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Harriet was born in East Orange, NJ, but soon after moved to Brooklyn with her parents. This may have been so that family members could
attend to her mother, who contracted tuberculosis when she was 4 months old. Harriet and her father were probably staying with his father, Capt. Briggs,
on Livingston St., Brooklyn, at the time, but her mother was at her brother Henry's house a neighborhood away. Luther Briggs, Jr., and Harriet continued
to live in the Livingston Ave. house to about the mid 1880s, when they moved back to New Jersey. By then, Ada Bartlett, Harriet's aunt, had become her
stepmother, and Harriet had two stepsiblings, Mary ("Maizie") and Russell. Where they grew up in New Jersey isn't yet known, but the family was in
Fanwood by 1893. Harriet married there in that year, and Capt. Briggs had been living there in 1894 just before he died.
Harriet was married to Stanton McMasters Smith by Rev. Robert C.
Booth, assistant minister at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City. They set up their own household at 30 Willow St., Montclair. They bought their (first?) house at 82 Union St. about 1896. It was a mid 19th
century house which they or someone just before them enlarged. Here Harriet showed her interests and talents in gardening.
Harriet and her family lived on Union St. for 32 years. They spent most
if not all summers outside Montclair, including visits to Piermont, NY, Haversham, RI, and various spots in Maine - Martin's Point, Peak's Island, Great Diamond
Island and Kimball's Island, where Stanton inherited land from his father.
In 1928, Harriet and Stanton, now known as Nanny and Oppie, joined
their son Stoddart and his wife Virginia and Adrian Von Schmid and his family in developing a lot of land on Park St. in Upper Montclair. Von Schmid, a partner in the architectural
design firm Holmes & Von Schmid, was the architect of record, although it's likely that each party had ideas to contribute. Three houses were built in a half-timbered
and more or less country French revival style on a cul-de-sac also known as Brookside Terrace. Nanny and Oppie were at 578 Park St. and Nanny created extensive gardens here as well.
In the later 1940s, the Park St. house became unmanageable, both physically
and financially. They ended up living with their daughter Peggy Wendell and her family in Wayne, PA, and that is where Nanny died at 77 years old.
I didn't know Nanny, but there are interesting things about her that I do know. Aside from being an enthusiastic gardener, she also liked to paint and sketch. I have heard
little in the way of reminiscences about her, but M. T. Smith said she had an early memory of Nanny going to a woman's suffrage parade on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.
She recalled the little yellow "Votes for Women" banner she brought back. This was surely the parade of 23 October 1915, at which tens of thousands
marched up Fifth Ave. from Washington Square to Midtown. Women got the vote in New York State in 1917 and nationally in 1920.
children of Harriet Scott Briggs and Stanton McMasters Smith:
Margaret Yates, b. 2 September 1894, m. Douglas Cary Wendell, d. 27 September 1978
Franklin Stoddart II
Gertrude McMasters, b. 24 March 1905, m. John Caspar Wister, d. 13 July 1999
Mary Thornton, b. 16 February 1907, d. 3 June 2000
Stanton McMasters Smith, Jr., b. 2 September 1911, m. Mariana Wilhemina Cecilia Rayeur, d. 15 July 1988
sources for vital records: Harriet's birth is recorded in New Jersey State Dept. of Health birth records (vol. CA, Atlantic-Hudson Cos.), p. 231, #17. A memorial of their marriage (information inserted in a pre-published booklet) is in possession of the author's mother. Her death is from family records and a newspaper notice (Philadelphia Enquirer?).
Nanny and Archie at the Ben Smith farm, Kimball's Island
Nanny with Gig (Gertrude) and MT (Mary Thornton) in the back yard of 82 Union
"Margaret and Stoddart Smith, 82 Union St., Montclair, dressed in blue coats and tams I made for them, the capes were adjustable" (Harriet Smith)
"snap of me picking adder's tongue in marsh back of Martin's Point - taken by Prof. Ford...He told me to wear rubber boots - hadn't any so wore arctics" (Harriet Smith)
Nanny and Oppie
all text and photographs © 1998-2005 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted