Category: Area History

The Veterans Of The Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place

December 14, 2022

Photos and story by: Tom Robbins

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Barely visible among the leaves lies an American flag in front of a tombstone with the inscription that reads: “William Thomas Co. C. 29th. Reg. N.J. Vol. Born Oct. 3., 1820 Died Apr. 7, 1904.”  The flag seems new, but the tombstone looks neglected and old. Decorating graves with flags became popular after the Civil War, when General John A. Logan who led an organization for Civil War Veterans called for a nationwide Remembrance Day to honor those who died defending our country.  “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies lie in almost every city, village, hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. Known initially as Decoration Day, today, it is known as Memorial Day.  Memorial Day, is set aside to honor those who lost their lives during war, while Veterans Day is a day to celebrate all who have served.

In 1931, Lieutenant Soden, who had been recording the names of veterans in New Jersey cemeteries, and County Superintendent of Soldiers’ Graves, Robert Miler, took on the task of planting flags on all soldier’s graves not just those who died in service to this country. They visited various Monmouth County cemeteries including Covell Hill (aka Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place). 

The Civil War veterans buried in the Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place include Thomas and three others: Samuel Rose, Enoch Giberson and Mathias Barcalow Estel. William Thomas was the son of William Thomas, Sr., and Mary Holman. He married Margert Perrine and had eight daughters. He served as a Private in the 29th Regiment from August 25, 1862 to June 30, 1863.

Enoch Giberson, Jr. also served in the 29th Regiment of the NJ Volunteers as a Private from August 25, 1862 to June 30, 1863.  He was the son of Enoch Giberson, Sr., and Phebe Anderson. His grandfather, James Giberson, served in the militia during the Revolutionary War.  He never married and lived in Millstone near the burial ground.

 Samuel Rose, born on June 20, 1838 to Witron and Rebecca Rose, served in Company E, 11th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers from September 27, 1864 to June 28, 1865.  He also lived in the vicinity of the Robbins Burial Ground at the time of his death on December 22, 1912. He married Elizabeth Estel whose brother Mathias Barcalow Estel served in the Civil War.

Mathias Estel lived near Red Valley and was married to Jane Smires in 1851 who died in 1895. He served in the 10th Regiment of the New Jersey Volunteers from September 19, 1864 to June 22, 1865.  

Four Civil War veterans lie peacefully on top of Covell Hill marking time till judgement day.

However, a fifth veteran, a Revolutionary War one interred here, is Randal Robbins who was born May 27, 1739 and died April 19, 1798.  He served in Captain Robert Rhea’s Monmouth County Militia.

Randal lived on the farm of his grandfather, Aaron Robins, south of the I-195 and York Road interchange where the Reed Sod Farm is located. Randal had nine children with his first wife Abigail Rogers and five children with second wife Rebecca Rogers, Abigail’s sister, who married Randal after Abigail’s death in 1785. His descendants became trustees to the Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place handing down the deed of trust to the West, Flock, Rue and Field descendants. In 2020, Mr. Thomas Robbins, a descendant of Randal, discovered that the New Jersey Department of Environment Green Acres program did not acquire the burial ground when they formed the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area.
The burial ground, overgrown with weeds, needs a long overdue cleanup. The Allentown Village Initiative (TAVI) is interested in organizing a cleanup next spring and volunteers are welcome to participate. Details will be forthcoming early next year.

Story excerpted from Mr. Robbins’ book “A Mystery in the Woods – Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place.  To purchase a copy, contact him at

Location of cemetery on Google Maps

75 Years Ago, World War II Came To An End

September 2, 2020

Statement by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) – Today, September 2, 2020,  marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the day Imperial Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

The war that began for the United States with the bloody and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 ended on September 2, 1945 with unconditional surrender bringing to a close a war that Americans fought on two fronts where over 400,000 Americans sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.

What followed on September 3, 1945 was unprecedented in world history—the democratization and rebuilding by America of a former adversary.

Japan and Germany—the latter assisted by the Marshall Plan—are today great friends and allies of the United States.

he World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. contains a quote most fitting for today. President Truman expressed the profound gratitude of our Nation which is as true today as it was when he first uttered the words: “Our debt to the heroic man and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.  They have earned our undying gratitude; America will never forget their sacrifices.”

May we never forget that when faced with an attack on our Nation, American soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guard and merchant marine—backed by Home Front workers and supported by spouses, family, and fellow Americans—responded with great courage and perseverance.

In like manner, my wife’s father, Donald Hahn, served at sea onboard the heavy cruiser USS Canberra and was a part of the massive effort to subdue the large and highly capable Japanese navy. My dad, Bern Smith, was a combat infantryman who fought in New Guinea and other islands and was deployed to the Philippines for its liberation. He seldom spoke about his experience—it was too painful even decades later—but my dad often spoke of the incredible bond of friendship forged with his army buddies during battle and the indomitable will to overcome all adversity and prevail.Today, my wife Marie and I remember both our fathers’ and the lasting legacy of service to country they left to our family. Both served in the Pacific theatre. Both were card-carrying members of the Greatest Generation that saved the world from oppression and tyranny. Both simply said they did their duty.

