Montrose Mansion's Graves Family: A Bullet, A Corset, and a Ballroom

Who lived in the mansion on Scotland Road? Part 1 of 2

Now we know it as , or the mansion next to , but a century ago, this was the Graves family home. Built by 1900, the large house is known for its dumbwaiter and the ballroom that still exists. Locals tell of glimpses inside, but their stories pale next to Mrs. Graves's 1908 adventure.

Edward H. Graves, owner of the house, was a Manhattan broker with offices at 30 Broad Street, born in 1867 (or 1869; this is census data and it was written by hand). By 1900, he was married to Jean (sometimes spelled Jeanne), born 1874, and they lived in the Scotland Road home. They weren't alone: They had three Irish-born servants, Kate Conklin, Mary Anino, and Ellen McQueen. Ellen's ten-year-old brother lived there, as well.

In 1908, daughter Jean was born, and the household grew to include 70-year-old Hannah Walsh, probably a nanny.

In the early 1900s, with Victorian mores still in fashion, many women saw their name in newsprint only three times, when they were born, bore a child, and they died. Mrs. Edward H. Graves was listed a few additional times, when she chaired balls or attended local philanthopic events. She and her husband were members of the Essex County Country Club.

And a good thing too! For on August 25, 1908, with her five-month-old and nanny in the car with her, Mrs. Graves was struck by a stray bullet as she drove through West Orange for "an airing."

Henry L. Folson was, according to The New York Times, cleaning a .45-caliber revolver at the window of his home on Wildwood Avenue, as the car passed. The gun was "accidentally discharged." The bullet tore a hole through the back of the car and hit Mrs. Graves on the left side of her torso.

Mrs. Graves screamed, "and, clasping her hand to her side, fainted." The chauffeur and the nanny revived their mistress and brought her to the Essex County Country Club. There, medical staff discovered that the bullet hadn't wounded Mrs. Graves. No, it struck the steel of her corset and was deflected. Whew!

No charges were pressed, said the newspaper, as Mr. Graves "refused to make a charge."

Edward and Jean Graves had no other children. The household staff grew by 1920 to include a Frenchwoman, perhaps a governess for young Jean or a maid. Ten years later, the family consisted only of Edward Graves and his daughter, wife Jean Graves having died.

Daughter Jean Graves deserves her own story, which will appear next week in Patch. For now, locals can ponder the house the Graveses left behind and the near-certainty that on August 25, 1908, Mrs. Graves went home with a story of a bullet and the steel corset that saved her life.


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