The Old Guard in Morristown

Yesterday my husband and I had the pleasure of hearing the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp give a concert at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum. It was the first time I saw them in person and it was a great event!

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The Old Guard Fife and Drum at Washington’s Headquarters.

For those who are not familiar, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp was formed in 1960. They perform in traditional uniforms modeled after the musicians of General George Washington’s Continental Army. Military musicians wore opposite colors of their assigned regiments so they could be easily identified by officers so they could give orders to the army via different musical calls. If you would like to hear some of the music they perform, you can download it here.

The Washington’s Headquarters Museum is a great place if you have never visited. I have blogged about it in the past and I highly suggest you visit it. Known as “where America survived,” they mark the sites of General Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780. It includes Jockey Hollow, Washington’s Headquarters Museum, Ford Mansion, Fort Nonsense, and the Wick House. Each separate area tells a story about the soldiers who lived there and how New Jersey played a critical role in America’s fight for freedom.

There is a lot to experience and you could easily spend multiple days exploring the area and learning about all that took place there. I know my husband and I will be heading back there during the summer to see first hand what these brave soldiers experienced and thank the souls who lost their lives on that ground for their persistence in the fight for freedom from an oppressive monarchy.

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Protecting the Great Notch Inn

Growing up, I went to businesses with names like “Esposito’s,” “Rosebud’s,” and of course, “Rutt’s Hut.” Little did I know as a child, supporting a small business is an important part of keeping alive a community and contributing to what continues to be the history of New Jersey.

20160420_202914Thankfully, The Great Notch Inn will continue to be part of the living history of New Jersey. The owners of the Inn have been fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46 that would have flattened the bar that has been in business since 1939.

Originally opened by Gregory and Florence DiLeo, it was run by Mr. DiLeo until his death in 1988 and the torch was passed to his daughter Florence, and her kids, Rich and Gail. This bar has been in the same spot since before Rt. 46 was even in place! The Notch’s origins can actually be traced to 1924, when the original owners opened the Green Chateau right nearby the Inn’s location.

Is it fair that Rt. 46, a road that didn’t even exist when the Great Notch Inn opened, send the bar to the bulldozer? Absolutely not!

A written statement from NJDOT reads in part: “NJDOT goes to extensive lengths to minimize the impact to residents and businesses when it designs projects, particularly when it relates to acquiring property.”

20160420_203117Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have never actually been inside the Inn. I have passed it while traveling Rt. 46 more times than I can count, but it was one of those places I was told since I was a kid, “you don’t belong there.” This does NOT mean I have an issue with bikers! Everyone just needs their own place. The Great Notch Inn is a place for bikers to take a break from their ride and relax. When I stopped by a few nights ago to take pictures for this post, I had the opportunity to speak quickly with a couple getting ready to get back on their ride and they couldn’t have been nicer!

20160420_202942The Inn did, unfortunately, lose about 30% of their property via eminent domain, but that one battle loss gave them the opportunity to win the bar preservation war!

Now I will say I hate eminent domain, but that is a complaint for a different blog.

The important part of this story is that the bar owners have been assured by the DOT that the Rt. 46 expansion will go around them so they can continue to serve their customers on that awesome front porch.

It is businesses like the Great Notch Inn that make New Jersey the wonderful place it is! Now that I am an adult, I understand fully the importance of patronizing our locally-owned businesses. Given the choice, I will always go to the local diner instead of a chain restaurant and use the local pharmacy instead of a big box store. You get a feel for the area and support a small business owner and town.

I am very happy to see that this special place will continue to offer a front porch to all who decide to stop “Inn!”

Happy 350th Anniversary New Jersey!

This year marks the 350th anniversary of New Jersey. From its important role in the Revolutionary War, to Thomas Edison’s many important discoveries, to the awesome voice of Frank Sinatra, New Jersey is way more than the butt-end of jokes by those who have no idea what a wonderful state it is!

The “official” New Jersey began as a gift from Charles II of England to his brother James, the Duke or York. James gave a piece of his gift to two noblemen, Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. The document that actually shows this transaction is now located at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton.

When the English arrived in 1664, they found Native Americans, Swedish, and Dutch settlers already calling what would ultimately be New Jersey their home.

In 2014, three themes have been developed to help celebrate this special anniversary…

Innovation: The world has been reshaped again and again by people from and things created in New Jersey. From Edison’s light bulb, to the Atlantic City boardwalk, to the first intercollegiate football game, to Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, New Jersey’s innovations and innovators have had an impact around the globe.

