Plainfield Garden Club

Member: Nash, Mrs. Philip Wallace (Helen Babcock) '57

1958: Woodland Ave, South Plainfield (1958)
1970 Address: Woodland Ave, Edison
1973 Address: 1701 Woodland Ave, Edison
1978- 1990: 1707 Woodland Ave (1978/1980)

1984 - 1989: Sustaining
1990 - 1993: Affiliate
1994 - 1995: Deceased

Helen Nash passed away in April 13, 1995.

Her childhood home may be the George Babcock estate at 209 West 8th Street, which became Higgins Funeral Home.

Sister-in-law is Mrs. Homer P. (Elisabeth Nash) Cochran '52
Mother-in-law is Mrs. William B. (Blanche Pelz) '32

May also be related to the PGC Members:

Coriell, Mrs. William Wallace (Emma Buckle) '25 President 1938
Wallace, Mrs. Frederick W. (Grace Seccomb) '15

From PGC Member Connie Foster's on-line album

1936 Ted Budenbach, Polly Hughs, Helen Nash, Connie Foster, Marge Lawton, and ???? Westport Point, July 1936

1987 Archives

From the Corresponding Secretary file

Contributors in Marge Ladd's Memory for the Shakespeare Garden

Mrs. Philip Nash
Mrs. Lawrence Heely
Mrs. Richard Eckert
Mrs. Webster Sandford
Mrs. June [not legible]
Standish Ave and Wood Ave
Mrs. Bruce Reid
Mrs. Northrop Pond
Mrs. Alden De Hart
Mrs. E. J. Fitzpatrick
Mrs. William Elliot
Mrs. Charles Eaton Jr.
Mrs. William Shepherd

Total $445.00

1988 Archives

Contributions for the Polly Heely Memorial Fund

Mrs. Murray Rushmore
Mrs. E. J. Fitxpatrick
Mrs. F. Gregg Burger
Mrs. Philip Nash
Mrs. Frederic Pomeroy
Mrs. Alexander Kroll
Mrs. C. Northrop Pond
Mrs. Theodore Budenbach
Mrs. Homer Cochran
Mrs. Dabney Moon
Mrs. Webster Sandford
Mrs. Alden Loosli
Mrs. Robert Loughlin
Mrs. Robert de Graff
Horse Shoe Rad, [not legible] NY 11765
Total $430.00

From the Corresponding Secretary File, Jane Craig

April 18, 1988

Dear Janice,

Thank you so much for your kind letter to me. I appreciate your thoughts and sympathy and for the garden club too.


Helen Nash

April 18, 1988

From the Corresponding Secretary File 1995

[stapled to Martie Samek's letter]

Crabapple Lane
Plainfield, New Jersey 07060

Dear Jane –

This note with accompanying check for $50.00 arrived at my house yesterday.

I have sent the check on to Anne Shepherd but are sending this note to you so that you can express the appreciation of the Garden Club to Mrs. Mueuch and I guess Martie, too.

Thank you – Hope your vacation is a wonderful one for you both –


Evie [Madsen]

July tenth

From the Corresponding Secretary file

July 2, 1995

Dear Evie,

The enclosed gift is in memory of our dear friend Helen Nash. Please use it to buy something for the Shakespeare Garden.

I would very much appreciate the Corresponding Secretary letting "Nashie's" daughter Liz Nash know that this is one of the ways we've chosen to honor her memory:

Mrs. Thomas Muench (Liz)
32 Nimrod Road
Simsbury, CT 06092


Martie [Samek]

$50.00 Gift

From the Corresponding Secretary file

postmarked Sep 13 1995

From the Corresponding Secretary file

From the Corresponding Secretary file

Knights View Box 155
North Hero, Vermont 05474

Sept. 11, 1995

Dear Plainfield Garden Club,

I imagine your first fall meeting is about to be and I wish to thank you, on behalf of my Mom's grandchildren as well as for me, for the very thoughtful and kind gesture of contributing to the Save-the-Redwoods League in Mom's memory. She loved all of nature and was awed by much of it, indeed more so by such a magnificient natural forest. I know she would have been touched by your contribution.

She loved her Garden Club years and I think her proudest moment was winning a blue for her daffodils. She took a great interest in my club activities after she moved to Hartford. It is a comfort to me that many of you knew and remember her.

