Sussex County History Today: Famous Visitors

| 07 Jan 2023 | 02:51

Sussex County has seen some famous people over the years. For example, have you heard of George Washington, Thomas Edison or Babe Ruth?

During the past 250 years, some of the most noteworthy and recognizable people in the world not only have passed through the Sussex County but have appreciated our area as well.

Washington is considered the Father of the Country: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen” as he was described in a eulogy.

During the Revolutionary War, Gen. Washington came through the county as he traveled to his headquarters in Morristown; in Newburgh, N.Y.; and other places in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well.

With a home in Newton, Thomas Anderson acted an assistant deputy quartermaster general, providing management of logistics at the time with flour, chopped food, hemp and local iron.

Part of the Continental Army was said to have spent a season on the farm of Lewis Morris III, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His farm where the troops encamped is now home to Wallkill Valley High School.

A Daughters of the American Revolution marker nearby speaks of the return of the general’s watch fob from here to Morristown.

Our county provided resources for the Continental Army. Cattle for food, oxen for transport and horses for travel surely came from our area; the Marquis de La Fayette was known to be in the Sparta area on a mission to find forage for animals from Morristown.

Sussex County was appreciated because Washington and the troops could traverse with confidence that they were at least a day’s march from the British positions near New York City.

British Gen. John Burgoyne’s defeated army was marched through Hamburg to points south as prisoners. There’s even a story that Martha Washington came through here with her husband one time.

The famous unfinished painting of Washington “in the cloud” hung in every classroom in my school in Franklin, just above the front blackboard along with the American flag to which we would say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, so I certainly recognize his image.

Famous inventor

Thomas Edison is considered by many to be America’s foremost inventor, and he was also a businessman.

Inventor of the light bulb and the phonograph, he has impacted the world greatly through his innovative technology.

Edison came here looking for resources: iron in this case. Sussex County has significant iron deposits along with other minerals, such as zinc, in addition to the sand and gravel that is in high demand today.

Of all the places he looked, it was on the land of a distant relative, the Ogden family, that the needle on his meter swept quickly to indicate a strong ore body present.

He made a large investment in concentrating the ore along with more inventions for the mining industry.

Because of the discovery of more dense iron ore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as his large plant was coming to production, his business was greatly hurt and the longer result was that Detroit became the Motor City.

Sports hero

Babe Ruth is a cross-generational icon and considered one of the greatest sports heroes in the American culture. Many regard him as the greatest baseball figure of all time.

He came to the Sussex County to enjoy recreational activities, including fishing, golfing, bowling, hunting and plain old carousing. Stories of his adventures have been handed down in families.