Exploring the History of New Jersey and Beyond!

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

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What may seem minute and insignificant is what makes history!


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Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekend Historical Happenings: 2/1/14 - 2/2/14

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Saturday, February 1 - Plainfield, Union County
Edward "Ned" Hector - Revolutionary War Hero

Edward "Ned" Hector Visits the Plainfield Library in Celebration of Black History Month at  2:00 pm. in the Anne Louise Davis Room. Edward "Ned" Hector is a Revolutionary War hero, a free black man, who was a teamster noted for his courage during the retreat from the Battle of Brandywine. He refused to give up his horses, wagons, and armaments. Noah Lewis of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania brings Edward to life as a costumed educator in celebration of Black History Month. This program will be held at the Plainfield Public Library, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ. For more information, call  908-757-1111 x 129 or visit www.plainfieldlibrary.info.

Saturday, February 1 - Holmdel, Monmouth County
Farm Chores
Children Friendly

Looking for a fun way to start your day? Come help the staff at Historic Longstreet Farm with their morning chores at the farm on Saturday from 8:00 - 9:00 am. You and your child (age 4 and up) can milk a cow, collect eggs, and feed the animals. The cost is $15 per parent/child pair, $5 per additional person (cash or check only). Be sure to dress warmly! Historic Longstreet Farm is located at 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel, NJ. For more information, call 732-946-3758 or visit  www.monmouthcountyparks.com.

Saturday, February 1 - Harrison Township, Gloucester County
Annual Groundhog Day Dinner
Children Friendly

The Harrison Township Historical Society’s Annual Groundhog Day Dinner and Silent Auction is set for Saturday at 6:00 pm at Ewan Fire Hall, 312 Ewan Road, in the village of Ewan near Mullica Hill, NJ. This annual event features “Down Jersey” sausage, sausage gravy and biscuits, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, candied yams, fried apples, green beans, and a dessert buffet.  Now in its tenth year, the supper is a revival of a century-old Richwood tradition.

The first local groundhog day dinners took place in the early 1900s. Farmers belonging to the Richwood Men’s Bible Class made the sausage and prepared supper for the entire congregation of Richwood Methodist Church.

The event is a fun-filled evening for the entire family. In addition to the home-cooked menu, the program includes a popular silent auction and perhaps the only opportunity in South Jersey to sing Groundhog Day songs. Tickets for the event are $15 and available at the Amazing Grace Resource Center, 33 South Main Street, Mullica Hill, NJ (856-478-9800) and at the door. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Advance purchase is recommended since seating is limited.

All proceeds benefit the Society’s exhibitions and educational programs at the Society's Old Town Hall Museum, located at the intersection of South Main Street and Woodstown Road. The Museum reopens on Saturday, March 8 with a new exhibition focusing on 150 years of folk and fine art from the Society's collection. For more information, visit www.harrisonhistorical.com.

Saturday, February 1 - Stockton, Hunterdon County
Groundhog Day!
Children Friendly

Celebrate the folklore of Groundhog Day at Bulls Island Recreational Area on Saturday at 1:00 pm. The state park naturalist will host a program highlighting the adventures of the groundhog and other NJ wildlife as they try to survive through the cold and short days of winter. Crafts, story time, and a short presentation on the special survival skills of wildlife can be enjoyed free of charge for children ages 4 to 10 years of ages. 

The program will be held at Bulls Island Recreational Area, 2185 Daniel Bray Highway, Stockton, NJ. For more information and to register, call 609-397-2949.

Saturday, February 1 - Madison, Morris County
Pre-Groundhog Day Program
Children Friendly

Pop-up to the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts to celebrate Groundhog Day with an afternoon of groundhog theme activities. Appropriate for children 2 - 6 years old. Advance registration recommended. Call 973-377-2982 x12 to register. $3 admission per participant and regular museum admission for all others. Regular museum admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and students with ID, and free for members. The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is located at 9 Main Street in Madison, NJ. For information, please call 973-377-2982 x10 or visit www.metc.org.

Saturday, February 1 - Hopewell Township, Mercer County
Sugar Tree Tapping and Children's Craft
Children Friendly

The beginning of the maple sugaring season is marked by the Mercer County Park Commission with tree tapping workshops and a tap sale at Howell Living History Farm.

