THE WORLD OF SAMUEL MEEKER, MERCHANT OF PHILADELPHIA, AND GILBERT STUART, AMERICAN PORTRAIT ARTIST

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Major Samuel Meeker, Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)

detail
family tree book "Pedigree of Major Samuel Meeker"click for bigger view

As I have previously mentioned, the family tree book which traversed the generations alongside the portrait, erroneously bestowed the name of Major Samuel Meeker to the sitter in the portrait. This family tree book I now believe was compiled by Emma Martin, sister of Carrie Martin my gt grandmother. (In the image on the lefthand side, one can see that the tree begins with the three Martin sisters of Rahway New Jersey, Jane, Emma and my gt grandmother Carrie.)

If the book had been compiled even earlier, for example by Mary Brookfield (see image upper/center), chances for misnaming the sitter might have been reduced. However Mary was young when her mother Phebe passsed away and I believe it was at this time point that information on the portrait became vague; but the most important fact was preserved, the name “Samuel Meeker.”

Emma (mom's "gt auntie"), bless her, tried to compile the tree back to Samuel as best she could, but determined that Samuel Meeker was the father of Phebe. [As I know now, Samuel and Phebe were twins.] Emma thus placed the time of the portrait a generation back in time. Which is why she/other family members most likely thought it was by Peale (a famous portrait painter in Philadelphia but a bit earlier than Stuart.) Possibly Emma had come across the more renowned MAJOR Samuel Meeker in the history books of the region, and plausibly thought that such an ILLUSTRIOUS war hero would be interested in having his portrait done to preserve his likeness for posterity.

And in fact the Major DID have a daughter Phebe, solidifying (Emma's) identification of this person as being the sitter in the Portrait.


Major Samuel Meeker achieved his fame by skirmishing with the famous half Indian JOSEPH BRANT (a.k.a. Thayendanegea), Mohawk leader and British military officer during the American Revolution.

Stay tuned!

4 comments:

The Clever Pup said...

Hi Beth,

I work for a small Historical Research firm that specializes in Native Land Claims. I see the name Joseph Brant all the time. For helping the loyalist he was given a large swath of land about 100 miles west of Toronto. The area is now called Brantford and Brant Township. A large Indian Reserve can be found there too.

Little by little he meted out the land to those he favoured.

I look forward to your next installment.

More can be found about him at the Dictionary of Canadian Biograpy on line. http://www.biographi.ca/index-e.html

Beth Ahrens-Kley said...

to my clever puppy
Super Interesting!

emikk said...

that's one heckuva cliffhanger you are leaving us with!

David said...

To see the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Joseph Brant please visit the New York metorpolitan of Art website
http://www.metmuseum.org/special/Gilbert_Stuart/s2_obj_4.R.asp

All good wishes. David

 
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