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Haddon Hall, Old Gloucester County, New Jersey

By Samuel N. Rhoads

A sizable book, of the greatest historic and human interest, could be written about the Quaker Lady who founded the village of Haddonfield, New Jersey, and whose maiden surname was given to that locality in Old Gloucester County long before the village of Haddonfield was thought of. My present object, however, is only to briefly describe the home of a remarkable woman, the only woman, so far as I can discover, who came to America single-handed, as it were, to take possession of and settle upon a Colonial Plantation in her own right.

Elizabeth was the daughter of John Haddon, Quaker anchorsmith, of Southwark, London, and Elizabeth (Clark) his wife. She was born in 1680; arrived in America 1701; married John Estaugh, a Quaker minister of England travelling in America, in 1701. She died in 1762 and was buried in Friends' graveyard on Haddon Avenue, not far from the Town Hall, a Memorial tablet being there erected to her memory at the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Town, in October, 1913.

John Clement, historian of Haddonfield, published, in 1873, a short article in the American Historical Record, entitled "The Estaugh House." This mansion, with its accompaniments, will form the subject of my paper. I shall designate it by the appropriate name of "Haddon Hall," given to it by its last occupants, the family of the late Isaac H. Wood. To distinguish it from the classic old ruin of Derbyshire, we have but to add ''of Haddonfield" and its identity is complete, and the chance thought of Mistress Dorothy Vernon is transformed into the more real, yet no less romantic and loving one, of Elizabeth, the Maiden Pioneer.

That first American dwelling, where the noble wife of John Estaugh began her housekeeping, was located near the centre of a 500-acre tract bought by her father, John Haddon of Londontown, in 1698. A Friend, John Willis, had been the original patentee from Perm and Byllynge, and John's son, Thomas, sold it to John Haddon. The original house was located about 150 yards from the south bank of Cooper's Creek, on ground rising about thirty feet above the tidewater landing at that point. The landing, now unused, was recently called Coles' Landing, after the late owner of the property. It is in the extreme rear of the present village of Westmont (formerly named Rowandtown), and is one and one-half miles below the bridge over which the King's Highway, from Burlington to Salem, crosses Cooper's Creek. No vestige of this house has been known to the oldest inhabitants now living, nor to the generation preceding these, so far as can be ascertained. The late James Starr Lippincott, who once lived on the property adjoining, used to point out the reputed site of the old house cellar, but even that cannot now be located.

Elizabeth was nearly twenty-one years old when she took possession of this home, not nineteen, as stated by Judge Clement in his "First Settlers of Newton Township." Our knowledge of its construction is based wholly on circumstantial or traditional evidence. Regarding this, I quote Clement (1. c. p. 115): "It has been generally believed that she erected the first house on this tract of land, bringing with her much of the material from England. This is an error, as a map of the land made by Thomas Sharp in 1700 (which was before her arrival) proves that buildings were already on the land; and it is supposable that she occupied those already there. John Willis, the locator of the survey, no doubt put the dwelling there and (perhaps) lived on the premises some time, for fourteen years had elapsed between the date of the taking up and John Haddon's title. She probably enlarged and improved the house so as to accord with her notions of convenience and comfort, and to receive her friends in a proper manner; for it is known that she never turned the stranger away from her door, or suffered her acquaintances to look for entertainment elsewhere.

It is worth noting in this connection that the said John Willis, known as a Philadelphia ship-carpenter in 1696, was no doubt a neighbor of John Haddon in Southwark, the latter furnishing him anchors for his ships before he came to America. This explains John Haddon's purchase of the property on Cooper's Creek from Willis's son in 1698, he also living in Southwark. The absence of data for the elder Willis, after 1696, indicates that he died about that time, and the purchase was probably made in a settlement of his estate. The family name of Willis was also prominent on the old minute books of Horslydown Meeting, in Southwark, when Elizabeth Haddon was a girl, so we can see more plainly the chain of circumstances which finally led her to this wilderness home across the broad Atlantic.

In any event, we are safe in picturing the Old Haddonfield house as a very modest home when the dauntless maiden and her servants began the American housekeeping so admirably dramatized by Longfellow's poem "Elizabeth."

Much as one would love to linger in the fairy-land of conjecture as to the sort of house in which John and Elizabeth Estaugh married and spent the first eleven years of their married life, let us now pass to the period in 1713, when they began to build a more commodious dwelling. Longfellow has taken Lydia Maria Child's story of the "Youthful Emigrant," and given us a rare pastoral of simple cottage life. To these the student is referred, while we consider the second period of Elizabeth Estaugh's life marked by the building of Haddon Hall. The "New Haddonfield" home site was a mile distant across lots from the old one and a quarter-mile from the present junction of the King's Highway (Haddonfield Main Street) and the old turnpike, now styled Haddon Avenue. The Hall stood on the highest knoll near the centre of a 500-acre tract which John Haddon bought of Richard Matthews the same year the Willis tract was acquired.

This plantation adjoined the other one on the south and east, including, on its southeastern half, nearly all of that part of the Borough of Haddonfield lying north and west of the Main Street. A long lane at right-angles to the present Haddon Avenue has, for many generations, given access to that thoroughfare, but it is quite likely that the original lane ran directly from near the front of the house to the present corner of Main and Tanner Streets, where a lively tradition locates the residence of Elizabeth's chief butler. A more eligible site for a fine house than the one selected by our loving pair does not exist in the neighborhood, and a fine house has always stood on this site for nearly two hundred years, with the exception of a few months in 1842, when the original Haddon Hall was burned and a new brick mansion was erected by Isaac H. Wood on the same foundations.

The construction of Haddon Hall was not necessitated by an increase in the number of American Estaughs. It was undoubtedly due, in part, to the expectation that John Haddon and his wife would spend their declining years in New Jersey. Some letters from London of that period indicate this very plainly, but the infirmities of old age and the dread of an ocean voyage prevented the journey. Other reasons made it fitting that the Estaughs should enlarge their borders. John, all unwittingly perhaps, had been drawn into a strenuous business life as attorney for his father-in-law and sole agent of the Pennsylvania Land Company of London. Elizabeth, connected by ties of kinship and friendship with the most influential Friends of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and quickly assuming a responsible position in church and society, had become a great entertainer. Haddonfield, at this time, was not the name for even a village; it literally was The Fields of Haddon. There were probably not more than two or three dwellings on the Main Street of the present town, and they of the most primitive sort a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a log cabin or two at magnificent distances. In short, the town of Haddonfield was not on the map, not even dreamt of, when the Estaughs had the cellar dug for the new mansion on the knoll. Six feet below ground it went and two feet above the thick foundation walls of rough-hewn Pennsylvania gneiss were laid, no doubt being floated up the creek in barges to Stoy's Landing, at high-tide. The floor of this cellar was, in part, covered with the square flag-bricks, which, there is every reason to suppose, were made in England, and whose origin must not be confounded with that of the ordinary bricks of the building, made, no doubt, in the neighborhood.

Having thus, like the Biblical wise man, "digged deep and founded the building on a rock," as literally as was possible in West Jersey soil, the superstructure was built of bricks to the height of two and a half stories in the main building and to two stories in the annex. A word as to these bricks and their origin. They still do duty in the present buildings, and measure 8? x 4 x 2½ inches, being three-fourths of an inch longer and one-quarter inch thicker than the present standard brick. The popular notion that shiploads of bricks were brought over from England to construct the homes of the early colonists may have some foundation, but we have proof that bricks were being manufactured in Burlington, New Jersey, before Philadelphia was even a name. Some of William Penn's early building operations at the Manor, made use of bricks made by J. Redman, of Philadelphia, and in a letter of Hannah Penn's to Penn's secretary, James Logan, dated 1700, she says that "a new (brick) maker at Burlington" now makes them "a crown a thousand cheaper and as much better" than Redman's sort. It is certain that, by 1713, brickmaking had become a regular industry in West Jersey, and where surface clay was accessible on a plantation, the materials for large building operations like this were manufactured on the estate as closely as possible to the operation. There is an old clay pond, or marsh, just across the turnpike from, and nearly opposite to the Haddon Hall site, and distant therefrom about 300 yards. From my infancy almost to this day, the fenny shallows of this pool have harbored many a mystery known only to frogs, mosquitoes and boys. Only of late years has it dawned upon me that this blemish on the once fertile field of the Redman family was a legacy of the thrift of their collateral ancestor, Elizabeth Estaugh, in her building operations. Doubtless from this, or a similar depression on the farm, where clay marl of the best quality for firing is known to lie close to the surface, came the "English bricks" which fiction has made illustrious. The square flag-bricks which paved the garden walks and cellar floors (as already hinted), were probably imported, being of finer workmanship, a different color and of another sort of clay. Their size was exactly double that of the ordinary kind.

