Montclair, New Jersey Revolutionary War Sites
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REVOLUTIONARY WAR SITES IN MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY

Montclair New during the Revolutionary War
LAFAYETTE MARKER
Lafayette Site
Montclair, New Jersey

Lafayette Headquarters Site
Next to Photo Cullen at 551 Valley Rd.
Map / Directions to Lafayette Site
Map / Directions to all Montclair Revolutionary War Sites

General Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette was a French officer who came to America to fight on the American side in the Revolutionary War. He developed close friendships with Washington, Hamilton, and other Revolutionary War figures.

During October and November 1780, General Lafayette and his light infantry troops were encamped in what is now Hawthorne, as part of a much larger American encampment which spread out over what are now Wayne, Totowa, Woodland Park, and Little Falls. [1]

On October 23, Lafayette and his troops moved from their Hawthorne location into Cranetown (now Montclair). Three days later, they marched to Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), from where they planned to make an attack on British troops on Staten Island. The attack was never made because the boats they were supposed to use to cross the water over to Staten Island did not arrive. Lafayette and his troops marched back to their position at Cranetown on the 28th, where they remained until the next day when they returned to their camp at Hawthorne. [2]

This small fenced-in area next to the Photo Cullen store at 551 Valley Road contains what tradition says was the stone doorstep of the house Lafayette used as a headquarters while in Cranetown.

Montclair New Jersey - Revolutionary War Sites
CRANE HOUSE SITE BOULDER MONUMENT
Old Crane Homestead
Montclair, New Jersey

Crane House Site Boulder Monument
Valley Rd. and Claremont Ave.
Map / Directions to the Crane House Site Boulder Monument
Map / Directions to all Montclair Revolutionary War Sites

At the time of the Revolutionary War, this was the site of the home of William Crane. He was a member of the Crane family from whom Cranetown took its name.

The boulder monument in front of the office building now standing here states that the house was "used by General George Washington as temporary headquarters on October 26, 1780 while on the march from Totowa now Paterson to support Lafayette's expedition against the enemy on Staten Island." [3]

However, it is questionable whether Washington actually used this house as a temporary headquarters, either on October 26, 1780, or at any other time. Washington's and Lafayette's letters during this period make no mention of Washington actually coming to Cranetown while Lafayette was here, and in fact appear to imply that he did not (at least as this writer understands them). [4]

The source of information for Washington having stayed here is an article written over a century later by Reverend Oliver Crane, who was the great-grandson of William Crane. [5] Reverend Crane recounted family traditions about Washington using the house as his headquarters. However, some of the details in his account seem implausible or have the feel of exaggerated family history. [6] That being said, the story could be based in some fact; Washington may have had reason to briefly venture down here during that period and stopped at the Crane house. At the very least, the house definitely stood here at the time when Lafayette and his troops were at Cranetown.



While this Crane house no longer stands, two houses which were built by the extended Crane family after the Revolutionary War are open for tours as part of the Montclair History Center, located on Orange road, about 3/4 mile south of here.

Source Notes:

1. ^ For more information and accompanying source notes about the events in the other towns, see the Wayne, Totowa, Woodland Park, Little Falls, and Hawthorne pages of this website.

2. ^ The following letters pertain to Lafayette's light infantry troops' time at Cranetown and their attempted attack on Staten Island. Please note that mentions of Totowa in these letters refer to Lafayette's encampment site in Wagaraw/Hawthorne. Totowa in that era referred to a larger area than the modern-day borough of Totowa.

“General Orders, 23 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03669 [last update: 2016-03-28]). Source: this is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.

“From Alexander Hamilton to Colonel Timothy Pickering, [25 October 1780],” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-26-02-0002-0048. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 26, 1 May 1802 – 23 October 1804, Additional Documents 1774–1799, Addenda and Errata, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979, pp. 402–403.]

“To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 27 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03717. [This is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.]

“To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 27 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03718. [This is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.]

“To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 28 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03727. [This is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.]

3. ^ Plaque erected by the Eagle Rock Chapter, D.A.R. and the Montclair Chapter S.A.R, October 26, 1922

4. ^ Washington is known to have made his headquarters at Dey Mansion in what is now Wayne from October 9 -November 27, 1780.
Washington's letters from October 9 - November 27, 1780 are usually marked as having been sent from Preakness, near Passaic Falls (referring to the Great Falls in Paterson, which are 2.5 miles east of Dey Mansion) or Totowa. (Totowa in that era referred to a larger area than the modern-day borough of Totowa. In fact, although Dey Mansion is in present-day Wayne, it is only about 1000 feet from the Totowa border.)

Washington's letters from October 23-29, 1780, (the period between Lafayette's arrival in Cranetown to his final departure back to Wagaraw/Hawthorne) remain consistent in these location markings, indicating that he did not leave the area of Dey Mansion during this time. None of the letters are marked as being written in Cranetown, and none mention his having been in Cranetown.
Many of Washington's letters from October 23-28, 1780 are available to be read at the Founder Online / National Archives website here.


 

Lafayette's letters to Washington during this period give no indication that Washington came to Cranetown:

“To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 27 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03717. [This is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.]

“To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 27 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03718. [This is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.]

“To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 28 October 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-03727. [This is an Early Access document from The Papers of George Washington. It is not an authoritative final version.]

5. ^ Reverend Oliver Crane, "Cranestown During The Revolutionary War," in Henry Whittemore, History of Montclair Township, State of New Jersey: Including the History of Families who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Prosperity (New York: The Suburban Publishing Company, 1894) Pages 25-31
Available to be read at Google Books here.

6. ^ For example,  Crane states on page 26 that Washington "had his headquarters for about three weeks at Cranetown, from near the middle of October on."
As noted in Source Note 4, it is well documented that Washington made his headquarters at Dey Mansion from October 9 - November 27.

Website Researched, Written, Photographed and Designed by Al Frazza
This website, its text and photographs are © 2009 -2017 Al Frazza. All rights reserved.