Workshops are open to the public on a no-fee, walk-in basis and are designed to equip the "do-it-yourself-er" with the skills and information needed to tap a backyard maple tree. Workshops last 45 minutes and are offered at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm.

Taps, tubing, and other sugaring supplies will be available for sale.

Between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, stop in for a children's craft program called "Tree Taps." Participants will make their own spout, or tap, from staghorn sumac. Families are welcome on a walk-in basis (groups of eight or more must pre-register). The craft will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Materials fee: $1.00.

Howell Living Farm represents typical farm life between 1890 and 1910. The farm is operated by the Mercer County Parks Commission. It is located at 70 Wooden's Lane, Lambertville, NJ. For more information. call 609-737-3299 or visit www.howellfarm.org.

Saturday, February 1 - Somerset County
Five Generals Open House
Children Friendly

During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington spent much of his time in central New Jersey, which was  strategically located near the British bases on Staten Island and New York City. In winter of 1778-79, he brought his army to Somerset County where they camped on the slopes of the first Watchung Mountain. That was the fourth winter encampment of the eight-year war and followed the previous winter encampment at Valley Forge.

Remarkably, five of the original houses that served as general staff headquarters during that winter still exist and are open to the public. The beautifully restored houses are the Van Horne House in Bridgewater; the Van Veghten House in Finderne, the Abraham Staats House in South Bound Brook; the Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster, and the Wallace House in Somerville.

On Saturday, February 1, (Super Bowl Saturday) all five houses will be open and FREE to the public from 1:00 - 4:00 pm, with the exception of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, which will only be open from 4:00 - 6:00 pm. All will have special tours, displays, and events. This is a perfect opportunity to share with your Super Bowl guests something about the interesting history of Somerset County. 

Address for the five sites:
  • Abraham Staats House: Inspector General Frederick von Steuben's Headquarters, is located at 17 Von Steuben Lane, South Bound Brook, NJ.
  • Philip Van Horne House:  General William Alexander's (Lord Stirling) Headquarters, is located at 941 East Main Street, Bridgewater, NJ.
  • Derrick Van Veghten House: Quartermaster General Nathaniel Greene's Headquarters, is located at 9 Van Veghten Drive, Bridgewater, NJ.
  • John Wallace House:  General Washington's Headquarters, is located at 71 Somerset Street, Somerville, NJ.
  • Jacobus Vanderver House: General Henry Knox's Headquarters, is located in River Road Park, Bedminster, NJ.
Saturday - Sunday, February 1- 2 and 8 - 9 - Westfield, Union County
Victorian Valentines and Postcards Exhibit
The Westfield Historical Society will be hosting a special exhibit of Victorian Valentines the first two weekends in February at the Reeve History and Cultural Resource Center located at 314 Mountain Avenue in Westfield, New Jersey.

The Valentines and postcard exhibit was loaned from a larger collection by Jean Groszmann, who has been collecting them for over four decades. The collection spans the period beginning in 1840 through the 1920s and includes German, English and American produced valentines including penny post cards.

The majority of early Victorian valentines were customarily made by hand from honeycombed tissue, watercolors, paper puffs, embossed paper hearts and exquisite lace. These truly beautiful small works of art harken back the days of old when Valentines expressed sentiments of adoration through hand crafted excellence.

The exhibit will be open from 1:00 - 5:00 pm on Saturday, February 1 and 8 and on Sunday, February 2 and 9.

In addition to the display, there will be a valentine workshop on the history of Victorian valentines hosted by the Union County 4-H Living History Club at the Reeve History & Cultural Resource Center for children ages 6-12 on Saturday February 8 from 10:00 am - 12:00 noon. An adult must accompany each child registered for the workshop. Each attendant will make a valentine to take home. The cost is $3 to cover supplies. Registration is limited so please call soon to reserve your spot. For more information and to register, please call 908-654-1794 or e-mail info@westfieldhistoricalsociety.org. www.westfieldhistoricalsociety.org

Sunday, February 2 - Upper Freehold, Monmouth County
Groundhog’s Day, Fun, and Facts
Children Friendly

In the midst of winter our thoughts drift toward spring. Fact and folklore mix as you help us cut wood with the two man saw and think about how much wood you’d chuck if you were a woodchuck. Look for your shadow and learn how weather guided daily activity at Walnford, while enjoying the winter landscape or signs of impending springtime in this peaceful, historical setting from 1:00 - 4:00 pm (ages 3 and up, under 18 with adult).