Unfortunately we do not now have access to any memoranda of the workmen or building expenses of Haddon Hall. These records, if existing, are probably in England, owned by some member of the Butcher family of London. It is not impossible that Francis Collins, master carpenter and mason, may have had a hand in planning and erecting the homestead. He was then an old man, but a close and trusty friend of Elizabeth, his daughters being her intimate associates. In 1675 he built the Stepney Meeting House, in London, and in 1682, the old octagonal Friends' Meeting House in Burlington, N. J. Another house-builder of the period was William Matlack, of Penisauken, who, four years later, bought 200 acres of land of John Haddon. Or it may be an explanation of the subsequent family relations between the Estaughs and the Redmans that one of the latter family, known to be Philadelphia carpenters, may have helped build Haddon Hall. In any event it could have been built by no other than a Quaker, and of good Quaker materials and workmanship!

We owe our present knowledge of the outward appearance and inner construction of Haddon Hall chiefly to two sources. The first is a small water-color sketch made by the brother of Thomas Redman the third, John Evans Redman, of Philadelphia, whose maternal ancestor was a niece of Elizabeth Estaugh. Redman was of an artistic and literary turn, and delighted in the beauties of his brother's country-home. He contributed some descriptive and poetical essays to the Philadelphia Casket in the early thirties, illustrated with woodcuts, by Gilbert, after the author's sketches of Haddonfield scenes. John Clement says that this water-color view of Haddon Hall was made by John Evans Redman in 1821, but a legend of rather modern writing on the back of it gives the date about ten years later. The most reliable data as to the interior architecture of the Hall is furnished by Rebecca C. W. Reeve, oldest daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Wood, and who was a child of eight years when the house was burned. It had been the home of her parents from 1831 until the fire destroyed it, in 1842. To the kind and thoughtful courtesy of Rebecca Reeve and to her love of the parental homestead, still held by her brother, Samuel Wood, added to a good memory of the stirring events of the night of the fire, we owe much.

I can do no better than quote from her letter to me about the old Hall:

Camden, N. J.
S. N. Rhoads:

Respected Friend. Thee requests a Plan of Haddon Hall, my old and well-loved home, which I enclose made on a large scale as easier to draw. The House was brick, rough-cast and yellow the Kitchen part also brick and rough-cast. The Garden wall enclosed the North and East sides only a fence running along close to the box-tree walk, with the one yew tree near the gate.

The path from Hall door to front yard gate was in same position as at present but the flag-bricks have been twice reset the last time by my brother Samuel Wood.

The fire occurred about midnight of the 14th of April (Second day night of Yearly Mtg. week in Phila.) 1842.

My Father, Isaac Hornor Wood, and Mother Elizabeth H. Cooper Wood with their children, Rebecca Cooper, William Cooper, Isaac Hornor Jr and Alexander Cooper, the latter six months old, with their three Colored maids, two col'd boys and a white man, constituted the household. One colored boy lost his life in the fire.

The fire started in kitchen, and supposedly by a man retiring late and dropping a match.

Much of furniture in main part of house was saved by herculean efforts, and also on account of very thick wall, between the main and kitchen part of house. A trunk full of valuable family papers, which had been kept in a room on third floor for safe-keeping, was not secured by the man sent for them; therefore burned, an irreparable loss.

