Saturday, October 31, 2009

What do we value?

In October 1986, New Jersey Monthly published Tom Dunkel's eye-opening article, "A State of Ruins," asking in subtitle, "Is New Jersey committing historical suicide?" So here we are, twenty three years later, checking for vital signs.

Ever stood on the battlefield at Gettysburg? Or at New Bridge? Princeton? For our generation, the question remains unanswered: Is anything sacred? What stories, persons, places and events are worthy of memory? On the other side of the equation, looking beyond the spiritual and emotional returns, history sells! Many communities around the globe thrive as heritage destinations, albeit not always tastefully or respectfully. Truly, well-managed and well marketed, heritage tourism contributes to prosperity.

Up until the 2008 economic downturn, the tourism industry grew by leaps and bounds. In 2006, tourism generated $37.6 billion for New Jersey's economy, up from $24.6 billion in 1996. Seventy-one million visitors came, creating jobs for one out of every nine workers in the state. Atlantic City casinos and the Jersey shore, however, are by far the biggest draws, while a majority of other destinations attracted fewer than 10,000 visitors annually. Smaller attractions lack the infrastructure, staff and visibility to compete in the metropolitan marketplace.

Obviously, we need to strike a balance: Some places and objects are to be valued, not merely for the revenue stream from souvenirs they generate, but for the hard-learned lessons of history they illustrate? So where does New Jersey stand? What do we value?

The difficulties with preserving significant reminders of our past in such a densely populated state are manifold. Under the myth of "open space," myopic bureaucrats acquire more and more land, but lack the interest or ability to maintain significant historic features upon it. They race developers to erase notable landmarks from the scenery. Pointing fingers at everyone other than themselves, they throw money at the crisis du jour to buy off negative headlines. As soon as other concerns divert public attention, demolition by neglect sets in. Demolition by neglect is very much an act of cultural vandalism and economic suicide.

I also encourage you to examine credentials---all too often, it seems to me, those in charge would probably not even visit a historic site unless they were paid to manage one. Placing the State owned and operated Historic Sites in the NJ DEP's Division of Parks & Forestry has had disastrous consequences. On the Federal level, the EPA oversees environmental issues but not parks, forests and historic sites; likewise, we must free our most important heritage destinations---natural as well as historic---from the death grip of both an environmental regulatory agency and the recreational parks bureaucracy. Most importantly, we must place this cultural legacy in the hands of those who are caring and qualified to protect and promote them.

Come meet our Waterloo. The yellow tape, reading "Do Not Cross," appropriately marks this as a crime scene. Tens of millions of dollars in public money invested in tourist infrastructure once made this one of New Jersey's popular cultural destinations. Now it rots away. This is historical suicide at its most sensational.

Thirty years ago, when I began my career as an historical interpreter at Waterloo, the village slept indolently among the hills, awakening only rarely and grudgingly to acknowledge the jab of modernity. The air of authenticity was often chilling and visitors sometimes complained of rude ghosts inhabiting porches and garden paths. The story of Waterloo's remarkable rise and decline through an era of turnpikes, canals and railroads captured the eye of the curious beholder.

According to the "State of Ruins," Waterloo received "a line appropriation of $500,000, plus $400,000 in DEP preservation money, as well as a $405,000 grant from the State Council on the Arts" in the 1986-87 state budget alone. That was almost a quarter century ago. How much public money is invested there? Who knows. Most visitors were blissfully unaware the State of New Jersey owned most of the land and buildings. The state also employed a maintenance crew. Over the years, the Waterloo Foundation embodied one of the most highly powered and apparently successful public/private partnerships in the state. But it all crumbled into ruin. How? Was it a lack of professional oversight? Was it a hopeless mismatch of goals?

Today, not only is the historic fabric of the place passing beyond salvation, but an expensive public investment in restaurants, conference centers, concert facilities, gardens, paths, snack bars and bathrooms is rusting and rotting into oblivion. The DEP complains of its burden and invites private interests to ride to the rescue. Dedicated volunteers and an irrepressible church congregation keep the lamp of life burning. But I ask: Is New Jersey the only state in the Union not to have a professionally managed system of publicly owned Historic Sites?

