History of Raritan I - History

Raritan I

(Fr: t. 1,726; Ibp. 174'10"; b. 45'; dr. 22'8"; dph. 14'4"; a. 44 guns)

The first Raritan, a frigate built at the Philadelphia T'avy Yard, was laid down in 1820 and launched 13 June 1843 sponsored by Comdr. Frederick Engle.

On 20 February 1844 the frigate, commanded by Capt. Franeis H. Gregory, cleared New York Harbor and sailed for the South At]antie where she served as Commodore Daniel Turner's flagship until she returned to the United States in November 1845.

Based at Pensaeola, Raritan then operated with the Home Squadron as it blockaded the east coast of Mexico and supported Armv forces during the war with Mexico. As Commodore David Connor's flagship, she joined Potomac in landmg 500 men at Point Isabel to reinforce that military depot in May 1846. During 1847, she participated in the landings at Vera Cruz in March; at Tuxpan in April; and at Tabaseo in June.

Raritan then retired to Norfolk where she was laid up in ordinary during 1848. Aetive again in 1849, she served as flagship of the West Indies Squadron, then as flagship for the Home Squadron, and in 1850 was transferred to the Pacific to cruise between Panama and Cape Horn and as far west as the International Date Line. Arriving at Valparaiso in June 1851, she operated out of that port until October 1852 when she got underway to return to the United States. On her arrival home, she was ngain laid up, in ordinary, at Norfolk. Raritan remained there until destroyed, 20 April 1861, by Union forces as they evacuated the navy yard.

History under River Road: the vanished town of Raritan Landing

True to its name, Raritan Landing was a busy port community starting in the early to mid-1700s. The sons of New York merchants, eager to strike their own fortunes, realized that there was money to be had in the productive lands of the Raritan Valley, if they could get the bounty to the city. Farmers had plenty of grain, timber and livestock to sell, and the growing city populations had a large appetite and shrinking amounts of available land on which to farm. Shipping by boat would be the fastest and most productive route, leading them to set up shop on the farthest inland point of navigation on the Raritan River.

Raritan Landing, courtesy Rutgers Libraries
Warehouses started popping up on the northern banks of the Raritan River, west of New Brunswick as farmers learned of the new opportunity to sell their crops. It's said that 50 or more wagons at a time would be lined up on the Great Road Up Raritan (now River Road), waiting for their opportunity to unload their wares. A small but dense community grew around the commerce with residents building houses, stores, stables and a mill, among other structures.

So why did Raritan Landing disappear? Its demise came in stages. First, the Revolutionary War brought raids from foraging British and Hessians who first looted property and then burned buildings down, driving many residents away in the process. Some locals returned, but many sold their lots to wealthier merchants, changing the character of the community in the process. In the 1830s, newer, faster transportation came to the area in the forms of the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the Camden and Amboy Railroad, enabling farmers and merchants to get their goods to market faster. Raritan Landing essentially became obsolete.

By 1870, many of the buildings had been dismantled, the land converted to pasture. Sixty years later, visible traces of the village were obliterated, covered by three feet of fill dumped there when land across River Road was excavated for the construction of Rutgers Stadium. Fortunately, local historian Cornelius Vermeule created a map of Raritan Landing based on his own childhood recollections and stories garnered from family members.

Several of the more interesting artifacts from the digs are on display at East Jersey Olde Towne, but frustratingly, DOT archaeologists unearthed only a portion of what remains of Raritan Landing. The state was only required to investigate areas that would be disturbed by road construction, leaving much more of the old village below the surface. Even the foundations they discovered are now invisible to the eye, having been covered over again. Some might have even been paved over.

The thing is, it's still there, waiting for future generations to find it. Who knows when it will be unearthed, or by whom. We can only hope that if our descendants choose to build more road there, they'll care enough to dig for the treasure of our shared past.


Offering a history of the spy genre is famously difficult, in part because of the genre's porous boundaries. As Donald McCormick and Katy Fletcher note in Spy Fiction: A Connoisseur's Guide, the term "'spy story' is in itself a misnomer" because it is used as a blanket label not only for the activities of spies in all their forms, but also counter-spies, government functionaries employing spies,

Additionally, it is possible to consider any adventure story or war story involving a bit of intelligence gathering or intriguing a spy story of sorts, so that those looking for a beginning often point to Odysseus' scouting of the Trojan lines in Homer's Iliad (making the spy story as old as literature).

Nonetheless, the spy story as we know it has two characteristics which set it apart. One is that it centers on the spy and his activities in that capacity. The other is that it engages with contemporary, real-life politics, rather than those of a historically distant setting (like James Fenimore Cooper's 1821 Revolutionary War novel The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground, often described as the first English-language spy novel), or a wholly fictional one (like Ruritania, in Anthony Hope's 1894 The Prisoner of Zenda). Such fiction is largely a product of the twentieth century, during which it emerged from the intersection of two genres which emerged in the decades prior to it.

The first is the is the tale of crime and detection, a product of Romanticism's fascination with the marginalized and the extreme, and the advent of modern police forces and urban life as we know it. This genre, of course, was flourishing by the late nineteenth century, when Arthur Conan Doyle presented Sherlock Holmes to the world in A Study in Scarlet (1887).

The second is the story of contemporary politics, the new popularity of which is likely traceable to the fact that, as Jan Bloch put it in his 1899 classic The Future of War in its Technical, Economic and Political Relations,

In the century after the French Revolution, Europe's once politically passive subjects had increasingly become conscripts and reservists in their nations' armed forces. They were increasingly readers as well as a result of national education systems and the wider availability and lower cost of books and newspapers, while telegraphs made news more immediate, and photography provided unprecedented illustration of that coverage. Already by the time of the Crimean War (1854-1855), public opinion was playing something like its contemporary role in foreign policy, and the trend continued through the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), "the first great war in which really large numbers of literate men fought as common soldiers," as Theodore Ropp observed in War and the Modern World. And of course, they were increasingly voters as democratization spread and deepened.

Accordingly, there was not just an audience for writing on these subjects, but a premium on appealing to public opinion, at home and abroad (public opinion in foreign countries also an increasing factor in policy calculations). Fiction was one component of such writing, with the invasion story genre launched by tales like George Chesney's "The Battle of Dorking" a particularly important aspect of it. There was an obvious place for spies in these scenarios, and from fairly early on they depicted foreign agents entering a targeted country to steal secrets, commit acts of sabotage or lie low until the shooting started before joining in the fight. Nonetheless, the espionage tended to be only a small part of the story, and the spies rarely even constituted proper characters. In 1882's How John Bull Lost London, for instance, it is French soldiers infiltrated into the country as tourists who capture the British end of the tunnel linking Dover to the continent, facilitating the arrival of their comrades. The French waiter working in England, who is really part of an invading force, became a cliché.

