Plainfield Garden Club

Member: Runkle, Mrs. Harry Godley (Jennie Fitz Randolph) '15

1915 Charter lists "Mrs. Harry C. Runkle" however, this is now thought the 'C' to be a typographical error.

1919 Plainfield Garden Club directory: not listed

Mrs. Harry Godley (Jennie Fitz Randolph) Runkle '15 is related to member Mrs. James Harold (Jean Fitz Randolph Heiberg) '43
Jean was Jennie's neice. Jean's mother, Mary Gray Runkle Heiberg, was a bridesmaid in the Harry Godley - Jennie Fitz Randolph wedding.

1903 Who's Who in America


Harry Godley Runkle, financier, born in Asbury, NJ
son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Richey) Runkle
June 3, 1880 married Jennie F. Randolph
People's Gas Company
Plainfield Gas and Electric
Runkle, Smith & Co
Albany & Hudson railroad treasurer

April 21, 1914 New York Times article

RUNKLE WILL IN COURT.; Contestant's Counsel Argues Filling In of Name Nullified Instrument.

Argument was begun yesterday in Newark before Judge Martin in the Orphans' Court on the contest of the will of William Runkle, involving an estate of more than $2,000,000. The instrument is being contested by Harry G. Runkle, a brother of the testator, of Plainfield, N.J.

April 27, 1905 New York Times wedding announcement


PLAINFIELD, NJ, April 26 – Miss Helen Dunbar Talmadge, daughter of H. P. Talmadge, a New York banker, and Daniel Runkle, son of Harry G. Runkle of West Eighth Street, were married at the Crescent Avene Presbyterian Church at 3 o'clock this afternoon. The Rev. Dr. William R. Richards, pastor of the Fifth Avenue Brick Presbyterian Church of New York, officiated, assisted by the Rev. Dr. J. Sheridan Zelie. Three hundred guests from New York, Brooklyn, and Boston came to Plainfield on a special train, and there were 1,000 guests in the church when the ceremony was performed.

The bridesmaids were Miss Lucie Talmadge, a sister of the bride, and Miss Mary Gray Runkle, a sister of the bridgegroom. The best man was Williard Wadsworth of this city, and the ushers were Frank Fritz Randolph Deichman of Easton, Penn.; John Wright-Clark of Newark, Charles Runyon of New York, Arthur Talmadge of this city, and Edgar Fitz Randolph and Theodore Fitz Randolph of Morristown.

The bridge was gowned in white satin trimmed with point applique lace and carried a shower bouquet of lilies of the valley. Her bridesmaids wore white chiffon embroidered with silver and white hats with white plumes. They carried lilies. James Helfenstein, organist of Grace Episcopal Church, New York, played the wedding marches. After the ceremony a wedding breakfast was served by Sherry at the home of the bride's parents, in Belvidere Avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Runkle will sail for a two years' trip abroad next week, and upon their return will reside in this city.

Lewis V. F. Randolph estate Blojocamavi

The 1923 edition of A. Van Doren Honeyman's History of Union County tells us Lewis V. F. Randolph, "built wonderful gardens, planting hundreds of varieties of rare and beautiful trees, flowers, and plants." Honeyman was not alone in his opinion. Both the postcard and the photograph offer views of "Blojocamavi, the Randolph estate on East Front Street near Farragut Road. Courtesy of Courier News – Bridgewater, New Jersey

From Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architecture by John Grady & Dorothe Pollard

NOTE: It is not known for certain how Mrs. Jennie Randolph Runkle is related to Mrs. Lewis V. F. Randolph. She is believed to be one of his sisters.

Daniel R. Randolph

First National Bank, chartered April 25, 1864, shortly after the establishement of the National Bank Act, numbered hatters among the businessmen on its Board of Directors. Front row, left to right, William McDowell Coriell (hatter), Phineas M. French (mill owner), Charles Potter, Presient; second row, Frank Runyon, Cashier; Daniel R. Randolph (merchant), William M. Stillman, Mulford Estil, J. Wesley Johnston. These names echo throughout Plainfield's history. Courtesty of PNC Bank

From Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architecture by John Grady and Dorothe Pollard

L.V.F. Randolph; One daughter marries Harry Keith White

In addition to serving as sergeant in the Union army, mayor of Plainfield, library and hospital trustee, world traveler, and director of the Illinois Central Railroad, L. V. F. Randolph found the time to lecture and author a book of poems entitled, Survivors. For many years, Mr. Randoplh served as secretary to the Samuel J. Tilden estate, the lawyer/statesman from New York. One of Mr. Randolph's five daughters married Harry Keith White, an architect who designed many notable buildings in Plainfield.

The East Front Street home of Lewis and Emily Price Randolph was surrounded by lush gardens where rare plants and trees, both foreign and domestic, were planted. Alas, it is no more. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Plainfield

From Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architecture by John Grady and Dorothe Pollard

Randolph, Lewis V. F.

RANDOLPH, Lewis V. F.,
Man of Broad Activities.

Lewis V. F. Randolph, accountant, director, treasurer and president of
railways, banker, manager of estates, mayor, exchange president, traveler, poet, ranchman, horticulturist, publisher and lecturer, has had a widely varied and unique career.

He was born May 16, 1838, at Somerville, New Jersey. His parents were Enoch Manning Fitz Randolph and Mary A. Van Syckle. The families of Fitz Randolph and Van Syckle have had their homes in New Jersey for nearly two hundred and fifty years, participating in Colonial and Revolutionary struggles. The former family is a very ancient one, and is traced through more than thirty consecutive generations for a thousand years, from Rolf, the Scandinavian warrior, who married Gisela, the daughter of the King of France. It was Massachusetts Pilgrim stock early in the seventeenth century, and has made Central New Jersey its headquarters for about a quarter of a millennium.

Lewis V. F. Randolph came to Plainfield at the age of six, with his parents, and has been a resident of Plainfield during the greater part of his life. Learning to read at the age of four, he continued of studious habit ever afterward. His education was chiefly at Mauriac Academy in Plainfield. At the age of thirteen he was well prepared to enter college, was a well-grounded grammarian, a good scholar in French and had acquired somewhat of Spanish. In Latin he had read Caesar, Virgil and Horace. In Greek he had studied grammar and
composition and had read Zenophon. In ancient and modern history he stood well, and had excelled in geography, arithmetic, algebra, geometry and physics–or, as it was then called, natural philosophy. He knew by heart many of the world's more famous poems and orations, and took a leading part in public exhibitions of school elocution.

His father died, after a brief illness, at the age of forty-one, when Lewis was but ten. The father was a poet and teacher, and also a manufacturer. He inherited his name from his mother's father, Enoch Manning, a Revolutionary soldier, and brother of the first president of Rhode Island College, afterwards Brown University. Enoch's father's father, Captain Joseph Fitz Randolph, was also a Revolutionary hero. Enoch lived a devoted Christian life, but he left little to his family except his good name. His fortune had been swept away in the tariff troubles of about 1840.

Lewis went from the academy to earn a living for his mother and sisters. He was the oldest child and the only son. In his earliest days he was in frail and delicate health. He had no difficulty in his youth, or afterwards, in finding work. During a life of about four score of years, every position he has occupied has come to him without his going after it. Each position he has filled with entire efficiency and success. For three years he was a mercantile clerk. Though as yet a mere boy. he both studied and taught at odd times. He taught a grammar class for some years in the evening–all the pupils being mechanics and clerks older than himself. He helped to organize a literary society whose continued usefulness extended over a period of eighteen years. Before he was sixteen he taught a Bible class in a Sunday school, and continued in charge of it for nineteen years, retiring only when changing his place of residence–the class having then a membership of sixty. He had joined the Baptist church before leaving the Mauriac Academy. In his youth he was active in literary matters. He wrote much for newspapers and magazines, and published a cantata which was acceptably performed. He moved with his mother and sisters from Plainfield to Newark meanwhile, and remained there until after marriage.

From mercantile service he went to bank service. In 1854 he took a place in the American Exchange Bank in New York, finding the increased compensation a welcome means of family comfort. Each year found him advancing in responsibility and income. Early in 1863, with his mother's blessing, he enlisted as a private soldier in the Union army. It was at the darkest hour of the country's peril, when the Confederate army was invading Pennsylvania, and a little while before
the battle of Gettysburg. He was twice promoted, and, after the emergency campaign of 1863, he was honorably mustered out as a sergeant, being at the time ill of a tedious fever contracted at the end of his government service. In later life he was commander of a Grand Army post. The year 1864 saw him improved in health and back in the employment of the American Exchange Bank, and passing from it, with the cordial recommendation of the president, to the service of the
Illinois Central Railroad Company. He had become an expert ccountant, and as such he took up a difficult problem for the railroad. Having solved it, he was invited to take a responsible place in the money department of the company in Chicago. It was a period when a great volume of State bank currency was in circulation, and Mr. Randolph was an expert in currency and counterfeits. On returning to the East for a brief vacation, he was unexpectedly impressed into the service of the New York office of his company, in connection with another
emergency, and was made private secretary to the president, then W. H. Osborn. Later his responsibilities were increased and he was appointed assistant treasurer. The treasurer was in failing health, and Mr. Randolph discharged the duties of the treasurership for many years. In 1875 he was elected treasurer by the board. He was the youngest treasurer the company ever had. In the meantime he had been elected to the directorship, in 1873, and for a long period he took
an active part in directing the policy of the railroad. Those were the
conservative and prosperous years of the Illinois Central railroad, when the concern earned from eight to ten per cent. for its shareholders, charged construction expenses to operation, and paid off indebtedness. They were years of onerous duty and responsibility for Mr. Randolph, who held the sole signing power on bank drafts, and who had the personal care of several millions of dollars of other property. To the service of the Illinois Central railroad he gave twenty-one years of his life; that is, from 1864 to 1885.

Whilst devoted to these fiduciary duties Mr. Randolph was also active and useful as a citizen. He was induced to take the nomination for the mayoralty of Plain-field, where he had again come to reside, and was in 1880 elected to that office. His expert accounting again came into use in unravelling unsatisfactory accounts of officials; and by untiring energy he achieved beneficial reforms and municipal progress in various directions. About this time he was urged to accept
a Congressional nomination, but refused. Despite his refusal he received many votes at the Congressional convention. He was too independent for politics, and he was otherwise too much occupied. He, however, served for a period as chairman of the Union County Republican Committee.

He had little recreation in these busy years, though at long intervals he sought the refreshment of the Adirondack woods, or crossed the continent on a mingled mission of business and recuperation. Early in 1885 his overtaxed physical constitution broke down. He was six feet tall, and, at that time, only weighed one hundred and thirty-seven pounds, and was threatened with chronic pulmonary weakness. He resigned his duties in the Illinois Central Railroad Company, except as to certain trusteeships. These he has continued to hold. He went to the Rocky mountains for a period of entire rest, and also visited Texas
and New Mexico. He became interested in ranching and purchased land and cattle in the West. His ranching operations afterwards developed into a practical ownership by him of about four thousand grade Hereford and short-horned cattle in New Mexico. In the meantime, by an open-air life, his health improved, and he regained more than twenty pounds in weight.

In the autumn of 1886 he was invited by the executors of Hon. Samuel J. Tilden's will to become their secretary and to assist in the management of the estate, which was then in litigation. It was a very large estate, with many diverse interests, and his time was fully occupied in its affairs for several years. Here again his familiarity with the science of accounting, as well as his wide knowledge of investments and business affairs, became conspicuously useful.
He was appointed secretary of the Tilden Trust, the New York Library Corporation provided for in Mr. Tilden's will. The estate was managed with economy and entire success throughout the litigation, and the distribution, according to law, of most of the assets was made in 1892. Under the will, about a million dollars remained in special trusts, and the residue of other money devoted to particular purposes remained also in the care of the executors and trustees.
Accountings were in the meanwhile given with entire satisfaction of the court and of the heirs. Whilst these trusts were still in course of administration, in 1903, one of the trustees, Hon. Andrew H. Green, was suddenly taken away, and Mr. Randolph was appointed to the vacancy as executor and trustee. Closely associated with Mr. Randolph in the care of the Tilden estate for many years was
Hon. John Bigelow, statesman and scholar, and between them came to exist enduring confidence and friendship, which continued until Mr. Bigelow's death in 1911. Mr. Randolph was a pallbearer at Mr. Bigelow's funeral.

