Exploring the History of New Jersey and Beyond!

Architecture, National Park Sites, Local Sites, and More!

Where to?

Somerset County, Morris County... even Cape May County!

No Place is too Small...

What may seem minute and insignificant is what makes history!

Redcoats!

Not only do I like to write about history - I love covering events too!

Spread the History!

Help bring awareness to the historic sites in your area.

From historic figures to historic places...

I want to teach America just how significant New Jersey is!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lyndhurst Historical Society to Hold Appraisal Fair - May 2, 2015

Lyndhurst Historical Society to Hold Appraisal Fair
May 2, 2015

Area residents are encouraged to look through their garages, search the boxes in their basements, and check out those dusty trunks in their attics. The treasures they find can now be appraised when the Lyndhurst Historical Society hosts its Antiques Roadshow-Style Appraisal Fair on Saturday, May 2, 2015 from 12:00 noon - 5:00 pm at the Lyndhurst Senior Center, located at 250 Cleveland Avenue in Lyndhurst.

Friday, March 27, 2015

NJ Weekend Historical Happenings: 3/28/15 - 3/29/15

NJ WEEKEND HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS
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Friday, March 27 - April 25, 2015 - Pennington, Mercer County
Pennington Comes of Age: Photographs by George H. Frisbie

As part of the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of Pennington Borough, an exhibition of historic photographs, "Pennington Comes of Age," will be unveiled by the Hopewell Valley Historical Society at The Pennington School’s Silva Gallery of Art.

"Pennington Comes of Age" tells the story of the first 25 years of Pennington Borough’s incorporation, 1890–1915. During these years George Frisbie, who had grown up in a family-run business on South Main Street, captured the world around him through the viewfinder of his big wooden camera. His images not only document people and places, but recorded many of the changes that took place over that span of time.

Descendants of Mr. Frisbie still reside in Pennington Borough, and in 1986 Alice Frisbie and her daughter, Mary Thornton, donated 800 negatives to the Historical Society.

The exhibition opens Friday, March 27 and continue through Saturday, April 25. A special reception will be held on Wednesday, April 1, from 5:00 - 8:00 pm. Gallery hours are Monday - Thursday, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm; Friday, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm; or by appointment. For more information, call Gallery Director Dolores Eaton at 609-737-4133.

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Saturday, March 28 - Maywood, Bergen County
Visit with the Easter Bunny
Children Friendly

Thursday, March 26, 2015

NJ Weekend Estate Sales: 3/27/15 - 3/29/15

NEW JERSEY WEEKEND ESTATE SALES
Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How the Railroad Named Fanwood, New Jersey

How the Railroad Named Fanwood, New Jersey

It's interesting how railroads once played a major part in the development of the United States and is even responsible for the naming of communities, such is the case with the Borough of Fanwood, New Jersey. A small community of just 1.3 square miles and a population of just over 7,000, it was a community that due to circumstances surrounding its charter, a railroad company suddenly became a real estate company, building a suburban paradise with a direct connection to urban centers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


On February 9, 1831, the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad received its legislative charter to develop a railroad through the area that is now Fanwood. The goal of this railroad was to connect the Pennsylvania coal fields with the New York area. Construction began in 1832 in Elizabeth and by 1837, the line reached present-day Fanwood. However, the original right-of-way did not follow that of today and was built north of its current alignment (what is now Midway Avenue) because the locomotives at that time could not climb the hill to the south. In 1839, a station, called Scotch Plains Station, was constructed at the intersection of Martine Avenue and the rail line. At this time, the railroad had reached Plainfield.

In 1840, the construction paused as the rail line reached just outside the town of Bound Brook. In 1842, the line reached Somerville. However, the Railroad company found that it could not generate enough revenue to cover the cost of construction and on February 20, 1847 declared bankruptcy. The Railroad was purchased by John Sterns and Coffin Colket and reorganized under a new charter as the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ).

CRRNJ began to acquire land in 1867 to relocate the line in Fanwood from the northern alignment (modern-day Midway Avenue) to its current location. The company's charter from the state required the railroad to acquire all the land between the old line and the new line, which ended up amounting to about 350 acres. On December 6, 1874, the the Midway Avenue line was abandoned and the new southern alignment opened.

Fanwood Station, circa 1907. Source: www.thejointlibrary.org
The station name changed from Scotch Plains to Fanwood, a name conceived by president John Taylor Johnson of the Central Railroad of New Jersey in honor of Fanny Wood, daughter of one of the railroad officials, a journalist, and frequent visitor to the area. With the acquisition of large swaths of land in between the old and new alignments, the Central New Jersey Land Improvement Company was created by the CRRNJ in 1867 as a land development company.

For the next forty years, the land would be developed by the railroad into suburban housing lots laid out on a network of curved streets and called Fanwood Park. The new homes built by the railroad became attractive to commuters traveling to work in the New York City area. The development of Fanwood Park was also encouraged by the CNJ's fast, frequent and punctual commuter trains which terminated at the Jersey City Terminal. Passengers would then board the ferries to various Manhattan locations.

The historic Fanwood Station was built and opened in 1874, at the opening of the new southern alignment. It was designed in the Stick style with Gothic Revival elements, such as the pointed-arch windows on the third floor, bargeboard, and finials. The station is two stories with a third floor attic space. The main station building was one of several New Jersey stations to be constructed in this style. Similar stations constructed at Branchport, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy and Asbury Park are no longer standing; the Matawan Station on the North Jersey Coast Line remains minus its gingerbread and Red Bank Station.

A view of Fanwood Station with a modern-day NJ Transit train from the pedestrian bridge.
In May 1895, residents in Fanwood Village voted to separate from the Township of Fanwood (now Scotch Plains). As this new railroad community developed, the railroad still played a large part in encouraging settlement by sponsoring publications that painted an ideal suburban lifestyle with easy access to the city via rail.

In 1965, the station was sold to the Borough of Fanwood and converted for community use. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 17, 1980. In 2004, the Fanwood Park Historic District was listed on the National Register. This historic district covers the neighborhood conceived by the CRRNJ and lists the historic Fanwood Train Station as key contributing structure for its contribution to the development of Fanwood and it is the oldest extant train station in Union County. The train station, fully restored, serves as a museum and meeting place under the auspices of the Fanwood Historic Preservation Commission. It is open to the public and displays information and artifacts related to the railroad and the Borough of Fanwood. One great time to visit is during Union County's Four Centuries in a Weekend on October.


Additional photos of my trip to Fanwood Station on Pinterest


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Morris County Historical Society announces The Giving Trees Gala: An Event for the Replanting of a Forest

The Morris County Historical Society announces The Giving Trees Gala: 
An Event for the Replanting of a Forest
April 30, 2015

Join the Morris County Historical Society (MCHS) as it hosts The Giving Trees Gala and silent auction on Thursday, April 30, 2015 from 6:00 - 10:00 pm at the Westin Governor Morris, 2 Whippany Road, Morristown, NJ. The purpose of the event is to raise funds for the reforestation of a 4-acre woodlot within Acorn Hall’s historic cultural landscape that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. The Society is responsible for the stewardship of the urban forest on Acorn Hall’s property, which lies within the Whippany River Watershed, and is part of the Patriot’s Path multi-use trail system.

The damaged forest at Acorn Hall. Photo credit: MCHS

Friday, March 20, 2015

NJ Weekend Historical Happenings: 3/21/15 - 3/22/15

NJ WEEKEND HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS
Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
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Friday - Saturday, March 20 - 21 - Cape May, Cape May County
Sherlock Holmes Weekend
Children Friendly

Thursday, March 19, 2015

NJ Weekend Estate Sales: 3/20/15 - 3/22/15

NEW JERSEY WEEKEND ESTATE SALES
Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
Hosting an estate sale? Send me an e-mail to be featured in our weekly post!
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Beyond the Silk Mills: A Historical Family Saga

Beyond the Silk Mills: A Historical Family Saga
Written by Leslie Rupley

Historical Context
Alexander Hamilton recognized the potential of the Great Falls of the Passaic River to support a booming industrial city, the future Paterson, New Jersey. In 1792 he acted on his belief by forming an investment group called the Society of Useful Manufactures (SUM). Paterson grew around the falls. Today it is a National Park that you can visit to learn about the development of the silk industry around the falls. The nearby Paterson Museum features the Rogers Locomotive and highlights some of the earlier industries such as an impressive display of early Colt Revolvers. If you are interested in the early Labor Movement, visit the Botto House in Haledon.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Greystone Advocates Take Their Fight to Court

Greystone Advocates Take Their Fight to Court

"The historic significance of Greystone is unquestioned. The State is trying to shove their costly demolition agenda through a loophole in the law." So said Preserve Greystone President John Huebner.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

NJ Weekend Historical Happenings: 3/14/15 - 3/15/15

NJ WEEKEND HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS
Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
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Friday - Saturday, March 13 - 14 - Morganville, Monmouth County
New Jersey Scout Museum Open House
Children Friendly

The Board of Trustees and Operating Committee of the New Jersey Scout Museum invite you to join us on Friday, March 13 from 6:00 - 9:00 pm and Saturday, March 14, from 4:00 - 7:00 pm for this celebratory open house at 705 Ginesi Drive, Morganville, New Jersey.

