Update: Holy gah, but I found a lithograph from 1878 in Google Images. I... I... don't know what to say. God, I loves the interwebs, is one thing to say, though. Here is the house this whole post is about, the Beekman House (on the upper left corner of this print, which I'm totally buying for $45. Holla!).
Hi! I went to the library today and, seriously, within 20 minutes I found out more, very important information about the Taylors. Holy crap, this research project is just sitting there, waiting on me, and I'm either too sick or too saddled with children (no disrespect to my children, but good gah, they're time sucks) to really delve into it the way I would've in my twenties.
In my twenties I was in chemistry grad school (from age 23 to 28 about) and I researched the crap out of things. Mostly in the library and mostly having to do with the history of my actual project. These things didn't really please my professor, who wanted new research being done on the cutting edge of my topic, but it pleased me immensely. Anyway, I could spend days tracking down footnotes, reading experimentals, trying my goddamndedst (sp?) to understand kinetic isotope studies. These things will become useful again, I'm thinking, in this history project but as of yet I don't have the hours and hours of free time to really focus. Seriously, I think I was the only person at the whole institution who was upset that the library closed at 9 pm on Friday nights.
OK, without further ado, some notes taken from a great piece I found at the library: "Two Old Historical Houses in the Village of Middletown Monmouth County, New Jersey" compiled by E. C. M. VanBrunt and read before the Monmouth Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on January 19th, 1907. (Holy shit on that last bit of info, that was yesterday!) I still haven't dissected all of it (there are a lot of references to books and articles within the speech and it is kind of confusing), but I'll give you the relevant bits. Certain things I found very interesting!
Oh and I'm going to transcribe it directly, as it's written. Confusing quotation marks and all. It's long and for that I apologize. I'm just excited. I haven't been able to find anything in ages.
Here we go, from C. M. VanBrunt:
We will now turn to the more cheerful grand old Colonial Crawford Beekman mansion, the boyhood home of Commodore Bainbridge [Phebe Taylor's grandson! - blogger's note], of Revolutionary fame. One record gives the following beautiful description of the Beekman homestead, and while the dates were wrong, and it may be a trifle overdrawn, it is mostly true. This article was written about 1878:
"One of the first objects which meet the eye upon entering New York harbor from the sea is the Beekman house. This landmark of Revolutionary memory (a sketch of which accompanies this description [squeeee! if I could ever see this- again, blogger's note-OMG! Look above!]) still stands, though remodelled and enlarged. It is located upon the hill at the western extremity of Middletown village, overloooking the bay. From its spacious piazza, a panorama of rural and picturesque beauty lies before you; to the west, the rugged heights of Staten Island are in view; to the north, the glittering spires of New York; to the east, the long and low beach of Long Island;" (all this can only be seen when the atmosphere is very clear) "then beneath you, the pleasing rural view of Bay shore, dotted with thrifty farms and substantial farm houses, and interspersed with woodland and meadow. Then the bay with its steamers and sailing craft, passing and repassing, give animation to the scene.
"The traditions of this old mansion are interesting. This place was settled in the year 1668 by one John Ruckman, of whom but little is known further than the dim tradition that he was a famous hunter and possessed great influence with the Indians, and at his death was buried at the foot of the hill" (afterwards called Ruckman's Hill) "near Chocondor Spring."
In an article entitled "The first Grist Mill in Monmouth County," written by ex-judge George Crawford Beekman, is found the following; "On page No. 1 of the old Town Book of Middletown is a record of the first division of home lots as called on the thirtieth day of December 1667. These lots are numbered from the west end, on the south side" (supposedly of the present highway), "to the east end of the town. These lots were assigned as follows: John Ruckman, lot No. 1." Then follow the other names. This lot, long years after, unquestionably comprised the site known as Ruckman Hill, and the location of the "Colonial Mansion" in later years. The home of Ruckman was perhaps only another rude log hut. Records do not state.
"From the Ruckmans the property passed into the hands of the Taylors. In 1745 John Taylor, at one time Sheriff of Monmouth County (appointed under the crown of England in 1751), built a mansion, often called "Taylor's Folly." a portion of which forms a part of the present structure" (this account being printed in 1878, previous to the fire. John Taylor was the presiding judge of Monmouth county just before the breaking out of the Revolutionary war.) "It was considered in that remote day to be a well-built and elegant residence. In 1845 the building was remodeled and altered in its internal arrangements" by Rev. J.T.B. Beekman and his wife, Ann Crawford. "The front door, with its bull's eye and brass knocker" (this knocker is now in the possession of E.C. VanBrunt) "the spacious hall and stairway, as well as the northwest room on the ground floor, and the one above it on the second floor, were left undisturbed, and are now, after a century's use, better preserved than many of more recent and modern construction.
"After the battle of Monmouth, when the British were retreating, the division of the army under General Clinton and Lord Cornwallis passed the house on their way to Sandy Hook Bay. General Clinton, together with Lord Cornwallis and other officers, rode up to the house, where they were met by John Taylor and courteously received and entertained by him. They remained here until nearly the whole division had marched past. It was rumored that the sheriff's two sons were with the retreating army. The only daughter of John Taylor married Dr. Absalom Bainbridge." "About 1770 he settled at Princeton, N.J., but when the war of the Revolution broke out, moved to New York, where he was appointed surgeon to one of the regiments of the crown. William Bainbridge, afterward known in history as Commodore Bainbridge, who figured in the war of 1812 and so successfully commanded the frigate Constitution, was the son of Dr. Absalom Bainbridge [and his wife, Mary Taylor Bainbridge, daughter of John and Phebe Taylor-blogger's note].
[Also blogger's note - two more paragraphs to go! Long, I told you and twss!]
The following was taken from notes made by Theodore Beekman: "John Taylor, Esq. was appointed one of the three commissioners by Lord Howe, then, in 1775, commanding his majesty's army in America -- to meet three gentlemen from the Continental Congress, then assembling in Philadelphia. They were to endeavor to compose the troubles between the king and the Colonies. It could not be done, as the quarrel was too far advanced, and the settlement was left to the sword. They met, however, at the mansion at Middletown and talked it over. Lord Cornwallis was one of the commissioners."
The following note was written by Theodore Beekman in a book entitled "Commodore Bainbridge": "The Great White House mentioned in the first chapter of this book was built by John Taylor, Esq., in 1745. It was called the finest in Monmouth County at that day. In 1795 he sold this property to his friend George Crawford, and removed to Perth Amboy, where he died a few years later. [Phebe died in 1791, remember - blogger's note] The deed calls for 167 acres of land, of which about 100 was in the home farm and 17 acres lie between the Taylor and Hendrickson lands, and is now owned by 'the descendants of Mary Crawford Murray; three children of George Crawford Murray and Henry Scudder, son of Eleanor Murray Scudder, great-grandchildren of George Crawford.' The deed was signed by Commodore Bainbridge, who acted as chain bearer when the survey was made for writing descriptions for the deed. Although dated 1793 it was not recorded until ten years later. The noble old Mansion house, after braving the storms of nearly 150 years, was destroyed by fire in 1891." A great loss to the entire community.
OK, me again (blogger). For some time, I wasn't sure if they left Middletown after the war due to their being loyalists, but it seems they didn't. Or he didn't. It makes me mad that Phebe isn't mentioned, but whatever.
I have a general idea where this house was, but it's a little confusing too. I would love to do an overlay of a map at that time with a current map. I no longer think we were on Taylor property, but instead on the land of Thos Whitlock or Robert Jones. What's Thos short for, I wonder?
OK, longest post ever but... Dude! She was rich! Sounds lovely, doesn't it? The situation of the house? Ima try to remember the beauty of the land here. Makes up tons for the lack of beauty of the people (behavior wise anyway, but kinda meaning physically too - I'm horrible). Am I the only person who pines for the days when old women didn't butcher their faces with plastic surgery? Is it just me?
In another post, I'll transcribe the beautiful, sweet poem written by one of the last children raised in that house before it burned, Eleanor Crawford Beekman. She wrote it about the house and the surrounding land and it's a wonderful picture of what beauty there was to be seen in Middletown village in 1855. I envy her in some ways. And then I pop my penicillin for my recent strep throat infection and then I don't envy her as much. But still. Next time, the poem, I promise.