Meantime, following the settlement of the Tilden litigation, Mr. Randolph was elected president of the Atlantic Trust Company. This banking institution had important clients and depositors, but had suffered losses under a previous administration. Mr. Randolph obtained additional capital, reformed methods and built up business; in fact, under his administration, it became a strong and prosperous concern, whose stock was sought for by prudent investors at the price
of three hundred per cent, and upwards. In this service he spent some eight or nine years –the best and most efficient years of his life–and at the end of this period, in 1902, he joined in a merger of his banking institution with the Metropolitan Trust Company, whose leading stockholders had bought largely of the =shares of the concern he had managed. When he retired from this trust, it was a matter of private and public comment that, in the course of about half a century
of successful work, with widely varied fiduciary relations, in which he had handled hundreds of millions of dollars of other people's money, not a dollar had been lost or misappropriated.

But he was not yet to be suffered to retire to private life. He visited the West Indies in 1903, and on his return he received an urgent and unanimous invitation to take the presidency of the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange of New York. He accepted it and again showed his capacity for administration in the reforms he instituted and in the progress he initiated. He was twice reelected to the presidency without opposition, and was urged to continue in this position; but in 1906 he acted on a resolution long cherished, the suitable opportunity for which had now finally been reached, and he definitely retired from active business. At least he withdrew as much as possible and in a way enabling him to carry out plans for extensive travel.

The above is the barest outline of sixty-eight years of Mr. Randolph's life, from 1838 to 1906, but it had many episodes. He helped to organize the New York Zoological Society and was its first treasurer, continuing in that capacity for about six years. He organized the Atlantic Safe Deposit Company and was its first president, managing its affairs successfully up to the time when it began to declare dividends. He took the presidency of the Kanona & Prattsburg railroad, which had never paid any return on its securities, and it soon became a paying concern. He lifted the Carolina & Cumberland Gap railway (as reorganized) out of bankruptcy; and as president of it sold it as a going concern in course of paying its bonded interest. For a while he managed successfully as president a line of steamboats operating about New York harbor and the Hudson river. For some years he was half-owner and publisher of a newspaper at Plainfield.

Some particularly hard problems, resulting from maladministration or other misfortune, came to him for solution, and he solved them to the satisfaction of the parties interested. One of these concerned a congeries of coal-mining properties in Illinois and Iowa, whose bonds were in default and the validity of whose mortgages was in question. He established the liens of the mortgages in court, foreclosed them, bought in the several properties on behalf of the bondholders at the foreclosure sales, sold some of them, and organized a new company to manage the others; paid dividends on the company's shares out of
earnings, conducted a successful litigation against the former management, and liquidated, with abundant satisfaction to the parties concerned, the entire original investment. As receiver of the New York Iron Mine, he wound up its affairs and apportioned the cash resulting therefrom. He managed for some years an iron mine in Dutchess county, New York, paid off its indebtedness and paid its first dividend; and, when a good pile of ore was on the dump and a comfortable cash balance was in bank, he negotiated a sale of the property at a good price. He took in hand several series of western mortgage bonds and
liquidated them to the advantage of investors.

Mr. Randolph took an active part in the management of other considerable estates beside the Tilden estate. He was for many years a trustee of the Jonathan Sturges estate, and, for about a dozen of years, he and Alexander Gilbert, president of the Market & Fulton Bank, were co-executors and trustees under the will of their friend, William R. Clarkson, liquidating and investing the property and paying the income chiefly to the wife and sister of Mr. Clarkson. In 1910, on the death of the last income-beneficiary, the conveyance of the property was completed to the Jennie Clarkson Home for Children,
agreeably to Mr. Clarkson's will; and this institution now cares for about fifty children with what was substantially Mr. Clarkson's fortune of about $400,000. In its board Mr. Randolph has continued to serve as trustee.

Upon his several retirements, or completions of duties, from time to time, suitable resolutions of recognition and praise of his achievements were adopted by boards of directors and trustees with whom he had served. This was notably the case with the Illinois Central Railroad Company, the Atlantic Trust Company, the New York Zoological Society, the Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange
of New York, the Illinois & Iowa Fuel Company, and the Jennie Clarkson Home for Children. Perhaps the mementoes most prized by him have been the testimonials of young men associated with him or working under his direction. For example, in 1864, on his retirement from the bank, his companions, to the number of fifty, gave him a dinner, and a complete set of Irving's life and works–twenty-six volumes; and in 1902 the clerks of the Atlantic Trust Company, in parting with
their president, presented him with an elegant copy of Shakespeare, in twelve volumes, suitably and affectionately inscribed.

Before the year 1906 Mr. Randolph had in the course of business or recreation traveled somewhat in foreign countries with his family; but in that year, accompanied by his wife, he began a series of foreign tours which covered many hundreds of thousands of miles and which continued well into his old age. They made, in four months of 1906, the tour of Great Britain and Ireland. In the following year, with his youngest daughter, he made a longer journey, visiting Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Holland, Egypt, Palestine, Turkey and Greece.
His wife and one daughter accompanied him the next year to North Africa and again to Italy and France. In years since then, he has twice visited South America, the West Indies, Hawaii and Mexico, and has spent much time in Portugal and Spain. In 1914 he visited India, incidentally revisiting Egypt, Palestine, Greece and other countries.

He studied as he travelled. He saw much and read much. On board ship he was known as "the man with a book." Each time on his return from a voyage he delivered lectures (in the West and South, as well as at home) on his observations abroad. On the voyages themselves, also, he was frequently invited to give lectures on his travels for the benefit and pleasure of his fellow-voyagers. He has seen much abroad and is familiar with conditions and scenery in every State and territory of his native country. Some of the themes of his lectures have been: "Indian Architecture and Religion," "Egypt," "Joppa,
Jerusalem and Jericho;" "Ancient Carthage and Modern Tunis;" "Athens and the Eleusinian Mysteries;" "The Making of taly;" "Brazil;" "Argentina and Chili;""The British West Indies," and "The Panama Canal."

Mr. Randolph gathered works of art and curios from all parts of the world in the course of travel, and with these his home in Plainfield has been interestingly furnished. It has been a happy home. For more than half of his long life he has been domiciled in one house at the corner of Front street and Farragut road. To this home property he has by purchase added many adjoining tracts and has improved and adorned them.

In 1867 he had the good fortune to marry Emily Caroline Price, daughter of Matthias and Emily Catherine Price, of Newark, New Jersey. Their united life has been an unbroken harmony for half a century. Their five daughters have grown to womanhood under loving parental care. They have all had abundant opportunities for study and for foreign travel and residence, and have excelled in musical and
other accomplishments. The first, third, fourth and fifth have married happily, and are now Mrs. Lee Ashley Grace, of New York City; Mrs. Charles Daniel Parfitt, of Ontario, Canada; Mrs. Robert Spurr Weston, of Brookline, Massachusetts, and Mrs. Harry Keith White, of Plainfield, New Jersey. The second daughter, Marion, a Wellesley graduate, has been the invaluable secretary and housekeeper at home. Mr. and Mrs. Randolph now have eleven grandchildren, and the Thanksgiving home-comings and other anniversary occasions are numerously and
joyously attended.

Mr. Randolph's literary and religious interests and activities have continued from youth to old age. In 1900 he published a volume of poems, entitled "Survivals," which received from the press much praise and no adverse criticism. Equally successful was his book entitled "Fitz Randolph Traditions," which was published in 1907, and which has been in such demand as to exhaust a large edition. He has continued in membership of the First Baptist Church of Plainfield (of which his father's mother, Mary Manning Fitz Randolph was, in the
year 1818, a constituent member), and has long been the president of its board of trustees.

As mayor of Plainfield, he appointed the first board of trustees of the
Plain-field Public Library. He has been a member of this board for many years, and also its vice-president, and has had much to do with the library's enlargement and prosperity. He was one of the organizers and original trustees of the Muhlenburg Hospital, and has ever kept his heart and purse open to good causes.

Whilst in the official service of the Illinois Central railroad, Mr. Randolph studied law assiduously. He never applied for admission to the bar, but made his studies practical, especially in the preparation of documents and briefs. In these studies and exercises he continued from time to time through much of his business life. For one brief, which he prepared on a somewhat novel (and ultimately successful) theory, in an important case (Peoria & Oquawka railroad case), and for attendance and effort at the hearing thereof, the Illinois Central board, as a party in interest, voted him a special compensation of
$2,500. Another important and also successful brief was in connection with the railroad company's alleged obligation to pay a certain tax on income, as claimed by the government (the claim, in Mr. Randolph's opinion, being offset by the fact that a part of the income was derived from sales of lands); and still another important document was the foreclosure bill which he prepared as to the old mortgages on the railroad lines south of Cairo, and which the bondholders' counsel, Judge W. S. Campbell, filed without emendation, and upon which was
afterwards obtained a decree of foreclosure.

At the period of his ranchman experience, about 1886, a certain villainous combination in the southwest obtained from him an advance payment in money on cattle purchased and then attempted to cheat him, but failed. He arrested the ringleader, attacked the coalition, and, mainly acting as his own lawyer, forced them to disgorge. In the course of this experience, he came to own some thousands of acres of Texas farm lands, most of which he afterwards sold. Meantime, he carried forward his ranch enterprise vigorously and successfully,
engaging in some interesting and profitable experiments in irrigation
engineering, and, in the course of time, arrived at satisfactory results.

At his home in Plainfield he has built up a notable park or garden, with
hundreds of varieties of rare and beautiful growths, domestic and foreign. It is thought by many to be the most interesting garden in the State of New Jersey. His wife and daughters have shared his enthusiasm for this enterprise, and many visitors have participated in the enjoyment of the garden and in admiration for it.

In the course of his wide experience, Mr. Randolph has come to know many distinguished persons of his own country and of other countries and has numbered among his friends not a few of those whom the world has counted worthy.

In 1915 Mr. Randolph delivered courses of lectures on India and on Italy before Carson-Newman College of Tennessee, which were much appreciated, and the college conferred upon him the degree of Litterarum Doctor.

Mr. Randolph has been generally too busy in conscientiously caring for other people's affairs to grow rich himself. He scorned opportunities for making money, availed of by others, such as were afforded by his official and private knowledge of railway and other corporation matters. He religiously kept free of debt and gradually laid up out of his earnings a competence which in his old age he has enjoyed with his family.

Emily Caroline Price, wife of Lewis V. F. Randolph, was born in Newark, on the corner of Broad and Walnut streets, in the house that is now Grace Church rectory. She is the daughter of Matthias Price and his wife, Emily Catherine Judd. Her parents were married July 3, 1838, and had the unusually long married life of sixty-three years and six months, being seldom separated in all that time. The sixtieth anniversary of their wedding was celebrated by friends and
neighbors of "auld lang syne," under the trees at the Randolph home.

The father of Mrs. Randolph, Matthias Price, was born at Waverly, New Jersey, on March 12, 1814, on a farm that had been in possession of his ancestors from 1664, when it was purchased from the Indians at the time that Elizabeth was founded. The first ancestor of Matthias Price that came to New Jersey was Benjamin Price, who was one of the eighty associates who settled Elizabeth in
1664. He is thought to have come from England in 1638. His name, Ben Price, appears as a witness to the deed bestowing Gardiner's Island on Lion Gardiner, and it is believed that he came to America with Lion Gardiner. After living for years in East Hampton, Long Island, where he acquired property and built a house, Ben Price removed, as one of the eighty associates, to New Jersey, and was one of the founders of Elizabeth. His oldest son– he had three sons and two
daughters– was Ben Price, Jr., and he was old enough to be an associate with his father, and one of the eighty in 1664. There is still a landmark of a part of the Price property in Elizabeth, at the corner of Elizabeth avenue and Florida street, consisting of a large cut stone, marked on top "1694," and on one side "B. P.," and on another "R. T." It has been guarded by an iron railing, put there by the Sons of the Revolution, and a sign placed near, reading: "This stone marks the intersection of the Carteret land owned by Richard Townley, the
land of Benjamin Price, and the King's Highway, now Elizabeth avenue– probably the oldest road in New Jersey, opened by the Dutch before the settlement of Elizabethtown; the post and stage route to Philadelphia."–Elizabethtown Chapter, No. 1, Sons of the American Revolution, 1908.

