Some Memories of Cara Leland Rogers Broughton
The first Lady Fairhaven
Material Researched and Integrated by Mabel Hoyle Knipe
Fairhaven, Massachusetts March, 1984
- THE HOME -
The children of Henry Huttleston Rogers and Abbie Gifford Rogers were far more than vacation habitues of Fairhaven. Their roots were deep in the soil of the town, and the traditions of the area were native lore to all of them. Their maternal grandfather, Captain Peleg W. Gifford, who lived with his wife at 36 Green Street, had a large circle of friends, and as shy but distinguished raconteur, he loved to discuss his former career as a very successful ship-master.
Their paternal grandmother, Mary Eldredge Rogers, reached the ripe age of ninety in her cozy home on 39 Middle Street, where her rich son telephoned her every night on one of the town’s first telephones. It was on her premises that A. D. Bourne and Son completed in 1879, “an addition to the house and a stable for the accommodation of four horses belonging to her son’s children.”
It is obvious that a very loving relationship between the young people and their grandparents brought steadiness and normality to the lives of the son and daughters of Henry H. Rogers, as his shrewdness, persistence and intelligence carried him to the pinnacle of spectacular success and to the management of a great fortune.
THE FAIRHAVEN STAR reported the frequent comings of the children to the town, when, often without adults, they stayed for vacation visits with their grand-parents. It is notable that the grandchild who visited most often with the old people, and who is mentioned over and over again in warm relationship to the town is young Cara Leland Rogers, who, indeed, had been born in Fairhaven in 1867.
At last, when Cara was seventeen, her father decided to acquire a permanent vacation and summer home for the family in Fairhaven. He purchased a solid two storey house of fine proportions on Fort Street near Cedar. This home had been built some years before by Edmund Allen. It had latterly been occupied by John B. Tarr who had effected a meteoric career as an inventor of improved car wheels. Upon Mr. Tarr’s death, the old house with its fine stone barn was sold to Mr. Rogers in a foreclosure of mortgage by the Fairhaven Institution for Savings.
Straightway, upon acquisition of the home by its new owner, a flurry of activity in re-building and repair ensued. The STAR, noting excitedly all improvements of the new home owner, reported:
1884: “H. H. Rogers Esq. has had the roof of his barn on Fort Street tinned, and carpenters are making alterations in the dwelling house.”
1886: “Mr. H. H. Rogers on his return from Europe recently bought a number of choice ornamental trees which have since been set out on the grounds south of his house on Fort Street.
1887: “Three ornamental boulevard lantern posts have been placed in the grounds of the H. H. Rogers place on Fort Street. The house and grounds are lighted by a Naptha Gas Machine of the Springfield Gas Company.”
1888: “The stable of H. H. Rogers is nearly completed.”
1889: “Mr. Henry H. Rogers intends building a residence for the man in charge of his summer residence on Fort Street. It will be 23 by 27 feet in size one storey high with a mansard roof. It will be situated at the north of the stable near the Cedar Street gate. Mr. Arnold G. Tripp is the carpenter.”
So the spacious home, continuously expanded and beautified, became proper symbol for a native son in the prime of his achievement – and beginning to relish the power of his immense stature and reaching influence. With the acquisition of the new dwelling, the young people of the family came more than ever to accept Fairhaven as home turf. It seems clear that this was exactly the way their father wanted it.
The STAR tells us:
June 1, 1882: “A coachman with a span of horses, a pony, and a goat, with appropriate carriages for each, arrived in town this week. They belong to Mr. H. H. Rogers of New York who sends them here to be used by his family who are spending the summer in town.”
December 2, 1882: “Mr. H. H. Rogers and the Misses Anne and Cara Rogers spent Thanksgiving Day here.”
September 25, 1886: “Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Rogers and Misses Cara and Millie Rogers arrived from Europe on the UMBRIA last Sunday and are now at their country seat on Fort Street.”
April 2, 1887: “Mrs. H. H. Rogers was in town yesterday to direct a landscape gardener from Boston in the laying of the grounds at her summer residence on Fort Street.”
Meanwhile, as the Fort Street home grew in grace and utility, Mr. Rogers watched his first great gift to Fairhaven rise, and corner stone ceremonies for the Rogers Elementary School were held on May 15, 1884 – with Miss Anne E. Rogers, aged nineteen, sealing the stone while gratified town dignitaries stood watching.
1890′s -DECADE OF THE RAVEN’S WING -
The Rogers children were again introduced into town benefactions when the library was erected. Still mourning the passing of Millie, the little sister who had died in 1890 when only seventeen -the young people quietly and reverently laid the cornerstone of the building dedicated in 1893 in Millicent’s name. It seems apparent that Mr. Rogers intended that his children should remember their humble beginnings and learn early the responsibilities of great wealth, together with the virtue of generosity. In this instance, the lesson seemed well assimilated, as the STAR reported soon thereafter that young brother Henry H. Jr. was seen with his pony and cart busily loading fill to be used around the foundations of the new library!
