UNION, NJ –Take a walk through history at Union County’s annual civic heritage event, “Four Centuries in a Weekend: A Journey through Union County’s History” on Saturday, October 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 22 from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Sponsored by the County Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with staff and volunteers at 35 historic sites, the free two-day event provides county residents and visitors with a chance to walk in the footsteps of the men, women and children who shaped more than 370 years of Union County history.
One of the featured stops on the Four Centuries weekend is Union's Caldwell Parsonage.
On June 7, 1780, after the battle of Connecticut Farms, retreating British and Hessian Troops passed the parsonage. A shot was fired through a bedroom window and Hannah Caldwell, the wife of James Caldwell, fell dead. Was it a mistake, or was it murder — an attempt to punish “the Fighting Parson” of the NJ militia and the
The British burned the Parsonage, the Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church and other buildings in the area. The Parsonage was rebuilt two years later on its original foundation. An artist’s interpretation of Mrs. Caldwell’s death appears on the official Seal of Union County.
Today, the Parsonage contains furniture, clothing, personal belongings and other items relating to the families who established Connecticut Farms (which was incorporated as the Township of Union in 1808). Artifacts on display date from the 18th century to the early 20th century.
Another Union stop on the tour will be Liberty House Museum.
Built in 1772 on the eve of the American Revolution, Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University chronicles more than 240 years of American history. The former residence of William Livingston, New Jersey’s first elected governor and signer of the Constitution, Liberty Hall was originally constructed as a 14-room home in the Georgian style, eventually expanding into the exquisite 50-room Victorian mansion you see today. The museum houses extensive collections of furniture, ceramics, textiles, toys and tools owned by seven generations of the Livingston and Kean families. Descendants resided at Liberty Hall until 1995.
Union County’s historic sites are about to unveil nearly 30 unique “Passport To Your National Parks” cancellation stamps. Visitors will bring their Passport books to national parks, and monuments managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The national park passport stamp program began in 1986. The stamps and passbooks help visitors commemorate their trips. Those holding passport books can also receive the recently-introduced Crossroads-themed stamps for the First Presbyterian Church and the Snyder Academy.
“We know that there are people who travel to sites, in part, to add another stamp to their Passport book,” Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski said, noting that there have already been inquiries from Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., as word has started to leak out about the new stamps.
“It is a great feeling to be able to help our local historical societies promote their sites,” Kowalski said.
“During Four Centuries in a Weekend, some of the most fascinating historic sites in Union County open their doors to provide visitors with a unique experience enriched by live demonstrations, re-enactments, and more,” Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen said.
Nineteen of the 21 municipalities in Union County are represented in the Four Centuries event.
“As always, we encourage families to engage children in the shared history of our community,” Kowalski said. “Our new local history trading cards are now available at the sites, and students can earn a Time Traveler’s Certificate and a Four Centuries Patch by requesting a Time Traveler Passport at any of the sites.”
All Four Centuries visitors can pick up a free Union County, Across the Centuries history booklet at any of the sites, and representatives at many of the sites of the sites can mark the Time Traveler Passport with new “Passport to Your National Parks” cancellation stamps. Adult visitors are welcome to use the Time Traveler Passport, too.