I was contacted by Nathaniel Blood, a descendant of John Evans Brown, who built Zealandia Castle on the mountain that the tunnel in Asheville passes through.
Nathaniel Blood’s father, William Alexander “Lex” Blood, was John Brown’s great-grandson. Lex Blood’s father’s mother was Katie E. Brown. She is the one that published John Brown’s journal from Asheville to the Gold Fields, Memoirs of a Forty-Niner.
Nathaniel sent me some family photos and shared some stories.
Katie E. Brown married Samuel Blood. This photo shows them with their first son, William. They lived in New York City, near Central Park. She helped establish the Central Park Garden. This is probably the Conservatory Garden. The photo below looks like it. It opened in 1937, so the dates work.
The Conservatory Garden
The Conservatory Garden is the only formal garden in Central Park. It’s huge, six acres.
It is called the Conservatory Garden because it was put in to replace a Conservatory.
When Central Park was first made, there were glasshouses to care for young plants before they were put in.
When the Park was established, the glass houses were no longer used. Landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke designed the formal Conservatory Garden based around a planting plan by landscape architect M. Betty Sprout. (The two later married.)
This was one of the first WPA projects. The Works Projects Administration was established in 1935 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to provide work during the Depression. Hundreds of Italian immigrant gardeners who used to work on the great estates brought the plans for the formal garden to reality.
From it’s inception, volunteers from the Garden Club of America or the Central Park Conservancy have helped maintain the Conservatory Garden.
Katie E. Brown, later Katie Blood, sounds like a real character. She wore a large hat with a “self defense” hat pin.
The family story is that Katie Blood never took a taxi. She even sent her young grandson Lex to a museum by taxi and took the bus to meet him.
This is Nathaniel Blood’s grandfather, Alexander Peacock Blood. He was Katie E. Blood’s son, John Brown’s grandson. He and his brother Bill started the Asheville Mica Company. Uncle Bill had control of the company, so Ranapa* left to start a mining operation in Mexico. Uncle Bill’s son still works for Asheville Mica.
*Ranapa is Alexander Peacock Blood. The family calls him Ranapa. A child called his wife, Constance Amelia (née Lesher) “Rana,” trying to say “gramma.” That made Grampa “Ranapa.” It stuck. Generations later, he is still Ranapa.
The Peacock Name
The family has kept the New Zealand Peacock name. John Evans Brown married Theresa Australia Peacock in 1859. She died when she was only 42, leaving three surviving children; Maria, Katy and Hubert. Katie (Katy) E. Brown named her second son, Nathaniel’s grandfather, Alexander Peacock Blood. One of Nathaniel’s brothers is Peter Peacock Blood.
Nathaniel told me that he had visited Christchurch, New Zealand, but didn’t know that there was any connection with his family before he read my blog post about it.
He says he should have known. He said his parents had toured a school in Christchurch that John Brown established. He’d even seen photos of them there. He told me that the school is still operating and that it looks a lot like Chippenham Lodge, John Evans Brown’s home in New Zealand. I haven’t found this school. I found a Christchurch School founded by a Bishop William Cabell Brown in Virginia. I don’t think that’s the one. Wrong dates. Wrong Brown. Wrong country.
What is a Stereoscope?
Stereoscopes are an old invention that allows photos to be viewed in 3-D. The first stereoscopes date to around 1838. They were very popular. There were various models available when Oliver Wendell Holmes invented the hand stereopticon, the type of stereoscope I have. Holmes did not patent his invention, keeping the device economical.
The Holmes Stereoscope is a wooden or metal viewer with two prismatic lenses and a stand to hold the stereo card. A stereo card has two photos on it, taken from slightly different locations with exactly the same center-point. This creates an exaggerated 3-D image when seen through the Stereoscope Viewer. It’s really cool.
More economical than other stereo viewers of the time, the handheld Holmes Stereoscope viewer has a wooden stand and handle. The one above is mine. It is made with a decorative metal hood. Many are made completely of wood. Two prismatic lenses angle your vision. The card can be adjusted closer or more distant to get the right focal point for each card.