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William Gibbons was the son of steamboat tycoon Thomas Gibbons. Upon the death of his father, William inherited Thomas' assets - steamboat holdings, land, houses and several plantations in the south, which included more than 500 slaves. It is believed that William's wife, Abigail Louise Taintor, persuaded her husband to buy land in Madison, New Jersey. In time, William had collected 205 acres in "The Forest," and in 1833, the Gibbons' built a plantation-style mansion (now called Mead Hall), a stable for William's racehorses and a granary. In 1844, Abigail died, followed by her husband in 1852. Their son sold the property in 1867, to Daniel Drew, at which time the Gibbons' mansion became the main building of Drew Theological Seminary.

Courtesy of the Drew University Archives

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