Family Time In Philadelphia

Sun 3/5/2006

I headed down to Philadelphia this weekend to hang out with my family. I know I say this EVERY time I leave New York, but it felt really great to get out of the city. Philadelphia seemed so quiet and clean and very spread out and wide-open compared to New York.

My Mom had been staying in Virginia with her parents, so she took the train up and my Dad flew out from Seattle. We all met at my sister Galen's kindergarden classroom (shown here). I guess I just missed it by about an hour, but her class interviewed my Mom and Dad, which sounded pretty hillarious. A little girl asked my mom, "What's your favorite color?" and when my mom said "Blue" the girl GASPED and said, "That's MY favorite color too!!!" :)

We got to hang out with my grandmother a bit which was nice and then on Saturday we hung out with five of next generation of Longstreths (and Goodwins and Others, etc.) most of which were like two or three. Almost all of my 13 cousins have children now, which is pretty crazy. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of them to show here because I was too busy building forts, talking on prentend phones, playing with blocks, setting up domino snakes, building tunnels for cars and transformers, doing magic tricks, etc. etc. It's been a REALLY long time since I got to hang out with some leetle guys and it sure was fun. Man, I want to have kids some day...

One of the coolest things from my trip was that I took some photos of a comic book (of sorts) that my Great Grandfather, John Claghorn, drew back in 1935. It documents a camping trip that he took with his friends and family up to Lake Kedgewick. I've posted the photos over in the Comics section if people want to check it out. See? Drawing with ink is in my BLOOD!

2015 UPDATE: This blog entry has somehow turned into the #1 place on the internet for people looking for more information about John Claghorn, and the current value of his paintings. I only met my great-grandfather once, when I was about 6 years old and don't know much about him, other than the fact that he created hundreds (if not THOUSANDS) of watercolor paintings in his lifetime. I AM NOT AN ART APPRAISER AND DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH HIS PAINTINGS ARE WORTH, IF ANYTHING. I am also not interested in buying any of his paintings - each member of my family has at least one of his paintings, so we are all set. Please do not ask me to appraise or buy your John Claghorn paintings. At this point, everything I know about my great-grandfather is listed in the comments below. Thank you.

35 comments on this entry

Your great grandfather's drawings are priceless. That is a true treasure you have there, and now you have it digitally preserved too. He draws wonderfully... and I would think by looking at the style he was a fan of the comics at the time? Curious how he omits the eyes in some there a story there? Looking through the book is a great connection to that particular time. Do you think he dug Frank King?

Cam Chesney Mar06

Yeah, I thought the "eyeless" thing was a little strange too. I don't really know if he read the Comics back then (but MOST people did, so I'm sure he would have). He was actually more of a painter than a cartoonist. He did thousands of huge watercolor paintings in his lifetime, many of which are on the walls of my family's house and all of my aunt's and uncle's and cousin's and grandparent's houses too.

I only met him once, when I was very young, right before he died. He was bed-ridden, but had still worked out a system (with periscoped glasses), so that he could lie flat in bed, but still paint.

Alec Mar06

I can only imagine what it would be like to find something like that created by my grandpa. That is beyond cool, man.

What a cool way to remember a trip.

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed the illustrations/travelogue that your gramps did, and it's great that you uploaded those issues of Phase 7...I stayed up all night earlier in the week reading them...I couldn't stop.
Also, your school assignments are looking really nice, your inking skills look masterful to me.

Ajani Mar10

Wandered into your blog searching for the branch of the Philadelphia Strawbridge family that built a vacation home in Southern Pines, NC in 1927. One candidate seems to be John W. Claghorn? We are making the NC property a 1920's/30's period inn, and highlighting the property's past, which included bandleader Glenn Miller and a list of famour golfers, among them Ben Hogan. Looking desperately for the Strawbridge connection, any photos of that era that may stil exist, etc.

Bruce & Laura Spader Aug25

Bruce & Laura-
I don't know about a vacation home in Southern Pines, but my grandmother was a Strawbridge from Philadelphia. And the 1935 Drawings mentioned above were done by my great-grandfather, John Claghorn.

I'll forward your email address to my relatives in Philly and maybe they'll be able to help you out. Good luck!

Alec Aug25

I am looking for information about an artist J Claghorn. His paintings are absolutely beautiful water colors. I believe his name was John but my father always thought it was James. I have two paintings, my sister has two and my brother has one. I can spot a Claghorn anywhere -- they are so lovely; soft colors. I do not believe he is your great grandfather but I wonder if you could give me some info. I believe J Claghorn was from southern Maryland or Virginia (purely a guess on my part as I know nothing about J Claghorn.) Thank you. JW

Jane White Sep04

I'm pretty sure that you ARE talking about my Great Grandfather. Although I posted some of his cartooning work from 1935, he made his living painting watercolor painting. Our whole family (and all of our extended family) have dozens of his paintings on all their walls. He was very prolific and loved to paint landscapes, birds, trees, deer, The Valley Green and other areas from his hometown of Philadelphia and from vacation spots up in the Poconos.

