Simeon Ellis Sr. was born on 16 Sep 1656 in Wooldale, Yorkshire, England to parents Thomas Ellis Jr. and Hannah Hebdon. He immigrated to America in 1683 and settled in New Jersey. He married Sarah Bates on 16 Jun 1692 in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Children: Sarah, William, Joseph, Thomas, Jacob, Simeon Jr., Jonathan. He died on 12 May 1715 in Gloucester, New Jersey.
New York Times, 6 Nov 2005, by Antoinette Martin: "A Sentimental Developer Saves a Grave: "This story concerns real estate in the 21st century, but it starts with a long-ago romance. Sometime in the 1790's, a woman named Mary Ellis arrived in New Brunswick and fell in love with a sea captain who had been an officer in the Revolutionary War. The captain soon put out to sea again, heading down the Raritan River toward New York Harbor, but he left behind his trusty horse -- and a promise to marry Mary when he returned.
Every day for years after, as local legend has it, Mary rode her sweetheart's steed to the riverbanks, waiting for her beloved to reappear. In 1813, she purchased a piece of property overlooking the river from which she maintained the daily watch -- until she died, her love unrequited, in 1826.
The story is recounted in "Weird N.J.," a modern collection of tales about strange sites in the state, because Mary's grave remains right where it always was, except that now it is smack in the middle of a Loews movie theater parking lot. Mary may have waited endlessly for her seaman; development, of course, waits for no man forever.
It is not clear when the property, which fronts on Route 1, first became a commercial site. But at some point the Great Eastern, a discount department store, stood there, and throughout most of the 1980's, it was the site of a giant flea market, with the grave occupying a booth-sized space barely noticeable amid the tents and tables.
In the early 1970's, Mary Ellis was memorialized -- or so many of those who grew up around New Brunswick claim -- in the pop tune "Brandy," which recounts the tale of a girl in love with a sailor who loved the sea more than her. Members of the group that sang the song, Looking Glass, attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and so it is widely assumed they knew of her and were inspired to write the song about her saga.
But over the years, her 18-inch-high marble tombstone, which lists two family members buried with her, had little meaning to those parking their S.U.V.'s and sedans where she and the captain's horse kept vigil for so long.
Enter, in the summer of 2004, one very sentimental developer. The developer, Jack Morris, founder of Edgewood Properties, based in Piscataway, N.J., grew up in adjacent Highland Park. He is such a softy he even gets teary over his memories of the flea market (his grandfather used to take him there, he said), and learning the story of Mary made him melt.
"The land became available through someone I know, and I thought, I would love to own it!" Mr. Morris said. "I remember there was a Great Eastern store there when I was little. My grandfather used to walk me over the bridge from Highland Park, and later the flea market came and that was really cool. They had everything: zeppole, pizza, cotton candy and a video arcade. Every weekend, I was there."
Mr. Morris proceeded to acquire the 23-acre property, which provides a view of Donaldson Park in addition to the river, and assembled plans for Raritan Heights, a large mixed-use development, which are now being reviewed by New Brunswick authorities.
Edgewood proposes to construct two buildings on the site, one facing Route 1, with retailing on the ground floor, including boutiques, a coffee shop and a restaurant or two, and 200 rental apartments above. It is the same type of development that Edgewood has completed in several other neighborhoods in and around New Brunswick.
The second building at Raritan Heights, to be built in partnership with the Lennar Corporation, a national home builder, is to house 274 condos. All 474 units will have one or two bedrooms, and the condos will mostly be priced in the $400,000 range, with those on upper floors priced up to $600,000, Mr. Morris said.
The developer said he is pressing to win full approval for the project by March, begin construction in July and open for occupancy by the summer of 2007.
Mr. Morris's company specializes in building "affordable" homes for people with lower and moderate incomes, the "people I grew up with," as he puts it. He sees the Raritan Heights apartments and condos appealing to "pre-home-buyers" and "first-time buyers," who live and work in the area. The Rutgers campus, medical and research facilities in the area and high-tech companies are continually attracting new residents, Mr. Morris noted.
His property has easy access to the New Jersey Turnpike, and to Route 18, Route 287 and Route 130, he added. It is about a 30-minute commute to Trenton and 45 minutes to New York City. Planning is under way for a water taxi service for commuters and a marina on the Raritan near the site.
Meanwhile, Mr. Morris is planning to relocate Mary's resting place to a site closer to the river and set the tombstone off with a wrought-iron grille and plantings. He hired a historical research company to determine a design that would be appropriate to the time of her death.
"I happened to close on the property on my birthday last year," Mr. Morris recalled. "My wife made a little presentation and played 'Brandy,' and I actually started crying."
New Jersey Index of Wills, Inventories, Etc., Vol II
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