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, New Jersey.
For the past 25+ years we have been been collecting items related to the village of Kingston and preparing presentations for the community. Some of our artifacts help us to understand our environment. For example, the flour sack shows what was produced at the Kingston mill on the Millstone River.
Other items help us to remember our more recent history.
The Kingston Historical Society maintains a second website to show photographs of artifacts via the world wide web. This second site uses a more formal style than our main, WordPress formatted, website. Items in the archive site can be linked back to our WordPress pages, as seen here–
Here’s a photo of the Delaware and Raritan Canal at the Kingston Lock. In May of 1989 the section of the canal was drained so gates could be repaired.
There is plenty more archiving work that needs to be done. Some is methodical and some will require creativity. The Kingston Historical Society welcomes volunteers from central New Jersey to join us in the work of sorting, preserving and displaying our collection. If you are interested in being a part of the team, please fill out the form at the bottom of THIS LINKED PAGE. It’s a great way to learn history by helping preserve it.
The weather cleared just in time for our community tree lighting, Sunday December 3rd, 2023. The crowd was not as large as other years, but the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 came to provide lights, and the Kingston Women’s Chorus came to provide a joyous sing-along.
The Kingston Women’s Chorus sang seasonal favorites and reminded us that they have a concert on December 10th at the Kingston United Methodist Church. See OUR EVENTS LIST
Before the event the Kingston Historical Society opened the history room in the Kingston Locktender’s House for one last view of the 2023 displays. The Locktender’s House is now closed until April, 2024. The windows of the house were decorated by Karen Linder and Anne Zeman, with evergreen arrangements made at the December 2nd Wreath and Garland Making Workshop put on by the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands. fpnl.org
The Historical Society provided cookies and hot chocolate, the assembled crowd provided magical power to light the tree for the holiday season.
Trustees Sharon Hansen and George Luck, Jr. were in charge of food and setup. Deputy Chief Robert Weissman led the Fire Company’s lighting detail
Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023: Annual Thanksgiving Day Walk.
10 -11:30 am Mapleton Preserve, 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston, NJ. Join Karen Linder and FPNL for our annual Thanksgiving Day morning walk at the Mapleton Preserve.
On this easy, family-friendly walk, we will focus on nuts, seeds and berries that wildlife, including turkeys, use as food. Free and open to all. Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (www.fpnl.org). Call 609-683-0483 for more information.
Wednesday, November 29th: Turtles at Kingston Greenways Annual Meeting
Turtles are the subject of the KGA Annual Meeting and Program: Thinking Outside the Box about Your Woods and Bogs: How Private Forestry Practices Can Protect Rare Turtles. Speaker: Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) biologist Christine Healy.
The video of this presentation is available here on YOUTUBE
Kingston Ladies Auxiliary craft show- 9 AM to 2 PM at the Kingston Firehouse, Heathcote Road, Kingston, NJ. Huge variety. Vendor spaces already sold out! Come early for best selection. “Santa at Ten O’Clock!”.
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023: Wreath and Garland Making Workshop.
1-3 PM. Mapleton Preserve, 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston, NJ. Learn how to make your own wreath or garland. Limited to 20. Pre-registration is required [609-683-0483].
A $20 donation is requested to cover the cost of supplies. Greens, materials and tools will be available, or bring your own to incorporate into your design. Cookies, cocoa and holiday music will round out the event. Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (www.fpnl.org).
Sunday, Dec. 3 Holiday Tree Lighting
Meet KHS members, friends and neighbor’s while enjoying holiday refreshments and the music of the Kingston Women’s Chorus outdoors.
The TreeLighting will be at 5:00 pm. The Chorus will sing before the Tree Lighting and then lead the traditional “sing-along” after the Tree Lighting.
“Home and Hearth- Songs for a peaceful and cozy holiday season” Featuring our not-to-be-missed community choral singalong! 7 PM on Sunday, 10th December (celebrating World Choral Day) Kingston United Methodist Church, 9 Church Street, Kingston NJ
Heather Robbins, director Dottie Westgate, piano
Concert is free. Donations to benefit the Rare Kidney Disease Foundation
7 am-4 pm. Join Kingston Greenways Association (https://kingstongreenways.org/) for their annual survey of the birds of Kingston as part of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) .
Experienced and novice birders are welcome to participate in the 124th anniversary of the CBC, where the goal is to identify and tally as many Kingston birds as we can on one day. We start at 7:30 am and bird until noon, break for lunch, and then go out again from 1 until dusk.
This is a great way to get to know your local open space and learn about your local birds while providing continent-wide population data. Please call Karen for more details [609-683-0483]
Sunday, December 24, 7 PM Candlelight Christmas Eve Service
The Kingston Presbyterian Church completes their celebration of 300 years with a traditional candle light service in their sanctuary. 4565 Route 27, Kingston NJ 08528. www.kingstonpresbyterian.org
And in 2024….
Monday, Jan. 1, 2024: First Day Hike.
Noon – 2 pm. Mapleton Preserve, 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston, NJ Start the New Year off right with an easy walk through the Mapleton Preserve. We know you want to sleep in a little, so the event begins at 12 noon. Dress for the weather, whatever it is. The walk is sponsored by Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (www.fpnl.org) and will start at the Mapleton Preserve/D&R Canal State Park Headquarters at 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston. Socialize after the walk with hot drinks and cookies. It is FREE – all are welcome. Call 609-683-0483 for more information.
Monday, Jan. 15, 2024: MLK Jr. Day of Service.
Noon-2 pm. Mapleton Preserve, 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston, NJ Join Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (FPNL) for a winter work session in the Mapleton Preserve! Honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday by spending a winter afternoon outdoors with us and discover the special joys of stewardship!
Gloves and tools will be provided, or bring your own saws, clippers, loppers and rakes if you prefer. Work gloves, sturdy shoes, warm clothing and hats are a must. Call 609- 683-0483 for more information, or if you would like to involve a group. Service hours are available to those in need. FREE. Refreshments served.
Continuing: Kingston Historical Society needs Archivists!
Local folks with an interest in history meet to organize and catalogue the KHS collection. See THIS LINK to join them. Here’s one item we recently archived:
October 21, 2023 was South Brunswick Township’s History Day Scavenger Hunt. The goal was to explore South Brunswick’s historic buildings and sites in a family friendly way. Participants received a “Passport to local history” which would be stamped at five locations in the township
The event was sponsored by the South Brunswick Library and the South Brunswick Historical Society. The Township was celebrating 225 years.
For 53 years, Thomas Titus and his descendants farmed this plot of land. Once an enslaved person, his remains lie here in an unmarked grave, as if keeping watch over the old farmstead.
Gerardus Beekman, the slave holder, was a member of the prominent Beekman family of New York and New Jersey. In 1814, Beekman penned his final wishes, ” I will that my Negro man Thomas shall have freedom after serving my heirs, or any man he shall choose, so long as the time to make fifteen years from the first day of March eighteen hundred and two.”
Although not yet a free man, Thomas and his wife, Sarah TenBroeck, purchased a small farm for #50 from Ferdinand Van Dyke, in August 1817. On August 2rd 1818, the official manumission was written and filed at the County Clrek’s office in New Brunswick. Thomas farmed this land for the next 32 years. Oats, wheat, potatoes and corn were cultivated near an orchard of peach trees.
Thomas and his wife Sarah also raised twelve children, six of whom were born after the family’s manumission. On July 21st 1849, Thomas Titus died of the Plague at 64 years of age.
Kingston Presbyterian Church in celebration of its 300th Anniversary presented “Cemetery Tales” on October 14, 2023
On a rainy afternoon… Rev. Sharyl Dixon welcomed nine persons buried in the Kingston Presbyterian Church cemetery…
Dorothea “Jimmie” Potts, local business owner and investor talked about the development of US Route 1 and life in Kingston
Pastor David Comfort spoke of ministry in Kingston and beyond
Umeko Shimomura spoke of her life in Japan and as a farmer in 1920’s California, and then internment during World War II in Arizona.
William Van Tilburgh spoke of his time as Inn Keeper in Kingston
William Flemer Jr. spoke of founding Princeton Nurseries in Kingston, life in the army, and being a nurseryman
Lulu Briggs spoke of her love of Kingston and desire to help all Kingston children to further their education
Peter V. Shann spoke of life in the Union Army, and farming after the war.
Blanche Woolf, born Blanche Peebles, spoke of running Peebles General Store in Kingston
Senator Charles B. Moore spoke of life in Kingston and in the New Jersey Senate.
Reflections were based on research by George Luck Jr. and Peyton Dixon.
Video of the event….
Although the event was planned for the cemetery itself, the rain that day caused us to move to the lower level of the Presbyterian Church, a location which allowed us to record the event for posterity. The video of the event (1 hour and 21 minutes long) is available HERE.
