Before the War

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Before The War
1804 - April 10 1861

1804 May 14 -1806 Lewis & Clarke Expedition. Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis & Clark to evaluate the The Louisiana Purchase, the territory that had been purchased from Napoleon on April 30, 1803 for $15 million. This wild, uncharted (by Europeans) land - was about to be invaded.

1805 Feb 11 Birth of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. He was the son of Sacajawea, a Shoshone by the name of "Bird Woman" who at age 15, and six months pregnant, acted as guide and interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Her husband was a French-Canadian trapper, guide, and fur trader by the name of Toussaint Charbonneau. When her time came, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy with the aid of some finely powdered rattlesnake's rattle. William Clark nicknamed the boy "Pomp" (a Shoshone word meaning first-born) or "Pompey" and offered to educate him. In 1809 Sacajawea, Toussaint, and Jean Baptiste moved to St. Louis where, with William Clark's help, Pomp received an excellent education. He studied Greek, Latin, and other studies provided for gentlemen of the day. In September 1811 his parents left to trap and explore in the West once more, leaving Jean Baptiste with Clark. Sacajawea is said to have died on Dec 20 1812 at Fort Manuel at the age of 24. The post's clerk at the station, John C. Luttig, recorded her death - "This evening the wife of Charbonneau, a Snake squaw, died of a putrid fever. She was the best woman in the fort, aged about 25 years." Later he brought Jean Baptiste's sister Lizette to Clark who then became the legal guardian of both children under the impression that both parents were dead. At the age of 16 Jean Baptiste went into the fur trade. In 1823 he acted as a guide and interpreter and became friends with the visiting German Prince Paul of Wurttemberg, and traveled with him to Europe. After living abroad for some time, he became restless and returned to North America. In 1829 at the age of 24 he became a mountain man, interpreter, fur trader, and guide for explorers and soldiers. And so it was that in 1846 he became a hunter and one of the guides for Col. Philip St. George Cooke and the Mormon Battalion. Cooke later gave him credit for much of the expedition's success in the arduous trek from Santa Fe to San Diego. It is said that Jean Baptiste died from pneumonia at Inskip's Ranch and stagecoach station in Oregon on May 16 1866.

1807 Aug 25 Birth of Rachel Wilt Hertzog, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were:
Joseph Hertzog, b. Feb 7, 1764 Philadelphia, d. 23 January 1827 Cahokia Creek, Illinois. He was a merchant in Philadelphia, and St. Louis Missouri. His father was Andrew Hertzog, a "taylor" who came from Niederlustadt, Palatinate, Germany to Philadelphia in 1750. His mother was Maria Barbara Fisher.
Rachel's mother was Catherine Wilt, b. Sept 1775 in Philadelphia d. Nov 12, 1861 Collinsville, Illinois
Joseph & Catherine were married on Jan 20 or 30th 1798 in Old Swede's Church (Gloria Dei) in Philadelphia.

1807 Slave Trade Outlawed The federal government outlawed the importation of new slaves from Africa. However ship's captains continued to smuggle slaves into the country until the beginning of the Civil War. Slaves were also fathered, naturally enough by the slaves themselves, and by plantation owners who saw them as "a valuable crop". Many wives would have been aware of this practice and while to some it may have been a relief from marital duties and the danger of having more children, to others it caused pain especially when some of the youngsters bore a family resemblance to their husbands. By 1816, the national slave trade had become a major industry, much of it centered in Washington, where people in chains could be seen being marched through the streets. Children from one year to eighteen months old were sold for $100 or so, and an eight-year-old was worth $750. Slaves were often given to a young couple as wedding presents or passed down to children in wills.

Roger Burlingame in The American Conscience (p. 258) wrote: "For years the more sensitive of the Virginia and Maryland planters tried to resist so loathsome a commerce, but year by year the demand in the cotton kingdom grew and the prices offered for slaves rose to unprecedented heights. When sums as large as a $1000 were paid by traders for 'prime field hands', it took a stout conscience to say no. This was especially true if the slave owner, by keeping his superfluous slaves, faced poverty and the perpetual fear of insurrection."

The question of slavery became a frequent topic of discussion as people whose fathers and grandfathers had fought for freedom during the Revolutionary War began to realize that its continuing existence made a mockery of "All men are created equal" and "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness".

