The story

McAllister Coleman

McAllister Coleman

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McAllister Coleman was a successful basketball player before becoming a sports reporter for the New York Sun. He joined the Socialist Party of America and attempted to convert the important columnist, Heywood Broun, to socialism. He initially rejected the idea: "I like the brotherhood-of-man angle... If I ever get convinced that Socialism will work and really usher in brotherhood I'll probably join up. But Marx was an atheist. I'm a believer. At that, I may be some kind of Christian Socialist."

In August 1933, Coleman joined forces with Heywood Broun, Lewis Gannett, George Britt, Joseph Cookman, Doris Fleeson, Edward J. Angly, Allen Raymond, Frederick Woltman and Carl Randau to establish the American Newspaper Guild in an attempt to improve the wages of journalists. During this period many reporters were only paid $15 a week.

Early in his newspaper career he had become friendly with McAllister Coleman of the Sun, who was a member of the Socialist Party and tried to convert Broun. They had stayed friends through the years, but Broun always put off formally dedicating himself to the cause. He admitted to being strongly influenced by George Bernard Shaw, of the Fabian branch of Socialism, whose plays and pamphlets he constantly reread. He believed Socialism was the creed most likely to usher in the brotherhood of man, but like any civilized fellow, he was dismayed by the oppressions dictated by the Marxist-Leninist¬Stalinist variation in Soviet Russia.

The stepladder shook and swayed as Heywood Broun crawled to the top. He was wearing a dinner jacket, but with a soft shirt because a stiff front would quickly have wadded up from sweat. Four Yipsils stood staunchly at their posts, steadying the ladder. Yipsils were members of the Young People's Socialist League. They were extraordinarily fond of their new comrade, especially for his habit of going to meetings in a spacious limousine hired at the Racquet Club. Returning to the car afterward, he would find it stuffed with Yipsils, as if ready for a hayride.

A good crowd was on hand, drawn by placards put up by the Yipsils. A sizable complement of police was present, too, as customary when Broun spoke.

Slender, bespactacled McAllister Coleman, at the foot of the ladder, waved his arms and shouted up to Broun, "No, no, no!" as Broun's big flask glistened in the light from the street lamps as he slid it from his pocket. But it did no good. Broun raised the flask to his lips. The Socialist position was against this sort of thing.

But the crowd roared its approval. Broun put the flask away. "I talk wet," he said, "and I drink wet."

Hecklers opened up. "Sun dodger," shouted one. That was a reference to the charge that he never came out of doors in the daylight. Another yelled, "Relief for the bartenders!" Broun held up his hands for silence as the cops moved about. After a little he was allowed to speak.

"Friends," he began, "most of you know I'm running for Congress on the Socialist ticket. It has been said that I'm just a columnist out for a lark. Don't you believe that. I'm in dead earnest."

The Yipsils cheered, some of the other listeners applauded, and others booed. The Communists, especially, made a point of sending representatives to heckle "this petty bourgeois clown."

"Why do I seek the office?" Broun went on. "Those who were on the soup line tonight know. So do those of you who pounded the pavements all day looking for work. And also do those who go to their job in fear and trembling that each day will be the last. We Socialists have a program. Indeed, the only program."

More cheers, more boos.

"The Republican incumbent, Mrs. Ruth Pratt," Broun went on in a courteous voice, "is reactionary and lacks initiative. My Democratic opponent, judge Brodsky, is an old-line "hammanyite. They tell me that the Democrats, especially Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, are endeavoring to steal our thunder. They may do that. They may steal our thunder. But, friends" - he raised an arm and his shirt billowed over his trouser front, but his voice rang eloquently - "they dare not steal our lightning!"


James Jackson McAlester, also known "J. J." McAlester, contributed to the development of the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory and later emerged as a prominent and influential leader in the state of Oklahoma. He has been hailed as "the Father of Eastern Oklahoma," and contemporaries acclaimed him as the founder of the Oklahoma coal industry and the southeastern Oklahoma town of McAlester. McAlester served as one of Oklahoma's most respected businessmen and politicians.

