Friday, July 29, 2016

INEZ | Let's Get that Mountain Renamed

The portrait of Inez made
in 1924 for the Pageant in
Alice Paul has had the Sewall-Belmont House named after her. It is now a National Park Service Monument and is renamed the Belmont-Paul house, recognizing Alma Vanderbilt Belmont's great contributions to the National Woman's Party and Alice Paul's leadership.

But the great inspiration for the final push for suffrage was Inez Milholland. 

Her portrait hung in splendor over the mantelpiece of the Belmont-Paul House until 2011, when the mantelpiece was removed.

A committee headed by Allegra Milholland and Alfred Boissevain (nephew of Inez's husband Eugen; my late mother was Eugen's niece) raised the funds to restore the portrait. I helped put together the committee.

Mt. Discovery is in the back of Meadowmount, where
Inez Milholland grew up and learned to ride, in
 Lewis, N.Y., the site of a suffrage pageant in 1924.
The Milholland home is now a music school.
August 6, 2016 will be the 130th birthday of Inez Milholland Boissevain. November 25 will be the 100th anniversary of her death.  

She collapsed in the middle of campaigning for women suffrage and died a few weeks later. In this centennial year, how can we best create a memorial for her?

The newspapers in 1916 said that Mt. Discovery (its peak 1,552 feet above sea level) would be renamed. It is part of the Meadowmount property in Lewis, Essex County, N.Y. that John E. Milholland purchased. It is supposed to be renamed Mt. Inez. But it hasn't happened. 

What would it take to make this happen?
Governor Cuomo, can you do something to remember this great woman who fought for human rights? (Matilda Cuomo, wouldn't this be a good idea?)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

BIRTH | July 24–Robert Graves

Robert Graves (1895-1985).
This day in 1895 was born English poet and prolific novelist Robert von Ranke Graves, who is related by marriage to the MacDonnell family of Dublin. Born in Wimbledon, Robert was one of 10 children born to Alfred Perceval Graves, a Celtic scholar, and Amalie, related to historian Leopold von Ranke.

Robert wrote three books of verse while an officer on the Western Front during World War I. He was badly wounded in 1916, and again in 1918, and for years he battled the physical and psychological effects of the Great War.  Good-Bye to All That (1929) is his successful memoir of the war, which allowed him to move to Majorca with American poet Laura Riding.

He wrote more than 120 books, including  I, Claudius (1934), The Golden Fleece (1944), and the controversial book, The White Goddess; A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth (1948), in which he recommends abandoning patriarchal gods and relying on a female deity.

He wrote in "A Case for Xanthippe" (1960) that poetry is a
practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves. Of never acquiescing in a fraud; of never accepting the secondary-rate in poetry, painting, music, love, friends. Of safeguarding our poetic institutions against the encroachments of mechanized, insensate, inhumane, abstract rationality.
The Graves family is related to the MacDonnell family through the Rev. Richard MacDonnell, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. In the first sentence of his history of the MacDonnell family, Hercules H. Graves MacDonnell (in  September 1892, writing at 4 Roby Place, Kingstown, now Dun Laoghaire) writes:
In the "Notes on the Graves Family," printed in 1889, when referring (p. 15) to the marriage of Jane Graves with the Rev. Richard MacDonnell, Provost, T.C.D., it was stated that no detailed account of their descendants was given, "as it would occupy undue space." 
Richard MacDonnell married on Jan. 26, 1810 Jane, the second daughter of the Very Rev. Richard Graves, Dean of Armagh.
Very Rev. Richard Graves, D.D., was born 1 Oct. 1763 in Kilfinnane, Co. Limerick, Ireland, and died in March 1829 in Raheny, Co. Dublin. He was made a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1786. In 1807, he published his important work, The Pentateuch, and in 1813 was made Professor of Divinity in Dublin University, and Dean of Ardagh. He married Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Mary Drought, daughter of Rev. James Drought, F.T.C.D. and Prof. of Divinity, and Elizabeth Maria Campbell, on 1 Aug. 1787. She was born in Oct. 1763 in Co. Offaly, Ireland, and died 27 March 1827 in Harcourt St., Dublin, Ireland. (R1, R3, R12) 
Jane survived her husband, and died Jan. 8, 1882, 88 years old, at Rostrevor-terrace, Rathgar, and was interred at St. Paul's, Bray (MacDonnell history, pp. 29-30).