A picture is worth a thousand words. Caution! Put on your hardhat and visit some of the historic sites owned by the people of New Jersey as administered by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Parks & Forestry. Included are scenes depicting the barns on the Rutherfurd-Stuyvesant estate and a rare example of an English stone house in Allamuchy Mountain State Park, High Breeze Farm in Wawayanda State Park, Crill's Log Cabin in Stokes State Forest, and the fading village of Waterloo, complete with a latrine dug into an ancient burying ground, where both Native North Americans and Revolutionary War veterans are interred.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Crill’s Log Cabin, Stokes State Forest

A small lot, comprising three-quarters of an acre on the southeast side of Flatbrook Road in Sandyston Township, was added to Stokes State Forest in February 1988. This property harbors an old log house, commonly known as the “Roper Cabin,” being identified with Roswell M. Roper, who purchased the property in 1946. His sons and heirs, Sherwood and Roswell Roper, Jr., sold the old cabin to the NJ DEP in 1988.

Despite the rarity of its survival, relatively intact and unaltered, this primitive log dwelling sits abandoned and largely ignored. In the twenty-one years since the state acquired it, its fieldstone foundation has crumbled and its sill logs rotted. Collapse into its cellar hole appears imminent. Without immediate appreciation and intervention, its survival is doubtful. If nothing else, this report at least documents this architectural landmark for posterity.

The Crill Cabin uniquely tells the story of Stokes State Forest, a recovering wilderness on the crest of the Blue or Kittatinny Mountains. Frederick Crill, an eccentric woodchopper and collier, built this log house in 1861. He transformed the surrounding woodland into earth-blanketed, smoldering domes of charcoal, making fuel to supply a burgeoning iron industry. Across the valley, Highland furnaces and forges worked overtime to meet wartime demands.

According to historical geographer Peter O. Wacker, log structures mark the initial stage of pioneer settlement, being generally “associated with minimal clearance and a general lack of improvements on the property that contained them.”[1] Following a centuries’ old tradition, Crill stacked interlocking squared logs to form his primitive dwelling. He used American chestnut, a wood known not only for its abundance, but also for its resistant qualities. Unfortunately, after a century of blight, dwindling stump sprouts are all that remain of this stately native species, which was once monarch of the surrounding forest. Crill remained on the land for only six years, abandoning his mortgage payments after either exhausting the local wood supply or confronting a postwar recession.

Stone hedges running through the forest tell the next chapter, testifying that even this glaciated mountain crest was formerly dedicated to agriculture. The extension of the Sussex Railroad to neighboring Branchville, begun in 1866 and completed in 1869, made dairy farming an economically viable pursuit. Beginning in 1867, Augustus Grau, a German immigrant from Saxony, who served with Company C, 173rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, during the Civil War, converted this stump land into pasture and croplands, residing with his wife and son in the small log house along Flatbrook Road. He was severely injured in a fall from his wagon in August 1892 and died on April 9, 1894, aged 66 years. James M. Stoll, of Sandyston Township, took ownership after Grau’s death. Mark Utter resided in the cabin and farmed a portion of the former Grau farm from 1906 to 1924.

Farming persisted until around 1925. Frederick G. Handel, of East Orange, bought the old log house on 13.5 acres, adjacent to Stokes State Forest, in June 1931. The Handels used it for a hunting lodge and summer cabin. His heirs sold to Roswell M. Roper, of East Orange, in 1946. The Ropers added a small wing of log construction to the north gable end of the original house. Roswell Roper’s heirs sold 0.783 acres, situated at the intersection of Skellenger and Flatbrook Roads in Sandyston Township, to the State of New Jersey, DEP, on February 17, 1988, for $38,300.

Log Cabin: Symbol of the American Frontier

Swedish, Finnish, German and Swiss colonists introduced log dwellings to the lower Delaware Valley during the late seventeenth century, making New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania the primary hearth for a type of vernacular construction that would become forever associated with the westward expanding American frontier.[2] Log houses were widely seen on pioneer farmsteads in northwestern New Jersey. When John Iliff settled upon the Wilson Farm at Hall’s Pond (now Lake Iliff, Andover Township, Sussex County) in 1812, he occupied a “log house on the place that had been built by a tenant. There was not a framed house nearer than Andover, Sparta, or Newton.”

Untold Stories

While the great houses of the rich and famous are rightly preserved for public edification, simple dwellings representing the lifestyles of hardworking common folk often fade unnoticed, except in a few instances where company-built workers’ housing survives in association with industrial communities, such as at an ironworks. Crill’s Log Cabin in Stokes State Forest tells a story of the strenuous life and physical hardships, which defined the American Dream for most Americans throughout the nineteenth century, when an unprecedented industrial revolution propelled the United States into the foremost rank of world powers. Except for its decidedly American setting, the story of Frederick Crill reads like an excerpt from the character-rich imagination of Charles Dickens.

Frederick Crill

Frederick Crill was born on March 1, 1815, just across the line in Warren County, probably in Hardwick Township, a son of Joseph and Katie (Card) Crill. He removed to Vernon Township with this parents when four years of age and resided there most of his life. In his younger days, he was employed as a woodchopper and collier along the Vernon range of mountains, residing at “Canistear, Vernon, and other places” during his life. His companions considered him to be quite shrewd and a sort of leader among them. He reportedly lived and died in poor circumstances, despite his shrewdness.

Frederick Crill married three times. He married his first wife in the vicinity of Swartswood, but they separated after living together only two years, both signing a bond, which he authored. She removed to Warren County and remarried. The history of Crill’s second marriage is shrouded in mystery. It was said that he shot his second wife after they lived together but a short time, escaping punishment by claiming it was an accident. He always evaded all questions about the circumstances of this supposed accidental shooting. Shortly thereafter, he married his third wife, Elizabeth, in Paterson.

Frederick Crill was used to handling a gun and was known to shoot partridge. Stephen Smith, who owned the Vernon farm where Crill later resided with his married daughter Eliza, reported that Crill “could shoot well, saw him shoot a crow once flying, as far off as a cannon would shoot.”

Around 1859, he professed conversion at a Methodist revival in Vernon Township, and took to holding meetings at his home and in neighbors’ houses. He received a medical exemption from the draft during the Civil War.

On November 1, 1861, John Wilgus and his wife Eliza sold 54 acres of land and premises, being part of Lot #8 in the Sussex Allotments, situated in Sandyston Township to Frederick Crill, of Lafayette, New Jersey, for $324. Frederick Crill built the log house presently standing on the southeast side of Flatbrook Road in Stokes State Forest, northwest of Lake Ocquittunk.

The log house and premises were sold at Sheriff’s sale on April 1, 1867, to satisfy a debt amounting to $292.16, with interest; the sum secured by a mortgage given by Frederick Crill to John Wilgus in 1861. Augustus Grau, the highest bidder, purchased the property for $400.

Local folk began to notice Crill’s increasingly eccentric behavior. He appeared quite nervous and spasmodic, wearing an overcoat and hat, even in warm weather, and wrapping a tippet or muffler around his neck. He lived almost entirely on molasses, vinegar, sour milk, and bread. Doctors treated him for “dyspepsia, a stomach difficulty,” and some kind of “nervous affliction.” People who knew his family recalled that his mother, Katie Card, had suffered some kind of similar disorder. In 1879, Crill’s daughter, Hannah Crill, testified that he stopped doing any hard labor or working out doors around 1867, corresponding to the date that he lost his Sandyston property. He also reportedly abandoned the practice of religion at this same time, becoming a pettifogger, who tried lawsuits in local courts. He gleaned his legal knowledge from several unbound copies of the laws of New Jersey, which he kept in his room. Members of the bar gave him credit for displaying considerable skills in conducting minor lawsuits.

