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Mappy Monday- The Springsteens in Brooklyn, NY, 1848-9

Jefferson Springsteen in 1848 Brooklyn City Directory
Jefferson Springsteen in 1848 Brooklyn City Directory and Annual Advertiser for the Years 1848-9, page 213, comp. by Thomas P. Teale, pub. by E.B. Spooner, Brooklyn, NY, 1848, via InternetAchive.org. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909) and his wife, Anna Connor (1824-1887), are hard to trace in their early lives. Both have fairly common surnames-especially Anna, with a common first name too. Anna was born in Ireland thus was an immigrant; the names of her parents are unknown, increasing the difficulty. Both Jefferson and his family apparently moved about in the northeast (New York, New Jersey) until they settled in Indianapolis in the early 1850s.

Brooklyn city directories are now available online for many years, and I finally found an entry for Jeff, with his last name listed as “Springstan” which was a new variation to me.

This city directory states that Jefferson lived at “116 Hudson av” in Brooklyn, NY in 1848. The first thing I do when I know an address is look it up on Google Maps, to get an idea of the area.

[Above, embedded GoogleMap from https://www.google.com/maps/place/116+Hudson+Ave,+Brooklyn,+NY+11201/@40.7045616,-74.0165205,12777m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c25bcd6e88e27d:0xfb6d025aa4780125?hl=en-US]

If there is a house there, I check Zillow.com (or local property tax records) to see when the house was built. (In some instances, it is the same house that our ancestor lived in!) A search showed 116 Hudson (which runs basically N-S) to be between the blocks of Marshall and John St., south of the East River and west of the Navy Yard. Looking at the Street View, it shows an industrial area- definitely the house is long gone. The house would have been a long block from the river to the north, and the same to the Navy Yard. It probably was not a very glamorous area, being so close to the river, even back in 1848 when the Springsteens lived there.

The next thing to do is look for a map printed close to the date of interest- in this case, 1848. Unfortunately, some of those maps that are online just are not readable when enlarged, so they did not help much. I did find a map drawn in 1865. A lot changed in Brooklyn between 1848 and 1865- the population boomed- but the map is still better than a current day map to give us a feel for the number of roads and where they went.

1866 Johnson Map of New York City and Brooklyn, NY
Section of 1866 Johnson Map of New York City and Brooklyn, NY, via Wikipedia; see below for source. Public domain. (Click to enlarge.)

Hudson Avenue is in the pink section to the left of the Navy Yard. Hudson Avenue continues to the river, where the Hudson Ferry docked and transported customers across. New York ferries were the first real mass transit in the US. Brooklyn and New Jersey had become ‘suburbs’ of New York, with over 60,000 of those who had been born in NYC moving there, and they needed a way to get to work. The East River ferries carried even more passengers per day than those that crossed the Hudson (to New Jersey). Every 5-10 minutes one of six ferries would begin an East River crossing, with a total of 1,250 crossings per day. The fare was a penny, and they no longer accepted wampum as the earliest ferries had done. The ferries were probably steamboats, which Robert Fulton, an owner of a ferryboat, had invented in 1807. He used a center paddlewheel boat so it would not require a large space in which to turn around; this made getting on to the next trip faster as well.

I wonder how many time Jeff and Anna Springsteen travelled on the Hudson Ferry?

By the mid-1850s, slightly after Jeff and his family left Brooklyn, it had become large enough to be the third most populous city in America. So they lived there during quite  a boom time.

There is a wonderful website full of (copyrighted) images called “Whitman’s Brooklyn- A virtual visit circa 1850.” It has wonderful 3D maps and images from the years when Walt Whitman, America’s poet, lived in Brooklyn. Taking a look at the images will give insight into what life might have been like for Jefferson and Anna and their five children who were born in Brooklyn between 1844 and 1852. (Four more were born after the move to Indianapolis, Indiana.)

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Brooklyn City Map: Google Maps at https://www.google.com/maps/place/116+Hudson+Ave,+Brooklyn,+NY+11201/@40.7032041,-73.980758,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c25bcd6e88e27d:0xfb6d025aa4780125

2) “The Twin Cities of Brooklyn and New York in 1866” by Alvin Jewett Johnson – Johnson, A. J., Johnson’s New Illustrated Family Atlas. (1866 Johnson Edition) This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, a specialist dealer in rare maps and other cartography of the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as part of a cooperation project.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooklyn#/media/File:1866_Johnson_Map_of_New_York_City_and_Brooklyn_-_Geographicus_-_NewYorkCity2-johnson-1866.jpg

