Welcome to The Kingston Historical Society web site. The Kingston Historical Society (KHS) was formed in 1997 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization to preserve, enhance and promote the history of the village of Kingston. KHS has its headquarters in the Locktender's House on the Delaware and Raritan Canal, Kingston, New Jersey. KHS is a 501(c)(3) organization.
Spanning 200 years, the story of the Roebling family and its bridge engineering and wire rope business chronicles a legacy of innovation, endurance, and exceptional achievement during a time of industrial revolution and technological advancement in America’s history. Through landmark achievements like the Brooklyn Bridge – the “universal symbol of New York” – and the great cables on the George Washington and Golden Gate Bridges, the Roeblings and thousands of their employees in Trenton and Roebling, N.J., helped shape modern life, and they also built one of America’s best company towns – “a model in every respect.”
The program included an extra Roebling story: the incredible Mercer automobile.
A 1913 Mercer “Raceabout”
The event, on Sunday, December 3rd, 2017, was an occasion to enjoy holiday refreshments, music by the Kingston Women’s Chorus, decorations by the Kingston
Garden Club and, most of all, the company of new and old friends of Kingston.
After a brief meeting there was a showing of the film:
Kingston: Crossroads to History
An overview of the 325 plus years of the village from its settlement in the late 1600's to the 21st century.
Kingston Greenways Association, Kingston Historical Society and
Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands co-sponsored this leisurely walk, led by railroad historian John Kilbride.
The walk started at the Mapleton Preserve/D&R Canal State Park headquarters building and head out along the former Camden & Amboy Railroad right-of-way toward Railroad Avenue.
Continuing across Ridge Road as far as the turn to the Cook bridge, we'll retrace our steps, roughly following the former Kingston Branch/Rocky Hill Railroad right-of-way
to end at the Kingston Lock-tender’s House.
The Lock-tender's House was open to participants at the end of the walk, where a small exhibit on the “Railroads of Kingston” as well as Paul Kayne's study models of Kingston lock and the "A" frame bridge (once at Kingston) is on display.
About John Kilbride:
Now retired from a 34-year (Amtrak) railroad career, John is the moderator of the Camden & Amboy Railroad Historians and Railroads of Trenton (FaceBook) groups, studying the C&A since moving to New Jersey in 1979. Raised on Long Island, the LIRR was an early interest; college and USAF assignments led to wider railroad interests. Historical research and writing remain his strong interests on a variety of railroad topics, including a just-published article on a unique passenger train for a national publication; several of his photos appeared in a Midwest railroad-themed book. Presently, he has started research on a book focusing on the electrification of the Long Island Railroad, and another on NJ's “Joint Companies.” He's involved with the “Save The (Princeton) Dinky” group and advising local historians on specific historical aspects of both the C&A and the Pennsylvania Railroad in New Jersey. A frequent speaker in the Tri-State area, he is able to provide programs on a variety of railroad topics, from the C&A up to more contemporary themes. He seeks to travel by train whenever possible!!!
A post event oral history was produced to document the event.
Further relevant documents and images can be downloaded from: https://archive.org/details/KingstonRailroads
Dedication for their 2017 Spartan ERV Pumper and 90th Anniversary of our Ladies Auxiliary
Judy Peters, President of the Van Harlingen Historical Society of Montgomery, presented a fascinating program on the history of farming in Montgomery Township and the surrounding areas from the early 1700s until current times. The presentation included historic photographs from the VHHS Image Collection and objects from the Montgomery Farm Museum. The farms and farmers, animals and crops, happy times and heartaches were described in the actual words of past farmers, as found in travel and farm diaries, inventories and wills, oral histories and other autobiographical manuscripts from the Van Harlingen Historical Society archives.
Judy is a long-time member of VHHS and has served as Treasurer for 6 years, then President for the last 4 years. She lives in the historic district of Bridgepoint, in “Opie’s Mill”, which is probably the oldest surviving mill in the Millstone Valley. She has a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, and taught and supervised research there for 10 years based on her expertise in the use of Geographic Information Systems to document historic resources and analyze features for conservation. In her “other life”, Judy is a business consultant in the chemical and textile industry.
In addition to the artifacts brought by Ms. Peters, artifacts from KHS’s own collection were on display.