Rev. MacDonnell in his spare time was a developer and put together a row of "cottages" called "Sorrento" after the Italian resort town on the Bay of Naples. These cottages in Dalkey are now the most expensive row of homes in Ireland.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor and Randal Marlin for information in this post.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

EUGEN | How Did He Meet Inez?

Guglielmo Marconi
Spartacus reports twice, in its bios of both Eugen Boissevain and Inez Milholland, that they met through Max Eastman. The statement is unsourced, questionable and highly dubious. I would be interested in finding a source or basis for the claim.

My understanding is that Inez and Eugen met at a dinner at the ritzy Holland House in June 1913, at which Eugen's brother Robert Boissevain introduced Eugen to Inez. The link among them was Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless communications and the first Italian to receive the Nobel Prize:
  • Guglielmo was the second son, after Alfonso, born to Giuseppe Marconi's second wife (the first one, from the Renoli banking family in Bologna, died), an Irish woman, Annie Jameson. Annie was the daughter of Andrew Jameson of the family that made and makes Irish whiskey.
  • Robert married a Jameson descendant, Rosie Phibbs. Robert left Rosie and their six children in Amsterdam because of her public remonstrations about, I recollect, infidelities. He was remarried in New York to Anne Deterling, secretary to Alma Vanderbilt Belmont, and he had two American sons, one (Alfred) still living in 2016. Robert worked for Marconi in London and New York, probably on ship-related telegraphy, since Robert had been shipping manager for United Fruit in New York.
  • Inez was Guglielmo's first serious love object. He proposed to her in October 1903 (when she was 17) aboard the Lucania, sailing from London to New York. Marconi was on the ship because it was  the one that initiated the Cunard Daily Bulletin, the on-board news sheet based on shore-to-ship telegrams via Marconi. Dissuaded by his Irish mother not to marry Inez, possibly because he would naturally gravitate to New York and her American relatives, the engagement was apologetically withdrawn in 1904 on the basis that Inez was too young to be married. Instead, later that year Marconi married Beatrice (Bea) O'Brien, daughter of the 13th Baron Inchiquin, who was descended from Brian Boru. Bea was a party-lover and although they stayed married she didn't remain with Guglielmo when he went to Nova Scotia to experiment with wireless stations. Guglielmo meanwhile remained a good friend of his "old flame" Inez. (Source: Degna Marconi, My Father Marconi, pp. 129, 174.)
My mother Hilda van Stockum (Eugen and Robert's niece) told me Eugen once passed on to her something that Guglielmo said to him: "Inez is too strong for me. She needs someone like you that is a match for her."

My mother also reported to me that Inez said flippantly about her engagement: "I am very fond of Guglielmo, but who would want to be married to a radio?" Which was what happened to Bea.

Guglielmo was very close to his mother Annie and not his father, who objected strenuously to his day-dreaming about talking through the air. A gardener to his mother, seeing Guglielmo for the first time, commented about her son's big ears.  Annie replied in the affirmative: "He will be able to hear the voice of the air."

Friday, July 1, 2016

BOISSEVAIN Gen6 | Jan (1836-1904) (Updated Oct 4, 2016)

Jan Boissevain (Gen6, 1836-1904)
Jan Boissevain was a ship-owner and major entrepreneur, born in Amsterdam on December 12, 1836. His father was Gideon Jeremie Boissevain, also a ship-owner, and his mother was Maria van Heukelom. He married, on May 15, 1862, Johanna Petronella Gerharda Brugmans.

Jan (the older brother, by six years, of my great-grandfather Charles Handelsblad Boissevain) worked with his father from the age of 13, after finishing comprehensive primary school.

Jan's Eastward Shipping Expansion

Gideon Jeremie Boissevain, Jan's father, owned a small shipping company. From Jan's letters we  know that early on he was figuring out ways to grow the family firm.

Jan's main idea was to make the small shipping company a big one by adding a steamship service between Holland and the Dutch East Indies. This went against the conventional wisdom of the day that steamships were only good for short sea voyages and that sailing ships were needed for the long voyages because coal weighed too much to store for long distances.

