* * *
Herman's paternal grandparents: Major Thomas Melvill (1751-1832) and Patricia Scollay Melvill (1755-1833). The Major participated in the Boston Tea Party and, during the Revolutionary War, served in the Massachusetts State Regiment of Artillery. Grandpa Melvill died when Herman was about 13, in the same year that Herman's own father died.
|Major Thomas Melvill|
Herman's maternal grandparents: General Peter Gansevoort (1749-1812), the hero of Ft. Stanwix, and Catherine Van Schaik Gansevoort (1751-1830). The Gansevoorts belonged to New York's old "Dutch aristocracy," immortalized by Washington Irving. Grandpa Gansevoort died some seven years before Herman was born. Herman was about 11 (and his mother about 39) when Grandma Gansevoort died.
|General Peter Gansevoort|
|Herman's father in his late 20s. In Pierre, Melville describes a portrait |
of the protagonist's far-from-perfect father very similar to this.
|Herman's mother, in her late 20s|
The train of deaths and disaster in the early 1830s: Granny Gansevoort dies in 1830, father's business ventures fail for good in 1830, Grandpa Melvill dies in 1832, father dies in 1832, Granny Melvill dies in 1833. Death and poverty together become realities to the teenaged Herman, as he, his mother, and his siblings are left without a protector or a source of income.