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Ellen Louis Herndon Arthur - History

Ellen Louis Herndon Arthur - History


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When Chester Arthur ran for Vice President on the Garfield ticket, he was still in deep mourning for his wife, Ellen, who had died just a few months before. Ellen Arthur apparently caught a cold following her performance as a soprano at a benefit concert, and succumbed to pneumonia a mere three days later. Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur was the scion of a distinguished Virginia family. She was also the daughter of a United States Naval hero, Lieutenant William Herndon. Following the death of her father, she and her mother came to live in the New York City townhouse given to them by the people of New York as a tribute to Lieutenant Herndon. Shortly thereafter, she met and fell in love with attorney Chester Arthur. They married on the eve of the Civil War and their life together was generally happy. Although the Arthurs lost one child, they eventually went on to have two more and by all accounts Ellen's life was full of her music, her charity work and her children. After Ellen's untimely death, her husband kept her room in their New York home exactly as she left it. When he came to the White House after the assassination of Garfield, he carried on a tradition of placing fresh flowers beside Ellen's portrait every day.



Ellen Arthur

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Ellen Louis Herndon Arthur - History

Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur's beloved "Nell" died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880. That November, when he was elected Vice President, he was still mourning her bitterly. In his own words: "Honors to me now are not what they once were." His grief was the more poignant because she was only 42 and her death sudden. Just two days earlier she had attended a benefit concert in New York City--while he was busy with politics in Albany--and she caught cold that night while waiting for her carriage. She was already unconscious when he reached her side.

Her family connections among distinguished Virginians had shaped her life. She was born at Culpeper Court House, only child of Elizabeth Hansbrough and William Lewis Herndon, U.S.N. They moved to Washington, D.C., when he was assigned to help his brother-in-law Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury establish the Naval Observatory. While Ellen was still just a girl her beautiful contralto voice attracted attention she joined the choir at St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square.

Then her father assumed command of a mail steamer operating from New York and in 1856 a cousin introduced her to "Chet" Arthur, who was establishing a law practice in the city. By 1857 they were engaged. In a birthday letter that year he reminded her of "the soft, moonlight nights of June, a year ago. happy, happy days at Saratoga--the golden, fleeting hours at Lake George." He wished he could hear her singing.

That same year her father died a hero's death at sea, going down with his ship in a gale off Cape Hatteras. The marriage did not take place until October 1859 and a son named for Commander Herndon died when only two. But another boy was born in 1864 and a girl, named for her mother, in 1871. Arthur's career brought the family an increasing prosperity they decorated their home in the latest fashion and entertained prominent friends with elegance. At Christmas there were jewels from Tiffany for Nell, the finest toys for the children.

At the White House, Arthur would not give anyone the place that would have been his wife's. He asked his sister Mary (Mrs. John E. McElroy) to assume certain social duties and help care for his daughter. He presented a stained-glass window to St. John's Church in his wife's memory it depicted angels of the Resurrection, and at his special request it was placed in the south transept so that he could see it at night from the White House with the lights of the church shining through.


Contents

William Lewis Herndon was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He married Frances Elizabeth Hansborough and they had a daughter, Ellen Lewis Herndon (future wife of Chester A. Arthur), born in Culpeper Court House, Virginia. His great-niece was the novelist Lucy Herndon Crockett.

Herndon was appointed midshipman on 1 November 1828. He was promoted to passed midshipman in 1834 and lieutenant in 1841. [2] He cruised in Pacific, South American, Mediterranean, and Gulf waters from then until 1842.

From 1842 to 1846, Herndon served in the Depot of Charts and Instruments of the US Naval Observatory with his first cousin and brother-in-law, Matthew Fontaine Maury. They prepared oceanographic charts and performed other scientific work invaluable to the safe and accurate navigation of the seas.

During the Mexican–American War, Herndon commanded the brig Iris with distinction.

