UNION TWP., NJ – It was one of the most notorious events in the history of the State Police.
The year was 1926 and it was just a few days before Christmas. Beatrice, James and Timothy Meany ran a farm in Jutland, and the relationship they had with their neighbors was a little dicey. Perhaps that’s what triggered a call to the state’s SPCA that alleged there was abuse of cattle going on at the farm.
The State Police response that followed became known as the Siege of Jutland. Historical records report that police surrounded the house, pounding it with hundreds of bullets and consuming it in clouds of teargas.
When it was over, Beatrice was dead and the two men severely injured. Reports suggested that at least one of them had been beaten by police after the attack, and several troopers were charged with stealing cash from the house. Police didn’t secure the house after the siege, which allowed spectators to return and steal valuables from the Meany’s home.
The infamous event was almost lost to history, but State Police Archivist Mark Falzini resurrected it with a scholarly book that dissects the events and explains its place not just in the history of Hunterdon, but how the event and following indictments against more than a dozen troopers helped transform the State Police agency itself.
Now, Readington natives David Kuznicki and Eric Althoff – who produced the Emmy-winning film “The Town That Disappeared Overnight” about Round Valley – want to create a film about the siege.
Tomorrow, the pair will co-host a fundraiser along with the non-profit Hunterdon 300th group to help produce a film documentary. The event will take place at 2 p.m. at the Union Township Municipal Building, 140 Perryville Rd. here. (Use Hampton for GPS.)
The filmmakers and local historians will answer questions about the dark story, spotlighting an issue that is as relevant today as it was nearly a century ago. Historian John Kuhl will relate the tale of the local family accused of the abuse, and the aftermath.
The afternoon will also include appetizers and a welcome by the Union Township Mayor Frank Mazza.
After the presentation, attendees will take a short walk to see the house where the siege took place.
The event is free, but donations will be accepted, all of which will be used to help fund production of the film.