George H. Throop

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George Higby Throop (1818 – March 2, 1896) (born Higby Throop) was an American schoolteacher and novelist. Under the pseudonym Gregory Seaworthy he wrote three novels, Nag's Head: or, Two Months among "The Bankers." A Story of Sea-Shore Life and Manners; Bertie: or, Life in the Old Field. A Humorous Novel; and Lynde Weiss. The first of these was the first novel in the United States to deal with then-contemporary life in North Carolina. [1] [2]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Contents

Life and career

Throop was a native of Willsboro, New York; his father, George Throop, Sr., was a manufacturer and storekeeper, whose second wife, George, Jr.'s mother, died soon after giving birth to the boy. Initially named "Higby", he later took his father's first name as his own. [1] He was a student of classics and an avid reader from youth. Throop attended the University of Vermont for one year, from 1835 to 1836, and may have attended another college afterwards. He married, unhappily, and soon the union broke up. Following this, he spent much of the 1840s as a schoolmaster and mariner. [1]

Willsboro, New York Town in New York, United States

Willsboro is a town in Essex County, New York, in the United States, and lies 30 miles (48 km) south of the city of Plattsburgh. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 2,025. The town is named after early landowner William Gilliland.

University of Vermont public research university in Burlington, Vermont, USA

The University of Vermont (UVM), officially The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, is a public research university in Burlington, Vermont. It was founded in 1791 and is the state's land-grant university. UVM is among the oldest universities in the United States and is the fifth institution of higher education established in the New England region of the U.S. northeast. It is also listed as one of the original eight "Public Ivy" institutions in the United States.

Throop is known to have come to the coastal plains of North Carolina by 1849, and he may have traveled there earlier. It is possible that he taught at a plantation near Hertford, but by March of that year he had moved to Scotch Hall, the plantation of Cullen Capehart located near Merry Hill in Bertie County. He remained there until October; during the summer he accompanied the family and servants to Nags Head, where the Capeharts had a summer residence. [1] He then is supposed to have spent some time in Philadelphia overseeing the publication of his novels.

Hertford, North Carolina Town in North Carolina, United States

Hertford is a town and the county seat of Perquimans County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 2,143 as of the 2010 census. Hertford is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region and is part of both the Elizabeth City Micropolitan Statistical Area and the Hampton Roads region. It is named after the county town of Hertford, England.

Scotch Hall United States historic place

Scotch Hall is a historic plantation house located near Merry Hill, Bertie County, North Carolina. It was built about 1838, and is a large 2 1/2-story, five bay by four bay, frame dwelling in a transitional Federal / Greek Revival style.

Merry Hill is a rural unincorporated community located in Merry Hill Township in Bertie County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. This area is composed of mostly farm land. Within the town there are two schools, John P. Law Elementary School (Public), and Lawrence Academy (Private). John P. Law Elementary School was shut down in 2006 due to a diversity issue. Lawrence Academy was founded in 1968 and is located on Avoca Farm Road. This small private institution prides itself on being "uniquely different". In the middle of the town is the post office, with the zip code 27957. Avoca Incorporated is a large company, located where the original Avoca Plantation existed, that profits from botanical extraction. Salmon Creek twists and turns through the wooded area of Merry Hill and opens up to the Albemarle Sound. This is known as the Mouth of Salmon Creek. There is currently a golf course under construction in Merry Hill that overlooks the Mouth of Salmon and reaches out into the Albemarle Sound. The course was designed by retired professional golfer Arnold Palmer. It is expected to reach completion in the near future.

Throop was not a success as a writer, and continued to work as a schoolmaster, traveling wherever he could find work. He is known to have been in Georgia in 1853, but by the American Civil War he had settled in what would later become Hampshire County, West Virginia. [1] There he was a well-liked member of the community, an accomplished singer, composer, and lyricist; however, suffering from alcoholism, he eventually ceased teaching. Around 1888 he discovered a previously unknown son from Boston, Massachusetts; the man, Edward H. Palmer, had taken his stepfather's name. [1] Palmer gave his father twenty dollars a month, which allowed Throop to board with various inhabitants of Bloomery, the town in which he had last taught, until his death. He was buried in the cemetery of the Presbyterian church on Bloomery Run, [3] his grave finally receiving a marker in 1955 through the efforts of the Pioneer Teachers Association of Hampshire County. [1]

Georgia (U.S. state) U.S. state in the United States

Georgia is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Georgia is the 24th largest in area and 8th-most populous of the 50 United States. Georgia is bordered to the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, to the northeast by South Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by Florida, and to the west by Alabama. The state's nicknames include the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, a "beta(+)" global city, is both the state's capital and largest city. The Atlanta metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 5,949,951 in 2018, is the 9th most populous metropolitan area in the United States and contains about 60% of the entire state population.

American Civil War Internal war in the U.S. over slavery

The American Civil War, one of the most studied and written about episodes in U.S. history, was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights in order to uphold slavery.

Hampshire County, West Virginia U.S. county in West Virginia, United States

Hampshire County is a county in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,964. Its county seat is Romney, West Virginia's oldest town (1762). The county was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1754, from parts of Frederick and Augusta Counties (Virginia) and is the state's oldest county. The county lies in both West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands regions.

