The Craik-Patton House created a video describing interesting facts about the Civil War era black powder shotgun from the museum collection.
Learn about where it came from, who may have initially owned it, the technology's eventual obsolescence, how it relates to the Patton and more!
While your at it, consider subscribing to the Craik-Patton YouTube channel so that you can stay up-to-date on future episodes of the Collection Connection.
Collection Connection Video
Who’s Who: a photographic mystery
“Photographs are the reflection of untold stories, unseen beauties, unexpressed emotions, and the unheard songs of life.”
― Debasish Mridha
While I cannot recall why I was looking for a particular sepia photograph of Susan Patton after the holiday break, I do remember the mystery that ensued and the necessity for me to reach out to the public for assistance.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California has an archived photograph (Figure 1) of Susan Patton within their Shorb Family Collection. According to the item description, they suspect that the photograph was taken between 1890 and 1906 and that the subject is Susan Glassell Patton (1864 - 1954), the daughter of George S. Patton (1833 - 1864) and Susan Thornton Glassell Patton (1835 - 1883).
Learning that this is actually a picture of George’s daughter and not his wife has presented our museum with a problem and the responsibility of correcting the historical record that we present at the Craik-Patton House.
To fact check The Huntingon’s information, I opened up two biographies that we have in our library: Martin Blumenson’s, The Patton Papers: 1885-1940 (Figure 2) and Carlo D’Este’s, Patton: A Genious for War (Figure 4). Expecting to somehow solve the mystery of the identity of this woman, the questions and problems became more concerning than before.
In Blumenson’s biography of Patton, he states that “all illustrations herein are reproduced by courtesy of the Patton family.” Blumenson then captions the reproduced image as “Grandmother of Patton” - referring to George S. Patton (1885-1945) - “circa 1872.”
According to D’Este, who also stated that his images were procured “courtesy of the Patton family,” the image (Figure 5) is captioned as that of “Susan Glassell Thornton Patton (1835 - 1883).” I have already uncovered a number of factual inconsistencies within D’Este’s biography and have inserted a disclaimer at the beginning of the book for any future researchers that may rely on his text, but that may be a story for another day.
Perhaps to linger upon the inconsistencies within D’Este’s biography a moment longer, since it’s on the same page as the image of Susan, I will point out that he mistakenly identifies a photograph (Figure 5) of George S. Patton (1833-1864) when it is in fact a photograph of his son, George S. Patton (1856-1827).
The reason for my immediate concern about this image (Figure 6) of Susan Patton is her portrayal on our Civil War Trail Markers sign located near our front gate. According to our sign, the images were found courtesy of the Stan Cohen’s Pictorial Histories Collection. While I have tried to uncover which “Pictorial Histories Collection” it exists within, I have yet to actually locate it.
Figure 6: Our Civil War Trail Markers sign, indicating that the woman in this picture is George's wife when it could in fact be an image of his daughter.
The lady in this photograph looks very similar to another image that we have of Susan Patton, the widowed wife of the Civil War George S. Patton, taken in Los Angeles in 1866 (black and white). Relying on facial features to discriminate between photos of people is made all the more difficult when you are trying to determine whether or not they are mother and daughter or the same person.
Examining the information on file at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden, the item description included information about the photographer who took the photograph in question. Embossed at the bottom frame is the photographer’s name, Frank G. Schumacher, and the location of his studio, No. 7 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California.
According to a blog article found on The Cabinet Card Gallery:
“The University of California (Berkley) archives assert that [Schumacher] established a photography studio in 1882 on North Spring Street in Los Angeles. He is listed in Los Angeles business directories from at least 1888 through 1904.”
If the information about Schumacher’s studio is accurate, then the image may in fact be an image of the daughter of our George S. Patton and not that of his widowed wife. Since Patton’s widowed wife, who eventually remarried his cousin, George Smith, in 1870, died at 48 years of age in November of 1883, it becomes more unlikely for her to be the subject of this photograph. Rather, I would assert that it is in fact the daughter who may have been eighteen-years old in 1882 or 24 years-old in 1888 (Figure 7).
Since the image may not be that of George S. Patton’s wife, we are asking the public to double-check their personal collections for any images of Susan Thornton Glassell Patton (1835-1883) that we may use to replace the image in our files and on our Civil War Trail Markers sign.
Figure 5: D'Este's misidentified images
Figure 1: Susan Glassell Patton, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden
Figure 2: Blumenson's cover page
Figure 3: Blumenson's illustration of the WWII George S. Patton's "grandmother"
Figure 4: D'Este's cover page
Figure 6: Our Civil War Trails Marker sign
Figure 7: Susan (daughter) and Susan (mother)
The Craik-Patton House’s Collection Committee accessioned a beautiful wingback style chair in November 2020. Based on the committee’s research, the chair is believed to date to the late 18th century and is a wonderful addition to the museum’s study. Nestled alongside the fireplace, beneath the gaze of James Craik’s portrait, the chair intimates a comfortable location for the Reverend to settle in and pore through a book or relax after a long sermon.
Volunteers assisted the Collections Committee in October and November by painstakingly sewing object identification labels on a number of textiles, including our quilts and coverlets. Just as the committee thought that the task was complete, the museum received a small collection of coverlet textiles from Mrs. Kit Wellford.
According to the immediate information collected from Kit at the time of the items’ drop-off, it is believed that the items came into her possession from the New England area. During the committee’s January meeting, they voted to accession the double bow-tie, or double muscadine, patterned coverlet (top right), and continue researching the other three items for consideration in our museum collection.
While examining the other three textiles, the committee discovered that one of the coverlets had a “Fireside Industries” label sewn to it. A similar variant of this label was used by Berea College in the 1950s, so we have requested the assistance of the Berea College archives to help us determine the age of the object and whether or not it would be an appropriate addition to one of our rooms.
While Berea College was founded in 1855, and an object from that time period could be displayed in our Patton Room, the story of Fireside Industries may not actually begin until the 1890s. We are hoping that we may uncover enough information about these beautifully woven items so that they may also be accessioned into our growing textile collection; at that point in time, I’m sure our volunteers will be happy to attach the necessary identification labels.
Foyer Drapery Update
Finally, the committee received the period reproduction fabric for the foyer drapery project from Thistle Hill Weavers prior to the Christmas holiday. It has since been forwarded to a local interior designer named Larry Tucker, who expects to have the draperies finished and installed by late March.
Recently donated textile coverlets
Berea College Coverlet
Fireside Industries, Berea College label
Meet Craik-Patton's New AmeriCorps Service Member
When I recently learned of an opportunity to serve at The Craik-Patton House museum through Americorps, I quickly put in an application. I hoped my background in Media Studies, filmmaking, collecting antiques, and keen interest in all things historical would make up for my lack of actual museum experience. The picture here is a screenshot of my online AmeriCorps interview, with my Kentucky long-rifles proudly displayed in the background.
I got the first rifle during the time I was writing a feature-length screenplay about Daniel Boone. The second one I built while researching and filming my Master’s degree thesis, a film called “One Soldier, One Grave,” a docu-drama about Partisan Ranger Captain Phil Thurmond’s death in Winfield, West Virginia during the Civil War.
I was impressed with the 1800s double-barreled shotgun that was displayed in the Craik-Patton House and wanted to know more about it. Director Nathan Jones proposed we research it further and we were elated to find that it had a closer connection with the museum than first thought. That research led to the first episode of our new video series “Collection Connection” that highlights its history. I look forward to further research on many more objects in the collection.
Beyond historical research I enjoy music and theatre. My wife and I own The LimeLight Theatre Company. We produce plays, and for six years ran a summer theatre camp for kids. I co-founded the non-profit Charleston Music and Arts Collective. I also collect, restore, and play guitars.
Cocktails With Craik-Patton
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote in December of 1776. This famous line addressed the uncertainties facing the American independence movement following a series of setbacks experienced by the Continental Army and wavering support for the cause of liberty against such overwhelming odds.
While the lasting impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is yet to be seen, the moment in which we are living through is certainly a trying time for families, communities, and institutions across our country.
A survey conducted by the American Alliance of Museums in July estimated that nearly 33% of our country’s museums and cultural institutions are at a significant risk of permanently closing due to limited opportunities posed by the pandemic. With that shocking statistic in the forefront of our minds, we have had to adapt to circumstances facing us and reevaluate our annual benefit so that it may be held safely and successfully.
Not only does this organization rely on donor support to fund the full-time staff salary of its executive director, those contributions also aid in providing the money used to match our support for a part-time AmeriCorps service member through a partnership with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. Allowing the museum to remain open to the public Monday through Friday and on weekends by appointment.
Public support also assists in the acquisition of historical artifacts and period appropriate furnishings curated and cared for by our Collections Committee. The most recent project that the committee has undertaken is the procurement of historically woven fabric for a set of draperies that will be installed in our museum’s entryway. The authentic design and construction, replicated from schematics left behind by a nineteenth century weaver, will consume a large part of the committee’s annual budget.
Other budgets dependent on contributions to Craik-Patton include our Gardens and Grounds Committee. The hard work of this committee and the funding that it receives allows us to maintain our beautiful gardens and the stately architecture of the home. As a benefit of maintaining these picturesque settings, the conference room, parterre garden, and front lawn remain an enticing venue for photography sessions and event rentals.
This summer, we were faced with an unexpected expense with the failure of the HVAC system that moderates the temperature in our conference room. Not only does this important piece of equipment stave off the threat of harmful molds and other various hazards, but it serves a very important purpose in providing a comfortable location for the family and friends of those who rent our venue on their special day.
As one might expect in a home that is nearly 186 years old, there are larger maintenance projects that require significant investment. One such project that requires a costly restoration is the front portico of the Craik-Patton House. Its iconic pillars, banisters, and floorboards have experienced years of moisture and wear that have called for nearly $20,000 in repairs. While we have been able to secure a $5,000 grant from the Jacobson Foundation, we are in the middle of attempting to obtain at least $5,000 more to become eligible for state and federal matching grants that would cover the entirety of the repair expenses.
Additionally, in allowing our site to remain open, decoratively exquisite, and a protective setting for artifacts and furnishings that provide historical context to the nineteenth century, the Craik-Patton House was one of sixty museums admitted to a curated collection of sites called Great American Treasures, a project that has been years in the making to tell the “stories – big and small – of how America became America.”
While it is a great honor to be counted among the list of homes that stretch from Maine to Hawaii, it is an even greater responsibility to preserve the historical structure, priceless artifacts, and to provide sufficient educational programming that instills an understanding of the events and people that placed us on the path that we follow today. We are hoping that our admittance into groups like Great American Treasures allows us to continue to open our doors to new visitors from every part of the country and share with them the information that we know makes us special.
Like many other organizations facing difficult circumstances today, Craik-Patton has had to adapt to the new realities of our ever changing world; so too has our regularly scheduled annual benefit, which ordinarily provides one third of our operating budget. Rather than hosting this year’s event in person, we will be trying to connect with you online using different platforms, such as: Zoom, Facebook Live, and Constant Contact.
This year we are relying on people to contribute to our upcoming fundraising campaign throughout the month of October and to join us on Wednesday, the 21st for a virtual toast (special invitations will be sent via email). You will also find various fundraising challenges and events advertised via Facebook and Instagram, so if you do not already follow us on those platforms, consider subscribing to them today.
While it always seems like it is the darkest just before dawn, so too was it for the struggling patriots of 1776 reading Mr. Paine’s harrowing words. Little did they know that dawn was on the horizon with General Washington famously capturing the city of Trenton three days later. Will you become a part of the team that helps us across the frigid river and keep history alive?
Leutze, Emanuel, Artist. Washington crossing the Delaware. Delaware Delaware River New Jersey New York Trenton United States, ca. 1898. Photograph.