Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coopertown Meeting House Event 12/4/10

I had a nice note from Sue Huesken today and she gave me information on another event coming up this weekend.  Here's her note with the event and a link:

Nice blog. Thank you for the publicity.
Do you know about http://www.westjerseyhistory.org/index.shtml ?
Are you planning to set up a calendar of events?
The Coopertown Meeting House (1806) will be open on Sat Dec 4 Noon-4
Current home of the Riverfront Historical Society (Beverly, Edgewater Park & Delanco) Burlington County.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Colonial Costumes Resources

Today I had the great pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Sue Hueskin, who has published two delightful books:  Had on and Took With Her (a compilation of notices on run-away indentured servants and slaves, what they wore and what they stole) and Colonial Burlington Cooker (a fascinating book of "receipts" from Plly Burling from April 1770.  Sue ran across the little original book of "receipts" (the Colonial word for recipe's) at the Burlington Historical Society and with permission and help, she made a fascinating book featuring Polly Burling's receipts as well as commentary on the food, taste, and other aspects of Colonial living. 

Sue and her husband are re-enactors and sutlers.  They are also volunteers at historic sites such as the Griffith Morgan House in Pennsauken.  I've met Sue often at events, most recently at the big Whitall House event, the re-enactment of the October 1777 battle.  I brought a couple of other volunteers who do tours at Whitall House with me.  One of them also sews costumes.  We had planned to do some sewing together but the pattern I ordered from Smoke and Fire had been put on a 3 week waiting list, so I decided to skip the sewing and see Sue about buying some ready-mades.

Sue's family had owned a fabric shop, which is how she got started in this business.  She sold fabric and patterns for re-enactors, then she got into sewing and hired a skilled tailor who now does a significant portion of the sewing because, as she said, "he's just so much faster at it than I am."  I can vouch for his work.  It is superb.  The fabric is beautiful, the quality impressive, and I was so taken with the samples she had to offer that I ended up buying a bodice, petticoat, apron, shift, and lined hooded cape!  My other volunteer friends and I bought books too.  They make unique and interesting gifts.  If you'd like to buy Sue's books or contact her about costumes, here is her information:
Sue Huesken
Rancocas Merchant
33 Pancoast Blvd.
Delran, NJ 08075

RanMer Publishing
P.O.Box 542
Riverside, NJ 08075

Wharton Tour Dec. 5, Sunday and Griffith Morgan Correction

The Batsto Citizens Committee, Inc. is presenting The Wharton Homes of the Gilded Age, Sunday, Dec. 5 at the Batsto Visitors' Center Auditorium at 1:00 until 3:00.  The Wharton family owned three mansions, one at Batsto, another in Philadelphia and a third in Rhode Island.  The Chair of the Batsto Committee, Bill Schaal, will give a talk followed by a tour of the Batsto mansion which will be decorated for the holidays.  The cost for the lecture, the tour, and refreshments is only $10.  Some of my friends and I plan to go early and have a hike in the woods.  See you there!

Correction:  Robert Fisher-Hughes, head of the Pennsauken Historical Society which manages the two beautiful houses, Griffith Morgan House off River Road, and Burrough Dover House, off Haddonfield Road, in Pennsauken, contacted me to update the contact information which was from an old brochure. 
Griffith Morgan House, off River Rd., Pennsauken, NJ 08110 (856)486-9561 or e-mail GriffithMorganHouse@yahoo.com mailing address is P.O.Box 522

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Costumed History Interpreters - where the costumes come from.

Those of you who know me personally know that I am a tour guide at two historic houses, James and Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park (for 3 years) and the Indian King Tavern (just started this summer.)  Also, I work for a couple of groups doing presentations at schools and other venues.  Most recently, I did presentations on Colonial Living at a school in Cherry Hill for Camden County Historical Society, and a presentation in honor of Thanksgiving for Atco Senior Citizen Center.  For all of these kinds of activities, of course, you need period appropriate apparel. 

My first outfit, a shift, bodice, apron and petticoat, was hand sewn by me, both to see what it felt like to make a full set of clothes by hand, and also because my sewing maching broke!  My second and more appropriate set of clothes, linen instead of homespun, for example, was purchased from Joseph Townsend Company.  Recently I ordered a pattern for a new costume from Smoke & Fire Company, 27 N. River Rd.,
Waterville, Ohio 43566-1449, 1-800-766-5334, e-mail:store@smoke-fire.com.

On Monday, November 29th, I'll be visiting well-known sutler, costume researcher and creator, and re-enactor, Sue Hueskin.  Sue is also the author and co-author of a couple of well known booklets on the subject of appropriate period clothing.  One that I really enjoy is called "Had On An Took With Her."
It is a compilation of descriptions of the clothing worn and taken by escaped indentured servants, slaves, and others who left their place of employment under less than desireable circumstances.  The descriptions of the clothes worn by the fugitives is enlightening, and the descriptions of the people often hilarious and amazing, such as the woman described as having"filed teeth."  You can get the book by contacting Sue Hueskin at 856-461-3369.  You can use that number to contact her to set up an appointment to buy ready made clothes, patterns, or other supplies as well, or to find out where she will be camping at an event with a sutler's tent. 

The history world has many overlaps.  I've seen Sue at re-enactments at Fort Mercer, Red Bank Battlefield, and at a meeting of the volunteers of the Griffith Morgan House in Pennsauken, NJ.  I'll be back to blog on what new holiday items I've been able to buy during my visit to Sue's place on Monday.

Gabriel Daveis Tavern Open House

On November 21st, a friend and I attended the open house at the Gabriel Daveis Tavern.  The spelling of Daveis name is his own and from the Colonial period.  The open house was truly delightful.  The house is beautiful and each room was decorated by a class of school children.  Refreshments were provided in every room and there were tour guides in each room as well.  The high point of the visit for me, this time, was the opportunity to view the newly restored landscape painting that had been painted by Mr. Shuck, the previous owner of the house.  He had left the house and its contents to Gloucester Township.  Mr. Shuck is buried on the on the grounds and there is a memorial and area to sit near his grave.

The painting had been done (so I am told) on oilcloth taken from the floor of a slave cabin that was once nearby.  The painting is beautiful, very well done.  I have an Art degree and am a painter myself.  It was also inspiring to me that the volunteers and preservationists honored Mr. Shuck by having his work professionally cleaned.  It is incredibly generous of him to have left this property to the township to use to acquaint people with the history of the area and the way of life of people of that time and place. 

During the season, the house is open on alternating Sundays.  Information on visiting can be found by contacting the e-mail address listed for the tavern in my column of addresses.  It is always best to confirm a date in advance.  Later, I will write more on the history of the house. 

A children's chorus provided holiday entertainment outside on the grounds and a some volunteers kept a small bonfire going in the parking lot.  It was a really pleasant family event.  I met some people there who had brought their children and remembered visiting the house when the previous owner, Mr. Shuck was still alive.  They had fond memories of him and said he was a kind man who always had time to talk to them.  This is a wonderful way to honor his memory.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Response from Ed Mauger of Philadelphia On Foot, and Assoc. Phila. Tour Guides

Dear JoAnn and Correspondents:
     Thanks for this info.  let me add DECK THE ALLEY, the annual holiday open house on Elfreth's Alley, from 4 to 7 pm, Saturday, December 4.  About a dozen of the residents open their decorated houses to the public: add carolers, refreshments, and Benjamin Franklin himself for a good time.  There's also a high-end colonial Christmas option, complete with carriage ride, reception at the mansion of Franklin's wine merchant and an  authentic 18th century feast at City Tavern.
     Reputedly America's oldest residential street (309 yrs. old), most of the half million yearly visitors miss the back story about the colonial residents - the effects of religious freedom in a colony with no heavy tax to support an established church: the Free African tailor moving in with his bride, the Jewish merchant who helped found Mikveh Israel, the French pirate who eventually became the richest man in America, the two women who ran their own successful business (and owned their own home at a time most rented).
   Philadelphia was "paradise for artisans and hell for preachers and politicians." 
    Check out the Elfreth's Alley website for full details.      
            Happy Thanksgiving.             Ed Mauger

Saturday, November 20, 2010

27th Annual NJ History Conference - NJ Forum, Monmouth Univ.

Today, Barb Solem, author of Ghosttowns of the NJ Pines and Other Quirky Places, and I attended the NJ Forum.  Our first program was Panel 1:  American Revolution.  Three presenters gave information on Monmouth County in NJ during the Rev., Loyalist Estate Seizures, and The Fate of Slavery in NJ.  It was interesting and I really enjoy the new focus on the individual in historical context.  Also, I'm interested in what happened to ordinary citizens during the Revolution and we learned quite a bit about that, how the forming of militia allowed for the rise of men into local politics, for example. 

We attended Panel 4:  Pickets, Progressives and Pageants, Woemn and Social Change in NJ, but only for the first presenter who spoke on Cornelia Bradfords Role in the NJ Settlement House Movement.  She was interesting and had visuals which was a helpful boost.  I must say that listening to a historican read from his paper for half an hour can be challenging to even the most dedicated history fan.  A little color goes a long way, especially in a WHOLE day of history presentations.  We moved before the next two speakers because we had already heard them.  One of them is EXCELLENT, Mary Walton, author of A Woman's Crusade:  Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot, but I'd heard her speak and bought her book at Women's Equality Day at Paulsdale in August.

