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A Not-So-Sparkly Holiday Tradition

by Sara Weissman, MCHS Volunteer November 29, 2021 For many, the approaching holidays bring the continuing tradition of family silver gracing the dinner table. Even at Acorn Hall, the holidays typically mark the return of Crane-Hone family silver to the dining room. It also allows the opportunity to determine what care may be needed after […]


Who Were the Hones: The Engineer & the Southern Belle

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections November 10, 2021 Upon taking ownership following the death of his maternal aunt, Julia Crane Corning, in 1935, Augustus Crane Hone and his wife Alice spearheaded the only significant moderization of Acorn Hall. The Hones added electricity, a whole-home steam heat system, modern first floor kitchen (it had previously […]

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Morris County Did Its Bit

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections November 9, 2021 As the nation plunged headfirst into WWI in April 1917, millions of American men signed up to fight, including over 340 from Morristown. For the next 19 months, a nationwide call went out for those on the homefront to find ways to support the war effort. […]


To Lenapehoking and Beyond!

by Pat Goodfriend, Membership & Volunteer Coordinator November 2, 2021 Morris County Historical Society is fortunate to have in its collection various objects that represent Native American history. Donated to MCHS over the years by Morris County residents, they include artifacts that broaden the scope of our collection and its interpretation. These artifacts evoke a […]

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Ancestor Searching in Morris County

Sara Weissman, MCHS Volunteer and Reference Librarian (Ret., Morris County Library) October 26, 2021 So many resources – books, databases, indexes, maps, etc. – have gone online in the last 25 years that for better or for worse one can do a reasonable genealogy without ever getting up from the computer. In addition to national […]


What About the Horses?

by Amy Curry, Executive Director October 19, 2021 In the 19th century, nearly every country home, like Acorn Hall, had a place to stable/house their horses. While these structures varied based on property type and personal means, carriage houses were somewhat ubiquitous across the landscape. Today, however, few remain to tell a once-so-common story of […]

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A Different Type of Mobile Home

by Erin Feith, Research Assistant October 12, 2021 The phrase “moving house” historically was often very literal. Since the 1700s, the process of transporting an existing structure from one location to another was somewhat common. But while the general processes remained largely the same, the mechanisms and motivations involved in moving buildings have evolved. Today, […]

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She’s Ready for Her Close-Up, Mr. DeMille

By Anne Motto, Curator of Collections October 4, 2021 An amazing journey that began for MCHS in the Summer of 2020 is nearing the home stretch! St. Cecilia, the 1886 stained glass window commissioned by the Cranes of Acorn Hall in memory of their eldest daughter Mary Hone, has completed conservation. Every inch of the […]

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Who Were the Cranes: Gus Leads, Ben Follows

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections September 28, 2021 Top photo: The Cranes at Acorn Hall, c.1874. For the first generation of Cranes, see Who Were the Cranes: The Country Gentleman and the Doting Mother For Mr. and Mrs. Crane’s daughters, see Who Were the Cranes: Two Very Different Sisters Although the Crane’s younger children, […]

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Who Were the Cranes: Two Very Different Sisters

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections September 21, 2021 Top photo: The Cranes at Acorn Hall c.1874. For the first generation of Cranes see Who Were the Cranes: The Country Gentleman and the Doting Mother For Mr. and Mrs. Crane’s sons see Who Were the Cranes: Gus Leads, Ben Follows Augustus and Mary Crane of […]

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(Nearly) Untouched by the Passage of Time

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections September 14, 2021 When Acorn Hall was built for Dr. John P. Schermerhorn in 1853, it began its eventful 168-year life (and counting!) as a Georgian foursquare known as “Schermerhorn Place.” Constructed by Madison carpenter Ashbel Bruen and mason William G. Sayre in the spring of that year, it […]


The Phonograph of the Road

by Erin Feith, Research Assistant September 7, 2021 While all roads might lead to Rome, navigating them can still prove tricky. Today, Google Maps may eliminate some of the navigational guesswork involved in driving, but the idea of putting directions into the hands of drivers is not new. In the early twentieth century, the automobile […]

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Who Were the Cranes: The Country Gentleman & the Doting Mother