Women in the 19th Century

During this time some women and men were beginning to argue for women's right to vote. As well there were protests against the fashions that severely limited women's quality of life. The weight of the long full skirts - which sometimes took fifteen yards to make - was restrictive, burdensome, and because they dragged along the ground, unhygienic. Isabella Bird, while in Hawaii, wrote a letter to her sister saying, "The foreign ladies, in their simple, tasteful, fresh attire, innocent of the humpings and bunchings, the monstrosities and deformities of ultra-fashionable bad taste, beamed with cheerfulness, friendliness, and kindness." The whalebone corsets that created the desired "wasp" waist were almost as bone-deforming as Chinese women's bound "Golden Lotus" feet. (Did the tiny waist in contrast to the full skirts, became fashionable in order to give the impression of large childbearing hips in a time when so many women died in childbirth?) The combination of the tiresome and tiring heavy skirts, and the oxygen-suppressing corsets which caused fainting, would have helped to maintain the idea and ideal that ladies were weak.

When the crinoline, a metal cage made of steel wire, came into fashion, it eliminated the wearing of so many petticoats to achieve the desired bell-shaped profile, but made it difficult to sit, lie down, ride a horse or even walk arm and arm with anyone. And it was dangerous. Simon Garfield in his book Mauve writes about how, at a gathering in Santiago, 2000 women were burned to death in their fashionable cages when a fire spread among their dresses.

In 1813, the first textile mill in the US was established in Waltham Mass. By 1831, 40,000 women were employed in mills. So while some women were kept in oppressive clothing and controlled by pedestals and the fragility myth, other women worked in mills in the North or in the cotton fields in the South, as fodder for the "Lords of the Loom" or the "Lords of the Lash". Abigail Scott Duniway, the fiery outspoken suffrage leader and publisher of The New Northwest wrote: "Half the women were overworked, the other half frivolous; all were expected to keep their place." ( from The American Woman's Gazetteer by Lynn Sherr and Jurate Kazickas). In any case, women did not have much freedom, and the motivation for some women who went west may have been to escape the repressive conditions in the East.

Meanwhile, out West, because the wind played havoc with the women's full skirts, some of them sewed lead bars into the hems to prevent the skirts from blowing up and over their heads both for modesty and to prevent scaring the horses, but this also increased the weight they carried. It is understandable that long skirts were necessary for privacy as the lack of "comfort stops" along the road in a land with no trees, or in forests where one dared not wander far from camp, could otherwise make the natural process of elimination embarrassing for females.

However, change was in the air and in 1869, Elizabeth Custer wrote: "This wild jolly free life is perfectly fascinating,"... "We dress as we like and live with no approach to style. "During the 1850's and 60's some women started wearing bloomers or divided skirts - a trend which was considered scandalous in the East. However it was a much more effective means of dressing for excursions out west as it allowed for horse or mule back riding with less discomfort. When Isabella Bird, the intrepid world traveler, first arrived in Hawaii, she was opposed to any method of riding other than side-saddle, but while there she became a convert to riding astride. She wrote: "Everything was new and interesting, but the ride was spoiled by my insecure seat in my saddle, and the increased pain in my spine which riding produced. Once in crossing a stream the horses had to make a sort of downward jump from a rock, and I slipped round my horse's neck. Indeed on the way back I felt that on the grounds of health I must give up the volcano, as I would never consent to be carried to it, like Lady Franklin, in a litter. When we returned, Mr. Severance suggested that it would be much better for me to follow the Hawaiian fashion, and ride astride, and put his saddle on the horse. It was only my strong desire to see the volcano which made me consent to a mode of riding against which I have so strong a prejudice, but the result of the experiment is that I shall visit Kilauea thus or not at all. The native women all ride astride, on ordinary occasions in the full sacks or holukus, and on gala days in the pau, the gay, winged dress which I described in writing from Honolulu. A great many of the foreign ladies on Hawaii have adopted the Mexican saddle also, for greater security to themselves and ease to their horses, on the steep and perilous bridle-tracks, but they wear full Turkish trowsers and jauntily-made dresses reaching to the ankles."
From Six Months in the Sandwich Islands by Isabella Bird.
Good website -

In 1873 she rode on horseback through the Rocky Mountains. In her note in the second edition of her book she wrote: "For the benefit of other lady travellers, I wish to explain that my 'Hawaiian riding dress' is the 'American Lady's Mountain Dress' a half-fitting jacket, a skirt reaching to the ankles, and full Turkish trousers gathered into frills which fall over the boots - a thoroughly serviceable and feminine costume for mountaineering and other rough traveling in any part of the world." From A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird from letters written in 1873, published 1910 in London.

Late in the century, wearing knickerbockers or bloomers instead of a skirt was known as "Rational Dress".

