Lock-Tender’s House display featured in local paper

US 1 newspaper and PrincetonInfo.com featured an article on the Kingston Lock and our current exhibition “Kingston’s Lock: History Preserved — Photos and Drawings from 1936 re-interpreted for the 21st Century”

The article is available online, or come visit the Kingston Lock-Tender’s House on weekends between 9 and 5.


Video of Spring Talk now online!

The Kingston Historical Society celebrated the centennial of the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 with Chief George Luck Jr. (retired) speaking at the firehouse and via Zoom.

A video of the May 14, 2024 presentation, with a description of the program, is now available HERE

Our streaming video file is hosted on Archive.org, a non-profit repository for community videos. Consider donating a few dollars to them!

The KHSNJ on-line archive (archive.khsnj.org) also has items related to the 100th anniversary, view that collection HERE

100 Years of Volunteers-Opens

A new display “100 Years of Volunteers-The Kingston Volunteer Fire Co.” is now up in the Lock-Tender’s House. On the left the display shows a section from the 1924 KVFC Certificate of Incorporation. The rest of the display is divided into the three “objects for which the corporation is formed:”

  • …to Reduce the Fire Hazard in the Vicinity of Kingston,
  • …to Promote Good Fellowship Among its Members,
  • …to Forward the General Welfare of the Community.
Display board of 100 Years of Volunteers is viewed by a man pointing out one face in a photo
Viewing the Display in the Lock-Tender’s House

The display is in support of the KHS spring talk “100 Years of the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company” A talk by George Luck Jr. to be held at the Kingston Fire House on May 14th at 7:30 PM

For more information on the May 14th talk, go to the registration page HERE

To view the display, visit the Kingston Lock on the Delaware and Raritan Canal on weekends between 10 AM and 5 PM.

This Display celebrates the members of the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company No. 1. May the images on display here remind us of the foresight of those who formed the Fire Company one hundred years ago, and all who have kept our village safe.

Newspaper articles and photographs are from the archives of the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company and the Kingston Historical Society, selected and arranged by Charlie Dieterich and George Luck, Jr. Assembled by the KHS Archivists. May, 2024

Open House Weekend a Success

April 6 and 7, 2024 was opening weekend for displays at the Kingston Lock-Tender’s House. Several dozen folks came through our expanded display space — from local historians to joggers taking a break from their canal run.

Society president, Robert von Zumbusch demonstrated how the Kingston canal lock worked and how the swing bridge, just downstream of the lock, could be swung away from the canal to allow boats to travel through. Both the lock and swing bridge have been removed from the D&R canal.

Charlie Dieterich and Peter Shell, who assembled the new display “Kingston’s Lock: History Preserved” stand in front of the large panel.

In addition to the new display, two continuing displays drew attention. One concentrated on Inns and Taverns of Kingston and the other on Main Street Kingston.

This weekend was also the first chance for visitors to see the North Room, the Lock-Tender’s living room. Recently renovated, it includes a few items including a large desk built in Kingston by Mr. Moor, who later became the Lock-Tender.

The Lock-Tender’s House will be open weekends from 10-5 until the end of October, and 10-4 in November, 2024.

New Exhibit coming April 6, 2024

The Kingston Lock-Tender’s House display space opens for the the season on April 6 with an open house. Volunteers are working on this year’s displays as well as preparing a second display room.

Here are a couple of photos:

Here is a mock up for a photo shoot showing the lower, miter gate of the Kingston Lock. These “miter gates” were removed in 1945 when the canal was converted to water supply. The upper gate, which was a “drop gate,” was sealed with a concrete barrier containing water flow control valves.

Below is a photograph from the 1936 National Park Service’s “Historic American Buildings Survey” HABS of the Kingston NJ Lock on the D & R Canal (called “Heathcote” by the Library of Congress.)

The goal of the display is to relate structures in the 21st Century canal park to their appearance in the 19th and 20th century, when the canal was in operation.

Open house will be 10 AM to 5 PM at the Kingston lock. Free and open to the public.


Survey Photographs from Nov. 1936 Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator, and Canvass White. Delaware & Raritan Canal, Drawbridge, Lock & Tollhouse, Delaware & Raritan Canal, Heathcote, Middlesex County, NJ. www.loc.gov/item/nj0579/

Press Release:

Kingston Historical Society Open House celebrates new exhibit: “Kingston’s Lock – History Preserved”

Saturday and Sunday April 6 and 7, 10 am – 5 pm

Kingston LockTender’s House on the D&R Canal just off Route 27, Kingston, New Jersey
(GPS address: 39 Old Lincoln Highway, Princeton NJ, 08540)

As part of its celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the D&R Canal State Park and the D&R Canal Commission, the Kingston Historical Society’s first exhibit is a new display: “Kingston’s Lock: History Preserved–Photos and Drawings from 1936 re-interpreted for the 21st Century,” which celebrates the preservation of drawings and photographs of canal structures created during the Great Depression, making these formal drawings accessible to modern viewers. During the Open House, both display rooms will be open. Members of the Society will demonstrate models of the Kingston Lock and Kingston’s former A-Frame bridge which carried road traffic across the canal. The program is free and all are welcome. https://www.khsnj.org/

The LockTender’s House will be open to the public on weekends and major holidays April through October from 10 am to 5 pm and in November from 10 am to 4 pm.

