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:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.