New Jersey February 11, 2019
The New Jersey Town That Was Founded Before The American Revolution And Is Packed Full Of History
New Jersey was one of the thirteen original colonies and many of our towns predate the American Revolution… Gloucester City was founded all the way back in 1623 and offers a lovely little museum. Burlington was established in 1677 and is home to the oldest surviving church in New Jersey – St. Mary’s Episcopal, built in 1702. Our state’s capital was founded in 1719, Princeton was settled in the late 17th century, and Elizabeth (the original home of Princeton University) was chartered in 1664. Each of these towns has something special to offer but one of our favorite historic towns is Morristown.
According to British colonial records, the first permanent European settlement at Morristown occurred in 1715.
Originally New Hanover, Morristown was renamed in honor of the popular Governor of the Province, Lewis Morris, who championed benefits for the colonists. The town was officially incorporated 1865 as part of Morris Township and became an independent community in 1895. The town is overflowing with history, offering an abundance of unique sites that you can still visit today.
Pictured is The Alliance, or The French Are Coming, located on Morristown Green, which commemorates the meeting of General George Washington and Colonel Alexander Hamilton with the Marquis de Lafayette on May 10, 1780. The Green was once used as a pasture for animals, and as a training ground for the local militia. In 1755, a log cabin was constructed on the site to serve as the town´s courthouse and jail. In the winter of 1777, it became General George Washington's first encampment.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Morristown one of its "Dozen Distinctive Destinations."
From December 1779 to June 1780, the Continental Army's second encampment at Morristown was at Jockey Hollow. During this time, Washington's headquarters in Morristown were located at the Ford Mansion (pictured). The winter of 1780 was the worst winter of the Revolutionary War. From starvation to storms, the Continental Army was devastated. To give his battered troops a break, George Washington declared St. Patrick's Day a holiday to honor his many Irish troops. Not only was this an opportunity to give his soldiers a day off from their labor, but this order recognized the Irish people’s quest for freedom from British rule.
Both Jockey Hollow and the Ford Mansion are preserved as part of Morristown National Historical Park, managed by the National Park Service. It has the distinction among historic preservationists of being the first National Historical Park established in the United States. Also preserved is Fort Nonsense, a hilltop site built at the order of General George Washington. Valuable as an overlook, it mainly served as a place of retreat for guards stationed in town. Another important Revolutionary-era site is the The Schuyler-Hamilton House, also known as the Jabez Campfield House. It was built in 1760 and purchased in 1765 by a young doctor, Jabez Campfield. He served as a surgeon during the war and hosted notable guests including Alexander Hamilton.
The town's history doesn't end with the Revolutionary War...
Morristown is home to the stunning MacCulloch Hall, a Federal-style mansion built in 1810 that now houses nine period rooms and two exhibition galleries that change year-round. In addition to collections of furniture, porcelain, objects related to the presidency of the United States, and antique carpets, the museum is home to the country’s largest collection of original art by political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Another can't-miss destination is Historic Speedwell. This National Historic Landmark site preserves the restored estate of Stephen Vail, proprietor of the Speedwell Iron Works. It allows visitors to experience life during the early years of the Industrial Revolution. The most significant of the eight historic structures on site is the restored factory, where Stephen's son Alfred worked with Samuel F.B. Morse to perfect the telegraph. It was here on January 11, 1838, where the first successful demonstration of the telegraph changed the course of modern communications. There's plenty to explore, and you can take a guided tour.
Have you been to Morristown? It’s worth a trip from anywhere in New Jersey. You’ll find some amazing shops and eateries, so check it out! To discover a Morristown shop that only sells made-in-Jersey goods,
click here. For more on the Garden State’s most historic towns, click here.