Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

More About Gouverneur Morris Jr. Who Lived and Died in Bartow-on-the-Sound in the Town of Pelham

Gouverneur Morris Jr. was the son and namesake of Gouverneur Morris, a founding father of the United States who was a signer of the Articles of Confederation, author of sections of the United States Constitution (and a signer of the document), a member of the Continental Congress, a United States Minister to France, and a United States Senator, among other accomplishments.  Gouverneur Morris Sr. was the owner of the estate known as Morrisania in lower Westchester, part of an area that was annexed by New York City in 1874. 

Gouverneur Morris Jr. became a major railroad entrepreneur and a proponent for industrialization in the Bronx.  He was born on February 9, 1813, the son of his namesake father and of Anne Cary Randolph Gouverneur.  Gouverneur Morris Jr. was known by the nickname "Gouverno" for much of his life.  He married a distant cousin named Martha Jefferson Cary, a daughter of Wilson Jefferson Cary and Virginia Randolph Cary.  The couple had five children including one, Anne Cary Morris, who edited and published some of her grandfather's (Gouverneur Morris Sr.'s) papers.  Gouverno served as Vice President of the New York and Harlem River Railroad and oversaw the construction of the rail lines that run beneath Park Avenue in New York City.  According to one source, in 1840 "he donated St. Ann's Church [in Morrisania] as a family memorial.  He promoted Port Morris as a commercial port, and donated land to skilled workers in 1848, to create an ideal workingman's village if it were called Morrisania.  That is today's Morrisania neighborhood [in the Bronx]. He spent much of the later part of his career in Vermont, as president of the Vermont Valley Railroad."  Gouverneur Morris Jr., Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia (visited Aug. 21, 2016).  Gouverneur Morris Jr. died the morning of August 20, 1888 in a Morris family home in the area known as Bartow-on-the-Sound in the Town of Pelham.

I have written about Gouverneur Morris Jr. of Bartow before.  See Thu., Aug. 28, 2014:  Gouverneur Morris Jr. Lived His Later Years, and Died, in Bartow-on-the-Sound in the Town of Pelham.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides a watercolor-on-ivory portrait of Gouverneur Morris Jr., an additional obituary with more information about him, and speculates regarding the location of the Pelham home in which he lived his later years and died.  

Watercolor on Ivory (With Human Hair) Portrait
of Gouverneur Morris Jr. Painted by Thomas Seir
Cummings (1804-1894).  Collection of the Walters
Art Museum, Call Number 38.492.  Source:  
Gouverneur Morris Jr., Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
(visited Aug. 21, 2016).  NOTE:  Click on Image To Enlarge.

Only recently has research revealed an image of the so-called "Gouverneur Morris" house that once stood in Pelham on lands that are now part of Pelham Bay Park.  That image appears immediately below.

Herald, Apr. 26, 1896, Sixth Section, p. 13, cols.
2-5.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

At least one source has described this structure as a pre-Revolutionary War home.  See Obituary . . . GOUVERNEUR MORRIS in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. XIX, No. 4, Oct. 1888, pp. 177, 179 (NY, NY: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Oct. 1888) (stating "When the lower portion of West Chester County became a part of New York city, Mr. Morris, who had an inherent objection to being one of a million people in a city, left Morrisania and made his home in a quaint anti-revolutionary [sic] house at Pelham, belonging to members of his family. Here he lived quietly owing to failing health, among his books and papers, and surrounded by friends").

Although research has not yet revealed the precise location of this home, the above-quoted report indicates that it was owned by members of Gouverneur Morris's "family."  There were, at the time, several Morris family homes in the area of Pelham Neck and Bartow-on-the-Sound.  When comparing the image above to images of the Dr. Richard L. Morris home on Shore Road that later was used as the clubhouse of the "Country Club" at Pelham, it seems certain that Gouverneur Morris did not live in that home.

A review of period maps suggests to this author that the most likely location of the Morris home in which Gouverneur Morris Jr. lived and died stood on the upper part of Pelham Neck on the southwestern side of City Island road.  The Beers map of the area published in 1868, six years before Gouverneur Morris moved to Pelham, indicates that at that location was the "R. Morris" Estate.  (See immediately below.)

Detail from 1868 Beers Map Showing
"R. Morris Est." Southwest of City Island
Road on Upper Part of Pelham Neck.
in Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity
from Actual Surveys by and Under the Direction
of F. W. Beers, p. 35 (NY, NY:  Beers, Ellis &
Soule, 1868).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Placing the Gouverneur Morris Jr. home at this location would be consistent with one account indicating that the Morris home was not far from the Marshall Mansion known as Hawkswood that once looked out over City Island Bridge.  See CITY TO REFORM AS A LANDLORD, N.Y. Herald, Apr. 26, 1896, Sixth Section, p. 13, cols. 2-5 ("One of the noblest old mansions is just off the City Island road, and looks to the Sound across a great rolling lawn [i.e., the Marshall Mansion]. The former owner has remained as a tenant. Not far away is the charming old Gouverneur Morris house, high roofed and shingled, with dormer windows, charming verandas and great low studded rooms.").

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Below is the text of an additional obituary of Gouverneur Morris Jr.  It is followed by a citation and link to its source.  

"At Bartow-on-the-Sound, N Y., on Monday died Gouverneur Morris, aged seventy-five years.  He was the son of the noted Gouverneur Morris of New York City, who was Minister to France, Senator from New York, and one of the projectors of the Erie Canal.  The subject of this notice was one of the earliest railway projectors and constructors in the country.  His railroad career began in the early days of the New York and Harlem Railroad, about 1838, and terminated with his resignation of the presidency of the Vermont Valley Railroad in 1880.  During these years he was connected with the Erie and New York Central roads, and served as president of the Harlem.  He was one of the originators of the Illinois Central and the Iowa system of roads, and an original suggestor of the Union Pacific road.  His mother was a niece of Thomas Jefferson; and, in early life, he married Patsey Jefferson Carey, of Virginia, a grand-niece of Jefferson.  His second wife, who died about four years ago, was Miss Anna Morris, also a cousin.  The children, all from his first marriage, who survive him are two sons and three daughters.  He divided his large estate between his children some years ago."

Source:  [Untitled], The Times-Democrat [New Orleans, LA], Aug. 24, 1888, p. 4, col. 4 (NOTE:  Access via this link requires paid subscription).

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