3) NY Harbor History: A Glance Back in Time: http://www.baycrossings.com/dispnews.php?id=1006

4) Whitman’s Brooklyn- A Virtual Visit Circa 1850: http://whitmans-brooklyn.org/

 

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Shopping Saturday: Springsteens Keeping the Lights On in 1845

1845 Candles Advertisement, page 20, Doggets New York City Directory via archive.org
1845 Candles Advertisement, page 20, Doggets New York City Directory via archive.org. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Twenty years ago, keeping the lights on was as simple as flipping a switch, and our shopping Saturday dilemma was whether to get soft white or bright white lightbulbs, and which wattage. Today it is more complicated, with rows of incandescent, halogen, LED, Edison, and other types of lightbulbs lining store shelves, with a myriad variety of bases. (More technology= simpler lifestyle??)

Keeping the lights on was complicated for our ancestors, too. Jefferson and Anna Connor Springsteen, living in Brooklyn, NY in 1845, did not have the luxury of flipping a switch, but had to deal with oil for lamps and candles, as well as wood for stoves/fireplaces which would also provide a little light. No wonder families tended to get up at dawn and go to bed when it got dark- you could save a lot of money by buying less oil and candles! For those on the frontier, where goods and stores were scarce, making their own or doing without was the only way they could survive.

Oil lamps have been used since ancient times, with a variety of oils used as fuel. Candles have been made from a variety of substances throughout the years as well. Beeswax candles are considered to be the very best, however they are also very expensive since bees make such a small amount of wax for each hive- they could never keep up with the booming American economy that was ten times as large in 1860 as it had been in 1800. In 1858, kerosene began to take the place of animal-based oils in lamps, and paraffin began to be used for candles. Paraffin was inexpensive, burned cleanly and without odor, but melted easily. Once stearin was discovered, it was added to candles and raised the melting point, so they would not soften in hot weather or warm buildings.

Whale oil lamp of the 18th/20th century. Photographed at Dithmarscher Landesmuseum Meldorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Iron with cotton wicker.via Wikipedia, CC License.
Whale oil lamp of the 18th/20th century. Photographed at Dithmarscher Landesmuseum Meldorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Iron with cotton wicker.via Wikipedia, CC License.

Sperm Oil and Candles

Living in the northeast in a port city and so close to the ocean, the Springsteens would have had easy access to oil from whales. Whaling provided a lot of products in the early 1800s, including oil, which was used for lamps, making candles, as a lubricant for machinery including the booming railroads’ rolling stock; locomotive headlights used whale oil too. Sperm whale oil was used for light, fast-moving machinery, such as that in the cotton mills. Heavier whale oil, derived from a number of species, would be used in the heavy machinery like locomotive engines.

Whalers would boil the blubber from a whale to create oil, put it in casks and it would be sold around the country for lubricants and illumination, as well as for use in the manufacture of soaps, varnish, and paints. Spermaceti, a waxy oil from the head of the whale (it was used for buoyancy and echolocation by the whale), was the most valuable of the whale oils. Over 500 gallons of spermaceti oil could be harvested from just one sperm whale. Because of its waxy properties, it made what was considered the finest candle, which had a very bright and clear flame, good for reading, and these candles did not emit a lot of smoke. Spermaceti oil also was used as a lubricant in precision machinery- thus some say that whaling is what drove the success of American industry in the 1800s.

Sperm oil would make brown candles if used naturally, but was often bleached to make a pure white candle- more elegant but of course more expensive. Around 1800, sperm candles cost three times the price of tallow candles. Tallow candles were made of the fat of sheep and cattle, and were made at home by many families. They burned unevenly, their light was not as bright as sperm candles, and in hot weather, tallow candles would collapse once they softened. Tallow candles also had a very unpleasant odor when burned. Tallow could be used as a lubricant, as well.

Lard Oil

In the 1800s, the American diet consisted of a very high proportion of meats. This meant that there was an abundant supply of lard from slaughterhouses. Lard, while used in pie crusts and other edible goods, was also made into lamp oil. It was inexpensive because it was an animal byproduct, but the quality was poor. It required a higher temperature for burning and didn’t flow well as the fats tended to congeal in a lamp, especially when ambient temperatures were low.

Early/mid 19th century height adjustable pendant oil lamp. Brass fixtures, painted glass shade. Chain and counterweight allow it to raised and lowered. Now used as paraffin lamp; originally probably intended to be fueled with whale oil.via Wikipedia, CC License.
Early/mid 19th century height adjustable pendant oil lamp. Brass fixtures, painted glass shade. Chain and counterweight allow it to raised and lowered. Now used as paraffin lamp; originally probably intended to be fueled with whale oil. Wikimedia Commons, CC License.