Born in Sebastian County, Arkansas, on October 1, 1842, McAlester spent his formative years in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Volunteering for service in the Confederate army at the outbreak of the Civil War, he rose to the rank of captain prior to discharge. At the conclusion of the war McAlester boarded with Oliver Weldon while pursuing studies in Fort Smith. Weldon, a former engineer who had surveyed Indian Territory, gave McAlester his memorandum book that detailed vast coal fields at the Cross Roads area in Indian Territory. With this valuable information, McAlester left school and moved to Indian Territory. At age twenty-four he entered the Choctaw Nation. He found employment with the Indian trading firm of Harlan and Rooks. Later he worked for Reynolds and Hannaford, a firm of post traders. Eventually McAlester bought out his partners and established a store near the outcroppings of coal.

In 1872 McAlester courted and married Rebecca Burney, a Chickasaw girl and sister of Ben Burney, a future governor of the Chickasaw Nation. This union brought McAlester full citizenship and rights in both Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. His citizenship entitled him to stake a claim to coal deposits within a one-mile radius from point of discovery. Over time, McAlester's interests in coal burgeoned, and with the arrival of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway through the crossroads area, the J. J. McAlester Mercantile Company flourished as coal production soared.

During McAlester's colorful lifetime he worked in politics, mining, banking, business, law enforcement, and ranching. In 1893 Pres. Grover Cleveland appointed him the U.S. marshal for Indian Territory. He served one term ending in 1897. From 1907 to 1911 he acted as a member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. In 1911 the people of Oklahoma elected him lieutenant governor under Gov. Lee Cruce. On September 21, 1920, J. J. McAlester died in the town that bears his name.


Coleman Cole Collection, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Dawes Roll Census Card, 22 September 1904, "James Jackson McAlester," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Linda C. English, "Inside the Store, Inside the Past: A Cultural Analysis of McAlester's General Store," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 81 (Spring 2003).

J. J. McAlester Collection, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Paul Nesbitt, "J. J. McAlester," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 11 (June 1933).

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McAlister Coleman

McAlister Coleman died on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, just one month after reaching his 83rd birthday on Jan 31.

“Mac,” as he was best known, had been a Manchester resident since 1969, when he moved to town to begin a 30-year teaching career at Endicott College. That same year, he and his spouse, Margaret “Peggy” (Dyer) Coleman, became the parents of Maya Coleman, a Manchester High School graduate and now a child psychologist in private practice in the Washington, D.C., area.

Born Jan. 28, 1932, Mac was the son of parents whose commitment to social change shaped his own values, in which good questions rather than answers were his most important guides. His father, McAlister Coleman, was a well-known Socialist Party activist whose defense of the rights of West Virginia coal miners to organize had a great impact on his son. Mac’s mother, Dr. Ruth Fox, was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and a pioneer in the treatment of alcoholism in the United States. Dr. Fox was a founding member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), and was instrumental in shaping society’s understanding of alcoholism as a disease.

Mac’s early life was spent with his parents in New York City, Radburn, N.J., and Martha’s Vineyard. He also spent significant periods of time with his beloved cousins in East Falls Church, Va. Mac graduated from the Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1950 and went on to Bard College, graduating in 1954. As a Quaker whose value of pacifism remained important to him for his entire life, Mac registered as a conscientious objector after graduation, and served in New York City and Chicago. He later received a Master of Fine Arts from the Columbia University School of Painting and Sculpture and a Masters of Teaching from the Columbia University Teachers College in New York City.

Mac met Peggy at Columbia Teachers College. They married in 1962, and moved together to teach at the Northfield–Mount Hermon Schools in 1964. They each founded and taught in their respective departments at the schools, Mac in the art department and Peggy in the Russian department.

During his tenure at Endicott, Mac created a series of large-scale welded steel pieces titled “Western Totems,” in which he used mathematical equations to express important relationships. One piece, “Being Included Is Not the Same as Belonging,” is exhibited on campus. His last welded steel piece, “Three Russian Dancers,” was recently returned from Martha’s Vineyard to his home on Friend Street. This piece combines the themes of the couple’s professions, and was inspired in part by Peggy’s longtime work as the director of the Russian-American Cultural Center in Boston. Later in his career he worked primarily in granite, and spent one memorable summer teaching his daughter how to carve smaller-scale pieces.

