Located in the Amwell Valley of southern Hunterdon County is Ringoes; the oldest known settlement in Hunterdon County. It lies at the intersection of two of the region's most important early roads: Old York Road and the Trenton/ Pittstown road, also known as County Route 579. Trenton/ Pittstown road is now known as John Ringo Road . The village still boasts buildings that date back to the Revolution.
The village grew up around John Ringo's Tavern on Route 179 on the Old York Road. The tavern is where the Hunterdon Chapter of Sons of Liberty was organized in 1766 and where the Hunterdon County Freeholders penned a Resolution that led to the July 2, 1776 formation of the independent State of New Jersey. Philip Ringo, who was a nephew of the first John Ringo, received a deed for a five-acre plot and opened the tavern. Twenty years later, the tavern was handed over to Philip’s son, John (the second), and the business gained its place in local history. John Ringo was an outspoken person and threw himself into the Rebel cause and joined the Sons of Liberty.
John Ringo came to the area to hide out from some pirates who were after him for hijacking their ship with their loot. But this wasn't done without good reason. It is said that he was kidnapped by pirates and put to work on a slave ship. With the help of some of the other slaves, they joined together to overtake the pirates. They sailed to New York City, where Ringo sold all the cargo that the pirates had except a heavy chest. After opening the chest, he found it to be filled with gold. This is where the legend of John Ringoes Gold comes from. John Ringo believed the gold to be cursed and refused to spend it and buried the gold in Ringoes. Many still have tried and failed to find the gold. How serious is this? Well here is a quote I found online:
"Although this is "just" a legend, when two subdivisions were built over the last few years just behind the site of the John Ringo's Tavern in Ringoes, the land was deed restricted by East Amwell Township NJ to state that any gold found on the property in the process of excavating for the houses would belong to the Township."
Ringoes railroad station is one of the few surviving Hunterdon County examples of an earlier rail station and the only one to retain its original function.
Ringoes is also the location of The BRW also known as the Black River and Western Railroad. It is a short-line railroad which operates vintage steam and diesel powered locomotives with limited freight service and its popular heritage train trips. The Black River & Western Railroad has been running passenger trains, staffed by an all-volunteer crew, since 1965.
A Queen Anne/ Colonial Revival embellishment at 29 John Ringo Road.
Former "Lower Store." which Elmer Holcombe ran for more than 50 years, it has been around for over a hundred years.
Next door is the former Washington Hotel.
Mom’s Restaurant was once the site of the “Upper Store”, which was a general store.
Here is the Joseph Inslee Tavern which Inslee purchased as a three-acre lot, built this home in 1734 and received a tavern license renewal in 1738.
Former Academy of Science and Art, which was founded by local physician Dr. Cornelius W. Larison. the building hosted young men interested in pursuing studies in natural science, mathematics and the arts.
The Landis House which was built by Henry Landis who had learned the saddler’s trade in Germantown, Pa. before moving to East Amwell in 1737.
A little side note: Henry and his first wife Elizabeth had 10 followed by another 14 chilren with his second wife, Catherine Graff. WOAH!
The Clawson House built in 1800 will be the future home of the East Amwell Historical Society and museum.
The land that would eventually become Clawson Park was once farmed by Harold and Marion Clawson for many years.
Other pictures from my walk through Ringoes:
In the Eastside Park neighborhood of Paterson, New Jersey is an Italian Renaissance style residence built in 1929 for Jacob Weidmann who was one of the central figures in the development of the silk dyeing industry in Paterson.
Born in Switzerland in 1845 and then trained by his father before apprenticing in the silk dyeing works of Germany and France, Jacob Weidmann became an American success story.
At 22, he came to the United States. He secured a job at Cheny Brothers, which was a silk dyers located in Manchester, Connecticut, before relocating to Paterson in 1872 and opening his own mill called the Weidmann Silk Dyeing Company . His success grew due to his reputation for producing the heavy-weighted black silks.
In 1887, the Weidmann Silk Dyeing Company relocated its works from downtown Paterson to the city's Riverside section after purchasing a fire devastated works from former partner, Claude Greppo.