Today, we remember and we honor the exceptional heroism of the Greatest Generation. The passage of time will never diminish the respect and gratitude of Americans for the sacrifice and valor of those who fought to safeguard liberty in World War II on the battlefield and on the Home Front.

Airborne Day Celebrated

August 16, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE-EAST WINDSOR-HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)—Today is Airborne Day and it is a special day to honor the US Airborne Forces and the first parachute jump of 48 members of the US Army Parachute Test Platoon on August 16, 1940 during World War II.

A roadside monument sits along Route 130 in the Windsor section of Robbinsville Township honoring the US Army Parachute Test Platoon that worked there during World War II. Two towers left over from the World’s Fair were brought to the location and used for the tests located at Route 130 and Voelbel Road formerly known on maps then as parachute road.

Active members of current Airborne and Special Forces Airborne units, Airborne Association of NJ and Special Forces Association New Jersey Chapter held a ceremony to commemorate the day. Since the weather was not cooperating at the test site the ceremony was move from the outdoor location to the American Legion about half mile up the road.

According to the 82nd Airborne Association North Jersey Chapter Chairman Vic Balint the day is to honor the Airborne soldier and the original parachute test platoon. In 1918 Brigadier General William Lendrum ”Billy” Mitchell or the US Army Air Corps suggested to General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing was air service advisor and should employee airborne troops in World War 1, and like the idea but the war ended in November 1918 and the idea never happened.

In 1939 General Gorge C. Marshall US Army Chief of Staff directed U.S. Army General George A. Lynch to “Make a study for the purpose of determining the desirability of organizing, training, and conducting tests of a the small detachment of air infantry with a view to determine whether or not our army should contain a unit or units of this nature”

Many in the military disagreed with this philosophy and argued that the airborne force was not needed for America during World War II.

Despite this thinking General Marshall gave his approval on July 25, 1940 to immediately establish a parachute test platoon to test the development of airborne troops.

The original test platoon was 48 paratroopers 2 officers and 46 enlisted. The platoon started training and developing equipment and policies that would be used by future airborne forces. Many of the techniques developed then are in use today.

During the original testing during the test platoon’s third week they were sent to Safe Parachute Company, Hightstown, NJ (Robbinsville former Washington Township) because there were two 150-foot towers left over from the 1939 World’s Fair. The original test platoon spent 10 days in New Jersey before returning to Georgia.

After additional testing and successful demonstrations by the test platoon the war department activated the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion, on October 1, 1940 and located at Fort Benning Georgia.

Lawrence Taylor, Sr. President of the Special Forces Association, Chapter 19 for the State of New Jersey continued and stated that Amelia Earhart was the first one to jump off of a 115 foot tower in Jackson, NJ on June 2, 1935.

In 1934, Stanley Switlik and Amelia’s husband, George P. Putnam formed a partnership and created the first parachute jump tower in the US. The tower was located where Great Adventure is today. Switlik Parachute Company formed in 1920 and is still operating in Trenton and Hamilton Township, NJ

Remembering The Mercer Oak, 20 Years Since Mercer Oak Fell From Wind Storm

March 2, 2020 Updated March 3, 2020 to add GoFundMe see link below.

PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)–On March 3, 2000 the “Mercer Oak” approximately 300 years old at the time, fell due to a strong winds from a storm. The oak tree was named after Hugh Mercer who was a brigadier general under George Washington in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

General Mercer was stabbed by an English soldier January 3, 1777 and found refuge under the tree during the Battle of Princeton as the Continental Army stood its ground. When the battle was over General Mercer was taken to the nearby Clarke House where he died nine days later from battle wounds.

A sapling from the original Mercer Oak was planted in its place.

Mercer County NJ was named after Brigadier General Mercer and the site is preserved as Princeton Battlefield State Park.

1988-89 AHS Wrestling

February 17, 2020

ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Some sports had the weekend off so here is a flash back to December 29, 1988, almost 32 years ago. Allentown HS held what appeared to be at least a dual wrestling meet at home. No IDs on the photos but there were enough negatives from this match to put a gallery together.

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Remembering 2000-01 Girls and 1988-90s Boys Allentown Basketball Teams

February 16, 2020

ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Since we are starting the MCT basketball tournament this week enjoy these photos ranging from 20 to over 30 years ago. These were (except for Steinert game below) in what is now called the “old gym” and photographs were taken using a flash, a 35 mm camera with a slow motor drive that had a manual focus lens. Today we have high quality digital cameras, fast frames per second, auto focus, high iso with fast lenses that eliminate the need for flash at most venues and almost instant feedback looking at results on back of camera.

The boys game below is believed to be around 1989-1990 due to the negatives it was stored with. Still looking for more of that game and some others from the past.

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