The Murder of Eliza Babcock

Frederick Crill gained notoriety for the murder of his own 24-year old daughter, Eliza Babcock, on June 5, 1879. Beginning April 1, 1879, Crill’s son-in-law, William Babcock, worked the Stephen Smith farm on Pochuck Mountain, located about two and a half miles from Hamburg, on shares. He had married Frederick Crill’s daughter, Eliza, around 1875. The extended family residing on the Smith farm included William and Eliza Babcock, their two young children, William’s brother, George Babcock, Frederick Crill and his wife Elizabeth.

After the noon meal on June 5, 1879, William Babcock cut some wood and then went to work in a field about 100 yards from his house. When he left, his wife was nursing the baby. Frederick’s wife, Elizabeth Crill, was the only eyewitness to what happened next. She said that Fred Crill entered the house with an old half-bushel measure and placed it in the room. He would later claim that the children were destroying this old measure by cracking nuts on it. His daughter Eliza complained that the house was not the place for it and to return it to the old woodhouse, a small building located about six feet from the kitchen door, which was also used for a summer kitchen. At this, Crill flew into a rage and commenced verbally abusing his daughter. He finally carried the old measure upstairs, where he left it. A short time later, Eliza Babcock went upstairs and brought it down. She then began wringing out a pail of wet clothes.

According to Crill’s own admission, “the trouble came about a half bushel measure which he had taken upstairs and Mrs. Babcock brought it down again; she was talking in her long tongue, and in a passion I shot her.” As Mrs. Crill, who was in the room, passed into a small pantry, just off the kitchen, Crill stepped to a door leading into the sitting room. He took down an old fashioned musket, which hung on two pegs over the door. This musket, which had been converted into a percussion lock, was heavily loaded with No. 3 shot. He then stepped to the center of the room and within a few feet of his daughter, who was stooping down over the wash, with her back partly turned toward him.

Frederick Crill shot Eliza in the temple at close range, while she stood wringing clothes in the kitchen. Crill later told Dr. J. B. Pellet that he did not take aim, saying, “Heavens, no, I just held it out and fired.” The charge entered the right side of her head, creating a triangular wound between the ear and eye, two inches long, blowing out two ounces of brain matter, and leaving powder burns on her face. The shot tore away the exterior portion of her ear, completely shattered her upper jaw, and broke her lower jaw in two places. The hole in the side of her head was reportedly “large enough to insert a hen’s egg.” Her brains oozed out onto the kitchen floor.

Immediately after the shooting, Crill made his way into Hamburg. He stopped to tell Caleb Scott that Eliza was dead and asked Scott to have his “women to go up there and lay her out.” Coe L. Smith, a Hamburg merchant, saw Crill at Smith’s Hotel “and heard him say that he had shot Eliza Babcock and killed her dead and that he wished a thousand times he had done it before.” Charles Woods also heard Crill say, while drinking a glass of liquor at the hotel, “that he had shot Eliza Babcock and was not sorry for it; that he was sorry for the children, but not for her.” Thomas Lawrence, who had known Crill for about 20 years, said that he noticed nothing unusual in Crill’s manner at the hotel that afternoon, but that “he is peculiar at all times.” Lawrence heard him say that “he was taking the gun down to go to the cornfield, after he had it in his hand he saw the half bushel measure out of its place, spoke to his daughter about it, became angered and shot her; he had lived in hell for years.”
Frederick Crill surrendered to Justice Jacob B. Hendershot in front of Smith’s Hotel in Hamburg.

During his trial, Frederick Crill sat beside his counsel, “closely enveloped in his overcoat, with his tippet drawn tightly about his neck and over his mouth.” The reporter for the Sussex Independent noted he was “allowed to keep his hat on and occasionally gets up and moves around within the bar.” The defense pleaded insanity. After deliberating for about seven and a half hours, the jury convicted him of first-degree murder. Crill’s counsel requested a new trial, claiming that one of the jurors was deaf and unable to hear the testimony; the appeal was denied. Governor George McClellan gave him a brief reprieve, but Crill was hung outside the Sussex County Court House in April 1880. At his request, he was buried in the cemetery of the Vernon Methodist Church, beside his son and daughter.

