The Pennsylvania Settlement and its colonists have remained an obscure part of Nelson’s history. What follows is a beginning, an opening to that time in Nelson’s history where we can get to know the special community of scholars and artists who called Nelson home for part or all of each year at the beginning of the twentieth century. This essay springs from my presentation to the. Wednesday Academy in August, 2011. It is a work in progress and remains open to discussion and additions. I have tried to incorporate every reliable source I could find, though much more remains to be written. No doubt there are those who have information not included here which would bring additional life to these wonderful people, thereby further enriching this part of Nelson’s history. Your thoughts and your stories are welcome. Please share them.
The Development of Art Colonies
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, art colonies developed in parts of Europe (France, the Netherlands and central Germany), as well as in Australia and America. It is estimated that between 1830 and 1914 some three thousand professional artists participated in this movement away from urban areas into the countryside, where they resided for various lengths of time in many communities.
These residencies took on different forms. Some residencies were temporary· for example, in Honfleur and Giverny in France, and Katwijk in the Netherlands, where painters came to stay for a single summer. Other villages developed a semi-permanent mix of visiting and resident artists. Examples include Ahrenshoop and Dachau in Germany, Barbizon and Concarneau in France, and St. Ives in New South Wales, Australia. There were also villages in which a group of artists settled permanently, bought or built their own houses and studios, and occupied them for all or a part of every year. Such villages included Egmond and SintMartens-Latem in the Netherlands.
There were of course exceptions to these three categories. For example, Monet lived in Giverny for forty-three years and painted his famous water-lily series there. He hired gardeners to develop beautiful gardens around his pink stucco country house and he guarded his gardens jealously. Giverny still receives a half million visitors every year and ironically, although the visitors come searching for Monet’s gardens as they would have looked when the artist was alive and painting, the constant flow of tourists has necessitated changes. When Monet was there, the life cycle of the gardens was in tune with the natural surroundings. Today, to maintain the gardens in full bloom for the entire seven months Giverny is open to visitors annually, and there are plants that were unavailable to Monet, not to mention the concrete walkways in place of meandering natural paths.
The last half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century saw a phenomenal growth in American art colonies as well. Colonies were established in Maryland; in New York, notably the Roycroft community in East Aurora (Erie County), and Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs; in Michigan, which was home to Ox Bow in Saugatuck; in New Mexico with its famed Taos Art Colony; in Jerome, Arizona; and in Florida, where the Studios of Key West flourished.
In New Hampshire, there was Peterborough’s MacDowell Colony, considered the first planned colony, as well as thriving groups in North Conway, Cornish, Dublin, and Nelson.  The Cornish Art Colony began with Augustus Saint-Gaudens when he moved his summer residence there. He quickly found a suitable model and began work on his iconic statue of Lincoln. Other artists soon followed. The beauty of the southern New Hampshire landscape transformed the small town of Dublin into a mecca for artists and writers, who were inspired by its rural simplicity and its natural beauty.
Although the market for art remained primarily urban, these colonies developed in reaction to the growing industrialization of nations and the resulting movement of people to cities to work. An increasing nostalgia for the countryside and a desire to return to a quiet, simpler time prompted this important shift. Moreover, rents in smaller, more remote areas were more affordable than in urban areas . Artists were able to find places where they could support themselves while continuing their work, and they began to cluster in areas that were both economically and aesthetically hospitable. The benefit they received from their close association with other artists as well as with scholars in these communities cannot be underestimated .
New Hampshire’s countryside with its wild and natural beauty was a perfect match for artists, providing them with feasts for both eye and canvas. For example, from the colony established in the White Mountains in North Conway, landscape artists produced paintings of the magnificent landscape which were sought after far beyond New Hampshire’s borders.
In the 1970s a gentleman who bought a farm in Marlborough found an old real estate flyer there, printed at the turn of the twentieth century, which listed abandoned farms in the area. Perhaps this very brochure provided a window of opportunity to artists seeking the solitude of our small New Hampshire towns.
The Pennsylvania Settlement
Nelson’s art colony, the Pennsylvania Settlement, was the third type of colony, one where artists and scholars came and purchased property, either living in Nelson for several months a year or becoming permanent residents.
The settlement was located in the southwestern part of the Town of Nelson and consisted of at least seven families who bought property and lived here for some or all of each year from 1891 forward. Descendants of colonists John Duncan Spaeth and Marie Spaeth and of Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot live in Nelson to this day. The Settlement differed from most other colonies because scholars as well as artists were active participants in its life. In fact, it was a scholar, Olivia Rodham, who was the magnet who drew to her a group of people who shared her love of knowledge and were themselves accomplished scholars and exceptional artists. They formed the Pennsylvania Settlement.
In A Tribute to the Artist, Marie Haughton Spaeth, 1870-1937, written in 1992-1993, Marie Spaeth’s granddaughter Johanne de Martelly describes this colony: “Pennsylvania Colony Settlement, in Nelson, Roxbury, Chesham, New Hampshire, artists, writers, actors, friends with connections beginning in the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia area, came to old farms at the turn of the century.” De Martelly notes that this colony of friends became a close network of professional artists and scholars who not only interacted with others within their immediate area but were actively connected with the other colonies, notably those of Cornish and Dublin.
From those colonies, frequent visitors to Olivia Rodham’s home included poet and playwright Witter Bynner, New Hampshire muralist Barry Faulkner, and Homer Saint-Gaudens, son of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was married to Carlotta Dolley, the daughter of Pennsylvania Settlement colonist Charles Dolley.
A 1904 map of the area showing the parcels of land owned by the colonists, as well as the extensive area they encompassed, attests to the settlement’s significance. The map was prepared by Samuel Wadsworth, a well-known Keene jeweler, surveyor, and local historian. In 1927 he was elected the first president of the newly formed Cheshire County Historical Society, which remains the only county historical society in New Hampshire. A collection of his surveys is stored and available for research at the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds in Keene.
Olivia Rodham by Margaret Redmond. Oil on Canvas. Photo courtesy of Roberta Wingerson
Miss Olivia Rodham (1845 – 1920) Botanist, lexiconographer, scholar. At Swarthmore College she served as Assistant Librarian and Instructor of Botany (1881- 1886), and Acting Librarian (1887-1888). She studied botany in Berlin (1888-1891) and received an honorary B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1890.
Miss Rodham’s home was located on Lead Mine Road. Now known as 5 B Farm, later owned by Bruce White. Miss Rodham refurbished the barn on the property into living quarters she called “Headlong Hall.” Subsequently, at least two of the colonists followed suit: both Professor Rolfe and Marie Spaeth converted their barns into additional living quarters. Sadly, Headlong Hall no longer exists. In the 1950s it was struck by lightning and destroyed.
Olivia Rodham was born in 1845 in Belaire, MD, to a Quaker family. There she was raised and there she cared for her father after the death of both her mother and sister until a growing estrangement — we do not know what caused it — prompted her to abandon the only home she had known. One night, penniless and alone, she fled to a neighbor’s house. She found work at Swarthmore College where she became Assistant, and later Acting, Librarian. Miss Rodham came to Nelson in 1891, just one year after Swarthmore awarded her an honorary B.A. Soon thereafter, several of her friends followed.
Much of what we know about Olivia Rodham comes from Olivia Rodham, a pamphlet written by Robbins Milbank (1903-1985) and published by the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library Trustees in 1964. Milbank, a Mayflower descendent, had gone to live with Olivia Rodham at the age of seven, and stayed with her for nine years. With her he discovered a new life: reading the classics and learning Latin as well as peering under logs to find the rare plants Miss Rodham could always identify. In Olivia Rodham’s later years she stayed with Milbank and his family in New York during the winter months..
Headlong Hall as pictured in Nelson. NH American Revolution Bicentenntial Album
Robbins Milbank went on to graduate from Princeton University in 1925. He worked as a logger in British Columbia for three years, and then went to work for McCann-Erickson, the global marketing communications company, where he worked as an advertising executive and rose to become a creative vice president and West Coast director.  Later, he wrote docudramas for television, and he did fundraising for Princeton and for the Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.
Milbank married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Lightfoot (1902-1952), daughter of Pennsylvania Settlement colonist Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot; they lived at Schoolhouse Farm in Nelson, and at their other homes in California and in New York. After his wife’s and father’s deaths, the grieving Milbank wrote an essay, “Thy Will Be Done,” which aired originally on the Edward R. Murrow TV series titled “This I Believe” in the 1950s. The essay was rebroadcast on the Bob Edwards Show, October 30, 2009, as part of a revival of the “This I Believe” series. Despite Milbank’s sorrow, his strong religious faith helped him maintain his equanimity and, as he wrote in his essay, to “live with what he had, and to live without that which was taken away.” Milbank’s knowledge and skills were tempered by his love and appreciation for the simple, the unadorned. He valued the beauty and power of nature and sought to preserve the character of Nelson. In 1954 Robbins Milbank remarried. His bride was Helen Kirkpatrick (1909-1997), a journalist who had had a remarkable career. After graduating from Smith College in 1931, she did post-graduate work at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, setting the foundation for her illustrious career.
Between 1935 and 1937 Kirkpatrick worked in Geneva and England. During that time she was a writer, then editor, of Research Bulletin published by the Foreign Policy Association; research assistant for the Geneva Research Center (Foreign Policy Association) editing their ‘Geneva: A Monthly Review of International Affairs’; and correspondent for the New York Herald Daily Telegraph. Together with Victor Gordon-Lennox of the Daily Telegraph and Graham Hutton of the Economist she started the weekly Whitehall NewsLetter, which analyzed the current state of European affairs. She was diplomatic correspondent[/fusion_popover] for the London Sunday Times in 1938 during the Munich Crisis. Kirkpatrick expanded her views into two books, This Terrible Peace (1938) and Under the British Umbrella (1939).
As the war approached, Helen Kirkpatrick was connected to the London office of the Chicago Daily News, and there is a story about her tenure there that is both amusing and revealing of the sort of woman she was. In her interview at the Chicago Daily News before she was hired, Frank Knox, the paper’s editor and later Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Navy, explained to her, “We don’t have women on the staff.” She told him, “I can’t change my sex, but you can change your policy.” Knox did not change his policy; he simply made an exception for her.
Kirkpatrick is considered one of the first and best American war correspondents of the Second World War, and was always at the forefront of the action. Her bravery and accomplishments were widely recognized. She was awarded the French Medallion de la Reconnaissance in 1945, the U.S. Medal of Freedom in 1947, an honorary degree from Smith College in 1948, and the Rockefeller Public Service Award in 1953.  She is one of the remarkable women featured in Nancy Caldwell Sorel’s 1999 book, Women Who Wrote the War.
Helen Kirkpatrick Milbank remained very active, serving on several national committees and boards after her retirement. Both Milbanks were active in Nelson politics and cared deeply for the town and its future. They were active in the Nelson Community Association and helped to begin the process of planning for Nelson’s future, strongly supporting planning and zoning guidelines. They were instrumental in getting the first planning regulations passed in Nelson and encouraged the writing of the first Master Plan for the town. Helen Milbank started the Nelson Conservation Commission, one of the first in the state, and went on to serve as president of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions. Robbins Milbank served the town as a selectman and later served in the New Hampshire state legislature.
In 1964 Robbins Milbank wrote Olivia Rodham, a tribute to his childhood mentor. In it he summarized her character and accomplishments:
She was a woman of unusual culture and scholarly attainments, enriched by extensive travel and residence in many lands . She pursued advanced studies in botany in Cambridge and Berlin, and was well known to American botanists for her intimate acquaintance with the flora of the United States.
She was extraordinary, a character of strong faith, conviction, wisdom and compassion. Like a lovely light, she drew to her a world of friends: writers, poets, scholars, teachers and the people of the village where she spent the last twenty-nine years of her life. She gave them assurance of the existence of goodness and the beauty of truth. They came to her in times of joy and in times of bitterness and were rewarded. They came because she was fun to know.
She was a woman possessed of intense curiosity, a curiosity which led her to the study of botany, the study of medicine, the study of Latin and Greek, the study of literature and the collection of books. In each endeavor, she became a master, acknowledged by her peers. She published pamphlets on botany, she assisted in the preparation of a medical dictionary, she aided other lexicographers. Her knowledge of literature was rich and varied and is reflected in her collection of books, which formed the original basis of the library erected in her memory.  When she died in 1920, a large quartz rock was moved from her place to her grave in the Nelson cemetery. The bronze plaque on it reads: “A music heard by thee alone To works as noble led thee on.”
Olivia Rodham’s many accomplishments were noted also in an obituary in the Friends’ Intelligencer: “Her familiarity with ancient and modern languages found her employment in lexicographic work, in which field her services were greatly appreciated by editors and publishers.”  Milbank’s Olivia Rodham makes clear to us why those who were accomplished scholars and exceptional artists themselves came to join her in Nelson.
In fact, Olivia Rodham’s extensive personal library was the inspiration and the foundation for Nelson’s Olivia Rodham Memorial Library, constructed after her death. Pamela White, granddaughter of Robbins Milbank and Mary Lightfoot Milbank, and step-granddaughter of Helen Kirkpatrick Milbank, wrote recently in “New Life for the Old Library”:
It [Olivia Rodham by Robbins Milbank] is the story of Olivia Rodham, whose life inspired the library’s creation and purpose, and the group of citizens who brought the library into being in 1926. These include Nelson patron Henry Melville, who donated the land, Nelson summer resident Mary Elliot of the Keene Elliots, who conceived and carried through the plans to build the library; her son-in-law (also a summer resident of the town), Boston architect Alec Law, who designed it; Homer Priest, who built it; and Margaret Redmond, who later did the stained glass windows.
