Embedded in a small cabinet from seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts, lies an extraordinary story of persecution and survival in early America. Just as its door creaks open to reveal hidden drawers, the cabinet provides a glimpse into the little known world of its first owners--a world of unconquered wilderness, Quakers and witchcraft.
In 1679, a valuables cabinet was made for Joseph and Bathsheba Pope of Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts. Decorated in the height of seventeenth-century fashion, the cabinet's form and ornament illustrate an attempt to create civility and refinement in an unpredictable and frequently dangerous new world--in short, an attempt to "conquer the wilderness." The all-over decoration on the front and side facades demonstrates the "artifice" of man and his potential ability to control the natural world (Trent 1982, p. 369). An American interpretation of Europe's Mannerist aesthetic, the front is intentionally ordered with geometric and classical motifs and the sides bear double S-scroll carving that covers almost every available surface.
In a time when one's existence was continually threatened by the unknown frontier, Native Americans, the climate and societal strife, this valuables cabinet represents an extraordinary effort of workmanship. The survival of only five other known New England cabinets with comparable decorative elements attests to their production as luxury--rather than necessary--goods. Two of these cabinets, made for Thomas Hart and Ephraim and Mary Herrick, exhibit nearly identical ornamentation, interior arrangements and construction and were clearly made in the same shop as the Pope cabinet offered here (figs. 1,3). Made for Thomas and Sarah Buffington, a third from Salem is closely related and was certainly made in the same tradition as the preceding three (fig. 4). With less elaborate facades and lacking the carved side panels, two other cabinets survive from Boston (Fairbanks and Trent, cat. 293; private collection).
Born in the middle of the seventeenth century, Joseph Pope (1650-1712) and Bathsheba Folger (1652-1726) were amongst the first generation of Europeans born in America. Joseph's father, Joseph Pope (d. 1667), hailed from Yorkshire and emigrated on the Mary and John in 1634. After joining the first Church and becoming a freeman, he acquired tracts of land in Salem Village. Soon thereafter, he and his second wife, Gertrude Shattuck, converted to the Quaker faith. As Quakers living in a Puritan theocracy, Joseph and Gertrude Pope were members of the close-knit group of Friends persecuted in Salem in the late 1650s and early 1660s. After attending Salem's first Quaker meeting in 1658 held at the house of their son-in-law, Joshua Buffum, they were frequently fined for not attending the services of the Puritan church and eventually excommunicated from the Church in 1662. Others of their sect did not fare as well. Related through marriage to the Popes, Lawrence and Cassandra (Buffum) Southwick were whipped, imprisoned and eventually banished from New England. They fled to Shelter Island where they both died in 1660 (Sylvester; Mallmann, p. 22). Left to pay their parents' prison debts, the children of the Southwicks suffered their own persecution. Unable to provide these funds, two of their children, Daniel and Provided, were ordered to be sold as slaves (Caller, p. 10). Though this sale never took place, the plight of Daniel and Provided is recounted in the poem, Cassandra Southwick, by John Greenleaf Whittier (reprinted in Roland Warren, pp. 91-97). This episode of Quaker persecution ended in 1661 after Charles II of England issued a "mandamus" directing the Massachusetts officials to suspend all proceedings against Quakers. This missive was obtained in part by Samuel Shattuck--a relative of Gertrude (Shattuck) Pope--who traveled to London to plea the Quaker cause. Upon his arrival back in Boston, he met with Governor John Endicott, a staunch opponent of Quakers, as an agent of the King and delivered the missive (Wheatland, p. 300; Roland Warren, pp. 111-114).
Living outside the strict control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Bathsheba Folger's parents, Peter Folger (1617-1690) and Mary Morrill of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket appear to have met with less prejudice. He was one of the earliest settlers of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and held prominent positions such as Surveyor of Lands and clerk of the court. Having learned the local Native-American language, Peter Folger was also an interpreter and teacher. An anabaptist who later converted to Quakerism, he advocated religious tolerance as expressed in his 1676 poem, A Looking Glass for the Time (re-printed in Anderson, pp. 306-319). Peter Folger's famous grandson, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) praised the poem in his autobiography and stated, "The whole appeared to me as written with a good deal of decent plainness and manly freedom." Franklin alos notes that Folger was widely respected in his time and described by Cotton Mather as an "Able Godley Englishman" (Franklin, chapter 1).
