celebrating a sense of place


A Journey Back to Pluckemin Reminds us of a

“Weighty” Tavern Tale from Days Gone By

By C.G. Wolfe

Photo Courtesy of Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House

We had a great time recently at the Jacobus Vanderveer House and Museum in Bedminster, which has come a long way since our initial visit there almost 20 years ago for a feature in the first issue of The BRJ. The house and museum is a wonderful place to reconnect with our area's historic past and stands as a reminder of the vital role played by the Pluckemin Cantonment during the Revolutionary War. Pluckemin was a bustling crossroads during and after the Revolution, and a place rich in lore where a host of colorful characters dwelled. Chief among them was a tavern keeper named Christian Eoff (1762-1847) who owned a "low-slung" establishment near the crossroads known as "The Barracks."

Christian Eoff was renowned as a hospitable host and also a bit of a prankster. One afternoon "Old Mr. Hill" stopped by for a refreshment on his way home with a wheelbarrow full of groceries, including a sizable ham. Eoff seemed concerned about the old gent's burdensome load and warned him that he was afraid he'd find his load too heavy before he reached home. Hill was indignant at the remark and stated that he was still "stout and vigorous" enough for the job. Hill left the tavern and began his mile-long, uphill trek home, and just as Eoff predicted, the wheelbarrow seemed to get heavier and heavier with each step. Determined more than ever to prove Eoff wrong, Hill removed his coat, wiped his brow, and put his back into it until he finally arrived home. Exhausted and aching, he began to unload the wheelbarrow and discovered the reason for his labors. Eoff had hidden a fifty-pound rock under the ham.

We've got a fun-filled issue full of history, food and libations, an interview with NJ's premier party band, an ideal place for a snowy winter hike, and a lot more. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you. And don't forget to check out our new website at blackriverjournal.com for our calendar of local events, seasonal online-only issues, and all kinds of BRJ related stuff! Thank you for your continued readership as we enter our 20th year of publishing The BRJ and have a happy, healthy new year!