Today the original library building created in honor of Olivia Rodham is privately owned. Wallace Francis, son-in-law of Alec Law, the architect who designed the building, has begun the process of refurbishing the building to preserve its structure and enable its use for a conservation center or similar public purpose in the near future. As Pamela White so aptly puts it, “She [Olivia Rodham] is drawing new friends, still. They are stepping forward now to ensure the future, and the story of the little building on the hill will continue.” So the descendants of those who were befriended by Olivia Rodham and helped to create the library in her memory are the same who have spearheaded this building renewal. It is a testament to Olivia Rodham, her character and the pursuit of knowledge she inspires even to this day.
Dr.Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot (1865 – 1959 and Mrs. Lightfoot
Dr. Lightfoot was a teacher and naturalist who was said to hold doctorates in six fields of the natural sciences. He completed both his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees at Swarthmore College, and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1893. In 1891 and 1892 he was a student assistant in geology and mineralogy at the University of Pennsylvania, and from 1892-1894 an instructor at Boys’ High School in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1894 he went to Central High School of Philadelphia as a physics instructor, where in 1900 he was promoted to assistant professor of physical science. He came to Nelson in 1894 to live at Schoolhouse Farm. [Read another article on this website this property].
Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot came from a family many of whose members were extremely knowledgeable about their environment and who, as Quakers, cared deeply about preserving their heritage. They were surveyors, naturalists, and historians who played an important role in mapping and identifying the flora and fauna of the Pennsylvania territory.
Examples of Dr. Lightfoot’s interests are numerous and varied. Between 1887 and 1895, Dr. Lightfoot lectured on the topic of economic geology at a winter lecture series sponsored by the Academy of Natural Sciences Committee on Instructions and Lectures, in connection with the Ludwick Institute (Christopher Ludwick Foundation). This institute was founded in 1799 “for the schooling and education gratis, of poor children of all denominations, in the city and the liberties of Philadelphia, without exception to the country, extraction, or religious principles of their parents or friends.” The Academy still retains his “Correspondence pertaining to the History of Ornithology” in its historical collection. “He was known internationally for his work in plant taxonomy and was a civil engineer and cartographer, who made the first official map of Pennsylvania.” In 1888 Dr. Lightfoot’s A Treatise on our Local Geology was published by the Natural Sciences Library, and in 1948 Dr. Lightfoot’s extensive genealogical research on the Quaker families who settled in Maiden Creek, Pennsylvania, was donated to the Swarthmore Library and is held in a separate collection titled “Genealogical Charts of Descendants of Maiden Creek Meeting.”
Dr. Lightfoot was also an active, and highly regarded, participant in the life of Nelson. In 1917 he and Mrs. Lightfoot served on the committee to plan the celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the first settlement of Nelson in 1767. In A History of Nelson, New Hampshire, Parke Struthers states that “Dr. Thomas met his fellow Nelsonians on an equal footing, a trait in human relations reserved for only the Great.”
Pamela White, in addition to being the Milbanks’ granddaughter, is also the great-granddaughter of Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot. She lives in Nelson with her husband, Warren Hammack, and both are active in town affairs, with Warren presently serving as a selectman. Before moving to Nelson permanently, they operated a theatre in Kentucky which maintained an active production schedule for their regional audiences. Warren both directs and acts in productions for the Peterborough Players. In 2007 their anthology, World Premieres from Horse Cave Theatre: Plays by Kentucky Writers, was published by Motes Books. It contains fourteen plays about Kentucky or written by a Kentucky author or both, all of which had their world premieres at Horse Cave Theatre.
Professor Henry Winchester Rolfe (1858 – 1945) and Mrs. Rolfe
Professor Rolfe was an English instructor at Cornell University (1883-1885), Professor of Latin at Swarthmore College (1885-1890), lecturer in Latin literature at the University of Pennsylvania (1891-1892), and Associate Professor of Greek at Stanford University (1900-1910). He was a staff lecturer in literature for the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching, and he was also a Shakespearean scholar.
Professor Rolfe and his wife, Bertha Colt Rolfe, came to Nelson in 1895, settling in a home now owned by Dorothea Iselin, located on the present-day Apple Hill Road. Like Olivia Rodham, Dr. Rolfe converted the large barn on this property into living quarters with additional rooms to accommodate guests.
It’s intriguing to note that sixteen years earlier Rolfe had been chosen to serve as Sub-Master for the Union School District in Keene, New Hampshire. In the Reports of the Board of Education in the Union District for 1879-1880, the “Report of the Union District” states:
Classical course is still continued, and is mainly under the charge of Mr. Rolfe. He is an accomplished scholar, and his success as a teacher has been satisfactory to the committee and scholars. Any scholar in Union District can, if he desires, fit for the best colleges in the country, free of tuition.
These same records indicate that for thirteen weeks of work Henry Rolfe was paid $21.05 per week, or $273.69. This sum included board, but there is no indication of where Mr. Rolfe lived.
The Reports of the Board of Education in the Union District for 1880-1881, “Report of the Union District” includes the following: “Mr. Rolfe, who for a year past had most successfully discharged the duties of Sub Master, left at the close of the summer term. A Professorship in one of our New England colleges, preceded by a term of study and travel in Europe, was an attraction too strong to be resisted.” Although Rolfe’s stay in Keene was brief, this information puts him in our immediate geographic area several years before Olivia Rodham came to live in Nelson.
Interestingly, Henry Rolfe is listed in A Circle of Friends: Art Colonies of Cornish and Dublin as a member of the Dublin Art Colony. And in a letter written in the 1960s by Mrs. Alexander Law, a Nelson neighbor of Olivia Rodham, in response to Robbins Milbank’s request for information on Olivia Rodham, Mrs. Law indicates that Fred Rolfe, Henry Rolfe’s brother, owned a home in Dublin. While staying at Fred Rolfe’s home, Olivia Rodham saw information on a property selling in Nelson for $200.00, an affordable price for her. Upon sight of the beautiful vista and the large barn, Miss Rodham bought her property in Nelson. Dr. Rolfe published in several scholarly areas. 1891 saw the appearance of his Syllabus of a Course of Six Lectures on English Literature in the Nineteenth Century, followed in 1892 by The Ideal Syllabus. He also collaborated with fellow scholars to publish several books on Petrarch and other Renaissance figures. Petrarch, the First Modern Scholar and Man of Letters was published in 1898, with its authorship attributed to “James H. Robinson, Professor of History at Columbia University with the collaboration of Henry Winchester Rolfe, Sometime Professor of Latin in Swarthmore College.” Rolfe also wrote Antigone, an Account of the Presentation of the Antigone of Sophocles at the Leland Stanford Junior University, April seventeenth and nineteenth, nineteen hundred and two, which was published in 1903.