JOSEPH POPE OF SALEM VILLAGE
Joseph Pope's civic duties and moderate wealth suggest that he attained a level of social acceptability within his community that contrasts with the persecution experienced by his parents. Joseph Pope served as constable for Salem Village in 1683 and a surviving tax list for the country rate (as opposed to the town and minister's rates) indicates that he was one of the more affluent in his vicinity. Recording the rates for 81 individuals, the 1683 list specifies that Joseph Pope paid four shillings, a rate that puts him amongst the top quarter of tax-paying residents of Salem Village (tax list re-printed in Perley 1928, p. 422). His wealth upon his death is evidenced by his elaborate gravestone, which is described in an early twentieth-century account as being "a pretentious stone of slate" (Marsh, p. 94). In addition to the missive from Charles II, the industriousness and civic-minded nature of Quakers such as Joseph Pope probably contributed to their growing acceptance amongst their Puritan neighbors in the late seventeenth century.
Closely allied with the woodworking industry, Joseph Pope was a likely patron of the leading joiners in the area. He owned and operated a saw mill with his brother, Benjamin, and used his product to pay for the services of the carpenter, Joshua Buffum. Covering the years from 1672 to 1703, Buffum's account book now in the collections of the Phillips Library in Salem details several purchases from the Pope family. In 1677, Joshua debited Joseph four shillings for a chest "for Samuel"--a chest that was made for Joseph's brother and as its low price indicates was probably a simple item. The credit listed next to this entry indicates that Joseph paid with "191 fut of pine bords". Likewise, Benjamin Pope paid for his debits with "150 fut of oke bords" and "600 bordes" (Buffum, p. 14). The Popes and Buffums were further allied by familial and religious ties. Also Quakers, Joshua and his brother Caleb Buffum married Damaris and Hannah Pope, sisters to Joseph and Benjamin; interestingly, two of the possible lines of the cabinet's descent are direct paths from Hannah (Pope) Buffum (see Appendix B). The same account book cited above details the building of a "house for Thomas Maule" in 1678 to 1679 (Buffum, p. 104); this was to be the first Quaker meeting house in Salem. Furthermore, in an extensive reconstruction of individual land lots as owned in the year 1700, several of Joshua and Caleb Buffum's holdings abut those of the attributed maker of the cabinet, James Symonds (Perley 1913, p. 355). Such ties offer a possible network of interrelationships that led to the commission of the valuables cabinet.
The Divels...by the dreadful Judgement of Heaven took a bodily Possession, of many people, in Salem, and the adjacent places; and the Houses of the poor People, began to bee filled with the horrid Cries of Persons tormented by evil Spirits.
--Cotton Mather, Diary of Cotton Mather: 1681-1708 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Seventh Series, vol. VII, 1911), p. 150.
THE SALEM WITCHCRAFT TRIALS
Living in the western precincts of Salem Village, Joseph and Bathsheba Pope were situated in the epicenter of the witchcraft outbreak of 1692. While theories abound concerning the motivations of the accusers, scholars have noted that the hysteria surrounding the trials was in part due to underlying tensions between Salem Town, the center of commerce, and the outlying community in Salem Village and the Pope's rural address may partly explain their limited but decidedly persecutorial roles in the witchcraft trials. During the trials of John Procter (popularized as the leading role in Arthur Miller's The Crucible), Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse, the Popes are recorded as "accusers." Supporting suspicions of Procter's affinity with the Devil, Joseph testified that he "heard John Proctor Say that if mr Parish would let him have his Indian hee the s'd Procter would soone Drive the Divell out of him and farther Saith not" (Boyer and Nissenbaum, p. 683). Although she never formally testified, Bathsheba Pope claimed to be afflicted by the defendants and was a key witness to their alleged demonic powers. During the proceedings of Procter, her feet inexplicably lifted--an act that was immediately interpreted as evidence of Procter's unnatural powers (Rosenthal, p. 41). In a more theatrical display, Bathsheba cried out during the trial of Martha Corey and, believing to be under Corey's spell, attacked Corey. First she threw her muff, but after it missed its target, she removed her shoe and successfully struck Corey in the head. The transcript of Rebecca Nurse's trial also mentions Bathsheba's suffering of "afflictions" and upon the examiner's noting that it was a "sad thing" for Nurse to be charged, Bathsheba "fell into a grievious fit, & cryed out a sad thing sure enough" (Trask, pp. 38, 57).