“Memorable Places,” the Fall 2023 Art Show of the South Brunswick Arts Commission at Municipal Building 8:30AM- 4PM through November 24, 2023 Free and open to the public. (Monmouth Junction)
This show features the Princeton Nursery Lands as one of the township’s memorable places. More information at www.sbarts.org
Sept 30 FPNL Public Lands Day (change)
New Date: Saturday, September 30, 2023, 2 to 4 PM (postponed from 9/23) Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands is celebrating National Public Lands Day with a cleanup at the Mapleton Preserve on Saturday Sept. 30 from 2 to 4 PM Pre-register at http://fpnl.org/
Oct 14 Cemetery Tales, Kingston Cemetery
Join members of the Kingston Presbyterian Church at Kingston’s historic graveyard on Church St. for a Saturday, mid-day remembrance of those buried in Kingston. Saturday, October 14, 2023 at 2pm
NOTE: In event of rain, talks will be given at the Presbyterian Church on Main Street. (4565 Route 27, Kingston)
Meet some of Kingston’s ancestors, as they tell you their story, during an afternoon stroll through KPC’s historic cemetery. The event is free, but an RSVP is requested. call: (609) 921-8895 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oct. 15 Pancake Breakfast– Kingston Vol. Fire Co.
Sunday Morning- before or after church! It has been a few years since this many-decade old tradition was last offered. Come 8AM-1PM at the Kingston Fire House. Good food, good community, show our volunteers how much we support them. This year you can reserve tickets, or make a donation, at https://kvfc-breakfast.cheddarup.com
The Fire Company regularly provides space for KHS public meetings. We thank them for their part in community building. Learn more about the Kingston Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 (and directions and how to become a firefighter) at https://kingstonfireco.com/
Oct 21 South Brunswick Twp. History Day 11 AM
Presented by the South Brunswick Township Historical Society. A Saturday “Scavenger Hunt” encourages groups to visit locations across the township over a three hour period from 11 AM to 2 PM, with a birthday cake at Woodlot Park at 2:30 PM.
The Kingston Historical Society will be participating in this Saturday mid-day event. Tours and docents will at the Kingston Bridge, the D&R Canal Locktender’s House on the Delaware and Raritan Canal, and the State Park Headquarters at the Princeton Nursery Lands on Mapleton Road, as well as the home of Kingston’s 300 year old church community, the Presbyterian Church on Main Street.
“Seeds, Nuts, & Whirlygigs” Kingston Greenways is hosting a 1.5 mile family-friendly Saturday afternoon stroll admiring fall colors and exploring methods that trees use to spread into new territories. Meet at the D&R Canal State Park Headquarters 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston at 3 PM. See kingstongreenways.org for more details
Nov 14 KHS Annual Meeting Tuesday Evening
Local author Markus McParland will speak on his new book about Kingston at 7:30 Tuesday Nov 14 at the Kingston Fire House on Heathcote Brook Road.
“Community Collection for Kingston, NJ” is a book compiled by Markus McParland for the benefit of the Kingston Historical Society.
We plan to have the talk available online as well as in person at the Kingston Fire House.
Nov 23 (new) Thanksgiving Day Hike
Join the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands for a mid-morning all-ages “ramble” around the Mapleton Preserve. Check fpnl.org for details as the day approaches (and photos from last year!)
Dec 3 Holiday Tree Lighting– Sunday
Come down to the Locktender’s House! The Kingston Historical Society, with help from the Kingston Womens Chorus will brighten the canal at our traditional tree lighting. Event will be at 4:30 PM. Dress warmly!
Taverns of Kingston, A Saturday Afternoon walk led by George Luck, Jr. on May 6, 2023
Half way between New York and Philadelphia, Kingston, New Jersey was a natural place for inns and taverns for travelers. The first inn/tavern was established by Henry Greenland in 1683 on the west side of the Millstone River; subsequent taverns/inns were all on the east side.
The two hour walk was led by lifetime Kingston resident (and KHS Vice President) George Luck, Jr. George is frequent speaker on Kingston history, both in character as a historical figure, or as himself.
We started at the Kingston Presbyterian Church parking lot (4565 NJ Route 27), then proceeded down Main Street (Route 27) toward the D&R Canal. On the way George points out the sites of the various former inns and taverns that once made Kingston an important and busy stopping place for travelers as well as a gathering place for locals from colonial times, through the Revolutionary War, the early republic, the Lincoln Highway and today.
The talk ends at Eno Terra Restaurant, formerly “The Kings Inn” and then “The Winepress” The video is 70 minutes. Video and Audio by Charlie Dieterich, Post-Production by Doug Miller.