Time is often described as a flowing river. Every once in a while, I personally wish we could travel upstream on that flowing river to a given point in the past, and just take a peek from the river bank.
I would love to have seen first-hand what Ewing looked like one hundred or more years ago. But, until such imagined time travel is a reality, we will have to depend on other sources to experience places in the past.
Fortunately for us, in our continuing visit to the Ewingville of days long gone, there are some helpful descriptions and resources. Our own Ewing Township website has posted a group of maps of the township (under the Community Information tab), a few of which are of Ewing in the more distant past. These maps help to identify what was here, and what wasn’t here yet.
Census data is also fascinating to look over. Data from the 1940 census and earlier are available online, and provide interesting glimpses of and information about the local population.
But my own preference for getting a sense of what life was like in Ewingville a century ago is the first-hand account by Robert Reeder Green of his reminiscences of growing up in Ewingville, in his book Land Along the Shabakunks. I have used this book a great deal in researching these columns, and it never fails to paint a very vivid picture of Ewing in the very early 20th century.
Green describes the land bounded by Pennington Road, Ewingville Road (formerly Shabakunk Road), and Green Lane—which is now essentially the College of New Jersey, Antheil School, Armstrong Field, Hillwood Lakes, and the Colleen Circle development.
In the years prior to 1920, it was almost all farmland, being comprised of the small hamlet of Ewingville, with a dozen or so homes, and then four farms and associated buildings: The Amos Reeder Green Farm, the Susan Titus Farm, the Fred Wenzel Farm, and the Blackwell-William Green Farm. The same land had been farmland for decades before that, just changing ownership.
The Amos Reeder Green Farm, the home of the book’s author, was essentially land on either side of Pennington Road at the main entrance to the College, and extended down along Pennington Road about as far as the Lanning School. At one time, the Amos Reeder Green farmhouse was at what is now the entrance to the College.
The Susan Titus Farm, a more modest farm, was land that backed up to the Amos Reeder Green Farm, and extended towards the Shabakunk Creek, running through the middle of this parcel of land. The Titus Farm was where currently the Science and Education buildings are located on the college campus.
The Jewell Blackwell Farm was land carved from the original William Green Farm, a large parcel of land first settled by Europeans in the early 18th century. The William Green farmhouse still sits on the land, the original portion of the house dating to the early 1700s.
It remained in the family for many decades, on land that was subdivided and passed along to sons, and eventually sold to the Blackwell Family in 1915. The home was occupied by various owners and inhabitants until the 1970s.
Another portion of the original William Green property, located east of the Shabakunk, was passed to William Green’s son William A. Green. It remained in the family as a working farm as it passed (or was sold) successively to the Crozier, Vernam, and Kundl families, and finally sold to Ewing Township to provide land for Antheil School and the Armstrong ball field. The Croziers and Vernams raised some grains and crops, but much of their land was used for dairy cattle.
Finally, the Wenzel Farm and meadow was located on the far edge of the tract along Ewingville Road, closer to Pennington Road, on either side of the intersection with Federal City Road, and extended toward the Shabakunk.
So, were we to ride the river of time and emerge in Ewingville in 1910, we would primarily see farms and largely undeveloped open land. Let’s linger here a bit longer and explore…