The extensive documentation of the witchcraft trials coupled with other town records and genealogical data offer a number of interesting relationships between the Popes and other known owners of Symonds-shop products. Illustrating their close-knit community, the owners and attributed maker of the four cabinets were linked through marriage--frequently in more than one way (one series of ties is shown in fig. 6). In his extensive research of Essex county, Benno Forman determined that the initials on the "Herrick" cabinet corresponded to only one couple in the region: Ephraim Herrick (1638-1693) and Mary Cross (1640-1693) who married in 1661. The Hart cabinet was purchased in the twentieth century from a family descendant, which enabled Robert Trent to trace its original ownership to Thomas Hart of Lynnfield. A batchelor, Thomas Hart left his property to his brother, Samuel and his wife, Sarah Endicott, whose family provides connections to the Herrick and Symonds families. Defying any simple pattern along accuser-accused lines, these families both testified against and defended accused "witches." Marrying into the Symonds, Herrick and Hart families, members of the Herrick and Endicott families accused Mary Bradbury and Sarah Good of witchcraft yet signed a petition on behalf of the accused witch, John Procter. Zarubbel Endicott, the husband of Samuel Symonds' daughter Grace, testified that in the form of a "blue boar," Mary Bradbury killed several horses. Recounting similar outlandish stories, Zarubbel's uncles, Samuel and Joseph also testified against Bradbury and Sarah Good. On the other side, Thomas Hart's mother, Elizabeth was accused by the most notorious accuser, Ann Putnam, and imprisoned in May, 1692. With his mother still in jail five months later, Thomas Hart filed a petition begging for leniency, stating that his mother "is Inflicted from lying in Miserie, and death rather to be Chosen then a life in her Circumstances" (Boyer and Nissenbaum, pp. 122-3, 370, 592-3, 664).
Several other products from the Symonds shops have histories in Salem- and Danvers-area families that intermarried with the Popes. Descending in the Trask and Osborne families, two Symonds-shop chests appear to have been owned within the region's Quaker community and by families that frequently married members of the Pope, Southwick and Buffum families (illustrated in Forman 1971). Through the marriage of one of their sons, the Popes were related to the Putnam family that owned the cupboard illustrated in fig. 12. The cupboard was probably made for Lieutenant Nathaniel Putnam (1619-1700) of Salem Village and is recorded in the 1772 inventory of his grandson, Stephen Putnam. Stephen married his first cousin, Miriam Putnam; her sister and another granddaughter of Nathaniel was Mehitable Putnam who married Joseph Pope, the eldest son of the Popes. Living in close proximity to the Popes, Nathaniel Putnam was one of the wealthiest individuals in his community. He appears on the 1683 tax list quoted above and at ten shillings, his rate was the highest recorded in Salem Village. Like the Endicotts, the Putnams were both accusers and defenders during the witchcraft trials. Though related to the family of Ann Putnam, one of the main instigators of the entire episode, Nathaniel Putnam and his son, Benjamin, signed a petition on behalf of accused witch, Rebecca Nurse (Boyer and Nissenbaum, pp. 592-3). Known as "the Witch Bureau," another Symonds-shop case piece has an eerie history associated with the witchcraft episode. As recounted in 1851, one of the hanged witches jumped out from the drawer of a chest-of-drawers now in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Lyon 1938, part VI, fig. 59).
THE LATER HISTORY OF THE POPE CABINET
Bearing its original finish, the cabinet has been carefully preserved and passed down in the same family for over eleven generations. Known to have been owned by the DeLamater family in the nineteenth century, the cabinet could have descended along a number of lines. A possible direct line is through Joseph Pope's son, Enos Pope (1690-1765) to Eliza Douglas, the mother of Cornelius DeLamater (see Appendix C). Enos Pope was a clothier who lived and operated his business in his 1718 house at 92 Boston Street, Salem. Surviving papers of Enos Pope now in the collections of the Phillips Library, Salem, include a transaction between Enos and his mother, Bathsheba Pope, whereby Enos paid L100 for his mother's share of Joseph's estate and in return, he was to provide a room for her in his dwelling house. It is very possible that she retained an item as small and as personal as the cabinet in her son's house and with her death just eight years later, the cabinet could have passed to Enos. Appraised in 1765, his inventory contains a listing that could refer to the cabinet: A "Cabinet & cobard 13/4" (ECPR, no. 22402). His house was inherited by his son, Enos Pope (1721-1813) who carried on the same business and at the time of his death was the oldest man in Salem. This Enos married Lydia Buffum (1726-1781; the grand-daughter of the carpenter Joshua Buffum, discussed above) in the Salem Quaker meetinghouse in 1749. With the majority of his children dying without issue, Enos' grandchildren--Caleb Pierce and Enos Beede--were amongst a few individuals that stood to inherit his property. Caleb lived with his grandfather for nearly forty years and his memories of the Pope family were published in 1903. As a number of Pierce-Douglas family marriages are recorded in New England and upstate New York, he also may prove to be a link between the Pope family and Cornelius DeLamater's mother, Eliza Douglas. At the same time, Enos Beede's 1833 inventory contains an intriguing reference: "1 chest with medicine $3" (ECPR 82: 353).
