Morristown National Historical Park

The Great Story

Jockey Hollow
Reenactors at Jockey Hollow

To understand why it's a great story, walk to the top of the hill in Jockey Hollow that held 200 soldier huts for the Pennsylvania Brigade in early 1780. Walk up one day in January and imagine staying there until it gets warm enough sometime in April to take off your down jacket. Imagine standing there without your shoes on, without even one of the huts on top of the hill for retreat from the incessant cold. Try to conceive of something important enough to keep you on that hill for the rest of the winter. Jockey HollowWhen you get home, imagine what it would be like if 13,000 ragged, homeless men with guns marched into your town. How would you feel if someone in your family caught small pox from the men and died? Would you have sympathy for the soldiers as they foraged in your barnyard, or for the General who headquartered on the other side of the village at Ford's Mansion?

Ask most people what happened in Morristown during the American Revolution and they'll undoubtedly mention Washington's Headquarters. But the untold stories of thousands of Continental soldiers and a few hundred townspeople magnify the American legend at Morristown. Perhaps it is because there were no great battles at Morristown that historical texts often gloss over the events here and focus on more catastrophic circumstances such as those at Valley Forge. The Jockey Hollow encampment of 1779-80 endured a winter more severe, including seven blizzards in December alone, than that at Valley Forge, where thousands died. Yet only about a hundred soldiers at Morristown did not see the spring of 1780.

Wick House at Jockey Hollow

Nine hundred acres of Jockey Hollow timber, notched together and chinked with clay, made the army's winter quarters-- 12 soldiers in each of 1,000 14 x 16 huts-- where the men made do with a trickle of rations and beds of loose straw. A thousand soldiers deserted; most remained. Although there was no great turning point, had the battle waged here to keep the Continental Army intact failed, then Yorktown, the battle where the Continental Army gained final advantage in the War, would have a far different meaning in our lives.

When the Jockey Hollow encampment made Morristown one of the ten largest cities in the Colonies by the spring of 1780, it was only the apex of the tiny village's eight year involvement in the conflict. By late 1779, the consistent military presence for munitions and supplies, constant procession of refugees, and a litany of Loyalist trials, jailings, and hangings gave the Patriot stronghold a war-weary atmosphere we might liken to modern day Bosnia. In fact, the army had wintered there three years before in 1777 following Washington's Christmas Delaware crossing and victories at Trenton and Princeton. Although far fewer troops accompanied the General the first time, the impact on the citizenry was catastrophic as nearly one quarter of the population died from small pox or dysentery. Washington, headquarterd at Arnold's Tavern on the town green, billeted three or four men in every house so that it would appear that troop presence was many times more than the few thousand actually there. Needless to say, the attitude was different the second time around, and citizens had by then acquired a lawful right to refuse quartering. A testament to the success of 1779-80 was that,this time, only twenty-five citizens perished from disease, although when it was over, the state of New Jersey read numerous petitions for grievances from Morristownians trespassed against.

Ford's Mansion

After the last Patriot soldier left Morristown in 1782, it was almost one-hundred years until four men rescued the Ford Mansion from a dubious fate at auction. The decision to pool their funds and secure the building and grounds was the genesis of the Washington Association which became the principal caretaker of the property, only the third historic home to be preserved in the United States. Over the next fifty years the Association assembled a remarkable collection of period artifacts, books and manuscripts. To this day the Association plays a critical role in the care and access to one of our national shrines.

On March 2, 1933, Morristown became the third historic park added to Park Service, the first titled a National Historical Park, incorporating Ford's Mansion, Jockey Hollow and the site of Fort Nonsense. Extensive archeological work followed to ascertain specific troop locations and locate huts and outbuildings. The Park served as example for interpretation, training ground that got the Park Service into the history arena. Only one map of the encampment exists, and of 13,000 soldiers there, diaries were written by probably very few. One enlisted man, who later became a sergeant, wrote a memoir when he was in his 70's which mentions Jockey Hollow. Arnold's Tavern is long gone, as are most of the other 18th Century village houses, leaving only gravestones in church cemeteries.

