Villa on the Hudson, Near Weehawken, illustration for Nathaniel Parker Willis’s book American Scenery

I spent the morning tweaking the outline and adding to the King family tree for my book project about the Rufus King family. Keeping the names and dates straight is key because I am covering from the early 1700s through the 1930s and death of Charles King. This morning I came up with a working title for the manuscript: “The Kings in America: One Family in the Forging of a Nation.” In my research today I also came across this 1838 hand-doored engraving and thought I would share. Here we see hikers enjoying the scenery along the Hudson River near Weehawken, New Jersey. It is striking how rural the scene is. This is also the spot where Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in their 1804 duel. The building atop the bluff is Highwood, the home built in the early 1830s by James Gore King, a son of Rufus King. It is poignant that James King built his house on this particular spot; his father Rufus was a good friend of Hamilton’s, and James would have known that this was where the duel took place.

James Gore King entertained Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, Daniel Webster, and others here at his Highwood estate in the decades prior to the Civil War. King was a banker and railroad magnate, among other things. A Whig, he served in the 31st Congress with his older brother John Alsop King from 1849–1851 and thus took part in the debates that evolved into the Compromise of 1850.

(image/Yale University Art Gallery)