NJ’s Revolutionary War History Comes Alive in South Bound Brook/Bound Brook/Bridgewater

Experience Jersey Military Heritage with Battle, Brews, Breakfast, Dance and General Washington’s visit

By Rikki Massand, MS/CHP 

The weekend of April 15 and 16, 2023, will stir patriotism and living history with one of New Jersey’s key Revolutionary War reenactments and accompanying festivities.

The historic Abraham Staats House, with its original portion circa 1740 in South Bound Brook, Somerset County, will serve as the center for commemorations of the 246th anniversary of the Battle of Bound Brook.

The Staats House is one of Somerset’s premier 5 Generals Houses and fittingly, General George Washington himself will appear to present a program on “The Treacherous Spring of 1777” – beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 16.

Saturday the 15th begins with Battle reenactment; in South Bound Brook Hessian Jaegers and other Loyalists will be hidden in the trees past the Old Stone Arch Bridge. Action takes shape as the Patriots march north over the Raritan River on the Crown forces advance north to Queen’s Bridge (connecting Bound Brook and South Bound Brook) but they face a brigade of Loyalists to hold them off.

The sides will skirmish back and forth, and ultimately the Patriots will endeavor under the railroad overpass and into Bound Brook. The battle heads north on Bolmer Ave and its opening concludes there, with soldiers arriving for a short ceremony at the Old Presbyterian Graveyard and west to the Old Stone Arch Bridge to assault the Patriot forces garrison at Bound Brook. The battle continues as Patriot forces are driven north on Bolmer Ave and concludes at the Old Presbyterian Graveyard where there will be a short ceremony.

Historic preservation combined with creative and educational programs at the Staats House have led to its group of volunteers, the Friends of the Abraham Staats House, to receive two 2023 grants from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, presented at the Tuesday, March 14 Board of County Commissioners meeting held in Somerville. The first grant is $6,000 for the County History Partnership Program (CHPP) and the second is for $1,000 with the Local Arts Program grant (LAP). FASH President Kathy Ormosi attended the county commissioners meeting to accept ceremonial checks on March 14.

Friends of Abraham Staats House President Kathy Ormosi (left) with
Kaitlyn Bundy (right), manager of Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission and Strategic Initiatives, presenting the 2023 County History Partnernship Program grant check at the March 14, 2023 Somerset County Board of County Commissioners meeting in Somerville. Commissioners in back row: Melonie Marano, liaison to the Cultural & Heritage Commission, Deputy Director Douglas Singleterry, County Director Shanel Robinson,
Commissioner Paul Drake and Commissioner Sara Sooy.

Kathy Ormosi spoke with Preservation NJ about the upcoming “Battle weekend” of April 15 and 16:

This annual two-day, family-friendly history event offers 18th-century battle reenactments, presentations, tours, soldiers of the American Revolution, dancing, the pub crawl, breakfast buffet and historic houses and more – with activities in South Bound Brook, Bound Brook and Bridgewater. There’s something for everyone!

On Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. the soldiers’ encampment at the Abraham Staats House is again open to the public, including soldiers’ drills leading up to General Washington’s presentation at 12:30 p.m. That will be followed by a third Battle reenactment on the grounds at 2:30 p.m. for approximately one hour. The site closes at 4 p.m.

In the Rev NJ March 2023 newsletter, Executive Director of the New Jersey Historical Commission Sara Cureton writes, “Battles and skirmishes dominate our understanding as mention of the Revolution conjures up images of citizen soldiers armed with muskets turning out to face the British at places like Lexington, Concord, Trenton, and Boston.

She continued, “Our goal is to enable everyone to find themselves in these narratives and to consider how the events of 250 years ago continue to shape our nation, our state, and our communities. We hope to go beyond the muskets and cannon to reveal the people and communities that shaped this conflict and the nation that was born from it.

The April 15-16 weekend offers an abundance of opportunities for immersive, living history and heritage tourism in central Somerset County from the Battle action and history presentations to social events galore – filling the entire ‘weekend after Easter.’ Food and festivities carry on off-site in the Bound Brook, Bridgewater and Somerville area.

