That Which Remains

A few months ago, in a rather singular moment of craziness, DH and I thought about buying a historic house listed at $$$ . . .  I went into historian mode and dug around in the archives for information about the house and its occupants, and found out that what the seller had proudly presented as part of the unique history of the house was wrong.  There it was, printed in a very glossy full color brochure, and it was just wrong.  And I was reminded again how easy it was to rewrite history.

When I research a house, I try to establish a chain of ownership.  Most of the time, all that remains is a listing in the City Directory:  a name, perhaps an occupation, perhaps the number of people in the household.  Sometimes, if I get really lucky, someone will get a mention in the newspaper:  “Miss Lucy Smith celebrated her birthday with a garden party attended by . . . ”

In the case of this historic house, the seller stated that the house was built and owned by a member of a prominent farming family.  A member of the prominent family did indeed live there …  after he married the daughter of the house.   Her parents had built the house a few years after their arrival in the town, and after their deaths, the daughter inherited the house.   She retained ownership of the house, and passed the house on to her daughter.

None of this stuff is particularly important, unless you believe that facts are important.  Even in this era of postmodern history, perpetuating a falsehood is perpetuating a falsehood.  DH and I came to our senses and did not buy the house, and I did not find any more information on the daughter or her daughter . . .  but then, women tended not to exist in their own names.

Which brings me to Miss Mary.  Her little travel diary had been my pet project a couple of years ago, and I was always sorry that I did not know what she looked like.  She was daughter of, wife of, mother of . . .   Then a descendant posted her picture on (love that website!):

Mary Campbell Andrews Matzinger

Mary Campbell Andrews Matzinger

Finally, Miss Mary!

Travel Diary: Amsterdam

August 4 Sunday

Took a carriage and drove about the city and about the locks.  Went through the royal palace.  The large [] hall is 1 hundred feet high and very handsome.  Then went to the [Rijks]museum and saw some of the pictures.  Saw one by [Rembrandt] which is very fine called the Night Watch.  Then went to a very nice cafe and took dinner.  Then went to the Zoological Gardens which one of the finest we have seen.  The houses here are all built in blocks and have hooks in the attic to haul things up by.  They are very homely and some of them old.  We saw one marked 167-.  They bend over on back and all most all are out of the perpendicular.

August 5 Monday

Took a drive to the Zuider Zee and saw them building sluice ways.  The water of the Zuider Zee is 30 feet higher than Amsterdam  The carriage left us at the diamond cutting establishment and we went through it.  First they split the diamond and then cut it and then polish it and there is a great deal of work in it.  There are over 10,000 people in the diamond work in Amsterdam.

Then we went to the old silver shops and I wanted to buy some thing but everything is very expensive.  Passed by the Beurs where there were a great children playing.  They allow the children to play there a few days in August and September because in the 17th century some boys that were playing there found out a conspiricy against Amsterdam by some Spanish.

Some of the women here wear very queer head dresses and wodden shoes.  Some of the headdresses have a metal piece behind and a white [muslin] cap over it and gold ornaments on the side of their face.

Miss Mary’s diary ends here.  According to a local notice in May,  Dr. J. B. Andrews had taken a three-months leave for an European vacation, so I am assuming Mary had a second booklet to continue her travel diary.  The last few pages consist of items she bought (and their prices!) as well as a list of gift recipients.  Dr. Matzinger made the list, although at the time she finished this diary she had not found a present for him.  



It has been an interesting journey for me:  I have been digging around in the attic, so to speak.  The diary is not historically important or personally revelatory — Mary was only 14 years old, after all.  But I appreciate her naiveté and the assumption of American exceptionalism that peeked through even in her mind-numbing recounting of destinations.  I would love to know what she looked like.   I hope a family portrait exists.  Mary and her mother were both prominent members of the Buffalo Historical Society (at some point they presented the organization with a portrait of Dr. Andrews), so I think somewhere in the archives is a picture of her.  The Racist Salon Owner accused me specifically (and historians in general) of being a snoop.  Perhaps.  But I do in fact know where the line is, and I do know when to stop.   I stopped digging around the time I figured out who left the diary at the bookstore.  The diary is now making its way to one of Mary’s other descendents.  I already miss her young voice.  

