26 February 2015

The Residence

The Duke residence at Duke Farms.  Home to James B. Duke, and later his daughter Doris Duke.

Duke Residence 1915

Duke Residence 1940

Duke Residence 2015

25 February 2015

Backyard Critters

I was digging through the hard drive this week when I realized that hidden among the photos of family vacations, birthday parties, school concerts, etc. were various photos of backyard critters I had snapped over the years.  This must be the digital equivalent of "finishing up the roll".  The camera is out, the battery is charged, let's take a walk out the back door.

22 February 2015

Otto's Farm Park

I am not sure if this will help, but I have been advised to think warm thoughts.  

Otto's Farm Park is at the corner of Wertsville and Montgomery Roads.  These photos are from July 2014.

19 February 2015

1906 Duke Estate - in Color

These photos of Duke's Park are from a 1906 postcard-sized foldout folio.  They are gently hand colored.  Enjoy.

18 February 2015

Hillsborough Highwayman - 1911

Highwaymen - glamorized as "gentlemen of the road", immortalized as Robin Hood-types - but in reality the bane of the British traveler for more than two centuries.  By 1831, when the last robbery by the brutal outlaws was recorded, these "road agents" had been essentially banished from the English byways.

Goya's "Robbery of the Coach"
Not so in America, where the arrival of the first automobiles, slower and more dependent on the road than the typical coach of the day, presented the dastardly scoundrels with a new opportunity.  The problem was so great that by 1911 the Automobile Club of America was advertising a $1,000 reward payable "to any person causing the apprehension and conviction of any robber who held up and robbed a motorist on a public highway."  It wasn't long before a holdup caused them to make good on that offer - and it happened right here in Hillsborough.

Charles Dumas, the well known, and well-off, candy manufacturer and ice cream store proprietor of Somerville was taking Mrs. Dumas for a tour of the countryside around Hillsborough on the late afternoon of August 24,1911.  Around 8 pm, as they slowly made their way back towards Somerville, they passed through the beautifully landscaped Duke's Park, the home of tobacco and water power magnate James B. Duke.

Duke's Parkway circa 1906

At the end of Dukes Parkway, Dumas activated the headlights of his open roadster and made a left turn onto South Somerville Road.  Today, this section is part of Route 206, but before the highway was built, this was just a narrow two-lane road which continued north, crossed Dukes Parkway East, and became South Bridge Street.

As they approached the small wooden bridge crossing Duke's Brook, the headlights shone on a long plank stretched across the road, propped on a barrel at one end.  Dumas brought the auto to an abrupt halt.  He stepped from the car with the intention of removing the obstruction - obviously left from some earlier road work - and then continuing cautiously home.  But just as he stepped onto the roadster's running board, a shot rang out from the hedge and stone wall along the Duke estate.

1898 map showing Somerville and Hillsborough.
The spot on South Somerville Rd. where Charles Dumas and his wife
were held up is now seven lanes of Route 206!

As the highwayman burst forth from the hedge, Dumas realized that he had been shot clean through the forearm near the elbow.  Mrs. Dumas screamed and pleaded with her husband to give up his money, but Charles Dumas was having none of it.  He replied in anger, "I won't.  He shan't have it!"

"You're an obstinate cuss, Charley," said the robber as he shoved the revolver right in the face of the businessman.  "I want your money, and your watch."  Dumas was reluctant, especially since the watch had been a gift from his father, but the screaming and pleading of Mrs. Dumas made sense.

"Oh, give it to him Charley. For heaven's sake, let him have it.  He'll kill you otherwise!"
Dumas emptied his pockets of about $3 in change, smartly not making any indication he still had $50 in a wallet in his breast pocket, and reluctantly snapped the chain of his watch, handing that over as well.  He took a good look at the robber, who wore a red handkerchief over his nose and mouth, and had mud spread over the uncovered parts of his face in an attempt to make it seem that he was black.

The highwayman, still waving the revolver in the direction of Dumas, went around to the passenger side of the car, jumped up on the running board, roughly grabbed the arm of Mrs. Dumas and demanded her rings and jewelry.

New York Time Headline August 25, 1911

Another scream from his wife and Dumas had had enough.  He sprang around the front of the vehicle, ignoring the gun, and lashed out with his good right arm while at the same time landing a fierce kick to the miscreant's midsection.  As the highwayman tumbled backward off the running board, Dumas jumped into the driver's seat, gunned the engine of the still running roadster, and released the clutch crashing right through the plank and barrel and speeding north to Somerville.