Mac is survived by his wife of 53 years, Margaret “Peggy” (Dyer) Coleman his daughter, Maya Coleman, and Maya’s spouse, Professor Binny Miller of the Washington College of Law at American University and his 9-year-old granddaughter, Moxie Coleman-Miller. He is survived by a niece, Katy Allen of California, and many other nieces and nephews from his wife’s nine siblings. He was preceded in death by his sister, Ann Allen of West Tisbury. Burial will be in Chilmark in the spring. Please do not send flowers a gesture of support in his name to a friend in need or a family in need is the suggested way of honoring Mac’s life.

Eugene V. Debs: A Man Unafraid by McAlister Coleman

From a Review by H.L. Mencken in the American Mercury, August 1930.

“Mr. Coleman has told his story very well.”

MR. COLEMAN’S sub-title may seem a bit pretentious, but the record bears it out. Debs was one of those fanatics who are simply unacquainted with the meaning of fear. At a time when practically all of the other Socialists of America were running ignominiously for cover he stood his ground magnificently and went to jail without a quaver. He would have gone to the gallows, I believe, in the same serene and unperturbed manner. Perhaps it is something of a slander to call him a Socialist at all. He died without knowing more than the A B C of Marxism, and had relatively little to do with its chief prophets. The shabbiness of spirit that is their chief mark, at least on this side of the water, was not in him. An ignorant man, and, in more than one way, a childishly silly man, he yet managed to show a singular fineness of character.
Someday, I suppose, his admirers will be comparing him to Lincoln, as Lincoln is compared to Jesus. The likeness is faulty in each case. Lincoln was a far shrewder and more politic fellow than Jesus, and Debs was far braver and more forthright than Lincoln. In old Abe, in fact, the cross-roads politician was always visible. He never did anything without figuring out its consequences to five places of decimals, and when those consequences promised to damage his private fortunes he usually found a good reason to refrain. But Debs banged through life without caring a damn, innocent and cocksure. He got into trouble very often, but I can find no evidence that he was ever bothered by doubts.
If common decency ever gets any credit in America, and the schoolbooks are revised accordingly, there will be a chapter in them on the great encounter between Debs and Woodrow Wilson. They never met face to face, for Wilson was in the White House and Debs was in prison nevertheless, their souls came together, and it was old Gene’s that won hands down.
The conflict between them had been fought out in the world many times before, but never by two such perfect champions. On the side of Wilson were power, eminence, learning, glory, a vast forensic skill, a haughty manner, and the almost unanimous support of the American press and people on the side of Debs there was only the dignity of an honest and honorable man. Debs remained behind the bars, but Wilson danced naked before the world, exposed to posterity as the abject and pathetic bounder that he was. It was his tragedy that he was not only quite unable to achieve decency himself, but also quite unable to recognize it in other men. When he died Harding turned Debs loose, with a gesture both generous and charming. Thus it remained for a boozy Elk out of the Jimson weed country to teach manners to a Princeton Presbyterian….
The whole labor movement in the United States is in the hands of sleek, oily gentlemen who have learned that it is far more comfortable to make terms with the bosses than to fight them. These gentlemen, as I have said, are well fed and well tailored, and have no sympathy with dreamers. Presently they will be collecting money for a monument to old Sam Gompers. But they will never propose a monument to Debs. • In the long run, however, he will probably be recalled, at all events by romantics. There was genuinely heroic blood in him, though he sacrificed himself to a chimera. Mr. Coleman has told his story very well.

Chapter History

Mobile Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated was chartered as Beta Eta Sigma on January 31, 1942. On this day, seven Deltas and three initiates constituted the Chartered Body.

Harveyette McAllister Taylor, Vice President

Sarah Branch Taylor, Secretary

M. Evelyn Ware Matthews, President

Dorothy Coleman Rushing, Financial Secretary

(Initiates: Frances Wilson Abrams, Dr. Georgia Oden Stevens and Ruth Smith Rhone Williams)

During the 24th National Convention held in Detroit Michigan in December 1956, a revision in the nomenclature for graduate chapters was put into effect as delegates voted that hereafter a graduate chapter shall be designated as an Alumnae Chapter and identified according to the community in which it was located. Accordingly, Beta Eta Sigma Chapter became Mobile Alumnae Chapter.

