|Title||Pamphlet: "when you enter the harbor, my house is the second on the left" Colonel John Stevens, Hoboken, N.J. Printed harbor tour guide written by Angie Austin, May 1987.|
|Collection||Stevens Castle Collection|
|Credit||Gift of Liberty Historic Railway, Inc.; William J. McKelvey.|
|Scope & Content||
Pamphlet: "when you enter the harbor, my house is the second on the left" Colonel John Stevens, Hoboken, New Jersey. Printed tour guide written by Angie Austin, May 1987. Booklet, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" high,  pp. Full text is in notes.
Issued as a conversational historical guide by Austin for some harbor tour sponsored by garden clubs of which the Stony Brook Garden Club is named. "Your boat ride in the harbor is presented to you in honor of the Stevens family by one of their lesser "inventions", and one of this meeting's chairman… Angie Austin"
It focuses on the Stevens family, their activities and accomplishments. Austin was a cousin of former New Jersey Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick whom she discusses along with her maternal grandmother, Elsie Stevens.
Back cover had date: 5/87.
"when you enter the harbor, my house is the second on the left"
Colonel John Stevens
Hoboken, New Jersey
You'll never pick out "the second house on the left" on your trip in the harbor today. Actually the house is no longer there, but in 1785 when Colonel John Stevens sent directions to a friend sailing from England, they made perfect sense.
The house was built by the Colonel high above the waterfront of the one mile square city he had just bought. The city was HOBOKEN - the land upon which the house stood was called CASTLE POINT.
Generations grew up at CASTLE POINT. One of the Colonel's sons, my great grandfather, lived there; as did my grandparents and my mother. CASTLE POINT is now part of the campus of THE STEVENS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, which was founded by my great grandfather, Edwin Augustus Stevens in 1871. The library of the Institute (which you will see today) stands on the spot where the Colonel's house once stood. The first John Stevens arrived from England in 1699. For close to 300 years the Stevens family's foresight and inventiveness have enriched New Jersey, and the world
Your boat ride in the harbor is presented to you in honor of the Stevens family by one of their lesser "inventions", and one of this meeting's chairman…
John Stevens was born in New York City in 1749. He graduated from Kings College (now Columbia) in 1768. He obtained the rank of Colonel in the American Revolution. He married Rachel Cox in 1782. Thirteen children were born to them, two did not live beyond infancy. The Colonel died in 1838, but his inventions and his proud decendents [sic descendants] live on.
The propeller - the steam pressure boiler - the first steam-ferry service - designs for a tunnel under the Hudson River - designs for a steam-driven warship, which served as the basis for the Confederate ironclad Merrimack - instigator of U.S. Patent System and also recipient of one of the first patents in 1791 - and many more innovations and inventions in the fields of engineering and transportation.
The first railroad charter was granted to Colonel Stevens in 1815 for his "steam wagon" which operated on a circular track in Hoboken. One son, Robert Livingston Stevens, invented the solid steel T-rail in 1830, which still keeps trains rolling today. Another son, Edwin Augustus Stevens, ran the first commercial railroad in America, and showed a profit.
Edwin A. Stevens and another brother, John Cox Stevens who was the first Commodore of the N.Y. Yacht Club (then in Hoboken) built and owned the yacht "AMERICA". The Stevens family had several yachts, one faster that the "AMERICA" - the "MARIA" but the "MARIA" was deemed not as sea worthy as the newer yacht. So, it was the "AMERICA" that sailed from Hoboken to Cowes, England as an entrant in the Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta. And it was the "America" that made history in 1851 by winning the 100 Guinea Cup, which Commodore John Cox Stevens turned over to the New York Yacht Club. In honor of the yacht that won it, the cup was renamed the "AMERICA's CUP". The rest is yachting history. But, just think, - had the "MARIA" been more seaworthy, it could be known as the "MARIA'S CUP". Whichever of the Stevens' Yachts won the cup, there is still that classic line spoken to Queen Victoria. When she was told that the American yacht was leading the race, she asked "who is second?" - the answer was -"Your Magesty [sic - majesty], there is no second".
Colonel John Stevens was also an ardent horticulturist. He created a park in Hoboken called the Elysian Fields (where incidentally the first baseball game in America was played in 1846, and in 1879 the first football match between Princeton and Yale). It was in the Elysian Fields that the Colonel planted and tested many trees and shrubs from all over the world. In a conservatory near his house he had more tender and exotic plants such as fuchsias, oleander, double flowering pomegranate and camellias. The camellia was first imported to America by the Colonel in 1798. As an article in Horticulture said, "thank you John Stevens, thank you, Hoboken".
We all have them! And where there are relatives, there are stories. In a family where there is brilliance, there is also a certain amount of eccentricity. Or perhaps it's just that the Stevens' ingenuity takes different turns. There was a cousin who only wore her rubber soled shoes while riding her bicycle…so she somehow affixed the shoes to the bicycle pedals. They were always there, ready and waiting. Makes sense to me!
And there was my maternal grandmother - quite a beauty in her time. Fashion conscious, she was faced with both a social and sartorial quandary on my parents' wedding day. It was the first day of spring (1929), so does one wear one's winter hat, or one's spring hat? She solved the problem in a manner befitting a Stevens - she wore both, one on top of the other. Reports said she looked "stunning". My favorite comment that Granny ever made came late in her life when she was living in a world of her own. My sister and I took our children to meet her. Granny was deaf, so her companion had to repeat many times, "Mrs. Stevens, these are your great grandchildren". It took Granny a while to absorb their presence in her room (in fact, in her world) before she lifted her head from the pillow. With the advantage of 90+ years on her side, she viewed the assembled offspring. Her comment…"well that's not my fault" …and put her head back on the pillow. She had a point!
….my cousin, Millicent Fenwick - often described as "the pipe smoking Congresswoman from New Jersey" - the name HOBOKEN means "the land of the tobacco pipe" - she was also depicted in "Doonesbury" as Lacy Davenport. ….and there was my mother, a founding member of the Stony Brook Garden Club, one of the hostess clubs for this meeting. She taught me more about growing and appreciating and arranging flowers than I ever realized. ….and there is my sister and my daughter whose patience and love helped but this (and me) all together.
Stevens, Colonel John
Stevens, Robert L.
|Year Range from||1987|
|Year Range to||1987|
America (Stevens yacht)
Stevens Institute of Technology
|Caption||pg  front cover|
Gardens & Yards