Sunday, May 12, 2013


COLONEL JAMES MATLACK SCOVEL, ESQ. - b. January 12, 1833 Harrison, Ohio, d. April 3, 1893, Camden, NJ.  Buried at  Cape May Courthouse, Cape May, NJ.  Married Mary Mulford (Scovel), b. June 5, 1831 Camden, NJ d. April 3, 1893 Camden, NJ,  Society of Friends, daughter of Dr. Isaac Skillman Mulford & Rachel Mickle (Mulford).  Children;  Henry Sydney Scovel, Esq., Anna Dean Scovel (Brooke)*, Mary Scovel (Senor). 

     (The following is reprinted from the book, "Hannah Matlack Scovel" by Eleanor Scovel Miller, 1930)

     Hannah's first son, James Matlack Scovel born in 1833, attended Hanover College and then went to Camden, New Jersey, to study law with Abraham Browning who had married his (James') mother's half sister and he became one of the foremost criminal lawyers of his era.  He had the gift of oratory and a wit that sometimes bordered on the Rabelaisian.  In the agitation that preceded the Civil War, the young lawyer's speeches attracted the favorable attention of President Lincoln and they became friends.  During the Civil War, my Grandfather was sent by the President to London on confidential government business.  He married a charming member of the Society of Friends, Mary Mulford, daughter of Doctor Isaac Skillman Mulford, Camden's second medical man and author of "A Civil and Political History of New Jersey." 

     James Scovel travelled extensively in Europe and made two trips to the Holy Lands, (rather unusual in those days).  His upbringing was rigorous and in conformance with that of a Minister's son, however, he was a big, handsome man with great vitality and much charm; generous to a fault.  He tasted of the flesh pots and enjoyed life thoroughly.  He loved good food and drink but never to excess.  Several amusing stories are told of him.  One, the neighbors across the way in the Arch Street (Camden) house deplored his carelessness in not pulling down the blinds and wrote a note to that effect.  The reply was: "I shall try to keep in mind pulling down the blinds but I should like to remind you, if you don't like it, you needn't look."  Another:  Senator Sewell said in meeting:  "Jim, I haven't seen you around lately.  Been away?"  "Yes," my Grandfather replied, "I was hunting - in South Jersey."  "Any good?"  said the Senator.  "Well," was the reply, "the hunting was good but the shooting was damned poor."  There were two daughters and when my Grandfather thought the beau or beaux were staying too late, he had no hesitancy in coming into the "parlor", his long nightshirt flapping around his legs, going to the window, throwing open the shutters with a flourish and saying:
"Beautiful sunrise, gentlemen, beautiful sunrise!"  The young men took the hint although it was often not later than 9:00 or 10 o'clock.  Annie* and/or Mary were furious with embarrassment.  "Jim" was fond of poetry, had a wonderful memory and recited stanza after stanza of Sir Walter Scott's poems.

     Walt Whitman was a friend often entertained in the Arch Street house.  The poet sat in front of the open fire, reading his poems, having been fortified by a whiskey toddy.  There is, treasured by a member of the family,  an autographed portrait of the poet and an autographed copy of "Leaves of Grass"** bound in pin-seal on which, unfortunately, one of the grandchildren scribbled over the title page.  

     When James Scovel was President of the New Jersey Senate and voting was to be gone into o the amendment to give negroes citizenship, $20,000.00 was laid on my Grandfather's desk and he was told it would be his if he voted against the amendment.  It was most insulting to one so enthusiastic about the cause of the negro.

                                                                       *Anna Dean Scovel (Brooke) my Great Grandmother
                                                                      **Bequeathed to Lehigh University Library by Dorothy 
                                                                          Cramer (Curtis)

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