The convergence between the two genres was already evident in the Sherlock Holmes stories, notably in 1894's "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty," in which Holmes is enlisted to track down a missing copy of a secret Anglo-Italian naval treaty, which the protagonists were anxious might find its way into the hands of the Russian and French ambassadors. This proved only the first of Holmes' forays into such affairs, and Arthur Conan Doyle far from the only writer to take such an interest. William Le Queux's The Great War in England in 1897 (1894) prominently featured a foreign spy in the plot, the villainous "Count Von Beilstein," a cosmopolitan adventurer who was arrested in Russia for his criminal behavior (forging Russian notes and using these to acquire twenty thousand pounds' worth of gems), and became a Russian agent to regain his freedom. Not long after, Edward Phillips Oppenheim attained a notable success in The Mysterious Mr. Sabin (1898), the titular figure in which was a French operative – a would-be "Richelieu of his days" - working against England.

Nonetheless, reflecting the then-prevailing tendency to view the spy's trade as "ungentlemanly," spies were predominantly foreign villains (or if they were countrymen, traitors), with the role of the usually amateur protagonist most often the frustration of their plans (as in the stories discussed above). Cooper-like stories in which a spy was the hero only began to appear after the turn of the century with books like Max Pemberton's Pro Patria (1901), Rudyard Kipling's India-set adventure Kim (1901) and Erskine Childers' Riddle of the Sands (1903).

The novels of Pemberton and Childers depict Britons who stumble upon mysterious foreign doings - in Pemberton's case, a secret French plan to build a Channel tunnel, in Childers', the adventures of a pair of Britons sailing the Frisian coast who have stumbled upon mysterious doings in the area. Probing into these they learn of German preparations to use the area as a staging ground for an invasion of Britain. In Kipling's novel the titular protagonist, an Anglo-Irish orphan, gets caught up in the Great Game between Britain and Russia. Today historians of the genre commonly identify either Kim or Riddle as the first modern spy novel.

Of course, it might be argued that Kim is essentially a picaresque which traces the early part of a spy's career, and Riddle a sailing story which involves espionage. However, it was not long before writers started to produce works more fully focused on this theme, and in the process established the rough boundaries of the field – its core themes, concerns and plot formulas - as well as the range of viewpoints within which subsequent authors generally worked.

William Le Queux went beyond his early forays into this area as a writer of invasion stories in Spies of the Kaiser: Plotting the Downfall of England (1909) offered a collection of loosely connected stories centering on German schemes against England (notable for their use of the theft of technical secrets as a basis for a spy story). Edward Phillips Oppenheim did the same, the book for which he is best remembered today, The Great Impersonation (1920) notable as an early treatment of the idea of the triple agent and deep-cover mole. John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) gave us an innocent man forced to go on the run by villains whom he must take on nearly single-handed to clear his name and save the day (and gave the spy genre its first major series' character in Richard Hannay), while H.C. "Sapper" McNeile's Bulldog Drummond (1920) was a hugely influential proto-James Bond adventure.

Meanwhile, Joseph Conrad was already treating espionage as a subject of serious drama, and offering a more critical take on the game itself in The Secret Agent (1907) and Under Western Eyes (1911). Stories of seedy little men playing seedy little games which destroy human lives, they dealt with terrorism and counterrorism, agent provocateurs and false flag attacks - as well as how the game looks from the standpoint of a double agent, and a foretaste of later stories of depravity on the part of the forces of order. W. Somerset Maugham brought irony and humor to the genre in Ashenden (1928), as well as a strong sense of espionage as a matter of tedious routine, a consciousness of the scale and organization of modern intelligence operations, and a memorable spymaster in "R" (a generation before Ian Fleming gave us "M").

In the next decade Eric Ambler stood the conventions of Oppenheim, Buchan and company on their head - and offered a leftish view of them - in novels like The Dark Frontier (1936), as well as Background to Danger (1937), Cause for Alarm (1938) and A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939). The Dark Frontier was an outright parody of the genre's conventions (which offered a protagonist who doesn't remember his true identity and instead thinks he's a legendary super-operative long before The Bourne Identity, and the theme of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of "rogue" states), while the outsiders pulled into the game in novels like Background to Danger do not give a heroic account of themselves in the manner of Buchan's Richard Hannay, but are simply ordinary people fighting for their lives. Graham Greene, getting his start in the genre at roughly the same time, took a similar course in books like This Gun for Hire (1936), which depicted an operative who turns on villainous employers after they betray him. The stories of Ambler and Greene are also noteworthy for their depiction of the threat as coming not from foreigners or domestic radicals (e.g. Communists and anarchists), but from within "our" Establishment (like British business interests happy to do business with Fascists in Background to Danger and Cause for Alarm, or industrialists who welcome, or even provoke, war for the profits it will bring them in This Gun for Hire), and heroism located not in "our" people, but those normally regarded as villains (like Ambler's Soviet superspy Andreas P. Zaleshoff).

Looking on this list of works it may seem there was little for later writers to add after 1940, beyond the genre's obvious adaptation to changes in international politics (the outbreak of World War II, or the Cold War), technology (like jet travel, communications satellites, and computers) and attitudes toward race, gender and sex (one way in which Drummond was not like Bond), the adoption of "difficult," Modernist storytelling techniques (which touched every genre over the course of the twentieth century) and the tendency of books to lengthen (a matter of trends in the publishing industry as a whole). Nonetheless, the genre evolved over subsequent decades in three notable ways.

The first is the changing nature of the protagonists. In the early novels mentioned above (the idiosyncratic works of Conrad aside) the heroes were typically men with public-school educations, independent incomes and servants gentlemen-sportsmen at home in London clubs and on rural estates. They often led lives of leisure, having inherited wealth (like Everard Dominey in The Great Impersonation, Sapper's Drummond, and the unnamed protagonist of Geoffrey Household's 1939 Rogue Male), or already accumulated it (like Buchan's Hannay, who at the start of The Thirty-Nine Steps has already made his fortune in southern Africa before coming to Britain). Such jobs as they did hold were typically of the kind to which the upper-class commonly gravitated, and which were likely to allow a lengthy leave (like Childers' Carruthers in The Riddle of the Sands, a Foreign Office official able to take a month off just to go sail and shoot in the Baltic – or for that matter, Ambler heroes like Coffin for Dimitrios's Charles Latimer). They tended to have conservative outlooks, and adhered to the political and social orthodoxies of their day, including a simplistic nationalism. And they typically entered the adventure on their own initiative, often after a chance meeting, with a restless nature and a taste for adventure crucial factors in their decision (these last treated most blatantly in Drummond's case).

