Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Manchester's Hymnist

     The photo above from my private collection is of Mary Artemesia Lathbury.  Mary was born at what is now State Street in Manchester on August 20, 1841 to the Rev. John Lathbury, a Methodist minister and his wife Betsey Shepard Jones.  I scored this little hand colored tin type, labeled M. A. "Sathbury" on Ebay about 7 years ago in a search for Manchester items.  Having read every Manchester census line by line, (it's a small place), I knew there was never any family named "Sathbury" in residence here and the name was probably Lathbury. Sure enough, looking at the back of the photo, I found the seller had misread the old handwriting and turned the L in Lathbury into an S. It's what is known as a "gem", the image being only about an inch in size.  
     Two of Mary's brothers were also ministers, while she was a prolific writer of songs and hymns.  She was a gifted artist too, illustrating books, (some of her own authorship), and for a time teaching art and French at the Newbury Academy in Vermont.  In her time Mary was quite famous; a compilation of her illustrations can be seen on You Tube here.
     Mary passed away in 1913 at East Orange New Jersey, she never married, and left no descendants.

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