It was our great good fortune to be hiking at Batsto on Sunday when the Blacksmith, Toby Kroll was working with an apprentice in the Blacksmith building near the Wharton mansion. We had hiked the nature trail, my friend Barb Solem, her dog Oskar and my dog Trixie, and I. And we had enjoyed our picnic lunch in the shady picnic area adjacent to the parking lot. We decided to walk through the village next and we stopped at the outbuildings. I wanted to see my favorite the Stagecoach, and Barb was interested in what they had in general as she is writing a book on Batsto.
Toby was very generous with his time, attention and also very informative. It is hard to remember all you hear when you visit historic places and take the tours, or speak with the docents. I'm often interested in what bits of information stick with me. I have a notably poor memory. This time one very interesting thing that Toby told us was that there had been, in early days (18th and 19 centiuries) quite a few women blacksmiths.
He said so many men were taken for war that father soften introduced their daughters to the art of blacksmithing and also, wives often took over when husbands were taken for service. Toby talked to us about appreenticeship and the 'secrets' of the trade, how blacksmiths were closed mouthed about their trade secrets. Also he talked about how the Blacksmith shop was often a gathering place for men waiting for things to be mended or horses to be shod.
If you are interested in this ancient art and would like to learn more, you can visit or contact:
Three Cedars Forge
Toby attends events and works at various reenactment sites. He used to come to our big October event at Red Bank Battlefield before the untimely demise of our former Curator, Megan Giordano.
Next Up - The Civilian Conservation Corps in New Jersey
Some 5 years ago, I did a presentation on this topic for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance out of the Historical Society building at Egg Harbor Twp. I still have my Power Point Presentation and I'm sharing the information with a Batsto docent named Wes Hughes, so I thought I would do a series on this blog about that topic as this is the 80th anniversary of the CCC. That will be my next blog entry.
As always you can contact me at
Happy Trails! Jo Ann