This Week in New Jersey History...
- 1781 Patriot clergyman Reverend James Caldwell was shot and killed by an American sentry on duty at Elizabethtown. It was believed that Loyalists had bribed the sentry to commit the act, and he was tried and executed for murder.
- 1971 In a riot at Rahway State Prison, 500 inmates held six hostages, including the warden, for 24 hours.
- 1788 William Paterson and Dr. Jonathan Elmer were elected by the state Assembly and Council as the first US senators from New Jersey.
- 1790 The New Jersey legislature passed a law designating Trenton as the permanent state capital. Previous legislation to locate the capital at Woodbury and New Brunswick had been rejected.
- 1822 Angelique Marie ''Lilly'' Martin was born in Exeter, England. The Martin family moved to the United States in 1830 and in 1844 Martin married Benjamin Rush Spencer in Ohio. Largely self-taught, although she did receive some professional instruction, Lilly Martin Spencer became the most famous woman artist in America, and also gave birth to thirteen children. In 1858 she moved to Newark, where most of her best-known work, including War Spirit at Home: Celebrating the Battle of Vicksburg, which is currently in the Newark Museum collection, was created. Lilly Martin Spencer died in New York on May 22, 1902.
- 1910 A fire broke out in a garment factory on the corner of Orange and High streets in Newark. Six women workers burned to death and twenty more were killed when they jumped from the four-story building to escape the flames. The factory was the former site of the Manhattan Firearms Company, a firm that made revolvers in the Civil War era.
- 2013 New Jersey began legalized Atlantic City casino based internet gambling, the third state to do so. Participation was limited to state residents.
- 1777 New Jersey Militia General Philemon Dickinson led a force of 1,400 militiamen on a massive raid on Staten Island and captured 200 men of the Loyalist New Jersey Volunteers, most of them recently recruited in Bergen County.
- 1838 Thirteen charter members founded the first Baptist Church in Jersey City. The founders chose Reverend Joseph Houghmont as their first pastor, hiring him on a six-month contract at a salary of four dollars a week.
- 1967 Raritan Township was renamed Hazlet Township based on a referendum of the voters held on November 7.
- 1950 Actor Ed Harris was born in Englewood. Harris was raised in Tenafly and graduated from Tenafly High School , where he played on the football team. He attended Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma before graduating from the California Institute of the Arts with a BFA degree. Harris starred in a number of roles, including as John Glenn in ''The Right Stuff.'' He has been nominated for a number of Academy Awards, has appeared in television productions and on stage, and has also worked as a director.
- 1778 Colonel Christian Febiger, commanding the Second Virginia Regiment stationed at Hackensack, wrote to General George Washington that ''My Regiment is hardly sufficient to keep necessary Guards for our own Security, which renders it very severe Duty to keep a Guard at the Liberty Pole and parties out to intercept the Villains that are dayly carrying Supplies to the Enemy.''
- 1783 An earthquake estimated at 5.3 on the Richter scale rocked New Jersey. It is considered the most severe earthquake the state has ever experienced.
- 1776 British General William Howe, then in the process of driving the remnants of General George Washington's American army out of New Jersey, optimistically advised Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for America, that he intended to decisively crush the rebellion in America in the forthcoming year.
- 1967 Captain Eleanor Grace Alexander, a US army nurse from River Vale, was killed in an aircraft crash near Qui Nhon while returning from a mission to Pleiku. She was the only New Jersey woman to die in the Vietnam War.
Would you like more of these Garden State history tidbits? Throughout 2014, Garden State Legacy will be sending FREE weekly emails like this one! Every Monday, you'll find a list of fascinating facts to help you get through the week. To sign up, just go to www.GardenStateLegacy.com and enter your email into the form at the top of the page. (And while you're there, please check out the rest of the GSL site if you are not already familiar with it!)
These are brought to you courtesy of GSL author and Board of Advisers member, Joseph G. Bilby, who with his co-authors, James M. Madden and Harry Ziegler, have written 350 Years of New Jersey History, From Stuyvesant to Sandy (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013), due out January 28, 2014 and available from local booksellers and chain bookstores, online book vendors including Amazon, and in e-book form for Kindle, Nook and iPad.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief