Tuesday, April 1, 2008

These Things Happen (or What Theodosia Burr Alston Has To Do With Researching Nineteenth Century Baseball In St. Louis)

The records of the Cyclone Club were destroyed in the burning of M.W. Alexander's drug store, those of the Union and Empire also became destroyed or lost, so that it has proven an impossibility to find the scores of games during the years of the war, which period the games of the Empire Club were mostly among the club members.
-E.H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, November 2, 1895

When I read this the first thing I thought of was Aaron Burr's daughter.

Several years ago, I was researching Burr's western landholdings and was searching for his business records from the 1805-1807 period. However, after Burr left for Europe in 1808 following his acquittal on charges of treason, his business records were left in the hands of his daughter Theodosia Burr Alston (pictured above), who acted as Burr's agent in America while he was overseas. In 1812, Burr returned to the United States and Theodosia, who was living in South Carolina, planned to join her father in New York. The ship that was carrying Theodosia to New York was lost at sea and it is assumed that all of Burr's business records went down with the ship.

The point is that we're not going to find all the information and records and sources that we want and need. It's an impossibility. As researchers and historians, we have to make do with what we have while, at the same time, continuing to dig for more information that may or may not ever come to light. It's just the nature of things.

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