Historical Society Presents “Nineteenth Century Madison Leaders Buried in the Hillside Cemetery”
Thursday, October 24, 2013 • 9:47am
MADISON – On Tuesday, October 29, the Madison Historical Society will present resident Bob Garman, who will discuss “Nineteenth Century Madison Leaders Buried in the Main Street (Hillside) Cemetery.” Garman’s presentation will take place in the Chase Room of the Madison Public Library at 7:15 PM. Light refreshments will be available from 7:00.
As noted by historian Frank Esposito, “most of Madison’s earliest settlers lie in Hillside Cemetery.” The cemetery was established beside the original Presbyterian Meeting House, which was erected in 1749 at the crest of the hill.
The following Madison leaders interred at the cemetery will be including in Mr. Garman’s presentation: Rev. Samuel L. Tuttle, William and William H. Gibbons, and James A. Webb along with brief mentions of Civil War era Congressman George Helm Yeaman, Abraham Lincoln’s wartime secretary William O. Stoddard, and Gypsy King Naylor Harrison.
Samuel L. Tuttle was a mid-nineteen century pastor of the Presbyterian Church and Madison’s first historian. His 1855 “History of the Madison Presbyterian Church,” which can be seen in the MHS display case in the Madison Public Library, represents an important primary source for those who want to explore the town’s early history. As observed by Esposito, “It is a slim base from which to trace the beginnings of the town’s history, but we must be thankful for it.”
Drew’s Mead Hall was originally the home of The William Gibbons family. William Gibbons was the son of Thomas Gibbons a wealthy planter from Savannah who also owned businesses and property in New York and New Jersey and who, according to William Parkhurst Tuttle, once employed Cornelius Vanderbilt as a steamboat captain. As told by noted New Jersey historian John Cunningham, construction of the Gibbons mansion on Madison Avenue took place between 1833 and 1836. In 1867 William’s son and Confederate veteran, William Heyward Gibbons, sold the house and property to Wall Street financier and railroad tycoon Daniel Drew, who immediately donated it to the Methodist Church to found the Drew Theological Seminary.
James a Webb was one of a number of wealthy nineteenth and twentieth century Madison benefactors. He helped organize the Madison YMCA and was its second president. And together with his wife Magaretta, Webb had the Webb Memorial Chapel constructed for the Madison Presbyterian Church as a memorial to their son James.
Bob Garman is a thirty-six year member, Deacon, and Elder of the Presbyterian Church of Madison. He currently serves as the President of its Board of Trustees and also administers the church’s Hillside / Bottle Hill Cemetery on Main Street. Garman was the project manager for five historic preservation grants that documented and stabilized Webb Memorial Chapel, a key contributing structure in the Madison Downtown Commercial Historic District.
“As the current church historian, he has been reassembling the church’s unique collection of artifacts dating from 1748. And in partnership with the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, Garman has been conducting focused tours of the Hillside Cemetery this fall,” stated MHS program chair, Cathie Coultas.
Bob Garman is a graduate of Dartmouth College and of the MIT Sloan School of Management. He served for 5 years as a project engineer in the US Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and later worked for Exxon Mobil for 25 years in a variety of business development, planning, financial and information systems positions.
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