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Laurent Packs His Wedding Party

Updated: Jan 24

I just really enjoy it when we are able to find new pieces of Laurent Clerc history out there. This week it had to do with Laurent's wedding to Eliza Crocker Boardman in Cohoes-ville, NY in May 1819.

No, they did not have Elizabeth Victoria out of wedlock. This painting was done 3 years later by Charles Willson Peale.

The soon to be couple had arranged to have their ceremony at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Prescott. These were Eliza's aunt and uncle. Benjamin was a heavy hitter in the Albany area and probably is best known for designing and building the Albany Waterworks.

Cohoes-ville was not that far from where Eliza was raised in Bennington, VT.

Well, this was going to be a party and Laurent wished to have his friends around him. Of course his family was all in France and unable to make the 20-50 trip over the Atlantic Ocean to attend. Also, his best friend at the time Thomas Gallaudet refused to attend the wedding as he felt that Deaf couple should not take the matrimonial plunge and have children that might be Deaf. What is there to say about that. And Thomas goes off and later marries a Deaf woman, Sophia Fowler. Need we say more.

But there is this young Albany, NY lawyer with the odd first name, Harmanus Bleecker. Four years younger than Laurent and an original "subscription" donor ($15 or $345.95 today) to the Hartford Asylum that happens to be nearby. So Laurent decides to invite him to his wedding and sends him a letter on April 30, 1816.

It is important that the couple pack the wedding party with handsome and eligible guys for some colonial matchmaking. However, Harmanus appeared to love the law more than dating and married late. But first Laurent has to get him there and therefore he sends him this letter.:

As you can see on the letter the perforated letters, NYSL. This is of course where Laurent's letter has sat for so many years. A routine check of Harmanus' name along with Laurent's name flagged this letter in the possession of the New York State Library. They were very kind and cooperative and allowed us to add another piece to the puzzle that is Laurent's life.

Laurent Clerc Holt

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