When Prince Murat Visited Allentown

From the Allentown Messenger dated 5/14/1908, the following tells the story of Napolean’s nephew Prince Murat and his exploits stateside as well as abroad:


There are persons still living in Mercer and Burlington counties who could remember the rollicking Prince Murat, who for several years was a resident of Bordentown.


Murat was not unknown in and around Allentown, also, having come this way on a gunning trip. On one occasion he secure the services of the late George Robbins, then a young lad, to guide him to the woody locality near here known as “Spring Garden.” Upon starting homeward he and his companions became bewildered, and finally had to rely on young Robbins to lead them out of their difficulty.


The Prince was much interested in the silkworm industry, which was then occupying the attention of many people. On one of his trips out here he called on the late William Imay for information on the subject, he having gone in the business rather extensively himself.


The late Moses English, of Allentown, whom some of our older people will recollect, was for some time when a boy employed by Murat in the care of his horses and frequently attended him in his trips from home. Four of Allentown’s oldest living residents Enoch Cafferty, Samuel W. Fidler, Nathaniel R. Sinclair and James Rogers have a distinct recollection of the Prince, and each one can relate some incident connected with his visits here. To the above names could also be added that of the late Abel Cafferty.


Napolean Francois Lucien Charles – his baptismal name – was the youngest son of Joachim Murat, one of Napolean’s famous Marshals, and Caroline Bonaparte, a sister of the Emperor. His father at the time of the downfall of Napolean, was also King of Naples.


After the restoration of the Bourbons in France and the execution of his father, young Murat decided to join his uncle, Joseph Bonaparte, who had for some time been residing at Bordentown. Here he soon met and married Miss Caroline Frazer, a daughter of Major Frazer of the British Army. It was a pure, loving match between them, but it was displeasing to the relatives of both parties. His uncle very much disapproved of it, he considering the Prince betrothed to one of his cousins in Europe. All objections, however were of no avail. One afternoon the Prince and Miss Frazer went out for a long drive, and, going to Trenton, they were privately married by the Rev. Dr. Beasley, of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.


The Prince was a tall, handsome, aristocratic looking young man, and much resembled his father in his flashing style. His wife, Caroline, was the youngest of five sister, and the beauty of the family, being tall and majestic in appearance.


While the Prince had money he never seemed to realize the possibility that he would ever be in need of it. His habits of living were foolishly extravagant. A piece of gold had no more value in his eyes than a piece of silver of small amount, as was shown by the reckless manner in which he would sometimes fee hostlers and others.


The Prince bore adversity with composure. He was hail fellow with everybody and had many cronies among the barrooms of the town. When he had money he spent it freely, and when he had none he borrowed just as freely.


Murat was very fond of gunning. One of his companions on some of his trips was the late Miller Howard, a well-known farmer and sportsman of Cream Ridge, who sometimes went to the pines with him after deer. If he fancied a pointer or a setter, he would have it at any price, if money could get it. Mr. Howard made him quite indignant on one occasion by refusing to part with a valuable deer hound, after the offer had been advanced until the sum got beyond all reason.


Upon the Prince’s return to France, in 1848, as soon as he was satisfied that the star of the Bonapartes had risen, he sent to Bordentown for his family to join him. From this time onward the story of Murat’s career seems stranger than fiction to the people of the neighborhood. He afterwards became a member of the National Assembly, Senator, envoy to the count of Turin and Prince of the royal family.


In 1870, when the war with Prussia broke out, Murat joined the army under Marshal Bazaire, and was with him in Metz, when the city capitulated, becoming a prisoner of war.


Notwithstanding his debts, the Bordentown people liked Prince Lucien, who was an amiable man and would just as gladly have forgiven a debt as he would like to have been forgiven one of his own. He died in April 1878, and his wife’s decease occurred not long afterwards.