Some of the walls were standing next morning; but pulled down when cool, and the bricks used in rebuilding.

The front door, (and also either the back hall door or door of kitchen we know not which) were lifted from the hinges and carried out and are now used as cellar doors in my brother's home. The Barns were not damaged.

The present descendants of E. Haddon have my parents to thank for the preservation, enlarging and beautifying the place; as it had been sold by the Sheriff, and despoilers had been busy before their purchase of it. It has been in family of Isaac and Elizabeth Wood for seventy-seven years.

The original of the picture sold under the name of the "Estaugh House 1776 to 1876" was made during the residence in it of Sarah Cresson, whose carriage in the lane is shown in the picture.

Rebecca C. W. Reeve.

February eleventh, Nineteen hundred and eight.

It may be here added that the only building now standing on the property, originally constructed for Elizabeth Estaugh, is her old brick Brew House. It stands about 30 feet from the rear of the mansion.

The plans of the first and second stories, as remembered by Rebecca Reeve, accompanied the letter. A study of these, as also of Redman's sketch, shows a considerable annex on the north end of the main building. The front of this annex in the water-color view plainly appears to project beyond the mansion some distance, apparently four to six feet. In the Reeve plan the reverse of this is shown.

This two-story, four-roomed "Annex," as I have called it, with its pent-roof, low ceilings and apparent lack of cellar,* strongly suggests having been built before the larger building to which it was attached. This is quite likely, and it would have formed ample accommodations for a year or more during which the main building and its accessories were being leisurely completed after the good, old, conservative Quaker fashion.

That the two parts of Haddon Hall were separately built is further shown by the fact that the walls between them were double-thick, and the first floor of the smaller structure was about three feet lower than that of its neighbor, and the height of the ceilings so different that no second-story connection existed between them.

Future researches may show that a period of five or six years elapsed between the construction of the two buildings, and that the larger one was built with a view of bringing John Haddon and his wife over to live with their favorite children during their declining years.

There are several well-known facts which favor this theory. As the present building stands on the ancient foundations, we know that the frontage of the old one was 43 feet and the gable end 36 feet wide. The annex must have increased the total frontage, as seen coming up the lane, to 60 feet.

We know not a little of the original furnishings of Haddon Hall, much of these being distributed, before the house was burned, among the heirs of Ebenezer Hopkins, Elizabeth Estaugh's adopted nephew, who was my great, great, great grandfather. Among these heirlooms are several fine old chairs; a large marble-top, claw-foot parlor-table; a tall, heavy, gilt-topped parlor mirror; a very tall and finely constructed grandfather's dock, made in London; a truly splendid old chest of drawers, etc., etc. All these show that substantial elegance, which indicates both wealth and thrift, that happy combination which so many strive after, but so few attain. A search among the journals of traveling ministers of the period between 1720 and 1762 shows that Haddon Hall had almost a monopoly in the hospitalities given to "Public Friends" visiting that neighborhood. Thomas Story, Thomas Wilson and James Dickinson, Benjamin Kidd, William Reckitt, William Ellis, John Fothergill, Samuel Bownas, Mary (Pace) Weston, Catherine Peyton, Edmund Peckover and others, were visitors there from Old England. Besides these, were some from New England and New York, also many prominent Friends from Philadelphia and Burlington.

Of these latter, were the Pemberton, Logan, Cadwallader, Smith, Norris, Jennings, Drinker, Wain and Rawle families, with some of whom John Estaugh had dealings both secular and religious. One of the most readable notices of a social visit to the "Widow Estaugh's" is given in the now well-known book, "Hannah Logan's Courtship," pages 118 and 167, in which, under date of 8th Month 29th, 1747, John Smith, the undaunted lover, records how he followed Hannah to Burlington and took her to Mount Holly that afternoon after meeting, etc.

* The wine vault was probably under the front room of this part.

Gloucester County| New Jersey AHGP

Source: A Brief History of New Jersey, by Edward S. Ellis, A.M. and Henry Snyder, American Book Company, 1910.

 

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