The Naturalist: J. Alden Loring’s Adventure in Africa

Loring

1908, Owego native and naturalist, J. Alden Loring received notice from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., that he was to accompany former United States President Theodore Roosevelt on an expedition to Africa. Loring was charged with collecting animal specimens for the Natural History Museum in D.C. The expedition began in 1909, during which the group traveled through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, and around the coast of British East Africa to modern-day Somalia. There they traveled into Kenya by train. The men on the expedition had plenty of supplies for the trip and were met and guided through Africa by local tribes.

In June of 1909, an event happened that would change Loring’s life. The group heard news of a lion that was said to be near their camp. This lion had injured an Englishman and killed two natives trying to fend it off. Not long after this tragic event, Loring and another member of the expedition,  Major Edgar A. Means, left the group to explore. They investigated the rumor of lions being nearby and upon spotting some, they took up positions to fire when they had clean shots. Loring could see one particular lion approaching him, about fifty yards away. Loring shot at the lion, hitting it several times. It however, did not go down. Only feet away from Loring, the lion charged at him and the other men. Finally, Loring used a second gun to mortally wound it. The lion rushed past Loring and after several feet, it finally fell to the ground. Upon examination, Loring saw that every shot he had taken hit the animal.

They took the lion back to the camp, where Theodore Roosevelt was very impressed. He gave Loring a rifle better able to shoot big game in Africa. After the expedition was over, Roosevelt sent other gifts, one of them being the Marlin 25-36 rifle that Loring used to shoot the lion. Accompanying  the gifts was a letter from Roosevelt, expressing his admiration and appreciation for what Loring did for the expedition and for the Smithsonian.

Loring Safari Hat    Loring Rife

Loring’s rifle, safari hat, and the letter from President Roosevelt are on display at the Tioga County Historical Society.

-Tom Mazza, Administrative Assistant

7 Reasons to Join the Tioga County Historical Society

7 reasons to join TCHS

1. Explore                                                                                    

View the Tioga County Historical Society’s unsurpassed collection of more than 80,000 items of Tioga County history, including paintings, photographs, textiles and clothing, craft and manufacturing artifacts, toys, and books. Our current exhibits include American Indian artifacts, Civil War memorabilia, artifacts from historic Tioga County industry, and our portrait gallery.

2. Celebrate

 Festivals, music, exhibits, community events, and more are found at the Museum year round. Plan now to attend the annual Path Through History Weekend in June and the O Tannenbaum Holiday Showcase from November-December. Members also receive an invitation to exclusive events.

3. Indulge

The museum offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year for your enjoyment. Enjoy the Museum Gift Shop, where you can find a variety of souvenirs, including books published by local historians. Members and military members enjoy 10% off their purchases.

4. Benefit

Member benefits include the following, according to the level of contribution:

  • Subscription to our quarterly Newsletter
  • 10% off gift shop purchases
  • Unlimited use of the Research Center
  • Acknowledgement in print
  • Invitation to special events at the museum
  • Tax deductible donations

5. Support

Your support enables the Tioga County Historical Society to provide quality programs for children and adults, develop entertaining exhibits, maintain our buildings and grounds, and preserve our community’s culture and identity for future generations.

6. Connect

The heritage and modern vitality of Tioga County is alive throughout the year at the Tioga County Historical Society Museum. There are many ways to connect with us! Subscribe to our newsletter to receive museum news, or engage with us on social media using our Facebook and Twitter pages.

7. Ease

There are 5 easy ways to join TCHS!

  1. Call- (607)687-2460
  2. Click- tiogahistory.org/Site/MEMBERSHIP
  3. Mail- Form attached to Membership brochure
  4. E-mail- museum@tiogahistory.org
  5. Visit- 110 Front Street, Owego, NY 13827

-Staci Becker, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

The Short Literary Career of Owego’s Mary P. Chase

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, the women’s rights movement occurred in the United States. A major goal of this movement was to receive universal suffrage. However, the movement also sought to make the political, social, and economic status of women, equal to that of men. In honor of that struggle, the month of March was named Women’s History Month. TCHS would like to celebrate by highlighting the story of an African American woman from Tioga County, Owego’s Mary P. Chase.

Mary P. Chase was born in Louisiana around 1871. After marrying Owego resident Enoch J. Chase, they settled at 263 Prospect St., in Owego. Mary worked as a seamstress, and eventually opened her shop. However, dressmaking was not the only endeavor Mary Chase took on.

Sometime before 1906, Mary Chase wrote a fascinating story about an African American woman named Marjorie Ellsworth. The story would have been quite controversial, due to its content. The plot of the story takes place before and during the Civil War, and touches on the subject of the abolition of slavery. The story centers around two women, Estelle and Marjorie Ellsworth. Marjorie is the illegitimate daughter of Joseph Pugh, a plantation owner in Louisiana. Her mother is a “mulatto” slave in his employ. She is very light skinned, and her father wishes for her to be “tenderly raised and educated.” Marjorie is adopted by Joseph’s sister, Estelle, and her husband Lawrence Ellsworth, and move north.

Estelle’s story is interesting as well. It is stated that she and her brother Joseph were orphans “with vast wealth”, cared for by the Mason’s, life-long friends of the family who lived on an adjoining plantation. The Pugh and Mason children grew up together. Robert Mason fell in love and proposed to Estelle, “and being refused, swore vengeance.” This caused a falling out amongst the families.

Years later, Marjorie Ellsworth receives an education abroad, and returns to America, where she meets Lionel Carew, the grandson of Robert Mason, Sr. They marry, uniting the two families once again.

The story is fascinating and controversial for its time period. Not only does the plot tell the story of two women, one being a woman of color, but an interracial marriage takes place. Unfortunately, Mary Chase’s story was never published. One publisher, the M.W. Hazen Co., writes that although there is a “foundation for a good story” there is no “present demand” for it. Mary P. Chase was simply ahead of her time.

Mary Chase Rejection Letter

Although Mary Chase’s story never came to fruition, it remains an amazing piece of local history. This inspirational African American woman defied the odds, entering a college to master the art of dressmaking, opening her own shop, and of course, providing social commentary through her story. Mary Chase was also an active and respected member of her community,and a member of the AME Church in Owego. TCHS is proud to tell the story of Mary P. Chase in honor of African American History Month, and Women’s History Month.

Marjorie Ellsworth Page 1

Find out more information about Mary Chase’s life in Owego, including how she received a diploma in dressmaking (and opened her own shop) by reading TCHS’s Spring Newsletter! To subscribe to the newsletter, e-mail sbecker@tiogahistory.org.

As always, please leave your comments and/or questions in the comment section. Thank you for reading!