The Lad in the Saddle (1909)
Welcome back and Happy New Year, Monroe history lovers! We made it through our Bicentennial celebration and now we can look forward to our Semiquincentennial in 2073. The years truly fly by. It feels like our 1973 Sesquicentennial celebration was just yesterday! What will our town look like in another half century? Only time will tell. But, for now, let’s go back to a simpler time. Are your ready to kick off a new year of celebrating Monroe history? I can sense that you are. Well, saddle up and let’s go!
Our first historic spotlight for 2024 takes us to Stepney Village in 1909. The young lad in the saddle is Master Clayton Burr Hawley astride his horse named Babe. As you’ll see in the supporting newspaper clip, Clayton is the proud owner of a new saddle. This was surely a big step up in the world for young Clayton who had already built a reputation as a man about town, driving his goat-drawn cart around the village with his friends in tow. This photo of Clayton and Babe was taken in front of his grandfather Burr Hawley’s home; the same Burr Hawley who owned the adjacent store just out of frame to the right.
For those of you who may be having difficulty getting your bearings, the additional photo of Burr Hawley’s home will be helpful. This photo was taken at a time when Pepper Street and Hattertown Road were one continuous thoroughfare through the village and beyond. This is the oldest road through the village and predates Routes 25 & 59. The road crossing from left to right in the photo is Route 25. On the far side of Route 25 is Pepper Street leading to the cemetery. The Stepney Green is clearly seen with its community bulletin board situated at its northern point. The roads in this area were reconfigured over the decades to the busy T-intersection with traffic lights we’re so familiar with today.
If you’ve been following these posts, you surely know by now that our past is always present. Although this original configuration of the road is no longer, there is a feature hidden in plain sight today that bears witness to the path of the former road. At the corner of Routes 25 & 59 is the Stepney Crossing Shopping Plaza. There is a facet of this plaza’s parking lot that is aligned to the former road. I’ve highlighted it for you in an aerial photo. The final supporting image is a snippet of the same area taken from the 1867 Beers Atlas residential map. I’ve highlighted the home where the photo was taken, which in 1867 was owned by Isaiah Burritt. The home was demolished in May of 1958 to make way for the building of the Monroe Lumber Company. Time marches on.
I hope you enjoy our first historic spotlight of 2024. I’m confident this year will be as interesting as the last. Please share this Stepney Village history with your family and friends. As always, thank you for your continued support and interest in Monroe history. Oh, by the way. If you’d like to see a photo of a younger Clayton Burr Hawley with his goat-drawn cart and friends, there’s an enlarged image of it and many other historic Stepney images hanging in the Monroe Diner. Stop in for a bite to eat and fill up on some local history. Until next time.
Historian, Monroe Historical Society
Our Past is Always Present