Alec Sep04

Hi Alec, we have just discovered your website. I am your father's first cousin and the son of John W. Claghorn, Jr. You did give Jane White the correct answer about my grandfather's paintings! Although there was a James Claghorn who was a painter, but surely she is referring to John Claghorn.Come visit us. John W. Claghorn, III

John and Peg Claghorn Feb03

I purchased 2 water colors from John W. Claghorn - a 1966 woods and stream scene and a 1974 camouflage bird in the woods. They are treasures to me. I first saw his works in a private pocono preserve community which friends owned. They had displayed some of his work in their cabin. They said he was a neighbor there and we went over and I bought the 2 I own.

carol shurman Apr18

Carol - Cool! My parents have a bunch of my great-grandfather's paintings up in their house. It was really neat growing up in a home with art by a relative. I definitely think it is one of the reasons I became an artist!

Alec Apr22

Hello Alec,
I also have one of your Great Grandfathers paintings from 1953. I am 58 yrs old and this painting hung in my parents living room since I was a child. It's signed John Claghorn 1953. Also on the back is written "Null Valley Farm Califorina, March 1953.
I would love to know more about you Grandfather.

John Plumley Oct11

I am another person who owns a John W. Claghorn painting.
Mine was purchased in Phila. at the Newman Gallery probably around 1978 or 79. It is a watercolor of Washington's Headquarters in Valley Forge and is dated 1971. How long did he live? He must have been very old when he painted it if he was your GREAT grandfather. What is unusual about the painting is that the whole piece was painted crooked. This was discovered when I had the painting framed. When I was at the Gallery, I also saw one of his paintings of "Valley Green" . Unfortunately, I could only afford to buy one. I've been trying to determine my painting's value for quite some time, so when I saw your blog and your name -- Longstreth, I knew I hit the right person, as Longstreth is a prominent "Philadelphia" name. There is also a Joseph Claghorn who painted a very famous picture of Independence Hall, as it has been reprinted may times. Joseph Claghorn is a "listed" artist, but I have never been able to find John W. Claghorn in an artist's listing. Then there is James L. Claghorn a collector and art patron in Philadelphia whose papers are archived at the Smithsonian. Is there any family relationship to either of these Claghorns. And just out of curiosity, are you related to Thatcher Longstreth? I believe he was once the Mayor of Philadelphia.

Louise Harris Jan02

I believe my great grandfather lived until 1986 or so. I was born in 1979, and I met him once when I was a little boy. Your painting is probably crooked because my great grandfather painted from his bed during the last years of his life.

I'm not sure about Joseph or James Claghorn. Thacher Longstreth was my grandfather. He ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 1955 and 1971, but lost both times.

Alec Jan05

I am pleased to find some words on John Claghorn, the water color artist. I have a beautiful painting in watercolor by J.Claghorn of Independence Hall. It was my mother's for many years, she was born in Philadelphia in 1922, and worked at Strawbridge and Clothier in 1940's. Does this sound like a John Claghorn painting??

John Williams Apr11

Definitely! My great grandfather was married to a Strawbridge so perhaps they knew each other.

Alec Apr11

I have come across a painting/print on canvas, initialed by J C Claghorn. It is of Independence Hall. I love the print but have some curiousity about the artist. Can you tell me if This was done by one of your ancestors?

L Kussman Apr19

L - My grandfather was John Winthrop Claghorn, I think yours was probably painted by this guy:;artist=27521

Alec Apr22

I have an original 1905 steel engraving lithograph signed by J C. Claghorn,of two backwoods men with rifles killing a large Moose, and I want to sell it, but don't know much about the the lithograph.

I am trying to find out some info about a John W Claghorn that painted watercolors of beach scenes, palm trees, other Florida type content. My grandparents were friends of his and he gave them the 3 paintings that I now have. They were from the Phila. area (Radnor) and spent their winters in Naples and Ft Myers, FL. Did your grandfather paint beach scenes?

Lynn Hedesh Aug16

Naomi - I don't think that was my great grandfather. He was J. W. Claghorn, Not J.C. Claghorn.

Lynn - Yes, my great grandfather used to go to Florida often in the winters, and painted many scenes there. I remember a couple paintings of palm trees which he had done, which my grandmother had in her house.

Alec Aug17

i am a realitive. my grand father was dr ernest longsreth stearly

johanna stearly ferko Mar11

I own two j w claghorn water colors. My parents owned a hotel in the poconos in the 50's. We love these two paintings. One is of the hotel and the other is of the grist mill. I would love to see a photo of mr claghorn and also see more of his art. tom held

tom held Feb09

Alec, this bit of info is for Jane White. I own 4 original J.C. Claghorn watercolors. He lived in Cabin John, Md.and to my knowledge has been deceased for many years. They are absolutely magnificent. Soft colors and great subjects. Mine include Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Boars Head Inn in Virginia, Valley Inn in Towson, Md. and a small one entitled Autumn on the Old Pike, Rockville Pike in Maryland. I treasure each and every one and someday they will be passed on to my 4 children. These were previously owned by a Baltimore Lawyer and his wife. Please pass this e-mail along to Jane White

jan o May16

recently found a watercolor named early morning snow, washingtons hdqts, valley forge, 1963. wanted to know more about the artist, and found your site-thanks for the info. would like to see other paintings of washingtons hdqts, but could only find covered bridges.

denis Sep16

My name is Stephen Stockton Aitken, the grandson of Ann Strawbridge and John W. Claghorn, the son of Susan Claghorn and Richard Pilling. I knew Thatcher Longstreth when I was a boy and spent a graet deal of time with my Grandfather (John W. Claghorn) after my fater died in a car accident in l951. We called him "Pop" and he was very strict. He thought it was his duty to teach each of us grandchildren to fly flish at Pocono Lake Preserve when we reached 7 or eight years old. I have probably 12 or 13 of his original paintings, my favorite of which is "Valley Green." If I can be of any help to you about Nanna & Pop, Pocono Lake Preserve or anything else, please let me know. Warmest regards - Steve

Stephen S. Aitken Dec20

I am CEO of the International Assn. for Women of Color Day and an author, singer, songwriter, English teacher and former Philadelphia Police Officer. I had a 40+ year friendship with Anne Longstreth of Moylan, PA, beginning when she was my 4th grade Sunday School teacher at Christ Church, Media and she also included me in her Girls Friendly Society where I learned many things which helped me in life. At many other times, Miss Longstreth, as I always called her, was my supporter, including assisting me to start the first Police Athletic League for Girls in the US, while I was a policewoman in Philadelphia and enabling me to help others at other times. In November, 2011, I published the book, "The Constructive Extermination of Women of Color: Consequences of Perpetual Socio-Economic Marginalization," based on decades of education, research and experience. Anne Longstreth is one of those to whom the book is dedicated. I am writing to ask if the Longstreth family would like to have a copy. I wonder if her family was aware of the many wonderful things she did for people in the community. I do not know the exact date that she passed away, but through family learned that she was gone. She was such a presence in my life, always happy to hear from me, always encouraging me in community service and teaching me as a child some of the social civilities not always at hand for those of us growing up in very challenging circumstances.

Hi. I grew up in Chestnut Hill. Ellen sold my mom's, Anne Grebe, house on Germantown Ave. My son, Topher, worked for her several years ago. I was up in my attic the other day and found a couple pieces of sculpture that were my mom's, one titled Molly Pitcher, the other Valley Forge, a soldier, both by John W. Claghorn. I'm wondering if they were done by the Claghorn you are talking about and what they might be worth today.

Nita Smyth Jul14

Oh, and by the way, my son, Topher is expecting his first child, a son. His name will be Thatcher. :)

Nita Smyth Jul14

Hi, Nita. The sculpture you have were probably done by may Grandfather, John W. Claghorn. I remember seeing many of them in his studio when I was a boy. I have no idea of their value.

Stephen Aitken Apr07

Hi. I have a watercolor New Growth from Keewaydin Florida. It is signed John W Claghorn 1965. Could this possibly by you great grandfather? Thanks, Nancy

Nancy Reynolds Jul30

My husband and I just acquired a watercolor painting with your grandfather's signature. We are trying to figure out whether or not its an original. It originally belonged to an Aunt who lived in New York City. We cannot find any pictures of it in any web searches and don't know who else to turn to for help.

Carol Aug08


We are current residents of an Edward R. Longstreth home in Moylan-Rose Valley (built 1908 by Walter Price). We are currently trying to find information on his descendants and family members that may still be in the Philadelphia area. We would love to try to locate old photographs that highlight the house in the early part of the 19th century. He had two daughters born before 1910. Wondering if you are from the same family of Longstreth's.

Mary Ellen Kelly Nov08

I just stumbled upon this blog. John W. Claghorn was my grandfather and I am lucky enough to own many of his paintings. Most are of wildlife but I have some lovely still life's and a painting of Fairview Inn. He also loved painting covered bridges. What fun that so many enjoy his wonderful art.

Janet O'Hara May04

I just now came across your blog while researching John W. Claghorn. I was just admiring my 3 Claghorn paintings that I aquired, in the 1970's, from him personally. I was friends of Kay and Fred Claghorn who invited me to their Chestnut Hill home to meet him. At that time he was wheelchair bound with extreme arthritic hands. He was still painting, however.
I was newly married, and my wife who introduced me to the Claghorns
(Kay Taws), set up our date with Mr.Claghorn. We purchased 2 beautiful paints. All that I could afford. However, I fretted so much over a third, that Mr. Claghorn just gave it to me. What a wonderful gesture that I will never forget. I love my paintings. My story of meeting him is priceless like his paintings.

Dennis Cooper Nov25

Post your comment here:

Lunch Smunch
As I've said many times before, I HATE food. Or more specifically, I hate that I have to EAT it. ..
March? MARCH!!!
Well goddamnit, it's time to get back to work. I've sent Phase 7 #006 out to all the subscribers, ..