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Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Historical Happenings: 12/1/12 - 12/2/12

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All of December - Union Township, Union County
A Victorian Christmas at Liberty Hall

This holiday season Liberty Hall  will be decorated in the ornate Victorian style. You will hear about Victorian Christmas traditions as the servants put the final touches on the decorations for the Kean's holiday festivities. Program Fee: Adults: $10.00, Kean Alumni: $8.00 Seniors, College Students, Children: $6.00, Under Three: Free. Liberty Hall is open Monday - Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It is located at 1003 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ 07083. For more information, call 908-27-0400 or visit www.kean.edu/libertyhall.

Saturday, December 1 - Bridgeton, Cumberland County
Bridgeton Holiday House Tour

This Saturday the Bridgeton Holiday House Tour will display its annual pick of architectural treasures in the largest historic district in New Jersey, a district also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Our traditional Mamie O'Rourke theme still rules: Your $20 ticket buys you East Side and West Side (running 1:00 - 5:00 pm and 3:00 - 7:00 pm respectively) and a front-row judgment seat on our traditional friendly competition for the most stunning holiday decor of the season.

Featured this year are two site recipients of the City's 2012 "Bridgeton Rose" Historic Preservation Awards: the just-restored Craftsman-style Bridgeton Fire House (1898) on the East Side (displaying the Bridgeton FD's original 1877 Silsby Fire engine) and the one and only Potter's Tavern on the West Side, where colonial South Jersey's young patriots fired themselves up for the American Revolution.

Bridgeton's downtown "village" offers crafts, antiques and food shops. Strolling carollers (Off Broad Street Players) and horse-drawn carriage rides are free with your all-inclusive tickets, still available from Bridgeton Main Street (856-453-8130/973-864-4001) or on Saturday at either St Andrew's Episcopal Church (186 East Commerce) or The Canvas Bag (46 East Commerce).

All the contact information, directions, maps and pictures you will need are at www.bridgetonhousetour.com.

Saturday, December 1 - Roebling, Burlington County
Christmas in Roebling

Enjoy Christmas in Roebling hosted by the Roebling Museum on Saturday from 12:00 noon - 7:00 pm. There will be organized historic house tours and the Roebling Museum will be open. Tickets for the house tours and museum tour are $20. Santa will visit the Roebling Auditorium (old firehouse) which will be beautifully trimmed with trees and crafts will be available for children. There will be ethnic foods and Christmas cookies for sale in the auditorium. The Roebling Museum is located at 100 Second Avenue in Roebling, NJ. For more information call 609-499-7200 or visit www.roeblingmuseum.org.

Saturday, December 1 - Franklin Township, Somerset County
Greens and Goodies Sale

The Griggstown Historical Society's Annual Greens and Goodies Sale will be held on Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. The sale of beautiful wreaths decorated with holly and pine cones, boxwood kissing balls, boxwood trees, and centerpieces, along with delicious baked goods will take place at the charming 1830 one-room schoolhouse behind the Griggstown Reformed Church, located at 1065 Canal Road in the Griggstown section of Franklin Township, Somerset County. For more information, please contact Nancy Allen at 908-359-3589.

Saturday, December 1 - Trenton, Mercer County
Holiday Open House; Christmas Tree, Wreath and Greens Sale

The magnificent Trent House will be decorated for the  holidays by the talented members of the Garden Club of Trenton. Tour the house between 12:00 noon and 5:00 pm while enjoying magical colonial-era harpsichord music provided by Carl Nittinger. At 3:00 special holiday choral music will be provided in the Trent House by the Capital Singers of Trenton, directed by Richard Loatman. Complimentary refreshments will be served.

Beautifully designed table arrangements and decorated wreaths will be available for sale to decorate your magnificent home, created by the Garden Club of Trenton. Cut Christmas trees, undecorated wreaths, and loose fresh greens (holly, ivy, yew, boxwood, juniper, winterberry, pine and magnolia) all will be for sale and awaiting your creative touch. The Trent House Museum Shop features special items and seasonal gifts. Event proceeds will benefit the curatorial work and educational programming of the non-profit Trent House Association.

The Annual Mill Hill Holiday House Tour will also be happening nearby on Saturday, December 1st - make it a Trenton day!

The 1719 William Trent House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark, is the oldest building in our state capital. It is located at 15 Market Street in Trenton, adjacent to the Hughes Justice Complex. Ample free parking. For more information and directions, visit www.williamtrenthouse.org, e-mail trenthouseassociation@verizon.net or call 609-989-0087.

Saturday, December 1 - Madison, Morris County
Historical Society Wreath Sale

The Madison Historical  Society's Annual Holiday Wreath Sale will be held on Saturday, December 1st between 1:00 - 4:00 pm at the Hartley Dodge Memorial. This year's sale will add a large number of table and mantle decorations to the many beautiful wreaths offered for sale. The wreaths and decorations are made through the efforts of members of the historical society, the Madison Garden Club, and Madison High School art students.

