4 centuries on display in one weekend in Union County
Everything a person's ever wanted to know about Union County history will be on display at once Oct. 19 and 20 — a two-day event that opens the doors to more than 370 years of history throughout the county.
It's called Four Centuries in a Weekend: A Journey through Union County's History, and Bette Jane Kowalski, chairwoman for the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, said it's the only time during the year when all 36 historic sites in Union County are open to the public at once, filled with special programs and events.
There will be people dressed in period costumes and historical re-enactments covering events from Colonial Times to the Industrial Era to the Revolutionary War.
In Cannonball House in Springfield, there will Revolutionary War soldiers. There will be open-hearth cooking demonstrations in the fireplaces at Miller Cory House Museum in Westfield and at Robinson House in Clark.
Kowalski said in Elizabeth, the Snyder Academy will be open. That is where two well-known historical figures went to school: Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, and Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the U.S., serving during President Thomas Jefferson's first term (as well as the man who shot Hamilton in a duel).
Right next to the Snyder Academy is the historic cemetery where the Reverend James Caldwell and his wife, Hannah, two heroes of the American Revolution, are buried.
Kowalski said moving up in history there is The Nitschke House in Kenilworth, which has a living history program with characters going back to the turn of the century until the 1900s. Going along with that period, it also has an exhibit on tea totalers and bootleggers in America.
At The Drake House Museum, ensembles from the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra will play musical selections in the second-floor ballroom.
In Roselle Park, there is an exhibit on science and inventors including Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesl -- -all of whom had buildings in the Union County area. An iron worker will demonstrate Tesla's model of Tesla Coil and provide information about how to make one.
At the Deserted Village of Feltville in Glenside Park, there will be children's games, freshly pressed apple cider and interpretive signage and opportunities to "meet" key people from the area's history.
Kowalski said all 36 historic sites are just a quick ride from each other. She said a person can drive or take a train on the Raritan Valley Line to the Westfield statio, where a shuttle will be waiting to escort history buffs to the many sites.
Children can earn "Time Traveler's Certificates" and "Four Centuries Patches" by visiting and obtaining Time Traveler Passports at any of the sites. Each passport will get stamped at all the places they visit, and Kowalski said students can even get extra credit from their teachers.
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