By the mid-1900s, Weidmann was the largest silk dyeing works in the country employing approximately 3,000 workers. By the time 1909 rolled around, Jacob Weidmann sold a large portion of his company to Gillet et fils of Lyons, France. He died two years later.
This center hall Dutch Colonial style homestead, dating to 1790, overlooks a scenic waterfall in a park-like setting. It sits on the original land grant issued in 1668 by King Charles II of England to Major Nathan Kingsland, one of the first settlers of present-day Nutley, and remained under Kingsland family ownership until 1909.
Open house tours are held on the third Sunday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m and you can get more information on the manor's website.
On the side of the road in the industrial part of the meadowlands lies a single smokestack. Most drive by, many don't notice it, nor do they notice the memorial on the side of the road for it. But it's at this site where a major fire took place a century ago.
It was January 11, 1917, when a fire started in Building 30 of the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Kingsland , which has now been renamed Lyndhurst. All it took was 4 hours to erase the massive plant off the map. The residents of New York City watched across the harbor in horror as 500 000 pieces of explosive shells were set off .
Canadian car and foundry was a company based in Montreal and although America was not yet involved in the war, it set up a plant in New Jersey for the production of war ammunition.
There was major speculation as to the source of the fire even going as far as to say it was sabotage from the German government. The plant had been set up to assemble weapons for shipment to Russia. It was later discovered that the fire started at the bench of one of the workers, Fiodoe Wozniak who was said to be surrounded by rags. On the bench in front of each employee was a pan of gasoline and a small rotating machine operated by a belt. It is said when the fire started he tossed what looked like water on top of the flames although no one knows where the water came from.
Germany never admitted guilt but paid America reparations.
As per lyndhurst historical society:
A heroine emerged the day of the fire. Kingsland resident Tessie McNamara, who operated the company switchboard, was credited with saving many lives. As the fire raged on, Tessie stayed at the switchboard that Thursday afternoon. She plugged in each of the buildings and shouted the warning, “Get out or go up!”
Thanks to her dedication, no one was killed in the fire.
Escaping workers were able to cross the frozen Hackensack River or run up Valley Brook Avenue to safety. The National Special Aid Society later presented Miss McNamara with a check to honor her for her bravery.
The Lyndhurst Historical Society has created a vest pocket park dedicated to her memory. The park is located on Clay Avenue, between Valley Brook Avenue and Wall Street West.
As I step up on the viewing platform and look out into the marsh I notice something jutting out from the water. It is a single smoke stack, the final reminder of the factory and the events which took place.
The destruction at the Kingsland Explosion, found on Youtube, uploaded by Critical Past
July 20 2015
The small cemetery on a hill next to a Quick Chek along Washington Avenue in Carlstadt may be well hidden, but not enough to deter the bad luck the cemetery has endured for the past few decades.
The Outwater cemetery is located in an industrial area in the NJ Meadowlands with a wooden flight of steps leading up from the Quick Chek parking lot. The cemetery dates back to the 18th-century, with the first of the 26 interments within the family cemetery dating back to 1752, and the last in 1892. Just beyond the family cemetery is the final resting place of 18 Hessian soldiers who died fighting for the British during the American Revolution. They now rest in unmarked graves.
The graves have a history of being disturbed in the past, starting when Captain John Outwater's grave was dug up and his skull stolen. Mayor Will Roseman found the bones scattered amongst the site and took them home and stored them until a casket was donated so they could be reinterred. The skull was never recovered.
John Outwater was born on September 17, 1746, just as the Great Awakening began to affect the Bergen County area.15 The American roots of his family extend back to Franz Jacobsen who had emigrated sometime prior to 1657 from Oudewater, Holland to settle in Albany, New York. In Albany, Franz had raised two sons: Thys Franz Outwater and Thomas Franz Outwater. In 1686, Thys left Albany and settled in Tappan, New York where his descendants can be found today. Thys' grandson, Dr. Thomas Outwater, was a noted surgeon in the Revolutionary army.16 Franz's other son, Thomas Franz Outwater, bought a third share of a stretch of land called Moonachie Island between Berry's creek, Indian Path, Losing Creek, and the Hackensack River by 1680.17 Thomas had seven children: Jacob, Thomas, John, Peter, Elizabeth, Jnnneke and Annajie.18 John Outwater, the son of Jacob, was born at Moonachie in 1746.19 The Jacob Outwater family differed little from other Bergen County Dutch families. Their moderate wealth was derived mostly from the sale of farm products in Hackensack and New York. Jacob Outwater served as a Bergen County Judge in Hackensack between 1755 and 1758.20 The Outwater's were also active members of the Reformed Church at Hackensack........