Since its inception, Mobile Alumnae Chapter has provided the community with many civic and cultural services that include supplying books on Black History to the Prichard and Toulminville libraries, sponsoring competency skill and test-taking tutorial programs, spearheaded special education class at Dunbar School, this class was the first of its kind for the Mobile County Public school system. Purchased a Community Life Development Center to house community service projects, sponsor Delteen, Delta Academy, and Project DELTA activities, awards scholarships to high school seniors, contribute monetarily to special efforts some to include the Red Cross, Sickle Cell Foundation, United Negro College Fund, NAACP and YWCA.

Mobile Alumnae Chapter has hosted two Southern Regional Conferences, 1955 and 1976 and spearheaded the establishment of the Cluster Founders Day. Additionally, Mobile Alumnae Chapter purchased the first African American sorority house in Mobile County.

Mobile Alumnae Chapter established the Iota Nu City-Wide Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The ten young ladies represented the University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, and the University of Mobile. The chapter was chartered on April 23, 1972.

McAllister Coleman - History

Orange County, New York

Welcome to New York Genealogy Trails!

This Orange County Website
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If you have a love for history, a desire to help others, and basic webpage-making skills, consider joining us!
Get the details on our Volunteer Page .
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We regret that we are unable to
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All data we come across is placed on this website, so feel free to keep checking back.

Orange County History

The county was first created in 1683 and reorganized with its present boundaries in 1798.
The county seat is Goshen.

Orange County was officially established on November 1, 1683, when the Province of New York was divided into twelve counties. Each of these was named to honor a member of the British royal family, and Orange County took its name from the Prince of Orange, who subsequently became King William III of England. As originally defined, Orange County included only the southern part of its present-day territory, plus all of present-day Rockland County further south. The northern part of the present-day county, beyond Moodna Creek, was then a part of neighbouring Ulster County.

Middletown * Newburgh * Port Jervis

Blooming Grove * Chester * Cornwall * Crawford * Deerpark * Goshen * Greenville * Hamptonburgh * Highlands *
Minisink * Monroe * Montgomery * Mount Hope * New Windsor * Newburgh * Palm Tree * Tuxedo * Wallkill *
Warwick * Wawayanda * Woodbury

Chester * Cornwall on Hudson * Florida * Goshen * Greenwood Lake * Harriman * Highland Falls * Kiryas Joel *
Maybrook * Monroe * Montgomery * Otisville * South Blooming Grove * Tuxedo Park *
Unionville * Walden * Warwick * Washingtonville * Woodbury

Census-designated places
Balmville * Beaver Dam Lake * Firthcliffe * Fort Montgomery * Gardnertown * Mechanicstown *
Mountain Lodge Park * New Windsor * Orange Lake * Pine Bush * Salisbury Mills * Scotchtown *
Vails Gate * Walton Park * Washington Heights * West Point

Amity * Arden * Bellvale * Bullville * Carpenter's Point * Central Valley * Circleville * Highland Mills * Howells *
Little Britain * Michigan Corners * Mountainville * New Hampton * Pine Island * Ridgebury * Slate Hill *
Sparrow Bush * Sugar Loaf * Thompson Ridge * Westbrookville

County Seat: Goshen
Year Organized: 1683
Square Miles: 816

Courthouse Info:
County Government Center
255-275 Main Street
Goshen, NY 10924-1621

Episode 3: Strange Creatures

There are reports and cases all around the world of strange creatures or cryptids. One such creature is the Mothman, a huge humanoid type figure with bat-like wings and fiery red eyes. Legends portray the monster as a sort of grim reaper that surfaces when bad luck or disasters are imminent. (Credit: Prometheus Entertainment)

The continental North American Chupacabra is a four-legged animal about the size of a dog. It is completely hairless, with a bluish gray, elephant hide-type of covering. They also display a number of abnormal characteristics oftentimes their limbs are disproportionate lengths. Could this mythical creature actually exist? Or is this monster better left unexplained? (Credit: Carlos Angeli)

