THE WICK HOUSE
In 1746 Nathan Cooper, of Roxbury (Chester) township, and Henry Wick, “of Suffolk County, Long Island,” jointly bought 1,114 acres on the Passaic River known as the Dick Tract. Two years later, in 1748, Cooper released his half to Henry Wick, who by then was “of Morristown, New Jersey”. With later purchases the “Wick Tract” came to measure over 1,400 acres.
Settlers were attracted to the Morris County by good farmland, the virgin timber supply, and deposits of iron ore. Henry Wick’s main crop was trees which brought him his wealth.
He built his home between 1747 and 1750. Being a fairly prosperous family for the times, the Wick home was a fine, well constructed house with windows, comfortable and roomy. Reflecting their Long Island roots, the house was built in the New England “integral lean-to” style. This type of design may start as a simple rectangle with a fireplace and chimney across one wall. As a family grew, the house would be expanded on the other side of the chimney. Eventually, a second floor may be added. The Wick home is only one story with an attic. The chimney was probably replaced around 1848 as evidenced by that date on an oven door. The Wick House was restored to near original condition in 1934.
The house was known as Wick Hall because of its timber frame construction and its large size. Most homesteads in this area were constructed of logs, but the Wicks were well to do and their wood home reflected that prosperity. Wood was an unusual building material in pioneering days in Morris county. In the northern and eastern counties, stone was common while brick was the main building material near the Delaware River.
A corner of the Wick kitchen.
Morris County was among the few Revolutionary strongholds in New Jersey. Morristown provided Washington with an important defensive advantage. The country lying behind Long Hill and the Watchung Mountains was protected from sudden attack by both those rugged heights and broad swamps.
From here, with reasonable security, Washington could keep an eye on the British wintering in and around Manhattan Island. He was able to guard the roads connecting New England with the Revolutionary capital at Philadelphia. Washington could also move his troops swiftly to any threatened point from Morristown.
The Continental Army first came to Morristown, early in 1777. George Washington and the Continental Army spent almost half of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. For a good grounding in New Jersey’s role in the American Revolution, including our subject here, see The Revolutionary War in New Jersey.
The family opened their house as the quarters for Joseph Bloomfield during the winter of 1776-1777.
Captain Joseph Bloomfield
Capt. Bloomfield had been studying law at a New Jersey academy until he left school to join in the Revolutionary War. Unlike many of his aristocratic peers remaining loyal to the Crown, Joseph served in the Continental Army. He was listed as a Captain in the Third Battalion, First Establishment on February 9th, 1776. By November 28th of that year, he was listed as a Major in the Third Battalion, Second Establishment and was Judge Advocate for the Northern Army. During the winter of 1776-77, he quartered at the Wick House near Morristown, New Jersey. He served honorably with the New Jersey Brigade and other units until he resigned his post on October 29, 1778 to accept civil office. He eventually became the fourth governor of New Jersey.
JOCKEY HOLLOW 1779
The farms in the area grew various crops including wheat, corn, rye, oats, buckwheat, apples and flax. The Wick and Kimble farms, in the hills approximately four miles southwest of Morristown – called Jockey Hollow – included the windswept forest that became the “wintering ground” for the Continental Army, well over 10,000 soldiers. The area was a windswept forest, and, as it was an advantageous position, they were expected to encamp there for a long while. It was used by portions of the Continental Army for a total of 24 months during the American Revolution, including that famous winter of 1779-1780.
Washington ordered that his army build a “log-house city” there. But when soldiers first arrived in Jockey Hollow for their winter encampment, no log houses were yet built, and they had no choice but to sleep out in the open in the snow. Wagons with tents arrived a few days later than did the soldiers.
More than 600 acres of oak, walnut and chestnut were converted into lines of soldier huts that rose on the hillsides. Impeded by the weather, the work of felling the great forest and erecting hundreds of cabins went slowly. Almost all of December, the men slept under tents or with no covering at all. A number were not under roofs until February the following year. There were about 1,000 to 1,200 log structures in Jockey Hollow. Eight infantry brigades occupied the site for seven months.
