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January 24, 2007


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I just found this entry while I was reading about field desks online. What a treasure for your family!

"Though finely made, the piece shows the wear and tear of two centuries but its historical value even in its current condition makes any thought of restoration firmly out of the question."

Not all "restoration" is bad. Perhaps you're thinking of people on the Antiques Road Show who say, "This would have been worth $X000 if you hadn't had it restored!" but in those instances, the term "restoration" is used to describe refurbishing something, stripping off the old and making everything look new. However, "conservation" (the preferred term) can be very beneficial to an item like your desk, repairing the cracks and stabilizing any damage to prevent further deterioration. If you search for a furniture conservator who abides by a conservation code of ethics, the treatment should be excellent. Conservation is concern for the physical health of the item rather than just giving it a facelift.


Hope you don't mind my butting in! I couldn't help speaking up for the trade!
-Grace (conservator)


I received the following communication and thought it and my reply might interest readers of this blog. [Ed]

"Dear Tim,
I was most interested to find your article on the field desk of Francis Barber Ogden as he has a connection with my husband's family. His wife, Louisa Sarah Pownall, was born in Liverpool in 1819 and was the second cousin of my husband's great-grandfather. Since finding the record of her marriage to Francis Barber Ogden in 1837 I have been doing some research on his life and career. I know that Francis died in Bristol on 4 July 1857 but I have so far been unable to establish the date of Louisa's death. The will of her father, William Pownall, was proved at Chester on 27 May 1857 and makes no mention of her, although he does mention his two sons, James and William, another daughter, Frances, and his grandson, Francis Barber Ogden. Do you have any information on this son of Louisa and Francis Barber Ogden? All I know is that he was born in Seacombe, Cheshire, in 1839 and that he died (according to the IGI) on 4 Jan 1891. I have a copy of a passenger list for the 'Baltic', arriving New York from Liverpool on 29 Sep 1856, which contains the name of Francis Barber Ogden Jr, aged 20,who is described as a US Consul, but I do not know what became of him after that. I would be most grateful for any information you might be able to give me.

With best wishes,

Kath Ward (Sheffield, UK)"

And here is my reply:

"Dear Kath; How lovely to hear that my post on Francis Barber Ogden's field desk was of such interest. In William Ogden Wheeler's genealogy; The Ogden Family: Elizabethtown Branch; there are two pages dedicated to Col. Barber and his descendants (252, 253). Of his wife, Louisa S. Pownall, it mentions her father William, of Liverpool, and that her family "are said to be of great antiquity in the County of Chester, England" but little else besides. According to Wheeler, they had but two children, making one suspect she might have died of complications from childbirth and might be buried in Liverpool or perhaps more likely in Seacombe, Chester Co., where her second child was born as you will see, below.

The children were Georgiana Blanche Ogden (b. 1838 d. 1840) and Francis Barber Ogden, Jr. (b. Seacombe, Chester Co., Eng. April 20, 1839 ; d. New York City Jan 20, 1891). This is your Francis Barber Ogden Jr., aged 20, but it was his father who was the US Consul. Andrew Jackson appointed the father Consul of the U.S. to Liverpool in 1829 and he served in that office until 1840. He would have met Louisa S. Pownall while in Liverpool, as her father was from that place. He was subsequently transfered to Bristol by President Van Buren where he served until his death on our Independance Day, 1857.

There is a brief biographical note on the son:

"He was the author of the first Ogden chart, which in a few instances has been found incorrect, yet upon which all subsequent investigations have built. He was prominent in Roman Catholic circles [here I suspect a conversion, as the Ogden family were Episcopalians], and never married. He was Secretary of the Society of the Cincinnati of the State of New Jersey, and one of its leading members. He died suddenly on the morning of Friday, january 20, 1891, in the passage-way to the Recxtor St. Station of the Elevated Railroad, New York City."

And so perhaps you now have answered a question for me: namely, how the field desk came to our branch of the family. If Francis Barber Ogden Sr. did not give it to his Uncle, my ancestor Aaron Ogden, before departing for his long term of service in England, the son would have brought it back with him to the states and reunited with close relatives in the Society of Cincinnati (the first-born sons of Washington's officers and their descendants). Either before his death or after his will was probated in 1891, the desk could have come to my gr-great grandfather, Dayton Ogden, who was second cousin to Francis B. Ogden Jr. and also in the Cincinnati. An intriguing possibility!

I can give you plenty of data on the prior generations in the Ogden Family. Another post at my blog discusses the Revolutionary service of Matthias Ogden, father of Francis Barber Sr. http://greensleeves.typepad.com/berkshires/2007/02/treason_tests_a.html Do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any futher assistance and best of luck with your search.


Tim Abbott"

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