"Proceeds from the sale will go toward the restoration and preservation of the small outbuilding located on the Luke Miller forge site," stated society president Susan Simon. "After restoration, the building will be used to showcase revolutionary-era artifacts found on the historic property. "Having the wreath sale at the Hartley Dodge Memorial, will give Madison residents and visitors an opportunity to view the over 100 historical photographs that have been hung throughout the recently renovated building," noted society vice president and program chairperson Cathie Coultas. "The images come from the collections of the Madison Historical Society, the Madison Public Library, and the private collection of Nicolas Platt. These original photographs were then professionally scanned and reproduced by Park Lane Studios of Chatham."

Popular Madison jazz pianist Jerry Vezza will provide musical entertainment, and light refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon. The Madison Historical Society's role is to assemble, record, and preserve all matters of historical interest concerning Madison and its residents. Formed in 1922 to preserve the old Bottle Hill Tavern, the Society has organized a significant collection of historic documents, maps and photographs over the intervening years. These are housed at the Local History Center at the Madison Public Library. For more information about the society or to inquire about membership, call 973-377-0722, ext 8 or visit www.madisonhistoricalsociety.org.  

Saturday, December 1 - Cape May County
Historic Cold Spring Village's Homespun Holidays Weekend

Historic Cold Spring Village opens its Homespun Holidays season with Wassail Day, on Saturday from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm. The village paths come alive with the sounds and smells of wintertime at this free event. Select buildings will also be open where guests can enjoy hot beverages and treats served by historical interpreters in period clothing. Visitors can meet Father Christmas in the Country Store from 12:00 noon - 2:00 pm and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the festively decorated village grounds for a small donation.

Holiday traditions continue each Saturday and Sunday in December through the 23rd. The Country Store will be open from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm and stocked with unique holiday gift ideas including traditionally processed wool, artisan crafts for the home, books, hand-knit caps, wooden toys and old-fashioned candy. Father Christmas will visit the Country Store weekends from 12:00 - 2:00 pm, taking pictures and meeting with kids of all ages. Guests can enjoy carriage rides throughout the village and visit the Welcome Center for a model railway exhibit from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm.

When the holiday shopping and sightseeing is done, families can get into the spirit of the season with Cape Island Theatre Company's family-friendly play, "Carl's Kris Kringle." Written and produced by Ray Crew, "Carl's Kris Kringle" will be presented at the Old Grange Restaurant by Tony Clark on the grounds of Historic Cold Spring Village at 3:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from December 1st through 16th. "Carl's Kris Kringle" tells the story of a dreamer who buys a run-down radio station in a small Southern town only to find that he and his pregnant wife are flat broke a week before Christmas. To solve his problems, he needs a man who hates Christmas to play Santa. What happens next will make you laugh and warm your heart. In lieu of ticket sales, Cape Island Theatre Company will be collecting donations for Volunteers in Medicine of Cape May County, a free medical clinic serving low-income residents of Cape May County with no access to health insurance. Doors open at 2:30 pm. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call the Cape Island Theatre Company at 609-408-6595.

Historic Cold Spring Village is located on Route 9, three miles north of Victorian Cape May and a mile and a half west of the southern end of the Garden State Parkway. For more information, call (609) 898-2300, ext. 10 or visit www.hcsv.org.

Saturday, December 1 - Princeton, Mercer County
Milk and Cookies with Santa!

Whisper your Christmas wishes to Santa on Saturday from 10:00 - 11:30 am. Enjoy cookies and milk, and holiday crafts. Parents bring your camera! Reservations are required as space is limited. Please call 609-924-8144 x 106, or email msheridan@morven.org for reservations. Suggested donation is $10. Morven Museum and Garden is located at 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, NJ 08540. www.morven.org

Saturday, December 1 - Salem, Salem County
25th Annual Yuletide Open House Tour

On Saturday, tour homes in historic Salem as Main Street Salem hosts the 25th Annual Yuletide Open House Tour from 1:00 - 6:00 pm. Visit historic homes, churches, and museums, featuring quilting demonstrations, exhibits, and characters from the past. Shop for antiques, local art and collectibles. Tickets are $10 each for adults. For additional information, call 856-935-8800 or 856-339-0400. Make a day of it: The Salem Magic of Christmas Parade will be held at 11:00 am Saturday and the Town Tree Lighting will be held at 6:30 pm. For more information visit www.salemcitynj.com or www.facebook.com/salemyuletidetour.