Dr. Seneca Egbert (1863-1939) and Nancy Egbert
Dr. Egbert was a physician. He graduated from Princeton University in 1884 and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1888. Before graduating, Dr. Egbert had been a demonstrator of hygiene in the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. While in this position, he worked with Professor Samuel G. Dixon to establish the first Laboratory of Hygiene in the University, and was made lecturer on hygiene for 1890-1891. In 1892 the Drexel Institute of Philadelphia hired Dr. Egbert for a similar position. In 1893 he was elected Professor of Hygiene and Sanitation in the Medico-Chirurgical College of Philadelphia, appointed Vice-Dean of the same college in 1897, and elected Dean in 1898. Once the Medico-Chirurgical College merged with the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Seneca became a professor of hygiene. He was president of the Radnor Township Board of Health and he was esteemed as a public health authority.
In 1897 Seneca Egbert and his wife, Nancy Bredin Egbert, bought part of the old Towne family farm. The home, now owned by Fred French, is located on Blueberry Lane.
Dr. Egbert was widely published. His book, Manual of Hygiene and Sanitation (seven editions), appeared first in 1898, as did his Home Sanitation, a Manual for Housekeepers. In 1919 Personal Hygiene for Nurses was published. He also wrote numerous articles for medical journals, maintained an impressive lecture schedule, and was a history buff who strongly advocated for the creation and maintenance of historic sites. He was not hesitant about venturing his opinion openly, and on at least two occasions made suggestions to Philadelphia politicians which received limited consideration. Dr. Egbert “was an advocate for ‘pure air, pure milk, and pure water.’ He felt that if people in the United States had these ingredients the average span of life would be increased by seven and one-half years.” He pursued this philosophy in an article, “Pure Water for Philadelphia,” which proposed damming the Mullica River and its feeder streams at the head of the tide to form a reservoir all the way to Atsion, NJ, and then pump to a reservoir on the western side to flow towards the Cooper River and another reservoir, thence to be pumped under the Delaware in order to relieve the poor water quality in Philadelphia . It would have pumped a relatively small quantity, 450,000,000 gallons of water per year, to start. The potential value of his plan was not recognized, either then or, to judge from a 2011 Web comment, now.
On another issue, the City of Philadelphia proposed clearing all buildings from three city blocks. In response to a request for ideas on how to use this space, Dr. Egbert suggested allocating some of the land to the federal government, some to the state and some to the city of Philadelphia. On a strip of land extending down the center of the whole space, Dr. Egbert suggested constructing thirteen buildings representing the thirteen original colonies, and calling the area Independence Square. Each building would house the contributions made by that state towards the forming of our Union. “The idea was considered ludicrous in design and in scope. Dr. Egbert was a physician, not an architect.”
Despite his critics, Seneca Egbert was doggedly determined to maintain the quality of life for Americans. For example, he embraced the newest form of transportation, bicycling, and “saw cycling as a remedy for dyspepsia, torpid liver, incipient consumption, nervous exhaustion , rheumatism, and melancholia.”
A portrait of Dr. Egbert was painted for the University of Pennsylvania by Nancy Egbert’s brother, Rae Sloan Bredin (1870-1937). Mr. Bredin was a member of the New Hope group of American impressionists and several of his paintings are owned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Bredin was co-founder of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and the New York School of Fine Arts. His portrait of Dr. Egbert hangs now in the home of Dr. David Egbert Sparks, Dr. and Mrs. Egbert’s grandson, who is a genealogist and retired head of libraries at Notre Dame.
Like Dr. Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot, Dr. Egbert was a lecturer in the winter lecture series held during the years 1887-1895 sponsored by the Academy of Natural Sciences. Dr. Egbert’s lecture was titled, “The Prevention of Disease and the Preservation of Health.”
Nelson’s own Parke Struthers wrote in A History of Nelson that like Dr. Egbert’s good friend Dr. Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot, Seneca Egbert “met his fellow Nelsonians on an equal footing, a trait in human relations reserved for only the Great.” Mr. Struthers also states that the Egberts were “gracious, active in town affairs, and interested in the people of Nelson.” With their friends Dr. Lightfoot and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Egbert served on the committee to make arrangements for the celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the first settlement of Nelson 1767-1917.
Dr. Charles Sumner Dolley and Elizabeth Gilman Dolley
Dr. Dolley was a marine biologist. He and his wife, Elizabeth Gilman Dolley, came to Nelson in 1899. The land and residence the Dolleys purchased was located south of Lead Mine Road toward the Harrisville town line and was subsequently owned by Bruce White, Pamela White’s uncle.
Dr. Dolley came from a highly progressive family. His mother, Sarah Read Adamson Dolley (1829-1909), was the third woman in America to receive a medical degree, the first woman in America to do an in-hospital residency, a friend of Susan B. Anthony, and a woman of wide acclaim. She co-founded one of the first women’s medical societies in the United States, the Practitioners’ Society of Rochester, New York, which became the Blackwell Society in 1906. She was one of the founders and the leader of the Fortnightly Ignorance Club, formed to discuss and take action on “vital topics of the day.” Members met every two weeks in the offices of their husbands and posed questions on subjects about which they were ignorant and through research, correspondence with notable experts, and pointed discussions, attempted to find answers. Some of their questions involved women’s suffrage, prison reform, and vivisection. 
Dr. Charles Dolley attended the Geneseo Academy, Geneseo, Livingston County, New York, and Syracuse University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his medical degree in 1882. He did post-graduate work in comparative morphology at Johns Hopkins (1883-1884) and was sent by the University of Pennsylvania to study marine biology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and at the zoological station in Naples (1884-1885). He taught biology at Swarthmore (1885-1888), at the University of Pennsylvania (1885-1892), and at Central High School in Pennsylvania (1892-1907). Later he went into business as a consultant in applied biology and did work in sanitation and chemical engineering in Mexico City and the Bahamas. His publications include The Technology of Bacteria Investigation (1885).
In the Bahamas, Dr. Dolley purchased an interest in the Club at Old Fort Bay. The fort is believed to be the oldest building on the island, having been constructed as a Carthaginian fort by the Spanish. During his ownership new buildings were added and the grounds were vastly improved .
Dr. Dolley was also an active lecturer. He was on the roster of the Avalon Summer Assembly, which had been organized “to afford teachers and others practical means for training themselves to a broader understanding of those subjects commonly taught, or which should be taught, in primary, grammar, and secondary schools.”
