Siren songs written with quill pens and ink call to me in my travel planning: there is simply no other explanation. In the Fall my daughter, Katherine, happened along the Morven Museum and Garden in Princeton and saw an advertisement for the exhibit "Hail Specimen of Female Art!" and she knew it was something I would want to see.
Flash forward to last weekend and there we were in a space I knew nothing about at all.
"What is this place?" I asked Katherine.
"I don't know," she responded. "I just found it while I was walking home from work."
Our rental car came to a stop on a gravel parking area and we stepped into a cold, misty rain right into the welcoming home of an (unknown to me until then) Revolutionary Period Literary Granny. It was as if Annis was still in the house, waiting to greet us.
The moment I looked at her portrait and read her handwriting, I knew I was in for a treat.
A life and heart changing treat!
There they were, copies of correspondance between Annis and General George Washington. "Richard Stockton, oh yes!" I remembered the name from the Princeton Battlefield.
Annis, proclaimed a muse by Washington and others, was a hostess, a patriot and a wrote poetry that documented the social and political underpinnings of the day.
Since I love visiting graves of literary grannies, I wanted to know if I could "see" Annis in the future at her grave. She must be buried with her "signer of the Declaration of Independence" husband in the Princeton Quaker Cemetery.
She isn't buried there.
She spent her later days not in the comfort of her Morven home which her son inherited, she lived with one daughter and son-in-law and was buried in Philadelphia in the family plot of another son-in-law, Dr. Benjamin Bush.
I reported this to my twenty-first century feminist seminarian daughter who said, "How strange!" Well, it wasn't for the time.
Even as a literary celebrity and cherished member of the elite she was still merely a widow and therefore a "responsibility" of men rather than revered.
I can almost hear the daughters tittering "What shall we do with mother?" while the husbands shook their heads and bickered over where to put her that was the least inconvenient never even considering the possibility of sending her body on a days journey back to Princeton.
We'll never know what actually happened, but no matter what occurred it makes me sad nonetheless.
Even bittersweet, there is a joy in knowing another Literary Granny.
Julie Jordan Scott is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives.
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