The word Chupacabra literally means goat sucker, causing cryptozoologists to wonder if this is some kind of strange hybrid-like dog. They theorize that it might, perhaps, even a cross between a canine and vampire bat. But is this legendary creature a figment of the imagination? Or could it be a living, breathing animal? (Credit: Felipe Escobar)

The legend of the Goat Man began in Maryland in 1971. This mysterious cryptid has the appearance of an upright human, but with a goat-like head, glowing red eyes and huge horns. The Goat Man’s frightening look has led many to believe him to be the devil himself. (Credit: Getty Images)

According to legend, the Goat Man hunts in the darkness. A monster seemingly drawn from a nightmare, it walks on two legs like a human but has the head of a beast. It is a creature so horrifying, that it is rarely spoken about above a whisper. (Credit: Lew Lashmit)

All over the world, legions of cryptozoologists insist that somewhere out there are hundreds of weird, bizarre, nightmarish creatures that hide in the shadows and terrorize small towns. They are creatures like the Jersey Devil, which has terrorized the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey for centuries. (Credit: Evan Tortorelli)

Native to Florida, the Skunk Ape is a cryptid creature that defies what we know about flesh and blood animals. Usually preceded by a foul stench, this horrifying creature has been terrorizing the American south for decades. (Credit: Loren Coleman)

The Mongolian Death Worm is a hideous looking creature. Rumored to be between one and two feet long and native to the Gobi Desert, stories of its existence have been passed down for generations. The tiniest bit of venom from this mysterious cryptid is said to cause instant death, leaving the local residents fearful that they won’t even see this terrifying creature coming. (Credit: Xavier Minguell Solanes)

In South Africa, in 1938, a group of fishermen returning home noticed something much larger than normal in their daily catch. It measured five feet long, weighed 200 pounds and was covered with strange, silver markings. After careful examination, the creature was finally identified as a Coelacanth, a large salt water fish that was thought to be extinct for the past 65 million years. This living fossil was supposed to have died out with the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, which makes this a fascinating discovery. (Getty Images)

One of the most compelling cryptids ever investigated is the Tasmanian Tiger, or the Thylacine. They were considered legendary or mythological, until living specimens were discovered and documented by scientists, but the last verified specimen died in 1936. However, since its presumed extinction, there have been thousands of reported sightings of Tasmanian tigers on both the island of Tasmania and mainland Australia. (Murray McAllister)

Featured Displays

This display features military aircraft used from WWI to Vietnam, each country and war theater is featured separately with a header naming the country and aircraft insignia used in that war. Aircraft models are identified with a model identification and the country markings identified, such as a Curtiss P-40 with Chinese, USA, or Russian insignia.

To add further interest to the display we included a compass used in a Japanese bomber, and a Japanese flight computer used by fighter pilots that they strapped to their leg. Also included is a Japanese handheld wind speed/compass used in the Willow trainer this item was sent to us by a Japanese visitor who had recognized the Willow model in the Museum’s display.

Another addition is a survival radio that U.S. fighter pilots carried in case they were shot down during the Vietnam war. Most of the airplane models were painted in the markings and paint scheme of a particular pilot that Bob Hill referenced from his collection of KOKO FAN magazines which we have in our archives.

Bob Hill (1935-2009), Model Aircraft Builder and Aviation Artist

After serving in the Air Force Bob Hill worked for several sign companies before taking a job as a graphic arts instructor at J.M. Perry Institute, he instructed there for 20 years before retiring. Bob did striping and murals on hundreds of cars around Yakima plus advertising signs on commercial businesses. One of his hobbies was building model aircraft, another was aviation paintings. After he passed away his family donated to the museum 288 of his finished model aircraft and 7 of the 48 aircraft paintings he completed. Volunteers built the display cases, identified the aircraft and paid for the glass shelves.