Later protagonists were less likely to be such examples of upper-class gentility, as with the unnamed hero of Len Deighton's The IPCRESS File (1961) and its sequels, and Adam Hall's Quiller, who pointedly tells the reader that "We are not gentlemen" as he watches a member of the opposition burn to death in a car after deciding not to save him in The Berlin Memorandum (1966).1 Not only were they more likely to be ambivalent about the game, but they were often cynical about nationalism and political ideology. This was not only the case when they were outsiders unfortunate enough to get mixed up in the business, like journalist Thomas Fowler in Graham Greene's The Quiet American (1955), but also when they were professional intelligence operatives, like John le Carré characters like Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963). At times, this went as far as outright hostility or disdain toward the Establishment, with not only leftist but rightist writers as well expressing such sentiments (as in William Haggard's idiosyncratic Colonel Russell novels). Additionally, the professionals increasingly squeezed out plucky amateurs like Bulldog Drummond, certainly where series characters are concerned.

The second is a growing recognition of, and response to, what might usefully be termed the "tiny rivet" problem. As Maugham put it in Ashenden,

In that novel Maugham worked within the framework he described to give us a protagonist who does not see completed actions (the drama in his heroes' adventures typically supplied by other events and factors), but this was a rarity, and other writers dealt with it in two different ways.

One group simply ignored or worked around the fact, with heroes fortuitously having fuller participation – for instance, because some unlikely circumstances have forced them to operate on their own (as in the stories by Buchan and Ambler mentioned above). The other group devoted increasing attention to the "vast and complicated machine," describing its operations at length – both bureaucratic, and technological. Ian Fleming's novels, for instance, presented James Bond as part of a vast organization, and made the reader quite conscious of the fact in novels like Moonraker (1955) and Thunderball (1961) (even as his membership in the special double-o section placed him in the kinds of exceptional positions noted above). Other, later authors went further, not concentrating their narrative on one character, or a few characters, but rather using a large number of viewpoint characters to show as well as tell about more aspects of the machine's functioning – so that the plot is really the heart of the story, and the national security state the real protagonist, with the ostensible characters really just "rivets" inside of it. (At most, one of those characters might be recognizable as a protagonist because he occupies a place within the machine that lets him have a fuller view of the picture than the others.)

Frederick Forsyth was a crucial developer of the latter approach, with novels like his classic The Day of the Jackal (1971), in which the titular assassin begins and ends the story as a cipher, and the opposition is not so much Claude Lebel (who is not introduced until halfway into the story), but the French security state over which Lebel exercises exceptional powers for a brief spell. Seven years later Forsyth scaled up the approach substantially in The Devil's Alternative (1978), as did Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre's The Fifth Horseman (1980). However, Tom Clancy may be said to epitomize this "epic" approach to the tale of international security crisis, his hero Jack Ryan (first introduced in 1984's The Hunt for Red October) tellingly not a field operative but an intelligence analyst, who in the sequels occupied positions of successively greater responsibility - all the way up to the presidency itself by the end of Debt of Honor (1994).

The third is a late but significant Americanization of the genre from the 1970s. Certainly there were some Americans who met with a measure of success writing in the genre before then, like Edward Aarons, author of the Sam Durrell novels, Donald Hamilton, who penned the Matt Helm series, and Richard Condon with the classic The Manchurian Candidate (1959), but nearly all of the important innovators in this area pre-1970, all of the writers remembered and being read today, are British. In his 1972 history of the crime story, Mortal Consequences, Julian Symons speculated that this was due to

There seems something to this analysis, especially as the American writers who made a splash at this time, like Robert Ludlum in The Scarlatti Inheritance (1971) and The Matarese Circle (1979), Trevanian in The Eiger Sanction (1972), James Grady in Six Days of the Condor (1973) and Charles McCarry in The Miernik Dossier (1973) and The Tears of Autumn (1975), offered more varied and nuanced views of such matters. There is no question that many American writers came to enjoy vast commercial success (as Ludlum and Clancy did), and while it would be difficult to point to an American with the status of a Greene or a le Carré, for instance, there was something more like parity in the status of later American and British writers in the field.

All three of these changes were well established by the end of the 1970s, by which time the spy genre was starting to look a bit worn-out again. Considering the fact I am once more reminded of John Barnes' argument in the essay "Reading for the Undead" that genres tend to follow a three-generation life cycle, with the first generation discovering something new, a second generation finding an established field and going on to develop its still unexploited potentials (a process likely to be guided by a critical reassessment of previous work) – and the third less concerned with innovation than "doing it well" as it turns into

It is easy to fall into the trap of fitting facts to theories. Still, the spy story (much like the mystery and science fiction) does seem to me to have traveled something like this course, with writers like Childers, Le Queux and Oppenheim being first-generation early innovators, and Ambler and Greene early second-generation authors bringing new ideas (political as well as aesthetic) and greater skill to a genre that was already threatening to grow stale prior to their appearance.

In the third generation, clearly underway by the 1970s, there seemed a greater tendency to look back, evident in such things as the genre having become so over-the-top that parody went unrecognized – as happened with Trevanian's Jonathan Hemlock novels and Shibumi (1979), which were almost universally read as straight thrillers by critics and general audiences alike (much to that author's frustration). There is also the increased prominence of stories set in World War II (and other earlier periods) in the output of new authors like Robert Ludlum and Ken Follett, and the resurrection of James Bond by John Gardner and Glidrose Publications in 1981 with License Renewed.3

It seems that generic boundaries get fuzzy at this stage of the life cycle, and this tendency was evident in the life of the spy story as well, increasingly hybridized with elements from other genres providing the principal interest – as with Craig Thomas "espionage adventures" like Firefox (1977), military techno-thrillers like Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan books, Dale Brown's Day of the Cheetah (1989) or Payne Harrison's Storming Intrepid (1989), and the Dirk Pitt novels of Clive Cussler, like Raise the Titanic! (1976) and Deep Six (1984), which combine espionage and military action with historical mystery and maritime adventure (in a way, coming back full circle to Childers).

Developments within the genre aside, it seems that world events encouraged such a turn. The tendency to look back can be seen as at least partly a reflection of the cultural mood of the 1970s – a sense of national decline (as the post-war boom ended, the energy crisis hit, and the decline of colonial powers like Britain and France ran its course), and of ambivalence about present-day politics (in reaction to Vietnam, Watergate and the like) making earlier periods where claims to national greatness were more credible and clear-cut "good guys" and "bad guys" easier to identify more attractive (like World War II).4

It is worth remembering, too, that the spy story arose in an era of profound international tension, over which the danger of systemic, great power war constantly hovered – and great ideological tension, as nineteenth century liberal society faced challenges from left and right. The advent of détente, and the partial waning of Cold War tensions that went with it, may have made it appear somewhat less compelling as subject matter for some, and earlier conflicts commensurately more attractive. A decade later, the end of the Cold War took a great deal of the remaining steam out of the genre. (To put it bluntly, industrial espionage, terrorism, international crime, rogue states and the faint possibility of Western conflict with Russia or China were no substitute for the Soviets.) Spy novels continued to be written afterward, by new authors – like Charles Cumming, Henry Porter, Barry Eisler and Daniel Silva - as well as the older writers so established as to be nearly immune to such fluctuations in the market - like Forsyth, Clancy and le Carré (all still publishing). However, their book sales and overall cultural impact tended to be less impressive than formerly (though Clancy still managed to be one of the top-selling authors of the '90s), and noteworthy innovation scarcer, and the tendency to look backward growing only more pronounced.5 In the 2000s the most successful stories of international intrigue were more likely to be concerned with historical-religious-Masonic mysteries in the manner of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon novels (or Matthew Reilly's Jack West novels) than conventional political intrigue. I see little sign that the genre is going to stage some comeback, but, to use John Barnes' term, its "afterlife" is at the least a presence in the cultural landscape.

1. Fleming's Bond can be thought of as halfway between these and a later generation of action heroes. Like the older style of protagonist, he went to Eton, enjoys an independent income and has a housekeeper looking after his apartment. However, he is also a long-serving professional intelligence operative in the British Secret Service (and one with a "license to kill" at that), flouts Victorian mores in his attitudes toward gambling and sex, and is not unknown to express ambivalence about his profession and the ends it serves.
2. Symons attributes this difference to the United States' "direct involvement in various wars." This is unconvincing, however, as Britain was more lengthily and completely involved in both of the World Wars than the United States (and suffered far more in them by any measure) far closer to the "front-line" in the Cold War and in the decades after 1945, involved in dozens of conflicts as it disengaged from its empire, not all of them small in scale (as with the Malaysian Emergency). Rather, the context in which they fought those wars would seem relevant. The spy genre appeared in Britain during a period of concern about the country's decline relative to other, rising powers (like Germany), fears which became realities as the century progressed. The 1970s, when the change arrived for American spy fiction, saw the arrival of a comparable mood in the United States (amid the Vietnam War, the end of the Bretton Woods economic order, the oil crisis and other such challenges). One might conclude from this that the genre flourishes in a period when the pious simplicities of jingoism and national exceptionalism are shown up, and public opinion reckons with life's more complex realities.
3. Ludlum's first book, The Scarlatti Inheritance (1971), used an incident in World War II as a frame for a story of the rise of the Nazis in the '20s, and the The Rhinemann Exchange (1974) was wholly set during World War II, as was a significant part of The Gemini Contenders (1976), and the opening of The Holcroft Covenant (1978), which had for its theme the post-war legacy of the Third Reich. Ken Follett made his name as a thriller writer with a World War II story, The Eye of the Needle (1978), as did Jack Higgins with the spies-and-commandos story The Eagle Has Landed (1975). Frederick Forsyth's first two thrillers, The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File (1973), were both set in the early 1960s, during past periods of political crisis. By and large, the major works of the 1950s and 1960s did not make such use of earlier periods.
4. Certainly some British writers compensated for Britain's diminution by emphasizing the country's "special relationship" with the United States, as Fleming did in novels like 1953's Casino Royale (where the combination of American cash and British skill defeated Le Chiffre), and as others have continued to do down to the present. However, by the 1960s and 1970s many writers were taking a more ironic view, like le Carré in The Looking Glass War (1965), A Small Town in Germany (1968), and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), and Joseph Hone in The Private Sector (1971) – in all of which books, the inability or unwillingness of British officials to adapt to their country's decline was a prominent theme.
5. One of le Carré's best-received post-Cold War novels, 1995's The Tailor of Panama, was a homage to Greene's Our Man in Havana (1958). Another example of this is the decision of the publishers of the post-Fleming James Bond novels to return 007 to the 1960s, as happened in Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care (2008). A number of authors have also combined such homages with elements of science fiction and fantasy, like Charles Stross in his "Bob Howard" novels and stories, and Tim Powers in Declare (2001).

(This essay was previously published as two separate posts, "A History of the Spy Story, Part I: The Birth of a Genre" on February 1, 2012, and "A History of the Spy Story, Part II: The Life of a Genre" on February 6, 2012.)

History of Raritan I - History

William Baziotes
White Bird
Oil on Canvas
(62.5 x 50.5 x 2.75 inches), 1957
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Gift of Seymour H. Knox Jr.
© Estate of William Baziotes
Photo: Albright-Knox Art Gallery/
Art Resource, NY
Frontispiece Winter 2021

..the way a brother feels compassion for a brother..this is how a peaceable kingdom looks to me: not a gnawed bone of lamb in a tiger's cage beneath a verse from Isaiah, but rather two fellow-sufferers, bound one to another against their will.
Winter 2021, page 71

Welcome to Raritan—a journal of wide-ranging inquiry. In the tradition of independent magazines from the Spectator to Partisan Review, Raritan offers writers and readers the opportunity for sustained reflection and aesthetic pleasure, uncluttered by academic jargon. Founded in 1981 by the distinguished literary critic Richard Poirier, and supported by Rutgers University, Raritan aims to reach the common reader in everyone and to provide a particular experience of reading, one that nurtures an engaged and questioning approach to cultural texts of all sorts: literary, artistic, political, historical, sociological, even scientific.

Our contributors include some of the most prominent thinkers of our time—David Bromwich, Adam Phillips, Jacqueline Rose, Pankaj Mishra—as well as talented younger writers whose voices we have just begun to hear—Corey Robin, Elizabeth Samet, Timothy Parrish, Kate Northrop, Jennifer Burns. In fiction, poetry, and translations as well as reflective essays, Raritan shows that probing inquiry is perfectly compatible with personal style, and that intellectual life, at its best, is a form of serious play. We invite you to explore Raritan and, if you like what you see, to subscribe to our magazine.

Jackson Lears
Editor in Chief

Jackson Lears: One Hundred Seconds
Editor's Note — Summer 2020
At what feels like an apocalyptic moment, the nation that has always claimed to play a uniquely redemptive role in world history has suddenly been recast in a different mold. In the richest country on earth, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have turned out to be peculiarly catastrophic. Read more.

Jackson Lears: One Hundred Seconds
Editor's Note — Summer 2020

Selections from our Winter 2021 issue…

Two Poems
Bruce Bond

Seasonal fires wherever they may find us,
here at the edge of the northern forest,

lit at point of origin by cloud, crash,
or high-voltage cable they blaze a path

A History of Fire
Lucienne Bestall
BBC News Online, Monday, 12 November 2018. Today's news is black with ash. A wildfire burns in Malibu, the town of Paradise is razed, and the California sky is dark with smoke.