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections August 31, 2021 Top photo: The Cranes at Acorn Hall c.1874. To learn about the Crane’s daughters, Mary and Julia, check out Who Were the Cranes: Two Very Different Sisters and for their sons, Augustus Jr. and Benjamin, check out Who Were the Cranes: Gus Leads, Ben Follows. Today, […]

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Be Our Guest

by Erin Feith, Research Assistant August 24, 2021 The gates at Florham, the palatial Madison Avenue estate of Hamilton McKown and Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, began greeting guests nearly as soon as the couple took residence in 1897. Even before the opulent 110-room mansion was completed in 1899, an elaborate party was held in a large […]

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Victory Gardens: A Homegrown American Dream

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant August 17, 2021 Nestled between Randolph and Dover, lies Victory Gardens, Morris County’s smallest municipality. Originally established during WWII, it provided housing and fan easy commute for workers needed in Dover factories. At the time, nearby Picatinny Arsenal was the only military installation in the nation capable of producing larger […]


The Societal Olympics

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections August 10, 2021 By 1863, Mr. and Mrs. Crane of Acorn Hall had settled into life in Morristown relocating from New York City a few years prior. However, they never quite severed their connections with their old home, apparently preferring the prestige offered by New York City establishments, merchants, […]

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Come Along on a Magic Carpet Ride

by Pat Goodfriend, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator August 3, 2021 Visitors to Acorn Hall are often surprised to learn that most of the furnishings they will see are original to the Schermerhorn and Crane-Hone families who once lived in the house, and most unexpectedly, one of the most significant can be found under their feet! […]


You Again?!

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections July 27, 2021 Ever come cross something you’ve never seen before, but after learning about it, suddenly it’s everywhere? Well, that was the Hoffmans for the staff of MCHS. Before a few weeks ago, the name held little significance. Then, in preparation for the conservation of our one-horse open […]


Seventy-Five Years Serving You, Morris County

by Amy Curry, Executive Director July 20, 2021 Across the US in late 1945, and with the formal end of WWII just weeks before, civic and national pride were at a fever pitch. In consideration of all our country had been through and the sacrifices made by hundreds of thousands of civilians, it was well […]


Going Along for the Ride: A Trip to Bertrand Island Amusement Park

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant July 13, 2021 In 1910, the construction of a trolley line that connected Newark to Bertrand Island’s popular dance hall made numerous attractions even more accessible. No longer brought only by train, NJ entertainment and thrill seekers flocked to Morris County’s premier amusement park. One of Bertrand Island’s first draws […]


The Lasting Legacy of a Progressive

by Amy Curry, Executive Director July 6, 2021 Mary Crane Hone (1904-1990) of Acorn Hall had an impressive career by the time she came to Morristown in the late 1940s. Raised in Kentucky, she’d lived the life of a society debutante, as well as Broadway ingénue, leading lady, and producer, yet, Mary is most remembered […]

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I Wish I Could Tell You What I Know

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections June 29, 2021 Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. Today, when we look back at historical events, we do so with knowledge not afforded the individuals who lived through those moments. From at least September 1862 to December 1864, Eliza Howell and her niece Mary Darcy wrote letters to their […]


Frogs in Our Faucets: A Ribbetting History of Mountain Lakes, NJ

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant June 22, 2021 Mountain Lakes is known for its Arts and Crafts style homes, but the story of its shaky and colorful development has faded from memory. Conceived in 1908 by land surveyor Lewis Van Duyne and developer Herbert Hapgood, the area was promoted to New York city-dwellers, despite its […]

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Order Up! Milkweed for Monarchs

Pat Goodfriend, Volunteer & Membership Coordinator June 15, 2021 Land use on Acorn Hall’s six acres continues to evolve. In the 19th century, gentlemen farmer Augustus Crane planted fruit trees, grew garden vegetables, and even raised poultry and small animals on the grounds of his “country home.” Our property, now within an urban environment and […]


A Rose by Any Other Definition

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant June 8, 2021 Floriography, the use of flowers as a means of communication, became a popular method of covert flirtation and discreet communication in the late 18th century. Its popularity bloomed nearly 75 years later in the Victorian era when flower dictionaries that ascribed specific meanings to different flower varieties […]

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You Are an Enigma, Sir

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections June 1, 2021 Some of history’s 19th-century mysteries likely can’t be solved, but if there was any place with best odds of success, it’s Morristown. The sheer volume of Morristown’s historical records makes it possible to at times trace an individual’s movements year by year. Some records are relatively […]


Silk Gown for a Society Wedding

by Noël Grabow, Collections Assistant May 25, 2021 When plans for A Storied Past: History That Made Morris County were first discussed, prominent Morristonian Lucy Fitz Randolph’s elegant, opulent 1889 wedding gown by NYC dressmaker Mme. Lambele de St. Omer was one of the treasures we most wanted to be able to share. We also […]


A Great Victorian Cover-Up!

by Amy Curry, Executive Director May 18, 2021 Augustus and Mary Crane had a definite aesthetic for Acorn Hall. They invested in decorative arts, like John Crossley & Sons carpets, mahogany furniture with silk-blended fabric, and draperies with 3 foot repeating patterns. Miles of gessoed gold trim to offset these style choices. Nowhere in Acorn […]


Do 19-Year-Olds Often Get Hemorrhoids?

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections May 11, 2021 Rheumatism. Hemorrhoids. Pulmonary trouble. Loss of teeth. Joint stiffness. General debility. While the conditions attributed to the 134 men whose Civil War medical exemptions are held in MCHS’s archives read like those of geriatrics far past their prime, all were of draft age between 18 and […]

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Shippenport, Ever Heard of It?

by Amy Curry, Executive Director May 4, 2021 The Morris Canal is one of Morris County’s largest sources of industrial and engineering pride. In operation for nearly 100 years, the Canal was instrumental to the industrialization, settlement, and economic growth of all the communities it passed through, from Phillipsburg in the west to Jersey City […]

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The Little Red Schoolhouse – Florham Park’s Pride & Joy

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant April 27, 2021 In 1830, the residents of Columbia, now Florham Park, sought to improve their thriving farming and broom-making community by establishing a public school for the local children. Therefore, a small schoolhouse, Columbia School #5, was built on the corner of Columbia Turnpike and Ridgedale Avenue and dedicated […]


Look Out Bugs! We’re on Our Way!

by Pat Goodfriend, Volunteer & Membership Coordinator April 20, 2021 Acorn Hall’s native hardwood forest once seemed to fill the sky. The trees grew side by side, tall and straight with green leaves so thick in the summer there were no gaps. Entering the cool, dark woodlot under this nearly seamless canopy, the bright sun […]

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Say Cheeeeeeeeeese…!!!

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant April 13, 2021 Not since the advent of portraiture some 5000 years ago had a new means for capturing likeness been invented, until 1837 and the introduction of the daguerreotype. The first stable and commercially available photographic process, the daguerreotype not only offered people the opportunity to capture an exact […]


“Is It Alright If I Get Arrested, Dear?” -Mrs. Garrett Hobart IV

by Amy Curry, Executive Director April 6, 2021 Today, most intrepid travelers on State Route 287 would have a hard time imagining life, let alone the daily commute, without the road. But 287 isn’t an ancient roadway, it was installed as part of the expansion of the federal highway system in the 1960s and, while […]

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Ford’s Secret and a Revolutionary Discovery

by Amy Curry, Executive Director March 30, 2021 In 2018, MCHS and the Morris County Park Commission partnered on a grant for the development of New Jersey & National Register Nominations as well as an Archeological Management Plan for a small, unassuming spot along the Whippany River located just behind Acorn Hall. On that spot […]


Madison, the Rose City

by Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant March 23, 2021 Nicknamed “the Rose City” in the late 19th century, roses still hold a prominent place in Madison’s identity. Upon accessing the borough’s official website,, the letter “o” in Madison is replaced by a rose and accompanied by a photo of brilliant red roses. Though few vestiges […]


Lucille Hobbie: Our Local History in Images

Born in Boonton, renowned artist Lucille Hobbie (1915-2008) was noted for her depictions of local historic landmarks. Enjoy an assortment of prints from within MCHS’s collection that deftly capture some of Morris County’s most famous residences, churches, businesses, and public buildings. (top photo: Randolph Friends Meeting House)

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The Turnpike Era

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections March 9, 2021 The Turnpike Era dawned in the US in the early years of the 19th century. At the time, the average speed for stage coaches north of the Potomac River was a measly 4 mph. Constructing well-maintained turnpikes offered the potential benefit of lowering the cost of […]

