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MARGARET ANNA MOTT (1903-1938)

C. Albro Newton

 

 

Margaret Anna Mott was born February 7, 1903 in Warren, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Isaac Henry Mott and Catherine Henegar Mott. The family moved to 105 Chandler Street, Jamestown, New York in time for Margaret to enroll as a Junior in Jamestown High School. She had been attending the Warren Conservatory of Music as a piano student of Dr. Leroy Campbell and a voice student of A. J. Monney. From Jamestown, she continued her musical studies and graduated from Warren Conservatory the same year as J.H.S. - 1921.

Everyone called her “Polly” in J.H.S. On the first day of her Senior year, Polly watched a new boy ease into Laura Freck’s homeroom.  As she tossed her natural brown curls, she threw him a flirtatious smile. He, C. Albro (Clarence Albro Newton), responded with two bulging eyes and a tied tongue. Five minutes later, he felt at home - and so the school year started.

In spite of Polly’s great popularity with both the girls and boys, she saw something in Albro that intrigued her. Her diary of those days revealed many years later that with him (Albro) she didn't have to put on a big act. She could wave off the mask of flirtation that covered her gloomy thoughts of an early death (her doctor had told her so). Albro was a security blanket companion. He also danced well, liked music, wrote poems and could properly pronounce Wagner (his three years of German was paying off).

On New Years Eve, the friendship of Polly and Albro bubbled over into a mutual declaration of love - serious, well considered love. Marriage, they believed, would be possible in ten years. Then Albro would be well established in a post-college career and Polly would be established as a concert pianist.

Margaret studied in Europe in 1925 with Tobias Mathey in piano and Wanda Landowska in harpsichord. Albro was in college at that time.

The 1920’s slipped by according to plan but it was hard to be apart. By April 11, 1928, they could wait no longer. They married in her parents home in the same room they had made their New Years Eve commitment. They would still be apart, however, until fall of 1929.

In the fall of 1929, Albro and Margaret moved into a part of a rented house in Cleveland, New York. He would be the new school principal and she might pick up a few piano students. Just the two of them lived all by themselves from August until Thanksgiving of 1929. Then they were joined by Margaret's parents - this arrangement would last for ten years.

During the two years at Cleveland, Margaret realized her concert days were but a dream with little hope of fulfillment. Perhaps she thought of a different goal - a baby - healthwise it was a long chance.

July 1931 was extremely hot as Albro, Margaret's father and mother, and a very uncomfortable Margaret moved to Elbridge, New York. There, Albro would be principal of a larger school. It seemed hot for the next three months for the pregnant Margaret as she was whisked from one doctor to another and everyone worried, but on October 3rd, Margaret safely gave birth to Albro Mott Newton.

In spite of her motherly joy, Margaret underwent a rough first year with baby Mott. Albro's father died suddenly, Mrs. Mott and Margaret were in a bad auto accident.

At this time, the Great Depression really clamped down on everyone. After one more year in Elbridge, Albro accepted the principalship at Celeron (adjacent to Jamestown).  This move would bring the entire family closer to their friends and kin.

During the three years at Celeron, life treated Margaret more to her accustomed style. C. Albro recalls that Margaret was a very good mother. She was always animated and smiling as she fussed over Mott. When he was ill, she would bubble over with personality as she tried to comfort her son. She would sing cute little French songs. Her son was growing and happy. She was near her old classmates. She resumed piano teaching both in Jamestown and the Warren Conservatory. There were long days, but she was balancing the duties of wife, mother and piano teacher. She even found time for a trip with Albro to Quebec Province and the art galleries of Washington. But within her burned the great desire for a musical outlet of significance. Carefully, she planned a new venture.

Margaret always wanted to do concert tours and, by 1936, had a repertoire of 35 master level piano selections. Due to her health, her marriage and the circumstances of her parents, she never performed except occasional numbers. She was an enthusiastic teacher of piano and, frequently, an accompanist for voice and strings. Following her marriage, she used the name Margaret Mott Newton.

In addition to her passion for music, she showed great interest in the visual and performing arts. Herself a perfectionist - she excitedly enjoyed the quality of performance or graphic arts of others.

During September 1937, Margaret unified her interest in both teaching and performing into a unique whole. She was the creator and Director of a cooperative teaching and recital center known as Fine Arts House in Jamestown, New York. The mansion of the late Colonel Endress was rented and equipped with teaching studios and a recital hall.  A staff of twelve teachers utilized the facilities for one year.

From a cultural standpoint and as an outlet for her enthusiasm and interest, the project was a great success. Financially, the operational expenses were greater than the income. During the one year of Fine Arts House, the arduous work of Margaret paid a severe setback to her already impaired health. She had been the spark that ignited the project into a dynamic cultural enterprise. That spark went out with her untimely death at age 34. With her leadership, Fine Arts House was showing a financial loss - without it, no one else dared to carry on. Sadly, the teachers decided to end the project.

In addition to teaching, joint recitals and art displays, Fine Arts House was utilized for two family occasions: Myron Lyman Newton married Gladys Marvell at the facility and the funeral of Margaret was conducted in her studio.

With a health problem since childhood, Margaret seems to have been denied success in a career she so badly wanted. However, against the advice of her doctor, she achieved a success highly prized by most women - she became the mother of a son, Albro Mott Newton.

 

 

Addendum:

 

     The 1930 U. S. New York Census for Oswego County, Cleveland Village (ED 38-5, p 4B) enumerated the 27 year-old Margaret with her husband, C. Albro, and her parents, Henry and Katherine Mott. Her occupation was as a music teacher.

     Margaret died on September 4, 1938 and was buried at the Sunset Hills Cemetery in Lakewood, New York. In the same plot is the marker of her son, Albro Mott Newton, who died in 1980.

    

Myron L. Newton, Jr.

March 2004