Exploration of the Amazon Edit

In 1851 Herndon headed an expedition exploring the Valley of the Amazon, a vast area uncharted by Europeans, although inhabited for thousands of years by numerous tribes of indigenous peoples. The purpose of the expedition was to ascertain the commercial resources and potential of the valley. [2] Departing Lima, Peru, 21 May 1851, Herndon, in the company of Lieutenant Lardner Gibbon and five other men, pressed into the jungles. After crossing the Cordilleras, Gibbon separated to explore the Bolivian tributaries of the Amazon while Herndon continued to explore the main trunk. [2] After a journey of 4,366 miles, which took him through the wilderness from sea level to heights of 16,199 feet, Herndon reached the city of Pará, Brazil on 11 April 1852.

On 26 January 1853, Herndon submitted an encyclopedic and illustrated 414-page report to the Secretary of the Navy John P. Kennedy. The report was published by the Navy in 1854 as Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon. The Navy ordered "10,000 additional copies be printed for the use of the Senate." It was circulated extensively, and cited in works on ethnology and natural history. [2]

SS Central America Edit

After two years of active service on Potomac and San Jacinto, Herndon was assigned in 1855 as commander of the Atlantic Mail Steamship Company steamer SS Central America, on the New York to Aspinwall, Panama, run. Navy captains were assigned to command the mail steamers on the Atlantic and Pacific runs the ships were operated and maintained by companies under contract to the federal government. At the time, such mail steamers transported large quantities of gold from the California gold fields to cities on the East Coast and the US Mint in Philadelphia. (Central America had recently been renamed from George Law. Aspinwall was an English name for Colón, Panama.)

Herndon was carrying perhaps 15 tons of gold (then worth $2,000,000) and 474 passengers, many of whom were from California and were returning to the East Coast, as well as 101 crew members. A few days after leaving Cuba on 7 September 1857, the ship encountered a three-day hurricane off Cape Hatteras. The hurricane steadily increased in force. By 12 September, the Central America was shipping water through several leaks due to the ship's lack of water-tight bulkheads and general unseaworthiness. Water in her hold put out her boiler fires, eliminating steam for propulsion pumps. [2]

Herndon recognized that his ship was doomed he flew its flag upside down as a distress signal in hopes another ship would see them. At 2 p.m., the West Indian brig Marine arrived to help take passengers from the stricken steamer. It did not have room to take on all of the passengers and crew. Commander Herndon supervised the difficult loading of women and children into lifeboats to transfer to the Marine. He gave one of the women passengers his watch to send to his wife, saying that he could not leave the ship while there was a soul on board. Most of the women and children reached safety on the Marine. Herndon's concern for his passengers and crew helped save 152 of the 575 people on board. [1]

Men on the Central America tried to break up wooden parts to use as floats, in hopes of surviving the sinking. Some were rescued later by passing vessels, but most of the 423 persons on board died in what was the largest loss of life for a commercial ship in United States history. [2] Survivors of the disaster reported last seeing Commander Herndon in full uniform, standing by the wheelhouse with his hand on the rail, hat off and in his hand, with his head bowed in prayer as the ship gave a lurch and went down.

The ship disaster and loss of so much gold, which banks still depended on, contributed to the financial Panic of 1857 in the United States.

The wreckage of the ship was discovered in a 1987 treasure recovery expedition.


Ellen Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur’s beloved “Nell” died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880. That November, when he was elected vice president, he was still mourning her bitterly. His grief was the more poignant because she was only 42 and her death sudden. Just two days earlier she had attended a benefit concert in New York City—while he was busy with politics in Albany—and she caught cold that night which developed into pneumonia. She was already unconscious when he reached her side.

Her family connections among distinguished Virginians had shaped her life. Ellen Lewis Herndon was born on August 30, 1837 at Culpeper Court House, only child of Elizabeth Hansbrough and naval officer William Lewis Herndon. They moved to Washington, D. C., when he was assigned to help his brother-in-law Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury establish the Naval Observatory. While Ellen was still just a girl, her beautiful contralto voice attracted attention she joined the choir at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square. Then her father assumed command of a mail steamer operating from New York and in 1856 a cousin introduced her to Chester A. Arthur, who was establishing a law practice in the city. By 1857 they were engaged. In a birthday letter that year he reminded her of “the soft, moonlight nights of June, a year ago . . . happy, happy days at Saratoga—the golden, fleeting hours at Lake George.” He wished he could hear her singing.

