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Lover's Lane, Princeton NJ 08542

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2023 Newsletter

Nov. 26, 2023, 9:25 p.m.

Family Trees Part 2

Oct. 23, 2023, 12:24 a.m.

This post explores a continuation of owners of Marquand Park. This history was explored and presented as part of a joint tour held with Morven Museum earlier this year.

The Brown Family

After Judge Field died, ‘Woodlawn,’ as the property was called then, was sold to a distant relative by marriage, Susan Dod Brown. Here is the Stockton Family tree showing how they were related:

So Susan Dod Brown’s sister-in-law was the daughter of Judge Field’s cousin. Got that? It may seem like a distant connection, however the location near Morven and the family ties probably increased Mrs. Brown’s awareness of the property. She resided there from 1871-1887. When Mrs. Brown passed away in 1902 she left a bequest of $25,000 (worth over $800,000 in today’s dollars) to Lincoln University, the first Historically Black College to grant degrees. A gift of $150,000 (worth over five million today) went to Princeton University. Two dormitories and an endowed chair bear the Brown name from gifts she gave before she died. Her will was contested by her nephew and other family members - but with none other than Woodrow Wilson as her witness, the will withstood the challenge. Where did all this money come from? Mrs. Brown’s fortune stemmed from her husband’s ship building business. He predeceased her in 1852.

David Brown and Jacob Bell started in the industry as apprentices in the shipyard operated by Adam and Noah Brown, on the East River, at the foot of Houston Street.  Following the end of the War of 1812, they started their own yard on the Tombigbee River, in St. Stephens, the capital of the Alabama Territory, north of Mobile.  The site was physically constrained, however, so they moved their operation to Blakely, on the Tensaw River, just northeast of Mobile.  Then in 1821 they moved back to New York to take over the Adam & Noah Brown yard.  David Brown died in 1848 and the firm continued as Jacob Bell.

There appears to be no connection to vessels involved in the slave trade. Two large ships built for the Blue Sparrow Line, the Henry Clay and the Patrick Henry plied the Atlantic in the 1840’s bringing thousands of Irish immigrants to the United States during the Irish Potato Famine.

But perhaps the most infamous story surrounding Mrs. Brown’s tenure at Fieldwood was her son Albert Dod Brown’s “Breach of promise of marriage” to Alice Noice. Miss Noice was the daughter of the head gardener at Woodlawn, Edward Noice, an accomplished horticulturist originally employed by Judge Field. She apparently caught the eye of Albert Brown. Despite his existing marriage, in April 1873, he wooed her to Brazil where he promised her he could obtain a divorce and marry her instead. He financed this trip with $67,000 worth of bonds which he convinced his mother to sign over to him. The Brazilian divorce plan failed and the couple then left for England. Alice traveled by steamer from Liverpool to New York City on a rough winter voyage which left her sick and wasted. On his instructions, she awaited Albert at the Astor Hotel. She waited two weeks and he never appeared. He had absconded to St. Thomas with the the funds from the bonds. She returned to Princeton to find that her father had died while she was away. And Mrs Brown had evicted Mrs. Noice from the gardener’s cottage. Miss Noice took Albert to court and won a judgement of $1,600, the sum she had spent on her wardrobe, surely a huge investment for the family. She lost her larger suit asking for damages of $60,000 for breach of promise to marry. Because he was still legally married he was not held responsible and that case was dismissed. The bonds were returned to Mrs. Brown who claimed they were never really his. The case of “the Gardener’s Pretty Daughter” was covered widely in the press.

Despite her huge wealth, Susan Dod Brown’s life was full of personal challenges. She became a widow at the age of 40. Two of her children died within days of each other in 1858, aged 11 and 13. Another daughter predeceased her as did Albert who lived out his days under her roof, evidently unemployed. His listing in the 1880 census, besides divorced, is “at home.” Doubtless the scandal swirled around the household. After Albert died at age 44, Mrs. Brown sold the property to Allan Marquand, professor of Art History at Princeton. Mrs. Brown’s brothers, William and Albert both taught at Princeton before Prof. Marquand. Her largess would have been known to him. During his tenure she gave funds for the construction of two dormitories named for her brothers. The chain of title at Marquand Park reveals numerous links between the Stockton family and also the university.

Sources:

Daily Princetonian, Volume 27, Number 110, 31 October 1902

https://shipbuildinghistory.com/

The daily free press. [volume] (Trenton, N.J.), 05 Oct. 1876. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025540/1876-10-05/ed-1/seq-3/

Constance M. Greiff, and Wanda S. Gunning. “Princeton’s Mythical Gardener.” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 74, no. 1 (2012): 9–33. https://doi.org/10.25290/prinunivlibrchro.74.1.0009.

Ancestry.com Susan Dod Brown in the New Jersey, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1739-1991

A collaborative tour with Morven Museum

July 21, 2023, 3:30 p.m.

We were so thrilled to partner with Morven Museum to explore the close family ties between our two properties. With Greer Luce, Curator of Education & Public programs at Morven, we dug into the family trees and owners of the Marquand Park property from pre-Colonial times when the Lenape people lived there onward. The Stockton Family tree is complicated and how the land came into his hands of Richard Stockton Field was puzzling. Here is what Greer untangled for the tour:

Richard Stockton “The Settler”

In 1677, William Penn and a group of prominent Quakers purchased the colonial province of West Jersey, encouraging Quaker settlement in this area. Richard Stockton (the Signer’s grandfather) was one of six or so original Quakers who came to settle around Stony Brook and founded the Stony Brook Meeting (he became a trustee of the Stony Brook Meeting by 1693).

