SAVE THE DATES!
THE GENERAL SETTLES IN: Washington at Rockingham, Sept. 1783 Saturday, September 9th; 11am to 5 pm Details below.
Songs and Stories of Old Canal Days Saturday, September 23rd; 1:30pm Details to come.
UPCOMING EVENT DETAILS!
THE GENERAL SETTLES IN: Washington at Rockingham, Sept. 1783 Saturday, September 9th 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
On Saturday, August 23, 1783 General and Mrs. Washington arrived at Rockingham, the Berrien family homestead, which had been rented by Congress for their use. Washington came to the Princeton area from West Point, where he had left the remains of the main army, at the request of Congress, who hoped that the long-awaited treaty to formally end the Revolutionary War would soon be at hand and they could all be together to celebrate and to begin the difficult task of translating independence and peace into a concrete new government.
Martha had been ill during the summer and was still recovering. Washington hoped he would not be long at Princeton and that he could soon return to his "fig and vine" at Mount Vernon in Virginia. With a cease fire in place since April of that year, there were no more battle strategies to plan. One could look ahead to a new reality, a new beginning.
Word of the signing of the definitive version of the Treaty of Paris on September 3 was finally received by Congress and Washington on October 31. Just before, Washington had written his "Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States" at Rockingham and he had just sent it off to be read to the army at West Point on November 2. Washington left Rockingham on November 10.
Before these important events, there was socializing at dinners, hosting overnight guests, attending functions in the Princeton area, as well as attending to military reports, letters and diplomacy. On Friday, September 5, the General and Mrs. Washington hosted a gathering at Rockingham, under a large marquis tent, for a large crowd of people, including "all the present members, Chaplains & great officers of Congress." A letter written by one of the congressmen, David Howell, describing the event mentioned how the, "Generals front was uncommonly open & pleasant - - the contracted, pensive Air betokening deep thought & much care, which I noticed on Prospect Hill in 1775 is done away: & a pleasant smile sparkling vivacity of wit & humour succeeds (sic)."
On Saturday, September 9, 2017 from 11 am to 5 pm the General will be in residence once again at Rockingham. David Emerson of History on the Hoof, will be embodying Washington and his early stay in the area, looking back on the trials behind, at the tasks at hand and the impending future of long retirement from public life (or so he thought!). Three main rooms of the historic house will be open with visitors able to "meet" the General and interact with him in an informal setting throughout the day. Accompanying him will be the Life Guard, a group of officers who served as his formal escort, portrayed by members of Historical Military Impressions. There will be outdoor displays of military clothing and equipment and musket firings from time to time. In keeping with the spirit (if not the specifics) of the entertaining the Washingtons did at Rockingham, there will be outdoor pit-hearth cooking demonstrated by Diane Lingsch and an all-day variety of programming provided by Heart to Hearth Cookery on 18th-century ice cream, or “creamed ice” as Washington described the delicacy he enjoyed.
The event is free, but donations to Rockingham are always welcome! There will be refreshments available and the Museum Store will be open. Come one, come all to meet the General, who was about to "take his ultimate leave, in a short time, of the Military Character, and to bid a final adieu to the Armies he has so long had the honor to Command."
SONGS AND STORIES OF OLD CANAL DAYS Saturday, September 23rd 1:30 pm
Matt Dodd gave a rousing and thoroughly enjoyable Revolutionary War music, song and story performance at Rockingham in April of 2016. He will be joining us again in the Dutch barn on Saturday, September 23 at 1:30 pm for "Songs and Stories of Old Canal Days," which will bring to life the days of the building and use of the American canals, such as our very own next-door Delaware and Raritan Canal, now a NJ State Park. Vicki Chirco, historian for D&R Canal, will give a brief introduction to its building and prominence.
The days of the canals saw back-breaking work, tragedies and triumphs, engineering ingenuity and supported a proud way of life for those who plied the waters or tended the locks.
Rockingham sat on a hill in its original location on the outskirts of Rocky Hill (which had more buildings on the east side of the Millstone River before the canal came through), overlooking the creation of the canal to its west. Martin Howell bought Rockingham in 1872 to quarry the rock hill on which the house sat and chose to do so partly because of the transportation opportunities of the canal and the railroad built along it soon after, to move goods and material. Today, the D&R Canal State Park affords hiking and biking pathways right down the hill from Rockingham, reached by two joining paths from our location.
The event is free, though donations are always welcome, and will be followed by light refreshments. We are requesting that those interested please call the site at 609-693-7132 to make a reservation, as seating is limited. Please note that there will be no 1:00 or 2:00 pm tours of the house that day.
Rockingham offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year. Our largest annual events are the Holiday Candlelight Tour in early December and Children's Day in early May, both presented with the help of the volunteers from The Rockingham Association, the Montgomery High School Live Historians and the Stony Brook Garden Club.
Other programs focus on various aspects of Colonial life and may be more appropriate for adults only or may be of interest to children as well.
Recent events have included:
- a workshop "From Fleece to Wool and Flax to Linen", explaining harvesting, preparing and spinning sheep's wool and flax in the 18th century; attendees were given the chance to card wool and spin yarn on a drop spindle.
- a celebration of George Washington's birthday. Director Lisa Flick designed an afternoon of special Washington themed tours and trivia questions for which visitors--adult and children alike--could win prizes. Special birthday tri-corner hats, Washington cake and punch were provided to all those who attended.
- "Anatomy of a Death: Death and Dying in the 18th Century" - Volunteer actors re-enacted the activities which occurred after a death in the colonial period. Participants then followed a trail along the Delaware and Raritan Canal to the Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery for a tour of the gravestones there.
- entertainment by The Practitioners of Musick with English flute and harpsichord.
- reenactments of the Berrien family and Revolutionary War artillery units
Please check the website regularly for announcements of future events and programs.
OUTREACH PROGRAMSHistory to Go!
The Children's Museum at Rockingham sponsors an outreach history project: History to Go!. This program is an opportunity for your groups to prepare to come to Rockingham, or to have Rockingham come to them! This program enables groups to see and use some of the most popular items from our Children's Museum in the convenience of their own classroom, living room or civic center.How did this program begin?
Rockingham, with the support of the New Jersey State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, realized that many people of all walks are interested in learning about American History. The most effective way of teaching is a "hands-on" approach where one can touch items, play games, and try on clothing from Colonial times. Rockingham wanted a program that would be available to all, regardless of their ability to come to our historic site.Who can use this program?
Anyone who wants to learn! Classroom groups that are planning to come to Rockingham while studying the Revolutionary War may use History to Go! In preparation for their visit. Other schools who are unable to come to Rockingham may want to use this project to supplement textbook explanations of the Colonial period. Scout troops, church groups, community centers, clubs, families, or home school organizations and all interested parties are encouraged to contact the site office for further information.What is included in the project?
The basic program consists of lesson plans, recipes, children's period-style clothing pieces, accessories, hats, personal items, games, books and craft projects all housed in three baskets. Extra quill pens with ink can be requested (must be ordered in advance) for an additional charge of $4.00 each.What is the fee for?
There is a $35 fee for this program, to be paid at the time the baskets are picked up.To Reserve the Program:
Call the Office (609) 683-7132 when the site is open to arrange a time to see the baskets and contents. We will help you to tailor the program to the needs of your group!
Rockingham State Historic Site
P.O. Box 496
Kingston, NJ 08528
This program was made possible by a generous donation of the New Jersey State Society of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Children of the American Revolution, Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and Forbes Newspapers.