While there, visit the large, elegant Walnford home built in 1774, the 19th century gristmill and the farm buildings set in a beautiful landscape. Walnford is located at 62 Walnford Road, 08501. www.monmouthcountyparks.com

Sunday, February 2 - South River, Middlesex County
Open House

Stop by the South River Historical & Preservation Society on Sunday from 1:30 - 3:30 pm and view exhibits on all aspects of Borough history including: schools; churches and houses of worship; local businesses and organizations; daily life; events and celebrations; and more. While you are there, see the cemetery located behind the building, ask questions, drop off donations, or exchange hometown stories with the docents. The museum is located at 64-66 Main Street, South River. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njsrhps/museum.html

Extended to Sunday, February 2, 2014 - Morristown, Morris County
"Not a Creature Was Stirring"

This year's Christmas exhibit at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is entitled "Not a Creature Was Stirring" - 'Christmas Animals, Toys and Thomas Nast'" and is available to view on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday afternoons during touring hours, 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The museum will reopen after the holiday break on January 2 and the exhibit will remain on display until Sunday, February 2, 2014. This second floor gallery exhibit features several of the museum's holiday-themed Thomas Nast images, as well as toys and ornaments from a century ago. This is the sixth year antique dealers and local collectors have assembled their unique treasures to create a universally charming Christmas holiday exhibit. This year's display features an animal theme, displayed in the form of toys, animals and more. This exhibit was once again created through generous object loans from Joe and Sharon Happle of Sign of the Tymes Antiques, Lafayette NJ, Lauren V. Rethwisch of Wooly Sheep Antiques, Robbinsville NJ, and objects from Barbara Silverstein's collection.

Guided tours leave throughout touring hours, with the last tour leaving around 3:00 pm. The galleries and gift shop, which stocks a range of Thomas Nast Christmas items including cards, prints and ornaments as well as other gift items, are open until 4:00 pm. 

The Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is located at 45 Macculloch Avenue, Morristown, NJ. For more information, call 973-538-2404 or visit www.maccullochhall.org.

Sundays through March 9, 2014 - Plainfield, Union County
Indira Bailey Art Exhibit

On Sunday from 2:00 - 4:00 pm, visit the Historical Society of Plainfield at the Drake House Museum to view the "Indira Bailey Art Exhibit" in celebration of Black History Month.

Indira Bailey is a second-generation Plainfielder and is an extraordinary artist, illustrator, and educator. Indira received a B.F.A. in illustration from Pratt Institute and M.A. in Educational Leadership & Supervision from Kean University. Ms. Bailey's work demonstrates her pride, talent, and her interest in showing her experience as an African American woman and her travels in a positive light. Ms. Bailey has exhibited artwork throughout the tri-state area.

"Indira Bailey Art Exhibit" will be on display in the second floor ballroom of the Drake House Museum, and the exhibit will be on display until March 9, 2014. Donations are always appreciated. All are welcome during regular tour hours, 2:00 - 4:00 pm on Sundays, or by appointment.

The Drake House Museum is located at 602 West Front Street, Plainfield, NJ. For more information call 908-755-5831 or visit www.drakehouseplainfieldnj.org.

Through June 30, 2014 - Piscataway, Middlesex County
Got Work? Exhibit

View the exhibit "Got Work? New Deal/WPA in New Jersey" at the 1741 Cornelius Low House Museum in Piscataway. The museum is open Tuesday - Friday, 8:30 - 4:00 pm and Sunday afternoons from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The exhibit will run through June 30, 2014.

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 http://www.co.middlesex.nj.us/culturalheritage.

Through February 2014 - Madison, Morris County
Ghosts, Ghouls, & Gravestones Exhibit
Children Friendly Site

The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts presents "Ghosts, Ghouls, & Gravestones: The Trades of Burial," which will examine the progression of the burial trade. Passing away from this world was once a family affair, but over time, the process spread through the social and economic ties of the community. By 1900, a robust funeral industry had developed that saw to a family's every need. The exhibit will also explore the strict protocols that dictated mourning and the artistry in gravestones.

