Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Freedom's Friends #8 Hetty Reckless: Friends & Relations


Block # 8 Friends and Relations for Hetty Reckless
by Becky Brown
An orderly block for a woman named Hester Reckless, whose given
name is perfect for a woman who never abided by the rules.

Hester Reckless, also known as Hetty and Amy, was born into slavery in Salem, New Jersey about 1780. We tend to forget slavery's history in the northern states but New Jersey did not begin to abolish slavery until 1804 with the first law applying only to adults born after that year. Hetty was already an adult and did not qualify for freedom. 

Her mother was slave Dorcas Boadley, property of Jane Gibbon Johnson (1738-1815) as was Hester. Perhaps Jane promised to free Hetty in her will but no legal documents were ever found.

The Johnson House in 1941
The house still stands.

When Jane died in 1815 her son Robert Gibbon Johnson inherited Hetty and she joined his family at an impressive new house at 90 Market Street in Salem. Robert's second wife, Julianna Elizabeth Zantzinger (1781-1854) of Lancaster County, was about Hetty's age. The two women did not co-exist in harmony and after about ten years Hetty had had enough abuse at Julianna's hands. 

Hetty said Julianna knocked out her front teeth with a broom

Letter from Isaac Barton, Philadelphia Salem County Historical Society

"The immediate cause that induced Amy to leave...was severe usage by Robert's wife
of which a physician in the town of Salem is aware."

In the mid-1820s Hetty escaped to Philadelphia, which had no organized associations to aid fugitives at that time, but she and her daughter gained their freedom there, residing as free people until the 1850s, despite Robert Johnson's legal attempts to reclaim her.

Records at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Hetty was apparently one of 42 early members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (although not one of the 14 founders in 1833.)

It's worth noting that the 1860 census recorded 18 slaves in New Jersey, the last Northern state to record any enslaved people. 

Once Robert Johnson died in 1850 Hetty returned to Salem, living on Market Street close by the Johnson house and Abigail Goodwin (See Block #7), who complimented "Amy" as good at helping the cause in Salem, collecting clothing and donating cash into the years of the Civil War.

Hetty lived a long life (perhaps not so long as was claimed, however.) She returned to Philadelphia, probably because her daughters remained there. The 1880 census found her about six months before her death living with her daughters. Maria Cornish, 65, was born about 1815. Was she the daughter Hetty brought with her to freedom? Daughter Edith Brown, 71 above, was born earlier but in Pennsylvania, which that makes no sense. If Edith was actually born in 1809 she would have been born in New Jersey. (Women could be evasive about their ages and census takers could be inaccurate.)

Martha Hookem (23) and Elizabeth Barclay (50) were lodgers or boarders in the house on Rodman Street. Sophia Woollard, 43, is listed as a daughter but whose? Elizabeth Barclay is too young to be her mother; Hetty too old. Sophia's children were Harriet, 11 and Jacob Woollard, 14.  

Hester Reckless (was it pronounced to rhyme with freckles?) died in January, 1881, remarked upon only for her age, which had increased by a year in the six months since the census. 

Her death record gives the cause of death as hemiplegia (paralysis on one side) probably a symptom of a stroke.

Olive Cemetery in 1924
Library Company of Philadelphia

She and her family were buried in Philadelphia's Olive Cemetery, once on Girard Avenue between Merion and Belmont Avenues. Now where?

The Block

Friends & Relations
The block (with a name created just for this BOM) is drawn from an exceptional sampler, the Sarah Holcomb quilt dated 1847 from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Turkey red designs with much pattern in the block corners
are typical of Pennsylvania applique in the 1840-1860 years.

Print the pattern on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. Note the square inch for scale.

Friends & Relations by Georgann Eglinski
That dotted red bled. She's going to soak it in Color Catcher
over night.

The late Sue Garman drew a pattern and made a fabulous reproduction of the Sarah Holcomb quilt:

Sunday school records note Hetty's death near the bottom here.

Friends & Relations by Barbara Brackman
One of my greens bled too.
Dots in the future over those problematic intersections.

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