Diversity: By virtue of its location and diversity, New Jersey is in many ways a microcosm of the U.S., with numerous national themes playing out within the state’s boundaries over the past 350 years.

Liberty: New Jersey played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, witnessing more significant military action than any other state in the new nation and establishing a tradition of distinguished military service that continues to this day. New Jersey’s commitment to the cause of liberty was further demonstrated when it became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights in 1789.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I know I don’t have to tell you how much I LOVE my state! From fly fishing on the Flatbrook, to enjoying the beach at Wildwood, to a great Italian dinner at one of the awesome restaurants in Essex County, New Jersey has it all!

If you would like to learn more about the different events that are taking place around the state to celebrate this important milestone, check out the official anniversary site: officialnj350.com. I hope you will take some time this year and participate in one of the great events planned!

Independence Day Weekend Events in New Jersey

While most people in the tri-state area think the Macy’s fireworks are the hot ticket for the Independence Day weekend, we in Jersey know better! Here are some great ideas to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

Jersey City will host the “Freedom and Fireworks Festival” on Friday. Events will take place at Liberty State Park and will include a visit by the Budweiser Clydesdales and Bud Beer Gardens. Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, is also creating a special Fourth of July cake for the Jersey City Freedom & Fireworks Festival. Country music star Craig Morgan and Kristen Redmond will perform. The live music begins at 5:30 p.m. Of course the day will conclude with an awesome fireworks display!

The battle at the Princeton Battlefield State Park on Jan. 3, 1777 is considered to be the fiercest fight during the American Revolution. General George Washington led his troops to this otherwise peaceful winter field and defeated a force of British Regulars, giving Washington his first victory against the British Regulars on the battlefield. The park is open Friday, July 4 — 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and admission is free. There will be period games will be available for children of all ages. A talk on the Battle of Princeton will be given at noon and a reading of the Declaration of Independence will happen at 1 p.m.

Washington’s Headquarters in Morristown, is the site of the 1779-80 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General Washington. It will be open to the public Friday, July 4 — 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and events will be held on the Morristown Green. Music and entertainment will be provided by The Four Old Parts and Wire Harp. At noon, the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Tom Ross, superintendent of Morristown National Historical Park, followed by a NJ 350th Proclamation read by Morris County Freeholder Director Thomas Mastrangelo. A musket firing by the 2nd New Jersey Regiment and singing of “Happy Birthday New Jersey” will happen at 12:45 p.m. At 1:30 p.m., free tours of the Presbyterian Church and graveyard. The day will end with a Fort Nonsense ribbon cutting with Eileen Cameron, president of the Washington Association of New Jersey, and Mayor Timothy Dougherty, at 2 p.m.

In 1776, the third reading of the Declaration of Independence took place in New Brunswick.  Come celebrate the 4th of July with a re-enactment.  Learn about the history of the reading, tour the Historic Christ Church Cemetery at 5 Paterson Street.  Sing along with patriotic songs of the era and hear American music performed on a traditional pipe organ.  Free admission and complimentary refreshments.

Garden State Fireworks will launch an electrifying palette of pyrotechnics at Bayonne’s annual fireworks show on Tuesday (rain date Wednesday, July 2) at 9:15 p.m. In conjunction with the inauguration of Bayonne mayor-elect Jimmy Davis that day, there will be live entertainment from multiple bands beginning at 4 p.m. at G. Thomas DiDomenico 16th Street Park, giving way to fireworks. For information call 201-471-7590 or visit www.bayonnerec.com.

The State Fair Meadowlands, in East Rutherford, will stage its firework display on July 3 and July 4 at 11 p.m. The State Fair is the largest fair in the area, with more than 50 vendors, rides, racing pigs, a juggling show, an acrobatic motocross show, live performances and more. The fair will be open on July 3 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and July 4 from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Entrance to the fair is $8 and $10. All active military personnel, with proper military ID are being offered free admission to the fair and an unlimited ride hand stamp from June 20 to July 6. The unlimited ride hand stamp is not available on June 20. The fair includes performances by Larry Chance and the Earls, The Rip Chords, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Heffron Drive.

Montclair will host its 64th annual Independence Day Celebration promising attendees a host of live musical performances, parade and fireworks display. The parade, which begins at 11 a.m., will comprise of various organizations and marching bands. The parade will travel west on Bloomfield Avenue to Midland Avenue, heading to Valley Road and ending at Edgemont Park for a July 4th Family Picnic. The family picnic, from noon to 3 p.m., will include the Joe Fischer magic show, pony rides, face painting, spin art, sand art, tattoos and balloon art. In addition local bands, Black Lace Blues and Jason Didner & the Jungle Gym Jam, will provide live music. The Montclair fireworks display will take place at Yogi Berra Stadium on Montclair State University campus. The stadium admission is $3 per person or $10 per family with no charge for children ages 5 and under. Gates open at 7 p.m. and free parking will be available at parking decks surrounding the stadium.

The city of Camden has plenty of events scheduled for their second annual Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival. The Camden Waterfront Freedom Festival features the region’s largest fireworks display, live music, military displays and demonstrations,  amusements, contests, food concessions. The Freedom Festival Beer Garden will be open during regular festival hours from July 3-5, featuring local New Jersey beer. The festival will kick off on Thursday, July 3 with the pre-celebration for 102.9 FM WMGK’s 13th Annual Let Freedom Rock Fest. The festival will feature family-focused attractions, games and amusements, and a performance by WMGK’s former house band, the Sofa Kings. All events will lead up to the 6 p.m. concert at Live Nation’s Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Foreigner, Styx and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. The festivities continue Friday, July 4, with live bands, military vehicles and armed forces displays visiting the Camden Waterfront with patriotic music and activities from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Adventure Aquarium Waterfront Fireworks Celebration features the region’s largest fireworks display and takes place Saturday night, July 5, after the Camden County Freedom Concert beginning at 3 p.m. The festival will come to a close Sunday, July 6, with special discounts for active military and veterans and their families at both Adventure Aquarium and the Battleship New Jersey Memorial & Museum.

Monroe Township will be holding it’s annual 4th of July fireworks show at Williamstown High School Friday on July 4, complete with food vendors, a balloon artisan and skydivers. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. and fireworks start at 9 p.m.

Washington Township will hold its annual 4th of July celebration Thursday, July 3 at the Washington Lake Park Amphitheater.  Beginning at 7 p.m., the event will start with a flag raising and recognition of veterans. Immediately following will be a performance of patriotic songs by resident Michael Jones and a concert by Touché.  A fireworks show will held at 9:15 p.m. and will shoot off from the amphitheater. Attendees can view from the lawn or elsewhere in the park. The fireworks will be shot to medley of patriotic music. Officials suggest brining bug spray and folding chairs. Food will be available.

A Fourth of July celebration featuring a Spirit of Americana Bake-Off competition and a “Most Patriotic Canine” costume contest will take place 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Footbridge Park, 79 West Crisman Road (Route 94) in Blairstown.

The 11th annual traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Ringwood Manor, Sloatsburg Road in Ringwood Manor State Park. $5 parking.

A concert of patriotic favorites will be performed by the West Morris Community Concert Band 7 p.m. Sunday at Gardner Field on Route 46 and Savage Road in Denville. Fireworks will follow at dusk. Call (973) 625-8300.

Did a miss an event in your area? Make sure to post it in the comments below!

Eunice Wade Beardslee and the American Revolution

DAR-logoI have always loved American history, but more importantly, I love New Jersey history! If you want to experience a truly unique event that combines New Jersey history and Revolutionary War history, you should go to the “real daughter” dedication happening tomorrow in Sussex County. What is a “real daughter” you ask? Let me explain.

Eunice Wade Beardslee is a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Real Daughter. This means she is a daughter of a Revolutionary War Veteran AND she was a member of a DAR Chapter. This is considered a “once in a lifetime” event according to many DAR members.

The dedication ceremony is taking place tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 32 Main Street in Sparta. There will NEVER be another Real Daughter Ceremony in Sussex County.

If you are looking for something unique to do on what should be a lovely spring day, try to attend this event, which will honor Eunice and support local NSDAR Chinkchewunska Chapter.

New Jersey land business predates America

The following is a blog post from Michele S. Byers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation

Once a year, America’s oldest continuously operating corporation meets in a tiny building in Burlington City, N.J. Instead of business suits, shareholders dress in Quaker costumes.

There’s not much business to conduct, because the Council of West Jersey Proprietors is from another era. Established in 1688 as a land grant corporation, the council no longer has vast lands to sell, but still owns some property and settles minor boundary issues.

