Gladstone Equestrian Association, Inc.

P. O. Box 469, Gladstone, NJ 07934908-753-2653 Phone

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The Story of Hamilton Farm Golf and Equestrian Center
compiled by Mrs. Harden L Crawford, III

Tracey Morgan, MD, competing at the World Pony Championships in Austria, 2003

 At its zenith Hamilton Farm sprawled across 5000 acres in the counties of Somerset, Morris and Hunterdon in New Jersey. Here in the first decades of the 20th century, James Cox Brady created a resplendent country estate and one of the largest working farms in New Jersey.

Brady, a New York financier, was the grandson of an Irish immigrant and son of Anthony Nicholas Brady who had made a fortune in utilities. Brady was known for his competitive spirit and keen desire to excel.

After the turn of the century, when other wealthy New Yorkers were building homes in the hills of Morris and Bernards, Brady looked west to the green fields and woodlands of Bedminster. He was attracted to the area through his friendship with Charles Pfizer, the pharmaceutical magnate, and his affiliation with the Essex Hunt.

Brady's first purchase was in 1911, a 180 acre farm adjoining the Pfizer estate, acquired for $100 per acre. He named the farm for his wife, Elizabeth Jane Hamilton Brady. He bought many other farms in the succeeding years. Ultimately, Hamilton Farm reached into three counties and embraced the headwaters of the North Branch of the Raritan River.

Construction at the farm began in 1911. The first building completed was the lodge, located along the main drive. It was used by the Brady family during the hunting season for brief visits to the farm.

Photo by Ronnie NienstedtThe main house was a two and one-half story clapboard house built on a knoll overlooking the formal gardens and a greenhouse. It was handsome and spacious, but not as elegant as the residences on Bernardsville mountain. The horse barn, bull barn and blacksmith shops were completed in 1913. Three years later the cow barn and the horse stable were finished.

The farm became a vast operation. More than 4000 acres were cultivated. Corn, wheat, oats, rye and hay were harvested. Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, pigs, ducks, dogs and geese were raised at Hamilton Farm.

One hundred or more men were regularly employed, exclusive of the staff in the main house or extra laborers hired for construction.

Management of the farm was under the careful eye of Fred Huyler, who held the job for fifty years. Huyler was the Peapack carpenter singled out by Brady to help him acquire the land, develop the farm, erect the houses, barns, stables and kennels, and buy, breed and exhibit the livestock, poultry and dogs.

A tight chain of command from Brady through Huyler to various employees kept the farm running smoothly. Huyler, a showman at heart, spent much of his time on the road successfully exhibiting the Brady Herefords, Jersey cows, Dorset sheep, Duroc-Jersey swine, chickens and German Shepherd dogs. Huyler became an international authority on training hounds and breeding chickens.

The Brady stock traveled to exhibitions and competitions by private train car. The animals were herded down the back farm drive directly into the Peapack station and loaded into specially outfitted cars. There was a festive air in the village when the parade of animals came to the station.

In 1921, the main house burned. On its foundation, Brady built a larger residence, a Georgian brick mansion with 64 rooms, eleven fireplaces, two elevators, and a chapel with stained glass windows and an organ.

Hamilton Farm flourished during the 1920's. The stable was filled with Hackney ponies, hunters, Clydesdale and Percheron draft horses, and Shetland ponies. In the greenhouses grew nectarines, pineapples, melons, and every sort of vegetable and flower. The residence was furnished with the finest antiques, carpeting and works of art. The grounds and gardens were planted with specimen trees, bushes and flowering plants. Farm machinery and equipment was the newest and most sophisticated available. Every animal was an outstanding specimen of its breed.

The influence of Hamilton Farm on the community was profound. Employment was provided for a generation of local people. Merchants prospered through endless orders for farm equipment and supplies. The lives of the people on the farm and in the neighboring villages were expanded by these proximity to such splendid abundance.

Then suddenly it was over. When Brady died of pneumonia in 1927, his heirs closed down most of the farm operation. The animals were sold. The farm was retained. Today most of the original land is owned by the Brady family.

THE COACHING HERITAGE AT HAMILTON FARM

Hamilton Farm will never be forgotten for its contribution to and interest in the sport of coaching and driving. During the lifetime of James Cox Brady, the stable was home to some of the best driving animals the United States had to offer. Hamilton Model, a Hackney stallion, was an undefeated national champion and King Larigo, a Shetland stallion, was undefeated champion of the world. Their many get were ridden and driven to top awards throughout the United States and Europe in the early 1900's by Brady children and professionals.

The well-known Ted Williams, originally from England, was hired by Mr. Brady as head groom in the stable. He drove Model and King Larigo to many of their championships. Williams was also a top four-in-hand whip.

Hamilton Farm had a beautiful collection of carriages, acquired by Mr. Brady, made by the best carriage makers in the world, such as Million & Guiet, the well-known French maker, and Brewster in the United States. Several carriages from the collection can still be seen in the Shelburne Museum carriage collection, at Shelburne, Vermont, including a small-sized coach by Million & Guiet which was probably used to drive a four-in-hand of the Hamilton Farm Hackney ponies that were bred on the farm.

In 1960, a granddaughter of Mr. Brady's, Mrs. harden L. Crawford III, living at Hamilton Farm, started a coaching career to put to use some of the beautiful carriages that had laid idle since her grandfather's death, and to take advantage of the knowledge that the then aging Ted Williams had to offer. She brought back Mr. Williams, then in his late seventies, to teach her to be a proper whip.

From 1960 to 1976, under his tutelage, Mrs. Crawford competed in pleasure driving competition throughout the United States and Canada, driving four-in-hand, unicorn, pair, tandem and single turnouts to many a successful first place, continuing the tradition of her grandfather. She retired the trophy in the Devon Horse Show's Carriage Driving Marathon in 1972, driving a tandem of Welsh-Thoroughbred crossbreds to a cocking cart, and won the Pleasure Division of the four-in-hand competition at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Canada, driving the same Welsh-Thoroughbred crosses to the beautiful Bertram Mills road coach. After fifteen years of coaching, Mrs. Crawford retired from the sport due to shoulder injuries and difficulty finding someone to replace Mr. Williams.

 The beautiful weathervanes which adorned the top of the farm's stable attest to the driving heritage of the Brady family and Hamilton Farm. Commissioned by Me. Brady, two of them depict his horses put to a coach and a tandem cart (the whip in both is Mr. Williams). A third is the famous Hackney stallion, Hamilton Model.

It is indeed a tribute to Hamilton Farm and its heritage that the first World Driving Championship to be held in the United States took place here on its grounds.

In 1998, Hamilton Farm was purchased by Daylar Properties LLP. It is currently being converted into a golf club while also remaining a world-class equestrian center. The new name, reflective of its new design, is the Hamilton Farm Golf and Equestrian Center.

Photography by Ronni Nienstedt.

Contact us at: GladstoneEq@gladstonedriving.org. We would love to hear from you.

Gladstone Equestrian Association, Inc.

PO Box 469

Gladstone, NJ 07934

908-753-2653 Phone

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