Nanine Lawrence Pond holds the record by far as the longest serving regent of the Freelove Baldwin Stow Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, from 1915 to 1946. She died in 1950. It was during her regency that the local DAR bought the crumbling Eels-Stowe House on Wharf Lane, built in 1670 and threatened with demolition. This led to the birth of the Milford Historical Society to preserve it. Pond then became the society’s first vice president and a life member.
Nanine was born in Paris, France May 8, 1869. Nanine is French for Nancy. Her parents were Joseph Lawrence of New London, a sea captain, and Sarah Gillette Pond Hepburn (originally married to Henry Lewis Hepburn before he died) of Milford. So she spent most of her childhood, as well as the rest of her life after marrying into the Pond family, traveling back and forth to see families in New London and Milford. Nanine was followed by two sisters. Their mother died when the girls were aged 6, 5 and 3 . Joseph oversaw their upbringing since both grandmothers were deceased. A family member later noted: “In an age when social etiquette was ascending in importance, rules strictly enforced, consequences unmerciful, it is doubtful Nanine’s upbringing was anything other than strict and proper.”
Her father, Joseph, died in 1893 when she was 24. Three years later she married Nicholas Misplee Pond of Milford. They were first cousins, a practice not unheard of at the time, since her mother, Sarah, and Nicholas’ father, Nathan Gillette Pond, were brother and sister. Nicholas ran a rattan business, based on imports from the Far East. They raised their family of two girls and two boys in Milford in a handsome house with large acreage on Welch’s Point. The property was large enough to handle a runway for small airplanes installed by their son, Joseph Lawrence, who took over ownership until selling the house and property in the mid-1940’s. The property was later sold off into house lots along a street named Point Lookout.
In 1910 one of her father’s unmarried brothers, Sebastian, left Nanine a sizeable fortune, approximately $3 million. This was part of a $9 million bequest that went to her and her two sisters. She became a prominent benefactor for many recipients from that time on. They included a tuberculosis sanitarium in New York’s Adirondacks and sending an occasional freight railcar full of clothing and food to an Indian reservation in Arizona.
Sebastian’s will also provided $100,000 for a hospital which came to be known as Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, and $400,000 in permanent trust to fund it. The hospital opened in 1912. In 1924 she gave $60,000 for a nursing school dormitory, called Pond House. The building served that purpose until 1976, later housing a psychiatric unit on the third floor and administrative offices on the first two.
She also did much for Milford. During her 31-year term as DAR regent she oversaw the creation of the Milford Historical Society in 1930. At its creation she became a life member. It was she who suggested in November 1929 that funds needed to be raised to save the Eells-Stow House, threated with demolition, since it was one of the oldest houses in town and had several unique architectural features. The society was organized May 19, 1930 of which she became a part. The first task of the new society was to maintain the property from then on.
family, some still living in Milford, are of the same lineage. The “e” was added with the publishing of Webster’s Dictionary in the early 1800’s to assure that the name would be properly pronounced.
In 1931 Nicholas died and she took up residence in the top residential floor of the Mohegan Hotel in New London. She died February 7, 1950 in Lawrence & Memorial Hospital from complications of a hip fracture and is buried next to her husband in the Pond family plot in Milford.