Travel Diary: Germany

July 31 Wednesday

Took a walk around town and it is the prettiest town we have seen.  Went to the [Trinkhalle] where the hot water from the springs comes and the people come to drink.  The town is full of trees and a little stream runs through it which makes it very pretty.  Went to some very pretty shops and bought some things.  In the afternoon took a drive to the castle which is a very picturesk ruins.  It was destroyed by the French in 17 uncle Louis XIV.  From here we got a lovely view of the surrounding country and Baden Baden.  In the evening went to the [Conversationshaus] and heard a very nice concert.

August 1 Thursday

Left this morning about nine oclock for Heidelberg and arrived about noon.  After lunch drove to the castle which is the finest ruin in Germany.  It is very large and has a great many old carved stone figures on the out side of it.  The oldest part was built in 1294 and other electors added to it.  In the cellar is [] tun which holds 50,000 gallons and a statue of the court jester who drank 30 bottles of wine a day and also a clock made by him.  It has a clock face on the outside but when you pull a string a foxes tail flies out.


Karl Lange: Grosses Fass (Heidelberg Tun), 1896. From Karl Pfaff, “Heidelberg and Umgebung,” Heidelberg: J Horning, 1902. Digital image from Wikimedia Commons.

We went into the museum which has things connected with the castle and also the engagement ring of Luther.  Got a nice of [][] outside a church with stalls to sell things in a workshop built around it and also the university.  Took the train at 3.50 for [Mainz] and arrived about six oclock.  After dinner took a ride on the street car and saw the cathedral which is very queer looking and has five towers on it each one entirely different from the other and also the statue of Gudenberg.


Gutenberg memorial with Mainz Cathedral in background, 2005. Imgage by Ingo Staudacher, released into Wikimedia Commons.

August 2 Friday

It rained this morning but [] after a while.  Took a steamer for Cologne.  Saw a great many old castles ruined some restored and was very much interested in them.  Saw two castles that they call the Cat and the Mouse.  In the Mouse bishop [Hatto] was eaten up by mice because he had some peasants burned in his farm.

(Much confusion here, with Maus Burg and Katz Burg being mixed in with the legend of Archbishop Hatto of Maiz and the Mäuseturm (or Mouse Tower), a stone tower on a small island in the Rhine near Bingen am Rhein)

Saw some castles restored and they looked very pictureske.  A number of castles belong to the Prince and Princess of Prussia.  Saw the ruin of Reichenberg and the legend about it is that the seven beauty daughters of Reichenberg were bathing in the Rhine and some changed into rocks.  We saw some rocks but did not know which they were.

(More confusion with castles and legends:  The seven sisters lived in the Schönburg, and were heartless coquettes who refused to marry the knights who came to ask for their hands in marriage.  The river god turned them into rocks for their mockery of the worthy suitors.  Such a typically mysogynistic fairy tale.)


Schoenburg and Oberwesel, the Rhine, Germany, c. 1890-1910. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsca.00873

The ruined Rheinfels castle is very large and handsome.  Saw the ruin of Rolandseck castle which was built by Roland a nefiew of Charlemagne to overlook the island of [Nonnenwerth] where his betrothed Hildegard had taken the veil.  The legend is that Roland went to the wars and Hildegard heard that he was killed and took the veil and when he came back he built the castle to overlook the nunnery and when he heard she died he was killed by the news.

Farther down the river we passed near the ruined castle of Drachenfels which is one of the most pictureske castles on the river and near it a new castle which is very handsome.


Ruin of Castle Drachenfels in Koenigswinter, Germany, c. 1890-1905. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsca.00823

Arrived at Cologne about half past four and went to the [] Hotel.  Took a walk and went to the Cathedral.  The front is more beautiful than the Milan one but the interior is not as well proportioned I don’t think.


Cologne Cathedral, Germany. Image c.1885 by Anselm Schmitz (1831-1903). Wikimedia Commons.

