Why the official seal of Union County, NJ depicts a woman’s murder
Every town and county has its own logo. You know, a “town seal” that is supposed to be symbolic of either a town’s history or what they stand for. It’s not just for Pawnee, the fictional town on TV’s Parks and Recreation. New Jersey towns, too, have their own logos which probably took a lot of thought to create way back when.
New Jersey, with its rich Native American heritage, tends to have a lot of town logos with Indian symbolism. For instance, my town, Ocean Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey, has a couple of Indian feathers thrown in there for good measure. How many New Jersey town logos also contain images of sunshine and the shore?
Also, many New Jersey seals contain Revolutionary War imagery, as does the seal of the town I work in, Ewing.
I know. You probably don’t even know what your town's logo is. But Union County has a seal that is different from any others.
You gotta look into it. You will either laugh or be horrified. It almost looks fake. It’s a crudely drawn cartoon picture of a woman being assassinated in her doorway. And it’s downright creepy.
It’s actually a grisly murder scene of the first woman killed in the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. She was shot in her home while protecting her family.
The woman, whose name is Hannah Caldwell, is also said to haunt the grounds where she lived, which is now known as the Caldwell Parsonage in Union Township.
When the war broke out, her husband, the Rev. Caldwell, joined the Patriot Army and moved his wife and nine children to the parsonage, a home for the clergy members at Connecticut Farms (in what is now known as Union Township) for safety.
When he heard that the enemy was approaching, Rev. Caldwell wanted his wife to prepare to leave the parsonage with the children to accompany him to safety in Springfield, but she felt that she would not be harmed.
Sadly, Hannah Caldwell was shot by a soldier and died trying to protect her young son when he approached and fired his musket.
There’s a famous painting by John Ward Dunsmore captioned "Battle of Springfield, New Jersey" depicting this historical moment, and a copy hangs in the Springfield Municipal Court. The death of Hannah Caldwell became a symbol of the fight for independence.
Union Township Historical Society President Barbara La Mort says that a strong woman like Hannah Caldwell, who stood her ground, even knowing that the enemy was coming, is a perfect representative of what Union stands for.
“Some people don't like the idea of a murder being the symbol of our county," La Mort was quoted as saying in the Star-Ledger in 2018. "Other people are proud of the fact that it's unique and commemorates a significant historic event..”
I kinda like that Union’s logo isn’t the typical soldier-eagle-tomahawk-sunshine on the ocean logo we see in pretty much every other town in NJ.
Now go look up your town's logo. Is it as interesting (or weird, depending on your opinion) as Union County's?
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.
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