Throop is memorialized by a state historic marker indicating the location of Scotch Hall and noting his authorship of Bertie. The marker is along U.S. Route 17 in Bertie County, about eight miles southeast of the house itself, which still stands [4] and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [5]

U.S. Route 17 highway in the United States

U.S. Route 17 or U.S. Highway 17 (US 17), also known as the Coastal Highway, is a north–south United States Highway. The highway spans the southeastern United States and is close to the Atlantic Coast for much of its length. The highway's southern terminus is at Punta Gorda, Florida, at an intersection with US 41. Traveling north, US 17 joins up with US 50 in Paris, Virginia, and the northern terminus of US 17 is in downtown Winchester, Virginia. This is also the point at which the portion of US 50 called the Northwestern Turnpike begins.

National Register of Historic Places Federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

Works

Nag's Head

Throop's first book, published under the pseudonym "Gregory Seaworthy" in 1850, was the novel Nag's Head; or, Two Months Among "The Bankers": A Story of Sea-Shore Life and Manners, based on his time with the Capeharts at their summer residence. [1] It was published in Philadelphia by A. Hart, but bears a dedication signed from Merry Hill. Strictly speaking, the book is not a novel, but rather a memoir, in fictional form, of Throop's summer on the Outer Banks. The book has no plot, and no sustained characterization, but is valuable for capturing the spirit of a seaside vacation of the era and for offering glimpses of the region, its natives, and its lore. It was also the first novel concerned with contemporary North Carolina life. [1] [2]

Outer Banks barrier islands in North Carolina

The Outer Banks are a 200-mile-long (320 km) string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, on the east coast of the United States. They cover most of the North Carolina coastline, separating Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

Gregory Seaworthy is presented as the narrator of the book; he is described as a Northerner, a former sailor, tutor to the children of a planter. He is said to be familiar with North Carolina literature, alluding to several other writers from the state, such as Calvin Henderson Wiley. [2] Seaworthy records local history and folklore, and provides his impressions of the people and customs he sees. He also describes shipping traffic, ferries and schooners, along the coast and sound. The book is claimed to be a story of life among inhabitants of the Outer Banks, but very little is said about them; the narrator concerns himself chiefly with the planter population and their recreational activities, including swimming, fishing, and dancing. [2]

Nag's Head received scant literary attention, but it was noticed by Washington Irving, who sent Throop a letter expressing interest in the book. [1] More recently, the book has been praised for its value as social history and for its humor. It was republished in 1958 with an introduction by Richard Walser. [2]

Bertie

Irving's letter, coupled with a handful of other favorable notices, inspired Throop to try his hand at a second work of fiction. This was the novel Bertie: or, Life in the Old Field. A Humorous Novel, which was published in 1851, again in Philadelphia and again by A. Hart; [1] Irving's letter was presented as a preface to the book in the first edition. [6]

The narrator of the novel is the same "Gregory Seaworthy" introduced in Nag's Head, but his history has been changed to make him the nephew of John Smallwood, an actual planter in the county. Other members of the Smallwood family are based on the Capeharts, with whom he had worked; the family home, "Cypress Shore", is almost certainly based on Scotch Hall. [7] The plot of the novel concerns six couples and their various romantic adventures, but large swaths of the work are given over to descriptions of antebellum plantation society in the state and other bits of local color, such as holiday festivals and another summer trip to the sea. [7] Cypress Shore is described in detail, as are neighboring estates, and much time is spent discussing their agricultural operations and products. [7]

Much of the romantic action of the book is centered on "Professor" Funnyford Matters, a "Practical Hydrologist" from the North who builds cisterns for drinking water on local plantations. Matters is a typical "Yankee" caricature, full of negative assumptions about the South and frequently claiming that the north is superior. He also weighs in on slavery, stating that Northern claims about its injustice are exaggerations and claiming further that southern masters are too tolerant; he also observes that the sternest of plantation overseers are actually Northerners. [7]

Bertie received a number of favorable notices; a reviewer for Godey's Lady's Book called it "one of the best American novels of the day". [1] Even so, the work soon disappeared almost completely in the North. In North Carolina, it received almost no notice at all, even upon first publication. [7]

Lynde Weiss

Throop's third and last novel, Lynde Weiss: An Autobiography, was brought out under his own name in Philadelphia by Lippincott, Grambo and Company in 1852. It contains no references to North Carolina. [1]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Throop, George Higby (Gregory Seaworthy)". ncpedia.org. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Summary of Nag's Head. Or, Two Months Among "The Bankers." A Story of Sea-shore Life and Manners". unc.edu. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  3. Throop, George Higby at Find a Grave
  4. ""Scotch Hall" Marker". hmdb.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  5. Marshall Bullock (August 1980). "Scotch Hall" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  6. "George Higby Throop, 1818–1896. Bertie: or, Life in the Old Field. A Humorous Novel". unc.edu. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Summary of Bertie: or, Life in the Old Field. A Humorous Novel". unc.edu. Retrieved 14 April 2015.