Another family member and native town girl was even then preparing to engage in exercises connected with the dedication of a splendid Town Hall. Abbie Gifford Rogers, wife of Henry H. Rogers, had been assigned the role of honor and was to present this latest Rogers gift to the town. The celebration attending the dedicatory days of this fine civic building were planned with extraordinary care. The actual dedication was set for February 22, 1894 – with a splendid ball on the evening of February 23d.
Amid these exciting preparations, the Rogers family was required again to face personal disaster with typical cool courage, for on February 18,1894, while most of the family were in New York, and four days before the actual dedicatory ceremonies, the lovely Fort Street home caught fire and was almost completely destroyed.
Proudly sustained by personal courage, and happily cushioned by great wealth, this remarkable family cheerfully carried out their plans for two days of magnificent panoply as the new Town House was dedicated. Abbie Gifford Rogers tranquilly presented her lovelygift to her townspeople. There were gaiety, speeches, music and dance.
Yet, the Raven’s Wing had not yet withdrawn its shadow from the family. Just three months later, the shy and gracious donor lay dead, and the bells in Fairhaven tolled at her passing, while black crepe draped the facade of the magnificent building she had offered! Almost as if ill fortune must be exorcised – the burnt-out home on Fort Street with its warm hopes was quickly demolished, and during the remaining months of 1894, a splendid mansion arose on the site.
The young people, now in their twenties, knew the grace and ease of the famous “Children’s Wing.” They returned often to their mother’s town, and Mr. Rogers, with the loss of his wife -seemed to find refuge in the environs of his home place where his dear mother still lived.
- THE CHILDREN -
There were five Rogers children, four girls and a boy. Another little son had died at birth. Anne (1865), Cara (1867), Mai (1875), Millicent (1873), and Henry H. Jr. (1879) were all well known in town. Indeed, Mark Twain, the family friend, was most fond of the Rogers children and particularly of young Harry. In 1897 he dedicated his new book – FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR – with the following quipping preface:
”This Book Is Affectionately Inscribed To My Young Friend, – HARRY ROGERS – With recognition of what he is and apprehension of what he may become, unless he form himself a little more closely upon the model of – The Author”
Young Harry and his older sisters were all fond of horses. There is a delightful anecdote involving Cara, aged twenty-two, hostess at a party in the renovated old Fort Street house in 1889. We are told that “dancing was held in the carriage room of the new stable which was finely decorated with flowers and plants. The horses were turned around in the stalls facing the guests as the young people danced to the music of Sawin’s orchestra.” The startled beasts must thus have furnished a sort of equine decoration!
It is at this dance that we first make note of young Bradford Duff who was listed as one of the guests, and in 1890, it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Rogers had returned to New York on a certain Thursday to be present at the marriage of their daughter Cara, aged twenty-three, to Mr. Bradford Ferris Duff, a grandson of Josh Billings, writer of ludicrous editorials and essays. This marriage of two very young and sensitive people was to end in tragedy when, a year later – in 1891, the new husband, aged twenty-four, died of a lung ailment at the Fairhaven residence of his father-in-law, and Cara was a widow at twenty-three. Moreover, she was soon to become grievously absorbed in those other great family misfortunes of the dark decade which desolated the family
-CARA and URBAN -
During those sad years of the 1890′s, Mr. Rogers had begun to consider a sewer and water project for the town. After much consultation with experts, he had chosen to adopt a sewerage plan known as the Shone Sewer System. To manage the project, a young English engineer, Urban H. Broughton, was sent to town by the Shone executives to explain procedure and direct the actual work. During his stay, Cara Duff had become acquainted with the young Englishman.
By 1895 the sewer work was well on the way to completion, and Cara Rogers Duff and Urban Broughton had decided to be married. On Christmas day they sailed on a honey-moon trip to Europe. Cara’s wedding, a suitably quiet affair, had taken place at the residence of Henry H. Rogers at 2026 East Fifty-Seventh Street in New York City. The bride unattended wore “a gown of changeable pompadour silk, the bodice trimmed with point lace, and a small capote of lace with a jewelled crown.”
A few intimate friends witnessed the marriage rites, and Mr. Rogers entertained at a large dinner in the evening. This marriage was to be one of great felicity – a healing relationship after the personal disasters which the family had suffered in the death of little Millicent in 1890; of Bradford Duff in 1891; and of the gentle mother, Abbie Gifford Rogers, in 1894.
