp of war-paint, there was a peace on their faces as they stood awaiting the approach of a small group of whites — one or two officers in full uniform and a tall, commanding man in the prime of life, leading by the hand a slim girl of about thirteen dressed in white uncovered head and half-curious, half-frightened eyes. This man was Gen. Philip Schuyler, whom the Indians honored as they did no other white man; and they had met to offer him a tribute of devotion. At a sign from their great chief, their ranks parted to admit General Schuyler, who advanced into the open space, still leading his little daughter. There, with much pomp and many ceremonies, the child was formally adopted by the Six Nations, the chiefs ending the sacred rites by laying their hands upon her head and giving her an Indian name meaning ‘One of us.’”

Next week, we will take a look at Elizabeth Shuyler’s courtship, marriage and life as an adult.