Also at the KHS Spring Talk, the KHS Historic Contribution Award was given, posthumously, to Dorothea S. Potts (Jimmie) for “her lifelong love of the Kingston community,
and her sharing of her recollections, memories, and photographs. Her knowledge, guidance and willingness to share has been instrumental in our recording of our history.” The
award was presented by KHS vice president George Luck, Jr. and accepted by her cousin KHS trustee David Potts on behalf of the Potts family.
The audio file of the oral history interview of Dorothea S. "Jimmie" Potts is available for download:
Also on display at the KHS Spring Talk were two study models, one of an “A” Frame bridge and one of a lock, which recently were most generously given to KHS by their maker, Paul Kayne. Paul was at the Spring meeting and also provided other D&R Canal models and information for display at the meeting. KHS is most grateful to Paul. The model of the bridge can be seen through the kitchen window of the Locktender’s House from the towpath, but both models, which are operable for interpretation are too valuable to be on display unattended; KHS is planning to display (and operate) the models and explain their operation on a few special occasions to be scheduled in the future.
The Kingston Historical Society held its Annual Meeting at 7:30 pm Tuesday November 1st, 2016 in the multi-purpose room of the recently renovated Laurel Avenue School, on the corner of Laurel
Avenue and Union Street in Kingston. After a very brief business meeting, there was an illustrated presentation on the “Schools of Kingston.”
The program organized by George Luck, Jr. was
led by Anne Zeman. The program included reminiscences of six former students of one or both of the school buildings which remain in Kingston.
It may be that Kingston’s oldest schools date from the 1700s, but the surviving buildings in Kingston are the Kingston Free School built in 1871 on Academy Street at Route 27 and the Laurel Avenue School built about 1923, on the corner of Laurel Avenue and Union Street. Both schools have had additions since being built, but changing times led to both schools being “decommissioned” about 1988 and 1998. Fortunately, they still exist. The Laurel Avenue School was recently renovated by Princeton International Properties for the Tuchman Foundation, and is now being used as the YingHua International School.
The video of the meeting is available for download: https://archive.org/details/khsnj11012016
The Locktender's House is located at the Kingston Lock, at 4498 Route 27 North, on the
Kingston Trails of D&R Canal State Park, in Kingston, New Jersey.
It is open April through November, on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays; from April thorough October the House will be open from 10 am to 5 pm.
In November the House will be open from 10 am to 4 pm. The subjects currently on display are:
Permanently on exhibit are the HABS (Historic American Building Survey) drawings of the Kingston lock and canal house and other information about the D&R Canal and the adjacent area.
Also on continuing exhibit is the Moor-Potts Library Desk. The desk was made in Kingston by a local cabinetmaker, John F. Moor, for his own use. The desk was acquired by the father of the late Dorothea “Jimmie” Potts at an estate auction after Moor's death in 1913. It was subsequently passed on to Dorothea. KHS acquired it at the estate sale after her death.
A public repository for KHS archival items relating to Kingston history, http://archive.khsnj.org, has been built; already a number of items have been placed in this repository and more are being added. The link to the repository can be found on the top of this web page by clicking Menu -> Archives. Feel free to visit and browse the archives. There is a "search field" (not case sensitive) to perform topical search functions. Using the database is the best method to view historical items of interest in our collections.
We also publicly host items on, and use as a historical resource, the website archive.org. Archive.org is a global repository which houses media for perpetuity.
KHS Holiday Open House ~ December 6, 2016
KHS members, fellow Kingston resident, and many others attended our annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting December 4th, 2016 at the Locktender’s House on the D&R Canal. They enjoyed holiday refreshments, decorations by the Kingston Garden Club, the annual tree lighting, and music by the Kingston Womens Chorus.
A showing of D&R CANAL Videos with additional commentary Tuesday, June 7th, 2016
was featured at the Kingston Historical Society meeting at the Kingston Firehouse, June 7th, 2016
After some background on the D&R Canal and its past and present importance to Kingston, KHS president Robert von Zumbusch led us through two videos: one, "D&R," produced and directed by Cliff Crawford in 1976 -- before the Canal Park was established; the video included historical footage and interviews with 'canalers.' The other, "The Canals of New Jersey,” produced by the Canal Society of New Jersey, provided a comparison with New Jersey’s other navigational canal, the unique Morris Canal, which was very different from the D&R.
Walking Tour of Kingston's Churches ~ May 7, 2016
George Luck led a walking tour of Kingston’s two churches, assisted by their members.