.....Captain John Outwater's Company of the Bergen County Militia Regiment was one of twenty-five companies raised by Act of the New Jersey Assembly in 1776. However, due to the demoralizing retreat of the Continental Army across New Jersey after the Fall of New York and the surrounding American positions, it seems the Company did not actually form until early 1777. When the Company was assembled in Hackensack, the Company elected its Company Commanders: John Outwater as Captain; Adam Boyd, Lieutenant, and Abraham Allen, Ensign. Outwater's Company one of several companies in the Bergen County Militia Regiment, commanded by Colonel Theunis Dey. The Company was composed of Jersey Dutch farmers and tradesmen who attempted to protect their property from British foraging parties. Because of the proximity to the British in New York City and the large Tory or Loyalist population, Bergen County was dangerous for those in rebellion. Unlike other militia, it was often unsafe for these men to return to their homes. Because of this, the men of the Outwater's Company were often on constant duty, much different from the men of New England. Raids into the area from New York City and British held Paulus Hook (now Jersey City) were frequent and often directed towards capturing militia men at home. The militia tried to guard the roads amd rivers as much as possible. When not repelling raiders or invasions, the company concentrated on interdicting Loyalist trade with the British in New York. Goods for the British were often sent down the Hackensack River and the goods and transporters would be seized by Outwater's men. The Justice of the Peace would then award the goods to the captors. Sometimes Outwater's militia guarded prisoners for the Sheriff. In December 1780, the State legislature commissioned the company Outwater's Company, New Jersey State Troops. State Troops were considered a cut above militia; the comparative stability of their long-term enlistment allowed them to be assigned more important and intensive duties. They served as State Troops through 1781.
In 2005, local boy scouts took on an Eagle Scout project to renovate the cemetery, clearing a front path, pruning, weeding, restoring cement pillars, repainting the rails and driving sonar stakes into the ground to deter groundhogs. But luck didn't last long, the solar stakes were vandalized and a bronze cross that was placed at the front entrance was stolen.
Last summer, sound tests were conducted on the property to locates the graves of the 18 soldiers as the county is planning on infrastructure improvements to the highway and sidewalks surrounding the area. They found that the project would not affect the final rest of the graves and could go forward.
As of now, the souls of those on the hill overlooking the traffic zooming by will continue to rest as the city around them continues to grow.
All images © 2012-2016 Laura Gonzalez
Located on New Jersey Route 12 within Kingwood Township, in Hunterdon County, is the tiny community of Baptistown. Baptistown is named for the two Baptist churches which were founded there by early settlers.
The Baptistown Post Office was established May 1, 1822.
The old graveyard next to the post office contains tombstones that date back to the 1800's.
The Kingwood Township First Aid & Rescue Squad is a non-profit, all volunteer organization which serves Kingwood & parts of Alexandria & Delaware Townships. It was formed by members of the Kingwood Township Civil Defense Committee in 1953. In 2003, the Rescue Squad celebrated 50 years of serving the Community.
Although a small town, it did however have its taste of an odd scandal in 1980 when a couple tried to trade their baby for a new car at Patinella's Auto Sales in Baptistown.
In more current events, Baptistown is now the location of a solar farm, which is run by Frenchtown Solar, and is on Route 12. It was designed to generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity. The power station was developed in conjunction with Con Ed Development. It interconnects to Jersey Central Power and Light, which in turn in is part of the PJM Interconnection. Flemington Solar is a similar project located in adjacent Raritan Township. This solar is just one of three which form Frenchtown Solar.
2 solar arrays rising in Kingwood along Route 12
Kingwood gives preliminary OK to solar field on Route 519
Recollections of Baptistown
Toddler for Corvette
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.