MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY
------- George Washington established his headquarters in 1777 and 1779-1790.
------- Samuel F.B. Morse and Alfred Vail developed a magnetic telegraph and Morse Code.
------- Theodore Vail, founder of AT&T and Bell Laboratories, built his Italianate mansion and museum.
------- Engine parts were forged for the Savannah, first transatlantic steamship.
------- Thomas Nast cartoonist home. He created the Republican Elephant, the Democratic Donkey, Santa Claus.
Morristown was once known as "The Town of Quiet Millionaires." It was said that "within a mile of the Morristown Green lived more Captains of commerce than anywhere else in the world". Today in a geographic area booming with activity, Morristown is a thriving corporate and business center serving over 250,000 people in North Central New Jersey. Morristown is rich in historical heritage stretching back 300 years. It was the discovery of magnetic iron core that brought the first permanent settlers here in the early 1700's. Iron works sprang up, and by the time of the Revolutionary War, there were 45 forges and furnaces in the area supplying munitions to the Colonial Army.
During the winter of 1779-80, George Washington made Morristown his headquarters. He stayed in the Jacob Ford house, while his troops were camped in nearby Jockey Hollow. Today, both the Ford Mansion and Jockey Hollow are part of this nation's first national historical park.
The Morristown Green has served Morristown and Morris County as a center of activity for over two centuries. It was the site of the first Morris County court house, a log cabin built in 1755 and replaced in 1770 with a more imposing structure, which was in turn torn down in 1827 when the present court house was built a few blocks away.
All kinds of meetings, concerts, fairs and at least two public hangings have taken place in the Green. It was here that local colonists gathered to protest British taxation and to elect delegates to the Continental Congress. Local troops drilled on the Green during the Revolution and, during the winter of 1777-1778, General Washington used Arnold's Tavern opposite the Green as his headquarters.
POINTS OF INTEREST
FORD MANSION-WASHINTON HEADQUARTERS, Morris Avenue Eastbound, Lafayette Avenue Westbound. Morris County's most historic building was Washington's Headquarters during the terrible winter of 1779-80. It was built in classic Georgian style for Colonel Jacob Ford Jr. and has been carefully restored and furnished as it was when Washington was here.
JOCKEY HOLLOW Area, Morristown National Historical Park, Western Avenue. Campground of the Continental Army during the winter of 1779-80. Open to visitors are the Tempe Wick House and reconstructed officer's huts. There is a nature trail and miles of walking and riding trails. On the way is Fort Nonsense, the highest hill in Morristown where Washington ordered the building of fortification on "this commanding site".
TEMPE WICK HOUSE, Morristown National Historical Park, Western Avenue. It was the headquarters of Major General Arthur St. Clair in 1779-80. Built by Henry Wick in 1748-50, legend has it that his daughter Tempe stabled her horse in her bedroom to save it from the Pennsylvania Line mutineers.
MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS, 110 South St. Build in 1916 as a home and museum by Theodore Vail, founder of AT&T and the Bell Laboratories. It is constructed of granite in modified Florentine style. The bronze front doors depict in bas-relief scenes of local history.
THOMAS NAST HOUSE, 50 Macculloch Ave. From 1872 to 1902 "Villia Fontana" was the home of Thomas Nast, the political cartoonist who created the Democratic Donkey, the Republican Elephant and Santa Claus as we know him. Such notables as Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant were entertained here. It is on the National Register of Historic Sites.
MACCULLOCH HALL, 45 Macculloch Ave. Built in three stages from 1806-1815 by George Macculloch, originator of the Morris Canal. The northern section with the fan light door once served as a boys academy.
FORT NONSENSE. Legend says that the redoubt was built on the highest hill in Morristown to keep the soldiers busy. But it was really designed to serve as a watch and signal post against the British in New York. Signals could be sent by beacon fires at night and by cannon shots and smoke signals by day. On a clear day, you can now see the Empire State Building in New York City.
FORD POWDER MILL Built in 1776 by Jacob Ford on the Whippany River behind the present site of Acorn Hall to supply powder to the local militia and Continental Army.
SCHUYLER-HAMILTON HOUSE, 5 Olyphant Place. Here, in 1780, Alexander Hamilton courted Betsy Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler and niece of Dr. John Cochran, Surgeon General of the Army, who was quartered here. The house belonged to Senior Surgeon Dr. Jabez Campfield.
ACORN HALL, 68 Morris Ave. A fine Victorian Italianate house with an octagonal tower, built for Dr. Schermerhorn in 1853. A parlor suite in one of its elegantly appointed rooms once belonged to William Henry Harrison.
MORRIS COUNTY COURT HOUSE, Washington St. Built in 1827 in the Federal style and considered one of the finest public buildings of this period in New Jersey. The handsome court room is still as it was more than 150 years ago.
TIMOTHY MILLS HOUSER, 27 Mills St. A 1740 farm house, on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites, this eighteenth century barn was saved from the path of Route 287 and reconstructed here. Owned by the Morris School District and operational center for the American Civilization Institute of Morristown, and organization with a new educational approach to American history.
THE SPEEDWELL VILLAGE, 333 Speedwell Ave. The site of the Speedwell Iron Works where parts of the engines for the steamship Savannah were built and where Samuel F.B. Morse and Alfred Vail perfected the telegraph and invented the Morse Code. All the years I lived there it was privately owned, but it has since been made into a museum for all to see.
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