Thursday, August 25, 2016


You look fabulous!




Monday, August 22, 2016

Celebrate the National Park Service Centennial

Cake and Community

Blue Morel Restaurant Executive Chef Bobby Varua
Helps Morristown Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service

2 pmThursday, August 25, 2016


Morristown, NJ – Please join Morristown National Historical Park (NHP) as it celebrates the exact 100th anniversary of the National Park Service on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

Festivities begin at  2 pm in Morristown NHP’s Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, New Jersey. Admission is free.

Blue Morel Restaurant Executive Chef Bobby Varua will present to the park and visitors a specially designed and created  birthday cake that honors the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.

Following the cake-cutting, Chief of Interpretation Vanessa Smiley will present a short program in the museum auditorium on the history of the National Park Service.

Morristown NHP Chief of Cultural Resources Dr. Jude Pfister notes “This once-in-a-lifetime celebration is a way for us in the National Park Service to work with the community and say thank-you to the public." Dr. Pfister invites everyone to this special event. Come, meet Chef Bobby and the park staff, and join us for community, cake, and good cheer as we wish the National Park Service happy birthday.


And in the tradition of Cake and Community; From our photo archives, Mildred Ward's 1972, 
Ford Mansion cake. Morristown recently celebrated 83 years as the first 
National Historical Park in the National Park Service. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Checking in with the Interns: Zachary

Theodore F. Randolph
Researching Theodore F. Randolph, the 22nd Governor of New Jersey, through the Internet and the artifacts we have at MNHP was quite an interesting task. What was really intriguing were the artifact given to MNHP from the Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ), a group that started the preservation of historical artifacts in New Jersey, especially that of George Washington’s time in Morristown during the American Revolutionary War. Most of the artifact about the company, such as their records and notes, were where I found much of the information about Governor Randolph and his part in the association. He was their first President and one of their biggest funders until the time of his death in 1883. Without Governor Randolph it appears the WANJ would have lack both leadership and unity at the beginning of their association.
Official WANJ Stock, signed by Randolph
Newspaper clipping 

from the Newark Advertiser, 
advertising WANJ stock.

The project I was doing on Governor Randolph involved looking at the man himself, his involvement in the WANJ, and the WANJ’s connection to the Morristown National Historical Park. What I found was a laundry list of notes of the WANJ meetings as well as many other records of Governor Randolph and the other founders of the association. Governor Randolph political career was quite prolific according to my findings. Prior to his Governorship, he also represented New Jersey in many other government offices. As for his involvement with the WANJ, Theodore F. Randolph was there first president and one of their largest funders. One of the pieces that caught my eye, while researching the records of the WANJ, was a Newspaper add of sorts, which offered stock in the association a $100 a share and a membership, written by Governor Randolph. It appeared that in the need for funds at the beginning of the WANJ Randolph decided that allowing new members to be added to the association, with the purchase of stock, would create revenue for them. It would in fact work out and get the funds needed for the WANJ. Another interesting piece was the record of a transaction, which Governor Randolph and the other founding members had with the Attorney General of New Jersey. In this transaction a deal was struck that would allow the WANJ to receive money from the New Jersey government each year in order to sustain the preservation of their historical artifacts. Governor Randolph and the WANJ put it rigorous work to protect their venture of preserving such artifacts and it would pay off.

The hard work done by Theodore Randolph and the other members would be a building block in the future of historical preservation in New Jersey. Their efforts would lead to a government run parks and museum system in New Jersey, such as MNHP. Without Randolph the WANJ would have had a much more difficult time succeeding in the early stages of their association, which could have been detrimental to what I am doing today.

This post by Zachary De Leon, Kean University

Friday, July 29, 2016

Assistance from Washington Association of New Jersey Reopens Fort Nonsense

Morristown, NJ – The National Park Service at Morristown National Historical Park (NHP) is pleased to announce that its Fort Nonsense area is now reopened due to assistance from the Washington Association of New Jersey. Fort Nonsense had been closed since the severe thunderstorm that hit the Morristown, New Jersey area on Thursday, July 14, 2016. The storm caused significant tree-damage at Fort Nonsense, including many fallen trees and limbs that made the area inaccessible and unsafe.

Morristown NHP’s staff immediately responded and worked days on tree cleanup and removal, but the amount of damage and size of the fallen trees required greater resources of manpower and equipment than the park has at its disposal.

The park’s legislated partner, the Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ), stepped in and provided over $10,000 for this much-needed work through the Fort Nonsense Endowment Fund, which WANJ manages for the benefit of Fort Nonsense. Washington Association President Eileen Cameron explained, “The Washington Association Board of Directors recognized the scale of the disaster that hit Fort Nonsense and acted to help the park re-open the area as quickly as possible during the height of the visitor season. The partnership the Washington Association has with Morristown National Historical Park allows us to respond immediately with emergency financial support.”

