History of The Princeton Battlefield Society
The idea of preserving the Princeton battlefield stretches back to the 1840s, but it was in 1897, when the local Mercer Engine Company No. 3 erected a granite monument with bronze plaque in honor of Gen. Mercer near the “Battlefield Farm” a farmhouse where Mercer died. Then, wealthy Princeton philanthropist Moses Taylor Pyne, who was largely responsible for transforming the small College of New Jersey into the prestigious Princeton University, was the first savior of the Princeton battlefield as well. His early efforts ensured that much of the battlefield remained untouched until someone got around to creating a battlefield park.
In 1899, when a trolley company intended to build a trolley line through the battlefield and the site of William Clarke’s home, Pyne bought property on the proposed right of way to stop the destruction, closing the deal with work crews on the site and ready to get busy the next day. Four years later, part of the battlefield was sold to developers, who planned new housing. Pyne stepped in and bought the land to protect it.
In 1921, three granite monuments with bronze tablets describing key events of the battle were installed on the battlefield, not by a local group, but the Oregon State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The land itself remained in private hands.
In 1946, Pyne’s long-sought battlefield park finally began to take shape when his granddaughter, Agnes Pyne Hudson, joined landowner Robert C. Maxwell to offer their 1777 battlefield land as gifts to the State of New Jersey. More than 1,000 people attended the dedication of the new 40-acre park on Oct. 20, 1946. Over the years, the park has been enlarged and expanded a number of times with acquisitions and land donations to its present size of 681 acres.
Today’s Princeton Battlefield Society was formed in 1970 (originally as the Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society) to fight land development threat from a neighboring institution, similar in several ways to today’s battle over the development of Maxwell’s Field, the site of Washington’s charge.
In 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized the Princeton Battlefield on its list of the11 Most Endangered Sites.
General George Washington Rallying His Troops at The Battle of Princeton by William Tylee Ranney
Board Members and Trustees
Jerry Hurwitz - President
Kip Cherry - Vice President
Ben Strong - Vice President
Roger Williams - Board Secretary
R. Randall Riccardo
Glenn F. Williams
The Thomas Clarke House at
The Princeton Battlefield State Park
The Princeton Battlefield Society
The Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and the only Officially Recognized Friends Organization (ORFO) of Princeton Battlefield State Park. It’s mission is to promote, interpret, conserve and protect Princeton Battlefield State Park and areas of the battlefield outside the Park. The Park is administered by the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and
Forestry, State Park Service, for the people of New Jersey and other visitors.
The beloved Mercer Oak at Princeton Battlefield State Park
The Mission of the Princeton Battlefield Society
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