A June 1893 issue of Science Magazine contains the following summary of Dr. Dolley’s Assembly speeches, in which he spoke of the proper method of educating the coming generation:
The keynote of Dr. Dolley’s address is struck by the following sentences …
They begin by moulding little birds’ nests of clay, or constructing cones and cylinders, cubes and octagons out of paper, without ever having examined a bird’s nest, other than that of the sparrow under the eaves, and knowing absolutely nothing of the interest to be found in a prism of quartz, a snowflake, or an icicle. They have been taught of the distribution of whales and camels and all sorts of exotic varieties, but are absolutely ignorant and blind to the wonders of nature to be found at their very doors; wonders requiring no text-books, no costly instruments, but which may be investigated by means as simple and inexpensive as the key and kite string of Franklin.
How few the teachers, let me add, who have the slightest inkling as to the wonderful history within the chalk or slate they daily use!
Missions and philanthropic societies do good work for this world, but much is wasted. ‘What is needed,’ says Dr. Dolley, ‘is a sanitary mission in every home, and this we can secure by training the children, by awakening in their minds a desire for something better, for more sunshine, more flowers, a wider horizon and more wholesome surroundings.’ How few the housekeepers who know the slightest whit about the yeast they use, the mother and flowers of vinegar, the moulds on jellies, the cause of rancid butter or the nature of contagion! ‘The tritest things of our mortal experience are the most mysterious.’ There is enough of interest in a mucilage bottle to keep a man studying a life time.
Dr. Dolley and Elizabeth Dolley had three children:
Gilman Corson, Loilyn Carlotta, and Lester Adamson. Their daughter, Loilyn Carlotta, married Homer Saint-Gaudens, son of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Carlotta was an artist in her own right, and is featured as a member of the Cornish Art Colony in the book A Circle of Friends: Art Colonies of Cornish and Dublin, which covers the 1985 art exhibitions at Keene State College, the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and the University Art Galleries at the University of New Hampshire.
Dr. and Mrs. John Duncan Ernst Spaeth
He was a leading authority on Old English literature and poetry and on Shakespeare, and she was a painter. Located on a knoll at the end of Spaeth Road, their home here was purchased in 1902 as a wedding present by the bride’s parents. The Spaeths called their new home Windy Brow because of the strong winds that continually blow across the open landscape. Like the barns of Olivia Rodham and Henry Rolfe, the barn on the property was converted into living quarters by Marie Spaeth, creating ample room for family and guests. The property is now owned by the Spaeths’ granddaughter and her husband, Taya de Martelly and Eric Nelson. Dr. Spaeth and Marie Spaeth were also grandparents to Michael de Martelly and Johanne (Joey) de Martelly.
Marie Haughton Spaeth (1870-1937)
Marie Haughton Spaeth. Photo courtesy of the de Martelly Family
Landscape and portrait painter in the impressionist style and wife of John Duncan Spaeth, Marie Spaeth was born in Hanover, NH. In 1889 she began studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Philadelphia School of Art and Design and later traveled to Europe and studied in Spain, France, and Italy. Her father’s first cousin was the head of the National Academy.
Dr. and Mrs. Spaeth’s home in Princeton was known as the Barracks, so called because it had been used to house British troops during the French and Indian War, and American troops during the Revolutionary War. The house was built circa 1685-1686 by Daniel Brinson, and in 1686 was bought by Richard Stockton, called the Settler, to distinguish him from his grandson, Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Richard Stockton the Settler had a son named John, and coincidentally the Spaeths’ daughter Janet married John’s descendant, John Stockton de Martelly.
The brief biographical sketch below of Marie Spaeth is taken from AskART, an online source. The information about the artist and the vibrancy of the Pennsylvania Colony seems to echo the description of the colony previously written by Johanne de Martelly in A Tribute to the Artist, Marie Haughton Spaeth, 1870-1937. It also verifies that this small New Hampshire settlement was a center of artistic endeavor.
She married JD Spaeth, professor at Princeton. She was given a summer home in NH by her parents. She spent many months there painting each year with her four children. There was a large community where she lived called The Pennsylvania Colony Settlement that was so large that it spanned three towns in southwest NH, where artists, writers, and actors from the Philadelphia area lived in old farms. It was just a few miles from the Cornish Dublin colony. There was a great sharing of ideas and community between the two.
De Martelly’s biography poignantly describes how difficult it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s for women to gain recognition and acceptance of their work. It would be more than twenty years before Marie Spaeth had a full exhibition of her work, which included paintings from her nursing babies series — paintings of herself breast-feeding her children. Joey de Martelly states further that: “They were the most controversial. These paintings were intimate explorations of a deeply intense and particular point of view.” In early twentieth-century America the expression of this natural and beautiful bond between mother and infant was considered too personal and revealing to express on canvas. So the artist immersed herself in the simplicity and the beauty of the world around her in Nelson and in her domestic life. She depicted that life in her paintings, but her tenderness and compassion for living things extended beyond her domestic circle. She offered the farm as a safe haven for unwed mothers, a place where they could come to be cared for during their pregnancies.
The art created by Marie Spaeth while she summered in Nelson and nurtured her family, her home, and those who came to stay is beautiful. It is also the art of a remarkable woman.
See the Marie Spaeth gallery on this website.
John Duncan Spaeth (1865-1957)
Dr. Walter Hall and Michael Hall, Carola Spaeth Hauschka, Dr. Sigmund Spaeth
Coach Spaeth on Lake Carnegie ca. 930. Photo courtesy of the de Martelly family.
At Princeton University, Dr. Spaeth was preceptor (teacher/ instructor) 1905-1911, and Professor of English 1911- 1935. He was President of the University of Kansas City 1935-1938. He was also a published scholar. His work includes, with Henry Spackman Pancoast, editorship of Early English Poems (1910/1911), translations from the Anglo-Saxon which included his translation of “The Seafarer,” a wonderful old poem Spaeth interpreted as a dialogue between a weather-beaten old sailor and a youth eager to go to sea. The parts are not assigned in the original manuscript, but according to Dr. Spaeth could be found in the structure of the poem itself. The poem was subsequently included in Old English Poems, published by the Princeton University Press in 1927. Also, in 1921 Dr. Spaeth completed his translation of Beowulf into alliterative verse complete with introductions and notes. The translation was published in Old English Poetry; Translations into Alliterative Verse with Introductions and Notes (Princeton University Press, 1927) and is still available today.
In addition to his work as a translator and editor, he was author of Christian Theology in Browning’s Poems (Princeton University Press, 1922). And finally, during World War I, Dr. Spaeth took a leave from Princeton and worked as Educational Director of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, and Camp Jackson, South Carolina. The illiteracy of so many of the men entering into military service made schooling in reading and writing a necessary part of their military training. Dr. Spaeth responded to this need by writing Camp Reader for American Soldiers, becoming the first educator to prepare an “extensive theoretical introduction to the synthetic method of reading teaching written especially for teachers of adults.”  This program enabled many Gls in World War I to write home during their military service.
Dr. Spaeth was known for his wit and aphorisms. One of his favorites, which endeared him to whole classes of Princetonians, was: “When two men love the same woman it doesn’t make for friendship. But when they love the same book there is a magnificent bond between them.” He was, however, not known for his quiet voice. Joey de Martelly says her grandfather’s voice could prompt small children to crawl under a table.
