Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Historical Happenings: 10/27/12 - 10/28/12

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Friday - Sunday, October 26 - 28 - Sandy Hook, Monmouth County
Fort Hancock Days

Gateway National Recreation Area begins its yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary with the annual celebration of Fort Hancock Days, to be held Friday through Sunday. Fort Hancock Days commemorates the establishment of Fort Hancock as an Army base on October 30, 1895. Fort Hancock was added to Gateway as part of the park's Sandy Hook Unit by an Act of Congress signed into law on October 27, 1972.

On Friday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, volunteers from the Army Ground Forces Association (AGFA) will conduct a lantern tour of the Fort, beginning at the Fort Hancock Museum and ending at Battery Gunnison, which was built in 1904. AGFA volunteers, wearing authentic World War II U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps uniforms, will emphasize the fort's World War II years when Fort Hancock's population swelled to more than 12,000 soldiers and civilian defense workers. AGFA will focus in particular on 1943, when the Army converted Battery Gunnison from a disappearing gun battery into its present configuration as a pedestal mounted gun battery.

On Sunday, October 28, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm, visitors can watch or join in helping AGFA members conduct gun drills at Battery Gunnison, to see how an original Model 1900 six-inch gun (actually over 25 feet long and weighing 10 tons) was aimed and loaded. An original World War II ambulance will also be on display, complete with period medical equipment and staffed by an AGFA volunteer Army nurse.

On both Saturday and Sunday, a Revolutionary War encampment will be located on the Parade Ground recreating soldier life. Meet the living historians from the War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II on Sunday, at the Parade Grounds, leading demonstrations for the public.

Battery Potter, America's first concrete disappearing gun battery, will also be open for tours from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sunday. During World War II this battery served as a Harbor Entrance Control Post that controlled the movement of all ships entering into New York Harbor.

To learn about the affect war had on home life for military families, visit the History House located on the north end of Officer's Row in Fort Hancock on Saturday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm.

Fort Hancock protected the harbor area from enemy warships and warplanes from the time of the Spanish-American War through the nuclear age. During the Cold War, radar and Nike air defense missiles were the fort's last defense system. Former Army Nike veterans will conduct guided tours of Fort Hancock's Nike Missile Radar site at Horseshoe Cove on Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. The fort was deactivated in 1974, two years after Congress named Sandy Hook as one of the park units of the new Gateway National Recreation Area.

Friday - Saturday, October 26 - 27 - Denville, Morris County
Haunted Denville Walking Tours

Experience haunted Denville walking tours with Vito Bianco. Tours will be given at 7 pm beginning at the Denville Museum. Ages 16 and older only. $5 per person; $3 for those 65 and older OR under 21. October 28th will be reserved as a rain date but the tour will begin at 6:00 pm from the Denville Museum. Check the message at 973-625-1165 by 2:00 pm the day of the tour for update in case of bad weather. For further information call the Denville Historical Society & Museum at 973-625-1165. The museum is located at 113 Diamond Spring Road, Denville. 

Saturday, October 27 - Harmony Township, Warren County
Historic House and Barn Tours

The Harmony Township Historical Society and the Historic Preservation Commission of Harmony Township invite the public to attend their annual Fall Open House at the historic Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead on Saturday, from 10:00 am to dusk. Admission is free. The farmstead is located at 3026 Belvidere Road, Route 519, just north of the Municipal Building in Harmony Township.

Come see the progress being made. The event will include tours of the circa 1750s main house, the restored wagon house, and the one of a kind Dutch style barn, and war reenactors, live demonstrations, and hearth cooking in the summer kitchen.

Gregory Huber will give a barn talk at 12:00 noon in the lower level of the barn. Huber is an independent scholar, consultant, and principal owner of both Past Perspectives and Eastern Barn Consultants, historic and cultural resources companies based in Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. His special focus is in House Histories and Barn Histories of historic homesteads in southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A student of early vernacular architecture since 1971, Huber has specialized in pre-1830 barn and house architecture of Holland Dutch and Pennsylvania Swiss-German and certain English settled areas of the northeast. He has documented more than 7,500 vernacular buildings in the east since the mid-1970s. He is author of more than 140 articles on barn and house architecture and is co-author of two books-the second edition of The New World Dutch Barn (2001) and Stone Houses-Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania's Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (2005).

For more information contact Ruth at

Saturday, October 27 - Morristown, Morris County
Death & Mourning

The Vail House at Historic Speedwell becomes the setting for a traditional 19th century funeral on Saturday at 6:00 pm. Find out how the family prepared for this event by learning about their dress, home decor, and the casket.

$10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children 4 - 16, under 4 FREE. Pre-registration is required, please call 973-285-6538. Historic Speedwell is located at 333 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey 07960.