Archeology and historical interpretation follow trends. The tendency to contemplate great men and events gives way to deliberating social fabric and common lifestyles. Eric Olsen, Park Ranger/Historian at Morristown is of the latter school. "Archeology is like reading a page in a book, ripping it out and throwing it away. New techniques come along that can make sense of things that meant nothing before. To investigate lifestyle, we're interested not only in artifacts, but mounds of stone, mold lines from rotted wood, packed down soil, bones of animals in garbage heaps." You find only the big stuff notated in documents and diaries. Would you note the nature of toilet paper in your life story? "They used mussel shells, corn cobs, old paper... one guy returned a correspondence while sitting in the privy and wrote 'I have your letter before me. Soon it will be behind me.'" The American Revolution: sanitation for 13,000 on a couple of frozen hills in New Jersey. As Washington wrote, the Revolution was a war of posts. Strategy of the day was defensive, to put nothing at risk and to avoid combat "unless compelled by a necessity, into which we ought never to be drawn." The most prescient battles were waged in hearts and minds. Withstanding misery at Jockey Hollow was a crucial battle for American Independence.

Washington Museum

Nearly a century passed until four men rescued the Ford Mansion from a dubious fate at auction for $25,000. The decision to pool their funds and secure the building and grounds was the genesis of the Washington Association, which became the principal caretaker of the property, only the third historic home to be preserved in the United States. Arnold's Tavern is long gone, as are most of the other 18th Century village houses, leaving only gravestones in church cemeteries. Over the next 50 years the Association assembled a remarkable collection of period artifacts, books and manuscripts. By statute, to this day the Association plays a critical role in the care and access to one of our national shrines. In1933, Morristown became the third historic park added to the National Park Service, the first titled a National Historical Park, incorporating Ford's Mansion, Jockey Hollow and the site of Fort Nonsense.

John Russell Pope, the architect who designed the National Archives Building, the National Gallery of Art, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C., also designed the museum at the Ford Mansion site. The original idea was to visit Ford's Mansion and come back to the museum, a wonderful little pastiche of Mt. Vernon, cupolas, and curved walkways. A more modern and fuller realization of that idea has filled out the design and made it more symmetrical.

Recent improvements have more than tripled the public space in the museum for both exhibitions and research. One of the most thorough collections in the nation, the museum houses over 200,000 linear feet of archived material, 33,155 archeological items, and 15,194 historical objects.


The idea for establishing a national heritage trail along the New Jersey Crossroads of the Revolution is even more comprehensive, making the Morristown National Historical Park one of many components along the corridor.

Visit the park online.

The Morristown Official National Park Handbook 120 is an engaging summary of both the American history that took place in Morristown and of the Park itself. For $6.50 you can't beat it.

Washington Musuem...

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Barb LaFara
19 Jan 2018, 18:26
My 5th great grandfather, William Henry Tucker, was with the 1st MD during the revolution and was one of the men who died at Jockey Hollow during the winter of 1779-1780. I'd like to thank all the park personnel who have done research on the Morristown area during the Revolution, it has greatly helped me to understand and imagine the conditions my ancestor endured. Interestingly, my ancestor was promoted to Corporal jut a few days before his death. I wonder if this was some kindness to a dying man and his young family.
ABCD Goldfish
11 Sep 2016, 06:38
We just visited Wick house at Jockey Hollow yesterday and the strangest thing kept happening. When I would try to take a picture in the bedrooms of the house, the flash lit up something moving from the bottom to the top of view field, yet we could no see this with our naked eye, nor did it show up in the pictures. Has anyone ever had this experience? The worker there thought maybe it was dust but we think it was a ghost. It only happened in 2 of the bedrooms in the same area each time, it looked like a yellowish green glow the size of a lightning bug and would move upwards in a "C" shape. It was a repetitive action that was exact in both rooms and did not show up unless the flash was on. Nothing at all except the normal room showed up in the pictures. Very odd.
Skylands Visitor
31 Jan 2015, 08:07
For those who have asked about Jockey Hollow's name, this from Morristown NHP Park Ranger/Historian Eric Olsen:
Jockey Hollow was a term used in the 18th century to describe the area south of Morristown that is now the Jockey Hollow unit of Morristown National Historic Park. But like most place names commonly used, no one at the time ever bothered to write down where the name came from. So today the best we can do is make an educated guess.
The word "Jockey" in the 18th century, could mean a person who rides a horse in a race or someone who was involved in raising and trading horses. There are newspaper advertisements before the American Revolution that mention horse races in Morristown.
The word "hollow", in terms of geography, can mean a small valley or basin. Today's Jockey Hollow certainly has a number of small valleys.
So our best guess is that Jockey Hollow got its name because it was a valley where people were raising and selling horses.
19 Jan 2015, 06:56
I'm the descendant in particular of These brothers:
Meshech Case 1752-1841
Thomas Case 1753-?
Butler (Fen) Case 1755-1829
Reuben Case 1765-1841
Joseph Case 1756-1816
Son's of Butler Case Sr.1720-1802
Can anyone tell me if there would/might be any information on them at the museum?
Thanks so much!
Area man
03 Mar 2013, 10:52
Many have asked, but I don't see a response...How did Jockey Hollow get its name?
Charles Boyles
17 Jan 2012, 08:05
My fifth great grandfather Charles Boyles lived in the Morristown area during the war. His son Michael fought various battles in the area. I am looking for the rough location of Charles land. He purchased from Robert Hunter Morris on 4/22/1763. Land was lot 3 part of a track surveyed to Morris dated 4/14/1749. It is documented his home was five miles from Morristown.\r\nChuck Boyles
mary kocornik
11 Apr 2011, 12:14
how did jockey hollow get its name?
Elsie Hickey Wilson
10 Mar 2011, 12:22
Leslie,\r\nYou mentioned the Guerin family of Jockey Hollow. I am a descendant of that family.\r\nAbout 1713, Thomas Guerin Sr. and his wife, Mary Ford, came from the area near Charleston, SC to Whippany, near Morristown, NJ. Their son, Thomas Jr. mar. Jane (we think Whitehead) and had a large farm part of which is in the Washinton's Winter Quarter's park. Thomas Jr. and his sons had a blacksmith shop and wagon works on the farm. Joshua Guerin's house, on of the sons, is the part administrators house now. \r\nI have a lot of data on this family. Also there are lots of files etc. at the Morris Co. Public Library in Morristown.\r\nI am descended from another son, Joseph Guerin who married Martha Forguson by their son, Jonas who went to Seneca Co. NY.
Scott Murray
05 Mar 2011, 12:49