Benjamin Price, Sr., was born in 1621, and died in 1712, having shown in his long life of ninety-one years, marked strength and vigor, both physical and mental. He was respected and honored by his associates and was often chosen by them to represent them where judgment and skill were needed.

One of the sons of Benjamin Price, Jr., was Joseph, who married Elizabeth Miller, about 1738.

One of their sons was Daniel Price (1st), who married Phebe Whitehead, in 1766. This Daniel was choir leader in the old First Church at Elizabethtown. All the Prices were musical and possessed of fine voices, the heritage of their Welsh ancestry, for the name Price is a corruption of ap-Rhys, a very ancient Welsh name.

Daniel (1st) Price was a volunteer who aided in capturing the British
transport "Blue Mountain Valley," loaded with arms and provisions for the British army, and mounting twelve carriage guns. This ship was captured without loss of a man on the American side, but after the endurance of great hardship, for the weather was severe, it being late in January, or early in February, 1776. Daniel died in less than a year afterward in consequence.

Daniel Price (2nd), son of Daniel (1st), was born March 5, 1767, died April 7, 1824, at Waverly. He was married, in 1790, to Phebe Thompson, born August 9, 1772, died March 1, 1857. One of the sons of Daniel (2nd) (Daniel had eight sons and one daughter) was Matthias, youngest of all the nine children, and father of Mrs. Randolph.

Mrs. Randolph's mother, Emily Catherine Judd, was born February 20, 1817, and died September 30, 1908. Her parents were George Baldwin Judd, born 1796, at Farmington, Connecticut, and died June 1, 1872, in Minnesota. He married Abigail Soverel, May, 1816. Miss Soverel was born September 1, 1796, in Orange, died November 5, 1880.

The father of George Baldwin Judd was Elizur Judd, of Farmington, a
Revolutionary soldier, born January 10, 1767, died in 1845, m Illinois. He
married Temperance Scott. Elizur Judd was son of Heman Judd, born in Farmington, Connecticut, April 27, 1744, died 1787. He married Anna Goodrich, daughter of Zeb-ulon Goodrich, of Wethersfield, in 1764. The father of Heman Judd was Matthew Judd, of Farmington, born August 31, 1706, died 1755, married, June 28, 1733, Abigail Phelps, who died about 1754. The father of Matthew was Daniel Judd, born 1675, married, December 4, 1705, Mercy Mitchell, of Woodbury, died
April 29, 1748. He was one of the most wealthy men of those days. His brother's daughter was the mother of Samuel Hopkins, D. D., "the Hopkinsian."

Daniel's father was William Judd, born 1635, married, March 30, 1658, to Mary Steele, of Farmington, died 1690, at Farmington, a very rich man. He was usually called Sergeant William Judd. His wife Mary was daughter of John Steele. William was the eldest of six sons and three daughters. The father of this family was Thomas Judd, who came from England in 1633 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was married about 1632. He moved to Hartford in 1636 and to Farmington in 1644. He was a substantial citizen and many times–at least sixteen
times–a deputy to the General Court. His wife died in 1678, and the next year he married Clemence Mason and removed to Northampton, the home of Miss Mason, where he died on November 12, 1688. His name is on the Hartford monument, being one of the original settlers of Hartford, and also of Farmington.

Mrs. Randolph is of the pioneer stock of America. Her paternal ancestry have been in New Jersey more than two hundred and fifty years, and the Soverels, the family of the grandmother who married into the Judd family, came to New Jersey from England in 1739, thus having been Jerseyites for one hundred and seventy-seven years. This first Soverel in New Jersey was named Abram and he was born July 15, 1716. He settled in Orange and married Jane Williams, December 10,
1741, and died in Pennsylvania (where he was called by business engagements) in 1745.

Thus by birth and breeding Mrs. Randolph is truly a daughter of New Jersey, and though she has traveled in many foreign lands, her thoughts and her love have ever turned fondly to her home in New Jersey.

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From Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architecture by John Grady and Dorothe Pollard

Yes, this is Plainfield, and there really were fox hunts here. This photo shows the back of Dr. Edward L. Finch's Park Avenue mansion where there is a lot of activity in preparation for the hunt. The hunts frequently took place on John Taylor Johnston's estate, which extended into the Watchung mountains and comprised over one hundred acres. The house viewed through the porte-cochere still stands, but has been unsympatherically altered. Courtesy of Anne W. Finch

Cars replaced horses, chauffeurs replaced groomsmen, and carriage barns became garages. Henry Talmadge's chauffeur in his new conveyance, proudly poses in front of the old carriage house. The Talmadge mansion, which contained over thirty rooms, was a Belvidere Avenue landmark for many years. Both the house and the carriage house were destroyed by fire in the late 1960's

The Henry Pearl Talmadge House


On a spring morning in the year of 1969, at the age of seven, I stepped out of our rundown but sweet home on Dixie Lane into the drizzling rain and started on my way to school on the tree covered, winding roads, wondering why there was an unusual scent of wet ashes in the air. My imagination hadn't prepared me for the frightening and heartbreaking explanation. As I approached the corner of Ravine Road and Belvidere Avenue, the remains of the Talmadge mansion came into view. The home had burned through the night – its gutted tower and brick walls stood in mourning. I walked cautiously onto the property to get a closer look. I stood in disbelief among large pieces of charred wood and bricks. A fireman encouraged me to leave. In despair, I continued on my way and the sky continued its gentle weeping.

The date of the fire was May 19th and Jon Gabriell of the Courier news reported that the unoccupied home, located at 714 Belvidere Avenue in the Netherwood Heights section of Plainfield,

"...was destroyed by fire that raged from shortly after midnight until nearly dawn. Helpless to save the house, firemen pounded it with streams of water from high pressure hoses and worked to keep the fire from spreading to woods on the property. The families of two nearby houses – including 11 children – were evacuated by firemen who feared that a continuous shower of sparks from the Talmadge roof might start another holocaust. The fire, visible from most of the city as flames slashed high above the treetops, drew more than 200 spectators who crowded behind a row of fire trucks and lines of hose that twisted through the street. Hastily dressed and with sleep-ringed eyes, they watched as the huge old house burned – every room ablaze, the ivy front burned to twigs, flames licking at the elms and oaks that had shaded the house. ‘It looked to me as if it was torched,' said Deputy Fire Chief Norman Freeman. ‘Every room, including the cellar, was on fire when we arrived.' Entry to the building, boarded up by the Fire Department two weeks prior, may have been made through a cellar window, Fire Chief John Townley reported."

A priceless collection of books perished. In 1909, this library contained mostly historical works and subjects pertaining to the Far East. I am unaware of the contents added after this time.

Many neighbors believed that destructive children were responsible for the fire. On the day of the fire, one neighbor told Jon Gabriell that, in the weeks leading up to the fire, children had broken windows and entered the house and another neighbor told me that she and other neighbors spent time inside the house during its vacancy in an attempt to protect it.

It is possible that a local bank, as executor of the will, for its ease in settling the estate, after quickly auctioning the majority of the contents of the house, had it set afire. Most buyers could not afford to purchase, restore and maintain a large home on a large piece of property in a community that had lost much of its wealth. During the 1960s, there was a lack of interest in the preservation of Victorian architecture in the United States. Many of the large Victorian homes in Plainfield had been converted into multi-family dwellings or had been completely destroyed. For these reasons, coupled with the "white flight" phenomenon that occurred in Plainfield, this home would have sold for a small fraction of its worth.

It is also quite possible that the fire originated within the electrical wiring of the home, as is often the case with houses that are not maintained. The fire occurred a few days after the home had been emptied and, in that process, the lighting was turned on throughout the entire house after a long hiatus.

The home had been without its inhabitant, Henry Talmadge II, for only a season. Though the grounds were overgrown, the interior of the house retained its original splendor. The loss of this rare mansion was a great one. In a careful world, the home, with its entire contents, would have been preserved.

The House

The fanciful design of the Talmadge House defied classification. Douglas Smythe, of 48 Exchange Place in Manhattan, was its architect. Very little is written about Smythe. He was born in 1848 and – at one point in time – worked under the supervision of Richard Morris Hunt. Later in his career, he was a member of the Prairie School. His earlier designs reflect his romantic and fantasy driven imagination.

Construction began in 1880 and was completed in 1883 at a cost of approximately forty-five thousand dollars. The situation of the house was originally one of extraordinary attractiveness – placed on the side of a hill with a view of the mountains and a wide extent of heavily wooded countryside with very few inhabitants.

The gables, paneled and choked-topped chimneys, half-timbering, spindled porch columns, fish-scale shingles and windows, with their major panes of clear glass edged by smaller panes of multicolored glass, were all elements borrowed from English seventeenth century architecture and were referred to as Neo-Jacobean – Jacobus is Latin for "James," and "Jacobean" refers to the time when James I ruled England (1603-1625). The roughly hewn stone and terra-cotta tiling were Romanesque in character. The brick and terra cotta had been subdued by being washed down and oiled. The Belleville stone retained its dark, rich, natural hue.

The main entrance served as the base of its unusual lighthouse-like tower. The hall and library were exceptionally large while the other rooms on the first floor (parlor, billiard room, dining room and butler's pantry) were typical in size for larger homes. The second floor had six large chambers, a nursery, a sewing room in the tower and two verandas. The third floor had guest and servant bedrooms. The kitchen, laundry room, wine cellar, storeroom and furnace room were located in the basement, which was above ground, owing to the slope of the land.

The porch and vestibule were treated with colored bricks – red, buff and chocolate. The interior was mainly of hard woods. The hall was in antique oak, with paneled staircase, dado and ceilings and the walls were covered with an embossed paper called lincrusta-walton. The magnificent fireplace mantel was of antique oak, extending to the ceiling, adorned with carvings – its center had a frame enclosing a figure made of tiles. The other rooms on the first floor were in cherry and ash – the parlor being in ebonized cherry. In the library mantel, a bull's-eye mirror reflected pleasantly.

Nestled on the property was a small chapel built in 1881, given as a gift to the community by Henry Pearl Talmadge's wife, Lucy. The carriage house of the mansion stood behind the chapel.

The property on the other side of Woodland Avenue was used as a farm, with a cow, goats, chickens and vegetable gardens. Fresh milk would be carried up the hill to the home in the early morning hours. A barn stood in the area between the now standing Woodland and Maxon schools. In the1950s, school children would play among its ruins.

Family History

The Talmadge family were descendants of Thomas Talmadge, who came to the Colonies from England in 1631. Henry Pearl Talmadge, son of Frances Anna Cossitt and Henry Talmadge, was born on March 10, 1847, at Troy, New York.

Talmadge received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1868, married Lucy White on April 18, 1872 and lived with his parents at 538 Madison Avenue in New York City.

Their first child, Lucy, was born on September 22, 1873. In the Spring of 1877, they moved to Plainfield. His son, Henry Talmadge II, was born on May 15, 1877, graduated from Harvard in 1899, and became a lawyer in New York City. His son, Arthur, was born on February 25, 1880, graduated from Harvard in1902, published his well researched genealogy of the Talmadge family in 1909 (based largely on the research of Lewis Cass) and died on January 10, 1910, at Prescott, Arizona. His daughter, Helen, was born on August 30, 1881, married Daniel Runkle of Plainfield and had two children - Helen, born January 29, 1906 in New York City and Henry, born August 14, 1920 in East Hampton. His son, Francis, was born on January 19, 1884, graduated from Harvard in 1906, married Beatrice Cornish of New York City and had two children - Beatrice, born December 1918, and Thomas.

Talmadge described himself as a social and economic conservative. He had been president of the South Carolina Railroad and Southern Pine Company of Georgia and a vice president of the Empire Trust Company, New York and had been president of the New York banking firm of Henry Talmadge & Co., founded by his father, with which he was associated for 65 years. He had been a director of the Central Trust Company, The Mechanics National Bank and the Phoenix National Bank.

Talmadge had been among the directors appointed to establish the Plainfield Public Library in 1881. He had been a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, the Seventh Regiment Association, the Union League, the University, Harvard, Rumson and Sleepy Hollow Clubs, and the Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce of New York.

In July of 1932, Talmadge, then 85 years old, was the principal witness in his suit against the United States Shipping Board. Talmadge testified he had lent $1,139,000 to the American Ship Building Company in 1918. Talmadge and his son, Henry, did much of the legal work on the case, organizing legal documents on a pool table in their first floor game room. The federal court in New York awarded Talmadge $879,195.88. This amount represented the sum of $479,000 plus interest from 1918. The decision was appealed and it is believed Talmadge received a small fraction of the amount originally awarded.