One hundred years ago, on Treasure Island in the Delaware River, the Order of the Arrow was founded as the honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. Since then, tens of thousands of members have provided cheerful service in support of Scouting throughout the United States. To celebrate the Order of the Arrow Centennial, a new exhibit documenting its history in New Jersey will be unveiled.

The NJSM currently features a series of exhibits that showcase the history of Girl Scouts and  Boy Scouts in New Jersey, presenting comparisons of parallel programs such as Boy Scout Sea Scouts and Girl Scout Mariners. Also on exhibit are materials explaining the origins of the NJSM and one of our founders Dave Wolverton; and exhibits from our Ann Nally Collection showcasing her national role in Cub Scouting. These exhibits were originally unveiled as part of the grand reopening of NJSM in 2013.

Another new exhibit will feature Girl Scout camps and camping. From the Highlands to the Jersey Shore; photographs, t-shirts, camping gear, patches and artifacts will tell the story of past and current camps that were enjoyed by generations of Girl Scouts. Come and look for your favorite sites. Please RSVP for your family or unit to 732-862-1282. For more information, 732-862-1282 or visit www.njsm.org.

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Saturday, March 14 - Mount Laurel, Burlington County
Tour Paulsdale

Thursday, March 12, 2015

NJ Weekend Estate Sales: 3/13/15 - 2/15/15

NEW JERSEY WEEKEND ESTATE SALES
Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
Hosting an estate sale? Send me an e-mail to be featured in our weekly post!
Be the first to know about these sales on Facebook!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cozy up with a Book at the Historic Raritan Library

Cozy up with a Book at the Historic Raritan Library

I have always loved libraries - I could spend hours getting lost in a book. Now to imagine getting lost in a book at the Raritan Public Library, which happens to be housed in the historic General John Frelinghuysen House, built in stages between the early 1700s and 1810. Not only is it historic and cozy, it is welcoming and well-appointed, making it feel like home.


The land on which the library is located was purchased by Dutch settlers in 1693. One of the earliest recorded owners is Cornelius Middaugh. It is believed that he may have constructed the west wing of the building, a one-and-a-half story frame structure at some point in the early 1700s. Based upon research conducted by the library, this section may have been used as a tavern, public meeting hall, and a jail.

The brick section of the structure (to the left of the framed wing) dates to the period of 1740-1780 based on architectural evidence, but its builder is uncertain. It may have been constructed by either Cornelius Middaugh or the home's second owner, Colonel Frederick Frelinghuysen. The brick walls of the home were constructed in Flemish bond. It is five bays wide with a center hall and was originally only one full story in height with an attic area.

A view of the General John Frelinghuysen House/Raritan Library, circa 1936. Source: HABS
Colonel Frederick Frelinghuysen purchased the property from Middaugh in the second half of the eighteenth century. Frelinghuysen was born near Somerville on April 13, 1753 to John Frelinghuysen of Flatbush, Brooklyn and Dinah Van Berg of Amsterdam. Frederick's father was the son of the controversial Dutch Reformed minister Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, who is known for his unconventional practices at the Church of the Three Mile Run that stood on the border of present-day New Brunswick and Franklin Township along Route 27. Theodorus was a proponent of establishing a college in the area and after his death, his sons Reverend Theodorus Frelinghuysen and Reverend John Frelinghuysen helped to establish Queen's College in New Brunswick, now Rutgers University.

Frederick graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1770. He was admitted to the bar in 1774. During the Revolutionary War, he became an officer and served as a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey from 1775 to 1776. Among his many political duties and accomplishments, he was elected as United States Senator from New Jersey and served from 1793 until 1796, and also served as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey in 1801. He married Gertrude Schenck and had five children. Frederick died in 1804 at the age of fifty-one and the house was inherited by his eldest son, General John Frederick Frelinghuysen.

The children's section of the Raritan Public Library, located in the original portion of the home.
John Frederick Frelinghuysen was born in Millstone, New Jersey on March 21, 1776. John graduated from Queen's College (now Rutgers University) in 1792 after studying law, and he was admitted to the bar in the state of New Jersey in 1797. That same year, he married his first wife, Louisa Mercer (who passed away in 1809) and had two children. He remarried to Elizabeth Mercereau Van Vechten in 1811 and together they had eight children. During the War of 1812, he commanded the New Jersey State Militia at Sandy Hook, where his assignment was to prevent ships from attacking New York City. At the close of the war, he was promoted to brigadier general. Two years prior to serving in the military, about 1810, John enlarged the house by raising the roof to create a full second story on the main masonry block of the home and remodeled it in the then-popular Federal style.