Saturday, October 27 - Chester, Morris County
A Miller's Halloween

Visit the Cooper Grist Mill for a Miller's Hallween celebration! Come in costume, if you like, for a fun-filled afternoon! Enjoy spooky story telling at 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm, create corn husk dolls, color pumpkins, and play old-time games. In the Gristmill, be alert for spooks, spiders, skeletons, and surprises! The mill is located at 66 New Jersey 24, Chester, NJ 07930.
Saturday, October 27 - Hightstown, Mercer County
Camden & Amboy Railroad Celebration

Three historical presentations on different aspects of the Camden & Amboy Railroad will highlight the 180th railroad anniversary event to be held on Saturday in Hightstown. The daylong activity will also feature a children's event and railroadiana show, all held at the Hightstown High School and jointly planned by the Camden & Amboy Railroad Historical Group and the Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society.

"The Building of the Camden & Amboy Railroad," presented by noted railroad historian Paul Schopp, will start the day's lectures at 9:00 am. It will be followed by local historian Bob Craig's program, "The Effect of the Railroad on the Area's Development." "The Use of Stone Sleepers," by Pierre LaCombe, will conclude the morning's presentations. A tour of the Hightstown sleeper site will follow.

Registration for the lectures is $15 for pre-registration, $20 at the door and can be done by contacting the railroad historians at 609-443-4746 or A children's event will also be held, beginning at 10:15 am, and will feature a concert by the Drew School Third Grade Chorus. Director Linda Behrens has written a song about the John Bull, the railroad's first steam locomotive. Additional activities for children will include a story-teller, art activities and a "Thomas The Tank Engine" activity center. This event is free to attendees.

Also to be held on the day is a railroadiana show, with vendors selling model train items, books, timetables, photographs and railroad antiques. Several operating model train layouts will be featured. Admission is $8, with a maximum family fare of $10. Children under 12 are free. Doors for the show will open at 9:00 am. The day's event is commemorating the arrival in Hightstown of the Camden & Amboy Railroad in 1832, a route that stretched from Bordentown to South Amboy. Later, the railroad would connect Hightstown with Camden and Trenton, New Brunswick and Jersey City.

Saturday, October 27 - Union, Union County
Pumpkin Patch Day at Liberty Hall

On Saturday, enjoy Pumpkin Patch Day from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm at Liberty Hall. The day features its traditional menu of activities, including pumpkin picking, hayrides, house tours, and Halloween crafts, including carving or decorating your pumpkin. An exciting new activity this year is a corn maze! Program Fee: Adults: $6.00, Children: $10.00, Under Three: Free.  Additional charge for pumpkins and lunch will be available from a vendor. Reservations suggested, call 908-527-0400. Rain date is Sunday. Liberty Hall Museum is located at 1003 Morris Ave, Union, NJ 07083. Visit

Saturday, October 27 - Montclair, Essex County
Spoon-a-Thon Event

On Saturday the Montclair Historical Society (MHS) and Montclair Community Farms will be celebrating the expansion of Montclair Community Farms with a "Spoon-a-thon" event. The event will take place at the Montclair Historical Society at 108 Orange Road. The event will run from 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. and has something for everyone. The suggested donation for adults is $5 and $10 for a family. The rain date is Sunday.

As live music plays, attendees can participate in the tasting and judging of delicious seasonal soups provided by local restaurants and caterers. They can take tours of the historic homes on the grounds of the Montclair Historical Society, as well as tours of the new farm and chicken coop areas. There will be a cooking demonstration in the Israel Crane House as period soup is made in the open hearth kitchen there. Kids can enjoy "Stone Soup" story time. There will also be a slide show about Montclair Community Farms and information about growing organic produce, raising chickens and more. Restaurants participating at this event will be: Fitzgerald's 1928, Raymond's, Comfort Food Kitchen, Terra Café, Let'spoon and Uptown 596.

Montclair Community Farms is a youth farming program that teaches local teens how to grow and sell vegetables. It makes local fresh produce available at affordable prices for those in the community living on limited budgets and donates locally grown vegetables to area emergency food programs and lower income residences. The expansion of Montclair Community Farms to the Montclair Historical Society quadruples the space available for planting, supplementing the original site on Miller Street in Montclair. The new farm at the MHS Clark House property will also be home to a dozen chickens whose eggs will be sold to local residents or donated to local group residences and soup kitchens.