Mr. Olsen and all the staff. Thanks for all your fine work.\r\n\r\nMy 4th great grandfather, Private Nicholas Murray (also spelled Murrough and Murrow) was at the Park of Artillery near Morristown. His records show he was there from November of 1779 through January of 1780. He may have been there longer. He was part of the First Artillery Regiment of the Continental Army under Col. Harrison. He was a matross and his company was under command of Captain Baytops and then he was transferred to Captain David (I believe that is the correct spelling).\r\n\r\nPrivate Nicholas Murray was also previously at Camp Pluckamin with the First Artillery Regiment from Dec. 1778 through April of 1779. During that time he was assigned to Captain Baytops company.\r\n\r\nAny available information on the Regiment, Company, or my ancestor is much appreciated.\r\n\r\nThanks,\r\n\r\nScott Blansit Murray\r\n\r\n
20 Feb 2011, 16:27
My gggg grandfather,John Middleswarth, was Quartermaster Sergeant in Colonel Silvanus Seely's Morris Co Militia Oct 29, 1779 and Dec 14, 1779, the coldest winter of the Revolutionary War. \r\nHow would I ask for a search to see if \r\nthere are any records on Colonel Silvanus Seely's Militia in your archives and if John Middleswarth Quartermaster Sergeant is mentioned in any of your records. \r\nPlease let me know what the cost of a search and xeroxing would be \r\nHope to hear from you.
Denise Imperiale
19 Feb 2011, 16:29
I happen to Google my maiden name (Broesler) and saw a comment asking how I was able to post something on an informational website. Well, I never posted it. I haven't practiced real estate in a few years.
Robert H Steinmetz, Jr
05 Dec 2010, 23:39
My originional ancestor Johann Friedrick von "Stinemetz" , notice spelling, who may have changed his name to John Stinemetz by this time, an exPrussian 10th Corp calvary officer was origianally a Captain working up to the rank of General by the end of the Revolutionary War. Is he mentioned in your archives ? A letter in the family historical files mentions Washington's officers being called out by a certain English officer during a campaign to sword duals and being quickly executed, as the Americans were not very skilled at swordsmanship. He made a major mistake when calling my ancestor to a dual, as he was quickly dispatched and lost his head for a ceremonial trophy display. Supposedly that was the end of the English dual challenges. He probably didn't know he was calling a former East-Prussian calvary officer to a dual, as John had already Americanized his name by this time. John received lands for his services in both Pennsylvania and Mt. Vernon, Ohio that we know of at this time. He lived in Hagerstown, Md in till his move to Mt. Vernon in 1803 with most of his family. Later he moved to Harmony, Oh in 1809 with his son Issac, and later moved to Van Wert, Ohio where he is buried today. Do you have anything on His military service? He came from Kirchberg, East Prussia, Germany, before his aids helped him flee with assistance of the French to the United States.\r\n\r\nThank you very much for your time and assistance in this matter.\r\n\r\nP.S. The family still possess' a pipe of his, with a ceramic bowl for the tobacco, with his painted picture in a Prussian uniform and maltese cross and medals.
Tom Garcia
24 Oct 2010, 08:39
in 1940 or 1941 (summer) my parents and I visited Jocky Hollow Park from our home in Newark with the idea of having a picnic. Probably on a Sunday. We found a huge crowd of people having some kind of an event. They turned out to be German American Bund members and meeting. Any record as to the date this may have happened?
Barbara Lawrence
09 Aug 2010, 15:25
I'm looking to connect with my cousin, Eric Olsen. Pls. email me.
Earlin J Stitt
05 Aug 2010, 14:22
I found two postcards in my parents' belongings that I was sure you would be interested in. They are both postmarked in 1968 - .05 cents for postage. I would like to send them to you for your archives =- free of course. All I ask is an email in return to say you got them ok. Please send me an address and specific person to send them to.\r\nOne is of the upper main hall and the other is of the kitchen.\r\n\r\n\r\nEarlin Stitt\r\n\r\nThanks!!!!!!!!!
Steven Mitchell
10 Jul 2010, 19:20
Thank you for the informative website but why is spam by a real estate agent (Denise Broesler, RE/MAX Properties Unlimited) permitted to be posted on a website that purports to be informational?\r\n\r\n
08 Jul 2010, 10:32
Anyone know anything about a family of wagoneers named Guerin that lived in Jockey Hollow during rev. war. I'm all the way in Wagoner Ok but found they were my ancestors, very interesting!
James St. Clair Wick III
31 May 2010, 18:29
If you know can you tell me what ever happened to the Wick family. I am very curios to find out more.I know that General Arthur St. Clair stayed at the Wick house. I find it odd that my middle name is St. Clair and my last name is Wick. Maybe just coincidence but I have alot a searching to do.\r\n\r\nSorry if I wasted your time.
