HONESDALE, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — She was raised in Wayne County. She has been called the female Norman Rockwell. Even those who are art aficionados may know her work, but often not her name, Jennie Brownscombe.
“If something happened prior to modern photography, what is the image in our mind? The image in our mind is usually paintings or drawings and all. So that’s why ‘The First Thanksgiving’ kind of resonates with at least us Americans.
Brownscombe was born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania in 1850, to a farm family. Her father was a farmer. Her mother encouraged her when she was young, maybe that did it. She had maybe an inborn talent,” said Sally Talaga, Wayne County Historical Society Museum Collections Volunteer.
“So she taught a couple of terms here (Honesdale High School). Taught school, and with that money was able to go to New York City to the Cooper Union,” said Talaga.
Brownscombe was able to establish her ancestry back to the pilgrims.
There are several ‘First Thanksgivings,’ one is in Plymouth Hall, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is a certain orientation, with a table here, and so forth. And there’s another one where it is flipped, meaning it’s not a mirrored image.
Brownscombe painted her entire life. She’s very, prolific, Eyewitness news saw sketches and some entries she made into the Wayne County Fair when she’s a youngster.
Not many people recognize her name, Jennie Brownscombe, but many of us recognize her images. One of those images is ‘The First Thanksgiving,’ because it was used in elementary history textbooks for a number of years.
She would frequently, during her life, come back here to Honesdale and Wayne County. There was a local funeral in 1936 for her. She was a member, and her mother remained a member of the Central United Methodist Church on 11th street.
In her time 1850 to 1936, she was able to make a living through her art.
‘The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth’ was painted in 1914 and now is part of the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth Massachusetts.
Brownscombe final resting place is Glen Dyberry Cemetery in Honesdale.