After taking a brief break for the holidays, my history podcast Second Decade, delving into the fascinating stories of the 1810s, has returned! The newest episode–the ninth, if you’re counting–finally checks off an item I’ve had on my historical bucket list for quite a while: the mysterious disappearance, and fascinating life, of Theodosia Burr Alston.
Second Decade is on iTunes, here; it’s on TuneIn, here; you can access it directly on the Libsyn page for it, here; or, perhaps the easiest way, click this link for an embedded player that will open in your browser.
In Episode 9: Theodosia, I profile one of the most remarkable women of the Early Republic period: Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of “fallen founder” Aaron Burr, and at the time of her disappearance in early 1813 the First Lady of the state of South Carolina. Six months after the death of her 10-year-old son, Theodosia was seen boarding a ship called the Patriot in a South Carolina harbor. She was never seen alive again. A host of legends and theories sprang up around the disappearance of the Patriot, some romantic stories involving pirates, and other legends about unidentified women who washed up on Atlantic shores in 1813. Theodosia’s disappearance is connected to the provenance of a mysterious painting that was found by a doctor in Nag’s Head, North Carolina in 1869, depicting a beautiful young woman that is said to be Theodoria. Is it her? And if so, how did the painting get there, and can it tell us anything about what happened to her? This is one of the most mysterious and fun episodes of the podcast so far.
Longtime readers of this blog may recognize a familiar name that crops up in Episode 9: Edward Rowe Snow, Massachusetts popular historian who was active in the mid-20th century, collecting nautical tales of coastal history in a lengthy series of books. In the summer of 2015 I did a series of blogs presenting some of Snow’s more fascinating tales, like the one on Dighton Rock or the historically questionable (translate: made-up) tale of Civil War amnesia. As it turned out, Snow tackled the mysteries of the Theodosia Burr case in one of his books, and did some detective work specifically on the Nag’s Head portrait. Incidentally, you’ll notice instantly that the Nag’s Head portrait, which I believe to be of Theodosia Burr Alston, is part of the permanent image collage for Second Decade podcast.
Support for Second Decade continues to grow. It’d be a great help, if you like the show, to recommend it to others–rating and leaving a positive comment on iTunes would be especially helpful. Thanks to all the listeners and fans!