The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
Archibald Gracie was born in Dumfries, Scotland, June
25, 1755. His father was a weaver. In 1776, he moved to
Liverpool and worked for a shipping company. He saved
his money and purchased an interest in a merchant ship.
In 1784, he sailed for America with a cargo of goods and
used the profits to invest in a mercantile company in
New York City.
From Petersburg, Virginia, he became involved in the
export of tobacco to Great Britain. Later, with his
sons, he established the East India Merchants and became
a ship owner. He established the first savings bank in
America and was a business partner of Alexander Hamilton
and a friend of John Hay. “Gracie was a fabulously rich
Scottish immigrant who is given the largest measure of
credit for developing New York as a great seaport.”
In 1784, on his first trip to America, he married Esther
Rogers of Norwalk, Connecticut, the daughter of Samuel
Rogers. When Esther died, he married Elizabeth Fitch and
his two marriages produced ten children. As his wealth
grew, Gracie became involved in banking and insurance.
Some of those companies were: the Eagle Fire Insurance
Company; New York Insurance Company; United States Bank
and the Bank of America.
Gracie was the 18th president of the St. Andrews Society
of New York, serving from 1818-1823.
In 1798, he purchased a large tract of land along the
East River which basically became his summer home and
the home soon became a setting for the social scene in
New York City. As a result of the War of 1812, Gracie
sold the estate to pay off his debts. In 1891, the
property was purchased by New York City.
In February 1776, a 9-gun battery and fort were
constructed for the defense of Manhattan Island on
Horn’s Hook. The British destroyed the fort and Gracie
leveled what was left when his mansion was erected.
Horn’s Hook is no longer shown on the map.
was unable to follow all of his ten children, but his
daughter Eliza married Charles King, the president of
Columbia University. Sarah, married a congressman James
Gore King. His grandson, Archibald Gracie III, became a
general in the Confederate Army and was killed at the
Siege of Petersburg. His great-grandson, Archibald
Gracie IV, survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912
and his great-great grandson was a hero of WW II.
Archibald Gracie died April 11, 1829 and is buried in
Woodland Cemetery, The Bronx, New York.
Archibald Gracie built his mansion on a bend in the East
River, some five miles north of the City. As previously
mentioned, Gracie was forced to sell his mansion and
Joseph Foulke became the next owner and he later sold to
Noah Wheaton. Later, the City of New York appropriated
the estate for failure to pay property taxes and eleven
acres of land were then incorporated into the Carl
Schurz Park. For many years, the house was used as a
concession stand and rest rooms for the park. The house
was later restored and became the first home for the
museum of the City. In 1942, the mansion was designated
as the official residence of the mayor and Fiorello H.
LaGuardia was the first occupant.
The first recorded owner of the estate was a Dutch
farmer who purchased 106 acres from the Dutch West India
Company. He called his farm “Horn’s Hook” after his
birthplace in Holland. Gracie’s Mansion was accessible
only by water, but it became the center of a colony of
similar homes. Guests at the country home included:
Alexander Hamilton; James Fenimore Cooper, Washington
Irving, Governor DeWitt Clinton; Josiah Quincy and
In 1966, the house was enlarged with the addition of a
new wing that included a grand ballroom and two smaller
reception rooms. More restoration was made in 1981 and
1984. In 2002, the interior and exterior were again
restored and it was designated as the “People’s House.”
New York thus became the first city in the United States
to have an official residence for their mayor.
Tours of the house are available year-round and as one
who has taken the tour, I highly recommend it to anyone
visiting New York.
More pictures and information can be found on the
New York City government website.
Archibald Gracie III
He was born December 1, 1832 into a very wealthy family
with interests in exporting cotton from Mobile, Alabama.
As a young man he was sent to Germany and educated in
Heidelberg. Then, after returning to America, he
enrolled at West Point, graduating in 1854. His class at
West Point included six future confederate generals
including Curtis Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. George
Washington Custis Lee was the eldest son of Robert E.
Lee. Jeb Stuart is in the Scottish American Hall of
Fame. After serving two years in the army he resigned to
go into business with his father in Mobile.
He married a southern lady in 1856, by the name of
Josephine Mayo of Richmond, Virginia. Interestingly, She
was a niece of General Winfield Scott who was the
Commander of the Army when Lincoln became president. In
Mobile, he became involved in the Washington Light
Infantry where he served as a captain. When the Civil
War began, he entered Confederate service by enlisting
in the 3rd Alabama Infantry. Archibald and his men took
the Mount Vernon arsenal and after being promoted to
major in the 11th Alabama, he recruited the 43rd Alabama
in the spring of 1862 and was elected its colonel.
Archibald Gracie was promoted to brigadier general at
the age of 29 and fought in the East Tennessee and the
Kentucky campaigns. At Chickamauga, his brigade suffered
seven hundred casualties in just two hours. Later at
Bean’s Station he was severely wounded. After,
recovering from his wounds, he served under General
Beauregard in Virginia beginning in May 1864. At
Richmond his horse was shot from under him but with
little physical harm to himself. From then until his
death, his brigade served in the trenches of Petersburg.
On his 32nd birthday, his second child, a girl, was
born. He was granted a leave to return home beginning
December 3, 1864.
On December 2, 1864, one day before beginning his leave,
while observing the enemy through a telescope, General
Gracie was instantly killed by an exploding shell. The
general is buried in the family plot in Woodlawn
“The cordial relations which existed between father and
son until General Gracie’s death furnish one of the
striking examples of the divided allegiance which rent
families of the period.” (Generals in Gray)
His Confederate officer’s sword recently sold at an
auction for more than $10,000. One of the Gracie
descendants writes a blog called “Walking the
Berkshires” available on the Internet.
Archibald Gracie IV
This Archibald Gracie was born in Mobile, Alabama, in
1859. His father, was the General Gracie who died at
Petersburg in 1864, so he actually never knew his
father. In spite of that, the Colonel spent seven years
of his life writing a book, “The Truth About
Chickamauga,” one of the great battles of the Civil War.
It is available on eBay. (On one of our history tours to Rosehill Cemetery, we saw a large boulder from the
battlefield of Chickamauga.)
The Colonel was a graduate of St. Paul’s Academy in
Concord, New Hampshire and of West Point Military
Academy. After graduation, Gracie became attached to the
Seventh Regiment, United State Army. Although he came
from a wealthy background, he was independently wealthy
himself and was very active in the real estate business
and was also an amateur military historian.
After writing his book about the battle of Chickamauga
in 1912, Gracie took a trip to Europe. Left at home were
his wife and daughter. One daughter died as a child and
one was killed in an elevator accident in Paris. The
surviving daughter, Edith Temple Gracie Adams, died
childless in 1918 about a year after her marriage. She
apparently was a victim of the flu epidemic and died
while her husband served in France. Mrs. Gracie, first
name unknown, died in Washington, D.C. on December 12,
1937. Her obituary states that she died in a
convalescent home and was the daughter of Otto Schack, a
former minister from Denmark to the United States.
Returning home from his extended tour of Europe, Gracie
took passage on the Titanic. He traveled first class and
boarded the ship at Southampton. His saga during the
sinking of the Titanic is recorded in his book published
after his death called “The Truth About the Titanic.”
The book is for sale on eBay. He also testified before
Congress and you can read that
testimony on the
Internet. Gracie never recovered from the trauma and
physical damage sustained during the sinking. He became
the third survivor to die, December 4, 1912, and is
buried in the Gracie plot, lot 971-974, section 23 & 24,
Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx, New York City.
Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.,
For those of us who served in World War II, the name of
Admiral Halsey is very familiar. Not flawless in all of
his naval decisions, he was a powerful inspiration and a
great warrior. He had several mottoes, including some
that may not be appropriate in the 21st century, his
final one being “Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.” His
original quotation is in the 1970 film, “Tora! Tora!
Tora!” It has been deleted in the screenings now seen on
Halsey was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey of October 30,
1882, the son of Captain William F. Halsey, Sr., USN. He
first decided to study medicine but later enrolled at
the Naval Academy where he graduated with honors in
1904. His early years were spent in battleships and
torpedo boats. He commanded the first flotilla of
torpedo boats in 1912. During World War I, he took
command of the USS Shaw and earned the Navy Cross, which
then was not a medal for life and death and it is today.
By 1941, he was Vice Admiral Halsey and his flagship was
the USS Enterprise, which was at sea during the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor. By 1942 Halsey was in command at
a critical stage of the Guadalcanal campaign. After
Guadalcanal, he spent the rest of the year battling
through the Solomon Islands to Bougainville.
The battles are too numerous to mention, but obviously,
Admiral Halsey played an important role in WW II. The
Japanese formal surrender was on the deck of his
flagship, USS Missouri, on September 2, 1945. The
Missouri received 11 battle stars in WW II, Korea and
the Persian Gulf. She is now a museum ship at Pearl
Admiral Halsey retired from active duty in March, 1947
and died August 20, 1959. He was interred with great
ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. His wife,
Frances Grandy Halsey died in 1968 and is buried beside
Fleet Admiral William Frederick “Bull” Halsey, Jr. was
the great-great-grandson of Archibald Gracie from
More information about Admiral Halsey can be found
Pictured first: William F. Halsey, Jr.
Pictured second: USS Enterprise