He also had an athletic side. A burly man, known to students as Princeton’s Paul Bunyan, J. Duncan Spaeth coached Princeton’s rowing crews from 1910-1925.
The Princeton crews as well as the English Department knew the full flavor of Coach Spaeth’s sober exhortation to a crew he had taken to Cambridge to row against Harvard. “You will doubtless be beaten. But winning doesn’t mean anything. I don’t care whether you win or not. I just want you to behave like true sportsmen and true Princeton gentlemen.” Astonishingly to everyone, including themselves, the Princeton crew managed to out-row the Harvard crew. Returning with great dignity to the boathouse, the Princetonians were abashed to see their mentor hopping up and down on the dock, screaming: “We beat the ———-s! We beat the ————s!”
Dr. Spaeth was himself a rower. In 1971 he was inducted into the Rowing Hall of Fame for coaching by the National Rowing Foundation. To be eligible, a rower had to have won a world or an Olympic championship as a member of a US national team. 
A 1936 article in Time Magazine announced Dr. Spaeth’s appointment to the presidency of the University of Kansas City with this colorful description:
A new church, runs the clerical proverb, “means a dead parson.” No fragile parson is J. Duncan Spaeth, who at 67 has a voice so thundering that it routs other professors from adjoining classrooms when Dr. Spaeth chooses to pull out his vocal stops, impersonate Shylock or Othello in the grand manner. Last October the trustees of three-year-old University of Kansas City reached him by long-distance telephone, reminded him that his age would automatically retire him from Princeton soon, coaxed him to become their University’s first president. J. Duncan Spaeth roared, spluttered, accepted.
Several friends and relatives of Dr. Spaeth came to Nelson. Dr. Walter Hall (1884-1962), himself a Princeton legend, was a history professor and close friend who with his wife, Margaret, came to Nelson and rented from Wilmer Tolman.
Dr. Hall was a fiery teacher. Sometimes he stamped his feet, brandished his cane, and was known to hop on his desk in the heat of describing a battle. His hearing aid sputtered so much he was known as “Buzzer.” His colorful dress and teaching style became immortalized as a favorite subject in seniors’ Faculty Songs. One verse referred to the fact that Dr. Hall lived in the country for a time, and drove his horse and buggy to work: “Buzzes in from Kingston way, In a ‘car’ that runs on hay.” Another verse described Dr. Hall’s annual lecture on one of his favorite historical characters: “On Garibaldi’s life and death, He yells himself quite out of breath.”
Once, drenched by the rain, he whisked off his suit and conducted the class in his underwear! He took a perverse pleasure in scheduling most of his classes at 7:40 a.m., but classes were always full. Once a student did fall asleep after having taken the milk train in from Manhattan. The Buzzer spotted the sleeper, tiptoed to his seat, bent down, and let out a bellow· ‘Princeton Junction! Change for Princeton!’ The student never dozed again.
Professor Strayer, Chairman of the History Department, wrote that Dr. Hall was ‘a powerful teacher,’ whose ‘strength lay in a rare ability to dramatize human events, however remote, and to kindle the imaginations of youthful minds.” When Dr. Hall retired, a fund for an annual Walter Phelps Hall prize for the best senior thesis in European history and a fund for a series of annual lectures to be given in his name were set up by members and former members of his classes.
Ethan Tolman, himself a retired professor as well as a lifelong resident of Nelson and a local historian, contributed several short essays to the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library to accompany donations by Michael de Martelly of a few of Dr. Hall’s books to the library. The essays relate local stories and memories of Dr. Hall and his family and their time here in Nelson. They firmly place Dr. and Mrs. Hall in Nelson’s history, and show the influence Nelson had on them.
Michael Hall, Walter and Margaret’s son, wrote Nelson, New Hampshire 1780-1870 as his college senior thesis in 1948. This small book remains for sale here in Nelson and is still considered one of our more valuable historical references. Mike Hall comes to life in Mr. Tolman’s essay, “Nelson Summer Residents: Walter Hall and Mike Hall”:
“Michael drove an army ambulance in the European theater and returned. Or part of him did. Part had been left on the battlefields: he had a hard time reentering normal life. For some years he worked as a brick mason. Eventually, he went to Princeton as a History major, and what he did for his senior thesis is what is important for us. Not only his time as a brick mason, but also the years he later spent as an historical researcher, first at Historic Deerfield and then at Historic Williamsburg (at both places bricks are an important resource) must have been influenced by the Felt brickyard, helping his parents dig, carry out of the woods, and load onto a trailer for transport each fall to Princeton.” 
Carola Spaeth Hauschka (1883-1948) was J. Duncan Spaeth’s half-sister. Mrs. Hauschka was a landscape and portrait painter and a musician. She lived in Princeton and was known to play piano, with Einstein playing the violin . She also painted his portrait.
Dr. Sigmund Spaeth (1885-1965) was John Spaeth’s half-brother. In the February 1992 issue of the Grapevine, a newsletter published quarterly in Nelson, Henry Putzel, Jr. included a section about Sigmund Spaeth in his article on local writers. It states that he was the author of over thirty books on music, and that he had been described as having “done more to promote good music . . . than any other figure in the musical world.” Mr. Putzel also conjectured that Dr. Spaeth had probably been a frequent visitor to Nelson.
A Time Magazine article (22 August 1932) stated that Sigmund Spaeth was:
expert in tracing down the ancestry of current songs … Some songs come piecemeal from the classics, like “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” which is found in Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu. Others are scrambled together like “Yes, We Have No Bananas,” which contains bits from Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, “My Bonnie,” “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls,” “Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party,” and “An Old-Fashioned Garden.” As Tune Detective, Dr. Spaeth sings, plays and analyzes snatches from current popular songs … Most obvious recent song pilferings, says Detective Spaeth, were two tunes by Charley Tobias and Peter deRose, “One More Kiss and Then Good Night” and “Somebody Loves You.” After Dr. Spaeth exposed these, the publishers righted matters simply, by adding on the sheet music the names of Lou Herscher and Art Coogan, and Charles Maskell, who had composed the originals: “After All I Adore You” and “I Want the Twilight and You.”
Sigmund Spaeth, 47, earned the right to be called Doctor by writing a Ph.D. thesis at Princeton on “Milton’s Knowledge of Music.” He has taught school, worked for Life, the New York Times, the old Evening Mail, and the Boston Transcript. He is half brother of Princeton’s large-bodied, large-voiced Professor John Duncan Spaeth, famed Shakespeare man and chairman of Princeton’s rowing committee. Shrewd, energetic and talkative, he describes himself as “writer, broadcaster, lecturer, composer, arranger and general showman and entertainer.”