The stained glass windows are beautiful.  We went into the sacristy and saw the gold and silver box all set with precious stones that they say holds the skulls of the three wise men. It is the finest thing of the kind in the world.   After dinner took a drive about the city and went through the new part.  The houses are all built in blocks but they are very handsome.  The handsomest thing of the kind we have seen.

August 3 Saturday

Took a carriage and drove through the old part of the city and in the window of a house saw two wooden horse heads.  The legend about it is this at the time of the plague this man who owned the house wife died and they buried her in the church of the apostles and she was buried with her wedding ring on.  The grave diggers noticed this and after the funeral dug the body up to take the ring off.  This woke her from her trance and she went to her house and asked admission.  When her husband heard who was at the door he said my wife is dead and she would no more come back than my horse would look out of the loft of my house.  Just then he heard the stamping of hoofs.  And the horses heads were put there to commemorate this event.  We looked into the Church of the Apostles.  And went into the Church of St. [Gereon] which is finished in fresco which is very pretty and it also has very pretty stained glass.  Then went to the Church of Saint Ursula where we saw the bones of the 11,000 virgins that were killed by the Huns at Cologne.

St. Ursula

Treasury of St. Ursula, Cologne, the Rhine, Germany, c. 1890-1900. Image from Detroit Publishing Co., 1905. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsca.00812.

The bones are arranged in glass cases along the walls of part of the Church and in another part of the church the walls are filled with bones and little pinholes to look at them through in the walls.  There is a monument to St. Ursula and her bones in the Church and a wine jug that they say came from the marriage feast at Cana in the sacristy but we did not go in.

Then we went to the Cathedral and then to the shops.  Left for Amsterdam at 1.40 and was late so arrived about 8 oclock.  Saw lots of wind mills on the way.

Travel Diary: Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, Strasburg

July 27 Saturday

It rained hard this morning but we walked over to the castle of [Chillon] and saw where [Bonivard] was confined and where they hung the prisoners and pushed their corpses into the lake and also where the prisoners were made to walk down three steps and then fell down to the bottom of a steep hole where knives were fixed.

Took the tramway to the steamer to Geneva.  Arrived at Geneva about half past two.  Went to the [] store and walked about some.

July 28 Sunday

Wrote letters this morning and in the afternoon took a drive.  Saw the Russian Church


Vue de l’eglise russe et des toits de Geneve, 2008. Image by Dragunsk Usf, from Wikimedia Commons.

and went inside it is not a bit like other churches.  Drove out by the handsome homes but they are hidden in trees so could not see them.

July 29 Monday

Left Geneva 12 oclock and took cars to Lausanne where we changed and passed by [Neuchâtel] and along the lake.  We had the last view of Jungfrau and the Bernese Alps.  We arrived at Basle about half past eight.  Went through 21 tunnels.

July 30 Tuesday

Drove about Basle and went to the Cathedral.  There are some very pleasant residences.  The Cathedral has the ugliest roof I ever saw.  It looks like oil cloths and the carvings over the door are awful.


Basel Minster, c. 1890. Courtesy of Swiss National Library nbdig-18118.

Took the train to Appenweir where we changed for Strasburg.  On the way to Appenweir saw some storks on the roof of a church.  Arrived at Strasburg about half past two.  Took a drive about the town and went to St. Thomas Church where we saw the tomb of Marshal Saxe.  Then drove to the Cathedral which was built in 1015-1439 and saw the old clock which is very intersting.  In the cathedral there are some very fine old stained glass windows and an old pulpit which has carved on it the family of the sculptor and their little dog.  We saw the clock strike three.  First a little angel turns an hourglass ([]) then a skeleton strikes the hour and an old man walks out.  When it strikes twelve the apostles walk around.  It also has the signs of the zodiac, the moons and other things on it.  Then drove to the new place and went throug it.  It is very handsome.  Left for Baden Baden about 6.30 oclock and changed at Appenweir and [] and arrived about half past eight.

