Welcome to my world!

Welcome to my world!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rustic Individualism, Shubal Brush and The Brush Lockwood House, 1792

"Seek virtue rather than riches. You may be sure to acquire the first but cannot promise for the latter. No one can rob you of the first without your consent. You may be deprived of the latter a hundred ways; the first will gain you the esteem of all good and wise beings, and the latter will get you flatterers enough but not one real friend. The first will abide by you forever; the latter will have you at death to shift as you can at eternity." 

The Brush Lockwood House, located at the intersection of Taconic and North Stanwich roads in backcountry Greenwich. 

Those lofty words were uttered by the man who lived in this 1792 house. His name? Shubal Brush. 

Shubal Brush was born in Greenwich on April 17, 1801. He married Sarah F. Brush on February 20, 1826. She was the daughter of Samuel Brush and Mary Ferris. From them five children were born. 

The Stanwich Congregational Church at one time stood where the front lawn is now.  The congregation was gathered in 1732.

This is an image said to be dated circa 1850 (I think it is later), facing east on North Stanwich Road looking towards Taconic Road. The church was still there, with the house behind it. If you look closely at the center of the image you can see part of the front of the Old Stanwich Inn (dated 1801) that still stands today. At the time this image was captured Shubal and his wife Sarah were living in the old house. (Photo Credit: Greenwich Time)

While this image looks much older, this is how interior of the Stanwich Church appeared in the early 20th century. The church edifice would later be in ruins after being struck by lightning. (Photo Credit: Greenwich Time) 

Rev. Stuart Brush and I went for a ride around Greenwich in September, 2013. As you might expect we stopped by here. 

I have seen many of Greenwich's old, historic homes over the years. This particular one has a certain appeal to me. There is something rustic and yet uniquely elegant about the Brush Lockwood House. Framed in my mighty oak and maple trees made us feel as if we had been transported away to another place and time. 

The front porch of the Brush Lockwood House, looking westward

The front doors and entrance of the Brush Lockwood House. Photo captured Oct. 18, 2014. 

Yes, this is a relic from the pre-indoor plumbing days. 

The slate stone pathway from the main house passes by a charming gazebo to an old 19th century barn

According to one of his descendants and good friend of mine, Stuart Camp Brush -the former pastor of the North Greenwich Congregational Church- Shubal Brush was the last tanner in the Stanwich section of Greenwich. 

What is tanning? A 19th century tanner was someone engaged in the business of processing the hides of animals to leather. His tannery shop was located across the street from the house. It still stands today. According to Rev. Brush, Shubal was registered as a farmer, though he did not own any livestock. 

Twenty years ago, Stuart told me about a large collection of papers, legal documents, church records and personal letter that were found in the attic of this house. He said that they are detailed and descriptive of the Stanwich area's history. They are now housed in the archives of the Greenwich Historical Society in Cos Cob. 

One of the things that intrigued me about Shubal Brush were some of his opinions. Among the papers we sifted through we found some of his viewpoints of issues and subjects. Many today in the early 21st century would find him to be a man well ahead of his time. 

I directly transcribed these which I share now. All were penned by Shubal Brush circa 1845: 

"To expect, my dear, that your life should be one continued series of pleasure is to expect to meet with what no mortal from Adam down to the present times has yet met with and by nature of things is an impossibility."

"It is easy to live well among good peoples. But show me the person who can preserve their temper, their wisdom and their virtue in spite of strong temptation and universal example."  

"Are not female citizens justly entitled to all the civil, social and religious rights of male citizens? Certainly all female citizens are, in a Republican government. In a Republic all of the citizens are justly entitled to a common interest; nature and reason is fast settling this great principle. Why is it so? I answer because Christ's Command is being obeyed, Men and Women are searching the Scriptures with greater diligence."

"The truth shines forth and unfolds that women still as the last crowning act of creation was endowed with superior skill...Yes, Women's Rights she boldly & fearlessly proclaims for mercy's sake...The thought that women's counsels may prevail in the chain of state fills petty tyrants with fear and infidels and all stand shaking in their shoes...They will know virtuous energetic women is their greatest foe. The Social, Political and Religious rites or great privileges claimed by Man from Revelation or Tradition are equally the rights of women and when and wherever justly exercised in the councils of Families or Nations."

Shubal and Sarah Brush's gravestone in the Stanwich Congregational Church Cemetery, Greenwich, Connecticut. 

Shubal Brush died in Stanwich on September 16, 1864. He was buried in the Stanwich Congregational Church Cemetery about a quarter of a mile south of the house he lived in for so much of his life. 

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