Ruth . Annie the Matchmaker . Howard Brown the Minister & the Rest of the Story

Ruth . Annie the Matchmaker . Howard Brown the Minister & the Rest of the Story

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I wondered if these postcards were sent to my Grandmother, Ruth Wicks when she was visiting her Uncle Howard Brown for a special event or lecture at King’s Chapel. But, his work was immense, it seems obvious to me now that any time spent with her Uncle would be a meaningful, thought-provoking experience. He was also a member of the “Society for Psychical Research”, a notable group of members who explored psychic phenomena as part of the spiritual journey.

According to their journal dated 1922, some topics include: “The Survival of Dogmatism”, “The Wanderings of a Spiritualist”, “Psychic Phenomena and the Physician”, and a book review of “The Immortality of Animals & the Relation of Man as Guardian”, by E.D. Buckner.

Very Cool …

The postcards here were sent to Ruth in care of Reverend Howard Brown, in 1911 & 1912 by a friend, Annie. I would guess that Annie was probably a friend from Smith College. By now Ruth is 27, 28 and Annie seems to be alluding to orchestrating a little match making action.

Is a Smith Graduate of notable lineage, world traveler and sports enthusiast considered an old maid at age 28, in 1912? Probably. Somehow, I don’t think it was an issue for her – just a feeling.

The postcard sent from the Agricultural Park is a cryptic message written in French. Well, maybe Annie did not want the Reverend Brown to easily read a note referencing lovers. The postcard sent in 1912 from Norfolk appears to hint at an introduction to a young landscape gardener …. a gardener? Not that there is anything wrong with that … she was a classically trained Horticulturist, after all.

Ruth married later in life obviously. My mother, Ruth’s daughter (Kitty) adored her father. I know my mother’s father (McCartney) was socially connected through his studies at Harvard, charismatic, a lovely man who adored his little girl and two boys, a writer and a horseman. She often recalled his tender nature, larger than life personality and of being a gifted wordsmith. His father was the Publisher of the Philadelphia Record, but had a falling out with him and was estranged from him and his family.

He loved life but was not able to finesse a place in the business world, but having good friends in the right places sustained him in a career that he loved.  A professional trainer, he was happy training and caring for their horses … his favorite horse was named Dolly Grey. In my archives in this house, I do have a copy of a book that he had written about proper care and training of horses dedicated to Dolly Grey.

Alcoholism plagued his life, he died when my mother was just 16, who mourned his loss throughout her lifetime.

Ruth, without her husband, mother or father and estranged from her sister, with three children managed to hold on to the immense Barneveld property during the depression. She found a way to send my mother to Burnham College Prep School (which she attended, and later I attended which is now known as Stoneleigh Burnham, Greenfield, MA.), and then to an Art College in Boston. The boys went to Exeter Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire. My Uncle Skip (Singerly McCartney) received a scholarship from Harvard and became an Attorney.

Given her privileged place in life from birth, I admire my grandmother’s grit when life changed and she was forced to protect her property and children by her own ingenuity, resourcefulness and merit – what a woman!

I loved her even though I did not know her long. She moved into our home when my Uncle Skip’s wife would not allow her to stay at the farm house with them after they married. I was eight years old, and with her on the night she died, playing nearby. She asked me to leave the room & close the door. She quietly had a stroke in privacy without drama.

My mother asked what was going on & rushed in, she died a few days later at Faxton Hospital, Utica where I was born.

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About Stories, Old & New

My background is in Public Relations with a B.S. from Syracuse University. I would like to publish "Rabbitwild - A Shelter in the Wilderness", written by my Great Grandfather, William S. Wicks, a gifted early American Architect and Naturalist. Wicks, a member of the first group to purchase 100,000 acres of Adirondack Wilderness with the idea that it should remain a "forever wild" preserve, in fact designed and built "Rabbitwild" within the Adirondack League Club. And so, this blog isn't about me at all, but about remembering Wicks, his legacy, love and loyalty to natural design. By happenstance, he created the same appreciation in me for all that is beautiful, by nature.

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