SO MUCH HISORY
I am sure many of you know the history of Reeves Reed Arboretum’s wonderful daffodil bowl and how the families who owned this property have maintained it. However, there is an even older history of 165 Hobart Avenue that is intriguing and fascinating.
During the American Revolutionary War, the militia activity of New Jersey was a vital part of the war effort. The British captured Staten Island, Manhattan Island, and Long Island in the summer of 1776. Thereafter, New Jersey became the target of foraging expeditions, raids, and invasions.
Visualize the year 1779. We are at the near end of the Revolutionary War. General George Washington moved the Continental Army into New Jersey. He wanted to be within striking distance of New York City but at the same time be able to respond to an attack in or around Philadelphia. He chose Morristown at Jockey Hollow in the Watchung Mountains as his camp and headquarters.
To protect the army from a surprise attack by the British Gen. Clinton’s forces out of New York, he ordered General Alexander Lord Stirling to put together a plan for a series of signal beacons to be built “on conspicuous hills and Mountains, which appear to be judicious and well disposed” on the eastern side of the Watchung Mountains then called the Blue Hills of New Jersey.
From West Point on the Hudson in New York to the southern tip of the Watchung mountains, bonfire pilings or ignitable tar barrels and cannons were placed on the mountain ridges. These were Stirling’s Beacons. These were to alert the militia that the British were coming.
Twenty-three signal fires in all…here in Summit we were signal fire #10.
(“on the top of Hobart Hill one mile southeast of Chatham Bridge under the care of Captain Joseph Norton”)
Here, very close to 165 Hobart was one of those signal fires.
Today, as we teach our children about NJs involvement in the Revolutionary War, we are so fortunate to be part of this history.
Right now, an authentic signal beacon fire is being built by an eagle scout named Ryan Richardson here at Reeves-Reed. He, his fellow scouts, and his dad have researched the size and guidelines put forth by George Washington (the engineer). He and his team are replicating one on our Wildflower Trail. The trail stretches from the front gate to the parking lot behind the Education Center.
While you may notice the structure, know that it is a process that may take a while and we hope to add more history to the trail.
So, when you are here at Reeves-Reed Arboretum, hiking along our trails, think of the Wisconsin Glacier, Glacial Lake Passaic, the Leni-Lenape, and George Washington.
For more history about Washington’s signal beacons go to: