It was a modest beginning for Stephen Grover Cleveland, but he grew up to become the only U.S. President to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Caldwell is a walkable one-mile-square town, with historical and architectural gems throughout. This ca. 1832 house-museum served as a home for pastors of the local First Presbyterian Church until 1912. Reverend Cleveland and Ann Neal Cleveland lived here 1834-1841. Only one New Jersey native has served as U.S. President, born here in 1837. Family stories and artifacts set in period rooms highlight the formative years of a future president. Galleries chronicle the political rise of Grover Cleveland and his presidential terms (1885-1889 & 1893-1897) through personal artifacts of the President and First Lady.
Most of the first floor rooms portray the Manse as it was in 1837, the year Grover Cleveland was born. The decidedly middle-class character of the rooms reflect the day to day life of Reverend Richard Cleveland and his young family. Among the artifacts on display from Cleveland’s early years are his cradle and original family portraits.
Contrasting sharply with the humble beginnings portrayed in these rooms, the exhibit gallery features a striking display of artifacts that reflect the financial and political success Cleveland achieved during the last quarter of the 19th century. Here, the mud-slinging campaign of 1884, the public’s intense interest in his wife and children, and America’s political climate throughout his split terms of office are explored.
The Grover Cleveland Birthplace State Historic Site is the only house museum in the country dedicated to the interpretation of President Cleveland’s life. It is the nation’s leading repository of Cleveland artifacts and political memorabilia. The Grover Cleveland Birthplace is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.
Gift Shop: featuring museum quality educational and decorative items. 1830s reproduction toys and household articles. Books and reproductions with a focus on U.S. civics, presidents and first ladies.
Guided or self-guided tours
Five rooms Three circa 1837 rooms and two presidential galleries.
Circa 1837 Kitchen, rear parlor and parents’ bedroom. The home life of the Cleveland's and their nine children are explored through original artifacts, as well as through text or spoken word. Intimate childhood stories originally told by family and neighbors who encountered the young Grover Cleveland have been captured and shared here. For a deeper dive into the era, the historical setting of Caldwell in the 1830s, its politics and people, its agriculture and industries are included.
Two presidential galleries Cleveland’s bachelorhood and later married life, his political rise and terms in office as U.S. President (1885-89 and 1893-97) into his retirement years. Well researched major topics to the trivial fun facts can be skimmed or read in-depth in displayed text or presented by spoken word tours if preferred.
Caldwell's downtown has many sites to visit with a strong historical tie to the Birthplace.
Drive or walk downtown to see:
The original owner, The First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell (1832-1912), retained the home for eighty years. constructed this “New Manse” in 1832 for their pastor to live in. It replaced an earlier manse/parsonage. In 1912, after eight decades serving as home to a succession of seven pastors, the final occupant-pastor vacated the building.
The second owner, The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association,” or GCBMA (1912-1934), retained the home for twenty-two years. The private non-profit corporation purchased the home from the church in 1912 at the cost of $18,000. The official opening on Grover Cleveland’s 76th birthday, March 18, 1913, was a festive day with parades in the street, a great gathering of dignitaries giving speeches from the doorstep of the home, and spectators galore, including several who set chairs on the site’s porch roofs to peer down at the proceedings from above. The GCBMA hired live-in caretakers to maintain the home and grounds, and to guide visitors through the home’s exhibits. The cost of maintaining the landmark proved to be draining to the coffers of the GCBMA, who began seeking to turn the house and its collection over to the federal government, only to be declined. The first appeal was in 1919 during the throes of the Spanish Flu pandemic and immediately following World War I. A final request was made to the federal government in 1929, which was rejected amid a national financial crisis, with its ensuing Great Depression. Negotiations began almost immediately with the State of New Jersey to accept ownership, which was finalized by 1934. Several GCBMA members went on to serve as volunteers on a short-lived state commission set up for care of the home. The lengthy name of the GCBMA is a mystery to some, but in the early 1900s rather than ‘Conservancies’ or ‘Trusts’, a popular name used for organizations who saved landmarks to honor famous Americans was, ‘Memorial Association.’
The third and current owner, The State of New Jersey (1934-Present), has retained ownership for eighty-seven years as of 2021. The state was deeded the home free of encumbrances by the GCBMA officially during a ceremony on October 6, 1934, making the transition from being a privately owned house museum, to a publicly owned one. Names of state agencies and commissions that operate the home have changed several times since 1934. Currently, the historic site is cared for under the auspices of the New Jersey State Park Service within the NJDEP. In 1934, the caretaker who had been living on-site, and who worked for the GCBMA, became an employee of the state. The tradition of live-in caretakers which began in 1912 ceased in 1995 when the seventh, and last, occupant-caretaker vacated the home to adjacent quarters. After deeding the property to the state, the GCBMA ceased as a non-profit for a hiatus of fifty-three years. In 1987 they re-activated as a preservation association and friend’s group with 501c-3 private non-profit corporation status. In 2014, the GCBMA and the State entered into a License Agreement, which bestows upon the GCBMA a prominent role in a private-public partnership. As a licensee, the GCBMA is permitted use of the state-owned property during off-hours and continues work as partners in preservation. In 2020, in the midst of a devastating pandemic, construction of a new Visitor Center began. The project, jointly funded by the State of New Jersey and the GCBMA, was the culmination of a long-range plan. The State of New Jersey also retains ownership of the circa 2021 visitor center.
“Remember the ladies” at HERstory sites. Seemingly insignificant spots reveal stories of 1830s womenfolk. This Undertold Stories Project salutes the girls and women who played a part in the Cleveland Family’s years in Caldwell, including a schoolgirl who unhesitatingly saved the future president’s life. Special attention is given to the corps of midwives and baby nurses who provided health care at the Cleveland home, and infant care to the future president. Watch for more content coming soon to the 1830s HERstory Sites section!
Mary DeCamp Shippen site #1
DeCamp Bus #33
Take notice of the green and white “#33 DeCamp” buses navigating up and down Bloomfield Avenue, a modern reminder of the DeCamp family that Mary was born into. Mary was a woman up against the odds after losing her husband, with three small children and no income. Then her father, who was raising the children, died. It was at that point that Mary DeCamp Shippen took up midwifery for decades. She, together with Naomi Baldwin, served as midwives at the birth of Grover Cleveland.
Naomi Baldwin site #1
Mountain Avenue, North Caldwell (aka County Rt 527)
Driving or walking on this road, take a moment to recall that Naomi Baldwin, who along with Mary DeCamp Shippen, was a midwife at Grover Cleveland’s birth, was well-known in the community to the degree that this road was called, “the Road to Aunt Polly Baldwin’s Place” or “Aunt Naomi’s Lane” in her lifetime.
Naomi Baldwin site #2
Baldwin Homestead: (currently privately owned)
153 Mountain Avenue, North Caldwell
Naomi resided here for 63 years, from her marriage in 1808 to her death in 1871. To find it, travel approximately ¾ mile north from the intersection of Mountain and Bloomfield Avenue. She would have traveled one mile to help deliver Grover Cleveland at 207 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell.
Naomi Baldwin site #3 & #4
First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell
326 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell
Wedding Site and Grave
March 10, 1808, Naomi Baldwin, Age 21 to Noah Baldwin, Age 24. Original church destroyed by fire, circa 1875 church rebuilt on site. Grave at the Old Burying Ground: Naomi Baldwin Died Sep 22, 1871, age 85
Naomi Baldwin site #5
Online: Find A Grave
Leave virtual flowers for Naomi at: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/95768631/naomi-baldwin
Learn more about the 1830s womenfolk of Caldwell with these mini-biographies and tributes.
Herstory Narrative: Mary Decamp Shippen
born ca. 1788 / married ca. 1809 / died ca. 1850
Midwife at birth of Grover Cleveland, March 18, 1837
Mary was born in ca. 1788 as the eighth child of nine to Keturah Clark DeCamp and Aaron DeCamp in Centerville, now called Roseland. Married in Caldwell at about age 21 in 1809 to John Beach Shippen (1771-1818), of the famous Shippen family in Philadelphia. The couple took up residence in Caldwell at the corner of Brookside Ave and Bloomfield Avenue in a house John built. Scarcely nine years into their marriage, John Shippen died suddenly while on a business trip to Sussex County NJ. Contemporaneous accounts of his death in New York Genealogical Society records say, “he suddenly dropped dead.” His remains were never returned to Caldwell. Three children were born during the brief marriage, aged three, eight, and nine when John died in 1818.
Mary’s father, Aaron DeCamp raised the children at his home in Centerville (now Roseland) after John Shippen’s death. In 1827, upon the death of her father, Mary began working regularly as a midwife; her children were now 12, 17 and 18. Three years later, on the 1830 census, “Mary Shippen” is listed as “head of family” with her three children residing with her, but we have no record of the exact address.
In 1837, Mary DeCamp Shippen and Naomi Baldwin delivered Grover Cleveland. As President of the United States, up until 1899, Grover Cleveland would correspond with Lucretia Shippen, daughter of Mary Shippen annually near his birthday, paying tribute to Luctretia’s mother who had aided in his birth.
Mary DeCamp Shippen died many years before Grover Cleveland took office, approx. 1850, possibly in New York City at approx. age 63. Mary was survived by her three children. Samuel Shippen Carpenter (1809-1878), Lucretia Shippen (1810-1899) and Benjamin DeCamp Shippen (1815-1896.)
NOTES for Mary’s Herstory:
Documentation of Mary’s life has been hit or miss. We found gems such as an 1830 census sheet and an article quoting her daughter. Other than that, much of the information was contradictory or unconfirmed. Public record of the men in her family was slightly better, but only by a slim margin. Despite this, we will keep searching. Above is what can be gathered thus far as a tribute to Mary.
Herstory Narrative: Naomi Baldwin
born 1786 / married 1808 / died 1871
Midwife at birth of Grover Cleveland, March 18, 1837
Naomi’s life story began in Montclair, then known as ‘Cranetown.’ Her mother, Esther Crane Baldwin delivered Naomi on Sunday, March 26th, 1786. Naomi was the seventh child born to Esther and Joseph Baldwin. The couple would, over time, have 10 children.
In Essex County of 1786, Crane and Baldwin households had grown to be a gigantic family tree with incredibly crowded leaves and deep roots. Naomi was surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and so forth, some closely related and others barely—all part of an ancestry reaching back to the earliest European settlers to Newark NJ in 1666. Naomi’s future husband was himself born into a branch of Baldwins in Caldwell, while Naomi spent her girlhood as a ‘Cranetown Baldwin.’
Naomi moved from Cranetown to Caldwell at the age of 21 to marry her distant cousin, Noah Baldwin (1784-1832.) She took her wedding vows on Thursday, March 10th, 1808, just 16 days before her 22nd birthday, in the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell. Bride and groom both carried the surname of the immense Baldwin clan, thus Naomi’s married name would remain the same as her single name. Noah was 24 years old and owned a home situated on a country road that served as a main connector through a sizable farming district of Caldwell. Naomi took up residence for the remainder of her life in that home. The road would come to be called “Aunt Naomi’s Lane” and, “The Road to Aunt Polly Baldwin’s Place.” This section of Caldwell would later become North Caldwell.
Her first twenty four years in the home were spent with her husband and growing family. Within a 20-year span, Naomi bore 10 children of which nine lived to adulthood. In 1832, after 24 years of marriage, Noah died at the young age of 48. Naomi was 46 and took on the role of raising her remaining youngest children, likely with help from some of the older children still living at home. The ages of her nine children—4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23—show that at least four were still quite young.
Over the next four decades, Naomi would raise her children in the home and family would come to stay, some for long-term, some for short-term. As life progressed, census and death records show that some children remained through adulthood, some until death, and that varied family members would be added to the household—Naomi’s siblings from Cranetown would come, grandchildren and others would come. In her lifetime there were births in her home, as well as family deaths. Naomi never married again and was a skilled midwife for local families, including attending the noted birth of President Cleveland, Saturday, March 18, 1837, Caldwell.
On the day of Grover Cleveland’s birth, at an untold time, Naomi made the trek from her home on “Aunt Naomi’s Lane” to the Cleveland’s home one mile away. Likely someone had arrived at her door to beckon her and her response would likely have been rapid. Closely approaching her 51st birthday, Naomi had been capably running her household since the death of her husband five years before, providing added income through her employment as a midwife. She and another woman, Mary DeCamp Shippen, aided Mrs. Cleveland in delivering the future president in 1837.
She lived at her Caldwell (now North Caldwell) home for a total of 63 years, from marriage in 1808 to her death September 22nd, 1871, at age 85. She is interred at the Old Burying Ground of the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell. At the time of her death, Naomi had 8 surviving children, 20 known living grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter. Her progeny continues to grow today. Tallying an approximate count of her descendants would be a Herculean task, but it is on our radar as a possible project.
NOTES for Naomi’s Herstory:
Thanks are due to Dr. Beverly White Crifasi, Chairwoman of Caldwell’s Historic Preservation Commission*, for decades of organizing and disbursing data sets of genealogies, census records, death records, as well as spreadsheets of indexes she has personally created using local history books that had no indexes, or sparse unusable ones. Huzzah to HERstory too! (*also, she is one of Naomi’s many great-great-great-granddaughters.)
Naomi’s eight surviving children at the time of her death were: Joseph Varnum Baldwin (1809-1892), Caleb Hilbert Baldwin (1810-1898), Noah Oscar Baldwin (1815-1899), Esther Crane Baldwin (1817-1881), Hannah Maria Baldwin Dobbins (1820-1886), Marcus Young Baldwin (1823-1904), Anna Louisa Baldwin (1825-1900) and Zenas Ashman Baldwin (1828-1903).
Naomi was pre-deceased by her husband Noah (died 1832); daughter, Hannah Maria Baldwin (died in infancy 1819); daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Baldwin Harrison (died 1850, age 37); granddaughter, Elizabeth Baldwin Harrison (died 1850, age one-year); and by granddaughter, Amelia Naomi Harrison (died 1855, age eight).
Prepared by Louis L. Picone, Trustee for GCBMA
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207 Bloomfield Avenue
Caldwell, NJ 07006
Closed due to ongoing construction
Entrance Fee Admission is free.
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