This Week in New Jersey History...
- 1922 Reverend Edward Wheeler Hall, an Episcopal priest in New Brunswick, was found shot dead along with his mistress, Eleanor Reinhardt Mills, a member of the church choir, in De Russey's Lane in Franklin Township. Suspicion fell on Reverend Hall's wife, Francis, and her brothers, but initially there were no indictments. The crime became popularly known as the ''Hall-Mills Murders.''
- 2005 A law establishing the ''New Jersey Hall of Fame'' was signed by Governor Richard Codey. There are five categories for election to the Hall, General, Enterprise, Sports, Arts & Entertainment, and Historical. As of this writing the Hall has no home, although there is a ''mobile museum'' that has appeared around the state.
- 1949 Iconic New Jersey rock-and-roll musician Bruce Springsteen was born in Long Branch. Springsteen was raised in Freehold and graduated from Freehold Regional High School. His singing and songwriting career began after high school in local venues, most notably in Asbury Park, and he broke into the big time with his album ''Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey'' in 1973. Although New Jersey has produced many entertainers over the years, none is more associated with the state through his lyrics and themes than Springsteen.
- 1959 Jason Alexander, the actor best known for his role as nebbishy George Costanza on the hit 1990s television show ''Seinfeld'' was born Jay Scott Greenspan in Newark. Alexander grew up in Livingston and is a 1977 graduate of Livingston High School. An accomplished singer and dancer, he enjoyed steady work on Broadway before landing his ''Seinfeld'' role.
- 1757 Aaron Burr Sr., founder and president of the College of New Jersey (today's Princeton) and father of future vice president Aaron Burr, died in Princeton.
- 1779 Congress awarded Major ''Light Horse Harry'' Lee a gold medal and $15,000 to be divided among the troops who took part in the successful raid on Paulus Hook.
- 1789 The United States Marshal Office for the District of New Jersey was established.
- 1944 Actor and producer Michael Douglas, the son of actor Kirk Douglas and actress Diana Love Dill, was born in New Brunswick. Douglas' first significant role was in the 1970s television series ''The Streets of San Francisco,'' in which he starred with Karl Malden. By the 1980s Douglas was a leading man in films such as ''Romancing the Stone'' and ''Fatal Attraction.'' Other performances included roles in ''Trafffic'' and ''Falling Down.'' He has won four Golden Globes and two Academy Awards as well as an Emmy in 2013 for his portrayal of Liberace in the film ''Behind the Candelabra.''
- 1992 A spacecraft built at General Electric's Astrospace Division in Princeton was launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida for a multi-year odyssey to Mars. Developed and built by more than one thousand scientists and engineers in a huge satellite hangar, the 5,600-pound Mars Observer cost $511 million.
- 1772 The New Jersey Assembly passed a law requiring a license to practice medicine.
- 1892 John Philip Sousa's band performed for the first time in public at the Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield.
- 1778 Colonel George Baylor and his Third Continental Dragoons, 116 officers and men strong, were detailed as an observation force at a Hackensack River crossing and moved to Overkill (today's River Vale) where they were quartered in local homes. In a 650-man night bayonet attack forever after known locally as the ''Baylor Massacre,'' the British overran the dragoons, who had unaccountably neglected to post sentries in all directions. Casualty accounts vary, but the Americans apparently lost 15 men killed and 54 wounded and captured. Several more died afterward as a result of bayonet injuries.
- 1803 Samuel Francis Du Pont was born at Bergen Point. As a navy captain in 1861, Du Pont organized the blockade of the Confederacy and led several successful amphibious operations. After his failed attack on Charleston in 1863, he was relieved of combat duty and spent the rest of the war on administrative service. Du Pont died on June 23, 1865 in Philadelphia.
- 1998 The nation's first Vietnam War Museum opened as the Vietnam Era Educational Center, adjacent to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
- 1897 Amendments to the New Jersey state constitution approved by the voters included prohibitions on gambling, lotteries, women's suffrage and ''ad interim appointments by the governor.''
- 1967 Mira Sorvino was born in New York City. Sorvino was raised in Tenafly, where she was involved in theater at Dwight-Englewood School, and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1989 with a degree in East Asian Studies. On graduation she began a career as an actress, won both Golden Globe and Academy awards for her 1995 role in the film Mighty Aphrodite, and has appeared in numerous roles since. Sorvino is married and the mother of four and is also active in Amnesty International.
- 1847 Four companies of New Jersey volunteers left the state for Vera Cruz, Mexico, where they served on occupation duty for the next nine months during the Mexican War.
- 1864 The Twenty-second United States Colored Infantry Regiment, mostly composed of African-American Jerseymen, attacked a Confederate position at New Market Heights, Virginia. After breaking through enemy lines, the Twenty-second pushed down the New Market Road, driving an Alabama regiment back and then holding the line before gradually withdrawing in good order before a four-regiment Confederate counterattack.
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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