*On Saturday, April 15, the 5th Annual Battle & Brews Guided History Tour & Pub Crawl begins at 12:30 p.m. at 10 Hamilton Street, Bound Brook (The tour is FREE but with adult beverages offered this part of the weekend is for those 21+). Learn about Bound Brook’s Historic Role in the Revolutionary War and current vibrancy. Registration is available on Eventbrite

Battle & Brews is presented by the Borough of Bound Brook & Bound Brook Revitalization Partnership, and its program is made possible by funds from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, a partner of the New Jersey Historical Commission.

*The fun follows on Saturday evening, April 15, with the Heritage Trail Association’s “Annual Publick Ball” hosted by Philip Van Horne, at the historic Phillip Van Horne House, 941 E. Main St, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.

Come enjoy the live music by Anne & Ridley Enslow … Dance Master Lazarus Turner will call out the dances.
Cost: $10 per person / $5 for reenactors in period dress.
Register through Eventbrite, and visit 
www.heritagetrail.org or call Cindy at 310-691-9388.

*Sunday morning, April 16, begins with the Breakfast Buffet at South Bound Brook Fire Company #1 Firehouse located at 83 Edgewood Terrace in South Bound Brook. Breakfast, taking place from 7:30 a.m. to noon, is free for all registered reenactors. For the public it’s $12 per adult, $10 for seniors; kids 10 and under are $8 and those under 5 years old eat free. Learn more at www.sbbfd.com

NJ Society Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard, left to right: Ed Glidden, Robert Meyer, Somerset County Supervising Planner Tom D’Amico (recipient of the 2022 Sarah P. Fiske Legacy & Leadership Award presented by PNJ), David Nelson, Gary Beauregard, Charles Morgan, President NJSSAR at the Abraham Staats House Jan 14, 2023. The Baron von Steuben plaque was funded in part by NJSSAR.

The Battle of Bound Brook has attracted reenactors and spectators for several years, gaining statewide attention. In April of 2019 then-Executive Director of Crossroads of the American Revolution (Rev NJ) Janice Sellinger unveiled a plaque on the front of the Abraham Staats House, and the private-public partnership filmed a short video on the Battle of Bound Brook reenactment. The video remains available through Rev NJ’s online catalog.

On Saturday January 14, 2023 Somerset County Commissioners Melonie Marano and Paul Drake helped FASH and members of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission unveil the brass Baron von Steuben plaque, commemorating the role of the American general’s connection with the Staats House during the Revolutionary War.

The Friends of the Abraham Staats House welcomed and thanked the NJ Society of Sons of the American Revolution – including Robert Meyer, SAR Vice President General of the North Atlantic district; NJSSAR President Charles Morgan, Vice President Richard Serfass, NJSSAR Secretary Ed Glidden, NJSSAR Jockey Hollow Chapter President Roger Loomis, NJSSAR Genealogist Bruce Ryno, and NJSSAR Color Guardsman David Nelson. The new brass plaque was made possible through a generous donation by NJSSAR to the Friends of Abraham Staats House.

The NJ Society Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard at left, with FASH President Kathy Ormosi (right) during the unveiling of the commemorative Baron von Steuben plaque at the Staats House.

Kathy Faulks is a member and secretary of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, chair of the South Bound Brook Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, and corresponding secretary of FASH – and a prominent organizer and reenactor for the Battle of Bound Brook weekend. She explained that the Baron von Steuben plaque, now side-by-side complementing the Crossroads of the American Revolution plaque “fulfills the educational, patriotic, and historic preservation mission within the mission for both organizations (FASH and NJSSAR) and credits NJSSAR’s sponsorship.”

Commemorative plaque at the Abraham Staats House
Details on the historic Abraham Staats House and all its upcoming programs can be found on the organization’s website, https://www.staatshouse.org/

Author, content strategist and historic preservation activist Rikki N. Massand serves as Associate Editor of his hometown Montgomery News in Somerset County. He also covers Hunterdon County government, planning and economic development for The Hunterdon Review newspaper and freelances for multiple tristate area ‘newszines.’

Massand is a regional historian and local advocate in his present municipal government-appointed roles on the Montgomery Township Landmarks Preservation Commission and as township liaison to the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission. We are proud to announce he was recently appointed as an Advisory member of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

Massand holds master’s degrees from Columbia University and Quinnipiac University. His work has appeared in print titles including China Daily, amNew York, Syosset Advance, AsianWeek and more.