Regular Museum admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, students & children (ages 6 and older), and free for members and children under 6. Family maximum admission $13.00. The Museum is open Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 noon - 5:00 pm. The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is located at 9 Main Street in Madison, NJ just two blocks from the Madison train station. For information, please call 973-377-2982 x10 or visit www.metc.org.

Through February 14, 2014 - Woodbury, Gloucester County
The Civil War: Echoes of New Jersey’s Finest 

As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is being observed across America, the Gloucester County Historical Society Museum is featuring an exhibit of artifacts that tell unique stories about local soldiers during this traumatic time in our nation’s history.  Along with military equipment, there are also photographs, Civil War letters, the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to a NJ soldier, a thirty-three foot long flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Civil War, personal items that belonged to local union soldiers, and much more.

Gloucester County Historical Society Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:00 - 4:00 pm and the last Sunday of the month from 2:00 - 5:00 pm. Adult admission $5; children 6-18 years $1; children under 6 free. The museum is located at 58 North Broad Street, Woodbury, NJ. For more information, call 856-848-8531 or visit www.rootsweb.com/~njgchs.

Through Sunday, February 23, 2014 - Trenton, Mercer County
Historic Maps of the Garden State Exhibit
Children Friendly Activities

Often overlooked as a decorative art form, maps are ideal artifacts for exploring New Jersey history. Stories of New Jersey’s social, economic, military, environmental and political history – as well as the state’s role in the history of American transportation – can be told through the visual splendor of the Garden State’s historic maps.

Opening on September 7 and running through February 23, 2014, “Where in the World is New Jersey? Historical Maps of the Garden State” is comprised of nearly 100 maps depicting the colony and state of New Jersey from 1635 through 1950 on display at the New Jersey State Museum.

This unprecedented exhibition provides the visitor with an introductory survey of historical maps depicting the colony and state of New Jersey from 1635 until 1950. The nearly 100 maps on display – most of which are original hand-colored copperplate engravings or chromolithographs – come from the collections of four public institutions – the New Jersey State Museum, State Archives, State Library, and Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. They were selected for their rarity, their ability to convey aspects of New Jersey history, and their artistic merit – underscoring the dual role of maps as both works of art and utilitarian tools essential to the human experience. 

The New Jersey State Museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, NJ is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am - 4:45 pm. The Museum is closed Mondays and all state holidays. The NJ State Museum has a “suggested” admission fee. For more information, visit www.statemuseum.nj.gov or call the recorded information line at 609-292-6464. On weekends, free parking is available in lots adjacent to and behind the Museum. Please visit www.trentonparking.com for a number of options for parking in downtown Trenton during the week.

Through Sunday, April 13 - Cape May, Cape May County
African American Heritage Exhibit

This 15th annual Center for Community Arts (CCA) exhibit - "The Way We Were...Cape May County's Once Thriving Black Business Communities" will highlight African Americans' contributions to the local community. The exhibit will be on display at the Carriage House Gallery on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ. Admission is free. Exhibit will be on display through Sunday, April 13. Open Saturdays in January, 11:30 am - 2:00 pm. Sponsored by the Center for Community Arts (CCA) in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). For information, call 609-884-7525 or visit www.centerforcommunityarts.org. For gallery hours call 609-884-5404 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

Through June 2014 - Morristown, Morris County
"Controversies: The More Things Change..." Exhibit

Currently on display at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is an exhibition about topics that helped shape our world. "Controversies: The More Things Change..." opens new territory for the Museum, presenting challenging subject matter that may not be suitable for casual dinner conversation. This new exhibit explores topics that helped shape our world through local history events which had national significance: medical experimentation, immigration, and the right to die.

"Controversies: The More Things Change..." inspires people to consider, even reconsider, the ways in which they think about these important, frequently debated issues. The exhibit explores local history events which had national significance: the 1833 Antoine LeBlanc murder trial and public execution; the immigration issues of the late nineteenth century as depicted by political cartoonist Thomas Nast, a Morristown resident, and the 1976 Karen Ann Quinlan "right to die" case.

The museum is making a major departure in exhibit presentations with "Controversies."  Where most exhibits typically provide detailed information about the objects on view, "Controversies" offers limited information about the objects, essentially forcing personal thought, and inspiring discussion, about the areas represented.  Each object and concept in the exhibit represents a part of New Jersey's history - specifically Morris County's history. The ideas expressed through the historical objects in the exhibit, however, are not confined to New Jersey boundaries- the significant concerns raised by the important and controversial issues showcased in this exhibit continue to be debated throughout the United States and the world.

"We wanted to give our visitors a chance to participate in an exhibit in a new way - to have a reaction without being guided by the institution's interpretation of what the objects represent, which labels typically provide," said Executive Director Carrie Fellows. Instead, curator's books of supplementary information will be available within the exhibit, should the visitor want to learn more, drawn from primary sources like news articles, contemporary commentary, and images. Visitors are encouraged to leave comments about the themes presented.

The exhibition was inspired when Fellows and Ryan C. Hyman, the Museum's curator, heard Burt Logan, Executive Director of the Ohio Historical Society speak at a conference about the organization's groundbreaking "Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See" exhibit, and its sequel, "Controversy 2: Pieces We Don't Normally Talk About". During his talk, Mr. Logan strongly encouraged other museums to adapt the concept and develop similar exhibits. Inspired by the presentation, Hyman and Fellows began discussing how they might create an exhibit using themes from the Morris area's rich history.

"Controversies: The More Things Change..." will be on view during Museum touring hours through June 2014. Please note the subject matter may not be suitable for all audiences. Visitor discretion advised. Recommended for visitors 12 years of age and older.

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum preserves the history of the Macculloch-Miller families, the Morris area community, and the legacy of its founder W. Parsons Todd through its historic site, collections, exhibits, and educational and cultural programs. The Museum is open for house and exhibit tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The last tour leaves at 3:00 pm. Adults $8; Seniors & Students $6; Children 6 - 12 $4. Members and children under 5 are free.  For more information, call 973-538-2404 ext. 10 or visit www.maccullochhall.org. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is located at 45 Macculloch Avenue, Morristown, NJ.

Through August, 2014 - Lyndhurst, Bergen County
Let's Play! An Exhibit of Beloved Toys
Children Friendly

From a china-head doll to a Lionel train, several toys are on display at the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum as the Lyndhurst Historical Society recalls fun times with favorite toys. The new exhibit, "Let's Play! An Exhibit of Beloved Toys," is open now through August 2014.

The exhibit is free and open to the public, though a small donation to the Society would be appreciated. The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum is open on the second and fourth Sundays of  every month from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. The Lyndhurst Historical Society was established in 1984 in an effort to preserve the 1893 schoolhouse, located at 400 Riverside Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ. For more information, call 201-804-2513 (leave a message) or visit www.lyndhursthistoricalsociety.org.

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekend Estate Sales: 1/31/14 - 2/2/14

Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
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Vintage Collectibles
Bloomfield, NJ 07003

Loads of Photography Equipment!
Fords, NJ 08863

Country Collectibles
Howell, NJ 07731

High-Quality Antiques
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Gorgeous Paintings & Other Fine Antiques
Plainfield, NJ 07060

Fine European Antiques
Madison, NJ 07940

Sports Memorabilia & More
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

Looking for estate sales in your neighborhood? Visit www.estatesales.org
Proud sponsor of the Weekend Estate Sale listings.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Preserving Central New Jersey in Piscataway: East Jersey Olde Towne

Preserving Central New Jersey in Piscataway: East Jersey Olde Towne
Written by NJ Historian

Shielded by a thicket of trees from busy River Road within Johnson Park in Piscataway is what some may consider an oddly-placed colonial village surrounding a large green in the middle of central New Jersey. However, upon closer inspection, you will discover that this section of Johnson Park is a collection of moved buildings from Middlesex and Somerset Counties called East Jersey Olde Towne Village. An early large-scale preservation project undertaken by individuals who foresaw the need to save the past before it is obliterated, remind us that the modern preservation movement is still relatively young. Today, these restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures reveal much about the architecture of these time periods and their use in relation to the people who lived in or used them.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the concept of urban renewal was in full force throughout New Jersey. In an effort to reinvigorate cities that had once seen better days, blocks of old homes and buildings were demolished for new apartment complexes and office buildings. In rural areas, old farms and farmhouses were being purchased by corporations wishing to establish headquarters and office complexes on virgin land. This rapid development across central New Jersey did not bode well for those interested in history and historic preservation. One individual in particular, Dr. Joseph Kler of Bound Brook, New Jersey had a strong passion for American history and preservation. Dr. Kler was born in 1903 in Wisconsin but later spent over half a century in New Brunswick, New Jersey as a physician. In 1929, he was the first staff physician and first team physician for Rutgers University. From his office at Rutgers, Dr. Kler broadcast a weekly health radio show on WOR. He was also on staff at at Middlesex General Hospital (now Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital) and was chief of ophthalmology and otolaryngology at St. Peter's Medical Center for thirty years.

