Thursday, April 15, 2010

“Mon Repos, Clyden,” 92 Cooper’s Neck Lane

This lovely Shingle Style home, with a five bay layout and gambrel roof was built in 1899 for Alonzo Castle Monson (1822-1902) and named “Mon Repos” which means “my place of rest” in French.

Alonzo C. Monson was the son of Marcena Monson and Eliza Castle Monson. He graduated from Yale in 1840 and from Columbia Law School in 1844. After Columbia, when he was twenty-three, he was a postal clerk where his brother- in-law, Robert H. Morris, was the New York postmaster, and his brother, Marcena Monson Jr., was the assistant postmaster. He used to have his initials written on the stamps of 1845 to deter counterfeit; those stamps are quite valuable today. Four years later “he had migrated to California, one of the original forty-niners, and within three years took the bench in the geographic heart of the gold rush, Sacramento County. The San Francisco Alta claimed, “No more capable or efficient judge ever sat upon the bench in California.”[1] In 1857 he started his journey back east and sailed on the S. S. Sonora after losing his house and his money in a famous poker game. He was lucky to survive the trip. At Panama he transferred to the S. S. Central America which headed straight into a hurricane. By the evening of Thursday, September 10th, “ the seas were so rough that most people were sick in their cabins. Judge Alonzo Castle Monson later recalled that "the evening games of cards and other pastimes for diversion and amusement usual in the cabin were dispensed with." This must have been a disappointment to the judge, an inveterate gambler. Earlier during the voyage, Commander Herndon had been Monson's partner at whist; but on this night the commander had more important matters on his mind.”[2] “As the storm worsened …, a leak developed and soon water was rushing into the boat. The water extinguished the fires in the ship's boilers, and this in turn caused the ship's pumping system to fail. All able male passengers began a systematic bailing of water out of the ship, but it was to no avail; after thirty frantic hours, the boiler fires would still not light and the water level continued to rise.
Knowing the situation was hopeless, Captain William Lewis Herndon managed to hail a passing ship, the brig MARINE, and one hundred persons, including all but one of the women and children aboard, were safely transferred to the other ship. Time and conditions would not allow for any more transfers, however, and shortly after 8 p.m. on September 12, the CENTRAL AMERICA began making its quick descent to the bottom of the ocean…..In all, 153 persons were rescued, while approximately 425 lost their lives. Also lost were hundreds of bags of mail and the $1,219,189 in gold.”[3]
“Mr. Monson was at one time President of the Knickerbocker Club and was one of its founders. He was also a member of the Metropolitan Club and the Alumni Association of Columbia University. He was also Vice President and Treasurer of the American Jockey Association when it thrived years ago and was connected with August Belmont’s racing interests.”[4]

Judge Monson never married and did not have children. Upon his death he left his entire estate to his grand-nephew Monson Morris, who was also the executor of his will, and to his grand-nieces Miss Helen Van Cortlandt Morris and Caroline S. Reboul.
Judge Monson’s sister, Ann Eliza Morris, was married to Robert Hunter Morris, mayor of New York for three consecutive terms as well as his postmaster position mentioned previously. “[Their] father was fond of entertaining, and many noted persons were guests under his hospitable roof. Charles Dickens was once a guest at the old mansion [at 32 Varick Street], as were Commodore Perry and Gov. Marcy, who was afterward Secretary of State.”[5] They had no children.
In 1901 Judge Monson purchased the large lot on the southwest corner of Cooper’s Neck Lane and Great Plains Road with the intention of building a new house but he died less than a year later at the age of eighty. That property would later become the site of the enormous “Mille Fiore,” summer cottage for Mr. and Mrs. Albert B. Boardman.
Carnegie Ownership

It is commonly believed that this house was built for Margaret Carnegie, only daughter of Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropist and industrialist, but there is much evidence to prove that a misconception. First, the property was developed by Judge Monson (the previous deeds show diagrams of the land as vacant). Second, Margaret Carnegie was only two when the house was built. I know wealthy people have done stranger things, but Andrew Carnegie was not a “showy” person which makes it unlikely he would embark on such an impractical use of money and build a house for his two-year-old daughter. Last, it is well known that Margaret spent her summers in Scotland at Skibo Castle with her parents, so why would she have a summer house in Southampton?
The subsequent owner was a Carnegie however, but it was Virginia Beggs Carnegie (1878-1952). She was the wife of Thomas Morrison Carnegie Jr. (1874-1944), Andrew Carnegie’s nephew (his brother’s son). She and her husband presumably re-named the house “Clyden,” after the Clyde river in Scotland near Dunfermline, Fife, where Andrew Carnegie was born.

“Thomas Morrison Carnegie, Jr. was the fourth son. As with most Carnegies, he was not very tall. He had light brown hair and blue eyes. He was a very gentle person and I think, a dreamer, so quiet in his ways. He was devoted to his wife, Virginia, and boys, Tom and Carter. He rode, played golf and tennis, and shot like his brothers, but gardening was his great hobby." [6]
In September of 1922 the house was burglarized. “Mr. and Mrs. T. Morrison Carnegie were the victims of the second robbery. It is believed that a thief entered the house through a window on Monday night while the family were at dinner. Mrs. C. C. Beggs, mother of Mrs. Carnegie, discovered the robbery. She went to her room and found a handkerchief on the floor that had been in a drawer. It was then found that jewelry estimated at about $4,000 was missing. Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie lost, among other articles, a diamond wrist watch, a gold ring set with a large diamond, a gold bar pin, a gold mesh bag and a number of smaller pins.
Mrs. Beggs’s loss included a gold watch, set with diamonds, valued at $1,000; two rings set with diamonds and rubles and a gold mesh bag.”[7]

