William Walter Phelps

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William Walter Phelps

William Walter Phelps
Born 1839
New York City
Nationality American
Occupation Lawyer, Estate Manager
Home town Englewood, NJ
Spouse(s) Ellen Sheffield

William Walter Phelps came to Teaneck in the early part of 1865. Mr. Phelps, the only son of a wealthy NYC merchant, John Jay Phelps, was born in New York in in 1839, educated at Yale, and graduated in 1860. Soon after leaving college, he married Miss Ellen Sheffield, daughter of the founder of a scientific center at Yale, Joseph E. Sheffield. Later, one Thomas B. Van Buren, of a New York politically involved family, married one Harriet Sheffield, presumably of the same Sheffield family, and "further connected the Phelps and Sheffield families" [1]. (It is not clear by what connection Van Buren and Phelps were related.) After spending a year abroad, he entered Columbia Law School, and and received an L.L. B. degree in 1863. Then commenced practicing law. Desirous of a Summer residence, he purchased the farm of one Jacob Fink, in what was is now Teaneck and remodeled it into a charming residence. On the passing of his father, he gave up the practice of law, to manage his rather large estate. Eventually, he expanded his holdings to include property which extended some 2900 acres, from the Hackensack River to the Hudson. he was a philantropist, creating macadam roads and allowing access to the public, with the sole proviso that they respect nature. He eventually entered politics and was elected to Congress from the Republican party, representing the 5th Congressional district.


  1. Sterling, Adaline (1922) (in English). The Book of Englewood. Mayor and Council of Englewood. p. 85,87.