Made with real bits of Schaller—so you know it’s good.

If the subtitle of this post provokes you, it’s worth considering that it is a reference to the movie Anchorman. In episode four of the Flood-Schaller saga (“A New Hope”) we saw that Cornelius Robert and Ellen Schaller had six children we know of, all born live and having survived infancy. This made them quite lucky.

Cornelius Washington Schaller, born in 1862, was the first son and the fourth child overall. He presents problems.

He was born on 8 October 1862 in the Hermitage (in Hammersmith, near Ravenscourt Park, you’ll recall). The 1862 Civil Register (not shown here) records his birth in Kensington, which is a question mark.

Certified copy of Cornelius Washington Schaller birth record. 1862. Photo: author.

Yet Cornelius (Robert) Schaller is recorded as arriving alone in Massachusetts on 21 March 1863 on the good ship Europa (see below). For context, Grant was then besieging Vicksburg, and Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward (the future king) had just married princess Alexandra of Denmark. Perhaps it was a business trip; presumably he chose a Massachusetts port to stay well north of the U.S. Civil War even though his connections were in New York City. He obtained a certified copy of the christening record for his daughter Ellen in New York City (see the image in Floods and Schallers III) on 15 June 1863. I don’t know when he returned, but the London Gazette (of 20 November 1863) reports that a partnership of James Neal Brooks, James Beal, and Cos. R. Schaller (“Auctioneers, Estate and Land Agents”) had been dissolved amicably, with Beal taking care of debts owed and receivable. That dissolution was dated to 1 November 1863. Even this is no proof that he had returned, but my working assumption is that he had, for my ancestress, Florence May, was born on 20 May 1864, strongly suggesting his presence in London on or about 20 August 1863.

Passenger Manifest (extract), the Europa, arr. 21 March 1863 in Massachusetts.

That appears to have been his second trip to the U.S. His first daughter, Ellen, was, as you’ll recall, born an American citizen in November 1852 during the first trip. To pursue the story of Cornelius Washington we need to reconsider that first trip for a moment. Below is the passenger manifesto for the incoming ship, the Victoria (arr. NYC 14 May 1852), and it is unremarkable (wife Ellen must have been about two months pregnant):

Passenger manifesto (extract) of The Victoria, arr. NYC 14 May 1852.

But see below the passenger manifesto of the American Eagle, on which he returned from New York to London on 14 August 1854. His “Native Country” is given as New York, whereas Ellen, his wife, is registered as being of England. The new baby evidently did not merit notice.

Passenger list of the American Eagle (extract), arr. London from New York City 14 August 1854.

What the 1854 manifest suggests is confirmed by the 1861 UK census (see below), where Cornelius Robert is listed as “American Naturalized U.S.” Wife Ellen (six months pregnant with Cassandra) is noted as being from London, whereas daughter Ellen, as expected, is said to be from “America New York.” The other children then alive, Cassandra and Cebella, are listed as being from London.

1861 U.K. Census (extract).

Given that Cornelius Robert had to perform some legal duties and is styled here and there throughout the documents as “Attorney”, one might wonder how he could practice law in the U.K. as an American citizen. The answer appears to be that until 1868 or 1870 neither the U.S. nor the U.K. took obligatory notice of other citizenship its citizens claimed to have. Only about 1870 were mechanisms for recognition of other citizenship (and renunciation of home citizenship) put into effect.

You see how weird this is. Cornelius and his daughter claim to be U.S. citizens, whereas the rest are all U.K. citizens, and the U.K. for its part considers the whole lot to be its own.

Why should Cornelius Robert have become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1853 or 1854? There may have been some practical advantage, but his later choice of middle name for his first-born son stands out like a beacon. This is a family that relentlessly gives names from the family: Emily, Elizabeth, Cebella, Cassandra, Cornelius: again and again they hark back to ancestors’ names. Yet no Washington is discoverable in the contemporary or (to the extent records exist) earlier family. While it was not a mechanical requirement, there was a predilection for naming first-born sons for their fathers. Cornelius Robert, son of James, is a possible exception—but I do not know if he was a first son or not.

In my opinion, what we see with the name Washington is the iceberg tip of Cornelius Robert’s pro-American sentiment emerging. The first U.S. president’s name, displacing another good, homonymity, seems a proxy for strong affect toward the U.S. And it was not unimportant to Cornelius Robert to name a son for himself: his second son and sixth child was, in 1868. I do wish I knew why he took Ellen to New York City in 1852—it would certainly help.

However that may be, a few months shy of his fourth birthday, on 12 April 1866, Cornelius Washington died of unrecorded causes. The family passed down several pieces of Victorian mourning jewelry, which may in part have been worn after Washington’s death. One gold-plated locket certainly was, and it is a study in typical Victorian mourning practices.

The photo and lock of hair snipped from the corpse are de rigueur. I like the complex engraving, and the bluish-white enamel dashes on the reverse, largely worn off, must originally have ‘popped.’ I’m surprised not to find a cross, but the star is a common symbol on such jewelry, as are the flowers. The Latin motto (or an English translation) is extremely common.

The green patina shows the locket is only plated. This is not a sin, but it points toward a desire for show (gold!) balanced by a need for frugality, which tells you something about the family. Everything about the locket, such as the broken glass, indicates long wear, over decades. The gold plating has even worn through in places on the reverse. I knew my grandmother and her sister slightly, and everything I know points to them—among Cornelius Robert’s granddaughters—as having been immensely sentimental and still (in the 1960s) very aggressively Victorian in their aesthetic.

Astoundingly, should you wish to find more bits of Schaller, it might just be possible. A fascinating document, a deed to a burial plot almost certainly purchased for disposal of Washington’s body, survives:

But I’ll write about the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum in episode VI.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: