Maria Rogers of Bedford
A Young Woman's Life in Early Nineteenth Century New York State
Bedford Historical Society
Exhibit Overview
A 19th Century Correspondence of Friendship
and Family
Letter dated December 6th, 1821
Susan Knapp to Maria Rogers

Letter dated September 17th, likely in 1824
Susan Knapp to Maria Rogers

Letter dated February 23, 1818
Benjamin Isaacs to Maria Rogers

A Shared Family History
Maternal Family Tree of Maria Rogers and
Susan Knapp

Of Portraits, Porcelain, and Places
Artifacts Associated with Maria Rogers' Family
The exhibit Maria Rogers of Bedford: A Young Woman's Life in Early Nineteenth Century New York State provides an introduction to a collection of letters and artifacts held by the Bedford Historical Society which pertain to the Maria Rogers-Ambler family of Bedford. The document collection comprises over forty exchanges written to Maria Rogers between about 1816 and 1827 from her older cousin by two years, Susan Knapp of Greenwich, Connecticut, with a few additional letters from other family members. The intimacies, social gossip, and daily realities which Susan shared with Maria offer a rare look into the concerns, interests, and routines of young upper middleclass women during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. On a broader scale, the letters provide insight into many aspects of early American social history such as the development of the Erie Canal, importance of etiquette, impact of Second Great Awakening, and emergence of tourism. For the documents and artifacts displayed, labels and background information minimize interpretation to encourage a pure and uncomplicated visual and educational experience. Researchers interested in further detail or access to the collection should contact Bedford Historical Society.

The letters cover much of Maria's maidenhood, the post-War of 1812 "Good Feelings" era, when American nationalism grew and the country united under one political party. The exchanges provide some information about Maria in this period. However Maria's life spread across eighty-three years, witnessing in American history the rise and fall of Federalism, Jacksonian America, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Although less is known about Maria in the years before and after the letters, ongoing research by Bedford Historical Society provides some illumination.

Born in 1798 to Sarah and Joseph Rogers, Maria spent much of her adult life in Bedford after coming to live with her widowed maternal uncle, Benjamin Isaacs, around 1815. Maria came from a politically prominent, upper middleclass family with ties to New York and Connecticut. Benjamin Isaacs served as a judge in Bedford, a Westchester assemblyman, treasurer for St. Matthews church, and trustee of the Bedford Academy while overseeing a modest farm and local store. Another uncle, "Jed", was a member of the Cincinati who attended a much socially covetted gala for Layfette in 1824 and thereafter followed the General to Albany, New York. Maria's maternal grandfather, Captain Benjamin Isaacs, was a successful businessman, founding member
of the Norwalk, Connecticut Masons, and owner of a large Federal style home. After Captain Isaacs' death, Maria's grandmother, Sarah Isaacs, married David Bush, owner of a lucrative gristmill in Greenwich. Although surrounded by moderate wealth and prominence, the young Maria likely endured some economic hardship. Her father, Joseph Rogers, faced bankruptcy in the late eighteenth century and creditor problems shortly before his death around 1819. Maria lived with Benjamin Isaacs for about ten years before her marriage in 1827 to Joseph Ambler of Bedford. On her uncle's death, Joseph Ambler purchased Benjamin Isaacs' house where he and Maria lived until their respective deaths in 1876 and 1881.

The section A 19th Century Correspondence of Friendship and Family offers three letters found in the Maria Rogers-Ambler collection. Of the two exchanges written by Susan Knapp to Maria, one details her trip to Saratoga Springs, anguish over her grandmother's death, and concern for appropriate etiquette during mourning. The second reveals Susan's thoughts as she dealt with the loss of her sister and a female friend. The last letter, written By Benjamin Isaacs, contains a brief summary of his mid-winter trip to Albany as well as his response to Maria's apparent inquiry on her grandfather's willingness to help her father financially. The display A Shared Family History presents the common Rogers and Knapp genealogy through an interactive family tree, while Of Portraits, Porcelain, and Places is a photographic exhibit of artifacts and buildings connected to Maria Rogers.
Bedford Historical
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Bedford Historical