1809 June 13 Birth of Philip St. George Cooke near Leesburg, Virginia. His father was Dr. Stephen Cooke, b. 1751 bapt. Aug 26, 1753 Philadelphia Pennsylvania, d. March 22 1815 Leesburg Loundon County, Virginia. His mother was Catherine Esten, b. Feb 6 1766 St. George Bermuda, d. 1839 Winchester, Virginia.
Stephen and Catherine were married in Bermuda on June 7th 1782. Catherine was related to the Spofforths and was first cousin to Earl Bathurst and Sir Erasmus Burroughs.

Stephen's father was Nathan Cooke, b. 1719 or 1720 Boston Massachusetts, d. Aug 19,1801 in Philadelphia where he was a ship owner and merchant. Stephen's mother was Mary Rogers, b. 1729 Philadelphia, d. Feb 25 1772 in Philadelphia. Nathan and Mary were married Sept 4, 1746 at Christ Church, in Philadelphia. She was 17 at the time of her marriage and died a the age of 43 after bearing eleven children... [We have been unable to trace Nathan or Mary back any further at this point but are still looking.]

War of 1812 (1812 - 1815) Congress declared war against Britain for repeated violations of American rights to the sea, and incitement of Indians on the frontier. On August 24 1814, British forces invaded Washington and set fire to the Capitol and the White House buildings. One of Philip St. George Cooke's earliest memories was of the militia going off to fight in this war.

1815 March 22 Death of Dr. Stephen Cooke Many sources give 1816 as Stephen Cooke's death date, but the will date records his death as March 22, 1815; will proved July 10, 1815. Philip was only six years old when his father died, and there is a good chance that he was brought up with tales of his father's patriotism during the Revolutionary War and the romance of his parent's meeting in Bermuda. These events could possibly have been the inspiration of his own adventurous career.

Stephen Cooke, a celebrated surgeon, graduated from Princeton in 1773 and studied at the Philadelphia College of Medicine. He joined the American Revolution and participated in the siege of Fort Moultrie in 1776. During the siege of Charleston in 1780 he was reportedly working as a naval medical officer on board a ship presented by his father to the Colonies, when the ship was captured by the British on its way to Philadelphia. A Stephen Cooke is recorded as being a prisoner for a period of time on the dreaded frigate prison ship JERSEY which was anchored in Wallabout Bay near New York City - dreaded because of smallpox among other diseases - plus filth, half-rations and overcrowding. Thomas Dring is recorded as having inoculated himself against the pox by rubbing diseased matter into his skin with a pin, and the fact that Stephen had scars from smallpox leads credence to the possibility that he was the Stephen Cooke on the JERSEY. It is also said that Stephen helped instruct others on the inoculation technique. More prisoners lost their lives on these ships than during the conflict. There is a monument dedicated to these prisoners in Trinity churchyard near Broadway in New York City. It seems reasonable to assume that through his rank, family connections, and medical title he was exchanged for a British officer of similar rank or status - as was the custom - and paroled to Bermuda where, in the courtly fashion of the times, he was given the run of the island.
But then I found this in a letter from Marrow Stuart Smith (granddaughter of Jeb Stuart and Flora Cooke) PO Box 4094 Virginia Beach, Virginia written some time after 1964 to Dorothy Alvord Lirio (granddaughter of Philip St. George Cooke): "We were always told by Gma. Stuart that Dr. Stephen Cooke, only son of Nathaniel Cooke, was returning from England (or maybe Scotland??) where he had been sent by his father to become a doctor. He completed his studies and was returning to America to take part in the Revolution. The British captured the ship and took Dr. Cooke as a prisoner before he landed, to Bermuda where he was placed on parole. He courted and married Catherine Esten, daughter of Honorable John Esten the English Governor (not mayor) and Rebecca Spofforth, a lady of distinguished English lineage. 6 sons and 2 daughters from this marriage.
(The letter continues with some glaring mistakes but this could well be true. Family legends and data can be tricky.)

It was there that he met Catherine Esten, the daughter of John Esten, a former judge of the court of vice-admiralty who had resigned in protest against British policies towards North America. Romance blossomed between Stephen and Catherine on that beautiful sunny island. Stephen returned to America where, on June 17, 1781, he witnessed the bond of the privateer PROSPER, 8 guns. He also furthered his fortunes by bringing salt from the islands to Boston in "an old shackly schooner".