Marie Haughton Spaeth and John Duncan Spaeth raised four talented children. Dorothea Spaeth was stage manager for Martha Graham Dance Company, taught movement at the Manhattan School of Music, and fifty years ago was involved with the Alexander Technique, an exercise/stretching technique used to improve posture, health and well-being. The technique remains popular today. In her Smith College years she roomed with Mary Lightfoot, daughter of Pennsylvania Settlement colonist Thomas Montgomery Lightfoot. John Spaeth was an architect and city planner of the City of Seattle. Paul Spaeth was a second and stunt man in the movies and owned a dude ranch in the state of Washington. Janet Spaeth was a Cresson Scholar at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and an accomplished sculptor.
Janet Spaeth De Martelly (1909-1966)
White Birch (1923). Janet Spaeth de Martelly, by Marie Spaeth
It is J.D. and Marie’s Spaeth’s daughter Janet who married John Stockton de Martelly and lived much of each year in Nelson. John de Martelly was a painter and lithographer, and together the couple had three artistic children: Johanne (Joey) de Martelly, a visual artist; Taya de Martelly Nelson, a dancer; and Michael de Martelly, a designer and writer. Michael and Johanne have remained in Nelson.
Over her life Janet de Martelly exhibited her work with her mother and with John, her beloved husband. Four years after her heartbreaking death in a car accident while on her way from Michigan to Nelson, John de Martelly dedicated his retrospective exhibition at Michigan State University to her, and wove a long , deeply personal poem about the pain of his loss through the exhibition catalogue.
John Stockton De Martelly (1903-1979)John Stockton De Martelly (1903-1979)
John S. de Martelly. Photo courtesy of Michael de Martelly
“The wise and powerful wizard” was the caption written in crayon beneath the official name and position on Professor de Martelly’s office door at Michigan State University. As a youth he was a prodigy and later became an important artist in the regional style. “In the mid-thirties John S. de Martelly was one of the nation’s most promising young painters and printmakers. His works were compared with those of El Greco, even Rembrandt.”
Through his link to the Stocktons, John Stockton de Martelly was a descendant of one of America’s founding families. He learned his craft at the Pennsylvania
Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, the Academia Del le Belle Arte in Florence, Italy, and the Royal College of Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum School in London.
In his earlier work, de Martelly reflected the moods of art in America. As a lithographer he stepped out on his own and led the way, setting styles and creating his legacy. In early 1943 it was from Windy Brow in Nelson that de Martelly marketed his work to the Associated American Artists in New York. Before coming to New Hampshire he had spent seven years as the head of the graphic arts department at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he studied with and became friends with Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), American painter and muralist. When Benton was fired from the Art Institute, the Board of Governors offered de Martelly Benton’s position as head of the Painting Department. De Martelly resigned in protest. He went to Michigan State University in 1943 and was named Artist in Residence in 1946 by university president John Hannah, who later was appointed Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by President Lyndon B. Johnson. “Make Hay While the Sun Shines (Figure 19) by Mr. De Martelly hung in Mr. Hannah’s office both at Michigan State and in Washington.
In his introduction to John S. de Martelly: A Retrospective Exhibition, Theodore Baldwin writes: “Trained as a painter, the versatile artist in residence at Michigan State University, John de Martelly, is probably best known for his work on the ‘stone’ — lithography. His forte for 26 years at MSU was instructing art students in the delicate technique of drawing their impressions in stone, and then printing the results.”
De Martelly showed at invitational and juried exhibition throughout the United States. His work was published in Time, Life, American Artist and Parnassus: Poetry in Review, an American Literary Magazine. His creative spirit extended to his writing as well. In “John S. de Martelly, A Retrospective Exhibition,” 3 April 1970, the artist wrote:
Art form comes down to us through time immemorial and has a human implication, is a regurgitated group of human shapes. From the bowels as well as the mouth — the very guts of it set it aside from cultures that only offer equations to represent it. It is a basic element. It must remain basic. It must imply man on His earth and in his universe.
The figurative world has always been part of Great art.
Man’s concern is man.
Margaret Redmond. Photo property of the Nelson Archives
Miss Margaret Redmond (1866-1948)
Miss Redmond was a painter and stained glass artist; she moved to Nelson in 1904. Her former home is located off Blueberry Lane, north of Dr. Egbert’s place. After her death, ownership passed to Helen P. Burns, Miss Redmond’s cousin, and then to her nephew, John Barton Armstrong, a history professor at Boston University and the author of Factory Under the Elms, A History of Harrisville. The property is now owned by a descendant, B. Barton Armstrong.
Margaret Redmond was born in 1866 in Philadelphia. She was a student at the Friends School there before studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She attended the Harvard School of Architecture in 1890, MIT in 1893, the Art Students League in New York, and the Academie Colarossi in Paris, an alternative to The Ecole des Beaux Arts, which was considered very conservative even in the 1890s. The Academie Colarossie was more liberal in philosophy and it admitted women. In Paris Miss Redmond studied with John Henry Twachtman, an American, and Marie Auguste Emile Rene Menard (1862-1930) and Lucien Simon (1861-1945), two well-known French painters. In Boston she studied with Charles J. Connick, a prominent stained glass artist of the period.Miss Redmond worked with Mr. Connick for a time early in her career, but later left and opened her own studio in Boston’s Back Bay.
We have a personal glimpse into Margaret Redmond’s life here in Nelson, in a wonderful story told by Bruce White, a long-time Nelson summer resident, and childhood neighbor of Margaret Redmond. In the 1930s, when Mr. White was between five and seven years old, he wandered off Blueberry Lane into Miss Redmond’s garden. Perhaps Miss Redmond had not been able to come to Nelson for a while, for the gardens were totally unkempt, an absolute jungle of roses and ferns and all sorts of weeds.
As he stood staring he was startled by Miss Redmond, who was in the garden where he had not seen her. “Are you lost, young man?” “No,” he replied, “just out for a walk.” After introductions he told Miss Redmond that he could help her take care of all these weeds.
According to Mr. White this was the beginning of a lovely summer, and for two and a half months he spent mornings, four to five hours at a time, three days a week, weeding and caring for Miss Redmond’s gardens. “Miss Redmond would appear silently at my shoulder and comment on how quickly and well I had cleared out the weeds, rocks and all.” Mr. White says that Miss Redmond was gentle and kind, and treated him to goodies and something to drink. He earned 25ct per hour for his labor. With a few dollars in his pocket at the end of the week, he was very proud indeed. Although he didn’t see much of Miss Redmond after that summer, his time with her remains a happy memory of his childhood in Nelson. And perhaps the beautiful flowers we see here in Margaret Redmond’s paintings of her gardens are due in part to the efforts of young Mr. Bruce White and his summer helping Miss Redmond.
