MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township residents gathered at the Henry Doremus house on July 4 to enjoy a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, complemented by re-enactors, ceremony and honor.
The Montville Township Police Explorers Post 805 presented the colors, and Michael Karsen played the trumpet as the crowd sang the National Anthem.
Courier and Towaco resident Dave Marino rode Pépé the horse onto the scene, dressed in full Colonial attire, bearing the Declaration, which he handed off to Freeholder and fellow Towaco resident Hank Lyon, who read the document in its entirety, to the crowd’s cheers of “Huzzah!!!”
Towaco resident Alex Peña counter-pointed with a discussion on the divided loyalties throughout the colonies.
Peña said that in New Jersey, one-third of residents supported the idea of separation from the British crown, one-third wanted to stay British, while the remainder wanted to simply remain neutral.
Neighbors fought against neighbors, and families, such as Benjamin Franklin’s, were on different sides of the war, Peña said.
Rockaway resident Geri Van Dyke spoke about women’s roles in the Revolutionary War. She said that beyond the typical roles of supporting husbands and carrying on the businesses or farms while the husband was away, women were also nurses, lent support to our founding fathers’ efforts, and even acted as spies. Van Dyke said some women even disguised themselves as men and enlisted in the army in order to fight, in order to earn money and fight for freedom.
Bob Hasenohr spoke about John Hart, one of the signers of the Declaration from New Jersey.
Tea Party President Scott Russell then described the history of the Henry Doremus Dutch Stone House, where George Washington spent two and a half days in 1780, accompanied by 40 aides. Doremus was paid $40 for the honor. The house was built in 1760, Russell said, and has never been plumbed, wired, or heated. It is a historically important example of Dutch-American architecture because of its use of space, its jambless fireplace and its simple, gable roof, Russell said. It is listed on the national and state Registers of Historic Places, he said.
The ceremony ended with the singing of “God Bless America.”
See highlights from the performances in this video: