Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth To Skylands Botanical Garden (New Jersey)

Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth. This congregation of Roman Catholic women religious was founded in 1859, when the first bishop of Newark, James Roosevelt Bayley, asked Mary Xavier Mehegan of the New York Sisters of Charity to take charge of the community in New Jersey. Originally located at Saint Mary’s, Newark, they moved to Madison in i860. In 1880, the sisters built their present home in Convent Station, Morristown, where in 1899, they established the College of Saint Elizabeth, the first four-year women’s college in New Jersey. Today the community has expanded its traditional mission of education to include working with the poor and promoting social justice. The Sisters of Charity currently sponsor one college, five academies, five hospitals, and three residences, as well as working in parishes, schools, and hospitals throughout the state.

Singer Manufacturing Company advertising brochure, c. 1901.

Singer Manufacturing Company advertising brochure, c. 1901.

Sisters of Mercy. Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, in 1827. The original mission of the order was to serve the needs of abused and homeless women and children. The Sisters of Mercy were a new form of female religious order dedicated to active service rather than seclusion in the cloister; the Sisters of Mercy were referred to as "walking nuns” because they went out among the poor. The first American community was founded in Pittsburgh in 1843 by Frances Warde. The New Jersey community takes as its founding the i873 arrival in Bordentown of Mother Warde and several sisters from Pittsburgh. (A previous group of sisters from the Manchester, New Hampshire, convent maintained a community in Jersey City from 1871 to 1877.) The Sisters of Mercy have made a major educational contribution, teaching more than half a million state residents since i873. Their endeavors have expanded to include health work, parish ministries, and spiritual counseling. Now based in Watchung, their institutes include Georgian Court College, Lakewood; Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung; and Mercy Center, Asbury Park, as well as seven high schools and seventeen elementary schools. Sisters from the Regional Community of New Jersey also work in medicine, law, social work, and nursing. In 1991 the Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey joined many other Sisters of Mercy throughout the United States to form the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Six Flags Great Adventure. Located in Jackson, Six Flags Great Adventure is one of thirty-seven regional theme parks operated throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America by Six Flags, Inc. The facility in New Jersey, which was started in 1974, contains three separate areas: the Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park, the Wild Safari Animal Park, and Hurricane Harbor, which was added in 2000. The permanent staff numbers about two hundred, and the approximately forty-two hundred employees added for the summer months makes the park the largest seasonal employer in New Jersey.

The Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park, the first area, encompassing i25 acres, contains more than one hundred amusement park type rides, midway attractions, and games. Its thirteen roller coaster tracks range from mild rides for children to "ultimate thrills” for adults. In addition, concerts, shows, musical festivals, and special events are presented throughout the season.

The Six Flags Wild Safari Animal Park, at 350 acres, is the largest drive-through safari in the world outside of Africa. It is filled with more than twelve hundred animals and birds of fifty-eight species, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, bears, swans, giraffes, llamas, and antelope, gathered from around the world. Visitors may drive their own vehicles (except for soft-top convertibles) along the park’s 4.5 mile trail where the animals roam freely, or else they may ride in an air-conditioned tour bus.

Mother Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy.

Mother Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy.

Hurricane Harbor water park, the newest area, one of the world’s largest such facilities, at forty-five acres, features twenty-five rides and attractions including several water slides, a wave pool, and a "lazy river” where visitors can swim, float, and ride inner tubes through waterfalls and mini-rapids. The overall theme is of a remote, tropical island, as it would appear moments after being hit by a hurricane.

Six-Mile Run Reservoir. This 3,037-acre park, located in southern Somerset County, is associated with the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. Despite its name, Six-Mile Run Reservoir is not a reservoir. Originally purchased in the 1970s for a reservoir that was never needed, much of the land is under lease to farmers. The state acquired the land by eminent domain, but the law authorizing the purchases also allowed recreation. Much of the area is open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The site, which features wetlands, forests, farmlands, and old fields, is also rich in cultural and historic significance. Many of its old farm structures, however, have crumbled from disuse, and those that remain are in danger of a similar fate.

Skene, John (b. date unknown; d. c. 1690). Colonial politician. A merchant from Aberdeen, Scotland, John Skene was among the many Quakers fined and imprisoned in England during the 1670s for religious activities. He sailed for America in 1682, settling in Burlington, then capital of Quaker-dominated West Jersey, where he established a farm named Peachfield. First elected to the West Jersey assembly and then appointed to the council, from 1685 to 1688 he served as deputy governor of the colony under proprietors Edward Byllynge and later Dr. Daniel Coxe. When New Jersey temporarily became part of the Dominion of New England in 1688, he remained a justice on the Burlington court.

Skiing. Even before the modern ski boom in the 1960s, New Jersey had its share of skiing enthusiasts. Though ski experts consider the state well within the "banana belt,” or warm zone, it has had more than half a dozen ski areas of varying sizes and types. Several factors, however, including the uncertainty of optimal ski weather, have reduced this number to four.

Although vertical drop at even the largest New Jersey resort is dwarfed by that of the downhill runs of New England and the West, it compares favorably with that of nearby Pocono areas. Most of the state’s ski centers cater to beginning and intermediate skiers, but places such as Mountain Creek at Vernon boast several advanced "black diamond” trails. Most areas feature a variety of ski terrain, including both trails and open slopes, and all have ski schools, equipment rentals, first-aid ski patrols, and warming lodges. The three downhill resorts allow snowboarding.

Once thriving but now defunct ski areas include Ski Mountain and Holly Mountain in South Jersey, Craigmeur farther north, and Belle Mountain near Lambertville. Belle, run by the Mercer County Parks Commission, was in operation for thirty years; Craigmeur lasted sixty.

The four flourishing ski areas are all located in the Highlands of the state, well above the climactic line that runs eastward across New Jersey from Trenton. Winter temperatures are generally milder south of this line, cooler north of it. The added elevation of the rolling ranges of northwestern New Jersey also brings lower temperatures. Conditions are often favorable for skiing and the all-important task of snowmaking.

Mountain Creek, successor to Great Gorge, is the largest New Jersey ski venue, with an impressive vertical drop of 1,040 feet, four mountain peaks, forty-seven trails, and two snowboarding halfpipes. Mountain Creek gets skiers to the summit in four quad lifts, which carry four passengers each, and an eight-passenger open-air gondola. It has snowmak-ing on all its trails and is well lighted for night skiing. Mountain Creek, perhaps more than any other New Jersey resort, suggests the ambience of a New England ski area.

Ski High Point is an anomaly among New Jersey ski resorts in that it specializes in Nordic, or cross-country, skiing rather than Alpine-style downhill. With over nine miles of groomed trails running through High Point State Park, this area enjoys the highest and snowiest elevations of any in the state. It also a warming hut and snowmaking. Ski Campgaw, near Mahwah, offers eight trails serviced by five lifts. It has snowmaking, night skiing, snowboarding, and complete rentals. Ski Hidden Valley, with a vertical of 620 feet, features a triple chairlift as well as two other lifts, extensive snowmaking, a rustic lodge, and ski and snowboard programs for preschool and older children.

Skinner, Alanson Buck (b. Sept. 7,1885; d. Aug. 17,1925). Archaeologist and ethnologist. Alanson Buck Skinner, born in Buffalo, New York, was the son of Rachel Amelia Sum-ner Skinner and Frank Woodward Skinner. He was educated at Columbia and Harvard universities. In 1907 he began his career as an archaeologist with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. While there he compiled New Jersey’s first formal archaeological survey, published as Bulletin 9 of the Geological Survey of New Jersey in 1913. Max Schrabisch assisted him in this endeavor. He also wrote extensively on the archaeology of New York City. Ini9i5 he joined the staff of the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. From 1920 to 1924 he was curator of anthropology at the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee. He became an expert on the Sauk, Dakota, Potawatomi, Iowa, Cree, and Ojib way tribes. In i924 he returned to New York City and the Museum of the American Indian. His impressive career was cut short by an automobile accident in North Dakota in i925.

Skinner, Cortlandt (b. Dec. 16, 1727; d. Mar. 15, 1799). Attorney general and Loyalist military commander. Cortlandt Skinner was the son of the Rev. William Skinner, rector of Saint Peter’s Church in Perth Amboy, and Elizabeth Van Cortlandt. The father, who changed his name from MacGregor, came to America as a refugee from the Stuart rebellion in Scotland. Cortlandt Skinner married Elizabeth Kearney.

Before the American Revolution Skinner was one of the most respected persons in New Jersey. He was an eminent lawyer and skilled orator. From i754 to i776 he served as the colony’s attorney general. From i763 to i776 he was a member of the assembly and was twice elected speaker. From 1762 to April 1776 he was vice president of the board of proprietors for the Eastern District of New Jersey.

Cortlandt Skinner.

Cortlandt Skinner.

In August 1775 Skinner was offered the command of the New Jersey militia. He refused and found himself increasingly harassed because he opposed the revolutionary movement. He went over to the British and helped raise the New Jersey Volunteers, a Loyalist fighting outfit. Skinner was appointed a colonel in the New Jersey Volunteers and on September 4,1776, a brigadier general. Unlike some other Loyalist military units, "Skinner’s Greens,” as the Volunteers were often called, were fully integrated into the British military organization. At least 2,450 men, mostly from New Jersey, at one time or another were members of the New Jersey Volunteers. Skinner’s troops made frequent raids into New Jersey, and more than half of the brigade fought in the southern campaigns after 1779. Skinner had his headquarters on Staten Island. He presided over an efficient spy network in New Jersey and attempted to have the governor of New Jersey kidnapped.