Saturday, October 27 - Cranbury, Middlesex County
Stories of Cranbury

Museum docent and walking tour guide Don Davidson will present stories of Cranbury's history for children 8 to 13 and their families. You are invited to come dressed as an American Indian or early settler, if you would like. The program is free, and refreshments will be served. Cranbury Public Library is sponsoring this program with Cranbury Historical & Preservation Society. The event begins at 2:00 pm at the Parsonage Barn, 3 Cranbury Neck Road, Cranbury. In case of rain the program will be held in the Cranbury Public Library, 23 N. Main Street, Cranbury.

Saturday, October 27 - Cape May, Cape May County
Ronald Reagan's Legacy: Lessons for Today's Citizen Leaders

Launching a "Lessons of History" lecture series for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), Dr. Myles Martel will share his unique perspective on what made Ronald Reagan one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century - insights he gained first-hand as he personally coached Reagan for his outstanding performance during the 1980 presidential debates. In the decades since, Dr. Martel has emerged as one of this country's most influential leadership communication advisors, providing counsel to Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrities and political leaders.

Regardless of your political persuasion, Dr. Martel's insights offer practical advice that can help you, your organization, and your community. His multi-media presentation, including a treasure trove of personal photographs and audio and video clips, has been widely acclaimed as "enlightening,"  "engaging," and "inspirational." He is pleased to share with his adopted hometown a program that has captivated audiences around the country.

This lecture is cosponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and Martel & Associates. Limited event. Tickets: $15 for the lecture; $30 for the lecture and reception. To reserve tickets call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278. The lecture begins at 4:00 pm at Cape May Stage's Robert Shackleton Playhouse, located at Bank & Lafayette Streets in Cape May. It will be followed by a meet-the-speaker reception at The Queen Victoria at 5:30 pm.

Saturday, October 27 - Jefferson Township, Morris County
Jefferson Museum Attic Sale

The Jefferson Township Historical Society will hold an Attic Sale on Saturday from 9:00 to 3:00 pm, rain or shine. The Attic Sale will take place on the grounds of the Jefferson Township Museum, 315 Dover-Milton Road, Jefferson, NJ  07438. This sale will be put on by members of the JTHS who will be selling their own items. Come see what treasures you can find! The Jefferson Township Museum is on the National and State Register of Historic Places.  For further information, visit

Saturday, October 27 - Pemberton, Burlington County
October 2012 Moonlight Walk at Historic Whitesbog Village

Whitesbog Preservation Trust will host a moonlight walk at Historic Whitesbog on Saturday at 7:00 pm. By the soft glow of moonlight, walk through the dark, mysterious pines, along white sugar sand roads, to the shimmering cranberry bogs. Listen for the haunting hoots of owls. The leader will offer stories of the people who built Whitesbog, the local "Piney" folk, and the more recent American immigrants, all of whom worked here to make it one of the most successful agricultural enterprises in New Jersey. 

Meet at the General Store at 7:00 pm. Guests should be prepared for a relatively vigorous walk, are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring anything that may be needed for your comfort, such as sturdy shoes, a light jacket, and a flashlight. Light refreshments will be served after the walk. Inclement weather cancels. Fee is $5 per person. Reservations by Friday, October 26 are required: leave name, telephone number and number of people attending on main voicemail, 609-893-4646, or email

All proceeds benefit the Whitesbog Preservation Trust in its tireless efforts to restore and protect Historic Whitesbog Village and its surrounding lands. Whitesbog Village is located at mile marker 13 on County Route 530 in Browns Mills (Pemberton Township), NJ. To find out information and directions: call 609-893-4646, email or visit

Saturday - Sunday, October 27 - 28 - Burlington, Burlington County
"Ghosts in the Graveyard" Weekend

Children and families are invited to Ghostly Tales with Storyteller, Dennis Strain, on Saturday from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at the Burlington County Historical Society. Dennis will make you laugh and shiver with spooky tales of New Jersey! Crafts and snacks will follow the program. Wear your Halloween costume! Special guest appearance by the "Jersey Devil" himself! The stories are appropriate for ages 2-102.

Then come back on Sunday from 2:00 - 4:00 pm as we welcome Dr. Richard Veit and his talk "Stranger Stop and Cast an Eye." Dr. Veit will explore the cultural history of New Jersey's historic cemeteries and burial grounds from the 17th century through the dawn of the 21st century. The presentation will provide an understanding of the state's historic burial places and the grave markers they contain. Q and A and light refreshments after the talk.

Both programs take place at the Corson Poley Center at the Burlington County Historical Society, 454 Lawrence Street in Burlington. Free parking on High Street and in the Society's parking lot on Lawrence Street. Admission is $5 per person. RSVP recommended for Ghostly Tales!  For more information call 609-386-4773 or e-mail

Sunday, October 28 -Toms River, Ocean County
Cousins' Day Reunion

Explore your Ocean County roots and join in the fun from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm on Sunday at the Cousins' Day Reunion at the Research Center of Ocean County Historical Society, 26 Hadley Avenue, Toms River. Swap family histories and get to know your new "cousins." We can help you preserve your family history by making copies of your family Bible records and pictures of your ancestors to add to our extensive collection. Don't miss a new valuable source of information to be unveiled. Register today for this free event by calling 732-341-1880. Refreshments will be served.

