|"Jeremiah McLain Rusk - Brady-Handy" |
by Mathew Brady - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs
Division. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection.
He was greeted at the three-story, telegraph-equipped station by two gentlemen - the farm's proud proprietor, United States Senator John R, McPherson, and the farm manager, New Jersey Assemblyman Jacob Klotz. That past winter Klotz had dutifully returned to the assembly to vote his boss to the Senate for a third consecutive term, now he was back at the farm ready to show it off.
|Belle Mead station circa 1908|
Boarding a carriage waiting behind the station, the three men started off on their tour. McPherson explained that he had purchased the property several years previously in a foreclosure sale when real estate developer William B. Van Aken's cash-flow and marital problems forced him to abandon the industrial city he envisioned for the site. It was now the millionaire senator who was the beneficiary of the railroad line secured by Van Aken, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars in land improvements instituted by the entrepreneur.
|The rear of Belle Mead station, circa 1910|
|1909 map of Belle Mead Farm. |
West is at the top of the map, and the "macadam road" - Rt. 601 today -
should actually be to the north (right) of the station.
According to a contemporary story from the Reading Eagle, "Rabbits, ducks, partridges, guinea fowls, carrier pigeons, and domestic animals of every description abound in the woods." The secretary was astounded to see quail and plover "flying in all directions".
|Heading west from Belle Mead station|
|Secretary of Agriculture Jeremiah Rusk (middle-ground left)|
and Senator John R. McPherson (middle-ground right)
at the Belle Mead herd dispersal auction, 1891
As the men made their way back across the nearly 1300 acres to McPherson's finely-appointed farmhouse, the senator enthused about his upcoming trip to the far west where he hoped to pick up more cattle, and maybe even get into the racehorse breeding business. Neither man knew that they would be together again less than two years later for the auction which would disperse the entire herd, or that William Van Aken would soon be seeking his revenge.