art bogert
28 May 2010, 20:16
I have a big silver like coin on one side it has pic.of soldier holding gun and cabin in back round, around edge it says morristown national historical park.Other side is washingtons headquarters 1779-1780. Can you please tell me anything about it? Thank you Art
Roy Beck
26 Nov 2009, 06:57
Just back from Jockey Hollow. We had a great day there. Eric Olsen was a font of knowledge at the Wick House.\r\n\r\nI forgot to ask how Jockey Hollow came by its name and when.
27 Aug 2009, 18:52
I had a chance to visit in July of 2009....The people that work there were very helpful and knowledgeable....The visit to the Ford House was incredible and to see where Washington lived and worked was a great experience...
Richard Morrison
17 Aug 2009, 12:24
It isn't clear to me where to go when visiting Morristown National Historic Park. Where do you begin your tour? Are there guided tours at Jockey Hollow or only at the Ford Mansion. The NPS website doesn't give much information. Thank you
Lou De Leon
28 May 2009, 09:58
i live on the border of jockey hollow park, and have ventured into the woods on some, seem to be, old trails off bailey hollow road. i have noticed a few areas that look created by man, ie gorges outlined by obviously placed stones, looks to be a trapping area if soldiers were ever coming up the hill, and a psudo look out point on the corner of mk kemble mountain. i have also found a steel gun, looks to be a kids cap gun from the 1950's made in the usa. when was the last time you heard a cap gun made in the usa? there is one question that has always interested me, did the soldiers ever treck up from bailey hollow road, thru our backyards? it seems like there may have been some training exercises performed there based on my previous discoveries.
James A. Holifield
11 Apr 2009, 21:49
On Feb. 15, 1777; a Patriot Soldier named Daniel Holifield,age about 37 years old, died in Morristown,New Jersey at Washington's Winters Camp. He may be in my family tree,but it is not known for sure, as there were other Daniel Holifield's in both Virginia & North Carolina,but his widow Ruth petitioned the county Court of Prince William,Virginia for relief stating that her husband Daniel Holifield had died on the 15th day of February 1777 during the War and that they had one child. The Court granted her relief of 10 pounds British Sterling. It is not known if this first Winter's camp of Washington's at Morristown,NJ which had not wooden huts; only tents, and not enough tents for each Soldier; died of exposure,small pox,or dysentery. Is it known,where the dead were buried in Morristown,NJ from Washington's Winter's camp of 1776/1777?
jan aaron
23 Sep 2008, 10:56
where did the PROVINCIAL CONGRESS meet in Morristown 1775-1776?\r\nmy gr grandfather was a member,judge John Roy.\r\nJonas Goble was a wagonmaster during the war and a lifelong resident of Morristown.also my gr grandfather.\r\nD.A.R. has aothurized this info,I am a member as Enos Goble,my patriot.\r\nmy granddaughter will visit your area in Oct.I want to make the trip as interesting as possible,she is also d.a.r. thank u jan aaron
Denise Broesler
26 May 2008, 13:47
If you are interested in seeing a home directly across the street from Washington's Headquarters, please contact me to view 15 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ or go to the tour at\r\n\r\nThank you, Denise Broesler, RE/MAX Properties Unlimited
Skylands Visitor
28 Jan 2008, 13:20
The museum is undergoing a major renovation, several years in design and implementation, which has at its core purpose to remedy visitor access to collections through exhibits. Visit the park website to be aware of the gallery openings as they occur.
Mary Rose
28 Jan 2008, 11:00
I too would like to know how to gain access to the park, it sounds like an piece of history and I would like to explore it.
Francis L. Mustaro
24 Jan 2008, 13:53
What is being done to preserve this wealth of historical material that seems to be just laying about in a room somewhere under National Parks auspices. If there are indeed artifacts from as far back as 1400, they may be in very delicate condition and needful of professional attention.\r\nAlso, when will the public (taxpayers) gain access to this historical treasure trove? I'm happy that Mr. Olsen is so fascinated by it all, but my daughter and her schoolmates and myself and my neighbors would love to see these things. Why are they hidden from public view?

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