Saturday, December 1 - Barnegat, Ocean County
Cox House Holiday Tours

Attend a Holiday Open House sponsored by the Cox Committee and the Friends of the Cox House on Saturday from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Watch Santa Claus light the downtown from the historic Cox House. The Cox House will be festively decorated with period trees, lights, and special holiday collections. Free tours of the house will be provided. Join us as Santa and Mrs. Claus cruise by on their sleigh escorted by “reindeer” provided by the Barnegat Volunteer Fire Company and magically make the lights sparkle at the Cox House and the park. Light refreshments will be served. The Cox House is located at 353 North Main Street in Barnegat, NJ.

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 - Ocean Township, Monmouth County
"Home for the Holidays, 1945"

On Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm each day, the Township of Ocean Historical Museum, hosts the exhibit, "Home for the Holidays, 1945." The Eden Woolley House, home of the museum, is transformed to tell the story of the first post-World War II Christmas - what has been called America's greatest celebration.

It was an extraordinary time in our history. At war's end, the U.S. government went to heroic lengths to get GIs so long separated from loved ones home for the holidays. "Operation Magic Carpet" returned tens of thousands of GIs from Europe and Asia. "Operation Santa Claus" expedited their discharge. The holidays of 1945 were an unprecedented and perhaps unmatched time of celebration, gratitude, and joy. The sacrifice and separation of the war years were past. Housing shortages, unemployment, labor strife, and civil injustices lay ahead. But for a few weeks, the country could put its challenges aside and rejoice in the war's end and the return of loved ones.

The "Home for the Holidays" weekend captures the spirit. A mini-exhibit contrasts the bittersweet war-year holidays with the exuberance of 1945. Also on display will be war-era model trains, doll houses, and toys.
There will also be a Holiday Shop and Bakery, filled with one-of-a-kind, handmade crafts and homemade goodies. 

The Ocean Township Garden Club fills the Woolley House porch with freshly made wreaths and swags. There's a "Santa Hunt" for the kids, caroling by the Ocean Township Choir at 2:00 pm on Sunday, tours of the museum grounds both days, and the drawing of the winning quilt raffle ticket Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Consider starting your holiday season with a visit. Suggested donation for adults is $3.00. Children are admitted free. The Ocean Township Historical Museum is located at 703 Deal Road in Ocean Township. www.oceanmuseum.org

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 - Tewksbury, Hunterdon County
9th Annual Christmas Antique Show

The Tewksbury Historical Society's 9th annual Christmas Antique Show will be held  at the Old Turnpike School, 173 Old Turnpike Road (County Route 517) in the Fairmount section of Tewksbury Township. The show will run Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $8.00 per person on Saturday and $6.00 per person on Sunday. Over 40 quality antique and collectibles dealers from NJ, NY and PA return every year. Be sure to visit the society's tables to find the new Tewksbury afghan, which returns with new buildings and sites depicted after a seven-year hiatus, as well as local books, prints, post cards and more for sale for your holiday shopping. For further information visit www.tewksburyhistory.net, e-mail at tewksburyhistory@earthlink.net or call the Tewksbury Historical Society Headquarters at 908-832-6734.

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 - Hardwick, Warren County
Victorian Christmas at Millbrook Village

Visit Millbrook Village in the Delaware Gap National Recreation Area and step back into another era where the toys and games did not need batteries. The buildings will be decorated with old time decorations and volunteers and park staff in period clothing will demonstrate how the season was celebrated in years past on Saturday from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm. Children can make a decoration or play with some of the wonderful old time toys and games that will be in the parlor. Music, singing and some country style entertainment will be enjoyed in the church in the mid afternoon. Join in and celebrate the season. Light seasonal refreshments will be served.

On Sunday beginning at 5:00 pm, participate in an old-fashioned Christmas service and carol singing in the Millbrook Church, followed by a fellowship get together in the VanCampen Farmhouse. Enjoy the friendship and warmth of the season in an old time atmosphere where Peace and Good Will prevail. Light seasonal refreshments will be served. For more information, including directions and GPS coordinates, visit www.millbrooknj.com.

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 - Morristown, Morris County
Winter on the Home Front: A Civil War Christmas

Learn what life was like on the home front and in a Union Army encampment during the Civil War at Historic Speedwell on Saturday from 12:00 noon - 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 noon - 4:00 pm. At the encampment, visit with soldiers near their authentically reproduced huts, where they will prepare their holiday meal over a campfire. Enjoy a Civil War Era Officer’s Ball complete with period music, costumes and dance. At home, listen to the family read actual letters from Union troops written to their family members. Tour the Vail Home decorated to the mid-19th century, as family members prepare to send care packages to loved ones on the front. Make a craft to take home and enjoy hot-mulled cider and holiday cookies next to a roaring fire. Admission: $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children 4-16. Call 973-285-6538 for more information or visit www.speedwell.org.

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 - Farmingdale, Monmouth County
Christmas at Allaire

This re-created 19th century village comes to life during the holidays. "Christmas at Allaire," depicts old-world holiday traditions and customs in the historic buildings. Carolers will wander the streets, period vocal and instrumental music will be performed at historic Christ Episcopal Church, and there will be mummer plays, hearth cooking, and apple drying and stringing. Admission: $7 for adults, $4.00 for children. The Historic Village at Allaire is located in Allaire State Park at 4263 Atlantic Ave, Farmingdale, New Jersey 07727. Tickets are available at the gate or can be purchased through their web site. Call 732-919-3500 for more information or visit www.allairevillage.org.

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 - Morristown, Morris County
Thomas Nast Christmas Displays

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum invites you to step back in time and join us this holiday season. Decorated for the holidays in traditional style by the Garden Club of Morristown, this gorgeous historic home provides a lovely setting to kick off the holiday season in luxurious surroundings. The home features the museum's collection of holiday-themed original artwork by caricaturist Thomas Nast. A well-known political cartoonist who popularized the Democratic Donkey and the Republican Elephant, Nast also contributed to America's contemporary image of Santa Claus. Visitors will find more than thirty of Thomas Nast's original Santa and Christmas images throughout the museum's galleries and period rooms. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum has the largest collection of Nast originals in the nation.

See the decorations, Christmas exhibit Home for the Holidays featuring antique ornaments and toys, iconic Thomas Nast Christmas images and enjoy tours of the period rooms dressed with greenery for the holiday. Find unique gifts created just for the museum's expanded holiday shop. Special items include Thomas Nast Christmas cards and ornaments, along with other traditional toys and unique stocking stuffers. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the upstairs gallery exhibit, which in past years has included holiday ornaments and toys on loan from private collectors, as well as holiday-themed Thomas Nast artwork; the exhibit theme and content changes each year so there is always something new to see! The weekend of December 1st and 2nd the Museum will be open 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm for special tours through the decorated period rooms. The Christmas exhibit and holiday decorations will be on view during open hours in December and January on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm; please visit the website for holiday closings.

At 4:30 pm on Sunday December 2nd join us for holiday music when "The Early Music Players" perform "Carols and Capers: A Music Celebration from the Olde and New Worlds" which celebrates the season with a collection of beautifully performed holiday music from various countries spanning the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods (1300s - 1700s). The Players will appear in historical costume and will perform with a variety of period reproduction wind and string instruments, such as the flute, recorder, gemshorn, krummhorn, viola da gamba and more. Tickets available on the day of the program, no advance sales. Please visit www.maccullochhall.org for full details and ticket pricing.

The museum is open for house and exhibit tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The last tickets for admission are sold at 3:00 pm. Admission is $8 Adults; $6 Seniors; Children 6 - 12 years $4, Children 5 years and under and Museum members are free. The Museum closes for the holiday break at 4:00 pm on Thursday December 20th and reopens for tours at 1:00 pm on Wednesday January 2, 2013. For information, call the Museum weekdays at 973-538-2404 or visit www.maccullochhall.org. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, 45 Macculloch Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960.

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2  - Jefferson Township, Morris County
"A Woodland Christmas"

The Jefferson Township Museum, also known as the George Chamberlain House, is  proud to present "A Woodland Christmas" as part of the "Christmas in the Village" celebration. The museum will be open 10:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturday and 12:00 noon - 4:00 pm on Sunday.  "A Woodland Christmas" will create a feeling of being in a rustic lodge where Santa will be greeted by his woodland friends.  Each room of the museum will be decorated using natural materials. The Christmas celebration is the only time the antique harmonium in the parlor is played. The museum is decorated by members of the Museum Garden Club and the Jefferson Township Historical Society. Docents dressed in period costumes will be on hand, and hot cider will be served outside by the pot-bellied stove. Admission to the Museum is free. The Jefferson Township Museum, located at 315 Dover-Milton Road. Be sure to visit Miss Elizabeth's Shoppe located in the original kitchen of the museum, where small antiques, collectibles, handmade and handcrafted items will be offered for sale for your holiday shopping.

For further information, visit www.jthistoricalsociety.org or call Christine, Jefferson Township Historical Society President, at 973-697-0258.

Sunday, December 2 and 8 - 9 and 15 - 16 - Whippany, Morris County
21st Annual Santa Claus Special

New Jersey's Original Santa Claus Special celebrates its 21st continuous year of operation in 2012.  Celebrate the wonderful Christmastime spirit and joy with a ride on the Whippany Railway Museum's Santa Claus Special! Tickets for this annual Christmas tradition make great gifts for the kids and the entire family. The 10-mile, 45-minute round trip excursion from Whippany to Roseland and return allows passengers time to enjoy the festivities of the season and the merriment on the train.  All of our past trips over the last 20 years have been complete sell-outs, and seeing the excited faces of the children as they climb aboard the Christmas holiday-decorated trains, ensures an afternoon for family fun. During each excursion, Santa makes his way through the train and visits with the children on-board. Santa's helpers follow along, giving the kids a special gift from Santa. Be sure to bring your camera and take pictures of the kids with Santa, so they can always remember their day on-board the train!