The tour started in the cemetery driveway opposite the Methodist Church. where he pointed out the graves of some of those who have played significant roles in the life of the Church and community and the site of Kingston’s first church. The walk proceeded up Main Street to the Presbyterian Church, where a brief history was given in the sanctuary. Participants walked back to the Methodist Church for a brief history of that church in its sanctuary, after which refreshments were served in the church hall.
KINGSTON: CROSSROADS OF THE CROSSROADS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ~ NOVEMBER 10, 2015 The program was featured at the Kingston Historical Society Annual Meeting on November 10th, 2015 at the Kingston Firehouse. The program focused on the Revolutionary War and Kingston. After some background on the Crossroads National heritage Area, KHS vice president George Luck gave a presentation on Kingston’s history during the Revolutionary War.
The presentation was illustrated by a video, from Crossroads of the American Revolution Association, and images from KHS and other archives. During that time General George Washington visited the Kingston multiple times, from 1776-1783. George (Washington - not Luck!) in 1776 rode down main street fleeing the British, in 1777 he paused after the Battle of Princeton for his “Conference on Horseback”; in 1778 he stopped for a day in Kingston on his way to the Battle of Monmouth and in 1783 stayed at Rockingham while the Continental Congress met in Princeton waiting to hear that the peace treaty with the British was signed.
CARNEGIE LAKE and its DAM ~ June 2, 2015
Princeton University Facilities engineer Robert Ortego gave an excellent illustrated presentation of the planned repairs to the dam, and KHS President Robert von Zumbusch offered a fascinating history of the Lake and its dam.
Located in Kingston approximately 2 miles downstream of the confluence of the Stony Brook and Millstone River, the Carnegie Lake Dam, constructed in 1907, helped create the body of water still enjoyed by Princeton University’s crew as well as many others. Maintenance has been performed as needed on the Dam over the last century, and the time has come again to address needed repairs. Princeton University’s Facilities engineers, along with consultants, have developed plans for structural repairs to a portion of the dam, which will begin in June 2015. The work will not affect the level of the lake, nor is it expected to impact traffic or pedestrian routes.
To learn more about the dam, the project, and the status of repairs, please visit Lake Carnegie Dam Repair and the current exhibit at the Kingston Locktender’s House.
Railroads and Kingston; an illustrated presentation by John Kilbride, was given at the KHS Annual Meeting on October 14, 2014. The talk included the Camden & Amboy and Pennsylvania Railroads. There was particular emphasis on the Rocky Hill Railroad and Transportation Company and Kingston Branch, which connected Rocky Hill to Kingston and to the main line at Monmouth Junction and beyond. Railroads and Kingston was also the subject of an exhibit in the Fall, which continued until May 2015.
An Evening with Peter V. Shann portrayed by George Luck, Jr. was held on June 7, 2014.
Peter Shann was born and grew up in Kingston; he was a Civil War soldier, who later became a Kingston Presbyterian Church Elder and a Kingston entrepreneur. The Kingston Presbyterian Board of Elders and KHS co-sponsored the event.
The Millstone Valley Scenic Byway: a 15 minute film and a talk by author Linda Barth. The program was held 16 June 2014. Linda has written several books including The Delaware & Raritan Canal, The Delaware & Raritan Canal at Work and the children’s book Bridgetender’s Boy; she is currently writing a book on the Millstone Valley. Linda is also co-president of D&R Canal Watch.
New Jersey History Fair: Celebrating the 350th Anniversary of New Jersey May 10, 2014, at Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville, NJ. Kingston Historical Society joined with Kingston Greenways Association and Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands to provide coordinated exhibits on Kingston and its contributions to the history of New Jersey and the themes for 350th Anniversary: Innovation – Diversity – Liberty.
KHS Annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting:
Sunday December 1, 2013, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. At the Kingston Locktender’s House
Princeton Nurseries 100th Anniversary Celebration
in the Preserve
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Princeton Nurseries - 1913 - 2013
An illustrated talk by William Flemer, IV was given October 9, 2013 at the Kingston Firehouse.
A Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration was held at the Kingston Locktender’s House June 22, 2013 in concert with the Lincoln Highway Association Centennial Tour; lunch was provided to tour participants by Eno Terra restaurant and a number of local vehicles of the era were on display.
The Lincoln Highway - 1913 - 2013, an exhibit of KHS photographs and information about the Lincoln Highway was on display in the Kingston Locktender's House from April to September 2013.