Born in Charlottesville, VA on 29 April 1832, the youngest and only daughter of Mary Byrd (Tucker) and Dr. John Patten (5) Emmet, Jane is said to have been a happy and contented child, although when she was five years old, her older brother, Tucker died of a fever. The only accident she seems to have suffered was breaking her leg when visiting her aunt and uncle, Jane (8) (Emmet) and Bache McEvers. Like her brothers, she was educated at home by tutors, and sent for a time to a boarding school when her parents went south in a vain effort to restore her father's health.
With her mother, she moved to New York after her father died in 1842, and she spent the rest of her childhood there. The last words spoken by her father, moments before he died at the early age of 46, were "I am never to see little Jane again." Jane probably met her future husband, John Noble Alsop Griswold in New York. She and her mother were living with her older brother, Dr. Thomas (25) Addis Emmet, in his house on Madison Avenue. The marriage was postponed for a time because her mother was ill with consumption. Mary Byrd (Tucker) Emmet, the widow of John (5), died in February of 1860, so the wedding, a month later in March of 1860 at St Marks-in-the-Bowert, was a quiet one.
The son of Maria (Cummings) and George Griswold, John N. A. Griswold started work in the export-import business so successfully run by his uncle and father. He went out to China in 1847 at the age of 25, working as an agent for the family company, N. L. & G. Griswold, and stayed there for seven adventurous and profitable years, returning to New York a rich man. Soon after Jane and John's marriage, the young couple went on a honeymoon touring Europe and then settled down to live in Paris on the Avenue Gabrielle, where their first child, Minnie (84), was born in July of 1861. It was there that the Griswolds talked to their "old friend" the architect, Richard Morris Hunt, about building a house in Newport, Rhode Island - a place where Jane's older brother, Dr. Thomas (25) Addis Emmet had taken to spending his summer holidays. The Griswolds returned to New York in 1862, as John was eager to support the Northern cause and help provide financing for Union Army troops. Having bought two lots on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, he and Jane rented a house there over the summer of 1863 while theirs was being constructed. Designed by Hunt, the building was completed in 1864, and the Griswolds lived there and in New York for the rest of their lives.
This house is now owned by the Newport Art Museum and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Considered a marvelous example of the Eastern Stick Style, it is a two-and-a-half story wooden building with a steep slate roof and a two-story high porte cochere, large verandas, and pointed dormers. Jane's reputation is of a happy, outgoing person, in contrast to her rather dour and straightlaced husband. She was particularly known for her skill as a hostess - she loved entertaining at both family houses and frequently appears in the newspaper, going to musicales, subscribing to charity parties, attending balls in Newport, New York, and even in Washington, DC.
She traveled to Europe often, sometimes to see her daughter Florence (89) who married in 1892 and lived in England. Jane's first born son died as an infant, her second son went out west and died there as a thirty year old. The youngest boy feel into a deep depression and killed himself at the age of 32. Only her two daughters lived to be adults and provided Jane with grandchildren.
Jane died first in January of 1909 while in New York; John died eight months later in September in their Newport house. They are both buried in the Island Cemetery in Newport, as are all three of their boys.
Minnie (86) Emmet Griswold
Richard (87) Alsop Griswold
John (88) Noble Griswold
Florence (89) Temple Griswold
Addis (90) McEvers "George" Griswold