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Ruth Henshaw Miles Bascom loved children. Although she never had any of her own, children held an attraction for her that was reflected in her interest in their education and well-being. Ultimately they also became a major focus of her art. Of her 185 known extant profiles more than one-third are of young people. Ruth Henshaw was born in Leicester, Massachusetts, on December 15, 1772. She became, in later life, a pastellist of unique life-size or nearly life-size bust profiles on paper. Among Mrs. Bascom's ancestors and kin were several whose names have been immortalized as American patriots — Governors Increase Sumner and Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, Honorable John Alden, General Artemas Ward, and Presidents John and John Quincy Adams, to mention a few. Of even greater relevance were her Henshaw forebears who played prominent roles in colonial and early America. The Henshaws from Shrewsbury, Leicester and Boston were members of a voluntary association linked to the General Court in Boston, whose goal was to obtain and uphold certain rights and privileges for the colonists before the American Revolution. Ruth's father, William Henshaw,'.2 a key figure within that group, is also credited with the mobilization and leadership of the Minute Men from Worcester County. Colonel Henshaw had a close military association with General George Washington during the Revolutionary War battles at Flatbush, White Plains and Trenton. Those ventures, and her father's resultant absences from home, must have made a lasting impression on young Ruth, whose formative years were concurrent with many of these events. Nonetheless Mrs. Bascom's recollections suggest a happy childhood in a bucolic home town. Leicester is located on the outskirts of Worcester, 45 miles west of Boston. The village was known informally to its early residents as Strawberry Hill because of the abundance of berries that grew there. To go "a-rasburyine "achestnuting" or to partake of"a feast of peaches" were among the pleasurable

Ruth Renshaw. Bascom A Youthful Viewpoint by Lois S. Avigad pastimes that Leicester provided. Long after she moved away, Ruth Henshaw's "Green Valley;' the part of town where her family's home stood, remained close to her heart. During one visit there she nostalgically wrote: "...Mr. Samuel Waite and his train of men gathering the hay in meadow where we children have so often resorted after strawberries — lilies & c & c — days gone by — never to return. 'There's the rock, the hill, the stream 0'tis like a pleasant dream — "" Ruth Henshaw grew up with two older half-sisters from her father's first marriage to Ruth Sargeant, for whom she was named. As the oldest of the ten

children born to Col. William and Phebe (Swan) Henshaw, his second wife, Ruth had ample opportunity to welcome the arrival of many new members to the congenial family atmosphere of which she was an integral part. The growing Henshaw family was the core of Ruth's youthful social life in Leicester and the hosts during her sojourns to Shrewsbury, Boston, and Norfolk, Virginia. In later years her family formed an important part of the network which provided her with sitters for her profiles, as well as bed and board during her visits. In 1789, at the age of 16, Ruth Henshaw began to keep a daily Diary° which she continued with uncommon

Fanny Goodnow Parmenter; 1829; Pastel and pencil on paper, ribbon, cut out in three pieces; 3 4 x 145/x" (sight); Collection of Goodnow 18/ Library, Sudbury, MA. Fanny Goodnow Parmenter was born January 14, 1803 in Springfield, Vermont to Noah and Lydia (Jones) Parmenter. Her parents were natives of Sudbury, Massachusetts where they were married in 1802 before joining Noah's brother, Oliver, in Springfield. In the summer of 1829 Fanny was staying in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts with the family of her first cousin, Mr. Dexter Fairbank, son of her Aunt Bridget(Parmenter) Fairbank. At that time Ruth Bascom was spending a few days nearby at the home ofafriend. The artist was engaged to draw Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks profiles, and also made one of Fanny. Mrs. Bascom noted working on Fanny's portrait three times until,finally satisfied, she wrote: "June 20, 1829 'I finished for 2' time Fanny Parminter's (sic) picture, received $2.25 for glass and picture, put a real ribbon around the neck &c. she present:" On May 3, 1835 Fanny married Charles Parmenter(1802-1871), a distant cousin, who was afarmer in Sudbury. They had two daughters and four sons,one ofwhom was killed in the Civil War. Fanny died ofdiabetes on November 19, 1876.

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The Clarion (Fall 1987)  

Ruth Henshaw Bascom: A Youthful Viewpoint • Another Face of the Diamond: Black Traditional Art from the Deep South • Objects and Origins: Th...

The Clarion (Fall 1987)  

Ruth Henshaw Bascom: A Youthful Viewpoint • Another Face of the Diamond: Black Traditional Art from the Deep South • Objects and Origins: Th...