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Rogers, George H.
George Homans Rogers (1808–70) was the owner of at least four of Fitz H. Lane’s paintings. At a May 1871 auction, these four were sold: “A coast scene, representing the beach at Newport just above Manchester, to John J. Babson, Esq. for $51.25; a scene in Gloucester Harbor representing the old Fort and its surroundings, with one of the Surinam fleet at anchor, to Capt. David Plumer, for $154; a harbor view, embracing Ten Pound Island, to Mr. Nath’l Webster, for $89.00; a ship working off a lee shore, to the same purchaser for $135.00.” (1)
Rogers was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the second child and eldest son of the six children of Daniel Rogers Jr. & Phoebe Homans. In 1834, he married Lucy Davis (1814–1907), who was born in Gloucester, the second child of the four children of Elias Davis & Abigail Somes. Lucy Davis Rogers' parents built and owned the Captain Davis House that forms part of the Cape Ann Museum. George and Lucy Rogers had no children.
George H. Rogers began his adult life as an apothecary, and then became involved in the Surinam trade. Between 1831 and 1868, he was owner or part-owner of one ship, four schooners, eight barques, and sixteen brigs, and his homes (Gloucester in summer and Boston in winter) were filled with the spoils of this trade: silver candelabra, plates, tea and coffee services, Delft china tea and dinner sets, and bowls of brightly and realistically painted plaster fruits of the tropics (pomegranates, mangoes, plantains).
Rogers was also heavily involed in real estate and became known as "the great conveyancer" because of the number of properties he bought and sold. He was also called "the great remover" for the number of buildings he moved both into and around town. He is quoted as saying: “I believe in spot cash, many deals, no mortgages because they are a damned nuisance, do your own surveying, get there first, and give quitclaim deeds only and let the Lord take care of the rest.” (2)
Nonetheless, George H. Rogers was a generous man. When the town decided to construct a new street along the wharves in the harbor, and his land was taken for the road, he refused to accept compensation, and in appreciation the street was named for him—Rogers Street. He was a Unitarian, although an infrequent churchgoer, but his religious curiosity spread wide, leading him to finance investigations into spiritualism in his later years.
At the time of Rogers' death, he owned property at the Fort, including wharves, a windmill, a sail loft, freight and packing stores, a hoop-skirt factory, and a block of stone buildings on the south side of Front Street, and several houses in the vicinity of Bass Rocks. The buildings on Front Street later became the Cape Ann Savings Bank. Rogers also ran a working farm with more than two hundred and fifty acres of pasture, tillage and marsh land, cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. He also owned six pews in the Unitarian Church, his residences in Gloucester and Boston, a billiard table, a piano, and his Lane paintings.
(1) Cape Ann Weekly Advertiser, 12 May 1871, as in undated newspaper clipping in Sawyer Free Library Scrapbook.
(2) Alfred Mansfield Brooks and Ruth Steele Brooks, Gloucester Recollected: A Familiar History (Gloucester, Massachusetts, n.d.), Reprinted as Gloucester Recollected: A Familiar History, ed. Joseph E. Garland, (Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith Publishers, 1974), 62–64.