In the year of 1933, Talmadge's wife, Lucy, passed away. On May 9, 1937, at the age of 90, Talmadge died of a heart ailment in his mansion. Private services were conducted at his home by the Reverend Robert B. Rock, assistant minister of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, New York. His children, Henry and Lucy, remained living in the house.

Sometime during the mid 1960s, Harry Devlin, an artist known for his illustrations and editorial cartoons in Collier's Magazine and the New York Daily News, working on his own project illustrating and writing a book on American architecture for young people, spoke to Henry Talmadge II and painted an illustration of his home, which was initially included in To Grandfather's House We Go – A Roadside Tour of American Homes and finally published in Devlin's book on Victorian architecture of the Eastern Seaboard, Portraits of American Architecture: Monuments to a Romantic Mood, 1830 - 1900.

In his lovingly rendered painting, Devlin intentionally removed the ivy that crept up the brick surface and the towering forest of trees that surrounded and obscured the view of the house. He lightened its fortress like feel by removing much of the Bellville stone and terra cotta tiling. His interpretation is reminiscent of an Andrew Wyeth Painting – a lone, stark house sitting on a expansive, grassy landscape.

The House was also used as an inspiration for an illustration in Harry and Wende Devlin's book, Old Witch Rescues Halloween.

During the 1960s, local children referred to the mansion as "Old Man Hatchet's House." They were undoubtedly scared by its looming presence as it stood in the shadows of large trees and was covered with ivy. The legend of Old Man Hatchet may have grown out of the gruff demeanor of the younger Henry. He may even have started the storytelling himself in an effort to keep trespassers and vandals away. He certainly had a hand in keeping the stories alive.

On December 23rd, 1968, Henry Talmadge II, 91, having lived most of his life in the family home, was found in a coma on the dining room floor suffering from malnutrition. His companion, Aidah Marks, 81, was found dead of natural causes in an upstairs bedroom. Henry never recovered, and less than a month later died in the Birchwood Convalescent Center in Edison. The house then belonged to a nephew in Philadelphia – most likely Henry Runkle.

No one was a witness to the suspected act of arson. If it indeed was an act of arson, it is not possible to determine who may have set the fire without a confession.

A Plainfield local and friend of the younger Henry, Bill Garrett, was on the property the morning after the fire. At the request of several men from the United National Bank who were concerned about safety during demolition, Bill led them to the underground cisterns and the small structure that held a gas main and shut-off valve. The men asked Bill to enter the house with them and, at that point, Bill observed that the furniture, paintings, and all the chandeliers were missing. He realized that the contents of the house had been emptied prior to the fire. Bill told the men

".....'it looks like there has been a major robbery', and they both looked at each other and smirked. I'll never forget the feeling they gave me: that they knew something that they were not going to divulge to me. I later learned that the bank auctioned the art and antiques at the Park Hotel on Seventh Street."

Although demolition of the remains occurred immediately, there exists an abandoned well of 200 feet in depth. To reduce safety hazards, wells that are no longer in use should be plugged with materials that are strong, durable, and free from contaminants. It is suspected that the well has never been made safe and may continue to pose a danger.

In the months leading up to the fire, theft occurred, and that may have been the reason for the abrupt removal of the home's art and antiques by the executor of the estate.

Bill reported that, in the years leading up to the younger Henry's death:

"the interior was kept just as his mother had wanted when she furnished it in 1883. Living on a low income and with failing health, Henry did what he could to maintain the house, mentioning his mother from time to time. She would have been horrified at the dirt. It hadn't seen a maid in many years. Everything was dusty, and the air in the house was thick from wood smoke, both from the fireplace he kept burning in the library, and the cook stove in the basement which also heated his water. Lack of heat in the unused rooms and constant water from the leaks in the roof were taking their toll. To this day, when I smell wood smoke, I think of the Talmadge house with Henry moving about in the smoky haze inside that wonderful old home."

Further research on this topic is necessary. Future interviews with members of the family and community will hopefully reveal more about the Talmadge family. All are welcome to contribute to this site. As this is a work in progress, please excuse any inaccuracies

Sources Consulted

Atlas of the City of Plainfield, and Borough of North Plainfield, Somerset County, New Jersey. F.A. Dunham, Philadelphia: 1894

Devlin, Harry. Portraits of American Architecture: Monuments to a Romantic Mood, 1830 - 1900. Gramercy, New York: 1996

Devlin, Harry. To Grandfather's House We Go - A Roadside Tour of American Homes. Parents' Magazine Press, New York: 1967.

Devlin, Wende and Harry. Old Witch Rescues Halloween. Parents' Magazine Press, New York: 1972.

Gabriell, Jon. "Fire Destroys 90-Year-Old Mansion: Blaze Rages Throughout the Night." Courier News, May 19, 1969, p. 1.

Gabriell, Jon. "Neighbors Were ‘Worried' About Vacated Mansion." Courier News, May 19, 1969, p. 21.

Grady, John A. and Pollard, Dorothe M. Images of America: Plainfield. Arcadia Publishing: 2001.

History of Plainfield. Reprint of a 32 chapter series published by the Courier News.

Hooker, Ralph Moreton. Plainfield New Jersey Illustrated. The Plainfield Daily Press, New Jersey: 1895.

"H.P. Talmadge is Dead of Heart Ailment." Courier News, May 10, 1937.

Interview with Bill Garrett of Plainfield, New Jersey.

Lewis, A. and George William Sheldon. American Country Houses of the Gilded Age. Dover Publications: 1982.

Plainfield, 300 Years, 1684-1984: Historical Highlights. Jostens, Plainfield, New Jersey: 1987.

Sheldon, George William. Artistic Country Seats: Volume I. Appleton: 1887.

Steele, Pearl and Frederick Henry White Cossitt. The Cossitt Family: a Genealogical History of Rene Cossitt, a Frenchman Who Settled in Granby, Conn., A.D. 1717, and of His Descendants. Quinton Publications, Pasadena, California: 1925.

Talmadge, Arthur White. The Talmadge, Tallmadge and Talmage Genealogy: Being the descendants of Thomas Talmadge of Lynn, Massachusetts, With An Appendix Including Other Families, The Grafton Press, New York: 1909.

Watch the Video: Talmadge Mansion

See more photos: Plainfield Library Archives

Henry Pearl Talmadge


In 1871, he received an A. M. from Harvard. On April 18 1872, he married Lucy White, daughter of Heman Lincoln White and Lucy MacIntosh Dunbar. Mr. White, a New York merchang, was a descendent of Wm. White, of Haverhill, Mass., who came to America in 1636. (See "Descendants of Wm. White") Lucy MacIntosh Dunbar was named for Lady Lucy MacIntosh at her request and was a daughter of Rev. Duncan Dunbar, for many years the pastor of the MacDougal Street Church, New York City, to whose memory a drinking fountain has been erected by Parishioners on the south side of Washington Square. He was a Scotchman from Granttown on the Spee. (see his biography) Lord Dunbar (of Northfield) told Henry Talmadge, second, in 1906, that he though the Rev. Duncan Dunbar belonged to his family.

NOTE: This is the same lineage as Plainfield Garden Club member Mrs. William Kuhn Dunbar '15. Her husband, William Dunbar, was cousin to the children of Lucy White Talmadge and Henry Pearl Talmadge.

Lucy White was born in New York City May 22, 1852 and was a descendant of Lt. Governor Samuel Appleton, and Rev. George Phillips, founders of the well known famlies bearing their names, and of "Richard Warren, Gent.," of the Mayflower.

They lived with Mr. Henry Talamdge, at 538 Madison Ave,m New York City, until the spring of 1877, when they made their home at Netherwood, NJ. Their children are:

Lucy White, born September 1873
Henry, born May 15, 1877
Arthur White, born Feb. 25, 1880
Helen Dunbar, born August 30, 1881
Francis Cossett, born Jan. 191884

Henry Peal has been in the banking house of Henry Talmadge & Co. since 1868 and was also president of the South Carolina Railway. He was organizer and president of the Southern Pine Co., of Georgia; director of the Phoenix National Bank, and the Empire Trust Co., of New York City, and vice-president of the latter. He served seven years as a member of the 7th Regiment of New York and his chief recreations are tennis, whist, and reading. He has a fine library, consisting of mainly historical works and subjects pertaining to the Far East.

Helen Dunbar Talmadge Runkle

She was born August 30, 1881, at Netherwood, NJ and married Daniel Runkle, April 26, 1905. He is the son of Harry G. Runkle and Jennie Randolph, niece of the late Governor Randolph, of New Jersey. Daniel was born May, 1881, went to the Hotchkiss School at Lakeville, Conn., and Sheffield Scientific School of Yale, where he was a member of the leading club, the "Tea Company," a Greek letter society. After traveling in Europe he went into the manufacture of iron pipes, a company reorganized many years ago by his grandfather, of which his uncle is president.

The Rev. Mr. Grey and Rev. Duncan Dunbar, two Scotch minister, and great grandfathers, respectively, of Daniel and Helen, were wrecked on on of the trips to America of Rev. Dunbar. They were at sea six months, and were only saved from starvation by the fact that the ship in the hurry of departure from Glasgow took on board a large quantity of potatoes as ballast. They are not known to have ever met before or after this trip, but becoming friends during their trouble corresponded many times afterward.

Daniel and Helen have:

Helen Talmadge, born in New York City, January 29, 1906

August 24, 1916 Meeting Minutes

August 24, 1916

On August 24th [not legible} Mr. and Mrs. L. V. F. Randolph entertained the garden club.

The many and rare shrubs and trees in blossom made the view of the grounds a unique pleasure. Mr. Randolph personally conducted his guests and told names of shrubs and gave flowers to all. Mrs. Randolph served delicious refreshments at the end of the garden tour.

Runkle Family History

Harry Godley, b. June 10, 1858, m. June 3, 1880
Jeannie F. Randolph, and resides at Plainfield, N.J. He has two children:

Daniel, b. May 28, 1881
Mary Gray, b. May 30, 1889

Colonel Mason Whiting Tyler obituary

New York Times February 5, 1895


Entertainmnets Which Have Helped to Make the Week Pass Pleasantly

PLAINFIELD, N. J., Feb. 16 – On Wednesday evening a cotillion was danced at the home of ex-Mayor Q. V. F. Randolph of East Front Street.

Herman Simmonds of Watchung Avenue has gone to Florida, to remain until Spring.

Mrs. Dudley Insley of Tacoma and Miss See of Sing Sing are guests of Mrs. E. E. Runyon of Madison Avenue.

Mrs. Howell of Chester, who has been visiting her sister Mrs. F. D. Whiting of East Sixth Street, has returned home.

Next Tuesday evening the ladies of the Monroe Avenue Chapel will hold their annual supper.

Mrs. Robert Downy of Madison Avenue gave a tea this afternoon from 4 to 7.

By far the largest and most brilliant social function that has ever been given in this city was the Ackerman reception at the Casino on Monday night. About 500 guests were present, the largest number that has yet gathered in that pretty clubhouse and ballroom. Mrs. J. Hervey Ackerman received, assisted by Mrs. Robert Rushmore, Mrs. Ernest R. Ackerman, and Mrs. Marion S. Ackerman.

Plainfield Countil of the Royal Arcanum celebrated the addition of the two hundredth member to its ranks Monday night with an entertainment.

William C. Ayers, one of Plainfield's oldest residents, celebrated his eighty-sixth birthday Tuesday. He was born on Feb. 12, 1809, on the same day as Lincoln.

Wednesday evening the ladies of the Seventh Day Baptist Church held a sale and supper in the church.

An interesting meeting of the Monday Afternoon Club was held in the parlors of the Crescent Avenue Church Monday, at which David P. Hall gave a talk on parliamentary usage.

The Third Regiment Cadet Corps of this city will go to Bound Brook on Washington's Birthday to take part in the parade of that place.

Several new members were received into the Plainfield Bicycle Club at a meeting Monday night.

On Thursday evening, Feb. 21, a Martha Washington tea will be given in the First Presbyterian Church.

Tuesday evening Mr. and Mrs. B. O. Bowers of Franklin Place entertained the Musical Club.

