A family hair wreath
A very special object regarding the De Clercq family in America is the hereby depicted ‘hair wreath’. It was made in 1852 by Harriet Kingsbury (1820-?), wife of Edwin D. Loomis. Not only did they live on a farm in Cazenovia, nearby the De Clercqs, she was also closely related to the De Clercq family. Her older sister Asenath Kingsbury was married to Hendrick de Clercq junior and their brother John Flavel Kingsbury was married to Julia de Clercq. Both were children of Hendrick de Clercq sr., the first De Clercq in America, who had died two years before.
The wreath decorated with flower shapes made of human hair was a popular 'art' in the 19th century. Sometimes wreaths were made as memorials for deceased relatives.
Harriets wreath was mostly made of living relatives. But some of the hairs were in fact of deceased children.
Harriet Kingsbury and Edwin Loomis were childless. By inheritance the wreath was passed on through the families Kingsbury and Mather and until recently it was in the possession of the now late Elsie Mather Morris.
In 1995-‘96 I was in correspondence with her Mrs. Morris and on Jan. 22, 1996 she sent me a letter, from which I cite the following:
Perhaps the following will be of interest to you.
This is a poor copy of a ‘hair wreath’. It was made in 1852 by Harriet Kingsbury, sister of John Flavel Kingsbury. The shape of the ‘flower’ on the wreath is formed by wire and hair wrapped around the wire. The hair, as I said, was obtained from members of the family.
With the wreath is a numbered chart corresponding to the names of those whose hair was used. Among them are many de Clercqs. I have listed them.
If you could see it, you would marvel at the intricate work involved. It is still in excellent condition. It is now in my possession. It will be passed on to a family member who will cherish it in a deep frame behind glass.
The de Clercqs whose hair is in used the wreath are:
- Martin de Clercq [= Mary?? > Mary Ledyard (1780-1869), widow of Hendrick de Clercq sr.]
- Alex de Clercq [= Alexander H. dC (1841-1913) x Sarah Kinning]
- Charles de Clercq [= Charles Augustus dC (1804-1862) x Fanny Sexton]
- Mr. & Mrs. Y. de Clercq [probably Youngs Ledyard dC (1802-1871) x Hannah Thorp]
- John F. de Clercq [= Jonathan Forman dC (1808-1810)]
- Lucretia de Clercq [= Hanna Lucretia dC (1840-?) x Robbert Allen]
- Carrie de Clercq [= Caroline Amelia dC (1839-1901) x Edmund A West]
- Mary de Clercq [= Mary Elizabeth dC (1842-1854)]
- Ledyard de Clercq [= Isaac Ledyard dC (1833-1913) x Celia Dupuis]
- Sarah de Clercq [= Sarah Louise dC (1829-1891)]
- Susan de Clercq [= Susan Rebecca dC (1831-1917) x John S. Conger]
- Mason de Clercq [= Arnold Mason dC (1835-1897) x Mary Ellis]
- Augustus de Clercq’s family [= Augustus Hervey dC (1828-1896) x Louisa Munro]
- Guisbert de Clercq’s family [= Gysbert dC (1826-1908) x Marion Savage]
- Henry, Helen & Julia de Clercq [= Henry (1833-1882), Helen (1804-1862) and Julia dC (1832-1916) x Alpheus Hendee]
- Hendrick jr., Elizabeth, Asenath [= Hendrick dC jr. (1813-1885), his wife Asenath Kingsbury (1815-1909) and their daughter Harriet Elisabeth dC (1843-1918) x Charles E. Bishop]
- Julia de Clercq Kingsbury [= Julia dC (1815-1906) x John F Kingsbury]
- Mary F. de Clercq [= Mary Forman dC (1806-1843)]
- Elisa de Clercq [= Elizabeth dC 1811-1844)]
- Rebecca Louisa de Clercq [= Rebecca dC (1817-1881) AND? Louisa dC (1820-1845)]
- Mr. & Mrs. Peter de Clercq [= Peter dC (1800-1873) x Laura Mason]
- Gilbert de Clercq [= Gilbert Coman dc (1846-1911)]
- Edwin de Clercq [= Edwin Loomis dC (1850-1895) x Lydia L Andrus; note that he was named after the husband of Harriet Kingsbury]
- Asenath de Clercq [= Asenath Kingsbury (1915-1909), wife of Hendrick dC jr.?]
There are many names of others I’ve not been able to identify.
They are no doubt married females of whom I have no records.