Stagecoaches & The History of Brown’s Hotel

browns-hotel-newfoundland-nj

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.

John P. Brown, son of Henry, was born August 24, 1817 and died on December 20, 1898. He married Maria Ryerson, and in 1837 moved to the Morris side of the river and erected the first section of the Hotel that stood in Newfoundland. He constructed a store (now 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 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

idylease
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.

Footnote:

*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.

Idylease

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Idylease: What’s in a Name?

idylease inn

For many years two stories have circulated about how Idylease derived its name.

Names for historic structures and landmarks give the people that live in the area a sense of place and speak to those locations and their particular place in time.

Several different explanations prevail about the naming of Idylease. Let’s first determine what is known for certain. Originally the area where Idylease is located was part of a 1,000 acre parcel that was owned by Theodore Brown who established Brown’s Hotel in Newfoundland in 1855. Dr. Edgar Day, a Brooklyn physician, along with 11 other investors built Idylease in 1902-1903. It was a place where cheerful hospitality reigned for persons “wearied or worn with the ceaseless turmoil of the city.” Originally, Idylease was planned as both a vacation spa and resort hotel.

Mention in a 1903 guidebook, yields an entry where State Rt. 23 crosses the Pequonnock River and the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad, narrowing the run between the parallel Pequonnock and a shale escarpment. This is a region of small lakes off the main highway, exploited by real-estate development companies as “The Idyl A While of the East”. Did Idylease derive its name from the locale of this reference? Or… does it’s name originate from the combination of syllables that include: Idyll“an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque episode or scene, typically an idealized or unsustainable one” and Ease“absence of difficulty or effort” as in ease of living? Somewhat of a literary romantic, it is also believed that Edgar Day named the resort after Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King,” an epic poem about Camelot and the legendary King Arthur’s court.

The background story of the naming of Idylease may never be known for certain and has probably died along with those who built the structure at the turn of the century.

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Brown’s Hotel in Newfoundland, NJ

Brown's Hotel Newfoundland, NJ
Brown’s Hotel in Newfoundland, NJ

John P. Brown was for many years the proprietor of Brown’s Hotel in Newfoundland, NJ. This hotel was in existence and under the management of the Brown family for nearly one hundred years.

The following account was written by E. Hewitt, an English traveler from London . It tells of a visit to Brown’s Hotel in 1819, two years after its completion:

“This afternoon, completely drenched with rain, we stayed at a tavern newly erected, in a village called Newfoundland. Here we procured a small private room and a good fire, dried our clothes, and got tea very comfortably. Our landlord, a very intelligent man, spent the evening with us, and related several interesting anecdotes of General Washington, with whom he was personally acquainted. I observed he was always addressed with the title of Squire, being a magistrate.

Bears, deer, and wolves are very numerous in this neighborhood in the fall. A barn not exceeding 60 feet by 30 costs here about $125.00; shingles or wood tiles, 15 to 20 dollars per thousand. The whip-poor-will we heard for the first time at this place, repeating its plaintive notes through the whole night.

Our accommodations at this place were very comfortable. and our charge, including hay, one peck of Indian corn, our room, fuel, liquor, one pound of butter, what milk we chose and tar and tallow for our wagon, three quarters of a dollar. I gave our kind host one dollar, which he accepted with reluctance; and at our setting off, he prepared us a quantity of egg-nog, a mixture of apple spirits, eggs and milk. Terrible roads still, and the bridges over the small streams nothing more than poles laid across”.

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