In 1971, the Parkway Hotel (Indian Queen Tavern), was boarded up and awaiting demolition for an expansion of Route 18. Upon learning of this, Dr. Kler sprang into action, gathering a group of dedicated volunteers. He sought to save the building by moving it to a new location, where it could be the centerpiece for what would eventually turn into a village of moved structures that represent the diverse history of central New Jersey. Dr. Kler gained the approvals from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to relocate the building for the sum of one dollar, and brought in experts to document and dismantle the structure until it could be reconstructed. That same year he founded founded East Jersey Olde Towne, Inc., a non-profit organization which would be responsible for reconstructing and maintaining the tavern. Dr. Kler recruited friends, associates, business leaders, and even his patients to join the cause!

Six Mile Run House (left) and Williamson Wheelwright Shop (right).
Ultimately, he negotiated the use of twelve acres on the northern end of Johnson Park in Piscataway to place the tavern building. Shortly thereafter, more buildings pending demolition for a variety of reasons found their way to the village from Piscataway, North Brunswick, New Brunswick, Pluckemin, Warren Township and Franklin Park. The first building to be reconstructed at the Village was the Dunn House, which was moved from its original location on Stelton Road in Piscataway in 1973. It took much cooperation between owners, skilled craftsmen, and volunteers to figure out a way to move eleven structures. One barn did not survive its time in storage and was not rebuilt. In 1978, two structures, the Church of the Three Mile Run and the New Brunswick Barracks, were constructed on-site as replicas from plans and drawings. A corn crib, outhouse, herb shed, and farm implements were also moved to the site. The non-profit had many ambitious plans to add additional buildings and create a Colonial Williamsburg-type atmosphere. While their dreams may not have been fully realized, this early effort in historic preservation paid off, saving these important structures for future generations to learn about and experience what life was like for early settlers in central New Jersey.

By the early 1980s, the historic buildings had been moved to the site and reconstructed. The collection included the tavern, a blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, wheelwright shop, barn/granary and five homes. Six years after Dr. Kler's death, the structures were donated to Middlesex County by the non-profit in May 1989. They are now under the care and stewardship of the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission in conjunction with the Parks Department. All but two structures have been fully restored (with complete ADA accessibility) and open to the public. The Jeremiah Dunn House and the barn/granary await restoration to begin in 2014.

In this article, enjoy a sampling of just a few of the many buildings at East Jersey Olde Towne Village.

The Indian Queen Tavern
The Village is flanked at its eastern end by the Indian Queen Tavern, a New Brunswick mainstay. The Tavern is believed to have been built circa 1720 as a home at the corner of Albany and Water Streets in the waterfront district of New Brunswick. The home was subsequently expanded and served as a tavern during the Revolutionary War period. According to records dating to 1780, the tavern was owned by James Drake, who operated a ferry between New Brunswick and Highland Park. From the late 1700s through 1818, it was either Drake's Tavern or the Indian Queen. After 1818, it was known as the Bell Tavern or Bell Hotel.

Indian Queen Tavern today (above) and 1971 (below).
The Indian Queen Tavern hosted a few important leaders during the American Revolution. On September 9, 1776, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Rutledge were en route to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. They had been sent by the Continental Congress to meet with Lord Howe in Staten Island. Because there were so few rooms available in New Brunswick, Adams and Franklin were forced to share a room at the tavern. Generals George Washington and Baron von Stuben visited on December 9, 1783 when a party was hosted in his honor. That evening, thirteen toasts were given. Although accounts from the period do not specify the tavern as the site of the event, it is assumed it happened there because it was one of the most well-known and appropriate sites for this type of celebration.

