J.P. Morgan Sends Grandma a Birthday Gift

JP MOrgan flowers

Mary Louisa Macculloch Miller’s Birthday

It’s May 20, 1878, and the family has gathered at the “Old House” to celebrate Mary Louisa Macculloch Miller’s seventy-fourth birthday. Mary was the daughter of George and Louisa Macculloch. This photo was taken on the front porch of Macculloch Hall to mark this annual event. Her daughters, Edwina and Frances, and sons, Henry and George, are present along with their respective spouses and children. Her youngest son, Jack, is not able to join the group this year. He is a lieutenant in the Navy serving on the USS Vandalia accompanying ex-President Grant on his goodwill tour of the Mediterranean.

Look closely at the center of the picture. In front of Mary Louisa we can see a floral model of the Vandalia. This was a gift from J. Piermont Morgan (1837-1913) to commemorate Jack’s historic cruise. Morgan, financier and banker, was a business associate of Mary’s son, George Macculloch Miller (1832-1917) as well as a family relation. He and Mary’s son, Lindley Hoffman Miller (1834-1864) had both dated “the beautiful Tracy girls” in New York City. Lindley married Anne in 1862, and Morgan married her younger sister, Frances, three years later. Sadly, both Lindley and his bride died during the Civil War.

On Christmas day 1879 Mary Louisa was on a visit to Newark to spend time with her daughter, Edwina, and the grandchildren. Her son-in-law, Anthony Q. Keasbey (1824-1895) wrote a poem to express the family’s feeling for their beloved matriarch. The poem accompanied a Christmas gift of a fur cloak given by her grandchildren because the rooms of Macculloch Hall were chilly in winter.

Grandmother dear, whose eyes have seen

            Now five and seventy Christmas morns,

And from whose path through the years

            The hands of love have plucked the thorns;


What gift, in proof that our dear love

            Outweighs the load of years, shall we,

The five and twenty children, bring

            In worth and purpose meet for thee?


We give this cloak of warmest fur,

            To guard thy form from winter’s blast;

Thy mother-heart, with warmer clasp,

            Our love shall shield while life shall last.