The bandit fired twice more, both shots hitting the auto, one taking out a headlight, but Mr. and Mrs. Dumas escaped.  Despite losing a considerable amount of blood, Mr. Dumas was able to navigate to the home of Dr. Halstead on Grove St., where Somerset County Detective George Totten and Somerville policeman Julius Sauter were notified and motored south to begin a search.


It was Philadelphia pawn shop proprietor Reuben Cohen, Jr. who ended up claiming the Auto Club reward.  Police and pawn shops up and down the east coast were notified to look out for a gold watch bearing the initials C.M.D, and large placards announcing the reward were placed around Somerville and along the major roads leading north and south.  Less than 24 hours after the holdup, William Diamond walked into Cohen's Philadelphia shop with a desire to pawn the watch.  On the pretense of making a closer examination of the timepiece, whose initialed engraving could be seen to have been partially scratched out, Cohen headed to the back of his shop to call the police.

New York Time Headline August 26, 1911

Diamond scuffled with police as they arrived, firing three shots from his revolver, but surrendered soon enough.  Charles Dumas came down from Somerville and positively identified Diamond as the man who robbed him.  Diamond, who was an African-American, had rubbed dirt on his face pretending to be a white man disguised as a black man!  In the end, it was his voice - and possession of the watch, revolver, and a sneaker imprint left at the scene - that eventually got him sentenced to fifteen years in the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

In their January 6, 1912, Club Journal, the Automobile Club of America reported that, since this incident, "there have been few, if any, highway robberies reported of late."

15 February 2015

Cholesterol? Throw it on the Pile

The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is set to recommend that dietary cholesterol is no longer a "nutrient of concern". It turns out that the amount of cholesterol in your blood is not significantly influenced by the amount of cholesterol you consume, and cholesterol intake is not a risk factor for cardiac disease.  Just more egg on the face of the consensus experts, I guess.

It seems like a lot of science hasn't really been scientific for quite a while now - like maybe the last 100 years.  The late writer Michael Crichton wrote that when science and politics mix you get "consensus science".  And science has nothing to do with consensus. It's either correct or incorrect.  There is no voting.

So let's go through the list.

  • Eugenics
  • Nuclear Winter
  • Overpopulation Famine
  • The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
  • DDT ban
  • Secondhand tobacco smoke
  • Climate Change

There are more, but that should give you a start.  

It's pseudoscience based on terms that can't be defined for equations that can't be calculated leading to solutions that at best do nothing, and at worst cause more damage that can be properly anticipated until it's too late.

12 February 2015

Behind the "Scenes" at Duke's Park

Over the past couple of weeks I have included a number of images in my posts that are derived from 110 year old postcards of "Duke's Park" in Hillsborough.  Today I offer a handful of additional depictions of the grounds of what is known today as Duke Farms from a different series of 1905 postcards.

All of the cards come from my personal collection, I own a few dozen in all.  The clearest views of the J.B. Duke estate come form the very earliest postcards, from 1905 to around 1910.  After that, most of the publishers seem to have garishly hand-colored photos that were already somewhat degraded.

To be clear, none of the images in my posts are the unadulterated cards as they exist in my collection. I have been more interested lately in attempting to rediscover the underlying photograph within the postcard.  To that end, all of the images have been scanned and cropped and cleaned up on the computer.  Blemishes, scratches, rips, tears and extraneous writing have been mostly removed.

I have all of the originals safely in a binder on the shelf, and they make for interesting artifacts in themselves - including many century old postmarks and messages on the reverse.  Some day I may even get to posting the "flip sides".

But today, I am still on the hunt for more cards!

11 February 2015

Murder on the Mountain, 1925

More than a thousand mourners, and the otherwise curious, gathered April 26, 1925, at St. Bernard's Cemetery in Bridgewater for the burial of eleven-year-old stabbing victim Josephine Krysowaty. Most had just attended the funeral service at a packed St. Joseph's Church in Raritan and were waiting patiently under cool, cloudy afternoon skies.

27 April 1925 New York Daily News

Before long, the crowd parted as a dark sedan made its way to the gravesite.  Emerging from the car was the matron of the Somerset County Jail, the sheriff, and their inconsolable prisoner, Mrs. Ann Krysowaty.

The Krysowatys - mother, Ann, father, Theodore, their two teenage sons, William and Joseph, and little Josephine - operated a sawmill and general farm on their 60-acre property on the Sourland Mountain in Hillsborough Township.  On March 10, for reasons that are still unclear ninety years later, Mrs. Krysowaty abruptly abandoned her family - leaving the many household chores at their Zion Road home, as well as the care and feeding of the sawmill hands and farm laborers, to her young daughter.