In addition to the regular coaches that make up the train, make your day extra special by purchasing limited tickets for a nostalgic Christmas ride aboard the museum's elegant 1927-era Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) Club Car, Jersey Coast. Specially decorated for the Christmas holidays in a pre-World War II style, the car has the warm look and feel of a private club with individual leather chairs, mahogany interior accented with stained glass, built-in tables and period ceiling fans. The Jersey Coast, recalls the 1930s when the CNJ operated its deluxe coach train, The Blue Comet, between Jersey City and Atlantic City, NJ. The striking, authentic exterior paint scheme of cream and blue reminds one of a comet streaking through space. It is the only car of its type operating in New Jersey.

So round up your family and friends and climb aboard for some great Christmastime fun and laughter! Ordering tickets is fast and easy! Trains depart at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 pm each day, rain or shine. The Whippany Railroad is located at 1 Railroad Plaza, at the Intersection of Route 10 West & Whippany Road in Whippany, NJ. Train fare: Adults: $13.00, Children (under 12): $8.00, Infants (1 year and under): Free.

To order tickets and for more information, visit www.whippanyrailwaymuseum.net or call 973-887-8177. The Whippany Railway Museum, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit Operating Heritage Railroad that is staffed by volunteers. Donations from the public help to keep the museum operational, but funds are still required to support this unique New Jersey treasure. Proceeds from the train rides further enhance the Museum's mission and its historic preservation efforts.

Sunday, December 2 - Columbia, Warren County
Christmas in the Country

Stop by the Ramsaysburg Homestead on Sunday from 1:00 - 4:00 pm for "Chirstmas in the Country." Enjoy children’s ornament-making, Triple Creek Farm Christmas Tree displays and wreath-making demonstrations, Seasonal Music by Dennis Melillo and Donna Kizonak, Refreshments, and the Brook Hollow Winery Holiday Gift Basket Raffle. This event is sponsored by the Knowlton Township Historic Commission. The homestead is located at Rt. 46 and Hope-Ramsayburg Road. For more information call 908-475-5352 or visit www.historicknowlton.org.

Sunday, December 2 and Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16 - Flemington, Hunterdon County
Holiday Open House

Holiday greenery, ribbons, hydrangeas, magnolia leaves and lots of clever decorating ideas will greet visitors at the 1845 Doric House at 114 Main Street in Flemington starting Sunday, December 2, the day of borough's holiday parade. The museum, open at no charge by the Hunterdon County Historical Society, also will welcome guests for tours on the following two weekends, December 8-9 and 15-16. Hours each day are 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Festive decorations designed by the Community Garden Club of Hunterdon County and the Hunterdon Hills Garden Club make the first floor of the high-style Greek Revival house particularly appealing. Working with the theme Celebrating the Season, the Community Garden Club has swagged the elegantly curved staircase banister in the foyer with pinecones, oranges, hydrangea, pepper berries, nut balls, and golden bows. Gifts are piled on the Windsor settee and a trio of nut topiary trees decorates a table. Continuing into the dining room, a formally set table glows with ribbons that stream from the crystal chandelier to gifts at each place setting. Windows are dressed with swags and doors with holiday wreaths.

In the high-style parlor, the Hunterdon Hills Garden Club's theme, Waiting for Christmas, uses magnolia leaves and hydrangeas, burgundy ribbon and white accents of chandelier crystals and crocheted snowflakes on the tree and around the room. Old-fashioned tree candles also decorate the tree and toys from the mid-1800s lay under it. Stockings hang from the marble mantle.

At the end of the tour, guests have the choice of voting which club's decorations they like best. The winning club will receive an award. Besides the holiday decorations, guests will see new appointments in the parlor, including an 1845 Argand-style whale oil chandelier created by Charles Tiffany of New Hope, an 1830 portrait of Anna Hope Foster of Clinton (hanging over a Chippendale-style desk made by her father in 1790), and new 19th-century-style lace panels at the windows. In the foyer, the Society has added a collection of nine walking sticks dating from 1722 to 1917.

The Doric House was built by Mahlon Fisher, a country carpenter of ability and taste, for his private residence. He also erected several other Flemington residences in the same style that are considered some of the best of their type in the U.S. but the Doric House is the only one remaining in non-commercial use. www.hunterdonhistory.org

Sunday, December 2 - Springfield, Union County
Holiday Open House

The Springfield Historical Society will host a Holiday Open House on Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the historic Cannon Ball House, located at 126 Morris Avenue, Springfield. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is free but free-will donations are always appreciated.

Sunday, December 2 - River Edge, Bergen County
Sinter Klass Day

The Bergen County Historical Society presents Sinter Klaas Day at Historic New Bridge from 1:00 - 4:00 pm on Sunday. Partake in Jersey Dutch holiday treats and refreshments such as Olie Bollen (Dutch donuts), speculaas cookies, hot mulled cider, and more (for a small charge) in the adjacent Campbell-Christie House, which operates as a restored 18th century tavern. Whether you've been naughty or nice, you will enjoy a visit with Sinter Klaas, a demonstration of open-hearth cooking in an authentic Jersey Dutch Out Kitchen and a tour of the beautifully restored and furnished Demarest House. For that special holiday gift, browse our gift shop in the Campbell-Christie House. www.bergencountyhistory.org

Sundays, December 2, 9, 16, and 23 - Montclair, Essex County
Holiday House Tours

Tours at the Montclair Historical Society, 108 Orange Road and the Charles Shultz House-Evergreens, 30 North Mountain Avenue between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm for four Sundays in December. See the houses bedecked in their holiday finery. These special tours incorporate the holiday traditions as well as the stories of the houses and the people who lived there. Begin at the Nathaniel Crane house where the less "foppery" reigned; then see the Israel Crane house decorated by the Garden Club of Montclair; then move forward in history to the Charles Shultz House, featuring Molly Shultz's own collection of Christmas decorations and antique toys. Tours are $8 for adults, $5 for children, with special holiday pricing of a max of $25 per family.  Members are free. Call 973-744-1796 for information or e-mail mail@montclairhistorical.org. www.montclairhistorical.org

Sunday, December 2 - Jersey City, Hudson County
High Tea Benefit

History buffs of all ages are invited to a ‘High Tea benefit’ on Sunday from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Memorial Park’s Gatekeeper House, hosted by the George Washington Commemorative Society of Jersey City as they honor the legendary Revolutionary War General and first President of these United States.

The event will feature a presentation on Jersey City’s famous Revolutionary War ‘Battle of Paulus Hook and the British Occupation’ by Dr. Richard Winant, Vice President of the GW Society, and Revolutionary War historian and reenactor. Participate with Dr. Winant as he recreates the “13 Toasts” offered at Washington’s Evacuation Dinner held at Fraunces Tavern in NYC in November 1783.

The Gatekeeper House (built in 1831) at the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Memorial Park is located at 435 Newark Avenue, in downtown Jersey City.

The George Washington Society suggests a donation of $20 that will benefit both the George Washington Society and the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Memorial Park. This donation entitles you to complimentary membership to the GW Society.

For more information, please call Dorcey Winant at 201-333-7650 or e-mail dorceywinant@aol.comwww.jerseycitycemetery.org

Sunday, December 2 - Barnegat, Ocean County
Heritage Village Open House

Heritage Village located on East Bay Avenue in Barnegat will be open for guided tours on Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Visit the village and learn about Barnegat's rich history. Tours are free. www.barnegathistoricalsociety.com

Sunday, December 2 - Oakland, Bergen County
Annual Dutch Christmas Celebration

Join the Oakland Historical Society for the annual Dutch Christmas Celebration at the Van Allen House in Oakland! A visit from Sinter Klaas and other surprises await those who visit between 1:00 and 4:00 pm Sunday. Help trim the Christmas Tree, sing holiday songs and bake holiday cookies. Please consider bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to the Oakland Woman's Club Christmas baskets for families in need. The Van Allen House is located at 3 Franklin Avenue in Oakland. www.oaklandhistoricalsociety.org

Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2 and 8 - 9 - Montague, Sussex County
Annual Old-Fashioned Holiday Weekends

"Christmas Past at the Armstrong House" is this year's theme for the Annual Old-Fashioned Holiday Weekends offered by the Montague Association for the Restoration of Community History (M.A.R.C.H.). All events will be held at the circa 1790 Foster-Armstrong House, located at 320 River Road, in Montague.

The historical society will open this museum on three consecutive weekends for the public to enjoy the special holiday displays. Costumed docents will lead visitors through five decorated rooms on the first floor of the house. The house will open from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 2nd; Saturday, December 8th and Sunday, December 9th. A special Candlelight Tour from 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm will be held on Saturday, December 1st. No afternoon tour that day. The last tour will be conducted 30 minutes before closing on each of the six days.  All openings are held weather-permitting.

Each room will have a decorated tree and stockings hung on all the fireplaces.  Baking items for the holidays will be featured in one room, a train display in another, and a holiday dinner table with all the finery in another room, with pine cones and garland throughout all the rooms. The special displays will include antique rolling pins, cookie cutters, butter molds, iron-cast stag animals, Swedish tomtens, a running Christmas train set, pinecone wreaths, and antique ornaments.

Come and enjoy the holiday decorations, select wonderful handmade crafts made by the historical society members, buy a book for a family or friend, and experience a warm welcome as you tour the museum. Cookies and hot cider will be served. There is no admission fee charged. Donations are welcomed and are used towards maintenance of the two buildings cared for by M.A.R.C.H.

