Dr. Edgar Day: Original Owner of Idylease

idylease edgar day
Image of Dr. Edgar A. Day: Courtesy of Beth Willis from the Strait Family Photo Collection. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced.

For many years I have conducted research on Dr. Edgar Day who was the original owner and operator of Idylease. He had built the structure in the summer of 1902, realizing his dream of creating a country escape where cheerful hospitality reigned for persons “wearied or worn with the ceaseless turmoil of the city.”

Unable to find references on the internet, I had resigned myself that I had exhausted all efforts in finding any information about his past.

Enter Beth Willis – a relation to Edgar A. Day. Beth is an historian who has compiled a 638-page manuscript entitled, “The Inhabitants of the Neighborhood…… A Pictorial History of Snufftown, now Stockholm, Hardyston Township, Sussex County, New Jersey and its Vicinity”.

While a former resident of Ogdensburg, New Jersey, Beth had many of her ancestors and relatives who had lived in the area at Snufftown and its area. Much of the information was from the photographs and written family histories her grandmother meticulous preserved. She had also conducted many interviews with relatives of the former residents who had lived in the area. The manuscript has detailed and highly interesting information about local history.

The manuscript contains over 900 photographs that include family portraits, business advertisements, photographs of the homes and business of the area including many scenic views of the community. Many of the photographs were taken during the acquisitions of lands for the Pequannock watershed. Beth has donated a copy of the manuscript to the West Milford Public Library where it may be accessed as a reference resource.

In addition, her 3rd great Aunt Martha Strait and a distant cousin, Elizabeth S. Day both compiled their family histories. Another relative, Joseph Percy Crayon (nee Crain), wrote numerous articles about local history that appeared in the area’s newspapers. Crayon also wrote “Rockaway Records of Morris County, N.J. Families” which was published by the Rockaway Publishing Co. in 1902. The book contains many of the area’s family genealogies.

Beth contacted me last month via the Idylease website and we had a wonderful conversation on the phone. She has since shared several excerpts from her manuscript about the Day family, photographs and family memorabilia about Idylease with me. Included in the items she had sent was an obituary of Dr. Edgar Day that appeared in the Butler Argus in 1906.

1853 – 1906

The funeral service of Dr. Edgar A. Day was held at Idylease Inn Thursday, May 17th, his death occurring on the previous Tuesday. Interment was made in the family plot at Oak Ridge Cemetary.

Though born in Brooklyn, N.Y., fifty-three years ago, his boyhood and most of his early manhood were spent on his father’s farm at Paradise, near Newfoundland, N.J. He laid the foundation of his education at a private school at Oak Ridge and followed with a course of study at the State Normal School at Trenton, where he prepared himself for teaching. For a time he was principal in the public schools at Jersey City, N.J., also at Hastings, N.Y. Later, after taking a medical course at the Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn, he practiced for some years in that city.

Conceiving the idea of establishing somewhere near the great cities an institution where people in broken heath might rest and recuperate, Newfoundland suggested itself to him as an ideal spot for its location, and about four years ago he matured plans for its establishment. A year later “Idylease Inn” was opened, and here he has lived and continued to labor and plan for the accomplishment of his ambition. Although not actively practicing medicine since the opening of the Inn, the Doctor’s work had included many instances of medical aid, which have contributed largely to the success attained.

While living in Brooklyn, Dr.Day was an influential member of the Lewis Avenue Congregational Church, an active worker in the “Congregational Club” of Brooklyn, and a member of the Royal Arcanum.

His entire life has been spent in unselfish devotion to the welfare and uplift of his fellows. In developing his plans for the Inn, it was his ideal to have it stand in influence for spiritual as well as physical health and rest. To this end he early instituted the practice of holding religious services on Sunday afternoons in the parlors of the Inn, and not only the guests but neighbors were invited to attend. These services were usually conducted by the pastor of the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church. The Doctor sought, too, to permeate the institution with a strong moral atmosphere.

He was the prime mover in the organization of the North Jersey Poultry Association and the Village Improvement Society of Newfoundland, both established within a few months. His constant thought and purpose were the advancement and improvement of Newfoundland, and his removal from the life of the village will long be felt.

THE BUTLER (N.J.) ARGUS, May 25, 1906.