General Washington had ordered that enlisted mens’ huts were to be built first. Therefore, officers’ huts were not built and completed until all the enlisted men were settled theirs. It took about two to three weeks for the soldiers to build their huts. The majority of the enlisted men in the Continental Army were poor, lower class men. A good number of these men were not even born in America. Army officers, on the other hand, were from middle to upper class society and were often land owners. The enlisted men moved into their huts around Christmas. The last of the officers didn’t have their huts until mid February. In all, there were about 1,000 to 1,200 log structures built in Jockey Hollow. Each measured 14 feet by 16 feet and housed 12 men.
At this link, you can read the story about the Log City.
Mary Cooper Wick and her daughter Temperance were the only family members living on the 1,400-acre farm during that winter of 1779-1780. Captain Wick was away, serving as a volunteer with a company of the Morris County cavalry, whose mission it was to protect Governor Livingston and the Privy Council.
The Wick House
Mr. Wick once again had officers staying in his house that winter. This time his guests were Major General Arthur St. Clair and two aides. Major General St. Clair was in charge of over two thousand Pennsylvania soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair
18th Century; engraved by E. Wellmore. Wellmore did this stipple engraving after the painting was completed by C.W. Peale. Ink on paper. H 16.2, W 11.0 cm. Morristown National Historical Park, Photo – MORR 2529.
General St. Clair and his aides rented two rooms to serve as their office, dining room and bedrooms.
Map table and bed at the Wick House
WHY WAS THE WICK HOUSE PRESERVED?
The Wick House could be just any house built in that time and be preserved or not. But what makes this moderately normal house for its time special, is the added interest that Captain Wick’s daughter gave to it.
Temperance Wick – nicknamed Temp, or Tempe – was born in 1758, the youngest child of Henry and Mary Cooper Wick. She probably had a lot of practice taking care of herself, sticking up for herself, in an age where the youngest sat on the end of the table, the farthest away from her parents and from the salt.
The 1779-1780 winter at Jockey Hollow was the worst winter in over 100 years. Military camp conditions were so deplorable that many soldiers stole regularly just to eat; many deserted or mutinied.
Mutiny - Better Site
General Wayne’s Bones
A Soldier’s Narrative
Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier; with Anecdotes of Incidents that Occurred within his Own Observation 1830. This first-hand account tells what a soldier’s life was like during the American Revolution. Martin was in Jockey Hollow during the 1779-1780 winter encampment. By Joseph Plumb Martin. Available at Morristown National Historical Park – MORR 9600.
On the 21st of December in 1780, Tempe’s father, Henry, died. Christmas came and went. At the end of January, 1781, Mrs. Wick was ill and sent Tempe to get her brother-in-law, Dr. Leddell, just down the road. She had ridden her horse. The doctor not being at home, after mounting up to leave, at a spot nearly in front of his house, several soldiers stopped her, demanding that she give up the animal. These were Pennsylvania soldiers under Captain Anthony Wayne who had mutinied. There was no way our spirited Tempe would let them get her beloved pet. After a sharp kick and a switch to its behind, they galloped away from the would-be thieves. No doubt her red cape was flying behind her as they raced home.
Tempe Wick’s Cape – 18th Century
This cape is documented as belonging to Tempe Wick. Wool. Length (not including hood) 125.7, Width (of neck) 61.7, Length (of hood) 45.7 cm. Morristown National Historical Park, Photo – MORR 3996.
She knew they would follow her. Without much time to spare, as soon as she reached home she put into action the ploy to hide her horse that would preserve her home, and the memory of herself, for more than 250 years.
Rather than put the horse to pasture or out in the barn, she laid down a feather bed on the floor of one of the bedrooms to muffle the sound of the horses hooves. There the horse remained hidden when, shortly thereafter, the soldiers came looking for him. They searched the barn and in the woods surrounding the home, never thinking that the horse could be inside the house. In one version of this story, the horse remained hidden in the home for about three days. One account says three weeks, but that is hardly likely.