The Foster-Armstrong House is located at 320 River Road / C.R. 521 in Montague, NJ, about 1 mile north of the Milford-Montague Bridge. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area of the National Park System. For further information visit  www.facebook.com/MontagueNJHistory or call 973-293-3106.

Sunday, December 2 - 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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weekend Estate Sales: 11/30/12 - 12/2/12

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 email to be featured in our weekly post!
Be the first to know about these sales on Facebook!

Tons of porcelain collectibles
Piscataway, NJ 08854
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Digger's Delight
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Antique furniture, mirrors and paintings
Piscataway, NJ 08854
9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

High-End Antiques
Short Hills, NJ 07078
9:30 am - 3:00 pm - Friday
9:30 am - 1:00 pm - Saturday

Antique and Vintage tools
Piscataway, NJ 08854
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday (Same Time)

Victorian era antiques
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
9:30 am - 3:30 pm

Find more Estate Sales near you at estatesales.net

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Dutch Farmstead in South Bound Brook

A Dutch Farmstead in South Bound Brook
Written by NJ Historian

Northern and central New Jersey have a rich Dutch heritage. The Dutch were among the first to establish colonies in New York and New Jersey. The Dutch began settling in the Raritan Valley in the mid to late-1600s. Another wave of settlement occurred between 1720 and 1740 around the area of Raritan Landing in Piscataway. The settlers' heritage was evident in their construction methods, religious services, and family traditions. Despite their eventual assimilation, this strong Dutch heritage is still present in remaining historical sites, street names, and families that call New Jersey home. The Staats Homestead in South Bound Brook is one example of a successful agrarian Dutch family, steeped in tradition, and whose homestead remained in the ownership of descendants of the family for over 200 years. 

A flood of Dutch settlers entered the Raritan Valley between 1720 and 1740. Somerset County and the New Brunswick area were heavily influenced by the Dutch. The abundant fertile farm land, easy access to trade routes, and the Raritan River contributed to the areas settlement. In 1738, Peter Staats purchased 305 acres of land from Cornelia Van Dam of New York. There is some belief that a home stood on the property, though in what form, no one is quite sure. Two years later, on April 20, 1740, the property was passed onto Hendrick Staats, for the sum of five shillings. By 1745, Hendrick is listed on the Franklin tax records as a landowner with 250 acres and ten cattle. In 1769, Hendrick gave it to his brother John Staats. Almost immediately, most likely as a gift, John Staats gave the property to his recently married son Abraham and his new wife Margaret DuBois in 1770.

Abraham Staats was born in Hillsborough Township on May 25, 1743. He married Margaret DuBois on November 8, 1770. Besides farming, Staats was a surveyor, and taught surveying, navigating, and mathematics. He was an active patriot and was very involved in local revolutionary efforts. He and Margaret had six children; Isaac, Margaret, Mary, Sarah, Phebe, and Jane.

The original section of the Staat's home, as it is today, is believed to have been built circa 1740, yet tree-ring dating has provided the year 1722 on select pieces of wood in the home, which roughly corresponds to when Cornelia Van Dam acquired the property. There is disagreement as to whether the home dates to the 1720s or 1740s, although often wood from earlier structures was reused in new construction, which may account for the earlier pieces. The original home was two-rooms deep and would have had a sleeping loft in the attic, accessible by a winder-staircase. Corner fireplaces were constructed and would have provided warmth for the family during the winter season.

A view of the Staats House in 1936.
That Staats' farmstead was an important location during the second Middlebrook encampment of 1779. Abraham Staats was a fierce revolutionary. He and his neighbor, Hendrik Fisher, were not offered amnesty that the Brisith offered to other rebels in the colonies. He was considered an "arch traitor" for reasons unknown, however local legends suggest that Abraham was involved in a spy network and that his slave, nicknamed Tory Jack, may have spied on the British in nearby New Brunswick. When the British occupied New Brunswick, Staats and his wife hid valuables in the floor of his barn. In April of 1777, the farmstead was raided by British troops. The troops stole a cow, five calves, and clothing.

In March of 1779, the family was finally able to live more comfortably and without fear when the inspector general of the Revolutionary army, Baron von Steuben, was quartered at their home. Von Steuben remained at the Staats' farm until June of 1779. While staying with the Staats, von Steuben occupied the two first-floor parlors of the house and his staff was positioned in the orchard behind the house. George and Martha Washington frequented the house, along with other generals. Of particular interest in the house is a corner cabinet, which is believed to be original to the home. It is said that Martha Washington greatly admired the cabinet and referenced it in a letter to friends during her stay.

