James New- The Same Old Story.

This is a very old story, but with a new twist. The central character in this old story is an English-born Greenpointer James New. When New was young, or should we say new, he and his newlywed wife, Mrs, New  came from England to Greenpoint. New knew that he could make a better life for himself on the other side of the Atlantic. Mrs. New thought that she could trust old New for she knew no better.

New arrived in Greenpoint in 1850 when the place was really quite new.  Greenpoint was very much a village then with a a few hundred people. The Eagle’s 1888 article said that the New couple were  “Rosy cheeked and handsome specimens of English yeomanry, socially inclined and possessed of enough ready money to enable the husband to provide comfortably for their household.” The article also that New had that old English fondness for horses and made money trading in horses. New set up the first stage-coach in Greenpoint, a line that ran to Williamsburg and then on to the Fulton ferry. The article states  that Mrs. New set up a house that was a bower of roses, vines and shrubs and inside the house was one of hospitality and comfort. The New house must have looked like an old English cottage.  It seemed that New and his partner were destined for financial success because of their new stage-coach venture, but few people knew the real news about New.

Poor old Mrs. New knew New often in the biblical sense and  had five kids with old New. Their house must constantly have been filled with ( Yes, you guessed it! with the cries of newborns!) Suddenly in 1852 the New family was rocked by horrible news. That old blaggard New, left one day and did not come back to the family. No one knew what happened to New and there was no news from New. It seemed ,though, that New had found somebody new. He and a young woman, who also had a few children of her own, ran off together to start a new life somewhere new. There were other stories about old New saying that he had run up a huge amount of debt and was fleeing his creditors.  All in Greenpoint were now agreed on one truth. James  New was bad news! but, hey  who knew about New?

Poor old Mrs. New was left with five young kids and no news from New. Her new situation was really difficult because she had no money to look after the kids. The Daily Eagle says though that she faced this tough situation in the old English way. She showed ” Admirable courage, patience and industry.” But you have to wonder with so many News to feed and with no New perhaps in a moment of deep anger and frustration she said to herself” No news is good news.”

The New kids were good kids, unlike their old man New, and the News knew that they had to support their mother. They worked hard, became successful merchants and became pillars of their churches and communities, but they still never had any news of old New. Thirty-six years went by with nothing new from New. Then, suddenly in 1888, you guessed it, there was a new letter in the post box and what did it contain? News of old New! New declared that he knew not if the News were still there. The letter from old New made the family recall the hard times they knew, but fillial affections were such that responses were sent.

It seems that with New it was the same old biblical truth; Pride goeth before the fall. New was so vain that he could not face the shame associated with his inability to repay the  debts he had run up and like many in 1852 he heard the news about the California gold fields, so he went off to strike it rich.However, it is an old story in the gold fields. New never had any luck.  New claimed that he wanted to make money and quickly return to his family, but I am sure you know the old truth that men like old New are liars. The article says that as time went by it became harder and harder for New to write to his family and confess his absence from his paternal duties. Finally, he seems to have made a lot of money in the newly admitted state of Montana where he entered a new field and  became a cattle rancher.  Although New was new to ranching he finally started to make some money, but New knew that he had a responsibility to his wife and the other News to give them some news of his whereabouts.

The Eagle article mentions that he was on his way back home to see the news, but the “Coldest reception he will receive will be that of the woman he forsook so heartlessly and  has performed the task he imposed on her so nobly that his money will not obliterate the memory of her struggles with poverty.

What did Mrs. New say to old New? The Eagle did not say.

So that is how the story of how  the disappearance of old New ended.

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