The Ladies Committee of the Young Women's Christian Association met Tuesday afternoon and elected the following officers: President – Mrs. Henry M. Maxson; Vice-President – Mrs. J. Wesley Johnson; Treasurere – Mrs. J. H. Manning; Secretary – Miss Embury.

Next month Miss Fannie Westphal will be married to George Gray of Brooklyn.

Tuesday, Mrs. Marion S. Ackerman of West Seventh Street gave a dinner in honor of her guest, Miss Cox of New York. The guests present were Miss Gertrude Waly, Miss Cox, Miss Marion Dumont, Miss Waldron, Miss Lawrence, Miss Carey, Harry Munger, Laurens Van Buren, Fred Waly, Dr. B. Van D. Hedges, Mr. Waring and Mr. Wharton.

A union meeting of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Societies of the Crescent Avenue and First Presbyterian Churches as held Tuesday afternoon at the latter church. The subject discussed as "China," papers being read by Mrs. M. E. Dwight, Mrs. Luchey, Mrs. Cornelius Schenck, Mrs. Pruden, and Mrs. Wyckoff.

Next Saturday Mrs. Henry McGee of Washington Park will give an afternoon tea. The hours will be from 4 to 7 o'clock.

During the week Miss Florence Honneger of New Brighton, S. I., has been the guest of Mrs. J. R. Hill of Belvidere Avenue.

Plainfield's handsome new Young Men's Christian Association Building was formally opened Tuesday night. Addresses were made by Mayor Alexander Gilbert, the first President of the association; the Rev. Dr. William R. Richards and William D. Murray, the present President. The building cost about $50,000.

Westfield Leader 1944

PLAINFIELD SAVINGS BANK, Louis K. Hyde Pres, Asa F. Randolph V-Pres, Harry B. MacDonald V-Pres-Sec-Treas, Austin W. Hutchinson Asst Sec-Asst Treas 102 E. Front (Plainfiled), Tel Plainfield 0742

PLAINFIELD TITLE & MORTGAGE GUARANTY CO., Harry H. Pond Pres., DeWitt Hubbell and John A. Gaffney V-Prests, Frank E. Chobot Sec, F. Irving Walsh Treas, H. Douglas Davis Asst Treas 119 W. Front (Plainfield), Tel 6-1300 (See page 29 Buyer's Guide)

August 26, 1894 New York Times Article: Plainfield, City of Homes

Some of the others who do business in New York and have handsome homes here are ex-Mayor Z. V. F. Randolph, manager of the Tilden Trust;

Lewis Van Syckle Fitz Randolph

L. V. F. Randolph was secretary of Samuel Jones Tilden's trust. Mr. Tilden was uncle of Plainfield Garden Club Member Mrs. Susan Tilden Whittlesey Tyler '25.

The book was written as a tribute by two of his daughters and is dated Plainfield 1922.

Catherine Randolph Webster

Ladies Home of Plainfield
313 Franklin Place

Monday, August 6, 2007
A bit of history on Catherine and her wishes
To continue the Catherine Randolph Webster story, one has to remember, or know, that the Websters along with the Randolphs are an integral part of Plainfield's history. Two of their many contributions are still here. One is Quaker Meeting house in Watchung Avenue, the other: the Muhlenberg Hospital which was built on land given, and thanks to the generosity, of the Randolph family.

Following here is a bit of history on Catherine Randolph Webster and her wishes. We hope that by sharing this information, the reason of us so stubbornly advocating for this house starts becoming clear, not only to us, but to those who are opposed to our raising questions about the recent decision to sell this house under a lack of transparency on the part of the people in charge of the Catherine Webster Estate and the Ladies Home.

Catherine Webster had a tragic beginning on life.

Catherine Randolph Webster was born in her grandfather Webster's homestead, which became know later as the Ginna tract on Watchung Avenue, March 6, 1825. Her mother, for whom she was named, died when Catherine was three weeks old and her father, was fatally injured by a fall from a hay-mow in her fourth year.

Left an orphan, the little Catherine was reared by devoted grandparents, and in 1837, when she was twelve, she moved with them into the house which her grandfather, a well-know builder, had built on the northeast corner of East Second and Church Streets. There she lived until her death, in her eighty-third year, on October 15, 1906.

Miss Webster was educated in Plainfield schools and later attended a Seminary in Renssalaerville, New York. She was a birthright member of the Friend's Meeting and was actively identified with many charitable works in Plainfield.

She worked all night on the outline for a "Home for Gentlewomen" when formulating that plan. In the morning, Miss Webster had clearly in her mind what she wanted to do. She had her will drawn up, signed it on January 27, 1900, appointing Joseph B. Coward and John H. Van Wincle, her executors.

In her will, Catherine requests that all the remainder of her estate be managed by her executors, or the survivors of them; that her real estate be sold at such time and in such manner as they might best for the purpose of said trust, and that they execute with the monies from the sale of her real estate and her goods, the purchase of a lot of land in the City of Plainfield, New Jersey.

A lot, of suitable size, on which to erect or assist in erecting a building for the purpose of founding a Home for the aged and infirm women, to be known as a "Ladies Home".

She then asks that her executors, and the survivors of her executors, and then the successors of such survivors to the executors, that her will be executed and delivered to a corporation to be organized for the purpose of said Ladies Home, to be held by it and its successors and assigns forever.

Her fund amounted back then to $72,000 dollars. In 1927 it had accrued to $115,258.00.

The Ladies Home of Plainfield became incorporated on June 10, 1910 under the New Jersey act of 1898.

On August 3, 1916, the Plainfield Trust Company was appointed Substitute Administrator with the Will Annexed and trustee under the Will of Catherine Randolph Webster.

After unavoidable delays due to the first World War, high building costs, inadequate endowment to maintain a Home such as Miss Webster had envisioned, the Gough property on 313 Franklin place was purchased April 1, 1927 for the amount of $34,856.91. The Catherine Webster Home was first opened in the fall of 1927.

The Grandfather clock that was standing at the front hall of the Home dates back beyond 1802. Miss Webster's grandfather traded a wood lot in the Watchung Mountains for it, the year in which he married her grandmother, Amy King.

The neighborhood association continues to be astonished at the actions of the YWCA, a well respected organization, locally and nationally. Our hope is that they will return our call and sit with us to discuss this house that represents so much to the Crescent Area Historic District. A house that also talks of Plainfield's founding families, the Websters, the Randolphs, and the Vails.

New York Times October 13, 1895

New York Times October 13, 1895


Entertainment by the Dorcas Society – Monday Afternoon Club

PLAINFIELD, N.J., Oct. 12 – A social event of the last week was the entertainment given by the Dorcas Society, King's Daughters, at the home of Miss Maude Lowrie, in Park Avenue, Monday evening. It was titled "The Circulating Library," and was given for the purpose of raising funds for the benefit of the poor of the city. The guests on arriving were given a blank catalogue, with only numbers on it, and they were to guess the titles of books represented. The Reception Committee was composed of Miss Bowers, Miss Brown, Miss Lowrie and Miss Langdon. Those presiding at the talbes were Mrs. Crane and Miss Wyckoff, assisted by Mrs. Clark, Mrs. C. T. Pond, Miss Minnie French, Miss Green, Miss Ella Blish, and Miss Maltly. In the library were Miss Crane, Miss Cornwell, Miss Lou French, Miss Millie Landgon, Miss Etta BLish, Miss Alice Hayners, Miss Bessie Titsworth, and Miss Kline.

S.E. Hull of Duer Street has returned from Broadway, where he spent the Summer.

The Monday Afternoon Club, Plainfield's leading woman's club, held it sifrst meeting of the Fall. On account of repairs being made at the Casino or the Union County Country Club, where the meeings are usually held, the ladies gathered in the parlors of the Congregational Church. The subject upon which papers are to be read for the coming year is "Some Great Florentines and Their Times." Two papers were read Monday – one by Mrs. Josiah Brown and the other by Mrs. Robert Lowry. Next month the paper will be read by Miss Kenyon, Principal of the Young Ladies' Seminary.

H. M. Stevens of Fanwood gave a reception at the Fanwood Clubhouse Friday evening.

Miss Nellie Saums of Ricefiled is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Saums of Clinton Avenue.

George Barton has returned to Keyport after a visit with Mrs. Barton of Madison Avenue.

Edward Hooley of Rockview Avenue has gone to Atlanta.

The Rev. E. L. Hyde of Hyde Park, Mass., is visiting friends in Plainfield.

The Misses Anthony of Crescent Avenue have returned from Europe.

Miss Bessie Booker of Richmond, Va., has been visitng Miss Dryden of West Seventh Street.

James Smith of Elmwood Place has returned from Amesbury, Mass.

Miss May Haberle, who has been visitng her cousin, Miss Lillie Haberle, has returned to her home in Orange.

Miss Mary Ryder of Brooklyn, who has been visiting at the home of Robert Lucky of Fifth Street, has returned home.

Charles L. Case and family of Central Avenue returned this week from their European trip.

Miss Lydia Duffert of Morris County is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Van Dyke of East Front Street.

Mr. and Mrs. John Burnett of Brookyln have been visiting Mr. and Mrs. Charles Doane of Fifth Street.

Charles Potter of West Seventh Street has returned from Philadelphia.

Mrs. Florence Howe Hall of Madison Avenue is in Massachusetts delivering a course of lectures.

Miss Mary and Miss Grace Shreve of New York are guests of B. J. Shreve of Grove Street.

Miss Agnes Baldwin of Brooklyn is the guest of Miss Haviland of Washington Park.

Benjamin Terry of Bridgeport is the guest of the Misses Livergey of Park Avenue.

Thomas H. Keller of East Front Street left this week for a trip South.

C. C. Burke and family have left for their Winter home in New York, after spending the Summer at the cottage on Ravine Road Netherwood.

William Tyler of West Eigth Street has gone to Europe.

David Krymer of West Second Street has gone to Baltimore.

Dr. Frank Searles and Mrs. Searles have returned to Bayonne, after a visit with Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Lourie of Park Avenue.

Dr. John H. Carman and family of Somerset Street returned this week from the Adirondacks.

Dr. B. Van D. Hedges of Watchung Avenue is home from his outing in Maine.

Miss Caroline Fitz Randolph, daughter of ex-Mayor L. V. F. Randolph of East Front Street, sailed Saturday for Europe.

New York Times January 12, 1896

A WEEK'S EVENTS IN PLAINFIELD.; Numerous Receptions – Doings of Clubs and Societies.

PLAINFIELD, Jan. 11. – A reception was given by Mrs. I C. Pierson of Watchung Avenue, Tuesday evening. She was assisted in receiving by her daughters, Mrs. Malcolm MacKenzie of New-York and Miss Mabel Pierson; Miss Corbitt of New-York, Miss Cochran of Wilmington, Del., and Miss Hunter of North Adams, Mass.

The members of the North Plainfield Dramatic Club were entertained at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James E. Bailey, Jackson Avenue, Tuesday evening. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. Andrew E. Keneey, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Neeley, Mr. and Mrs. James Harper, Miss Mary Hughes, Miss Ellen Mullon, and Frank Off.

A Past Master's jewel was presented to Calvin H. Rugg of Jerusalem Lodge, F. and A.M., Tuesday evening. The same evening John J. Lynch, for several years President of the Plainfield Catholic Club, was presented with a gold-headed cane by the members of the club.

A. D. Shepard and family of the Gables have gone to Buckingham, New York, for the Winter.

The class of '96 of the North Plainfield school was entertained by Miss Emma and Miss Bertha Stevens Wednesday evening.

Mrs. John Valiant of Craig Place gave a reception and tea Wednesday. She was assisted in receiving by Mrs. H.K. Carroll, Mrs. A. A. Tafty, Mrs. F. H. Randolph, Miss Grace Carroll, Miss Bessie Valiant, Miss Florence Valiant, and Miss Mary Steiner.

The Park Club gave an entertainment Wednesday night at the clubhouse on Washington Avenue. The patronesses were Mrs. C. A. Reed, Mrs. Samuel St. John McCutcheon, and Mrs. J. H. Howell.

Miss Imogene See of Sing Sing, N.Y., is a guest of Mrs. Elmer E. Runyon of Madison Avenue.

Miss Eda Mills of Summit Avenue gave a party to her friends Wednesday night.

Miss Mollie Lawrence of New York and Miss Mather of Bound Brook are guests of Mr. and Mrs. Marion S. Ackerman of Crescent Avenue.