Upon returning to Bermuda, Stephen (age 31), married Catherine Esten (age 16) on June 7, 1782, at her home at St. George in Bermuda. He practiced medicine in the Bermudas, and on Turk's Island in 1784 where he was very likely involved in salt exportation to North America. In 1791 the family moved to America residing first at Fairfax Street in Alexandria Virginia, and then in 1801 to an estate near Leesburg, Virginia. It was difficult to manage the large estate. The census of 1810 shows that the Cookes had nineteen slaves.

As early as 1813 Stephen, (who was formerly wealthy and had owned quite a bit of land in Alexandria), had serious financial problems most likely because of the heavy taxes imposed to support the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He was trying to pay off debts to his sister Hetty Purdy in Philadelphia and his niece Matilda Dawson of Loundon Co., but by the time he died, the estate was in narrow straits. Among other assets, the property near Leesburg had a sawmill and a wheat mill. Catherine valiantly tried to run the estate by herself, but was unable to do so because of the need to provide for her children and pay off debts and taxes. In a letter to her son John Rogers Cooke after her husband's death Catherine wrote about her finances and included the phrase, "...and to purchase winter cloathing for nine black men and women". She borrowed money from him, but by 1819, plagued by ill health, debt collectors, and trying to make ends meet, she deeded the property to John Rogers, and moved to his home in Martinsburg where Philip attended the Virginia Military Academy.

1823 March 5 Because of lack of funds, Catherine Cooke was willing to send Philip up north to West Point, which at that time offered a free education. On March 5th, she wrote a letter to the Adjutant General of the War Department, stating she was willing for Philip, who "was conditionally appointed a Cadet in the service of the United States shall sign articles binding himself to serve five years as a Cadet, unless sooner discharged" to attend the institution. The accompanying letter from Philip St. George Cooke stated: "I write to inform you that I accept the conditional appointment which the president has been pleased to confer on me, and that I will repair to West Point in June next as you direct." Philip entered West Point on July 1 at the age of fourteen where he was the youngest member of the class, and by mistake, was registered as Philip St. George.

1823 Nov 13 Marriage Mary Hertzog (Rachel's sister) married John Dougherty at St. Louis Missouri. He was listed in Paxton's St. Louis Directory in 1821 as a Grocer.

1826 Feb 26 Marriage of Elizabeth Hertzog to William Burrage Collins of Collinsville, Illinois.

1827 Jan 23 Death of Joseph Hertzog (Rachel's father). Judging by the widespread correspondence he maintained during his business career, it is evident that he had a good education. His daughter spoke of his love of gardening and his fondness for music. Joseph Hertzog entered the business world in 1793 at the age of 29 as a retail grocer at 177 N. Second Street in Philadelphia. By 1811 he had opened branch stores in the Louisiana Territory. In 1813 he had "a dry goods retail shop... my grocery retail having been nothing these two years". The Philadelphia Directory of 1820 still listed Hertzog as a merchant, but by that time he had moved to St. Louis Missouri where "despite the Savages, Indian and British", he established a red lead "manufactory" and became a pioneer in that field. Later he manufactured white lead, soap, candles, and shot. He also invested in land and built a handsome brick house in St. Louis for retailing merchandise.

His nephew and partner Christian Wilt, (b. Jan 18 1789 Philadelphia, d. Sept 27 1819 St. Louis Missouri) had arrived in St. Louis in June 1811, and commenced business on July 25th of that year. In 1813 he built the third brick house in that city, at the southeast corner of Main and Locust, and moved the business into it. He occupied this building until his death of a fever (typhoid?) in his 31st year. He also operated a large mill and distillery on the Cahokia Creek opposite St. Louis, was a director in the Bank of St. Louis, and acquired prominence in the business circles of St. Louis. He married Miss Ann K. Wilson on Jan 10, 1815. She died on Dec 12, 1816 in her 19th year most likely from childbirth, as their only son George, died in 1823 aged 7 years.

Andrew Wilt, (b. Oct 27 1791 Philadelphia d. Aug 10, 1819) came to St. Louis in 1818, and joined his brother in business on Feb 10, 1819 under the firm name of "Christian and Andrew Wilt".

When the panic of 1819 threw many businesses into chaos, Joseph left Philadelphia to untangle his affairs in St. Louis. The Hertzog family crossed the mountain ranges of Pennsylvania, but upon arrival in Pittsburgh, Joseph was struck with typhoid fever, which delayed their journey for several months. A family anecdote passed down by his daughter, Elizabeth Wilt Hertzog, who married into the Collins family, related that while her father lay in a stupor, his clothes were hung for several days on a fence to air. Later they found $3000 undisturbed in his pockets.

