My Morris Family History

Part of the historical car show.

Anyone who’s started a genealogy project probably knows what it’s like to have the genealogy bug and be addicted to history.  (I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug!)  I began my research about a year ago.  I had it set in my mind that I was going to gather all of our family records, photos, and put them together in a nice, neat package to share with my relatives around the holidays.  Well, when the holidays came, I was about 6 months into the research and nowhere near ready to finish up and present the information to anyone.

It was during this initial research, that I learned about my (deep) Jersey roots.  I knew my dad had grown up in New Jersey, and his parents did too, and I had heard some stories about family members living in the state years ago, but I didn’t know too many of the details.  Once I reached out to some cousins and other family members who were also doing research, the stories quickly unfolded, and kept on coming.  I still don’t think I’ve had a chance to go through them all.  Because so much of my family history is tied together with New Jersey history, I just can’t get enough of history now.

Authors' Tent - where I added many titles to my wish list!

This weekend, Allaire State Park held the Spirit of the Jerseys State History Fair.  Boasting that they would have five centuries of New Jersey’s history all in one place, on one day, the park offered military exhibits and demonstrations, period music, activities for kids, and speeches and performances by significant historical figures like poet and Camden resident, Walt Whitman and General George Washington.  There were literally over 100 different activities to see and do during the fair.

Historical societies from around the state were present as well to share information and events about their respective areas of New Jersey.  (I picked up a lot of great new information about places to see in the state from these friendly and helpful groups.)  Also, I discovered a new group that I’m going to join – The Central Jersey Genealogical Club.  Meeting on the second Tuesday of each month, the group meets in the Hamilton Township Library – which is not too far from where I work in West Windsor.  I’m looking forward to making some new friends and gaining some support as I continue to delve into my family (and New Jersey’s) history and work on my project.

Actors demonstrate pretzel making in the village's Bakery.

If anyone is out there researching the Morris family, let me know.  Maybe we have some common ancestors!

The Jersey Girl

Picture Perfect: The Cold and the Beautiful

It’s cold out there.  Okay, I know I’ve already written that several times in the last few weeks (and I might have also put it on facebook and twitter and said it pretty much anywhere there might be someone listening).  So today, instead of getting caught up in complaining about the cold and staying inside, I decided to bundle up, brave the freezing temperatures, and go for a walk…sort of.

I didn’t walk very far, just from the parking lot to the museum at the Rockingham State Historic Site in Kingston, NJ.  Though if you’ve ever been there, you know that the walk is pretty scenic, taking you over a quaint little bridge and wrapping around a few bends lined by rustic, wooden fences.  As the sun was getting low and the snow crunching under my boots was the only sound I heard, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the winter afternoon and forget (temporarily) about the cold.

Sometimes the beauty of nature makes it possible to forget that you're freezing.

At the historic site, tour guide Lisa Flick walked me through the building to the room where George Washington wrote his Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States and told stories about the impressive company the Washingtons entertained while they were residents of this New Jersey house.  Washington’s brief stay at the house is just a portion of its historical significance, and the tour is certainly worth checking out.

Now that I’m back indoors and warmed up again, I believe it’s time for some football.

Happy Picture Perfect Sunday…

The Jersey Girl

The First Independence Day Celebrations in New Jersey

After the Declaration of Independence was printed in Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776, copies were sent by horseback to each of the other states.

Copy of painting by John Trumbull, 1817-18 (from

Some of the very first readings of the Declaration of Independence took place in Trenton on July 8th, Princeton on July 9th, and New Brunswick on July 9th (or 10th).

Follow this link to have a listen for yourself.

Wishing you a happy and safe Independence Day celebration this weekend!

The Jersey Girl


Milltown Historical Society ~ June 19, 2010 Open House

Saturday, June 19th

1:00-3:00 p.m.

Come visit the newly restored Milltown Museum*

See eight rooms depicting the late 1800s in Milltown!
Answer Milltown trivia questions and get a souvenir!

116 South Main Street (adjacent to the Firehouse)
Milltown, NJ 08850

*For more about the Milltown Historical Society, click here.

Milltown Historical Society

“You must always know the past, for there is no real Was, there is only Is.” -William Faulkner

Please don’t tell any of my old teachers, but history used to simply bore me to tears.  Though I made a legitimate effort to study and do the work required of me, I never really enjoyed the subject; the wars, laws, and government we studied seemed so far away and so long ago – they were of very little interest to me.

Over the years however, this relationship between history and me has changed.  Now, I can’t get enough of it.  Maybe traveling has helped me to realize how interconnected we all are, maybe researching my own family genealogy has sparked the interest, or maybe I’ve just “grown up a little” and can now appreciate the impact we, as individuals and as societies, have on history.  I am honestly not sure what the reason is, but I’m hooked.

Milltown Historical Society Museum on South Main Street

In my quest for all-things-history, I’ve joined the historical society from my hometown, Milltown, NJ.  The Milltown Historical Society was founded on May 9, 1968.  Through the years, the society has acquired two old houses for use as museum and meeting spaces.  Items donated from local residents, as well as people with Milltown roots living as far away as France, have filled the buildings and museum displays.

Today, the Milltown Historical Society is as busy as ever restoring their historic buildings, archiving museum artifacts, updating displays, and raising funds for these endeavors.  Present-day technology makes it possible for the Milltown Historical Society’s busy members to share and receive new information via an interactive website,  On this site, people interested in Milltown history can find out about upcoming events, view archived photographs, and leave messages for one another.

Always happy to have new members with an interest in Milltown history, the Historical Society meets on the third Tuesday of the month in the Annex Building behind the Museum located at 116 South Main Street. For more information about visiting the museum, becoming a member, or making a donation, contact Society President Kathy Heilman at 732-227-1480 or Bruce Schwendeman at 732-828-0249.

~Melissa 🙂
The Jersey Girl