The Colonel Roger Morris House is the oldest remaining residence in New York City, built in 1765. Compared to other major cities of the world, New York City ranks among the lowest in the preservation of its architectural culture. The Morris House, unlike the rest of the colonial estates that dotted Manhattan Island, survived for two reasons; first, it was one of George Washington’s many headquarters during the Revolutionary War, and second, purely by chance and a bit of luck.
On September 15, 1776, the British invaded Manhattan Island landing at Kip’s Bay. Some days earlier, Washington and his staff, with final Congressional approval, decided to evacuate New York, fearing that a mid-island invasion could trap the army in the city. Washington left his headquarters in New York on September 13h, leaving Major General Israel Putnam to finalize the army’s departure. Troops were detailed to build a strong defensive position across the island at Harlem Heights, about eight miles north of the city.
Washington arrived at Murray Hill in Iclenberg on May 14th, (about three miles north of the city on the East River), and fixed his headquarters at the Robert Murray House. The next day, Sept. 15th, he was at Mott’s Tavern (present 143 St. & 8th Ave.) and left for the Colonel Roger Morris House that evening (present 161st St. East of St. Nicholas Ave), making the mansion his main headquarters. His field headquarters was Points of Rock at the eastern point of their defensive line along Harlem Ridge. Both positions offered Washington a commanding view of all approaches from the south, east, and west.
After the fiasco of September 15th (Battle of Kip’s Bay), in which the American forces ran from the advancing British forces and General Putnam barely escaped the city with his division, the bulk of the Continental Army prepared their works for an attack. The next day, September 16th, what started as a ‘rebel’ reconnaissance of British General William Howe’s camp, turned into a full-blown action. The Battle of Harlem Heights proved to be the first time in the war that the Americans drove back and pursued their opponent, relinquishing the field of battle honorably and by choice.
After the battle, Washington remained at the Morris House. While there, he carried on the famous correspondence with William Duer, of the secret Committee of Safety. General Howe forced Washington’s next move. The British commander decided against a frontal attack and set his forces in motion to trap Washington’s army on Manhattan. He moved the bulk of his forces up the coast to Westchester and landed at Throngs Neck on Oct. 12th. He was held from advancing by a body of ‘rebels’ and moved his army further north to Pell’s Point, landing on October 18th. Washington held a Council of War with his generals present and it was decided to leave a force at Harlem Heights and Fort Washington (along the Hudson River) to hold off British General Perry’s forces. The rest of the army advanced north to counter the main British army’s advance into Westchester County.. Washington left the Morris House on October 21st for White Plains. The Morris House remained unoccupied for nearly two months while the Americans continued to hold the defensive line at Harlem Heights. British Lt. General Earl Percy continued to man the line that opposed the Americans.
After the Battle of Fort Washington, November 16th, 1776, in which the American garrison was surrendered, many of the prisoners were first assembled in the main barn on the Morris residence before they were transferal to hulks and prison ships. Captain Graydon, a prisoner, recorded their horrendous treatment by the Hessian and British guardsmen. He also noted that the barn was on the opposite side of the main house and that shade trees lined each side of the lane from the barn to the house. There were also elegant shade trees alongside the drive from the mansion to a great gate that opened onto the King’s Highway.
General Percy’s command was stationed around the Morris House and it was likely that he was the first British officer to temporarily occupy the summer estate. Afterwards, during the seven year occupation of Manhattan Island by British forces, the Morris House became the headquarters of both British and Hessian generals.
The officers who used the Morris House as headquarters was recorded by Major Stephen Kemble, Deputy Adjunct General in the British army, and Lt. Philip Von Kraft, a German soldier who first offered his services to the Americans before enlisting with the Hessian forces in America. According to Kemble, Lt. General Henry Clinton used the home as his summer residence and office from July 14, 1777 – Nov. 9, 1777. Kimble was replaced by Major Andre who is reported to have stayed in one of the Mansion’s rooms prior to his fateful encounter with traitor Benedict Arnold which resulted in his hanging.
From 1778 until the war’s end, the mansion was used by Hessian officers. According to Kraft, Lt. General Baron von Knyphausen and his staff occupied the residence from July 23 – Oct. 9, 1778. In the last years of British occupation, it was the summer residence of Lt. General Friedrich Wilhelm von Lossberg.
Early History of the Land
The site that the Morris Mansion was built upon was settled by Jan Kiersen as early as 1700. “A half mogren of land from the common woods” on Jochem Pieters Hills (Harlem Heights, Mt. Morris and later, Washington Heights) was granted to Kiersen that he might “build a house and barn… on condition he set apart a strip of land for [a] King’s Highway.” When Jan Kierson died, the land was given to his daughter Jannetje Kierson. Jacob Dyckman married Jannetje, gaining the land and farmhouse through marriage. The Dyckman family prospered for many years and in 1763, they sold the farmhouse and land to James Carrol (a butcher) for “one thousand pounds of good and lawful money of New York.”
Carrol lived on the farm for two years then offered the 130 acres for sale in 1765. The property was listed for several weeks in two of New York City’s major papers; Post Boy and Gaine’s Mercury. The advertisement was removed on June 13th 1765 when it sold to Lt. Colonel Roger Morris, retired British army. That same year, Morris began the construction of his summer country estate on what he now called Mount Morris.
Roger and Mary Morris
Lt. Colonel Roger Morris (January 28, 1727 – September 13, 1794) built the mansion that bore his name on Coogan’s Bluff. The bluff was part of a high expanse called Harlem Heights which had a spectacular view of all the regions to the south, west and east of Manhattan Island.
Roger Morris was born in Yorkshire, England. He was the 3rd son of Roger Morris of Netherby, Yorkshire. His mother was Mary Jackson Morris, the 4th daughter of Sir Peter Jackson. Robert Morris, the accomplished architect who designed many colonial homes in America, was his uncle. Roger Morris Jr. purchased a captaincy in Francis Ligonier’s Regiment on Sept. 13, 1745. A year later, his regiment fought at the Battles of Falkirk and Culloden. In 1748, the regiment was renumbered to the 48th Regiment of Foot and Captain Morris accompanied General Edward Braddock to America in 1755, serving as his aide-de-camp. He was wounded during Braddock’s defeat at the Battle of Monongahela, near Fort Duquesne on July 9, 1755. On February 16, 1758, he was promoted to major and transferred to the 35th Regiment of Foot. He fought at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Quebec, Sept. 13, 1759 and again suffered wounds. Shortly after the Battle of Sainte-Foy, on May 19, 1760, Morris was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 47th Foot Regiment of Foot and participated in the capture of Montreal on Sept. 8, 1760. Afterwards, he was aide-de-camp to General Thomas Gage and Jeffrey Amherst, who became the godfather of one of Morris’ sons named for Amherst.
Roger Morris was 31 when he married 28 year old Mary Philipse on the 28th of January, 1758, in the Philipse Mannor Hall in Philipsborough (present city of Yonkers), Westchester County. Dutchman Frederick Philipse, who was the great-grandfather of Mary and her brother, Frederick Philipse III (1720-1785), built the Manor in 1682. He amassed large tracks of land in New York City and Westchester County. Mary’s brother inherited the large estate in an area known as Yonkers (named for the original owner Dutchman Adriaen Donck who was called Jonkers – Dutch for young lord).
Mary was born at the Manor Hall, on July 2, 1730 and died in England on July 18, 1825 at age 95. Her father was Fredrick Philipse II (Second Lord of the Manor, 1695-1751) and her mother was Johanna Brockholes (1700-1765). There were seven children in which five lived to adulthood; Suzanne, Margaret, Philip, Frederick, and Mary. When their father died in 1751, he divided his estate between Suzanne, Margaret, Mary and Philip. When Philip died in 1768, his holdings went to Frederick who became the last Lord of Manor Hall before all of the Philipse land holdings were confiscated after the Revolutionary War.
