NEWTON - A Civil War Encampment, Tours of the Old Newton Burial Ground, a string band and exhibits by several historical and civic societies are all included in the plans for this Saturday's Sussex County History Day.
Sponsored by the Sussex County Historical Society, the event is planned to be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Event Field, located behind 75-79 Main St. with parking available at the former McGuire lot, courtesy of Sussex County Community College. The rain date is Sunday., Sept. 22.
Society trustee Wendy Wyman advises that while the event is free and open to the general public, there is a charge for cemetery tours by costumed interpreters ($10 for adults, $5 for seniors, veterans and 12-18-year-olds), with the proceeds to benefit the continued restoration of the historic cemetery.
The Civil War Encampment of the 27th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteer Infantry is of particular interest, especially Co. F, as that was originally composed primarily of Vernon Township residents, with Daniel Bailey of Glenwood as its captain. Especially unique was the 34-star Federal Flag carried by the 27th Regiment, as it was made by the women of the Glenwood Baptist Church and presented to Col. George W. Mindil by Bailey prior to leaving Newark. The flag had white stars in lieu of gold ones and it lacked the standard fringe as none was available.
The regiment was mustered into service on Sept. 3, 1862, and trained at Camp Frelinghuysen in Newark prior to joining the Army of the Potomac. The only engagement the regiment fought in was the Dec. 12-15, 1862, Battle of Fredericksburg. The regiment suffered its greatest loss during the war on May 6, 1863, when 33 of its members lost their lives while crossing the Cumberland River in Kentucky. Only seven of the bodies were recovered and they were buried in the Mill Spring National Cemetery, Logan Cross Roads, Kentucky. The regiment was mustered out on July 2, 1863, and arrived in Newton on July 4, 1863.
The motto of the 27th was “Character Untarnished and Habits Unpolluted.”
Cemetery tours will be held at noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. with participants limited to 20 persons on each tour. The five guides that will lead the tours and serve as interpreters are Geoffrey Ithen, Wendy Wyman, Ed Koenig, Toni Zimmer and Society President Wayne T. McCabe.
As for the historic cemetery, the late Newton Historian Kevin W. Wright wrote that the 0.38-acre parcel on which the cemetery was originally located was at the edge of a 2,500-acre tract surveyed by William Penn in 1715. The original portion of the cemetery was dedicated in 1762. The Old Newton Burial Ground is listed on both the state and National registers of historic places and is part of the Newton Historic District.
During the tours, Ithen plans to interpret George Watson Roy. Roy a local historian recorded the inscriptions on headstones in local cemeteries and plotted them on maps. Roy spent about 15 years recording the headstones in the Old Newton Burial Ground. Roy's map shows the location of every visible grave as near as can be without an accurate survey. All the monuments that existed in 1891 are shown and the graves are all numbered.
Wyman, who will be interpreting Letitia Thornton Anderson, will focus on Anderson's two sons and a grandson. Anderson, the wife of Assistant Quartermaster Thomas Anderson, was one of the four Sussex County women that served as a member of the Ladies of Trenton, a group of women that raised funds for the men of the Continental Army.
The couple's son, William Thornton Anderson, served as a major in the provisional army of the United States during the Quasi-War with France (1798-1800), and like his father, was an attorney by profession. Son, Thomas Oakley Anderson served as a midshipman during the War with Tripoli. Anderson was with Lt. Stephen Decatur in 1804, during the daring re-capture and destruction of the frigate, “Philadelphia” and he was subsequently promoted to a Lieutenant.
The Anderson's grandson, Thomas Anderson, served as a Captain in Co. D., 27th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers during the Civil War and like his father and his grandfather, was a lawyer by profession.
Quartermaster Henry Johnson will be interpreted by Society member Ed Koenig. Johnson, who served with the rank of Captain in the 2nd Regiment of the Sussex County Militia during the American Revolutionary War also served as one of the first Elders of the Newton Presbyterian Church. A merchant by trade, Johnson operated a dry-goods store.
Society member Toni Zimmer plans to interpret Francis Douglas West. West was the wife of Civil War veteran William H. West. West, who was born in Sussex County in 1837, served as a private in Co. K, 26th U.S. Colored Troops. This was the second of three African-American combat troops from the state of New York. This unit lost 237 enlisted men during the war.
McCabe plans to interpret George Van Tile Griggs who served as a captain of Co. A&H, 2nd New York Cavalry during the Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Virginia on Oct. 11, 1863, when 23. Griggs was brevated colonel for his conspicuous gallantry in action. When Local GAR Post #111 was organized in Newton on Dec. 2, 1888, it was named in Grigg's honor.
In addition to the Civil War Encampment of the 27th N.J. Volunteer Infantry Regiment included among the groups planning to participate with displays are the Branchville Historical Society, Col. Henry Ryerson Civil War Round Table, Deckertown-Union (Papakating) Cemetery, Franklin Historical Society, M.A.R.C.H. (Montague Association for the Restoration of Community History, Pvt. Joseph Bessette Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the Union, 1861-1865, Sparta Historical Society, Sussex County Historical Society, Sussex Fire Dept., Sussex-Wantage Historical Society and Wreaths Across America.
Also, the Long Hill String Band will be playing two sets; at 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m.
More than 250 years have lapsed since the Old Newton Burial Ground was dedicated. Saturday's tours of the cemetery will be held to highlight some of those laid to rest in this historic burial ground.
Wyman may be contacted at email@example.com.
Jennie Sweetman is the history columnist for the New Jersey Herald. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sussex County Historical Society members who served at the September 2018 Cemetery Tours at the September 23 Sussex County History Day pose in front of the Hill Museum, the Society's Headquarters at 82 Main Street, Newton.
Standing back row: L to R: Peter Lubrecht, Wayne T. McCabe, Alex Everitt, Geoffrey Ithan. Front Row L to R: Kathleen Marshall, Wendy Wyman, Toni Zimmer, Jennifeer Brylinsky. Photo provided by Wendy Wyman.
Captain Daniel Bailey of Glenwood poses with some of the men of the 27th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The men, who had volunteered for nine months agreed to serve an additional month due to the serious threat posed by the Confederate Army in Pennsylvania. Photo provided by the Re-Enactment Group of the 27th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment. .