Marcellus H. Dodge Sr.

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Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Sr.

Birthdate: (82)
Death: December 25, 1963 (82)
Immediate Family:

Son of Norman White Dodge and Emma Hartley
Husband of Ethel Geraldine Dodge
Father of Marcellus H. Dodge, Jr.

Managed by: Richard McKay Cryan
Last Updated:

About Marcellus H. Dodge Sr.,_Sr.

Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Sr. (February 28, 1881 – December 25, 1963) was the chairman of the board of Remington Arms Company and a member of the family associated with the Phelps Dodge Corporation. He also was president of the Y.M.C.A.


He was the son of Emma Hartley Dodge (d. 1882) and Norman White Dodge. He was the grandson of William E. Dodge Sr., his paternal grandfather, a noted abolitionist, and promoter of the rights of Native Americans who served as the president of the National Temperance Society from 1865 to 1883, represented the New York 8th congressional district in the United States Congress for a portion of the 39th United States Congress in 1866-67 and was a founding member of the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) in the United States. He had married Melissa Phelps (1809-1903), the daughter of Anson Greene Phelps and Olivia Egleston and in 1833, William E. Dodge and his father-in-law founded the mining firm Phelps, Dodge, and Company, one of America's foremost mining companies.

He was the grandson and successor to Marcellus Hartley, his maternal grandfather, a famous merchant and financier of Manhattan. His grandfather had provided a home on Thirty-seventh Street adjoining his on Madison Avenue for his daughter, Emma, as a wedding present when she had married Norman W. Dodge on May 6, 1880. Emma died on March 3, 1881, a few days after the birth of her son. Several years after the death of his mother, his father remarried on January 5, 1897, and Marcellus was raised by his maternal grandparents. The death of Marcellus Hartley in 1902 left his grandson as heir to a large fortune of $60 million at the age of twenty-one, while he was attending Columbia University and living with his grandmother, Frances Chester (Mrs. Marcellus) Hartley, at 282 Madison Avenue.

Education and early adulthood

In 1903, He graduated from Columbia University, where he was president of his class, manager of the track team, and coxswain of his class crew (sometimes referred to as, college rowing).

Upon his graduation, he and his maternal aunt, Helen Hartley (Mrs. George W.) Jenkins presented the Hartley Hall dormitory to Columbia. The building became its largest dormitory and created more of a college atmosphere for the new campus in Morningside Heights.

Well known in society and an avid yachtsman, in 1906 he took a party of his friends on the Wakiva I, a large pleasure and cruising yacht, to the upper waters of the Amazon River, the Orinoco in Venezuela and Colombia, and the Guianas: British Guiana, Surinam, and French Guiana.


In 1907 he became engaged and married to (Ethel) Geraldine Rockefeller of 689 Fifth Avenue. She was a child of William and Almira Geraldine Goodsell Rockefeller, and was estimated to have her own fortune of over 100 million dollars. They were said to be the wealthiest newlyweds in the country when they married. Initially, when in New Jersey they lived together at Hartley Farms, a country estate purchased by Marcellus and his aunt, Helen Hartley Jenkins, in 1904.

Soon they bought all of the land between two estates held by his family in Morris County, New Jersey that lay between Spring Valley Road in the community of New Vernon and Madison Avenue in Madison. Most of the area is part of the Harding Township area which extends from Chatham to Morristown. The last portion purchased, that had belonged to Charles W. Harkness, the third largest stockholder of Standard Oil shares, named Giralda Farms, was purchased by Geraldine in 1923. She maintained it as a grand country estate among the rolling hills.

Eventually they resided separately on the adjoining estates. He preferred the New Jersey setting and maintained his residence in New Vernon throughout his life, but his wife regularly stayed in her Manhattan residence for two or three days each week.

He expanded the house at "Hartley Farms", which initially had been used as a country retreat associated with his family's charitable organization, "Hartley House" in Manhattan. After it became his residence, he added two wings and some interior enhancements to the house as well as secondary living quarters, barns, stables, and a polo field. The property has been preserved with a conservation easement and his residence has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At one time Hartley Farms extended for a thousand acres (4 km²).

They had one child, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Jr., who died in an automobile crash in Mogesca, France in 1930. His mother built and extensive memorial to him as a civic center in Madison along with the train station she built opposite the center. They also donated a structure on the campus of Princeton University, from which their son had been graduated shortly before his death.

At the time of his marriage Dodge was president and a director of the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, president of the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company, director of the Equitable Trust Company, director of International Banking Company, director of M. Hartley Company, a member of the Lawyers Club of New York City, the Essex County Country Club, and the City of New York Club.

An accomplished equestrian, Dodge became the founder of the Spring Valley Hounds, a hunt club that not only conducted hunts for their members among the many estates nearby, but also held a major annual horse show in New Jersey. Competitions included those for hunters and open jumpers, as well as for saddle horses of three and five gates. Many of the competitors followed the international horse show circuit that closed its season with the November exhibition at Madison Square Garden on Fiftieth Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan each year. Nearby, the United States Equestrian Team formed for the Olympics from these ranks in 1950, it was founded just off of Spring Valley Road, on van Beuren Road at the Coates estate.

Remington Arms Company

Eventually Dodge became the chairman of Remington Arms Company, taking the place of his maternal grandfather. The Remington Arms and Union Metallic Cartridge factories at Bridgeport, Connecticut were described as the greatest small arms and ammunition plant in the world by the editor of the New York Times in 1916. Cash control of the company was acquired by E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company of Wilmington, Delaware in 1933, but Dodge remained at the head of the business.

Following the business tradition established by his grandfather at the time of the American Civil War, during the Second World War his company was the supplier of sixty-nine percent of the arms, ammunition, and munitions being used by the federal government and secret meetings about this were held on his country estate, Hartley Farms, at his polo fields which, except for the war years, also were used from 1927 as the site of the exhibition of the Morris and Essex Dog Show held by his wife, Geraldine. During these meetings General Dwight D. Eisenhower and he became close friends.

He was a member of the board of trustees of Columbia University and was the founder of the Marcellus Hartley Dodge Cup that is awarded in crew. The Marcellus Hartley Dodge Award is bestowed in his honor.

Champion of the Great Swamp

When the remnants of Glacial Lake Passaic, the Great Swamp that abutted his estate was targeted for development as an airport by the New York Port Authority and nearby citizens formed the Jersey Jetport Site Association in 1959 to protect it by purchasing properties to assemble for donation to the government as a federal park, he joined their efforts.

He was one of the first trustees of the North American Wildlife Foundation that completed the acquisition of enough of the Great Swamp to protect the massive natural resource. Legislation also championed by later Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, while he was a congressman from Arizona was passed on November 3, 1960 protecting the important natural resource. In 1964 the park was dedicated after he had become Secretary Udall.

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was dedicated in 1968 and named the M. Hartley Dodge Wildlife Refuge.


He died on Christmas Day, December 25, 1963, at Giralda Farms in Madison, New Jersey.


In The New York Times he was described as an outstanding citizen, remembered above all for the warmth and generosity of his personality. He was a well-known philanthropist. Beginning with a donation of fountains on the plaza before Low Memorial Library and a residence building for students in 1903, Hartley Hall, that he and his aunt, Helen Hartley Jenkins, donated, he provided many gifts to Columbia University, and numerous other institutions and organizations. After his death his family and estate underwrote the construction of Dodge Physical Fitness Center at Columbia, and the university renamed another of its buildings Dodge Hall in his honor.

Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Sr. (February 28, 1881 – December 25, 1963) was the chairman of the board of Remington Arms Company and a member of the family associated with the Phelps Dodge Corporation. He was the president or director of several companies and the president of the Y.M.C.A. in the United States. He was a well-known philanthropist with significant donations to many institutions and organizations and was a major contributor to the successful efforts to protect the Great Swamp.

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Marcellus H. Dodge Sr.'s Timeline

February 28, 1881
Age 26
December 25, 1963
Age 82