|Historical Background Section
By Vivien E. Rose
Introduction: A Home for Civic Mindedness
This historical background section provides information about people and events associated with the Hunt House, 1828-2009, drawing on primary sources from the period of significance andbaseline resource surveys completed by the National Park Service (most importantly the Historic Resource Study and National Register of Historic Places documentation). To a limited extent, scholarly books and articles provide context to explain the importance of the site and the families that resided there to history and to the present.1
Built for a civic and family-minded settler of Waterloo, New York, the Richard P. and Jane Hunt House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A in the areas of social history and politics/government as the site of planning the nation’s first women’s rights convention and under Criterion B as the residence of Richard P. Hunt and his third and fourth wives, Sarah M’Clintock Hunt and Jane Clothier Master Hunt. It is locally significant for Hunt’s role as a major local industrialist and developer. The house and grounds are within the Women’s Rights National Historical Park District. Sites within the district related to the 1848 First Women’s Rights Convention share a single period of significance between 1836, when the Thomas and Mary Ann M’Clintock Family arrived in Waterloo, and 1862, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family left Seneca Falls. The period 1836 to 1862 also marked the height of Hunt family involvement in efforts for regional economic and social development and reform. With limited exceptions at the local level, only the eldest two daughters, Mary and Sarah, appear to have continued active involvement in poor relief and women’s rights beyond 1863.2
Previous work on the 1848 first women’s rights convention focused on the importance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton as an early leader of the women’s rights movement. Later historians described the active Quaker religious and anti-slavery networks that held experience and knowledge of how to start and sustain a movement. Judith Wellman in particular has bridged these two perspectives in her work on the 1848 first women’s rights convention. 3
Anne M. Derousie investigated pre-existing social networks between signers of the Declaration of Sentiments issued by the 1848 first women’s rights convention. Stanton may have urged a convention; the M’Clintocks may have brought in networks of reformers and social movement skills. Derousie argues that, while these were important resources, the simple fact is that Richard P. Hunt’s substantial home and relationships with community leaders in Seneca Falls and Waterloo provided the ground on which the convention successfully occurred. Involvement in agricultural reform, business development, internal improvements, education, and other civic issues reflected a belief that society was built. When Richard P. Hunt supported the nation’s first women’s rights convention with his presence and his signature, a substantial portion of the community stood with him. His home was essential to the women’s rights movement because community support was essential to the women’s rights movement.4
The Hunt House served Waterloo and multiple generations of the Hunt family as a residence and working farm of nearly 150 acres. The house and a lot of less than two acres sold out of the family in 1919. Two generations of Irving P. Greenwood’s extended family used the house and landscape of slightly more than five acres between 1944 and 1999.
Intervening owners Clifford L. Beare and Roy A. Brewster operated independent businesses from the property between 1919 and 1944, while significantly altering the remaining home and landscape. Clifford L. Beare completed the most extensive changes to the building exterior since the mid-1840s and expanded the lot to slightly more than five acres. Roy A. Brewster added tourist cottages to the landscape.
Though separated by a century, the origins, family-mindedness, business activities, and community roles of Richard P. Hunt and Irving T. Greenwood bear a striking resemblance. Their wives, Jane M. Hunt and Marie Greenwood, both became widows and both continued their husbands’ important legacies. Hunt and Greenwood children remained involved in local economic endeavors and cultural and charitable organizations after their fathers’ deaths.
The Hunt House stands as a testament to the values of individual, family, and community well-being. Its owners and residents applied the activities of agriculture, business, development, religion, education, political action and reform as tools to achieve these ends. The networks established through these activities launched the First Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca County and in the nation in 1848.
I. The Hunt Family Home, 1828-1919
Richard P. Hunt (Figure 1) came to Waterloo from the Hudson Valley in 1821 to establish a general store, “Hunt and Hoyt.” Between 1821 and 1828, Hunt operated this store with his partner, selling flour and wheat on the New York City market through Edward G. Faile & Co., which operated as agent and banker. As there was little cash, Hunt traded goods (cloth, spices, preserved fish, metal goods, coffee, tobacco, and tea) for agricultural products (wheat, flour, timothy and clover seed, butter, pork, dried fruit). He built a small frame house and looked for opportunities to expand his business. In 1823 the Chatham Fire Insurance Company appointed him as their agent. He served as Waterloo’s assessor in 1824. He entered into partnership on a cooper shop, destroyed by fire in 1826, and in early 1827 purchased castings and bolting cloth for a mill. At the end of the year he purchased the 145.5 acre Van Tuyl farm on the eastern edge of Waterloo.
