Friday, May 31, 2019
Charles Herreshoff :: Biography Biographical Essays
Charles Herreshoff After Agnes Muller died in the cold Prussian winter of 1766, her three-year-old son was alone in the world. It was said later, though there was no proof, that Agness husband visible Eschoff went mad with grief surely only that could confound explained his subsequent abandonment both of his post as bodyguard to Frederick the Great and of his only child. In any case, he disappeared forever, leaving his former townsfolk with only the vague notion that he had gone to Italy.The sons childhood has been lost to the past. An account written two centuries later by a descendant suggests that he faild with maiden aunts until the age of eight, when the women sent him to live with a professor in Potsdam. This, the account explains, is how the boy finally met Frederick the Great the monarch consulted with the boys professor. Another, more sordid tale mentions the rumors that Frederick himself had fathered the child. Frederick, the story goes, was tout ensemble impotent and thus flattered by the suggestion. And so, this version continues, partly out of pride and partly as a joking revenge for the desertion of his bodyguard Corporal Eschoff, the emperor took the boy under his wing and sent him to a school for the children of nobles, equipped with the names of two kings and a surname that meant lord of the manor Karl Friederich Herreschoff.What is real is that Karl Friederich left his native Prussia for the United States around 1786. This voyage across the Atlantic marked the beginning of a metamorphosis that of Karl Friederich Herreschoff, uncertain but cultured novel immigrant, into Charles Frederick Herreshoff, promising young merchant.Charles struggled for a decade in his adopted country, first starting his own firm and going bankrupt eventually, he went to work for a mercantile firm where wealthy and successful John Brown was a senior partner. The young mans pleasant demeanor and charm, as healthy as his talent for good conversation and elega nt music, are mentioned in more than one account. He had no good family name and no bullion other than what the firm paid him but he had personality, and he hoped that would be enough to catch the eye of Browns much-beloved younger daughter, Sarah.By 1798, Charles appears to have already made some kind of declaration to the young woman he affectionately called Sally.