The Reades

The Reades of America

Another review of the tangled genealogy of the B----- family is called for at this point. One of the grandchildren of Rabbi David Rottstein (1577-1651) was Rabbi Abraham Rottstein (1655-1743). Rabbi Abraham's second son was Daniel (1681-1703), aka Danforth, who married Malaeska and thereby gave birth to the Morgan line. Rabbi Abraham's first son was Judah Rottstein (1700-1776), who stayed in Maine and raised a large family. In order, and ignoring the other children not relevant to this article, Judah begot Feivel (1728-1802). Feivel begot Caleb (1758-1801). Caleb begot Solomon (1783-1881). Solomon begot Asarel (1810-1874). Asarel begot Tor (1838- 1910). And Tor begot Frank (1860-?), which is where MN's history begins.

As the astute reader will no doubt have already noticed, there has been a tendency, in the B------ family, for last names to change and drift linguistically. This is especially pronounced with the Rottsteins. "Rote," in German, is "Red," and the Rottsteins' last name reflects their German background. (The children of Alleyne Edricson traveled, one staying in Germany for over a decade and returning to England with a German wife) However, as has always been the case, pressure eventually mounted on the Rottsteins to change their name, to make it more American or to fit in better or simply to provide a good alias, and so individual members of the Rottsteins changed their surname. The name they chose was "Reade," that of their English cousins. (There is some slight evidence of ongoing contact between the Reades of England and some of the Rottsteins) The date of this change is unclear, but by the time Frank was born “Reade” was officially and legally his surname.

Frank led an essentially normal life for his first nine years, but in his tenth year, playing in his father's cellar workshop in Portland, Maine, he made a discovery that was to change his life. While playing with a soldering iron and some metal he spontaneously invented a steam engine. Fascinated by the potential of inventing, which he only dimly grasped, he began spending increasing amounts of time in the cellar, creating and inventing more and more complex machines and vehicles. In his fifteenth year, bored with school and anxious to live the life of a hero, like the figures in the dime novels he constantly read, he finished up his steam man and cart—he took the idea directly from the dime novel pseudo-biography of Johnny Brainerd's life—and set out for the frontier.

Like Adam "Tom Edison, Jr." Morgan, Johnny Brainerd, and Jack Wright before him, Frank Reade had an involved series of adventures in the West and around the world. In pseudo-biography form it spanned 179 "chapters" and 28 years, although, as with the Adam Morgan et al, the author of the pseudo-biography, Luis Senarens (who also wrote the pseudo-biography of Jack Wright), took many liberties with the historical record and compressed many years of events into a relatively small narrative.

The first of the "Frank Reade" dime novels appeared in 1876, and we can only wonder at what the real Frank Reade thought of them. As it happened, however, the first four "Frank Reade" novels were not based on the son of Tor Reade, nor were they written by Luis Senarens. They were penned by dime novelist "Harry Enton," the pseudonym of Harold Cohen, and were based on information Cohen was told about Francis Reid, Jr., the scientific genius and inventor son of Francis and Johanna Swift. (Johanna was a cousin of noted Secret Service agent Barton Swift). Francis Reid, Jr., gained fame for his exploits in the West, and when word of them filtered back to the East Cohen decided that they would make for good reading, and used them to make himself wealthy.

However, in 1878 Cohen stopped writing the "Frank Reade" series, wanting more money and tired of writing under the "Noname" pseudonym. The publishers of the "Frank Reade" series hired Luis Senarens, who used his own contacts and resources to gather information. The individual he heard about, however, was Frank Reade, and so Senarens’ stories were based, for the most part, on the adventures of Frank Reade, with the occasional garbled Francis Reid, Jr. story.

Reade created a fantastic variety of inventions, vehicles, and weapons, and had an incredibly adventurous life, fighting "evil" and discovering treasure around the world. By his 25th birthday his wealth was measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But, for all his many achievements (it should be noted that the many non-WASPs he victimized would feel quite differently about his exploits), he never achieved romantic happiness. As far as is known Reade died without issue, a virgin. He seems to have wanted to wait until marriage to have sex--a quite atypical sentiment for a child of the B----- line--and never met a woman he wanted to marry who would marry him. The last chapter of Reade’s pseudo-biography was published in 1904. His whereabouts following that year are unknown.

