Friday, January 28, 2011

Did You Know? #35

His name would rank high on nearly anyone's list of America's greatest poets. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine on February 27, 1807, the son of Stephen and Zilpah Wadsworth Longfellow. For Henry, formal education began at the very early age of three and quickly distinguished himself as a proficient student. Stephen's aspirations for his son to follow in his own footsteps by becoming a lawyer never came to fruition. Instead, upon his graduation from Bowdoin College Longfellow was employed by the college as a professor in modern languages, a position he filled after some time off for a European tour.

A few years later, in 1834, Longfellow accepted a position at Harvard, after yet another tour of Europe this time accompanied with his new bride (he married Mary Storer Potter in 1831). Sadly, the new Mrs. Longfellow did not survive the trip. Heartbroken, he returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin his teaching duties at Harvard. It was here that he met his second wife, Frances Appleton. All this time he immersed himself into writing poetry. Among some of his most famous productions were "Song of Hiawatha," "The Courtship of Miles Standish."

In 1854 Henry resigned from the Harvard faculty to devote himself more fully to writing. Just a few years later, as the nation was just entering the horrors of civil war, Longfellow suffered the loss of his second wife (in 1861). Many honors came to Longfellow in his final years (he passed away on March 24, 1882). "Of all the suns of the New England morning," says Van Wyck Brooks, "he was the largest in his golden sweetness."

Our family is connected to that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by marriage. Dad's 3rd great-grand aunt Martha Hull (sister of his 3rd great-grandfather Platt Hull) married Joseph L. Longfellow, the second cousin 2 times removed of the great poet. The following charts illustrate the family connection.

Ezekiel Hull & Mary Denton
Platt Hull b.1787 Martha Hull b.1796 married ... Joseph L. Longfellow (see chart below)
Ezekiel Hull b.1813
Rebecca L. Hull b.1841
Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895
Don C. Bragg b.1920

William Longfellow & Anne Sewall
William Longfellow b.1679 Stephen Longfellow b.1685
Jonathan Longfellow Stephen Longfellow b.1685
Joseph L. Longfellow (third wife was Martha Hull b.1796) Stephen Longfellow b.1723

Stephen Longfellow b.1750
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow b.1807

Maine Historical Society, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American Poems, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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