We wanted to hear Panel 5:  Rich Man, Poor Man, Pioneer, Theirf:  Rethinking EArthfast Architecture in NJJ, c.1680-1799, Michael Gall.  We missed the first part (due to attendance at Panel 4, so we only caught the end, but we had the chance to hear the entire presentation on the upcoming restoration of the house of James Still.  That presentation was entitled The James Still Office:  Hidden Treasure Lies Beneath, by Suzanna Barucco, Dir. of Historic Pres., KSK Architects, etc.   I'd always wanted to see the interior and had driven by the house many times and heard a number of presenters both on James Still and his family, including William Still, the famous Underground Railroad operative in Pa.  It will be interesting to see where this goes in the future, how the place is restored and what the focus in the interior will become.  I'm pleased and hopeful that this place has been saved.

The day was long - there were too many wonderful topics to choose from, and the historic building in which the symposium was held was breathtakingly beautiful in architectural detail.  It is called Woodrow Wilson Hall.  The mansion was built in 1929 for about 10.5 million by the president of Woolworth Company, Hubert Templeton Parson and his wife Maysie.  It is in the French style Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  Well worth the visit in and of itself.

Now I'm off to Albert Hall in Waretown for some pickin' music! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

December Holiday Tours 2010 (and what happened in October!)

Indian King Tavern - December 3rd, Friday night from 6:00 to 9:00 and Saturday 4th from 1:00 to 4:00.
Indian King Tavern is on Kings Hwy. in Haddonfield, check the address on the side bar.  It is a beautifully restored tavern where, during the Revolutionary War, New Jersey was declared a state and no longer a colony.  Taverns were the hub of society in the colonial period.

Gabriel Daveis (Colonial spelling by Gabriel himself) Open House November 21st, Dec. 5th from 1-4 and December 12th - you can contact jcalabrese@glotwp.com to confirm dates and times.
This tavern served the riverboat trade, the watermen, as well as the local folks and was built in 1750's on the Big Timber Creek.  It is located down 3rd Street, off the Black Horse Pike in Glendora.  There is a small yellow street sign at the turn off the pike.

James & Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park will hold the candlelight tours on Friday the 10th of December from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. and on the 11th from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m.
This is the site of the historic river battle where the British warship the August was set ablaze and where 300 brave Continental soldiers held the fort against 2000 Hessian Mercenaries in October of 1777.  It's a handsomely furnished and maintained house in a beautiful park overlooking the Delaware River.

My first blog responder gave us this date:  Barclay Farmstead will hold Holiday Open House on November 19th through 21st from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturfday and noon to 5 on Sunday.  In addition, there is open house on Sunday Dec. 5th from 1 - 4 and on Jan. 2, 2011, from 1-4.

If you go, let us know!

Now for what happened in historic house in October:
The Knight's Collings House on Collings Ave, in Collingswood, right on the corner of Knight's Park, held SHADES OF POE theatrical event Oct. 15 through 31st.  If you're wondering why I'm telling you about an even that has already passed, it is because if you find it interesting, you can remember it for next year.  This blog wasn't operating in October, so I couldn't let you know.  It is a wonderful presentation where six actors channel characters from Poe's works such as "The Raven."  Each room in the house has an actor giving the performance and the tour was guided by an actor in the guise of Edgar Allen Poe himself.  The house was built in 1825 and gives tours other times of the year. 

Camden County Historical Society Trolley Tour of Cam. Co. Historical Hot Spots followed by refreshments at Victor's Pub, October 24.  We took three open air trolleys to some of Camden County's little known and interesting historic sites including the Gabriel Daveis Tavern, Laurel Springs and the three mineral springs that used to bring luminaries such as Walt Whitman for the healing powers of the water, and his tomb (which you may think speaks ill of the powers of the waters to heal, but remember he lived a L O N G life, especially for those times!)  We visited Lawnside's historic African American spots such at the Peter Mott House, Dreamland Cafe' and Mount Peace and Mt. Pisgah cemeteries among many other places of interest.
During the refreshments at Victor's Pub, we were treated to a lecture on Twisted History.  Camden County Historical Society is located at 1900 Park Blvd. right behind Lady of Lourdes Hosp. (856)964-3333 and they have a very good website at 222.cchsnj.com.  Hoag Levins writes for them and he has a great column on historic cemeteries archived at that site.  I visited all the cemeteries he mentioned and it was worth it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Batsto, Wharton State Forest

Upcoming Event at Batsto:  The Wharton Homes of the Gilded Age, Sunday Dec. 5, Batsto Visitors' Center Auditorium from 1:00 - 3:00 pm, registration suggested - call 609-561-1665.  Lecture part of Batsto Citizens Committee Iinc. Lecture Series, Bill Schaal lecturer.

On Sunday and Monday, November 14, 15, 2010, I visited Batsto with some friends.   I've been visiting Batsto from my mid-teen years, and it has changed in many ways.  There was that idyllic period post Bicentennial when the workers houses had actual living people making pottery, weaving, carving duck decoys and the fields had sheep, geese, ducks, chickens and the stables housed horses.  In the intervening years, the museum expanded and the village contracted, but the museum is wonderful.  In the late summer, I visited with my nephew who was doing a history project for school.  That gave me the drive to really read the museum walls, where I especially enjoyed the family history/tree segment.

Each time I go, there is something new.  On Sunday, I watched the short and interesting film in the auditoreum.  On Monday, I returned with my camera (which I had left home the day before) because I wanted to photograph the mill, which I had never been inside before, ever!  I took dozens of photos of the gristmill, corn crib, sawmill, stables, iron forge, wheelwright workshop, interiors of workers houses, and the mill dam.  It was a great time to visit, not crowded, wonderful weather, and EVERYTHING open except the mansion.

On Sunday, there was also a MoPar classic car rally! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gloucester County Historical Society, Woodbury, NJ

Last night from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. members of the Gloucester County Historical Society (17 Hunter St., Woodbury, NJ 09096 856-845-4771) were given a tour of the way to figure out "chains, rods, perches" and other measurements used on deeds.  This was a two part workshop.  The first part, October 28th, dealt with how to use deeds to "establish and confirm" family relationships in genealogy.  The second part was about the terms used and how to actually apply the measurements to figure out the 'lay of the land' so to speak.  Our presenter was Glenn J. Bingham, who teaches at Rowan, among other places. 

So much of our history is preserved and conserved by volunteers, that I felt, after I retired, that I'd "put my hand to the plow" so to speak, and support this effort while I learn the history and how to do genealogy.
Last night, I volunteered to help out at the library.  That will be my fourth formal volunteer committment.  The first is as a helper in the Paulsdale research library, Hooten Rd., Mount Laurel, NJ.  The second is as a tour guide at the James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.  The third is as a tour guide at the Indian King Tavern, Haddonfield, NJ, and also, I'm helping with the revamping of educational programming with Linda Hess, director.  This is my fourth, and possible final committment other than the facebook page I've just started and this blog.  My job at the Glo. Co. Libr. will be to scan and title photographs so that they can be searched in an on-line database.  I'll start next week. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Historic Places in South Jersey

November 2010
As a volunteer at two historic houses in South Jersey, and a member in three other historic organizations, it came to me that it would be helpful to other historic sites to have a central place where special events can be posted and a list of resources.  Each month, I will feature a historic house with information on events, location, contacts, and a brief history.

To begin, I'd like to feature the James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.
If you'd like to visit, there are two evenings coming up in the month of December when the house will be open for touring.  The Candlelight Tour will take place on Friday evening, December 10 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and on Saturday, December 11, from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. 

James and Ann Whitall House is a significant historical spot where a land and water battle took place in October of 1777.  Approximately 2000 Hessian mercenary soldiers under the command of Colonel VonDonop attacked Fort Mercer which had been constructed by the Continental forces on the land of the Whitall family.  Fort Mercer, along with Fort Mifflin, on the Pennsylvania side of the river, and Fort Billings further south on the New Jersey side, had been constructed to defend the Delaware River.  The British were occupying Philadelphia and needed to suppy their army. 

The British naval force included the mighty Augusta.  The American navy consisted mainly of row galleys.  Fort Mifflin had endured heavy bombardment.  Fort Mercer was defended by approximately three hundred Contiental soldiers from a Rhode Island regiment under the command of Colonel Christopher Greene.  A young blacksmith's apprentice named Jonas Cattel, ran from Haddonfield to warn the troops at Fort Mercer that the Hessians were coming.  When they attacked, in a ferocious battle lasting about 40 minutes, the Hessians lost most of their officers.  Without adequate command, they regrouped and retreated.  Their Colonel died a few days later from wounds received at that battle.

The National Park on which the Whitall house stands has a fine view of the Delaware River and a walking trail, covered picnic shelters, many benches upon which visitors sit to watch the sunset over the river, and monthly special events throughout the year.  Perhaps the biggest event of the year is the battle re-enactment which takes place every October, usually the week of the 22nd.