Morristown National Historical Park
The Army is quartered within three Miles of this place, in the usual way of hutting. Head Quarters is in this Town, at the Widow Fords, at the great white House at the North end of the place
.Major General Nathaniel Greene, December 25, 1779
Jacob Ford Jr., a wealthy iron manufacturer, built this Georgian style home in the early 1770s. A colonel in the New Jersey militia, Ford died of pneumonia on January 10, 1777 while General George Washington's Light Infantry quartered in his home. Washington directed the Light Infantry to provide Colonel Ford with a military funeral.Nearly three years later, his widow Theodosia Ford allowed General Washington, his wife Martha, and his military family of five secretaries and eighteen servants to return to her home to use the Ford Mansion as their quarters from December 1779 to June 1780.Eventually, General Marquis de Lafayette, and Spanish and French Ambassadors visited the home with their servants and secretaries. Including Mrs. Ford, her four children, and her servants, this house might have quartered over 300 people a night.< Sidebar: >History for Sale, History Preserved
When Mrs. Ford's grandson died in 1872, no other Ford descendant was interested in living in the 100-year old Ford Mansion. Therefore, on June
28,1873 the mansion was put up for public auction. Fearing that the Ford Mansion might be converted into a boarding house, or worse, four prominent men joined together at the auction to purchase it for $25,000.In 1874, the four men, Theodore Randolph, N. Norris Halstead, George Halsey, and William Lidgerwood, formed the Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ) to manage the property. With additional members joining throughout the years, the association preserved the Ford Mansion and operated it as a museum until 1933.In 1933 the WANJ donated the Ford Mansion and its historical collections to the United States of America. Combined with the donations of Jockey Hollow by Lloyd W. Smith and Fort Nonsense by the township of Morristown, these gifts led to the creation of Morristown National Historical Park - the first designated "national historical
park" in the National Park System.