A Word About Stokes State Forest

Governor Edward C. Stokes established our system of state forest parks in 1905 to restore and protect watersheds, potable streams, woodlands and wildlife, while providing public parklands for nature outings, camping and picturesque drives. Fittingly, when the State Board of Forest Park Commissioners purchased 5,432 acres on Kittatinny Mountain, near Culvers Gap, in May 1907, it was named to honor the “Father of the Conservation Movement in New Jersey.”

Over the past century, Stokes State Forest has tripled to nearly 16,000 acres. Between 1933 and 1941, the Civilian Conservation Corps, housed there in two forest camps, undertook extensive reforestation and the construction of Lakes Ocquittunk and Wapalanne (now the NJ School of Conservation), beaches, bathhouses, hiking trails, scenic roads, bridges, benches, parking lots, picnic tables, fireplaces, cabins, and shelters. This rustic park architecture remains unexcelled in its quality of craftsmanship and scenic values.

[1] Peter O. Wacker, The Musconetcong Valley of New Jersey, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1968, 82

[2] Ibid., 76-77

"A perpetual memorial to coming ages"

Several years ago, my wife and I were dining in downtown Freehold. We were astonished when our young waiter, being a local resident and graduated from local schools, knew nothing of the Monmouth Battle Monument on Court Street in Freehold. He was only vaguely aware of the Revolutionary War battle that it commemorated.

Joel Parker of Freehold, Governor of New Jersey in 1863-66 and 1872-75, suggested erection of a commemorative monument during an address delivered June 28, 1877, at ceremonies marking the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth. The Monmouth Battle Monument Association was formed in October of that same year with Joel Parker, president, and Major James S. Yard, editor of the Monmouth Democrat, secretary. Three representatives were chosen from each township in Monmouth County and county residents subscribed $10,000 to the project. Monument Park, comprising 3-1/4 acres on a knoll near Freehold's main thoroughfare, was donated by the heirs of Daniel S. Schanck, namely, Mary A. Schanck, Theodore W. Morris, Alice C. Schanck, Andrew H. Schanck, Daniel S. Shanck and George E. Schanck. Governor George B. McClellan laid the cornerstone on the date of the battle's 100th anniversary. The State of New Jersey appropriated $10,000 in 1881 and, a year later, Congress appropriated additional funds for its completion.

Architects Emelin T. Littell and Douglas Smythe designed the Monmouth Battle Monument. Maurice J. Power, of the New York National Art Foundry, designed the gun-metal bronze reliefs, which were executed by sculptor James E. Kelly. The monument was made of polished, New England granite at a cost of $36,000. Three granite spurs form an equilateral triangle at the base of the shaft with cannon at each angle. The sides of these spurs are inscribed: "Monmouth Lost Great Britain America," "One Country," and "One People." Above the base is a large circular step displaying twenty medallion portraits of prominent officers who participated in the battle. Above this step, the drum-shaped base of the shaft bears five bas-relief panels, each five feet high and six feet long, executed by James E. Kelly, illustrating incidents from the battle:

1. The Council of War at Hunt's House, Hopewell. This scene takes place on the morning of June 24, 1778, in a low-raftered room with a tall chimney-piece, it being the southeast room of Hunt's House, Hopewell. Present at the Council were Generals Washington, Lee, Greene, Stirling, Lafayette, Knox, Enoch Poor, Baron von Steuben, Anthony Wayne, William Woodford, John Paterson, Charles Scott, Duportail and Colonel Alexander Scammell. Washington, standing on the far side of the table, listens to Lafayette urge an attack upon the British. The table is covered with an out-spread map of New Jersey. Alexander Hamilton is seated to Lafayette's right, following the proposed plan of attack on the map with a pair of pointers. Colonel Daniel Morgan, dressed in hunter's attire, listens intently. General Anthony Wayne and Brigadier General John Cadwallader stand in the background. Generals Nathaniel Greene and Henry Knox, chief of artillery, are seated to Lafayette's left. Behind them, General Charles Lee looks on with an air of indifference.

2. Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Ramsey's single-handed combat with British dragoons. Colonel Ramsey of the Third Maryland Regiment promised Washington to hold his position with two cannon, manned by Eleazer Oswald and crew, until the Commander-in-Chief had deployed the main army. The British Light Horse charged, but he stuck to his post. The artist shows Ramsey beside Eleazer Oswald's cannon, about to plunge his sword into a British cavalryman whose horse has fallen under him. The Lieutenant-Colonel tried to mount the fallen Dragoon's horse, but was wounded in the attempt. To the right, another British horseman levels his pistol at Ramsey. The retreat of the American advance corps and the old Monmouth County Court House are depicted on the left of the panel. Lt. Colonel Ramsey killed several British dragoons before being captured; he was returned to General Washington the next day by General Tarleton with a note commending his bravery.

3. Washington Rallies His Troops. Washington's approach at a full gallop is greeted by cheers and the waving of hats. In the distance, artillery pushes forward to check the enemy advance.

4. Molly Pitcher serving the gun. This panel depicts Molly, twenty-two years old, with her wounded husband lying at her feet, taking his place at a cannon, rammer in hand. The sponge-bucket with which she had supplied the crew with water lies discarded on the ground. A soldier with is right arm in a sling, carries a cannonball on his left arm. Another is prepared to fire the piece. In the background, the horses of the field-piece are placed between the gun carriage and the caisson to protect the gunpowder. To the right, General Knox on horseback holds a field-glass to his eye. Freehold Meeting-house stands in the distance.

5. The death of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Monckton of the Second Grenadiers Battalion. The artist depicts the death of Lt. Colonel Monckton who led the Royal Grenadiers' charge against Americans under General Anthony Wayne near the Parsonage. Hand-to-hand combat rages over his fallen form. General Wayne on horseback is shown to the left.

The coats of arms of the thirteen original States, festooned with laurel leaves, are mounted above the historical tableaux. "Monmouth" is incised upon a smaller drum near the base. The column consists of three sections, joined with rings of bay leaves, and crowned with a Composite capital and a statue of the Goddess of Liberty. Governor Leon Abbett unveiled the monument on November 13, 1884, before a crowd of twenty thousand people. It stands close to the spot where the Queen's Rangers encountered the vanguard of the American army, comprised of the Ninth Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Colonel Richard Butler.

Washington Dined Here

Until its destruction by fire on November 16, 1857, the County Hotel stood at the corner of High Street and Park Place in Newton, NJ, facing the Courthouse Yard, otherwise known as the Green. Politicians frequented this popular resort, sipping their toddy while mulling over headlines and rumors, arguing the leading issues of their time. General Washington was entertained at this hotel on the night of July 26, 1782, on his way from Philadelphia to Newburgh, NY. In 1919, a local correspondent recalled as "a boy, he frequently heard the older residents when seated about a comfortable fire in one of the Spring Street stores, smoking their pipes and discussing the topics of those early days, tell of a second visit of Washington to Newton, when they said he was entertained overnight at the home of the late William T. Anderson, on Park Place, and where for many years the name of Washington was engraved on a panel above an open fireplace. This house is still standing, and is occupied by Mrs. Cox, on Main Street, having been removed to its present site when the Park Block was built."

According to an account published in the New Jersey Herald in 1871: “The building on the upper side of the [County] Park, [opposite the Court House in Newton, NJ] now the residence of Capt. Thomas Anderson, has two wings on its eastern and western extremities. The central part of this house is of modern date [circa 1785], but the two wings formed the residence of the Thomas Anderson above spoken of, prior to and during the Revolutionary war. They stood together, the part nearest the M. E. Church, was used as the dwelling place of Mr. Anderson, while the lower story of the other part was occupied by him as an office. The upper part he converted into a storeroom for the storage of the commissary goods, which Sussex furnished for the support of the American army. In this house General Washington stopped while on his way from Easton to Newburgh, and dined with Mr. Anderson. An old lady upwards of eighty years of age, now residing in Newton, informs us that she was told when very young, by good authority, that on this visit a number of the prominent families of our town wished to do the great chieftain all the honor possible in these primitive days, and so set before him all the silver ware at their disposal, together with the choicest eatables to be then obtained. But to their surprise Washington rebuked them for the display, remarking that it was inappropriate at a time when soldiers in the field were suffering for the necessaries of life.“

