A 20-acre park at 1761 Middlebrook Rd., east of Vosseller Ave. is operated by the Washington Campground Association. It commemorates the encampment of the fledging American Army in the area from May 28 to July 2, 1777 and again from December 1778 to June 1779.
Most think it was the first place where the first official American flag (a 13-star flag designed by Francis Hopkinson ) was flown in 1777.
There was a special act of Congress which allowed the flag to be flown here 24 hours a day without lighting.
The park was established in 1894.
Legend has it that the land was donated to the Washington Camp Ground Assn.
on the condition that the Declaration of Independence is read every 4th of July,
or the land would revert to the heirs of the LaMonte family who donated it.
This has occurred for 117 consecutive years.
In 1907 more than 2,000 marched in a parade from Bound Brook to the campground to celebrate Independence Day. What made that parade so memorable was that it was the first reported parade in the United States that included a procession of automobiles.
The ceremony starts with retiring the flag which has flown over the park for the last year and raising a new one.
Early flags of the United States:
The Hopkinson flag is generally believed to be the first. Francis Hopkinson was a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The so-called Betsy Ross flag was more likely a flag used for celebrations of anniversaries of the nation's birthday. Her descendants claimed it was the first flag, but there is no evidence of that. The first documented usage of this flag was in 1792. See: Flags of the United States
Fourth of July Patriotic Exercises
The annual ceremony includes (times are approximate):
10 AM Bring lawn chairs and listen to patriotic music
10:30 Welcome & changing of the flag
10:40 March to East Grove stage
10:45 Introduction of dignitaries
10:55 Reading of the Declaration of Independence
11:05 Keynote Speaker
11:15 An historical address
Many prominent political figures, including Millicent Fenwick, U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's 5th district, 1983-1987, have attended the ceremony.
Many local residents have supported the association over the years. The Haelig family have been members for at least four generations, John Sr., and John Jr. have served as officers for many years. two members who have passed on, Herbert Patullo, a local businessman, and Kels Swan, a historian, also had a long time active associations with the group.
There is also an annual meeting on Washington's Birthday, February 22 with a business meeting, buffet, talk and Cherry pie and cobbler.
Annual Meeting - Program and Buffet Dinner
Washington's Birthday Open to the public
12 Noon, Saturday, Feburary 22, 2019
Somerville Elks Lodge, 375 Union Ave, Bridgewater, NJ
12:00 PM - Seating - Music
12:30 PM - Welcome, Business Meeting (election of officers, ...)
1:00 PM - Entertainment - Songs of the Revolutionary Era
1:30 PM - Dinner Buffet & Desert
2:00 PM - Historical Talk:
Dinner: $20 members, $25 non-members
Payable to: WCGA Dinner Mail to: Phil SchuylerCampground Assn Membership 501(c)3 Deductible Contribution
913 W. Meadow Dr. Bound Brook, NJ 08805 Contacts: President: Lieutenant Colonel Robert Fazen US Army Retired, 732 560-5880 1st Vice President: Richard Shive 2nd Vice President: Jamie Schleck Secretary: Richard Shive Treasurer: Phil Schuyler - 732 469-6453 Historian: Kels Swan (In Memoriam) Trustees 2016-2018 John Haelig, JR. Jamie Schleck Herb Patullo (In memoriam) Trustees 2017-2019 Philip Schuyler Borbart Frazen John Haelig, Sr. Robert Papp Trustees 2018-2018 Jessie Havens John Kuhn Richard Hall Richard Shive
Some images from Zeete photos.
See Somerset's Revolutionary Roots to be Celebrated at Camp Middlebrook - Bridgewater, NJ Patch July 2, 2013
and Independence Celebrated at Site of Washingtons Encampment - Bridgewater Patch July 5, 2013
Return to: Middlebrook Encampment