About the Canal: The village of Kingston served as the central port of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The canal and its feeder opened in 1834 connecting Pennsylvania coal fields with New York markets, as well as providing inland passage for pleasure boats and other commercial traffic.
In 1932 the canal ceased operation.

In 1934 the canal property reverted to the State of New Jersey. Fortunately, in 1936, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), now a program of the National Park Service, documented Kingston’s recently closed lock, bridge and canal buildings. The carefully prepared architectural drawings and photographs provide a snapshot of the now-closed canal. The Kingston Historical Society’s new display adds context to the reprinted drawings (originals housed in the Library of Congress) with additional photographs and text to help understand the survey.

Fifty years ago, in 1974, legislation was passed creating the D&R Canal Commission and the D&R Canal State Park. This assured historic preservation of structures for future generations. The Kingston Lock area is one of its most popular access points in the State Park.

About Kingston Historical Society: 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. The KHS has its headquarters in the Locktender’s House on the Delaware and Raritan Canal where volunteers maintain the original circa 1834 home of families who operated the Kingston canal lock and the adjacent canal bridge.

Attached photos:
1) Archive team member Peter Shell adjusts the model of the canal lock

2) Swing bridge model built by Paul Kayne (2001)

Contact: Charles Dieterich (Secretary, Kingston Historical Society)

Archiving… and you

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.

Copies of photos brought to Photo Night at the Kingston Firehouse on March 5, 6, 2011
Flour Sack from Kingston Roller Mills

Other items help us to remember our more recent history.

Glasses and mugs from community anniversaries (and the Main Street Coffee House)

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.

several photographs from the period were gathered as an archive “Item”

And this item is combined with several other items to create a “collection” related to the Kingston Canal Area: https://archive.khsnj.org/collections/show/16

So far we have created a number of collections which you are welcome to browse. https://archive.khsnj.org/collections/browse

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.

Holiday Tree Lighting- 2023

Photo by Glen McParland

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.

Photo by Charlie Dieterich
Photo by Charlie Dieterich

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

Photo by Glen McParland

The Historical Society provided cookies and hot chocolate, the assembled crowd provided magical power to light the tree for the holiday season.

Photo by Glen McParland

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

Photo by Glen McParland

Thanks to all who attended. See you next year!

Nov-Dec Events in Kingston 2023

November December (and beyond) Events

Kingston Book Talk / KHS Annual Meeting

Local author Markus McParland spoke on his NEW BOOK: “Community Collection for Kingston, NJ” at the Kingston Historical Society Annual Meeting

Markus McParland shows off his book

Video of this presentation is now available HERE

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


Saturday, Dec. 2: Craft Show at Firehouse

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.

UPDATE: See photos of the event HERE

Sunday, Dec. 10: (NEW) Kingston Women’s Chorus Holiday Concert!

“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

Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023: Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

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:

KHS participates in Scavenger Hunt

Page with words "The Locktender's House 39 Old LIncoln Highway, Kingston" and "Place label here" with old photograph of the house and canal lock.
Excerpt from the “Passport” showing Kingston Locktender’s House on D & R Canal

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.

The Kingston Historical Society and Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands assisted in the “hunt” hosting three locations. Members of the Kingston Presbyterian Church, which celebrated its 300th birthday this year, opened their sanctuary as a scavenger hunt location.

Here are a few photos:

Trustee Sharon Hansen stamped passports on the Kingston Bridge, built in 1798– the first stop on the Scavenger Hunt
Rev. Dixon affixes a stamp to a Scavenger Hunt Passport at the Kingston Presbyterian Church
seated man, with balsa wood model of a canal lock
KHS President Robert von Zumbusch demonstrates how the lock works, at the Kingston Locktender’s House, a stop on the Scavenger Hunt
In a classroom, a woman stamps a passport.
Members of the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands opened their classroom at the Mapleton Preserve (The Princeton Nurseries) 145 Mapleton Road, Kingston. A stop on the Scavenger Hunt
A sign and two people sitting under a canopy popup.
The Titus Farm, in Kendall Park, NJ was the final stop on the 2023 Scavenger Hunt.

The Marker says:

The Titus Farm

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.