Monmouth, the home of General John A. Quitman,
is now owned by his daughter, Mrs. Rosalie Quitman Duncan. It was
built in 1818 by a Mr. Harkinson, of New Jersey, and named “Monmouth” in
memory of his native county. In those days, yellow fever frequently
swept away whole families in a few days. Such was the, fate of the
Harkinson family. In 1825, Mr. Quit-man, then a young man, bought
Monmouth and made large additions to the original building, which is of
that severe and simple style of architecture that produces a massive effect.
The heavy columns in front extend to the roof and the thick walls and the
slate-floored portico give dignity to this grand old home.
It stands on a sloping hill and is approached
by a semi-circular drive-way through a beautiful lawn, shaded by magnificent
trees, adorned with rare shrubbery and lovely flowers. The rose garden
at Monmouth is a sight to delight the poet and painter’s eye, when in early
spring the queen of flowers bursts into bloom. In the great hall
of the home are hung the family portraits; two of Gen. Quitman, one representing
him in the flush of young manhood; the other in the uniform of a
major-general of the United States army, painted just after the Mexican
war when the crown of laurel was fresh upon the brow of the hero of Belen
Gate. Three of the old soldier’s swords hang under the portraits.
Near by stands a tall clock of the style known as “Grandfather clock.”
A recent visitor noticed the clock, and spoke of it by that name.
A granddaughter of Gen. Quitman answered, “Yes, that is ‘Grandfather’s
clock’ and has been in the family one hundred years and still keeps time.”
In the well-filled library may be seen Gen. Quitman’s secretary with desk
and chair; over the secretary hangs a picture of John C. Calhoun;
on the opposite wall hangs a painting of the battle of Chapultepec.
To this lovely home Mr. Quitman brought
his wife and infant child soon after he bought it; here in later
years he sought and found rest and recreation from the labors of public
life. Many honored sons of the United States have been guests in
the home. The Cuban patriot, Lopez, and the Cuban exile, J. S. Thrasher,
were entertained in this hospitable home. When Gen. Quitman returned
from Mexico he was welcomed by a grand military display on the lawn in
front of the house.
During the late war Monmouth was used
as brigade headquarters by the Federal troops.
The family occupied rooms in the upper
part of the house and beheld with aching hearts but helpless hands the
destruction of the beautiful hedges, statuary, and many of the grand old
trees that adorned the yards and lawn. Other trees have been planted
in the place of those destroyed and the genial clime of this sunny land
has caused such a rapid growth that the old home is as beautiful now as
it was when happy children played beneath the shade of the old trees.