I am deeply grateful to you all.


Lizzie Nash Muench

From the Corresponding Secretary file

From the Corresponding Secretary file

postmark Sep 14 1995

From the Corresponding Secretary file

Knights View North Hero Vermont 054474

Janie –

Thank you for your note re Martie Samek's gift in memory of Mom. I have written her and told her how proud Mom was of that Garden Club project. We would drive by it often.

I'm returning home Monday. Can't bear to leave here, the peace and beauty of it but it is getting cooler and I have lots of meetings to attend.

Happiness and thanks again, Lizzie

From the Corresponding Secretary file

postmark 5 NOV 1990

From the Corresponding Secretary file

From the Corresponding Secretary file

From the Corresponding Secretary file

Corresponding Secretary Annual report June 13, 1996

Corresponding Secretary Annual Report June 10, 1995

Hillside Cemetery

September 14, 2011
Photo by S. Fraser

Hartford Courant Obituary April 14, 1995

Nash. Helen (babcock) Nash
April 14, 1995
NASH. Helen (Babcock) Nash, of West Hartford, formerly of Edison and Plainfield, N.J., widow of Philip Wallace Nash, died April 13, 1995, in her 90th year. She is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth N. Muench of Simsbury; five grandchildren; and six great- grandchildren. Funeral services and interment will be private

Babcocks of Plainfield

There is a lot of Plainfield history surrounding the Babcock family and the famous building that carried their name.

Babcock files at Plainfield Library

Babcock and Wilcox
Eft, Neil W
Biographical history of G. H. Babcock, Plainfield resident
and owner of steam generator company

Babcock & Wilcox Company 1867-1967, The
Nielsen, M.
PR 338.7 N55
Century of progress of the Babcock & Wilcox Co. from

George Herman Babcock

Plainfield Public Library Founder

George Herman Babcock
George H. Babcock was born on June 17, 1832 at Unadilla Forks, New York. He was the second child of Asher M. and Mary E. Stillman Babcock, and descended from a family of inventors and mechanics (on both sides). George grew up in New York State and Rhode Island, where he met Stephen Wilcox, who would later engage in a business partnership with him. George also took up an interest in photography, specifically Daguerreotyping, as a young man. He credited this hobby as having a healing influence on his life, which was threatened with consumption, through the iodine fumes used in the developing process. He remained a successful amateur photographer throughout his entire life.

In 1854, he and his father invented the polychromatic printing press, which would print three colors at once on a paper sheet. He continued to be involved with newspapers, printing presses, and a variety of machinery for several years. During the Civil War, he worked for the Mystic Iron Works in Connecticut building ships for the U.S. government. He became the chief draftsman at the Hope Iron Works in Providence, R.I. In 1867, he established the firm of Babcock & Wilcox with his childhood friend. They incorporated the New York Safety Steam Power Company in 1868, and built engines and boilers. Their most famous invention was the Babcock & Wilcox sectional tubular steam-boiler, and through this and related boilers both gentlemen acquired both fame and fortune.

Mr. Babcock moved to Plainfield in 1870; he lived on West 8th Street, between Arlington and Madison Avenues. He married his first wife, Lucy Adelia Stillman, in 1852; she died in 1861. He married his second wife, Harriet Mandane Clark of Plainfield, in 1862; she passed away in 1881. He married his third wife, Eliza Lua Clark of New York, in 1882. They had 2 children: George and Herman, who only survived for one short month. After Eliza passed away, George married his fourth wife, Eugenia Lewis Louis of Rhode Island, in 1893.

George Babcock was the President of the original board of directors that helped to establish the Plainfield Public Library in 1881. He was also the president of the board of education and the trustees of Alfred University. He loved Bible study and was superintendent of the Sabbath school in Plainfield from 1874 to 1885; he led the school to growth and prosperity. He did much to improve the city of Plainfield through architecture and construction, perhaps most notably was the Babcock Building located at 240 West Front Street.

George Babcock died in Plainfield on December 16, 1893 - only 19 days after his life-long friend and business partner, Stephen Wilcox. He bequeathed the sum of $10,000, as well as some local houses, to the Library for the purchase of "industrial, mechanical, and scientific books" to be designated for the creation of the "Babcock Scientific Library." This new collection grew to such an extent that the Library Board, wishing to abide by Babcock's will, planned an addition to the existing building to be erected. The addition was completed in 1900, and extended the lot up to College Place.