Tempe, as all children do, grew up to marry. Having been raised with military men in the family, and she and her mother hosting distinguished officers for several years, it seems only natural that she should marry a military man. She did indeed marry Capt. William Tuttle. He was previously a private in Capt. Dickerson’s company; 3d Battalion, Second Establishment, of the Continental Army.
Did you know, Tempe, when you had that adventure with your horse, that you would be famous for centuries? I think some of your descendants especially would love to know about how brave you were.
Eventually Tempe and her sister, Phebe, became ancestresses in the Blachly family. In time, she grew old, and died on April 28th, 1822. Tempe Wick was my 5th great-grand aunt. If you are of the next generation, then she would be your 6th great-grand aunt.
THE WICK HOUSE IN OUR TIMES
In 1933, our ancestral home became a part of the Morristown National Historical Park, the nation’s first. The park consists of four non-contiguous units, Jockey Hollow, Fort Nonsense, The New Jersey Brigade and The Ford Mansion that served as George Washington’s military headquarters during his troops’ harsh winter encampments in Morristown. The park is administered by the National Park Service at Washington Place in Morristown, and is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Phone (973) 539-2016.
The Wick House is on the north side of the Tempe Wick Road, about 325 feet west of its intersection with the Jockey Hollow Road, about four miles southwest of Morristown, Morris County, New Jersey. The house is usually open from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm, depending on staff availability.
The Wick House
The interior of the building was furnished with period pieces following its restoration by the National Park Service in 1935.
Henry Wick Desk: 1770
Writing Desk owned by Henry Wick and purchased from the Tuttle family.
Walnut, brass. H 106.7, W 111.8 cm. Morristown National Historical Park, Photo – MORR 4633.
Efforts have also been made to recreate, as far as possible, the colonial atmosphere of the farm itself, as reflected in the nearby garden, barnyard, orchard, and open fields. The Morristown National Historical Park maintains the Wick House Herb Garden, an 18th century herb & vegetable garden.
The Wick House Garden
The Wick House
One of the artifacts on display at the Park is a bonnet that could have been worn by Tempe Wick or her mother.
18th Century Bonnet (Calash)
The “calash,” named for the folding top or hood of French carriages, was introduced to England from France in 1765. Taffeta, linen thread. L 40.6, W 30.5 cm. Morristown National Historical Park, Photo – MORR 4021a.
Sometimes special events are held at the Wick House, such as 18th century cooking demonstrations. Click on the link to read abut a unique event, a “Fireside Knitting Class” held in 2001.
BOOKS ABOUT TEMPE WICK
This Time, Tempe Wick? by Patricia Lee Gauch, Margot Tomes. Used copies of this book are available on Amazon.
WEBSITES FEATURING THE WICK HOUSE
Morristown National Historical Park
”The Great Story” – a fabulous synopsis of Jockey Hollow and Morristown in the American Revolution. New Jersey’s Great Northwest Skylands Internet Website.
The Revolutionary War in New Jersey – in North Jersey’s Internet Magazine. This is a great resource. Also contains a Wick House Photo Gallery.
NPS Museum Collections – American Revolutionary War
Morristown National Historical Park, Morris County, New Jersey
Morris County Visitors Center.
ABOUT THE PHOTOS
Some of the photos used in this webpage are undocumented as to their origin. They were obtained doing an image search on Google. Other photos came from the National Park Service website, and rt23.com website and so on. There are “alt” tags associated with these photos. As well, links have been provided to the various websites from which these photos have been taken. If you are the copyright holder to one of these pictures and object to my featuring your photo on this beautiful web page, please email me and give me permission to use your photo here and I will properly state that you have given me permission. If you object entirely to my showing your photograph on this webpage, then I will remove it and only link to your web page containing the photo.
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River-Hopkins and Related Families
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Presentation © 2007
Last Updated - 12 November 2010
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Keep it burning for our children.