Rutgers University

Historians to Discuss Link Between Rutgers' Founder and Slavery


SOMERVILLE, NJ - Historians will discuss the connections between Rev. Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, the principal founder of Rutgers University, his family and African-American abolitionist leader Sojourner Truth, who was at one time their slave, plus stories of other early slave-holding leaders of Rutgers College at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17 at the Old Dutch Parsonage in Somerville.

Speakers include:

John Coakley, Feakes Professor of Church History, Emeritus, at New Brunswick Theological Seminary;

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Thomas J Frusciano, Rutgers Library faculty and vice president of the Rutgers Living History Society;

Helene Van Rossum, Public Services and Outreach Archivist at Rutgers Libraries Special Collections.

There is a suggested $5 donation to attend this program. Advance registration is advised. Call 908-725-1015 or email to register. Please register early, as seating is limited.

The Old Dutch Parsonage was constructed in 1751, by the congregations of three local Dutch Reform Churches. The house was first occupied by the Rev. John Frelinghuysen and his family until his death in 1754.

His successor, Hardenbergh, was the principal founder and first president of Queens College in New Brunswick, now Rutgers University.

The Wallace House, built in 1776, served as George Washington’s winter headquarters during the Middlebrook Cantonment of 1778-79. The house was the country residence of retired Philadelphia merchant John Wallace.

Washington rented the use of half the house for himself and his staff and paid Wallace $1,000 for the use of the dwelling and furniture. During his stay, the general hosted foreign dignitaries and planned strategies for the spring military campaign. The house is fully restored and furnished with period furniture.

Both sites are administered by the state Division of Parks and Forestry, and are open to visitors Wednesday through Sunday. The Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage are both listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. 

The parking lot entrance and interpretive center for the sites is located at 71 Somerset St., Somerville. For directions and more information about the sites, visit or call 908-725-1015

The Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage Association is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of these New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places sites. Supplementing the efforts of the state Division of Parks and Forestry, the association raises funds for furnishing, restoring, and improving the sites as well as preserving and interpreting their place in New Jersey’s and the nation’s heritage.

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