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Monday, June 09, 2014


Even though my name nor the Hamilton Township Public Library's name does not appear on the
Camp Olden Civil War Roundtable website as the source that resulted in the early evolution of the Camp Olden Civil War Roundtable at its formal organization in September, 1992, along with the resulting establishment of the Civil War Camp Olden Park at the intersection of Hamilton and Liberty street, I still have the greatest respect and admiration for President Bruce Sirak, and that incredible Civil War historical research group. My "CAMP OLDEN" column, the original of which is reproduced above, told of my 1980's and 1990's research into the location of that very elusive Hamilton Township's historic Civil War camp. Over the years, my friend Bruce Sirak and his avid club members have kept the flame of historical research burning brightly. 

Some years ago I spoke with a member of the club who disagreed with me when I said that the article above was the catalyst that was a very important factor in the establishment of the park that now reposes at the intersection of Hamilton and Liberty Streets, and also in no small way a contributing factor in the establishment of the Camp Olden Civil War Roundtable which has developed into a very necessary vehicle for local and national Civil War history. Going back To the founding of the club, I was in error when I asserted that local history buffs Vince Mercandetti and Bob Butera were instrumental in forming the Roundtable. I have since learned as stated above, that it was formally organized in September, 1992, two months after my "CAMP OLDEN" column appeared. 
  The search is ongoing and with the absence of any graphical engravings of the Camp which was located on part of the Skirm Farm, I am now working with Mr. Bill Klek, another very talented historic researcher, who is digging very deeply into the elusive Camp Olden mystery. Indeed, Bill and I have been excited with the engraving that Bill found from Harpers Weekly of June 1861, which shows the encampment of the N.J. 7th regiment. I have since removed the speculative entry I made earlier in the day as to the location of the camp the artist pictured below. The sailboat in the left portion of the engraving and the little and apparently miniscule stream only add to the mystery. In the engraving what appears to be body of water in the left behind the treeline suggests that the regiment encampment engraving was done at Washington D.C. encampment with the Potomac River in the background.

I hope to try to get access to the back yards of some of the homes between Liberty Street, Leonard Avenue, Kuser Road and Newkirk Avenue, over the next few months, I believe my metal detecting equipment would find some historic relics from the land on which at least a part of Camp Olden was located. Locating the actual boundaries of this elusive Civil War camp ground has proven fruitless. As a historian, I rely on what I have thus far learned from my own research. Fact: There was indeed a Camp Olden situated somewhere along the "Pond Run" area of Hamilton township. Conflicting accounts: Over the years I have discovered many puzzling articles relating to the camp. For instance, the articles above refer to the Whittaker Farm. Months of research has failed to find any information on Hamilton Township's George R. Whittaker Farm, nor the Whittaker Farm. There is however countless Yardley Pennsylvania references to a Whittaker Farm in Yardley. Two different articles at different times list the residence of George R. Whittaker as living at 234 in one article, and 324 in another; both address in the city of Trenton in the area of Chestnut and Hamilton Avenues. Other research closer to the Camp Olden era involves "Skirm," "Scatterfgood," and other area land holders from the 1860 - 1870 era; apparently before the establishment of the Whittaker Farm. There was once a hand drawn map of the layout of the land, but according to an article in one of my archives, the newspaper didn't have the technical ability to duplicate graphics! I originally suspected that New Street (Newkirk Avenue) at the intersection of Camp Avenue was the main entrance to the camp but now I am beginning to wonder. Compounding the confusing search, is the fact that along with the older (Skirm and Scattergood farms), on the other side of New Street (Newkirk Avenue), the Goldy Farm was occupying all the land from Cedar Street (Cedar Lane) back to today's Kuser Farm. I also speculate that the boundaries extend beyond Hamilton Avenue and beyond Kuser Road.
The search goes on!

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