Friday, April 29, 2016

Widow White's Tavern

Site of Widow White's Tavern 
South Finley Ave. and Colonial Dr.
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

On December 13, 1776, Major General Charles Lee left forces under his command in New Jersey to allegedly pursue a sexual liaison with a prostitute or Widow White herself at Widow White's Tavern in Basking Ridge, NJ. Lee was second in command of the Continental Army, and had previously served in the British and Polish armies. Lee was an experienced officer who was a veteran of the Seven Years' War, having fought in both North America and Europe. During his time in North America, Lee became an adopted member of the Mohawk Tribe through his marriage to a Mohawk woman. Lee was also famous for his temper, and was known for his rivalry with his Commander-in-Chief George Washington during the American Revolution.

The tavern, which was located several miles away from Lee's forces, was owned by Mary Brown White, who was the widow of the Ebenezer White. Ebenezer had died prior to 1776. Lee's presence at the tavern was reported to the British Army by local Loyalists. Lee and his minimal guard were captured by soldiers of the British 16th Queen's Light Dragoons under Banastre Tarleton. Lee was escorted out of the tavern in his nightdress. Lee was held prisoner by the British in New York City until May 1778, when he was exchanged for British General Richard Prescott. Lee rejoined the Continental Army at Valley Forge. Lee is said to have enjoyed his captivity. While in captivity, he enjoyed luxurious accommodations and even drew up a battle plan for the British to defeat the Continental Army.

Lee returned to the Continental Army just in time for the June 28, 1778 Battle of Monmouth. His actual actions during this battle are controversial to this day. Some historians claim that he led an ill-advised retreat against the British that almost cost the Continentals the battle. Regardless of his actual actions at Monmouth, Lee remained at odds with Washington. This conflict eventually led to Lee being relieved and dismissed from the Army by Congress. Lee died on October 2, 1782, while visiting Philadelphia. He is buried at Christ Episcopal Church and Churchyard in Philadelphia.

Below are two links with more information on Charles Lee and Widow White's Tavern, along with some photos I took during my recent visit to the marker:


Friday, April 22, 2016

Upcoming Event - Wallace Matthews Interview

The Matt Ward History Experience will interview Wallace Matthews on May 7, 2016. This interview will be part of an upcoming episode of the blog's podcast. Wallace Matthews is a sports journalist from New York, who has covered New York sports and boxing since 1983. Wallace is currently the Yankees beat writer for

If you have any questions that you would like answered by Wallace, please post them in the comments of this blog entry, send them to me via Twitter @RevWarBuff23 or via Facebook -

For more information on Wallace Matthews, please visit the following websites:

Wallace Matthews Twitter - @ESPNNYYankees


(Photo - Wallace Matthews Twitter)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Colonel Lawrence Allen House

Colonel Lawrence Allen House
39 S. Main St.
Marshall, NC 28753

The Colonel Lawrence Allen House is located in historic downtown Marshall, North Carolina. The house was built in 1849, and is the oldest building on Main Street. The home was built by Colonel Lawrence Allen who served as the first Clerk of Court for Marshall. Allen would go on to serve as an officer in the Confederate Army. He was later involved in the Shelton Laurel Massacre on January 18, 1863 in which 13 accused Union sympathizers were executed in Shelton Laurel, NC.

The home stands as a reminder of the divided loyalties of the residents of western North Carolina leading up to the American Civil War. A Civil War Trails marker out front of the house discusses an incident that occurred around and in the home in the early days of the war. The marker reads:

On May 13, 1861, voters gathered here in Marshall, the Madison County seat, to elect a delegate for the Secession Convention to be held in Raleigh. The citizens were divided in their loyalties. Sheriff Ransom P. Merrill and others were later described as “husawing for Jeff Davis & the confederacy,” while men of different opinions were shouting for “Washington and the Union.” One witness later noted that “a good Deel of Liquor had been drank that day.” When a dispute broke out between some Unionists and the sheriff, Merrill drew his pistol and shot and wounded Elisha Tweed, Elisha’s father and former clerk of the superior court, then shot Merrill with a double-barreled shotgun and killed him. The Tweeds later joined the 4th Tennessee Infantry (U.S.), but Neely died of fever in 1862. The voters elected secessionist J. A. McDowell to the state convention.

