Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Isreal and Lucretia (Croscup) Delap

I had a couple of paintings catch my eye as I was walking through the O'Dell House Museum earlier today. These paintings, in their carved mahogany frames, grace the wall in the museum's Age of Sail in Annapolis County exhibit. Like many artifacts in this exhibit, they tell a local story on first glance. By looking a bit deeper, a much wider story opens up.

Isreal Lettney Delap was born to a seafaring family in Granville in 1841. As with many boys of his time, he grew up watching ships sail into the Annapolis Basin from ports all around the globe. These ships came loaded with sugar, coal, fine china, spices and countless other items. This was the community's connection to the world. At the age of 14, a young Isreal signed on as a cabin boy and began a life-long career at sea. A talented boy, he rose quickly in the ranks of the merchant fleets until he recieved his Master Mariner's certificate in 1867. This certificate is also on display at the O'Dell House Museum. Like any important document of its time, the certificate is printed on parchment; a paper like sheet made from calf skin. The certificate is still stored in its original leather case.

For much of his career, Captain Delap sailed for the fleet of Troop and Son of Saint John, New Brunswick. As Captain, he was permitted certain priviliges which other members of the crew were not. One of these privliges was to bring his wife, Lucretia Croscup, aboard the ship when they were sailing. In this capacity, it is claimed that Lucretia made 36 trans-Atlantic crossings during her life. The log book of the barque Crown Jewel contains recipes for "White Mountain Gelley Cake and "Superior Tea Rolls" in Lucretia's own handwriting.

Lucretia Croscup is perhaps most commonly known for her depiction in the famed Croscup Painted Parlour from Karsdale, Nova Scotia. In the painting she appears as a child held in her mothers arms on the wall of the parlour nearest the fireplace. There is a much longer story to tell about the Painted Parlour but that will wait for a future post. For those who would like to see the painted parlour, it has become an installation at the National Gallery of Canada.

In 1884, the logbook of the Missletoe details a reunion between the Delaps and his brother Captain Stephen Parker Delap in Uruguay. The two vessels came alongside each other in the crowded port of Montevideo. After a joyful reunion, the families landed and had a picnic in the lush countryside.

After a year long voyage to Java and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1891, Captain Delap returned to Granville and entered the shipbuilding business. He took the first ship that he and his partners built, the Bartholdi, on her maiden voyage. It was on this trip that he caught yellow fever and died off the coast of Africa on December 24, 1891. Lucretia outlived her husband and died in 1906.

All for now,
RGS

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