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The West Milford Argus Newspaper

James L. White was the Editor of The West Milford Argus from 1915-1947

“The West Milford Argus actually dates back to 1893 when is was called The Pequonnock Valley Argus”

Some will remember the West Milford Township Argus. It was the official legal advertising newspaper for the Township of West Milford for many years before it ceased publication. Before the West Milford Argus existed it was preceded by the Pequannock Valley Argus that covered the many villages that dotted the area over 100 years ago. In 1915, The West Milford Argus was purchased by Princeton University graduate James White, who served as editor in chief until his death in 1947. Below is an article printed about him posthumously in the The Princeton Alumni Weekly.


On the 26th day of November 1947, It is said, “Jimmy White died.”

In the physical sense this is true, for on that day his great heart stopped beating. But the spirit of Jimmy White will never die as long as those who knew and loved him still live.

His death was unexpected. He had recently undergone a medical examination which indicated that he was in good health. A heart attack brought about his death at Ardmore. Pa., where he and his wife had gone to spend the holiday weekend with his son-in-law and daughter, Colonel and Mrs. Justin Duryea, and to celebrate the birth of their son, Jimmy’s fourth grandchild.

He was born on January 30, 1891, in Bloomingdale, N.J.. where he resided all his life. Jim prepared for Princeton at Paterson Grammar School and entered Blair Academy. On August 22, 1912, he married Miss Clara Marie Kampfe.

Within two years of his graduation from Princeton he entered into his life’s work. In partnership with Judge Alexander McLeod he purchased The Butler Argus. Soon thereafter he became sole owner. Under his leadership his beloved Argus became an institution, With it, and his four other weeklies. The Bloomingdale Argus, The Pompton Lakes Ledger, The Wanaque Borough News, and The West Milford Argus, he demonstrated the influence of hometown newspapers in a suburban area. To this community he was sage and philosopher whose editorial preachments were followed with regularity. He was a true American of the richest cracker barrel tradition, and all his neighbors believed in him.

Not content with being a country editor, Jimmy took an active and ardent interest in community affair. For a quarter of a century he was President of the Bloomingdale Board of Education, retiring in 1945. For more than twenty years he distributed Christmas baskets to needy children in Bloomingdale, with the recipients never knowing whence they came.

He was a member of the Butler Methodist Church, The Silentia Lodge. A.A.N., of Butler. Butler Rotary Club, Elm Club and Triangle Club of Princeton University, and a member (and past president) of the Pica Club, a newspaper organization.

He glorified in his civic responsibilities, and was proud of his membership In the local fire department and the Butler Band. Our own feelings are best expressed in the heart-felt eulogy prepared by the editorial staff of The Butler Argus;

Jimmy is gone. To some he may have been James White, but to us on his staff and to hundreds of others, he was Just Jimmy or Jim.

It’s hard to believe. but his genial smile is gone and his ready laughter has been stilled. No more the witty tale to bring a hearty laugh; no more the boundless humor that always could look on the bright side of life. It’s hard to believe but there it is.

There will be those who will lay muck stress on his civic and educational activities and rightly so. But to those of us who lived so close to him for many years, these facets of his character are for the more formal obituary. We prefer to remember him as he was in his relations with us—a good boss, a friend in need. a regular guy.

Yes, “30,” the end in newspaper parlance, has come for Jimmy after a career of which anyone could be proud. He was good, he was kind, he Was a friend. Coming from those who worked for him, what greater eulogy could any man want?

Jim loved Princeton. The Bard of Butler was the sparkplug of all midwinter dinners and re-unions. His after-dinner speeches, full of his inimitable stories and Jests, made him the most popular figure at all class gatherings. His kindly humor and generosity of spirit, which endeared hint to his home community, made him one of the most beloved members of his class.

The little “Will Rogers” of Butler has passed away, but in the great bourne to which he has gone he will receive his reward for a good life. We record with profound sorrow the passing of James White. Our sympathy goes out to his widow, Mrs. Clara Kampfe White; his son, Ger-ald White of Brookline. Mass.; bis daughters. Mrs. Justin Duryea of Ardmore, Pa., and Misa Esther White of Bloomingdale; his father, Walter C. White Sr.; and his two brothers. DeGray and W. Clayton White, all of Bloomingdale.

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Stagecoaches & The History of Brown’s Hotel


A native of Morris County*, Theodore Brown was born at the old ancestral home of the Brown family, in Newfoundland, N.J.,on August 19, 1843. For more than a century the property had been in possession of his ancestors. Hendrick Braun, a Dutchman, whose name had been Anglicized into Henry Brown. Henry left the lower point of Manhattan island, walked across the country, followed the Pequannock river for some miles in search of a desirable location on which to establish a home, and selected a site in Newfoundland. The danger incident to the war of the Revolution caused him to seek refuge in New York during its continuance, but when American independence had been won he returned to his land, and erected thereon a cabin just in the rear of the beautiful and commodious hostelry that would operate as Brown’s Hotel for over 70 years.

Martin Brown, the son of Henry, was born October 10, 1764, and died August 23, 1850. Peter P. BROWN, Martin’s son was born October 11, 1790 and died February 14, 1864. On the 15th of December, 1813, he married Elizabeth Kanouse, and in 1817 moved to the Morris side of the river and erected the first section of the now famous BROWN Hotel. He constructed a store, (Route 23 Electric) engaged in farming, also operated a forge, and was recognized as a successful business man, having accumulated considerable property.

John P. Brown, son of Peter, was born August 24, 1817 and died on December 20, 1898. He married Maria Ryerson, and expanded the first section of the Hotel that stood in Newfoundland.

John P. Brown had instituted stage coach service to from Paterson with a stop in Newfoundland in 1857. The Paterson and Deckertown stage got off to an auspicious start and operated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Agent John P. Brown advertised “Good coaches, fine horses and careful drivers”. The approximately 40-mile trip from Paterson to Deckertown was a bumpy ride along the old Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike. Individuals who wanted to make the trip left Paterson about 10 a.m. Nearly four hours later, they reached Brown’s Hotel in Newfoundland. An untold number of North Jersey residents considered a trip from the Highlands to Paterson something equivalent to a trip across the continent.

Theodore Brown, son of John P. Brown, was prominently connected with the history of Morris county, received his business training under the direction of his father, whom he assisted, from an early age, in the store, home and lumber yard. Upon attaining his majority he assumed the entire management of the mercantile and lumber interests, while his father gave his close attention to the hotel and farm.

With the death of his father, John P. Brown, the management of the entire estate devolved upon Theodore, who was an enterprising, progressive and capable business man. His keen foresight and business sagacity enabled him to conduct his interests in a way that returned a good profit, and was proprietor of one of the most popular hotels in this part of the state. There was an air of refinement and suggestion of home at Brown’s Hotel which pervaded the place; neatness and comfort characterized every room, and the hotel complex was conducted with a view to the greatest convenience and pleasure of its guests.

By the turn of the century, Theodore had amassed a parcel of land that exceeded 1,000 acres. In 1902, Dr. Edgar Day purchased a 112 acre parcel of land from Theodore Brown to built Idylease. The original deed dated in 1901 references the transaction in Passaic County Book of Deeds I-15

Theodore Brown Gravemarker

A parcel to a point; thence (16) North 65° 30’ east and along the line of lands owned by Theodore Brown, and now of the City of Newark, thence (17) North 66° 30′ east and along the line of lands formerly owned by Theodore Brown, and now the City of Newark 237.6 feet to the point, then (18) North 65°, 30’ east and along the lines South 45° east feet to the middle of the Newfoundland-West Milford Road and the point and place of Beginning. Containing 111.3 acres more or less.

Theodore Brown and his wife were members of the Oak Ridge Presbyterian church, and are buried in the cemetery there.


*Newfoundland was designated as Morris County prior to the turn of the century and is now designated as part of Passaic County.

The Paterson and Deckertown stage was a forgotten memory to most until May 1, 1957, when the centennial of its first trip was appropriately commemorated. The West Milford (now North Jersey Highlands) Historical Society, the Post Office Department and the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce sponsored a colorful re-enactment of the stagecoach run. In addition to the driver and his gun-toting companion, the coach carried four passengers. Among them was Elizabeth Bowles, the granddaughter of stage line founder John P. Brown. Drawn by four palominos, the glistening coach advanced to Market Street for a two-day run along roads that had vastly improved since 1857. Passengers and crew spent the night at Idylease.


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