Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Happened in Haddonfield.... the Trilogy

We arrived in Haddonfield, N.J. early Saturday morning, June 3, via GPS per an article in the newspaper. The husband read it, he knows I like history, my people fought in the American Revolution, it was a re-enactment, so I said, okay. Kings Highway was our only clue to the skirmish. We found it, and followed the signs to public parking, "free on weekends".

As luck would have it, the troops arrived the same time we did! We had no idea what we had walked into. I often forget how much New Jersey was involved in the American Revolution.

Don't tell the British, this is strictly on the down-low, the colonist keep their cannon in the truck. The re-enactment did not take place until  1 p.m. so there was plenty of time, after arriving at 10 a.m., to scout out the town. Hence, my three part trilogy of so many happenings in Haddonfield.

Following the troops, it was evident we were in the historical, happening part of Haddonfield.

Cameras began to crop up all over the place.

The apex appeared to be the Indian King Tavern. This was where all the colonists had seemed to be gathering. I can't honestly say if they had gathered here in anticipation of the battle or if was simply as the sign said......

"Open Now" 18th Century Tavern House. It is clearly posted on the sign. As we all know, Taverns and Inns were the gathering spots to get the news of the day and to find out what was happening in the colony. What I am not quite sure of, is if they knew what was brewing at the other end of town?

Please take note of the characters in this photograph below. What can I tell you about them in observation? Observe the well dressed gentleman in the blue suit speaking with the woman in the purple skirt. He appears to be receiving information, does he not? This is strictly conjecture and speculation on my part but I did happen to notice he popped up in several suspicious locations while I was purely witnessing history as a bystander. I will show him to you again in later photographs. I wonder who he is? Two people appear to be incognito with sunglasses, I can only confirm the woman sitting on the bench next to the blue suit, is one of the tour guides inside the Indian King Tavern and she is really good, they actually all are. I will next list all I learned from the tour. The guys with the Eagles and Phillies hats are obviously good guys and on our side, even if they at times may cheer for the Jersey Devils. Nah, Haddonfield is too close to Philadelphia and I bet they would remain loyal.

Sadly, Indian King Tavern is a State run history museum and they do not allow photographs inside, so you will have to go and see these things for yourself.  It is a great tour, you will not be disappointed.

Tour the Tavern

1. Jersey was once divided into two sections West and East Jersey. There were two capitals and Amboy was one according to our upstairs tour guide as we sat in the room where the New Jersey General Assembly had met.

2. On the first floor of the tavern, we learned about, how bars now got their name from taverns. I will use an example from a tap room in Halifax, N.C. to demonstrate.  See the box on the left?  That would have been the place where the tavern keepers would have served alcoholic beverages from. Where you see the opening, could easily be closed at the keepers discretion and it had bars similar to the one on the side to prevent future purchase. A fast forward to Haddonfield, New Jersey, in 1873, Haddonfield became a dry town, ever since alcohol can not be served there.

Photo of tap room in Halifax, N.C.

2. Indian King Tavern was the first declared historic site in the state of New Jersey in 1903 and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

3. To give you an idea of currency back in colonial times, I will direct you to Colonial Williamsburg website as a visual. Our guide at the Indian King Tavern Museum gave a a demonstration of the "Pieces of Eight".  Pieces of a silver dollar were cut to pay different fares. It is also where we now get the coinage half a dollar and a quarter.

4. To get a clearer depiction of the relevance of the location of this tavern, it is situated, of note still named the Kings Highway, this thoroughfare, is compared to the Interstate 295, Atlantic City Expressway and  Route 130 combined into one. If you were traveling in colonial times, you passed by as did Lafayette,  "Mad" Anthony Wayne and Pulaski.

5.  One appetizing thought we also learned from the lady in the sunglasses I mentioned earlier referred to dining habits. Gentleman often enjoyed their meals in one of the common areas in front of the tavern and traveled out back to use the privy. Sounds logical but they may and most likely would come back in and dip their fingers into a common box of salt to get a pinch of salt to add to their meal. I will always remember this woman telling the story with such elegance and grace and not batting a eye. By the way, they still have an original bench, it's blue, check it out.

6.  It is much more clear to me now, how travelers slept in groups in a community bed. A bed was lined up against the wall and people slept sitting up across a bed with a pillow propped up against the wall. I have no photograph so I hope my description was sufficient. Our guide explained it well enough for me to now understand. I still think it would have been a little rough, but now I get it. With so many days on the road and the distance these people travel, I am guessing they could sleep standing up.

7. Haddonfield was at one time the capital of New Jersey during the American Revolution.  There was talk about making Princeton the capital but its close proximity of occupied by the British, New York, made Princeton not the best idea.

8. It was at the Indian King Tavern that the name change of New Jersey from a colony to a state took place. Our guide noted that back in those days the legislative body was quick and efficient and namely "cheap". There was a document just inside the front door that he recommended we take a look at, as it demonstrates how this transformation took place. Wherever the document listed colony, it was crossed out and the word state was added. Unfortunately, I forgot to look and missed the document, but I have no reason not to believe this gentleman, he wore colonial garb and he would know.

9. They also have an original example of the New Jersey Coat of Arms protected under cover and have a larger sample available for teaching and demonstration purposes. I won't remember everything he said, but you can easily google the meaning of the Coat of Arms of New Jersey also on the 2nd floor is an original tavern sign from a tavern in Philadelphia that gives you an indication of the size of tavern signs back in the colonial day. This original sign is dated and other unique qualities are the number of stars that indicate the number of states at the time and the raised pieces of wood that give the sign a 3D effect.

10. One of the most interesting things I learned was about an inconspicuous painting, in the Great Room at the upstairs of the Indian King Tavern.  It is a portrait of Timothy Matlack by Charles Wilson Peale. You can read more about Mr. Matlack and see what the painting looks like at Wikipedia. Timothy Matlack was born in Haddonfield, N.J. and later moved to Philadelphia with his family. His most memorable claim to fame is he penned the original Declaration of Independence.  He was so chosen because of his distinguished penmanship.

 Back to the Battle

It was very clear that something was brewing in the other side of town just a block or two up Kings Highway. Remember the gentleman in the blue suit I mentioned earlier? He is standing here with a British soldier. Speculation again, but could that British soldier be calling for more troops.

British troops did seem to be gathering.

A timeline also appear imminent.

This British soldier was kind enough to stop and pose for a photo op but was a tad distressed not to be in full uniform. The British are sometimes known to be a bit fussy. Kind and British to a colonist during the Revolutionary War? We may check on this soldier in later photographs.

The crowd was starting to assemble,

as the scouts checked out the territory, they discovered

 reinforcements were needed.

because, you guessed it, the British were coming.

 The Colony did not back down.

A battle ensued

Causalities happened on both sides. Note that friendly British soldier earlier in the day. It was as if she spotted me in the crowd. What is that saying, the best way to destroy an enemy is to make them your friend? She is sportin that rifle on the left perimeter.

This was only a re-enactment and at the conclusion of this fight on the Kings Highway, one of the British officers announced "All the Dead please rise up" and they did.

Wouldn't that be nice in the real world? The British did overtake the Indian King Tavern that afternoon and showed no signs of budging when I left Haddonfield.

Control of Haddonfield, N.J. changed several times during the American Revolution but the colonists eventually won the War of Independence.

No Taxation Without Representation
Don't Tread on Me
Join or Die
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!
Don't shoot....until you see the white's of their eyes
These are the times that try men's souls.

Another part of my yet to discover Haddonfield Part II tomorrow.

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