The tavern operated until 1964 as the Parkway Tavern. In 1971, Route 18 was being extended and the tavern, facing demolition, was dismantled and moved to the site of East Jersey Olde Towne, where it was eventually reassembled, minus the third floor, which was a later addition. The most architecturally significant piece of the building is the curved spiral staircase in the center hall. It was built of mortise and tendon construction, meaning no nails were used. Today the fully restored building features exhibits on tavern life and archaeology related to artifacts recovered from the original site. The "great room" or "large room" which spans the length of the second floor, once used for lectures, meetings, entertainment, and other social events, is still used in the same capacity today.

Farley Blacksmith Shop
The Farley Blacksmith Shop, a simple wooden structure, has the distinction of being the only building moved twice at East Jersey Olde Towne Village. The shop was built circa 1850 by Cornelius Farley in New Brunswick, along Memorial Parkway, present-day Route 18. The Farley Blacksmith Shop operated until 1960, one of the last commercial blacksmith shops in the United States.

Farley Blacksmith Shop, Piscataway, NJ
Farley Blacksmith Shop, circa 1850.
Three generations of the Farley family operated the shop, beginning with Cornelius about 1850. After Cornelius' passing at the age of seventy-two on September 18, 1869, his son Patrick took over the shop's operation. His five sons eventually joined the family business and had varying levels of involvement between 1897 and 1961. By 1960, only three of the five brothers, in their seventies and eighties, were still operating the business. The land on which their shop sat had been sold for the Bishop Street urban renewal project. With demolition impending, the New Brunswick Historical Club took an interest in saving this unique and timeless structure. The group's first effort to raise funds to move the building to a plot of land owned by Rutgers did not generate interest and the group was ready to abandon their effort. However, a real estate broker from North Brunswick, Verdi B. Throckmorton, suggested a public fundraising effort and spearheaded the effort, raising the necessary funds in just a few weeks thanks to heavy publicity.

In early 1961, the building was moved across the Raritan River to Johnson Park, near the horse racetrack. The building was restored and open to the public. In 1976, it was moved for a second time to the East Jersey Olde Towne site on the opposite end of the park. After being closed for a number of years, the blacksmith shop reopened in 2007 with an extensive exhibit featuring an overview of blacksmithing in New Jersey, tools of the trade, the history of the shop, and the efforts to save it.

Church of the Three Mile Run
The Church of the Three Mile Run is one of two replica buildings at East Jersey Olde Towne. Built in 1978 through donations from the Raritan Classis, Reformed Church of America, it is made to resemble the original church structure that stood on Route 27, near the intersection of present-day How Lane. The church was established in 1703 to serve Dutch Reform congregants in the New Brunswick area. Constructed of stone with a tall pyramid roof with cupola, it had just a dirt floor, very few windows, and no heating. The church was served by an itinerant minister, Reverend Guiliam Bertholf. Beginning in 1703, members of the congregation petitioned the synod in Holland for a permanent minister. In 1720, Reverend Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen arrived in New York and soon made his way to New Brunswick as the first resident minister.

View of the newly built Church of the Three Mile Run, 1978.
Frelinghuysen was a controversial minister. He was considered radical in the way he conducted services and is said to have pitted families against one another. He tried to institute changes such as preaching in English, rather than Dutch, invited other preachers to deliver sermons, such as Gilbert Tennent, and prohibited members of the congregation that did not meet his standards from participating in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Disgruntled members of the church wrote to the Classis in Amsterdam (church leadership) demanding his immediate removal. When he was not removed, church members locked him out of the building, forcing him to preach elsewhere and published a pamphlet in 1723 stating their grievances.

Frelinghuysen died in 1748. Many historians have noted that his early influence in New Brunswick during the 1720s was a precursor to the First Great Awakening which peaked during the 1730s and 1740s. After his death, the church was intermittently used and services were discontinued by 1754. No further records of the church have been found and some historians believe the church was destroyed by British troops as they passed through New Brunswick during the Revolutionary War. The church's burial ground still exists with a number of early stones, some in Dutch. In the center of the burial ground is a large square void, believed to be the original location of the church. As of today, no archaeology has been performed to confirm this.