He had two ideas to reduce the weight of the coal. His first idea was to use the coal-fired engine as auxiliary power, much as sailboats today have an engine aboard for maneuvering in tight spaces or when the wind has died down.

Then, during the 1860s, he decided that the entire trip to the East Indies could be made with one load of coal, because:
  • The completion of the Suez Canal would greatly reduce the distance to the Indies.
  • Slow progress replacing the North Holland canal gave steamships a big advantage over sail. 
  • Greater efficiency of steamboat engines meant a long range for steamships.
Jan therefore decided that he and his father should offer the steamship service all the way to the Indies, and closely followed Dutch government policy relating to sea routes to India, doubtless reading his brother Charles's newspaper carefully. He expressed himself about this in two articles in The Economist in 1868 and 1869, citing statistics on the desirability of subsidies for the creation of canals.

In 1869, when the Suez Canal was nearing its inauguration, a Scottish ship-owner shocked Amsterdam by proposing a steamship line to the Dutch East Indies. The response in Amsterdam was immediate. In August 1869 a stakeholders' meeting was convened by an Amsterdam shipbroker to preempt the Scotsman's plan. An action committee was created and Jan Boissevain–since November 3, 1868 (and until August 22, 1873) a Liberal member of the Amsterdam Provincial  Council–was elected a member. The committee approached Prince Henry of the Netherlands ("the Navigator"), who was to represent the Dutch government at the Suez Canal opening. The Prince promised to cooperate, financially and morally, to ensure that a Dutch company serviced the route.

These initiatives annoyed the Scottish shipowner. While Prince Henry was in Egypt, the Scotsman attacked the preparatory work of the committee, blaming Boissevain (as the youngest member of the Executive Committee). The committee quickly prepared a new plan, focusing on trade with India, instead of the more favorable trade with Southern Europe. The Amsterdam market was skeptical about Boissevain's calculations, even though they were carefully put together. When the tender was opened in March 1870, only 2.5 million guilders of the required 3.5 million capital was raised.

After an intense patriotic ampaign, conducted with the support of Prince Henry, a renewed public offering attracted the required level of subscriptions. On May 13, 1870 the Steamship Company "Netherlands" was created with a three-man board of which Jan Boissevain remained the soul for 34 years. The King acted as patron and his brother was an active honorary president.

The mayor of Amsterdam was Chairman of the Company–Cornelis Jacob Arnold (Koo) den Tex, an Amsterdammer, born March 12, 1824, died December 6, 1882. He began in 1847 his career as a lawyer in Amsterdam and in 1866 he became a Liberal member of the council. From 1868 to 1880 he was Mayor of Amsterdam, and became Senator until his death in 1882. His biography has been written.

For the first few years,  the new company did not prosper. The projected revenue proved to have been optimistic. The lease for the port facilities in Nieuwediep from the Royal Navy was short-term and renewal was an uncertainty. The competition for North Sea business became stronger starting in 1876 and was in full swing by 1879. Larger ships started coming to the area and the port installations on the IJ were found to be inadequate. Worst of all, the company was suffered several accidents:
  • A Scottish-built ship in 1871 caught fire and burned after barely a day at sea. While tragic, no lives were lost. However, the company remained for years entangled in lawsuits over compensation to passengers. 
  • Unreliable propellers caused many repair costs and delayed travel in the early years. 
  • In 1881, another ship sank in the Indian Ocean. One of the lifeboats, with its crew and passengers, disappeared into the waves.
However, the Company survived. In 1873 it harvested the thanks of the Government for speedy military shipments at the outbreak of the Aceh War in Northern Sumatra. The company paid its first dividend in 1874.

Jan as Banker and Negotiator

Jan Boissevain had other successes. A few years later, India was hit by a catastrophic decline in sugar prices. This led to serious difficulties for the Dutch East India Commercial Bank in the autumn of 1884 because it had overextended itself, far beyond its own resources, to make loans to planters. If loan payments were made subject to a moratorium it would create a disaster for the East Indies economy and, indirectly, the two steamship lines "Netherlands" and "Rotterdam Lloyd". The project, seemed impossibly difficult because so much money (nine million guilders) was needed, and by  a deadline of only five days.