McAllister Coleman - History

partner of William Branny mother of William bpt. 5 Jun 1859 at Ardglass/ Dunsford Catholic Church

married Francis William Jennings of Ballynacraig 3 Apr 1846 at Inch Church of Ireland mother oof Jane bpt. 11 Jan 1847 & John bpt. 3 Feb 1849 & Francis bpt. 19 Dec 1853 (d. 1883 aged 29) & William bpt. 2 Jun 1851 & Edward bpt. 13 May 1856 & Robert bpt. 31 Jul 1858 (d. 1886 aged 28) & Eliza Ann bpt. 14 Nov 1860 & Ellen bpt. 28 May 1863 & Isabella bpt 14 Jan 1868 at Inch Church of Ireland (d. New York 1947 aged 79) died 17 Jan 1892 aged 71 & buried Inch graveyard

partner of Margaret McCalllister father of Mary (illegitimate) bpt. 4 Nov 1855 at Ardglass/ Dunsford Catholic Church

regd. Ballylesson husband of Susan Lynas father of John b. 1 Jun 1866

regd. Clough husband of Isabella Bryans father of Barbara Elleen b. 17 Nov 1867

wife of James Ward of Carsonstown then Saintfield (1840) mother of Isabella bpt. 24 Nov 1838 & Isabella bpt. 17 Jul 1840 & Edward bpt. 8 Jun 1843 at Saintfield Catholic Church

partner of Kitty Thomson (?) father of Catherine (illegitimate) bpt. 20 Jun 1856 at Ardglass/ Dunsford Catholic Church

b. 4 Jul 1860 in Clanawilliam, son of John McAlister & Mary O'Keenan married Ellen Breen of Brookborough Co. Fermanagh 23 Jun 1885 father of Daniel b. 1887 (died 1978 in St. Germaine en Laye, France) & Patrick b. 20 Jan 1888 (d. 25 Jul 1881, a wine merchant ) & Benjamin & John Aloysius b. 14 Oct 1889 (d. 19 Feb 1912 in Nebrasksa US) & Hannah & Hugh Theobald b. 10 Aug 1891 (d. 18 Oct 1918 in Texas USA) & Mary Ellen b. 2 Dec 1893 (d. aged 9 , buried Kilcoo Catholic graveyard) & James Francis b. 17 Mar 1896 (unmarried & living in Belfast in 1925, married Kathleen Maguire in 1932 & Charles Leo b. 1898 (married Jossie Walsh) & Daniel (never married) & Francis (married twice in USA) & James (married Mary McClean of Burren)

Caroline, who was often called Lina, was born in September 22, 1830 to a very prominent wealthy family. She was the youngest of 10 children, and very much the family pet.

Her father Abraham was not only well thought of in New York business, but he and his wife, Helen White Schermerhorn, were established in high society when Lina was born.

Caroline was, naturally, raised in that New York society. She enjoyed the life a life of privilege- doted on by nannies, servants, and tutors. We talk about her early life, and what proper bred young ladies learned, and their lives in New York, and Paris. And how academics took a backseat…waaay in the back.

Can’t talk about Caroline without a chat about the Gilded Age! The rapid economic and population growth had creation of a whole lot of social conflict. This period of time is called the Gilded Age because it looks golden, but looks are deceiving. Mark Twain and his co-writer Charles Dudley Warner, get credit for labeling the period in his book: The Gilded Age, a Tale of Today.

Back to Caroline…we fill in the blanks, but once she is grown, and ready to marry, her parents look at the Astor family. Caroline marries William Backhouse Astor, Jr. She has her breeding, her upbringing, her family’s money and now her husband with his money. She is in the position she was raised for. Love shmove, who needs it?

What is a properly bred woman at this age to do? First, she has to have some babies to raise in the manner she was raised. Within 10 years she has five children—4 girls and a boy -and off goes the baby machine. For about 20 years she is taking care of home and social business, hanging with her peeps, and history doesn’t place her much of anywhere. Although we like to talk about what that life is like.

William spends much of his time…away. He is not all that active in family business. We talk on the podcast about what he WAS active doing. But, basically, he owns real estate all over the place and spends time in Florida working deals, and at the family estate, Ferncliff, in upstate NY, and on his yacht, the largest in the world, the Ambassadress (also called The Floating Harem).