John Frederick Frelinghuysen died April 10, 1833 and two of his daughters, Sarah and Katherine, continued to live in the house. In 1850, a neo-classical portico with four Doric fluted columns was added to the front of the home. The four columns represent Equality, Liberty, Freedom, and Law. Around the same time, a two-story framed rear ell was added. In 1924, David Glaser purchased the property and constructed additional rooms to the rear of the house.

A room on the second floor of the Raritan Public Library
In 1970, the family homestead returned to a Frelinghuysen. This time, Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen, a former NJ Congressman, purchases the home and property for $30,000 from the Glaser family and donated it to the Borough of Raritan for public use as a library and museum. Renovations begin in the early 1970s to transform this home into a library. The rear wings added to the home in 1850 and 1924 were removed during renovations in 1974. These wood frame sections were not as well-built as the other sections of the home and had become badly deteriorated by the mid-twentieth century. A brick addition at the rear of the building would be constructed in its place. In the original sections of the home, the rooms were delicately restored to their former grandeur, so as to blend a modern library with the historic home. Each room features beautiful mantles, wood floors, and the earliest section of the home has the original hearth and bake oven and low exposed ceiling beams visible, making for an extremely unique and visually charming library setting.

On the second floor of the library is a room dedicated to local resident, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone. Basilone was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima. He grew up in Raritan Borough and served three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines before joining the United States Marine Corps in 1940. He fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II where he held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his unit was reduced to himself and two other Marines. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Guadalcanal. He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. On September 21, 1943, Raritan gave Basilone a Welcome Home Parade to honor him. An annual parade is held in his honor each September. The room features many artifacts from Basilone, including photos, newspaper clippings, memorabilia, and books.


Additional photos of my trip to the General John Frelinghuysen House/Raritan Library on Pinterest

For More Information
Raritan Public Library


Do you enjoy the articles and features that The History Girl produces each week? 
If so, consider a donation to keep the movement going!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Win Tickets to the 5th Annual Washington Crossing Brewfest

Win Tickets to the Washington Crossing Brewfest
Saturday, May 2, 2015

You can win two tickets to the 5th annual Washington Crossing Brewfest by writing the funniest caption for the photo below. Captions can be submitted through www.washingtoncrossingbrewfest.com. The contest ends April 10, 2015 and the winner will be announced April 13, 2015.


Friday, March 6, 2015

NJ Weekend Historical Happenings: 3/7/15 - 3/8/15

NJ WEEKEND HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS
Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
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Saturday, March 7 - Princeton, Mercer County
Community Days at Updike Farmstead
Children Friendly

Thursday, March 5, 2015

NJ Weekend Estate Sales: 3/6/15 - 3/8/15

NEW JERSEY WEEKEND ESTATE SALES
Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
Hosting an estate sale? Send me an e-mail to be featured in our weekly post!
Be the first to know about these sales on Facebook!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Patriots, Redcoats & Spies: The Story Behind the Story

Patriots, Redcoats & Spies: The Story Behind the Story
Written by Robert J. Skead

“George Washington slept here.”

I heard that famous phrase often while growing up. Certainly, the general of the Continental Army slept in lots of places as he traveled the 13 colonies during the American Revolution.

For two days—July 14 & 15 in 1777—he stayed at a home a few miles away from where I live.

So, one, hot summer day, I decided to take the family to the Van Allen home, where Washington stayed, in Oakland, NJ, for a little morning trip.

Robert J. Skead (left) and Robert A. Skead at the Van Allen House, Oakland, NJ.

Monday, March 2, 2015

History Sparkles in “Treasures from the Collection” at The Morris County Historical Society

History Sparkles in “Treasures from the Collection” at The Morris County Historical Society
On display through September 1, 2015

There’s something for everyone to enjoy in the Morris County Historical Society’s new exhibit “Treasures from the Collection,” now featured at Acorn Hall through September 1, 2015. See everything from clothing to documents, militaria to fine arts, and furniture to photography, and more in this treasure trove display from Morris County, and beyond. Highlights include heirlooms from notable local families such as the McEwans, the Condits, the Lindsleys, and the Bonsalls, and spectacular stickpins from the remarkable collection of MCHS Board Member Emeritus Learned T. Bulman.

19th century papier mache chair, MCHS collection, courtesy of Janis Cunningham-Coneys.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Patriots, Redcoats and Spies" Bonus Book Giveaway