Travel Diary: Chamonix, Villeneuve

July 24 Wednesday

Uncle Samuel staid here.  Left this morning at [].30 on the diligence for Chamonix and had a very pleasant drive to Sallanches where we had a very bad dinner all but the dessert which was good.  The cenery from here is very fine but the top of the diligence shuts off the view very much.  Just before we came to Sallanches we saw Mont Blanc.  Arrived at Chamonix about 5.30 and stopped at the Mont Blanc Hotel which we like very much.

July 25 Thursday

This morning is perfect and we started about nine oclock on mules with two gides to to the Mer de Glace.  Went up the side of a mountain for about two hours and a half until we got to Montanvert where there is a hotel and took lunch here and left the mules.  Then went down part way to the Mer de Glace we bought two pairs of socks and put them over our shoes and walked over it.  The suface looks smooth from above but when you get on it there are great crevices and little streams of water even down over the ice.  The [moraine] as they call it is the debris from the glacier and is rocks


Mont Blanc, Mer de Glace, Chamonix, France, c. 1890-1900. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsc.06808


Tourists crossing Sea of Ice, Chamonix, France, c. 1902-1904. Image courtesy of Zentralbibliothek Zurich.

We walked over it and climbed up the shore to a little hut where we rested and then started down the mountain.  After a rather bad walk we came to the Mauvais Pas.  A little while before we passed three beautiful waterfalls.  The Mauvais Pas is a pass cut in the rocks on the side of a precipice going down to the Mer de Glace and has steps cut in the rock and iron rail for people to hang on to.  After crossing it we arrived at the Chapeau where there is a little hut and then walked down the mountain a little farther and met the mules. Arrived at Chamonix about half past five.  Had beautiful views of Mont Blanc.

As in Grindelwald,  climate change has led to dramatic recession at Mer de Glace.  The Chapeau is now 150m (and counting) above the glacier, so no longer a convenient rest stop.   

July 26 Friday

Left this morning for Martigny by carriage over the Tete Noire Pass.  There are five glaciers near Chamonix and we passed three on the way.  The pass is very beautiful, you look down hundreds of feet from the road into the valley and see a little swift stream running over the rocks and mountains on the other side.  Stopped at Trieste to get dinner and rest the horses and before we left it began to rain and poured all the way to Martigny.  The road after leaving Trieste asands a mountain and then decends on the other side to Martigny.  The views are beautiful all the way down but we could not see much on account of the rain.  Arrived at Martigny a few minutes after our train had gone and staid and had dinner.  There is a Roman ruin here.  Left on the 6.40 train for [Villeneuve] where we spent the night at the Hotel Byron.


Souvenir of Lake Geneva, Villeneuve and Hotel Byron, c. 1885. Courtesy of National Library of Switzerland.

Travel Diary: Grindelwald, Bern

July 19

Staid over night and in the morning took the boat to the end of the lake and there the cars to Interlaken.  In the afternoon took a drive to Lauterbrunnen and saw two falls but they were not as nice as Giesbach.  One was quite interesting the water comes out of the rock with great force through the place it has worn in the rock.

July 20 Saturday

It rained early this morning but cleared soon and Mr, Miss Ireland and Miss Forsyth and Papa, Mamma and I went to Grindelwald.  We had a nice carriage with three horses and the road ran through a valley and then went over part of a [].  The cenery was beautiful, the nicest we have seen.  We reached Grindelwald about 1 oclock and had dinner.  Then all took horses and rode up to the lower glacier which is just as high as the upper.  The path went right over rocks and stones and wound around until finally we reached a little house where we left the horses and walked a little way to the glacier.  The ice is piled up between two mountains and people have cut a grotto 30 feet into the ice.  We went in and there is the corner sat a weird little woman praying on a kind of [] and singing ” ”  Mamma said she had never believed in witches before but now she had seen one.  She did look as I should think a witch would and with the queer place she was in made it very weird.


