NEWTON - History came to life at Sussex County History Day, where costumed interpreters portrayed several Sussex County historical figures who are eternally interred in the Old Newton Burial Ground.
History Day, sponsored by the Sussex County Historical Society and celebrated on Saturday, also included a Civil War encampment of the 27th N.J. Volunteer Infantry Regiment - a regiment that was primarily comprised of Vernon residents. Information tables from historical groups from around the area and a performance by the Long Hill String Band, rounded out the events.
“I think it's (History Day) a wonderful way to bring history alive for people in our community,” said Society President Wayne McCabe, who interpreted in the role of George Van Tile Griggs a Civil War captain of Co. A&H, 2nd New York Cavalry, who was from Newton.
On Saturday, McCabe reflected on the cemetery itself, with over 5,000 citizens from the area who have been interred there.
“There are 5,000 different stories here,” said McCabe, noting those in the Old Newton Burial Ground range from politicians to shoemakers to patriots to housewives to children.
An ironic detail for McCabe is that he owns Griggs' personal copy of the book he used during the Civil War, “Halleck's Elements of Military Art & Science.” McCabe, whose birthday also falls on the same day as Griggs' death - Oct. 11 - found the book at auction many years ago.
Griggs was only 23 when he died, after he was injured during the war. His parents were summoned to his bedside; and after he died, transported him back to the area.
Other scheduled interpretations were: Wendy Wyman as Letitia Thornton Anderson, spouse of Revolutionary War Assistant Quartermaster Thomas Anderson; Ed Koenig as quartermaster and Revolutionary War captain in the 2nd Regiment of the Sussex County Militia Henry Johnson; Geoffrey Ithen as historian George Watson Roy who mapped the cemetery's burial plots in 1891; and Toni Zimmer as Francis Douglas West, the spouse of Civil War veteran and Sussex County native William H. West, a private in Co. K, 26th U.S. Colored Troops.
For more information about the Sussex County Historical Society, visit: www.sussexhistory.org/.
Jennifer Jean Miller can also be reached by phone at: 973-383-1230; and on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/JMillerNJH.