The cabinet could also have been inherited by Cornelius DeLamater's wife, Ruth Oakley Caller, through several different lines of descent in the Pope, Buffum, Southwick and Franklin families (see Appendix B). Ruth (Southwick) Caller was a direct descendant of Joseph Pope's sister, Hannah Pope and through marriage, a descendant of Bathsheba Pope's sister, Abiah (Folger) Franklin. Known as "the Franklin chest" by its twentieth-century owners, the cabinet may have passed through this line or simply named in recognition of the famous stateman, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), son and nephew to Abiah and Bathsheba.
THE DELAMATER FAMILY OF NEW YORK
By the mid-nineteenth century, the cabinet was owned by Ruth Oakley Caller (1824-1894) of Poughkeepsie, New York, who married Cornelius Henry DeLamater (1821-1889) of New York City. Training in the Phoenix Foundry, DeLamater eventually owned the company and renamed it the DeLamater Iron Works, which he used to support the efforts of numerous inventors and designers. Through these endeavors, DeLamater became good friends with the famous Swedish inventor, John Ericcson (b. 1803). Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, the two secured the contract from Navy officials and President Lincoln to build the Monitor. Just a week after its launching, the Monitor engaged the Merrimac and with his company in the forefront of national news, DeLamater's business thrived. Soon thereafter, he purchased land on Long Island's Eaton's Neck and built a country estate, which he named Vermland, after Ericcson's birthplace. The valuables cabinet remained at this estate through the early twentieth century and was inherited by Cornelius and Ruth DeLamater's great-great-great grandchildren, its current owners.
Fig. 1: The Hart Cabinet, attributed to the Symonds Shops, Salem, dated 1679. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 2: The Pope Cabinet, Lot 111. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 3: The Herrick Cabinet, attributed to the Symonds Shop, Salem, dated 1679. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Russell Sage 1909. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 4: The Buffington Cabinet, attributed to the Symonds Shop, Salem, dated 1676. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.
Fig. 5: Details of the Herrick Cabinet (courtesy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art), the Hart Cabinet (courtesy, Winterthur Museum) and the Pope Cabinet (lot 111). Photographs by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 6: Intermarriages among the Pope, Buffington, Symonds, Herrick and Hart families.
Fig. 7: T.H. Matteson, Examination of a Witch, oil on canvas, 1853. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. Photograph by Mark Sexton.
Fig. 8: Cornelius H. and Ruth O. DeLamater pictured with daughters Laura, Lydia, Zillah, Adah, and grandson Oakley on the front piazza of Vermland, circa 1875. Re-printed from Edward A.T. Carr, Faded Laurels: The History of Eaton's Neck and Asharoken (New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1994), p.15.
Fig. 9: The Pope Cabinet, lot 111, interior. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 10: The Hart Cabinet, interior. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 11: The Herrick Cabinet, interior. Courtesy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 12: The Putnam Cupboard, attributed to James Symonds, Salem, 1685-1700. Courtesy, the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem.
Fig. 13: Carved oak room from the William Crowe House, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, circa 1600. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Edward Pearce Casey Fund, 1965.
Fig. 14: (from left to right): Side panels of the Herrick Cabinet (courtesy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art), the Hart Cabinet (courtesy, Winterthur Museum) and the Pope Cabinet, lot 111. Photographs by Gavin Ashworth.
Fig. 15: The Conant family chest with one drawer, attributed to the Symonds Shop, Salem, circa 1685. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.
Fig. 16: The "RL" chest with one drawer, attributed to the Symonds Shop, Salem, circa 1685. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.