With New Jersey celebrating 350 years, it’s worth remembering the critical role once held by this historic corporation and its defunct twin, the East Jersey Board of Proprietors.

The two land grant corporations stem from a royal gift from a British monarch. In 1664, King Charles II granted his brother James, the Duke of York, extensive territory in the New World, including the lands that would become New Jersey.

The Duke gifted the land to two loyal friends, Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, marking the official beginning of New Jersey. The state was carved in half diagonally, beginning at a point along the Atlantic Ocean in Little Egg Harbor and extending in a northwesterly direction to the Delaware River. Berkeley got the west side and Carteret got the east.

Berkeley quickly sold his interests to a group of Quakers, including William Penn, and Carteret’s family also sold his share after his death. Berkeley and Carteret’s legal successors were investors whose main business was to sell acreage to settlers and collect annual rents; they formed the East and West Jersey boards of proprietors.

“If someone in the colony wanted to buy land, they would have to go to one of the proprietors,” explained Maxine Lurie, a retired professor of history at Seton Hall University and the author of an upcoming book on New Jersey history.

The East Jersey Board of Proprietors was established in 1682 in Perth Amboy. But it dissolved in 1998, largely because shareholders feared potential legal liability for environmental problems on land the corporation held.  Its real estate, including the rights to any remaining lands, was sold to the state for $300,000.

But the Council of West Jersey Proprietors survives and has been running for 336 years … although with a largely ceremonial role in the past century.

“Technically, if there’s a piece of land in West Jersey that nobody has ever purchased in 300-plus years, it would belong to the corporation,” said Lurie. “But it’s a default. If you do a title search and there’s no clear title that you can trace, the presumption is that the proprietors still own it.”

Given New Jersey’s status as the nation’s most densely populated state, discovering lands without title is rare and exciting. More common are thin overlaps or gaps between titled properties, and it falls to the West Jersey Proprietors to resolve these “gores.”

Perhaps the greatest modern-day contribution of the East and West Jersey Proprietors is their historical records. When the East Jersey Proprietors dissolved, their extensive collection of colonial era maps and land records went to the State Archives in Trenton.

In 2005, the West Jersey Proprietors deposited its records with the State Archives, consolidating all of New Jersey’s colonial land records under the same roof for the first time – a huge benefit for historians, genealogists and those interested in land.

While you’re celebrating our state’s 350th anniversary, raise a glass to the Proprietors, who launched these centuries of land subdivision in this state we’re in!

To learn more about our state’s history and how it’s being celebrated this year, go to http://officialnj350.com/.  For a full Council of West Jersey Proprietors history, go to http://westjersey.org/wjh_copowj.htm.

And to learn more about preserving land and natural resources in New Jersey, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

Governor Joseph Bloomfield and the Continental Army

Special thanks to Lisaann VanBlarcom Permunian (who is an awesome NJ historical photographer) and member of the Chinkchewunska Chapter NSDAR.

Future New Jersey Governor Joseph Bloomfield becomes captain of the third New Jersey Regiment of Foot in the Continental Army on this day in 1776.

Bloomfield was born in 1753 in Woodbridge, New Jersey; he was the son of a physician, Moses Bloomfield. He was educated in Deerfield, New Jersey, at Reverend Enoch Green’s school and studied law before his admittance to the bar in 1775. He briefly practiced his profession in Bridgeton, New Jersey, before joining the Patriot cause.

After serving honorably as captain and then major of the third battalion, Bloomfield resigned his military post on October 29, 1778, to accept the elected position of clerk for the New Jersey Assembly. He also served as New Jersey’s attorney general from 1783 to 1792. He briefly returned to military service in 1794 to lead the United States Army’s efforts to quash the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Upon his return, he became the mayor of Burlington from 1795 to 1800. Bloomfield also served as president of the first Society for the Abolition of Slavery, which originated in Burlington in 1783, and trustee of Princeton University from 1773 until 1801, when he resigned to become the fourth governor of New Jersey.

Bloomfield remained governor until 1812, when he resigned to become brigadier general of the United States Army at the onset of the War of 1812. Following this third stint in military service, he represented New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1817 to 1821. Upon his death in 1823, Bloomfield was buried at Old Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in Burlington, joining fellow New Jersey Patriot and anti-slavery activist, Elias Boudinot. In recognition of his accomplishments and sacrifice to the state, the city of Bloomfield, New Jersey, was incorporated in his name in 1812.