Without these funds, cleanup efforts would have been significantly delayed and Fort Nonsense would have remained closed to the public until resources became available to make the park area safe.

Morristown NHP Superintendent Thomas Ross noted, “The close collaboration between Morristown NHP and the Washington Association of New Jersey has reopened Fort Nonsense for the use and enjoyment of the community and its visitors. It is during challenging times like this that prove just how vital partnerships are to the National Park Service, as is the unwavering support and dedication of the Washington Association to Morristown National Historical Park.”

Morristown NHP and the Washington Association of New Jersey invite the public to visit this historically significant site, learn about its role during the Revolutionary War, enjoy your lunch at the picnic tables, and gaze out across town and towards the New York skyline from the highest point in Morristown.


Morristown National Historical Park preserves, protects, and commemorates the landscapes, structures, features, and museum collections of the Continental Army winter encampments, the headquarters of General George Washington, and related Revolutionary War sites at Morristown, New Jersey for the benefit and inspiration of the public. Morristown NHP also represents a continuum of our nation’s efforts to protect our common heritage: as the very first “national historical park”, the park was also established to commemorate, preserve, and memorialize American history and heritage.

For more information about the park, please call 973-539-2016 ext. 210 or visit our website at

The Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ), founded in 1874, is one of the oldest historic preservation organizations in the nation. In partnership with Morristown National Historical Park since 1933, WANJ supports the park in its preservation and interpretation goals, and honors the contributions of George Washington and his troops to the cause of American Independence.

For more information about the Washington Association of New Jersey, please call 973-292-1874 or visit

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Checking in with the Interns: Amelia

Theodosia's signature appears on many legal documents.
Morristown Historical National Park is well known for the history of the Ford Mansion as one of Washington’s winter Headquarters during the American Revolutionary War. The Ford family was a very powerful and important family in 18th Century Morris County. Despite the great significance of the Fords in local history, little is known about the woman of the household at this time, Theodosia Ford. She played an integral role in this story, as the major hostess of George Washington and in his army in her husband’s absence. To learn more about the background, personality, and experiences of Mrs. Ford, we have begun a project this summer to better understand her experiences and character. 

Excerpt from an account ledger.
Over the past month, we have read through Morristown’s collection of the Ford Family Papers to identify all references to and records of her. The documents include court records, inventories, personal letters, business letters, receipts, bonds, wills, and financial accounts, which can be used to understand the financial, legal, and social activities and experiences of the Ford family members, including Mrs. Ford. The collection is very interesting, as it gives a glimpse into the daily activities, personal relationships, financial circumstances, legal concerns, and business transactions of the Ford family. Records of this nature usually involve solely the men of the family who would have typically dealt with most of the business, legal, and financial matters. However, Theodosia
Ford’s name appears quite often in the documents, which is telling in itself of her importance. We are working to identify specifically what her role was in the matters of the family and community that made her so relevant in these documents. The mentions of Theodosia Ford in the collection are currently being analyzed and connected to create a more wholesome picture of this important woman.

Manuscript discussing Mrs. Ford's application
for widow's compensation.
Theodosia would have been a very wealthy and influential woman in her local community, as part of the powerful Ford family. She came from another prominent Morristown family headed by her father, Reverend Timothy Johnes. Theodosia Ford held many responsibilities for a woman of her time. With her husband Colonel Jacob Ford Jr. away with the continental army, she assumed the roles of primary host of the house, head of the family, and, upon her husband’s death, owner of the estate. Descriptions of the years of the Ford Mansion as the colonial headquarters demonstrate the major changes that occurred in her daily routine and living arrangements at this time. She experienced many disruptive alarms, was left only two rooms in the house, and largely gave up the control of her home to Mr. and Mrs. Washington. Apart from these great changes, becoming a widow after the war was a whole new life for her as well. Theodosia Ford’s name increasingly appears on more documents after this period, demonstrating her greater involvement in the affairs of the estate, family, and community in the later decades of her life. Theodosia’s estate consisted of twelve acres of land, various family members, and three slaves. As a widow, she received a great deal of money by leasing the lands of her husband’s iron forges. Additionally, she had attempted to apply for half-pay compensation of her husband and father’s deaths in the war, as New Jersey law allowed. However, she had trouble in securing this, because both deaths occurred in other colonies and were thus not considered “state deaths.”
Receipt for shares of Morris Turnpike.