The Broughton’s first child, a son, was born in Fairhaven in 1896, and was named Huttleston. A second son was born in 1900, and was called Henry Rogers Broughton. Although Urban Broughton was by birth an English subject, he spent more than twenty-five years in America – many of them in Chicago. He, therefore, knew this country well. Of his American father-in-law, he once said: “I have more admiration for Mr. Rogers than for any man I have ever known. I am glad he is remembered here (Fairhaven), and remembered so thoroughly and sincerely. I doubt whether any man would be remembered so long in England. It is a beautiful tribute.”
There is no doubt that his father-in-law contributed in influence and sagacity to the business career of Urban Broughton, and in 1901, he had become president of Utah Consolidated Mining Co., and was chosen a director and a manager of the United Metals Selling Co., the selling agency for Amalgamated Copper. He was also a director of the Atlas Tack Co.; the Santa Rica Mining Co.; and the Butte Coalition Mining Co. He had become a vastly wealthy man.
Yet, by 1912, strong ties in this country had been greatly reduced by multiple family deaths. The loving grand-parents, Peleg Gifford and his wife were gone by 1888. Grandmother Mary Rogers had died at ninety years old in 1899, and, as we know, the gentle mother, Abbie Gifford Rogers, had been taken in 1894. The final catastrophic blow occurred when Henry H. Rogers himself -prime mover in all their lives – had expired quite unexpectedly in 1909. His great fortune divided between his second wife, his children and other relatives, had left them very wealthy but decimated as a family.
The Urban Broughtons decided now to return to England and left America permanently. They took up residence in Mayfair, London, just in time to find Britain tragically caught up in the intricate preliminaries of World War I.
The two sons, now living as thoroughly oriented British subjects, entered military fields the older (Huttleston) serving through the war as a member of the First Life Guards, and winning several medals. Urban Broughton himself was used by the English government in many ways. He published a strong brochure entitled THE BRITISH EMPIRE AT WAR, designed to appeal to the good will of America.
Recognized in his native land for his business skill and considerable affluence, Broughton decided to turn to a political career, and was accepted by the Unionists of York as a candidate for Parliament. Just after his announcement, a vacancy occurred in Preston representation, and Mr. Broughton was offered the post. He found pleasure in this new career, becoming a close personal friend of Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law, in whose memory he later bought and bequeathed the beautiful estate of Ashridge to the Conservative Party for use as a political training college. This gift of estate worth more than 3,000 pounds demonstrated a desire to preserve for the entire nation a significant historic site, while furnishing also to the general public, enjoyment by free admittance to the magnificent gardens.
In the meantime, wife and mother Cara Broughton devoted herself to family matters and other domestic duties. During the great war, she offered all her efforts to the good of her adopted country, sponsoring many types of war work. She was deeply interested in the well being of Bethnal Green Military Hospital; and in contemporary English newspapers, we read of hospitable parties given for wounded soldiers at the family home in Broadoaks, Byfleet. Quickly, Cara Broughton became a warm and well-organized social hostess. The role was not an easy one for her since she had a shy and retiring nature, but her several English homes were beautifully managed, and a great fortune allowed her to develop her natural artistic leanings.
In 1934, Miss Anna Trowbridge of Fairhaven, old family friend and teacher in town schools, visited England. She was invited to spend a day at the London home of the Broughtons. Her diary, extant, contains description of 37 Park Lane. She writes:
“In the dining room were pillars of blue lapis lazuli with lapis lazuli for the mounting of the clock. The carpet was blue and the large oil paintings which filled in the panels were framed (outside gold frames) with blue to match the lapis. “The house six stories high was a collection of rooms and suites with lifts and many staircases (a corner house front and sides on two streets.) Most wonderful throughout – lovely oil portrait of Lady Fairhaven; of Mr. Broughton; Of Lord Fairhaven. “Then on to Surrey to the Broughton summer residence, ‘Engleside.’ Such magnificence I never expect to see again! Flowers everywhere! Swimming pool with tiled floor, granite steps leading into it; pergolas with climbing vines different at each support! Lovely summer houses and sunken gardens!” Miss Trowbridge returned to London laden with dahlias from the gardens at ‘Engleside,’ and before she boarded ship for home, she received a “lovely little suitcase filled with all sorts of gifts as a parting gesture.”
It is not generally known that Cara Broughton was an expert needle-woman, and had in her collection some really exquisite pieces of embroidery. As a young girl, she had found relaxation in the traditional handwork of a gentlewoman, and had turned out some quite extraordinary samplers. A charming story tells of her concern – when the pastor of the church in the parish of her country seat in Surrey at Englefield Green – made known his need for church vestments. Cara Broughton, caught up in his anxiety, embroidered with her own hand, the needed vestments, and added beautifully conceived altar accessories. The handsome garments were first used for Christmas services, and a “grateful prayer went up from the parishioners for the generous American who was celebrating that Christmas in her far away native Fairhaven.”