That same year her father died a hero’s death at sea, going down with his ship in a gale off Cape Hatteras. The marriage did not take place until October 25, 1859. They had a son named for Commander Herndon, but he died at age 2. Another boy was born in 1864 and a girl, named for her mother, in 1871. Arthur’s career brought the family an increasing prosperity they decorated their home in the latest fashion and entertained prominent friends with elegance. At Christmas there were jewels from Tiffany for Nell, the finest toys for the children. The Arthurs were well known in New York society, and mingled with many prominent families.

At the White House, Arthur would not give anyone the place that would have been his wife’s. He asked his sister Mary Arthur McElroy to assume certain social duties and help care for his daughter. He presented a stained-glass window to St. John’s Church in his wife’s memory it depicted angels of the Resurrection, and at his special request it was placed in the south transept so that he could see it at night from the White House with the lights of the church shining through.


Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur’s beloved “Nell” died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880. That November, when he was elected Vice President, he was still mourning her bitterly. In his own words: “Honors to me now are not what they once were.” His grief was the more poignant because she was only 42 and her death sudden. Just two days earlier she had attended a benefit concert in New York City–while he was busy with politics in Albany–and she caught cold that night while waiting for her carriage. She was already unconscious when he reached her side.

Her family connections among distinguished Virginians had shaped her life. She was born at Culpeper Court House, only child of Elizabeth Hansbrough and William Lewis Herndon, U.S.N. They moved to Washington, D.C., when he was assigned to help his brother-in-law Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury establish the Naval Observatory. While Ellen was still just a girl her beautiful contralto voice attracted attention she joined the choir at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square.

Then her father assumed command of a mail steamer operating from New York and in 1856 a cousin introduced her to “Chet” Arthur, who was establishing a law practice in the city. By 1857 they were engaged. In a birthday letter that year he reminded her of “the soft, moonlight nights of June, a year ago…happy, happy days at Saratoga–the golden, fleeting hours at Lake George.” He wished he could hear her singing.

That same year her father died a hero’s death at sea, going down with his ship in a gale off Cape Hatteras. The marriage did not take place until October 1859 and a son named for Commander Herndon died when only two. But another boy was born in 1864 and a girl, named for her mother, in 1871. Arthur’s career brought the family an increasing prosperity they decorated their home in the latest fashion and entertained prominent friends with elegance. At Christmas there were jewels from Tiffany for Nell, the finest toys for the children.

At the White House, Arthur would not give anyone the place that would have been his wife’s. He asked his sister Mary (Mrs. John E. McElroy) to assume certain social duties and help care for his daughter. He presented a stained-glass window to St. John’s Church in his wife’s memory it depicted angels of the Resurrection, and at his special request it was placed in the south transept so that he could see it at night from the White House with the lights of the church shining through.

The biographies of the First Ladies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.

Learn more about Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur’s spouse, Chester A. Arthur.


Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur

(1837–80). During his term as the 21st president of the United States (1881–85), Chester A. Arthur often looked out at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square. His wife, Ellen Arthur, used to sing there in her youth, and in her memory he presented the church with a stained-glass window depicting angels of the Resurrection, having it positioned so it was visible from the White House at night when the lights of the church shined through. Ellen—whom he called Nell—died unexpectedly in New York City of pneumonia on Jan. 12, 1880, the year Arthur was nominated for the vice-presidency.

She was born Ellen Lewis Herndon—daughter of naval officer William Lewis Herndon, an explorer of the Amazon River—on Aug. 30, 1837, in Culpeper, Va., but the family later moved to Washington, D.C., so her father could help establish the Naval Observatory. In 1856 a cousin introduced her to Arthur, and they married on Oct. 25, 1859. Their first son arrived the following year, but he died before his 3rd birthday. The couple went on to have two more children, a son in 1864 and a daughter in 1871. A prosperous family, they had a fashionable home and liked to entertain elegantly.

An extremely distraught Arthur buried his 42-year-old wife beside their deceased son and Arthur’s parents in a rural cemetery near Albany, N.Y. In November 1880 he was elected vice-president of the United States, and he became president in September of the following year after James A. Garfield was assassinated. Arthur asked his sister, Mary Arthur McElroy, to take care of social functions at the White House and to help to raise his young daughter.


White House hostess. Born Mary Arthur died in 1916 daughter of William Arthur (a Baptist cleric) grew up in Fairfield, Vermont sister of Chester Alan Arthur schooled at Emma Willard 's Seminary married John Edward McElroy (an insurance man), in 1861.

After the death of President Chester Arthur's wife Ellen , Mary Arthur McElroy became the official White House host. Traveling from Albany to Washington during the social season, she supervised the running of the White House and entertained, often bringing her two daughters with her. At the end of his term, Arthur and his children moved into her home, and he died there in 1886. Mary continued to raise her brother's children. She died in 1916.


Family tree of Ellen Lewis HERNDON ARTHUR

Ellen Lewis Herndon, called "Nell," was born in Culpeper Court House, Virginia, the daughter of William Lewis Herndon and Frances Elizabeth Hansborough. Her father was a naval officer who gained national renown in 1857 when he went down with his ship, the mail steamer SS Central America, along with more than 400 passengers and crew. It was the largest loss of life in a commercial shipping disaster, up until that time. Herndon had safely evacuated 152 women and children to another vessel during the severe hurricane off Cape Hatteras, but his ship could not be saved. Nell was 20 when her father died. One of her father's cousins was Matthew Fontaine Maury, another notable naval officer and explorer.


© Copyright Wikipédia authors - This article is under licence CC BY-SA 3.0 .

Geographical origins

The map below shows the places where the ancestors of the famous person lived.


Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur

Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur was the wife of the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur. She tragically died of pneumonia before he took office.

Chester Alan Arthur’s beloved “Nell” died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880. That November, when he was elected Vice President, he was still mourning her bitterly. In his own words: “Honors to me now are not what they once were.” His grief was the more poignant because she was only 42 and her death sudden. Just two days earlier she had attended a benefit concert in New York City–while he was busy with politics in Albany–and she caught cold that night while waiting for her carriage. She was already unconscious when he reached her side.

Her family connections among distinguished Virginians had shaped her life. She was born at Culpeper Court House, only child of Elizabeth Hansbrough and William Lewis Herndon, U.S.N. They moved to Washington, D.C., when he was assigned to help his brother-in-law Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury establish the Naval Observatory. While Ellen was still just a girl her beautiful contralto voice attracted attention she joined the choir at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square.

Then her father assumed command of a mail steamer operating from New York and in 1856 a cousin introduced her to “Chet” Arthur, who was establishing a law practice in the city. By 1857 they were engaged. In a birthday letter that year he reminded her of “the soft, moonlight nights of June, a year ago…happy, happy days at Saratoga–the golden, fleeting hours at Lake George.” He wished he could hear her singing.

That same year her father died a hero’s death at sea, going down with his ship in a gale off Cape Hatteras. The marriage did not take place until October 1859 and a son named for Commander Herndon died when only two. But another boy was born in 1864 and a girl, named for her mother, in 1871. Arthur’s career brought the family an increasing prosperity they decorated their home in the latest fashion and entertained prominent friends with elegance. At Christmas there were jewels from Tiffany for Nell, the finest toys for the children.

At the White House, Arthur would not give anyone the place that would have been his wife’s. He asked his sister Mary (Mrs. John E. McElroy) to assume certain social duties and help care for his daughter. He presented a stained-glass window to St. John’s Church in his wife’s memory it depicted angels of the Resurrection, and at his special request it was placed in the south transept so that he could see it at night from the White House with the lights of the church shining through.



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