Miss Emily Coriell of Church Street is visiting in Brooklyn.

Miss Edith Allen of Webster Place is spending the Winter in Flushing.

Mrs. J. H. Ackerman and daughter, Lydia, have returned from a two month's trip to the Pacific coast.

Miss Randolph, daughter of Thompson F. Randolph of New-York, is visiting her sister Mrs. Judson Bonnell of East Front Street.

Mrs. Lewis of Binghampton, N.Y., is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. D. F. Ginna of Watchung Avenue.

Miss Rachel Fay Buckley of Newburg, N.Y., and Harry Ellis Green of Plainfield were married Wednesday night at the bride's home.

Mr. and Mrs. C. O. Moore of Ithaca, N.Y., are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. George Squires of North Plainfield.

Miss Laura J. Runyon of East Fifth Street is visiting friends in Philadelphia.

Miss Harriet Loomis of New York City is a guest of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Morse of Franklin Place.

Miss Josie Burlingham of Albany Normal College is a guest of ex-Councilman Seymore G. Smith of Crescent Avenue.

Miss Jennie Foster of New York and Howard Foster of Princeton Colelge are guests of D. N. Groendyke of Mercer Avenue.

Miss Helen L. Moore of New York is the guest of her sister Mrs. S. A. Cruikshank, of Belvidere Avenue.

Miss Freeman of Rahway is visiting her aunt, Mrs. W. C. Ayres, of West Second Street.

Miss Baldwin of Baltimore has gone home, after a visit with her uncle Councilman J. H. Valiant of Craig Place.

Howell Division, no. 97, Sons of Temperance, celebrated its twenty-seventh anniversary Wednesday evening. AMong those present form the out of tow were A. P. Sutphen of Somerville, Grand Worthy Patriarch Ross Slack of Excelsior Division of Trenton, Past Grand Worthy Patriarch Fred Day of Newark and Worthy Patriarch Evenson of Newark, and Worthy Patriarch Evenson of Philadelphia. James J. Perine of Brooklyn is the only living charter member of the division.

Mrs. Yerkes, wife of the Rev. Dr. D. J. Yerkes of the First Baptist Church, has gone to Greenville, S.C., to visit a daughter.

Mr. and Mrs. Ernest R. Ackerman, who are making a tour around the world, are now at Hongkong.

"Blojocamavi," Residence of Mrs. L. V. F. Randolph, 741 Front Street

In this illustrated book, the Courier-News has sought to present some of the representative homes of The Plainfields and adjoining territory, together with such other buildings of interest and importance as would serve to convey an idea of the physical attractioins of one of the most beautiful and healthful cities in the Metropolitan District. The homes reflect the desirability of this community as a place of residence.

The churches, schools, clubs and public buildings pictured serve to give the stranger some conceptions of the beauty of the city and its right to be termed the "Queen City" of New Jersey.

With picturesque Watchung Hills as a background, this section with all its natural advantages, plus a progressive spirit, coupled with high class local governing bodies and a live Chamber of Commerce, is pecularily adapted for home sites and, as a result, it has enjoyed a steady and healthy growth for many years.

publication circa 1917

January 1, 1891 New York Times

New York Times Newspaper - Jan 1, 1891 (pg 4)
- Plainfield, N.J., Dec 31st – The handsome new home of the Union County Country Club was thrown open to the members and their friends tonight. Dedicatory exercises were begun in the casino, the theatrical wing of the clubhouse, at 9:30 o'clock, when Rowland COX, representing the Building Committee, delivered to the keeping of Harry M. STOCKTON of the House Committee the keys of the structure, which were linked together with gold. Alexander GILBERT, Mayor-elect of Plainfield, responded for the club to Mr. COX's speech, and, after other formalities, Mr. STOCKTON announced that the clubhouse was open to the guests.
- The assemblage then passed into the main club building, where the visitors were received by the officers of the club and the members of the House Committee, who were ranged before a huge open fireplace. A New Year's Eve ball and banquet followed, and the society people of the city and country were escorted through every part of the handsome, commodious editice.
- The plan of the clubhouse is thorough and artistic in every department. It contains, besides the casino, which is one of the prettiest and most satisfactory playhouses imaginable, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, tennis courts, dining parlors, libraries, and other auxiliaries of genuine club life, all furnished in the most elaborate and luxurious style. The President of the club is Harry G. RUNKLE, the Vice President is William BLOODGOOD, the secretary William T. KAUFMAN, and the Treasurer Pliny FISK. The club membership is limited to 100. Most of the members are New York business men.

1920 Muhlenberg Hospital Womens Auxiliary

Mrs. Daniel Runkle
975 Hillside Avenue

Mrs. H. P. Talmadge
714 Belvidere Avenue

1909 Plainfield City Directoryd

Runkle Harry G. h 531 West 8th
Runkle Daniel h 875 Hillside

1915 - 1923 Book: Meetings of The Plainfield Garden Club



June 23 Mrs. Runkle
Mr. S. A. Brown "Color Harmonies in Gardens"

July 14 Mrs. Fleming
L.V.F. Randolph "What Some Plants Think & Feel"

1915 - 1923 List of Meetings

1919 Meeting Minutes

1915 Meeting Minutes

Plainfield Garden Club
Minutes of regular meetings
May 12, 1915 to March 20, 1918
From its origination

May 12 – 1915

Minutes of the 1st General Meeting

First general meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held at the home of Mrs. Conner on Wednesday, May 12th at 3.30 o'clock.

President in the chair. Roll call showed 39 members present.

During the meeting rain began to fall to everyones regret making a tour of Mrs. Conner's garden impossible.

A few ? of congratulations on the formation of the Club by the President was followed by some notices given, and request to have members offer to exchange plants when possible.

We then listened to a most comprehensive talk on perennials given by Mr. Maurice Field of New York which was greatly enjoyed and appreciated by the members. He brought specimens of many plants showing how to divide and separate grubs and other garden enemies.


All felt stimulated and helped by his talk and as the rain prevented us from going in the garden his lecture of two hours ?? too long.

After a cup of tea the meeting adjourned.

Ella M. Gilbert Secy

May 26, 1915

Minutes of the 2nd General Meeting

Second general meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held at the home of Mrs. Barrows on Wed. May 26th at 3 oclock.

President in the Chair.

Roll call showed 33 members present.

Minutes of previous meeting were read and approved.

Giving to the inclement conditions of the weather the meeting was held indoors. ?? later on the sun came out and a visit to the garden was enjoyed by all.

Mrs. E. Yarde Breeze of Raritan ? Garden Club gave a very delightful paper on foreign gardens.

A letter was read from Mrs. W. S. Tyler giving notice of sale of garden things for the benefit of a young boy that she and some others were especially interested in.

It was noted ?? bring out of town guests and the Hostess. Plainfield friends After enjoying the hospitality of the hostess tea being served the meeting adjourned.

Ella M. Gilbert secy

June 2 – 1915

Minutes of the 3rd general meeting

The third general meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held in the garden of Mrs. Dumont on Wednesday June 9th at three oclock.

The president in the chair.

Roll call showed 25 members present. Minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.

Miss R. E. Zimmerman of Brooklyn gave a most interesting and helpful talk in "L?? garden flowers."

It was noted to have a "Bird talk" during the year and also to have Mr. Maurice Field give a course of lectures during our next season beginning in April.

It was a most glorious June day and the garden most beautiful which was enjoyed and appreciated by those present who strolled about among the flowers. Tea was served in the tea house. The meeting then adjourned.

Ella M. Gibert Secy

June 23 -1915

Minutes of the 4th general meeting

The fourth general meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held in the garden of Mrs. Runkle, on Wednesday June 23rd at 3 oclock.

The president in the chair.

Roll call showed 25 members present.

Minutes of the former meeting were read and approved.

Mrs. L. A. Brown of Shedvira?? Garden Club Garden City L. I. read a most useful and interesting paper on color harmony in gardens she also answered very pleasantly all questions asked regarding plants and flowers.

July 14 – 1915

Minutes of the 5th General Meeting of the Garden Club was held on July 14 in the garden of Mrs. Fleming.

The day was a perfect summer one and we were addressed by Mr. L. V. F. Randolph who read an original paper on "What Some Plants Feel and Think."

An interesting discussion followed after which we took a stroll in Mrs. Fleming's charming garden and then were refreshed with fruit punch and cakes served under a ?? on the lawn. After a delightful afternoon meeting adjourned.

Ella M. Gilbert Secy
Per H. B. H.

September 15 – 1915

Minutes of the 5th General Meeting of the Garden Club

A regular meeting of the Garden Club was held at the delightful farm of Mrs. Eaton on Valley Road, on Wednesday, Sept. 15th. The President presiding.

In the absence of the Secy, Mrs. Patterson called the roll and heard the minutes of the last regular meeting. The Pres. Welcomed the members of the Club after the separation of the summer & suggested that some slight expression of gratitude for the please we had enjoyed at the Garden Club meetings or shown by a gift of 100 glasses of jelly to the Fruit & Flower ?ision. This idea was approved by the members present in that 2 glasses of fruit jelly from each member may be sent to the house of the Pres. For this purpose. A letter was read from Mr. Chester Jay Hunt extending a warm invitation to the Garden Club to visit his tulip gardens next spring and make a picnic of the day there. We then listened to a delightful talk on "Roses" by Mr. Geo. H. Peterson of Fair Lawn, N. J. and were afterwards ?? with fruit punch and cakes in an arbor on the grounds.

A visit to the farm buildings & flower garden brought to a ?? a delightful day.

Ella M. Gilbert Secy
From H. B. H.

September 22 – 1915

Minutes of the 7th General Meeting of the Garden Club

A regular meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held at the Bungalow of Mrs. Mellick on Wednesday Sept. 22nd at three o'clock.

Mrs. E. J. Patterson acting as Sec'y in the absence of Mrs. Gilbert.

The afternoon was given up to a talk on "Birds in Our Gardens" by Mr. Bucher S. Bowdish – Secty v ?? of the ?? State Audubon Society of was felt greatly moved by the pleasure of Mrs. William Dra??? Who has done so much for the conservation of Bird Life in America. The Club was entertained delightfully by Mrs. Mellick after which we adjourned.

Ella M. Gilbert – Secy
Per H. B. H.

Oct 13 – 1915

Minutes of the 8th General Meeting of the Garden Club

A regular meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held at the residence of Mrs. H. N. Stevens on Wednesday Oct 13th at 3 o'clock. Pres. In chair. After roll call & minutes of last meeting read to approved, a letter was read from our lecturer on "Birds" of the meeting before. Minutes were approved by two of the members. The day was like one in June and all enjoyed the interchange of ideas and the informal talk of our garden troubles. The lecturer of the day was Mr. Otto Shilow Sec'y & Treas. Of the Duer ? Co. who gave us a most instructive and helpful talk on "the care of our gardens." All had so many questions to ask that after a long ?? it was difficult for Mr. Shilow to get a cup of tea before his departure for Philadelphia.

All expressed the wish that we might have the pleasure of having him again. After a social gathering about Mrs. Stevens tea table, the club adjourned.

Ella M. Gilbert, Secy
Per H. B. H.

NOTE: This next entry follows in the order the Meeting Minute notebook was photographed, however the date is "1916" – not sure if this entry is from 1916 or was not recorded correctly as "1915" which seems unlikely.

Oct. 27, 1916

Minutes of the 9th General Meeting of the Garden Club

A regular meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club was held at the residence of Mrs. E. T. Barrows on Wednesday Oct. 24? At 3 o'clock.

The Pres. In the chair. After the roll call and the minutes of the previous meeting read & approved, the Pres. Brought up the subject of the mid winter lecture, to be held in the evening and for which an admission should be charged.

After some discussion it was decided to have Mr. Shilow give his illustrated lecture "Flowers From Snow to Snow" admission to be 50 center and each member to be responsible for two tickets.

The time and place was left to be determined.

The Pres. Expressed our great sorrow in the death of Mrs. Louis Hyde – the members of the Club all standing and moved that a note of condolence be sent to Mr. Hyde and his family.

The Pres. Announced that Mrs. Ackerman and Mrs. Ivins had provided a lecture from Mr. Field for the . . . instead of having a meeting of their homes this year. He then spoke to us on "Bulbs.: Late in the afternoon tea was served & the meeting adjourned.

