The one thing I refuse to do on Father’s Day is to spend the day at the cemetery. I know that is some people’s idea of honoring one’s family members but it is not mine. I went on Friday and paid my respects to my father (whom this blog is dedicated to) and spent time remembering some of the good times we had in past. I dropped some cut flowers from our gardens (some of which he planted) and said a small prayer. Then I left.
My idea of honoring my father and spending Father’s Day with him is to do something that we would have shared together. We were always running around somewhere and exploring something new and doing something fun. That is how I wanted to honor him. By being active and giving him a toast at Sunday dinner.
I was very impressed by the Nicholas Gibbon House when I took a tour one Saturday afternoon. There were no large crowds to deal with and the parking is perfect with plenty of room to move around. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with all sorts of seasonal flowers surrounding the house. When I visited I thought I was mistaken and it was someone’s home. There was a lot of care put into both the exterior and interior of this home.
Nicolas Gibbon was a local merchant who moved to Greenwich in 1730 and continued to live here until the 1760’s. The tour guide explained to me that the townspeople would not let him build a church here (it was a Quaker region) so he and his wife decided to move out of the area. Richard Wood and his family moved into the house in 1760 and lived in the house until the 1920’s. Over that time, parts of the house were modernized and rebuilt. The Wood family later in the generations founded the WaWa store chain.
With the exception of the Nicolas Gibbon’s nephew and his wife’s portraits, all of the furnishings are not originally from the house. The downstairs is set up with a formal dining room and parlor area fully furnished in Victorian era furniture, paintings, rugs and silver. The silver collection of the house is very elaborate and some of the pieces came from the Hershey family of Pennsylvania.
The library and study has rare books that were used for research as well as a working fireplace that was used for both light and heat. Downstairs is the kitchen with a large hearth and all the equipment and serving items for kitchen and dining use for the home.
The tour guide explained to me that during some of the past fundraisers, the hearth was used to cook foods of the time period that were served for events.
Upstairs you have an elaborate master bedroom with all sorts of formal furnishings for a upper middle class family living in the area. What was the interesting part of the second floor of the home was the “Everything Room”, which contained a extensive collection of toys and dolls, Civil War historic items, period clothing, bonnets, top hats and parasols, an extensive collection of quilts and Hair Art which was a Victorian tradition of making art from the hair of the dead.
There was a collection of ‘Sewing Samplers’, which is how young women learned how to perfect their sewing skills which was part of their domestic training for being a housewife.
The collection of the house really gave a glimpse into the lives of people from the 1840’s until almost WWI. How much life has changed but not too much.
Historic Marker outside the home
History of the Gibbon House:
In 1730, Nicholas Gibbon who had inherited more than 3000 acres of land nearby, bought a 16 acre lot in Greenwich on which he built a replica of a London Townhouse he had admired. The brick, fired on the property, was laid in the Flemish Bond pattern brought from Kent, England: this design is achieved by using a red stretcher and blue header producing a definite and attractive pattern. Rubbed brick is a further architectural feature, outlining each door and window opening as well as being used to emphasize the four corners of the house.
The Upstairs bedroom at the Gibbon House (Cumberland Historical Society.com)
The home, appropriately furnished with products of 18th and 19th century atrisans contains a reception hall, a paneled dining room, a formal drawing room and a kitchen dominated by a huge walk-in fireplace in which demonstration of colonial open-fire cooking are conducted.
The walk-in fireplace at the Gibbon House (Cumberland Historical Society.com)
There is a small store on the back porch where post cards, gifts and a fine collection of books and pamphlets on the history of the area may be purchased.
On second floor, in addition to a bedroom, are exhibits of 19th century locally made, rush seated. “Ware” chairs, children’s toys, dolls and clothing as well as Civil War artifacts donated by local families.
The Greenwich Tea Burning Monument in Greenwich, NJ
I am a firm believer in that you learn something new everyday and on a recent trip to visit historical sites of Southern New Jersey I came across this one in a guide book. I never even knew this monument existed let alone that we had our own version of the Boston Tea Party right here in New Jersey. It really showed me the significance of the Revolutionary War and how people from the past fought for the freedoms that we have today.
On the night of December 22nd, 1774 forty people from the community took possession of tea chests and piling them together burnt them in protest of the Tea Tax that had been imposed on the residents of New Jersey. This act of defiance was a reaction to the actions of the British Rule.
This beautiful and graceful monument lies now at the end of a sleepy country road in Greenwich, NJ which is still surrounded by farmland. It is hard to miss the monument in its location in the middle of a small park surrounded by a small fence. The monument was dedicated in 1908 and then again in 2008 there was a second ceremony to honor the 100th anniversary of the monument (Wiki).
The moument sits down the road from the Museum of Prehistoric History and from the Gibbon House so there are many things to see in Greenwich, NJ on this quiet country road.
The History of the Greenwich Tea Burning in 1774:
(From the Cumberland County, NJ website):
Liberty was not cradled in Philadelphia alone. The spirit was also alive in the inhabitants of Cumberland County when they destroyed a cargo of tea in 1774.
On the evening of Thursday, December 22nd, 1774, a company of about forty young Whigs, disguised as Indians, entered the cellar of Bowen’s house. They took possession of the whole cargo, conveyed the tea chests from the cellar into an adjoining field and piling them together, burnt them in one general conflagration. Forty miles from Philadelphia, was (and still is) the little town of Greenwich, the principal settlement of Cumberland County in 1774.
The Greenwich Tea Burning of 1774 (NJ Historical Society)
It was founded in 1675 by John Fenwick and is older than Philadelphia, which was not founded until 1682. The hand of time has hardly touched Greenwich. It is much the same today as it was three hundred years ago, when the British flag flew high over it. Today you will still find a wide street, which they still call “Ye Greate Street.” It was laid out in 1684 and its course has never been changed.
The Cohansey Creek is a navigable stream of some size running through the county of Cumberland and emptying into the Delaware Bay. In the autumn of 1774, the quiet inhabitants along the banks of the creek were startled by the appearance of a British brig called called the “Greyhound.” Sailing about four miles up the Cohansey, the brig stopped at the village of Greenwich, which was the first landing from its mouth. She was laden with a cargo of tea sent out by the East India Tea Company, which was undoubtedly under the impression that the conservative feelings and principals of the people of New Jersey would induce them to submit quietly to a small tax. The result showed that the temper of the people was little understood by the East India Tea Company (Similar to the Toilet Paper Tax of the Governour Florio in the 1990’s).
Having found an English sympathizer, a Tory, as they were called, one Daniel Bowen, the Greyhound’s crew secretly stored the cargo of tea in the cellar of his house. However, this unusual procedure was noted by the citizens who immediatly appointed a temporary committee of five to look after the matter until a county committee might be appointed.
A general committee of thirty-five was later appointed with representatives from Greenwich, Deerfield, Jericho, Shiloh, Bridgeton, Fairfield and perhaps other places.
Greenwich Tea Burning Monument News of the Boston Tea Party had already reached Greenwich and the defiant example was regarded by many of the local settlers as worthy of their own contempt for the British. Fate now presented them with a ready-made opportunity to duplicate the act.
On the evening of Thursday, December 22nd, 1774, a company of about forty young Whigs, disguised as Indians, entered the cellar of Bowen’s house. They took possession of the whole cargo, conveyed the tea chests from the cellar into an adjoining field and piling them together, burnt them in one general conflagration.
Thus, the patriots of Cumberland County living in Greenwich expressed their discontent by reacting to oppressive governmental measures. They had clearly taken a stand for independence and democracy.
Greenwich has been granted the distinction of being one of the five tea-party towns in America, the others being Charlestown, Annapolis, Princeton and Boston. In 1908, the monument seen above was erected in the old market place on Ye Greate Street to commorate the burning of a cargo of British tea on December 22nd, 1774.
I stopped in at the Museum of Prehistory after a tour of several other historical sites in the area and this little museum is packed with interesting artifacts.
One section was dedicated to the Lenape Indians who lived in the area. There was a many artifacts such as arrow heads, spears, pottery and an assortment of fishing and cooking materials. The Native Americans had an interesting system of living that adapted to nature. They developed a sophisticated system of living that was mobile and came with them as they moved around during the seasons.
There is an extensive fossil collection that includes trilobites, shark teeth, crabs, lobsters and they even had a foot print of a dinosaur. What I thought was interesting was the dinosaur eggs (they were not found locally).
Each case is dedicated to subject matter and the whole museum can be seen in less than an hour.
History of the Alan E. Carman Museum of Prehistory:
The Museum was dedicated in 1997, the museum was established to house the Native American artifacts and prehistoric fossils collected by Alan Ewing Carman. Carman was an avocational archaeologist who spent 58 plus years collecting, excavating and researching Native American artifacts from southern New Jersey. Since Carmen’s original gift to the Society, the museum has acquired a variety of artifacts and specimens from different donors that have enhanced the collection’s research and educational potential. The museum has been and continues to be a valuable resource for archaeologists, paleontologists, students, tour groups and the general public. Come visit our collections to learn more about southern New Jersey’s storied past or to use our extensive research materials.
To enter the museum is to enter the world of the Native American ancestors that lived in the lower Delaware Valley. The Museum of Prehistory displays an incredible assortment of ancient aritifacts and even older fossils that speak to this region’s fascinating prehistory.
The mission of the Cumberland County Historical Society is to preserve and promote the history and heritage of the county through acquisitions, collections, exhibits, research, educational programs and publications for the benefit of current and future generations.
The Alan Ewing Carman Museum of Prehistory supports this mission through the collection, preservation, interpretation and exhibition of pre-Contact period Native American artifacts from southern New Jersey. The museum serves as an institute for public education and a resourve for archaeological research.