George Washington and his troops stopped in Cranbury 240 years ago, before the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth, a visit the Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society is celebrating this weekend.
The organization is having separate events, June 8 and June 9, marking the anniversary of Washington’s visit on June 26, 1778 and the battle that followed, society Vice President Audrey Smith said in an interview June 5.
On June 8 at 7 p.m. re-enactors in character will portray Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, an aide to Washington who also was in Cranbury, and the local physician at whose home Washington stayed during his brief visit.
Although the original house of Dr. Hezekiah Stites is no longer standing, the society is celebrating this weekend at the location where it once stood, 53 S. Main St., the home of Township Committeeman Jay Taylor and his wife.
“We think it will be a wonderful event,” Smith said.
On June 9 at 1 p.m., also at the Taylors’ home, the society will have a family event featuring period children’s games and crafts, a music performance, and the Washington re-enactor returning.
Washington and his army were on their way to what would become known as the Battle of Monmouth when they stopped in Cranbury. The battle was fought on June 28, 1778 outside of present day Freehold Borough.
Smith said Washington arrived in Cranbury at about 9 a.m. on a Friday, traveling on a white horse.
“He stayed for several hours,” she said. “We’re not sure if he stayed all night.”
The day before, Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette had arrived with advance troops.
Smith said the society last celebrated Washington’s visit on the 225th anniversary of that occasion, in Village Park.
Taylor said he and his wife have owned the house since February 2016.
“It’s absolutely wonderful owing a piece of history like this,” Taylor said on June 5. “The nice thing about it as well is that, the way we view it, … we’re caretakers of the house and the property.”
Taylor said that when he does yard work, people will stop him and ask him about the house. When the musical “Hamilton” debuted, people would be dancing and singing songs from the show on the sidewalk, he said.
“It’s great to see how people are engaged,” he said.
There are admission fees for both events this weekend, which are fundraisers for the society. Tickets can be purchased www.cranburyhistory.org/shop.
“The society is incredibly important to the town,” Taylor said. “They keep our history. They keep the future generations informed about where we were and where we’re going. To be able to lend the house to them for this event so they can make some money and keep their programs going is wonderful. I couldn’t think of a better thing to do.”