Little is known of Mary’s early life except that she was beautiful, accomplished, and fascinating. According to Jared Sparks, Washington’s early biographer, the future president formed a romantic liaison with Mary during a visit to New York, prior to the war. The only concrete evidence that Washington ever met Mary was by Joseph Chew (friend of Washington and Robinson) who reported Washington and Mary’s presence in the Robinson home one day in 1757. Sparks wrote that Washington was 24 and a Virginia colonel who had just won his first laurels at the Battle of Monongahela (General Braddock’s defeat). In 1756, Washington was visiting General Shirley in Boston and stopped by the home of Colonel Beverly Robinson (fellow Virginian). Here he met Mary who was visiting her brother-in-law (Robinson married Mary’s sister Suzanne) during the winter months. Upon returning from Boston, Washington paid the Robinson home another extended visit. Supposedly Washington and Mary shared letters, however Washington’s affairs in Virginia kept him from a return visit to New York. The next year, Washington learned that Mary was betrothed to fellow officer Roger Morris. Sparks does not support his evidence nor does Mrs Amherst Morris (grandaughter of Morris) who relates a similar romance in her memoirs.
At the time Roger Morris married into the wealthy Philipse estate, Mary owned 51,102 acreas of land in Westchester County including property in New York City on Stone Street. She received these vast holdings from her brother Frederick’s estate upon marriage in 1758. Roger soon built a house on this land at the southeast corner of Whitehall and Stone Street, across the street from Mary’s brother.
Morris spent a total of nineteen years in the military. Though rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel, he was never a true leader. His character was more of a gently nature and he longed to spend a settled life with his family. He retired from the army in 1764 and made New York City his permanent home. He had a substantial fortune through marriage and became a member of the Executive Council of the Province of New York, one of the most distinguished legislative bodies in the colonies. He and Mary had four healthy children; Henry, Amherst (named for godfather Lord Amherst), Maria, and Johanna.
Prior to Roger’s retirement, the Morris’ had been spending their summers at the Philipse Manor in Philipsborough (Yonkers). In 1765, Roger was seeking land closer to the city in which he could build a summer house and acquired the afore mentioned 130 acres from James Carrol. William Shelton’s 1916 text on the Morris House best describes its early construction:
“That was a period of honest construction, when the oak timbers were cut and scored in the woods and hauled on to the ground by oxen; when the sills and posts and plates were shaped with broadaxe and adze, and mortised with auger and chisel. The carpenters having completed the work of framing, the farmer-neighbors came to the ‘raising.’ The sills were laid on the cellar walls, and sections of the frame were raised into place and held by spike-shod poles of hickory until they were made secure for the ages with white-oak pins…. There were special features… which were not usual in ordinary buildings. The outer walls were lined with good English brick, which received the plaster and served to keep out the heat of summer and the damp of autumn. The severe plainness of the colonial interior, where ornament was usually lavished on mantlepiece and staircase, would suggest that rapidity of construction may have been a prime object and that the summer of 1766 may have found the house ready for occupancy.
“The plan of the house is Georgian, but of a peculiar English type seldom seen in this country….
The house, when completed, contained nineteen rooms and a finished and plastered garret” A plain fireplace that seems to never have a mantlepiece or framework in one of the three half-story rooms at the top of the house may have been slave quarters for a pair of servants who cared for the house during the winter.”
The Morris family enjoyed their country estate for ten years until 1775, when hostilities erupted between the British and colonial patriots who sought independence from England. Either Morris feared he would be arrested as an ‘inimical’ loyalist, or may have sought to remain neutral and believed that he could avoid taking sides by leaving the country. On May 4, 1775, Morris left New York for Falmouth, England. Mary stayed at ‘Mt. Morris’, the name they gave their summer home, until the spring of 1776 when it appeared that New York would become a seat of war. She moved in with her sister Suzanne and husband Beverly Robinson who had an estate near Dobb’s Ferry, Westchester County on the Hudson.
