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Horace B. Claflin established his dry goods company in 1843 as Bulkley and Claflin.  The company ran into serious problems through the years especially during the Civil War when southern merchants refused to pay their bills to the northern merchant.  Nonetheless, the company continued to grow and prosper and Claflin came to be known as the Merchant Prince.  He controlled at least twenty-two companies as well as a wholesale outlet at 140 Church Street.  He also controlled a manufacturing facility called the Defender Manufacturing Company.  His assets were in the multi-millions of dollars which was considered incredible wealth in the nineteenth century. 

Horace purchased his Bronx estate a couple of years after the Civil War as a summer retreat.  It consisted of approximately one hundred acres but the city took some when they prepared to construct the Jerome Park Reservoir.  The remainder of his estate was located south of the reservoir and north of Kingsbridge Road West and east of Sedgwick Avenue to Reservoir Avenue.  When he passed away in 1885, he left the estate to his two sons, John and Arthur with the former eventually buying out the latter. 

He left his business to his son John who was born at the family home in Brooklyn on July 24, 1850 and joined the company one year after graduating from City College at age nineteen. He was rather bright and very dedicated and was made a partner in just a couple of years.  He came to be greatly respected by his business associates and had a wonderful reputation. 

Eventually the company would fall on hard times and went into receivership on June 26, 1914.  The Grange Realty Company took over the Bronx property including the two mansions on it.  There had been three but the Claflin Mansion had burned down several years prior.  The other two had been in use by his business associates.  Grange Realty chose Joseph P. Day as the auctioneer and the property, which included 471 lots, went up for bids on September 23, 1919. 

The first bid came from Thomas F. Mullen who took two lots on University Avenue between Strong and 197th Streets for $1200 each.  Other successful bidders were John Schubert who paid $3650 each for five choice lots on Sedgwick Avenue and J. Sommers, a builder, who took six lots on Sedgwick for $2100 each.  Sommers would later successfully bid on some choice Kingsbridge Road lots.  Mark Leuschen purchased the corner lot at 187th Street and Webb Avenue for $1800 and the two adjoining lots on Webb for only $1000. each. 

The most interesting lots were the three that held the Revolutionary War redoubt just south of the reservoir.  They were listed as lot numbers 99, 100 and 101 and held the intact historical site in a good state of preservation.  The auctioneer spoke about the historic significance of the lots and suggested that a historical society obtain them to preserve the fort for future generations.  A Mr. C. W. Hilbert purchased them for $1250 each.  The bidding continued until the grand old estate was completely broken up and in the hands of builders and would-be settlers of this choice piece of Bronx real estate.  No one around then would recognize it today. 

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