The Beer Connection

Ballantine Brewery, Newark NJ, 1880-1890

Ballantine Brewery, Newark NJ, 1880-1890

I was told that the earliest Pitney home on this site was built in 1722.  But what I see is a large Federalist residence with Victorian detailing.  WRoberta_Ballantine_Pitneyhat’s the story?  How did this homestead grow from its Colonial roots to the nearly 12,000 sq. ft. Pitney Farm mansion of today?

It turns out that one of the more exotic pieces in the puzzle was the Scotsman, Peter Ballantine, who started his brewery in Newark in 1840.  His granddaughter, Roberta Ballantine, married J.O.H. Pitney in 1890 and they moved back to Pitney Farm in 1925,  expanding the main homestead from its 1826 footprint, which had added to the original 1722 footprint.

As someone who is intrigued by how houses grow, I trudged around the outside of the home last Sunday through the snow to get the feel of the additions from the outside, the huge Music Room, the big kitchen. Now I want to go inside and see if I can figure out which rooms are from the original 1722 structure, what was added next.


The Boy Who Didn’t Come Home from War

Window Writing

Wounded in the Battle of Williamsburg – May 5, 1862

Joseph P. Watkins Jr

Joseph P. Watkins Jr

I thought at first it was a dirty smudge on the window glass.  But when I went up close, I saw it was writing — delicate, almost calligraphy.  Deciphering the words was like a puzzle, but it got easier as I got used to the handwriting:  “Corporal J.S. Watkins, Company K-7th Regiment NJV. Wounded at the Battle of Willamsburg, May 5, 1862. Died May 31, 1862 at Fortress Monroe, VA”

Clearly it had to do with a Civil War soldier.  Who had written it?  Why on a window? The answers were sobering — a grieving mother, learning of her young son’s death, slowly scratching this small epitaph on a window that would be seen every day by family and friends down through the decades. The young man’s life was cut short in service to his country. 19 years old. His memory lives on in this window 150 years later.

Thanksgiving Day 1925

“After luncheon and a sip of applejack produced on the farm over fifty years ago, the host welcomed guests to the restored mansion house, recalled some of the historical incidents above set forth, and expressed the hope that in these venerable surroundings and antique fittings the guests might imagine the Mahlon Pitney of one hundred years ago returned to enjoy the warmth of the hot air furnace, listening over the radio to the score of the Army-Navy game, or strolling to the barn to watch the cows milked by electric driven machinery, dashing in his motor [car] over paved roads to the movies at Morristown or telephoning to the doctor for something to relieve his cough. He also hoped that all the guests in the years to come would feel at home in the ancestral mansion and enjoy the reminders of their forebears and their life here in years gone by. ”

-J.O.H. Pitney

Pitney Women: 1876

Pitney Women 1876

Pitney Women 1876

Lucetta Cooper Pitney was the daughter of Henry Cooper of Chester, NJ, and the wife of Mahlon Pitney II.  She lived on the farm until her husband’s death in 1863.  The farm was willed to her son, Henry Cooper Pitney.

Sarah Louisa Halsted Pitney was the wife of Henry Cooper Pitney.  They lived in Morristown where Henry had his law practice and visited the farm weekly to oversee the work of the resident farmers, the operation of the old cider mill on the premises, and the iron forge on Mendham Mountain.

Sarah Pitney Johnson was the daughter of Lucetta Cooper Pitney, sister of Henry Cooper Pitney, and mother of Lucetta Pitney Johnson.