With a slight nip in the air, HVHS welcomed a large crowd to Pennington Presbyterian Church’s Heritage Hall to hear an interesting program relating to the American Revolutionary War. The speaker for the evening was historian and author, Larry Kidder. The event was also the launch for Mr. Kidder’s most recent book, A People Harassed and Exhausted: The Men of a New Jersey Regiment in the American Revolution.
The topic of the program, and book, was the First Hunterdon Militia Regiment. This group was composed of men from what are now Trenton, and the townships of Ewing, Lawrence and Hopewell. The men from this regiment were continually called upon to defend the state throughout the period 1775-1783. Their story is being told for the first time in Mr. Kidder’s new book. His lecture described what he learned, using primary sources, about the challenges these men faced fighting a war for independence, while trying to survive economically as farmers, craftsmen, and merchants.
Despite it being a Friday night, over fifty people attended, and many purchased the new book. Everyone seemed enthralled with the topic, especially when Mr. Kidder discussed the men in the regiment who were buried in the church’s ancient cemetery right outside. History is always a little more interesting when there’s a local connection.
The audience learned that after the colonies claimed independence, the New Jersey Legislature passed a series of laws creating local militias. All men of age (16-50) were required to own a weapon, attend periodic drills and be available for service. Mr. Kidder’s research uncovered the stories of these local men and how difficult it was to balance their personal life, which for most was farming, and their duty to their new country. Everyone followed these stories with great interest. At the end of his talk Mr. Kidder took questions from the audience. After the program the group enjoyed refreshments and conversation, while some waited in line to get their book signed.
Mr. Kidder (left) is a retired history teacher, who taught for seven years in Ewing Township and 32 years at The Hun School of Princeton. For the past 25 years, he has been a volunteer interpreter and historian for the Howell Living History Farm in the Pleasant Valley section of Hopewell Township.