The big banker AC Wertheim and Jan Boissevain joined other Amsterdam businessmen to save the bank. They each independently took a position in the Stock Exchange, without prior consultation (as Boissevain wrote later). A new company was formed. All of the needed subscribers were found, and two hours before the expiry of the five-day period the money was raised and the Dutch East India Commercial Bank was saved.

When the crisis came over the issue of the Paketvaart between Java and Amsterdam, he played a central role. When the possibility of war arose, and complaints from passengers and shippers increased, the national interest demanded a purely Dutch company, which, however, could scarcely get off the ground in the face of the strong existing competition.

Boissevain was known as a flexible and effective negotiator, paying attention to the interests of the other side. During repeated trips to England and Scotland, he succeeded in building a friendship with the director of the Dutch East India Steamship Company, Sir William McKinnon. He used his connections and knowledge to acquire the entire fleet of the company for reasonable price, taking over Royal Packet Company.

When the assets of his company were transferred in 1877 from Den Helder to Amsterdam, the urgent need a larger dry dock in Amsterdam became clear. Boissevain spearheaded the formation of the Amsterdam Drydock Company, which lasted more than a century, the first 26 years of it with him as president. In this way he played a major part in creating the prosperity of the port of Amsterdam.

Jan as Politician and Organizer

Boissevain as mentioned had meanwhile become a Liberal member of the Amsterdam provincial council. He would remain there until 1898, and would be elected again for Amsterdam from 1901 until his death.

The growth of the port of Amsterdam meant that many new trained machinists were needed. Jan put his support behind the creation of a school, was later named the Secondary Technical School.

The establishment of the Netherlands Shipbuilding Company in 1894 was in large part enabled by   negotiations with laid-off workers from "Werkspoor" by the board and management committee of the Netherlands Shipbuilding Company.

Jan was extremely empathetic with his workers, as is evident from the fact that he was for many years chairman of a housing association which built houses for workers. He and his wife Johanna Petronella [Nella?] helped them with advice and assistance when they ran into personal difficulties. , gratitude was expected for some workers more and more as their straight regarded went. That is why he felt the strike of port workers in 1903, which led to the rail strikes, as a personal insult, which may be life has hastened. In the spring of 1904 he moved with his wife and daughter to Bellagio and left behind a printed suicide note for all its employees. At his wish, he was buried in Bellagio in the Protestant cemetery. Despite his schooling having ended early, Jan Boissevain was a well-read man who spoke his language well and French without an accent. He subscribed to The Guide - Potgieter was a family friend - and the Revue des Deux Mondes. The articles in these magazines were the favorite subject of his conversation table, where all gossip was strictly forbidden.]

He was a faithful churchgoer in the Walloon Church, but also on occasion listened to liberal Reformed and Mennonite pastors. But when his children's New Guide preferred Symbolists over the Romantics, and questioned the tenets of Christianity, he would not follow them. When dealing with employees was no longer a matter of individual assistance, but tough negotiations with unions, he left this part of the management task normally to his attorney co-director, the younger LPD Op ten Noort.

He was a major actor in the Dutch economy of his time and can be properly called an Amsterdam trading and shipping magnate. He died in Bellagio, Italy on May 13, 1904.


A biography has been written in Dutch on Mayor Cornelis Jacob Arnold den Tex. See also The twin sister of Charles Handelsblad Boissevain (Gen6), Hester Boissevain, married Nicolaas Jacob den Tex, nephew of the Mayor. I translated the Dutch text using my frail Dutch supplemented by Google Translate, and added information as needed from other sources.


Boissevain, Charles, Onze Voortrekkers [Our Forebears] (Amsterdam, 1906).
Boissevain File, Amsterdam Municipal Archives (Archief), Amsterdam.
Commemorative Book of Steamship-Company Netherlands 1870-1920.
de Boer,  MG, History of the Amsterdam Steamships (Amsterdam, 1921-1922 3 parts.)
den Tex, Jan, in Biographical Dictionary of the Netherlands 1 (The Hague, 1979).
Hofland, Peter, and Members of the Council. The Amsterdam City Council from 1814 to 1941. (Amsterdam 1998) 132.
Netherlands Society Annual, 1871-1903, History of the first 25 years of the Steamship Company "Netherlands" (Amsterdam, 1895).
Pierson, NG, Braine Hearth 1904, 742-750.
Rammer, JC, in New Netherland Biographical Dictionary, VII, 161-164.