Ambassadress, painting by James Edward Buttersworth

Lina has the children almost raised, and the girls are ready to get paired off in marriage. She looks around and sees that the city is becoming a bulls-eye for new monied social climbers. Lina can’t have her New York Society over run by these people! They don’t appreciate the heritage! They flaunt their wealth! Oh, no, they are not our type dear. (This is the highly simplified, written History Chicks version. We go into some nifty stories on the podcast, especially one about A.T. Stewart.)

Enter Samuel Ward McAllister.

A southern gentleman who is, as his life’s work, basically a snob. He had been an attorney, raised in a fairly wealthy family, and traveled around Europe studying titled nobility. He is also an expert on wines and sauces. Yes, sauces. Think what you will, we did.

His wife was fairly wealthy, and pretty much out of the picture. William was out doing who knows what, so Caroline needed an escort for all the many social functions that she had on her plate. Since Ward wasn’t doing anything industrious at the time, except being obsessed with society and becoming prominent in it, he becomes her eminence grise ( look it up). Or she becomes his. We never are sure. Although that doesn’t stop us from speculating!

An idea is born to solve what Ward and Caroline see as a problem: defining who is in and out of society. The 400 and the Patriarchs Balls.

25 New Yorkers (The Patriarchs)would give several balls each season at Delmonico’s restaurant. Each of the 25 would be responsible for inviting 4 ladies and 5 gentlemen. The goal was to define society by and within this group. If you were invited to the balls, you were in. If not, you better go hide out for the night.

Who decided on the 25? Ward and a couple of his guy pals. They could ignore the new money, give a slight hand to slightly less new money, and totally fill the list with people they deemed fit for society—the older monied, of course. The 25 did grow to 50 over the years, with the addition of some newer money, the theory was that this tier would do their darndest to keep out upstarts who wanted in.

How did you get in? Anyone who made their wealth via a trade was out if you had three generations in New York you stood a chance. If you were flashy with your cashy- out. If you had a box at the opera, maybe in. Calling card etiquette alone was daunting- these people had rules and if you didn’t follow them? Out.

Brilliant way to form a clique, non?

Mrs. Astor’s art gallery/ballroom

(The painting above the fireplace is of herself the nude dominating the wall to the left is NOT her, but is Jules Lefebvre’s “Odalisque”. )

Close up of the giganto portrait under which she greeted guests.

How did they get the name The 400? We bust a myth, and settle on one: Ward said there are only about 400 people in New York who are comfortable in a ballroom. He wasn’t far off – the lists numbered in the upper 300’s.

Of course, we talk about what went on at these affairs, the activities, the menus, THE CLOTHES! We could talk for a full episode about Worth gowns alone!

But we also tell you about a super amazing historical project that YOU can get involved in through the New York Public Library–even if you live far, far away from New York, like Kansas City! Imagine!

The 400 thing works for a while. Caroline is holding court on her velvet divan set up in her ballroom. She and Ward are dictating what is proper in society, making sure the rules are followed. The plan works not only in New York in the winter society season, but also in Newport in the summers. Caroline has a mighty impressive cottage in Newport called Beechwood. Yes, we talk about Newport! How can we not?

The Astor’s cottage in Newport, Beechwood

For about 10 years this system is in play. One family that has been snubbed is the Vanderbilts. I know, right? THE Vanderbilts! But they were not deemed worthy by Lina and Ward, regardless of the amount of cash they had. She felt them not ladies and gentlemen. Out.

Well, that is the extremly short, not exactly accurate version. The longer one admits that Astors attended a Vanderbilt wedding. That there were Vanderbilts invited to Patriarch balls. That the Vanderbilts were in society—but just not deep enough for one certain woman who takes off her gloves and throws down the gauntlet to represent the arrivistes, the people just trying to enter society: Alva Vanderbilt.

Topping the 400!: A Movie

Starring: Alva Vanderbilt, and her multi-million-dollar tricked out French chateau mansion in NYC, and invitations for all to a super swank mansionwarming party. Invitations to all, that is, except the William B. Astors.

Co-starring: Carrie Astor- deb daughter of Caroline who wants to attend THE fancy dress ball party of the season at the Vanderbilt’s new mansion. “But Mother! I don’t care if you have not paid a call to Mrs Vanderbilt! Do it! I have a dance all planned! Mother!”