Sunday, October 28 - Cranford, Union County
Open House Weekend

Bring the family down to the Crane-Phillips House Museum for holiday celebrations. For Halloween, visit the museum on Sunday, October 28th from 2:00-4:00 pm after the Township Halloween Parade and then for Christmas visit the museum on Sunday, December 16th for a Victorian Candlelight Christmas in a Civil War veteran's house from 4:00 - 6:00 pm. The Crane-Phillips House Museum is located at 124 North Union Avenue in Cranford. The museum is open most Sundays from 2:00 - 4:00 pm from September through Memorial Day. For further information, please call the society's office at 908-276-0082.

Sunday, October 28 - Trenton, Mercer County
Trenton & Cemetery Tour

Join the Trenton Museum Society for "Riverview Cemetery: Out and About the City of Trenton" on Sunday at 2:00 pm, led by Richard A. Sauers. The tour will visit the gravesites of notable Trenton residents who championed the efforts behind many of its monuments, historic sites, and oldest municipal parks. These include the Abbott Farm, Broad Street Bank, Cadwalader Park, Mercer County Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Old Barracks, Roebling Monument, Trent House, Trenton Battle Monument, Trenton Country Club, Washington Monument, and even the "shaky bridge."

The tour will begin at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion at 2:00 pm for a brief orientation and then leave by car for Riverview Cemetery. The walking tour will cover about one mile, and participants are reminded to wear comfortable shoes. General Admission $10 at the door. Free for members of the Trenton Museum Society.

Richard A. Sauers is cemetery historian at Riverview Cemetery. He has presented his research, which reflects interests in the histories of monument companies, "white bronze" gravemarkers, and the memorialization of victims of accidents and disasters, to the American Culture Association, Association for Gravestone Studies, Far-West Popular/American Culture Association, Folklore Studies Association of Canada, and Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association.

For more information, contact the Trenton Museum Society at 609-989-1191  e-mail

Sunday, October 28 - Westfield, Union County
"Halloween Hocus Pocus"

It's time for Halloween fun! Visit the Miller-Cory House Museum at 614 Mountain Avenue in Westfield on Sunday from 1:30 to 4:00 pm to celebrate Halloween Hocus Pocus. This program is ideal for young children. The museum's costumed docents will greet visitors at the door of the colonial farmhouse.  There are numerous activities planned for the afternoon, including Halloween storytelling, tattoos, and face painting.  Children can decorate their own Halloween cupcakes and make two additional crafts to take home. Festive refreshments will be served. Be sure to come in Halloween costume! The fee for Halloween Hocus Pocus is $4.00 for children; accompanying adults are free. No reservations are necessary for any activity. For more information call 908-232-1776 or e-mail

October 1 - November 4 - Morristown, Morris County
Halloween Spirit at Acorn Hall

By the Victorian era, the ancient rituals of All Hallows' Eve had evolved into a holiday celebrated by children and adults alike. A special exhibit at Acorn Hall will explain popular games played at Victorian Halloween parties. It will also highlight the 19th-century Spiritualist movement. Spiritualism asserted that spirits of the dead can and do communicate with the living. Spiritualism developed and reached its peak between the 1840s and the 1920s. It was most enthusiastically embraced and led by women, putting it at odds with established religions.

The exhibit, which will run from October 1 to November 4, is included in the price of a tour of Acorn Hall. Acorn Hall is at 68 Morris Avenue, Morristown. Acorn Hall, the headquarters of the Morris County Historical Society, is an 1853 house remodeled into the Italianate Villa style in 1860. It is open to the public on Mondays and Thursdays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Tours of the house and exhibits are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for students. Children under twelve are free. For directions or additional information call 973-267-3465 or visit

Sunday, October 28 - Piscataway, Middlesex County
History of Film: 1890-1960

View the exhibit "Lights! Camera! Action! History of Film: 1890-1960" at the 1741 Cornelius Low House Museum in Piscataway. The museum is open Sunday afternoons from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The exhibit will run through December 31, 2012.

The Cornelius Low House, built in 1741, was the home to its namesake and is only one of two remaining buildings from historic Raritan Landing. This high-style Georgian mansion is listed on the National Register and operated by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Admission to the museum is FREE. The museum is located at 1225 River Road, Piscataway, NJ . For more information, visit

Some event listings courtesy of the League of Historical Societies of New Jersey


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