Adamantine Candles

Stearic acid, derived from animal fats, was added to wax to make adamantine candles. The stearic acid hardened the candle, making them less apt to melt in hot weather.

Elephant Oil

Likely ‘sea elephants’ or elephant seal oil. These large animals found on the Pacific coast were also used for lamp oil in the 1800s. A large bull could yield 210 gallons of oil made from their blubber, and these animals were hunted to what was thought was extinction. Eight individuals were found in 1892 when the Smithsonian expedition killed seven of them for their collection; amazingly the population survived and due to legal protection, colonies now thrive.

"Breeding colony of Mirounga angustirostris"[elephant seals] by Brocken Inaglory - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg#/media/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg
“Breeding colony of Mirounga angustirostris”[elephant seals] by Brocken Inaglory – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg#/media/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg
Kid Oil

Possibly from young goats? No information found on this oil.

Oil Soap

A candle-maker was called a “chandler.” Chandlers used raw products such as whale oil and tallow to produce a variety of products, from candles and oils to soaps, sauces, paints, and varnishes.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) A variety of websites were sources of information in this article:

http://history1800s.about.com/od/whaling/f/whaleproducts01.htm

In Pursuit of Leviathan: Technology, Institutions, Productivity, and Profits …

 By Lance E. Davis, Robert E. Gallman, Karin Gleite

https://books.google.com/books?id=xsk0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA250&lpg=PA250&dq=elephant+oil+lamp+history&source=bl&ots=drfty9OSkJ&sig=iqyy7oZeSZh1QrpHpO5wSP-JUXg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CF0Q6AEwEGoVChMIwcbB6uq6xwIVyVg-Ch1FTg1V#v=onepage&q=elephant%20oil%20lamp%20history&f=false, page 250

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_candle_making

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene_lamp

https://historyweaver.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/lighting-the-way/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spermaceti

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Sibling Saturday: Happy Birthday, Abram F. Springsteen! Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Abram F. Springsteen
"The Hoosier Drummer Boy," Abram F. Springsteen, 15 Oct 1861
“The Hoosier Drummer Boy,” Abram F. Springsteen, 15 Oct 1861

Family stories become a part of one’s being if one listens closely. Growing up, I always heard the story of Abram Springsteen, “the youngest drummer boy of the Civil War.” Mary T. Helbling remembered going to the museum in Indianapolis, and said his portrait was there, with the same claim. She was just 14 and had gone to Indianapolis with her family for the funeral of  Abram’s sister, Anna Missouri Springsteen Beerbower. We always wondered what had happened to his drum, but the branches of the family had not kept in touch, and no one of our branch knew its disposition.

Fast forward many years- and a phone call to Edgar Helbling in his final years which amazingly produced a shoebox with newspaper clippings and obituaries that gave more information about Abram and confirmed his parentage, plus some clues for follow-up. (Major brick-wall breakthrough in those days before internet genealogy.) Many more years passed- sadly, too many, as by then Alzheimer’s had a death-grip on Mary’s usually sharp-for-details brain; she probably did not really understand my excited phone call about finding Abram’s descendants through Ancestry.com.

Today is the anniversary of Abram’s birth, and since this is a patriotic weekend, it is appropriate to tell his story. He too fought for our freedoms, and was an incredibly patriotic man throughout his life.

Abram F. Springsteen was born 5 July 1850 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, to Jefferson Springsteen and Anna Connor, the fourth child of their eight boys and girls. Jefferson Springsteen had lived in Indianapolis, Indiana when it was just a few houses back in 1835, before he moved and married in Brooklyn. The family moved to Indianapolis in 1852 when Abram was just 2 years old.By 1850, Indianapolis had grown to a city of about 8,000. There already was a significant Irish population in the city by then (Anna Connor was Irish), and Germans (Jefferson Springsteen’s heritage) began populating more heavily in mid-century, driving the population to over 18,000 by the time of the Civil War.

Jefferson Springsteen was an active Democrat and elected Town Marshall, so the children grew up around political discussions- he was serving in a local office while Benjamin Harrison, future President of the United States, was also serving, so probably knew him. Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States on March 4, 1861, but seven southern states had seceded after his election the previous November. On April 12, 1861, the first shots were heard at Fort Sumter, and four more southern states quickly became a part of the Confederate States of America. Lincoln requested troops but it took three months for Congress to call for 50,000 men to fight the rebels. Abram enlisted three months later, on 15 Oct 1861, in Co. A 25th Indiana Regiment as a drummer boy; he was only 11 years, 2 months old at the time. His parents consented to the enlistment as it was believed he would only be a member of the Home Guard, and his drumming would be beneficial to the cause.