The village of Neshanic looking north towards the Sourland Mountains,
circa 1900.

Thirty-year-old John Dorchuk was a Russian immigrant from New York who by 1925 had been working as a laborer on the Krysowaty farm for about two years.  Although he walked with a pronounced limp and was described as "demented", for most of that time he was a reliable hand. Then something changed.  By March he had begun to behave oddly, culminating in his refusal to work during inclement weather - something that could not be tolerated.  After a couple of weeks of this, Mr. Krysowaty had seen enough and ordered Dorchuk off the property.

25 June 1925 New York Daily News

At first, it was assumed that Dorchuk had either gone back to New York or had taken up residence with another family on the mountain.  But when the Krysowatys began to notice that fruit trees had been mutilated and farm equipment was vandalized, they knew the resentful Russian was still in the area, possibly seeking his revenge.

Josephine Krysowaty

By the fourth week of her mother's absence, Josephine had settled into a routine.  Up early to prepare breakfast for the family and hands, various chores around the house, then to school down in Neshanic.  After school, there were more chores, then dinner for all, and finally homework and bed. 

Newspaper headlines from April 1925

After school on April 9th, with her dad and most of the men out at the sawmill, her older brother William at work building a bridge down by the road, and fourteen-year-old brother Joseph busy driving a flock of ducks and geese back to their pens, Josephine went out to the barn to gather eggs. She was accosted by Dorchuk, who brandished a knife and dragged her by her hair into the woods. 

A view of the rugged Sourland Mountains circa 1905

Some newspapers later speculated that Dorchuk was enraged because the child refused his advances. In any case, defensive wounds on her arms were evidence that she put up quite a fight.  Slashes to her eyelids and about her body showed the extent to which she was tortured by the murderous fiend - but it was a stab in her side penetrating Josephine's lung that would prove to be the mortal wound.

This photo of Josephine Krysowaty in her hospital bed in Somerville
appears to show a smiling little girl. But when this photo appeared in the
New York Daily News on April 13, 1925, doctors doubted she would survive.

Joseph, returning from his chores, was the first to miss his sister.  He began a search and was alerted by her groans.  He ran to get his older brother, who gathered her up and sped to the hospital in Somerville.  On the way, a barely conscious Josephine named Dorchuk as her attacker.

12 April 1925 New York Daily News

Posses made up of Hillsborough locals and Somerset County police were already out scouring the mountain before nightfall.  They were joined after dark by 45 state troopers, who used flares to light up the rugged hillsides.  By the next day, New Jersey's top police dogs, Rollo and Bender, were on the trail, but heavy rain hampered their search by nightfall.  Three days after the attack, with hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the whole of the eastern end of the mountain, police, admitting that Dorchuk had likely escaped the area, expanded the search to New York City.

!3 April 1925 New York Daily News

Amazingly, reports began to come in from Hillsborough residents claiming that in the weeks leading up to the attack they had seen Dorchuk in New York - with Mrs. Krysowaty!  Even the Krysowatys older married daughter, Mary Wifzezuk, had to admit that her mother was the one who had initially hired Durchuk, was partial to him and took his side in any dispute.

27 April 1925 New York Daily News

Detectives finally caught up with Mrs. Krysowaty in New York on April 22nd, the day before Josephine succumbed to her wounds.  She was arrested as a material witness in the hope that she would lead them to Dorchuk. This, however, proved to be a dead end.

26 June 1925 New York Daily News

It was a circular sent out by Somerset County detective George Totten with a description of the assailant and the offer of a $500 reward that led to Dorchuk's capture. Totten knew Dorchuk's type and was confident that the killer would return to his old haunts and habits in the city. New York detectives Cronin and Cowley of the Fifth Street Station kept careful watch of the employment agencies on the lower east side for six weeks, looking for someone who matched Durchuk's description.

Newspaper headlines April - June 1925

Josephine Krysowaty's hospital bed interview with detectives was admitted into evidence at the two-day trial in December. Inexplicably, the jurors requested that mercy be shown to Dorchuk, and at that time the judge was compelled to comply with the request, sentencing the killer to life in prison instead of the electric chair.

It wasn't until Dorchuk first came up for parole in 1950 that newspapers used the word "rape" in their reporting of the case. He was released from prison in 1955 after having served thirty years but was returned the next year after having been arrested on an assault charge.

The Krysowaty home burned down in a fire in 1928.

10 February 2015

Hillsborough Content

What does the image below have to do with Hillsborough? 

Can you guess?

Here's a clue - it has something to do with this guy.  Do you know who he was?

Why yes, it's Wills Hill, the first Earl of Hillsborough, Secretary to the American Colonies from 1768 to 1772....and most importantly for us, Hillsborough Township's namesake.  This coat of arms is from 1789 when Hill was created the Marquess of Downshire.

Ten years earlier, Lord Hillsborough used a slightly different coat of arms on his personal letterhead, as shown below.  Check out that signature.  Pretty cool, even if he was the enemy.

05 February 2015

Trouble at the Farm

James B. Duke, the tobacco and power magnate and future father of philanthropist Doris Duke, generously opened the grounds of his Hillsborough, New Jersey estate to the public as soon as the first section of his 2,500-acre park was completed. Reporters who were given early access to "Duke's Park" marveled at the beauty of the gardens, lakes, and watercourses, while also pointing out the barren, torn-up, unfinished state of much of the grounds.  

Construction at "Duke's Park" circa 1909

Indeed, with between 300 and 400 laborers employed on the site, and the noise from dozens of horse-drawn wagons, steam shovels, and locomotives, it would have been impossible to miss the organized chaos of construction.  Lakes were excavated, hills were formed, trenches were dug to lay pipe to supply water to dozens of fountains.  All while early auto-trippers picnicked in the grass just over the rise.

21 April 1903 New York Evening World

In 1903, the second year of major construction, laborers were paid $1.25 per day for digging ditches, hauling stone, and planting hundreds of thousands of trees and shrubbery.  The problem was that was twenty-five cents less than the 1902 wage - and so they went on strike.

Road Graders at Duke's Park
 [Doris Duke Photograph Collection,
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.]

The New York Evening World reported on a particularly violent confrontation that took place between laborers and teamsters on April 21, 1903.  The disgruntled men, described by the newspaper as "Italian and Hungarian strikers", attempted to block wagon drivers as they crossed the Nevius Street Bridge from Raritan to Hillsborough.

Nevius Street Bridge looking north towards Raritan, circa 1912

After the first three wagons plowed their way across the bridge at a gallop, evading clubs and projectiles, the ire of the striking laborers was greatly aroused.  They briefly rushed in numbers to the north, Raritan, side of the bridge in an attempt to block any further trespass.  Hundreds of spectators were now on the scene, as well as law enforcement.

Seeing the police, the laborers retreated to the Hillsborough Township end of the bridge where they regrouped knowing that the Raritan Police, who only had jurisdiction in Bridgewater Township, would not follow.  

22 April 1903 Philadelphia Inquirer

The next five wagons were all turned back by the violent mob, despite drivers employing shovels to the heads of strikers as they tried to fight through.  In all, just four wagons made it through the gate of Duke's Farm that day.

It's interesting to note that in the next year, 1904, J.B. Duke decided to employ armed guards, with full power of arrest given to them by the Somerset County Sheriff, ostensibly to keep unruly park visitors from littering and picking the flowers.  Hmmm.

04 February 2015


Time for some unsolicited advice to politicians who have been caught up, or are about to be, in the current childhood vaccination debate.

  1. While it is perfectly fine to state what you have done with your own children, keep the debate centered around public policy.
  2. Define the public policy objective, which should be to maximize the number of children who are receiving timely vaccinations.
  3. Determine what has changed over the years to forestall, and in some constituencies roll-back, a program that has worked well for decades and was on the brink of eradicating some childhood diseases.
  4. Understand that some parents have a genuine fear of vaccination due to past personal experiences.
  5. Recognize that you need parents to willfully comply with what is essentially a voluntary program.

Loudmouth leaders and arrogant television talking-heads are not going to get anywhere by screaming to the masses, "vaccines are safe and effective!!!!!" That won't reach your target audience. Much has changed since baby-boom politicians were children.  There are more mandated and recommended vaccines, required at an earlier age, and given in new combinations.  

It was only a few years ago that New Jersey began requiring flu vaccine for children attending preschool.  Like it or not, this was a new mandate that may have actually driven some parents away from all vaccines!  How can a mandate like this drive your public policy objective?

Chris Christie and Rand Paul gave the most thoughtful responses to the vaccine question when they acknowledged that parents have some right in determining what is best for their children.  Unless government is planning to go door-to-door puncturing tykes against their parents' will, leaders need to connect with concerned parents and get them back on board by enacting new public vaccination policies that make sense.