Roger Morris spent two years and seven months in England and returned to British held New York City in the fall of 1777. Upon return, he and his family resided in the city. Their beautiful home on Stone near Whitehall was destroyed along with all their furniture in the September 22, 1776 fire that burned over a quarter of the city. He accepted a Colonelcy in the army and was made Inspector of the Claims of Refugees until 1783 when the British evacuated the city and he and his family left for Chester, England. Roger died in York, England on 13 September 1794, at age 67. His wife died in 1825 at the age of 95. A monument is erected over their graves in St Saviour’s Church in York.
After the War
At war’s end, those loyal to Britain had their homes and lands confiscated by the Commissioners of Forfeiture. Roger and Mary Morris forfeited all their property as well as the rest of their relatives for the entire Philipse estate, both in the city and Westchester County, was lost. Roger Morris, Frederick Philipse, and Beverly Robinson were accused of treason. Mary, her sister Beverly Robinson, and Margaret Crooke Inglis, the wife of Rev. Charles Inglis (loyalist and rector of Trinity Church, NY) were the only women accused of treason during the Revolutionary War. All had left the colonies prior to charges and were never prosecuted.
Isaac Stoutenburg and Philip Van Cortlandt (of the Forfeiture Commission) sold the Morris mansion and 113 acreas on July 9, 1784 to John Berrian and Isaac Ledyard for 2,250 pounds. Within weeks, all their household goods and furniture was sold at auction. The Mansion was passed from owner to owner both in the United States and in England for nearly thirty years. It was contiually leased out to farmers and tavern keepers. In 1787, it was called Calumet Hall, a roadhouse and tavern kept by Talmage Hall who ran a stage line from New York City to Albany, NY. It became a popular rest-bit for travels and the first stop to change horses.
On July 10, 1790, George Washington once more walked the halls of the Morris House when he and his cabinet attended a dinner in the President’s honor. Among Washington’s guests were John and Abigail Adams, Alexander Hamilton and his wife, General Knox and Mrs. Knox, Thomas Jefferson, Mrs. Tobias Lear, John Park Custis and Nellie Custis. Washington writes that the party “dined on a dinner provided by Mr. Mariner, at the house lately Colonel Roger Morris’, but confiscated and now in the possession of a common farmer.”
In 1803, Aaron Burr wrote to his daughter Josephine that he was considering purchasing the Morris House. His daughter chose the Morris house over Burr’s ultimate choice, the Mortier Mansion on Richmond Hill. It is ironic that thirty-one years later he would marry the Morris’ House mistress, Eliza Jumel.
In 1810, the Morris House was purchased by Stephen Jumel. By 1800, Frenchman and bachelor Mr. Jumel was a wine merchant and one of the richest men in New York. He occupied the northwest corner of Whitehall and Pearl Street. He came to New York from the Island of Santo Domingo (Haiti) about 1795, driven out by the slave rebellion led by Toussaint l’Overture. He adopted America as his new home, though all his relatives lived in France. He was not concerned with church-going prudish colonial values. In 1800, he set himself up with a mistress, Eliza “Betsy” Bowen, the future Mrs. Jumel. Eliza was born in Providence, Rhode Island to a roving sailor and young girl of the streets. For the rest of her life, she seemed to try and shed her lowly stationed beginnings. Eliza was a renowned beauty who flaunted her newly found riches, sparing no expense nor effort to make inroads into New York society. The couple was married four years later at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Prince Street on April 9, 1804. Having lived out of wedlock, the official coupling of the two did little to thwart the moral stigma placed upon them by New York’s social elite.
For the next five years after the 1810 purchase, Stephen Jumel restored the Morris House to its original condition during Roger and Mary Morris’ time. The couple entertained such notable figures as Louis Philippe (King of France), Marquis de Lafayette, Joseph Bonaparte (elder brother of Napolean Bonaparte), Louis Napoleon III (emperor of the second French empire), and Henry Clay (renowned American politician). The couple traveled back and forth from France where they were admirers of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this time Eliza adopted nine year old Mary Bownes, using her father’s last name, who was thought to be the daughter of Eliza’s stepsister, Polly Clarke.