The third owner was also a Carnegie. Florence Nightingale Carnegie Perkins (1879-1962) was the seventh of nine children. Her parents were Lucy and Thomas Carnegie (Andrew’s brother). Known by her family as “Aunt Floss,” she married Frederick Curtis Perkins, a lawyer, in 1901. She spent most of her life on Cumberland Island, a beautiful spot in Georgia owned by the Carnegie family. “Floss was unpredictable, edgy, a flighty sort of woman. She smoked long before it was acceptable for women. Family members said they didn’t know how Frederick put up with her. A story says that she once papered a bedroom in the Grange in dollar bills and that her relatives made her take it down because it defaced government property. She would invite her grandnieces and grandnephews to the Grange “to see my husband,” whose ashes were kept in a ceramic urn near a downstairs fireplace. When she tantalized them with tales of candy-filled closets, the youngest ones believed her.”[8] She outlived all her siblings and passed away at the age of eighty-two.

Among subsequent owners were the Mayos and Marinoviches. Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mayo were very socially active in Southampton in 1934. Mrs. Mayo was formerly Katherine Sutherland, daughter of Senator Howard Sutherland of West Virginia, and Paul Mayo was the Professor of Politics at the University of Denver. Before they bought “Clyden” they rented the very historic house named “Dune Ward” on the northeast corner of Meadow and Cooper’s Neck Lanes. In 1934 they had a daughter, Daphne Sutherland Mayo who eventually acquired the property. She married Mato L. Marinovich who was from Yugoslavia and was a doctor.
Property Owners (incomplete):
Roberto A. DeGuardiola Jr., 12/27/2001, Liber 12160 of deeds, page 346
Henry R. Pearson, 2/9/1995, Liber 11714 of deeds, page 73
Daphne S. Mayo Marinovich, 4/3/1959, Liber 4610 of deeds, page 397 (via Estate of Severn)
Coleman C. Perkins (son of Florence Nightingale Carnegie Perkins), 2/16/1925, Liber 1126 of deeds, page 357
Frederick Curtis Perkins & Florence Nightingale Carnegie Perkins (daughter of Thomas Morrison Carnegie),
Virginia Beggs Carnegie (wife of Thomas Morrison Carnegie Jr.), 10/5/1904, Liber 557 of deeds, page 497; interesting coincidence: Elizabeth D. Beggs owned 242 great plains (twining property) nearby 1902-1911.
Alonzo C. Monson, 10/6/1898, Liber 473 of deeds, page 165
John F. & Mary E. Fournier, 3/8/1897, Liber 455 of deeds, page 72 (vacant land)
Katharine Paris Bacon (1823-1917; wife of Francis M. Bacon), 10/18/1886, Liber 298 of deeds, page 354
Charles S. & Ellen A. Halsey

1902 Estate of Judge Monson
1916 Mrs. T. M. Carnegie
1926 Mrs. T. M. Carnegie
1932 Mrs. T. C. Perkins

Cottage Lists:
1899 Judge A. L. Munson listed; no cottage name
1900 Judge A. C. Monson listed; no cottage name
1901 Hon. A. L. Munson listed; no cottage name
1902 Chas. I. Hudson rents “Monson Estate, “Mon Repos”
C. C. Beggs (Virginia Beggs’ father) rents Mrs. Harris’ “Breakers Ahead”; no mention of “Clyden” or T. M. Carnegie
1903 Eric B. Dahlgren rents “Mon Repos, estate of A. H. Monson”
C. C. Beggs and Thomas M. Carnegie rent Dr. [H. Holbrook] Curtis’ cottage; no mention of “Clyden”
1904 “Mon Repos, estate of A. H. Monson, Cooper’s Neck”
C. C. Beggs and Thomas M. Carnegie rent Dr. Curtis’ cottage; no mention of “Clyden”
1905 Thomas M. Carnegie is listed at the estate of A. H. Monson “Mon Repos” on Cooper’s Neck (June, Seaside Times); no mention of “Clyden”
“Thomas M. Carnegie, Clyden” (October, Seaside Times)
1906 Thomas M. Carnegie listed as Summer Resident at “Clyden;””Clyden” not listed on Cottage Directory;“Mon Repos, estate of A. H. Monson, Cooper’s Neck” is listed on Cottage Directory.
1907 No mention of “Mon Repos;” T. M. Carnegie, Jr. is listed at Clyden (Seaside Times 6/5/1907)
1908 Thomas M. Carnegie listed as renting “Clyden” from the estate of C. C. Beggs (Seaside Times, 8/20/1908); False
1908 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1909 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1910 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1911 H. C. Brokaw listed as renting “T. M. Carnegie’s Clyden”
1911 T. Morris Carnegie listed as renting Mrs. Kilbreth’s “Keewayden” on First Neck Lane
1912 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1913 T. Morris Carnegie listed as renting J. L. Breese’s “The Little Orchard” on Hill Street
1913 Mrs. Shearson listed as renting “T. Morris Carnegie’s Clyden”
1914 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1915 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1916 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1917 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1918 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1919 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”
1920 “T. Morris Carnegie, Clyden”

[1] From Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder
[2] America’s Lost Treasure; The S. S. Central America
[4] The New York Times, January 1, 1902
[5] New York Times, April 10, 1900
[7] The New York Times, Sept. 15, 1922
[8] Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses by Charles Seabrook

1 comment:

  1. I am a grandaughter of Florence Perkins and so excited to find that Clyden is in good hands. My father Coleman Perkins spent many summers there as a boy and loved Southampton dearly. One interesting and sad story was that a cook from Clyden was washed away and drowned when she went to see the waves of the 1938 hurricane. I hope you will pass my good wishes along to the present owners.