Fascinating Facts: Kingston
Kingston is the only tri-county community in New Jersey, with roots in Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties. It is set among five historic districts and is part of the Millstone River Valley Scenic Byway. It is an area rich with early American History. Here are just a few interesting facts about this bucolic town.
- Kingston's location on the Lenape Assunpink Trail where it crossed the Millstone River underpinned its early prominence.
- Henry Greenland arrived in 1683 and built a house and tavern on the road between Philadelphia and New York, near the King’s Highway crossing of the Millstone River. By 1704, the village was called “King’s Town."
- In 1776, General George Washing led his troops past the Kingston Presbyterian Church to escape Cornwallis.
- The mill in Kingston was burned by the British in 1776.
- A marker in front of the Presbyterian Cemetery is one of thirteen that show the 1777 route Washington and his army followed from Princeton to Morristown. At this point, the road forks, with one leg going to New Brunswick and the other to Morristown. Washington’s initial plan was to attack the British troops at New Brunswick, but his troops had fought at Trenton and Princeton for several days and were tired. It was at this fork in the road that he held his famous “Conference on Horseback” with his officers and decided to head to winter quarters in Morristown instead. In 1778, the Continental Army camped overnight in Kingston while in pursuit of the British who had fled Philadelphia for New York.
- During the Revolutionary War, British soldiers were quartered in many of the local homes.
- The Kingston Library Company, established in 1812, was the first public library in the area.
- In the late 1800s, immigrants came to work in the Terra Cotta Factory, Princeton University or the local quarry. In the early twentieth century, Princeton Nurseries and the reopened New Jersey Copper Mine represented a new source of jobs for area residents.
- The Withington Estate, now known as Heathcote Farm, the Kingston Mill Historic District, Kingston Village Historic District and Lake Carnegie Historic District all have been entered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kingston has always been at a crossroads—of a revolution, of industry, of migration and of history. Because residents take such pride in protecting the area history, visitors who take the time to stop in at Kingston can find places to tread where George Washington and colonial soldiers fought for the land they stand on.
Published October 15, 2018 in Living in New Jersey