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Jenny Afloat

April 2024
1min read

In chronicling the Jenny Lindomania that gripped America during the soprano’s triumphal U.S. tour in 1850-51 (our October, 1977, issue), we featured an array of colorful period objects—from fans and paper dolls to five-cent cigarsadorned with her name and face.

Now reader Anthony Peluso of Yonkers, New York, reminds us of another, grander tribute to the Swedish Nightingale. In August, 1851, Jenny and her entourage slipped aboard Captain Albert DeGroot’s Hudson River steamboat, the Reindeer , supposedly incognito. But according to the Democratic Journal of Kingston, New York, the other passengers immediately recognized her: “The excitement was very great, and for a part of the passage Capt. DeGroot tendered her his private saloon. … In grateful appreciation of the courtesies extended to her, Jenny Lind, upon her arrival at Albany, presented Capt. DeGroot with an elegant diamond breast pin.”

Smitten by Jenny, as so many other men had been, DeGroot named one of the finest vessels in his fleet for her, and had its paddle box decorated with her curiously grim countenance. This view of the vessel was drawn by the captain’s brother-inlaw, James Bard, who is the subject of Mr. Peluso’s recent book, J & J Bard Picture Painters (Hudson River Press, 1977). The author says the book is the “result of a love affair” with Bard’s work that began after he read Oliver Jensen’s article “Side-Wheels and Walking Beams” in our August, 1961, issue.

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