Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Viewing the Packers

Rearview of the Packer Mansion from the same terrace as the 1888 picture.
The Harry Packer Mansion as seen from Kemmerer Park, Jim Thorpe PA.
The Harry Packer mansion is alive and well thanks to the efforts of the Handwerk family.  Murder Mystery Weekends, Winetasting, Libations Lounge and of course the Bed and Breakfast facilities are currently managed by Taylor and Kristen Handwerk.  The Libations Lounge is open on weekends and any time you see the "Open" flag out front.  You don't have to be a guest to select from the wine list and enjoy a relaxing time and the cool mountain breezes on the ivy-covered veranda.  (Check out the Handwerk's website at: The Harry Packer Mansion)

I am grateful to them for their hospitality as I research this curious picture passed down from the James Exel estate.  James was the butler Harry Packer met after eating a fine dinner in a London Hotel.  In less than a year, Harry was dead.  Having no biological children of his own, his wife Mary Augusta, Gussie, went on to adopt Hazel who was born November 11, 1885. 

The black and white picture below was said to be taken at Hazel's 3rd Birthday party.  It looks like it was taken behind the mansion, however the leaves look too full to be November.  What also strikes me about the photo, is the proximity of Exel to Gussie, as they raise their glasses toward Hazel.

Perhaps the photo marks the some other milestone, maybe a send off to one of the staff.  James did leave from his employ when he married in 1890, setting up house one door up the street.  James was also adept at playing the zither as you can see it propped next to Hazel.
Harry died due to complications of Bright's Disease on February 1st 1884.  James' wife Fredia dies in the spring of 1910.  Mary Augusta died on a world-tour, in Peking China in the spring of 1911.  James dies in March of 1917.  

(You can find a more detailed timeline at the following blogpost: The Lady and the Butler at Cultured Carbon

November 1888? - Joanne Connor 34 year old Irish servant, Hazel, Maria Hester, 60, "Chamber Maid", Exel, and "Gussie."
James Exel's passport application while accompanying Gussie
and Hazel on a trip abroad in 1889.

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