Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shall We Dance Greenwich?

Last week I discussed the Union Village Academy & it's founder & first principal James I. Laurie. This post is about his sister Mary Lourie Mattoon & her connection to a movie musical.

Mary Lourie was the granddaughter of James Irvine, the 1st supervisor of the Town of Jackson, and the daughter of George Lourie, officer in the War of 1812, which is currently celebrating its bicentennial. Her other brother Thomas B. Lourie was a local farmer. In June 1846 she married missionary Stephen Mattoon & they sailed for Siam (now Thailand) that July.

Stephen was the 1st US Consul in Bangkok from 1856-1859. Then he served as pastor of the First Church of Bangkok from 1860-1866. During this time he was engaged in translating the New Testament into Siamese & did not return to the US until the completion of this project in 1866.

During her time in Siam, Mary was involved in teaching the local girls English & how to become good Christians. She gave birth to one boy, Lourie (1850) who died in infancy, & two girls, Mary (1854) & Emma (1857). The Mattoon's also adopted a Siamese girl the called Esther. The family, minus Stephen, returned home in 1864 due to Mary's (mother, not daughter) poor health.

The family lived in Ballston Spa in Saratoga County, NY for a few years until Stephen took a position in North Carolina. The Mattoon family reocrds are held at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia.

The Mattoon's were in Siam at the same time Anna Leonowens was teacher to the Siamese Court (1862-1867). Mary Mattoon is a minor character in the King and I a musical adaptation of Mary Landon's 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam. I love musicals & will gladly give the King and I another viewing to catch Mary Lourie Mattoon!

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