Sunday, April 24, 2011

Glen Alpin, Harding Township, New Jersey

My father spent his very early years in Morris County, New Jersey. Last summer, my husband, my two teenage sons and I visited two homes in Harding Township which have much significance for my paternal grandfather, his parents and his maternal grandparents. One, Glen Alpin, has been purchased by the local historical society and renovated. The other, Hurstmont, is next door, and was for sale for many months. It is in poor condition, but it has been purchased and will be renovated. I have kept in touch with a member of the local historical society who gave us a tour of the houses last summer.

Glen Alpin, August 2010
My great great-grandfather, David Hunter McAlpin, born in 1816 in Dutchess County, New York, was very successful in the tobacco industry, as well as in real estate in New York City, making enough money to purchase a house in the country (which he renamed Glen Alpin) in 1885. He spent additional money fixing up this house. As you can see from the photo at left, taken by my husband last August, this is in the process of being beautifully restored by a non-profit group, The Glen Alpin Conservancy. When my great great-grandfather, David Hunter McAlpin, died on February 8, 1901, he left Glen Alpin to his son, Charles Williston McAlpin. Charles owned the house until 1940, when he sold it to Doris Mercer, also known as Princess Farid-es-Sultaneh. The next owner owned Glen Alpin from 1965 - 2000. By 2005, the Harding Township Historical Society had arranged for the purchase and renovation of Glen Alpin. Charles Williston McAlpin (1865-1942), brother of Frances Adelaide McAlpin, was married to Sara Carter Pyle (1863-1949), sister of James Tolman Pyle. They had no children.

Hurstmont, August 2010
David H. McAlpin had nine children. His only daughter, Frances Adelaide McAlpin, married James Tolman Pyle (of Pyle's Pearline Soap fame) in 1884. David gave them one of the parcels of land adjoining Glen Alpin in 1886. They had a large stone house built. James Tolman Pyle and Frances Adelaide McAlpin had six children, the fifth of whom was my grandfather. In 1902-1903, my great-grandparents had the house substantially renovated. It was after these renovations that they named the home Hurstmont. My grandfather, born in 1893, in Morristown, spent his childhood at this home both before and after these renovations, and at their home in New York City. Some years after the death of James Tolman Pyle on February 8, 1912, his widow, Adelaide Pyle, sold Hurstmont to William Jenks (1872-1955), who renamed it Mount Kemble Manor. He had to sell the house in the 1940's because he couldn't afford to keep it up. The next owners owned it until 1982 when it was sold to an owner who wasn't able to keep it up, and it fell into disrepair. A great many people, descendants and historical preservationists, are pleased that someone has purchased the home (in March 2011) and will be renovating it.

The area where the former McAlpin and Pyle houses currently sit was originally part of Morris Township, 1740-1866, when the southern part was set off as Passaic Township, 1866-1922. In 1922, the northern part of Passaic Township was set off as Harding Township. There were Pyles and McAlpins in the Morris County area for quite a number of years, but it is only in researching my family genealogy that I have learned as much as I have and have had the opportunity to connect and meet some of my second cousins on this side!

See an aerial view of the home here.

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