The Reades of Britain

As mentioned before, Adam Heart, the brother of Lord Flash Heart and direct descendant of Alleyne Edricson, did not emigrate to the Netherlands with his brother during the Twelve Years Truce. He stayed behind and raised a family in England. Adam's younger son Joseph married into the Rottstein family and changed his name to Reade. (His older son, David, kept the name Heart, and it was from David that the unfortunate Benjamin descended) It was from this family that Deborah "Frances" Reade (1759-1783) came. It was she who followed her lover Charles Ross to America disguised as a boy. They lived together for four years, and after his death she returned to London to be with her family. She also brought back two sons, Abraham (1781-1862) and Tobias (1782-1855).

Tobias fathered three children, including Chanan (1806-1849). Chanan's oldest son was Peretz (1825-1849). Peretz's only child was Noah (1847-1902). Noah, like most of the rest of the family, grew up hearing stories not just about the great Jews of the past but also about the great members of the Reade and B----- family, from Isaac to Lord Flash Heart. One figure that held some horrified fascination for Noah, as it had for all the members of the Reades, was Benjamin Hart, the unfortunate co-explorer, with Sir Wade Jermyn, of the Congo. The Harts and the Reades were still in touch and still attended temple together, and Noah and Shvuel Hart (1842-1924) were the best of friends. In 1872 Noah and Shvuel were smoking together in the Hart estates, in what had been Benjamin Hart's room, when they discovered, concealed beneath the floorboards, Benjamin's diary. They read it and were inspired by its contents to follow Benjamin's trail and to discover the "city of the white apes."

They fitted a fast yacht and, armed with Benjamin's diary, traveled to the Congo. They found the remains of the grey city which Wade Jermyn and Benjamin Hart had discovered. As Arthur Jermyn was to discover, decades later, a local tribe of Twa, the N'bangu, had risen up and destroyed both the city and the strange creatures living in it. However, Noah and Shvuel were determined to return to London with some prize for their efforts, and they set about exploring the ruins of the city. Luckily for their sanity, they did not venture very far into the crumbling buildings and crowded, refuse-choked streets before they found, barely breathing, a survivor of the massacre: a white gorilla infant, barely breathing.

Noah and Shvuel, perhaps sensing that they would be wise to be gone from the city by nightfall, took the infant and retreated to their yacht, seemingly eager to show off their new "pet" to their family members. Within a day they changed course, and within two weeks had landed in New Orleans, where they sold the gorilla to the first person who would take it. What caused their change of heart we may never know, but given the gorilla's background it is not improbable that the pair saw something in it which frightened them.

The gorilla was purchased by "Johnson," a Coloradan prospector. MN has been able to find very little information on Johnson, but according to the accounts of various witnesses, Johnson named the gorilla "O'Neil" and treated him very kindly, more as a favored servant than as a pet. Johnson taught O'Neil, who proved to be exceptionally intelligent, how to dig, fetch firewood, haul water, cook, clean, and, eventually, how to load and fire a revolver. O'Neil seems to have responded well to these many kindnesses, and contemporary witnesses wrote of the great affection between them.

Unfortunately, Johnson was not discrete, and when he made a great silver strike in the Rockies, near modern Salida, he boasted about it to all and sundry. This led to several local roughs murdering him for the ore he'd discovered. O'Neil apparently was out hunting game when this occurred, and so was not present when Johnson was murdered. When O'Neil returned to the camp he buried Johnson, took his guns, and began tracking the murderers. After a pursuit of over a hundred miles, O'Neil ran the gang of thieves and murderers to ground and killed them. He had, during this chase, fought his way through several shoot-outs and held up various stagecoaches to use them to chase the gunmen. Free of Johnson, the only man who'd ever loved him and treated him well, O'Neil gave in to his heritage and began haunting the badlands and mountains of the West, becoming the infamous "Six-Gun Gorilla."

Next: Appendices and Bibliography

In the Beginning
The 19th Century
The Morgans
The Brainerds
The Reades
Appendices and Bibliography