A house of learning, past and present.
Logan Descendent Purchases Logan and Norris Documents for Stenton
In November of 2008, when much of Jay T. Snider’s collection of Philadelphiana was to be sold at Bloomsbury Auctions in New York, Stenton expressed an interest in a number of lots with Logan and Norris provenances that would deepen our portrayal of the Logans and Norrises as closely allied Quaker families. With limited collections funds, Mrs. Hannah Henderson, a Stenton Committee member, generously stepped forward and offered to help acquire the document we were most interested in. Then, just before the auction, we were delighted to learn that Mr. David F. Hickok, a Logan descendant heretofore unknown to us, had it in mind to purchase and donate them to Stenton. After discussion with Mr. Hickok, we determined that his offer was indeed an exciting proposition! As with any auction, one never knows how it will proceed and whether the funds gathered in advance will be sufficient to secure the desired objects. With luck on our side, Mr. Hickok was entirely successful in obtaining the items he set out to acquire.
The Norris almanac and square of fabric from Deborah Norris Logan’s wedding.
Frontispiece of the Isaac Norris almanac.
The items we have received are: a 1739 marriage certificate celebrating the marriage of James Logan’s daughter Sarah to Isaac Norris II; a 17th-century thirty-year almanac that belonged to Isaac Norris I, beginning when he was still in Jamaica prior to coming to Philadelphia; a 1699 letter from Richard Stafford to James Logan wishing him well as he departed for Pennsylvania at age 25 (the oldest known piece of correspondence related to James Logan); a register for the fitting out of a ship, Mary Galley, owned by James Logan and other investors; and several documents related to Jonathan Dickinson and the slave trade, cataloged by Deborah Logan at Stenton on the early 19th century. The marriage certificate and the almanac are especially fascinating family artifacts as they were used beyond their original intended functions as places to record subsequent genealogical information. The almanac even includes a card onto which is stitched a square of Deborah Logan’s wedding dress, labeled in Fanny Armatt Logan’s hand. As a group, these documentary artifacts help to put the Logans of Stenton into context among their Quaker peers and in shipping and trade. And in Isaac Norris II’s recording the death of his wife onto their marriage certificate, noting the years they had spent “mutually happy in each other,” a very human picture of the Logans and Norrises emerges.
The NSCDA/PA has plans to reproduce the almanac and documents for display and study at Stenton and will deposit them at the Library Company of Philadelphia, where then can be properly stored and will be accessible to scholars. Until then, the originals remain on-view at Stenton, so please make a special trip to come and see them.
As a group, these additions to the Stenton collection serve as artifacts that speak to multiple generations of the Logan and Norris families—their business interests, their personal relationships, and their devotion to the preservation of their family heritage. These documents serve to illustrate components of the Stenton story and in so doing enrich our interpretation and presentation of the site and further bolster our already rich holdings of family objects. We are deeply grateful to David Hickok for making it possible to preserve these treasured elements of Stenton’s history.
Gate leg table
Calfant side chair
New Furnishings on-loan to Stenton from the Dietrich Foundation
The Dietrich American Foundation has loaned furniture from its collections to Stenton for many years. In 2002, the Foundation played a key role in Stenton’s ability to have two original Logan side chairs for the house, as it purchased one of the pair and added it to the roster of long-term loans. Since the 2007 passing of its founder, philanthropist and collector H. Richard Dietrich, the Foundation has remained committed to keeping as much of its holdings on view to the public as possible. As a result, the Foundation placed two additional pieces of early 18th century Philadelphia furniture at Stenton this spring.
The first is a Queen Anne-style easy chair, which allows Stenton to better approximate the easy chair owned by James Logan, now in a private collection. On the 1752 inventory of Stenton following James Logan’s 1751 death, the Logan easy chair was listed among the furnishings of the parlor, an unusual location for the time. Easy chairs with their comfortable wings and fully upholstered seats were most often found in bedchambers in the 18th century as they were specifically for the elderly and infirm, and were used and kept where food was less likely to be spilled on them than might be in a parlor where victuals were consumed. The presence of Logan’s easy chair in the parlor speaks to Logan’s continued engagement with visitors to Stenton late in life, when he was not only lame (as he had been for over 20 years), but disabled by a series of strokes that greatly reduced his ability to communicate. For Stenton, the presence of an easy chair of the second quarter of the 18th century in the parlor speaks volumes about Logan’s public force of character even at the close of his life.