Revolutionary Heritage: Elizabeth, New Jersey

When looking to imbibe our nation’s colonial and revolutionary heritage, most people might travel to Philadelphia, Boston, or Williamsburg, Virginia. Few people–very, very few people–would consider an afternoon journey to Elizabeth, New Jersey, an industrial city on the Newark Bay just outside of New York City. Continue reading

Breaking News: History Found in New Jersey!

This Easter, my wife and I shared dinner with my in-laws at the Stage House Tavern in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Incidentally, the meal and ambiance were excellent. If you’re a resident of the area or simply passing through, enjoy a few drinks or a meal at the Tavern. I doubt that you’ll leave disappointed. However, this is not a restaurant review (I’m not ruling out writing one in the future. Isn’t that the freedom of blogging?).

While walking to the restaurant, we passed by an attractive, wood-framed house dating from the colonial era. A sign noted that the house is the Osborn Cannonball House Museum and it played a (minor) role in the Battle of Short Hills in 1777 during the American Revolution.

Osborn Cannonball House Museum (Courtesy of The Historical Society of Scotch Plains and Fanwood New Jersey)

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Washington Irving, Gibbet Island, and Jersey City

My post from last summer examined the connection between Washington Irving, America’s first international author and a connoisseur of Dutch culture, and the village of Communipaw—a part of contemporary Jersey City.

This post has proven to be my most read piece with visitors from around the globe, illustrating the power and the possibility of culture—whether it be art, literature, music, or cuisine–to transcend nationality, race, religion, and ethnicity. Although culture is often mocked by power and society (including President Obama, disappointingly enough), culture does not only enrich individual lives, but it intellectually and even spiritually serves as the bedrock of civilization. If a society does not value culture, what might it become? ISIS is the most horrific  contemporary example.

But I digress.

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The Peach Tree War

My blogging has been sporadic during the past several months, and my attention has wandered far afield from my original subject of Jersey City. This post marks an intellectual return to the forgotten Dutch empire on the banks of the Hudson River.

Following the Pavonia Massacre, hostilities between Dutch colonists and the surrounding Native American tribes continued until a treaty was brokered in 1645. Two years’ later in 1647, Willem Kieft was recalled to the Netherlands to account for his troubled leadership and management of the colony. Peter Stuyvesant arrived in New Netherland in 1847 to replace Kieft as the Director-General. Kieft died in a shipwreck off the coast of Wales en route to Amsterdam to address  the charges against him. Continue reading

The Pavonia Massacre

A little-known but bloody episode on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River enraged and united the rival Native American tribes throughout New Netherland against the Dutch colonists and their corporate governorship. This war nearly ended the Dutch East India Company’s colonial experiment in North America.

Today, historians call this event Kieft’s War.

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