The land that would become Morven came into Stockton possession in 1701 through a deed from William Penn to Richard “The Settler.” The deed conveyed some 5,550 acres of land. Most of this land fell north of us in what would become Somerset County.

Stockton’s purchase also included 300 acres that fell south of the King’s Highway (Stockton Street). When Richard “The Settler” died in 1709 he, in a move that was unusual for the time, left his widow Susannah an interest in half of his extensive land holdings. He left his homestead farm to one of his younger sons, John, who was eight years old at the time. John Stockton went on to live in the homestead, called “The Barracks,” located on what today is Edgehill Street.

The land that we stand on today was certainly part of early Quaker landholdings. However, additional research is needed to confirm the land’s ownership dating back to early settlement. What we do know is that Stockton family members were in possession of this land by the early nineteenth century.

Richard Stockton “The Signer”

In 1754, John Stockton’s son, Richard, was gifted the core of the Morven property from his parents. Within a few years, he married Annis Boudinot Stockton. The couple had seven children together. Morven, the mansion, was built in the 1760s following a fire that burned down the original structure in 1758.

Richard was a lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence. He and Annis were both invested in Morven’s gardens which included woodlands. Letters and diary entries suggest that Richard and Annis also enjoyed walking in the woods far afield from Morven. Richard once contrasted “the elegance of England to the sylvan shades of America,” expressing his preference for the latter.

Properties along the King’s Highway in Princeton were eyewitness to central movements of the American Revolution. The Stocktons fled Morven on November 29, 1776 as the British pursued the retreating American army down the highway. Property and goods were plundered from Morven during the British occupation of Princeton.

Richard Stockton died in February of 1781 from cancer of the throat. Morven would see yet another significant part of Revolutionary history later that year as George Washington and French general, the Comte de Rochambeau, marched toward Yorktown (and victory). Marching troops camped in Princeton right across from Morven and along the King’s Highway, more than likely including the land that would become Marquand Park.

Richard Stockton “The Duke”

Richard and Annis’ son, also named Richard, inherited Morven upon his marriage in December 1788. Richard was a lawyer, like his father, and nicknamed “the Duke” because of his imperious and often arrogant attitude. Richard married Mary Field of Bordentown Township.

Family drama ensued when Richard’s youngest sister, Abigail, married his wife, Mary’s, brother Robert. Robert inherited his parents' large estate and then proceeded to mismanage it. Richard repeatedly provided loans to keep the Fields afloat. When Robert Field died in 1810, Richard provided his sister (and now widow) Abigail with a small house called Rose Cottage.

Richard Stockton Field “The Judge”

Richard Stockton Field, Abigail and Robert’s son, was born in 1803. He studied the law under his uncle “the Duke. Richard Field would go on to serve as a member of the New Jersey State Legislature, as Attorney General of New Jersey, and as a US Senator. On January 21, 1863, President Lincoln appointed him the District Judge for the district of New Jersey. He was a founding member of both the New Jersey Historical Society and the New Jersey Horticultural Society.

Marquand Park was originally part of a 30-acre farm established by Judge Field in 1842. Field purchased the land from his cousin, Philip Augustus Stockton. Philip’s father, Lucius, was Judge Field’s uncle.

In the 1852 Mercer County Wall Map from John Bevan, we can see that around the time of Field’s purchase, the Stockton family (or families connected by marriage to the Stocktons like the Potters) still owned much of the land in and around this section of the road. Judge Field’s cousin, Robert Field Stockton “The Commodore” owned Morven by the time he acquired what would become Marquand Park.

After Judge Field’s death, “Fieldwood” (as the property was referred to during his tenure) was purchased by a wealthy widow named Susan Dod Brown. We will look at her ties to the Stockton family in another blog post – Including the tragic tale of her ne’re-do-well son and the “Gardener’s Pretty Daughter,” ripped from the headlines of 1876. Many thanks to Greer and Morven Museum and we look forward to more collaborative events in the future.

Little Statue - Big Thoughts

April 6, 2023, 12:35 p.m.

It was a glorious spring day in March when we uncovered the mystery of our little Albert Einstein.

Three years ago we noticed a small bronze looking statue about 3” high attached to the cement bench near the willow oak tree. Since then we’ve wondered how it got there? Where it came from? A local gentleman, Mr. Papp revealed its provenance. He commissioned the artwork from his friend, Mykhailo Kolodka, a Hungarian artist. His history/artwork can be found here: http://kolodkoart.com

He’s a Hungarian, born in western Ukrainian sculptor. In the realm of Bansky, he’s installed some politically pertinent pieces around Eastern Europe.

Our statue was created on a 3-D printer Out of brass and steel. He carries a compass and has big eyes and big hair. People love to see it and have put wildflowers, knit scarves and hats to add to the whimsy of the art.

Marquand park thanks you Mr. Papp for honoring Professor Einstein, who used to regularly walk through our beautiful park. We encourage you and your families to stroll through the park and have some big thoughts of your own!

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