Hunt built a home and farm that served as the center for an extended family network and of an economic network that included markets in New York City and sources for raw materials for his woolen mill. It was home to Hunt’s active and consistent efforts to increase the well-being of the community in which he lived. Hunt benefited from access to relatively inexpensive land, a growing transportation system, and steady markets in New York City during his lifetime. His growing wealth was tied to a large family network through mortgages and rental of property that supported growth in and around Waterloo. His reform activities grew from an awareness of the importance of property and capital to human improvement and evidenced themselves in anti-Masonic activity, elective office, business ownership, bank trusteeship, agricultural booster, landowning and building. He supported transportation infrastructure investment and establishment of cultural institutions like the county house for the poor, churches and schools. For these reasons, his home is recognized as locally significant for Hunt’s role as a major local industrialist and developer.
As National Register documentation and a recent dissertation show, the Hunt Family home played a particularly important part in growing anti-slavery and women’s rights activism between period between 1836 and 1862. Hunt’s third wife, Sarah M’Clintock Hunt, brought her family and its radical actions against slavery to the home. Through her, R.P. Hunt was involved in local and national anti-slavery organizations. The home is a documented site on the Underground Railroad. R.P. Hunt’s fourth wife, Jane Clothier Master Hunt, (Figure 2) hosted the event which led to the nation’s first women’s rights convention, earning the home national significance in the areas of social history and politics and government. Perhaps the most important thing about the home is that Richard P. Hunt’s business, economic, family, religious, and civic networks formed the base of support for advances in many arenas, including the early women’s rights movement. After his death in 1856, his wife and daughters supported anti-slavery and women’s rights activities through the Civil War and into the 1860s. After 1862, with rare exception, active Hunt family involvement in reform dwindled to reform society memberships, land donation for a church, poor relief, and involvement in the 1870s in establishing Waterloo’s Library and Historical Society.
Family records show Hunt’s active engagement in local and regional networks through 1856. Regrettably, records after Richard P. Hunt’s death are less available and illuminating. While Hunt died possessed of large property, networks necessary to maintain markets in New York City and other places seem to have dwindled with each successive generation. Sons William M. Hunt and George T. Hunt each ran the farm for a few years in the 1870s; in the 1890s Montgomery Whiteside operated a brickyard on the property. In the 1900s, George T. Hunt, Jr. worked and sold land. Jane Hunt’s death in 1889 signaled the end of an era. By the early 1900s, only daughter Mary M. Hunt and descendants of George T. Hunt, R.P Hunt’s youngest son, remained in Waterloo. In 1905, grandson Richard “Pell” Hunt wrote from Bradford, Pa. that Hunt relatives would have little reason to return to “Old Waterloo…no business for them there.” In 1919, the home was sold out of the family. 5
1828-1856 Richard P. Hunt Family
1828-36 Creating a Home Place
Richard P. Hunt built his home with funds inherited after his father’s death in 1821 and his mother’s in 1828. In 1828, Hunt’s sisters, Mary and Lydia, moved to Waterloo with their husbands, Elijah P. Quinby and Randolph Mount, while sister Eliza and husband Benjamin Underhill located in nearby Wolcott. Hunt sold his store to Elijah Quinby and Randolph Mount purchased farm land near the edge of town. The transition from store owner to landholder and farmer was not easy; however Hunt now had family around him, all building new homes in 1828 and 1829.6
In 1829, Hunt built his home, shipping materials from Massachusetts for door and window sills and hearths, procuring 82,000 bricks, and buying enough wood for a picket fence to separate the front from the main road. L. R. LaBattell completed the work. Hunt’s new home replaced his former home, office and store in downtown Waterloo. With an active farm and extensive business and political network, Hunt required an office for managing the farm and for meeting with business associates. The “hall bedroom” of the probate inventory following Hunt’s death may have served as a home office through this period. In addition to his sisters’ families, Hunt maintained economic ties to Kendig in-laws and to business partners including Jacob P. Chamberlain, Joel F. Bacon, Azaliah Schooley, and others.7