Corner cabinet that Martha Washington admired.
Von Steuben was stationed in South Bound Brook for the purpose of training between eight and ten thousand men. In May of 1779, von Steuben conducted a ceremonial review of the troops in honor of General Washington, the French minister, M. Girard and the Spanish emissary, Don Juan de Miralles. The minister was accompanied by roughly sixty officers, including Generals Washington, Knox, and Greene, Baron Johannes DeKalb, William Alexander Lord Sterling and Washington’s aides Alexander Hamilton and Tench Tilghman. Following the review, a reception was held in Staats' orchard for the visiting French minister.

After the Revolution, Abraham served as an appraiser, adjusting claims for property losses Americans suffered in the county during the Revolution. In 1792, Abraham Staats became the tax collector for Somerset County, a position he held until 1820. All of Abraham's pursuits, including farming, were successful, causing him to accumulate a great deal of wealth which allowed him to send his daughters to finishing school in Philadelphia rather than a local academy. By 1800 the home was becoming too small and with the birth of Isaac in 1791, an addition was sorely needed for a family of eight and their five slaves who labored as domestic servants and farm hands. The new addition contained a dwelling room, a rear bed chamber, and a spacious kitchen wing.

Abraham Staats died in 1821. In his will he left half of his farm, which at that time was one hundred and thirty acres, to his son, and the other half to his five daughters. "Bequeath to my son Isaac Staats the one half of my farm and plantation ... Provided that my daughters that may be single at the time shall occupy (the farm) for their use only. One half of my dwelling house and garden. One third of my other buildings. One third of the fruit of my orchard."

At some point between 1820 and 1825, Abraham's son Isaac put a large two-story Greek Revival addition on the home, allowing him to have a private section of the home, separate from his sisters who were staying at the farm. The money to construct this addition is believed to have been garnered in part by selling property along the Raritan River for the construction of the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

Dining room of the Greek Revival addition.
By 1825, Isaac's share of the property was purchased by his sisters and Isaac moved to West Virginia. Over the next few years, property was sold. One piece was either sold or given to David Mack. A second tract was sold to R. H. Freeman, who may have been related to the Staats family. The Somerset saw mill was also located on a portion of the property, but the main house remained in the possession of the four sisters.

Four of the five sisters died without leaving heirs. Each sister left their share of the real estate to Sarah's daughter Margaret Ann who married Cornelius Wyckoff LaTourette. A deed transfer was recorded in 1877 between John Van Dike and Margaret Ann LaTourette. John Van Dike's relationship with the Staats House is unknown. The Staats house is said to have been in continual possession of the Staats heirs until 1935 when Eugene LaTourette sold the house to R. J. Riddell. Some historians speculate that the deeds concerning Margaret and John Van Dike involved a mortgage or other parcels of land sold off after 1825.

Once the house was sold in 1935, ownership changed hands three times in a period of twenty-two years. R. J. Riddell owned the house until 1938, when he sold it to Amy Bassett. Amy and Prentiss Bassett sold the house in 1946 to Charles C. Hollister. Charles C. Hollister sold the house to Walter Bielicky in 1957. In the early 1960s, Bielicky also bought David Mack's lot and the lot belonging to the Somerset saw mill. The Borough of South Bound Brook acquired the Staats House in 1999 from Bielicky. The property was entered onto the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places in 2002. On the property a few outbuildings original to the property remain. The stone foundation of a large barn is located behind the house in addition to a restored corn crib and smokehouse.

Today, the Abraham Staats House has been restored and continually evolves as more of its history is discovered through primary document research and archaeological investigations. The Staats House remains important for its use during the Revolutionary War but also needs to be recognized for its cultural and historical fabric as one of a handful of remaining early Dutch agrarian homesteads in the Raritan Valley.

Additional photos of my trip to the Abraham Staats House on Pinterest

For More Information:
Abraham Staats House

Monday, November 26, 2012

Historical Organization of the Week: Friends of the Abraham Staats House

Every Monday, I highlight a non-profit related to history or the arts, a historical society, preservation group or friends group whose main objective is to promote the historical and artistic history of New Jersey.

This week, I am featuring the Friends of the Abraham Staats House, Inc. The Friends of the Abraham Staats House was established in 1999 and incorporated in 2004 to preserve and care for this historic 1740 structure which served as the headquarters of General von Steuben during the second Middlebrook Encampment in 1779.

The Friends' mission is to support the ongoing care and restoration of the house and its grounds, and to research and interpret the history of the property and its people. The goal is to foster an understanding of this history and its relationship to the history of South Bound Brook, surrounding communities, the State of New Jersey and our Country. To promote this understanding, the Friends develop and present public and educational programs, exhibits, publications and presentations in various media.

The Friends' rely on memberships, fundraising, and countless volunteers to continue its mission. For more information on programs, special events, and exhibits hosted by the Friends of Abraham Staats or to become a member or volunteer, please visit www.staatshouse.org or call 732-469-5836.

If you are a member of a non-profit organization or know of one that you would like to see featured on this site, please let us know in the comments or send an e-mail to kelly@thehistorygirl.com.