HENRY F. PIAGET
(owner of "The Great Notch Inn," Little Falls)

by Edward M. Graf
Passaic County Historical Society Bulletin, 1970

Henry F. PIAGET was born near Neufchatel, Switzerland in 1804, of an old Huguenot family. He left his native land in 1818 and went to London, England to live with an uncle.

He married Miss Ann S. ROGERS at Cripplegate Church, England, January 20, 1830.

In 1832 Henry came to New York and engaged in the watch making trade in Brooklyn, returning to London in 1833 for his wife, whom he had left behind. Returning to Brooklyn, he continued in business, but due to failing health bought a farm at Great Notch in 1838.

Seven sons and one daughter were born to Mr. and Mrs. Piaget. The eldest son Henry, died in London in infancy; the other sons being Alfred W., Francis H., Frederick (Frank), Henry V., Philip T., and Louis A. Louis, born February 6, 1842, the only child born at the Notch, later was a leading jeweler and watchmaker in Paterson, the other children having been born in New York.

Henry F. Piaget died July 1, 1883 in his seventy-ninth year, his wife Ann Sophia Rogers died April 14, 1890 at the advanced age of eighty-six. Mrs. Piaget had resided at the old homestead at the Notch for fifty-one years. Her funeral took place from the Notch on April 16th.

The Golden Wedding

On Tuesday, January 20, 1880, a happy company assembled at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Henry F. Piaget, at Great Notch, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage.

The six surviving sons with their wives, the daughter with her husband, Robert W. PEACH of Paterson, twenty grandchildren and four great-grandchildren met at the Notch together with a few invited guests.

The company gathered in the parlor and after an appropriate address by the Rev. Charles PELLETREAU and a prayer by the Rev. William H. CLARK, the eldest son, A. W. Piaget of Paterson, in a few words presented the congratulations of the children, each of whom advanced in turn, saluted the parents with server, embraced them and brought a golden token of their affection.

The eldest grandchild, the wife of Mr. S. SCHOONMAKER of Paterson, greeted the aged couple with words of love in behalf of the grandchildren, all of whom approached with salutations and golden offerings.

Afterwards, Master Paul G. Schoonmaker, a lad of six years, the eldest great-grandchild, as the spokesman of the fourth generation, came forward with his address of welcome, which ended with a burst of emotion that brought tears to the eyes of all present. All the little ones, including the babes-in-arms, each had a golden token of affection for the couple in whose honor the company had gathered.

A short address followed by John AVILIA of Brooklyn, who had known the Piagets for more than forty years.

Dr. J. G. C. ROBERTSON presented Mr. Piaget the congratulations of the Joppa Lodge of Free Masons of Paterson.

Also greeting the aged couple were Mr. SUTTIE of New York, Prof. Florian OBORSKI and the Rev. William H. Clark of Paterson.

Letters were read from a grandson in Kansas and two grandchildren in Greenwich, New York, the only members of the family circle not present.

After these exercises the company sat down to a bountiful meal, which was prolonged into the evening. The wedding feast was prepared by Andrew MOSER of Paterson in his usual excellent style. The wedding cake, which graced the center of the table, was garnished with golden foliage.

Death had entered the family only four times in fifty years. The eldest son had died in infancy in London; Lulu, eldest daughter of Louis A. Piaget in 1875; a grandchild in 1878 and Freddie, son of F. A. Piaget in February 1879.

The Death of Henry F. Piaget

Death came to Henry F. Piaget, July 1, 1882 at the age of seventy-nine years. On July 5th there was a very large attendance at the Second Presbyterian Church where the pastor Rev. Dr. Charles D. SHAW officiated, assisted by the Rev. Pelletreau and the Rev. W. H. Clark of Nyack, later of the Broadway Reformed Church. They had been present at the Golden Wedding anniversary at the Notch homestead in 1880. It required ten carriages to convey those who attended the service.

No Christmas, in all the years, passed without witnessing a complete family reunion. The one exception being the year that Louis A. Piaget was absent through his participation in the Civil War, the first break in the family circle for forty years, and then only temporary. The sons sometimes traveled hundreds of miles to reach the old homestead for the reunion.

The last Christmas reunion at which the entire family assembled in 1880, there were fifty-four persons including the deceased and his aged wife, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This was the first death in the United States, other than grandchildren, of any nearer the root of the family tree. Henry's survivors included his six sons and a daughter.

There were no flowers or other emblems noticeable at the funeral except a large sheaf of ripe grain and two beautiful palm leaves with a lily between them. Masonic services were held at the grave by Past Grand Master Isaac VAN WAGNER, a special request made by the deceased at the time of the Golden Wedding anniversary at the old homestead.

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