Ward Larkin at Cape May Courthouse (NJ)

Ward Larkin

COURT HOUSE – The Cape May County Historical and Genealogical Society will be throwing open its doors to welcome Benjamin Franklin as part of the Cape May Mitten Festival.

“Cape Bank has generously agreed to sponsor the appearance of J. Ward Larkin, a well-known interpreter of Benjamin Franklin,” said Sheila McCloy-Nuss, museum curator. Larkin is lauded as being the eminent portrayer of Franklin in Philadelphia’s Old City historic district.

In pre-Revolutionary Cape May County the mitten trade tied with white cedar lumber as the county’s third most profitable export, said McCloy-Nuss.

“It is believed that the catalyst for the Cape May mitten trade can be traced to Benjamin Franklin,” she said. According to the curator, Franklin received a favor from a local scallop boat skipper. In order to repay the favor, the statesman’s wife, Deborah, sent the skipper’s daughter a “new fashioned cap.” The daughter wore the cap to services at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church, where other girls admired it and started knitting mittens to earn enough money to purchase similar caps in Philadelphia.

The Cape May County Historical and Genealogical Society will be celebrating those women and their entrepreneurial spirit who started the mitten trade with the first annual Cape May Mitten Festival. The event will be held Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the grounds of The Museum of Cape May County, 504 Route 9 North. Admission to the event is free.

Vendors may apply to be part of the Cape May Mitten Festival by contacting McCloy-Nuss at 609-465-3535. Upon acceptance, a $35 festival fee will be required to reserve a 10-foot by 10-foot space. Pop-up tents are permitted and encouraged, said McCloy-Nuss. Food vendors are also welcome to apply for spaces.

Donations of hand-crafted mittens for a silent auction are needed. All mitten donations should include a brief biography of the craftsperson as well as a description of the materials used for presentation to the winning bidders.

“We encourage everyone to come learn about Cape May County history and the rich heritage of women and girls in Cape May County and to meet Ben Franklin,” said McCloy-Nuss.

Franklin Hall, Asheville NC

This article contains this reference:

Built in 1921, the house was named Franklin Hall by its third resident, Dr. C. Ray Franklin, a direct descendent of founding father Benjamin Franklin, according to current owner Jim Taylor, a retired business executive. Franklin and his wife, Ruth, bought the brick, slate-roofed manse in 1977 and sold it to Norma Jean and Robert D. Schaub in 1987.

The Franklin Papers early on concluded that there were no descendants of Benjamin Franklin with the last name Franklin, but several people have embraced that relationship over time. In this case, it’s a second-hand claim, which may be more lasting.

The photo caption seems more factual: the home was built in 1921 and named New Gunston Hall in honor of George Mason’s home.

It is on Hendersonville Road.

Breaking Bad star

From Yahoo TV:

Why was Breaking Bad star Dean Norris MIA during the show’s triumph at the Emmys on Monday night? He decided to go fly a kite instead.

Well, that’s one of the things he could have been doing anyway, as Norris missed the Emmys festivities because he was off in Romania filming his role as Benjamin Franklin in History Channel’s upcoming miniseries Sons of Liberty.

Postal Markers

The East End Beacon has a nice article about postal route markers in this area of Long Island in New York.

Following Ben Franklin’s Path Down the North Fork

August 24, 2014

If you are steeped in Southold lore, you know about the day in 1755 when Benjamin Franklin, then the postmaster for the British colonies, took a trip down the North Fork to measure the distance from the Suffolk County courthouse in Riverhead to the Oysterponds ferry in Orient, with a crew who placed granite mile markers along the path.

The mile markers were used to gauge postal rates, which in those days were determined based on the distance letters traveled.

Many of these headstone-like slabs are still here, in Southold Town (historians have surmised that the mile markers in Riverhead Town were wood, and haven’t survived the more than 250 years since Franklin’s crew had them installed).

Full story and images here.

See also the
Southold Historical Society
, 54325 Rte 25, Southold, NY 11971.

Ann Franklin

Nice story from Pynter.org:

August 22, 1762
Ann Franklin, the sister-in-law of Benjamin Franklin, becomes the sole editor and publisher of the Newport Rhode Island newspaper, the Newport Mercury. She had earlier worked with her husband and son on other publications. Ann Franklin, later named to the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame, is considered one of the first women to run a colonial newspaper. The later part of her life is described in the following excerpt:

Successful as a printer and businesswoman, Franklin also assumed the responsibilities of a master craftsman, training her two surviving daughters as typesetters and shopkeepers. Her surviving son, James Jr., was dispatched to Philadelphia to apprentice with his uncle, Benjamin Franklin, returning to Newport in 1748 as a partner in his mother’s business. In 1758 Franklin and her son launched the Newport Mercury, the first successful newspaper in Rhode Island. James Jr. served as editor and publisher, and Ann, who was ill and semiretired, wrote some of the copy.

When Franklin’s surviving children died, she was once again forced to assume full responsibility for the business.

— “Franklin, Ann Smith”
The Encyclopedia of American Literature / Facts on File

Tobyhanna Township and BF’s Travels

Franklin and His Travels

The Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township sponsored an interesting-looking talk on Franklin’s travels.


The grave of Polly Stevenson is not far from this area; perhaps this association or the speaker, Bruce Denlinger, could be involved in learning more about that.


Ben Franklin Re-Invented

Very nice article and video about David Mitchell of Crossville (TN?): school presentation with armonica music.



Swim fins, bifocals and the glass harmonica are just a few of the inventions Benjamin Franklin showed off when he visited the Spring Hill Public Library Tuesday.

The politician, inventor and newspaper publisher — portrayed by David Mitchell of Crossville —stopped by as part of the library’s summer reading program to educate children — and adults — about his scientific contributions. From demonstrations on typesetting to static electricity, participants learned about Franklin’s experiments, his love for books and how he developed his first invention at the age of nine.

Children’s Library Marsha Gallardo said Mitchell does the presentation through Mobile Ed Productions, a company that provides interactive programs for schools, libraries and other groups. Gallardo said Franklin’s love of science and inventing goes hand-in-hand with the theme for this year’s summer reading program: Fizz, Boom Read.

“We are super excited to have such high quality entertainment for our community,” Gallardo said. “It’s amazing how many things you didn’t realize after watching the presentation. It’s really great to see history come to life.”

Mitchell has portrayed Franklin for 10 years, and while he does four other programs for Mobile Ed, Mitchell said the Benjamin Franklin presentation is the only one he does in character. The program has taken him from New Hampshire to California in previous years.

“I have been involved in teaching my entire adult life,” Mitchell said. “This brings history to life. History can be boring, and was for me in school. This lets kids meet a character and learn he was a lot like them. Franklin, in particular, inspired a lot of patriotism. He was one of this country’s first rags-to-riches stories and was a real self-starter.”

Though he has portrayed Franklin for years, Mitchell said he is always learning something new about one of the nation’s most famous Founding Fathers.

“I have about 50 books about Franklin, and I am always learning new things,” he said. “He was called the American DaVinci because he was so multi-faceted. He was a man who loved to learn.”

- See more at: http://columbiadailyherald.com/news/local-news/re-invention-ben-franklin#sthash.shzUq3JZ.dpuf


Constitutional Convention: Elizabeth Powell?

Franklin’s quote about “a republic, if you can keep it” is cited daily somewhere on the Internet, it seems. This posting is the first I’ve noticed that identified the woman who asked Franklin the question:

At the close of America’s Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly asked by George Washington’s friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Powell of Philadelphia, “Well, doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”