Featuring: Mrs Astor’s calling card: which appears just before the ball, acknowledging the Vanderbilts as welcomed into society.

This event really is the beginning of the end of society as Mrs. Astor and Ward McAllister saw it. She keeps throwing her balls and dinners in NYC and Newport, but it’s not the same any longer. Not as elite as in her heyday.

Bring back the lights! There are still some dramatic twists in Caroline’s life!

How did she become “The” Mrs. Astor? Simple, drop the “William” from her title of Mrs. William Astor. There are other contenders for the title, most notably her nephews wife, BUT Caroline feels entitled to the title and she takes it. And people listen. A great deal of this is played out in the press, who make it a bigger deal than it really was, but it makes for a great story, don’t you think?

How did they all fare later in life? Of course we go into a bit more detail on the podcast but basically:

William B. Astor dies of an aneurism in Paris. Sad.

William’s brother, John Jacob Astor III, dies and leaves his wealth to his first-born son- William Waldorf Astor, who rips down Dad’s house and builds a hotel- The Waldorf. This William Astor was living in England, a move we will talk about in another podcast- but the two sides of the family never got along so well. He wants to physically trump his Aunt Caroline by building this massive structure right next door. She, eventually, rips down her own house and builds another hotel, The Astoria. Eventually the two hotels merge, via a walkway called Peacock Alley, to become the Waldorf-Astoria. That gets ripped down as well, moves to another part of the city (at least, the name does, though strangers now owned it) and in its place is now the Empire State Building.

Mrs. Astor’s house, dwarfed by the Waldorf Hotel, which she liked to call “that glorified tavern.”

What the hotel finally looked like, all put together. Note AT Stewart’s “hideous” house just across the street.

Her final house – shared with her son. Hmmm. Looks like the Stewarts were just ahead of their time. This looks familiar!

Ward? Quite full of himself he writes a tell-all entitled , Society As I Have Found It. Uh, not well received by society- they are not keen on publicity, Lina and Ward taught them that–he pretty much gets shunned and dies alone.

Alva? Having achieved her goal of entering society becomes a head of it in both NY and Newport. She divorces William K, marries another gentleman of society, Oliver Belmont. She puts her energy to other interests including becoming a suffragist and marrying off her daughter Consuelo… but that is a whole other tale of this fascinating Gilded Age that we will tell next time.

And Caroline? She kinda goes crazy with dementia, has a heart ailment, and a stroke. She leaves society – although not in her head. She still lives as if she is entertaining for many years-and dies in 1908 at the age of 78.

Four years later, the Titanic goes down, taking her only son- John Jacob Astor, IV with it.

Caroline’s son, John Jacob Astor, IV

Her body is entered in the Astor family vault, but a cenotaph is erected in her honor to memorialize her.

Cenotaph in NYC, for Caroline Astor

Time Travel with The History Chicks

You can’t tour Caroline’s mansion in real life, but this blog has a fun pictoral tour of her summer home, Beechwood, taken when the estate was a living history museum.

There are some Newport, RI mansions that you CAN—we recommend The Elms—but check all of them out here. Be sure to book the “back stairs tour” ahead of time – space is very limited!

This blog is devoted to Gilded age archetecture… Pictures and floorplans a plenty! This link will take you to the floorplans of the mansion that she shared with her son, but play around on the site.

We hope we sold you on clicking over to the New York Public Library and assisting with transcribing history via their amazing menu collection! Go do your part, it’s easy and very interesting!

If you are hankering for some more New York history, no one does it better than fellow podcasters, The Bowery Boys. Surely you know them! Go listen, absorb. Podcasts on itunes- these guys have been at it for awhile so there is an archived listing , as well as a current one. Or check them out here:

The New York Times has archived society columns discussing Patriarchs Balls and other events…you could spend a great deal of time reading these:

Want to follow current New York Society? Check out this site :

Beckett recommended this one:

Mrs. Astor’s New York:Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age

Displaying Women: Spectacles in Leisure in Edith Wharton’s New York, By Maureen E. Montgomery

Watch the video: Monetizing Yourself As An Artist - YI T u0026 DatDudeBiggz (August 2022).