When it became clear that his regiment would be sent off to fight in the south, his parents demanded that he be discharged, which was done 23 Dec 1861.

Just eight months later, when Abram was all of 12 years old, after beating the drum about the streets of Indianapolis while a regiment was being recruited, Abram re-enlisted 9 August 1862 into Co. I of the 63rd Indiana Regiment. He did have parental consent, perhaps because his father had run away to the circus when he was a young lad, and he thus understood the yearning of a young boy for the excitement of new places and war. His parents probably realized that they could not deter Abram from military service any longer.

Co. I of the 63rd Indiana Regiment moved south, with Abram alongside the column, drumming commands and encouragement to the troops day after difficult day. When drummer boys were not needed for signaling the troops, they were stretcher bearers, wandering among the fallen and trying to get the soldiers the medical care they required. Abram was captured with a wagon train at the battle of Spring Hill, Tennessee, 29 Nov 1864, but he escaped after dark as he was small enough to hide under a wagon and elude his captors. Family stories tell of how popular he was with his fellow soldiers, as his small size and swift feet helped him to sneak into farm areas such as chicken coops unnoticed, steal eggs and hide them in his drum, then return safely to his comrades with a feast. Company engagements included “Buzzard’s Roost”, Resaca, Burnt Hickory, Kennesaw Mountain, Altoona, Chattahoochie, Atlanta, Lost Mountain, Jonesboro, Cassville, Columbia, Franklin, Town Creek, Fort Fisher, and Willmington.

Abram’s diary and other documents claim that he was quite a wheeler-dealer while in camp with the other soldiers. He apparently had little trouble holding his own despite his age and size, for he was able to use his meager salary of $13 per month (if he indeed received a standard soldier’s pay) and parlay that into goods highly desirable to the troops, thereby making a good profit for himself.

Abram was lucky to survive the war. Of the 63rd Indiana, 3 officers and 53 enlisted men were killed, but another 2 officers and 130 enlisted men died from disease, for a total of 188 from the company. A total of 620,000 men died in the Civil War from both sides. It has been the deadliest war our country has ever experienced.

Abram was discharged 21 June 1865.  Lee had surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, and in May the final Confederate troops surrendered. The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution that had been passed by Congress on January 31st of that year was ratified on December 6, 1865, and slavery was abolished in all the United States. Our kin, little Abram Springsteen, helped to make that happen, offering to sacrifice his life in order that others could be free.

 

And the drum? The wonderful cousins I found through Ancestry.com have the drum- it has been handed down to the oldest male in each generation. It is not Abram’s original drum, as that was confiscated during one of his captures. This drum was given to him by his company, grateful for the little drummer boy who guided them through battle, helped them to medical care, and often provided them with food, necessities, and maybe even a laugh at his antics.

Abram Springsteen's Drum, taken c1960s?
Abram Springsteen’s Drum, taken c1960s?

 

[Abram’s life will be continued in my next posting.]

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family photographs, ephemera, bible.

2) Civil War Trust: http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/

3) Want to read more about how the troops ate during the Civil War? Here is a quick look: Desecrated Vegetables: The Hardships of Civil War Eating. (http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/desecrated-vegetables-the-hardships-of-civil-war-eating.) See also Hard Tack and Coffee: Soldier’s Life in the Civil War, by John D. Billings, an accurate account of Union soldier life written in 1888 by a veteran of the war. The National Park Service has a good website too: http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/civil_war_series/3/sec2.htm

4) Abram F. Springstein pension papers from National Archives (XC2631939)

5) 25th Indiana: http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unininf2.htm#25th

6) 63rd Indiana: http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unininf5.htm#63rd

7) The 63rd Indiana guarded Washington D.C. until August, 1862, when Abram enlisted. There is no Co. I in the above reference (#6) for this company, but the battles listed in the southern campaign are the same as those recounted by Abram in his account of his time in the war as well as in his pension records.

8) Some of his pension papers state he was in the 35th Indiana reg., but these are all later papers, c. 1915.

9) Other drummer boys were as young as Abram- see http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/drummer-boys-played-important-roles-in-the-civil-war-and-some-became-soldiers/2012/01/31/gIQA3cKzRR_story.html

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.