Margaret Redmond worked in a variety of media. She created both decorative wooden screens and fireplace screens. She was an accomplished watercolorist who also painted in oils and pastels, and she also made etchings. However, she is best known for her stained glass windows, most often for churches and public buildings
In the Monadnock region Miss Redmond created a medallion window for Elliot Community Hospital, now Elliot Hall at Keene State College, two windows in the Olivia Rodham Library in Nelson, “King Arthur” and “Sir Galahad,” and a window in the Lady Chapel at All Saints’ Church in Peterborough, titled “Isaiah.”
Visitors to Boston can see five of Miss Redmond’s windows, all in the medieval style, in Trinity Church. Two, “Wisdom” and “Worship,” are located in the vestibule and depict events in the lives of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Three are in the lower nave walls of the church. The subjects of two, “Apostles” and “Evangelists,” are evident from their titles, and the third, “Vision and Service,” depicts events in the life of David and Samuel. Margaret Redmond also created six windows for St. Paul’s church in Englewood, NJ, and others for churches along the East Coast.
The Boston architectural firm of Ralph Cram was chosen to design All Saints’. On previous occasions Margaret Redmond had requested that Mr. Cram consider her to design windows for his many churches. She was denied on the grounds that “a woman’s place is in the home.” Although she issued a formal complaint, it is not clear if she received a response.
The Stained Glass of All Saints’, published in 2001 by the All Saints’ Parish, gives no clear indication of how the artist received the commission to create the Isaiah window. Was her association with the donor, Margaret Hillyer Pierson, an influence? We do not know. Consequently, obtaining this commission would have been no small achievement. Although the theme was chosen for Miss Redmond, she was able to express her independence and freedom openly in its execution. The Isaiah window uses large pieces of glass, letting in more light, and it is both distinctive and different in style from the other windows in the church, which were all done by the Charles Connick Studios. The Stained Glass of All Saints’ is dedicated to Ralph Adams Cram, Charles Jay Connick, Mrs. Mary Ward Lyon Cheney Schofield, The Reverend Lewis S. Stone, and “All the saints and sinners.” Connick’s name on the dedication page is followed by the statement that he “filled [the church] with the silent music of stained glass,” but there is no mention of Margaret Redmond’s work. Nor is she included in the biographical section, where biographies of Cram, Connick, and Schofield appear.
The windows pictured here, “King Arthur” and “Sir Galahad,” are the windows Miss Redmond created for the original Olivia Rodham Memorial Library. They were later relocated to the new library in Nelson. [see larger images in the gallery]
As a young woman Margaret Redmond studied modem stained glass methods with John Lafarge, an American painter and stained glass artist. However, in her travels through Europe and her studies with Charles Connick, she fell in love with medieval stained glass windows and the process used to create them, a process she adopted for her own work.
It is easy to understand why she was fascinated by this complex and time-consuming technique. Elizabeth Prudden, in an article titled “History Written in Glass,” published in The Christian Science Monitor in 1931, describes the process from an interview with Miss Redmond. First, the artist drew the window to size, numbering each segment. A duplicate was then made and cut up to serve as the pattern from which the glass was cut. Next each piece of the mosaic was fastened in place with beeswax onto a sheet of plate glass and the whole put on an easel where it could be worked. Margaret Redmond used only Norman slab, the finest of all English glass, which comes in colors as beautiful as any used by the old masters. It is very expensive and comes only in small pieces. No two pieces of the same color are the same shade.
Each single piece has to be stained, Miss Redmond explains. Otherwise the effect would be crude and flat. The design is first outlined with ground oxide blended with oil and varnish, and the whole piece then covered with a mat of the same oxide mixed with water. After the lights and halftones have been picked out by removing the mat with brush or needle, the glass is fired. When every fragment has been colored to Miss Redmond’s satisfaction, the glass is reassembled and leaded with H-shaped strips of flexible lead. The whole is then soldered together and mounted upon an armature or iron frame, and the window is ready to be placed in its final position.
During her lifetime, Miss Redmond’s work was quite widely recognized. It was included in many exhibitions, notably at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Society of Independent Artists. Perhaps most significantly, at the Boston Tercentenary Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibition in July 1930, she received their highest award, the Tercentenary Gold Medal for stained glass. The pieces she showed at the exhibition were a small medallion study from Mother Goose Rhymes and a medallion, “The Three Marys at the Tomb.”
However, just as Marie Spaeth faced resistance and gender discrimination, so did Margaret Redmond. Both were deprived of the artistic stature they deserved during their lifetimes. Perhaps not surprisingly, Margaret Redmond and Marie Spaeth are almost forgotten today, as they were often ignored by the art world during their lifetime.
The creative and academic spirit found in the Pennsylvania Settlement colony thrives to this day. Nelson remains home to writers, artists, scholars and musicians. Creativity is present in the descendants of the colonists and it is present in the general population. The lovely, rugged landscape which first attracted people to settle this area retains its allure. The strength and serenity found in Nelson’s hills encourages the freedom and the individuality a creative soul craves to flourish.
I am very grateful to Mike de Martelly, Joey de Martelly and Taya de Martelly Nelson. Their generosity with family pictures, artwork, and history has been invaluable. I appreciate their insight into the Pennsylvania Settlement, and their steadfast support of my effort has been energizing.
Well into this project, I learned that John Curuby, President of the Boston Art Club, would be mounting “Amongst the Birches,” an exhibition of Marie Spaeth’s paintings, as co-curator with Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA. Sharing my knowledge of the Pennsylvania Settlement with someone so knowledgeable has been exciting. The opening night of the exhibit included a talk by Mr. Curuby on the works of Marie Spaeth which was both delightful and informative — an affirmation of the accomplishments of Marie Spaeth, artist and colonist in the Pennsylvania Settlement. Mr. Curuby was generous as well in providing me with high-resolution images of some of Marie Spaeth’s paintings. Thank you, John.
I extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to Dr. Edith Notman. Her professional guidance and expert editing were invaluable in the execution of this writing.
Ethan Tolman’s writings and his personal knowledge of Walter Hall and his family are important. Mr. Tolman offers a look into life in Nelson in the summer months from a perspective only a person who was there can present. Thank you, Ethan.
Bruce White has given us a special glimpse into his life here in Nelson. His personal story demonstrates both the tranquility of life in a rural area and the strength of character found in Nelson and elsewhere during this era. Thank you, Bruce, for sharing such a warm experience from your childhood.
Pamela White’s writing about the original Olivia Rodham Memorial Library building and its present ownership has helped tie the past to the present and exemplifies the dedication shown by the Pennsylvania Settlement colonists as well as their descendants to the town of Nelson. Thank you, Pamela.
I extend my sincere thanks to Roberta Wingerson for taking the time to photograph several of Margaret Redmond’s paintings and stained glass windows. I appreciate those photographs and the other resources important to any discussion of Miss Redmond’s work which Bert has generously shared with me.
And I extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to the women in the Wednesday Academy and to everyone who has expressed interest in and support for this project. You have made a difference.