Thursday, October 06, 2011

Preserved Fish

I don't know if I believe this, because I've read a few accounts of the life and times of the early NYC financier who was one of the founders of The Bank Of America, Preserved Fish. Yes, he was supposedly a Quaker, but a scoundrel and social lion of Early 19th Century business and society. I had recently read an account of his life, which claimed he was named because he was found floating in a fish box off the coast of Nantucket Island and then adopted. He is buried in the Marble Cemetery on  East Second Street which vestigially still exists between First and Second Avenues in Manhattans Lower East Side. For the record, the account of Preserved Fish's miraculous rescue was recounted in  The Epic Of New York City, by Edward Ross Ellis. After reading the account, and seeing his grave which was only a few blocks from where I lived for 25 years, my friend, Elmer Lang and I composed this piece of music. The drummer is Ray Sage, I play the bass, the guitarist is Billy Cote and Elmer gives the dramatic recitation. 
Imagine my disillusion ment when I read this account of Preserved Fish and his illustrious name:
The president of New York’s Tradesman’s Bank in 1829 was named Preserved Fish. The Fishes were a well-established New England family, and Preserved was a Quaker name that meant “preserved in a state of grace” or “preserved from sin.”
“The story that Preserved Fish was picked up on the shore of the ocean when a child, and named Preserved in consequence, is pure fiction,” reads a rather humorless 1890 history of the New York Chamber of Commerce. “His father’s name was Preserved, and it is highly probable that the same name was given to the son, in order to perpetuate it in the family.”


squatlo said...

You guys rocked! Seriously good cookin', well done by all involved!

microdot said...

a hard core history lesson! this band did walk the line, spoken word performance and real music...we did this live, but the origin was Elmer performing at St. Marks on The Bowery,then he would pull out a guitar and I would be in the audience insulting his playing and he would "challenge" me to do I would and then we did a set of accoustic guitar versions of the songs..a few months was a full band.