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A Botanical Journal’s Place in Local History

by Pat Goodfriend, Membership & Volunteer Coordinator March 2, 2021 Tucked between volumes on landscapes and gardens, is a plain brown book in MCHS’s Research Library. Opening the cover of Apgar’s New Plant Analysis finds a rich botanical world that once existed in Morris County. Who documented 100 plant specimens for this historical resource? The […]

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Uncovering St. Cecilia’s Artistic History (One Stone at a Time)

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections February 23, 2021 Armed only with two names, an old photograph, and a brief 1886 news article, research into the artistic history of MCHS’s unsigned “St. Cecilia” window began in the summer of 2020. The local history had long been established (see The St. Cecilia Window), but who created […]


Don’t Be Fooled by Unassuming Packaging

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections February 16, 2021 This past spring, in a giant case of taking lemons to make lemonade, MCHS undertook a reorganization of our archives and library. Among the sea of boxes that screamed “open me!” from “Autographed Letters” to “Civil War Photographs, Exemptions, Court Martials”, two archival boxes simply marked […]

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From Chains to Plates: The Surveys, Maps, and Atlases of Morris County

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections February 9, 2021 Documentation of Morris County in maps and surveys evolved over time. Some of the oldest visual records were early surveys that delineated property lines and new routes for roads and canals. The Morris Turnpike*, New Jersey’s first toll road, was surveyed in 1802, the Parsippany & […]


Hair to Stay: A Look at Victorian Hair Art

By Kat Kurylko, Research Assistant February 2, 2021 Trends popularized by Queen Victoria often made their way across the Atlantic Ocean and were adopted as part of American cultural norms of the time. From tartan plaids to a white wedding dress, Queen Victoria’s style choices were very influential. One of the more common trends made […]


MCHS Anniversary Year: What It Means and What We Want to Accomplish

By Amy Curry, Executive Director January 26, 2021 This year, Morris County Historical Society (MCHS) will celebrate the 75th anniversary of our incorporation. A milestone naturally brings about reflection, pride, and enthusiasm. MCHS is preparing and positioning itself to celebrate the anniversary with a slew of new initiatives, programs, and achievements that even COVID-19 can’t […]

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Prohibition: Speakeasies, Stills, and Organized Crime

By MCHS Staff January 19, 2021 Much like the rest of the U.S., Morris County felt the effects of Prohibition following the ratification of the 18th amendment and passage of the Volstead Act in 1919. Restaurants and bars had to either change their stock or close their doors. Here, the production of alcohol, however, had […]

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In 2021, Morris County History Comes to You

By Anne Motto, Curator of Collections January 12, 2021 2021 is a landmark year for MCHS, representing both the 75th anniversary of our incorporation and the 50th anniversary of Mary Crane Hone’s donation of Acorn Hall. To celebrate these milestones, we’ll be highlighting Morris County’s vibrant history as told through the remarkable objects and images  […]

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Just Ad Animals: A History of Advertising with Animals

by Kat Kurylko, MCHS Research Assistant January 5, 2021 Cute dogs make for a great advertising logo, right? Victor Talking Machine Company (VTMC) must have thought so, too, when they made Nipper, a terrier from England, their mascot after seeing him in an 1898 painting titled “His Master’s Voice.” VTMC opened shop in 1901 in […]

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A Change of Air: A Brief History of Randolph’s Resort Past

by Kat Kurylko, MCHS Research Assistant December 2020 In the late 19th century, Randolph, as a resort destination, flourished as doctors from New York City and Philadelphia recommended the area for its healthy climate and clean air. To sustain the influx, early Jewish residents established boarding houses which transformed into hotels as demand increased. Many […]

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Taking the Waters: A Brief History of Lake Hopatcong’s Resort Past

by Kat Kurylko, MCHS Research Assistant December 2020 Attempting to escape noxious city air and dusty plough fields, many people reinvigorated themselves annually by visiting sea or lakeside resorts. As class distinctions grew, leisure travel expanded and, by 1850, over 9,000 miles of railroad had been laid primarily throughout the eastern U.S. Upscale hotels became […]

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Morris County Taverns

by Kat Kurylko, MCHS Research Assistant December 2020 Long recognized for distributing spirits and information in equal measure, taverns played an important role in the history of Morris County. Tavern-keepers were well respected members of their communities; their establishments not only offered shelter, but served as gathering places and municipal buildings for fledgling towns. Throughout […]