Endangered History: The Sutfin Farm

I have visited a lot of old battlefields. My career as a soldier, and my frequent personal travel, took me to many places where history was made.

In Germany I walked in the footsteps of both Roman legionaries and Napoleon’s Grande Armee. I have gazed across the field at Waterloo, down from Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, and into the Crater at Petersburg. I have seen century-old shell craters at Verdun and felt the sand on Omaha Beach. With my fellow officers I even stood in awe on the spot where our regimental forebears of the Greatest Generation broke through the German lines at Bastogne.

In some cases these locations were well-preserved, as though time stood still; Antietam is such a place. Sometimes monuments and natural activity have altered the landscape, as at Gettysburg. But almost always there a sense of reverence: a subconscious nod to great events of long ago. Rarely have I been appalled by what I saw in one of these places: until the Sutfin House.

The Sutfin farmhouse was built in the early 1700s; the Sutfins were apparently peaceful people, just trying to extract a living from the fertile New Jersey soil. Until, that is, the British Army marched past in June, 1778. The family wisely hid their valuables and fled. The next day, on June 28th,  the Continental Army marched by the Sutfin Farm and attacked the British rear guard at Monmouth Courthouse, just down the road. In the seesaw fighting that followed, the Sutfin home was at the epicenter of the biggest artillery duel of the American Revolution. It was an anchor for the British right flank at the climax of the battle, and it bore mute witness to the Continental counterattack at the close of the battle. Today it remains a key point of reference in understanding the flow of the battle.

Sadly, the years have not been kind. The Sutfin house today is a dilapidated, graffiti-covered abomination. It broke my heart to see what has become of what should be a historic landmark.

Sutfin Farmhouse

The Sutfin House on the Monmouth Battlefield. Photo taken on May 29th, 2017: Memorial Day.

I do not accept the status quo. I am hereby resolved that in some way Gideon Hawke and his series will work to protect and restore both the Sutfin House and the Monmouth Battlefield. It is not much, but is the least I can do to honor the memory of those who were there, and perhaps restore some of that missing sense of reverence.

 

Friends of Monmouth Battlefield: http://www.friendsofmonmouth.org/

Monmouth Battlefield State Park: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/monbat.html

Robert Krenzel Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/RobertKrenzelAuthor/

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels/

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5 thoughts on “Endangered History: The Sutfin Farm

  1. I love the Sutfin House and have shot, and written about, it many times over the past few years. I’m afraid it has gotten much worse since the image above – the front is now at least 50% plywood and it is surrounded by a chain link fence. I have been in touch with the park and there are no plans to restore the building – I don’t know if it is possible for a private organization to take up the restoration. I do hope it can be saved.

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  2. Sorry I missed this, great article. I do paranormal investigating, I spend quite a bit of time at Monmouth when I can. I just love the history of the location, peaceful. Totally agree about the condition of the house. I always say if I win the lottery for millions, I would personally restore the house. As for the Friends of Monmouth, I think they would like to save the house, but what little money they get from grants and donations has been going to restore and keep up the Craig house. Just replacing the windows at the Craig house has been a years going project with the little funds they do get. I’m a life member, so I’m going by what I read in the newsletters that I get from time to time.

    The chain link fence is still up, good thing because at one point besides the graffiti, it looked like their may have been a squatter inside. A hole was torn in the back of the building, right where you see the plywood in the photo you posted. One day while my wife and I were walking our dog there, I decided to peek inside. You could see an area that looked like somebody was living there at one point, old blankets, some food cans, even a note somebody wrote on the wall that said “someone might be living here”. LOL. But outside of that, the inside was filled with debris, birds nests all over, old wasp nests all over.

    I would say maybe the clean-up inside would be a good Eagle Scout project and maybe some other community based things. The real tragedy was allowing the Thompson-Taylor farmhouse in the woods nearby to fall apart and come down like it is. I was told unless the building was actually standing at the Battle of Monmouth, there would be no efforts to save the property. A couple of years ago I was contacted by one of the last folks to have ever lived in the house. Told me the house was used as part of the underground railroad. There were hidden compartments in the 2nd floor bedrooms that slaves could hide in if somebody came looking for them. By that point though, it was already too dangerous to explore the house as the floors were slowly caving in. Today the house is about 70% collapsed.

    But for saving the Sutphin house, totally agree. Unfortunately its where is the money going to come from that is the issue.

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