Richard P. Hunt moved with his wife, Matilda, to a farm well situated for transport of agricultural products to local mills or to the New York City market, with both turnpike and canal access. It provided ample room for household help, for visiting relatives, and for an office. Outbuildings stored equipment and animals. Hunt purchased a horse in January, 1829, perhaps for transportation into town.8
Hunt had been selling flour and wheat taken in trade from farmers through E.G Faile and Co., NYC, for years. While some authors consider that Hunt had “retired” from his mercantile business, in fact his attention turned from buying and selling others’ goods to growing, processing, and transporting goods of his own. He also began to buy and sell property and briefly held public office.9
Richard P. Hunt did not belong to a particular party, but when the Town of Junius separated into four townships including Waterloo in April, 1829, he was unanimously voted in as Town Supervisor. The separation led to fears among Hunt’s associates that the county might be split as Masonic and Anti-Masonic Parties argued about local control and about access to public funds. Hunt gained a reputation for carefully reviewing submitted bills and supported a measure approved by county supervisors to raise public funds for a county poor house in January, 1830. Hunt ran for and was reelected to office in spring, 1830, the last time he held political office.10
Meanwhile he began to lend money and buy and sell property. As executor of his father’s estate, he handled settlement of notes against his father’s properties in downstate New York. He held liens on a variety of properties, served as a witness to building contracts, advised on creditworthiness, and bought mortgages from others in need of cash. Between June, 1832 and April, 1833, he retained kept an account of payments to Seba Murphy, County Clerk, to prepare and record deeds, mortgages, and mortgage discharges on properties he owned.11
Hunts first wife, Matilda Kendig Hunt died in August 1832, a few years after moving into the home they built and before Hunt had really had an opportunity to develop their farm. He advertised the farm for sale through the winter and spring of 1833, but seems to have decided to stay shortly after he became a charter member of the Seneca County Bank in March 1833. Capital stock of 4000 shares at $50.00 sold out immediately, with Hunt only being able to purchase 30 shares for himself. Hunt married Ann Underhill in February, 1834 and was elected first Vice President of the Seneca County Bank in May; he resigned a few days after Ann Hunt died on July 4, 1834.12
Still childless, Hunt determined to go “on with any business as heretofore” after Ann Hunt’s death. He hired a housekeeper and possibly a farm manager and turned his attention to building his farm, properties and businesses. He had subscribed to the Genesee Farmer in 1831. In October 1834, he joined other farmers in the creation of the Junius and Waterloo Association for the Improvement in Stock. As the first treasurer, he managed association funds including the purchase of a Durham heifer that year, and stud fees for bull and boar owned by the association. It is possible that some of these cattle resided on the Hunt Farm. He also began to search for opportunities to manufacture high end goods from local agricultural products. In 1836, Hunt joined with John Sinclair and Jesse Clark to form the Waterloo Woolen Manufacturing Company, “to secure a home market for the wool-clip of this and adjacent counties.” The mill purchased all necessary water rights and erected its first building in 1836 and early 1837.13
Although no farm records exist from this period, Hunt’s growing network and activities indicate that he intended to grow grains, cattle, and possibly sheep to provide wool for the woolen mill. He traded wool, tallow, and clover seed on account at his brother-in-law Quinby’s store. A single receipt in 1834 for sawing siding, flooring, boards, planks and other wood may indicate that Hunt was clearing fields for production. Between 1833 and 1836, Hunt had many fences built as well.14
The first several years of life in the house included two funerals, employment of a housekeeper and farm manager, and active involvement in business. Hunt’s extended family visited, as did travelers from a network of Quakers including relatives in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey. Based on economic activity it seems clear that Hunt also had visits from representatives of the bank, the woolen mill, the stock improvement society, and possibly local elected officials. The formal parlor and dining room would be adequate and appropriate for family; an office for records, investments, and farm business.
