Monday, September 13, 2010

Baron von Steuben and his Jersey Estate at Historic New Bridge Landing

Baron von Steuben and his Jersey Estate at Historic New Bridge Landing.

From 1 to 5 PM on Sunday, September 26, 2010, the Bergen County Historical Society honors Major-General Friedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben at Historic New Bridge Landing, 1201-1209 Main Street, River Edge, NJ 07661. Re-enactors of the Third NJ Regiment (aka Jersey Blues) will demonstrate military dress and skills of the American Revolution. Displaying Jersey Dutch artifacts and furnishings, the Steuben and Demarest Houses will be open to visitors. Refreshments and a gift shop are available in the Campbell-Christie House, a restored tavern house dating back to 1774. A Jersey Dutch Out Kitchen will demonstrate culinary arts of the period. At 4 PM, historian Kevin Wright will speak in the Steuben House on Baron von Steuben and his Jersey Estate, emphasizing his significant contribution to the training and organization of the American army. The Bergen County Historical Society is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) volunteer organization, founded in 1902 to develop public appreciation for Bergen County's remarkable history. We are not a government agency and do not receive government grants or funding. Membership is welcome. For further information about the Bergen County Historical Society and its programs, visit: or call 201-343-9492.

On this occasion, the Bergen County Historical Society will also launch its new campaign, Follow The Flag, to promote recognition of New Bridge in Bergen County, New Jersey, as an important battleground of the American Revolution and to weave a narrative from the contributions of every person and place associated with this historic struggle for self-government. Visitors are invited to view a Hopkinson Flag, hand sewn from wool bunting by Margaret Haggerty, an accomplished fabric artist, and her friend Helen Clark. To physically link the stories of our Revolutionary heritage, the Bergen County Historical Society hopes to have this beautiful reproduction flown over every Historic Site in the thirteen original states that is associated with the American Revolution, keeping record of its journey from place to place. Francis Hopkinson, of Bordentown, New Jersey, is credited with designing the first United States flag, taking the short but significant step from the Continental Colors to the first Stars and Stripes. No original version survives, but John Trumbull’s painting, The Death Of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, includes a representation showing the blue canton with stars arranged in five columns.

The Zabriskie-Steuben House in River Edge is an important historic memorial to the German immigrant who trained and organized the Continental troops. On December 23, 1783, the NJ Legislature presented the use and income of the confiscated estate of Jan Zabriskie at New Bridge to Baron von Steuben on condition he “hold, occupy and enjoy the said estate in person, and not by tenant.” General Philemon Dickinson wrote the Baron, informing him that he could comply with the terms of the gift “by keeping a bed & Servants there & visiting the premises now & then.” In 1786, Steuben leased the mansion and gristmill to Jan Zabriskie, son of its former Loyalist owner, who operated the store and mill in partnership with Steuben’s aide-de-camp, Captain Benjamin Walker. In 1788, the Baron offered to sell his “large well-built stone house, thoroughly rebuilt lately … situated on the bank of the river by which produce can be conveyed to New York in a few hours, and sloops of 40 tons burden may load and discharge along side of the mill.” Ever since, this landmark of Bergen Dutch sandstone architecture has carried the name of the Prussian Inspector-General of the Continental troops.

Established in Elizabeth, NJ, under Col. Elias Dayton in 1776, the Third NJ Regiment saw action at Scotch Plains, Brandywine, and Germantown. Wintering at Valley Forge in 1778, Lt. Col. Francis, of the Third NJ, assisted General von Steuben in drilling the troops. The Regiment fought at Monmouth and Springfield before joining the siege and final victory at Yorktown in 1781.

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