Hillside Cemetery

September 14, 2011

William Bryan Nash II

This is Helen's son who was tragically killed in an automobile accident.

George Babock estate

209 West 8th Street

December 11, 2011 Christie's Auction House


Price Realized (Set Currency)
Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer's premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer's or seller's credits.
Estimate $15,000 - $25,000
Sale Information
Sale 1882
Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints Including American Folk Art From The Atwater Kent Museum Of Philadelphia
3 October 2007
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Lot Description
Appears to retain its original casters
28 5/8 in. high, 40 in. wide, 28 in. deep (frame)

Special Notice
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

Possibly George H. Babcock (1832-1893), Plainfield, New Jersey
Charles A. Higgins (1888-1943), 1930s
Thence by descent in the Higgins family

View Lot Notes
Lot Notes
This highly ornate center table exhibits many of the features that define Belter furniture: a frame with seven laminations, an elaborately pierced and carved frieze, and a central stretcher finial carved with fruits, nuts and flowers. Throughout, the table exhibits Belter's meticulous craftsmanship and in form and design, is closely related to an example at the Newark Museum bearing Belter's label (Eileen and Richard Dubrow, American Furniture of the 19th Century, 1840-1880 (Exton, PA, 1983), p. 133). This table relates to a group of figural-carved furniture attributed to Belter that exhibits many of the same decorative elements. Reflecting the era's fascination with the historical and literary past, Belter incorporated images of figures ranging from Shakespeare and Chaucer to George Washington into the crests of seating furniture and the skirts of tables. With distinctive forelocks, aged features and full beards, the busts on this table may represent the Greek poet, Homer. For a large suite of seating furniture with related busts now at Winterthur Museum, see Marvin D. Schwartz et al., The Furniture of John Henry Belter and the Rococo Revival (New York, 1981), pp. 48-49, 60, 66, figs. 13-16, 34, 41-42.

George H. Babcock (1832-1893) was a mechanical engineer and inventor who founded the firm Babcock & Wilcox in central New Jersey. His company was the first to manufacture water-tube boilers on a large scale. Babcock is believed to have been a collector, having loaned a painting by Alfred Wordsworth Thompson (American,1840-1896) to the 1893 World's Columbian exposition in Chicago. In the 1930s, the Babcock estate in Plainfield, New Jersey was purchased by Charles A. Higgins (1888-1943) and both the home and table have since descended in the Higgins family.

Department Information
American Folk Art
mid 19th Century
center table
Furniture & Lighting

New York Times Obituary December 18, 1893

Inventor Babcock Dead

PLAINFIELD, N. J., Dec. 17 – George H. Babcock, inventor of the Babcock and Wilcox boiler, died here last night. He was sixty-two years old. He was the inventor of the chromatic printing press. During the war he invented the shrapnell shells. He amassed a large fortune. Since 1885 he had been President of the Plainfield Board of Education. He was the leading member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church here. A wife and one son survive him.

March 30, 2012 Martie Samek email

Hi Susan,

I gave you my cell phone number as I/we move around a lot.

Anne Marie Seybold was my neighbor and friend. She was one of the several wonderful old ladies (Edith Stevens and Helen Nash aso) who took this fledgling under their wings! I loved them. One of my roles with these women was to drive them to meetings. Because we still have our house in NJ and in their neighborhood, I often think of them.

Exciting days ahead with the Zone Meeting. Several of my good friends...Darby Scott, Pam Hirsch among them will be attending, I think. They are from the Morristown Club.



August 20, 2012 Neltje Doubleday

Email from Mary Kent to Susan Fraser:

I am forwarding you a question from Marian Hill about Neltje Doubleday. I do not recall the name. I was sure if anyone knew it would be you.

Best, Mary

Email from Marian Hill (GCA President) to Mary Kent:
From: "" <>

Subject: Re: Neltje Doubleday
Date: August 18, 2012 8:50:04 PM EDT
To: Mary Kent <>

Dear Mary,

I have a quick question: Was Neltje Blanchan Doubleday a member of your garden club. Thank you for verifying this for me. She is one of my favorite authors.