Skinner and his family settled in Bristol, England, after the war. He received a pension of half pay for his military service and substantial compensation for loss of his estate and income as a public official in New Jersey.

Skinner, Stephen (b. c. 1738; d. 1809). Colonial official and Loyalist. Stephen Skinner was born in Perth Amboy, the son of the Rev. William Skinner and Elizabeth Van Cort-landt. On October 10, 1761, Skinner married Catherine Johnston, with whom he had ten children. He served as the treasurer of East New Jersey from 1763 to 1774. In 1768, he was the focus of a dispute between Gov. William Franklin and the assembly over the mysterious disappearance of a large sum of money from the public treasury. The dispute lingered until 1774, when Skinner resigned. He then served as a member of both the council (1774-1776) and the provincial congress (April 1775). In July 1776, he was arrested by Patriot forces and ordered by the provincial congress to remain in Trenton. Skinner was sent as a prisoner to Morristown and eventually paroled. During the Revolution, Skinner acted as a guide for the British and served as a major in a corps of Loyalist volunteers whom he helped recruit. His brother was Brig. Gen. Cortlandt Skinner of the New Jersey Volunteers, a Loyalist military unit. Following a brief stay in England, Skinner settled with his family in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Skunk Hollow. Early in the nineteenth century, on the western slope of the Palisades in the northeast corner of Bergen County, some newly freed slaves were able to acquire rough farmland. The community was started by a slave named Jack, given the surname "Earnest” because of his desire to own land. Jack gained his freedom in 1806 and purchased more than five acres on the Old Farm Road. As time passed, more former slaves moved into the community.

When Jack died, William Thompson purchased his land and later built a small Methodist Episcopal Church. By 1886 the community had reached its peak population of about seventy-five persons. Many worked in nearby Nyack, New York, but the introduction of modern machinery into shoe factories there and the lack of opportunity for other local work led to the demise of the community soon after the beginning of the twentieth century.

Descendants remain in Rockland County, New York, and Closter. Saint Charles African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in Sparkill, New York, and the Centennial AME Zion Church in Closter are considered the successors of the church at Skunk Hollow.

Skylands Botanical Garden. New Jersey’s official botanical garden, located in Ringwood, comprises 125 acres and 5,000 varieties of plants. The grounds are arranged in formal and informal gardens, woods, and meadows.

Francis Lynde Stetson, a prominent New York lawyer, was the original owner of Skylands. He began acquiring the property in 1891. Stetson built a Queen Anne Victorian mansion on the property and hired Samuel Parsons, Jr., who worked under Frederick Law Olmsted, to lay out the grounds. A working farm with thirty outbuildings and a nine-hole golf course were established on the property. A formal rose garden, an orchard, and twenty-thousand evergreens were planted on the site. In 1922 the property was acquired by Clarence McKenzie Lewis, an investment banker. McKenzie was an amateur horticulturist and a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden.

He was able to express his interest in plants at Skylands. He collected native and exotic plants from Afghanistan to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, as well as plants he discovered on nearby roadsides. The firm of Vitale and Geiffert designed the formal gardens. McKenzie tore down the original Victorian mansion and built his own in the Jacobean style. Lewis sold the property in 1956, and it was not bought by the state until 1966, when the grounds were already in disrepair. The Skylands Association, a volunteer group, has been responsible for much of the restoration. Skylands became the official botanical garden of New Jersey in 1984.

Of the formal gardens, the Winter Garden can be seen from the house and contains a variety of evergreens. The formal Terrace Gardens are arranged in a straight line, starting at the back of the house. The series starts with the Octagonal Garden, which includes a pool and bronze fountain. The Magnolia Walk is a 300-foot-long, 65-foot-wide connector to the Azalea Garden, which features a water channel. The Summer Garden provides color, while the last garden in this series, the Peony Garden, is a swath of grass bordered by tree peonies. An outstanding feature of this space is the exedra, a semicircular stone bench that creates a twenty-five-foot-wide curve. The original purpose of this structure was to serve as a container for the family ashes, but this was never done. Beyond this string of formal gardens lies the lilac collection, a total of sixty varieties. At this point, the estate is divided by Maple Avenue. On the other side of the road, there is a garden of annuals, with a Greek stone wellhead. The Crab Apple Vista is the transition point for the grounds, separating the formal gardens from the informal gardens, which include the Rhododendron Garden, Heather Garden, Bog Garden, Wildflower Garden, and Swan Pond.

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