Fitzrandolph House
The Fitzrandolph House, originally located between Hoes Lane and the Ambrose Brook in Piscataway, is believed to have been built by David Fitzrandolph in 1743. David served Middlesex County as a Freeholder in 1749 and as Overseer of Roads. The home is typical of an early farmhouse that would have been constructed by settlers in the region. The Fitzrandolphs were among the first families to settle in Piscataway. Descendents of David Fitzrandolph lived in the home until 1848, when it was sold to Vandeveer Giles. Nine years later it was sold to Randolph Martin. In 1865, the property reverted back to the Giles family and remained so until the 1890s. Between 1894 and 1976, the home changed hands four times. The last residents of the house were Mr. and Mrs. Wilber Duryea. It was donated to East Jersey Olde Towne by the Garibaldi Realty Corporation and reconstructed by the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity at Rutgers University.

Fitzrandolph House, Piscataway, NJ
Fitzrandolph House, 1743.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the home received at least two, two-story additions, more than doubling the size of the original section, creating a main block five bays wide. When the home was donated to East Jersey Olde Towne, it was decided to leave the newer portion (most likely due to logistical and monetary concerns) and save the earlier section, which retained original floor boards, plaster walls, window and door hardware, and most of the original window panes. The home has elements of Dutch and English architecture. A large cooking fireplace with crane and beehive oven dominate the keeping room. The fireplace is flanked by built-in warming closets on each side. Toward the rear is a storage area and a sleeping quarters. A narrow, steep staircase leads to the upper sleeping lofts. Today, the restored home allows visitors to experience what a typical early farmhouse may have been like in the Raritan Valley.

Additional photos of my trip to East Jersey Olde Towne Village on Pinterest

For More Information
Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Antique Items of the Week: 1/26/14 - 2/2/14

eBay Items of the Week!
Click on each link for the eBay page!
More items always going up.
Stay updated about new items on Facebook.

Direct Sale Items
If you have any questions, need additional photos, or are interested in any of the items below, please send an e-mail to kelly@thehistorygirl.com. Payment via PayPal and all items will be shipped via regular U.S. mail.

Book Sale:
His Sombre Rivals - 1883 with beautiful signature within dated '98 - $3
The Confessions of an English Opium Eater - 1913 - $3
The Pilgrims Progress - Probably early 1900s - $3
Musings on the Way - 1900 - $3
That Lass O'Lowries - 1914 - $3
Geography Primer - Printed 1906 - $8
Life and Works of Washington Irving - Late 1880s $20
Wee Winkles & Wideawake - Published 1905 - $5

Great Collectibles!

Rhone-Poulenc Set of 5 Collectible Mugs
"I had a bad idea"



Vintage Handmade Magazine Rack - About 21 inches long

MD Potatoes

Railroad Memorabilia Sale

Erie Railroad Time Table
August 17, 1947
Shipping: $1.25

Erie Railroad Time Table
June 24, 1944
Shipping: $1.25

Atlantic Coast Line Time Tables
The Standard Railroad of the South
January 1922
There is a tear in the one page (see third photo).
Pages are not stapled but show no evidence of a staple ever existing.
Shipping: $1.25

Lot of Ten Railroad Train Tickets
Two tickets from Sunday, Jan. 3 / One from Friday, Jul. 26 (no year) - Philadelphia Transit Co.
Three from Cumberland Division (all January, no year) - Philadelphia Transit Co.
One from NY State Railways, dated August 25, 1934
One from Erie Railroad Co., NY to Port Jervis, November 27, 1938
One from Erie Railroad Co., NY to Port Jervis, November 25, 1952
One from Erie Railroad Co., NY to Port Jervis, January 15, 1953
Shipping: $1.00

 Erie Railroad Company
New York Division and New Jersey and New York Railroad
Superintendent's Office
Jersey City, June 10, 1906
 Numbers and Locations of Automatic Signals
Includes 10 unused "Telegraph Report of Automatic Block Signals"
Shipping: $1.80

25 Vintage Model Railroader & Model Railroad Craftsman Magazines
1963 & 1964
Pick-up only!

Vintage Fashion!

Vintage Strawbridge Hat - Deep Red

Vintage Women's Canadian Zephyr Ice Skates - Size 7
See more details on the History Girl Youtube page.
Email kelly@thehistorygirl.com if interested.

Vintage Men's Roller Skates - Size 10
Email kelly@thehistorygirl.com if interested.