After a short detour to Southern California for some work meetings, our hop-scotch trip continued as we headed east to New Jersey. It has been over a year since we were out to see the east coast “big city” family. In between our visits they had moved, both graduated from their master’s programs and both started new jobs. We were excited to see their new apartment and hear all about their new jobs.
Our family has long been history buffs. We really enjoy visiting places of history, especially those places that shaped out country. Visiting our son and his wife in New Jersey has provided the great opportunity to visit places from the Revolutionary War and Colonial periods. This trip was no exception. We decided to spend a day exploring Morristown and the Continental Army’s winter encampment site. Unfortunately, or daughter-in-law had to work in the city, so she missed out on our short adventure. It was a beautiful fall day and the leaves were just beginning to turn.
Morristown was George Washington’s headquarters and place of encampment for the Continental Army over the winter of 1779-1780. It was the coldest and worse winter on record ever with snow literally 6 feet deep and temperatures down to 16 below. They say it was a much more severe winter than at Valley Forge. The big difference being that by the time the Army got to Morristown, they were all veterans and more thoroughly trained and experienced. Better huts, staying active, and healthier. There were over 10,000 troops and almost 1000 huts.
There was also an earthen works and a small fortification on a hill called Fort Nonsense. It was built to protect the encampment and to overlook the passes out of New York the British would need to use. It was a clear day and we could see the New York City skyline. There is a story that Washington had it built to keep the troops busy and out of trouble. While that purpose was probably served, it was actually a very common practice to build fortifications on high ground to protect the Army.
After a lunch of warm soup and a pint we headed out to see General Washington’s Headquarters. He and his entourage of aides, servants, guards and ambassadors stayed in the Ford Family Mansion, the largest house in the area. We learned that the Army actually asked to use houses like this and most likely paid the owners rent. It was a beautiful colonial house with a wonderful view. The Park Service furnished it with period appropriate furniture and items to help give us an understanding of how it looked. Which included a few original family items as well. They staged the “war room” where the senior war council did their planning.
But historical parks were not the only places we visited. We ate dinner at the Bloomfield Steak and Seafood House, which was originally the “Old Joseph Davis House”, the oldest pre-revolutionary war house in Bloomfield. It was built in 1676 and remained occupied by the same family until 1903! The food was great there as well. Bonus!
As we mentioned in our previous post, a big part of scheduling our trip was to be in-between the summer humidity and before the snow falls. So what trip to the northeast would be complete without the chance to experience a nor’easter. We were lucky, it was warm, so no snow and the wind and rain were mild. Needless to say, it did rearrange our visit some. So, we spent that day playing cards, watching football games, and eating soup in our son and daughter-in-law’s new apartment.
It was a great trip all-in-all. It is always good to go and see. See where your family lives, where they work, how they spend their day, what they do and where they go. I think it helps us to visualize their day and makes us feel closer to sharing it with them.