Eliza Gardner Vanderveer Hathaway, 1919

Portrait relief cast in plaster, presumably also in bronze for $300
List of work: “1919 Mrs. Hathaway – Profile $300”

The wife of Nathaniel S. Hathaway, Eliza Gardner Vanderveer (1859-1945) was from the prominent Vanderveer family of honored physicians who summered on Eastern Long Island and the islands in the Sound. Eliza was related to the Dutch Quakers who found refuge there from the persecution they had faced because of their pacifist and abolitionist beliefs and their activity in the Underground Railroad. They sought out quiet uninhabited areas to be alone to practice their meditative spirituality and to shelter escaping slaves. The islands allowed them to separate themselves from the mainstream. New Bedford and the area along the shores of New England and New Jersey became enclaves at first and the movement spread inland to Pennsylvania. Quaker Meeting Houses are still in use in this area today.

One belief Quakers held that caused much trouble for them was that holding slaves was not Christian. Their anti-slavery views were at the core of the Abolitionist Movement in which the Hathaways were active. The Colonial colony of Germantown on the outskirts of Philadelphia was the location of the first formal protest against slavery in 1688. It was here that Eliza had a family home that became a second residence for herself and her husband Nathaniel Hathaway and it was here that she lived out her days. On the site of the old house is now an apartment building called the Hathaway House at 515 West Chelten Avenue in Germantown, PA, the address listed at the end of the Allen diary. He visited the Hathaway family there in May of 1918 and had photographs taken of the grandchildren from which he modeled a double portrait in relief.

Both Nathaniel and Eliza were returned to their roots on Long Island where they were buried at the cemetery in the town of Cutchogue.

Eliza and Nathaniel had two daughters, Susan and Sylvia. Sylvia married Attorney Harold Evans whose own family were Abolitionists during the days of the Underground Railroad. Their daughter Susan married Edward Day Thurston in Germantown with whom she had a son, naming him after his father and grandfather. Sadly he died in 1921 his third year and the grief-stricken couple moved to Sharon in Litchfield County Connecticut where they buried him at Hillside Cemetery and lived for the rest of their lives.

There is a photo of Allen taken in his studio, probably about 1920 judging by the eighteen sculptures around him. On the wall behind him seems to be a family grouping of bas-relief portraits. If that is so, then some of the work may be identifiable. In the center are two double portraits one of which is the little Evans girls. In the second the children appear to be a little older, so probably the children of Dr. Swift (1919). On either side of them are portrait reliefs of two different women. Below the woman on the right is a small round dark portrait of a baby. Without photographs for identification, one must make an educated guess. The woman on the left is older than the one on the right, so that may be Nathaniel Hathaway’s wife Eliza. The one on the right is a younger woman and below her is the baby, presumed to be little Edward Day Thurston who was sculpted by Allen in 1920. Because the baby is below the younger woman, the guess would be that Allen hung them that way because he was the woman’s son, or Susan Shoemaker Hathaway Thurston. In his list of work, there is a Thurston relief dated 1919 for $500. No relief of Susan Thurston is mentioned specifically but it’s doubtful that he would have charged so much for the baby’s small portrait leading to the supposition that there may have been one he didn’t list. “Thurston Baby Boy” is recorded without a price.

Thinking of it another way, the double portrait is the Evans girls, their mother was Hathaway’s other daughter, so the younger woman may be Sylvia across from her mother-in-law on either side of the Evans children.

EVANS CHILDREN, Sylvia and Margaret
Portraits cast in plaster and probably in bronze
Baby Edward cast in bronze

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