And Now, Let's All Play "What's My Line?"
Willard Spiegelman

On 9 May 1961, at the start of his two-year stint as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton Minow gave a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters. One small phrase from it entered into the national consciousness and has resonated ever since, although it usually has been taken out of context.

The Birth of a Canal

During the early nineteenth century the industrial and transportation revolutions were in their infancy but the expectations of innovation, efficiency, growth and wealth that they promised would soon overtake the American imagination and change its society as the century progressed. One such grand transportation achievement was the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. Its instant success ignited “canal fever” across the young country – canal projects reaching inland markets exploded across the eastern seaboard. These man-made waterways opened grand possibilities of expansion, development and untapped western markets. They were the new exciting internal improvement discussed by many – efficient transportation routes that could link resources, manufacturing centers and markets. And yet, while canals were new to the United States, they were well established and used across Europe and Asia. New Jersey’s Delaware and Raritan Canal was envisioned as just such an improvement. An inland waterway that reached across central New Jersey to provide a direct, quick and safe transportation route for the movement of freight between Philadelphia and New York. The idea had success written all over it.

While New Jersey roadways may have expanded from the early colonial period through the 18th century, they had not greatly improved by the 19th century. Travel remained difficult and always weather dependent. New Jersey lay between two busy centers of commerce – New York and Philadelphia – and the movement of goods, produce and local commodities between them was big business. Overland shipments could be laborious and prone to delays due to poor roads. Ocean transport, while more reliable, could take up to two weeks even in good weather. For this reason, merchants and businessmen like John Neilson and his son James of New Brunswick, were interested in and supported transportation improvements such as turnpikes, toll roads, and especially canals.

The turn of the 19th century ushered in the beginnings of the turnpike and steamboat eras which further served to improve transportation connections from New Brunswick to New York and Trenton to Philadelphia. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, who established a successful steamboat line in New Brunswick, made their fortunes from these innovations. With backing and investment from the business and political communities, improvements to facilitate the ease of movement for people and products began early in the century. In 1807 the Trenton and New Brunswick Turnpike or “Straight Turnpike” (Route 1 today) opened for operation and while its surface was gravel, stone and timber, the majority of roads crossing central New Jersey remained little more than improved dirt paths. The Straight Turnpike was an improvement and viable alternative, but transportation was still a laborious and costly proposition. Change, however, was on the horizon.

The opening and quick success of the Erie Canal in New York ushered in fevered interest in canal building here in New Jersey. Talk of a canal across the central part of the state, essentially expediting trade between New York City and Philadelphia, was not new and is thought to have originated with William Penn in the 1690s. Attempts to approve such a project in the New Jersey legislature had taken place three times early in the 19th century but it wasn’t until the fourth attempt that the Delaware and Raritan Canal charter of 1830 was finally passed due in large part to the dogged determination, lobbying expertise and lavish entertaining efforts of James Neilson – a staunch believer in the potential financial benefit such a canal would pose.


In the early 1900&rsquos, the trend was for wealthy New York City families to acquire rural property within a comfortable distance outside of the city. This was in part because they desired an escape from the immigrant crowded city, and also to have a forum to grandstand their newfound wealth. Wealth which was made possible by the recent Industrial Revolution. Here they built extravagant &ldquoCountry Homes&rdquo and had parties typical of the Gilded Age, showcasing their profound success and prestige.

In 1905, using her vast family fortune, Kate Macy Ladd and her husband Walter Ladd followed this trend and acquired roughly 1,000 acres in the rolling hills of Somerset County, near the last train stop out of Manhattan. They commissioned architects Guy Lowell and Henry Janeway Hardenbergh to design their 33,000 square-foot brick Tudor mansion on their estate which they named Natirar, an anagram for Raritan. Green lawns slope gracefully from the mansion down to the very banks of the winding Raritan which traverses the estate for more then a mile in its course.

The architectural features of this Manor House are as timeless as it&rsquos hilltop location. The exquisite brickwork, intricate limestone trim, and slate roof highlight the exterior features while molded plaster ceilings wood-linen fold panels and teak floors adorn many rooms in the interior. Several of these features carried through to other structures once present on the estate such as cottages, carriage houses and gatehouses.

Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Ladd&rsquos did not host glamorous parties or flaunt their wealth. Natirar became the primary residence of the Ladd&rsquos, and Kate&rsquos Quaker upbringing and values inspired her into a philanthropic life with a mission to help others. Specifically, she opened an estate cottage, The Maple Cottage, to help ladies in distress regain their strength after illness. After her death in 1945, the convalescence center was moved into the mansion where it provided resources to women for a period of 50 years from the death of Walter in 1933.

In 1983 the now 500 acres property was sold to The King of Morocco, Hassan II who only visited the property a handful of times. Malcolm Forbes, a friend of the King originally introduced the property to him as a way to have a property close to Princeton University, where the King&rsquos sons attended. After his death, Mohammed VI of Morocco sold the 500 acres for $22 million to Somerset County in 2003. The ninety acres at the top of the property, which includes the Mansion, was then leased in a public-private partnership with the intent to restore this generational property back to greatness.

History of Raritan I - History

Pre-Colonial: Leni Lenape inhabit the region, utilizing a series of established paths, or trails, through the area that would become Sayreville. These include the Matchaponix, Deerfield, and the Minisink Trails, which the Lenape used to cross the Raritan River each Spring and Fall at present-day River Road, a location they called Matokshegan. Lenape artifacts have been discovered in numerous locations along these trails including the Winding Woods and Winding River developments and along Jernee Mill Road.

1663: In the Fall of this year, Dutch and English ships travel up the Raritan River for the first time, both with the intent of purchasing land from the Lenape. What they found was a handsome and fertile countryside marked by salt marshes, meadows, and forests of pine, oak, chestnut, and hickory. Throughout the low valley, the Lenni Lenape cultivated fields of maize, beans, and pumpkins. The Dutch named the large river they had explored for the Raritong tribe who they had encountered on the riverbanks.