Lucy Van Boskerck
Secy pro tem

1915 - 1918 Meeting Minutes

313 Franklin Place

Pinterest Page by current owner

History of Union County, New Jersey

. . . People's Gas Light Company of Paterson, New Jersey; also a director in the Hackensack Water Company and a director in the Phillipsburg National Bank. His home was in Asbury until his death, in 1890. Mr. Runkle's mother is still living. He has one brother, living in Orange, New Jersey.

Mr. Runkle was born in 1858 and was reared in his native place, Asbury, Warren county, New Jersey, where in early youth he attended school, and subsequently was graduated from the Charlier Institute, New Yorok city. In 1877 he entered the office of the Gas Company in Jersey City, where he remained for two years. He then went to Paterson, New Jersey, as treasurer of the People's Gas Light Company. Garret A. Hobart, recently elected vice-president of the United States, is the president of this company. Mr. Runkle subsequently removed to Paterson, where he lived three years. In 1883 he removed to Plainfield, where he has since resided. He was made treasurer of the Plainfield Gas Light Company, and, sometime, later, Mr. E. R. Pope and Mr. Runkle formed another corporation called the Plainfield Gas and Electric Company, which purchased the electric-light plant and leased the gas company's works. He is now president of this company.

Mr. Runkle is a director in the City National Bank and Dime Savings Bank, and also a director in the Water Company. He is treasurer of the Union County Club, of which he was one of the organizers and the first president.

Mr. Runkle was married, in 1880, to Miss Jennie F. Randolph, of Easton, Pennsylvania, a niece of the late Governor Randolph. They have two children, Daniel and Mary Gray.

In politics Mr. Runkle is a Republican; he is a member of the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian church.

1941 Courier-News Plainfield Merits Classification as 'City of Beautiful Trees'

November 30, 2013: Found in Barbara Tracy Sandford's memorabilia. Written by PGC Member Mrs. Garret Smith

"I call Plainfield the City of Beautiful Trees," and out-of-town visitor remarked to me the other day. "My business takes me to many towns about this size clear across the country. Trees, or their lack, always impress me most about a town. Beautiful building can't make up for the lack of them. Many towns seem to have choice trees only in one or two sections. Others have only a few tree-lined avenues. But every part of Plainfield has not only interesting individual trees, but long stretches of streets where treetops meet in green arches above the traffic. That doesn't just happen. This town must have been founded by tree-lovers."

The stranger was right, as many specimen trees on old private properties testify. They are trees that were rare and expensive when planted years ago. A number of well-to-do property owners appreciated trees and collected choice kinds. The street trees of about this age also show that far-sighted men planned to make the town keep growing more beautiful in ways that everyone enjoys.

Trees have always been essential to Plainfielders. In the early days elms stretched down North Ave. from east to the west city boundaries. Many still remain now 70 to 80 years old. That avenue helped to establish Plainfield's policy of "beautiful trees for every street."

Value Appreciated
The city's mayors and councilmen have appreciate the value of trees . . . Ginko . . . now ripening, in the edge of the station grounds, near the corner of the drug store.

Among its immediate neighbors, at this station are a Red Maple, Austrian Pine, English Elm, Horse Chestnut, several Magnolias and a Sycamore Maple, the latter near the middle of the grass oval. Purple Beech, White Pine and two Hemlocks stand at the west exit.

Lindens at Spot
On the North Ave. side of the station is an interesting clump of three Lindens – no two alike. Evergreens are represented by three Scotch Pines, an Austrian and a White Pine, and a tall, slender Spruce. In this little park are also Sugar Swamp and Silver Maples, and a clump of low-growing Beeches. Looking upward to the railroad level, one sees, besides the specimen Ginko mentioned, two Catalpas, a Weeping Mulberry, two Red Maples and an Austrian Pine. A big Pin Oak, two or three Scarlet Oaks, a . . . .

. . . boats glided over Green Brook and when Plainfield and New York social leaders came in big carriages, drawn by spanking teams, to garden musicals, gay dinners, dances and teas as the Johnston's guests.

All of Plainfield's school grounds are constantly growing more attractive. Environment of vines, trees, plants and shrubs awaken appreciation of Nature's beauty that is a lifelong source of pleasure.

Hubbard School, one of the city's architectural gems, has always been regarded as in a class by itself. Its beauty is greatly enhanced by choice plant material on its ample grounds, partly framed by Barberry. Large specimen Japanese Yews arrest attention, along with Sourwoods, or "Lily-of-the-Valley Tree," whose branches bear long one-sided racemes of white flowers in summer and whose leaves are vivid scarlet in autumn.

White Pine, Cedar, Pfitzer Junipers are shadowy evergreen foils for airy bloom of Weeping Japanese . . .

Among them are the old Elms in North Ave., mentioned before; London Planes from Watchung Ave. to Terrill Rd.; Ash in St. Mary's Ave.; Pin Oaks and Planes in Park Ave.; Sycamore Maples in Bellevue Ave.; Norway Maples in both Leland and Monroe Ave. sections. Tulip trees now grow in Central St., along Maxon School grounds, and Ginkos in Landsdowne Terr. In Cleveland Ave., near Grace Church, the lacy foliage of the decorative Mountain Ash, or Rowan Tree, contrasts at this season with bunches of bright hollylike berries. Many years ago the late Simeon Cruikshank planted Buckeyes along his corner property ["Sacmoore" 831 Belvidere] at Belvidere and Watchung Aves. Much smaller than familiar Horse Chestnut and with brighter pink flower-spikes they have always been greatly admired. In autumn the brilliant, scarlet, star-shape leaves of Liquid-ambar, or Sweetgum, glorifies a patch of Ravine Rd. After a shower, or if bruised, the foliage is fragrant. Corky bark and thorny-skinned fruit like little apples, complete this tree's unique characteristics.

Close to 150 trees, of many species, are part of the Muhlenberg Hospital landscape. The long front path beneath the Maples, and on the west the wide Elm-bordered stretch of green lawn leading to a quiet pool, with its amusing little bronze fountain figure, form two vistas of ever-increasing charm. Wide borders of intermingling trees and flowering shrubs frame the property.

The purple leaves of the two Schwedler Maples attract much attention in the spring. So do the Apple trees and Dogwoods that trim the grounds like big bouquets, set off by Hemlocks, Spruce and Pine. Chinese Dogwoods, given by graduate nurses, are especially prized. Devoted interest of the late Marie Louis, nature-lover and for years superintendent of Muhlenberg, helped turn once common-plant "grounds" into a tree-shaded garden spot both restful and diverting.

Dogwood Favorites
Native Dogwoods are favorites among the city's flowering trees. The Plainfield Garden Club, on its own recent 25th birthday, gave small grove of these "Jewels of the Forest" to Cedar Brook Park. On the T. H. Van Bosckerck grounds on Prospect Ave. is the handsome large group of Dogwoods on private property in town. On Dr. Elmer Weigel's lawn on Belvidere Ave [630 Belivdere – see Mrs. Joost]. Chinese Dogwood bears much larger and later blooms. Directly across the street from this, and close to the sidewalk, a low-growing Witch Hazel (Hamanelis) bears yellow Forsythia-like flowers in winter.

Before the Talmadge dwelling [714 Belvidere], in the the same street, are majestic Copper Beeches. In early days Beeches were popular selections for large grounds. Probably the finest Weeping Beech in the city grows in deserted grounds in Central Ave. Nearby on the Witon property is a huge Purple Beech – both almost perfect. Farther down the avenue, on Wardlaw School grounds [1030 Central Avenue - see Below], is a fine old Ginko.

The only Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in Plainfield is owned by former Mayor Leighton Calkins [929 Madison – see Below]. Its strange trunk and heart-shaped leaves, purplish when young, are unusual. It grows in front of the house in Madison Ave.

Unique among Plainfield trees is a native Orange of the South. it is today laden with velvety, green fruit in Mrs. Howard Tracy's Prospect Ave. garden [1331 Prospect Ave]. Probably nowhere else in this region can one be found, according to Shade Tree Commissioner Lithgow Hunter. Sent north from Maryville College in Tennessee 50 years ago. . . .

. . . residents seeking permanent homes. These officials have always planned with the Shade Tree Commission since its organization, so that every year more trees come marching in. Some fill vacancies in the ranks of old trees along old streets. Others shade tireless blocks in new sections of town.

For the last 17 years, one man, Sidney Durant, the Shade Tree Commission's expert supervisor of trees, has directed its work. it includes feeding, pruning, watering and repairing the city's 25,000 street trees, as well removal of dead or too-badly-injured trees and planting new ones. For nearly 20 years Thomas F. Hylan has served on the commission, of which he is now president.

Of all the city's trees, the strange Ginko, or Maiden-hair tree, grows to a height of 80 feet or so. The delicacy of its little leaves, resembling those of the Maiden-Hair fern, contrast sharply with the arrow-straight upswept branches of what is considered one of the most beautiful and unusual of all hardy exotic trees. The Ginko's origin is a mystery. Nowhere on earth is it been found wild, yet fossils prove it was once scattered all over the world. Nothing else today resembles the Ginko, so paleontologists reason that some series of misfortunes destroyed all missing links. Today's closest relative is the Yew family, thought at a glance they appear as unrelated as a Chines and a New England Yankee.

Planted Near Temples
Early explorers found Ginkos planted around Chinese and Japanese temples. The Chinese called in Yin-Hing – "Silver Apricot" – referring to the greenish-yellow, fleshy fruit having a single stone. This fruit, slightly roasted, was served throughout the formal Chinese dinners which lasted all day. Guests nibble the finlike fruit between courses as an aid to digestion.

The Ginko did not reach England until 1754. The first specimen in this country was planted in Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia. In 1889 the Ginko fruited for the first time there on the grounds of Charles Wister. fifty years ago these newcomers to America were not only scarce, but expensive. That Plainfield has so many beautiful old specimens of these trees is possibly due to the fact that John Taylor Johnston, then president of the New Jersey Central Railroad and a resident of this city, was not only a patron of the arts, but a lover of trees. Each of Plainfield's railroad station grounds had not only fine specimens of the Ginko, but also a varied collection of other trees, evidently selected by an expert.

Netherwood, nearest the Johnston home [see Below], was especially favored. Here, beside the north track, stands a regal Ginko, carefully located as an artist would plan his canvas, so that its top is etched against the sky. This emphasizes the beauty of leaf and branch and trunk as viewed from the eastbound station platform. ?? may see a younger . . .

. . . White Oak and Elms are among the trees fringing the western boundary.

"The property as a whole is a remarkable small arboretum," said a well-known visiting tree scientist recently, after inspecting the Netherwood station park. "In my travels I've seen no other railroad station grounds with such a variety of trees. This landscaping, too, I can see was done by an expert."

In employing such an expert to beautify the railroad property in his home town, Mr. Johnston was carrying out the spirit of the statement he made at the time the Metropolitan Museum of New York City was founded at his Fifth Ave. mansion. He was quoted as saying:

"The public ought to have a chance to see, to hear and to know more about whatever feeds the mind and is inspiring, if we are to have the best kind in America."

To even a novice in landscaping, the Netherwood station grounds show that underlying motive. One could not imagine either the south or north oval either diminished of enlarged – so true is their scale. It would be hard to find more beautiful flowering trees than those Magnolias; or more intriguing contrast of leaf, branch and trunk than offered by the Ginko and the Pine. On the north side the clump of Lindens, combined with an apparently outcropping "pudding stone," make a "garden composition" that suggest to the home gardener similar effective arrangements, though not necessarily identical in material.

Beautiful Estate
Some old residents recall that Mr. Johnston's estate in E. Front St. was lavishly beautified with choice trees, as were those of most of his neighbors along that splendid avenue of that day. Some of those estates are still being kept up as homes of their owners today, while others have been divided into beautiful setting for developments of small homes.

The Johnston estate, however, furnished the basis of another public development of beauty spots. A portion of it became the site of the new Barlow School [see Below]. These school grounds are said to be unequaled in the state in the variety and placement of superb trees. What some consider the finest Weeping Beech in town grows here, also two majestic evergreens, one a White Pine, the other a Spruce. Elm, Ginko, Cucumber tree, Ash, "Button Ball," Willow and Sugar Maple are also outstanding.

Two of the most interesting, although not the most conspicuous of the group, are a true English Oak (Quercus Robur) and a Yellow Wood (Cladrastis lute). The first has smallish leaves, thick-set upon the branch. A strange characteristic is that the stem adheres to the side of the acorn. The writer knows of only one other English Oak in town – Central Ave., near Stelle Ave.

