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Special Exhibits Morris Plains Museum   


1664 – 2014

Dan Myers and Larry Everitt at exhibit opening
Morris Plains Town Historian Dan Myers with museum volunteer Larry Everitt at the entrance to the exhibit to celebrate the 350th Anniversary of the State of New Jersey.

The new exhibit area includes something for everyone! There is detailed information on:

Lenni Lenape Indians - As part of the Delaware Indian Tribes, the Lenni Lenape Indians were first to settle in the Morris Plains area. They called themselves Lenni-Lenape, which means "Original People" or "Common People."

Early Explorers - European contact with New Jersey began with the exploration of the Jersey Shore by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. In 1609, Henry Hudson was chosen by merchants of the Dutch East India Company in the Netherlands to find an easterly passage to Asia. In September, Hudson began a ten-day journey up what is now known as the Hudson River. Cornelius Mey (Cape May), the Dutch Explorer, named many of the rivers and creeks in 1623.

Original Charter from 1664 - New Jersey was so named in 1664 at the time of its conquest by the English from the Dutch, in honor of Sir George Carteret, who had been governor of the Isle of Jersey in the British Channel.

Carteret and Berkley - After 1664, New Jersey was divided into East Jersey and West Jersey, two distinct provinces of the proprietary colony. In March of that year, Charles II conveyed the whole territory to his brother, the Duke of York, who in July sold the tract called New Jersey to George Carteret, in charge of the east, and John Berkley, in charge of the west.

Lewis Morris - Lewis Morris (15 October 1671 – 21 May 1746) was appointed acting governor of New York in 1731. In 1738, New Jersey petitioned the crown for a distinct administration from New York, and Lewis Morris served as Governor of New Jersey until his death.

Governor Lewis Morris

The English Settlers - Robert Treat (Robert Treat Hotel in Newark) led a group of settlers to the area. While it is not certain, it was said by many that Thomas Pierson first settled in the area we now know as Morris Plains in 1685. Not long afterward, the Trowbridge, Losey, and Raynor families moved to the area. In 1726, Jonathan Stiles settled here, and ten years later, Timothy Peck built a home and forge.

Founding Families of Morris Plains - Many families have long been associated with Morris Plains. Several of these prominent families include Fairchild, Hathaway, Godden, Byrum, Peer, and Morgan. Other names associated with the early history of Morris Plains include the Gregory, Moore, Douglas, Beers, Tuttle, Canfield, Tunis, Colby, Vail, and Ayres families. Besides detailed genealogical charts, there are also many photographs, maps, and artifacts from these important families.

Lindabury Farmhouse
The Lindabury Farmhouse - 1885.

Historical Miniatures - Eight historic miniature scenes (including a dollhouse) that represent various early time frames are on display. They include a turn-of-the-century doctor’s office, a colonial wig shop, a prairie home (with spinning wheel, tiny carved toys, and hand-made pottery), a kitchen from the 1920’s, and Benjamin Franklin’s print shop. All are historically correct.

wig shop
Colonial Era Wig Shop.

Late 1800s Prairie House
Late-1800’s Prairie House.

Additionally, there is an:

Interactive Play Area for Children – Highlighting the many games that children played in colonial days, this play area includes the early versions of marbles, jacks, Jacob’s ladders, Corn Husk dolls, Wirly-Gigs, Ring Toss Game, and much more. These games were used in colonial times to help children with their motor skills so that they could assist with chores such as collecting apples, eggs, and firewood.

interactive play area
Ronnie Kelly, Museum Association President, in front on the Children’s “Play vs. Chores” area set up at the museum. Next to her, 8-year-old Ryan Myers tries some of the toys, while Association member Beverly Rongo practices her alphabet writing on a slate board.