By Emily Finan
Gifted to the Society by John Hulsen, Huntington’s first motorcycle policeman, these three unique trophies commemorate the donor’s participation—and success—in the Highhold Games, an annual event held by Henry L. Stimson and his wife Mabel White Stimson at their home in the Huntington hamlet of West Hills. The name Highhold was inspired by the view that the over one-hundred-acre property provided from the Long Island Sound to the Atlantic Ocean.
Each Thanksgiving Day from 1904 into the 1920s, Stimson—who served as Secretary of War under President Howard Taft, and Secretary of State under President Herbert Hoover—invited his friends, family, and neighbors to Highhold estate, through postings in The Long-Islander, to compete in a series of games including trapshooting, spar fighting, barrel racing, novelty racing, flat racing, and steeplechase. Originally held as a gesture of appreciation to his neighbors for their hospitality in allowing him to traverse their lands while foxhunting, Stimson’s games became an annual tradition that exemplified generosity and fostered community. Hundreds of people—young and old—gathered to compete, enjoy cider, coffee, and donuts at the refreshments tent, and warm themselves by the bonfire before returning home for their own holiday dinners.
Hulsen competed in the games as a child and fondly recalled standing alongside Teddy Roosevelt during a trap shooting event one year. The first two trophies he earned are mugs in the shape of barrels. The first is made of brass encircled by copper bands, and indicates Hulsen’s success in the 1915 trap shooting event; the second is made of pewter overlaid with copper bands, and notes that Hulsen won the 1916 spar fight event. The third trophy, a pewter stein awarded for the 1919 spar fight event, is notable in that 1919 marked the return of the Highhold Games after a two-year intermission caused by World War I.
Portraits of Henry and Mabel Stimson by famed portrait artist Leopold Gould Seyffert. These portraits formerly hung at Highhold and are now part of the Society's collection.
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This blog has been written by various affiliates of the Huntington Historical Society.