17th Century: The East Jersey Proprietors purchase a large parcel of land between the Raritan and South Rivers (including most of present-day Sayreville) from two Lenape identified as the sachems Neskorhock and Pamehelett, who sold the land in exchange for: &ldquoone hundred & fifty fathoms of white wampam, fifty fathoms of black wampam, sixty match coats, sixty shirts, twenty yards of stoneware, four hundred knives, one hundred tobacco tongues, one hundred tobacco pipes, twenty pounds of tobacco, fifty yards of plates, twenty brass kettles, twenty guns, forty blankets, fifty pairs of stockings, fifty hatchets, fifty fine tobacco bowls, One hundred pounds of lead, eight and twenty pounds of beads, thirty glass bottles, thirty tin kettles, fifty pounds of gunpowder, twenty gallons of wine, two barrels of beer, and two barrels of cider.&rdquo

1684: Andrew Radford begins operating a ferry between Perth Amboy, the capital of East Jersey, and South Amboy, then known as the &ldquoOuter Plantations&rdquo or &ldquoDetached Plantations&rdquo of Perth Amboy. As a consequence, South Amboy becomes a port city of some consequence, serving as a vital link to stagecoaches that carried travelers between New York and Philadelphia along Lawrie&rsquos Road, now a significant thoroughfare in the colony.

1702: The Morgan family receives a land grant of about 500 acres from the East Jersey proprietors and settle in South Amboy along the banks of Cheesequake Creek, where they built a mansion named &ldquoSandcombe.&rdquo This entire area would take their family name.

1775: The Morgan family establishes a kiln at Cheesequake Creek where they produce pottery with local clay. Captain James Morgan (1734-1784) and his son, Major General James Morgan (1757-1822), both served and were briefly taken prisoner in the American Revolution, during which time the British ransacked their mansion, breaking 23 windows, taking everything of value, and tossing their valuable kiln into Cheesequake Creek. Major General Morgan later served in the 12th US Congress and then the War of 1812.

1777: One morning in July, over 150 British ships of war appear on the horizon and quickly fill the waters of the Raritan Bay. The residents of the Amboys watched in awe as Admiral Richard Howe commanded a landing of over 9,000 troops on Staten Island. In response, Governor Livingston appointed Captain James Morgan to guard the south side of the Raritan Bay and River with a militia of 50 men. Thus, the 2nd Regiment, Middlesex County Militia was formed, comprised of local men and boys, charged with the duty of harassing and impeding Redcoats at any sign of movement. Nighttime raids on the British ships anchored in the bay were frequent, as locals in small boats launched from the many rivers, inlets, and creeks along the shore. The Ye Old Spye Inn on Cheesequake Creek was one place where raiding patriots sought refuge.

1818: With the abolition of slavery in New Jersey, Maj. Gen. Morgan, along with a number of other wealthy landowning families from the hinterlands of South Amboy, devise and execute a plan to secretly smuggle their slaves to the South for profit. In March of that year, by cover of night, the sloop Thorpe left Wilmurt&rsquos dock in South Amboy and transferred a number of slaves into the brig Mary Ann, which was waiting in the bay to transport the human cargo to New Orleans. The clandestine operation was later exposed, but none of the men ever faced charges.

Early 19th Century: Settlement of the area increased, particularly along the Raritan River, where a number of small farms were established. River traffic increased as well with the establishment of steamboat service between New Brunswick and New York City and the transport of fruit, namely apples, peaches, and pears, from from the docks of the Village of Washington on the South River. The name &ldquoRoundabout&rdquo enters into common usage, a name derived from the circuitous bend in the Raritan where the Letts, Price, and French families had settled. Each of these families were engaged in the production of pottery.

1820s: Steamboats fill the waters of the Raritan as competing interests fight to offer the fastest passage between New York and New Brunswick. The Antelope, owned by the Perth Amboy Steamboat Company, was one of the most popular steamers on the Raritan during the 19th century. Capable of holding 600 passengers, it offered free excursions from docks along the Raritan to the beach at Keyport, and its interior showcased two large paintings of Washington crossing the Delaware. For many steamboat passengers, however, the accommodations inside the steamer were no less more impressive than the scenery the trip afforded its passengers. One passenger traveling from New Brunswick wrote: &ldquoThe Raritan finds its sinuous way through broad green salt meadows that stretch off like soft carpets until they meet the clay beds and tangled woods of the Jersey Shore. It was indeed Holland the same flat landscape and long stretches of green marsh. One constantly expected a windmill to appear on the sedge, or the spires and crooked tiled roofs of a Dutch village.&rdquo

1830: Charles Ferson Durant, a native of Jersey City, becomes the first American balloonist when his first &ldquoflight&rdquo from Battery Park in Manhattan landed on the Johnson family farm in South Amboy (present-day site of Arleth School in Sayreville) on September 9, 1830.

1831: Local interests dig the Washington Canal in an effort to shorten the route from the Raritan River to the docks on the South River.

1832: The Camden & Amboy Railroad, New Jersey&rsquos first railroad, establishes passenger service between South Amboy and Bordentown along the old &ldquoLawrie&rsquos Road,&rdquo present-day Bordentown Avenue. Carriages were initially pulled along the tracks by teams of horses. On September 9, 1833 the steam locomotive John Bull was put into service. Weighing ten tons, the locomotive was disassembled before being shipped from England and then reassembled upon arrival. The John Bull was a marvel of its age, and many famous Americans are known to have been passengers on the Camden & Amboy Railroad, including Presidents John Quincy Adams and James K. Polk.

1840: James Woods constructs the first brick factory at Roundabout. The first schoolhouse is erected on Quaid Street that same year.

1848: Methodists begin holding regular services at Roundabout with the coming of a &ldquocircuit rider,&rdquo a preacher who traveled from town to town holding services for local populations. The methodists would later construct the oldest extant church in Sayreville.

1850: James R. Sayre of Newark and Peter Fisher of Fishkill, New York enter into a partnership to form a brick company at the Roundabout. The Sayre and Fisher Company quickly begins purchasing large tracts of clay-rich land along the south bank of the Raritan River, eventually buying out most of the small pottery and brick manufacturers then operating along the river, including the brickworks of James Woods.

1860: The first post office is established by Sayre & Fisher at Roundabout. Though still a part of South Amboy, the name &ldquoSayreville&rdquo begins to enter into usage, identifying the area once known as Roundabout. Although James R. Sayre never lived in Sayreville, he provided the capital to establish his brickworks, while Peter Fisher, with a background in the clay and brick industry of the Hudson River, provided the &ldquoknow-how.&rdquo The Fisher family resided in Sayreville and ran the brick company for generations.

1871: Through the generous donation of bricks and other construction materials by Peter Fisher, local Methodists build a church on Main Street near the intersection of Pulaski Avenue.

1870s: Large waves of German Immigrants begin settling the area, finding employment in the many clay and brick industries which were, by this time, operating throughout all corners of South Amboy.

1876: As the nation celebrated its centennial, the newly formed Township of Sayreville was carved out of approximately 14 square miles of South Amboy&rsquos hinterlands, consolidating Morgan, Melrose, Ernston, and Sayre&rsquos Village under one municipal government. Fewer than 2,000 people resided in the new township.

