Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-Century Crusader

By Glyndon G. Van Deusen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
The Greeleys at Home

WHILE GREELEY WAS BUILDING HIMSELF A REPUtation as editor, reformer, and national leader he was also, after a fashion, trying to establish a home. At first he and Molly moved hither and yon from one set of rooms to another, but gradually they began settling down to longer and longer periods in one spot. During the early 1840's they lived for some time at 35 East Nineteenth Street in one of a row of houses just alike, number 37 being occupied by William M. Evarts and then by William Allen Butler who was later to gain fame as the creator of Flora M'Flimsey in the poem "Nothing to Wear." At number 37 the Greeleys kept a goat, or goats, in the backyard, and here on one occasion, when the absent-minded editor was trying to get into his neighbor's house under the impression that it was his own, he plunged headlong into the Butlers' front hall when Mrs. Butler suddenly opened the door. 1

Late in 1844, Horace and Molly sought out a more secluded habitation. This was an "old, desolate rookery of a house," 2 situated on an eight-acre plot at Turtle Bay, nearly opposite the southern tip of Blackwell's Island. The nearest highway was the old "Boston road" at Forty-ninth Street. This area was definitely country in 1844, being about two miles from the thickly settled parts of New York City.

At Turtle Bay the Tribune's editor again took up farming, for he had an acre patch plowed by a neighbor for the sum of five dollars. The ploughing was poor (only five inches deep, Greeley noted with disgust) and the estate was run down, but Margaret Fuller, who lived there with the Greeleys, thought that as a place of abode it was restful and charming. So it seemed to its owner, a man tormented just then by half a hundred boils and worn out by his exertions in the campaign of 1844. 3

Early in 1850, Greeley bought for $7,000 a two and one-half story house built of brick and painted brown, on Nineteenth Street, half

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