Martinsville, N. J. On Saturday, June 16, 2018, starting at 11:00am, a ceremony to commemorate the rediscovery and to dedicate Washington Rock at Middlebrook will be held at the rock adjacent to The Eagle’s Nest Museum at 791 Miller Lane in Martinsville, NJ Author and Historian Robert A. Mayers will speak on the history of the rock outcropping and tell the story of its rediscovery. Herbert Patullo, owner of the site, will show visitors the nearby rock.
Bob Mayers, a New Jersey author and historian, met Herb Patullo, a prominent Bound Brook community leader and history buff, when Bob had lost his way, stumbling through the thick woods atop the first Watchung ridge above Route 22 at Bridgewater at the forgotten site of Washington’s 1777 Revolutionary War Middlebrook Campground. Mayers was exploring sites to depict in his new book, “Revolutionary New Jersey: Forgotten Towns and Crossroads of the American Revolution,” released this month by the American History Press. During his research, he had discovered a 1785 British account that described a rocky lookout used by General George Washington at Middlebrook, now in Martinsville. Mayers then came across another description of this rock outcrop, written 45 years later in 1830, by Abraham Messier, pastor of the nearby First Church of Raritan.
Other than a few vague references to a lookout site somewhere along the ridge near Chimney Rock that were written about over the past 150 years Mayers found no other mention of a Washington Rock at the Middlebrook Encampment. This critical New Jersey historic location was lost in history. Digging deeper in the archives, the persistent Mayers finally came across an old journal written by American Historian, Benson Lossing that provided a mother lode of information.
When Lossing visited New Jersey in 1851, he asked to be taken to Washington Rock. At the time the local people took him from Bound Brook, up Vossellor Avenue, to the top of the ridge. There he found the lookout rock where the American Army camped from May 28, 1777, to July 2, 1777. Amazingly, Lossing then described this location in detail and even drew a sketch of the rocky ledge.
Mayers tramped through the woods and rang doorbells of the few nearby homes for several days trying to find this site. Almost ready to give up the search, he met Herb Patullo whose home and small museum, The Eagle’s Nest, are on this land. Patullo immediately recognized the rock when Mayers showed him Lossing’s sketch. It is only about 50 yards from The Eagle’s Nest Museum on Miller Lane in Martinsville. This place, with its the spectacular panoramic view of central New Jersey, was used as a lookout post by George Washington for about a month before moving north five miles to the well-known Washington Rock at Green Brook where he could better watch the British Army after it moved north from New Brunswick to Perth Amboy.
Revolutionary New Jersey is written to be enjoyed by average readers and not just devoted military history buffs. With 400 pages, it covers over 100 NJ towns and has more than 50 illustrations and maps. It is available from the publisher www.AmericanHistoryPress.com, online or at bookstores
Mayers’ books include “The Portrait of an American Family,” “The War Man,” “The Forgotten Revolution,” “Searching for Yankee Doodle,” and “Revolutionary New Jersey.”