Glacier and Baregg Inn, Grindelwald, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, c. 1890-1900. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsc.07021


Grindelwald Grotto, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, c. 1890-1900. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsc.07021

From the glacier we could see the Fiescherhorn all covered with snow and looking down the valley all in summer green the sight was very grand.  Where we were it was like winter all snow and ice and down in the valley it was summer.  Mr. Ireland and I walked down the mountain and so did the young ladies.  Miss Ireland said coming up she wished we could have a picture of the party on horseback and I wish we could.

We had a delightful drive back and as the sun went down it tinged the snow-covered mountain with pink and as it grew darker one star came out over the center of the Jungfrau.  This is the most delightful day we have spent.  On the way back bought a little swiss chalet from a little girl on the road and shall keep it as a memento of the day.

July 21 Sunday

Left Interlaken this morning and drove to Berne.  We had a very pleasant drive and stopped at Thun for dinner.  We reached Berne about half past four and then took a walk about the town.  It is one of the queerest we have been in.  The houses are built with an arcade under them where the side walk runs.  There are fountains in the center of the street some of them very old and people come out to wash their clothes in the middle of the street.  The cellar doors are in the street built up a foot or two and go right down under the street.  Went to where they keep some live bears because the city means bear.  There are six of them.  Then walked back and saw the clock tower and saw the clock strike six.  First a cock crows then a racession of bears come out and march in front of the king a jester pulls some ropes and strikes the [] the the man in the lower strikes the hour and at every stroke one of the bears nods his head, then the cock crows again and the performance is over.


Clock Tower of Bern, c. 1890-1905 Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Digital ID ppmsc.06808

July 22 Monday

Took a drive this morning a saw the cathedral and I bought two carved bears for a [] [].  Left on the 9.35 train for Geneva.  Arrived about 2.

July 23 Tuesday

It rained this morning but we went out around the shops and mamma bought me a sealskin cape, muff and cap.  Spent the afternoon in looking about the shops.  In the evening it cleared and there was a very fine exibition of fire works.

Travel Diary: Switzerland

July 11 Thursday

On the way to Zurich and wrote this on the train.  Expect to arrive there at four oclock.

July 12 Friday

Bought some silk things this morning.  Taken with a very bad headace this afternoon.

July 13 — sick

July 14 — Getting better

July 15 — Went to Lecture this morning.  All right.  Went to see the lion of Lucerne it is carved on the face of the rock in commemoration of 760 soldiers and 26 officers.


Lion of Lucerne, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen. In honor of the Swiss Guards killed during the French Revolution in 1792. Photograph by Gurkan Myczko, 2009, released into Wikimedia Commons.

I saw the two old bridges one painted with the Dance of Death.

July 16 Tuesday

Went this morning on the lake as far as Vitsnaw where we took the cars and went up the Rigi.  The road is built very straight up the mountain.  The view from the Rigi Kulm is splendid and I counted elevenlakes and mamma tried to count the mountain peaks but there were too man.  Had dinner up there admired the view and then came down and took the boat back.  There were sheep feeding on the very edge of a precipice which looked as if they would fall off but they say that they do not.  Lucerne is a beautiful place and I like the lake very much.


Vitznau, Railway, Rigi, Switzerland, c. 1890-1900. Image from Detroit Publishing Co., 1905. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID ppmsc.07335

July 17 Wednesday

Spent this morning looking around the town and this afternoon took a row with John.  Took a walk this evening.  Received a letter with the sad tidings of Uncle James death.

July 18 Thursday

Took the train this morning over the Bruning Pass.  Uncle Sam and John left us to go over the Rhone glacier and will meet us at Interlaken.  Had a lovely ride over the pass and the cenery is beautiful.  Took train as far as Brienz and there took boat on lake of Brienz to Giesbach Fall.  I liked that place very much.  The fall is beautiful and makes 7 cascades as it goes over.  Papa bought me an alpine staff and we walked up to the upper fall.  It was quite a climb and mamma went part way.  In the evening saw it lighted with colored lights.  It was very beautiful.


Buch: “Luzern, Pilatus, Brunig-Route,” Cascade du Giessbach; Giessbachfall, Brienz. Image from Swiss National Library, nbdig-19122