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Thursday, January 28, 2016


One of the more fascinating subjects in our local history centers on the fabled "Swamp Angel" and of course the legendary Camp Olden. I have been pursuing historical documents on that subject since the 1980's when I found an article in my newspaper collection relating to Henry Lawton who had a farm over in the area of today's Kuser School ("Lawton Avenue, etc.) His farm was said to have been on a portion of the Camp Olden boundary.  In 1992, I wrote a column in the MERCER MESSENGER telling the story of Camp Olden as recalled by the brothers Lawton. That article spurred Bob Butera and Vince Mercandetti, and then-Mayor Jack Rafferty to clear the decks for the establishment of today's Camp Olden Park which is located on that triangular intersection of Liberty Street and Hamilton Avenue.

Above is an article from the Daily State Gazette telling the fantastically interesting story of the Trenton made Swamp Angel and with the date of the article being only 4 or so years after the end of the war between the states, one attains a sense of "immediacy" as the article is read. Today, President Bruce Sirak is keeping the Civil War and Hamilton's historic Camp Olden alive with the very viable CAMP OLDEN ROUNDTABLE. ( This scholarly group meets monthly at the Hamilton Township Public Library.

ABOUT THE ENGRAVINGS: One of our favorite pastimes when we were kids was to sit down at the table, bring out the "Crayola" wax crayons and start filling up that coloring book! Well, folks, at the advancing age of 82, this old codger is enjoying that joys of coloring once again. This time, I find that my crayons are on a Photo Shop color palette where I merely click on the desired color and paint my subject, all the while remembering my Kuser School teachers to "Stay in the lines!" Above left is the original engraving from the 16 page "INDUSTRIAL EDITION" of the Daily State Gazette of July 31, 1897. Now look at the results of my digital coloring book wherein a added a colorful border, atempted to match the colors of the Swamp Angel, greened up the grass at the base, and even lit the lamps on top of this historic treasure. There's a little boy in each of us even as there is a little girl in each of our ladies!

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