Some Tales of Horseneck during the Revolution

Aaron Kitchell, Statesman & Friend of George Washington

From Kitchell Family Genealogy by Margaret Ellen Kitchell Whallon, 1932:

Aaron Kitchel, cousin of Daniel Kitchel who came to Cincinnati in 1788, was one of the most notable members of the family. He was a U.S. Senator from New Jersey and a warm friend and counselor of General George Washington, on his staff and was one of his pall bearers. He is buried in the Churchyard Cemetery at Hanover, New Jersey. For 36 years he was a member of the state legislator, the national congress and the senate, on the commission of forfeited estates of Tories and on the commission that established the Northwest territory. He was the son of Joseph.


The Crane Family Mansion in Cranetown was once
used by Gen. George Washington as his headquarters

From The Genealogy of the Crane Family Vol. II by Ellery Bicknell Crane, 1900:

WILLIAM CRANE-4, (Nathaniel-3, Azariah-2, Jasper-1), married 1st, _____ Wheeler, of Newark; 2d, Mary (or Mercy) _____. He resided in that part of Newark called for many years Cranetown, then West Bloomfield, now Mont Clair, NJ, and was a subscriber for the purpose of hiring a minister to preach the Gospel there. He was overseer of the poor from 1753 to 1756 inclusive, and of highways from 1760 to 1764; freeholder, 1767. He may have inherited property here from his father, and possibly succeeded to the home estate; of that, however, we are not certain, but the notable Crane mansion occupied by him or his family during the period of the war of the Revolution, still standing at the junction of Valley road and Clairmont avenue, was his home, and occupied about three weeks by Gen. Washington as his headquarters, Gen. Lafayette being with him. The time of occupation doubtless being from the later week in October to about the middle of November, 1780. While those two great generals were making Mr. Crane's house their home, he with four if not five of his sons were performing soldiers' duties in the army of which they were the commanders. It is related by Rev. Oliver Crane, D.D., LL. D., that on the arrival of Gen. Washington at the house, Mercy Crane then in charge, and causing supper to be prepared, discovered she had no tea to serve, and becoming quite disturbed about it offered an apology to the General for the lack of what might seem to him an important feature of his repast. "Never mind, my good lady," replied His Excellency, "please have a crust of bread toasted and use it for tea, that is good enough for me." Mrs. Crane's anxiety was thus dispelled, and supper was served. Night came on, and the capacity of the house for beds was overtaxed, the lower back room selected by the two generals for their use, had been used for the dining-room, the deficiency of beds then was thereupon made known to the General, who rejoined, "But there is plenty of straw in the barn, is there not?" The straw was soon brought in and spread in one corner of the room, and the two famous generals retired to rest, wrapped in their army blankets, on that bundle of straw.


The British are Coming! (the Horseneck Version)

From The Genealogy of the Crane Family Vol. II by Ellery Bicknell Crane, 1900:

ZADOC CRANE-5, (William-4, Nathaniel-3, Azariah-2, Jasper-1), b. 1758; m.; no children; d. 1841. Gen. Washington had an old gray horse which was almost as well known as its rider. Zadoc Crane, one of the Revolutionary Fathers, took care of the old gray when Washington was at Cranetown, in New Jersey. While Zadoc took care of the horse, the family entertained Washington, and waited upon him with a finely Japanned server. This server, though the Japanning is all worn off, was brought to the Fair to exhibit in Bric-a-brac, by Mrs. Emma Fasshaber, whose father was Zadoc Crane's uncle. Those were times famous for having tried men's souls, and it was absolutely necessary to exercise the greatest care and vigilance. The oats fed to Washington's horse were kept concealed under a stack of hay, and every time Zadoc got a mess from under it he replaced the hay nicely, and after feeding, he carefully picked up every scattered straw for fear the British might nose the oats and "cabbage" them.

During the time Washington was occupying "Cranetown Gap," as he styled it, the alarm came that the British were about to make an attempt on the American lines in their somewhat insecure position, and desiring to be in readiness to meet such a movement should it be made, and not feeling at this critical moment that he had a man to spare from the ranks, he called for volunteers outside of those in the service to act as couriers to warn the minute-men living beyond the so called "first and second mountains," covering the region between the Passaic River and the second mountain, including Horseneck, Pine Brook, Swinefield, etc. Zadoc, a son of William, who had been lame from boyhood, offered to assume the difficult and perilous undertaking. Although lame, on leg being shorter than the other, was well able to ride on horseback, and soon appeared mounted on his own spirited horse, and armed with a heavy cutlass, this being his only weapon; just as the sun was disappearing behind the mountains, under special orders from the General, he set out on his important errand. It was a ride for the night, calling at every house and routing them from their slumbers. As the gray of the morning began to show itself, he was marching his men toward the Crane mansion, and just at daybreak drew up his squad in front of the doorstep, on which stood Gen. Washington for the purpose of inspecting them. "Well done, my man," was the salute of His Excellency. "Now come in and take a horn of whiskey, for you must need it."

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