Hunt’s network expanded again in late 1836. Thomas M’Clintock, a Philadelphia Quaker, pharmacist, and anti-slavery reformer, traveled through upstate New York in July, 1836 representing the Green Street Monthly Meeting. Between July and October, M’Clintock and his family purchased the S. Lundy and Son store at the east end of the Lundy block on the north side of West Main St. in Waterloo. They joined the nearby Hicksite Quaker Junius Monthly Meeting while renting Hunt’s property behind the store. In December, M’Clintock announced his store and pharmacy open for business.15
2. 1836-1856 Renovation and Reform: A Bedrock for Rights
M’Clintock store accounts give evidence of Hunt’s home needs: R.P. Hunt’s account included fabric and sewing notions charged to his housekeeper, Amy Mosher. Hunt paid also for a new kitchen and woodhouse for the M’Clintock rental house in 1837, as well as some alterations including water lining the cellar. 16
The M’Clintocks did more than affect Hunt’s staff and repair bills. Sarah M’Clintock, their niece, married Richard P. Hunt in September 1837. The scant five years of their marriage produced three children, renovations to the house and a decided turn toward active reform in R.P. Hunt’s activities. Sarah M’Clintock, a member of the Junius Monthly Meeting, shared her uncle and aunt’s determined opposition to slavery and to orthodoxy in the Quaker tradition. After her death in July 1842 at the age of thirty-six, Hunt found his fourth wife, Jane Clothier Master, among close friends of the M’Clintocks. The daughter of a known Philadelphia abolitionist, she was also sister-in-law to George P. Truman, a Hicksite Quaker minister and doctor. Her sister, Catharine Master Hunt, was active on the women’s committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Jane Clothier Master Hunt married Hunt in March 1845.17
Between 1836 and 1856, the Hunt House fulfilled five functions: it was the seat of an increasingly productive farm, it housed Hunt’s business activities, it served as a place of welcome for more relatives and friends, it provided refuge for freedom seekers and reform activities and finally, it was home to a growing family. Alterations in 1841 reflect the growth of the family and of Hunt’s businesses with an expanded north wing and new west wing attached to the main house by a doorway, and possibly an additional bedroom on the first floor of the main block.
A Productive Farm
Though no records exist for the productivity of the farm, the 1840 census showed nine persons, three employed in agriculture, residing in the Hunt home. In addition to Richard and Sarah Hunt, and their two children, two males aged 30-40 years, two females aged 20 to 30 years, and one female aged 10-20 years resided in their home. Hunt and the two males aged 30-40 years were the likely workers.18
As the founding chairman of the Seneca County Agricultural and Horticultural Society, established in June 1837, R.P. Hunt helped support agriculture throughout the county. The society issued premiums for judging for excellence in crops and cattle. Hunts’ white carrot, rutabaga and mangel wurzel crops won awards in 1842. He was one of nine vice presidents of the society in 1844, reelected in 1850.19
According to the 1850 federal Census of Agriculture, Hunt farmed 450 acres of improved land and 75 acres of unimproved land. The home farm included nearly 146 acres; the other 380 acres may have been owned by Hunt and farmed by others. The cash value of the farm, livestock and implements was $20,000. Livestock included 13 horses, 12 milk cows, 8 working oxen, 18 other cattle, 275 sheep and 30 swine. Crops included 1120 bushels of wheat, 1000 bushels of Indian corn, 500 bushels of oats, 670 lbs of wool, 80 bushels of peas or beans, 250 bushels of Irish potatoes, 340 bushels of barley, 60 bushels of buckwheat, 500 lbs. of butter, and 120 tons of hay. While the home farm included only about 30 percent of the acreage reported, the Agricultural Census showed efforts to diversify crops and livestock. Hunt’s labor force on his home farm was down to himself and George Hunter, a 30 year old Irish-born laborer. Two other Irish-born lived there as well: 25 year old Anne McClelland and 13 year old Elizabeth Hennard.20
Weather in 1852 worked against a productive harvest. In August, Hunt wrote to his son that a cold, wet spring followed by summer drought had dried pastures, damaged corn, and increased weevil damage to wheat. The small hay crop would make it difficult to fatten cattle for beef. Perhaps because of the weather, Hunt decided that his son would continue at boarding school through the following spring. No longer a merchant himself, he was convinced that farming was profitable. In spring, his son could “return home, and work on the Farm & try to get a Sufficient Knowledge of Farming to get a good comfortable living. It is much the most certain way.”21
Through weekly letters to Richard Hunt from his sisters Mary and Sarah, Hunt’s son learned of farm activities. 1853 was a better year. During the butchering season, R.P. Hunt killed 16 hogs, 12 chickens, and a young ox, selling the meat of several of them. In February 1854, Jane Hunt “received a premium for her butter…quite a feather in her cap.” A month later, Sarah Hunt reported to her brother that they had thrashed 60 bushels using an ox team, while three men could only thrash 24 bushels in a day.22
An Office for Business Activity
Looking for a market for wool, Hunt found a trusted agent. Isaac Mosher, the principal agent for getting stock for the Waterloo Woolen Manufacturing Company, became Hunt’s private agent in this period. Like Hunt, Mosher was born and reared as a Quaker and was “a man of peace” deeply trusted by Hunt. Keeping track of Hunt’s lands, buildings, farm, and the businesses and organizations he supported, as well as accounts in Hunt’s name charged by Mosher’s mother Amy in 1837, indicate a close relationship. It is possible that the one story west wing, listed as a “sitting room” in the 1856 inventory of R.P. Hunt’s estate, was built as an office for Hunt and Mosher in 1841. With a separate front door, it was removed from but close to family activity.23
Hunt remained a trustee of Seneca County Bank through his death in 1856. He was a founding member of the Seneca County Mutual Insurance Company, incorporated in April, 1839. The Village of Waterloo incorporated in 1839 with several boundary changes, Hunt’s homestead farm marking the eastern boundary.
Agriculture-related enterprises including the Waterloo Woolen Manufacturing Company occupied Hunt through this period. As noted, the Waterloo Woolen Mill began operation in fall of 1837; Hunt served as secretary until his death. Early production was limited to broadcloth and cassimeres, but was the mill was “in trouble” by 1848. “Cousin Richard says the Mexican War will ruin everything,” Elizabeth M’Clintock wrote. About that time, the owners shifted to men’s and women’s fancy shawls wholesaled to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and other major markets. Calvin W. Cook, the manager from 1846 through 1873, employed 180 hands and produced 125 shawls a day by the mid-1850s. As secretary of the board of trustees, Hunt corresponded with elected officials about use of water rights and the canal. In 1846, he wrote to Elias Cost, New York State Assembly representative, in opposition to construction of a dam on the Seneca and Cayuga Canal near Waterloo. In 1850, his petition on behalf of the Waterloo Woolen works for damages sustained by raising this dam was presented by State Senator Henry B. Stanton.24
Hunt owned stock in several local businesses, including the Waterloo Cotton factory, established in 1846. By 1852, it had fallen on hard times. Hunt and other stockholders gathered to protect their investments. The same firm that managed sales for the Waterloo Woolen mill agreed to work with Hunt to run the cotton mill until it could pay its debts. Hunt wrote to his son in January 1853, “I am kept very busy this winter as in addition to my usual business I am now running the cotton factory.” Accounts in the Hunt Family Papers show that Hunt ran the mill through 1856.25
Hunt expanded his real estate holdings throughout this period. In 1838 he purchased six village lots, in 1839 another eleven. An 1838 receipt in the Hunt Family Papers for building a house with woodshed and cistern appears to be for housing for four families, possibly mill workers. In 1839, Hunt built the first of three business blocks in downtown Waterloo. Thomas M’Clintock moved his drug and bookstore to the new location directly behind his rented home. By 1856, the three blocks were complete. In addition to these lots, Hunt owned farmland. He invested in Illinois state bonds in 1841, which may have drawn his eye to land there; by 1855 he owned a share of an Illinois farm. Hunt’s eldest son worked that farm with Hunt’s partner, returning from Illinois when Hunt entered his final illness in late summer, 1856.26
By the mid-1850s, Hunt’s efforts attracted the attention of New York State biographers. Although Hunt declined to send in a biography and daguerreotype for publication in the next edition, he was invited to be included in John Livingston’s annual dictionary of distinguished New York men. His refusal indicated Quaker values of humility and frugality that were trademarks of his business practices. It may also have reflected a concern for liquid cash as he didn’t pay for boarding school for his daughters, or for unnecessary tolls.27
While Hunt increased his business network between 1836 and 1856, many business partners were relatives. His brother-in-law Elijah P. Quinby purchased Hunt’s store in the late 1820s. Brother-in-law Randolph Mount and family lived on and operated a farm Hunt owned. Thomas M’Clintock rented his house and store from Richard P. Hunt. Hunt held many notes and mortgages for relatives throughout the period. His relatives charged him for goods provided to him as well. In 1837, he purchased three comforters, three quilts, cordwood, and ploughing from Margaret and George Pryor, Sarah Hunt’s aunt and uncle, and sold veal and butter to E.P. Quinby. In 1841, he received liverwort syrup, cord wood and 1 ¼” floorboards from Randolph Mount in exchange for plowing, 1 board of white pine, ½ barrel of sweet potatoes and five pounds of crackers. Similar receipts document regular economic exchanges throughout the period. Hunt was well aware of tracking costs, a skill he passed on to his children. Perhaps the most telling evidence of this care is a receipt for 25 cents from 7 year old Willie Hunt to his mother for a chicken.28