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Desmond-Fish Library: Jonathan Sturges - Merchant of Old New York

Biographer of Jonathan Sturges, 19th Century Entrepreneur, to Speak at Desmond-Fish Public Library

Visit the tumultuous years of mid-nineteenth century America through a talk by the biographer of Jonathan Sturges: Merchant of Old New York. Author Robin McPhillips will be telling his tale on Sunday, June 9, at 2 pm at the Desmond-Fish Public Library. 

Jonathan Sturges had an outsize impact on the development of Garrison: his daughter Virginia married William Henry Osborn and the two built Castle Rock; their descendants still live in the shadow of the castle off Route 403. Sturges’ daughter Amelia married financier J. P. Morgan, who lived just across the Hudson in Highland Falls. 

While Sturges (1802-1874) descended from an old New England family, he was a self-made man.  He was born and raised in Fairfield, Connecticut and was a merchant, banker,  insurance director, and founder of the Illinois Central Railroad. Besides his business interests, he was a nationally recognized art patron and collector and a civic leader involved with many organizations who helped bring down Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall in New York City. He was a champion of African Americans and Native Indians as well as a friend and associate of presidents and generals. 

Robin McPhillips was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and had a career in the Navy and Naval Reserves.  She obtained her Master of Arts Degree in American Studies from Fairfield University in 2009 and was a docent at the Fairfield History Center and Museum, where she began her biography of Sturges. She now lives in South Carolina. 

A limited number of copies of Jonathan Sturges- Merchant of Old New York will be available at the event.  They may be purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or for a discount at Gems_of_History_Publishing (use promo code Fairfield for an additional 5% off).

Refreshments will be served at this free event and everyone is invited to attend.  The Desmond-Fish Public Library is located at 472 Route 403 (at the corner of 9D) in Garrison, NY.  For more information about any of the library's upcoming programs, please visit   

Robin can be reached at She would be happy to help with an article about the Philipstown and Osborn connections to Jonathan Sturges. 

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