When the Hertzogs finally reached St. Louis, they discovered that their two nephews had died - Andrew in August and Christian in September just 48 days apart. Joseph, grieving over the loss of his nephews, and still weak from his illness, worked hard to straighten out the business matters they had left behind. In the 1821 Paxton's St. Louis Directory, Joseph Hertzog is listed as a merchant. In 1822 Catherine and their four daughters left their comfortable existence in Philadelphia and settled in St. Louis. In 1824 they moved across the river to Cahokia Creek Illinois, and it was there that Joseph died in 1827 from typhoid fever at the age of 63. Despite his many endeavors, and get-rich schemes, Catherine and her family were left with very little money, a topic which was to become a recurrent theme in many of her letters.

1827 July 1 Graduation At the age of eighteen Philip graduated 23rd in his class from West Point. He was commissioned brevet 2nd lieutenant in the 6th Infantry and, after a short break to visit his family, he reported to Jefferson Barracks Missouri.

This is the starting point of his book Scenes and Adventures in the Army, which starts with the paragraph:
"My furlough was past! What varied emotions did that reflection excite! Strong were the regrets at parting for an indefinite period from devoted relations; and the young heart yearning with romantic hope, might well shudder on the threshold of the real life. The stage-coach was at the door.

[ There is some suspicion that this book was possibly ghost written by H. Melville. See: Publishing date 1857 for Scenes and Adventures in the Army in this website. Or ] However, be that as it may, it was to be a long journey, which eventually transformed the handsome, enthusiastic fresh-faced youth into the battle weary, sometimes embittered old soldier.

1827 - 1828 Philip spent the winter at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.

1827 September Mary (Hertzog) Dougherty is listed as one of two women at Cantonment Leavenworth in Kansas Territory where John Dougherty, now an Indian Agent, was located. Mary's mother Catherine and her family visited her there. As conditions in cantonments at that time were primitive, the women and their connections with each other must have been very important and strong.

1828 Spring Rachel Hertzog arrived at Cantonment Leavenworth for a long stay with her sister Mary while her husband traveled on Indian business. Mary had lost one child and was again pregnant; (the couple eventually had about nine children). On top of all this their daughter Annie would have been around four years old at the time, so Rachel's help and companionship would have been most welcome.

1828 Sept 27 - Dec 3 Philip, at the age of 19 and as the only officer, left Jefferson Barracks and delivered forty recruits to Fort Crawford, Wisconsin Territory, 600 miles above St. Louis. It was a heady adventure for the tall (six foot four), slender, energetic adventure-seeking new graduate of West Point. On Dec 2 he arrived in St. Louis and then returned to Jefferson Barracks. During this long winter, Philip contemplated leaving the military, and wrote that he "had determined to throw up my commission and seek a more stirring and exciting profession". However, at this low point he was ordered on active service to march on Major Bennet Riley's Expedition as the first military escort of the annual caravan of traders going and returning between Western Missouri and Santa Fe on the Santa Fe Trail. Part of his duties required that he keep a journal of the battalion's activities. He left Jefferson Barracks for the departure point of Fort Leavenworth on May 2nd where he most likely met Rachel for the first time. During the expedition, he witnessed men being scalped, death, and experienced close contact with the Indians. Elizabeth Custer wrote, "A true cavalryman feels that a life in the saddle on the free open plain is his legitimate existence," which seems to be the essence of Philip St.George Cooke's life from this point on. Come "hell or high water" (and I'm sure he experienced both) there was no turning back.

1829 Aug 1 Catherine Hertzog is listed as being at Cantonment Leavenworth where she had gone in the hopes that it would improve her health. At this time Rachel as well as Mary and John Dougherty were there, quartered in the hospital building in fear of Indian attack.

1829 Nov 8 Philip returned to Leavenworth, and that spring romance blossomed. In Scenes and Adventures In The Army the author writes about "...the pleasures of female society" which "gave the greater zest to diversions and exercises. Often the whole of us, in a party, would canter for miles through prairie and grove, and spend the day on the shady banks of a pretty stream; there, where the world had never made its mark - forgetful of its very existence - we gave our whole hearts to sylvan sports, to feast and merriment, to happiness. A week seldom passed without dancing parties, to which rare beauty and fine music lent their attractions." (This is the closest that Philip (or Melville?) came to reporting on his relationship with Rachel as far as I can see. And although she isn't mentioned by name, I assume my great great grandmother was also one of the ones who would "canter for miles through prairie and grove".)


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 May 2011 16:38 )