Though Eliza was anxious to be accepted in New York’s social circles, it was not to be. The couple decided to leave New York for France on their bark Eliza in 1815. They lived in Paris, however Eliza soon returned to New York, leaving Stephen in France. She remained in New York from 1817-1821. In 1821, she returned to France for the next five years, sailing for New York in 1826 with Stephen Jumel’s power of attorney. Stephen joined her in 1828 for good. During their frequent absences when residing in France, the Morris House was rented. Stephen died four years later in 1832 from complications from a carriage accident leaving Eliza all his fortune. Eliza became one of the wealthiest women in New York City.
Fourteen months after the death of Stephen Jumel, 58 year old Eliza married the controversial former vice president, 78 year old Aaron Burr. They were married in the front parlor on the first floor of the Morris House in 1833. Within a year, Burr had lost a portion of her fortune in land speculation losses. “After he had made away with a good deal of her money, she got rid of him,” wrote Brentano’s in its 1907 Old Buildings of New York. The couple separated and the divorce was finalized on September 14, 1836, the day Burr died. Soon after the separation, in 1834, Eliza retook her former husband’s name and moved out of the mansion. She rented the home first to a Mr. Pell and then Mr. Monroe, each for five years. During this time, Eliza shared her time between Europe, Saratoga, NY, Hoboken New Jersey, and New York City. She moved from apartment to apartment with her stepdaughter Mary and later Mary’s husband, Nicholas Chase, and her two grandchildren; Eliza Jumel and William Inglis. Several more tenants rented the Mr. Morris home until 1848, when she returned to the house with her family; Mary having died in 1843 leaving the care of her children to her surviving husband Nelson Chase and Eliza Jumel.
Nelson Chase studied law in the office of Aaron Burr and after marrying Mary, had moved into the Morris House. He resided there for nearly fifty years until his death. He painstakingly restored the mansion after years of decay as Eliza’s dementia worsened.
In her remaining years, M. Jumel surrounded herself with additional tenants supplying them with a yearly income as long as they remained in the house as her companions. Her step-daughter’s family lived with her in the Morris House until 1862 where as she became a recluse. The last three years of her life were very sad. Eliza fell further and further into dementia and died in the Morris House on July 16, 1865. She was entombed in the Trinity Church Cemetery, west of Broadway near 154th Street.
After Madame Eliza Jamel’s death, the estate was tied up in litigation for the next sixteen years. In 1882, the Jumel heirs broke up the 115 acres of the estate into 1,058 lots upon which numerous row houses were built. Within three years of Eliza’s death, three families continued to live in the mansion. Widow Nelson Chase, Eliza Pery, Eliza Jumel’s grandaughter who was married to Frenchman Raymond Pery, and changing tenant familes. Litigation over the inheritance of the house and land between Jumal’s family in France and Eliza’s family in Providence carried on until 1872, when the courts found for Mary Bownes and her husband Nelson Chase.
After Nelson’s death, the Morris House and a small plot of land was sold to General Ferdinand Pinney Earle Lillie Earle in 1894, a military man and owner of several well known hotels in New York. They made their home there until Ferdinand’s death on January 3rd, 1903. By the turn of the century, interested groups pressured the city to purchase it as an historical museum. The arguments for and against the acquisition was centered solely on the period of Washington’s occupancy, never on the architectural importance of the structure. His widow sold the House to the city of New York in May 1903 for $235,000, through the intercession of the Washington heights Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, assisted by the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Historian Josiah C. Pumpelly writes that the Morris House is a fine specimen of Georgian architecture and ranks in historic interest with St. Paul’s Chapel and Fraunces Tavern. The Palladian sixteenth century style, featuring a front portico and columns, reflects the influence of famed Italian architect Palladio and his influence on English architecture. The first floor of the 8,500 square foot house features rooms for family and social gatherings. Historian Charles Todd, in his 1907 text on old New York wrote lavishly of the mansion and is quoted here:
“The polished oaken floor [has] great depth and roominess, the nearest approach we have, perhaps to that of an ancient baronial castle. This hall opens by folding doors into the drawing room, the same that was used by Washington as a reception room during his military occupancy. The floor of this room, and indeed of every apartment in the house, is of oak, and so highly polished that it affords an insecure footing to one used to carpeted rooms. The wall paper has a groundwork of green, with raised figures of vine and leaf having the appearance and texture of velvet, and its coloring is as fresh and vivid as though nearly a century and a half had not passed since it left the hand of the artisan.
