Stillwater Historical Museum

admin, Monday 18 January 2010 - 12:38:12

The building consists of two sections, the older, original 1842 school and the more recent addition in 1954 of a kitchen and upstairs display room. The exterior of the building was repainted in 2007, the colors chosen are representative of how it may have looked in the 1800's.

From very early on this school in the Village of Stillwater was known as the "The Academy". Records from 1849 show there were 79 students.

This was not the first school in the Village. The first was near the Dutch Meeting House where the Stillwater Cemetery is today. The Academy was the second school and operated from 1842 to 1909. The third school was south on Maple Ave. [Rt. 521] and served from 1909 until the current Stillwater School was constructed in 1941.

In 1909, the building was 'condemned'. In 1910 the Board of Educaton sold the property at public auction for the sum $300 to the The Trustees of Washington Camp No. 124. of Patriotic Sons of America. For 35 years the Patrotic Order of Americans (Camp No. 70), a sister organization to the POSofA, used the building for their purposes.

In 1945 the building was purchased by Amos F. Dixon and Mary W. Dixon for the sum of $800. At that time Mrs. Mary Dixon was the school principal. The library in the newly built school was very crowded so this building was purchased by the Dixon's to serve as the Stillwater Consolidated School Library. In 1948, the Dixon's founded and conveyed the property to the Neighborhood House of Stillwater, Inc. which still exists to this day. Female students would work in the library. To keep the building warm for the girls, Mr. Hiram Beegle, who was the general caretaker, would light a fire in the stove each morning. He lived alone and when he died he left Indian Artifacts, a gun collection and many other items that became the start of the Museum. A new addition was needed to house the Beegle collection so many efforts where put forth in 1954 to raise money. The Library Committee sold books that were no longer needed and Mrs. Charlotte L. Jones of Middleville donated a large sum of funds to erect the two story addition. The Museum was formed at that time. The Mary W. Dixon Library gradually ceased to exist when car transportation became more common and the county opened it's own library.

Downstairs School Room

It is not specifically known what the use of this room was, but it was probably a place for coats and boots and possibly a play area or supplemental school room. This room now houses an interpretive display of an old store with many items donated by Harold Garris from the Stillwater Store, Don Robbins from the Middleville Store and other local patrons. The mailboxes are from Robbins Middleville Store. You will also notice a number of old farm tools and items in this downstairs school room as well.

Upstairs School Room

This was the main schoolroom. The schoolmaster's desk is from the 1800's. Thamer Snover, a civil-war veteran, was one of the more famous teachers and lived in a house next to the cemetery. In his time, he was said to have contributed more schoolteachers for Sussex County schools than any other teacher. The student desks are not from the original school, but the recitation bench came from the Mt Pleasant School. A number of the schoolbooks were used by Leon Roof [father of Gus Roof] and Charles Garris [father of Harold Garris]. This room also houses a library of local and rare books, a genealogy reference library and a dress collection from the early 1900's.

Upstairs museum display room

Along with the Hiram Beegle Collection donation, the Museum also has a number of items donated by local residents.

The Wintermute Foundry, on Fairview Lake Road, made cannonballs [which we have one], plow shares [we need one], and a number of cast items.

A small enclosed dark-room displays a fine collection of fluorescent minerals (Franklinite) from Franklin NJ.

Many of the Native American artifacts are from the Beegle collection, with most being found in this area. The peace pipe is original to the collection but the handle is not.

This room also has a number of military items, garments and fire-fighter items. The wooden canteens [from Gen. Hankinson] date back to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and the metal canteens are from about the Civil War.

The fish/eel trap overhead is called a "fike".

Fred Huff donated the Edison electrical items, but little is known about them. A surveyors measuring chain hangs on the wall.

Spinning wheels: Linen/flax wheel from NJ [linen woolsey fabric] Walking spinning wheel for wool

Oldest piece is cuneiform from Egypt in the glass case.

this content item is from Historical Society of Stillwater Township
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