1880s: Waves of Irish immigrants begin settling in Sayreville, working as laborers in the brickyards. They settled in all areas of the township, though most lived in the Melrose section.

1881: The &ldquoGerman&rdquo Presbyterian Church is constructed on Main Street.

1883: Sayre & Fisher construct the Reading Room at the corner of Main Street and River Road. Not only did this building serve the community as a recreational hall, library, and all-around public meeting place, its ornate facade displayed the beauty, diversity, and versatility of Sayre and Fisher bricks to potential buyers.

1885: Sayreville&rsquos growing Roman Catholic community, largely Irish, form the parish of Our Lady of Victories. They construct a church near &ldquoMiller&rsquos Corner&rdquo on Main Street in 1889, prior to which point they had been attending mass at Catholic churches in neighboring South River and South Amboy.

1887: The Brookfield Glass Company constructs a glass insulator plant on Bordentown Avenue, in the Old Bridge section of Sayreville. It was, until 1922, the largest insulator plant in the United States.

1888: The Raritan River Railroad is incorporated and lays tracks through Sayreville, linking the community, and its industries, with South Amboy and New Brunswick.

1889: A fatal riot breaks out on May 5th, when approximately 100 railroad workers began construction on a spur from the main line of the Raritan River Railroad across the land of ex-freeholder Edward Furman, down through the brickyard to William F. Fisher's yard. Furman was opposed to their crossing his land, and called out his men. The railroad men were then reinforced by men from Fisher&rsquos brickyard. The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper reported the next day: &ldquoFurman's men attacked the railroaders and burned their ties, materials and car. Pistols, clubs and stones were freely used. George Kissinger, one of Furman's laborers, was killed outright. He was knocked down with a club and a sharp-pointed crowbar jammed through his head. John Kennedy, a railroad man, was so badly injured that he died within an hour. At 4 o'clock this morning the Sheriff of Middlesex county called out a posse of fifty men. When they reached the place, all was quiet, and the railroad men had stopped work to recruit their force.&rdquo

1890s: Waves of Polish Immigrants began to settle in Sayreville. In time, they would become the largest ethnic group in the community.

1890: August Rhode acquires the People&rsquos Hotel on Main Street and opens a soda and beer bottling works behind the popular hotel.

1890: The Enameled Brick and Tile Works is established in the Old Bridge section of the township. Tiles produced here would later be used in the construction of the Holland Tunnel.

1899: The International Smokeless Powder and Chemical Company purchases the Keenan family farm and, at the intersection of Washington Road and Deerfield Road, construct Sayreville&rsquos first chemical plant.

1901: The Middlesex and Somerset Traction Company lays trolley tracks through Sayreville , further connecting its population with the neighboring communities of South Amboy, South River, Milltown, and New Brunswick.

1903: The Crossman Sand and Clay Company begins mining in Sayreville in the area just to the west of Burt&rsquos Creek and the Such Clay Company. In that same year, the Sayre & Fisher Electric Company power the township&rsquos first electric street lights along Main Street.

1904: E.I. DuPont de Nemours purchases the International Smokeless Powder and Chemical Company and upgrade the plant. Henceforth, this section of the township is known as Parlin.

1907: Joseph Allgair establishes a hotel on Main Street along with a mineral water and soda bottling plant. The Allgair Hotel quickly becomes one of Sayreville&rsquos most important public spaces, hosting dances, parties, weddings, concerts, and political meetings.

1909: Sayreville&rsquos first Town Hall is constructed on Main Street. Prior to this time, the township committeemen held meetings at bars, hotels, and private residences.

1910: The population of Sayreville passes 5,000.

1912: DuPont is split by an anti-trust suit, and the Hercules Powder Company comes into existence.

1914: Sayreville&rsquos growing Polish population, wishing to worship in their own tongue, construct Saint Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church on Sandfield Road (MacArthur Avenue).

1915: The Raritan River Railroad is featured in an episode of the silent movie serial "The Perils of Pauline." The episode, titled "The Juggernaut," was staged on the main line of the railroad in Parlin and included the construction of trestle over Duck&rsquos Nest. The filming of &ldquoThe Juggernaut&rdquo required a dramatic &ldquoplunge from the trestle&rdquo that left a locomotive and several railroad cars submerged in the pond, making it one of the most ambitious films of the time.

1917: With America&rsquos entry into the Great War, munitions plants are rapidly constructed within the township. The California Shell Loading Company is built on Bordentown Avenue and the expansive T.A. Gillespie Shell Loading plant is built in Morgan.

1918: The T.A. Gillespie Shell Loading plant explodes, destroying the entire facility and killing about 100 workers over the course of three days. The City of South Amboy sustains major damage, and the blast is felt as far away as Newark.

1919: The Liberty Theater opens on Main Street. Built by Thomas Dolan, the theater brought silent films to the rural community for the first time.

1920: The Township of Sayreville is reorganized as a Borough with about 7,200 residents.

1934: National Lead builds a plant in Sayreville near Kearny&rsquos Point on the Raritan River.

1934: DuPont, Hercules, and National Lead construct a dam on the South River in order to provide a constant and reliable source of freshwater to the three industries. They name the dam and the resulting lake &ldquoDuhernal,&rdquo a combination of the three industries&rsquo names.

1939: Sayreville builds its first high school on Dane Street with a federal grant from the WPA.

1940: The Edison Bridge opens to vehicular traffic. When completed, it is the largest, highest, and longest span bridge of its type in the United States. Its erection by the Bethlehem Steel Company involved the lifting of the world's longest (260') and heaviest (198 tons) girder to an unprecedented height of 135' above the waters of the Raritan River.

1940: The chemical industry becomes the dominant employer in Sayreville, surpassing the brick industry.

1941: The United States enters World War II and Sayreville sends over 1,500 men into military service Sayreville&rsquos population stands at 8,186.

1945: Community leaders complete one of the first World War II memorials in the nation, a replica of the World War I memorial designed by a pastor from Our Lady of Victories R.C. Church. The Sayre & Fisher Brick Co. donates the bricks, and local men volunteer their time and expertise to the construction of the memorial.

1946: The Mayor and Council declare a four-day holiday in Sayreville from August 15th through 18th, inviting all neighboring communities to join in celebrations to welcome home the veterans of World War II. Events include softball games, boxing matches, a parade for returning servicemen and women, a baby parade, and a race between Mayor Phil McCutcheon of Sayreville, Mayor Joseph McKeon of South Amboy, and Mayor Matthew A. Maliszewski of South River. Gifts are presented to all of Sayreville&rsquos returning veterans, and a memorial service is held at the Colony Theater, where gifts are presented to the mothers of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war.

1947: The postwar housing boom begins as borough attorney Joseph Karcher actively promotes the benefits of Sayreville, proclaiming that &ldquothe people prosper where industry prospers.&rdquo With breakneck speed, the vast tracts of industrial land that separate Sayreville&rsquos seven neighborhoods are sold to housing developers. As America quickly became a suburban nation, for the first time, Sayreville&rsquos land itself became more valuable than the clay within.

1948: The Owens-Illinois Glass Company constructs a large plant on Jernee Mill Road to produce &ldquoKalo&rdquo, an insulation and roofing material.

1953: With the coming of the Garden State Parkway, the Driscoll Bridge is completed over the Raritan River. Designed as a sister-bridge to the Edison Bridge, together they are the widest bridge in the world.

1950s: A great number of new housing &ldquodevelopments&rdquo are built throughout the sprawling borough as clay companies sell their land holdings, which had depreciated in value with the growing housing boom. Laurel Park, the largest of these developments, becomes home to over 500 families. Other new housing projects include Pershing Park, President Park, Deerfield Estates, Hope Homes, Parkway Homes, and Haven Village.

1960s: More housing developments, such as Woodside, Sayre Woods, and Oak Tree East and West, raise Sayreville&rsquos population to 32,508 by the end of the decade.

1962: To meet the demands of a rapidly growing population, the Sayreville War Memorial High School is built in a more central location within the borough, on Washington Road amid the clay pits of the Crossman Sand and Clay Company and the Such Clay Company. The new school replaced the old high school on Dane Street.

1964: Sunshine Biscuits purchases the Owens-Illinois plant on Jernee Mill Road and Bordentown Avenue and begins producing Hydrox cookies and crackers.

1968: Sayreville is one of the first municipalities in the United States to elect a female mayor. In what the local papers called a &ldquodistaff slate,&rdquo Peggy Kerr challenges the local Democratic establishment and becomes mayor of the borough, and three women, Florence Koval, Dorothy Carter, and Dolores Zaccardi, are all elected to the borough council.

1969: The Sayre and Fisher Brick Company closes its doors after nearly 120 years in Sayreville.

1970s and 80s: Sayreville transitions from an industrial community to a suburb as its once vibrant industrial landscape continues to give way to housing developments, and more residents commute to jobs outside of town. Sayreville&rsquos governing body continues efforts to attract new industries during this time, and while a number of chemical companies locate within the borough, their presence results in a number of chemical spills and the illegal dumping of toxic materials, particularly in the area of lower Main Street and Horseshoe Road.

1979: The Crossman Sand and Clay Company ceases operations in Sayreville.

1982: The National Lead plant on the Raritan River closes, leaving a legacy of water pollution and soil contamination at Kearney&rsquos Point.

1990s: With the loss of most of Sayreville&rsquos industries, the borough embraces a new suburban identity, dropping the slogans of the past, such as &ldquoHome of Nationally Known Industries.&rdquo Housing developments continue to replace many of Sayreville&rsquos open clay pits.


On May 12th James Graham, Cornelius Corsen and Samuel Winder purchase a tract of land on both sides of the Raritan River from Native Americans for one hundred and twenty pounds, or approximately eighty cents at today's value.

A grant of 1,904 acres is patented to Graham & Co., and the territory, known as Lot No. 7, is subdivided into four tracts.

On October 26th James Graham deeds a subdivision of his tract to Peter Van Nest, a Dutchman who migrated west from a Long Island settlement.

On May 1st, Peter Van Nest deeds the land to his son-in-law, Derrick Middaugh. Cornelius Middaugh (1698-1778), Derrick's son, will come into possession of the property upon the death of his father.

Cornelius sells the south portion of the land to his brother, George, who establishes a tavern there. This property, which is then sold to Richard Duyckinck and later F.F. Cornell, is located on Glaser Street behind the Frelinghuysen House.

A one-and-a-half-story wooden structure is erected, and is used possibly as a pre-Revolutionary tavern, public meeting hall, and/or prison. This structure, now known as the west wing, is the oldest section of the General John Frelinghuysen House.

Colonel Frederick Frelinghuysen purchases the property, which becomes known as the “Homestead” property. The one-story brick house is built adjacent west to the wooden structure sometime between 1740 and 1780, a fact based on the use of glazed headers, a material exclusive to the era. This section could have been built by Frederick or Cornelius.

Upon the death of Frederick, General John Frelinghuysen, his oldest son, inherits the homestead property.

John has a second story added to the brick house and renovates the interior. The house is now finished in the then popular Federal style, prominent in the U.S. from 1790 to 1830.

After the death of John, two of his six children, Sarah and Katherine, continue to occupy the house.

A Neo-classic portico is added to the north entrance. The four columns represent Equality, Liberty, Freedom, and Law. A two-story wing is added to the rear of the house on the west side. The wing is demolished during the 1974 restoration and addition work.

Katherine's will provides that her niece and two nephews shall inherit the house.

Two mantelpieces located on the first floor and the front doorway are removed from the house and relocated to the home of Joseph Frelinghuysen in Far Hills, NJ. A two-story wing is added to the rear of the house on the east side, replacing an earlier porch. The wing is also removed during the 1974 restoration and addition work.

David Glaser purchases the Homestead property, and extra rooms are added to the rear of the house. In 1951, it is managed by Glaser Realty Co. Inc. Most of the additions are demolished during 1974 renovation.

Raritan Arsenal History

Established on 17 Jan 1918 during World War I near the present day town of Edison, New Jersey. Established on a large site along the north bank of the Raritan River to provide a storage and shipping terminal for military supplies equipment and munitions headed overseas.

Raritan was established as a permanent ordnance depot shortly after World War I. Functions included vehicle storage and ammunition receiving, storage, shipping, transfer, and re-packing. Ordnance included 37mm and 40mm projectiles, fuzes, pyrotechnics, grenades, training rounds, and TNT.

From 1919 until 1941, the Ordnance Specialist Schools were located here. Several accidental explosions occurred during the period from 1919 through World War II in magazine buildings and outdoor storage areas.

During World War II, the storage facilities, shipping facilities and ammunition igloos were greatly expanded. A products division and field service ammunition school were also added to the Arsenal mission.

Many of the arsenal's activities were phased out in the 1950's. Some waste materials including ordnance and chemical agents were routinely disposed of by burial or pit burning creating potential contaminated areas that would later require cleanup. The arsenal was declared surplus in 1962 and closed in 1964 and turned over to the General Services Administration (GSA) for disposal.

At the time the arsenal closed in 1964 it consisted of 3,234 acres, approximately 440 buildings and 62 miles of roads and railways. Several large areas of the site have been developed but the U.S. Corps of Engineers is overseeing continuing cleanup of parts of the arsenal lands.