“A winding stairway at the right of the hall leads the visitor to the suite of apartments above, and ushers him first into a hall directly over the one below, and of about the same dimensions. From this hall, one may step out upon a balcony which commands a magnificent view of the city, river, and Sound [Long Island Sound]. Washington’s bed chamber was on this floor, at the rear of the hall and directly over the drawing room. There is nothing noteworthy about it except that it contains a number of secret doors and closets… The old oak bedstead on which Washington slept is still preserved with other treasured relics in the attic of the house.”
At the far end of the hall is the octagonal drawing room, or withdrawing room as it is properly called. This two-story octagon at the rear of the house is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the colonies. This ‘council chamber’ was known in Washington’s time as the court-martial room. Also in Washington’s time was the ‘tea room’, which must have been the office of the Adjutant General, Colonel Joseph Reed who also had a small bedroom on the second floor. During the mansion’s long history, many notable figures besides Washington occupied the bedrooms on the second floor; Alexander Hamilton, Marquis de Lafayette, Aaron Burr, to name a few. Major Andre, before he left on his fateful mission to meet with American turncoat, General Benedict Arnold that resulted in Andre’s hanging, stayed at the Morris House. The table that he wrote a letter to Arnold still remains in Washington’s bedroom. In the basement is the large colonial-era kitchen with hearth and a bee-hive oven.
On December 28, 1903, after the city had purchased the home and a small plot of land surrounding it, the mansion was formerly opened under the auspices of New York City. The Roger Morris House Museum, or Jumel Mansion was situated at 160th St. to 162nd St, between Edgecombe Ave. and Jumel Place. On January 19, 1905, the park department decided to retain control. In 1907, the Washington’s Headquarters Association of New York and the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution acquired the use of the house for a museum of historic relics and furnishings of the period of the Revolutionary War. A total rennovation was done in 1945. Today, the home is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Inc., an independent not-for-profit corporation, assumes responsibility for the running and upkeep of the Mansion. Situated in Roger Morris Park, at 65 Jumel Terrace at 160th St., the house is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am through 4 pm.
Haunted by Ghosts:
There are claims that the Morris House is haunted by five ghosts, most particularly Eliza Jumel who, it was once reported by a séance, told him that she had killed her husband by stabbing him with a pitch fork and burying him alive. The first such incident was noted by Eliza Jumel in 1833, after her husband Stephen died. Eliza was supposedly to have seen Stephen’s ghost and was so shaken that eventually, in 1834, she moved into an apartment on Elm and Grand Street with her stepdaughter and husband Nelson Chase.
Young Eliza Pery, daughter of Eliza Jumel’s niece Mary, moved into the Morris House with her French husband, Paul Raymond Pery after the matriarch Eliza died. The governess, M. Nitschke, who cared for Mrs. Pery’s daughter Matilde, reported, in 1868, three years after Eliza Jumel’s death, that Mrs. Pery requested that she moved down from the third floor bedroom to the ‘Lafayette’ room next to Mrs. Pery’s bedroom (the Washington bedroom). It turned out that Mrs. Pery was in constant terror of Eliza Jumel’s ghost who she claimed came with “terrible rappings” each evening around midnight. This went on for some time as a terrorized Mrs. Pery would frequently enter M. Nitschke’s bedroom in the middle of the night and beg to remain. Mr. Pery reported seeing Eliza Jumel who came to the bedside dressed in white. After this sighting, he refused to sleep in the Washington Bedroom. This incident is detailed in William Shelton’s 1916 text, The Jumel Mansion, pp 209-211.
Errors in historical texts and on the internet
The writer has come across several historical accounts, both in texts and internet articles, that he believes are incorrect. Many quote each other or feed off errors made in earlier texts.
1. The web site for the Morris-Jumel Museum states that Roger Morris presented the mansion as a wedding present to his new wife. This is incorrect. They were married in 1758. Roger did not begin building the mansion until 1765 (the year he purchased the land).
2. The land upon which the Morris House was built was not given to Roger Morris’ wife Mary as a dowry by her family. The Philipse family never owned the land on Harlem Heights. Their holdings were mainly in the city and Westchester County. Roger Morris purchased the farm and land upon which the mansion was built in 1765. The land Mary received upon her marriage was in the city on Stone St. near Whitehall in which Roger built their town-residence.
3. There is overwhelming doubt that Washington proposed to the future Mrs. Mary Philipse Morris. There is no account of this or even of a romance. Jared Sparks, early biographer of George Washington and Mrs. Amherst Morris’ (grandniece of Roger) memoirs of a supposed romance has little basis in fact and is full of errors. The only given evidence that Washington and Mary ever met was by Joseph Chew, a friend of Washington and frequent guest of the Robinson household (Robinson and Washington were both Virginians and friends). He wrote that Washington was a guest at the Robinson home in 1757, at the same time that Robinson’s sister-in-law was present, Mary Philipse.
4. Dates conflict on when Washington made the Morris House his headquarters. They are given anywhere from Sept. 14th to Oct. 22nd, 1776. Washington moved his headquarters to the Morris House after the British invaded Manhattan at Kip’s Bay. This was late in the evening of September 15th. He remained at the Morris House until Oct. 21st when he left for White Plains. His stay was from Sept. 14 – Oct. 21; five weeks.
5. Accounts differ as to when Roger Morris began construction of the House that bares his name; from 1758 to 1765. He began construction the summer that he purchased it; 1765.
6. Roger Morris’ date of birth is widely listed as 1717. It was 1727, his death has been accurately recorded as 1794. His wife Mary Morris’ birth has been incorrectly recorded as 1727. Her birth was 1730.
7. Internet articles cite earlier histories that list Mary Morris’ sister, who married Beverly Robinson (Virginian and Washington’s friend), as Johanna. This is wrong. Johanna was Mary’s mother. Her sister, who became Mrs. Robinson, was named Suzanne.
8. It is largely recorded that Roger Morris was a devout loyalist to the British Crown. This is questionable. It is assumed by many historians that Morris was a loyalist since he left for England in 1775 when hostilities broke out. At the time, according to Shelton, Morris wished to remain out of the fight and sought neutrality by leaving the country.
9. As listed on the official web site for the Morris Jumel House and the majority of historical texts, General Ferdinand P. Earle sold the house to the city in 1903. General Earle died in January, 1903. His widow sold the home, not Ferdinand [See New York Times Jan. 3, 1903 obituary section]
10. Helen Henderson, in her 1917 book, A Loiterer in New York, is given credit in texts and web articles for an elaborate description of the Morris House. However, she writes, as verbatim, entire passages that appear in William Shelton’s text The Jumel Mansion, that was published a year pror to M. Henderson’s book.
11. Several internet articles write that Roger Morris first purchased a captaincy in James Cholmondeley’s Regiment in 1745. This is incorrect. On September 13th, 1745, Morris entered Colonel Francis Ligonier’s Regiment as captain.
12. Many web sites mistakenly write that Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s aide/adjunct, resided in the bedroom near Washington’s during his stay in 1776. At this time Alexander Hamilton was a captain of artillery. Colonel Joseph Reed was adjunct and resided in the home with Washington..
13. Several articles on the web write that Major Andre’ wrote a letter to turncoat Benedict Arnold in the presence of his captors while in the house. There is not doubt that Andre’ wrote from the house, however, at the time he corresponded to Arnold from the Morris home, New York and Manhattan was occupied by the British with whom Andre was aide to Supreme Commander General Henry Clinton.
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