On the Trail of Women’s History

New Jersey women have shaped the direction of the state and the nation. The New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail features 94 sites that help tell the story of their achievements.

American Red Cross founder Clara Barton.
American Red Cross founder Clara Barton.
Photo courtesy of the Ann Ronan Picture Library Heritage

From photographer Margaret Bourke-White to pioneering African-American businesswoman Sara Spencer Washington, New Jersey women have shaped the direction of the state and the nation. The New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail features 94 sites that help tell the story of their achievements. Here, in recognition of Women’s History Month, are some stops (from north to south) that are open to the public.

• Theodosia Bartow Prevost Burr opened the Hermitage, her Ho-Ho-Kus home, to Colonial officers during the Revolutionary War. After the 1781 death of her husband, James, she married future vice president Aaron Burr at the Hermitage (335 North Franklin Turnpike).

• Maria Botto’s home in Haledon was a meeting place for workers during the 1913 Paterson silk strike. Labor leaders Upton Sinclair and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn spoke to workers from the second-floor balcony. The home, which features Botto’s sewing machine, is now the American Labor Museum (83 Norwood Street).

• Martha Brookes Hutcheson, one of the nation’s first women landscape architects, made Merchiston Farm/Bamboo Brook into an appealing attraction, with a blend of natural and classic landscape design. Known as Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center, it is open for self-guided tours (170 Longview Road, Far Hills).

• Cora Hartshorn’s interest in the state’s vegetation and wildlife shaped her life. She created an arboretum in Short Hills, which she bequeathed to Millburn Township upon her death in 1958. It’s now the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary (324 Forest Drive South).

• Ann Cooper Whitall refused to evacuate her home during the Revolutionary War Battle of Red Bank on October 22, 1777, even after a cannonball smashed through a wall. Americans prevailed in the battle, after which Whitall provided medical attention for wounded soldiers in her home, earning her the nickname the Heroine of Red Bank. Whitall’s home at Red Bank Battlefield Park features an original desk belonging to her family (Gloucester County).

• Mary Hays McCauley, also known as Molly Pitcher, traveled with her husband while he served in the artillery during the Revolutionary War. At the Battle of Monmouth, she assisted his gun crew by carrying water and standing in for her husband when he collapsed from heat exhaustion. The site is now Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Manalapan.

• Betsey Stockton began life as a slave. After gaining her freedom, she served as a missionary and teacher in Hawaii and Canada and helped found the First Presbyterian Church of Colour in Princeton in 1837. Now known as Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, the building features a stained-glass depiction of Stockton (124 Witherspoon Street).

• Beulah Oliphant made history by preserving history. When the Old Barracks in Trenton went up for sale in 1899, she organized the Daughters of the American Revolution to raise funds to buy and save the building that played a role in the Battle of Trenton. The museum houses her portrait (101 Barrack Street).

• Before founding the American Red Cross, Clara Barton made her mark as an educator. In 1852, she started the state’s first free public school in Bordentown City. Her original one-room schoolhouse is now the home of the Bordentown Historical Society and features photos of Barton (302 Farnsworth Avenue).

• Pioneering feminist Alice Paul served in the women’s suffrage movement that led to the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Paul worked tirelessly for the Equal Rights Amendment until her death in 1977. Paulsdale, her residence in Mount Laurel, is the home of the Alice Paul Institute and contains a library with Paul’s writings (128 Hooten Road).

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