The real subject of this post, anyway, is James Madison Alden. He was first married to Charlotte Elizabeth Bowie. That (might!) make him the husband of my 3rd cousin, 6x removed. James led a neat life, at least in his early years. He joined the Navy and began work on the west coast of the United States in 1854, when just 20 years old, as an artist / cartographer for the U.S. Boundary Commission. He spent his days drawing the views before him. Here is one of my favorites, dated 1858:
Fraser's [sic] River Camp
James Madison Alden
Though I know what's "pretty" to me, I'm no art critic. So I'll let Katherine Church Holland of the California Historical Society* eloquently describe the work of James Madison Alden.
James Madison Alden's quick sketches convey the working methods of an artist recording cogent facts about a newly discovered landscape. His finished works attest to the powers of his sense of color, innate appreciation of form and skilled handling of the watercolor medium. Through his eyes, through his strokes, the landscape of the western edge of North America -- vistas of sea and land -- becomes a reality.
|Slight enhancement of original by Loretta Castaldi at FindAGrave.|
Deaths.Though I'm thrilled with the information, it also elicited a sigh. I've been to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia more than once. Had I known then, I sure would have liked to visit with Lieut. James Madison Alden.
ALDEN, At Orlando, Fla., May 10, 1922, JAMES MADISON ALDEN, late lieutenant, U.S.N., in the 88th year of his age. Interment at Arlington.
[*The page on the California Historical Society website on which I found Ms. Holland's article, no longer exists. It was titled "Past Exhibitions: James Madison Alden, Watercolors & Drawings", and the address was http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/exhibits/past_exhibits/james_alden/index.html. You can view it using the Wayback Machine.]