According to General Washington’s expense account, he stayed at Sussex Court-House (Newton, NJ) on November 28, 1780, while en route to the cantonment at New Windsor. It is also thought that he quartered for the night in Newton on July 26, 1782, after dining at Hope en route to Newburgh. On the occasion of his first visit, the Commander-in-Chief stayed at the old County Hotel, which burned in 1857. It occupied the site of the former County Hall of Records at the corner of High Street and Park Place, now being restored under private ownership. Washington dined down the block at the residence of Thomas Anderson.

Thomas Anderson died on May 27, 1805, aged 62 years, and is buried in the Old Newton Burial Ground. The homestead was occupied by his son, Major William T. Anderson (1777-1850), an attorney prominent in town and county affairs. On February 18, 1895, the Anderson property at the corner of Main Street and Park Place was sold to Newton merchants Huston,VanBlarcom & Ackerson to make way for Newton's largest and most prestigious commercial building, the Park Block. The old Thomas Anderson House, however, where Washington dined with the town's leading patriot, was not to fall victim to progress. Instead, contractors O'Donnell & McManiman employed a team of twenty horses in April 1896 to drag the old landmark from Park Place to the southwest corner of the lot facing Main Street, where it was to be refurbished and modernized. On March 29, 1898, John Huston, Andrew Van Blarcom and William D. Ackerson sold the renovated house to Dr. Emerson B. Potter for $5,000. The property came into possession of its present owners on May 3, 1965, when Martin R. Snook and his wife, Anna, sold the Anderson House to the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ Church.

Catch the High Breeze

High Breeze Farm in Wawayanda State Park encompasses 172 acres of mountain farmland. The houses and farm buildings have seen few changes since 1910. Peter Demarest built the main farm house around 1830 on land that he inherited from his father, David Demarest, in 1826. The farm passed to Peter’s older brother Samuel in 1838, who sold it to David Barret in 1860.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), a 200-acre farm in Sussex County could yield $5,000 worth of produce. The Long Depression (1873-1881) collapsed land values and induced hardship. By 1900, railroads brought large machine-worked farms on the Midwestern Plains into competition with the Atlantic seaboard. Farm workers migrated to city factories, encouraging the use of labor-saving machinery. Sussex County farmers increasingly specialized in producing milk and orchard fruits. Lakeside and mountaintop farms took in summer vacationers for income.

Before his death in 1891, David Barret divided the farm between his son James and grandson Ferris. James Edward Barret (1840-1913) added a two-story addition to the house for summer boarders around 1891. James’ son Ferris (1861-1945) dismantled this wing about 1914 and specialized in horse breeding. He was also a skilled blacksmith and farrier. Luther J. Barret (1909-1986) took over management upon his father’s death in 1945. He also was an accomplished farrier and horse breeder, who used only horse-drawn farm machinery. Although electric lighting came in 1948, indoor plumbing and central heating were never installed. High Breeze Farm thus offers a rare glimpse into our vanishing rural heritage.

The State of NJ acquired High Breeze Farm in 1981. After spending a considerable sum on studies and stabilization, this State Historic Site was abandoned to the elements. Though rapidly deteriorating, the remaining structures include:

1. Main House, circa 1825

2. Summer Kitchen/ Wagon Shed, circa 1880

3. Garage, circa 1925

4. Privy #1

5. Privy #2

6. Privy #3

7. Well House, stone and lattice well housing built 1940

8. Lower Barn, 1887

9. Chicken Coop #1, circa 1930

10. Chicken Coop #2, circa 1887

11. Metal Corn Crib (patented 1909), installed 1955

12. Upper Barn, 1886

13. Machinery Shed, circa 1935

14. Tenant House, built 1909 for Frerris Barret

15. Blacksmith Shop, circa 1860

16. Corn Crib (circa 1860) and Wagon Shed moved and rebuilt in 1910

17. Privy #4