The local “war within a war” had escalated in the mountains by January 1863, when Unionists from the county’s Shelton Laurel community were deprived of salt. A band of 50 or 60 Union soldiers and civilians raided Marshall, taking salt and other provisions and wounding Confederate Capt. John Peek. The raiders also ransacked the house in front of you, the home of Col. Lawrence M. Allen, 64th North Carolina Infantry. Two of Allen’s children, who were lying in the house desperately ill at the time, afterward died.

Confederate troops marched on Shelton Laurel to “put down the insurrection” and recover property taken from Marshall. Meeting resistance, the Confederates summarily executed at least 13 prisoners, men and boys, in what became known as the “Shelton Laurel Massacre.”

Below are a few links with more information on the Colonel Lawrence Allen House and the town of Marshall, along with some photos that I took during my 2011 visit to the hometown of my Ward ancestors:


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Violet Bank

Violet Bank 
326 Royal Oak Ave.
Colonial Heights, VA 23834

The land upon which Violet Bank sits was obtained by Thomas Shore in 1777. The first home on the property was built in 1778. During the American Revolution, the house and land served as the headquarters of the Marquis de Lafayette at the beginning of the 1781 summer campaign in the American South. The home was also witness to some of the military actions associated with the April 25, 1781 Battle of Blandford or Battle of Petersburg. The 1781 summer campaign eventually resulted in the defeat of the British army under Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown.

The original home on the property was destroyed by fire in 1810. The current home was built in 1815 by Thomas Shore's widow, Jane Grey, and her second husband. Violet Bank served as General Robert E. Lee's headquarters from June 8, 1864 to November 1, 1864. On July 30, 1864, Lee received word at Violet Bank that Union troops had detonated 8,000 pounds of explosives under Confederate positions in Petersburg. This action initiated the Battle of the Crater.

Below are the links to three websites with more information on Violet Bank, as well as some photos that I took during my 2009 visit:


Sunday, April 3, 2016

International Boxing Hall of Fame

International Boxing Hall of Fame 
360 N Peterboro St.
Canastota, NY 13032

In 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in Canastota, New York. This trip was one of my favorite trips to date. The IBHOF includes plaques dedicated to inductees as well as a large collection of relics from the rich history of the sweet science. Each June, the IBHOF honors a new class of inductees from across the boxing world. Hall of Fame weekends are a great time to interact with boxers and boxing personalities from both past and present. If you are a sports history fan and have not had the opportunity to visit the IBHOF, I highly recommend you do so!

Below are a few of my favorite photos that I took during my visit, along with a link to the IBHOF website:


Friday, April 1, 2016

John Hart's Grave

John Hart's Grave
Hopewell Old School Baptist Meeting House Cemetery 
West Broad St. and Mercer St.
Hopewell, NJ 08525

John Hart was a farmer, businessman, public official and politician from New Jersey who signed the Declaration of Independence. The actual year of John Hart's birth is unknown. However, biographers often put it in the year of 1713 in Hopewell, New Jersey. Hart was a lifelong resident of Hopewell, who was elected as one of five New Jersey delegates to the Second Continental Congress in June 1776. Hart, a strong supporter of independence, was the thirteenth delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence.

In December 1776, Hart and his family were forced to flee from their home in Hopewell in order to avoid British and Hessian raids in the area. Hart himself hid in the woods, caves and in the Sourwood mountains. Hart returned to his home after British and Hessian forces withdrew from the area following their defeats at Trenton and Princeton. In June 1778, Washington and 12,000 men from his army camped on John Hart's farm in Hopewell. The army left on June 24th, and four days later fought the British to a draw at the Battle of Monmouth.

John Hart died of kidney stones on May 11, 1779. John Hart died in debt and most of his property was sold to repay his debts. John Hart and his wife Deborah are interred at the Hopewell Old School Baptist Meeting House Cemetery. The land upon which the church and cemetery was built was donated to the Baptists by Hart in 1747. The obelisk marking John Hart’s Grave has the date of John Hart’s death as 1780, but most biographers and the NJ Gazette say that he died on May 11, 1779.

Below are two links with more information on John Hart, along with some photos that I took of his grave site: