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The following is a story about Fred Waters, brother of Jane Waters Odell. The spelling is exactly the way it is in the story. This was written by one of Fred Waters nieces. Not sure which one.

Fred Waters


Uncle Fred was born in New York City about 1827 or 30 and died inApril 1913. The youngest chaild of John and Ann Waters who migrated to this country from one of the Shires in England - I think Shropshire.
John Water was employed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as Time Keeper, a position he received from the War Dept. for his Service in the War of 1812.
I have tried to cheak back on this with the Broklyn Navy Yard - who have lost all their records in a fire years ago - and the War Dept. have several records of service of John Waters but as I do not know where he lived in the City when he enlisted I don’t know which John Waters it is - there were numerous Waters all relatives here at the time.
Now to get back to Fred Waters, and I do hope I stay....but any way Uncle Fred I think was a strange mixture of Gypsy and Romanticism.
He must have had real ability in his field as an artist as mother says he worked with a group called the “Hudson River group” but never stayed with them long enough to be really indentified as one of them - later I think he was with a T. B. something but I think it was Duront- I know I remember Uncle Fred speaking of a T.B. and his approach to various color effects - I have a feeling that he really felt old T.B. as he always called him was a character. But I may have the name the Duront all wrong but I get the feeling that Uncle Fred felt he had been privileged to have known him. The bouquet was one of Uncle Fred’s first efforts and I believed was done when he was quite young. It was a gift for Jane and Jacob Odell.

I believe he was well in the twenties when he did the portrait of the young girl he never married. I remember years and years after, when I was a small girl sitting in the family home in PSring Valley, Rockland County, looking at her protrait over the mantle in her home. She had died years before, in fact I believe during the Civil War years., she died at the birth of her daughter, the family said it was an “excellent likeness” Mother and her daughter were very firm friends - but now they are all gone and the picture has probably been lost or destroyed - as every member of that family is dead these many years. Her father was pastor of the Broome street Baptist Church. Dr. Anderson and it was he who married my father and mother. The families lived near each other at that time.
About his romance, really it does seem stupid to say it was a pair of white cotten stockings that upset everything but I know this to be a fact as mother told me right in front of Uncle Fred - that he had taken Miss Anderson out, or at least he had brought his horse and buggie over to her home and it was while he was helping her into the carriage, that under her voluminous skirts he saw to his horror that she was wearing white cotton stockings and I suppose it revolted his aesthetic taste. I believe white silk stockings were being worn at that time, but anyways he never proposed that day but went home packed his bags and went to Michigan where he remained just too long- for when he returned he was shocked to learn that his little Miss Anderson, piqued I suppose as she must have been at him, as I sppose she had expected a proposal on that famous or shall we say infamous day - and up and married Eber Mapes. Mother said he was so stunned that he went off again and was gone for a long long time just traveling around and he never pained again - of couse who knows if it hadn’t been for the white stockings who knows today he may have been a famous painter and we wouldn’t have to dig into memory to write about him or he may have just settled down to a happy little home body - but no matter what I know he loved her all of his life and never even though of any one else. He had a sister in Michigan and a brother in Mattituck and I have a tiny little horse shoe that belonged or was one of a pair of horse shoes that belonged to a horse that his brother have raised and which one some famous ride, I believe the brother raised race horses - Uncle Fred took these tiny horse shoes and inlayed them with mother of pearl and gave one to this brothers son and one to mother. As after he returned from his wanderings and refused to paint, he did a lovely pearl inlay work on cabinets, tables and chairs etc. some of this work I notice in old shops now it seems to be in style again.
He did hear and he always said he was privileged to hear Jenny Lind sing, while she was rehearsing and he was doing ceilings, frscoing I believe he said, of the Old Castle Garden in lower New York when Barnum first brought her here but I am sure he was not acquainted with her personally. But I know both he and Jane Odell were well acquainted with Henry Ward Beecher and his family as they were very active in the undergound railway as mamma said they called it-hiding runaway slaves until they could get to canada. This was very difficult because of the pro-slavery mobs that roamed the streets looking for unaway slaves to return them to their masters and collect a county for each one caught.
Mother says on summer nights they would leave there doors open and sit outside so that the mobs could see they have nothing to hide and mother says sometimes there would be a few shivering slaces in the attic and of course the house would have been wrecked by the mobs if they had have gone in and found slaves - I think we have be proud of such bravery in what they felt was right.
I know mother and Uncle Fred visited, after Jane’s death, the Beecher homestead in Brooklyn Heights - because mother often spoke of the baths I think there were at least six bathrooms in a day when indoor plumbing was SO rare. Maybe Jane went too but mother always spoke of being with Uncle Fred at those times.

Delia Odell Rowe is daughter of Jane Odell. She is the one who owns the horse shoe inlaied with mother of pearl.

© St. Tammany Farm 2003