The Yellow Wood has wisteria-like racemes of white fragrant flowers in midsummer. Leaves resemble the locust. Another fine specimen grows on the property of Miss Laura Detwiller in Hillside Ave.

All were here in the days . . . .

. . . when Cherry, Dogwood and Crab. In early spring the large leathery-leaved evergreen Japanese Andromeda (Pieris) unfold delicate, coppery leaves and waxy white racemes of tiny flowers. These are classified as shrubs, but on these favorable grounds, are almost small trees of exceptional beauty.

Preservation is Theme
The good judgement of George R. Zimmer, who for many years has supervised Plainfield's school grounds, is shown not only in what has already been accomplished, but in developments being planned. "What can we preserve?" not "What can we cut down?" is his motto. Before clearing the recently purchased grounds adjoining Maxon School was begun this summer, Mr. Zimmer marked every large and small tree that "might some day be of use somewhere." Workmen were warned to cut not one of these.

The City Police Headquarters and also the old Public Library have a setting of trees. The little Library Park is said to have been reserved from farmland whose native trees – mostly, Red, White and Black Oaks – were left standing. Across the facade of Fire Headquarters are a Ginko, a London Plane and Horse Chestnut – each an unusually fine specimen. Among Netherwood firemen are enthusiastic gardeners. Each spring many of Plainfield's 3,000 commuters take great interest in "what the boys are doing to their grounds." Everything planted seems to do well, even the peonies, marking the line between the firemen's parklike grounds and the railroad cinder-bed.

On spacious City Hall grounds is not only a variety of evergreens, but also of deciduous trees, selected for beauty of form, leaf or flower. Two Cryptomeria, "Aristocrats of Evergreens," donated recently by Plainfield's near-centenarian, Miss Isabel Tweedy, and a tall Himalayan Pine in town was brought here by the late Harry K. Tetsuka, to adorn his well-known Japanese garden in Belvidere Ave [556 Belvidere].

The Holly tree on City Hall grounds is another tree found on but few properties. It was donated by Herbert Moody [see Below], when The Courier-news gift of 5,000 bulbs roused a widespread interest in more beautiful grounds, in keeping with the architectural beauty of the building. Evergreens were given immediately by former Mayor Marion F. Ackerman, and a Dogwood by Thomas F. Hylan, whose keen interest in the property extends back to 25 years ago, when, as Councilman, he served on the City Hall Building Committee. This season former Councilman Orville G. Waring, son of the late Mayor Waring, donated several valuable Pfitzer Junipers.

Not Monotonous
Many species of trees planted along our city streets make green lanes that are not monotonous.

. . . . stood for most of that time in this sheltered nook. The fruits, when ripe, are decorative, but not edible. Edible oranges grown only on grafted stock. The thorny branches of this small tree resemble Osage Orange, or "Indian Bow-wood."

Figs are also ripening now in Plainfield. Within a stone's throw of Netherwood station is Watson Ave. It is only three blocks long and from spring to fall it glows with flowers. In one little garden grows a carefully tended Fig tree that bears fruit yearly. Each fall the owner buries his Fig tree in a deep trench well below the frost-line. Each spring it is dug out and reset.

One great wide-spreading Mulberry (Morus Multicaulus) towers far above the roof-top of Leslie R. Fort's home in Cedarbrook Rd. This venerable tree is the historic survivor of a Mulberry plantation, established during the "Multicaulus Mania," by the late Senator Martine [11 Brook Lane, see Below], as a venture to yield gigantic profits on his farm that included the Cedar Brook tract. He believed with others that New Jersey would be one of the world's silk-growing centers. Convinced that silk was to take the place of cotton, New Jersey farmers set out thousands of acres of "silk-worm mulberries" about 100 years ago, only to cut down the trees when the bubble burst.

One of the most varied private collection of trees in the city is that of Miss Jessie D. Munger in Prospect Ave. In recent years instructors at Rutgers University have brought students to these grounds to study the trees and other plant material as well as the garden design. Last spring the general public enjoyed the same privilege.

Love of trees is part of the tradition that has helped mould Plainfield into a city of pleasant homes on quiet streets. The late Jonas Lie, one of our city's most distinguished citizens, sensed this characteristic of our community. In the Common Council Chamber at City Hall hangs his gift – a mountain woodland scene, interpreted by his illustrious brush as an inspiring message to us all.

To learn more about the history of some of the people and places mentioned in this article, visit these links:

[Maxson School]
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15

[630 Belvidere]
Joost, Mrs. Sherman Brownell (Marie Murray) '19

[714 Belvidere]
Dunbar, Mrs. William Kuhn '17
Rock, Mrs. Robert B. '43
Runkle, Mrs. Harry Godley (Jennie Fitz Randolph) '15
Whitehead, Mrs. James Harold (Jean Fitz-Randolph Heiberg) '43

[1030 Central Avenue – duCret School]
Huntington, Mrs. Howard (Agnes Fales Strong) '19
McGee, Mrs. Walter Miller (Mary Alice Yerkes) '22
Zerega, Miss Bertha Virginia '23

[929 Madison Avenue]
Ackerman, Mrs. Marion S.(Sarah M. Wills) '35

[Johnston Estate on Front Street & Netherwood]
Mali, Mrs. Pierre (Frances Johnston) '18

[Barlow School East front Street – former estate of "Blojocamavi" owned by Lewis V. Fitz Randolph/Johnston estate]
Barlow, Mrs. Carlton Montague (June Simms) '70
Barlow, Mrs. DeWitt Dukes (Mary Lee Brewer), Jr. '65
Dunbar, Mrs. William K., Jr. (Elizabeth or "Libby" Hail Barlow) '47
Perkins, Mrs. Seymour, Jr. (Esther Moody Barlow) '49
(Also see Mrs. Runkle and Mrs. Whitehead above)

[City Hall]
Moody, Mrs. George T. '22
Perkins, Mrs. Seymour, Jr. (Esther Moody Barlow) '49

[11 Brook Lane, Martine House]
MacLeod, Mrs. Robert F. (Carolyn Waring) '55

1941 Courier-News Plainfield Merits Classification as 'City of Beautiful Trees'

1941 Courier-News Plainfield Merits Classification as 'City of Beautiful Trees'

975 Hillside Avenue

June 2, 2008 Greg Palermo's Tree Blog

Another handsome kousa dogwood is at the rear of 975 Hillside Avenue, pictured below.

1366 Randolph Road

SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2008 Greg Palermo's Tree Blog

Street cherries
One thinks of Japanese cherries as delicate beings whose ethereal beauty is to be contemplated in the setting of a quiet garden. But at least one species of Japanese cherry can be used on the streets. Prunus serrulata, most commonly known in its variety 'Kwanzan', has a vase-like shape that permits it to fit nicely between street and sidewalk. A group of Kwanzan cherries was planted just last week on West Third Street at Muhlenberg Place as part of Plainfield's Arbor Day observance.(1) Kwanzan cherries also line both sides of Randolph Road near Muhlenberg Hospital. A young Kwanzan cherry in front of the early 18th Century FitzRandolph farmhouse at 1366 Randolph Road is pictured below.

May 14, 1983 Centennial The Wardlaw Hartridge School

Monday Afternoon Club Membership

Hillside Historic District

August 29, 2015

Hillside Historic District has announced a new website:

They have neatly listed the homes in the district in a similar fashion to our Homes & Gardens page.

It is no exaggeration to say that the PGC helped build Hillside. In fact our first club meeting took place at Mrs. Connor's home at 999 Hillside. Take a look at our PGC Hillside Historic District resident members:

807 Hillside Avenue
Browne, Miss Elizabeth B. '37

810 Hillside Avenue
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15

816 Hillside Avenue
Zerega, Miss Bertha Virginia '23

817 Hillside Avenue
Lawton, Mrs. Richard M. (Edith Clarke) '21

832 Hillside Avenue
Yates, Mrs. Frederick Washburn (Bertha Kedzie Cornwell) '15

921 Hillside Avenue
Detwiller, Miss Laura Cecelia '29
Detwiller, Mrs. Charles H. (Catherine or "Cath" Campbell), Jr. '57

922 Hillside Avenue
Atterbury, Mrs. Albert Hoffman (Emma H. Baker) '15

930 Hillside Avenue
Corey, Mrs. Ella J. '15

937 Hillside Avenue
Hunn, Mrs. John T. Sharpless (Hope Ivins) '37
Ivins, Mrs. DeWitt Clinton (Louise Morton Fox) '15
Ivins, Mrs. Clinton Fox (Marguerite Carpenter) '33

945 Hillside Avenue
Stevens, Mrs. Horace N. (Helen Coburn) '15

950 Hillside Avenue
Harlow, Mrs. Edward Dexter (Elise Cochran Martin) '15
Martin, Mrs. Francis A. (Mary Keech Turner) '22

955 Hillside Avenue
Wallace, Mrs. Frederick W. (Grace Seccomb) '15
deForest, Mrs. Henry Lockwood (Amy Brighthurst Brown) '33

966 Hillside Avenue
Warren, Mrs. Frank D. '15

970 Hillside Avenue
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15
Kroll, Mrs. Alexander (Nancy Dwinnell or Mrs. Prince H. Gordon) '60

975 Hillside Avenue
Runkle, Mrs. Harry Godley (Jennie Fitz Randolph) '15
Albin, Mrs. Leland D. (Jennie Hoag) '36
King, Mrs. Victor E. D. (Yasmina S.) '78
Whitehead, Mrs. James Harold (Jean Fitz-Randolph Heiberg) '43

980 Hillside Avenue
Hall, Mrs. Frederic L. (Anne Garrigues Wigton) '68
Stuart, Mrs. Linden (Jeanette W.), Jr. '52
Wigton, Mrs. Charles Benson (Garrigues) '45

982 Hillside Avenue
Baker, Mrs. Clifford Myron (Margaret Drayton) '32
Valiant, Mrs. John (Katharine Drayton) '40

985 Hillside Avenue
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P.") '15
Stevens, Mrs. Horace Nathaniel (Helen Coburn) '15
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P."), Jr. (Edith S.) '37
Stevens, Mrs. Robert Ten Broeck (Dorothy Goodwin Whitney) '37

996 Hillside Avenue
Wallace, Mrs. Frederick W. (Grace Seccomb) '15
Murray Townsend
Mooney, Mrs. Wandell McMaster (Alice Joy McGee) '47

999 Hillside Avenue
Conner, Mrs. William A. (Florence Tupper) '15
Wigton, Mrs. William Garrigues (Ann Hayes) '55

1000 Hillside Avenue
Lawrence, Mrs. Chester B. (Florence B.), Jr. '22

1005 Hillside Avenue
McWilliams, Mrs. Howard (Anna Louise Waldbridge/Mrs. Paul Taylor Brown) '22

1007 Hillside Avenue
Lockwood, Mrs. Frederick M. (Hazel Marshall) '52
Marshall, Mrs. Henry P. (Dorothy Burke) '30

1009 Hillside Avenue
Tracy, Mrs. Evarts '22
Tracy, Mrs. Howard Crosby (Minerva Bingham Lamson) '15
Tracy, Mrs. J. Evarts (Caroline Frederica Streuli) '22

1019 Hillside Avenue
Baker, Mrs. Clifford Myron (Margaret Drayton) '28

1030 Hillside Avenue
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucile Titsworth) '42

1035 Hillside Avenue
Streuli, Mrs. Alfred F. H. (Frederica Michelle Dwyer Hooper) '15

1045 Hillside Avenue
Timpson, Mrs. Lewis Gouverneur (Helen Frances Waring) '15
Waring, Mrs. Orville G. (Dorothy Fleming) '35

1046 Hillside Avenue
Genung, Mrs. Alfred Gawthrop (Dorothy or "Dot" Madsen) '69
Madsen, Mrs. John (Evelyn or "Evie" Wilson) '70

1300 Prospect Avenue
Streuli, Mrs. Alfred F. H. (Frederica Michelle Dwyer Hooper) '15
Tracy, Mrs. J. Evarts (Caroline Frederica Streuli) '22

1234 Watchung Avenue
Stevenson, Mrs. E. Vickers '41

1239 Watchung Avenue
Brown, Miss Edna M. '34