As Cara Broughton lived through the terrors of World War I, and assumed the maturity imposed by her station and her great wealth she became introspective and thoughtful. Her impulses seemed to embrace a growing desire to use her material advantage for the good of others. Her charity was extensive and discriminating, and it is obvious that her giving was often directed by her heart. Through all the developing years of her English residence, she was ever mindful of her native country and especially of her home town in Massachusetts. She was very good to Fairhaven.
Fairhaven Methodists, trying to renovate their little church, received a check for $1,000. The Congregational Church members rejoiced in a $1,000 gift sent for church improvements, and trustees spent it to install a warm church vestibule and a re-building of main church doors. Inmates of the King’s Daughters’ Home (now the Bradford-Russell Home) were completely surprised one day to receive a draft for $1,000, and after the trauma of the 1938 hurricane -another $1,000 check was received for hurricane relief of Fairhaven sufferers.
Mrs. Broughton remembered and visited a piece of land she owned on the south-east corner of Green and Union Streets, and made it into a small park to set off to better advantage her father’s church across the street. The little lot was seeded, planted and endowed with a stone seat of old English design. The entire comer was paved in the well-known red brick herringbone pattern.
One of Mrs. Broughton’s warmest and most significant gifts to Fairhaven was her purchase of Fort Phoenix as a memorial to her father, and to be used for park purposes. Her old friend, Selectman John I. Bryant, had written to her and told her of an Act of Congress of March 24, 1923. Authorization for the sale of several military reservations at public auction had been announced. The Secretary of War was given authority to dispose of all unused government reservations. Included in this list was Fort Phoenix which was offered for sale to the town. If the town did not buy, the reservation would be sold at public auction.
Greatly distressed that the historic fort might fall into the hands of developers unmindful of its history, Mrs. Broughton wrote to Bryant: “I am quite sure that my father with his love for Fairhaven would not wish to feel that Fort Phoenix with its traditions should go to anyone outside the town. I am relying on you to secure Fort Phoenix for me.
So old Fort Phoenix was saved for the town, and members of a joyful town meeting accepted the gift and promised to repair the damaged walls and decaying gun mounts. In April of 1926, Mrs. Broughton arrived most dramatically for dedication ceremonies, and the STAR told us the story: “Mrs. Urban H. Broughton of London, England spent this week a few delightful days in Fairhaven – her girlhood home after an absence of many years. “With her husband and son Huttleston, she came in the palatial yacht SAPPHIRE, which anchored in the ‘deep hole’ at 11 o’clock. Three blasts of SAPPHIRE’s whistle announced her arrival, and as she steamed up the harbor, the Memorial Church chimes pealed forth the tunes: GOD SAVE THE KING, HOME SWEET HOME and AULD LANG SYNE. Mrs. Broughton and Huttleston came ashore in the launch at 11:15. They were driven in an automobile to Riverside Cemetery and visited Mr. Rogers’ grave. They returned to the yacht at 12:30 for luncheon. During their stay, the formal transfer of Fort Phoenix to the town was made.”
The formal presentation took place at four o’clock of a Tuesday afternoon in the Selectmen’s office in the Town Hall. Mrs. Broughton said: “To the Citizens of the Town of Fairhaven: In accordance with my previously expressed intention, I do now present to the town of Fairhaven the sum of $5,000 to cover the expense of securing to the town a conveyance from the United State government of the Fort Phoenix property, to be held and used for park purposes forever. “I make this gift in memory of my father, Henry H. Rogers. It is my hope and expectation that the people of this vicinity will get rest and recreation and inspiration from the enjoyment and privileges of this park.”
Privately Mrs. Broughton confided in a letter to Selectman John I. Bryant: “I cannot tell you how pleased I am to have the property belong to the town, for since my childhood, it has been a spot which I have always remembered.” It was a magnificent gift and a gracious gesture. The townspeople were warmly grateful, and the school children decided they would do the generous donor pleasure at her departure. When Mrs. Broughton and her party left in SAPPHIRE, it was the first time in over a hundred years that the British flag was admitted to Fort Phoenix.
Six hundred Fairhaven school children marched to the Fort behind the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes carried side by side. They lined the parapets, the breast-works and the rocks below in a tremendous demonstration while cheerleaders led their school cheers, school buglers sounded TAPS and the great yacht SAPPHIRE dipped the royal ensign at her stern in the traditional nautical acknowledgment.
The STAR editorialized: “If this beautifully situated plot had fallen into the hands of the usual run of real estate operators, there would probably have been little to be proud of and very likely much to regret. “With Fort Phoenix as town property and under the supervision of the Board of Selectmen, the sturdy old embankments will continue to stand as a reminder of the defiant challenge once sent out to the invader, and as we clamber over the ledges we shall again and again feel the thrill that comes with the remembrance of brave men and their deeds of valor.”