She contributed to the advancement of her community by investing in the building of the Morris Turnpike Road. Respect and love shown by those that knew her are demonstrated throughout many affectionate letters from family and friends in her old age and after her death. The admiration of this woman was further shown when Timothy Ford named a daughter Theodosia, presumably after his mother. The documents clearly show Mrs. Ford as greatly involved in community, business, and legal affairs as well as greatly loved in her personal relationships. It is fascinating getting to work with these materials to uncover information and begin painting a portrait of Theodosia Ford, a woman who played such a major role in Morristown history.

This post by Amelia Zurcher, The College of New Jersey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Checking in with the Interns: Hannah

Notes from the 1803 Canfield et al. vs.
Ford et al. case, naming Theodosia Ford as a defendant.

I have been assigned to work on a project to find out more about Theodosia Ford (1741 – 1824), the matriarch of the Ford family who owned the Ford Mansion. Under the supervision of Dr. Pfister, Head Curator of Morristown NHP, fellow intern Amelia and I have gone through twenty-five boxes of the Ford Family Papers, which were obtained for the Park in the 1970s by the Washington Association. These documents cover the years between 1738 and 1904, a huge amount of time which encompasses the majority of American history.

Amelia and I went through these papers, box by box, folder by folder, scanning for any mentions of Theodosia’s name. It is amazing to be able to handle primary documents from the 18th and 19th century, and being able to do this has helped to illustrate the context in which the papers were written. We ended up finding quite a bit of material, and are now working to compile a finding aid for any future researchers who are interested in the Fords, as well as putting together a small display that will go in the upstairs museum for park visitors. Theodosia Ford was extremely involved in her family’s business affairs, which was significant for a woman of her time. Of all the artifacts that we looked at, my favorite were the day and account books kept by Gabriel and Henry, the son and grandson, respectively, of Theodosia. These records are so organized and specific that it is fascinating to read them and provides incredible insight for how they lived daily.

This has been a fabulous introduction to the depth of New Jersey’s history, as well as a wonderful opportunity to practice professional and academic researching skills. Along the way, we’ve also learned about the process of curating and maintaining Morristown’s extensive collection. There are still so many items and documents in the collection that can be explored and presented to the public. It is my hope that our notes will be useful to people in the future, and that they can add their findings as well.

This post by Hannah-Abigail Mosier, Syracuse University. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Meet VIP Walter Gilligan

If you visit Washington's Headquarters Museum on a Wednesday, you're likely to meet one of our wonderful park volunteers. Walter Gilligan (center) enjoys leading Ford Mansion tours and imparting his passion for Revolutionary War history to others. This Rockaway resident has been a VIP (Volunteer in the Park) for four years.

Gilligan told the Morristown Patch, “I’m a history buff, I like history and I enjoy telling people many things they don’t know.” 

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Welcome Summer Interns

Hailing from three fine universities, this summer's cultural resource interns were up for an intensive archival immersion.

College of New Jersey rising senior, Amelia Zurcher, is a history major with special interests in Colonial Mid-Atlantic American history. Amelia will be working with intern Hannah-Abigail to scour the Ford Family papers for evidence of Theodosia Ford's activities. You may have seen Amelia around our Jockey Hollow unit, as she has volunteered with the Herb Society of America, at the Wick House garden.

Rising senior, Hannah-Abigail Mosier, is studying public relations, women's and gender studies, and policy studies at Syracuse University. Collaborating with Amelia to research Theodosia Ford, Hannah-Abigail is looking forward to piecing together a more comprehensive picture of women's lives during the American Revolution. She is especially interested in Ford's role as matriarch.

Kean University rising senior, Zachary DeLeon, is has an affinity for 18th and 19th century American history. He will put his history major to good use this summer as he contributes to an exhibit for the NPS Centennial, hosted at the State House Rotunda, in Trenton. For his part, he will research the papers of William Paterson and Thomas Randolph, showcasing Morristown's fine representation of New Jersey historical governors.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Hours Begin July 1

Morristown, NJ
– The National Park Service at Morristown National Historical Park is pleased to announce that it will begin its seven-day-a-week, summer hours of operation on July 1, 2016.

Both the Washington’s Headquarters Museum and Jockey Hollow Visitor Center buildings will be open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.

The Ford Mansion also will be open daily with tours at 10:00 am11:00 am1:00 pm2:00 pm3:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. Tickets for Ford Mansion tours must be obtained in the Washington’s Headquarters Museum.

The grounds of all park areas will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

On August 31, 2015, the park will resume its regular Wednesday through Sunday operating schedule.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

New Orleans Jazz Comes to Morristown

National Park Service’s Centennial Jazz Band to Perform Free Concert 
Morristown National Historical Park 
7:00 p.m., 
Friday, June 3, 2016

Morristown, NJ – Celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary through this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! As part of its National Park Service (NPS) Centennial tour, the NPS Centennial Band from New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park will perform at Morristown National Historical Park (NHP). The band members will play music never heard before at Morristown NHP, and best yet, the concert is FREE. The jam session begins at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3rd in Morristown NHP’s Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, New Jersey.

The mission of the Centennial Band is to:

  • Enhance opportunities for visitors to experience and appreciate the sights and sounds of early jazz throughout the nation;
  • Interpret the origins, history, and progression of jazz; and
  • Promote and assist the education of students in various forms of jazz in order to perpetuate its continued evolution as a true American art form.

The Centennial Band is comprised of active, retired, or former park rangers as well as park volunteers and interns. The band performs traditional New Orleans jazz, selections from the Great American Songbook, and original compositions written by Ranger Jeff Wolin. The original songs can be found on Songs for Junior Rangers Volume 1 and Songs for Junior Rangers, Volume 2: The Centennial Edition, both of which will be for sale in Morristown NHP’s gift shop during the event.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

EKiP @ Morristown

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, Morristown National Historical Park welcomed nearly 100 4th graders from Newark Public Schools to find their park, all thanks to the coordination and collaboration of the National Park Trust. The students learned critical outdoor survival skills from NPS Centennial sponsor REI via a local store associate, practiced yoga with the Newark Yoga Movement, explored tent camping and teamwork with the National Park Trust, and experienced a hike through the woods with a National Park Service ranger. 

The students also received their very own Every Kid in a Park (EKiP) pass. This pass provides free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federally owned lands, in an effort to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their federal public lands and waters in person. 

As Ranger Vanessa Smiley stated during the opening ceremony for the event, "This pass gives you power. It gives you the power to access parks across the country, for free, as well as three of your adult family members. They can't use this without you. So you have the power with this pass."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Flat Ranger Elena Stops By MORR

Spring has sprung in Morristown and we were so lucky to have Flat Ranger Elena from Grand Island Public Schools stop in for a visit.

During her detail, Flat Ranger Elena served as a Centennial consultant. She attended our 2016 Encampment at Jockey Hollow and she helped kick off National Park Week.

She is pictured here, after touring the historic Ford Mansion.

Thanks for your help Flat Ranger Elena and best wishes on your upcoming adventures!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Upcoming BONJ Collaborations


Dr. Jude Pfister and Dr. Maetro Robert Butts discuss La Giuditta

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Morristown NHP auditorium, at 7:30



Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey perform Alessandro Scarlatti's 1693 La Giuditta 

Sunday, May 1, 2016
Morristown NHP auditorium, at 3:00


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Emily Ramos Finds HER Park

Seventh grader, Emily Ramos, is a seasoned National History Day (NHD) participant. She is also a seasoned National Park explorer! For the past couple of years, her stellar NHD projects have allowed her to share her love for history and meet other young scholars who share that passion.This year’s NHD theme was Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange, so Emily decided to research the establishment of the National Park Service and its role in preserving and protecting sites and landscapes of significance. Her project coincides with our own Centennial celebration and serves as an excellent tribute to one-hundred years of inspiration, education, and community.

We interviewed Emily to get more insight into her research process.

  Emily Ramos
Grade:  7
School:  Nicholas Oresko School
Hometown:  Bayonne
Hobbies/Interests:  Swim Team, Girl Scouts, violin and reading 

What is National History Day and why do you enjoy participating?

National History Day is an academic contest that focuses on different areas of history. I enjoy participating in National History Day because it gives students a fun and interactive way to learn about different aspects of history.  

What was this year’s theme and how did you go about interpreting it?

This year’s NHD theme was “Exploration, Encounter and Exchange”. My topic relates to all of these aspects. It deals with the exploration of a new idea. My thesis stated that establishing America's national parks was one of our nation's best ideas. This idea was very radical for the time period- that lands should be preserved for everyone to enjoy and for future generations. Exchange also played a role in my project- industrialization and economy using up the land and the resources versus protection and preservation. Encounter involved new peoples, such as Indian tribes living there, people occupying the lands in the east where Shenandoah and the Smokies were created. Their opposition was encountered in many cases. I was glad to find out through my research that the idea of establishing national parks succeeded. And I agree that it was one of the best ideas and contributions made by our country.   

How did you choose a topic?

My family and I have visited several National Parks over the past few years.  I learned that they are all operated by the National Park Service. My favorite parks are the ones that preserve and conserve the natural world such as: mountains, seashores, and wildlife habitats. Besides being some of the most beautiful places to visit, they offer many educational programs. My favorite is the Junior Ranger Program. It allows young people to earn badges for completing activities designed to have them learn about a particular park in a fun and interactive way. With the 100th anniversary of the NPS approaching, I would like to use my project as doing my part in making people aware of what our National Parks have to offer.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Concert Series

Please join Morristown National Historical Park for a series of special piano recitals to celebrate the NPS Centennial. Playing on the park’s 1873 Steinway grand piano, celebrated pianist Peter Toth will perform solo piano works from a variety of beloved composers.


Hungarian pianist Peter Toth is one of the most recognized artists of his generation. He has concertized in most countries in Europe, South America, and Asia. His first released CD recording won the Grand Prize of the Hungarian Liszt Society (2006). Mr. Toth is a regular guest artist at various piano festivals and has been member of the American Liszt Society since 2011.

Recitals Held

    March 27 | April  24 | May 29 |  
    June 12 | August 28 |
    September 25

1:00 PM, FREE of charge,
    no reservations necessary
For Info: Jude M. Pfister |
    P 973.539.2016 x 204

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Bright Young Librarian Among Us

Special Collections Archivist and Museum educator, Sarah Minegar, was selected to be featured as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books & Collections Magazine. 

Read more about her role at Morristown, her favorite artifacts, and upcoming Park collaborations 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Springing Foward

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the 2016 Morristown Saint Patrick's Day Parade!

You might have seen the MNHP folks proudly sporting some green and representing the National Park Service Centennial.

Just a friendly reminder, we are back on our spring schedule:

Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Centennial Schedule HERE!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Morristown National Historical Park and the Literary Imagination

Morristown National Historical Park in Morristown, New Jersey, is well known as the site of the Continental Army encampment during the terrible winter of 1779-1780. While there were earlier and later encampments in the area during the American Revolution, it is the 1779-1780 encampment that conjures the most interest, devotion, imagination, and debate. We are all naturally drawn to scenes of perseverance; scenes of human endurance against immense odds when the stakes are so high. Such scenes of course occurred at Morristown in 1779-1780, when the Continental Army faced the worst winter in recorded memory with little or no assistance from their civilian leaders in Congress or from the local population. 

Such was the memory of that suffering, hardship, and fortitude that Morristown was chosen as the site of the first National Historical Park in 1933. Since that time, the National Park Service (NPS) has striven to ensure that the story of that terrible time be told and remembered following the best scholarship available and within the boundaries of best museum practices. Yet, while the professionals at the NPS toil on decade after decade, there has been an entire side-business in embellishing, or enhancing, the story as it exists in an effort to make it just a bit more heroic, a bit more representative; pushing the historical envelope to find the limits of what the public will bear in terms of their history. In short, these practitioners engage in what can only be termed Poetic License. 

Read more of Dr. Jude Pfister's article in the March issue of
>Garden State Legacy<

Pfister, Jude. "Morristown National Historical Park and The Literary Imagination."  Garden State Legacy. Issue 31. Mar 2016. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Author David Veasey to Speak on New Jersey’s Colonial Architecture Told in 100 Buildings

Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 1 pm

Morristown, NJ – As part of its 2016 National Park Service Centennial celebration, Morristown National Historical Park welcomes author David Veasey to its Washington’s Headquarters Museum for an illustrated talk on his book, New Jersey’s Colonial Architecture Told in 100 Buildings.

The talk will be at 1 pm in the Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, New Jersey. Admission to the program is free. Book sales and signing will follow the program.

Here in New Jersey, the most crowded and developed state in the union, a substantial number of buildings remains from our colonial past, including Washington’s Headquarters in Morristown.

Sandwiched between Philadelphia and New York City, New Jersey often does not get credit for its contributions to colonial and early American life, including its rich and diverse architectural heritage. This diverse architecture reflects its early settlers who were the most varied in all the colonies, except perhaps for New York City. Coming from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France, Ireland, Scotland, and a number of English regions, each group of settlers brought its own building traditions.

David Veasey is a life-long New Jersey resident and has given illustrated talks all over the state. He has also written other books about the state. Veasey lives in Morris Plains, and graduated from Drew University, Madison, and holds a Master’s Degree from New York University. Veasey has worked as a writer his entire career.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jacob Ford Jr. Mansion Now on Google Cultural Insitute

Morristown NHP is proud to announce it is part of the Google Cultural Institute. Take a tour of the historic Jacob Ford Jr. Mansion from any device, anywhere!

Virtual tour > HERE 

To take a ranger-led tour, #FindYourPark @ Morristown