Hope you are enjoying these last wonderful summer days,

Susan Fraser's Response to Mary Kent:

Hi Mary,

I do indeed know that name and really wish we had more time to get over to the Plainfield Library and crack open our vault of records. Sadly as of today's date, I don't believe Neltje was a member. However, I am fairly certain she was the niece of founding member:

Mrs. James Wilde (Carrie T. Milliken) deGraff '15

I also think she was related to MANY of our Plainfield Garden Club members. Her son's wife, the famous Robert deGraff, sent in a memorial fund for Polly Heely in 1988. She was a local Plainfield girl and must have known Polly – perhaps grew up with her?

Neltje was part of the elite of Plainfield (and Plainfield Garden Club) both through her family and her husband, Frank Doubleday. Frank worked at first for Scribner publishing and his relative, Maxwell Perkins (related to MANY Plainfield GC ladies) was the very, very famous editor at Scribner's – he helped publish Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wolfe and many more famous authors. (No coincidence that Scribners was the publishing company for Neltje.)

You can read about Maxwell here at this direct link:

Mrs. Seymour, Jr. (Esther Moody Barlow) Perkins '49

Neltje's daughter married a Babcock, a very prominent Plainfield family, and that puts her in the same family of Tabby Cochran, Somerset Hills GC through Tabby's husband.

Other Plainfield GC members that Neltje was related to are listed below. Most notably Archibald Cox – whose mother was a Plainfield Garden Club member. Jennifer Gregory who lives in the Cox home has promised me that one day we can come for a tour! Susan

Huntington, Miss Florence '15
Huntington, Mrs. Howard (Agnes Fales Strong) '19
Cox, Mrs. Archibald (Frances Perkins) '25
Nash, Mrs. Philip Wallace (Helen Babcock) '57
Nelson, Mrs. Arthur G. '32, President 1936 -1937, 1940 - 1942
Cochran, Mrs. Homer P. (Elisabeth Nash) '52 (Tabby's mother-in-law)
Harlow, Mrs. Edward Dexter (Elsie Cochran Martin) '15
Stewart, Mrs. Percy Hamilton (Elinor DeWitt Cochran) '15

Mrs. de Graff's son, Robert Fair de Graff, was the famous creator of paperback books! It was his wife that sent the memorial for Mrs. Heely in 1988.

Residence of George L. Babcock, 209 West Eighth 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

September 30, 2012 George Babcock

Local Plainfield blogger Dan Damon writes about the Babcock estate:

Today's Hidden Plainfield is a reminder of an old saying that a certain kind of business is always first to see the benefit of historic preservation.

The home shown in the vintage photo from the Plainfield Public Library's collection of Paul Collier photographs belonged to Plainfield tycoon and benefactor George H. Babcock.

Babcock was an inventor whose name and fortune were made along with his partner Stephen Wilcox in the development of explosion-proof steam boilers–articles/articles/boilers/george-herman-babcock

Vintage image by Paul Collier of Plainfield philanthropist George Babcock's home.
(courtesy of Plainfield Public Library).

September 30, 2012 George Babcock

Local Plainfield blogger Dan Damon writes about the Babcock estate:

He built an elaborate five-story terra cotta decorated office building at West Front and Madison Avenue, which suffered several fires and was finally demolished in 1970

But he was also interested in the arts and architecture and was a benefactor of the Seventh Day Baptist Church on Central Avenue, whose spectacular terra cotta tilework and decorations were made by Babcock's terra cotta factory (see more in Old House Journal article)

September 30, 2012 Seventh Day Baptist Church

Local Plainfield blogger Dan Damon writes about the Babcock estate:

Terra cotta angels atop Seventh Day Baptist Church
summon all to the Judgment Day.
(Photo by Dan Damon)

October 1, 2012 209 West 8th Street

Local Plainfield blogger Dan Damon writes about the Babcock estate:

Yesterday's Hidden Plainfield is of course the Higgins Home for Funerals, on West 8th between Arlington and Madison Avenues.

Born in 1832, George Babcock moved to Plainfield in 1870 – the year after the city's incorporation – and was active in the community right up to his death in 1893. Besides being a founder of the Plainfield Public Library
he served several terms on the Plainfield Board of Education, and was the 6th president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

His generosity to the Seventh Day Baptist Church was legendary, with his firm supplying the terra cotta tiles and decorative pieces. I was told by an old-time member of the congregation that two of his four wives are memorialized by being pictured as angels in the oval interior stained glass panel above the pulpit.

The principal source of his income was the Babcock & Wilcox firm, which seems to have been incorporated in New York City. The firm is still in existence

At the time of his death, the Babcock Building on West Front Street was under construction (it was to have been a business investment) and the Seventh Day Baptist Church was about to be dedicated. For more details, see the Plainfield Daily Press obituary posted online by the Library

It was Plainfield preservationist John Grady who once remarked that there was an old saying that funeral homes are always first to see the benefit of preservation (pun probably intended).

And that is certainly true in the case of the Babcock mansion, which came into the possession of the Higgins family, which was already engaged in running a funeral home in Elizabeth, in 1934 – the depth of the Great Depression – and has been in the Higgins family ever since

Historic preservation didn't become a topic in Plainfield until the 1970s, when John Grady and Dotte Pollard worked on documenting homes in the Van Wyck Brooks and Crescent Avenue areas, which became Plainfield's first two historic districts.
For more about the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District, visit their website here.

For more about historic preservation in Plainfield, visit the City's Historic Preservation Commission website here.

1995 May and June Board and General Meeting Minutes

1919 Muhlenberg Hospital

Mrs. George L. Babock
209 West 8th Street

Mrs. Edward H. Babcock, Jr.
937 Hillside

August 25, 2013

We received a very interesting email from a gentleman who grew up in South Plainfield and has vivid memories of Mrs. Mellick's estate, Giggleswick. As we all know, the "personal" memories of these homes & gardens, (and club members), make the most fascinating stories. And this one is no exception.

For those not familiar, Giggleswick was the large estate adjacent to Plainfield CC. To this day, if you peer over the parking lot fence, you can still see the allee of Oaks and an old gazebo – we really must go there and photograph it!

As the gentleman who wrote in can attest, the house sadly burned and then Mr. Detwiller and other PGC husbands, developed the land into the current condo complex. We can thank PGC member Marge Elliott for writing down the history and Phyllis, for finding it last winter and uploading it on the website.

In 1918, the garden was photographed for Home and Garden magazine (along with founding member Mrs. Dumont's estate) In the sole photograph from the magazine, you can see the incredible cascading pools and rock formations. The magazine enlightens us to the use of these boulders as it states the property is part of the large glacial moraine of the area (basically, when the ice receded it left large boulders behind.) Who knew we have been traipsing all over a glacial moraine?!

This past winter, we converted some old film and discovered a brief snippit of Mrs. Mellick and her Giggleswick. To learn more about Giggleswick and Mrs. Mellick (a transplanted Brit), click her link:

Founding Member: Ella Hartley Mellick (Mrs. George P.) '15

And check out this personal memory and get a glimpse into Plainfield circa 1970's: Email Exchange Regarding Giggleswick

If anyone has memories of Giggleswick, please write in!

RESPONSE from Martie:

I believe the Kroll family lived at Giggleswick before it burned. That would be our (deceased) member Nancy Kroll who was the mother of former member Priscilla Kroll Farnum and the mother-in-law of Sally Kroll, our former member and PGC president. You may want to check this out to be certain.

Woman "Mrs. Francis P." listed with Mrs. John P. Stevens refers to Fanny Day. She lived in an apartment in the Stevens house after the death of Mr. John P. Stevens (Jack).

PGC member Helen Babcock Nash and her husband Phillip rented 1707 Woodland Avenue from the Stevens for over 40 years.

As you know, I live at 1717 Woodland Avenue (actually a private lane off Woodland although the house has a Woodland Avenue address) on land purchased from Jack and Edith Stevens.

Penny (Kroll) and Bill Barrett lived next door on the lane to us for many years. Penny is the sister of Priscilla and daughter of Nancy.



1954 - 1970 296 Images from Plainfield Library Scrapbook

1973-1974 PGC Directory

1974-1975 Directory

May 14, 1983 Centennial The Wardlaw Hartridge School

1985-1986 Year Book of the Plainfield Garden Club

1993-1994 Year Book of the Plainfield Garden Club

1995-1996 Annual Report

1994-1995 Annual Report

Woman's National Farm and Garden Association - 1918 - ‎World War, 1914-1918

Monday Afternoon Club Membership

Monday Afternoon Club Membership

Monday Afternoon Club Membership